Eze 21:1-32. Prophecy
against Israel and Jerusalem, and against Ammon.
2. the holy places—the three parts of
the temple: the courts, the holy place, and the holiest. If
"synagogues" existed before the Babylonian captivity, as Ps 74:8 seems to imply, they and the
proseuchæ, or oratories, may be included in the "holy
3. righteous … wicked—not
contradictory of Eze 18:4, 9 and Ge 18:23. Ezekiel here views the mere
outward aspect of the indiscriminate universality of the
national calamity. But really the same captivity to the
"righteous" would prove a blessing as a wholesome discipline, which to
the "wicked" would be an unmitigated punishment. The godly were sealed
with a mark (Eze 9:4), not
for outward exemption from the common calamity, but as marked for the
secret interpositions of Providence, overruling even evil to their
good. The godly were by comparison so few, that not their salvation but
the universality of the judgment is brought into view here.
4. The "sword" did not, literally, slay
all; but the judgments of God by the foe swept through the land
"from the south to the north."
6. with the breaking of thy loins—as one
afflicted with pleurisy; or as a woman, in labor-throes, clasps her
loins in pain, and heaves and sighs till the girdle of the loins is
broken by the violent action of the body (Jer 30:6).
7. The abrupt sentences and mournful
repetitions imply violent emotions.
9. sword—namely, of God (De 32:41). The Chaldeans are His instrument.
10. to make a sore slaughter—literally,
"that killing it may kill."
glitter—literally, "glitter as the
lightning flash": flashing terror into the foe.
should we … make mirth—It is no
time for levity when such a calamity is impending (Isa 22:12, 13).
it contemneth the rod of my son,
&c.—The sword has no more respect to the trivial "rod" or
scepter of Judah (Ge 49:10)
than if it were any common "tree." "Tree" is the image retained from
20:47; explained in Eze 21:2,
3. God calls Judah "My son"
(compare Ex 4:22; Ho 11:1). Fairbairn arbitrarily translates, "Perchance the
scepter of My son rejoiceth; it (the sword) despiseth every tree."
11. the slayer—the Babylonian king in
this case; in general, all the instruments of God's wrath (Re 19:15).
12. terrors by reason of the sword,
&c.—rather, "they (the princes of Israel) are delivered up
to the sword together with My people" [Glassius].
smite … upon … thigh—a
mark of grief (Jer 31:19).
13. it is a trial—rather, "There is a
trial" being made: the sword of the Lord will subject all to the
ordeal. "What, then, if it contemn even the rod" (scepter of Judah)?
Compare as to a similar scourge of unsparing trial, Job 9:23.
it shall be no more—the scepter, that
is, the state, must necessarily then come to an end. Fulfilled
in part at the overthrow of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, but fully at the
time of "Shiloh's" (Messiah's) coming (Ge 49:10), when Judea became a Roman
14. smite … hands together—(Nu 24:10), indicative of the indignant fury
with which God will "smite" the people.
sword … doubled the third
time—referring to the threefold calamity:—(1) The
taking of Zedekiah (to whom the "rod," or scepter, may refer); (2) the
taking of the city; (3) the removal of all those who remained with
Gedaliah. "Doubled" means "multiplied" or "repeated." The stroke shall
be doubled and even trebled.
of the slain—that is, by which many
are slain. As the Hebrew is singular, Fairbairn makes it refer to the king, "the sword of
the great one that is slain," or "pierced through."
entereth … privy chambers—(Jer 9:21). The sword shall overtake them,
not merely in the open battlefield, but in the chambers whither they
flee to hide themselves (1Ki 20:30; 22:25). Maurer
translates, "which besieged them"; Fairbairn, "which penetrates to them." English
Version is more literal.
15. point—"the whirling glance of
the sword" [Fairbairn]. "The
naked (bared) sword" [Henderson].
Their own houses and walls shall be stumbling-blocks in their way,
whether they wish to fight or flee.
made bright—made to glitter.
wrapped, &c.—namely, in the hand
of him who holds the hilt, or in its scabbard, that the edge may not be
blunt when it is presently drawn forth to strike. Gesenius, translates, "sharpened," &c.
16. Apostrophe to the sword.
Go … one way—or,
"Concentrate thyself"; "Unite thy forces on the right
hand" [Grotius]. The sword is commanded
to take the nearest route for Jerusalem, "whither their face was set,"
whether south or north ("right hand or left"), according to where the
several parts of the Chaldean host may be.
or other, … on the left—rather
"set thyself on the left." The verbs are well-chosen. The main
"concentration" of forces was to be on "the right hand," or
south, the part of Judea in which Jerusalem was, and which lay
south in marching from Babylon, whereas the Chaldean forces advancing
on Jerusalem from Egypt, of which Jerusalem was north, were fewer, and
therefore "set thyself" is the verb used.
17. Jehovah Himself smites His hands together,
doing what He had commanded Ezekiel to do (see on Eze 21:14), in token of His smiting Jerusalem; compare
the similar symbolical action (2Ki 13:18, 19).
cause … fury to rest—give it
full vent, and so satisfy it (Eze 5:13).
19. two ways—The king coming from
Babylon is represented in the graphic style of Ezekiel as reaching the
point where the road branched off in two ways, one leading by the
south, by Tadmor or Palmyra, to Rabbath of Ammon, east of Jordan; the
other by the north, by Riblah in Syria, to Jerusalem—and
hesitating which way to take. Ezekiel is told to "appoint the two ways"
(as in Eze
4:1); for Nebuchadnezzar,
though knowing no other control but his own will and superstition, had
really this path "appointed" for him by the all-ruling God.
out of one land—namely, Babylon.
choose … a place—literally, "a
hand." So it is translated by Fairbairn,
"make a finger-post," namely, at the head of the two ways, the
hand post pointing Nebuchadnezzar to the way to Jerusalem as the way he
should select. But Maurer rightly
supports English Version. Ezekiel is told to "choose the place"
where Nebuchadnezzar should do as is described in Eze 21:20, 21; so entirely does God order by the
prophet every particular of place and time in the movements of the
20. Rabbath of the Ammonites—distinct
from Rabbah in Judah (2Sa 12:26).
Rabbath is put first, as it was from her that Jerusalem, that doomed
city, had borrowed many of her idols.
to Judah in Jerusalem—instead of
simply putting "Jerusalem," to imply the sword was to come not merely
to Judah, but to its people within Jerusalem, defended though it
was; its defenses on which the Jews relied so much would not keep the
21. parting—literally, "mother of the
way." As "head of the two ways" follows, which seems tautology after
"parting of the way," Havernick
translates, according to Arabic idiom, "the highway," or
principal road. English Version is not tautology, "head of the
two ways" defining more accurately "parting of the way."
made … bright—rather, "shook,"
from an Arabic root.
arrows—Divination by arrows is here
referred to: they were put into a quiver marked with the names of
particular places to be attacked, and then shaken together;
whichever came forth first intimated the one selected as the first to
be attacked [Jerome]. The same usage
existed among the Arabs, and is mentioned in the Koran. In the Nineveh
sculptures the king is represented with a cup in his right hand, his
left resting on a bow; also with two arrows in the right, and the bow
in the left, probably practising divination.
household gods, worshipped as family talismans, to obtain direction as
to the future and other blessings. First mentioned in Mesopotamia,
whence Rachel brought them (Ge 31:19, 34); put away by Jacob (Ge 35:4); set up by Micah as his household gods
17:5); stigmatized as
idolatry (1Sa 15:23,
Hebrew; Zec 10:2,
liver—They judged of the success, or
failure, of an undertaking by the healthy, or unhealthy, state of the
liver and entrails of a sacrifice.
22. Rather, "In his right hand was [is]
the divination," that is, he holds up in his right hand the arrow
marked with "Jerusalem," to encourage his army to march for it.
"battering-rams," adopted by Fairbairn,
is less appropriate, for "battering-rams" follow presently after [Grotius].
open the mouth in …
slaughter—that is, commanding slaughter: raising the war cry
of death. Not as Gesenius, "to open the
mouth with the war shout."
23. Unto the Jews, though credulous of
divinations when in their favor, Nebuchadnezzar's divination "shall be
(seen) as false." This gives the reason which makes the Jews fancy
themselves safe from the Chaldeans, namely, that they "have sworn" to
the latter "oaths" of allegiance, forgetting that they had violated
them (Eze 17:13, 15, 16, 18).
but he, &c.—Nebuchadnezzar
will remember in consulting his idols that he swore to Zedekiah by
them, but that Zedekiah broke the league [Grotius]. Rather, God will remember against
16:19) their violating their
oath sworn by the true God, whereas Nebuchadnezzar kept his oath sworn
by a false god; Eze 21:24
24. Their unfaithfulness to Nebuchadnezzar was
a type of their general unfaithfulness to their covenant God.
with the hand—namely, of the king of
25. profane—as having desecrated by
idolatry and perjury his office as the Lord's anointed. Havernick translates, as in Eze 21:14, "slain," that is, not literally, but
virtually; to Ezekiel's idealizing view Zedekiah was the grand victim
"pierced through" by God's sword of judgment, as his sons were slain
before his eyes, which were then put out, and he was led a captive in
chains to Babylon. English Version is better: so Gesenius (2Ch 36:13; Jer 52:2).
when iniquity shall have an end—(Eze 21:29). When thine iniquity, having
reached its last stage of guilt, shall be put an end to by judgment
26. diadem—rather, "the miter" of the
holy priest (Ex 28:4; Zec 3:5). His priestly emblem as representative
of the priestly people. Both this and "the crown," the emblem of the
kingdom, were to be removed, until they should be restored and united
in the Mediator, Messiah (Ps 110:2, 4; Zec 6:13), [Fairbairn]. As, however, King Zedekiah alone, not
the high priest also, is referred to in the context, English
Version is supported by Gesenius.
this shall not be the same—The diadem
shall not be as it was [Rosenmuller].
Nothing shall remain what it was [Fairbairn].
exalt … low, … abase …
high—not the general truth expressed (Pr 3:34; Lu 1:52; Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5); but specially referring to Messiah and
Zedekiah contrasted together. The "tender plant … out of the dry
ground" (Isa 53:2) is
to be "exalted" in the end (Eze 21:27);
the now "high" representative on David's throne, Zedekiah, is to be
"abased." The outward relations of things shall be made to
change places in just retaliation on the people for having so perverted
the moral relations of things [Hengstenberg].
27. Literally, "An overturning, overturning,
overturning, will I make it." The threefold repetition denotes the
awful certainty of the event; not as Rosenmuller explains, the overthrow of the
three, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah; for Zedekiah alone is
it shall be no more, until he come whose right
it is—strikingly parallel to Ge 49:10. Nowhere shall there be rest or
permanence; all things shall be in fluctuation until He comes who, as
the rightful Heir, shall restore the throne of David that fell with
Zedekiah. The Hebrew for "right" is "judgment"; it perhaps
includes, besides the right to rule, the idea of His rule being
one in righteousness (Ps 72:2; Isa 9:6, 7; 11:4; Re
(Nebuchadnezzar, &c.), who held the rule of the earth delegated to
them by God, abused it by unrighteousness, and so forfeited the
"right." He both has the truest "right" to the rule, and exercises it
in "right." It is true the tribal "scepter" continued with Judah
"till Shiloh came" (Ge 49:10);
but there was no kingly scepter till Messiah came, as the
spiritual King then (Joh 18:36, 37); this spiritual kingdom being about to
pass into the literal, personal kingdom over Israel at His
second coming, when, and not before, this prophecy shall have its
exhaustive fulfilment (Lu 1:32, 33; Jer 3:17; 10:7; "To thee doth it appertain").
28. Lest Ammon should think to escape because
Nebuchadnezzar had taken the route to Jerusalem, Ezekiel denounces
judgment against Ammon, without the prospect of a restoration such as
awaited Israel. Jer 49:6, it
is true, speaks of a "bringing again of its captivity," but this
probably refers to its spiritual restoration under Messiah; or,
if referring to it politically, must refer to but a partial
restoration at the downfall of Babylon under Cyrus.
their reproach—This constituted a
leading feature in their guilt; they treated with proud contumely the
covenant-people after the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Eze
25:3, 6; Zep 2:9, 10), and
appropriated Israel's territory (Jer 49:1; Am 1:13-15).
furbished, to consume—Maurer punctuates thus, "Drawn for the slaughter, it
is furbished to devour ('consume'), to glitter." English
Version, "to consume because of the glittering," means, "to consume
by reason of the lightning, flash-like rapidity with which it
falls." Five years after the fall of Jerusalem, Ammon was destroyed for
aiding Ishmael in usurping the government of Judea against the will of
the king of Babylon (2Ki 25:25; Jer 41:15) [Grotius].
29. see vanity … divine a
lie—Ammon, too, had false diviners who flattered them with
assurances of safety; the only result of which will be to "bring Ammon
upon the necks," &c., that is, to add the Ammonites to the
headless trunks of the slain of Judah, whose bad example Ammon
followed, and "whose day" of visitation for their guilt "is come."
when their iniquity shall have an
end—See on Eze 21:25.
30. Shall I cause it to return into his
sheath—namely, without first destroying Ammon. Certainly not
47:6, 7). Others, as the
Margin, less suitably read it imperatively, "Cause it to
return," that is, after it has done the work appointed to it.
in the land of thy nativity—Ammon was
not to be carried away captive as Judah, but to perish in his own
31. blow against thee in,
&c.—rather, "blow upon thee with the fire," &c. Image
from smelting metals (Eze 22:20, 21).
skilful to destroy—literally,
"artificers of destruction"; alluding to Isa 54:16.
32. thy blood shall be—that is, shall
be no more remembered—be consigned as
a nation to oblivion.