Eze 36:1-38. Israel Avenged
of Her Foes, and Restored, First to Inward Holiness, Then to Outward
The distinction between Israel and the heathen (as
Edom) is: Israel has a covenant relation to God ensuring restoration
after chastisement, so that the heathen's hope of getting possession of
the elect people's inheritance must fail, and they themselves be made
desolate (Eze 36:1-15). The reason for the chastisement of
Israel was Israel's sin and profanation of God's name (Eze 36:16-21). God has good in store for
Israel, for His own name's sake, to revive His people; first, by a
spiritual renewal of their hearts, and, next, by an external
restoration to prosperity (Eze 36:22-33). The result is that the heathen shall
be impressed with the power and goodness of God manifested so palpably
towards the restored people (Eze 36:34-38).
1, 2. mountains of Israel—in contrast to
"Mount Seir" of the previous prophecy. They are here
personified; Israel's elevation is moral, not merely physical, as
Edom's. Her hills are "the everlasting hills" of Jacob's prophecy
49:26). "The enemy" (Edom,
the singled-out representative of all God's foes), with a shout of
exultation, "Aha!" had claimed, as the nearest kinsman of Israel (the
brother of their father Esau), his vacated inheritance; as much as to
say, the so-called "everlasting" inheritance of Israel and of the
"hills," which typified the unmoved perpetuity of it (Ps 125:1, 2), has come to an end, in spite of
the promise of God, and has become "ours" (compare De 32:13;
3. Literally, "Because, even because."
swallowed you up—literally, "panted
after" you, as a beast after its prey; implying the greedy cupidity of
Edom as to Israel's inheritance (Ps 56:1, 2).
lips of talkers—literally, "lips of
the tongue," that is, of the slanderer, the man of tongue. Edom
slandered Israel because of the connection of the latter with Jehovah,
as though He were unable to save them. De 28:37, and Jer 24:9 had foretold Israel's reproach
among the heathen (Da 9:16).
4. Inanimate creatures are addressed, to imply
that the creature also, as it were, groans for deliverance from the
bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God
8:19-21) [Polanus]. The completeness of the renewed
blessedness of all parts of the land is implied.
5. to cast it out for a prey—that is, to
take the land for a prey, its inhabitants being cast out. Or the land
is compared to a prey cast forth to wild beasts. Fairbairn needlessly alters the Hebrew
pointing and translates, "that they may plunder its pasturage."
6. the shame of the heathen—namely, the
shame with which the heathen cover you (Ps 123:3, 4).
7. lifted … mine hand—in token of
an oath (Eze 20:5; Ge 14:22).
they shall bear their shame—a
perpetual shame; whereas the "shame" which Israel bore from
these heathen was only for a time.
8. they are at hand to come—that is, the
Israelites are soon about to return to their land. This proves that the
primary reference of the prophecy is to the return from Babylon, which
was "at hand," or comparatively near. But this only in part fulfilled
the prediction, the full and final blessing in future, and the
restoration from Babylon was an earnest of it.
10. wastes builded—Isa
58:12; 61:4; Am 9:11, 12, 14,
where, as here (Eze 34:23, 24), the names of David, Messiah's type,
and Edom, Israel's foe, are introduced in connection with the coming
11. do better … than at your
beginnings—as in the case of Job (Job 42:12). Whereas the heathen nations fall
irrevocably, Israel shall be more than restored; its last estate shall
exceed even its first.
12. to walk upon you—O mountains of
thee … thou—change from
plural to singular: O hill of Zion, singled out from the
other mountains of Israel (Eze 34:26);
thou shall no more … bereave them of
men—Thou shalt no more provoke God to bereave them of
children (so the ellipsis ought to be supplied, as Ezekiel probably
alludes to Jer 15:7, "I
will bereave them of children").
13. Thou land devourest up men—alluding
to the words of the spies (Nu 13:32).
The land personified is represented as doing that which was done in it.
Like an unnatural mother it devoured, that is, it was the grave of its
people; of the Canaanites, its former possessors, through mutual wars,
and finally by the sword of Israel; and now, of the Jews, through
internal and external ills; for example, wars, famine (to which Eze 36:30, "reproach of famine among
the heathen," implies the allusion here is).
14. bereave—so the Keri, or
Hebrew Margin reads, to correspond to "bereave" in Eze 36:13; but "cause to fall" or "stumble," in
the Hebrew text or Chetib, being the more difficult
reading, is the one least likely to come from a corrector; also, it
forms a good transition to the next subject, namely, the moral
cause of the people's calamities, namely, their falls, or
stumblings through sin. The latter ceasing, the former also
cease. So the same expression follows in Eze 36:15, "Neither shalt thou cause thy nations
to fall any more."
17. removed woman—(Le 15:19, &c.).
18, 19. The reason for their removal was their
sin, which God's holiness could not let pass unpunished; just as a
woman's legal uncleanness was the reason for her being separated
from the congregation.
20. profaned my holy name, when they—the
said to them—the Israelites.
These, &c.—The Israelites gave a
handle of reproach to the heathen against God, who would naturally say,
These who take usury, oppress, commit adultery, &c., and who, in
such an abject plight, are "gone forth" as exiles "out of His land,"
are specimens of what Jehovah can or will effect, for His people, and
show what kind of a God this so-called holy, omnipotent,
covenant-keeping God must be! (Isa 52:5; Ro 2:24).
21. I had pity for mine holy name—that
is, I felt pity for it; God's own name, so dishonored, was the primary
object of His pitying concern; then His people, secondarily, through
His concern for it [Fairbairn].
22. not … for your sakes—that is,
not for any merit in you; for, on the contrary, on your part, there is
everything to call down continued severity (compare De 9:5, 6). The sole and sure ground of hope was
God's regard to "His own name," as the God of covenant grace (Ps 106:45), which He must vindicate from the
dishonor brought on it by the Jews, before the heathen.
23. sanctify—vindicate and manifest as
holy, in opposition to the heathen reproaches of it brought on by the
Jews' sins and their punishment (see on Eze
sanctified in you—that is, in respect
of you; I shall be regarded in their eyes as the Holy One, and
righteous in My dealings towards you (Eze 20:41; 28:22).
24. Fulfilled primarily in the restoration
from Babylon; ultimately to be so in the restoration "from all
25. The external restoration must be
preceded by an internal one. The change in their condition must
not be superficial, but must be based on a radical renewal of the
heart. Then the heathen, understanding from the regenerated lives of
God's people how holy God is, would perceive Israel's past troubles to
have been only the necessary vindications of His righteousness. Thus
God's name would be "sanctified" before the heathen, and God's people
be prepared for outward blessings.
sprinkle … water—phraseology
taken from the law; namely, the water mixed with the ashes of a heifer
sprinkled with a hyssop on the unclean (Nu 19:9-18); the thing signified being the
cleansing blood of Christ sprinkled on the conscience and heart (Heb
9:13, 14; 10:22; compare
Jer 33:8; Eph 5:26).
from all your idols—Literal idolatry
has ceased among the Jews ever since the captivity; so far, the
prophecy has been already fulfilled; but "cleansing from all
their idols," for example, covetousness, prejudices against Jesus of
Nazareth, is yet future.
26. new heart—mind and will.
spirit—motive and principle of
stony heart—unimpressible in serious
things; like the "stony ground" (Mt 13:5, 20), unfit for receiving the good seed so
as to bring forth fruit.
heart of flesh—not "carnal" in
opposition to "spiritual"; but impressible and docile, fit for
receiving the good seed. In Eze 18:31
they are commanded, "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit."
Here God says, "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit
will I put within you." Thus the responsibility of man, and the
sovereign grace of God, are shown to be coexistent. Man cannot make
himself a new heart unless God gives it (Php 2:12, 13).
27. my spirit—(Eze 11:19;
Jer 32:39). The partial
reformation at the return from Babylon (Ezr 10:6, &c.; Ne
8:1-9:38) was an earnest of
the full renewal hereafter under Messiah.
28. ye … my people, … I … your
God—(Eze 11:20; Jer 30:22).
29. save … from all …
uncleannesses—the province of Jesus, according to the
signification of His name (Mt 1:21). To
be specially exercised in behalf of the Jews in the latter days (Ro 11:26).
call for … corn—as a master
"calls for" a servant; all the powers and productions of nature are the
servants of Jehovah (Ps 105:16; Mt 8:8, 9). Compare as to the subordination of all
the intermediate agents to the Great First Cause, who will give "corn"
and all good things to His people, Ho 2:21, 22; Zec 8:12.
30. no more reproach of famine among the
heathen—to which their taunt (Eze 36:13), "Thou land devourest up men," in part
31. remember your … evil ways—with
shame and loathing. The unexpected grace and love of God, manifested in
Christ to Israel, shall melt the people into true repentance, which
mere legal fear could not (Eze 16:61, 63; Ps 130:4; Zec
12:10; compare Jer 33:8, 9).
35. they shall say—The heathen, who once
made Israel's desolation a ground of reproach against the name of
Jehovah Himself (Eze 36:20, 21); but now He so vindicates its sanctity
36:22, 23) that these same
heathen are constrained to acknowledge Israel's more than renewed
blessedness to be God's own work, and a ground for glorifying His name
Eden—as Tyre (the type of the world
powers in general: so Assyria, a cedar "in the garden of God, Eden,"
9), in original advantages,
had been compared to "Eden, the garden of God" (Eze 28:13), from which she had fallen
irrecoverably; so Israel, once desolate, is to be as "the garden of
51:3), and is to be so
36. Lord … spoken … do
37. I will yet for this be inquired
of—so as to grant it. On former occasions He had refused to
be inquired of by Israel because the inquirers were not in a fit
condition of mind to receive a blessing (Eze 14:3; 20:3). But hereafter, as in the restoration
from Babylon (Ne 8:1-9:38; Da 9:3-20, 21, 23), God will prepare His people's hearts
36:26) to pray aright for the
blessings which He is about to give (Ps 102:13-17, 20;
Zec 12:10-14; 13:1).
like a flock—resuming the image (Eze 34:23,
38. As the holy flock—the great flock of
choice animals for sacrifice, brought up to Jerusalem at the three
great yearly festivals, the passover, pentecost, and feast of the