Ezekiel 35 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Ezekiel 35
Pulpit Commentary
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Verse 1. - Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying. As no date is given, the present oracle, extending to the close of Ezekiel 36:15, may be assumed to have been communicated to and delivered by the prophet in immediate succession to the foregoing, with which it has also an intimate connection. Having announced the future restoration of Israel, as Jehovah's flock, to her own land under the leadership of Jehovah's servant David, who should feed them like a shepherd and rule them like a prince (Ezekiel 34:13, 23, 24), the prophet proceeds to contemplate the existing hindrance to this return in the occupation of Palestine by the Edomites, who had probably been allowed by the Chaldeans to take possession of it in payment of services rendered by them against Judah in the siege of Jerusalem - to predict the entire removal of this hindrance. (vers. 1-15), and to administer to Israel the comfort which, as a consequence, would ensue (Ezekiel 36:1-15).
Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it,
Verse 2. - Set thy face against Mount Seir. The mountainous are in between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf, which formed the original settlement of Esau and his descendants (Genesis 36:9), is here put for the land of Edom, as the land in turn stands for its people (Ezekiel 25:8). Although already the prophet has pronounced a threatening doom against Edom (Ezekiel 25:12-14), he once more directs against, it the judgments of Heaven, on this occasion viewing it as the representative of all those hostile world-powers which from the first had been opposed to Israel as the theocratic nation, and which even then, by their antagonism, hindered her return (cf. Isaiah 63:1-8).
And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate.
Verse 3. - Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against thee (cf. Ezekiel 5:8; Ezekiel 13:8; and contrast Ezekiel 36:9), and I will stretch out mine hand against thee (cf. Ezekiel 6:14; Ezekiel 14:9, 13; Ezekiel 25:7, 19; and Exodus 7:5), and I will make thee most desolate; literally, a desolation and an astonishment (cf. ver. 7). Against the mountains of Israel had been denounced a similar fate, which the idolatrous remnant that lingered in the laud after the Captivity had commenced began to experience (Ezekiel 33:28, 29). The doom, however, connected with the day of Israel's return was to fall upon Edom, whose cities should be emptied of their inhabitants and whose fields should be cursed with barrenness (Ezekiel 25:13; Obadiah 1:8, 10).
I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
Verse 4. - They shall know that I am Jehovah. By this expressive formula Ezekiel intimates the moral effect which should be produced upon the nations of the earth, whether by beholding or by experiencing the Divine judgments (Ezekiel 6:7, 13; Ezekiel 7:4, 9; Ezekiel 11:10, 12; Ezekiel 13:9, 14, 21, 23; Ezekiel 14:8; Ezekiel 15:7, et passim; cf. Exodus 6:7; Exodus 7:50 17; 29:46; 31:13; all of which passages belong to Wellhausen's grundschrift, which it is supposed had no existence in the time of Ezekiel).
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:
Verse 5. - Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred; literally, hatred of old, or eternal enmity (cf. Ezekiel 25:15). This was the first of the two specific grounds upon which Eden should feel the stroke of Divine vengeance. Edom had been Israel's hereditary foe from the days of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:22, sqq.; and Genesis 27:37) downwards. Inspired with unappeasable wrath (Amos 1:11), during the period of the wandering he had refused Israel, "his brother," a passage through his territory (Numbers 20:14-21; Judges 11:17), and in the days of Jehoshaphat had combined with Ammon and Moab to invade Judah (2 Chronicles 20:10, 11; cf. Psalm 83:1-8). His relentless antipathy to Israel culminated, according to Ezekiel (cf. Obadiah 1:13), in the last days of Jerusalem, in the time of her calamity, when Nebuchadnezzar's armies encompassed her walls, in the time that her iniquity had an end; or, in the time of the iniquity of the end (Revised Version); meaning, according to Keil, "the time of Judah's final transgression;" or, according to Dr. Currey, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' the time when the capture of the city put an end to her iniquity; but, with more probability, according to Hengstenberg, Plumptre, and others, the time of that iniquity which brought on her end (comp. Ezekiel 21:29). Ewald translates, "at the time of her extremest punishment," taking avon in the sense of punishment - a rendering the Revisers have placed in the margin. Then, according to Obadiah (vers. 11-14), the Edomites had not only stood coolly by, but malevolently exulted when they beheld Jerusalem besieged by the Babylonian warriors; and not only joined with the foreign invaders in the sacking of the city, but occupied its gates and guarded the roads leading into the country, so as to prevent the escape of any of the wretched inhabitants, and even hewed down with the sword such fugitives as they were not able to save alive and deliver up to captivity. To this Ezekiel refers when he accuses Edom of having shed the blood of the children of Israel by the fores of the sword; literally, of having poured the children of Israel upon the hands of the sword; i.e. of having delivered them up to the sword (cf. Psalm 63:11; Jeremiah 18:21).
Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.
Verse 6. - I will prepare thee unto blood. This peculiar expression was probably selected because of the suggestion of the name Edom ("red") contained in the term dam ("blood") - though Smend doubts this - and designed to intimate that Edom's name would eventually be verified in Edom's fate. And blood shall pursue thee. "As blood-guiltiness invariably pursues a murderer, cries for vengeance, and delivers him up to punishment" (Havernick), so should blood follow in the steps of Edom. The translation of Ewald, who reads מַעַשְׂך instead of אֶעֶשְׂך, "And because thy inclination is after blood, therefore blood shall pursue thee," is hardly an improvement, and is besides unnecessary. Sith thou hast not hated blood. So render Ewald, Keil, Kliefoth, Havernick, Schroder, Plumptre, and the Revised Version, meaning that Edom had loved bloodshed. Kimchi, Hitzig, Hengstenberg, Smend, and Fairbairn regard אִמאּלֹא as a particle of strong affirmation, equivalent to "forsooth," "verily," and understand the prophet to say that 'Edom had hated blood. As to the precise import of this rendering, diversity of sentiment prevails. Some, with Theodoret, explain "blood" as an allusion to the blood-relationship of Esau and Jacob, Edom and Israel, and hold the charge to be that Edom had hated his "brother" Israel. Others, with Hengstenberg, take the blood Edom hated to be the blood he had shed. Hitzig and Fairbairn suppose the sense to be that Edom hated the idea of his own blood being shed. Even - better, therefore (Revised Version) - blood shall pursue thee. A parallel to this expression is supplied by Deuteronomy 28:22, 45. According to the first or commonly accepted exposition of the preceding clause, the sense is that Edom would ultimately fall beneath the great law of retribution, and reap as she had sown - blood for blood; according to the second, the allusion is to the fact that what Edom now most dreaded, the shedding of his own blood, would be that which should ultimately overtake him (cf. Ezekiel 11:8; Job 3:25).
Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth.
Verse 7. - Thus will I make Mount Seir most desolate; literally, desolation and a desolation (שְׁמֲמָּה וּשְׁמָמָה); or, as in the Revised Version, an astonishment and a desolation; changing שְׁמֲמַה into מְשַׁמָּה, for which, however, there is no sufficient warrant. And I will out off... him that passeth out (or, through) and him that returneth. No more should traders or travelers pass through the land of Edom or go to and return from it (cf. Ezekiel 33:28; Zechariah 7:15; 9:8, 10).
And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.
Verse 8. - And I will fill his mountains with his slain; literally, pierced through; hence mortally wounded. Then Edom's desolation would result from an exterminating war, which should fill its hills, valleys, and rivers, or rather, water-courses, with slaughtered men (cf. Ezekiel 31:12; Ezekiel 32:5). The physical features of Edom here specified by the prophet have often been attested by travelers. "Idumea embraces a section of a broad mountain range, extending in breadth from the valley of the Arabah to the desert plateau of Arabia. The ravines which intersect these sandstone mountains are very remarkable. Take them as a whole, there is nothing like them in the world, especially those near Petra. The deep valleys and the little terraces along the mountain-sides, and the broad downs upon their summits, are covered with rich soil, in which trees, shrubs, and flowers grow luxuriantly" (Porter, in Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' art. "Idumea").
I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Verse 9. - Thy cities shall not return, as in Ezekiel 16:55 (Authorized Version after the Keri); or, shall not be inhabited, as in Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 29:11; Ezekiel 36:33 (LXX. and Revised Version, both of which follow the Chethib). Hengstenberg's translation, "Thy cities shall not sit," but lie prostrate, is not extremely happy.
Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there:
Verse 10. - Because thou hast said. The second ground of Edom's punishment lay in this, that she had presumptuously as well as confidently exclaimed, not concerning Idumea and Judah, as Jerome conjectured, but concerning Israel and Judah when she saw them stripped of their inhabitants, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; "it" meaning either the region over which the two countries extended, or, as Schroder suggests, Jerusalem their common capital (see Ezekiel 36:2; and comp. Psalm 83:4-12). And what constituted the gravamen of Edom's offense was that she had so spoken, whereas (or, though) the Lord was there. It is not necessary, with the LXX. and Kliefoth, to read "is there," to guard against the supposition that Ezekiel designed to suggest that, though Jehovah had formerly been in the land, he was there no longer. But, in point of fact, Jehovah had for a time withdrawn his visible presence from the temple and the city (see Ezekiel 10:18; Ezekiel 11:22, 23), though he had by no means renounced his right to the land; and Edom's error lay in not regarding this, but in acting as if Jehovah had departed from Israel for ever (Havernick); or (better, "and") in thinking he could appropriate to himself what really belonged to Jehovah, viz. the territory out of which Israel and Judah had been cast (Hengstenberg).
Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee.
Verses 11-13. - I will make myself known among them - Israel and Judah; not to thee (LXX., Hitzig, Ewald) - when I have judged thee. Edom's wickedness should be requited by his being made to suffer the indignities he designed to heap on Israel. In him the lextalionis should have full sway. Edom's misconception as to Jehovah's relation to the land and people should be corrected when Jehovah should rise up in judgment against him. Those judgments should in the first instance be a revelation to Israel and Judah, who should discern therefrom that they had not been utterly abandoned by Jehovah (ver. 11; cf. Ezekiel 20:5); and in the second instance should open Edom's eyes to perceive that Jehovah had been a silent listener to all the blasphemies she had uttered against the mountains of Israel (ver. 12), and had reckoned these as blasphemies uttered against himself (ver. 13).
And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.
Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.
Verse 14. - When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. By "the whole earth," Fairbairn, Haverniek, and Schroder understand "the whole land of Edom." In this case the sense is that, as the whole land of Edom had previously exulted with joy, so should it in the future be made completely desolate. Ewald, Hengstenberg, Keil, Kliefoth, Smend, and Plumptre, however, more correctly interpret the phrase as signifying the whole human race, with the exception of Edom. Accordingly, the thought seems to be, not that of Ewald and Smend, that Jehovah would make Edom's devastation a sport or comedy (freudespiel) to the whole world; or that of Kliefoth and Hitzig, that God would make Edom desolate, whilst all the earth rejoiced over her downfall; but that of Keil, Plumptre, and others, that just as Jehovah was preparing for the whole earth of redeemed humanity a glorious future of joy, so certainly would Edom and all whom Edom represented be excluded from participation in that joy.
As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Verse 15. - As thou didst rejoice. כִי is here a particle of comparison; and the import of the passage is that precisely as Edom exulted over the desolation of Israel's inheritance, so would Jehovah cause others to rejoice over the downfall and desolation of Edom. All Idumea. Instead of this Greek term, the Revised Version properly substitutes the usual word Edom. Note: That the prediction here uttered concerning Edom received literal fulfillment, the following extract relative to the present state of the country will show: "Idumea, once so rich in flocks, so strong in its fortresses and rock-hewn cities, so extensive in its commercial relations, so renowned for the architectural splendor of its palaces, is now a deserted and desolate wilderness. Its whole population is contained in some three or four miserable villages. No merchant would now dare to enter its borders; its highways are untrodden, its cities are all in ruins" (J.L. Porter, in Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' art. "Idumea").

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