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Song of Solomon
Ezekiel 38 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
- The announcement of Cog's expedition against Israel.
The word of the Lord came unto me
. Although this oracle is unaccompanied by any note of time, it was obviously delivered before the twenty-fifth year of the Captivity (
), and most likely in immediate succession to the preceding prophecy, with which also it has a close relation in respect of purport, being designed to show that against restored and united Israel,
against the Church of God of the future, the strongest combinations of hostile force would not prevail, but would fall back defeated and self-destroyed.
Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
Set thy face against
. Although occurring in
1 Chronicles 5:4
as the name of a Reubenite, Gog was probably a title formed by Ezekiel himself from the word
, the syllable
being treated as equivalent to "land." A similar freedom appears to have been exercised by the author of the Apocalypse, who out of Magog, here a territorial designation, makes a military power co-ordinate with Gog (
). That Gog was not an actual person - though the name reminds one of that of the Lydian king Gyges, as it appears on the monuments,
, aud of that of one
, the ruler of another Eastern territory not yet identified (see Schrader, 'Die Keilinschriften und dos Alto Testament,' p. 427; and comp. 'Records of the Past,' first series, vol. 9:46) - but an ideal character, must be held as proved by the composite structure of his army, which was drawn from the four comers of the globe, as well as by the highly imaginative texture of the whole prophecy, which, as Hengstenberg properly remarks, has a thoroughly "utopian [perhaps better, 'ideal'] character," showing that it moves "in the region of holy fancy." The words,
the land of Magog
, are not, with Havernick, Ewald, and Smend, to be interpreted as the local or geographical terminus of the prediction, as if the word of God had said, "Set thy face toward Gog, toward the laud of Magog;" but, with the majority of expositors, as a territorial designation signifying that Gog was in or of the laud of Magog, which is here marked with the article, probably to identify it with the well-known Magog mentioned in
, along with Tubal and Mesech as among the descendants of Japheth. From the circumstance that in the table of nations Magog stands between Gomer (the Cimmerians) and Madai (the Medians), and that Gomer appears in Gog's army, it has been not unreasonably concluded that to Ezekiel Magog represented a fierce Northern tribe, most likely, as Josephus ('Ant.,' 1:06. 1) asserts, the Scythians, whose territories lay upon the borders Of the sea of Azov and in the Caucasus. Plumptre even thinks that, "placed as Ezekiel was, he may well have come into contact with these Scythian tribes, either as part of Nebuchadnezzar's army or by a journey on his part into the regions north of Ararat" ('Ezekiel: an Ideal Biography,'
, vol. 8. p. 291, second series). Yet, could both of these hypotheses be established, it would not follow that Ezekiel was thinking merely, as Knobel and Gesenius suppose, of a future struggle which Israel should have to maintain against these
genres Scythicas immanes et innumerabiles
, as Jerome in his day described them. In addition to being named from his land, Gog is further distinguished by the peoples over whom he rules, Ezekiel styling him
the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal
- a translation adhered to by Hengstenberg, Ewald, and Smend; or, according to the LXX., which most expositors and the Revised Version follow,
the prince of Rosh
. The former rendering is obtained by interpreting
after the analogy of
, "chief priest," or "minister," in
1 Chronicles 27:5
; and is supported by a similar use of the word
on coins under the government of the Persian satraps; yet the second rendering is not devoid of considerations that may be urged in its favor. Besides being grammatically possible, it yields a souse which is not improbable. Byzantine and Arabian writers of the tenth century were acquainted with a people called
, who were Scythian mountaineers, dwelling north of the Taurus, on the shores of the Black Sea and on the banks of the Volga. The Koran speaks of a land of Ras not far from the Araxes. Whether either of these can be connected with present-day Russians, as Gesenius suggests - an hypothesis which Hengstenberg protests deals hardly with the poor Russians - must be left undecided. So must the question whether the people inquired after can be identified, as Delitzsch suggests, with the inhabitants of the land of Raseh (
) of the Inscriptions, which was Situated on the confines of Elam on the Tigris (see Schrader, 'Die Keilin-schriften und das Alto Testament,' p. 427; and comp. 'Records of the Past,' vol. 9. p. 84, 11. 122, 124). At the same time, Jerome's objection will scarcely hold good against understanding Resh as the name of a people, viz. that the Bible elsewhere has no knowledge of any such people, since, as Havernick observes, "one cannot know beforehand whether to Ezekiel, in his then place of abode, the knowledge of such a people was not likely sooner to come than to any Old Testament writer," and it is certain that the Book of Ezekiel is not wanting in names that occur only once, as e.g. Chilmad (
) and Chub (
). Hitzig points out that in
, along with Mesech and Tubal, is mentioned a third nation,
, which Yon Hammer has attempted to connect with Rosh; while Schroder sees in Rosh (allied to Ross, "horse") an indication that the people were equestrian in their habits, like the Scythians. The other peoples, Meshech and Tubal, were undoubtedly the Mosohians and Tibarenes,
, according to Herodotus (3:94; 7:78), dwelt south of the Black Sea.
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I
against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
I am against thee, O Gog
. Just because Gog was against Israel, Jehovah was against Gog. Gog's invasion of Israel's land would be a declaration of war against Israel's God. so that the conflict would rather be between Jehovah and Gog than between Israel and Gog. Hence throughout this prophecy Jehovah is represented as the principal actor on the side of Israel, who seeks her defense not in walls and bulwarks or in earthly alliances and military combinations, s in the days of the monarchy before the exile, but in the presence of Jehovah in her midst.
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts
of armour, even
a great company
bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
I will turn thee back
, and signifying "to cause to return") has by Hitzig, Havernick, Ewald, and Keil, been interpreted in the sense of "enticing," "misleading," decoying to a dangerous enterprise, as in
; but the ordinary meaning seems sufficient, that Jehovah would turn him back from his own self-devised career, or turn him about like a wild beast, putting hooks into his jaws (comp.
2 Kings 19:28
), and so compelling him to follow the lead of a power superior to himself. It is as evident that a turning back from the Holy Land cannot be intended, as it is that a turning back to the Holy Land is unsuitable, unless, with Hengstenberg and Ewald, one regards Gog as the Chaldeans, or, with Hitzig, and Schroder, as the Scythiaus, though these latter never were in Palestine, having left it unvisited in their campaign in
, and had not as yet formed the design of invading Israel. Smend is not wide of the mark in suggesting that the thought expressed in the verb is simply that of the superior might of Jehovah.
I will bring thee forth
. That the power which stirs up Gog is here represented as that of Jehovah, while in
it is affirmed to be that of Satan, need occasion no more difficulty than the similar statements, in
1 Samuel 24:1
, about God and in
1 Chronicles 21:1
about Satan, stirring up David to number Israel. The enumeration of
horses and horsemen
in Gog's army points to the Scythians, who, according to Herodotus (4:46, 136), were mostly equestrian tribes, although the Scythian remains discovered at Kerteh do not give an example of a Scythian horse-archer (see Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 3. p. 34, note 6).
All of them clothed with all sorts
of armor, better,
clothed with perfection
all of them
. A characteristic of the Assyrian army (comp.
). The arms of the warlike host -
a great company
, as in
, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea") - are described as consisting of bucklers,
shields large enough to cover the whole of the soldier, and not so suitable for cavalry as for infantry (comp.
bucklers of smaller size than the proceeding, such as Assyrian warriors were accustomed to carry (Sayce, 'Assyria, its Princes, Priests, and People,' p. 126); and swords, or weapons for laying waste. The Assyrian soldiery employed "the short dagger, or dirk, and the sword, which was of two kinds. The ordinary kind was long and straight, the less usual kind being curved, like a scimitar" ('Assyria, its Princes,' etc.). In connection with the allied nations in ver. 5, only the small "shield" and "helmet" are mentioned.
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
- These allied nations are depicted as coming from the four quarters of the globe.
), from the east;
), or Gush (
), from the south;
), from the west; and
Genesis 10:2, 3
1 Chronicles 1:5
), the Cimmerians of Homer ('Odyss.,' 11:13-19), whose abodes were the shores of the Euxine and Caspian Seas, and the
of the Assyrian Inscriptions (see Schrader, 'Die Keilinschriften,' etc., p. 80); with
the house of Togarmah
, from the north, or the extreme regions of the north, as in
). The first three are portrayed as armed
shield and helmet
, or more accurately as being
all of them shield and helmet
, which might signify that they should serve as a shield and helmet to Cog, who in truth should be unto them and their confederates a guard;
, according to Keil and Schroder, one who keeps watch over them; according to Miehaelis and Havernick, one who gives them law; according to Hengstenberg, one who is their authority; according to Ewald and Smend, one who serves to them as an ensign, t.¢. acts to them as a leader or commander. The LXX. translation, with which Hitzig agrees, "And thou shalt be to me for a guard," is manifestly wrong.
Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands:
many people with thee.
Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land
brought back from the sword,
gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
After many days thou halt be visited
. The principal controversy raised by these words is as to whether they signify, as Hitzig, Fairbairn, and Kliefoth suppose, that after many days Gog should be entrusted with the command of the aforementioned nations, or, as Ewald, Hengstenberg, Keil, Schroder, Plumptre, and Currey translate, that Gog, who intended to visit Israel, should himself be visited, in the sense of being punished. In support of the former rendering appeal is taken to
; but the verb
when used in this sense is commonly followed by
with the accusative of that or those with reference to which or whom the appointment is made or commission issued, and in addition no such commission with reference to these other nations was ever given by God to Gog. In vindication of the second meaning of the words,
and Isaiah 29:6 are ordinarily quoted: while in answer to the objection that it is too soon to talk of punishment for an offense not yet committed, it is customary to reply that, as Jehovah's stirring up of Gog was the first step towards his ultimate overthrow, that stirring up might fairly be described as at least the beginning of his judicial visitation. Havernick's translation, "For a long time thou wilt be missed,"
considered as a people that has utterly vanished," is forced; Smend's is better, "After many days thou shalt be mustered," or numbered. In any case Gog's first movement should take place
in the latter years
at the end of the years
- a frequent prophetic phrase (see
), here denoting the Messianic era, and should assume the form of an invasion of the land of Israel, which is next described by a threefold characterization.
As a land brought back from the sword
, not in the sense of its people having been made to desist from war, through being henceforth peacefully inclined (comp.
), or of their having ceased to expect war, because of living ever after securely (ver. 11), but in that of having been recovered from its devastations (
as a land whose inhabitants had been
gathered out of many nations
- a phrase, which while starting from and including the return from Babylon, manifestly looked beyond that event to the wider dispersion of Israel that should precede the final ingathering; and
as a land whose
mountains had been always waste
for a waste continually
. If such was their condition prior to the return from captivity, it is undeniable that such has practically been their condition ever since, and such it is likely to continue to be, until the final ingathering of the dispersed of Israel.
Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
Like a storm, and like a cloud
. Gog's invasion, his "ascension," or "going up" (compare the Greek term
for a military expedition), should be like a storm in its suddenness and violence, as in Ver. 1:27, and like a cloud in its threatening aspect and overshadowing nearness (see ver. 16; and comp.
). Taken together, the images suggest that Gog's invasion should burst forth suddenly, rage violently, spread quickly, alarm greatly, but cease finally. Storms roar and crash, alarm and destroy, but do not continue. Clouds diffuse gloom and fear, but ultimately disperse.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass,
at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
Thou shalt think an evil thought
; "conceive a mischievous purpose" (margin); or,
devise an evil device
(Revised Version). The ultimate responsibility for Gog's expedition should rest on Gog himself, who should be impelled thereto by his own lust of conquest. Ezekiel here recognizes what the Bible is full of, the duality of existence, according to which man is both a free agent, acting out his own thoughts and plans, and an unconscious instrument in the hands of God carrying out his counsels and designs.
And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
Verses 11, 12
give voice to the things that should come into Gog's mind and incite him to his enterprise against Israel. The spectacle of Israel dwelling safely,
securely and confidently, in
a land of un-walled villages
a land of open places
opposed to fortified cities -
, and having neither
bars nor gates
Zechariah 2:4, 5
1 Samuel 6:18
), because of being no more apprehensive of invasion, should excite within his bosom the thought that Israel would fall an easy prey to his assault; and this thought again should kindle in his bosom the lust of conquest which should finally impel him to the sinful project described, viz.
to take a spoil and to take a prey
to spoil the spoil
and to prey the prey
). In execution of this he would fall upon the once desolate but then inhabited places, upon the once scattered but then collected population, upon the previously poor but then wealthy inhabitants, who should then have gotten
cattle and goods
best renders the Hebrew parouomasia,
), as the patriarchs of their nation had once done (
), and who should then be dwelling
in the midst of the land
in the height
of the earth
), the Hebrews generally regarding Palestine as the Greeks did Delphi, both as the middle (Ezekiel v 5) and perhaps therefore if not as the highest (Gesenius), at least as the fairest and most fertile portion of the earth.
To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places
that are now
inhabited, and upon the people
gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
Sheba, and Dorian, and the merchants of Tarshish
were the great trading communities of the South, East, and West respectively (see on Ezekiel 27:15, 20, 22, 25).
The young lions thereof
of Tarshish, not of the other communities (Keil) - were probably intended to represent, not the" authorities" of Tarshish, as Hitzig suggests, but its smaller tradesmen who were equally rapacious with its larger merchants. All are depicted as following in the wake of Gog, like vultures in the rear of an army, and as inquiring whether Gog had come simply for the purpose of destruction or in the hope of trading with the booty he should capture. In this case they intimate their wish to be partakers of the spoil This (Plumptre), rather than the thirst for booty which characterized them (Keil), their question to Gog signified; Schroder's idea, that they purposed ironically to ridicule the smallness of the spoil which would reward so gigantic an expedition, has as little to recommend it as Kliefoth's suggestion, that they designed to intimate their sympathy with Gog's invasion of Israel.
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know
- The prophet is next directed to assure Gog of four things,
that in the latter days he should come up against Israel as predicted (vers. 14-16);
that he should not do so without Divine observation, permission, and direction (vers. 16, ;17);
that nevertheless Jehovah's indignation should flame forth against him (ver. 18); and
that Jehovah would magnify himself in his destruction.
Shalt thou not know it
? viz. that Israel is dwelling safely and unsuspectingly? Assuredly; because the barbarian chieftain will then be on the watch, as it were, to spy out Israel's defenseless condition, and to fix upon the most opportune moment for an assault. The LXX. read, "Shalt thou not arise?"
; and following it, both Hitzig and Ewald, without other justification, change
, "Wilt thou bestir thyself?"
And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
All of them riding upon horses
(see on ver. 4; and comp.
). The Scythians are said to have been able to eat, drink, and sleep in the saddle (Schroder).
And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
I will be sanctified in thee, O Gog
. Jehovah meant that in taking vengeance upon Gog for assailing Israel, he would be seen to be a holy and a righteous God.
Thus saith the Lord GOD;
thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days
years that I would bring thee against them?
Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time
? As no existing prophecy, prior to Ezekiel's time, mentions Cog by name, it must be concluded either
that Ezekiel refers to prophecies known in his day, though no longer extant; or
that his words simply mean that earlier prophets had predicted such an invasion of Israel in the last times as that which he announces under the leadership of Gog. The former opinion, though countenanced by Ewald, Kuenen, and Smend, is less probable than the latter, which expositors both ancient and modern favor. Schroder considers the hypothesis that earlier prophets had spoken of Gog by name as excluded by the interrogatory form of the sentence, since, had Cog been thus explicitly pointed out, there would, he thinks, have been no need to ask, "Art thou he?" But it is doubtful if the interrogatory form of the words had any other intention than to lend emphasis to the assertion that Gog was he to whom the earlier prophets had unconsciously referred. As to which earlier prophets he alluded opinions vary. Ewald cites
; Smend adding
Isaiah 25:5, 10
, 25; Joel 4:2, 11, etc.; Hengstenberg,
; and Fairbairn,
Daniel 2:44, 45
; though Schroder is probably correct in holding that all should be included which represent the hostility of the heathen world as culminating in the latter days in a grand concentrated attack upon Israel. Smend sees in the unusual phenomenon that Ezekiel reflects upon earlier prophecies an indication of the declining spirit of prophetism; it should, however, rather be regarded as a sign of superior spiritual insight on the part of Ezekiel, who could discern that from the first the prophets had been guided in their utterances by One who was intimately acquainted with the whole world-program, and knew the end from the beginning, so that however dark and enigmatical their predictions might be when taken separately, when viewed in connection they were recognized as forming parts of a harmonious whole.
And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD,
my fury shall come up in my face.
- Vers. 18 and 19 are not, as Hitzig, Kliefoth, and others explain, on the ground of the perfect, "I have spoken" (ver. 19), which, however, is rather a prophetical present - a free recapitulation of the earlier predictions, but a direct announcement through Ezekiel that when Gog should arrive upon the scene Jehovah should take the field against him, so that he should have to fight against Jehovah rather than against Israel. The expression,
my fury shall come up in my face
ascends in rail nose
, has parallels in
, and describes the vehement breathing (inhalation and exhalation) of an angry man through his nose.
The fire of Jehovah's wrath
(comp. Ezekiel 21:36; 36:5) should make itself known in that day by
a great shaking in the land of Israel
, which can hardly, as Kliefoth surmises, refer to the final judgment, or, as Keil thinks, to the trembling of the whole earth, with all the creatures, before the Lord, who comes to judgment, as in Joel 4:16 and
Zechariah 14:4, 5
, since the locality in which this convulsion of nature is to happen is expressly defined as "the land of Israel;" but must be understood, with Schroder and Smend, as a figurative description of the terrible overthrow which Jehovah should inflict upon Gog, and which should produce within the heathen mind a feeling of consternation, as if the whole fabric of the globe were falling into ruin. Grounding upon what occurred at Sinai (
), Hebrew writers generally depicted special interpositions of Jehovah as being witnessed to and accompanied by awe-inspiring natural convulsions (comp.
Psalm 18:7, 15
Psalm 46:2, 3
); and in the same manner does Ezekiel delineate Jehovah's intervention in behalf of Israel and against Gog, as so alarming that all living creatures, irrational as well as rational -
fishes of the sea, fowls of the heaven, beasts of the field, creeping things that creep upon the earth
ground - adamah
), and men upon the face of the earth; or,
) - should shake at its accompanying manifestations, and that even the mightiest objects in nature, such as the
mountains, steep places
, or, "reek-clefts" (Ewald), such elevations as can only be ascended by means of steps as by a ladder (comp.
Song of Solomon 2:14
), including natural ramparts as well as humanly constructed erections, should be overthrown (ver. 20).
For in my jealousy
in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that
upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
Every man's sword shall be against his brother
). The consternation produced by Jehovah's interposition should be such that the ranks of Gog should fall into utter confusion, and his warriors exterminate each other, as did the Midianites in the days of Gideon (
), and the Moabites, Ammonites, and Seiritea, who invaded Judah in the reign of Jehoshaphat (
2 Chronicles 20:23
And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that
with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
Verses 22, 23.
Pestilence and blood
... an overflowing rain and great hailstones
stones of ice
Ezekiel 13:11, 13
fire, and brimstone
). The imagery here brought together was probably borrowed from the accounts given in the Pentateuch of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (
), of the plagues in Egypt (
. - 10.), and of the extermination of the Canaanites (
). The result of the whole would be to impress the minds of
with the conviction that Israel's God was both great and powerful, that, in fact, he was God alone.
Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I
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