and they shall bereave thee; that is, of her children, whom the evil beasts should destroy; they not being able to defend themselves against them, as men can:
and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee, and I will bring the sword upon thee; the pestilence, famine, sword, which is meant by blood, and evil beasts, are the Lord's four sore judgments; see Ezekiel 14:21.
I the Lord have spoken it: who was able to perform it, and did, both at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and by Titus.
INTRODUCTION TO Ezekiel 6
This chapter contains a prophecy of the desolation of the whole land of Israel, and a promise that a remnant should escape, with a lamentation for the sad destruction, signified by some gestures of the prophet. The order to the prophet to deliver out the prophecy is in Ezekiel 6:1; the several parts of the land of Israel or Judea, to which the prophecy is directed, are signified by mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys, on which the sword should be brought, Ezekiel 6:3; the desolation is described, and the cause of it suggested, the idolatry of the people, Ezekiel 6:4; the promise of a remnant that should escape, who should remember the Lord, loath themselves for their sins, acknowledge him, and that his word was not in vain, is in Ezekiel 6:8; the lamentation, signified by the prophet's smiting with his hand, and stamping with his foot, for the sins of the people, and the judgments that should come upon them, is in Ezekiel 6:11; a particular enumeration of these judgments follows, and of the places where they should be executed, Ezekiel 6:12; the end of them was to bring them to the knowledge and acknowledgment of the Lord, against whom they had sinned and offended by their idolatry, as the places where their slain fell would show, Ezekiel 6:13; and the chapter is concluded with a resolution to bring this desolation on them, Ezekiel 6:14.
and prophesy against them; as that the sword should be upon them, and the high places built upon them should be destroyed: or "unto them" (a); direct the prophecy to them; speak to them as if they were capable of hearing: or "concerning them", as the Syriac version; and so the Targum, concerning their desolation.
(a) "ad eos", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus; "ad illos", Piscator.
thus saith the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys: these are addressed, because idols were worshipped here; as upon the mountains and hills, so by rivers of water, and also in valleys, as in the valley of Hinnom idols were worshipped; upon mountains and hills, because they thought themselves nearer to heaven; by rivers, because of purity; and in valleys, because shady and obscure, and had something solemn and venerable in them:
behold I, even I, will bring a sword upon you; that is, upon the idolaters, which worshipped in these places; otherwise different instruments, as pick axes, &c. would have been more proper. The Targum paraphrases it,
"them that kill with the sword;''
meaning the Chaldeans, who doubtless are intended:
and I will destroy your high places; the temples and altars, built on high places, and devoted to idolatrous worship, as follows:
and your images shall be broken; the "images of the sun" (b). The word for images has its derivation from heat; and were so called, either from the heat of the sun, to whose worship they were devoted, or from the heat of the love and affections of their worshippers:
and I will cast down your slain men before your idols; before your dung, or your "dunghill gods" (c); for the word used has the signification of dung, Ezekiel 4:12. The Targum renders it,
"before the carcass of your idols;''
where they committed idolatry, there they should be slain; which points at the cause of their punishment.
(b) "simulacra vestra solis", Pagninus; "solaria vestra", Vatablus; "subdiales statuae vestrae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus. (c) "coram stercoreis diis vestris", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus; "coram stercoribus vestris", Cocceius.
and I will scatter your bones round about your altars: which were reckoned a pollution of them; see 2 Kings 23:14.
and the high places shall be desolate; meaning such as were in cities; as, before, such as were built upon mountains and hills; see 2 Kings 23:5;
that your altars may be laid waste and desolate; as they must be, the cities being destroyed in which they were set up:
and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down; such as were made of gold and silver, or of wood and stone; the same words are used for them as in Ezekiel 6:4;
and your works may be abolished; not only the works of their hands, but of their brain; whatever they had devised, and was contrary to the pure word and worship of God.
and ye shall know that I am the Lord; the only true God, and Governor of the world; who only is to be worshipped, feared, and served, and not idols.
that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations; which was threatened to be drawn, and sent after them, Ezekiel 5:2; but all should not perish by if; some should escape; for this was not the time to make a full end of them:
when ye shall be scattered through the countries; that is, of Egypt, Ammon, Moab, and Assyria; for this respects their dispersion at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and not their present dispersion.
among the nations, whither they shall be carried captive; so that their afflictions should be sanctified and made useful to them: in prosperity men are apt to forget God; in adversity they are brought to a sense of themselves and duty; and happy it is when chastening dispensations are teaching ones, and bring to God, and not drive from him:
because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me: by committing spiritual adultery, which is idolatry. The sense is, either that he was grieved at heart with their idolatry, which was the reason of their being carried captive, which, when they were sensible of, wrought repentance in them; or that he was full of compassion towards them; his heart was tender and pitiful towards them, though they departed from him in such a dreadful manner, justly to be resented by him. The Targum is,
"I have broken their foolish heart;''
and so the Syriac and Vulgate Latin versions, "I have broken their whorish heart"; by afflictive providences humbled them, and brought them to repentance:
and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols; they committed fornication with their heart and eyes in a spiritual sense, as wicked men do in a natural sense; see 2 Peter 2:14;
and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations; abominable idolatry, 1 Peter 4:3; when men remember God, against whom they have sinned, and consider how grieving sin is to him; and when they are broken for it themselves, they then loathe their sins, and themselves for it; and where all this is there is true repentance.
and that I have not said in vain; either within himself, in his own purposes and decrees; so the Targum,
"I have not in vain decreed in my word;''
or by the mouth of the prophets:
that I would do this evil unto them; in carrying them captive, and dispersing them in other lands; for this is not the evil of sin, but the evil of punishment, or of affliction.
and say, alas, for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! the word "alas", or "woe", as the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, an interjection of mourning and lamentation, explains the above gestures; and what follows shows the cause of all; namely, the sins and abominations committed by the house of Israel; which they being insensible of, and unconcerned about, the prophet is ordered to take such a method to awaken them out of their stupidity and lethargy; and the rather, since the heaviest of judgments were coming upon them:
for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; which are threatened in Ezekiel 5:12; and the persons on whom they should be separately executed are mentioned in Ezekiel 6:12.
(d) "extende pede tuo", Pagninus, Montanus, Polanus; "fac distensionem cum pede tuo", Munster; "divarica pedes tuos": Calvin.
and he that is near shall fall by the sword; that is out of the city, and near it, attempting to get away; but within the reach of the enemy, shall be slain by him:
and he that remaineth, and is besieged, shall die by the famine; that abides in the city, and does not attempt to go out; but continues in the siege, hoping the enemy will be obliged to depart, shall perish by the grievous famine. The Targum is,
"he that remains, and goes into the cities of siege, shall die with famine:''
thus will I accomplish my fury upon them; which before had been gradually, by little and little, falling upon them, in order to bring them to repentance; but being incorrigible, wrath is brought upon them to the uttermost; and God fulfils the whole counsel of his will in their destruction.
when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars; as is threatened, Ezekiel 6:5; by which it will appear that the idols whom they worshipped could not save them; since they should fall just by them, round about the altars on which they sacrificed unto them; which idols were placed, and altars for their worship built,
upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains: mountains and high hills were usual places of idolatry among the Heathens, in which the Jews imitated them, and particularly Herodotus (e) says of the Persians, that, going up to the highest parts of mountains, they offered sacrifice to Jupiter; so they called the whole circle of the heavens:
and under every green tree, and under every thick oak; see 1 Kings 14:23; here their slain were to fall, where they committed their idolatry: even in
the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols; or dunghill gods; yet, though they were such, sweet savour or incense was offered to them; wherefore, in righteous judgment, here their carcasses should fill and lie, and rot and stink.
(e) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 131.