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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 39

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


The prophet goes on to denounce the Divine judgments against

Gog and his army, 1-7;

and describes their dreadful slaughter, 8-10,

and burial, 11-16,

in terms so very lofty and comprehensive, as must certainly

denote some very extraordinary interposition of Providence in

behalf of the Jews. And to amplify the matter still more, the

prophet, with peculiar art and propriety, delays the summoning

of all the birds and beasts of prey in nature to feast on the

slain, (in allusion to the custom of feasting on the remainder

of sacrifices,) till after the greater multitudes are buried;

to intimate that even the remainder, and as it were the

stragglers of such mighty hosts, would be more than sufficient

to satisfy their utmost rapacity, 17-20.

The remaining verses contain a prediction of the great

blessedness of the people of God in Gospel times, and of the

stability of the kingdom of Christ, 21-29.

It will be proper to remark that the great northern expedition

against the natural Israel, described in this and the preceding

chapter, is, from its striking resemblance in the main

particulars, put by the writer of the Apocalypse,

(Ezekiel 20:7-10,)

for a much more formidable armament of a multitude of nations

in the four quarters of the earth against the pure Christian

Church, the MYSTICAL Israel; an event still extremely remote,

and which it is thought shall immediately precede the

destruction of the world by fire, and the general judgment.


Verse 2

Verse Ezekiel 39:2. And leave but the sixth part of thee — The margin has, strike thee with six plagues; or, draw thee back with a hook of six teeth.

Verse 3

Verse Ezekiel 39:3. I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand — The Persians whom Antiochus had in his army, Ezekiel 38:5, were famous as archers, and they may be intended here. The bow is held by the left hand; the arrow is pulled and discharged by the right.

Verse 6

Verse Ezekiel 39:6. I will send a fire on Magog — On Syria. I will destroy the Syrian troops.

And among them that dwell carelessly in the isles — The auxiliary troops that came to Antiochus from the borders of the Euxine Sea.-Martin.

Verse 7

Verse Ezekiel 39:7. In the midst of my people Israel — This defeat of Gog is to be in Israel: and it was there according to this prophecy, that the immense army of Antiochus was so completely defeated.

And I will not let them pollute my holy name any more — See on 1Macc 1:11, c., how Antiochus had profaned the temple, insulted Jehovah and his worship, &c. God permitted that as a scourge to his disobedient people but now the scourger shall be scourged, and he shall pollute the sanctuary no more.

Verse 9

Verse Ezekiel 39:9. And shall set on fire - the weapons — The Israelites shall make bonfires and fuel of the weapons, tents, c., which the defeated Syrians shall leave behind them, as expressive of the joy which they shall feel for the destruction of their enemies and to keep up, in their culinary consumption, the memory of this great event.

They shall burn them with fire seven years — These may be figurative expressions, after the manner of the Asiatics, whose language abounds with such descriptions. They occur every where in the prophets. As to the number seven, it is only a certain for an indeterminate number. But as the slaughter was great, and the bows, arrows, quivers, shields, bucklers, handstaves, and spears were in vast multitudes, it must have taken a long time to gather them up in the different parts of the fields of battle, and the roads in which the Syrians had retreated, throwing away their arms as they proceeded; so there might have been a long time employed in collecting and burning them. And as all seem to have been doomed to the fire, there might have been some found at different intervals and burned, during the seven years here mentioned. Mariana, in his History of Spain, lib. xi., c. 24, says, that after the Spaniards had given that signal overthrow to the Saracens, A.D. 1212, they found such a vast quantity of lances, javelins, and such like, that they served them for four years for fuel. And probably these instruments obtained by the Israelites were used in general for culinary firewood, and might literally have served them for seven years; so that during that time they should take no wood out of the fields, nor out of the forests for the purpose of fuel, Ezekiel 39:10.

Verse 11

Verse Ezekiel 39:11. The valley of the passengers on the east of the sea — That is, of Gennesareth, according to the Targum. The valley near this lake or sea is called the Valley of the Passengers, because it was a great road by which the merchants and traders from Syria and other eastern countries went into Egypt; see Genesis 37:17; Genesis 37:25. See Calmet here.

There shall they bury Gog and all his multitude — Some read, "There shall they bury Gog, that is, all his multitude." Not Gog, or Antiochus himself, for he was not in this battle; but his generals, captains, and soldiers, by whom he was represented. As to Hamon-gog, we know no valley of this name but here. But we may understand the words thus: the place where this great slaughter was, and where the multitudes of the slain were buried, might be better called Hamon-gog, the valley of the multitude of God, than the valley of passengers; for so great was the carnage there, that the way of the passengers shall be stopped by it. See the text.

Verse 12

Verse Ezekiel 39:12. And seven months — It shall require a long time to bury the dead. This is another figurative expression; which, however, may admit of a good deal of literal meaning. Many of the Syrian soldiers had secreted themselves in different places during the pursuit after the battle, where they died of their wounds, of hunger, and of fatigue; so that they were not all found and buried till seven months after the defeat of the Syrian army. This slow process of burying is distinctly related in the three following verses, and extended even to a bone, Ezekiel 39:15; which, when it was found by a passenger, the place was marked, that the buriers might see and inter it. Seven months was little time enough for all this work; and in that country putrescency does not easily take place: the scorching winds serving to desiccate the flesh, and preserve it from decomposition.

Verse 17

Verse Ezekiel 39:17. Gather yourselves - to my sacrifice — This is an allusion to a custom common in the east: when a sacrifice is made, the friends and neighbours of the party sacrificing are invited to come and feast on the sacrifice.

Verse 18

Verse Ezekiel 39:18. Ye shall - drink the blood of the princes of the earth — I need not mention the custom of the Scandinavians: they were accustomed to drink the blood of their enemies out of the skulls of the dead. But this is spoken of fowls and beasts here-rams, lambs, and goats. The feast shall be as grateful and as plenteous to the fowls and beasts, as one made of the above animals, the fattest and best of their kind, (because fed in the fertile fields of Bashan,) would be to the guests of him who makes a sacrifice.

Verse 19

Verse Ezekiel 39:19. And ye shall eat fat - and drink bloodWho shall eat and drink, c.? Not the Jews: though Voltaire says they ate human flesh, and are invited here by the prophet to eat the flesh and drink the blood of their enemies which is a most unprincipled falsehood. It is the fowls and the beasts that God invites, Ezekiel 39:17: "Speak to every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, assemble yourselves-that ye may eat flesh and drink blood;" nor are the persons altered in all these verses, Ezekiel 39:17-20: so the assertion of Voltaire is either through brutish ignorance or Satanic malice.

Verse 25

Verse Ezekiel 39:25. Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob — Both they and the heathen shall know that it was for their iniquity that I gave them into the hands of their enemies: and now I will redeem them from those hands in such a way as to prove that I am a merciful God, as well as a just God.

Verse 26

Verse Ezekiel 39:26. After that they have borne their shame — After they shall have borne the punishment due to a line of conduct which is their shame and reproach, viz. idolatry.

Verse 27

Verse Ezekiel 39:27. When I have - gathered them — Antiochus had before captured many of the Jews, and sold them for slaves; see Daniel 11:33.

Verse 28

Verse Ezekiel 39:28. And have left none of then any more there. — All that chose had liberty to return; but many remained behind. This promise may therefore refer to a greater restoration, when not a Jew shall be left behind. This, the next verse intimates, will be in the Gospel dispensation.

Verse 29

Verse Ezekiel 39:29. For I have poured out my Spirit — That is, I will pour out my Spirit; see the notes on Ezekiel 36:25-29, where this subject is largely considered. This Spirit is to enlighten, quicken, purify, and cleanse their hearts; so that, being completely changed, they shall become God's people, and be a praise in the earth. Now, they are a proverb of reproach; then, they shall be eminently distinguished.


For an explanation of this plan, and of the accompanying

map of the division of the Land of Canaan,

see at the end of "Ezekiel 48:35".

[Drawing of the Plan of the Temple]

Click image for full-size version

[Drawing of Divison of the Land of Canaan]

Click image for full-size version

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ezekiel 39". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/ezekiel-39.html. 1832.
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