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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 35

Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral EpistlesFairbairn's Commentaries

Verses 1-15



SUPERFICIAL readers will be disposed to ask, What has Edom to do here? The Lord’s judgment has already been pronounced against Edom (chap. Ezekiel 25:12-14), among the enemies of the covenant-people; and this fresh denunciation against it is inserted among predictions which, both before and after, have immediate respect to the covenant-people themselves. It is, however, in its proper place; and brings out another element in the prosperity which the Lord promises to his Church and people. It gives body and prominence to the thought expressed in Eze 35:28 of the preceding chapter, that “they should no more be a prey to the heathen.” So far from it, the prophet now declares that the worst and bitterest of all the heathen shall be utterly destroyed and made desolate, and that those who were then rejoicing over Israel’s calamities must themselves become a spoil, without any prospect of recovery.

Ezekiel 35:1 . And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 35:2 . Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it;

Ezekiel 35:3 . And say to it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I come to thee, Mount Seir, and I stretch out my hand upon thee, and I make thee utterly desolate.

Ezekiel 35:4 . Thy cities will I render a desert, and thou shalt be a wilderness, and shalt know that I am Jehovah.

Ezekiel 35:5 . Because thou hast had enmity for ever, and hast delivered up the children of Israel to the hands of the sword, (The more literal rendering here is: and hast poured out the children of Israel upon the hands of the sword. It is a strong personification both ways the children of Israel being likened to water which the Edomites poured out, and the sword upon which they were poured being thought of as a person, a devourer, whose hands were instruments of destruction. When the figure is understood, there is no need for supplying blood as the object of the pouring out, as our translators have done. The same expression is used in Jeremiah 18:21, and Psalms 63:11; a very closely-related one also by our prophet at Ezekiel 21:17. There, too, at Ezekiel 21:30, the peculiar phrase of עֲוֹן קֵץ , the end, or consummation of iniquity, occurs.) in the time of their calamity, in the time of the consummation of iniquity.

Ezekiel 35:6 . Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, yea for blood will I make thee, and blood shall pursue thee; surely thou dost hate blood, and blood shall pursue thee. (The whole cast of expression in this verse will appear strange, unless it is understood that there is a play upon the name of Edom, which is very like the Hebrew word for blood. אֱדֹם (Edom) was to be made for דָּם (dâm) , blood; the former also signifying red, which rendered the transition to blood more natural and easy. אֱדֹם also has the signification of blood in the cognate dialects. The most peculiar part of the verse, however, is the clause אִם־לֹא דָם שָׂנֵאתָ , which not only our version, but also nearly all commentators, render “since thou hast not hated blood.” But no examples can be produced to justify such a rendering; and the remark of Hitzig, that as the words stand they must be regarded by every reader as an affirmative protestation, is quite correct. Because the clause therefore ascribes to Edom the hating of blood, he rejects it as a gloss a most unlikely clause to be a gloss and supports himself by the omission of it in the LXX. I cannot concur with Theodoret, Jerome, Michaelis, and others, that דָּם is to be taken in the sense of relationship, and refers to the near affinity between Esau and Jacob, as being both sprung from one father; so that the hating of the Israelites on the part of Edom was like a hating of their own blood. There is no authority for ascribing to the word such a meaning. But taking blood in the usual sense, I do not see why, in a passage so strongly epigrammatic and alliteral as this, the hatred of it might not be affirmed of Edom; for the grand point on which the desires of the Edomites were centred was life, life in themselves, as opposed to the bloody extermination they sought for Israel: the shedding of their blood was what they would on no account think of. I take the meaning to be, therefore: The preservation of thy life is what thou art intent on securing; the thought of blood being shed among thee is what thou art putting far from thee as the object of aversion; but God’s purposes are contrary to thine, and what thou hatest he will send blood shall pursue thee.)

Ezekiel 35:7 . And I make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I cut off from it him that passes and returns.

Ezekiel 35:8 . And I will fill his mountains with his slain; thy hills and thy valleys, and all watered plains the pierced-through with the sword shall fall in thee.

Ezekiel 35:9 . Perpetual desolations I will make thee, and thy cities shall not return, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.

Ezekiel 35:10 . Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two lands shall be mine, and we inherit it; and Jehovah was there! (The construction in this 10th verse is peculiar, as in broken sentences it expresses the excited feelings which were called forth. It is on this principle we are to account for the אֶת at the beginning of the words put into the mouth of the Edomites; it marks the object uppermost in their thought: these two nations and these two lands. Then they think of the two as one whole, a region to be possessed: And we inherit it. And the last clause, And Jehovah was there! is thrown in by the prophet as an interjection, a sudden flash of light revealing the folly and impiety of their imaginations. They were calculating on doing what they pleased with a land with which Jehovah was peculiarly connected, and which he claimed as specially his own: how vain and presumptuous!)

Ezekiel 35:11 . Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, so I act according to thy anger, and according to thy envy which thou hast shown out of thy hatred toward them; and I make myself known among them (namely, the Israelites), when I shall execute judgment on thee.

Ezekiel 35:12 . And thou shalt know that I Jehovah have heard all thy scornful speeches which thou hast uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, A desolation! to us they are given for food.

Ezekiel 35:13 . And ye have magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and have swelled your words against me: I have heard.

Ezekiel 35:14 . Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, According to the joy of the whole land, I will make you a desolation. (I quite agree with Häv., that כָּל־חָאָרֶץ must here be taken in the restricted sense of all the land, viz. of Edom. For it could scarcely be meant that Edom was to be desolate, while all the earth rejoiced, since in the next chapter the other heathen nations are expressly coupled with Edom in her desolations. The meaning is, that as the whole country had rejoiced in Israel’s fall, so it would all be made desolate in turn; according to the joy, so the desolation, as is explained in next verse.)

Ezekiel 35:15 . According to thy rejoicing for the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it is desolate, so will I do to thee; a desolation shalt thou be, Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.

The leading object of this severe and unsparing denunciation against Edom, is plainly to exhibit in sharp contrast the things that concerned them with those which belonged to the covenant-people. There was an apparent superiority on the side of Edom at the time Ezekiel wrote, but the real advantage was with Israel. In the latter, amid all their desolations, there still was a seed of blessing, the Divine germ of a glorious future; but in the other no such germ existed nothing wrought there but enmity to God and holiness, and nothing was to be expected but unrelieved desolation. In the earlier prediction (Ezekiel 25:0.), while the Edomites were declared to be the objects of the Lord’s vengeance, it was also said that “his people Israel” were to be the instruments of executing it. Here, however, nothing is mentioned as to the way by which the work of desolation was to be accomplished: the thoughts chiefly pressed are, that Edom’s own destructive policy was to be meted back to her in full measure, and that the destruction in her case was to be singularly complete. So far from being allowed, as the children of Edom themselves thought, to step into the room of Israel and occupy what they had lost, they should not be able to retain their own: their prospects for the future looked out upon blank and dreary desolation.

It is necessary, however, to understand this, not absolutely of the Edomites as men, but only in their character as the hereditary and sworn enemies of the covenant-people the people whom the Lord had chosen and blessed. For it is in this character that they are here introduced; and only when under stood as applying to them thus, is the word found to consist either with the facts of history or with the prophecy of Amos (Amos 9:12), which makes mention of a remnant of Edom over whom, as well as other heathen, God’s name should be called. But as a nation set with relentless hatred against the truth and people of God, the Edomites were doomed to utter destruction, and, as we said before, they actually experienced it. While Israel rose in Christ to the supremacy of the world, Edom vanished from the face of history their memorial perished, their envy and cruel hatred were for ever buried among the ruins of the nations.

But why in this connection should Edom have alone been singled out for destruction by the prophet? Not as if her people only were appointed to suffer vengeance at the hand of God; but because in the bitterness of their spite, and the intensity of their hatred to the cause and people of God, they stood preeminent among the nations; and so were fitly chosen as the representatives of the whole. It is precisely what was done also by Isaiah in his sixty-third chapter, and still more strikingly in the thirty-fourth, when speaking of the Lord’s controversy with the heathen, and the fury that he was to pour forth on the nations, it is all represented as concentrating itself on Edom, and taking end there in one fearful outburst of overwhelming vengeance. The region where the greatest enmity reigned is the ideal territory where the final recompenses of judgment take place. And that it is on the same account such peculiar prominence is here also given to Edom, is clear, not only from the connection and character of the prophecy itself, but also from what is written in Ezekiel 36:5 of the next chapter, where it is said, that “the Lord had spoken in the fire of his jealousy against the remnant of the heathen, and against all Edom.” Whilst speaking against Edom, he had in reality spoken against all the heathen; for it was simply as heathen of the worst and most inveterate stamp, that he had spoken as he did against Edom. So that wherever the same elements of evil might be found, the same judgment from the Lord might be expected.

This also, it will be seen, confirms the view we took of the promise to Israel in the preceding chapter. The coming good and evil are alike pictured forth under the old relations, as if these were always, and these only, to exist; while yet the word is pregnant with meaning for all nations and all times. The heathen at large are represented in Edom; and hence, by parity of reason, the whole elect family of God in Israel. Edom’s doom as here delineated is the fate of heathendom; and Israel’s promised blessedness and glory under the good shepherd carries in its bosom the high and happy destiny of the Church of the living God. As formerly in the case of Isaac and Ishmael (Galatians 4:22-31), so here in Israel and Edom, the whole human family have their representation in the one all that are of the Spirit, in the other all that are of the flesh. The old relations in both cases alike have passed, and can never be recalled again; but the truth couched under them eternally abides. And in that truth, as set forth in the prophecy before us, there is embodied the solemn testimony, that the Edomite spirit, the carnal, unbelieving, rebellious spirit, is most surely doomed to perdition: enmity to the cause and kingdom of Christ is marked out in the councils of Heaven for irretrievable ruin. They who are of it cannot overthrow the Church, but must themselves be overthrown and fall under the stroke of vengeance.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 35". "Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral Epistles". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fbn/ezekiel-35.html.
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