INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL 39
This chapter is a continuation of the prophecy of the destruction of Gog, which is both repeated, and more largely described, Ezekiel 39:1, then follows an account of the burning of his weapons of war, which will last seven years in burning, during which time there will be no need of the use of wood, Ezekiel 39:9, and of the burial of him, and many of his army; the place where, and the time that will be taken up in doing this, even seven months, are observed, Ezekiel 39:11, and every feathered fowl and beast of the field are called upon to feed on the flesh of those that are left unburied, Ezekiel 39:17 and by all this the glory of the Lord will be seen, known, and acknowledged, both by the Heathens, and by the house of Israel, Ezekiel 39:21, and the former will also be informed that the present captivity of the Jews has been for their sins and transgressions, Ezekiel 39:23, and the chapter is concluded with a promise of their return from captivity, when they shall know the Lord, and their interest in him; who will after this no more hide his face from them, but pour out his Spirit upon them, under whose influence they shall ever continue, Ezekiel 39:25.
Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,.... As he had been ordered to do before, and must still continue to do it:
behold, I am against thee, O Gog; which is repeated for the confirmation of it, and to inject terror into him; for terrible it is to have God against any:
the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; See Gill on Ezekiel 38:2, the Septuagint version adds "Ros" here as there.
And I will turn thee back,.... Not from the land of Israel; for thither it is said in the latter part of the text he would bring him; but the meaning is, that he would "turn him about", as the word
and leave but a sixth part of thee; meaning, not that a sixth part only should escape the vengeance of God, and all but a sixth part be destroyed in the land of Israel; for it looks as if the whole army would be utterly destroyed, and none left; but that, when he should come out of his own country upon this expedition, a sixth part of his subjects only should be left behind; five out of six should accompany him; so numerous should his army be, and so drained his country by this enterprise of his. Some render the words, "will draw thee out with an hook of six teeth"
"I will judge thee with six judgments
it must be rejected; seeing as yet the account of his punishment is not come to; only an account is given how and by what means he shall be drawn out of his own land; wherefore much better is the Targum,
"I will persuade thee, and I will seduce thee;'
so Jarchi seems to understand it: and the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "I will lead thee", agreeably to what follows:
and will cause thee to come up from the north parts; See Gill on Ezekiel 38:15.
and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel; not to inherit them, but to fall upon them, as in Ezekiel 39:4.
And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand,.... In which it is usually held, to have the arrow fitted to it:
and I will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand; where they are commonly held when put into the bow, and then the bow is drawn with it; signifying hereby, that though he should come into the land of Israel, he should not succeed; he would be stripped of his armour, and it would be useless to him: bows and arrows are put for all kind of warlike instruments; and are particularly mentioned because they were chiefly used in war when this prophecy was delivered.
Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel,.... Be slain, and his carcass lie there; so the Targum,
"upon the mountains of the land of Israel thy carcass shall be cast:'
thou and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee; Gog and his army, auxiliaries and allies:
I will give thee to the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured: a great part of his army being slain, should not be buried, but be devoured by birds of prey, and savage beasts; such as eagles and vultures of the former sort, and lions, bears, wolves, &c. of the latter. This was always reckoned a very sore judgment and dreadful calamity, not to have a burial, but to be exposed to birds and beasts of prey; this was threatened to the Israelites, in case of disobedience to the law of God, Deuteronomy 28:26 and to the wicked Jews in the times of Jeremiah; and to that evil king of Judah, Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 16:4 and is lamented as one of the greatest evils that could befall good men, Psalm 79:2, and nothing was more dreadful among the Heathens themselves; hence Homer
Thou shalt fall upon the open field,.... Some part of his army should fall upon the mountains, and others upon the plain; wherever they will be found, they will be destroyed, either by the sword of the Jews and Christian princes, or by God's judgments from heaven:
for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God; and therefore it should surely come to pass, since no word of his ever fails; this is added to assure of the truth of it, since it might be thought incredible that so large an army should be destroyed.
And I will send a fire on Magog,.... On the land of Magog; see Ezekiel 38:2, while Gog is in the land of Israel, and he and his army perish there, his country shall be destroyed by fire, or by some judgment or judgments of God, which shall consume like fire. The Septuagint version renders it, "I will send a fire on Gog"; but he before is said to fall upon the mountains of Israel; his country is meant; it designs the destruction of the Ottoman empire:
and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: that belong to the Turkish dominions; not only the habitants of the Continent shall be consumed, but those that dwell in islands, and think themselves safe and secure, and so live carelessly; or such who live on the sea coasts, it being usual in Scripture to call such places isles; and may intend those who dwell near the Exine and Caspian seas:
and they shall know that I am the Lord: by his judgments executed upon them.
So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel,.... That is, his perfections; his holiness and justice in punishing their enemies; his truth and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises to them; his power in inflicting judgments on Gog and his army; and his goodness in their preservation and protection:
and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: either the Heathens round about who before blasphemed it, saying that God was not able to deliver his people from such a potent enemy; but now their mouth will be stopped, and they will not dare to speak any more after this manner: or else the Israelites, who shall be so influenced by the grace and goodness of God unto them, as to fear the Lord and his goodness, and not dare to commit the sins they formerly did, whereby his name was polluted and blasphemed among the Heathens:
and the Heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel; they shall know, by these judgments and providences, that he is the true God, and they shall acknowledge and confess it; and that he is a holy and just God, and dwells in Israel, and grants his gracious as well as powerful presence to his people; nor shall they dare to molest them any more.
Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord God,.... That is, the salvation of his people, and the destruction of their enemies; the prophecy concerning all this is come to pass, and the whole is accomplished; thus, because of the certainty thereof, it is represented as if the time was actually come, and the thing was really done; for the event is as sure as if it was now fulfilled:
this is the day whereof I have spoken; by the Prophet Ezekiel and others; See Gill on Ezekiel 38:17.
And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth,.... Out of their houses into the streets, where Gog's soldiers will lie dead, and their armour by them; or rather out of their cities, where they dwelt safely, and where they kept themselves, and were secure from the enemy: these seem to be distinct from the militia of Israel, engaged in battle with Gog; these were the inhabitants that will stay at home, and yet share in the spoil and plunder; see Psalm 68:12, these, after the battle is over, and the victory obtained, of which they will have information, will then march out without fear into the open fields and mountains, where the army of Gog will fall, Ezekiel 39:4,
and shall set on fire and burn the weapons; the armour of Gog's army, which they shall find lie by the dead, or upon them; or which they that flee will cast away; these they shall gather together, and lay on a heap, and burn, as sometimes has been the practice of conquerors; or rather they shall take them to their own houses, and make fuel of them, and burn them, instead of wood out of the fields and forests, as the following verse shows:
both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows; which were the weapons that Gog and his associates used; see Ezekiel 38:4,
and the handstaves, and the spears; the "handstaves" were either half pikes or truncheons, as some think; or javelins, as others:
and they shall burn them with fire seven years; which some take to be a certain number for an uncertain, and others an hyperbolical expression; but when it is considered what a vast army this of Gog's will be, and what prodigious numbers of weapons of all sorts must be carried by them, and the little use of fire in those hot countries: it may be very well taken in a literal sense, and the meaning be, that so great will be the quantity of warlike weapons that will be found and gathered, that they will serve for fuel for the space of seven years.
So that they shall take no wood out of the field,.... During that seven years; or they shall have no need to do so, as the Syriac version; having a sufficiency of armour:
neither cut down any out of the forest: out of the forest of Lebanon, or any other, where they used to fetch wood for their necessary uses; but so great a quantity of armour shall now be brought home by them to their houses, that they should have no need to be at the trouble and expense of fetching wood from the forests:
for they shall burn the weapons with fire; the reason of which will be, because they will have no occasion for them hereafter; for when this battle is over, which seems to be the same with that at Armageddon, there will be an entire destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his church; the world will be cleared of them, and there will be war no more, and so no more use of weapons; this will be the last battle that will be fought; see Isaiah 2:4,
and they shall spoil those that spoil them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God: not only take their weapons and burn them, but strip them of their garments, and take away their gold, and silver, and jewels, and everything of value they shall find about them.
And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When this destruction of the army of Gog shall be made:
that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel; or, "a place there, a grave in Israel"
And it shall stop the noses of the passengers; or the passengers shall stop their noses, because of the ill smell of the carcasses
"and it is near to two mountains;'
as if this clause described the situation of the valley.
And there shall they bury Gog, and all his multitude; all his army, such of it as the fowls and beasts had not devoured, and the bones they had left; not his army only, but himself also, the Sultan or Grand Seignior of the Turks, the general of his mighty army: this was not true of Antiochus; he died not, nor was he buried in the land of Israel.
And they shall call it the valley of Hamon-gog: Hamon signifies a multitude; and this name will be imposed upon the place of Gog's sepulchre, because of the multitude slain and buried here, and to perpetuate the memory of it: there never was yet a place of this name in the land of Israel, which shows that this event is yet future. Calmet takes it to be the valley of Jezreel, in which he thinks the army of Cambyses was defeated, after the death of that prince; wrongly taking Cambyses and his army for Gog and Magog.
And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them,.... So long time will the burial of Gog's army take up, because of the multitude of it, and by reason their bones will be scattered here and there; which will require time to gather them together, and bring them to one place: the reason of the burial of them will be, partly out of humanity, which the Christian religion, which will then be embraced by the Jews, teaches and encourages; and partly because of the disagreeable sight and ill smell of the carcasses of the slain, and to prevent the air being infected therewith, which might cause noxious diseases. Jarchi gives the reason of it, because Gog is of the seed of Japheth, who covered his father's nakedness, and therefore worthy of a funeral: but a better reason follows,
that they may cleanse the land: not from ceremonial uncleanness, a place being unclean, by the ceremonial law, where dead carcasses, or the bones of dead men, lay; for the ceremonial law, as it is abrogated, will now be disused by the Jews themselves, when converted; but from natural pollution, before mentioned.
Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them,.... That is, a great number of the common people of the land of Israel, especially of those that dwell near the field of battle, shall be employed in burying the slain; and which they will be very ready to do, for the reasons above mentioned:
and it shall be to them a renown; or, "for a name"
the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord God; the day that will be renown to them will be to the glory of God; whose greatness, goodness, power, and wisdom, will be seen in saving his people, and destroying their enemies.
And they shall sever out men of continual employment,.... That is, the principal of the house of Israel, their magistrates and governors, shall select certain persons, to be daily employed in the following work, till ended:
passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it; these men will be appointed to go through the land of Israel, to gather up such carcasses and bones of dead men as remain anywhere after the seven months' burial before observed; and all passengers or travellers shall be assisting to them in it, both in directing where any such carcasses and bones may lie, and in bringing them to the common place of burial; that so the land may he thoroughly cleansed from such disagreeable objects:
after the end of seven months shall they search or begin to search, as the Targum; when seven months are ended, in which the people in general will be employed in burying the dead; these men before mentioned will be sent out into each part of the land, to search in caves, and dens and ditches; among thickets, thorns, and briers, where the slain may fall; or where soldiers, being wounded, might betake themselves and die; or their carcasses or bones be dragged and left by beasts and fowls; to find them out, and bring them to the place of interment.
And the passengers that pass through the land,.... Not along with the searchers, but that travel through it upon business in it, or in other lands:
when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it; as he passes along, if he happens to see a human bone in the way, or hard by, he shall stop and lay a stone, or a heap of stones, by it, or some such mark or token, signifying that a man's bone lies there:
till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog, that is, which sign shall continue till searchers come that way and take up the bone, and carry it to be buried in the valley of Hamon-gog; for carcasses and bones were not to be buried in the place where they were found, but to be brought and interred in this common place of sepulture.
And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah,.... The name of the city nearest to this place, where Gog and his multitude shall be buried, shall be called Hamonah from thence, which signifies a multitude; or Polyandrion, as the Septuagint version, a place where many graves are; or perhaps a new city will be built near this place, and so called, to perpetuate the memory of it; or else, as Kimchi observes, Jerusalem will be so called, from the multitude of those that will be slain near it; but, however, neither that nor any other city in the land of Israel have ever bore any such name; from whence it may be concluded that this prophecy does not refer to the times of Antiochus, or any yet past, but to time to come:
thus shall they cleanse the land; thoroughly and completely, so that not a bone shall be left unburied.
And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord God,.... What the prophet is ordered by the Lord to say is to creatures not then in being, nor yet; and, were they, they could not understand his words; but however, when the time comes, partly by an instinct in nature, and partly by a particular direction of Providence, they will be gathered together upon so great a slaughter of men; for what follows, though mentioned in this place, will be between the slaughter of Gog's army, and the burial of it, as Kimchi well observes; after the burial such an invitation would be impertinent; and which is made not for the sake of creatures, but of men, to denote the certainty of this great carnage that shall be made:
speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field; this must be understood of such fowls, and such beasts, as devour dead carcasses, for all will not feed on them; a like invitation is given after the battle at Armageddon, the same with this here, Revelation 19:17 only with this difference, there an angel is said to cry, here the prophet; there to the fowls only, here to the beasts of the field also; no doubt respect there is had to this passage:
assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifices that I do sacrifice for you; such a slaughter of men is called a sacrifice, because there is a likeness between that and the killing of beasts for sacrifice; besides, these enemies of God and his people will fall a victim to his justice, as well as be a repast for fowls and beasts, who are invited, as to a feast, to feed upon them; and there being so much of the power and providence of God in all this, it is ascribed to him, and is called "the supper of the great God", Revelation 19:17,
even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel; where Gog's army will fall, Ezekiel 39:4, and in such vast numbers, that it may well be called a great sacrifice; the sacrifice of a great army by the great God, and for such great number of creatures:
that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood; the flesh and blood of the sacrifices, even of slain men, which carnivorous creatures delight in. The Targum is,
"draw near everywhere round about to the slain, which I slay for you with a great slaughter upon the mountains of Israel, and ye shall eat the flesh, and drink the blood.'
Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty,.... Of the soldiers, men of strength and courage, and fit for war, with which the army of Gog will abound:
and drink the blood of the princes of the earth: both the princes of his own family and court, and those of his allies and auxiliaries that will come along with him:
of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks; which the Targum Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret of kings, princes, dukes, rulers, and governors; and so does John, in the Revelation, of kings, captains, and mighty men, Revelation 19:18,
all of them fatlings of Baasha; which was a country in Israel, very fruitful, and full of pastures, where much fat cattle were bred; and to which these great personages in Gog's army are compared, for their bulk, strength, and wealth. So the Targum,
"all of them rich in substance.'
It may be rendered, "all of them the merie of Bashan"; for "meri" is the name of an ox or buffle; and Jarchi says that a fat ox is called in the Arabic language "almari"
And ye shall eat fat till ye be full,.... The fat of men; and such as before described generally are fat, and of which they shall have enough; and, though voracious creatures, shall eat to satiety:
and drink blood till ye be drunken; as men are with wine, who become mad with it; and so birds and beasts of prey grow fiercer by drinking blood: the meaning is, they should have their fill of the flesh, fat, and blood, of slain men:
of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you; the Targum is,
"of the flesh of the slain, which I have slain for you;'
See Gill on Ezekiel 39:17.
Thus shall ye be filled at my table with horses and chariots,.... With the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, as John interprets it, Revelation 19:18, and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions: and with the flesh of men that ride in chariots used in war; for chariots themselves cannot be eaten; and with these the birds and beasts of prey will be filled at the Lord's table, which he will furnish for them on the mountains of Israel, on the field of battle, where Gog and his army will fall: and thus as the Lord's supper is called the table of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 10:21, so this table of the Lord is called the supper of the great God, Revelation 19:17, this is further explained,
with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God; that is, with the flesh of valiant men, generals, captains, officers of all sorts, and common soldiers, even of all men, great and small, bond and free, Revelation 19:18.
And I will set my glory among the Heathen,.... The glory of his divine perfections, particularly his power and his goodness, in destroying the enemies of his people, and saving them; which will be set in a clear point of view to the Heathen, that they cannot but observe it; and this is the ultimate end of this strange event, as it is of all that the Lord does, even his own glory, subordinate to which is his people's good:
and all the Heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them; his vengeance and power, as the Targum; the punishment inflicted by his mighty hand on Gog and his army: these Heathens are the Pagan kingdoms of China, &c. and of Tartary, Persia, and the whole Turkish dominions, being Mahometan, which are no better than Heathen; these will be converted to the Christian religion, in consequence of this event; for this will be the passing away of the Turkish woe, which will make way for the sounding of the seventh trumpet; and when these kingdoms will become Christ's, and way be made for the kings of the east to come over to him, Revelation 11:14.
So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God,.... That has chosen them, redeemed them, called them, manifested his covenant love and grace to them, and protected and defended them: this destruction of their enemies will be a proof of it; and they will hereby be led into a clearer knowledge of him, and of his goodness to them; and make a more firm and constant profession of him,
even from that day and forward, to the end of time; for after this the Jews will no more apostatize, but will for ever remain the people of God and Christ.
And the Heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity,.... Before this they thought the captivity of the Jews, and all their distresses, were owing to their own weakness, and the weakness of the God they served, and to the superior strength of their enemies, and the power of their gods; but now, by this strange and amazing destruction of Gog and his army, they will see that it was not owing to those things, but to the sins and transgressions of the people of the Jews:
because they transgressed against me; prevaricated with him, acted a perfidious and treacherous part to him, as the word
"they dealt falsely with my Word;'
the Word made flesh, the incarnate Saviour:
therefore hid I my face from them; took no notice of them, showed them no favour, took no care of them; disregarded their prayers and cries, and removed his presence from them, and all the tokens of it. So the Targum,
"I caused my Shechaniah (or majesty) to remove from them;'
and thus it has been ever since, and now is:
and gave them into the hand of their enemies; the Romans, who took away their place and nation; which they feared would be the case, should many believe in Christ; but the true reason of it was because they did not believe in him, John 11:48,
so fell they all by the sword; that is, through the sword of the conquering Romans; they fell into their hands; some perished by the sword, and others were carried into captivity; and all were punished for their iniquity, trespass, and perfidy.
According to their uncleanness,.... Not ceremonial, but moral; they were an impure and adulterous generation, as our Lord calls them, Matthew 12:39,
and according to their transgressions have I done unto them; or "rebellions", as the Targum renders it; or defections, as the word
"took vengeance on them,'
as the Targum is; in the destruction of their nation, city, and temple: "and hid my face from them"; or caused his Shechaniah to remove from them, as the same paraphrase; See Gill on Ezekiel 39:23.
Therefore thus saith the Lord,.... The Jews having been long punished for their sins; and being brought to repentance for them, and to faith in Christ, as they will be in the latter day: hence it follows,
now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob; or the captives of Jacob, the people of Israel, that have been carried captive into all lands; these shall be gathered from thence, and brought into their own land:
and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; all the twelve tribes; which shows that this has not respect to the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; for then the Lord had mercy on the house of Judah only; or the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin; but their return from their present captivity, and future conversion,
when all Israel shall be saved; as the fruit and effect of the rich sovereign grace and mercy of God unto them, Romans 11:25,
and will be jealous for my holy name; or, "zealous"
After that they have borne their shame,.... And disgrace, among the nations where they are scattered; being captives, exiles, in distress and affliction, and under the manifest tokens of the divine wrath and vengeance: it may be rendered, "and they shall bear their shame"
"when I shall do good to them, and not render to them according to their wickedness, then they shall bear their shame, and be confounded, and not able to lift up their face;'
as penitent persons, under a sense of divine wrath, blush, and are ashamed to look up to God; see Ezra 9:6. Menachem interprets the word in the sense of atonement and forgiveness, as it is used in Psalm 32:11, as if the meaning was, then they shall have their sins, which caused shame, forgiven them. Kimchi's gloss is,
"they shall carry in their mouths, and make mention of their shame they had in captivity.'
And all their transgressions whereby they have transgressed against me; that is, the punishment of all their trespasses in their captivity, or the shame of them, being now brought to repentance; and which will be aggravated to them, when they remember that these were committed by their forefathers, and since approved of by them.
When they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid; as they did in the times of Christ; they were in entire peace, and no enemy disturbed them; and were in the possession of their own land, and enjoyed the blessings of it, and had their religious as well as civil liberties; and yet rejected the Messiah, his doctrine, ordinances, and salvation by him.
When I have brought them again from the people,.... That is, then shall they be ashamed, and repent of all their trespasses and sins:
and gathered them out of their enemies lands; from the provinces of their enemies, as the Targum; when they are collected together in a body out of each of the nations where they are now dispersed, and brought to their own land:
and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; when they shall publicly repent of their sins, and forsake them, and seek the Lord their God, and the King Messiah, and embrace and profess him, and acknowledge that God has been righteous and holy in all his dispensations towards them.
Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God,.... See Gill on Ezekiel 39:22;
which caused them to be led into captivity among the Heathen; for their sins and transgressions: and so the Targum adds,
"because they sinned before me:'
but I have gathered them into their own land; being now penitent for their sins, and believing in the Messiah: and so the Targum,
"and now, because they are converted, I have gathered them, &c.'
and have left none of them any more there; among the Heathen, or in the land of their enemies; everyone shall be returned to the land of Canaan, be they where they will, as when they came out of Egypt: and this is typical of the salvation of God's elect, or mystical Israel; not one of them shall be lost or perish, but all shall be brought to repentance: this again shows, that this prophecy did not respect the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; since then many were left behind.
Neither will I hide my face any more from them,.... The Jews, upon their future conversion, will always have the worship of God among them, and his presence with them; he will always take notice of them; they will ever be under his protection and care; he will never remove his Shechinah from them any more, as the Targum: a further proof that this refers to future times; for, after their return from Babylon, God did hide his face, and remove his presence from them, and left them to ruin and destruction by the Romans:
for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God; this refers not to the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but to one that is yet to come, when the Jews will be converted in the latter day; after which God will no more depart from them, nor shall they depart from him; see Zechariah 12:10.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 39". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany