The Doom Of Edom
Under divine direction Ezekiel now turns to deliver a message against Mount Seir and the land of Edom. Mount Seir is definitely identified with Edom in Genesis 32:3. It was the inheritance of those who were descended from Esau (Genesis 36:8). As the Edomites were so closely related to Israel, God forbade His people to lift up the sword against them (Deuteronomy 23:7) when they were on their way from Kadesh-Barnea to the east side of the Jordan. They were commanded definitely not to fight with the children of Esau but to ask permission to pass through their territory on the main highway. This permission the Edomites refused, and so the Israelites were obliged to take a much longer route compassing the land of Edom in order to obtain their goal. But while the Israelites sought carefully to obey the command of God in regard to their brethren, the Edomites, the latter manifested from the beginning a very different spirit toward their brethren. They not only joined at times with Israel’s enemies in seeking to wreak havoc upon them, but even if they stood by and took no part in the border conflicts that prevailed so frequently, they nevertheless rejoiced in every setback that Israel had and gloried in the victories of their enemies. All this was under the eye of God, and stirred His heart to indignation: therefore, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Ezekiel pronounced God’s judgment upon Edom and the entire land of Idumea, as it was later known.
We turn then to consider the present chapter which pronounces judgment on this haughty and idolatrous people.
“Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, and say unto it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O mount Seir, and I will stretch out My hand against thee, and I will make thee a desolation and an astonishment. I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah. Because thou hast had a perpetual enmity, and hast given over the children of Israel to the power of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time of the iniquity of the end; therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: since thou hast not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue thee. Thus will I make mount Seir an astonishment and a desolation; and I will cut off from it him that passeth through and him that returneth. And I will fill its mountains with its slain: in thy hills and in thy valleys and in all thy watercourses shall they fall that are slain with the sword. I will make thee a perpetual desolation, and thy cities shall not be inhabited; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah”-vers. 1-9.
Jehovah was against Mount Seir, the land which He had given to Esau, because of the attitude that its people had taken toward Israel. Therefore, He was about to stretch out His hand against the land and make it a desolation and an astonishment. The cities were to be laid waste and to become utterly desolate-a prophecy that has been literally fulfilled. As we have noticed, Edom had been a perpetual enemy against the children of Israel; not only had they themselves taken up the sword against their blood-brothers, but also they had joined with others in seeking to prevent their escape when attacked by cruel foes. In retributive judgment, the mountains, hills, and valleys of the land of Edom were to be filled with its slain by the sword. Their cities, of which Petra and Teman were the chief, were to be made desolate perpetually, and left uninhabited in order that Jehovah might be manifested as the One whose word cannot be turned aside. Students of history know how exactly this prophecy has been fulfilled.
For some centuries after Ezekiel uttered these words Edom continued as a subject country, dominated first by Babylon, then by Medo-Persia, and later, in 126 B. C, it was conquered by John Hycranus of the Maccabee family. He forced the Idumeans, who remained alive, to become Jews. When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, the remnant of Edom absolutely disappeared. It is impossible to find a person whose Edomite ancestry can be identified today; but their cities remain, as predicted by Obadiah (ver. 18), and Jeremiah (49:13). One may walk through the streets of these desolate Edomite cities, particularly Petra, and enter into the houses where the frescoes on the walls are as brilliant as if painted yesterday, but there are no inhabitants. God’s word has been fulfilled to the letter. By and by when the Lord Jesus returns to reign as King and Israel will be restored to Himself, their land will include that of Edom, but the Edomites themselves will never again appear in history.
“Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall he mine, and we will possess it; whereas Jehovah was there: therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I will do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast showed out of thy hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them, when I shall judge thee. And thou Shalt know that I, Jehovah, have heard all thy revilings which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to devour. And ye have magnified yourselves against Me with your mouth, and have multiplied your words against Me: I have heard it. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. As thou didst rejoice over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt he desolate, O mount Seir, and all Edom, even all of it; and they shall know that I am Jehovah”-vers. 10-15.
It is evident that as Edom saw the plight into which Israel had fallen they considered it their opportunity to attempt to conquer the land of Palestine, and thus unite the two nations; and in a certain sense, this is exactly what occurred temporarily, although as we have seen it was Israel who conquered Edom, but it was an Edomite who reigned over the two nations. Because of this spirit of envy and hatred, Jehovah would make Himself known to Edom. They had gone far from Him and fallen into the vilest kind of idolatry. He would judge them for their wickedness and visit their sin upon them; thus they should know that Jehovah had spoken, and that He had heard all their revilings against the mountains of Israel. Edom rejoiced to see Israel made a desolation, and declared that they had been given to them to devour. They had magnified themselves against the Lord in thus speaking against the Jews. His ear had heard their boastings, and His heart was stirred on behalf of His people. He declared that when at last the whole earth should be made to rejoice: that is, when the kingdom of God should be set up in power, Edom would remain desolate. As they rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel when it became desolate, so God will visit their iniquities upon them, and there should be another desolation-a desolation from which they should never recover.
There is surely a serious lesson for all who are guilty of what is commonly called anti-Semitism, as we contemplate this solemn prophecy. In spite of all their sins and mistakes the people of Israel are beloved for the fathers’ sake, and God takes note of every hand lifted in opposition to them and of every voice that is raised in ridicule or contumely against the people whom He called out to be His peculiar treasure. Their failures do not warrant our joining with any people in helping to make conditions worse for them. Rather should we seek to do what we can to alleviate their grief and help to bring them to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise we may depend upon it that He who judged Edom because of its attitude toward Israel, will not overlook similar conduct on the part of Gentiles today, even though they be professing Christians.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 35". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany