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The distinction between Israel and the pagan (as Edom) is, Israel has a covenant-relation to God, ensuring restoration after chastisement, so that the pagan's hope of getting possession of the elect people's inheritance must fail, and themselves be made desolate (Ezekiel 36:1-26.36.15). The reason for the chastisement of Israel was Israel's sin and profanation of God's name (Ezekiel 36:16-26.36.21). God has good in store for Israel, for His own name's sake, to revive His people; first, by a spiritual renewal of their hearts, and next, by an external restoration to prosperity (Ezekiel 36:22-26.36.23). The result is, the pagan shall be impressed with the power and goodness of God manifested so palpably toward the restored people (Ezekiel 36:34-26.36.38).
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession: Ye mountains of Israel - in contrast to "mount Seir" of the previous prophecy. They are here personified; Israel's elevation is moral, not merely physical, as Edom's. Her hills are "the everlasting hills" of Jacob's prophecy (Genesis 49:26). "The enemy" (Edom, the singled-out representative of all God's foes), with a shout of exultation, "Aha!" had claimed, as the nearest kinsmen of Israel (the brother of their father Esau), his vacated inheritance, as much as to say, the so-called, "everlasting" inheritance of Israel and of the "hills," which typified the unmoved perpetuity of it, has come to an end, in spite of the promise of God, and has become "ours" (cf. Psalms 125:1-19.125.2; Deuteronomy 32:13; Deuteronomy 33:15, "The ancient mountains ... the lasting hills").
Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
Because - literally, Because, even because.
They have made you desolate, [ shamowt (H8074)]. Cocceius takes this as feminine plural of a noun [shamaah], 'Because there are desolations, and they have swallowed you up' - i:e., because the surrounding pagan have taken advantage of your desolation by the Chaldees to seize on your possessions. Buxtorf, as the English version, makes it an infinitive, from [ shaamam (H8074)] to desolate. Fairbairn needlessly makes it from [naasham], to breathe, 'Because they have breathed after you,' namely, like wild beasts after their prey (cf. margin and Hebrew, Isaiah 42:14).
And swallowed you up, [ wªshaa'op (H7602)] - literally, panted after you, as a beast after its prey; implying the greedy cupidity of Edom as to Israel's inheritance (Psalms 56:1-19.56.2, "Man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me").
Ye are taken up in the lips of talkers - literally, 'ye are made to go up on the lip of the tongue,' i:e., on the lip of the slanderer, the man of tongue. Edom slandered Israel because of the connection of the latter with Yahweh, as though He were unable to save them. Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 24:9 had foretold Israel's reproach among the pagan (Daniel 9:16).
Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;
Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God. Inanimate creatures are addressed, to imply that the creature also, as it were, groans for deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:19-45.8.21). (Polanus.) The completeness of the renewed blessedness of all parts of the land is implied.
Thus saith the Lord God ... to the cities ... which became a prey and derision - (Psalms 79:4, "We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us").
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
The heathen and ... Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession ... to cast it out for a prey, [ migraashaah (H4054) laabaz (H957)] - literally, that its casting out might be for a prey; i:e., to take the land for a prey, its inhabitants being cast out. Or, the land is compared to a prey cast forth to wild beasts. [Fairbairn needlessly alters the Hebrew pointing of laabaz into laabuw, and thus makes it the infinitive of the verb, instead of a noun, and translates, 'that they may plunder its pasturage.']
Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:
Say unto the mountains ... because ye have borne the shame of the heathen - namely, the shame with which the pagan cover you (Psalms 123:3-19.123.4).
I have lifted up mine hand - in token of an oath (Ezekiel 20:5; Genesis 14:22).
Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame - a perpetual shame; whereas the "shame" which Israel bore from these pagan was only for a time.
But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come - i:e., the Israelites are soon about to return to their land. This proves that the primary reference of the prophecy is to the return from Babylon, which was "at hand," or comparatively near. But this only in part fulfilled the prediction; the full and final blessing is future, and the restoration from Babylon was an earnest of it.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
The wastes shall be builded - (Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 61:4; Amos 9:11-30.9.12; Amos 9:14) where, as here (Ezekiel 34:23-26.34.24), the names of David, Messiah's type, and Edom, Israel's foe, are introduced in connection with the coming restoration.
And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings - as in the case of Job (Job 42:12). Whereas the pagan nations fall irrecoverably, Israel shall be more than restored: its last estate shall exceed even its first.
Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you - O mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 36:8).
And they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance - changed from the plural "you" to the singular: O hill of Zion, singled out from the other mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 34:26).
Thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men-thou shalt no more provoke God to bereave them of children (so the ellipsis ought to be supplied, as Ezekiel probably alludes to Jeremiah 15:7, "I will bereave them of children").
Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men - alluding to the words of the spies (Numbers 13:32). The land personified is represented as doing that which was done in it. Like an unnatural mother it devoured,
i.e., it was the grave of its people: of the Canaanites, its former possessors, through mutual wars, and finally by the sword of Israel; and now of the Jews through internal and external ills-e.g., wars, famine (to which Ezekiel 36:30, "reproach of famine among the pagan" implies the allusion here is).
Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD. Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave, [ lo' (H3808) tªshakªliy (H7921)] - so the Qeri' or Hebrew margin reads, to correspond to "hast bereaved" in Ezekiel 36:13; but [tªkashliy] 'cause to fall' or 'stumble,' in the Hebrew text or Kethibh, being the more difficult reading, is the one least likely to come from a corrector: also, it forms a good transition to the next subject-namely, the moral cause of the people's calamities, namely, their falls or stumblings through sin. The latter ceasing, the former also shall cease. So the same expression follows in Ezekiel 36:15, "Neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall anymore."
Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
Their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman - one put apart for uncleanness, (Leviticus 15:19, etc.)
Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: and I scattered them among the heathen. The reason for their removal was their sin, which God's holiness could not let pass unpunished; just as a woman's legal uncleanness was the reason for her being separated from the congregation.
They profaned my holy name, when they (the heathen) said to them (the Israelites), These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land. The Israelites gave a handle of reproach to the pagan against God, who would naturally say, These who take usury, oppress, commit adultery, etc., and who in such an abject plight are "gone forth" as exiles "out of his land," are specimens of what Yahweh can or will effect for His people, and show what kind of a God this so-called holy, omnipotent, covenant-keeping God must be (Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24).
I had pity for mine holy name - i:e., I felt pity for it: God's own name, so dishonoured, was the primary object of His pitying concern, then His people, secondarily, through His concern for it (Fairbairn).
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
I do not this for your sakes - i:e., not for any merit in you; for, on the contrary, on your part there is everything to call down confirmed severity (cf. Deuteronomy 9:5-5.9.6). The sole and sure ground of hope was God's regard to "His own name," as the God of covenant-grace, which He must vindicate from the dishonour brought on it by the Jews before the pagan (Psalms 106:45).
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
I will sanctify my great name - I will vindicate and manifest it as holy, in opposition to the pagan reproaches of it brought on by the Jews' sins, and their punishment (note, Ezekiel 36:20).
The heathen shall know that I am the Lord ... when I shall be sanctified in you - i:e., in your case, in respect of you; when I shall be regarded in their eyes as the Holy One, and righteous in my dealings toward you (Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 28:22).
I will take you from ... the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Fulfilled primarily in the restoration from Babylon; ultimately to be so in the restoration "from all countries."
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. The external restoration must be preceded by an internal one. The change in their condition must not be superficial, but must be based on a radical renewal of the heart. Then the pagan, understanding from the regenerated lives of God's people how holy God is, would perceive Israel's past troubles to have. been only the necessary vindications of His righteousness. Thus, God's name would be "sanctified" before the pagan, and God's people be prepared for outward blessings.
Sprinkle ... water - phraseology taken from the law: the "water of separation" used in the "purification for sin" of those unclean-namely, the water taken from a running stream and mixed with the ashes of a heifer, and sprinkled with a hyssop on the unclean (Numbers 19:9-4.19.18); the thing signified being the cleansing blood of Christ sprinkled on the conscience and heart (Hebrews 9:13-58.9.14; Hebrews 10:22; cf. Jeremiah 33:8; Ephesians 5:26).
From all your idols, will I cleanse you. Literal idolatry has ceased among the Jews ever since the captivity-so far the prophecy has been already fulfilled; but 'cleansing from all their idols,' e.g., covetousness, prejudices against Jesus of Nazareth, is yet future.
And a new spirit will I put within you - i:e., a new motive and principle of action.
I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh - the heart unimpressible in serious things; like the "stony ground" (Matthew 13:20), unfit for receiving the good seed so as to bring forth fruit.
And I will give you an heart of flesh - not 'carnal,' in opposition to 'spiritual;' but impressible and docile, fit for receiving the good seed. In Ezekiel 18:31 they are commanded, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." Here God says, "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." Thus the responsibility of man and the sovereign grace of God are shown to be co-existent. Man cannot make himself a new heart unless God gives it (Philippians 2:12-50.2.13).
And I will put my Spirit within you - (Ezekiel 11:19; Jeremiah 32:39). The partial repentance and reformation at the return from Babylon (Ezra 10:6, etc.; Nehemiah 8:1-16.8.18; Nehemiah 9:1-16.9.38) was an earnest of the full renewal hereafter under Messiah.
Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God - (Ezekiel 11:20, "That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances and do them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God;" Jeremiah 30:22).
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses - the province of Jesus, according to the signification of His name (Matthew 1:21). To be specially exercised in behalf of the Jews in the latter days (Romans 11:26).
And I will call for the corn - as a master "calls for" a servant: all the powers and productions of nature are the servants of Yahweh (Psalms 105:16; Matthew 8:8-40.8.9). Cf as to the subordination of all the intermediate agents to the great First Cause, who will give "grain" and all good things to His people (Hosea 2:21-28.2.22; Zechariah 8:12).
Ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen - to which their taunt (Ezekiel 36:13), "Thou land devourest up men," in part referred.
Then shall ye remember your own evil ways - with shame and loathing. The unexpected grace and love of God, manifested in Christ to Israel, shall melt the people into true repentance, which mere legal fear could not (Ezekiel 16:61; Ezekiel 16:63; Psalms 130:4; Zechariah 12:10: cf. Jeremiah 33:8-24.33.9).
And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden - "they," i:e., the pagan, who once made Israel's desolation a ground of reproach against the name of Yahweh himself (Ezekiel 36:20-26.36.21); but now he so vindicates its sanctity (Ezekiel 36:22-26.36.23) that these same pagan are constrained to acknowledge Israel's more than renewed blessedness to be God's own work, and a ground for glorifying His name (Ezekiel 36:36).
Eden - as Tyre (the type of the world-powers in general; also, Assyria, a cedar "in the garden of God ... Eden," Ezekiel 31:8-26.31.9), in respect to her original advantages, had been compared to "Eden, the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:13), from which she had fallen irrecoverably; so Israel;, once desolate, is to be as "the garden of Eden" (Isaiah 51:3); and is to be so unchangeably.
I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it - (Numbers 23:19, "Hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?)"
I will yet for this be inquired of - so as to grant it. On former occasions He had refused to be inquired of by Israel, because the inquirers were not in a fit condition of mind to receive a blessing (Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3). But hereafter, as in the restoration from Babylon (Nehemiah 8:1-16.8.18; Nehemiah 9:1-16.9.38; Daniel 9:3-27.9.21; Daniel 9:23), God will prepare His people's "hearts" (Ezekiel 36:26) to pray aright for the blessings which He is about to give (Psalms 102:13-19.102.17; Psalms 102:20; Zechariah 12:10-38.12.14; Zechariah 13:1).
I will increase them with men like a flock - resuming the image (Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 34:31)
As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts - the great flock of choice animals for sacrifice, brought up to Jerusalem at the three great yearly festivals, the Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles.
(1) The grand distinction between the people of God, as Israel, and the people of the world, as Edom is, whereas the latter are finally given over to destruction, the former are only chastened for a time, and shall be finally and completely delivered. The people of the world may now seem exalted to a great height; but their elevation is of a carnal and material kind, and is therefore transitory. The elevation of the Israel of God is spiritual, and therefore permanent. Her hills are "the everlasting hills" (Genesis 49:26). The mount Zion, as the seat of God's earthly throne, "cannot be removed, but abideth forever" (Psalms 125:1).
Therefore Edom's shout of triumph over the fallen Israel shall be turned into wailing for her own fall. She had greedily thought to take possession of the "ancient high places" of the people of God (Ezekiel 36:2). Nay, more, she had turned into derision the promise of perpetuity which God had given to His people, as though that promise was now proved to be abortive, and had sneered at Israel's connection with Yahweh, as though He were unable to save them. This it was which especially provoked God to "speak in the fire of His jealousy" against the godless enemy (Ezekiel 36:5), and in behalf of His people. As Israel "had borne the shame of the pagan" (Ezekiel 36:6), so should the pagan henceforth and forever "bear their own shame" (Ezekiel 36:7). When the believer is cast down in spirit, and hears himself and the cause of the Lord "taken up in the lips of talkers" (Ezekiel 36:3), who taunt him in his adversity, saying continually, "Where is thy God?" let him wait in patient confidence, and ere long he shall have ample cause to praise the God "who is the health of his countenance, and his God" (Psalms 42:3; Psalms 42:11).
(2) The Lord declares to the people of Israel; "Behold, I am for you" (Ezekiel 36:9). Since God is ultimately to be for them, no power can avail anything that is against them: God will "turn to" His people in mercy, and they shall at the same time turn to Him in repentance. The restoration to their own land is to be literal; and all things and all persons in the restored state of Israel are to share in the coming blessedness - "the mountains, the hills, the rivers, the valleys, the desolate wastes, the houses, the cities, man and beast" (Ezekiel 36:4; Ezekiel 36:8; Ezekiel 36:10).
Thus, the Lord is about to "bless the latter end" of Israel, as that of Job 42:12, "more than her beginning" (Ezekiel 36:11). So in the case of the spiritual Israel, the true Church; she is now a little and despised flock, but she shall at last be "a multitude which no man can number" (Revelation 7:9); whereas the anti-Christian faction, and all the carnal, worldly, and unbelieving, who shall for a time seem to triumph over the Church of Christ (Revelation 11:7-66.11.11), shall perish awfully and everlastingly.
(3) Palestine has been from the earliest ages as it were the grave of its occupants: it was so to the ancient Canaanites, through intense wars and then by the sword of Israel; it was so to Israel because of the judgments of God on account of their apostasy; it has been for 18 centuries a down-trodden country (Ezekiel 36:12-26.36.13). It is hereafter to be so "no more" (Ezekiel 36:14-26.36.15). Let us not doubt that, as the Word of God has so far been accurately fulfilled, what remains shall also come to pass. Let us observe the signs of the times, and so discern what we ought to do accordingly.
(4) The reason for Israel's having been removed by God was because of her uncleanness, just as a woman legal uncleanness caused her to be separated from the congregation (Ezekiel 36:17). Gods holiness constrained Him to judge His people, who were guilty of idolatry and bloodshedding, "according to their way, and according to their doings" (Ezekiel 36:18-26.36.19). Then, in their dispersion among the pagan, they brought dishonour on the holy name of God (Ezekiel 36:20), not only by their oppressions, usuries, and adulteries, but also through their miserable condition, which was the judicial consequence of those sins. See, said the godless pagan these wretched beings are the people of Yahweh, and "are gone forth out of His land!" (Ezekiel 36:20.) Such are the specimens to show what kind of a God this so-called holy, covenant-keeping, and omnipotent Yahweh is! Who would worship such a God? Lot the children of God remember that they are the representatives of the honour of God before the world. Let them therefore be scrupulously watchful over their whole conduct, bearing, and temper, so as to give no handle to the enemies of God to blaspheme.
(5) The dishonour put on the name of God, in the person of His exiled people Israel, by the pagan, was the primary moving cause which led Him to restore the Jews from Babylon (Ezekiel 36:21-26.36.22). So shall the same regard for the honour of His own holy name again lead him to gather the Jews out of all the Gentile countries wherein they are now dispersed, and to restore them to their own land (Ezekiel 36:23-26.36.24). It is not for any merit which God sees in His people that He has pity on them; for if God weighed their merits, there could be nothing in them to recommend, them to His favour (Ezekiel 36:22); but it is in consideration of His own holy name and character as the God of covenanted grace (Ezekiel 36:21), that so He may vindicate its sanctity before the nations from the reproach brought on it through the sins and the terrible punishment of the covenant-people (Ezekiel 36:23). Let us hence learn that the honour of His own holy name is the first grand end of all God's dealings of wrath and of mercy. Let us fall in with the purpose of God, and make the honour of His name our chief plea in our prayers for mercy, and our influencing motive in all our acts.
(6) The external restoration of Israel to their own land is to be accompanied or followed by an internal and spiritual restoration through repentance and conversion. Mere change of men's position avails little, without change also of disposition. The heart must be renewed, in order that there may be a real and lasting change for the better. God Himself engages to effect this change. If He commands Israel, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 18:31), He also promises to give the power to do that which Israel could not do of herself: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh," etc. (Ezekiel 36:25-26.36.27).
Thus the Gentiles, understanding from the regenerated lives of God's people how holy God is, will perceive Israel's past troubles to have been only the necessary vindication of His righteousness; and thereby the name of God shall be sanctified among the nations. The same effect is produced on the world by the consistent walk of truly regenerated Christians: even the unbelieving are constrained to say, God is in you of a truth (1 Corinthians 14:25). The blood of Christ must sprinkle the heart from an evil conscience, in order that any of us may be clean before God (Ezekiel 36:25; Hebrews 10:22). It is the office of the Holy Spirit, which is often compared to pure waters, to apply the blood of the Saviour to the cleansing of the sinner. Then the stony, unimpressible heart gives place to a humble, tender, and teachable heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Covetousness, ambition, and love of "all" earthly "idols," with all other "filthiness" are thus "cleansed" from us; and we henceforth "delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22), to do its statutes (Ezekiel 36:27). Renewing grace effects as great a change in the soul as if a dead stone were turned into living flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). They who were not the Lord's people become the people of God (Ezekiel 36:28). They are "saved from all their uncleannesses" first, and then outward mercies follow. God, who formerly called a famine upon the land of Israel (Psalms 105:16), shall "call for the corn" (Ezekiel 36:29) which comes at His command, as a servant would come at a master's call.
(7) The result of the Lord's marvelous grace to Israel at last, so little to be looked for, considering their provocations, shall be, they shall remember their own evil ways and doings with loathing (Ezekiel 36:31), and shall perceive, with shame and self-condemnation, that it is not for their merits, but for His own name's sake, that God shows such gratuitous mercy (Ezekiel 36:32). Nothing so melts the sinner rate repentance as the love and grace of God, where He could only have looked for wrath because of his sins. Let us, if we desire true repentance, receive it as the gift of God at the foot of the cross of Christ, where we see our sin forgiven at the cost of such an awful sacrifice, flowing from the gratuitous love of God. The terrors of the law can frighten, but the grace of God in Christ alone can melt the heart.
(8) The Gentiles who have made the desolation of Israel a reproach against Yahweh Himself (Ezekiel 36:20), shall acknowledge the more than restored blessedness of Israel to be the work of God, and shall thereby be brought to know Him who hath changed the desolate land of Palestine into the garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:34-26.36.36). And all these glorious results shall follow upon the prayers of His people, which He will previously stir them up to offer. When God purposes to bestow the richest blessings, He first of all stirs up His people to pray for them, and to plead His own promises as the ground of their petitions. He even now saith to the spiritual Israel, "I will yet for this be inquired of by my people, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36:37). May He pour the Spirit of grace and supplications on His universal Church, and so prepare her for receiving floods of blessing from on high!
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany