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1And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third [month], on the first of the month, that the word of Jehovah came to me, saying: 2Son of man, say to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to his tumult, To whom art thou like in thy 3greatness? Behold, Asshur [was] a cedar tree upon Lebanon, beautiful of foliage, and a shadowing thicket, and high of stature, and between the clouds was his 4top. Waters made him become great, the flood made him high, with its streams it went round about its planting, and it sent forth its canals to all the trees of 5the field. Therefore his stature became higher than all the trees of the field, and his branches became many [great], and his foliage-branches [boughs] became long, from many waters in his spreading himself forth. In his branches nested 6all the fowls of heaven, and under his boughs every living thing of the field 7brought forth, and in his shadow dwelt all the many nations. And he became beautiful in his greatness, in the length of his twigs [shoots], for his root was on 8many waters. Cedars darkened him not in the garden of God; cypresses were not like his branches, and plane trees were not like his foliage-branches [boughs]; 9all wood in the garden of God was not like him in his beauty. Beautiful had I made him in the multitude of his shoots; and all the trees of Eden, which were 10in the garden of God, envied him.—Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou becamest high in stature, and he gave his top even to between the 11clouds, and his heart raised itself in his height; Therefore will I give him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he will do, do to him: in [on account of] 12his wickedness I drove him out. And strangers hewed him down, the violent ones of the heathen, and left him upon the mountains; and in all the valleys his shoots fell, and his foliage-branches [boughs] were broken in all hollows of the earth; and all the nations of the earth went down out of his shadow and left 13him. On his ruins all the fowls of heaven alight, and on his boughs is every living creature of the field. 14To the end that none of the trees of the waters become lofty in their stature, nor give their top up between the clouds, and that no drinkers of water should remain standing by themselves in their height; for they are all given to death, to the underground, among the children of men, to those who go down to the grave. 15Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day of his going down to hell [sheol] I caused to mourn [I made a mourning]; I veiled on account of him the flood, and stayed its streams, and there were many waters held back; and I made Lebanon dark over him, and all the trees of the field sank in weakness over him. At the sound of his fall 16I made the heathen quake, in that I made him go down to hell with those that go down to the grave; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and good of Lebanon, all drinkers of water, comforted themselves in the underground. 17They also went down with him to hell, to be pierced through with the sword, namely, those who, his arm, dwelt in his shadow among the heathen 18nations. To whom, then, art thou like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? And thou art cast down with the trees of Eden to the underground; in the midst of the uncircumcised shalt thou lie with those pierced through by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his tumult. Sentence of the Lord Jehovah.
Ezekiel 31:1. Sept.: μικ του μηνος—
Ezekiel 31:2. … ὡμοιωσας σεαυτον … ὑψει σου; Vulg. … similis factùs es—
Ezekiel 31:3. ... κυπαρισσος … ἑγενετο ἡ� Vulg. … et inter condensas frondes—
Ezekiel 31:4. ... κυκλω̣ των φυτων αὐτου—flumina ejus manabant in circuitu radicum ejus … ligna regionis.
Ezekiel 31:5. Other readings גבה ,גבהה.
Ezekiel 31:6. Vulg.: Cumque extendisset umbram suam, in … (Anoth. read.: יָשְׁבוּ)
Ezekiel 31:7. Sept.; ... ἐν τ.ὑψει αὑτου δια το πλ θος—
Ezekiel 31:8. Κυπαρισσοι τοιαυται οὐκ ἐγενηθησαν ἐν τ. παραδεισω τ.Φεου κ. πιτυες—Vulg.: Cedrinon … altiores … abietes non adæquaverunt summitatem ejus—(Another read.: כפארתיו or with ב.)
Ezekiel 31:9. Sept.: δια τ.πληθος τ.κλαδων αὐτου.Κ. ἐζηλωσαν … της τρυφης τ. Θεου. Vulg.: quoniam speciosum feci … et multis condensisque frondibus … omnia ligna voluptatis—
Ezekiel 31:10. ... ἐδωκκς τ.ἀρχην σου … κ.εἰδον ἐν τω̣ ὑψωθηναι αὐτον Vulg.: … sublimatus est … summitatem suam virentem atque condensam.
Ezekiel 31:11. κ. παρεδωκα αὐτον … ἀρχοντος ἐθνων, κ.ἐποιησεν τ.ἀπωλειαν αὐτου. (Other read: כרשעו איל.)
Ezekiel 31:14. Vulg.: Quam ob rem non elevabuntur … inter nemorosa atque frondosa. (Other read.: אֵליהם fortes eorum: sibi, super se, עליהם. For אל יורדי, there is a reading את י׳.)
Ezekiel 31:15. Sept.: ... ἁδου,ἐπεστησα ἐπʼ αὐτον τ.ἀβυσσν—induxi luctum, operui eum abysso—(Anoth. read.: וכל חית.)
Ezekiel 31:16. εἰς λακκον Κ.παρεχαλουν αὐτον … τ.ξυλα της τρυφης κ.τ.ἐκλεκτα—qui descendebant in locum. Et consolata sunt … ligna voluptatis egregia et prælara—
Ezekiel 31:17. … ἐν τραυματιαις μαχαιρας, κ.το σπερμα αὐτου παντες οἱ … ἐν μεσω τ. ζωης αὐτων�. Nam et … descendent … et brachium uniuscvjusque sedebit sub—(Another read.: יֵשבו ,יֵרדו.)
Ezekiel 31:18. ὡμοιωθης; Καταβηθι κ.καταβιβασθητι … ξυλων της τρυφης … κ παν τ. πληφος της ἰσχυος αὐτου—Cui assimilatus es, O inclyte atque sublimis inter ligna voluptatis? Ecce … cum lignis voluptatis—
Egypt (Pharaoh) and Assyria.
The whole chapter is taken up with this prophetical allegory, which the indication of time in Ezekiel 31:1 places not quite two months later than Ezekiel 30:20 sq. (Schmieder: therefore one month and eight days before the conquest of Jerusalem). In accordance with the antithesis there, a highly poetical parallel now follows, which might work in a more powerful manner upon hearers and readers, as it was taken from the still fresh experience of his contemporaries; for in 606 Nineveh had been laid prostrate by the combined attack of the Babylonians and Medes, and the kingdom which had domineered in Asia above five centuries had reached its end. The year after that was the year of the battle at Carchemish; and thus had the fate of Assyria become palpable shortly before the calamity which was threatening Egypt. Comp. besides the juxtaposition of Assyria and Egypt elsewhere, Isaiah 7:18; Isaiah 27:13; Jeremiah 2:36; Hosea 12:2 ; Zechariah 10:10.
Ezekiel 31:2. The commencement is made properly by the question which is addressed to Pharaoh and his tumult (הָמוֹן, see at Ezekiel 30:10; Ezekiel 29:19), in the answer to which the prophet sets forth a prognostication for himself and his people. Hengst.: “The matter has respect not to an opinion, but to a real resemblance.” Hitzig limits the reference to the “official Egypt,” being that “which made tumultuous noise in the land, which had something to say and to order; the governing classes and ranks (Isaiah 3:2-3), in contrast to the quiet people in the land (Psalms 35:20), who keep silence and obey.” According to Schmieder, the question calls for the answer: No one! “Thou art incomparable, alone of thy kind. This was also the feeling of Pharaoh Hophra. But Ezekiel,” etc.—נּוֹדֶל (along with כבוד in Ezekiel 31:18), not = “strength,” but also not precisely: fancied greatness huge self-elation (Raschi), as at Isaiah 10:12 of Assyria, for Egypt’s very ancient culture already gave him still a real precedence, and in other respects also placed him before Assyria.
Ezekiel 31:3-9. Assyria’s Glory
Ezekiel 31:3. Behold, a call to attention, introducing the answer which the divine word has to give. Hengst.: “the future in a historical dress, as at Ezekiel 19:0 the history of Jehoahaz and Jehoiachim.”—אַשּׁוּר (comp. Ezekiel 27:6) is taken by Ewald for a definite kind of cedar, the highest of its kind; against which compare the convincing proof of Hitzig. Häv. also justly remarks against the construction of the word, as an adjective, that the most distinguished characteristic for a cedar tree is the accompanying designation: upon Lebanon; comp. besides, Ezekiel 17:3. It is a common image for people of great might, princes. The Sept. renders אֶרֶז by κυπαρισσος.—Because חֹרֶשׁ, “thickness,” may signify a forest, Hengst. translates here (taking מצל as partic. Hiphil from צלל), “shading the forest” or wood. The representation is carried out farther עָנָף, as well as by between the clouds, etc.; also by קוֹמָה (from קום, “stature”) גְבַהּ.—Upon עַבֹתִים, see at Ezekiel 19:11; on צַמֶּרֶת, comp. Ezekiel 17:3.
Ezekiel 31:4. Explanation of such growth.—What is said of the waters, that they made him become great, fits too well to the image of the cedar for one to be able to get something still better by a reference to the description of paradise (as Häv.), or by bringing into account the situation of Nineveh, which was important for the history of Assyria, with the Tigris on the west, the Zabatos (Lykos) on the south, with its neighbouring stream Bumodus on the east, and the brook Khosr on the north.—Still more, the flood (not the rain: comp. Isaiah 44:14) contributed to the prosperity. The designation, therefore, previously, of the Lebanon was epitheton ornans. תְּהוֹם is the water-treasure in the depths pouring itself forth in springs, etc. Hitzig: image of the multitude of men flowing together into Assyria, on the basis of which the political power rose. More correctly Hengst.: “the water and the flood denote what the world calls good fortune, the divine blessing.”—אֶת־, either: with, or taken accusatively: what concerns.—Hence תהום is here kept feminine; the streams are those of the flood, and the masculine הֹלְךְ, which is likewise to be referred to the flood, is justified after this manner, that תהום can also be used as a masculine; and the masculine in the present case, as Hengst. remarks, is the more suitable, being preceded by מים.—The planting (Ezekiel 17:7) can scarcely be referred, with Hengst., through the fem. מטעָהּ, to Assyria as a tree; but is conceived of with reference to the flood, whether it might be because this had a share in the prosperity spoken of, or, which the סביבת הלך recommends, because it streams around this cedar-planting, the place on which it grows. The תְּעָלוֹת, first coming into consideration in the second line, are to be understood of the overflowings of the water-fulness that rises up (עלה), just as the all trees of the field are distinguished from the cedar tree described; and this, in Ezekiel 31:5, is raised into prominence over against them. Hengst. takes the subjects to be designated by the expression; Hitzig applies it to other lands and princes. Of the inhabitants of Egypt we are as little to think as, with Rosenmüller, of the Nile.
Ezekiel 31:5. עַל־כֵּן, from his overflow of water his greater height than all the trees finds its explanation, Ezekiel 19:11 (גבהא, Aram, for גבהה)—(סרעפה, Aram. for סעפה, with ר inserted).—פְארֹתָיו, under which must here especially be understood the fruit-bearing ones, Ezekiel 17:6.—בְּשַׁלְּחוֹ, Hengst.: “because in his time of shooting he had many waters.” [Häv.: “at his sending forth, namely, the twigs on all sides.” Tautology. Vulg. connects it with Ezekiel 31:6.]
Ezekiel 31:6. Ezekiel 17:23. The closing words give the signification of the figure (Daniel 4:9). “Bird” and “living thing,” in contrast to domestic creatures, the Assyrians themselves. The imperfect יֵשׁבוּ expresses, in contradistinction to the preceding perfects, the incomplete, the continuous, the progressive. [Ewald: “sat gladly all the many,” etc.]—כל־גויס רבים, Bunsen: all great peoples (?); Keil: all sorts of great nations; Rosenm.: the entirety of many peoples.
Ezekiel 31:7. ב, through, on account of.—Ezekiel 17:6.
Ezekiel 31:8 carries still higher the pre-eminent glory brought prominently out in Ezekiel 31:5, through the diversified comparison and the designation “in the garden of God,” on which comp. Ezekiel 28:12. That לֹא־עְַמָמֻחוּ (to “darken” = excel) separates this nearer designation from ארזים, is very impressive (Häv.): even such as were found in paradise. Hitzig: “in an eminent sense, planted by God, Genesis 2:9; Numbers 24:6.” What still has not been expressed is more distinctly indicated in Ezekiel 31:9, that what God had done to Assyria even transcended the trees of paradise, therefore the eminent divine planting was even more marked in the case of Assyria. The paradise-creation was, after all, only nature, symbolizing grace, consequently might be the similitude for a state-creation, without, however, being like the latter, as little as also the most glorious trees themselves. Every tree, namely in this, in a natural respect, so that the tree of life and the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:0.), as being of a spiritual nature, are exempted, and the simply parabolical allusion to Eden and to the garden of paradise is clear. [Hengst. makes the totality of the great men of the earth as stately trees in the garden of God as a counterpart of paradise, since all human greatness has its origin in God. Klief. (Raschi) regards the garden of God directly as “the world-planting,” since all peoples and kingdoms of the world have been planted as trees by God. Grot.: in Babylonia, where formerly paradise stood. Osiander: no king of the people of God was like him!]—[“This parabolical representation, as formerly in the case of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:0 combines the historical with the figurative. While the cedar that represents the king of Babylon is called a cedar of Lebanon, it is presently transferred in the prophet’s imagination to the land of primeval beauty and perfection, the Eden in which was the garden that God had planted. There this cedar is described as growing and flourishing, till it overtopped in magnificence and beauty all the trees around it. … But it was only that it might afford another specimen of that instability and transitoriness which belong to all on earth, when the good bestowed by Heaven is abused to purposes of selfishness, and the creature begins to thrust himself into the place of his Creator.”—P. F.]
Ezekiel 31:9. This “beauty” is here explained as having been made by God, as a historical creation act (עשיתיו), and expresses, while at the same time bringing the similitude to a close, the impression which the striking elevation of the Assyrian grandeur was fitted to produce.—That the trees of Eden, as in the larger sense they are called (in respect to local position), should be designated as those which belonged to the garden of God, distinguishes them still more; it is an ascension. Kliefoth takes “trees of Eden” freely, as equivalent to “trees of beauty,” lovely trees. That more is meant by the expression, while still paradise is thought of merely in the way of similitude, appears from Ezekiel 31:16.
Ezekiel 31:10-14. The Judgment executed on Assyria.
Ezekiel 31:10. This verse transfers us into the midst of the things already in fact brought to pass. We might render כה אמר: thus said to him, etc.—לכן: He who made the Assyrian so beautiful, even He, announced to him the overthrow that should take place, because of what he made out of himself.—The whole passage expresses the cause of the judgment of Jehovah upon Assyria, namely, that with such a glory from God (Ezekiel 31:5; Ezekiel 31:3) the position of the heart was not in correspondence; there was not humility in all the greatness, but high-mindedness on account of it. The commencing address, Thou, in the life-like character of the representation, becomes changed into a declaration respecting him—and he.—וְרָם׳, Deuteronomy 8:14. Only in conformity with the gift, not in accordance with the grace. Comp. Ezekiel 31:14.
Ezekiel 31:11. Here the sentence of judgment, as just going to be pronounced for the first time, is, by the use of the imperfect, placed more distinctly before us. Hengst: “which was the more suitable, as the like in Egypt was shortly to be repeated.”—אֵל נּוֹיִם is Nebuchadnezzar, “the mighty” (אוּל), not God. [Hitzig: אַיִל, ram, for prince, champion, under which Cyaxares is to be thought of.]—What he will do to him discovers itself in what follows; it will be nothing but doing; for Asshur it remained merely to suffer.—גֵּרַשְׁתִּיהוּ Piel, with reference to his paradisiacal glory (Genesis 3:24). The perfect agrees with the quieter mode of speech.
Ezekiel 31:12. As what was said last has taken place, there is now by means of the historical tenses a narration; consequently the execution of the pronounced judgment carried out. (Others make it future, with application now to Egypt, now to Assyria.)—Ezekiel 30:12; Ezekiel 30:11.—נָטַשׁ is: “to let go,” therefore either: to let him lie (Hengst.), or: to push away, to throw down (Ezekiel 29:5). Throwing down is already indicated in the hewing, and is expressed through the “falling;” and on the other hand, “the leaving” is again resumed at the close, while it is extended to “all peoples.” The “mountains” prepare for the “valleys,” and the “falling,” the “being broken” in all hollows (Ezekiel 6:3). Still, in its overthrow, the greatness as well as lofty elevation of this cedar tree is vividly displayed.—וַיֵרְדוּ abides closely by the image, according to Ezekiel 31:6, partly of birds which had nested in its branches, partly also of beasts which had brought forth under its boughs, which, according to Ezekiel 31:12, had its place on the mountains, so that in both respects the “going down out of his shadow” is clear, and there is no need, with Hitzig, to read וַיִּדְּדוּ, from נדד, to fly, for which עַמִּים would otherwise present no obstacle; but here, as at Ezekiel 31:6, the reality at the close breaks through the figure.
Ezekiel 31:13. If מִקּוֹל מַפַּלְתּוֹ in Ezekiel 31:16 refers to עַל־מַפַּלְתּוֹ here (Ezekiel 26:15; Ezekiel 26:18; Ezekiel 27:27), there is no necessity, with Raschi, Kimchi, and later expositors, to think of the substitution of the image of a corpse (carcase, Judges 14:8), and of eagles, ravens, and other beasts of prey which rend and gnaw the members of Assyria, signified by his boughs (Hitzig); but מַפֶּלֶת, from נפל, is with Gesen. simply: the fallen or hewed-down stem, which is, as it were, a living ruin (Hengst.).—יִשְׁכְּנוּ, otherwise than at Ezekiel 17:23, as is shown also by the immediately following and on his boughs is; since those who had nested and brought forth there (Ezekiel 31:6) now betook themselves away from him, taking, perhaps, whatever they could of his fruit, reaping the greatest possible advantage from the mighty catastrophe.
Ezekiel 31:14, by way of conclusion, expresses the divine intention, the practical aim, the moral, and that with respect to Egypt. To the end that (since Ezekiel 31:12-13 may be regarded as parenthetical expansions) can be connected with Ezekiel 31:11.—עֲצֵי־מַיִם signifies primarily: those standing on the waters, what afterwards is more nearly indicated by שֹׁתֵי מַיִם (שתה, just as Sanscr. “padapa,” designating the tree as drinking with its foot, through its root): those which attain to height and glory from the position granted to them by God—of which description was Egypt, from its relation to the Nile (Ezekiel 29:0). Hengst.: “the great of the earth, to whom God gives joyful prosperity.”—Comp. on Ezekiel 31:10. As there: “and his heart raised itself,” etc., so it is said here: וְלֹא־יַעֲמְדוּ אֵלֵיהֶם, therefore to be understood of self-assumption, as in Sept. אֵליהם instead of אֲליהים is no hindrance; as is also Keil’s ultimate conclusion, since אֵלֵינוּ is common, and אֵלֵימוֹ poetic, Psalms 2:5.—[Other expositions: “and their strong ones do not continue in their high-mindedness all water-drinkers”; or, “and their oaks (terebinths, Isaiah 61:3) do not stand there (remain standing) in their elevation, all,” etc. Rosenmüller: “and stand not to them, that is, allied to them in their height, where they had grown so high, all, namely, the other water-drinkers, that is, powerful and rich princes.” Klief.: “and that henceforth among all their strong trees that drink water no one may remain in his height.” Ewald: “and no water-drinkers assail (! !) their gods in their pride” (!), which he afterwards more particularly explains: So that trees, beings who might raise themselves ever so high, are still always dependent on their nourishment, and cannot live of themselves in a spirit of contempt toward their Creator, nor, again, arrogantly war with their superior (their Creators, gods), since they still are all destined to go down as common men to the lower world.] Comp. Ezekiel 26:20. They could give themselves nothing, since they themselves were given away, as such were already appointed; therefore also could not remain standing where they were standing, and assumed the airs of continuing to stand, but must go down to the lower world, therefore be brought low, be humiliated, though not before humble, come to stand on a footing with the children of men. The expression: among the children of men, is to be regarded as parallel with: given to death; and: to those who go down to the grave, with: to the underground. Those that go down, men continually dying, even the highest; or, “those that have gone down,” as Ewald: those sunk into the grave.
Ezekiel 31:15-18. The Impression and Close.
As at Ezekiel 26:15 sq. Ezekiel 31:15. (רֶדֶת, inf. constr. of יִרד) The connection is made with what immediately precedes, so that the reference is not (as Hitzig) to Ezekiel 31:13. Upon שְׁאֹל, see Doct. Reflect.—The “mourning” is immediately defined more nearly without כִּסֵּתִי being asyndetically joined to it, as Häv., Ewald, Hengst.: “to cover with mourning,” “to veil in mourning,” “I made it veil itself for mourning.” The mourning which Jehovah effects through His judgment upon Assyria touches primarily the flood, in thorough accord with Ezekiel 31:4, as that which in the first line contributed to the cedar its increase. Therefore עָלָיו, “on his account.” That the flood was covered upon him, as the Syriac, Arab., and Vulg., is at least not indicated in what precedes (Ezekiel 31:12). Comp. on the contrary, Ezekiel 26:19. We must (it was thought) suppose a historical reference, since the siege of Nineveh was protracted to two years, while in the spring of the third year, in consequence of a sudden swell in the Tigris, raised by excessive falls of rain, the mighty flood in one night tore down the wall next the stream, and so laid open a wide breach to the enemy (Duncker, 1. p. 806; Nahum 1:8; Nahum 2:7 ). However, in this passage the discourse is not properly of the overthrow of Assyria in process of accomplishment,
Ezekiel 31:15 giving no representation of the judgment itself, as Häv. maintains,—but of the impression of the same as one already accomplished; and כסה as “to veil” is, even without שַׂק, perfectly intelligible, but how it is meant in respect to the flood is made sufficiently plain by the וָאֶמְנַע׳ (not future). Hitzig: “In mourning, people commonly draw themselves in and hold back, the loose garment is changed into the narrow שק; and so the flood also withdraws its waters into itself, which it had hitherto joyfully poured forth and spread abroad”—which Hitzig applies to the influx of people come to a standstill. Theodoret: to the refusal of tribute. Comp. on the figure, Ezekiel 31:4. מַיִס רַבִּים points back to Ezekiel 31:5-7.—The mourning produced by Jehovah next affects Lebanon (comp. Ezekiel 31:3), therefore the height as well as the depth. אַקְדִר עָלָיו, parallel with כסתי עליו, Hiphil from: to be “dark,” “black,” therefore: to darken, as much as: to make sad, to cause to mourn. Lebanon is otherwise the white mountain. [According to Hitzig, the other princes must be indicated by this; according to Hengst., the kingdoms of the heathen.]—The trees of the field (Ezekiel 31:4) are the third party whom the mourning affects, which is therefore also represented as far and near, עָלָף, in Pual, “to be covered;” transferred to the consciousness: to become powerless. עֻלְפֶּה has been explained as a verbal from Pual with derivative ֶ—ה, “languishing,” or instead of עֻלְּפָה, fem. of the preterite Pual, since from the connection a perfect seems to be required (Ewald), the plural construed with the feminine singular.—Keil, as Umbreit, makes all nature (?) be painfully moved by Assyria’s fall, whereas the impression of this fall is merely kept in the figurative style of Ezekiel 31:3-4.
Ezekiel 31:16. Ezekiel 26:15. Since that is the same expression (מפלתו) as in Ezekiel 31:13, and in Ezekiel 31:15 his going down was spoken of, so we are carried back to Ezekiel 31:12. The “going down of the peoples out of his shadow” in that passage is explained; at the same time, however, the וִדְתּוֹ of Ezekiel 31:15 is comprised in the בְּהוֹרִדִו, and referred to the Sheol.—Now, according as וַיִנָּחְמוּ is translated “comforted themselves,” as reflexive of Piel, since here still another feeling than in Ezekiel 31:15 may be expressed, or the Niphal “and they sighed” is what is to be understood (Ewald, Hengst.), we have either a distinction between the lower world and the trembling people of the upper world, or the two are parallel the one to the other. For the first interpretation speaks the comparison of Isaiah 14:0. Hitzig understands by the trees of Eden princes carried down with Assyria; in particular the Assyrian war-princes, who feel themselves comforted because the much more powerful one for whose cause they have fallen, their murderer, shares their fate; while Hengst. more correctly understands by them the former great ones of the earth, those who resembled the trees of paradise in glory. As paradise was itself a thing of the past, those who were likened to the trees of its region were contemplated as now existing in the realms of the dead. The allegorical character of the expression is proved by the exegesis: the choice and good. Besides, comp. at Ezekiel 31:14.
Ezekiel 31:17. They also are not those last named in Ezekiel 31:16, but the parties presently going to be described more closely—already, indeed, indicated in Ezekiel 31:16 as those with whom Jehovah made Assyria go down to hell (את, not אל, as in Ezekiel 31:14). “And his arm” defines more exactly the “they also” as the subject of “the going down,”—his help, his assistant, the vassals, subject-kings, commanders, and such like, to whom the words: who dwelt in his shadow among the heathen, very well suit, and not less that they are associated with those pierced through with the sword. Assyria was not only a political, but also a military power among the nations. [If הֵם must apply to “all the trees of Eden” in Ezekiel 31:16, so must “with him” be made equal to “not less than he,” just as Hengst., looking away from simultaneousness, views them as already in Sheol when Assyria arrives there. Therefore: they also, like him, went down before, etc. Ewald reads with the Sept.: זַרְעוֹ, “and his seed” (!).]
>Ezekiel 31:18. This verse gives the conclusion, pointing back to Ezekiel 31:2; it makes the application to Pharaoh, who is the party addressed.—כָּכָה, Hitzig: “in such a fashion, in circumstances of such a kind,” when this cedar after such a manner went down. The reference among the trees belongs to the to whom—Comp. at Ezekiel 28:10. From this passage, also, there appears to emerge the opposite of what is commonly found in it, viz. that the Egyptians appear as uncircumcised with our prophet. According to Herodotus, the practice of circumcision was actually of Egyptian origin. Origen confines it to the priesthood among the Egyptians. The kings certainly were not uncircumcised; so the vis of our passage shines clearly out: This is Pharaoh, sq. Hitzig: so shall it happen to Pharaoh. הוא is the predicate.
1. Although the prophecy in Ezekiel 29:0 is of a general character, yet by the reference to Nebuchadnezzar, and especially from Ezekiel 29:17 onwards, it gets a more specific character. We have therefore to hold by a fulfilment through the Chaldeans, and, indeed, in connection with what is said respecting Tyre. Apart from the circumstance that we have here to do with a prophet of God, we could not judge otherwise simply on this account, that a little reflection upon the inevitable disgrace of such a self-deception as would have been the case in respect to Tyre must alone have kept Ezekiel—instead of merely suppressing the prophecy in question while the book was still in his own hand—from wishing now to compensate for the mistake by awakening like inconsiderate and rash expectations concerning Nebuchadnezzar in regard to Egypt. For one to whom the prophet is nothing but a writer must still at least credit him with this much of worldly prudence in respect to his literary honour. And if Ezekiel must needs prophesy ex eventu (as Hitzig, for example, conceives), then prophecies like those contained in Ezekiel 26:0 and some following ones are purely unthinkable, so far as they remained unfulfilled; since it cannot but be supposed, that when our prophet closed his book, matters must have stood before him widely different from what they are presented in his prophecy. The “dogmatic criticism,” however, cannot once admit now that a prophecy has been fulfilled,—a limitation of the standpoint which is not improved by the circumstance that the truth of the divine word (2 Peter 1:21) is made dependent on the statements or the silence of profane writers, and even of such as have given notoriously imperfect reports. The false prophet, he whose word did not come to pass, has by God’s word (Deuteronomy 18:22) been as clearly as possible excluded from the canon.
2. The reward for work, which, as Hitzig rightly enough says, had still to be given to Nebuchadnezzar, raises no question as to the conquest and, as could not fail to happen after a thirteen years’ siege, the destruction of Tyre. If the booty might have been thought of for the army, for Nebuchadnezzar it is necessary to think of Egypt. The song of triumph demanded by Hitzig for the fulfilment of the prophecy against Tyre is the double lamentation which we find in Ezekiel 27:28. Every one has his peculiar manner. But as regards the so-called “historical witnesses,” who should speak the decisive word on the fulfilment or non-fulfilment particularly of the prophecy of Ezekiel in respect to Egypt, they are “the Greek historians, at the head of whom stands Herodotus, and they know absolutely nothing of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt—nay, their narration is opposed to anything of the kind” (Hitzig). This is imposing; let us reflect, however, that Herodotus had also learned nothing from his Egyptian informants of the defeat at Carchemish. We need only mention farther, that this Greek historian himself reproaches the priests of Egypt, and precisely in regard to this particular time, with embellishing the history of their country. Now, according to Herodotus, Pharaoh Hophra—in consequence of the defeat which his army sustained from the Cyrenians, against whom it was to have rendered help to the Libyans, and of the revolt which in consequence thereof, and of the foreign mercenary troops retained in Egypt, broke forth on the part of the Egyptian warrior-class against Amasis, who, instead of bringing back the rebels to obedience, suffered himself to be proclaimed king by them—lost freedom and his throne, and by the infuriated people was even murdered. Tholuck, who, “if the cattle with the ark of the Lord should once turn aside, would not obstinately drive forward,” remarks that as a witness Herodotus alone comes into consideration; before whom, however, the testimony of Ezekiel, himself a contemporary of the events, has no need to be abashed. “If Herodotus readily received intelligence of the prosperous battle fought by Necho at Megiddo, but none respecting the much more important defeat sustained by him on the Euphrates from the Chaldeans, should it be thought strange if the priests observed silence also regarding the irruption of the Chaldeans into their own land? yea, if the miserable end which Hophra suffered through the foreign conqueror should have been rather represented by them as the deed of his own people?” (So also Rawlinson’s Herod. B. ii. appen. c. 8.) With a fair appreciation of the historical representation of Herodotus, the cause there assigned, especially the revolution among the warrior-class of Egypt, might suffice for the overthrow of Hophra. Yet the hatred of the Egyptian people, not only expressed in Herodotus, but confirmed by monumental evidence (Rossellini points in this connection to a by-name of Hophra on the monuments: “Remesto”)—such a hatred as is described in Herodotus toward Hophra (ii. 161–169), manifested in respect to a native ruler, is scarcely to be explained from what is stated, if it did not come into some sort of connection with a Chaldean invasion of Egypt, whereby the haughtiness of Hophra might well appear all the more hateful to the Egyptian people, as the misery of the land and the inhabitants, occasioned by him, stood in sharpest contrast to the previous prosperity and splendour. The grudge of the Egyptian warrior-class against the foreign mercenaries could not be of such moment as some have supposed, since even Amasis, who thereafter held possession of the throne till his death (forty-four years), and was succeeded in it by his son, took lonians for his bodyguard, and generally granted to the Greeks still greater favour and privileges than his predecessor. Besides, as generally held, there is also the outline of the prophecy against Egypt in Ezekiel 29:0, which exhibits a distinction between Ezekiel 29:6 sq. and Ezekiel 29:4 sq.—in the one, the sword constitutes the figure (Ezekiel 29:8); in the other, overthrow with reference to the wilderness. Especially if Hitzig’s interpretation of “the fish” (Ezekiel 29:4) as denoting Pharaoh’s men of war is accepted, and under “the wilderness” there is couched an allusion to Libya, what is said in Ezekiel 29:4 sq. might be explained by the narration which is reproduced by Herodotus, and Ezekiel 29:6 sq. would, with the sword of Nebuchadnezzar, be such a supplementing as the conquest of Tyre to the siege of that city, also given elsewhere. Out of the miserable condition in which Hophra perished, Amasis would then have raised Egypt. Anyhow, as Tholuck brings out, the death of Hophra falls exactly into the time in which the occupation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar must have occurred; and thus the position of matters approaches to that which is wont to be extracted from Josephus in confirmation of our prophecy—contr. Ap. i. 19. It is there stated that Berosus reports of the Babylonian (Nebuchadnezzar) that he “conquered Egypt, Syria, Phœnicia,” etc. Again, in Ezekiel 20:0, he states that Megasthenes placed Nebuchadnezzar above Hercules, since he had subjected to himself a great part of Libya and Iberia (comp. Antiq. x. 11. 1, and Strabo xv. 1. 6; see also Häv. Comm. p. 435, against Hitzig’s remarks). In the 10th book of the Antiq. Ezekiel 9:7, Josephus expresses himself to this effect, that “in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Cœlesyria; and when he had got possession of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and when he had brought these nations into subjection, he fell upon Egypt in order to overthrow it, and did indeed slay the king who then reigned, but set up another; after which he took those Jews that were there captive, and brought them to Babylon,” etc. The ten years’ time, which Hitzig doubts as the period of the earlier warlike expeditions, is maintained by Tholuck. The fifth year after the taking of Jerusalem would be 581; the thirteen years’ siege of Tyre would fall into the period 586–572 or 573. For the different actions which were in part parallel as to time, we have only to suppose various divisions of the army employed, so that the whole might of Nebuchadnezzar did not at the same time lie before Tyre. The forty years of the Egyptian oppression, Tholuck, like Niebuhr, extends over the entire space that lies between the disaster at Carchemish and the overthrow of Hophra (thirty-six years), “during which Egypt, through the continued and in great part unfortunate warlike enterprises of Hophra, must have been much depopulated and extremely weakened, till at length the inroad of the Chaldeans consummated the oppression.” Tholuck thinks that, “as the prophets in the beginning of the fulfilment comprehended the future (Jeremiah 13:18; Ezekiel 30:24), in the last and completed fulfilment they also comprehended the earlier incomplete ones.” The symbolical explanation of the forty years is not thereby denied (see the exposition). The worth of the statements of Josephus may be questioned, as is done by Hitzig; but for the relation of profane history to our prophecy, it suffices that Hophra miserably perished (Ezekiel 29:4 sq.; Jeremiah 44:30 sq.), and that Egypt again revived, as took place under Amasis, although as a kingdom it was fit to be compared neither with its ancient glory nor with other great monarchies (Ezekiel 29:13 sq.). As regards the resuscitation of Egypt, Duncker mentions that, according to a return of the priests, it then reckoned 20,000 country towns and cities (Herzog’s Realencyc. 1 p. 150), though it was “the last period of Egypt’s glory;” and Lepsius says of the same, that Egypt succumbed to the first pressure of the Persian power, and remained from 525 to 504 a Persian province; that afterwards it became again for a short time independent, until in 340 it was reconquered by the Persians, and in 332 fell under Alexander the Great, etc.
3. Upon the importance of Egypt for the revenge of Nebuchadnezzar, see the exposition of Ezekiel 29:18. Also generally for the Chaldean policy the transition to Egypt is rendered plain to us from Ezekiel 29:17 sq. (Häv.: “if Nebuchadnezzar would make the possession of Phœnicia once for all sure, Egypt must be completely broken.”) Of the importance of Egypt by itself, its characteristic importance, some notice has already been taken, toward the close of the introductory remarks to Ezekiel 25:0; as also of the distinction, indicated with correct feeling by Keil, between Egypt and the other nations mentioned by Ezekiel. But what Egypt signifies in its connection here, this must be discerned from its relation to Israel. It is quite true that the charge laid against Ammon, Moab, etc., also against Tyre, for spiteful joy, hostility, envy toward Israel, is not mentioned in respect to Pharaoh and Egypt. It may be said that Egypt’s guilt in regard to Israel was that rather of a false, treacherous friendship. If, on the other hand, the excess of proud self-sufficiency must be regarded as the characteristic of Egypt, the same sort of self-elation meets us in the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:0); and in this respect Tyre formed a fitting transition-point to Egypt. The distinction between Tyre and Egypt might perhaps be found in this, that while in particular the kingdom of Tyre had had its time of sacred splendour and past greatness, as we have seen, in its former connection with the kingdom of David, Egypt on its part acquired importance on account of the sojournings of the pilgrim-fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and still more on account of the formation of their descendants into a people. Above all, the idea of redemption was associated with the land of Egypt. Here, therefore, the inverse relation holds good: Tyre has gone with Israel to school; Israel, on the other hand, was at school in Egypt, as was evidenced in manifold agreements and contrasts exhibited in their peculiarity as a people, without our needing on that account to ride off on the Spencerian principle [namely, of a servile borrowing from the institutions of Egypt]. More than from anything else, may be understood from Israel’s reminiscences as a people, and the impress of Egyptian style and manner even upon their sacred things, their abiding sympathetic turning back toward Egypt. That Israel could not let Egypt go out of sight had its root in human nature; we must learn even from the children of this world (Luke 2:6). But it had also its dangerous side. It was Israel’s worldliness, relapse, since Israel had been delivered by Jehovah from this world, and Jehovah had through Moses threatened them in connection with Egypt with the greatest evils (Deuteronomy 28:68). We have tribulation in the world, and we may have fear before the world; such fear, however, may be salutary in its operation. But dangerous is the stay that is sought in Egypt, trust and confidence therein. In this respect Egypt is designated a remembrancer of iniquity (Ezekiel 29:16), since for Israel it had, and not as of yesterday, but from of old (comp. also Ezekiel 16:26; Ezekiel 23:8; Ezekiel 23:19), the fatal significance of a pride which resists Jehovah and leads away from Him, of a consciousness of worldly power, which amid the characteristic Pharaonic arrogance expressed itself just as distinctly (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 29:9) as in Exodus 5:2, and had this the more seductively, as a self-conscious abiding worldly power is in fact fitted to impose on people. Friendship with Egypt is the most contemptuous relation in which Israel can be thought of, on account of the indifference which it necessarily implied on the part of the Israelitish people not only in regard to their former house of bondage, but also to the mighty deliverance obtained from it, and generally in what concerned their relation to Jehovah, on whom, as their own and their fathers’ God, they had been thrown from their state of childhood. To make account of this specific historical position in respect to each other, according to which the growth, bloom, and decay of Israel were closely interwoven with Egypt, the prophecy of Ezekiel “dwells at greater length on Egypt than on the other nations” (Häv.). Still more, however, it serves to explain the representation of the judgment upon Egypt as strikingly parallel with that on Israel, and to the last carried out (comp. Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 29:9 sq., 12, 13, etc.). Not less remarkable, because singular, is the prospect and declaration in regard to the resuscitation of Egypt, and of it alone, which have been introduced into the prediction of our prophet; by this also is Egypt quite expressly kept parallel with Israel. The reminiscence which brings up Egypt so distinctly is not simply that of the house of bondage, or of iniquity, but it is Joseph’s post of honour, and the corn granaries of Jacob, together with his family. Comp. also Deuteronomy 23:7.
4. The interpretation of Neteler strikes out what is certainly a quite different path, strikingly reminding one of Cocceius, only with a specially Catholic tendency. According to him, the prophecies against the foreign nations constitute four groups, each of which contains four pieces: the first, Ezekiel 25:0; the second, the overthrow of the Canaanitish culture - development, standing in contrast to the higher calling of Jerusalem, and reaching its culmination in Tyre. The prophecy against Sidon he severs from Tyre, in the interest of this fourfold division; it belongs to the Egyptian group, inasmuch as “Sidon’s bloom falls into the time in which Egypt was the bearer of the Hamitic power and culture,” and “the Sidonian development was a shoot of the Hamitic-Egyptian.” The promises for Israel in this third section (Ezekiel 28:20 to Ezekiel 30:19) must stand parallel with those of the same kind in the first group, wherein punishment is threatened to the four nations with reference to Israel; as the first group, “through Ezekiel 21:0 (Ammon), is placed in connection with the first destruction of Jerusalem,” so “the third stands, through the opening of the mouth which occurs in it, in closer relation to the symbol of the second destruction of Jerusalem.” The four last prophecies against Egypt are “mere symbols,” according to Neteler. As Ammon “drove the surviving remnant, after the destruction of Jerusalem, out of Judea,” so had “Moab decoyed Israel into gross idolatry before their entrance into Canaan;” and so, in the prophecies against Ammon and Moab, the beginning and end of Israel in regard to Canaan are connected together. The punishment of Edom and the Philistines must point to the “re-establishment of the house of David.” In regard to Tyre Neteler expresses himself thus: “The command given to Israel to root out the Canaanites, but by them neglected to their destruction, God will execute on Tyre through Nebuchadnezzar;” and this command must stand in a noteworthy relation to the historical development of the last period of 800 years before Christ, in which “those to the west (Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans) brought a real advance, while those to the east (the Hamitic kingdoms of Ethiopia and Egypt, the Semitic kingdoms of Assyria and Chaldea, the Japhetic Medians and Persians) repeat the development of the two earlier periods in smaller measure, yet as if thereby the problem of the western circle should be solved.” He says: “If Israel, through the extirpation of the Canaanites, according to Numbers 36:6-9 (!), had entered into the place of the Phœnicians, it would have formed the first member in the development of this period, and would have shown the right path to the Greek culture which came forth in the second third of it.” To retrieve as much as possible that which was neglected (! ?), “Nebuchadnezzar must subject the Hamitic Tyre, even to the pillars of Hercules, and unite the eastern circle to the monstrous Chaldean kingdom, so that the externally insignificant Israel might be set in the centre of this gigantic Semitic power, which extended its sway even over the Turanian tribes in the high north.” This contrast between the Semitic and Hamitic races (already occurring in the prophecy of Noah) must be of great importance for the understanding of the symbolical representation of Ezekiel in the prophecies relating to Tyre and Egypt. Upon the third group which Neteler distributes, and which reaches to Ezekiel 30:19, we learn that, first of all, in the prophecy against Sidon, “the second possession of the land is associated with the first, as in Ezekiel 20:0 the first deliverance from Egypt is made parallel with a deliverance in a higher sense.” “As Israel did not fully carry out the extirpation of the Canaanites, whose place, according to Numbers 33:54, it was their part to occupy, these were turned for them into thorns and briers. With the second possession, on the other hand, the servitude of Canaan, which was announced even by Noah, was after a sort realized, since the Canaanitish history becomes extinct. The second piece in this section, namely Ezekiel 29:1-16, connects the end of the first Israelitish sojourn in Canaan, brought about by Egypt’s iniquity, with the end of Egypt; and the humiliation of Egypt is such an elevation of Israel, that Christianity will not be under temptation to lean upon a decaying heathenism.” The forty years occurring at Ezekiel 29:11 sq. must not be distinguished from the forty years of Judah, for which the prophet had to lie forty days upon his right side; that is, as Neteler remarks on Ezekiel 4:0, “a symbolical designation of the time, reaching from the destruction of the temple to the return from exile, derived from the sojourn in Kadesh.” “The two first pieces, Ezekiel 28:20 to Ezekiel 29:16, set forth the world-historical ideas, which were to be realized by the introduction of Christianity, but give, as to the way and manner in which the realization should be prepared for, begun, and carried forward, no information—this being first introduced by the prophet in the third piece (Ezekiel 29:17-21). The might of Shem, through which God conquered Canaan in the world’s history, must also carry forward the work in regard to Egypt. In the interest of Israel, whose service to God stands in contrast to Canaanitish industry, God will turn the Semitic world-power against Egypt, by which Israel was compelled to do Canaanitish work, and establish for them, on account of their labour in respect to Canaan, claims for compensation, which God would render valid because of the bondage laid by Egypt on the Israelites. The booty which God took from Egypt after the conflict, on occasion of the first deliverance, was only a type of a later plundering, which in a preparatory manner was begun by Nebuchadnezzar, and after the second deliverance from Egypt, that is, after the redemption achieved by the sufferings of the Servant of God was realized, when all power in heaven and on earth was committed to the episcopate of the Church (!!). The consequence of this victory over Egypt (Ezekiel 30:1-19) is given in the form of a judgment upon Egypt, in which is delineated its desolation and the annihilation of its idols and yokes; but the sons also of the covenant - land are smitten by the judgment, which points to a fall that should take place among them.” The continuation of this Catholic-theological-historical explanation and interpretation of Ezekiel will be given in No. 9.
5. Cocceius remarks on Ezekiel 29:21 : “Evil Merodach gave Jehoiachin freedom, and the first place of honour among the kings. Farther, Daniel was great in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, and under the Persian dominion. Cyrus was called by God to give command to lead the people back, that they might rebuild the temple. Still higher grew the horn of Israel when they became free, and their priests assumed the diadem, as a sign of the freedom of the people, and the Israelites had become greater than their fathers, as announced in Deuteronomy 30:5. But most especially was it so, when out of David’s house the horn grew, which set the people free from all slavery, which subdued their enemies, and rendered the Gentiles subject to Israel, Psalms 132:13-18.”
6. The day of Jehovah, Kliefoth remarks, “is not judgment in one point of time and destruction over the whole heathen world;” and then he continues: “The day of Jehovah is a period of indefinite duration, in the course of which God will punish with judgment and destruction all heathen nations in succession, just as they have shown their hostility to the people of God, and He sees that their time has come. From this point of view, also, is the announcement always to be understood, that this day of Jehovah is at hand. The day continues so long, that it lasts till, in the final judgment, the whole world, in so far as hostile to God, shall be destroyed; but it constantly begins anew, when any particular people, on account of their malevolence manifested to the people of God, falls under the righteous doom of perdition. Hence the day of Jehovah upon the heathen nations has, in the several prophecies, a different terminus a quo, according as they refer to this or that kind of relations.” Only it must not be overlooked, that in Ezekiel 30:1 sq. not indeed Egypt alone is contemplated, but Egypt in its connection with heathen nations; and yet, that it is not the day of judgment upon all anti-theocratic powers that is to be understood, as already Hävernick makes the prophet see this general idea obtaining realization; but as the time of Jerusalem was come, the time when judgment had begun at the house of God, so the time must now be near when this judgment of God shall go forth upon the heathen. Hengstenberg finds here the fundamental passage for Luke 21:24, and points to the overthrow of the Roman Empire,—the “mountain” which was to be cast into the sea after the fig-tree of the Jewish people was withered (Matthew 21:0.), the “mulberry-tree” which was to be plucked up and removed into the sea (Luke 2:7.).
7. As in the kingdom of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:0, allusion was made to a time of sacredness upon the holy mount of God, so there was also found there, by way of similitude, a bringing to remembrance of Eden, and especially of the garden of God. This retrospect of paradise furnishes the beau-ideal, the standard for the Old Testament world generally; hence with Assyria, and in connection therewith in reference to Egypt, which had not the same historical position as Tyre, it appropriately comes back again in Ezekiel 31:0. As in the New Testament all is measured with heaven, so in the Old Testament what is or was glorious upon earth is made to hold of Eden and paradise.
8. On the derivation of the word “Sheol” there confessedly prevails a great diversity of opinion. For the biblical idea, especially the signification of the word in the Old Testament, this only is to be learned from this matter of etymological controversy, that as well the derivation from שָׁעַל, to be hollow (therefore for שְׁעֹל), since it points to “hollowing,” and in so far to the grave, as the derivation which Hupfeld adopts from: “to sink down,” and: “to go apart from one another,” therefore: sinking down, depth, abyss, and: cleft, hollow, empty space—since the burying and the being in the sepulchre can be thereby expressed—both alike avail for the affirmation, that Sheol and the grave more or less run together. The derivation, on the other hand, from שָׁאַל to demand, expresses as to Sheol only what constitutes generally the power and manner of death to demand for itself with insatiable desire all living beings (comp. Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5; Proverbs 27:20; Proverbs 30:16). As to form an infinitive verbal substantive, the use of the word belongs predominantly to the poetic language of the Old Testament, whence also is to be explained the circumstance that it never stands with the article. Sheol appears as the aggregate of all graves. Who could venture to deny this aspect of the matter, at least for the 31st and 32d chapters of Ezekiel? It is the universal grave, which calls down to itself all earthly life, how high soever it may have reached, however magnificent it may have been, however valiantly it may have fought. But much, also, as Sheol and the grave (בור) sometimes appear to approach (comp. also Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 14:15), to cover one another, it must still not be overlooked that the grave, more exactly considered, is only the entrance into Sheol (Psalms 16:10), which certainly, as it is commonly represented, keeps the hue of the grave, in generals as well as in particulars (ירכתי בור, Ezekiel 32:23); it is the carrying over of the grave to the future state (while the grave as such is still always something here). It is quite reconcilable with this representation when Sheol is conceived of as a locality, and indeed as a deep abyss, just as the standing form of speech: “to go down,” “to be thrown down,” is thence explained as equivalent to being consigned to the dead. The occasional poetic delineation of this future must only not be formally dogmatized into an actual under-world with gates, rivers, etc. (Job 38:17; Psalms 18:5 sq.) The going down of the company of Korah (Numbers 16:30) is often what is floating before the writer’s mind; and not so much the locality of Palestine, which was rich in grottoes and caverns, or the darkness of the Hebrew family tomb-vaults, the stillness of the Egyptian catacomb-world. The interior and inmost part of the earth (Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 32:18), however, is not the earth’s inner region as such, but שְׁאוֹל תַּכְתִיָּה is the Sheol “beneath” (the underground, Ezekiel 31:14); that is, partly the contrast to heaven as the region of the divine life, partly the distinction from the surface turned toward heaven, the face of the earth. Out of that contrast, in which, however, the earth also and its life have their place, and still more in accordance with this distinction from the earthly life, must Sheol and what is connected therewith be understood. The death to which one is surrendered (Ezekiel 31:14) is not simply a going down, not annihilation, but as punishment for sin, the necessary consequence of the negation of God. Considered as a state, it is the contrast in respect to God, as curse, as judgment upon the sinner; hence the contrast in respect to life as divine, as salvation and blessedness, even to eternal perdition; and so Sheol posits a concrete, individual prolongation of life: the dead are represented in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 31:0.) as living on individually and in space. Passages such as Psalms 104:29; Psalms 146:4, and others, certainly have respect to the earthly life in the body, with its purposes and undertakings, doing and thinking, knowledge and wisdom together, Ecclesiastes 9:10 (so our Lord Himself in John 9:4 makes account of it for His diligence in working while in the flesh). As life on earth in a mortal body is for all men a troublesome, poor, and sorrowful thing, so certainly the advancing decay of the powers of life, with the dissolution of the union between soul and body, necessarily becomes quiescence, impotence, and withdrawal of their life-energy in regard to the appointed sphere of action. But passages like Job 26:5 sq., Ezekiel 38:17, Proverbs 15:11, Psalms 139:8, testify to the presence of the living God, through whom the subsisting and passing away of all beings is conditioned, as is said also in the אֲבַדּוֹן made parallel with Sheol (comp. Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38). The contrast, therefore, to the heavenly upper world as the proper region of the divine life is not that of not-being and being; and just as little is the continued existence in Sheol an unconscious shade-existence, at least not according to Ezekiel’s representation: the heroes in Sheol speak and know themselves as such over against others, feel, etc. As the designation of shades (דפאים) for the dead in the Old Testament times cannot be proved, so the appearance, for example, of Samuel (1 Samuel 28:0.), so entirely accordant with the spirit and address of Samuel as he actually lived, is not at all brought forward as an exception, somewhat after the manner of the Theban seer Tiresias (Odyss. x. 492 sq.). In the Old Testament, also, we read nothing of an instinctive repetition and continuation of the past life connected with the possession of blood. The representation of Sheol, into which there has often been greatly too much imported of heathen elements, is in no respect the localizing of the image, which, as Meier says, “remains like a blanched, bloodless, shadowy form, in the spirit of the living, of their dead and buried fellow-men.” Life in Sheol cannot, indeed, run counter to the conditions that prevail in respect to human life. Man is soul, but he has spirit, which for him constitutes the power wherein the life of the individual consists; while the soul is plainly the seat of that, as the body is its organ. If the life connected with the body appears as life in the flesh, when separated therefrom it will become an existence of the spirit, and departed men will necessarily have to be thought of as spirits, and can only in so far be termed “souls” as a retrospective sense of the earlier corporeal life has place. On this side the description of Sheol is certainly, and especially as contradistinguished from the earthly upperground life, kept in due regard to the state of things existing there. With the going down into the grave, the bright joyful sunlight vanishes for men; hence Sheol is the land of darkness and of the shadow of death (Job 10:21). While the world of light is an organized one, the midnight region of Sheol appears as a confused intermingling of substances, chaotic (Job 10:22). Busy life, so repeatedly designated “tumult” in this chapter of Ezekiel, becomes motionless in the grave; so in Psalms 115:17 the dead go down to silence, to stillness (comp. Psalms 104:17; Psalms 31:18). The expression, however, of “land of forgetfulness,” Psalms 88:12, must not be overstretched, though the reference is to be held fast in which it is said that, as God has given the earth to the children of men (Psalms 115:16), so the manifestation of His wonder-working power and righteousness is promised to them on the earth while they are in the flesh. Not in the heathen materialistic sense, but Christologically, however still on the temporal side, the thought as to its form was presented in the Old Covenant. And thence are such passages as Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:10 [Psalms 30:9], Psalms 88:10-11, Psalms 115:17, Isaiah 38:18, to be understood. The dead, accordingly, are done (Psalms 88:5); their state, Sheol, is without a history (on the other hand, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:19). But to complete our knowledge of the Old Testament Sheol, the ethical side is not to be overlooked, that is, the idea of recompense comes therein likewise into consideration (comp. Ezekiel 32:23 sq.). The godly are there gathered to their fathers (Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29, etc.). It is a mode of representation which incidentally receives a very touching illustration in Luke 16:22 for the poor, who has no brother in the world, who is an abject, forlorn, when he is said to be received into Abraham’s bosom. The righteous snatched away enters into peace, and rests therein upon the foundation of the grave (Isaiah 57:1). How far with the soul, when unclothed of the body, there takes place “an ineffectual tormenting effort to consolidate itself corporeally” (Beck)—the spirit, however, being incapable of being contemplated apart from the soul, which conditions its individuality, therefore also not to be thought of “as sunk after death into the corruption of the flesh”—may be left undecided. It is enough that the rich man found himself “in torment.” With justice, however, Lange presses the thought that for the wicked Sheol is still not hell.
9. Neteler (comp. 4) maintains concerning Ezekiel 30:21 to Ezekiel 32:32, that is, the fourth of the groups set off by him, that “through four symbols the overthrow of a power standing in antagonism to the Church is exhibited,” and that what is said is to be taken “eschatologically in a wider sense.” Egypt is considered by him as “a symbol of the power of Magog,” and under the Chaldeans is found “a combination of Romans and Germans.” And here Neteler’s book dwells on the “Russian Panslavism.” The two last symbols must be fulfilled in the overthrow of Magog “only provisionally,” so that “their complete fulfilment belongs to a still later future.”
On Ch. 29
Ezekiel 29:1-5. The close is made with Egypt, as Egypt was the beginning in respect to Israel.—“Egypt is with Ezekiel the oldest country of his people’s disgrace” (Umer.).—How clear is what God causes to be said to us! The address is plainly written, and can occasion no doubt to whom the word is directed; and not less clearly does it shine forth whose subscription stands under it, and who, therefore, will look after the punctual execution of the things spoken. It will not proceed according to man’s sayings and opinions, but as God the Lord has said.—The prophetic word so much the surer as the fulfilment of it now lies completely before us.—What still survives of the Pharaohs lies in the midst of the wilderness; they are ruins to which the sand has still refused burial!—“Where can a mortal say: This is mine, or: This remains to me? But prosperity, where it is not understood as God’s blessing, makes people stupidly proud. See there, too, the blessing of tribulations, which demonstrate before our eyes, that nothing is our right, and nothing our abiding property” (Stck.).—Those who do not seek after the things which are above regard the Nile, which flows on the earth, with precisely such eyes.—“But that there is also a spiritual Egypt may be seen from Revelation 11:8, and that is a people, kingdom, and dominion which holds in fetters the people of God and makes them slaves. Now, as under the great dragon in the sea Antichrist also comes to be considered, together with his scales and members that stick to him, and are in a manner innumerable, so shall this power also after the prince of Tyre receive his doom, with all his adherents, who by overbearing conscience have done so much wrong to the faithful. Then also will appear the vain help which the house of Israel has sometimes assumed as belonging to the reed of the fleshly arm” (B. B.).—“Satan says to Jesus: All this will I give thee, all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, though still there was not an atom thereof in reality his” (Luther).—“Oh how vain is man in prosperity!” (St.)
Ezekiel 29:4-5. Higher still than the highest is the Most High. He who comes from heaven is higher than all.—“It is bad when only amid loss people come wisely to learn that they had all of God, of which they were so proud and boasted themselves” (Stck.).—Pharaoh in the wilderness, and Jesus in the wilderness.—They who set themselves up above others may readily observe that they are thrown off and away before they are themselves aware of it!—The judgment of Jehovah upon the Pharaohs!—Jehovah at the Pyramids, a very different object from Napoleon before them.—The overthrow in the wilderness an image of a desolate ruin.
Ezekiel 29:6-7. God punishes not those only who rely upon flesh, but those also who are flesh and yet wish others to find comfort in them.—No knowledge of God and no knowledge of self—this is what gives false self-confidence, and false confidence in man.—The love of God in discovering the false and rotten props.—“A reed is everything that is in this world, as man’s favour, temporal prosperity, beauty, yea, the corporeal life itself; from without it appears like a staff, and as if many were walking with it, but within it is hollow and brittle” (Stck.).—But for none is such a reed more suspicious than for the people to whom God has pledged Himself, and therewith all His wisdom and His omnipotence.—It is certainly the same with the deceit and show of one’s own righteousness, good purposes, and pious works. One cannot keep hand and shoulder far enough from these.—How many a one has such like splinters in his conscience!—The false reed-splinters in our bones, which make our going so feeble and our holding so insecure.—“The soldiers give to Christ a reed in mockery, Matthew , 27.” (Luther).
Ezekiel 29:8-16. The judgment of God by the sword in its significance for enemy and friend, warrior and conqueror, land and people.—Desolation is always a mark of punishment. First men become waste, then their place is laid waste.—Where the people become waste as regards God, there God causes the land to be waste of its people.—Whosoever will have it that he has made himself to be what he says that he is, with him God must make an end, so that he may learn what he himself is, and how still God can do all.—The mine and thine, as the grand controversy which moves the world’s history.—So the sin of the people is their ruin; but though ancient history is full of examples, those who now live are not disposed to profit by them.—“Should one not be ashamed of such a speech, since it must so soon be changed into a past—it has been mine; and this often with much sorrow?” (B. B.)—The description of the earth is also a description of divine justice.—By means of fragments and arrow-heads in the yellow sands of the desert, and obelisks which still point heavenwards, people now read the names of men, of kings, and such like; but the feci of God is likewise to be read there.—The divine seasons of respite.—The years of humiliating in their significance for Egypt and for us all as punishments and deliverance from high-mindedness.—To stand low is to stand more secure than to go beyond bound and limit.—“All changes in the world have their bearing ultimately on the Church” (St. ).—God knows how to withdraw from the eyes of His own what dazzled their eyes and held them captive.—“Such is the aim of all the judgments that are inflicted, to withdraw the body of the faithful from confidence in what is human, and to supplant it by a firm trust in God” (B. B.).
Ezekiel 29:17-21. Warrior service hard service. He who serves God does not serve without pay.—The recompense of our works is never made on the ground of merit, but is always of grace.—“The downfall of the world is the deliverance of the chosen” (H. H.). Therefore lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).—When the world becomes poor, then the bones of the righteous flourish.—The new life out of ruins.—Upon silence to speak is better than to be silent upon speech.—It is God who must open the mouth for us, and He also can do it.—Immortality in the world and the eternal life in the sanctuary, Psalms 23:6.
On Ch. 30
Ezekiel 30:1-9. “The judgments of God pass from His own people to other peoples; hence the day of the heathen could not be far off” (Cocc.).—Despair howls, hope waits.—A day in clouds is also the day of death; the earth is shrouded from the eye, and especially when first the heaven has been covered to the spirit. Darkness then reigns below and above. How dark, then, is the grave!—Bad times are met by watchfulness; howling merely goes before them as the loud blast before the outburst of the thunderstorm.
Ezekiel 30:4-5. Many others are carried along with the fall of one. In every judgment that takes place in the world, behold a type and prelude of the judgment which is to be executed on the world.—If not with the sinner immediately, yet on the sinner, and therefore through the sinner his companions shall be punished.—Where God strikes the blow, there not only is the stir which a people makes, and with which it makes such a noise, its work and gain brought down, but also law and order and that whereon all rests are overthrown.
Ezekiel 30:6-7. How helpless with all his appliances may one that was helpful to us prove in a night! May God be our help, who has made heaven and earth.
Ezekiel 30:9. Everything does service as a messenger for God; in particular His word, which hence cannot be bound, but accomplishes that whereto it is sent.—God’s seat of judgment stands always among mankind, and the world’s history is God’s judgment.—The terrors in the history of the world.—As there is a false security in individual men, so is there also a bad security with whole peoples.—The national security a national loss.
Ezekiel 30:10-19. When men do not sanctify God on holidays, God makes their bustling activity to keep holiday.—When God wills, a man’s name can cause terror to the world. But only One Name is given under heaven to men wherein we can happily exult before all terrors.—Upon deeds of violence come still more violent ones, and tyrants are precipitated through tyrants.—“Whosoever sells himself to sin has already in doing so sold himself to his enemy” (Stck.).—God’s blessing fills, His curse impoverishes a land.
Ezekiel 30:13. The hand of God alights some time upon all idols.—From the overthrow of heathenism is seen the vanity of idols.—“Where are the famous cities of the olden times? Why do they lie buried in disorderly stone-heaps? Sinner, behold what sin may effect” (St.),—how it may build very high indeed, yet not for continuance, and still more may destroy.—Gods and princes combined the common delusion of idolatry, at first in splendour, so afterwards in ruin!—Terror is the opposite of courage, but not the fear of the Lord.—Where God kindles a fire, it is always for judgment; the old is consumed therein, but a new springs forth out of the ruins.—Without casting down, no progress in the life of humanity.
Ezekiel 30:16. Must not man always be engaged in conflict?
Ezekiel 30:17. With its youth the human future of a people goes down. Even the youth should be “the chosen” of God; instead of this, Satan at no period has so much of his nature in men as in the season of youth.
Ezekiel 30:18-19. Walk in the light while ye still have the light,—we, that is, who have the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.—The judgment of God may, through the dogmas of men and a false philosophy, veil to us also the sun of truth, and wrap in darkness to men’s view heaven and eternity.—When at length, with the authority of God, the authority also of the law over men gives way, then, where superstition gives place to unbelief, there falls upon them yoke for yoke, one in the room of another; there is only an exchange of tyrants.—How much old and high renown have the gravediggers of the world’s history already buried under the sod among other sweepings! What is gloria mundi?—a transit.—The new plagues of Egypt.—The spirit of Pharaoh continued to be the spirit of the Pharaohs.—Self heights are no heights—none, at least, that stand in the judgment of God, and remain above though all else should go down and disappear; but a height in the true sense is that simply whereof it is said, As high as heaven is above the earth, Psalms 103:11. This ought to be recognised, and that not merely at the last, amid howlings and gnashings of teeth, but betimes, when it may still serve for peace, with the calm open eye.—“The most wretched of all thoughts is that of having no part in God. How many an evil-doer has readily presented his head to the sword, in the conviction that through the punishment he should become a partaker of God!” (H.)
Ezekiel 30:20-26. How many the things are that men prize as an “arm,” and how easily these arms are broken!—The arm of the Lord (Isaiah 53:0.), and the arm of man, and the armies of princes.—“More easily is an arm broken than healed; but now first of all the conscience, how Gainfully does it sting, and how long is it in healing!” (Stck.)—What God has broken, God only can heal.
Ezekiel 30:22. But man never has enough by a fracture; so long as he can still move and stir otherwise, he must show himself. Therefore shall there come to be a destruction without mercy, if we will not submit to God on the footing of grace.—“Sickness breaks one arm, death both arms” (Stck.).—Every breakage which we must suffer is a call to repentance.
Ezekiel 30:23. “He who will not fear God in his fatherland has no injustice done him, if in a foreign land he is made to experience all sorts of misfortune” (St.).
Ezekiel 30:24-26. “Strength and weakness come both from God” (W.).—“Upon whose side Jehovah stands, that man prevails in the conflict; to him there is prosperity in life; he enjoys a blessing with his work. But this favour has the Lord promised to the righteous. Without God all ends unfortunately, mournfully, and in perdition” (Stck.).—What serves God, that serves also the kingdom and the power of the Spirit; just as at the last, all the kingdoms of this world shall become God’s and His Christ’s.
On Ch. 31
Ezekiel 31:1-2. “The greatness of Egypt was the presumption against the warnings of the prophet. But greatness is no security against destruction; no greatness upon earth can withstand the strokes of God” (H.).—“With justice are kingdoms compared in Scripture to trees, as well on account of their form, the protection and shadow they afford to men and beasts, as also on account of their fruits; and still farther in this respect, that kingdoms, like trees, flourish and again cease to exist, torn up by the wind, or cut down by the hatchet of man” (L.).—It is very well for people to compare themselves with others, though not for the purpose of thinking better of themselves than others, as the Pharisee in the temple over against the publican, or in order to envy others; but humbly to learn that we are a part of mankind, and that what is human may befall us, and shall at last take place without exception. Also to make each one more contented with his lot, a comparison with others is, as a rule, fitted to be serviceable.—“Both the one and the other inference is right: As God has elevated that humble one, so can He, in His own time, elevate me; as God has abased that proud one, so may it also be done with me” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 31:3-9. “The histories of the world might teach great lords much, that they should not rely upon their own powers” (Lg.).—Rulers and princes should be shady trees to the righteous.—“God has done good also to the heathen, that they might seek Him, if haply they might find Him, Acts 17:26-27” (Stck.).—“Oh, what streams of grace flow upon the unthankful, if they would only perceive them! The waters are indeed not of one sort—one portion swims in pure felicity, another in tribulation and adversity; but the aim is uniform, and the divine loving-kindnesses which are concealed under the latter are certainly greater than the former, in the eyes of those who know to estimate things aright” (B. B.).—But their favourable condition and the friendliness of God only serve with many to puff them up, and render them proud and arrogant,—an end for which certainly all this was not given.—He with whom it overflows should make it trickle over upon others.
Ezekiel 31:7. To be radical in the proper sense is a good thing, namely, that one should know that his root is in God.—“The true comeliness of a prince stands in comely virtues, which adorn every man, especially a prince,—clemency and justice above all; to afford protection and solace to the persecuted; to spread forth as it were his branches to the miserable; to have about him servants resplendent with his own virtues, so that, as in every branch the nature of the tree, so in every servant the character of the prince, may appear reflected. He and they must not be terrible to the good, nor oppressive to his subjects. The love of the people is a good root for a race of princes” (Cocc.).
Ezekiel 31:8. Better to be envied than commiserated. God makes man beautiful, as He alone also makes him good; the latter is the divine nature, the former the divine form, of a man.
Ezekiel 31:10-13. I have given thee into the hand of such and such an one—this explains much darkness.—The haughty spirit going before, the key to the fall afterwards.—“Now, however, we are all in Adam inclined to pride of soul; and the perishing things of this world, riches, honour, splendour, beauty, knowledge, etc., nourish our natural inclination, being all things which we overestimate. However, even a plain smockfrock often covers a repulsive arrogance. But kings are through their flatterers nourished in this vice, which is the root of all others” (L.).—One must grow in order to be able to lift the top so high; this is not so quickly reached;—on the other hand, to arrive at the lowest depth there needs only one overthrow, which may take place in a single moment.—One falls more quickly down a stair than one mounts up again.—God cannot suffer pride; I am meek and lowly in heart, it was said by Him who was God manifest in the flesh, Matthew 11:29.—Out of the heart of man proceed also all high things that are offensive to God, which need not always wear a crown, but may have merely a pen behind the ear, or a pair of spectacles on the nose.
Ezekiel 31:12-13. From the foreign land comes much suffering—first foreign sins, then punishment through foreigners.—A shameful fall into sin, and a frightful fall into misfortune—both invite to study.—There must also fall into the valleys branches that have been broken off, that poor people may not think the great ones of the earth are freed from death and judgment.—When the punishments of God break forth, then such as can flee gladly make off, while they were not to be enticed out of the shadow of sin, in which they delighted themselves.—God shakes the luxurious tree from top to bottom, and then all that stuck to its branches fall off; and so they are struck off, since they did not allow themselves to be warned off.—“How does the shadow of the rich vanish with the sun of prosperity, and with the shadow depart also the flatterers and panegyrists ! ” (Stck.)—He who chooses to be forsaken must become poor.—Fate can keep up the interest, but a rich man who has become poor is a woe-begone phenomenon for the world.—“How often do the goods of a rich man become scattered over the world after his death!” (Stck.)—Discern false friends in adversity!—To cut, and peck, and aid in plundering the very person in whose prosperity men formerly basked, and whom they hardly knew how to laud highly enough!—“So deeply is the friendship of the world rooted, and its caresses. So long as all goes well, friends and worshippers are readily found. But when that changes, all goes otherwise”(B. B.).
Ver.14. Precautions must be taken that the trees do not grow into the heavens.—All are born naked—no one comes in purple into the world; but that is far from working so powerfully as the thought that the king must die as the beggar.—Death the moral of the human fable.—“A mighty lesson for our time” (Richt.).—Somewhat for People who would see clearly upon the death of Napoleon.—That there is to be a general judgment after this life is evident alone from death, which strikes all, even great men.—“The consideration of the inevitable exit of all who live should beget moderation in pretensions. We take nothing with us of that which so many desire with such eagerness” (L.).
Ezekiel 31:15-18. Great fates cast forth also great shadows.—If our terrors did but lead us to the knowledge of our misery, as well as of the glory of God!—The grave unites all at the last.—“The glory of the earth must become dust and ashes,” etc.—But who believes our report may be said also here: he who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.—“Thus God throws the loftinesses of men into one heap ” (B. B.).—“And so circumcision makes a distinction in death—not, of course, that which is done in the flesh, but the circumcised heart; so that a circumcised person may have his place also among the uncircumcised, as, on the other side, uncircumcised persons, who are not so in heart, may be counted as circumcised. At the close, however, the prophet writes the name ‘Pharaoh’ on the lid of the coffin” (Cocc.).
On Ch. 32
Ezekiel 32:1-2. How far otherwise have the court-poets ever and anon elegized !—The comparison with lions and dragons withdraws much that is human in respect to Pharaoh.—“This robberfish (?) and dragon, which with his feet troubles the streams, is like the beast that should ascend out of the sea (Revelation 13:0.). Pharaoh is hence the enemy of the chosen, a roaring lion, which troubles the waters of heavenly wisdom with the slime of human additions, so that they provide no proper drink for those who thirst for salvation” (H. H.).—“Should Christian kings be like lions and dragons? They ought to be the fathers of their country, caring day and night for the welfare of their subjects” (St.).—“Tyrants and the covetous are insatiable, and cannot be at rest” (Stck.).—“Ah! how much misfortune can be brought about by a restless ruler! Therefore pray for a peaceful government of the kingdom” (St.).
Ezekiel 32:3-10. “The godless hasten to meet their destruction, without being afraid of it, but often secretly driven thereto by God ” (H. H.).—“God is the supreme hunter and fisher; He can throw upon the lions His toils, and upon the whales His net, to catch and destroy them” (W.).—“God knows how to tame the untamed, to humble the proud, and to curb the fierce; who can resist His power?” (Stck.)—To be rejected, if not thrown entirely away, is the end of the mighty after the flesh.—Corruption the last strophe also in heroic poetry.—“How mournful is it to be cast away by God!” (Stck.)—Even the ass will plant his footstep on the wounded dying lion.—What the rich boast themselves so much of is but a carcase, which those who live after them will divide among themselves.—“After death, shame and reproach overtake the wicked and shameless” (H. H.).
Ezekiel 32:5-6. Overflowing for overflowing; for the waters of Egypt, now the blood of the hosts of Pharaoh.—“They who formerly swam in pleasures, shall by and by swim in their own blood” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 32:7. “The greatness of the calamity is described by the prophet from the sense of those whom the tribulation affects, to whom it seems as if the whole world were enveloped in darkness” (H. H.).—“The lights of heaven truly shine only for the happy; the sun exists not but for the sunlit eye” (H.).—“The godly sustain themselves in such circumstances by the thought that the Lord is their light, and therefore will not suffer the light of their heart to go out” (L.).—“But he who despises the light of grace, for him the light of glory also shall not shine” (Stck.).—It is also dark, and the stars even fall from the heaven, when great, noble, important, eminent men, heroes, sages, lawgivers, governors, teachers, are carried off by death—or worse, when they fall away into superstition or unbelief, ungodliness, injustice, and violence.
Ezekiel 32:9. “Many a fall leads to the elevation of others” (St.).—To be frightened is still not to be awakened, and awakening without enlightenment is spiritual tumult without spiritual life.—The grave, too, is an unknown land, and thither we are all journeying. Yet for faith there is a sun which rises upon it, that never goes down.—“So the Lord loves to inspire terror, that He may break fleshly confidence” (H. H.).—Happy for him whom a sincere conversion has made secure against the terrors which seize upon the whole earth!—He who still has to fear for his soul, let him consider that the whole world can profit him nothing!—Every moment are we in danger of death, and consequently in sight of eternity.
Ezekiel 32:11-16. If no other cure proves effectual, then God betakes Himself to the sword.—The method of salvation through blood and iron; but what is the state of society presupposed in connection with it!—The guillotine and the sword both do their work quickly, and bring what is before as it were under them.
Ezekiel 32:13. “It touches a miserly man much more nearly if his beast dies, than if his children are taken from him by death” (St.).—A stock of cattle a state of peace.
Ezekiel 32:14-15. The stillness of the desert is indeed stillness, but it is not peace, any more than to flow “like” oil is the soft nature of the spirit.—There is rest in the grave, but much unrest thereafter, yea, more unrest, and of a worse kind than existed before.—“There go the waters softly, as in mourning” (Umbr.).—But God knows how to set at rest a land and its creatures which have been plagued and misused by men. Where have the oppressors gone? They also lie still.—Lamentation does not take away the pain, but in the lamentation it lives on.
Ezekiel 32:17-32. Whoever would gain a thorough insight into the dominions and powers of the earth, he must look down into hell.—The instructive glance into hell.—The song of hell.—La divina comœdia of Ezekiel.—The doctrine of Sheol as the doctrine of the state after death.—What does the Sheol of the Old Testament signify? (1) According to its name, the demand of death on all persons and things, therefore the power of death over every individual person and thing; therefore that death is the wages of sin, the judgment of God’s wrath which takes effect on the flesh. (2) As to the thing, it is the state after death as existence in a spacious grave; that is, notwithstanding the dissolution of the body and the separation of soul and body, a continuous life of the spirit, and that with consciousness and recollection—hence, according to the character of this, in peace or disquiet.—Woe to him whom the doom of death precipitates into condemnation in death!—One can strike up no song to the living more unacceptable, yet at the same time none more profitable, than one about dying; should any one refuse to accompany it, it will still be sung upon him.—He to whom the earth was all, when he sinks into the grave, all sinks with him. It is thus easily comprehensible how death stretches into the future, even into the grave, and how all appears as grave and graves.—People and princes, Sheol demands both.—“Only to the pious is the tomb a chamber where they softly sleep, a resting-place without pain and commotion, a mother’s bosom (as we are from the earth), a place of repose to lie down in” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 32:19. It will be so much the worse if one has been nothing but fleshly, for death seizes in a rough and frightful manner.
Ezekiel 32:20. The sword cuts into the life, severs from life, sadly if also from God. For to die is what still goes on, to corrupt also; but to become lost for ever, that is the death without end, to die for evermore.
Ezekiel 32:21. The salutation of the dead toward the living when they die.
Ezekiel 32:22 sq. “What is received into the human heart, finds its grave also there; so round about the prince of death are his grave-places, wherein after a spiritual manner he is buried” (Gregory).—The grave for the unconverted, the condemned, the perspective of the future world.—“The grave is very deep, even though in a material point of view it may be but a few feet down: it is deep enough to shroud all glory” (H.).—“Powerfully seizes the mind and humbles the pride the ever-recurring There, when the subject of discourse has respect to a fallen king and his hosts. … We look upon a limitless field of graves, and it is remarkable and peculiar to our prophet, that he transfers the graves also to the lower world” (Umbr. ).—“As the elect come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, so the cast off find their way to the uncircumcised, to the pierced by the sword, in the depths below” (H. H)—Here many graves, in the house of the Father many mansions.—The counterpart of the fellowship of believers upon earth, of the elect in heaven.—The lowest Sheol and the heavenly Jerusalem.—The earth is everywhere indeed the Lord’s, but not all the dead die in the Lord.
Ezekiel 32:27. Men take with them into the state of the dead their knowledge, and along therewith the judicial sentence due to their manner of life.—Nothing is forgotten before God which is not forgiven.—The wrath of God remains on them, it is said in John.
Ezekiel 32:31. “It is a wretched consolation which is derived from the circumstance that people see in others the same torments which themselves experience. And yet misguided mortals do really comfort themselves with it. It is a common necessity, they say; others have experienced the same, and are experiencing it daily,” etc. (H. H.)—The word of God, however, brings home to every man at last the application: this is such and such an one; as we find written on the tombstones: Here lies N. N.—“The Pharaohs prepare to swallow up without mercy: Jacob’s Shepherd laughs at them,” etc. (Hiller.)
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 31". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany