Turn thee back: see Ezekiel 38:4: or else, when Gog or his assistants shall go into their countries to compose disorders risen since this enterprise was set on foot, they shall return to the rest of the confederates.
Leave but the sixth part of thee: some read, as our margin notes, I will draw thee back with a hook of six teeth, alluding to the drawing fish out of the water; others, I will strike thee with six plagues; others, I will kill five of six, and leave but the sixth part of thee: let me conjecture too, I will leave in thy country but one in six, and I will bring forth thy people with thee in so great numbers, that five of six shall march on this expedition. This runs more compliant with what follows.
Will cause thee to come up; by his all wise providence God will dispose things so, that Gog shall deliberately choose this expedition; so God will bring him, as Ezekiel 38:4. See Ezekiel 38:4,8,15,21.
I will smite thy bow; make thy hand weak, not able to hold the bow, and thy heart faint, not daring to take it up again. What is said of the bow rendered useless, is to be understood of all other weapons of war. This one kind, the bow, being most in use with these Scythians, is mentioned for all the rest.
Thy left hand; the hand for holding the bow, while the right fits the arrow to the string, and draws to shoot.
Thine arrows to fall; thou shalt throw away thine arrows, that thou mayst the better flee for escape.
Thou shalt fall; thy army shall be overthrown and slain. Thou, Gog himself the leader of this army, and all thy bands; thine own soldiers, the old trained soldiers.
The people; the several nations that had joined in this enterprise with Gog. Their unburied carcasses shall be torn and mangled by every ravenous bird of the air? and the wild beasts, that range over the mountains for their prey, shall eat them; so many of them shall be denied a burial. See a like place Ezekiel 32:4,5.
See Ezekiel 16:5 29:5 32:4.
I will send, by an unusual judgment from God, a fire; either civil dissensions, such as Egypt was consumed by, Ezekiel 30:16; or else the destroying pestilence, which always carrieth with it a burning distemper or fever; or that fire and brimstone mentioned Ezekiel 38:22. Or whatever this fire was, it should devour and lay desolate.
Them that dwell carelessly; who perhaps thought their situation would be their safety; though Gog fell on the land, the ships and isles might escape; not so, for the same hand will send the fire on the isles and their inhabitants which sent it on Gag. Possibly the Tyrians and Sidonians may be aimed at.
In Ezekiel 39:6, the judgments executed on Gog make God known in the midst of the heathen, here they make him known among his own people; in both glorious.
My holy name; the destruction threatened against the wicked for their enmity against holiness, being executed, manifest that God is holy, and the protection of such. Or, holy name, for that he does in his oath swear by his holiness.
So his faithfulness is here commended and illustrated. I will not let them pollute my holy name any more; will give them that new spirit, that due sense of my mercy; they shall not, as formerly, profane my name among the heathen, Ezekiel 20:9. See Ezekiel 38:23.
It, this prophecy, to be fulfilled in the destruction of Gog, the rescue of God’s people, and magnifying the name of God, is come; as sure as if already come; or, as if already done; nor shall it be too long ere, in effect, and fully, it shall be done.
The day; that notable day of recompences against the last great enemies of Christ and the church.
I have spoken, by Ezekiel now, and by others see Ezekiel 38:17.
Shall go forth, out of their houses and out of the cities, with joy to see and admire the great goodness of God towards them, and the greatness of his power against their enemies. Shall set on fire: this expression seems to intimate that they should burn these things in the open field or mountains, where they found them; here is no mention made of the carrying any into city or houses, to burn in their chimneys: it may be they should make those fires in token of joy.
The weapons; the warlike provision, instruments, engines, carriages, and waggons, &c., as well as those recounted.
The shields: see Ezekiel 38:4.
The hand-staves, that either their leaders used, like our halfpikes, or perhaps such as they cast like darts at the enemy.
They shall burn them with fire seven years: it may be wondered they burn these weapons, which might be of use to them for defence and safety; but it was done, partly, because they were weapons of the uncircumcised; partly, because they were anathemata, as all Jericho was; but chiefly, in testimony that God was their safety and defence, on which they relied, and would ever since he had so wonderfully delivered, We might read the words thus, they shall kindle with them a fire of seven years, and then the sense would be plain, that there should be such store of weapons and warlike utensils, that, heaped together, they would last so long, being cast into the fire still by such as found them; for it is not unlike they gathered up the weapons, as they did scattered bones, on their walks, as they lighted on them. Others tell us it is a certain number for an uncertain; others, that it is somewhat a proverbial speech, they shall have enough by the spoil of the enemy to make them and keep them warm, much as we sometimes say of one well provided, He is a warm gentleman; and some others tell us it is an expression of the Jews, who love to use this number in extraordinary cases, though they intend not precisely the same, as we say of a thing delayed, It will be seven years ere it come, or of a thing that will serve us a good while, It will last seven years. Or else, since the Hebrew hath not a distinct way of declaring what might be, or the potential mood, as the Latin, but they express possible by future, and say, that shall be, which we express by that may be, the meaning of these futures, they shall, in this and the next verse, is no more than,
they may or might burn for seven years; and so Kimchi glosseth it as to countenance this last guess. They shall be sufficient; and in such a country, where the need of fire is much less than with us, it will not seem very incredible that the warlike utensils of so numerous an army might be enough to furnish them with fuel for so many years, or more.
So, Heb. And, they shall not, &c.
They shall take: this, as noted before, taken potentially, or speaking what they might, not what they eventually should do; such store of fuel from the weapons and utensils of war left by these Gogites, that the Jews will not need to go to the forests to cut down wood. Or else comparatively, as some will; what they shall need to fetch from the forests shall be nothing in comparison to what they were wont to fetch.
They shall burn; they may if they will: it is not preceptive, to make it duty, nor doth it necessarily determine that they must, but there were and would be for all that time who would be burning these weapons, and save the labour and cost of buying and fetching wood; and these who should do this I would look for among the poorer sort.
They shall spoil; strip the dead, rifle their waggons and tents, searching what they may find of value and use, in which it is likely the poor among the Jews would be earliest and most diligent.
Those that spoiled them; the army of Gog, and his followers.
And rob: it was not theft or robbery in the Jews to do this, though it was robbery in Gog and his company to spoil the Jews; but for decorum of the phrase, the prophet useth the same word in both cases.
At that day; when God shall have destroyed this prince, and his formidable army.
Give unto Gog; and to many of those who were with him, for some were given to the birds and beasts to be devoured, Ezekiel 39:4.
A place there of graves: beside many other reasons for burying these slaughtered multitudes, the humanity that religion is full of would guide the Jews to it, and God tells us that Gog shall have a grave in Israel. He came to take possession, and so he shall, but not as he purposed and hoped, but as God intended; Gog shall possess his house of darkness in that land which he invaded to make a prey of. He shall have one place there, a grave, as the Hebrew.
The valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: this valley hath here its name and situation; the name from the frequent travels of passengers through it from Egypt and Arabia Felix into the more northern parts, and from these again into Egypt and Arabia. By its situation it is on the east side of the Dead Sea, to distinguish it from the valley that is on this side Jordan westward, in which is Dothan. Now in this valley did the Jews discomfit the Ammonites, Moabites, Tyrians, and Sidonians, /APC 1Ma 5. This might be a type, or firstfruits, and assurance of this great victory, but no more; for this was of a few against a few, and in this fight of some but few fell, &c.
It shall stop the noses; the stink of the putrefying carcasses should make travellers stop their noses, offended with the ill smells.
There shall they bury; partly in doing the office of humanity, though to dead enemies; and let their enemies live, who would not (for want of others) be so civil to them when dead; but chiefly to remove the nuisance of eye and nose, and to prevent diseases, that rise many times from such smells.
Gog: this prince, whoever it is, shall there fall, and be buried with
his multitude. They shall call it: this shall give name to the valley, which is to be called
The valley of Hamon-gog: which appellation I do not know to be given to any valley as yet, probably because this prophecy is not yet fully accomplished.
Seven months shall the house of Israel, many of the house of Israel, some voluntarily, others by appointment, be burying of them; a little time would not suffice to bury so great multitude, make what haste they could.
Cleanse the land; not in a legal sense, but in a natural, to clear the land of hurtful stinks.
All that dwell thereabout, or all that came out to resist and fight with this army.
It shall be to them, the house of Israel,
a renown; a commendation, matter of praise, that did, like men, bury the dead, who otherwise must have been all dung on the face of the earth, and the swelling hill rising from their buried bones shall be a monument to the praise of Israel’s courtesy. Or else thus, the day of my being glorified shall be a renown to Israel: as indeed it is an honour to be owned of God, so when God shows he owneth such, he gives them honour among all that observe it.
Glorified, in the deliverance of Israel, and in the destruction of Gog by my wonderful power, in my just zeal against mine enemies, and for my people.
They, the rulers in Israel,
shall sever out, choose out men who shall make it their work.
Passing through; to go up and down over the whole land, for many of Gog’s wounded, flying soldiers died in thickets, and by corners into which they crept, when they could go no further.
With the passengers; whose assistance they would desire of courtesy, or command by order, and that with reason, all this care and labour for burying the dead tending to their good, that they might unoffended travel whither they were going.
That remain unburied by the public labour of the house of Israel during the seven months.
To cleanse it: a legal cleansing, if-referred to Antiochus Epiphanes’s times, but not so with those that refer it to a season not yet come, for all legal ceremonies are ended: when Gog’s army shall be destroyed and buried, the land shall be cleansed from the stench and noisomeness of these carcasses. These officers begin their work after the first seven months are expired, for during the seven months there would be work for all of them to bury the dead and slain of Gog’s army.
Order should be taken to inform travellers, if they lighted on any bone or bones of men, as they journeyed, that they were desired to set up some mark at them, that thereby the public officers appointed to gather and bury them might find and carry those bones to the common burying-place.
When any seeth a man’s bone: many of Gog’s soldiers were torn by beasts, which if some of the greater beasts did, the lesser could not, break and devour the bones, but with the flesh these were dragged about by beasts, or scattered by the eagles and vultures, and so lay divided from the body; of these the prophet speaks.
The city; either which is next to this common tomb of Gog, as most likely, or the city Jerusalem, whose people, delivered, sanctified, grateful, and magnified in the eyes of the nations by the wonderful mercy of their God, shall be called by way of eminence,
The people, or
Speak; though they understand not thy word, yet speak. for they will understand my word, which shall go out with thine.
Unto every feathered fowl; to all sorts of carnivorous birds, every kind of those that eat flesh.
To every beast, that are for the prey, little or great, which either by craft or power get their food out of the flesh of others.
Assemble yourselves; come in whole companies, flocks and herds too; and this repeated twice more,
come, gather yourselves: they have an earnest invitation, from all sides.
To my sacrifice: when sacrifices were offered, there usually was a feast to the priest the sacrificer, and for what guests were invited; now God is about to make such, he invites his guests, resolved to entertain them plentifully.
That I do sacrifice: the punishment of these God calls a sacrifice, which he doth offer, i.e. to his own justice, to satisfy that.
For you: it was for higher ends, yet since God intends to fill them with the flesh and blood of it, he is pleased to tell them he hath slain for their entertainment.
A great sacrifice, where more thousands are offered at once than ever were at any time offered; it is a sacrifice so great, that none ever was or will be like.
The mountains of Israel; the land of Canaan.
Eat flesh; the flesh of the sacrifice.
And drink blood; the blood of it: this was entertainment fitting these invited guests.
In these two and the two following verses, God takes on him the person of one that makes a feast, invites his guests, and promiseth to satisfy them. Of the two former, the first is an enigmatical invitation, or an invitation in a riddle; the latter is the key to this character.
The mighty; who had great authority, great courage and strength, the giant-like ones, commanders of great note in the army.
The princes: many princes came with their countrymen and subjects to assist in this war, whose blood these fowls should drink; and these compared to rams which lead the flock.
Lambs are the more ordinary in the army. Goats; great goats, as the Hebrew denoteth; and these signify the more lascivious and impetuous among them.
Bullocks; such as, though more slow, were of great strength.
Fatlings; well fed, it was no lean sacrifice made.
Of Bashan, a mountain of most rich and sweet soil, and that fed the best of any.
Eat fat; accounted best, and which shall here be plentiful.
Till ye be full; none should fray them away, nor should any devour so much as to leave others hungry.
My sacrifice: see Ezekiel 39:17.
At my table; in the field where Gog, his princes, and army are slain, compared to a table.
Horses put for horsemen, not common foot-soldiers.
Chariots for the men that ride in them.
Mighty men; see Ezekiel 39:18.
I will set, I will advance and continue, my glory; the glory of power, justice, and wisdom against enemies, and of power, mercy, and faithfulness, with wisdom, toward his people.
The heathen, among whom my name was evil spoken of; they eclipsed, but God will clear up his glory.
The heathen, that are either in Gog’s army, or in the countries to which the news shall come,
shall see, not be able to deny or doubt, my judgment; the punishment just and from heaven, called God’s
hand laid upon them.
Shall know that I am the Lord: see Ezekiel 34:31.
From that day, from the day of Gog’s signal destruction, forward, while time shall be.
The sottish heathen thought meanly of the God of Israel, and reckoned they came into captivity because the people of some greater god had by the’ power of their god prevailed against Israel’s God and his people; but by this overthrow given to Gog, they shall see it was not impotence in Israel’s God, but iniquity in Israel’s people, that brought them into captivity.
Trespassed; committed sin perversely, continually, and with a high hand.
Hid my face; withdrew my favour, would no more regard them, and then it was soon a night of trouble to them.
Into the hand, into the power,
of their enemies, which could not have hurt Israel if Israel had not first forsaken his God, but then God forsook them. When God withdrew his defence, as fenceless, they fell under the sword of the enemy; for it is he that subdueth enemies and giveth victory.
Whatever severity I have seemed to use, it was but according to their sins, yet less than their sins, in punishing and hiding my face from them.
Therefore; since my name, my power, and justice are vindicated, and the heathen see it was Israel’s iniquity brought them into captivity, and Israel knows this too.
Now; from this time of Gog’s overthrow. Jacob; the seed of Jacob, here called by their father’s name.
Have mercy: this reducing captive Jews is mere mercy: it is very true by sin they deserved to be made captives, and it is as true they never did or could deserve a deliverance from captivity; it was not extremity of justice that so punished, but it was the riches of mercy that so pardoned and redeemed.
Upon the whole house of Israel; on the ten tribes with the two. And all this in zeal
for my holy name, by which I am engaged to be their God.
After they have long suffered, and now shall suffer no longer; for it is enough my people know, and the heathen know, that I am the Lord.
Borne their shame; reproach for their sins cast on them by the heathen, with great reflections on their God: this was part of the punishment of them all, and the greatest grief to the best among them, that their God was reproached.
Their trespasses; the punishment of those trespasses whereby they sinned against God, which this prophet plainly and frequently chargeth them with.
When they dwelt safely; and this done amidst that prosperity and safety which should have obliged them to love and obedience; but when they were safe at home, they sinned as if danger would never overtake them.
None made them afraid; no enemy to endanger and alarm them. Strange ingratitude, to east off the fear of God, and his law, when he had set them free from the fear of enemies!
When I have brought them: see the phrase Ezekiel 28:25. The persons here are not the two tribes only, but the ten with them, as Ezekiel 39:25.
Out of their enemies’ lands; wherever they were, they were among enemies, out of their own country.
Sanctified; by their accepting punishment, repenting for sin, loathing their former ways, and themselves for them, acknowledging God to be holy, his law holy, and his worship holy, and engaging themselves in covenant of perpetual obedience to God, and keeping it; by these things God will be sanctified among the Israelites, and in sight of the nations, when they see the furnace hath purified them.
Know; on fullest experiences, and clearest evidences, see, acknowledge, and publish to each other.
The Lord; the Mighty One, the just Judge, who determineth righteously between men and men, yea, between them and himself.
Their God; who, in covenant with their fathers, hath remembered it for the good of their children, who did assure them, that if they violated his covenant he would punish, and when they repented he would show mercy.
Which caused; who by his own hand raised up enemies against, and then delivered them into the enemies’ hand, so sent them into a sad and long captivity.
But I have gathered them; but now done more for them than when I brought them out of Babylon? whence the two tribes (yet not all of them, for some staid behind) and a few of the house of Israel returned; now the whole of the twelve tribes shall be gathered.
Unto their own land; that country they so dearly loved, somewhat for their fathers’ sake, whose ancient seat it was, but more for the goodness of it, which flowed with milk and honey. Have left none: this recovery it seems shall be much more universal than the former in Zorobabel’s time: as, coining out of Egypt, not a feeble person left behind; so nor here, if the words be to be literally explained.
There; in the land of captivity, the enemies’ country.
Neither will I hide my face: see Ezekiel 39:23. I will not turn from them in displeasure.
From them; from the whole house of Israel. This is no assurance to any pretender of great interest in God, who yet lives in sin.
Poured out, in abundant measures of wisdom and holiness, my Spirit; which is a Spirit of sanctification to make them holy, and a Spirit of strength to confirm them in holiness, and of adoption to sweeten obedience to them; they shall not, they will not depart from me, according to the promises, Ezekiel 11:19,20 36:25-27 37:23-28 Jeremiah 31:31, &c.; Jeremiah 32:37-40. It was sin that caused God to hide his face, and now grace shall be given to keep them out of sin, and to engage them to constant obedience, that God may rejoice over them to do them good in this their latter end.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 39". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany