Ezekiel 39:1-2. Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy — Continue to prophesy; against Gog — That all these things concerning him may be remembered. The chief prince of Meshech, &c. — See note on Ezekiel 38:2. And I will turn thee back — See ibid. Ezekiel 39:4. I will lead thee and turn thee wheresoever I please: thou shalt not proceed any further than I shall permit thee, but shalt be driven back. And leave but a sixth part of thee — Or, as others render it, I will strike thee with six plagues, those mentioned Ezekiel 38:22. And I will cause thee to come up, &c. — The words may be better rendered, After I have caused thee to come up from the north parts, and have brought thee upon the mountains of Israel — See a like construction Ezekiel 38:4.
Ezekiel 39:3-7. I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand — There shall be no might in thy hand, as Moses threatens the Israelites, Deuteronomy 28:32; thou shalt not be able to use thy weapons to any purpose. I will give thee unto the ravenous birds, &c. — See Ezekiel 39:17; and Ezekiel 33:27. And I will send a fire on Magog — That is, into the country of Gog. This fire seems to signify that the land, after the army of Gog had left it, should be laid waste by the neighbouring people. Fire frequently signifies God’s fierce judgments. And among them that dwell carelessly in the isles —
That is, among the inhabitants of the sea-coast, who dwell securely, and think no harm can come upon them. All countries lying upon the sea-coast are called islands in the Hebrew language. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people — I will give evident displays of my power and goodness among them; and I will not let them pollute, &c. —
In the Hebrew it is, I will not pollute my holy name any more; that is, I will not suffer it to be polluted: verbs active often signifying only permission. The sense is, I will not suffer my name to be dishonoured any more, nor let it be said among the heathen that I was not able to rescue my people out of the hand of their enemies.
Ezekiel 39:8-10. Behold, it is come, it is done, saith the Lord — The time appointed for this great destruction is come, and it is the last and finishing stroke of God’s justice upon the enemies of his church and truth. The prophet here speaks in the rapture of prophecy of this event, determined and fixed in the counsels of God, as already completed: see the margin. They that dwell in the city shall set on fire and burn the weapons — In token of an entire conquest, and that such a lasting peace should ensue that there should be no more need of warlike preparations. Weapons here include all the instruments of war, engines, carriages, wagons, &c. Bishop Lowth observes, on Isaiah 9:4, that some heathen nations burned heaps of arms to the supposed god of victory, and that among the Romans this act was an emblem of peace. Among God’s people it might show their trust in him as their defender. And they shall burn them with fire seven years — The victory shall be so great, that, during this period of time, they shall suffice for fires on the mountains and in the open fields, where the slain shall fall, and whither the inhabitants of the adjoining cities shall occasionally go forth. Or by seven years we may understand a long time, a certain number being put for an uncertain one. And the meaning may be, There shall be in the country so great a quantity of military weapons, that they shall serve the people a long time for fuel. We should remember that they do not make very large fires in those hot countries. Mariana, in his Spanish History, b. 2. c. 24, relates, that after the victory which the Spaniards gained over the Saracens in 1212, they found so many spears and other warlike weapons of wood, as served them four years for fuel: see Calmet. They shall spoil those that spoiled them — See the margin.
Ezekiel 39:11-16. I will give unto Gog a place there of graves — Houbigant translates this passage, An illustrious place for sepulture, the valley of passengers opposite to the sea; through which the travellers shall pass, stopping their noses — According to the Chaldee, the scene here spoken of was the lake of Gennesareth. In the Hebrew language, all lakes are called by the name of seas. The same is called the eastern sea, (Ezekiel 47:18,) to distinguish it from the Mediterranean, called the great sea westward, Joshua 23:4. The valley near this sea is called the valley of the passengers, because it was the great road by which the merchants and traders from Syria, and other eastern countries, went into Egypt: see Genesis 37:17; Genesis 37:25. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them — For a long time after the battle, the inhabitants shall be employed in burying the bones of the slain, that the land might not be polluted by them. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them — See the note on the following verse. And it shall be to them a renown, &c. —
Or, The day that I shall be glorified shall be to them a day of renown, or a remarkable day of joy and gladness. And they shall sever out men, &c. — To cleanse the land thoroughly, men shall be set apart, and be constantly employed in picking up the bones of the slain that are scattered about, and burying them with the dead bodies of travellers who had happened to die on the roads; and they shall continue to do this, and be in daily search after the bones, for the space of seven months. The length of time assigned to this employment denotes the vast number of the slain, and the great care taken to cleanse the land from pollution. And when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign — A stone, or some other mark, that men may avoid passing over the bones, and that the persons appointed to bury them may take them from thence, and carry them to the proper burying- place. Also the name of the city shall be called Hamonah — Some render this verse, Also the name of the city, assigned to them who shall cleanse the land, shall be called Hamonah, that is, a multitude. The meaning seems to be, that the city where these appointed buriers should reside during the time they were employed in this office, and near which they should bury the dead, should afterward, in memory thereof, be called Hamonah; which, signifying a multitude, thereby denoted the greatness of the victory.
Ezekiel 39:17-22. Thou son of man, speak unto every feathered fowl, &c. —
It was the custom of persons that offered sacrifice, to invite their friends to the feast that was made of the remainder: see Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 9:13. So here the prophet, by God’s command, invites the beasts and fowls to partake of the sacrifice of his enemies slain. The slaughter of God’s enemies is called a sacrifice, because it is offered up as an atonement to the divine justice: see the margin. A great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel — Where this great army was to be destroyed. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes — Rather, of the chief ones, of the earth, of rams, &c. — By the names of these several animals, all wont to be used in sacrifices, are here signified men of all orders and ranks, as princes, generals, captains, and common soldiers. All of them fatlings of Bashan — All of them in the prime of life and strength, like young fatted beasts. And drink blood till ye be drunken — Or, be satiated. Ye shall be filled at my table — At the table which is, as it were, spread by me. The allegory is continued. “The table of God is the field covered with dead bodies, the place of the slaughter of Magog. It is impossible to conceive how unbelievers could quote this verse to prove that the Jews of old times ate the flesh of horses, and even of men. Voltaire, though cautioned that not the Jews, nor men, but wild beasts and birds, were invited to this feast of slaughter, that is, to the consumption of the slain, yet resisted to the last on his strange accusation.” — Michaelis. And all the heathen shall see my judgments — Shall see the punishments which I have executed on those who despise my name. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God — Both by my acts of mercy, in bringing them out of their captivity, and gathering them from their dispersions, and by my judgments executed upon their enemies.
Ezekiel 39:23. And the heathen shall know, &c. — The heathen nations shall be made sensible that my people were not carried away by their enemies because I wanted power to save them, but as a just punishment of their sins. Because they trespassed against me — Committed sin with a high hand. Therefore hid I my face from them — Withdrew my favour and protection; and gave them into the hand of their enemies — Who could not have hurt them if they had not first forsaken me their God, and exposed themselves to my displeasure. So fell they all by the sword — My defence being withdrawn, they fell under the sword of the enemy.
Ezekiel 39:25-26. Therefore now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob — See note on Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 36:24. And have mercy upon the whole house of Israel — On the ten tribes with the two. This bringing back the captive Jews and Israelites, and gathering them from their dispersions, will be an act of mere mercy. By sin, indeed, they deserved to be made captives; but no righteousness of theirs did or could deserve deliverance from captivity. It was not extremity of justice that so punished them, but it will be the riches of mercy that thus pardons and redeems them. After they have borne their shame — The shame and reproach due to their sins; and all their trespasses — That is, the punishment of those trespasses, committed when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid — When they were in a state of peace, prosperity, and safety, which should have obliged them to love and obedience; but even then they sinned, as if dangers and calamities would never overtake them. Strange ingratitude! to cast off the fear of God, and all regard to his law, when he had set them free from the fear of all enemies.
Ezekiel 39:27-28. When I have brought them again from the people —
According to my promises; and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands — Wherever they were scattered; and am sanctified in them — By their patiently accepting punishment, repenting of sin, loathing their former ways, and themselves on account of them, acknowledging me to be holy, just, and good, and dedicating themselves unreservedly to my service; when I am thus sanctified among them, and in the sight of the nations who shall see that the furnace has purified them; then shall they know — On the fullest experience and clearest evidence; that I am the Lord their God — And that I have never ceased to exercise a paternal care over them; and in all my chastisements of them, as well as my benefits conferred on them, have had their good in view: see notes on Ezekiel 39:22, and Ezekiel 34:30. Observe, reader, by the variety of events through which God brings us in the course of his providence, if we look up to him in them all, we shall become better acquainted, both with his divine perfections, and his various designs in all his dispensations toward us.
Ezekiel 39:29. Neither will I hide my face any more from them — I will never again withdraw my favour or protection from them, or turn from them in displeasure. For I have poured out — In abundant mercy; my Spirit upon the house of Israel — Which, as a Spirit of truth, shall enlighten their minds, and make them wise unto salvation; as a Spirit of grace, shall regenerate and create them anew; as a Spirit of power, shall strengthen them for every duty, and enable them to withstand and conquer every temptation; as a Spirit of holiness, shall cleanse them from sin, sanctify their souls, and stamp them with mine image; and, as a Spirit of adoption and consolation, shall inspire them with confidence and hope, and render every branch of obedience, and every exercise of piety and virtue, sweet and delightful to them. It appears by this promise, that there will be a new and plentiful effusion of God’s Spirit on the Jews and Israelites in the latter days, in order to their conversion, their establishment in grace, and their restoration to their own land: see Isaiah 59:20-21, a passage applied by St. Paul to this very purpose, Romans 11:26-27. Compare likewise Zechariah 12:10, and Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:27, of this prophecy.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 39". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany