Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 25


BOOK 2. — CHAPTERS 25-32.

Threatenings Concerning the Enemies of God’s People.


Here begins a section of Ezekiel’s prophecy in which judgments are pronounced against the enemies of God’s people, intermixed with expressions of compassion and hope for Israel, which finally grow into a series of jubilant prophecies of the restoration and eternal peace of the holy remnant. It is significant that this change in the prophecy should immediately follow the death of the prophet’s wife. (See note introductory to chapter 24.) Seven heathen nations come within the scope of Ezekiel’s condemnation: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Zidon, and Egypt. Why was not Babylon included in this list? Probably because Ezekiel regarded Nebuchadnezzar as at this time God’s minister of judgment against the other world powers.

Verse 2

2.Prophesy against them — Or, upon, that is, concerning them. The same Hebrew particle is used when no threat is being pronounced.

The Ammonites — These were the hereditary enemies of Israel, and very cruel in war. (See Ezekiel 21:28-32; 1 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 10:1; 2 Samuel 10:11; 2 Samuel 10:14; 2 Kings 24:2; Psalms 83:7; Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 40:14; Jeremiah 49:1; Lamentations 2:15-16; Zephaniah 2:5; Zephaniah 2:11; Nehemiah 4:13.) These Beni Ammon, “sons of Ammon” (Ezekiel 25:5), were quite probably the descendants of the Katabani of South Arabia, who call themselves in a very ancient inscription walad Amm, “children of Amm.” They are closely connected with the Moabites, not only in many biblical passages, but in a very old Minaean text (South Arabia) in which the female slaves of a temple are said to have been brought from Egypt, Moab, Ammon, etc. (Glaser). In biblical times they seem to have possessed a settled residence east of the Jordan, from which they declared the Israelites had driven them (Judges 11:13); but their ancestors were doubtless of a wandering disposition, probably being included with the Edomites and Moabites in the general term Menti, or “shepherds,” who appear on the Egyptian monuments as inhabitants of the Sinaitic peninsula fifteen hundred years or more before Abraham’s time. “They are strange looking men, with hooked noses, rounded at the point, wide nostrils, and full lips. The beard is long and the whiskers cover all the lower part of the cheek. The type is Jewish rather than Bedouin, and recalls the profiles of the tribute bearers of Jehu on the Assyrian black obelisk.” — Sayce, Races of the Old Testament.


Verse 4

4.Men of the east — Hebrews, children of the east. The wandering tribes which were always near neighbors of Ammon and Israel (Judges 6:3; Judges 6:33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:11; Job 1:3).

Palaces — R.V., “encampments.”


Verse 5

5.Rabbah a stable for camels — Rabbah “the great.” “Stable” may be rendered “habitation” or “pasture land.” This doubtless occurred during Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion, and although afterward rebuilt, it never reached its former glory. Remains of houses and temples still mark the site of this once populous city, but not an inhabitant remains. The ruins are now used as a pasture for sheep and camels. Lord Lindsay writes, “The valley stinks with dead camels, one of which was rolling in the stream; and although we saw none among the ruins they were absolutely covered in every direction with their dung.” (For this and many other testimonials see Pulpit Commentary.)


Verse 6

6.Despite Contempt. (Compare Wyclif’s translation of Romans 9:21: “oo vessel into onour, anothir into dispyte.”)


Verse 7

7.Heathen — R.V., “nations.”

People — R.V., “peoples.”

Thou shalt know — The aim of Jehovah in the destruction of the capital of Ammon was the same as in the destruction of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:22; Ezekiel 24:13).


Verse 8

8.Moab — Beyond the brief biblical references (as Genesis 19:30; 2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:4-5; 2 Kings 13:20) and the well-known Mesha inscription (ninth century B.C.) which the Moabite king set up as a monument of salvation in praise of his god Ashtor-Chemosh for his help in defeating the “son” (successor) of Omri, little is known of this great nation. Their literature and royal monuments may any day be discovered, as it was by the merest chance that the above-mentioned monument came to light. We already know that they greatly resembled the Hebrews, not only in language, but in their method of literary composition and in their national and religious spirit. Some one has justly said that if the name for Jehovah were substituted for Chemosh the Mesha inscription would read like an extract from the Book of Kings. Their orthography, however, and chief deity ally them to the Minaeans (South Arabians), while they are always closely associated with the Ammonites (Ezekiel 25:2). They, too, were always bitter enemies of Israel, of haughty spirit (Isaiah 15, 16; Zephaniah 2:8-10), and very inhuman (Amos 2:1).

And Seir — Omitted by LXX. “Mount Seir” is elsewhere joined to Edom (Ezekiel 35:15). At this time it may have been connected politically with Moab, as at other times both Moab and Ammon seem to have turned against the hardy inhabitants of the hill country (2 Chronicles 20:23).


Verse 9

9.The side — Hebrews, the shoulder; that is, the frontier plateau or mesa (Hebrews, meshar), which had always been Moab’s best defense.

From the cities — Davidson reads, “at the cities;” Smend and Cornill, “that the cities be no more, even his,” etc.

Which are on his frontiers — Rather, in every quarter.

Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim — It is curious that two of these cities which were “the glory of the country” should appear in the Mesha inscription (ninth century B.C.) where the king says, “I built Baal-meon and made therein the ditches; I built Kirjathaim;” and again, “I built Beth-medeba and Beth-diblathaim and Beth-baal-meon.” (Compare Joshua 13:17; Numbers 32:37.) Beth (house), Baal (Lord), and Kir or Gir (the old homeland of the Arameans between Elam and Babylon) are constantly found in compound Moabitish names. The ruins of these three cities are on the northeast border of the Dead Sea (Numbers 32:37-38; Numbers 33:49; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:19-20; Jeremiah 48:22-23), in the Belka (compare Balak, Numbers xxii), a region famous in ancient and modern times as a pasture land. A Bedouin proverb says, “There is no land like the Belka.”


Verse 10

10.Unto the men of the east — R.V., margin, “Together with the children of Ammon, unto the children of the east.” The meaning must be that both Moabites and Ammonites would fall before these fierce nomadic hordes. They would finish the destruction which Nebuchadnezzar commenced.


Verse 12

12.Edom — The Edomites (Assyrian, Udumu) were a Semitic race closely related to the Hebrews, whose law required them to be loved as a “brother” and given special temple privileges (Deuteronomy 23:7-8). The name, according to Sayce, means “red skins,” which would separate them from the fairer Hebrews and Amorites. They had conquered a strip of country about Mount Seir (Deuteronomy 2:22), and were a very powerful nation until conquered by Ramman-Nirari (806-797 B.C.). They, like their brothers, the Israelites, had adopted the “language of Canaan,” and though their libraries have not yet been discovered, some scholars think traces of their literature may be seen in the lists of Edomite princes (Genesis 36), and perhaps also in Job and the Proverbs of Lemuel. Notwithstanding their close relationship, Edom and Israel were frequently at war (2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:17). These sons of Esau had “hatred of old” (Ezekiel 35:5) for the sons of Jacob, and exulted with great joy when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans, perhaps assisting in the city’s overthrow (Joel 3:19; <19D707>Psalms 137:7; Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:11). During the Maccabean war they continued hostile to the Jews. “Ultimately, like Moab and Ammon, the name of Edom disappears from history, all the three peoples being known by the general name of Arabs — children of the East — as Ezekiel had prophesied.” — Davidson.


Verse 13

13.Teman; and they of Dedan, etc. — Rather, from Teman unto Dedan shall they fall. Teman and Dedan were respectively the north and south frontier districts of Edom. The inhabitants of this region were celebrated for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:8-9). The most eloquent speaker in Job is Eliphaz the Temanite (Job 2:11; Job 4:1). So they are called in Baruch (Ezekiel 3:22-23), “authors of fables, the searchers out of understanding.” This district was situated in the caravan route from Egypt to Babylon, and in some recently discovered inscriptions (old Aramaic) may be seen “marked traces of Egyptian civilization” (Neubaur, Studia Biblia, vol. i). Dr. Euting dates these inscriptions in the time of Ezekiel. Certainly these were civilized districts at a very early day, for Gudea, some 3,000 years B.C., brought alabaster from Tidanu (Dedan), and Gimil-Sin, 2,000 years B.C., built a wall against Tidnim. The ancient Minaeans brought their female temple slaves from Gaza, Moab, Ammon, Kedar, Dedan, etc. (Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition). These Minaean inscriptions have only recently been discovered, and it is still disputed whether the kingdom followed that of Saba (Sheba), or whether it preceded it (2000-1000 B.C.), although the latter view seems preferable.


Verse 15-16

15, 16. The Philistines,’ the Cherethim — Whether the Philistines were Aryans or Semites is not settled. George Adam Smith describes them as a Semitic people with non-Semitic habits, language, and institutions. An Egyptian traveler, 1000 B.C., declared that he found a colony of Philistines at the foot of Mount Carmel which traced its descent from the Zuk(k)ara, a warlike tribe of Asia Minor (Pap. Golenischeff). The original home of the Philistines, however, was not Asia Minor nor the Egyptian Delta (Sayce) nor Phoenicia (Muller), but almost certainly Crete. The features of the inhabitants of Philistia, as portrayed on the Egyptian monuments by Ramses II (1350 B.C.), have a Hittite cast and differ very greatly from those pictured by later Pharaohs, which probably indicates that this warlike people had entered the country and seized the “seacoast cities” — Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath — which they ever afterward held, though it may possibly only point to an abnormal admixture of racial types in the nation. The Cretes were a mixed race, and the writer has noticed that the modern inhabitants of Philistia show this same peculiarity in a marked degree. Certain it is that only a little previous to the Exodus the Philistines began to figure prominently in the war records of Egypt (Egyptian, Purasati; Assyrian, Pulista or Pilista). In the latter part of the fifteenth century B.C., as is proved by the Tel-el-Amarna letters, the Philistine cities were in complete subjection to Egypt. They had rather a high degree of civilization. Clear cases of commerce with Cyprus were found at Tel-el-Hesy (Lachish). After the Exodus the Philistines (allying themselves with the Anakim) had many severe struggles with the Hebrews, with varying fortunes, as is proved by the story of David and Goliath, Shamgar, Samson, etc. Sometimes it seemed as if the Hebrews were destined to be nothing more than the abject slaves of this people. (See Judges 5:8; 1 Samuel 13:19.) After Israel had successfully revolted, Philistia, no doubt, allied herself with her enemies for revenge (Ezekiel 25:15). So great did the Philistines become that the land of Canaan and Israel is known by their name even to this day (Palestine). Philistia was always a stronghold of idolatry, and Gaza continued to boast of idol temples long after Christianity had dominated the rest of Palestine. The writer still saw indications of the survival of the old heathen worship as late as 1890. The Cherethims or Cherethites was probably another name of the Philistines, referring to their Cretan origin (Zephaniah 2:5). Arthur J. Evans has proved that the Philistines on the Egyptian monuments wear Cretan dress and carry Cretan vases.


Verse 17

17.They shall know that I am the Lord — The Philistines were led up from Caphtor to Palestine by the same One who led Israel thitherward from Egypt (see Amos 9:7), and they are now punished for the same reason — to bring them to a knowledge of the true God (Ezekiel 6:7). Alas! Philistia refused to learn the lesson to which Israel hearkened.


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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 25". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.