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GOD’S PROMISE TO RESURRECT THE DEAD NATION AND PUT WITHIN IT A NEW SPIRIT AND GIVE BACK TO IT ITS BEAUTIFUL LAND, CHAPS. 36-37.
1. Mountains of Israel A common name for the land of Israel (Ezekiel 17:22; Ezekiel 33:28; Ezekiel 34:14, etc.). How different this prophecy from that contained in chap. 6! It is not only the prophet’s spirit which has changed, but that of the people. (Compare notes Ezekiel 24:15-26.24.27; Ezekiel 33:10-26.33.20.)
2. Aha, even the ancient high places “Aha! and, The” (R.V.). Compare Ezekiel 25:3; Ezekiel 26:2; Ezekiel 35:10. The “high places” and “lasting hills” (Deuteronomy 32:13; Deuteronomy 33:15) stood for the most sacred and best protected parts of the land.
3. Because The Hebrew repeats this word to make it doubly emphatic. Jehovah’s judgments are never arbitrary. (Compare “therefore,” Ezekiel 36:4-26.36.6.)
Heathen Rather, nations.
And are an infamy of the people R.V., “and the evil report of the people.”
5. Jealousy See notes Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 23:25; compare Ezekiel 38:19.
Idumea Edom. (Compare Ezekiel 35:15.)
Into their possession Rather, with R.V., “Unto themselves for a possession.” (Compare Ezekiel 35:10; Ezekiel 35:15.)
With despiteful minds Or, with contempt of soul.
To cast it out for a prey A very difficult phrase. Toy reads, “that they might possess it as a prey.” From a Hebrew standpoint the Holy Land would become a prey and a castaway if ever the Edomites took possession of it, but perhaps it would be better to make a slight change and read, “in order to plunder its produce” (Hitzig).
6, 7. He who is a jealous God (Ezekiel 36:5) affirms with uplifted hand (Ezekiel 20:5-26.20.6) that his people shall bear no longer this shame and reproach which has been heaped upon them (Ezekiel 36:2-26.36.3; Ezekiel 36:15; Ezekiel 34:29); but this very shame shall soon fall upon their enemies, who shall be overtaken by a just retribution. (Compare Ezekiel 16:52.)
8-14. Let the mountains of Israel rejoice and bear good crops, for the return of the rightful inhabitants is “at hand” (Ezekiel 36:8, compare Ezekiel 11:17), and Jehovah will again return to the land from which he had departed (Ezekiel 10:18-26.10.20; Ezekiel 11:13-26.11.20, etc.), and the fields shall be fruitful and the villages multiplied (Ezekiel 36:33; Ezekiel 34:13-26.34.14), and the Lord’s people shall be greater than even at the beginning (Deuteronomy 30:5), as they walk again over their old inheritance, Which shall no more deserve its former reputation of being a devourer of men (Ezekiel 36:13), and bringing destruction upon its “children” (Ezekiel 36:12, A.V., men) because of the frequent famines (Ezekiel 36:30, compare Numbers 13:32) and other judgments upon the “nation” (Ezekiel 36:13-26.36.15, Hebrews) for its wickedness (Ezekiel 36:12; Ezekiel 36:17; Ezekiel 34:28).
15. Neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall R.V., “neither shalt thou cause thy nation to stumble;” but by slight change of text read, “neither shalt thou bereave thy nation any more,” or, “thou shalt no more bereave thy nation of children.”
16-24. Before the captivity, Israel, because of its bloody deeds and idolatry (Ezekiel 36:18), was as unclean as a woman “in her separation” (Ezekiel 36:17, R.V.), and for this reason was separated from her beautiful land (Ezekiel 36:19; compare Leviticus 15:19; Leviticus 18:30, etc.). But instead of repenting and purifying herself, Israel excused or denied her sin (Ezekiel 2:3-26.2.5; Ezekiel 18:2), and while professing allegiance to Jehovah gave honor to idols (Ezekiel 14:7; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 20:39), and thus so belittled and polluted the Holy Name before the nations that these actually supposed that the captivity was due, not to Jehovah’s justice, but to his weakness. For this reason they could speak of the Israelites (“of them,” Ezekiel 36:20, R.V.), saying, “These are the Lord’s people, and yet had to go forth out of his land” (Ezekiel 36:20, Kautzsch). It is not because of the worthiness of fallen Israel (Ezekiel 36:21-26.36.22; Ezekiel 36:32; compare Titus 3:5-56.3.6) that Jehovah now snatches them again out of their captivity and returns them to their own land, but in order that this reproach may be removed from his own name, when all men shall see that the real cause, both of the captivity and restoration, lies in God’s holiness and justice (Ezekiel 36:23-26.36.24). Thus will his name be sanctified, or “set apart” from those of the “idol blocks” with which he is now compared, and his real nature will be revealed. (See valuable remarks in Expositor’s Bible, p. 356 . )
It has been said that this passage (Ezekiel 36:25-26.36.27), with that which immediately precedes, deserves study more than any other part of Ezekiel, since it exhibits his “philosophy of history,” and describes with great beauty the principles of Jehovah’s redemption of his people. But this is not merely the philosophy of Ezekiel, it is a revelation of the divine thought. It is the gospel of the Old Testament. In its teaching of moral and spiritual cleansing (Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 36:29) and of the God-given “new heart” and “new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26-26.36.27) which loathes the old life of uncleanness (Ezekiel 36:31) and produces a new life of obedience, purity, and happiness (Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 36:29; Ezekiel 36:33), it indeed “reads like a fragment of a Pauline epistle.” It strikes the same spiritual note which is afterward heard at Bethlehem and Calvary, at Pentecost and Patmos.
25. Clean water Not merely which was itself clean, but that which makes clean and “purgeth from sin” (Numbers 8:7; Numbers 8:21; Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:19; Numbers 19:21; compare Hebrews 10:22). In some instances this “water of purifying” was mixed with blood, as in the case of leprosy, the most striking physical symbol of loathsome sin (Leviticus 14:5-3.14.8; Leviticus 14:50; Leviticus 14:52; compare Guthrie, Gospel in Ezekiel, p. 256). This legal cleansing (the removal of impurity) is as closely associated here with the renewing and transformation of the moral nature as justification and pardon with regeneration and sanctification in the New Testament. (Compare Psalms 51:9-19.51.12; Titus 3:5; Titus 3:7.)
26. New heart The “heart” represents the real inner nature of man as against mere external manifestation of desire and purpose. Though externally worshiping Jehovah the old heart of this people had been hard and unfeeling (Ezekiel 2:4; Ezekiel 3:7).
27. My Spirit The “new spirit” which controls the “new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 11:17-26.11.20) is itself controlled by the divine Spirit which dwells within. Blessed was the generation to which this new Gospel was preached! The most spiritual utterances of the Christian era are but expansions and applications of this profound truth. (Compare John 3:5; Romans 8:1-45.8.9.)
28-36. The new Israel, which possesses the new heart and the new spirit, shall be permitted to re-establish covenant relations with Jehovah and shall once more return to their old land, which shall yield fruitful harvests forever (Ezekiel 36:29, etc.; compare Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 37:25), and be like the very garden of Eden (Ezekiel 36:35; compare Ezekiel 31:9). These promises were, however, conditional upon a spiritual transformation (Ezekiel 36:33) as were the original promises (Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 26:3-3.26.12), and some terms which are here used to express covenant relationship with Israel were later transferred to the Christian Church (2 Corinthians 6:16-47.6.18) through which, according to the New Testament hope, this prophecy will find its larger future fulfillment (Romans 11:25-45.11.27; Revelation 21:3).
37. I will yet [or, “moreover,” R.V.] for this be inquired of While the people kept their old disobedient heart Jehovah had refused to respond to their petitions or inquiries (Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3), but now he is willing to answer their prayers, and the population of the Holy Land, which has been decimated, shall increase like the flock “for sacrifice” (Ezekiel 36:38, R.V.), and the people shall fill the waste cities as the flocks at the time of the great feasts covered the hills. (Compare 34.) This illustration was drawn from Ezekiel’s memory of his boyhood, when he had seen what seemed to him countless numbers of sacrificial lambs driven into Jerusalem. At the time he spoke the holy city and the temple were both in ruins, but he sees in the future a vast and holy “flock of men” occupying the land now held by a vile and profane remnant (Ezekiel 33:24).
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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