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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Ezekiel 38

 

 

Verses 1-23

4. Against Gog and Magog for the Glorification of Jehovah in the World (Ch38,39)

Chap381. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 2Son of Prayer of Manasseh, set thy face towards [against] Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal 4 And I lead thee back, and give rings in thy jaws, and bring thee forth, and thy whole army, horses and riders, all of them perfectly clothed, a numerous assemblage, 5with long shield and short shield, all handling swords: Persia, Cush, and 6 Phut with them, all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer and all his squadrons; the house of Togarmah, the farthest north, and all his squadrons; many 7 nations with thee. Be prepared and hold prepared for thyself, thou and all thy assemblages which assemble around thee, and be a guard unto them 8 After many days thou art visited; at the end of the years thou shalt come to a land recovered from the sword, gathered from many nations, upon the mountains of Israel, which were perpetually for devastation; and it was brought forth out 9 of the nations, and all of them dwell securely. And thou ascendest, as a tempest shalt thou come, like a cloud to cover the land shalt thou be, thou and all thy squadrons, and many nations with thee 10 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: And it comes to pass on that day, words shall ascend upon thy heart, and 11 thou devisest an evil device; And sayest, I will go up to a plain country, I will come upon those who are at rest [quiet], who dwell securely, all of them dwelling 12 where there is no wall, and they have no bars and gates, To take spoil and to seize prey, to draw back thy hand over ( Revelation -) inhabited ruins, and to a people gathered from the heathen, who acquire cattle and goods, dwelling upon 13 the navel of the earth. Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, and all his [her] young lions, will say to thee, Comest thou to take spoil ? hast thou assembled thy assemblages to seize prey ? to lift silver and gold ? to take cattle 14 and goods ? to take great spoil ?—Therefore prophesy, son of Prayer of Manasseh, and say to Gog: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In that day when My people Israel dwell 15 securely, shalt thou not know [experience] it? And [yet] thou comest out of thy place, from the farthest north, thou and many nations with thee, all of them 16 riding upon horses, a great assemblage [community], and a numerous army; And goest up upon My people Israel, like a cloud to cover the land; in the end of the days it shall be, and [yet] I make thee come upon My land, that the heathen may know Me when I sanctify Myself on thee before their eyes, O Gog 17 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Art thou he of whom I spoke in former days by the hand of My servants, the prophets of Israel, who in those days 18 prophesied for years that I would bring thee upon them? And it comes to pass on that day, on the day of the coming of Gog upon the land of Israel—19sentence of the Lord Jehovah—My fury shall come up in My nose. And in My jealousy, in the fire of My wrath, do I speak, if there shall not be on that 20 day a great shaking over the land of Israel! And the fishes of the sea, and the fowl of heaven, and the beast of the field, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the ground, and every man that is on the face of the earth shall tremble before My face; and the mountains are thrown down, and the cliffs 21 fall, and every wall shall fall to the earth. And I call the sword upon him at all My mountains—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—the sword of every one 22 shall be against his brother. And I carry on My plea with him in pestilence and in blood; and overflowing [gushing] rain and hailstones, fire and brimstone, will I rain upon him and upon his squadrons, and upon the many nations that 23 are with him. And I show Myself great, and sanctify Myself, and make Myself known before the eyes of many heathen nations, and they know that I am Jehovah.

Ezekiel 38:2. Sept.: ... κ. την γην τ.. M. Vulg.: terram M, principem capitis … de eo. (Another read.:על ג׳.)

Eze 38:3. ... Ὶωγ και ἀρχοντα.

Ezekiel 38:4. Κ. περιστρεψω σεκ. συναξω σεἐνδεδυμενους θωρακας παντας πελται χ. περιχεφαλαιαι χ. μαχαιραι. Vulg.: Et circumagam te

Ezekiel 38:6. Another read.: תורגמה.

Ezekiel 38:7. Sept.: ... κ. ἐση μοι εἰς προφυλαχην. Vulg.: … eis in præceptum.

Eze 38:8. ἑτοιμασθησεταιἐπι τ. γην τ. Ἰσρ.

Ezekiel 38:11. Sept.: ... ἐπι γην ἀπεριμμενην—

Eze 38:12. ... του ἐπιστρεψαι την χειραν μουπεποιηχοτας χτησεις,—

Eze 38:13. ... κ. οἱ μποροι Καρχηδονιοι κ. πασαι αἱ χωμαι αὐτων—

Eze 38:14. ... ἐξεγερθηση—

Ezekiel 38:16. ... παντα τ. ἐθνη—גוג is omitted, or they transfer it to following verse.

Ezekiel 38:19. ... σεισμος—Vulg.: … commotio

Ezekiel 38:20. ... κ. ῥαγησονται τ. ὀρη κ. πεσουνται αἱ φαραγγες—Vulg.: … et cadent sepes et.

Eze 38:21. ... ἐπ’ αὐτο παν φαβον μαχαιρας—

Eze 38:22. Κ. χρινω αὐτον—

Ezekiel 38:24. Sept. ... κ. ἐνδοξασθηασομαι—

EXEGETICAL REMARKS

Ezekiel 38:2. See Ezekiel 6:2 Magog is known from Genesis 10:2 ( 1 Chronicles 1:5); he is one of the Japhetites. The article pointing to what is known, הַמָּגוֹנ, shows that Hebrews, or rather the people denoted by him, is meant. Already Josephus, and doubtless in accordance with generally received tradition, recognises in them the Scythians. Comp. Häv. p599 sq, and also Gesen. Lex. When אֶרֶץ is expressly added, it is not necessary, with Hitzig, to seek in the syllable Ma from the Coptic and the Sanscrit the idea of land. Even if the translation is not to be “Gog, prince of the land of Magog,” yet it does not need to be translated, with Hävernick and Ewald, as dependent on שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ: “against Gog, towards the land of Magog;” but אֶרֶץ הַמָּגוֹג is a brief expression for: in or of the land of Magog. As he is immediately entitled נְשִׂיא, it lies on the surface to see in נּוֹג the king of the land of the people of Magog. A Reubenite “Gog” is named in 1 Chronicles 5:4.—It appears that we have before us rather an official than a personal name. A comparison of the word (in full יְגוֹג, like the Arab, “yagug”) with נָּג, “roof,” the “top” of the altar, would countenance this, if the latter is to be derived from גֵּאֶה, גֵּא, “to be high;” hence: the high, sublime, supreme. The Tartaric and Turkish “kak,” “chakan,” “khan,” has been thought of (a traveller calls a Tartaric chief of the 13 th century “Gog Khan”). [Cocc.: “Gog denotes him who sets himself like the roof in the midst between heaven and earth, between God and men” ( Ezekiel 28:14; Ezekiel 28:16).] The very probable formation of the name from “Magog” would confirm the interpretation and derivation which it implies, since the national character (for this people is to be conceived of as on the Caucasus, which Herodotus calls the greatest mountain range of the earth), and thus their nature and residence in the high north, might be very suitably outlined in the official name of their leader and representative. In form it would be as if we said, instead of the Chinese Emperor: the Chin of China. Revelation 20:8 takes “Gog and Magog” from Ezekiel as title for “the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.” That Gog represents Magog is the less surprising, because Magog on its side represents a whole complex of nations: Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. For the two latter see on Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 32:26; the former between the sources of the Phasis and Cyrus, below Colchis, the latter on the coast of the Euxine, west of Trapezus. It is not exactly said that “they dwelt in the neighbourhood of Magog” (Keil), but that they are in a state of subjection, as vassals, to Gog; and this Hengstenberg, like Ewald, and ancient translators and expositors before them, find expressed by נְשִׂיא רֹאשׁ, which they render: “chief prince” (king of kings)—a combination which would be allowable (מלך ראש on coins) if it were meant to be the translation of גּוֹג, whence also it might be repeated unabbreviated in Ezekiel 38:3; Ezekiel 39:1. (It cannot be translated appositionally: “the prince, the head of Meshech and Tubal.”) But some who are of this opinion appeal more to the non-occurrence elsewhere (in Scripture or in Josephus) of a people Rosh; while on the other side, reference has been made to the Byzantines of the tenth century, who mention οἱ Ῥῶς, a barbarous people about the north of Taurus. An Arabian writer of the same age knew of the heathen nation “Rus,” on the Wolga itself. (Whether the inhabitants of “Rass,” Koran25:50, are to be cited, is very questionable.) Gesenius observes that it can scarcely be doubtful that the first trace of the Russians is here given. Comp. Hävernick, p604. It is curious that Hengstenberg cannot bear to see the “poor Russians” ranged among the enemies of the kingdom of God. Hitzig points out that also in Genesis 10. there is subjoined to Meshech and Tubal a third nation, Tiras, which von Hammer brings into connection with Rosh, conjecturing their original abode to have been on the Araxes. The name (Ross, horse) seems to indicate an equestrian people, like the Scythians, under which name the Greeks very early comprehended all the nations of the north; especially as living from mare’s milk, they are described (Iliad, xiii5, 6) as “mare-milkers.” In the name Roxolani (Rhoxalani), whom Bochart combines, “ala” means the same as horse (Hitzig).

Eze 38:3. Comp. 26:3, 28:22, 29:3, 10.

Ezekiel 38:4. Hitzig translates the Pilel שׁוֹבֵב, “allure,” just as the Targ.: “decoy.” [Keil: in the sense of: to a dangerous undertaking. Hävern.: with force, as a will-less beast out of his land, away from his former path, and on to the way of destruction.] Hitzig: “The Scythian is in the outset thought of as a wild beast, which rushes aside from the path, and must first be brought back.” But שׁוֹבֵב means properly: to cause one to return (a repeating and strengthening form), a meaning which Hengstenberg justly retains as the simplest and most natural. He interprets thus: in Gog, the earlier enemies of God’s people, namely, the Chaldeans, reappear. For the signification of the word adopted by him he appeals to Ezekiel 38:8 and Ezekiel 39:27, and compares also Ezekiel 38:12, remarking at the same time, that in the appearance of Gog, Ezekiel 38:17 and Ezekiel 39:8, the fulfilment of earlier prophecies is recognised in which Gog is not expressly contemplated. The giving of special prominence to the Chaldeans is not in accordance with Ezekiel’s manner (see Introd. to Ezekiel 25:32, and on Ezekiel 21:28 sq.). It is at all events more obvious, and permits us to retain exactly the proper signification of שׁוֹבֵב, to assume a reference to the inroad of the Scythians (b.c633) related by Herodotus (I:103–6), the news of which induced Cyaxares to raise the siege of Nineveh. This effect, and still more the fact that the Scythians were a powerful army (as Herodotus says), which under the command of their king Madyas defeated the Medes, who thereby lost the dominion over Asia, of which the Scythians took entire possession, fitted these latter to be a serviceable form for our prophecy. It was a kind of collision of nations, like the later barbarian migrations. The polemic of Delitzsch (comp. Strauss on Zephaniah) against the “Scythian hypothesis,” which Winer also calls most uncertain, is well founded as regards Zephaniah,, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk. But if the Scythians, whose equestrian hordes, marching south through Syria in b.c626, overran Judea, neither plundered nor laid waste Palestine, etc. (Delitzsch, Habakkuk, p18.), but “quietly went up again along the coast of the Mediterranean as they had come down as far as Philistia” (?), at any rate left behind them pre-eminently the impression of a quite sudden (that is the Apocalyptic feature, comp. Luke 17:24) and unexpected irruption, and not that of a definite judgment of God on Israel, like the Assyrians and Babylonians,—then the silence of the sacred record regarding this inroad of the Scythians, who (according to Herodotus) let themselves be turned away from Egypt by Psammetichus through means of presents and entreaties, is comprehensible, the question of Ezekiel 38:17 made intelligible, and the compulsory bringing back in our verse explained. As they disappeared after they had shown themselves, to people’s great surprise, so would they also have remained out of sight; but Jehovah will bring them back, according to His purpose and by His power, otherwise than they came the first time, and in a still different manner of appearing. For Kliefoth’s observation regarding nations hitherto unhistoric, more properly nations not yet come into consideration for the kingdom of God, is applicable to the matter in hand. The prophecy points, as we shall see, far beyond the immediate historic present and its nations; and a complex of nations coming thus from the far north, such as the generic name “Scythians” (for: uncultivated barbarians) suggested, after the above-mentioned inroad into Media, etc, was excellently adapted for that purpose. Moreover, what is here said in order to give due prominence to the divine direction, and above all to the higher intention and guidance: And give, etc, and bring thee forth, is accounted for in Ezekiel 38:10 sq. from the natural will of the people in these respects. Their wild ungovernableness is evident from the figurative expression: give rings in thy jaws (for which comp. Ezekiel 29:4), coming between שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ and הוֹצֵאתִי, and explaining both; even to the shambles (Ewald). The force which makes Gog return takes him from his own land.—םוּםִים וּפָרשִׁים, comp. Ezekiel 27:14. Here, at all events, horses and riders is a decidedly Scythian trait, for the richness in horses of these hordes, mostly equestrian tribes, was already known to Herodotus; while with the expression: all of them perfectly clothed (see Ezekiel 23:12), an Assyrian element is introduced, thus the figure of Gog is enlarged.—קָהָל רָב ( Ezekiel 17:17) resumes כָּל־חֵילֶךָ, in order by the description of the armour (comp. Ezekiel 23:24) to suggest doubtless the Chaldeans. Hitzig rightly considers the large shield as respecting only an army of cavalry. We may suppose infantry, but it is better to suppose a description embracing all and sundry kinds (handling swords, etc.), for the Scythians are only the nucleus (צִנָּה וּמָגֵן, loosely combined). To such a description correspond also

Ezekiel 38:5Persia ( Ezekiel 27:10), representing the far East, Cush ( Ezekiel 30:4 sq.), the remote south, and Phut ( Ezekiel 30:5; Ezekiel 27:10), the south-west; thus, especially as the farthest north is expressely added in Ezekiel 38:6, altogether (like Revelation 20:8) τα ἐθνη τα ἐν ταις τεσσαρσι γωνιαις της γης.—(Shield and helmet, as in Ezekiel 27:10.)—Gomer, Genesis 10:2 ( 1 Chronicles 1:5), the Cimmerians, already mentioned by Homer (Odyss. 11:14 sq.), dwelling at the end of the earth and Okeanos, where the entrance to the lower world Isaiah,—wretched men, enveloped in cloud, darkness, and night, and never shone upon by Helios; afterwards placed on the west coast of Lower Italy, near Cumæ, and still later supposed to be on the northern shores of the Euxine, so that the entrance into the Palus Mæotis was called the Cimmerian Bosporus; after this they were removed to the Rhipæan Mountains, into the neighbourhood of the Hyperboreans, and finally became identified with the German Cimbri and the Celtic Cymry. “The old sound of their name is still retained in the mouth of the inhabitants of Wales, who call themselves Cumri or Cymry, and their land Cymru” (Delitzsch), May not the name be derived from χειμεριοι, corresponding to the cloudy, wintry nature of their territory? (Hesychius interprets χεμμερος ἀχλυς ὁμιχλη.) See Duncker, Gesch. d. Alterth. 1. p739 sq.—On וְכָל־אֲגַפֶּיהָ, comp. on Ezekiel 12:14.—The house of Togarmah ( Ezekiel 27:14), as Knobel thinks, including the Phrygians; just as the Armenians still to this day call themselves “house of Torgom” (Torkomatsi)—on Assyrian monuments “Tarkheler,” from “Tagoma.”—A pictorial and manifestly symbolical grouping of nations.

Ezekiel 38:7 announces from the decree concerning Gog the demand made upon him. הִכֹּן, inf. abs. Niph. pro imperativo, very energetic, and the more so as imperat. Hiph. וְהָכֵן ( Ezekiel 7:14) follows: he himself is to be ready, and to make everything ready for leading out; or, the former referring to אַתָּה and the latter to וְכָל־קְהָלֶיךָ׳, recapitulated and combined by וְהָיִיתָ לָהֶם לִמִשְׁמָר, abstract for concrete, that Isaiah, he who takes care of them. [Hengst.: Thou art authority to them = they are obedient to thee. Hävern.: And thou art a law to them, as leader and commander-in-chief. Ewald: And thou servest as ensign to them. Hitzig (Sept.): And thou shalt be to Me a reserve, which I hold in readiness for the coming day ( Ezekiel 38:8), etc, or: and stand thou at My order.] Half ironical, for it will be seen immediately how the matter turns out.

Ezekiel 38:8. The time when and the direction in which this preparation and equipment shall take place. מַיָּמִים רַבִּים׳, comp. Isaiah 24:22, according to which parallel, תִּפָּקֵד seems to signify: to “visit,” and that in wrath, as the word (according to Delitzsch) does not occur in the sense of gracious visitation. Hitzig replies that it is not yet time to speak in the connection here of the infliction of punishment, and denies that פָּקַד with accus. of the person signifies to visit in a bad sense. But the ambiguous expression only says even here that the judgment upon Gog will begin to be prepared, hence it is not immediate infliction of punishment; the sallying forth from his land, to which he will be moved, is his visitation referred to in the connection—תִּפָּקֵד equivalent to שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ׳, Ezekiel 38:4. The radical signification of the word in the Hebrew is: to seek = to examine, to inspect, to survey, from which “to visit” easily follows; hardly, however, as Hitzig: “thou shalt receive command,” or as Hävern.: “thou art missed,” that Isaiah, considered as a nation that has disappeared and perished; “then, however, thou burstest forth unexpectedly with so much the more formidable forces into the land of promise.” Hävern. according to this takes בְּאַחֲרִית הַשָּׁנִים as antithetical to מִיָמִים רַבִּים, whereas the expiration of a long time is expressly supposed to be in the last time, which is the consummation not only of the kingdom of God, but of the world generally. Days and years interchange harmoniously; that which appears in the single event as many days is, for the Apocalyptic eye, which ranges over the whole, the summation for that which is still outstanding, that Isaiah, still in arrears, in years or time generally. Of the future in general, and hence of an indefinite time, nothing is accordingly said. Hengst.: the catastrophe belongs to a quite new order of things; both phrases denote the Messianic epoch. (But as to its final terminus), Revelation 20:7 sq.—That now the land comes to view is for the purpose of joining on to Ezekiel 37, as the mountains of Israel point to Ezekiel 36. What is said of the land, מְשׁוֹבֶבֶת׳ (part. p. Pil., comp. שׁוֹבַבְתִּיךָ, Ezekiel 38:4), “made to return from the sword,” that Isaiah, after war had raged over it ( Ezekiel 6:5), applies in substance to the people of the land, as also מְקֻבֶּצֶת׳ (Pu. pass.)—comp. Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 36:24; Ezekiel 37:21—shows, and still more clearly וְיָשְׁבוּ׳, as conclusion. [Hitzig: the turned away from the sword, not in the sense of: which has desisted from war, but: which expects no war, in careless security.] Keil connects עַל הָרִי׳ with חָּבוֹא Comp. Ezekiel 37:22. The closer designation of them as perpetually, that Isaiah, continuing a long time for devastation ( Ezekiel 5:14), rather connects the mountains of Israel with the people assembled upon them, who possess and inhabit them. The time referred to during which they were laid waste is to be considered as previous to what was prophesied in Ezekiel 36:37; moreover, the phrase: from many nations, does not necessarily point beyond the Babylonian exile, although the spiritual sense: that “the Son of God gathers, protects, and upholds for Himself an elect church, etc, out of the whole human race,” readily results from it. Comp. on לָבֶטַח, Ezekiel 28:26; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 34:27.

Ezekiel 38:9. וְעָלִיתָ, not a mere vox militaris ( Isaiah 7:1; comp. Revelation 20:9), but coloured by בַּשּׁוֹאָה, which signifies “subversion,” destruction, as well the state (waste, desolation), as the cause which produces it; storm, as it may also denote the moment of devastation, the crash (שָׁאָה,שׁוֹא, “to come smashing down”). The continuation of the comparison by כֶּעָנָן ( Ezekiel 30:18) makes the translation given too obvious for its needing to be interpreted, with Hengstenberg, “like ruin.” (“Gog Isaiah, as it were, desolation incarnate.”) [“The cavalry of the Tanjou frequently consisted of two or three hundred thousand men, formidable by the matchless dexterity with which they managed their bows and their horses, by their hardy patience in supporting the inclemency of the weather: unchecked by torrents or by precipices, by the deepest rivers or by the most lofty mountains, they spread themselves over the face of the country, and overthrew all who opposed them.”—Gibbon.]—But that, notwithstanding this, only the “covering” is held up to view, limits essentially the evil significance of this expedition; it is in the first instance merely threatening.

Ezekiel 38:10 completes, through means of subjective morality, the representation given theocratically in principle from the divine purpose in Ezekiel 38:4. For although a host not only so numerous, but also so tumultuous, wild, and disorderly, is a temptation, yet Gog too is put in the position with respect to the people and land of peace on the mountains of Israel, to settle down in this peace with his nations and participate in it, as the salvation from the Jews is announced to all the world, even to its remotest corners and ends. If, therefore, Gog’s impetuosity and urgency to depart from his abodes is not thence explained, then behind the thoughts of his heart we will have to assume in addition ( Revelation 20:7 sq.) σατανας and his πλανησαι τα ἐθνη, and to conceive of the relation to Ezekiel 38:4 as of that of 1 Chronicles 21:1 to 2 Samuel 24:1, and generally to direct our view to the world of nations, which has remained unreceptive, notwithstanding that the gospel has been preached in the whole world πασῃ τῃ κτισει. On the expression: on that day, comp. Ezekiel 29:21.——יַעֲלוּ illustrates וְעָלִיתָ in Ezekiel 38:9.—דְבָרִים are not: “things,” but (as and sayest, Ezekiel 38:11, immediately proves) in the first instance: words, which ascend upon the heart, after they were thoughts in the heart (and so proceed out of the heart, Mark 7:21), חָשַׁב, to settle something inwardly, to conceive in thought, to devise, especially in a bad sense, denotes the inward process which precedes and accompanies.

Ezekiel 38:11. The evil purpose is well characterized by the contrast to אֶרֶץ פְּרָזוֹת, a plain country, which has no mountain fortresses, no walled cities; whereby is intended, not so much: which lies open on all sides (Hitzig), as: which offers no incentive for conquest; comp. Esther 9:19; Zechariah 2:4. In accordance with this, בְּצוּרוֹת, in Ezekiel 36:35, is to be understood of a high secure position. The whole description, and particularly what follows, is an idyl, which, rather than matter for dogmatism, has a symbolic character, and is especially designed to bring out the guilt of Gog through his device against such peace of God. Comp. in addition, Judges 18:7; Jeremiah 49:31; Micah 5:10 sq.

Ezekiel 38:12. As such an attack is an evil device, so also is the intention of plundering. [Hengst. makes “the community of God to be depicted in its want of earthly defence or help, in this its disadvantage against the world, while God has reserved to Himself to be its defence.” It is not, however, “the perception of this defenceless state which presents the occasion for the undertaking of the enemy;” this proceeds rather from the wanton self-sufficiency of carnal power and might.] לְהָשִׁיב יָדְךָ, a fresh instance of what the heathen had done before, connects itself with the “and sayest” in Ezekiel 38:11. In מִקְנֶה (see Ges. Lex.) here, while in other passages the sense of the word is otherwise defined ( Genesis 31:18; Genesis 36:6; Genesis 34:23), the possession of flocks by the patriarchs is referred to, and the synonym קּנְיָן is to be defined in accordance therewith; comp. on Ezekiel 38:13. “Very beautifully does the Archaic expression delineate the revival of the patriarchal state, the resemblance which the future bears to the past” (Hävern.). [Hitzig: “attending to productive labour and commerce.” Ewald: “who possess land and goods.” Both translations obliterate the idyllic character of the description.] As טַבּוּר can be said of any height, curved elevation (Mount Tabor!), so it here signifies the same as το πλατος της γης ( Revelation 20:9), the symbolical elevated plateau of the earth, in contradistinction to the four corners of the earth,—a position thus of prominent centrality (see Hitzig)—“the highlands of the Spirit,” as Lange expresses it. Comp. on Ezekiel 5:5. “The designation applies so much the more closely, because the land itself lies high, and, sloping both to the east and the west, exposes a navel to view” (Hitzig). Israel’s peacefulness and significance—the Israel of the fulfilment in Christ—are meant to be counter-types to the restless and the essentially mean, to the rapacious, materialistic disposition of the Christless heathen world. שָׁלָל and בַּז show what alone Gog wants with the Lord’s people. Hävernick rightly remarks that “the inward significance” of the conflict is meant to be portrayed. “The heathen power has assembled its forces, as if about to fight with one of the greatest world-kingdoms. According to mere human opinion, and in view of such disparity of outward power, the evil appears here to march to certain victory.” Ought we not also to be able to infer from the representation given, that the community of God has at the time ceased to appear in “dominant churches,” and has also dispensed with the support of the temporal arm in the way of state churches? It looks here quite like το μικρον ποιμνιον, Luke 12:32, which possesses nothing except the εὐδοκησεν of the Father and the δουναι την βασιλειαν. Hävernick mentions in this connection the “true destination of the theocracy, as it is already set before us in the law,” and then adds: “Israel was not intended to stand out among other nations as a politically great people in the outward sense; its weapons and honour were, in direct contrast to the powers of this world, to belong to an incomparably higher sphere.” He nevertheless makes “the theocracy be an object of allurement for covetousness and plunder,” in that he makes “the new nation rich in flocks and possessions,” as already the Chaldee Paraphrast does,—an idea, however, which the text does not express, and which is not contained in עשֶֹׁה׳. In that case one could not but choose to hear in Ezekiel 38:13 the “similar interest of avarice,” the “participation in joy over such a robbing expedition;” against which Hitzig “but why are traders named, and not rather arch-enemies, like Edom and Moab?” Sheba; see Ezekiel 27:22-23. Dedan; Ezekiel 27:15; Ezekiel 27:20. The merchants of Tarshish; Ezekiel 27:21; Ezekiel 27:36; Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 27:25. First of all, traffic which crosses sea and land presents a contrast to the settled system and peaceful procedure, Ezekiel 38:11-12. Then further, those named by means of the clause: וְכָל־כְּפִירֶיהָ (Hitzig: “its,” the land of Tarshish’s, “authorities;” Keil: “the rapacious rulers of these commercial nations;” Grotius: “sea pirates”),—comp. Ezekiel 19:2-3 ( Ezekiel 32:2),—are placed alongside of the greedy and rapacious Gog. (“The magnates of Tarshish are designated as fierce lions on account of the heartless cruelty which goes hand in hand with the spirit of trade,” Hengst.) The meaning, however, is not: “where there is spoil the traders gather,” so that “the question, in the case of affirmation, implies a prospect of joyful participation” (Hengst.), for finally they figure as connoisseurs, as men skilled in robbery and plunder; and this not merely “for bringing out the evident desire of Gog’s hordes” (Keil)—for if it is “evident,” what need is there of the “bringing out”?—but rather to place an almost ironical point of interrogation after the greed and rapacity of Gog in respect to the patriarchal possessions and goods mentioned in Ezekiel 38:12; somewhat thus: what wilt thou get then? as if even for them who delight to rob and plunder for their living, the greatness of the attack bore no proportion to the smallness of the object! Moreover, what is put into their mouth is in keeping with this. In the first place, they simply take up Gog’s intention ( Ezekiel 38:12), asking in his own words, Comest thou with this intention? are thine assemblages for this? Then, however, very characteristically, the merchants, the connoisseurs, immediately speak of “silver and gold” as that above all which should reward such an expedition as Gog’s. This, however, is not mentioned in the description in Ezekiel 38:12, so that the naming again of the מִקְנֶה וְקִנְיָן looks antithetical, and this the more as the questioners conclude: to take great spoil. To take cattle and goods of that kind must recommend itself poorly to hordes which have come from such a distance.

After those skilled in pillage have given their dictum by their question, Jehovah now says, Ezekiel 38:14, that Gog will find it just as those of kindred spirit to him have already said.—Therefore, because in fact it is as those say, the prophet also shall, on God’s part, confirm it (הִנָּבֵא). The interrogatory: And say to Gog, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In that day … shalt thou not know it? is parallel to the interrogating speakers in Ezekiel 38:13 (יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ). It is Song of Solomon, and therefore will also be so when Gog shall be in a position to know it. [תֵּדעָ has been most commonly, as already by the Chaldee Paraphrast, understood of knowing through punishment. Hävernick regards at least “the whole foregoing leading forth” as that “of the truth” of which “Gog shall have living experience.” Ewald and Hitzig read תֵּעֹר (Sept.): “wilt thou set thyself in motion?”]—On that day, Ezekiel 38:10.

Eze 38:11.

Ezekiel 38:15. Although thou comest to this knowledge, nevertheless thou comest, etc, because ( Ezekiel 38:16) I make thee come according to My intention.—Comp. Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 38:9.—Riding horses, etc, comp. Ezekiel 23:6. It is related of the Scythians that they eat, drink, and sleep in the saddle. Duncker remarks on Herodotus’ expedition of the Scythians: “Only on the west shore of the Caspian Sea, only through the pass of Denbend was it possible that the numerous bands of cavalry (he supposes the Sarmatian tribes, which pressed forward towards the Caucasus, and that neighbouring hordes of the Scolots, from the Tanais (Don) to the Tyras (Dniester), joined in this movement) could take and open up for themselves the way to the south. It led into the heart of the Median territory.”— Ezekiel 26:7.

Ezekiel 38:16. Comp. Ezekiel 38:9.—בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים combining the two designations of Ezekiel 38:8.—לְמַעַן׳, the divine purpose at Ezekiel 38:4, in distinction to Gog’s purposes, Ezekiel 38:12. That which was meant to end in a plundering expedition issues in the knowledge of Jehovah; while by the expression: when I sanctify Myself on thee, Gog is exhibited as a parallel and at the same time an antithesis to Israel,—a parallel as Jehovah has sanctified Himself in judgment, an antithesis as He has sanctified Himself in mercy in His people. [“Known as the Holy One, whose honour and estate no one is permitted to touch, even in His weak protegées,” Schmieder.] Comp. Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 28:22; Ezekiel 36:23.

The vocative גּוֹג, Ezekiel 38:16, prepares for הַאַתָּה־הוּא, Ezekiel 38:17. The interrogative form is not so much intended to make a stronger affirmation, as to call special attention to the former prophetic announcement. The affirmation to the question also does not lie in the last clause of the verse (Keil), for this clause rather expresses the immediate contents of the earlier prophecy referred to,—what will come upon the community of God as end and consummation. That the prophets of Israel had already named Gog is directly excluded by the interrogation. If they mentioned names, these were rather other national forms, but behind all these there remained a point of interrogation; and for this reason, that especially accompanying all the prospects of grace for Israel, there remained in prospect a final judgment over his and God’s enemies, over the world that withstands the kingdom of God (over the heathen world). This interrogative realizes itself here in Ezekiel by this Gog. Hence it is not only difficult to point out distinct sayings of the older prophets (Ewald: Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 17:14; Hengst.: Joel 3:3 [ Joel 2:30] sq.; Isaiah 24-27, 34; Deuteronomy 32; Keil: Joel 3:2; Joel 3:11 sq.: Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 25:10 sq, Isaiah 26:21; Isaiah 30:23; Isaiah 30:25), but also superfluous to do Song of Solomon, and above all to imagine “lost” passages (Ewald). The judgment of the world shall, according to the word of the prophets of Israel, be the transforming of the Church militant into the Church triumphant. [“The predictions of the earlier prophets are in so far alluded to as the victory of the kingdom of God over the heathen world, and the judgment of the Lord on it, are announced in them. It is only thus that the reference to the prophecies accords with the other contents of the section. The special announcements regarding the invasion and overthrow of Assyria and Babylon may also be included,” Hengst.]—קַדְמֹנִים,קַדְמֹנִי, what in relation to the speaker, or some one else referred to, belongs to ancient times.—בְּיַד׳, Daniel 9:10.—בַּיָמִים הָהֵם reproduces בְּיָמִים קַדְמוֹנִים, in order to designate by the accusative of duration, שָׁנִים, “during years,” the prophecy as one “going through the whole course of the times” (Hengst.). [Others, e.g. Hävernick, take it as an asyndeton. Ewald: “who prophesied in those days of years.”]

Ezekiel 38:18, Isaiah, according to Hitzig, a quotation from the former prophecy, of which we do not see the necessity. Our verse brings to actual fulfilment what was prophesied by: that I would bring thee upon them ( Ezekiel 38:17).—On that day, more definitely: on the day of the coming of Gog, etc, upon the land of Israel, explains upon them ( Ezekiel 38:17).—Comp. moreover, Psalm 18:9; Psalm 18:16 (8, 15). בְּאַפִּי, not: “in my wrath,” but the short breathing of the nose, anthropopathically as the gesture indicative of an angry Prayer of Manasseh, or poetically, as in general also of the horse, lion, crocodile, etc. (אף, from אָנַף, i.e. to breathe through the nose, to puff, correl. נָפַשׁ,נָשַׁף, through the mouth). Comp. Ezekiel 24:8.

Ezekiel 38:19. ( Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 36:6.) Comp. Ezekiel 21:31; Ezekiel 22:21.—דִּבַּרְתִּי, prophetic perfect, not, as Hitzig, = דִּבַּרְתִּי in Ezekiel 38:17, as repetition before introducing the expression left out in Ezekiel 38:18, so that Ezekiel 38:18 continues itself with Ezekiel 38:19 b. Forced and artificial.—By דִּבַּרְתִּי,אִם־לֹא becomes an oath: surely. The “shaking” is not merely a shaking of the earth, because the land of Israel is immediately mentioned. For this reference is made obvious by the locality of the judgment, and besides, רַעַשׁ takes place over (עַל) the ground and soil of Israel, just as Hupf. on Psalm 18 directs attention to the shaking of the earth by thunder, and the violence of Eastern tempests. What is meant by רַעַשׁ is explained in Ezekiel 38:20; and at the same time the “greatness” of the shaking: וְרָעֲשׁוּ מִפָּנַי׳. That the mountains, etc, are thrown down ( Ezekiel 30:4), is only one element in the whole, which, as a whole, is described as a cosmic catastrophe, sympathized in by every κτισις (comp. Zephaniah 1:3; Jeremiah 4:25; Genesis 7:21), like a world’s overthrow. הַמַּדְרֵגוֹת, according to Gesenius, particularly: “stair-like rocks” (like κλιμαξ), from דָּרַג, from which Miter deduces the signification: rift, fissure. Proceeding from the Arabic, מַדְרֵגָה might denote something to be ascended, a height.—Every wall that is to fall includes natural walls, as well as those made by man.

Ezekiel 38:21. עָלָיו, because the judgment of the fury and jealousy of Jehovah is aimed at Gog and his bands.—The sword, thus his own weapon ( Ezekiel 38:4 לְכָל, etc, Hitzig distributive: on all, sq.; Keil: towards all, sq, indicating the direction. This, which is certainly not “forced into the connection” (Hitzig), is explained from Ezekiel 38:9 (16) from the cloud covering the land. Gog’s bands are in all directions, therefore also the sword is in all directions ( Ezekiel 39:4).—My mountains, the Lord says, casting a glance at His people there ( Ezekiel 38:8). [Hitzig grounds it on Zechariah 14:4 sq. (?).] For what purpose the sword is called for is indeed self-evident; but here one assails the other therewith in discord (contrast to the assembling at first, Ezekiel 38:7), probably as usual at the dividing of the booty made. Comp. Zechariah 14:13. Previous types, Judges 7:22; 2 Chronicles 20:23. In the first instance Jehovah merely “calls.”

Ezekiel 38:22. He grasps it still more personally as a judge: נִשְׁפַּטְתִּי, Ezekiel 17:20. The colouring for the farther description reminds us of the plagues of Egypt, whence Hengstenberg makes them be “partly taken, and from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah,” Genesis 19:24. Comp. also Ezekiel 28:23, and on Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 13:13 ( Joshua 10:11). Ezekiel 38:23 proves that it is an intervention of Jehovah Himself, His fighting for His people, who are small compared with the greatness of Gog ( Ezekiel 38:15).—הִתְגִּדִּלְתִּי is to be understood from the contrast to the greatness of Gog. Comp. on Ezekiel 36:23. On הִתְקַדִּשְׁתִּי, comp. on Ezekiel 38:16.—נוֹדעַתּי, comp. Ezekiel 35:11 ( Ezekiel 39:7; Ezekiel 20:5; Ezekiel 20:9).—The many heathen nations, corresponding antithetically to the repeatedly-mentioned “many nations” (according to Ezekiel 38:22).—Comp. Ezekiel 38:16.

Additional Note on Ezekiel 38, 39

[Ezekiel’s object in the chapters before us was, “through the Spirit, to present a picture of what might be expected in the last scenes of the world’s history; and according to the native bent and constitution of his mind, the picture must be lifelike. Not only must it be formed of the materials of existing relations, but it must be formed into a perspective with manifold and intricate details; yet so constructed and arranged, that while nothing but the most superficial eye could look for a literal realization, the great truths and prospects embodied in it should be patent to the view of all. What, then, are these? Let it be remembered at what point it is in Ezekiel’s prospective exhibitions that this prophecy is brought in. He has already represented the covenant-people as recovered from all their existing troubles, and made victorious over all their surrounding enemies. The best in the past has again revived in their experience, freed even from its former imperfections, and secured against its ever-recurring evils. For the new David, the all-perfect and continually-abiding Shepherd, presides over them, and at once prevents the out-breaking of internal disorders, and shields them from the attacks of hostile neighbours. All around, therefore, is peace and quietness; the old enemies vanish from the field; Israel dwells securely in his habitation. But let it not be supposed that the conflict is over, and that the victory is finally won. It is a world-wide dominion which this David is destined to wield, and the kingdom of righteousness and peace established at the centre must expand and grow till it embrace the entire circumference of the globe. But will Satan yield his empire without a struggle? Will he not rather, when he sees the kingdom of God taking firmer root and rising to a higher elevation, seek to effect its dismemberment or its downfall, by stirring up in hostile array against it the multitudinous and gigantic forces that lie scattered in the extremities of the earth? Assuredly he will do so; and God also will direct events into this channel, in order to break effectually the power of the adversary, and secure the diffusion of Jehovah’s truth and the glory of His name to the remotest regions. A conflict, therefore, must ensue between the embattled forces of heathenism, gathered out of their far-distant territories, and the nation that holds the truth of God. But the issue is certain. For God’s people being now holiness to Him, He cannot but fight with them and give success to their endeavours. So that the arm of heathenism shall be completely broken. Its mightiest efforts only end in the more signal display of its own weakness, as compared with the truth and cause of God; and the name of God as the Holy One of Israel is magnified and feared to the utmost bounds of the earth.

“Such is the general course and issue of things as marked out in this prophecy, under the form and aspect of what belonged to the Old Covenant, and its relation to the world as then existing. But stripping the vision of this merely temporary and imperfect exterior, since now the higher objects and relations of the New Covenant have come, we find in the prophecy the following series of important and salutary truths1. In the first place, while the appearance of the new David to take the rule and presidency over God’s heritage would have the effect of setting His people free from the old troubles and dangers which had hitherto assailed them, and laying sure and broad the foundations of their peace, it should be very far from securing them against all future conflicts with evil. It would rather tend to call up other adversaries, and enlarge the field of conflict, so as to make it embrace the most distant and barbarous regions of the earth. For the whole earth is Christ’s heritage, and sooner or later it must come to an issue between the adherents of His cause and the children of error and corruption. Though the latter might have no thought of interfering with the affairs of Christ’s kingdom, and would rather wish to pursue their own courses undisturbed (see on Ezekiel 38:4), yet the Lord will not permit them to do so. He must bring the light of heaven into contact with their darkness; so as to necessitate a trial of strength between the powers of evil working in them, and the truth and grace of God as displayed in the kingdom of Christ2. From the very nature of the case, this trial would fall to be made on a very large scale, and with most gigantic resources; for the battlefield now is the world to its farthest extremities, and the question to be practically determined Isaiah, whether God’s truth or man’s sin is to have possession of the field. So that all preceding contests should appear small, and vanish out of sight, in comparison of this last great struggle, in which the world’s destiny was to be decided for good or evil. Hence it seemed, in the distance, as if not thousands, as formerly, but myriads upon myriads, numbers without number, were to stand here in battle array3. Though the odds in this conflict could not but appear beforehand very great against the people and cause of Christ, yet the result should be entirely on their side; and simply because with them is the truth and the might of Jehovah. Had it been only carnal resources that were to be brought into play on either side, victory must inevitably have been with those whose numbers were so overwhelmingly great. But these being only flesh, and not spirit; they must fall before the omnipotent energy of the living God, who can make His people more than conquerors over all that is against them. And so in this mighty conflict, in which all that the powers of darkness could muster from the world was to stand, as it were, front to front with the people of God, there were to be found remaining only, on the part of the adversaries, the signs of defeat and ruin4. Lastly, as all originated in the claim of Messiah and His truth to the entire possession of the world, so the whole is represented as ending in the complete establishment of the claim. The kingdom through every region of the earth becomes the Lord’s. He is now universally known and sanctified as the God of truth and holiness. It is understood at last, that it was His zeal for the interests of righteousness which led Him to chastise in former times His own professing people; and that the same now has induced Him to render them triumphant over every form and agency of evil. And now, all counter rule and authority being put down, all disturbing elements finally hushed to rest, the prospect stretches out before the Church of eternal peace and blessedness, in what have at length become the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

“It may still, perhaps, seem strange to some, if this be the real meaning and import of the vision, that the prophet should have presented it under the aspect of a single individual gathering immense forces from particular regions, and at the head of these fighting in single conflict, and falling on the land of Israel. They may feel it difficult to believe that a form so concrete and fully developed should have been adopted, if nothing more local and specific had been intended. But let such persons look back to other portions of this book, especially to what is written of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. (which in form, perhaps, most nearly resembles the prophecy before us), and judge from the shape and aspect there given to the past, whether it is not in perfect accordance with the ascertained characteristics of Ezekiel’s style to find him giving here such a detailed and fleshly appearance to the future. There Tyre is not only viewed as personified in her political head, but that head is represented as passing through all the experiences of the best and highest of humanity. It Isaiah, as we showed, a historical parable, in which every feature is admirably chosen, and pregnant with meaning, but all of an ideal and not a literal or prosaic kind. And what is the present vision, as now explained, but a prophetical parable, in which, again, every trait in the delineation is full of important meaning, only couched in the language of a symbolical representation? Surely we must concede to the prophet, what we would never think of withholding from a mere literary author, that he has a right to employ his own method; and that the surest way of ascertaining this is to compare one part of his writings with another, so as to make the better known reflect light upon the less known—the delineations of the past upon the visions of the future.

“At the same time, let us not be understood as declaring for certain that the delineation in this prophecy must have nothing to do with any particular crisis or decisive moment in the Church’s history. It is perfectly possible that in this case, as in most others, there may be a culminating point, at which the spiritual controversy is to rise to a gigantic magnitude, and virtually range on either side all that is good and all that is evil in the world. It may be so; I see nothing against such a supposition in the nature of the prophecy; but I must add, I see nothing conclusively for it. For when we look back to the other prophecy just referred to, we find the work of judgment represented as taking effect upon Tyre, precisely as if it were one individual that was concerned, and one brief period of his history; while still we know blow after blow was required, and even age after age, to carry forward and consummate the process. Perfectly similar, too, was the case of Babylon, as described in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Isaiah; it seems as if almost one act were to do the whole, yet how many instruments had a hand in it, and over how many centuries was the work of destruction spread! We see no necessity in the form of the representation, or in the nature of things, why it should be otherwise here; none, at least, why a different mode of reaching the result should be expected as certain. We believe that as the judgment of Tyre began when the first breach was made in the walls by Nebuchadnezzar, and as the judgment of Babylon began when the Medes and Persians entered her two-leaved gates, so the controversy with Gog and his heathenish forces has been proceeding since Christ, the new David, came to lay the everlasting foundations of His kingdom, and asserted His claim to the dominion of the earth as His purchased possession. Every stroke that has been dealt since against the idolatry and corruption of the world is a part of that great conflict which the prophet in vision saw collected as into a single locality, and accomplished in a moment of time. He would thus more clearly assure us of the certainty of the result. And though, from the vast extent of the field, and the many imperfections that still cleave to the Church, there may be much delay and many partial reverses experienced in the process; though there may, too, at particular times, be more desperate struggles than usual between the powers of evil in the world and the confessors of the truth, when the controversy assumes a gigantic aspect, yet the prophecy is at all times proceeding onwards in its accomplishment. Let the Church therefore do her part, and be faithful to her calling. Let her grasp with a firm hand the banner of truth, and in all lands display it in the name of her risen Lord. And whichever way He may choose to finish and consummate the process,—whether by giving fresh impulses to the hearts of His people, and more signally blessing the work of their hands, or by shining forth in visible manifestations of His power and glory, such as may at once and for ever shame into confusion the adversaries of His cause and kingdom,—leaving this to Himself, to whom it properly belongs, let the blessed hope of a triumphant issue animate every Christian bosom, and nerve every Christian arm to maintain the conflict, and do all that zeal and love can accomplish to hasten forward the final result.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp425–430.—W. F.]

DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS

1. With our two chapters the prophecy of Ezekiel passes over to the apocalyptic (comp. Introd. pp19, 20. Comp. in general what is said by Lange in the introduction to the Revelation of St. John, p 2 sq.). Characteristic apocalyptic features as to form and contents are perceptible, just as the very circumstance that the New Testament Apocalypse begins with the transition of Ezekiel 37 to Ezekiel 38, to borrow important (eschatological) elements for its closing visions, must suggest something apocalyptic. The prophetic element, the element of doctrine and of application, still pervades Ezekiel 38, 39, but this element will subside, Ezekiel 40 sq.; and our chapters, too, present to us and delineate a tableau of unity,—the impressive picture of a national expedition, a migration of nations, a battle of nations, and still more of God. Although contained in the word of prophecy (“Thus saith the Lord”), yet the description of the march of the army ( Ezekiel 38.), and of its fearful over-throw in Israel ( Ezekiel 39), assumes, as elsewhere, the appearance of a vision. Scene succeeds scene. The style is typical to such a degree, that what of historical from the past or present may here form the basis, assumes at once the form of pure symbols, whose idea stretches far beyond the Old Testament theocracy, and on to the end of time. The consummation of Israel shows itself as the consummation of the world. The contrast of the world to Israel is in our chapters not so much the traditional one of the heathen as opposed to the people of God, as coarse callousness, resembling insensibility, in relation to the peace in which the royal priesthood, the people of the possession of an eternal covenant of Jehovah ( Ezekiel 37:26), delight themselves. Compare the impressions and utterances of Balaam in Numbers 23:9-10, so very different from Ezekiel 38:11 sq.! On the other hand, the impelling force to the savage irruption into the quietness of such a people in the land is appropriately conceived, viz. on the one part, as divine compulsion of the Judge overruling to the end in view, it is high as heaven (but comp. Ezekiel 38:4 with Ezekiel 38:10 sq.); on the other part, as demoniac selfishness and worldly-mindedness, it is deep as hell. Considering the apocalyptic character of our two chapters, with which the remainder of the book of Ezekiel announces itself, the suddenness of Gog’s appearance on the scene and also of his overthrow is worthy of observation, reminding us of the ἐν ταχει ( Luke 18:8), and of the oft-repeated ταχυ of the Revelation of St. John, and also of the final completeness of the judgment and its execution.

2. Hengstenberg has very justly observed: “We have here a good preparation for the exposition of the vision of the new temple.” But what he pronounces a specialty of Ezekiel,—how “wide a space” is given by him to “painting,” how “attentive” he is “to fill the imagination with holy figures,”—depends rather on the apocalyptic character of the prophecy regarding Gog. Moreover, to confront the imagination of timidity with the imagination of faith, to pour forth light and comfort in opposition to thoughts despairing of the future, is precisely a mark of all apocalypse proper. Lange says beautifully and strikingly of apocalypses in this respect: “As they have proceeded from the divine quieting and comforting of a longing of the hearts of elect prophets, which flamed aloft in times of great oppression of the kingdom of God, so they are also designed to direct and guide, to comfort and calm, in the first place, the servants of God, and through them the Church, in times of similar and fresh oppression in the future—nay, even to change for them all tokens of terror into tokens of hope and promise.”

3. In Hengstenberg’s interpretation, at all events, not only does the “ Song of Solomon -called biblical realism” entirely disappear, to which, as he says, it so often happens to take the garb for the Prayer of Manasseh, but, as the exposition has already incidentally indicated, the nations named in Ezekiel 38 although in themselves historical, appear in the connection here as elements of an idea which is summed up in the symbolic Gog of the land of Magog, namely, as the last outbreak of enmity against the kingdom of God. This symbolized idea is at all events also historical—nay, even world-historical in the highest sense, or pertaining to the universal judgment. The world’s history is theocratically determined by it, determined by the kingdom of God finally developing itself into the consummation of humanity and the world. But Magog, Gomer, Meshech, Tubal, Sheba, Dedan, and Phut are as such no longer historically to be found. Of Cush Hengstenberg asserts: that it is “a Christian people, and such a one as, according to recent experience, will scarcely again attain to world-wide influence.”

4. As Grotius and others, e.g. Jahn (Introd2), interpret of the days of the Maccabees and Antiochus Epiphanes, so Luther found in our chapters the Turk, who, even in the hymns and prayers of the Church, was for a long time firmly held to be, together with the Pope, the chief enemy of German Christianity. While individual Jewish expositors apply what is said sometimes to Rome, and sometimes interpret it of the Crusades, yet we find also in Shabb118:1; Berach. Ezekiel 7:2; the Jerusalem Targum on Numbers 11:25; Deuteronomy 34:2, Gog shifted into the times previous to the Messiah, and the battle, in which the Messiah annihilates Gog, discoursed of. Likewise, in reference to the Messianic kingdom, the Sibylline books speak of Gog and Magog, placing him in the farthest south of Egypt (see Hävernick, p602). In the notices which the Koran makes of Dzu-Ikarnayn, i.e. Alexander the Great and his adventurous warlike expeditions (Sur. 18,21), Yagug and Magug are designated as mischief-makers on earth, and enclosed by an iron wall; which, however, will be at last turned to dust, whereupon Gog and Magog break forth, and the universal judgment ensues. (Sprenger: Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad, ii. p 474 sq.) “The fear of these northern nations,” says W. Menzel, “is very ancient, and has been justified by the Scythian, and afterwards by the Hunnish-Mongolian warlike expeditions, which have already often overrun both Europe and Asia; and this Oriental popular tradition coincides (?) with the widespread German tradition of the armies of Charlemagne or Barbarossa sleeping in the mountain, which will burst forth at the end of the world, and conquer a new golden age.”

5. Hävernick adduces the following reasons for the interpretation of the time as the time of the completion of the kingdom of God. (1) The names, which do not so much indicate single nations then existing, as that we have to do with a “view of future new relations only starting from the present.” “Whatever far remote, more or less known, national names can be named, the prophet collects here; and specially important is the free formation of the name Gog.” (2) The connection with Ezekiel 36, 37 represents the way prepared for the glorification and completion of the theocracy; the judgment over Edom ( Ezekiel 35) is regarded as having taken place, in which old hereditary enemy, the enemies hitherto of the covenant-people appear judged in their immediate neighbourhood. It still remains, however, “to marshal the entire (?) world-power in its sinful insurrection against God (?), and thus to perfect the salvation,” just as this idea lies at the foundation of the fourth, the Roman empire, prophesied by Daniel, the contemporary of Ezekiel (Euseb. Demonstr. Ev. Ezekiel 9:3). (3) The prophetic denunciation of heathen nations always regards them as representatives and supporters of definite ideas,—in Edom the hitherto antitheocratic tendency, in our prophecy the idea of future enmity as experienced by Israel in the completion of its salvation. (4) The fulfilment Isaiah, in Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:16, expressly placed in the latter days. (5) The announcements of former prophets, referred to in Ezekiel 38:17, point to the judgment of the last day, just as also the prophet’s picture is made to conform with those models. (6) Lastly, the resumption of the subject in Revelation 20.—It tells particularly for the apocalyptic character of the representation given by Gog, that it is pervaded not only by reminiscences of Assyrians and Chaldeans—of Edom only locally, indeed (“on the mountains of Israel,” comp. on this point Ezekiel 35. with Ezekiel 36.)—but also by presentiments of much later heathen powers. For it is quite in the apocalyptic way and manner always to present to us types stamped anew from history as it gravitates towards the end of the world.

6. In the Introduction, p19, the importance of Ezekiel’s position in the midst of the Babylonian world, and with that his acquaintance with foreign nations and their relations, have been adverted to. In Babylon, if anywhere, there was a standing-place for surveying the rolling waves of the sea of nations. The prediction regarding Gog, peculiar to our prophet, will have to be conceived of as to its human side from his peculiar abode on such a watch-tower in the midst of the heathen-. Philippson justly observes: “We must remember that Ezekiel was placed in the midst of the inner-Asiatic world, and hence had opportunity of observing the great movements therein. Here, in the bosom of the national movements of Asia, it must have been clear to the prophet that these movements were far from having reached their end, that the dynasties would still change often, and that these concussions could not fail to affect also the countries on the Mediterranean.” At all events, although our prophecy is not the result of the incidental observations, the far-sighted political reflections, etc, of a gifted Prayer of Manasseh, yet, as the magnificent architecture of Nebuchadnezzar might furnish Ezekiel with views for Ezekiel 40. sq, so the fluctuating sea of nations, which he saw and heard of in Babylonia, may perhaps have furnished him with the colours in which he paints the figure of Gog and his bands.

7. Our prophecy has been explained from the very natural question after Ezekiel 37.—will this peace of Israel continue always undisturbed? will the relations of the rest of the world take such a shape that Israel can remain in peace? So Philippson. “The dogmatic idea of the prophecy,” says Hengstenberg, “is very simple: the community of God, renewed by His grace, will victoriously resist all the assaults of the world. This idea the prophet has here clothed with flesh and blood,” etc. The prophecy, then, is more or less a parable. We come back to this. “The starting-point,” continues Hengstenberg, “is the fear which penetrates the sick heart. What avails it, is the question that met the prophet, even if we recover, according to thy announcement, from the present catastrophe? The predominance of the heathen still remains. Soon shall we sink under another attack into permanent ruin. Against such desponding thoughts the prophet here offers comfort. He unites all the battles which the restored community has in future still to endure into one great battle, and makes this be decided by one glorious victory of the Lord and His people.” The latter is as arbitrary as what has been said regarding the idea of the prophecy is general and superficial. Hävernick, connecting with Ezekiel 37, says: “How powerful that protection is which the Lord accords to the new glorified theocracy, is shown by its new relation to the heathen world and its power. The holy people are truly an unassailable, inviolable possession of their God. As such, Israel in its glory is the grandest, the most thorough victory over the heathen world. Hence the future of Israel stands in the most striking contrast to its present. While heathendom is now an instrument in the hand of Jehovah for the chastisement and purification of Israel, then comes the time when Israel’s destiny is fulfilled, namely, to execute the final judgment on heathendom. In it is then revealed the completion of the victory of the kingdom of God over the heathen world-power.” However much of what has been said is right and proper, yet the reason assigned by Hävernick for “this fundamental idea” is not quite satisfactory as he puts it, namely, that “God Himself occasions the battle (the last rallying of the power of heathendom to annihilate the king of God), that His judgment may in it be revealed.” God, however, will judge only that which, whether in self-righteousness (Pharisaism), or in worldliness (Sadducism), has, by the rejection of His counsel of salvation in Christ, shown itself ripe for judgment. In. connection with this subjective ripeness for judgment, we are reminded of the deceiving by Satan, Revelation 20. World, or heathendom without further qualification, is not the idea of this so individual prophecy regarding Gog. Lange is entirely in the right when he doubts (Pos. Dogm. p1280) whether Gog and Magog represent generally all the future enemies of the kingdom of God; and he gives the hint to the understanding of the chapters before us when he declares: “We must, however, think chiefly of the obscure residue of nations which has not come under the full operation of the kingdom of Christ, of barbarous and haughty tribes.”

[On the whole of this 7 th section, compare the above Additional Note at the close of the Exegetical Remarks.—W. F.]

8. For the explanation of the prophecy before us we have not to search after questions of this or that kind put by Israel, which the prophet was bound to answer, as, indeed, nothing like this is intimated in the text (comp. in opposition on Ezekiel 37); but Jehovah, in Ezekiel 38, 39, simply sets the end clearly and truly before His people, at that time in Israel, and in this sense we have here ἀποκαλυψις before us. If we want an inscription on the double picture in Ezekiel,, Ezekiel 38, 39, there is no more appropriate one than the saying of Christ in Matthew 16:18 : και πυλαι ἁδου οὐ κατισχυσουσιν αὐτης—a saying not understood in its apocalyptic significance. If we have to understand Ezekiel 37 in Christ, how much more free from doubt will the proper understanding be when the subject is again referred to in such a manner at the end of Ezekiel 39 And so Gog, etc. cannot mean heathenism, or heathenism in the last effects which it may produce, but must mean the obdurate world as opposed to Christianity, the world which has remained farthest away from the spirit and frame of Christianity as we find it described in Ezekiel; the most remote north as opposed to the central in this world ( Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 38:15; comp. on Ezekiel 39:12). That which has been maintained regarding the final stiffening down of our planet into ice, has its apocalyptic truth rather in respect of the definitive position of the human heart to Christianity, as possibly our Lord also intimates when He says, Matthew 24:12 : δια το πληθυνθηναι την ἀνομιαν ψυγησεται ἀγαπη των πολλων. To a finally developed egoism and worldliness, to a materialism ripe for judgment which can no longer think of anything except plunder and robbery, the μαμωνας της ἀδιχιας, as opposed to the ideal powers which go to make up Christianity (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Romans 14:17), the community of God, the Lord’s people, appear—and this Ezekiel plainly pictures out (comp. Ezekiel 38:12 with Ezekiel 39:11)—in its meaning and essence a high-flown ideal, which men, after having at least ceased to persecute it, partly because they purely ignore it, and partly because they expect with scientific certitude its collapse, its death, after the manner of the old heathen religions (the πυλαι ἁδου), will have to take down from its height and simply crush with force. This, according to Ezekiel 38, is the position of the world in the time of Gog. If the “millennial kingdom” is to approximate to the picture with which Ezekiel 37. closes, the conception of it will necessarily be very different from what the imagination of many apocalypticists, still adhering to the old Jewish sensuous tradition, dreams it to be. But even in the locus classicus of the millennium, Revelation 20, the putting of Satan in chains is mentioned as the main point for the symbolical thousand years. The binding of him is the necessary preliminary of the millennial kingdom. If he is not to deceive the nations during this time, but after this does so again, then it is clear, even from that to which he afterwards deceives them, that his confinement is above all the cessation of war with violence, of violent combating of the community of God, just as also the immediately following vision of the witnesses unto blood ( Revelation 20:4) seems particularly to point in the same direction. Regarding the “fair reality of the kingdom in its glorious manifestation,” the ἐζησαν, certainly distinct from the ἀνεζησαν ( Ezekiel 39:5), only tells us forcibly thus much in relation to a certain number, that they, given over, indeed, to death by the world, are in reality alive (comp. also John 11:25 sq. with Revelation 20:6); the “thrones,” however, and the “judgment,” already express virtually the “reigning as kings,” which is only more exactly defined by the expression: “with Christ,” and that as a reigning in heaven without any express reference to earth, to which the only reference mentioned is the binding of Satan. But this heavenly vision ( Ezekiel 39:4 sq.) is assuredly meant for comfort, as is the certainty of final victory (comp. moreover, μικρον χρονον, Ezekiel 39:3), when Gog and Magog ( Revelation 20:8) march to battle upon the centre of the earth ( Ezekiel 39:9).

9. The misconceptions of the traditional exegesis in respect of the chapters before us, and the corresponding passages in the Revelation of John, thus relate on the one hand to the appearance of Gog, and on the other to the position and state of the true Israel, the Church of Christ, in the last days. With respect to the latter, we have remarked on the idyllic picture in Ezekiel 38.; comp. also the exposition. Revelation 20:9, by means of το πλατος της γης ( Ezekiel 38:12) belonging here, points with παρεμβολη των ἁγιων and πολις ἠγαπημενη rather to Ezekiel 40-48 (at least more to them than to Zechariah 12:7-8), if these two Old Testament theocratic designations of Israel are not meant simply to denote the Church, the people of God, without any special reference. Yet, considering the reciprocal action between the unseen world and the seen, especially in the last days, when the transformation of the world is at hand and everything is prepared for it, any reflex whatever of the Church triumphant in heaven will unquestionably affect its earthly compeer, the Church on earth, during the thousand years. If it holds true for this time also that ἡμων γαρ το πολιτευμα ἐν οὐρανοις ὑπαρχει, ἐζ οὑ sq, according to Philippians 3:20 sq, then something corresponding in the Church on earth of the last days must run parallel to the life, the enthronement, the reigning with Christ of them who have overcome,—a “time of great peace and festivity,” as Lange expresses it, an ideality of life, shining so much the more brightly as the rest of mankind are under the sway of materialism, have become the slaves of enjoyment, and serve Mammon; and if the judgment on the world will be realized in presence of the latter-day community, yet on the other hand a time of final, and perhaps “most successful activity” previous to that may be reckoned upon; comp. in our prophet Ezekiel 37:28; Ezekiel 36:36. As the Chaldean world-power of Ezekiel’s time, with its “many nations” (עַמִּים), out of which, in the first place, Israel is gathered, Ezekiel 38-39 ( Ezekiel 39:12, גּוֹיִם), is reproduced as Βαβυλων ( Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2), so also, as in Ezekiel from the passages cited, not only will “many nations” ( Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 38:23) besides Gog and Magog have to be supposed in the Revelation of John, but the binding also of Satan, “that he should deceive the nations no more” ( Revelation 20:3), suggests the operation of the community of God upon them to bring them to the knowledge of Him. Nay, since Gog, brought up by Jehovah, like Balaam formerly, is in a position to view the people of peace assembled and encamped upon their hills—this view, which can scarcely entice a nation supposed to be rude and barbarous but still simple, may symbolize to us a virtual mission, the latest missionary activity which the community of God on earth, as such, puts forth; so that, alongside of the temptation which leads to being deceived by Satan through the besetting sin of Gog ( Ezekiel 38:10 sq.), who is perfectly conscious of what his heart purposes and expresses in Ezekiel 39:11-12, we not only hear the ironical incitements of Ezekiel 39:13, but above all the aspect of the community of God, virtually giving testimony everywhere of salvation and peace upon this earth, as it lives securely solely by faith in its King, without worldly protection or power, is to be looked upon as a last dispensation and expression of God’s long-suffering and grace in relation to Gog, which he in his ripeness for judgment despises (comp. the exposition). That Gog’s purpose and expedition are to be aimed directly against God is a feature at least foreign to Gog as drawn by Ezekiel, and has to be inferred even in Revelation 20:9; for the final attack is rather directly against the people of the Lord, and only indirectly against Himself, who, however, manifests Himself from heaven in behalf of His people.

10. Although the Reformation regained the knowledge of the truth, both as respects the supreme authority, the word of God, and the foundation laid, namely, Christ, yet church life as church life was not reformed, but only the Cæsar Pope succeeded to the Pope Pope. The episcopal power was given over to the hands of the State, and thereby the Church only sank into a new servitude, which was a purely secular one. This may well be called the “Babylonish captivity” of the community of God. Pietism, however much it emphasized life in opposition to creed, furnished the theory for this, since its method is solely to influence and form the individual. Thus the Reformation made no breach with Byzantinism—it may be said that that was not the antithesis of the Reformers; but they left it possible for the State also to become evangelical. As since the Reformation—i.e., the attempt of ecclesiastical reconstruction upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, in which Christ is the corner-stone—the modern sovereign-powers have come forward politically, as Ranke says, so since then, under the title of the gospel, a State-churchism has been more and more developed, which, when compared with the fundamental declaration of Christ regarding His kingdom ( John 18:36), is no less a caricature of the holy than is the Church-state. If the whore become wife ( Revelation 17.), who formerly rode upon the beast, is finally to be destroyed by the beast, perhaps we are near to this point of time. The complete apocalyptic history of Antichristianism, however ( Revelation 13.), sets also in prospect the case that the spirit of a fallen Christianity, the false prophet, can be active, in the service of the political world-power, to bring about something of the form of a universal world-church, with legally social exclusiveness. The judgment of Antichristianism, as of pseudo-Christianity ( Revelation 19:17 sq.), appears in relation to their adherents as a spiritual, moral destruction, namely, by the sword of Him who sits upon the white horse, and which goes out from His mouth; so that the Antichristian world, slain as with a sword by the word of Christ, which should have rescued them to life, now affords room for the enjoyment of peace and dominion to the quiet community of the latter days. If the description of the closing battle against Christ in the Apocalypse of John, borrowed from Ezekiel 39. sq, consciously conforms itself to the description given there, that will intimate that it has an affinity with Gog’s final war against the Christian Church, that what begins with the Head has to be completed with the members, but that the victory of the King with His army contains in it the assurance of victory for His people to the end. But does not the very fact that rude force like that of Gog and his bands will bring about the conclusion of the development of Christian salvation for this world, also imply the corresponding recompense for the being sunk in materialism, in the common mock-reality of earthly things? And how, then, accordingly do the first heavens and the first earth pass away? It may farther be worth observing, for the social form of the world during the time previous to Gog’s making his appearance, that after the judgment in Revelation 19:17 sq. no “kings of the earth” figure any more, that the Revelation of John significantly renews “Gog and Magog” solely as national titles. The “social democracy” threatened for the future discuss only materialistic themes, just as the science destitute of philosophy labours in a similar sphere. But the victory of Christianity, the absolutely religious truth, will always be on this earth only a spiritual victory. The victory that overcame the world is our faith, 1 John 5:4. Comp. besides, John 18:36, which is called, in 1 Timothy 6:13, the χαλη ὁμολογια της πιστεως ( Ezekiel 39:12). The idea of a preliminary transformation of the world, even when put into a more real shape, as a mediating transition-period, conformable to the laws of life and to the development of life, remains, however, affected with a certain show, a mere display, the necessity of which is so much the more difficult to see, as Gog, notwithstanding, again comes up over it; and it would be much more in accordance with the moralo-theocratic law of the ripening of mankind for final judgment, that this ripening for judgment should fill up its measure on the quiet community of God, which presents in opposition to the materialistic world and its spirit of the times nothing but its unique ideality in Christ and with Christ—this indeed in a purity and sanctity unsullied by any secularity and worldliness. Comp. Ezekiel 36:38; Ezekiel 37:28, and the burying of Gog’s dead recorded afterwards, Ezekiel 39, in a way that tells for such a character. The church-idyl of Ezekiel in the chapters before us may be compared with the apostolic church of primitive Christianity. The first period and the last, when thus laid together, form a circle.

11. “Neither as to letter or spirit was this prophecy fulfilled under the Old Covenant, and, moreover, many single passages of it are incapable of being understood in the literal sense. For example, when at the end of Ezekiel 39. the Israelites are to be brought back from the lands of their enemies without a single one of them remaining behind, and that God poured out His Spirit on the house of Israel. As the kingdom promised in Ezekiel 36. is in this world, indeed, but not of this world, so the resurrection of the dead in Ezekiel 37. places itself under the saying of Christ, John 5:25,” etc. (Cocceius).

12. “The enemies of the Old Covenant were curbed; and those of the New, who will once more rise up against the kingdom of the Messiah, are, to the terror of the world, overthrown on the day of judgment, and the New Covenant solemnizes its final victory” (Umbreit).

13. The appearance of Gog shall be liable to no contingency, and its necessity for the consummation of things is apparent, Ezekiel 38:4; Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 38:16, etc. That even evil intent only serves the cause of God’s kingdom is a fundamental view of Holy Scripture.

14. From the symbolical style and character which pervades the chapters before us, a geographical inquiry respecting the burial-place of Gog ( Ezekiel 39.) will be of little use. All the more, however, may such thoughts suggest themselves as the contrast generally of the low ground, where Gog’s lofty purpose makes a grave for himself, with his going up on the mountains of Israel, and then also the contrast of these heights with their security and his grave, which secures against him, confines him. Gog’s grave in Israel, lying east of the sea, makes significant allusion to the sea, the apocalyptic term for the birthplace and cradle of the heathen nations; who, moreover, ought not to have found downfall and destruction in Israel, but, on the contrary, sunrise, to which they are described as coming virtually out of darkness and the shadow of death, from the farthest north. That Gog finds his grave in Israel is so much the more striking as Israel himself comes out of his grave in Ezekiel 37.

15. But still more significant is the closing verse of Ezekiel 39, which refers back to Ezekiel 37, 36. What Israel is to be or to signify according to his idea, he becomes only through divine sanctification in the Spirit, whose final and full impartation, in contradistinction to all occasional and partial givings, is made plain, as pouring out upon the house of Israel. “As the outpouring of the Spirit, according to the earlier announcements of the prophet himself and his predecessors, bears an essentially Messianic character, and is connected with the coming of the Good Shepherd of David’s line, on whom ( Isaiah 11:1) the whole fulness of the Spirit rests” (Hengst.), so the predictions of the chapters before us point to the course in the world of the Christian Church, which was founded by the outpouring of the Divine Spirit, and may live in the certainty that not one soul destined to be gathered into it shall remain behind in the world, as its faith, its confession, is to rely with confidence on a grace which is eternal.

HOMILETIC HINTS

On Ch38

Ezekiel 38:1 sq. “The prophet evidently speaks of the last times. A good part of his sayings are riddles, which the fulfilment alone must solve and explain” (Berl. Bib.).—“The enemies of the Church are great, strong, and many; but however great their strength may be, it can effect nothing against the community of the Lord, for the Lord is its protection, 2 Chronicles 32:7-8” (Tüb. Bib.).—“The Christian Church never remains unmolested, but is always persecuted by internal and external enemies, or otherwise plagued with crosses, tribulations, and adversities of all kinds, 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Corinthians 11:19” (W.).—“The adversity which befalls the Church of God does not befall her accidentally, but according to the divine counsel and will, Revelation 2:9-10” (Starke).—“Gog is so briefly mentioned in Revelation 20. according to the economy of Holy Scripture, because here so fully” (Richter).—Gog is not the Antichrist (the beast), nor yet the pseudo-Christ (the false prophet), but the anti-Israel of the latter days. The last attack on the community of God, in contempt of its mission of peace and salvation, from self-confidence and worldliness.

Ezekiel 38:3. “He will, however, be of kindred disposition with Antichrist, a circumstance which is to be observed, and which at the same time explains why the Lord is so angry at him” (Berl. Bib.).

Ezekiel 38:4. “He means to march against Jehovah, but in reality Jehovah has him in tow: he must march whither He wills to his own destruction, as Pharaoh of old did not set aside the purposes of the God of Israel when he refused to let His people go, but acted so because Jehovah Himself had hardened his heart in order to hurl him to destruction” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 38:5 sq. “It Isaiah, however, of little moment to know whether the present nations and which of them are to be understood under those designations; for those ancient nations no longer exist separately, and the Holy Spirit intended to designate under this name generally only such peoples and nations as in the latter days lie outside of the sphere of the civilisation of the Church of Christ” (Heim-Hoffmann).

Ezekiel 38:7. The equipment even of His enemies is subject to God’s word.—“The ungodly are bound with and to one another by the cord of malice” (Starck).

Ezekiel 38:8. A glance into the latter days of the Church of God and of the world.—“Gog meant to visit the people of God, but in reality he is himself visited. It is very consolatory to the Church, that God not merely conquers her enemies, but that even their hostile undertaking is under His guidance, that they move neither hand nor foot except at His command” (Hengst.).—“Thus God visits in grace and also in wrath” (Starck).—“The Church is thus described: from her persecutions, according to her calling, as the fulfilment of Israel, from her devastation by Antichrist, because of her separation from the world, according to her rest in God” (Cocc).

Ver9. In the world we have anguish to the end; before we expect it, a tempest arises, and heaven and earth appear to be hid from our eyes. Our security is peace with God: Christians wish, indeed, peace with all men, but the world keeps no peace with them. Such is its turbulence that it has no rest, such its darkness that it would like to shut out all light; even God is not to be our lamp.—“If great armies resemble clouds, how soon can a wind disperse them! 2 Kings 19:35” (Starke).

Ezekiel 38:10. “Thus God is a heart-searcher, He knows the evil purpose in the man himself”—(Starck).

Ezekiel 38:11. What a confession from the mouth of an enemy! for the Church and against himself.

Ezekiel 38:12. How good it is to possess the goods which cannot be stolen,—the joy, for example, which no one shall take from us!—To the end the world seeks only the temporal, the earthly.

Ezekiel 38:14. It is bad when we observe only when it is too late.

Ezekiel 38:15 sq. That is already the victory when God says, It is My people that ye seek to injure.—“Yea, all things revolve around the community of God on earth; hell must assail it, and yet suffer shipwreck on the faith of the true confessors. Therefore we ought simply to keep God’s word pure, and not to care about the great multitude” (Diedrich).

Ezekiel 38:17. Everything has been told before; they who hold to the word have to fear no surprises.

Ezekiel 38:18 sq. “Fury is the glow which bursts forth in the breathing of wrath. The wrath of God is the holy jealousy with which Hebrews, for the protection of His kingdom, the kingdom of peace, dashes down the wicked; and this wrath of eternal protecting love is fearful” (Schmieder).

Quantus tremor est futurus,

Quando Judex est venturus,

Cuncta stricte discussurus.

“Even the saints will tremble, but with adoration and hope. Comp. Psalm 46.” (Schmieder).

Ezekiel 38:21. Even the sword is the Lord’s servant, which He needs only to call for and it comes at His word.—How one may become the sword of another!—“When God determines to inflict His judgments, the best friends must become the worst enemies, that one may receive from the other the merited reward, Judges 7:22” (Starke).

Ezekiel 38:23. The conclusion Isaiah, that the result of everything is to magnify and sanctify God. We ought, therefore, to begin all our affairs with God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 38:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ezekiel-38.html. 1857-84.

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