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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Ezekiel 5

 

 

Verses 1-17

CHAPTER5

1And thou, son of Prayer of Manasseh, take thee a sharp sword; as a barber’s razor shalt thou take it; and thou causest it to pass over thine head and over thy chin, and 2 takest thee weighing-balances, and dividest them [the hair]. A third part thou burnest in the flame in the midst of the city, as the days of the siege are fulfilled [when they are complete]; and thou takest the [second] third part, with the sword shalt thou smite round about it [the city]; and the [third] third part shalt thou 3 scatter to the wind; and I will draw out the sword after them. And thou takest 4 thereof a few in number, and bindest them in thy skirts. And thou shalt take of them farther, and thou castest them into the midst of the fire, and burnest them in the fire; therefrom shall fire go forth to the whole house of Israel 5 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: This [city] Jerusalem, in the midst of the [heathen] 6nations I placed her, and the countries round about her. And she quarrelled with My judgments more wickedly than the [heathen] nations, and with My statutes more than the countries which are round about her; for they despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes 7 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because ye raged more than the [heathen] nations which are round about you, walked not in My statutes, and did not My judgments, and [also] did not after the judgments of the [heathen] nations which are round about you 8 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, even I, and I:9 execute judgments in thy midst before the eyes of the [heathen] nations. And I do in thee what I have not done, and the like of which I will not do any more, 10because of all thine abominations. Therefore fathers shall eat sons in thy midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I execute judgments in thee, and scatter 11 thy whole remnant to every wind. Therefore, as I live, sentence of the Lord Jehovah: Surely, because thou didst defile My sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, I also will cut off; neither shall Mine eye spare, neither will I show pity 12 A third part of thee—of the pestilence shall they die, and with the famine shall they perish in the midst of thee; and the [second] third part—by the sword shall they fall round about thee; and the [third] third part will I scatter to every wind, and the sword will I draw out after 13 them. And Mine anger is accomplished, and I cause My fury to rest upon them, and I breathe again; and they shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken in My 14 zeal, while I accomplish My fury on them. And I will give thee to desolation and to mockery among the [heathen] nations which are round about thee, before 15 the eyes of every passer-by. And it is a reproach and a taunt, a warning and an astonishment, to the [heathen] nations which are round about thee, when I execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury, and in furious rebukes: I, Jehovah, have 16 spoken. When I send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which are for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, and I will increase famine upon 17 you, and I break for you the staff of bread; And I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they make thee childless; and pestilence and blood press upon thee; and a sword will I cause to come upon thee. I, Jehovah, have spoken.

Ezekiel 5:2. Sept.: To τεταρτον..., κ. ληψη τ. τεταρτον κ. κατακαυσεις αὐτο ἐν μεσω αὐτης, κ. τ. τεταρτον κατακοψεις—

Eze 5:4. ...πυρ. Κ. ἐρεις παντι οἰκω Ἰσρ.

Eze 5:6. K. ἐρεις τκ δικαιωματα μου τη ἀνομω ἐκ των ἐθνων, κ. τα νομιμα μου ἐκ των κωρων των κυκλω αὐτης

Ezekiel 5:7. Sept.: ...ἀνθ̓ ὠν ἀφορμη ὑμων ἐκ τ. ἐθνων—(Anoth. read.: עשיתם without לא Syr.)

Ezekiel 5:11. Anoth. read.: אגדע.

Eze 5:12. To τεταρτον σου …κ. τ. τεταρτ. σου ἐν λιμω κ. τ. τετ. σ. εἰς παντα ἀνεμονκ. τ. τετ. σ. ἐν ῥομφαιακ. μαχαιραν—

Eze 5:14. ... ἐρημον κ. τας θυγατερας σου κυκλω—

Ezekiel 5:15. Anoth. read.: בגוים; Sept, Arab, Vulg.: in gentibus.

Ezekiel 5:17. … et bestias pessimas usque ad internecionem

EXEGETICAL REMARKS

Ezekiel 5:1-4.—The Fourth Sign. Ezekiel 5:5-17.—The Divine Interpretation of the same

What follows may be called a second sign, inasmuch as the three preceding symbolical acts fit into each other as parts of one symbolical whole. There is also the indication of the new section, just as in Ezekiel 4:1 : And thou, son of man. Ezekiel 5:1-4, however, is not without reference to Ezekiel 4. If, then, Ezekiel 4:13 already carried us beyond the siege of Jerusalem as such, so much the more readily may the (numerically) fourth sign which the prophet is to perform place us in the midst of the conquest of the city. For it is with this that Ezekiel 5:1 begins. The whole of the lively action revolves round the sword, which now does its work victoriously; what follows is a threefold act of the sword. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:41. Ezekiel, just as in Ezekiel 4, also represents therein both God and the people. What he is to take to himself is what God will take to Himself in the person of the king of Babylon, whose sword of execution is that of God, here that of Ezekiel. Comp. Isaiah 7:20. (“The mere image becomes a symbolically isolating action; where others only speak of shaving the head as a sign of deepest grief, Ezekiel takes a sword,” etc.—Umbreit.) Ewald’s translation appears to invert the matter, where, namely, the razor is to serve as a sharp sword. Ezekiel is rather to take a sharp sword as a razor. (The purposely-emphasized sharpness of the sword ought to relieve Hengst. of the difficulty which the outward execution causes him. Of smooth shaving, so that no hairs at all are left, nothing is said; and what shall one say, when Hengst. makes the task still more difficult by adding: “especially for a man of predominant subjectivity, who is usually not skilled in such manipulations.” Such a thing sounds ridiculous, but not what Ezekiel is to do.) חרב is the instrument that “devastates,” “destroys,” not (at all events, in the context of our chapter): a cutting tool in general, knife (Hitzig), although it has to serve as a barber’s razor.—Head and bearded chin come into consideration, neither as being the capital nor as being the head of the nation, the king, in contrast with the land or the people, but solely in reference to the hair, which, therefore, we are also to understand in the clause: and dividest them: they mean the innumerable ( Psalm 40:12) individuals of Israel,—in its fulness (the flowing ornament, just as it is the manly strength, of the oriental) the ornament and the strength of a nation,—conceived of especially as inhabitants of Jerusalem. (In Leviticus 21:5, the shaving off of the hair is specially forbidden to the priest, Häv.)—The weighing balances (dual) symbolize the divine justice, as it weighs out the punishment ( Isaiah 28:17), and render possible the division into three parts of equal weight which follows.

Ezekiel 5:2 puts us back into Ezekiel 4 : the prophet is to burn a third part of his hair which he has cut off באור, in the flame of a fire kindled for this purpose. The flame as an emblem represents, not Jerusalem rising up in flames (as Hengst.), but, according to Ezekiel 5:12, the consuming violence of the pestilence and the famine ( Lamentations 5:10). Hengst. gives himself unnecessary trouble to make the dead bodies be consumed by the flames. Keil correctly refers בתוך העיר to that Jerusalem which is portrayed upon the brick which Ezekiel is besieging ( Ezekiel 4:1 sqq.). Klief.: he is to burn this third part upon the stone. The fourth symbolical action has a common sphere with the three preceding ones. The fulfilling of the days of the siege is thereby put in connection with (במלאת, Jeremiah 25:12) Ezekiel 4:6-8—comp. there—so that we have to think of the remainder of the time, specially the40 days. In this period, as the390 days of the siege are at an end, he has to perform what is here commanded him. The lying on the right side is therefore, according to this statement also (comp. on Ezekiel 4:12), to be understood in a looser sense.—סביבותיה refers to the portrayed city, round about which, as respects the second third part, Ezekiel is to smite with the sword (comp. Ezekiel 5:12), in this way (while, for the first third part, the siege was still kept hold of) forming a transition to the subject which follows, viz. the capture of Jerusalem. Either in general: what is slaughtered at the capture in the environs of the city, when fleeing out of the same, or more specially: with reference to the flight of Zedekiah ( Jeremiah 52:7-8) and his attendants (?). Grot.: during the various sallies of the besieged. Hengst.: while seeking for subsistence or attempting flight (?).—The action with the last third symbolizes ( Ezekiel 5:12) the scattering in the fullest sense, and that alike to all the four winds, and in such a way that the wind can make its sport therewith as it will (לרוח), Isaiah 41:16.—אריק אחריהם ( Exodus 15:9) constructio prœgnans, a quotation from Leviticus 26:33, consequently not the hairs, but what is signified by them: the Jews, partly those who can flee, in still larger number those who are taken prisoners. Ewald: “even then still pursued by the sword, so that only very few after repeated testings (?) ultimately remain over, Isaiah 6:13.” ( Jeremiah 42:15 sqq, Ezekiel 43:10 sqq, Ezekiel 44:11 sqq.) The LXX. have from Ezekiel 5:12—where pestilence, famine, sword, and wind occur—introduced a fourfold division here, against which both the text—that they had a better before them does not appear—and the symbolical meaning of the number three for the divine recompense testify, as also, besides, Zechariah 13:8-9; Revelation 8.

Ezekiel 5:3-4 contain a continuation (Keil) or rather the completion of the symbolical transaction. מאם, “from there,” because the last third, remaining as it does in life, is conceived of as locally somewhere in the figure and in the reality. It is the third part scattered to the wind that is spoken of, as in every case of such scattering, some part remains lying on the ground, another part comes to rest somewhere farther on.—A few in number. This even indicates a certain care, but still more the symbolic binding (not a collecting, but a preserving) of the hairs in the skirt of the garment. ( Hosea 4:19 does not belong to this category.) That “the Lord will gather the remnant of His people from their dispersion, and lead them back to their native land” (Hengst.) is not said: on the contrary, in Ezekiel 5:4 there is also another (עוד) taking of them (ומהם), i.e. of those that were taken, the few, counted hairs; and, in fact, not only are those thus taken cast into the midst of the fire and burnt therein, but ממנו, i.e. from the midst of the fire (תוך), in which they are burning, there shall fire go forth to the whole house of Israel. Neither in connection with these words nor from Ezekiel 5:13 sqq. can the thought arise of testings, of a fire of purification. Nor is it, as Umbreit: “that the most pungent grief over the mournful lot of the besieged of Jerusalem shall seize all Israel.” The fire symbolizes throughout the judgment of the wrath of God, at last annihilating the people as a whole. ( Jeremiah 4:4; Zephaniah 3:8.) Jeremiah 29:21-22 is not to be quoted here as Raschi does; but we must rather go back with Grot. to Jeremiah 40 sqq.: these fugitives gathering together in the land may at least easily be compared to the hairs which fell to the earth immediately around the prophet ( Ezekiel 5:3); and their destiny also corresponds ( Jeremiah 52:30). Häv, Hengst. think of those brought back from Babylon down to the burning of Jerusalem by the Romans. It is still farther fetched, with Kliefoth, Keil, to drag in Luke 12:49 here: where, pray, has a “cleansing, purifying, and quickening power gone forth from Christ over the whole house of Israel”? There remains certainly a remnant from Ezekiel 5:3-4, only it is neither characterized as a holy seed ( Isaiah 6:13), nor even as in Ezekiel 6:8 sqq.: it is left between the lines. [Ewald (1st edit.) translated: from me shall a fire, etc, as if it were ממני. Keil, after Hitzig, would refer it (“therefrom”) to the whole transaction described in Ezekiel 5:3-4. But Hitzig makes the sin to be a fire ( Job 31:12), and also the prophecy threatening destruction a fire pent up ( Jeremiah 23:29), which breaks forth into flame at the moment of its accomplishment. To refer ממנו directly to אש is prevented, of course, by the feminine construction תצא אש. Hengst.: “from it, i.e. from them, the numerical multiplicity being combined into an ideal unity with reference to the uniting bond of the evil disposition.” Have the LXX. with their ἐξ αὐτῆς thought of the city?] Comp. besides, Judges 9:15; Judges 9:20.

Inasmuch now as in Ezekiel 5:5 the divine interpretation begins with בה אמר־, what is said in Ezekiel 3:26 (comp. Ezekiel 3:27), as well as a purely symbolical prophesying in Ezekiel 4:7, is thereby modified. “To prophesy” (comp. Ezekiel 37) is also, primarily, to speak in the spirit, as that usually takes place by divine direction. But the divine interpretation begins with the meaning of Jerusalem. This city portrayed upon the tile, viz. Jerusalem, the word of Jehovah points out as placed by Him in the midst of the heathen nations, of course not in a local sense, like Delphi, the navel of the earth. Already the Chinese empire of the centre points as such to the maxims as to the ethical equilibrium prevailing in the Chinese system. But this is the central position as regards the history of salvation of Israel—represented by its capital, hence in local symbolism—for the history of the world, so that from it all the rays go forth to the world as a circumference. John 4:22. ( Lamentations 2:15.) In its position, so distinguished by God’s grace, we get the measure of the guilt of Jerusalem, i.e. of those whom it represents, inasmuch as they have come so far short of the obligation therein implied, that

Ezekiel 5:6—in God’s sight they appear even more wicked than the heathen ( 2 Kings 21:9). Ewald reads unnecessarily (because of מן) וַתָּמֶר, from מוּר,יָמַר, which in Hiph. is read with ב; and הֵמִיר, according to him, means originally: to cause to totter, hence: to exchange something against (כון) something else, so that it gives way before this latter. (Raschi: “changed My judgments into wickedness.” Similarly Chald. and Syr.) וַתֶּמֶר is simply imperf. apoc. from מרה Hiph. (an allusion to Exodus 15:23 sqq, the first resistance of the newly-saved people.) Comp. Deuteronomy 1:26; Deuteronomy 1:43; Deuteronomy 9:7; Deuteronomy 9:24, etc. Like a technical term for Israel’s rebelliousness.—מן, in a comparative sense: more than, leaving the heathen behind them. לרשעה, unto wickedness; as an adverb: wickedly. (Hitz. infin.: so that they sinned more grievously.) לרשעה brings into prominence the condition which makes Israel appear worse comparatively than the heathen; hence מן is most connected with it. Unsuitably, Hengst. compares 1 Corinthians5, where the question is not about the what, but about a how. Neither have Isaiah 2:6 and Jeremiah 2:10 any connection with this passage. But the more wicked character of Israel is intelligible, partly as contrasted with the grace of God which they have experienced, partly therefore from the circumstance that they were acting contrary to the express will of God. The comparison Isaiah, in a general sense, possible, because the heathen also, by means of conscience, know about the divine will, have a law written in their hearts. Romans 2:14-15. בי inasmuch as they so acted, they were rebels convicted by law and statute, apart from conscience, common to them with the heathen.

Ezekiel 5:7. לבן (on account of such things), as usual, at the beginning of a weighty, and, for the most part, of a threatening consequence. But before the threatening of punishment there is a second emphasizing of their greater guilt. [Instead of הֲמָנְבֶם Ewald reads הִמָּנֵבֶם, from מנה, to count; Hitz.: it stands for הֲמָמְכֶם, “because of your driving;” Häv, after the Syr.: because ye were more careless than the heathen (?). Most simply, as also Ges, from הָמַן, or as Fürst, from הָמוֹן, going back to המה: “because of your raging,” with significant reference to Psalm 2:1.]—With בחקותי there is inserted an energetic parenthesis of direct address, taking up again the close of Ezekiel 5:6 backwards, in which the מאסו (to push away, to reject) is changed into לא עשיתם, and in this way occasion is given for the following statement with לא. Ewald and others strike out the latter, and that also because of Ezekiel 11:12. If Ezekiel 5:9 manifestly threatens Israel with a heavier punishment than ever before the eyes of the heathen, then it is but too plain we must understand Ezekiel 5:6-7 of a wickedness on the part of Israel greater than that of the heathen; and such acting more wickedly than the heathen is intensified in Ezekiel 5:7 merely with respect to the natural law of conscience; in other words, this reference still left unexpressed in Ezekiel 5:6 is expressly brought in afterwards. God’s laws and statutes they rejected, neither did they act in accordance with the natural laws belonging to the standpoint of the heathen conscience. In yet another application, Ezekiel 16:47. In Ezekiel 11:12 the connection and the reproof is a different one; there is nothing said there of a being worse than the heathen.

In Ezekiel 5:8 we have, with לבן ( Ezekiel 5:7) repeated, the threatening of punishment, first of all generally, then, in what follows, in a form more and more concrete.—הנני עליך; comp. Amos 7:9; Revelation 2:5.—גם־אני marks out the interposition of God as being a retribution: hitherto, thou, now I, yes, even I, with a mode of acting corresponding to thine own ( Matthew 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:12).—As in Ezekiel 5:7, so also here: עשׂה, illustrated by the fundamental passage Exodus 12:12 ( Numbers 33:4).—Because Israel has not made itself a pattern to the heathen, an example in what is right and becoming (the negative side to Ezekiel 5:6 is brought in afterwards), God on His part makes it a spectacle for the heathen. The laws (Rechte) of God become judgments (Gerichte) of God. This is the one element of retribution; the other in Ezekiel 5:9 : because Israel has gone beyond the heathen in wickedness, His punishment also will go beyond anything in the past or future.—בָךְ is the resumption of בְתֶוֹכֵךְ ( Ezekiel 5:8).—כמוהו עוד = the like of which I will not do again ( Matthew 24:21).

Ezekiel 5:10 A more concrete exemplification of what is thus threatened. The thought thereby expressed is the breaking up alike of natural family ties and of the theocratic bond of Israel as a nation, this being what has never taken place in the past, and, having once happened, what is not to be repeated in the future. Comp. Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10; 2 Kings 6:28-29 ( Luke 12:53).—שפטים ( Ezekiel 5:15), penal judgments, more exactly defined as משפטים in Ezekiel 5:8.—וזריתי; comp. Ezekiel 5:2; Ezekiel 5:12.

Ezekiel 5:11. The repeated לכן is exceedingly impressive. חי־אני, the adjective being made to precede, properly: living I. Deuteronomy 32:40. He will show Himself to them as being the Living One. Corresponding to the climax of the discourse in the oath, there is the solemn earnestness of the נאם part. pass. constr. from נאם (המה נהם), low, secret speaking; therefore: utterance = speaks a. parenthetical noun-clause.—The desecration with which Israel is charged in Ezekiel 8 has respect to the temple, but to that as being the abode of Jehovah’s glory. The avenging judgment (with a reference to Ezekiel 5:1) holds out in prospect the cutting off (another reading: אגדע, Isaiah 15:2) of this noblest ornament of the people, where Jehovah meets with His people, and they with Him. [גרע, in this its simplest sense, too readily suggests itself for us to have recourse, with Hengst, to the fundamental passage Deuteronomy 4:2 ( Ezekiel 13:1): to take therefrom of that which God has promised to give them, or, like Häv.: I also will withdraw from the people what is theirs, or, with Ges, to supply the following עֵיגי: I also will draw off mine eye, or, like Ewald, to read, from Ezekiel 24:14, לא אפרע: “I will not neglect.” Hitz.: I also will sweep you away (גרף, 2 Kings 21:13), or (אפרע): I also will let myself alone, leave myself scope to do as I please. Keil, like Ges. ( Job 36:7), takes ולא תחום adverbially: that it may not feel compassion, and understands the last וגם־עני accordingly.] אגרע stands emphatically without an object; if it is allowable to refer it to the temple, the following transition ( Jeremiah 13:14) to Ezekiel 5:12-13 sqq. announces certainly something more general, more comprehensive. Comp. Ezekiel 9:6.

Ezekiel 5:12. After this reference to Ezekiel 5:1, as already in Ezekiel 5:10, we have now the more detailed divine interpretation of Ezekiel 5:2. Comp. besides, Jeremiah 29:17; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 15:7. By means of what is threatened, the anger of God is accomplished

[To give vent to His fury upon them suits badly, after the anger is accomplished.] Comp. besides, Ezekiel 16:42; Ezekiel 21:22, 17].—והנחמתי perf. Hithp, by syncope for והתנחמתי. The meaning of the Niphal (to have compassion) does not suit the context, especially in what follows. נָחַם is properly: to take draughts of air, to draw in and send forth the breath, whence the Piel: to comfort, Hithp.: to comfort oneself (so also the Niphal). The meaning: “to be revenged,” does not suit here. Comp. Isaiah 1:24. The accomplishing of anger comes therefore to mean also the bringing of it to an end; one might say: grace recovers breath again. The extremely anthropomorphic style of our passage is a highly figurative mode of representing the personal life and acting of God.—וידעו, knowledge as the result of experience.—דברתי twice again ( Ezekiel 5:15; Ezekiel 5:17). In the word spoken in zeal we have a guarantee of the certainty of the deed. [The different division of the words by Ew, who takes בְּ־ as a formula of swearing, is unjustifiable.]

Ezekiel 5:14. Like חֶרֶב, the “devastator” (in this section of the sword of God), חרבח is the “devastation,” the desert, wilderness. Leviticus 26:31; Leviticus 26:33; Jeremiah 7:34; Lamentations 2:1 sqq. Alliteratively therewith, חרפה: the tearing in pieces; in other words: the dishonouring, derision. Jeremiah 24:9; Ezekiel 36:34. The divine interpretation from here onwards touches on what is said in Ezekiel 5:4—the national annihilation of Israel.

Ezekiel 5:15. והיתה, viz. Jerusalem, to which the discourse returns, as in Ezekiel 5:8 ( Ezekiel 5:5). ( Deuteronomy 28:37; Lamentations 5:1.). Declamatorily in the third person.—ובתכחות חמה, rebukes in actual fact, from יכח, to reprove, to chastise. Comp. besides, Deuteronomy 29:24.

Ezekiel 5:16. Famine is the predominating element. Because sent forth among them by the Lord, its operations are compared to the arrows of a bow. Deuteronomy 32:23; Deuteronomy 32:42; Lamentations 3:12-13.—As in Ezekiel 5:15 היתה, so now בהם.—The evil arrows, because they are למשחית, from שחת, which is explained by what follows.—The description of the famine rises to a climax; first it strikes like single arrows—destruction is present; then it increases, accumulates—the arrows from all sides become thicker; at length the staff of bread is broken (comp. Ezekiel 4:16).

Ezekiel 5:17. The famine is again referred to, in order to connect with it what remains, after the manner of the Pentateuch and of Jeremiah; comp. Ezekiel 14:15; Deuteronomy 32:24; Leviticus 26:22; Leviticus 26:25; Ezekiel 28:23. Hengst. understands the evil beasts figuratively of the heathen. Isaiah 56:9; Jeremiah 12:9. Famine and evil beasts, in parallel with pestilence and blood (not = amp; bloody pestilence, as Ew.). Correspondingly with the beginning of the chapter, it comes to an end at last with the sword.

DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS

1. It belongs to the prevailing aspect of judgment, that those who are to be saved appear like a minimum, which is indicated, indeed, but not described more fully. This also is characteristic, that their salvation is made dependent wholly on their being concealed and spared ( Ezekiel 5:4), without any reference to their subjective state. As judgment reigns on the one hand, so unconditional free grace on the other.

2. Judgment must prevail where the national standpoint is that of the law. This lies as a consequence in the character of the law. It is only his having a certain position towards, or betaking himself to, the person of the Lawgiver that can preserve the transgressor, the sinner, from the sentence of death pronounced by the law. But Israel as a whole stands in opposition to Jehovah, not merely with its unlawful outward conduct, but as regards its thorough ungodliness of heart. Thus compassion ceases, as is expressly mentioned in Ezekiel 5:11. That Jehovah is engaged in the most personal way is attested by the very form of the expression in Ezekiel 5:13.

3. The lost condition morally of the people as such is significantly brought before us, in Ezekiel 5:11, in the profanation of the sanctuary. For this is the most express local symbol of the personal presence of Jehovah in the midst of Israel, with which, besides, the most perfect indwelling of God in the fulfilment ( John 2:19 sqq.) is identified.

4. The judgment threatens the national existence of Israel. But if the nationality of Israel is the holy nationality of the people of God, then it is as intelligible, that the peculiar form, the symbolical body, of this idea which is to be realized may perish in the judgment of God, as it is certain that the idea will be realized, in however few it may be; in reality, there has been but One Israel, that was alike sacrifice and priest, people and king.

5. Häv, Hengst, and others find in our chapter the announcement of yet a second penal judgment, viz. the last by the hand of the Romans, as already Theodoret, Jerome. The truth Isaiah, that the more complete (the expulsion of the ten tribes was a partial thing) unfolding of judgment involved in the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem is not finished till the judgment of the world on the last day ( Matthew 24:21). The judgment which still farther diminishes the small number in the skirt of the garment in Ezekiel 5:3 thus finds in the context—where a transition is made from the numerical element to the substance of the matter—its goal in the consuming of the whole of Israel ( Ezekiel 5:4). In the Chaldean judgment, Israel’s nationality perished; at that early period, not first by the hand of the Romans. “We have no king but Cæsar” is the answer of the leading men of Israel already in John 19.

6. On Ezekiel 5:9 Häv. remarks: “Alone of its kind, and to be compared with nothing else, is the judgment of the Lord which runs through the history of the kingdom of God; it is a judgment continually rising higher and higher, as compared with which what goes before always appears an insignificant one, and in this its unceasing progress paving the way for the culminating point of the last judgment.” Hengst. calls the judgment on Israel “a thing unique in the history of the world.” Only one must not choose to read the true fulfilment in Josephus first, but as and because the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem was the first judgment of the kind, so it remains, as to its essence also, the only one. For where is there a second nation, to which God has stood so near, driven forth in such a way from its land of promise since the days of the fathers, judged and, as being judged, preserved? But as this political mummification serves the world-purpose of the Anointed One, so it is in the same direction that we are to seek the meaning of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, viz. not as a repetition, but merely as an application of the Chaldean judgment to the last period of the world beginning with Christ, to the last day. Hence the general eschatological character of the discourses of Jesus in the Gospels bearing on the subject.

7. For the central position of Jerusalem, in a theological point of view, Hengstenberg quotes “Jeshurun, the congregation of the upright, the pattern nation prepared by God, which was to send forth its light into the surrounding heathen darkness, to honour its God, and to draw others to Him. Deuteronomy 4:5-6; Isaiah 42:19. Comp. Matthew 5:14; 1 Peter 2:9.”

8. Judgment Isaiah, in every decisive moment of the history of salvation (in the history of the world), the goal, the end. “Crisis” is the name given to it when one contemplates history from a remedio-pathological point of view.

HOMILETIC HINTS

Ezekiel 5:1 sqq. “By means of the similitude of the hair, the Lord would intimate His exact connection with Israel, how they have received from Him all nourishment and supplies; from which fellowship He now cuts them off like hair” (B.B.).—“On account of its much hair, i. e. its great population, Jerusalem was so proud and full of vain confidence” (C).—“And what an impression must it make, when Ezekiel, who was of the priestly class, contrary to Leviticus 21, shaved head and beard!” (L.)—“The judgments of God have their stages, and come at last, when the measure of sins is full, in a crowd, so that he who escapes the one falls into the other” (Tüb. B.). “Men and all creatures become sharp swords, when God makes use of them in judgment” (Stck.).—“Behold an example of divine providence! God does not strike blindly in His judgments, but, in the midst of the greatest confusion of human affairs, weighs, as it were with scales, all that is to happen to every one” (W.).—“Not even a hair shall be wanting to us; but neither shall a hair escape with the just God” (B. B.).—“God is just, but He is also merciful: let us betake ourselves to His mercy” (L.).—“If one does not himself in time cut off his vanities and bad habits, then must a razor belonging to another make the eyes water, and cut in such a way, that of skin and hair nothing remains” (B. B.).—“In the judgment learn God’s justice, in the foretelling of it His goodness; but sin’s loathsomeness brings on the judgment” (Stck.).—“If one does not fear before the sword of the Spirit or God’s word ( Ephesians 6.; Hebrews 4), then must the sword of the enemy come and hew down the barren trees” (B. B.).—God’s judgments: (1) sharp, (2) without respect of persons, but (3) just.

Ezekiel 5:2. “Exile is honourable if it happens to us for Christ’s sake; the man who has to endure it because of sin cannot comfort himself therewith” (Stck.).—“These were certainly thoroughly scattered sheep, because they had forsaken their Shepherd! He that will not allow himself to be gathered under the wings of Jesus, will be carried away by the wind of the divine wrath down to hell. And let a man flee whither he will, if he wants a good conscience, then the vengeance of God follows; there is no possibility of escape from Him” (B. B).—Under the sword of God: (1) the man whom the flame in the inner Prayer of Manasseh, the fire of conscience, does not consume, (2) is struck down by the outward calamities of life, (3) or he is carried away by every gust of wind—of pleasure, of opinion, etc, in the world, and so is lost.

Ezekiel 5:3. “Divine providence and goodness remembers mercy in the midst of wrath, because of the Messiah, who was to be born of this seed” (Stck.).—“Otherwise it would have happened as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah” (L.).—Think how we are first bound up in the skirt of the righteousness of Jesus Christ! And no one will pluck us out of His hand.

Ezekiel 5:4. “This is not to be literal fire, but something much more real even than this, the fire of the wrath of God, when He gives them over to the curse, and to the everlasting torment of an evil conscience; and this fire is to take hold of all Israel, with the exception of those preserved in the skirt of the garment” (Cocc.).

Ezekiel 5:5 sqq. The greater the benefit, the greater ought to be the gratitude.—“In the Church, greater sins are often committed than outside of it” (St.).—After the manner of Jerusalem, those cities acted in later times, where most of Jesus’ miracles were wrought ( Matthew 11).—Outward advantages, without the inward disposition to correspond, are tow for the fire.—“We have therefore to see to it, that we bear the pleasure (the burden) of prosperity with a strong mind” (C.).—To whom much is given, of him much may be required, and much is required; and yet there shall only be required faithfulness in stewardship, and that gratitude which is so easily understood of itself.—“He that knows his Lord’s will, and does it not, sins more grievously, and has more grievous punishment to expect, Luke 12:47” (O.).—“Perversion of the true doctrine and of the true worship and unholy living draw the judgments of God after them” (Tüb. Bib.).

Ezekiel 5:6 sqq. “The heterodox often show in their worship more zeal, earnestness, and stedfastness than the orthodox” (St.).—“Their vices we often adopt from the heathen, and in what is good allow them the advantage. They ought to have learnt from us, and we may learn even from them” (B. B.).

Ezekiel 5:8 sqq. “As it is the comfort of the pious: if God be for us, who can be against us? so it is the terror of the ungodly: since God is against you, who will be for you?” (Stck.)—The divine judgments in the world are a mirror for the world.

Ezekiel 5:9. The individuality of the judgments of God an interesting historical theme.

Ezekiel 5:10. “Famine has no eyes, no ears, no hands, but teeth. It has no respect of persons, nor does it listen to anything, nor does it give, but is cruel and unmerciful” (Stck.).—Fathers often enough devour their children by the bad example which they give them. And children devour their fathers by their covetousness, want of affection, disobedience, by the grief which they prepare for them.

Ezekiel 5:11. In him that does not sanctify God, God sanctifies Himself.—I live, and ye shall live also. But it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. These are contrasts.—How many profane the sanctuary of God by sleep, by extravagance in dress, by their distracted worldly thoughts!

Ezekiel 5:13. There thou seest how zealous love can be. This causes the jealousy of Him who is Israel’s Husband.—Therefore we ought to hear betimes, lest we be compelled to feel when it is too late.

Ezekiel 5:14. How many such monuments of divine retribution stand on our life-path! We walk past, yes, alas! past them. Into the mirror of the judgments of God we look in vain, just as into that of the divine law.—“If love cannot improve us, then must we feel the iron sceptre” (B. B.).

Ezekiel 5:17. “All the creatures are ready for vengeance, and wait merely for God’s command” (Stck.).—“If men do not terrify us, then there are the beasts” (Stck.).—Thus there is a chain of divine punishments; one takes the other’s hand.—“In the end, it is God with whom we have to do. Be not, then, like the dog which bites the stone, and not the hand which threw it!” (Stck.)—“God subscribes the threatening with the royal monogram of His name” (a L.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 5:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ezekiel-5.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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