Ezekiel 21:10
It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth? it scorns the rod of my son, as every tree.
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(10) Make mirth.—The answer to this question has already been given in Ezekiel 21:6, and is repeated in Ezekiel 21:12.

Contemneth the rod of my son.—This refers to Genesis 49:9-10, in which Jacob addresses Judah as “my son,” and foretells that “the sceptre shall not depart from” him until Shiloh come. There is another allusion to the same passage in Ezekiel 21:27. Comp, also Ezekiel 17:22-23. There is, however, serious difficulty as to the construction and meaning of the clause. The ancient versions and many commentators have more or less changed the text without improvement. The original is obscure in its extreme brevity, and allows “the rod of my son” to be either the object (as it is taken in the text) or the subject (as in the margin). The true sense is probably that which makes the clause into an objection offered by the Jew to the prophet’s denunciation: “But ‘the rod of my son’ despiseth every tree;” i.e., the Divine promise of old to Judah is sure, and his sceptre must remain whatever power arises against it. The objection was in a certain sense true, but the objectors had little idea of the means by which its truth should be established, and vainly imagined that it gave a temporal security to the kingdom of Judah, whatever might be its sins. The prophet does not notice the objection further than to go on with his prediction of the approaching desolation.

21:1-17 Here is an explanation of the parable in the last chapter. It is declared that the Lord was about to cut off Jerusalem and the whole land, that all might know it was his decree against a wicked and rebellious people. It behoves those who denounce the awful wrath of God against sinners, to show that they do not desire the woful day. The example of Christ teaches us to lament over those whose ruin we declare. Whatever instruments God uses in executing his judgments, he will strengthen them according to the service they are employed in. The sword glitters to the terror of those against whom it is drawn. It is a sword to others, a rod to the people of the Lord. God is in earnest in pronouncing this sentence, and the prophet must show himself in earnest in publishing it.It contemneth the rod of my son, as every tree - The rod is the scepter of dominion, assigned to Judah Genesis 49:10. The destroying sword of Babylon despises the scepter of Judah; it despises every tree. Others render the verse, "Shall we make mirth" (saying), "the rod of my son," (the rod which corrects my people) "contemneth" (treats with scorn, utterly confounds) "every tree" (every other nation); or, the scepter of my people "contemneth" (proudly despises) every other nation. Proud as the people are, they shall be brought to sorrow.10. to make a sore slaughter—literally, "that killing it may kill."

glitter—literally, "glitter as the lightning flash": flashing terror into the foe.

should we … make mirth—It is no time for levity when such a calamity is impending (Isa 22:12, 13).

it contemneth the rod of my son, &c.—The sword has no more respect to the trivial "rod" or scepter of Judah (Ge 49:10) than if it were any common "tree." "Tree" is the image retained from Eze 20:47; explained in Eze 21:2, 3. God calls Judah "My son" (compare Ex 4:22; Ho 11:1). Fairbairn arbitrarily translates, "Perchance the scepter of My son rejoiceth; it (the sword) despiseth every tree."

To make a sore slaughter; to slay many, and with as little regard as men kill beasts, or to offer whole herds of wicked men in sacrifice to the offended justice of God; much after this style both David, Psalm 44:22, and Isaiah 34:6.

May glitter, and strike a terror into the enemy.

Should we then make mirth? shall we allow ourselves in jollity, in feasts, or dances, or songs? This would be very uncomely.

It contemneth; this great, sharp and glittering sword, appointed to cut off, slights and despiseth all the resistance that can be made against it, and reckons all former chastisements were but as the rod wherewith a son is corrected; but now the sword of an enemy is drawn out, and will cut off all. Or, Nebuchadnezzar despiseth your king, the royal family, and nobles, which are compared to gods, Ezekiel 19:10,11; and would use them as he would every common tree of the wood, as it appears he did, when he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him in chains as a slave. It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter,.... To cut easily, and wound deeply, and make a slaughter of men, like beasts for sacrifice; a sacrifice to the justice of God for their sins, and so acceptable to him; and it is he indeed that sharpens it, or prepares the instruments of his vengeance, whether Chaldeans, or Romans, or both; and gives them might and courage to execute his will with great keenness of wrath and fury:

it is furbished that it may glitter; and so strike terror on those against whom it is drawn, and for whom it is prepared, as glittering armour does:

should we then make mirth? sing, and dance, and feast, and indulge ourselves in all kind of mirth and jollity, when this is the case, a drawn, sharp, glittering sword hangs over our heads? no, surely! there is good reason for you to lament and sigh, as I do; you ask me the reason of it, this is it; is there not a cause? there is; it is not a season for mirth; but for weeping and lamentation. The words may be rendered, "or let us rejoice" (r); that is, if we can, ironically spoken.

It contemneth the rod of my son, as every tree; thus says the Lord God, this sword so sharpened and brightened despises the rod or sceptre (for so the word signifies) of Israel my son, my firstborn, and makes no more of it than a common stick, and cuts it to pieces, and destroys it; signifying hereby the easy destruction of the sceptre and kingdom of Judah by the sword of the Chaldeans or Romans. Some understand it of Christ the Son of God. The words may be rendered, "it is the rod of my son, it despiseth every tree" (s); this sword, prepared, is no other than the rod of iron, which the Son of God makes use of to rule his enemies with, and break them in pieces; and no tree, high and low, can stand before it; it cuts down all, and destroys them, be they what they will; see Psalm 2:7. Cocceius interprets the former clause, "or we shall make merry" (t), of the Father and of the Son, and of their delight and pleasure, while wrath was executed on their enemies.

(r) "laetemar", Castalio; "gaudeamus", Glassius. (s) "virga est filii me ilia spernit, vel quae spermit omne lignum", Tigurine, version, Piscator, the margin of our Bibles. (t) "Aut hilarabimur", Cocceius.

It is sharpened to make a grievous slaughter; it is polished that it may {f} glitter: should we then make mirth? it despiseth the {g} rod of my son, {h} as every tree.

(f) And so cause fear.

(g) Meaning, the sceptre showing that it will not spare the king, who would be as the son of God, and in his place.

(h) That is, the rest of the people.

10. should we then make mirth] lit., or shall we make mirth? These words with the rest to the end of the verse appear to have little meaning in the connexion. R V. renders the whole: “shall we then make mirth? the rod of my son, it contemneth every tree.” This is a literal rendering, the last words meaning probably that the rod (the sword of Babylon) with which Jehovah now chastises his son (the prince, or, people) contemneth (exceeds in severity) every tree, or, all wood, i.e. all rods of chastisement which are mere wood, for it is glittering steel. Some ingenuity is needed to extract the meaning, which, however, when extracted is difficult to harmonise with Ezekiel 21:13. The words “shall we then make mirth?” still appear meaningless. For “or” or “then” Frd. Del. would find some cohortative particle after the Assyr.,—ha! let us make mirth! the words being those of God (cf. Ezekiel 21:17), and the following words “contemneth every tree” meaning that in comparison with the rod he now uses all other rods of chastisement are only despicable, and useless for their purpose (Zeit. f. Keilschritftforschung, ii. 4 p. 385). The text appears to be in disorder, and though many emendations have been proposed none of them is satisfactory. Ges., … “glitter, against the prince of the tribe of my son (Judah), which despiseth all wood”—prince for “should we rejoice” (nasi’ for nasis), and the idea being expressed that as Judah has hitherto despised all ordinary chastisements with the rod of wood the sword shall now be drawn against the prince. Ew., “no weak rod of my son, the softest of all wood”—the words “rod of my son” being a phrase from the mouth of fathers and meaning a gentle rod. Apart from the unnatural constructions and the strong Aramaisms assumed, the sense is feeble and improbable. Smend, “woe O prince! thou hast despised the rod, contemned every tree (all wood)”—rod and wood being used of chastening as before. LXX. reads: “ready (= furbished) for paralysing (enfeebling); slay, despise, set at nought every tree”! The imperatives are addressed to the sword. The words “for paralysing” may be a rendering of present Heb. read with Aramean sense; but “for” is read for “or.” It is by no means certain that LXX. found imperatives, because it renders Ezekiel 21:9 also in the imperative. Partly following Sep. Corn., “for men who slay and plunder (lit. men of slaughter and plundering) who despise every stronghold”—viz. the Chaldeans, into whose hand the sword of the Lord is to be given. (Cf. Isaiah 33:8; Habakkuk 1:10.) This really gives a meaning, though it is gained at considerable cost, for some of the words assumed do not occur, the constructions are far from probable, and the changes of the text are serious. Further, in all the passage it is the sword itself that is dwelt upon and those whom it shall slay; those who are to wield it are only alluded to.

Scholars almost unanimously assume that there is ref. in the clause to former chastisement, hence “rod” and “all wood” are read in that sense. But such an idea seems little in place in the connexion; and the word rendered “rod” may mean sceptre or almost ruler (Ezekiel 19:11; Ezekiel 19:14), and “every tree” may be taken of other sceptres. The assumption that “contemneth every tree” (all wood) means: exceeds in severity of punishment every rod, or looks down on every other chastening rod, feeling its own superiority as an instrument of punishment, is a very far-fetched one. It is certainly possible that the word “prince” (princes) lurks in the strange “shall we then rejoice?” (Ges. Sm.). The prince and royal house are alluded to repeatedly in the chapter, e.g. Ezekiel 21:14; Ezekiel 21:25-27; Ezekiel 21:29. The rendering: “against the prince (princes), the sceptre of my son (that) despiseth all wood” (i.e. other sceptres, or royal powers, Ezekiel 19:11; Ezekiel 19:14), is not very natural. The expression “my son,” whether applied to the king or the people, has something unexpected about it in Ezek., though “my people” is used in the passage also (Ezekiel 21:12), and an undertone of pity, or at least a deep feeling of the terribleness of the coming calamity, runs through the passage. The words “shall we then make mirth?” can hardly stand in any case, even in this form: “or shall we make mirth (saying), The sceptre of my son contemneth all wood!” i.e. defies every other sceptre or royal power (La Bible Annotéc). Any reference in the passage to Genesis 49:9 or 2 Samuel 7:14 is without probability.Verse 10. - The sceptre of my son, etc. The clause is obscure, possibly corrupt, and has received many interpretations.

(1) Taking the received text, the most probable explanation is that given by Keil and Kliefoth: Shall we rejoice (saying), The sceptre of my son despiseth all woods. Here the "rod" is the "sceptre" of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and the words are supposed to be spoken by those who hear of the destroying sword. They need not dread the sword, they say, because the sceptre of the house of David, whom Jehovah recognizes as his son, despises all wood, looks on every other rod that is the symbol of sovereignty, with scorn. It is urged, in favour of this interpretation, that ver. 27 contains an unmistakable refer, nee to the prophetic words of Genesis 49:10.

(2) Ewald: It is no weak rod of my son, the softest of all wood; i.e. the sword of Jehovah is no weak weapon such as might be used for the chastisement of a child (Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 13:24).

(3) Hengstenberg: Shall we rejoice over the rod of my son, despising every tree? There is no cause for anything but the reverse of joy in the rod, the punishment which God appoints for Israel as his son, and which surpasses all others in its severity.

(4) The Authorized Version and Revised Version (margin) make the "sword" the nominative, and the words are those of Jehovah: It contemneth the rod (i.e. the sceptre) of my son, as it contemns every other tree (i.e. as in Ezekiel 20:4), every other national sovereignty.

(5) The Revised. Version and Authorized Version (margin): It (the sword) is the rod of my son (appointed for his chastisement), and it despiseth every tree, in same sense as in (4).

(6) Cornill, altering the text, almost rewriting it, gets the meaning: It (the sword) is for men who murder and plunder, and regard not any strength. Neither the LXX. nor the Vulgate help us, the former giving, "Slay, set at naught, reject every tree;" and the latter, "Thou who guidest the sceptre of my son, thou hast cut down." On the whole, (1) seems to rest on better ground than the others. The Burning Forest

Ezekiel 20:45. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 20:46. Son of man, direct thy face toward the south, and trickle down towards the south, and prophesy concerning the forest of the field in the south land; Ezekiel 20:47. And say to the forest of the south land, Hear the word of Jehovah; Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I kindle a fire in thee, which will consume in thee every green tree, and every dry tree: the blazing flame will not be extinguished, and all faces from the south to the north will be burned thereby. Ezekiel 20:48. And all flesh shall see that I, Jehovah, have kindled it: it shall not be extinguished. Ezekiel 20:49. And I said, Ah, Lord Jehovah! they say of me, Does he not speak in parables? - The prophet is to turn his face toward the south, and prophesy concerning the forest of the field there. הטּיף is used for prophesying, as in Amos 7:16 and Micah 2:6, Micah 2:11. The distinction between the three epithets applied to the south is the following: תּימן is literally that which lies on the right hand, hence the south is a particular quarter of the heavens; דּרום, which only occurs in Ezekiel and Ecclesiastes, with the exception of Deuteronomy 33:23 and Job 37:17, is derived from דּרר, to shine or emit streams of light, and probably signifies the brilliant quarter; נגב, the dry, parched land, is a standing epithet for the southern district of Palestine and the land of Judah (see the comm. on Joshua 15:21). - The forest of the field in the south is a figure denoting the kingdom of Judah (נגב is in apposition to השּׂדה, and is appended to it as a more precise definition). שׂדה is not used here for a field, as distinguished from a city or a garden; but for the fields in the sense of country or territory, as in Genesis 14:7 and Genesis 32:3. In Ezekiel 20:47, יער , forest of the south land, is the expression applied to the same object (הנגב, with the article, is a geographical term for the southern portion of Palestine). The forest is a figure signifying the population, or the mass of people. Individual men are trees. The green tree is a figurative representation of the righteous man, and the dry tree of the ungodly (Ezekiel 21:3, compare Luke 23:31). The fire which Jehovah kindles is the fire of war. The combination of the synonyms להבת שׁלהבת, flame of the flaming brightness, serves to strengthen the expression, and is equivalent to the strongest possible flame, the blazing fire. כּל־פּנים, all faces are not human faces or persons, in which case the prophet would have dropped the figure; but pânim denotes generally the outside of things, which is the first to feel the force of the flame. "All the faces" of the forest are every single thing in the forest, which is caught at once by the flame. In Ezekiel 21:4, kŏl-pânim (all faces) is interpreted by kŏl̇-bâsar (all flesh). From south to north, i.e., through the whole length of the land. From the terrible fierceness of the fire, which cannot be extinguished, every one will know that God has kindled it, that it has been sent in judgment. The words of the prophet himself, in Ezekiel 20:49, presuppose that he has uttered these parabolic words in the hearing of the people, and that they have ridiculed them as obscure (mâshâl is used here in the sense of obscure language, words difficult to understand, as παραβολή also is in Matthew 13:10). At the same time, it contains within itself request that they may be explained. This request is granted; and the simile is first of all interpreted in Ezekiel 21:1-7, and then still further expanded in Ezekiel 21:8.

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