Ezekiel 21:22
At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort.
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(22) At his right hand was.—This is too exactly literal. The sense is, into his right hand came the divination which determined his course towards Jerusalem. “Captains” should be as in the margin, battering. rams (see Ezekiel 4:2), for the siege of Jerusalem; the same word is so translated farther on in this verse. The remaining clauses portray the operations of the attack.

21:18-27 By the Spirit of prophecy Ezekiel foresaw Nebuchadnezzar's march from Babylon, which he would determine by divination. The Lord would overturn the government of Judah, till the coming of Him whose right it is. This seems to foretell the overturnings of the Jewish nation to the present day, and the troubles of states and kingdoms, which shall make way for establishing the Messiah's kingdom throughout the earth. The Lord secretly leads all to adopt his wise designs. And in the midst of the most tremendous warnings of wrath, we still hear of mercy, and some mention of Him through whom mercy is shown to sinful men.The divination for Jerusalem - The lot fixing the campaign against Jerusalem.22. Rather, "In his right hand was [is] the divination," that is, he holds up in his right hand the arrow marked with "Jerusalem," to encourage his army to march for it.

captains—The Margin, "battering-rams," adopted by Fairbairn, is less appropriate, for "battering-rams" follow presently after [Grotius].

open the mouth in … slaughter—that is, commanding slaughter: raising the war cry of death. Not as Gesenius, "to open the mouth with the war shout."

Either the divination which concerned Jerusalem was managed on his right hand, that way the arrows were thrown, the images stood, and sacrifices were offered; or else the lot drawn with the right hand of the priest came forth for Jerusalem. The promising lot, encouraging tokens, were those which directed this superstitious, idolatrous kin to attack Jerusalem first, and this by the overruling providence of God, who determined by infinite wisdom what seemed to blind men to be the event designed by their divinations.

To appoint; now Nebuchadnezzar sets all in order pursuant to his observance of the diviners.

Captains; the commanders of his forces, and their particular charges in the march and siege; he did, it is probable, assign them by lot, as is ordinary where greatest dangers attend the charges.

To open the mouth; to assault the city where breaches were made, and storm the battered walls, to slay the defenders, and to run the hazard of being slain by them.

With shouting; so all the barbarous, fierce nations did with shouts and hideous noises assault and fight their enemies, and with this they hoped to terrify and amaze them, and so more easily master them; and so these Babylonians did, as may be collected from Psalm 137:7 Jeremiah 51:14, where Babylon shall be repaid her shouts.

Battering rams; engines made to beat down walls; and they had this name from the iron or brass head, which usually was at the end of it, like unto the head of a ram.

Against the gates, which might more easily be broken and beat down.

To cast a mount: in a siege of some length mounts must be raised to offend the besieged by shooting from the tops of them into the city, and to defend the besiegers; and the toil and danger hereof seems here to be cast on both overseers and labourors too by lot.

To build a fort; wooden towers now all these works being thus by lot disposed, the wary tyrant prevents the murmurs of his commanders and soldiers, and insinuates a courage into them by the pretences of assured success, and his idols approving them.

At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem,.... All his divinations, whether by arrows, or by images, or by liver, all directed him to his right hand, to turn to that which led to Jerusalem; and thus what appeared to him to be the effect of divination was overruled by the providence of God, to direct him to go and do what he designed he should:

to appoint captains to open the mouth in the slaughter; upon which he appointed his several captains and officers their distinct bodies of men they were to lead on to the siege of Jerusalem; and give them the word of command when to attack the place, scale the walls, or make breaches in it, and fall upon the enemy, and make a slaughter of them. The word for "captains" signifies "rams"; and Joseph Kimchi interprets it of battering rams, to beat down walls; but these are after mentioned; and is both by Jarchi and David Kimchi explained of general officers of the army; and so the Targum,

"to appoint generals to open the gates, that the slayer may enter by them:''

to lift up the voice with shouting; which is usually done in sieges, when a shout is made, and a place is stormed; both to animate the besiegers, and to terrify the besieged:

to appoint battering rams against the gates; to break them down, or break through them, and so make way for the army to enter in; these were engines used in sieges, to beat down walls, and make breaches in them, that the besiegers might enter; so called from the iron heads of them, which resembled rams; and are thus described by Josephus (o),

"the ram is a huge beam, not unlike the mast of a ship; the top of it is capped with a thick piece of iron, in the form of a ram's head, from whence it has its name: this is hung by the middle with ropes to another beam, which lies across, supported by a couple of posts; and thus hanging equally balanced, is, by a great number of men violently thrust backwards and forwards, and so beats the wall with its iron head; nor is there any tower so strong, or wall so broad, as to resist its repeated strokes.''

Vitruvius (p) says it was invented by the Carthaginians at the siege of Cadiz; but Pliny (q) affirms it was invented by Epeus at the siege of Troy; but the first mention of them is made by Ezekiel here, and in Ezekiel 4:2, and Diodorus Siculus (r) affirms they were not known in the times of Sardanapalus, when Nineveh was taken by Arbaces. The Targum interprets it of officers set at the gates, as before; and so Jarchi:

to cast a mount; made up of earth, to raise their batteries upon: and

to build a fort; to cast out their arrows from thence, and protect the besiegers; See Gill on Ezekiel 4:1.

(o) De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 19. Vid. Valtrinum de Re Militari Roman. l. 5. c. 6. p. 526. (p) De Architectura, l. 10. c. 19. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56. (r) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 113.

At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort.
22. at his right hand] in his right hand is the lot (or, oracle) “Jerusalem,” to set battering rams, to open the mouth with a cry. Though “battering rams” occurs again in the verse the word can have no other sense, such as “captains.” The word “cry” seems required by the parallel “shouting;” the letters have probably been transposed. On the apparatus of siege, cf. ch. Ezekiel 4:2.

Verse 22. - At his right hand was, etc.; better, into his right hand came, etc.; sc. the arrow marked for Jerusalem was that which came into the king's hand as the quiver was shaken. To appoint captains; better, battering rams, in both clauses. The same Hebrew word is used in both (see note on Ezekiel 4:2). The verse paints the engineering operations of the besiegers, following on the issue of the divination. (For the mount, comp. Isaiah 37:33.) Ezekiel 21:22The sword of the king of Babylon will smite Jerusalem, and then the Ammonites also. - Ezekiel 21:18. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:19. And thou, son of man, make to thyself two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come by them; out of one land shall they both come forth, and draw a hand, at the cross road of the city do thou draw it. Ezekiel 21:20. Make a way that the sword may come to Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem. Ezekiel 21:21. For the king of Babylon is stopping at the cross road, at the parting of the two ways, to practise divination. He is shaking the arrows, inquiring of the teraphim, looking at the liver. Ezekiel 21:22. The divination falls to his right: Jerusalem, to set battering-rams, to open the mouth with a death-cry, to lift up the voice with a war-cry, to set battering-rams at the gates, to heap up a rampart, to build siege towers. - After the picture of the terrible devastation which the sword of the Lord will produce, the last word of God in this prophecy answers the questions, in whose hand Jehovah will place His sword, and whom it will smite. The slayer into whose hand the sharpened sword is given (Ezekiel 21:11) is the king of Babylon, and it will smite not only Judah, but the Ammonites also. Jerusalem and Judah will be the first to fall, and then the arch-enemy of the covenant nation, namely Ammon, will succumb to the strokes of the sword of Jehovah, in order that the embittered enemies of the Lord and His people may learn that the fall of Jerusalem is not, as they fancy, a proof of the impotence, but rather of the omnipotence, of its God. In this way does our prophecy expand into a prediction of the judgment which will fall upon the whole of the world in hostility to God. For it is only as the arch-enemies of the kingdom of God that the Ammonites come into consideration here. The parallel between Israel and the sons of Ammon is carried out in such a way as to give constant prominence to the distinction between them. Jerusalem will fall, the ancient theocracy will be destroyed till he shall come who will restore the right (Ezekiel 21:26 and Ezekiel 21:27). Ammon, on the other hand, will perish, and not a trace be left (Ezekiel 21:31, Ezekiel 21:32).

This prediction is exhibited to the eye by means of a sign. The prophet is to make two ways, i.e., to prepare a sketch representing a road leading from a country, viz., Babylon, and dividing at a certain spot into two roads, one of which leads to Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the kingdom of the Ammonites, the other to Judah, into Jerusalem. He is to draw the ways for the coming (לבוא) of the sword of the king of Babylon. At the fork of the road he is to engrave a hand, יד, i.e., an index. בּרא signifies in the Piel to cut away (Joshua 17:15, Joshua 17:18), to dig or hew (Ezekiel 23:47), here to engrave written characters in hard material. The selection of this word shows that Ezekiel was to sketch the ways upon some hard material, probably a brick or tile (cf. Ezekiel 4:1). יד does not mean locus spatium, but a hand, i.e., an index. ראשׁ , the beginning of the road, i.e., the fork of the road (Ezekiel 16:25), is explained in Ezekiel 21:21, where it is called אם, mother of the road, inasmuch as the roads start from the point of separation, and ראשׁ שׁני הדּרכים, beginning of the two roads. דּרך עיר, the road to a city. For Rabbath-Ammon, which is preserved in the ruins of Ammn, on the Upper Jabbok (Nahr Ammn), see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:11. The road to Judah is still more precisely defined by בּירוּשׁלים בּצוּרה, into fortified Jerusalem, because the conquest of Jerusalem was the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar's expedition. The omission of the article before בּצוּרה may be explained from the nature of the participle, in which, even in prose, the article may be left out after a definite noun (cf. Ewald, 335a). The drawing is explained in Ezekiel 21:21 and Ezekiel 21:22. The king of Babylon is halting (עמד, to stand still, stop) to consult his oracles, and inquire which of the two roads he is to take. קסם, to take in hand, or practise divination. In order that he may proceed safely, he avails himself of all the means of divination at his command. He shakes the arrows (more strictly, the quiver with the arrows). On the practice itself Jerome writes as follows: "He consults the oracle according to the custom of his nation, putting his arrows into a quiver, and mixing them together, with the names of individuals inscribed or stamped upon them, to see whose arrow will come out, and which state shall be first attacked."

(Note: The arrow-lot (Belomantie) of the ancient Greeks (Homer, Il. iii. 324, vii. 182, 183) was similar to this; also that of the ancient Arabs (vid., Pococke, Specim. hist. Arab. pp. 327ff., and the passages from Nuweiri quoted by Reiske, Samml. einiger Arab. Sprichwrter von den Stecken oder Stben, p. 21). Another kind, in which the lot was obtained by shooting off the arrows, was common according to the Fihrist el Ulum of En-Nedm among the Hananian Ssabians (see Chwolsohn, Ssabier, ii. pp. 26 and 119, 200).)

He consults the Teraphim, or Penates, worshipped as oracular deities and gods of good fortune (see the comm. on Genesis 31:19 and my Biblical Archaeology, 90). Nothing is known concerning the way in which these deities were consulted and gave their oracles. He examines the liver. The practice of ἡπατοσκοπία, extispicium, in which signs of good or bad luck, of the success or failure of any enterprise, were obtained from the peculiar condition of the liver of the sacrificial animals, was a species of divination to which great importance was attached by both the Babylonians (vid., Diod. Sic. ii. 29) and the Romans (Cicero, de divin. vi. 13), and of which traces were found, according to Barhebr. Chron. p. 125, as late as the eighth century of the Christian era among the Ssabians of Haran.

The divination resulted in a decision for Jerusalem. בּימינו היה is not to be translated "in his right hand was," but "into his right hand there came." היה: ἐγένετο (lxx), נפיל (Chald.), קסם does not mean lot (Ges.), but soothsaying, divination. ירוּשׁלים is connected with this in the form of a noun in apposition: the divination which indicated Jerusalem. The right hand is the more important of the two. The meaning of the words cannot be more precisely defined, because we are not acquainted with the king of divination referred to; even if we were to take the words as simply relating to the arrow in this sense, that an arrow with the inscription "Jerusalem" came into his right hand, and thus furnished the decision, which was afterwards confirmed by consulting the Teraphim and examining the liver. But the circumstance itself, that is to say, the fact that the divination coincided with the purpose of God, must not be taken, as Hvernick supposes, as suggesting a point of contact between Hebraism and the soothsaying of heathenism, which was peculiar to Ezekiel or to the time of the captivity. All that is proved by this fact is, that even heathenism is subject to the rule and guidance of Almighty God, and is made subservient to the accomplishment of the plans of both His kingdom and His salvation. In the words, to set bettering rams, etc., the substance of the oracle obtained by Nebuchadnezzar is more minutely given. It is a double one, showing what he is to do: viz., (1) to set bettering rams, i.e., to proceed to the siege of Jerusalem, as still further described in the last portion of the verse (Ezekiel 4:2); and (2) to raise the war-cry for storming the city, that is to say, to take it by storm. The two clauses 'לפתּח וגו and 'להרים וגו are synonymous; they are not "pure tautology," however, as Hitzig affirms, but are chosen for the purpose of giving greater emphasis to the thought. The expression בּרצח creates some difficulty, inasmuch as the phrase "ut aperiat os in caede" (Vulg.), to open the mouth in murder or ruin, i.e., to put to death or lay in ruins, is a very striking one, and could hardly be justified as an "energetic expression for the battle-cry" (Hvernick). ב does not mean "to," and cannot indicate the intention, all the less because בּרצח is parallel to בּתרוּעה, where תרועה is that in which the raising of the voice expresses itself. There is nothing left then but to take רצח in the sense of field-or war-cry, and to derive this meaning either from רצח or, per metathesin, from צרח.

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