Ezekiel 21:29
Whiles they see vanity to you, whiles they divine a lie to you, to bring you on the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end.
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(29) See vanity unto thee.—“See” is used in the sense of the utterances of the “seer,” or prophet. The Ammonites also had false prophets among them.

Thee upon the necks of them that are slain.—Judah is to fall first, then Ammon immediately after, as it were, upon the necks of those already slain. The figure is taken from the battle, in which one warrior falls upon the body of him who fell before him.

When their iniquity shall have an end.—Not through repentance, but because it ceases of necessity with the death of the sinner.

21:28-32 The diviners of the Ammonites made false prophecies of victory. They would never recover their power, but in time would be wholly forgotten. Let us be thankful to be employed as instruments of mercy; let us use our understandings in doing good; and let us stand aloof from men who are only skilful to destroy.Whiles ... unto thee - A parenthesis. The Ammonites had their false diviners who deluded with vain hopes.

To bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain - To cast thee (Ammon) upon the heap of slaughtered men.

Shall have an end - Shall have its final doom.

29. see vanity … divine a lie—Ammon, too, had false diviners who flattered them with assurances of safety; the only result of which will be to "bring Ammon upon the necks," &c., that is, to add the Ammonites to the headless trunks of the slain of Judah, whose bad example Ammon followed, and "whose day" of visitation for their guilt "is come."

when their iniquity shall have an end—See on [1056]Eze 21:25.

War and desolation indeed hasten on thee, though in the mean while thy astrologers and soothsayers promise peace and prosperity, and deceive thee with fair but false divinations, of which Jeremiah warns them, Jeremiah 27:9.

Upon the necks of them that are slain; to bring thee under the sword of the Chaldeans, and to destroy thee as the Jews are, who already are fallen under the destroying sword; to make thee stumble and fall on their necks, as men that fall among a multitude of slain.

Of the wicked, i.e. both Jews and their king, as Ezekiel 21:25.

Their iniquity shall have an end: see Ezekiel 21:25. Whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee,.... The Ammonites had their seers, soothsayers, diviners, and false prophets, which they are bid to be aware of, and are cautioned against hearkening to, Jeremiah 27:3, these told them they were in the utmost safety, and that the king of Babylon would not come against them; or, if he did, would not succeed, when his sword was drawn and furbished for the destruction of them:

to bring thee upon the necks of the slain, of the wicked; that is, of the Jews who were slain by the sword of the Chaldeans for their wickedness; and these diviners by their vain divination and lies would bring the Ammonites into the same condition, to be slain as they were; and as it were to fall upon their necks, as one slain person upon another; and so the Targum,

"to deliver thy neck as the necks of the slain, of the wicked:''

it may be rendered, "to put thee to the necks of the slain" (w); or, as Kimchi, "with the necks of the slain"; though some understand it, as if the diviners by their lies, promising peace and prosperity, encouraged the Ammonites to insult the Jews, and as it were to trample upon the necks of the dead:

whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end; along with Zedekiah their king; a description of the Jews; See Gill on Ezekiel 21:27.

(w) "ut ponant te cum cervicibus interfectorum", Munster, Tigurine version; "applicando te ad cervices confossorum", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus.

While they see {z} vanity to thee, while they divine a lie to thee, to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end.

(z) Though the Jews and Ammonites would not believe that you, that is the sword, would come upon them, and said that the prophets who threatened spoke lies, yet you will as surely come as though you were already on their necks.

29. they see vanity unto thee] i.e. Ammon’s soothsayers falsely hold out the prospect to it of victory and conquest.

bring thee upon the necks] The sense is doubtful, the phrase “bring, or, put, upon the necks” not occurring again. The “wicked, whose day is come, in the time of the iniquity of the end,” can hardly be any other than the princes and people of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 21:25. 1. The clause “to bring thee,” &c., might express the contents of the lying prophecy: they divine a lie and bring thee—they promise that thou shalt fall upon Israel, and conquer them. 2. The clause may express the issue of the lying divination, the eventual issue of it in God’s hand. These lying prophecies lead the Ammonites to enterprises or to purpose enterprizes the issue of which in God’s hand (or, his judgment because of which) will be that they shall have a common fate with the princes and people of Jerusalem, upon whose necks (bodies) they shall be flung slain. 3. Others (Hitz. Corn.) would alter the text reading it (the sword) for thee, and connecting closely with Ezekiel 21:28 : that it may glitter (whiles they divine a lie unto thee, &c.), in order to bring it (the sword) upon the necks, &c., i.e. assail and slay them with it. This is simpler, though against LXX.

upon the necks … wicked] More plainly: upon the necks of the wicked that are (to be) slain, i.e. the princes, &c. in Jerusalem, Ezekiel 21:25.

when their iniquity … end] At the time of the iniquity (or, punishment) of the end, cf. Ezekiel 21:25.Verse 29. - Whiles they see, etc. The words may possibly refer to Nebuchadnezzar's diviners in ver. 21, but more probably to those whom the Ammonites themselves consulted. The pronoun "thee" in both clauses refers to Ammon. The result of those who divined falsely was that the sword would be drawn against the necks of the Ammonites and threw them upon the heap of the slaughtered ones. For them, as in the words that end the verse, reproducing those of ver. 25, punishment is decreed, and that punishment will come. The Sword is Sharpened for Slaying

Ezekiel 21:8. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:9. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith Jehovah, A sword, a sword sharpened and also polished: Ezekiel 21:10. That it may effect a slaughter is it sharpened; that it may flash is it polished: or shall we rejoice (saying), the sceptre of my son despiseth all wood? Ezekiel 21:11. But it has been given to be polished, to take it in the hand; it is sharpened, the sword, and it is polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. Ezekiel 21:12. Cry and howl, son of man, for it goeth over my people, it goeth over all the princes of Israel: they have fallen by the sword along with my people: therefore smite upon the thigh. Ezekiel 21:13. For the trial is made, and what if the despising sceptre shall not come? is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 21:14. And thou, son of man, prophesy and smite the hands together, and the sword shall double itself into threefold, the sword of the pierced: it is the sword of a pierced one, of the great one, which encircles them. Ezekiel 21:15. That the heart may be dissolved, and stumbling-blocks may be multiplied, I have set the drawing of the sword against all their gates: Alas! it is made into flashing, drawn for slaying. Ezekiel 21:16. Gather thyself up to the right hand, turn to the left, whithersoever thine edge is intended. Ezekiel 21:17. And I also will smite my hands together, and quiet my wrath: I, Jehovah, have spoken it. - The description of the sword is thrown into a lyrical form (Ezekiel 21:8-13), - a kind of sword-song, commemorating the terrible devastation to be effected by the sword of the Lord. The repetition of חרב in Ezekiel 21:9 is emphatic. הוּחדּה is the perfect Hophal of חדד, to sharpen. מרוּטה is the passive participle of מרט, to polish; מרטּה (Ezekiel 21:10), the participle Pual, with מ dropped, and Dagesh euphon. היה, a rare form of the infinitive for היות. The polishing gives to the sword a flashing brilliancy, which renders the sharpness of its edge still more terrible. The very obscure words, 'או נשׂישׂ וגו, I agree with Schmieder and Kliefoth in regarding as a protest, interposed by the prophet in the name of the people against the divine threat of the sword of vengeance, on the ground of the promises which had been given to the tribe of Judah. או, or perhaps; introducing an opposite case, or an exception to what has been said. The words 'שׁבט are to be taken as an objection, so that לאמר is to be supplied in thought. The objection is taken from the promise given in Jacob's blessing to the tribe of Judah: "the sceptre will not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10). שׁבט בּני points unquestionably to this. בּני is taken from Ezekiel 21:9, where the patriarch addresses Judah, whom he compares to a young lion, as בּני. Consequently the sceptre of my son is the command which the patriarch holds out to view before the tribe of Judah. This sceptre despises all wood, i.e., every other ruler's staff, as bad wood. This view is not rendered a doubtful one by the fact that שׁבט is construed as a feminine here, whereas it is construed as a masculine in every other case; for this construction is unquestionable in Ezekiel 21:7 (12), and has many analogies in its favour. All the other explanations that have been proposed are hardly worth mentioning, to say nothing of refuting, as they amount to nothing more than arbitrary conjectures; whereas the assumption that the words are to be explained from Genesis 49:10 is naturally suggested by the unquestionable allusion to the prophecy in that passage, which we find in Ezekiel 21:27 of the present chapter. ויּתּן in Ezekiel 21:11 is to be taken adversatively, "but he gave it (the sword) to be sharpened." The subject to ויּתּן is not Jehovah, but is indefinite, "one" (man, Angl. they), although it is actually God who has prepared the sword for the slaughter of Israel. The train of thought is the following: Do not think we have no reason to fear the sharply-ground sword of Jehovah, because Judah has received the promise that the sceptre shall not depart from it; and this promise will certainly be fulfilled, and Judah be victorious over every hostile power. The promise will not help you in this instance. The sword is given to be ground, not that it may be put into the scabbard, but that it may be taken in the hand by a slayer, and smite all the people and all its princes. In the phrase היא הוּחדּה חרב, חרב is in apposition to the subject היא, and is introduced to give emphasis to the words. It is not till Ezekiel 21:19 that it is stated who the slayer is; but the hearers of the prophecy could be in no doubt. Consequently - this is the connection with Ezekiel 21:12 - there is no ground for rejoicing from a felling of security and pride, but rather an occasion for painful lamentation.

This is the meaning contained in the command to the prophet to cry and howl. For the sword will come upon the nation and its princes. It is the simplest rendering to take היא as referring to הרב, היה ב, to be at a person, to fasten to him, to come upon him, as in 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 24:17. מגוּרי, not from גּוּר, but the passive participle of מגר in the Pual, to overthrow, cast down (Psalm 89:45): "fallen by the sword have they (the princes) become, along with my people." The perfects are prophetic, representing that which will speedily take place as having already occurred. - Smiting upon the thigh is a sign of alarm and horror (Jeremiah 31:19). בּחן, perfect Pual, is used impersonally: the trial is made. The words allude to the victories gained already by Nebuchadnezzar, which have furnished tests of the sharpness of his sword. The question which follows וּמה contains an aposiopesis: and what? Even if the despising sceptre shall not come, what will be the case then? שׁבט מאסת, according to Ezekiel 21:10, is the sceptre of Judah, which despises all other sceptres as bad wood. יהיה, in this instance, is not "to be," in the sense of to remain, but to become, to happen, to come (come to pass), to enter. The meaning is, if the sceptre of Judah shall not display, or prove itself to possess, the strength expected of it. - With Ezekiel 21:14 the address takes a new start, for the purpose of depicting still further the operations of the sword. Smiting the hands together (smiting hand in hand) is a gesture expressive of violent emotion (cf. Ezekiel 6:11; Numbers 24:10). The sword is to double, i.e., multiply itself, into threefold (שׁלישׁתה, adverbial), namely, in its strength, or its edge. Of course this is not to be taken arithmetically, as it has been by Hitzig, but is a bold paradoxical statement concerning the terrible effect produced by the sword. It is not even to be understood as referring to three attacks made at different times by the Chaldeans upon Jerusalem, as many of the commentators suppose. The sword is called חבב חללים, sword of pierced ones, because it produces the pierced or slain. The following words are rendered by Hitzig and Kliefoth: the great sword of the slain. But apart from the tautology which this occasions, the rendering can hardly be defended on grammatical grounds. For, in the first place, we cannot see why the singular חלל should have been chosen, when the expression was repeated, instead of the plural חללים; and secondly, חגּדול cannot be an adjective agreeing with חרב, for חרב is a noun of the feminine gender, and is construed here as a feminine, as החדרת clearly shows. הגּדול is in apposition to חלל, "sword of a pierced man, the great one;" and the great man pierced is the king, as Ewald admits, in agreement with Hengstenberg and Hvernick. The words therefore affirm that the sword will not only slay the mass of the people, but pierce the king himself. (See also the comm. on Ezekiel 21:25.) - Ezekiel 21:15 is not dependent upon what precedes, but introduces a new thought, viz., for what purpose the sword is sharpened. God has placed the flashing sword before all the gates of the Israelites, in order that (למען, pleonastic for למען) the heart may dissolve, the inhabitants may lose all their courage for defence, and to multiply offendicula, i.e., occasions to fall by the sword. The ἁπ. λεγ. אבחת signifies the rapid motion or turning about of the sword (cf. Genesis 3:24); אבח, related to הפך, in the Mishna אפך. The ἁπ. λεγ. מעטּה, fem. of מעט, does not mean smooth, i.e., sharpened, synonymous with מרט, but, according to the Arabic m̀t, eduxit e vagina gladium, drawn (from the scabbard). In Ezekiel 21:16 the sword is addressed, and commanded to smite right and left. התאחדי, gather thyself up, i.e., turn with all thy might toward the right (Tanchum). To the verb השׂימוּ it is easy to supply פּניך, from the context, "direct thine edge toward the left." אנה, whither, without an interrogative, as in Joshua 2:5 and Nehemiah 2:16. מעדות, from יעד, intended, ordered; not, directed, turned. The feminine form may be accounted for from a construction ad sensum, the gender regulating itself according to the חרב addressed in פּניך. The command to the sword is strengthened by the explanation given by Jehovah in Ezekiel 21:17, that He also (like the prophet, Ezekiel 21:14) will smite His hands together and cool His wrath upon them (cf. Ezekiel 5:13).

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