In you are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in you they eat on the mountains: in the middle of you they commit lewdness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Men that carry tales; informers and trepanners, or persons that, corrupted with money, give in false witness against the innocent; and the princes of Israel had hand in it.
They eat, offer sacrifice, on the mountains, and feast there, celebrating the honour of their idols: see Ezekiel 18:6,11,15.
Lewdness; enormous, contrived mischiefs, as the word imports.
"in thee they served idols on the mountains:''
in the midst of thee they commit lewdness; a general word for all manner of uncleanness, as adultery, fornication, incest, &c. of which some particulars follow.In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. Informers and false witnesses, Jeremiah 9:3; Exodus 23:1; Leviticus 19:16. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:11.
commit lewdness] This clause should probably introduce the vices in Ezekiel 22:10. Idolatry is metaphorically “lewdness,” but here it is not the community but individuals who are spoken of, cf. Ezekiel 22:11.Verse 9. - Men that carry tales, etc. Hebrew, men of slanders (comp. Exodus 23:1; Leviticus 19:16). The sin of the informers, ever ready to lend themselves to plots against the life or character of the innocent, was then, as at all times, the besetting evil of corrupt government in the East. Compare the story of Naboth (1 Kings 21:10) and of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:13). (For eating on the mountains, see note on Ezekiel 18:6; and for lewdness, that on Ezekiel 16:43.) What the lewdness consisted in is stated in the following verses.
Ezekiel 21:28. And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, concerning the sons of Ammon, and concerning their scorn, sword, sword, drawn to slay, polished, that it may devour, that it may flash! Ezekiel 21:29. While they prophesy deceit to thee, while they divine lying to thee, it shall lay thee by the necks of the sinners slain, whose day cometh at the time of the final transgression. Ezekiel 21:30. Put it in its scabbard again. At the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy birth will I judge thee, Ezekiel 21:31. And pour out my anger upon thee, kindle the fire of my wrath against thee, and give thee into the hand of foolish men, of smiths of destruction. Ezekiel 21:32. Thou shalt be for the fire to devour; thy blood shall remain in the midst of the land; thou shalt be remembered no more; for I Jehovah have spoken it. - As Judah in Jerusalem will fall by the sword of the king of Babylon, contrary to all expectation; so will the Ammonites be punished for their scorn with utter extermination. חרפּה is scorn at the overthrow of Israel (cf. Ezekiel 25:3, Ezekiel 25:6, and Zephaniah 2:8). The sword is already drawn against them. פּתוּחה, taken out of the scabbard, as in Psalm 37:14. לטבח is to be connected with פּתוּחה, notwithstanding the accents, and להכיל להכיל with מרוּטה. This is required by the correspondence of the clauses. הכיל is regarded as a derivative of כּוּל by Ewald and others, in the sense of ad sustinendum, according to capacity, i.e., as much as possible. But the adverbial rendering it opposed to the context, and cannot be sustained from Ezekiel 23:32. Moreover, כּוּל, to contain, is applicable enough to goblets and other vessels, but not to a sword. Hitzig therefore explains it from the Arabic kll, to blunt (sc., the eyes), i.e., to blind. But this is open to the objection that the form הכיל points to the verb כּוּל rather than כּלל; and also to a still greater one, - namely, that there is nothing in the Hebrew usage to suggest the use of כלל in such a sense as this, and even if it were used in the sense of blunting, it would be perfectly arbitrary to supply עינים; and lastly, that even the flashing of the sword does not suggest the idea of blinding, but is intended to heighten the terror occasioned by the sharpness of the sword. We therefore adhere to the derivation of הכיל from אכל, and regard it as a defective form for האכיל, like תּמרוּ for תּאמרוּ in 2 Samuel 19:14, יהל as syncopated form for יאהל (Isaiah 13:20), and watochez ותּחז for ותּאחז in 2 Samuel 20:9; literally, to cause it to eat or devour, i.e., to make it fit for the work of devouring. למען , literally, for the sake of the lightning (flash) that shall issue therefrom (cf. Ezekiel 21:10). - In Ezekiel 21:29 (34), לתת (to lay, or place) is also dependent upon חרב פּתוּחה, drawn to lay thee; so that the first half of the verse is inserted as a parenthesis, either to indicate the occasion for bringing the sword into the land (Hitzig), or to introduce an attendant circumstance, according to the sense in which the ב in בּחזות is taken. The parenthetical clause is understood by most of the commentators as referring to deceptive oracles of Ammonitish soothsayers, which either determined the policy of Ammon, as Hitzig supposes (cf. Jeremiah 27:9-10), or inspired the Ammonites with confidence, that they had nothing to fear from the Chaldeans. Kliefoth, on the other hand, refers the words to the oracles consulted by Nebuchadnezzar, according to Ezekiel 21:23. "These oracles, which directed the king not to march against the Ammonites, but against Jerusalem, proved themselves, according to Ezekiel 21:29, to be deceptive prophesying to the Ammonites, inasmuch as they also afterwards fell by the sword; just as, according to Ezekiel 21:23, they proved themselves to be genuine so far as the Israelites were concerned, inasmuch as they were really the first to be smitten." This view is a very plausible one, if it only answered in any degree to the words. But it is hard to believe that the words, "while it (one) prophesies falsehood to thee," are meant to be equivalent to "while its prophecy proves itself to be false to thee." Moreover, Nebuchadnezzar did not give the Ammonites any oracle, either false or true, by the circumstance that his divination at the cross-road led him to decide in favour of the march to Jerusalem; for all that he did in consequence was to postpone his designs upon the Ammonites, but not to relinquish them. We cannot understand the words in any other sense, therefore, than as relating to oracles, which the Ammonites received from soothsayers of their own.
Hitzig takes offence at the expression, "that it (the sword) may lay thee by (to) the necks of the sinners slain," because colla cannot stand for corpora decollata, and consequently proposes to alter אותך into אותהּ, to put it (the sword) to the necks. But by this conjecture he gets the not less striking thought, that the sword was to be put to the necks of those already slain; a thing which would be perfectly unmeaning, and is therefore not generally done. The sinners slain are the Judaeans who have fallen. The words point back to Ezekiel 21:25, the second half of which is repeated here, and predict the same fate to the Ammonites. It is easy to supply חרב to השׁב אל־תּערהּ: put the sword into its scabbard again. These words can only be addressed to the Ammonites; not to the Chaldeans, as Kliefoth imagines, for the latter does not harmonize in any way with what follows, viz., in the place of thy birth will I judge thee. God does not execute the judgment independently of the Chaldeans, but through the medium of their sword. The difficulties occasioned by taking the words as referring to the Ammonites are not so great as to necessitate an alteration of the text (Hitzig), or to call for the arbitrary explanation: put it now or for the present into the scabbard (Kliefoth). The use of the masculine השׁב (with Patach for השׁב, as in Isaiah 42:22), if Ammon is addressed by the side of the feminine אותך, may be explained in a very simple way, from the fact that the sword is carried by men, so that here the thought of the people, the warriors, is predominant, and the representation of the kingdom of the Ammonites as a woman falls into the background. The objection that the suffix in תּערהּ can only refer to the sword (of the Chaldean) mentioned in Ezekiel 21:28, is more plausible than conclusive. For inasmuch as the scabbard presupposes a sword, and every sword has a scabbard, the suffix may be fully accounted for from the thing itself, as the words, "put the sword into its scabbard," would lead any hearer to think at once of the sword of the person addressed, without considering whether that particular sword had been mentioned before or not. The meaning of the words is this: every attempt to defend thyself with the sword and avert destruction will be in vain. In thine own land will God judge thee. For מכרותיך, see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:3. This judgment is still further explained in Ezekiel 21:31, where the figure of the sword is dropped, and that of the fire of the wrath of God introduced in its place. אפיח...בּאשׁ, we render: "the fire of my wrath I blow (kindle) against thee," after Isaiah 54:16, and not "with the fire...do I blow, or snort, against thee," as others have done; because blowing with the fire is an unnatural figure, and the interpretation of the words in accordance with Isa. l.c. is all the more natural, that in the closing words of the verse, חרשׁי משׁחית, the allusion to that passage is indisputable, and it is only from this that the combination of the two words can be accounted for. - Different explanations have been given of בּערים. Some render it ardentes, and in accordance with Isaiah 30:27 : burning with wrath. But בּער is never used in this sense. Nor can the rendering "scorching men" (Kliefoth) be sustained, for בּער, to burn, only occurs in connection with things which are combustible, e.g., fire, pitch, coals, etc. The word must be explained from Psalm 92:7, "brutish," foolish, always bearing in mind that the Hebrew associated the idea of godlessness with folly, and that cruelty naturally follows in its train. - Ezekiel 21:32. Thus will Ammon perish through fire and sword, and even the memory of it be obliterated. For Ezekiel 21:32 compare Ezekiel 15:4. The words, "thy blood will be בּתוך הארץ in the midst of the land," can hardly be understood in any other sense than "thy blood will flow over all the land." For the rendering proposed by Ewald, "remain in the midst of the earth, without thy being mentioned," like that given by Kliefoth, "thy blood will the earth drink," does not harmonize with Ezekiel 24:7, where דּמהּ בּתוכהּ היה is affirmed of blood, which cannot penetrate into the earth, or be covered with dust. For תּזּכרי, see Ezekiel 25:10. Ammon as the enemy of the kingdom of God will utterly perish, leaving no trace behind, and without any such hope of restoration as that held out in Ezekiel 21:27 to the kingdom of Judah or the people of Israel.
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