Ezekiel 24:4
Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.
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(4) The pieces thereof.—Literally, its pieces, the pieces which pertain to the cauldron, the Jews, whose centre and capital is Jerusalem. This was the natural effect of Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign; the people from every side sought refuge in the city. (Comp. Jeremiah 35:11.) The mention of the “good piece,” “the choice bones,” and “the choice of the flock” (Ezekiel 24:5), is not for the purpose of designating any particular class, but only to emphasise that all, even the best, are to be included.

24:1-14 The pot on the fire represented Jerusalem besieged by the Chaldeans: all orders and ranks were within the walls, prepared as a prey for the enemy. They ought to have put away their transgressions, as the scum, which rises by the heat of the fire, is taken from the top of the pot. But they grew worse, and their miseries increased. Jerusalem was to be levelled with the ground. The time appointed for the punishment of wicked men may seem to come slowly, but it will come surely. It is sad to think how many there are, on whom ordinances and providences are all lost.The pieces thereof - Or, that belong to it; i. e., the pieces which are designed for the caldron, and belong to it as the inhabitants belong to the city. The choice pieces are the choice members of the community Ezekiel 11:3. 4. pieces thereof—those which properly belong to it, as its own.

every good piece … choice bones—that is, the most distinguished of the people. The "choice bones" in the pot have flesh adhering to them. The bones under the pot (Eze 24:5) are those having no flesh and used as fuel, answering to the poorest who suffer first, and are put out of pain sooner than the rich who endure what answers to the slower process of boiling.

The pieces; which are to put into this pot.

Every good piece, i.e. all the chief of the inhabitants of the land, the wealthiest, who in the time of this invasion will flee from their country-houses to live in safety in Jerusalem. The most warlike, who will betake themselves to Jerusalem for its defence.

The thigh, and the shoulder; as these are the principal parts for support, motion, defence, and strength; so those citizens, soldiers, rulers, that are the strength, defence, and glory of this people, are here signified by those parts.

Fill it; fill the pot, Jerusalem, let no place be empty.

With the choice bones; with those pieces that are biggest, fattest, fullest of marrow, and which are divided according to the bones; these are the principal members of this Jewish state, king, princes, priests, magistrates, and wealthy citizens. Gather the pieces thereof into it,.... fire being made, and the pot set on, and water poured into it, the next thing is, to put in the pieces that are to be boiled; and these are to be gathered; meaning the people of the land, that were to be gathered from the several parts of it, for their security, as they thought; but the event proved it was for their ruin: even

every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder; the princes and gentry, the great and the mighty, the rich and wealthy of the people; who, upon the invasion, got together in Jerusalem, to secure their persons and substance:

fill it with the choice bones; or with those pieces that have the choice bones, that are full of marrow; the strongest among the people; the soldiers, or such as were fit for war; the best of their militia, brought hither to defend the city; but, in fact, to be slain, as they were. The Targum is,

"gather the princes thereof into the midst of her, every terrible man and warrior; fill her with the army of the people.''

Gather its {d} pieces into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.

(d) That is the citizens and the chief men of it.

4. the pieces thereof] those belonging to the caldron, which are to be boiled in it.Another Summary of the Sins and Punishment of the Two Women

Ezekiel 23:36. And Jehovah said to me, Son of man, wilt thou judge Oholah and Oholibah, then show them their abominations; Ezekiel 23:37. For they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands; and they have committed adultery with their idols; and their sons also whom they bare to me they have caused to pass through to them to be devoured. Ezekiel 23:38. Yea more, they have done this to me; they have defiled my sanctuary the same day, and have desecrated my Sabbaths. Ezekiel 23:39. When they slaughtered their sons to their idols, they came into my sanctuary the same day to desecrate it; and, behold, they have acted thus in the midst of my house. Ezekiel 23:40. Yea, they have even sent to men coming from afar; to them was a message sent, and, behold, they came, for whom thou didst bathe thyself, paint thine eyes, and put on ornaments, Ezekiel 23:41. And didst seat thyself upon a splendid cushion, and a table was spread before them, thou didst lay thereon my incense and my oil. Ezekiel 23:42. And the loud noise became still thereat, and to the men out of the multitude there were brought topers out of the desert, and they put armlets upon their hands, and glorious crowns upon their heads. Ezekiel 23:43. Then I said to her who was debilitated for adultery, Now will her whoredom itself go whoring, Ezekiel 23:44. And they will go in to her as they go in to a shore; so did they go in to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. Ezekiel 23:45. But righteous men, these shall judge them according to the judgment of adulteresses and according to the judgment of murderesses; for they are adulteresses, and there is blood in their hands. Ezekiel 23:46. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will bring up against them an assembly, and deliver them up for maltreating and for booty. Ezekiel 23:47. And the assembly shall stone them, and cut them in pieces with their swords; their sons and their daughters shall they kill, and burn their houses with fire. Ezekiel 23:48. Thus will I eradicate lewdness from the land, that all women may take warning and not practise lewdness like you. Ezekiel 23:49. And they shall bring your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols, and shall learn that I am the Lord Jehovah. - The introductory words 'התשׁפּוט point back not only to Ezekiel 22:2, but also to Ezekiel 20:4, and show that this section is really a summary of the contents of the whole group (Ezekiel 20:23). The actual subject-matter of these verses is closely connected with Ezekiel 23:16, more especially in the designation of the sins as adultery and bloodshed (compare Ezekiel 23:37 and Ezekiel 23:45 with Ezekiel 16:38). נאף, to commit adultery with the idols, whereby the idols are placed on a par with Jehovah as the husband of Israel (compare Jeremiah 3:8 and Jeremiah 2:27). For the Moloch-worship in Ezekiel 23:37, compare Ezekiel 16:20-21, and Ezekiel 20:31. The desecration of the sanctuary (Ezekiel 23:38) is more minutely defined in Ezekiel 23:39. בּיּום ההוּא in Ezekiel 23:38, which has so offended the lxx and Hitzig that it is omitted by the former, while the latter proposes to strike it out as a gloss, is added for the purpose of designating the profanation of the sanctuary as contemporaneous with the Moloch-worship of Ezekiel 23:37, as is evident from Ezekiel 23:39. For the fact itself, compare 2 Kings 21:4-5, 2 Kings 21:7. The desecration of the Sabbaths, as in Ezekiel 20:13, Ezekiel 20:16. For Ezekiel 23:39, compare Ezekiel 16:21. The words are not to be understood as signifying that they sacrificed children to Moloch in the temple, but simply that immediately after they had sacrificed children to Moloch, they went into the temple of Jehovah, that there they might worship Jehovah also, and thus placed Jehovah upon a par with Moloch. This was a profanation (חלּל) of His sanctuary.

In Ezekiel 23:40-44 the allusion is not to actual idolatry, but to the ungodly alliance into which Judah had entered with Chaldea. Judah sent ambassadors to Chaldea, and for the purpose of receiving the Chaldeans, adorned herself as a woman would do for the reception of her paramours. She seated herself upon a splendid divan, and in front of this there was a table spread, upon which stood the incense and the oil that she ought to have offered to Jehovah. This is the explanation which Kliefoth has correctly given of Ezekiel 23:40 and Ezekiel 23:41. The emphatic ואף כּי in Ezekiel 23:40 is sufficient to show that the reference is to a new crime deserving of punishment. This cannot be idolatry, because the worship of Moloch has already been mentioned in Ezekiel 23:38 and Ezekiel 23:39 as the worst of all the idolatrous abominations. Moreover, sending for (or to) men who come from afar does not apply to idolatry in the literal sense of the word; for men to whom the harlot sent messengers to invite them to come to her could not be idols for which she sent to a distant land. The allusion is rather to Assyrians or Chaldeans, and, according to Ezekiel 23:42, it is the former who are referred to here (compare Isaiah 39:3). There is no force in Hitzig's objection, namely, that the one woman sent to these, and that their being sent for and coming have already been disposed of in Ezekiel 23:16. For the singulars in the last clause of Ezekiel 23:40 show that even here only one woman is said to have sent for the men. Again, תּשׁלחנה might even be the third person singular, as this form does sometimes take the termination נה (vid., Ewald, 191c, and Ges. 47, Anm. 3). At the same time, there is nothing in the fact that the sending to Chaldea has already been mentioned in Ezekiel 23:16 to preclude another allusion to the same circumstance from a different point of view. The woman adorned herself that she might secure the favour of the men for whom she had sent. כּהל is the Arabic khl, to paint the eyes with stibium (kohol). For the fact itself, see the remarks on 2 Kings 9:30. She then seated herself upon a cushion (not lay down upon a bed; for ישׁב does not mean to lie down), and in front of this there was a table, spread with different kinds of food, upon which she placed incense and oil. The suffix to עליה refers to שׁלחן, and is to be taken as a neuter, which suits the table as a thing, whilst שׁלחן generally takes the termination ות in the plural. In Ezekiel 23:41, Ewald and Hvernick detect a description of the lectisternia of the licentious worship of the Babylonian Mylitta. But neither the sitting (ישׁב) upon a cushion (divan), nor the position taken by the woman behind the table, harmonizes with this. As Hitzig has correctly observed, "if she has taken her seat upon a cushion, and has a table spread before her, she evidently intends to dine, and that with the men for whom she has adorned herself. The oil is meant for anointing at meal-time (Amos 6:6; Proverbs 21:17; cf. Psalm 23:5), and the incense for burning." "My incense and my oil" are the incense and oil given to her by God, which she ought to have devoted to His service, but had squandered upon herself and her foreign friends (cf. Ezekiel 16:18; Hosea 2:10). The oil, as the produce of the land of Palestine, was the gift of Jehovah; and although incense was not a production of Palestine, yet as the money with which Judah purchased it, or the goods bartered for it, were the fists of God, Jehovah could also call it His incense.

Ezekiel 23:42 is very obscure. Such renderings of the first clause as et vox multitudinis exultantis in ea (Vulg)., and "the voice of a careless multitude within her" (Hvernick), can hardly be sustained. In every other passage in which קול occurs, it does not signify the voice of a multitude, but a loud tumult; compare Isaiah 13:4; Isaiah 33:3; Daniel 10:6, and 1 Samuel 4:14, where קול ההמון is used as synonymous with קול. Even in cases where המון is used for a multitude, it denotes a noisy, boisterous, tumultuous crowd. Consequently שׁלו cannot be taken as an adjective connected with המון, because a quiet tumult is a contradiction, and שׁלו does not mean either exultans or recklessly breaking loose (Hvernick), but simply living in quiet, peaceful and contented. שׁלו must therefore be the predicate to קול המון; the sound of the tumult or the loud noise was (or became) quiet, still. בהּ, thereat (neuter, like בהּ, thereby, Genesis 24:14). The words which follow, 'ואל אנשׁים וגו, are not to be taken with the preceding clause, as the connection would yield no sense. They belong to what follows. אנשׁים מרב אדם .swollof tah can only be the men who came from afar (Ezekiel 23:40). In addition to these, there were brought, i.e., induced to come, topers from the desert. The Chetib סובאים is no doubt a participle of סבא, drinkers, topers; and the Hophal מוּבאים is chosen instead of the Kal בּאים, for the sake of the paronomasia, with סובאים. The former, therefore, can only be the Assyrians (בּני אשּׁוּר, Ezekiel 23:5 and Ezekiel 23:7), the latter (the topers) the Chaldeans (בּני בבל( sn, Ezekiel 23:15). The epithet drinkers is a very appropriate one for the sons of Babylon; as Curtius (Ezekiel 23:1) describes the Babylonians as maxime in vinum et quae ebrietatem sequuntur effusi. The phrase "from the desert" cannot indicate the home of these men, although ממּדבּר corresponds to ממּרחק in Ezekiel 23:40, but simply the place from which they came to Judah, namely, from the desert of Syria and Arabia, which separated Palestine from Babylon. These peoples decorated the arms of the harlots with clasps, and their heads with splendid wreaths (crowns). The plural suffixes indicate that the words apply to both women, and this is confirmed by the fact that they are both named in Ezekiel 23:44. The subject to ויּתּנוּ is not merely the סובאים, but also the אנשׁים ממּרחק eht osla in Ezekiel 23:40. The thought is simply that Samaria and Judah had attained to wealth and earthly glory through their intercourse with these nations; the very gifts with which, according to Ezekiel 16:11., Jehovah Himself had adorned His people. The meaning of the verse, therefore, when taken in its connection, appears to be the following: - When the Assyrians began to form alliances with Israel, quiet was the immediate result. The Chaldeans were afterwards added to these, so that through their adulterous intercourse with both these nations Israel and Judah acquired both wealth and glory. The sentence which God pronounced upon this conduct was, that Judah had sunk so deeply into adultery that it would be impossible for it ever to desist from the sin.

This is the way in which we understand Ezekiel 23:43, connecting לבּלה with ואמר: "I said concerning her who was debilitated with whoredom." בּלה, feminine of בּלה fo enini, used up, worn out; see, for example, Joshua 9:4-5, where it is applied to clothes; here it is transferred to persons decayed, debilitated, in which sense the verb occurs in Genesis 18:12. נאפּים, which is co-ordinated with בּלה, does not indicate the means by which the strength has been exhausted, but is an accusative of direction or reference, debilitated with regard to adultery, so as no longer to be capable of practising it.

(Note: The proposal of Ewald to take לבּלה נאפּים as an independent clause, "adultery to the devil," cannot be defended by the usage of the language; and that of Hitzig, "the withered hag practises adultery," is an unnatural invention, inasmuch as ל, if taken as nota dativi, would give this meaning: the hag has (possesses) adultery as her property - and there is nothing to indicate that it should be taken as a question.)

In the next clause עתּ , תּזנוּתיה is the subject to יזנה, and the Chetib is correct, the Keri being erroneous, and the result of false exposition. If תזנותיה were the object to יזנה, so that the woman would be the subject, we should have the feminine תּזנה. But if, on the other hand, תזנותיה is the subject, there is no necessity for this, whether we regard the word as a plural, from תּזנוּתים, or take it as a singular, as Ewald (259a) has done, inasmuch as in either case it is still an abstract, which might easily be preceded by the verb in the masculine form. והיא gives greater force, not only to the suffix, but also the noun - and that even she (her whoredom). The sin of whoredom is personified, or regarded as רוּח זנוּנים (Hosea 4:12), as a propensity to whoredom, which continues in all its force after the capacity of the woman herself is gone. - Ezekiel 23:44 contains the result of the foregoing description of the adulterous conduct of the two women, and this is followed in Ezekiel 23:45. by an account of the attitude assumed by God, and the punishment of the sinful women. ויּבוא, with an indefinite subject, they (man, one) went to her. אליה, the one woman, Oholibah. It is only in the apodosis that what has to be said is extended to both women. This is the only interpretation of Ezekiel 23:44 which does justice both to the verb ויּבוא (imperfect with Vav consec. as the historical tense) and the perfect בּאוּ. The plural אשּׁת does not occur anywhere else. Hitzig would therefore alter it into the singular, as "unheard of," and confine the attribute to Oholibah, who is the only one mentioned in the first clause of the verse, and also in Ezekiel 23:43, Ezekiel 23:40, and Ezekiel 23:41. The judgment upon the two sisters is to be executed by righteous men (Ezekiel 23:45). The Chaldeans are not designated as righteous in contrast to the Israelites, but as the instruments of the punitive righteousness of God in this particular instance, executing just judgment upon the sinners for adultery and bloodshed (vid., Ezekiel 16:38). The infinitives העלה and נתון in Ezekiel 23:46 stand for the third person future. For other points, compare the commentary on Ezekiel 16:40 and Ezekiel 16:41. The formula נתן לזעוה is derived from Deuteronomy 28:25, and has been explained in the exposition of that passage. וּברא is the inf. abs. Piel. For the meaning of the word, see the comm. on Ezekiel 21:24. From this judgment all women, i.e., all nations, are to take warning to desist from idolatry. נוּסּרוּ is a mixed form, compounded of the Niphal and Hithpael, for התוסּרוּ, like נכּפּר in Deuteronomy 21:8 (see the comm. in loc.). - For Ezekiel 23:49, vid., Ezekiel 16:58. - The punishment is announced to both the women, Israel and Judah, as still in the future, although Oholah (Samaria) had been overtaken by the judgment a considerable time before. The explanation of this is to be found in the allegory itself, in which both kingdoms are represented as being sisters of one mother; and it may also be defended on the ground that the approaching destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah affected the remnants of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which were still to be found in Palestine; whilst, on the other hand, the judgment was not restricted to the destruction of the two kingdoms, but also embraced the later judgments which fell upon the entire nation.

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