Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezekiel 33:1-6. Again the word of the Lord came unto me — “It is plain that Ezekiel uttered what is contained in this chapter to Ezekiel 33:20, before Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonians; but how long before is uncertain.” — Bishop Newcome. Song of Solomon of man, speak to the children of thy people — To the Jews, to whom he had not spoken since he declared what is contained in chap. 24. The reader will find in chap. 3., from Ezekiel 33:17-22, the substance of what is repeated in the first ten verses of this chapter. The instruction is the same in both passages; but the subject is here more fully and explicitly illustrated. “When the prophet had confirmed his predictions of evil, both to the Jews and heathen, by exemplifications of the like predictions already fulfilled among the latter, he proceeds to apply home the conclusion arising hence by an expostulation and pathetic address to the hearts and consciences of the Jews. But to what Jews is this addressed? To the Jews who were already in captivity. In order, then, that this address might make the stronger impression on them, and produce its wished-for effect, he immediately subjoins an information, which he here presents, as having been just then received, of the actual capture and destruction of the city of Jerusalem, agreeably to his foregoing prophecies against it: the accomplishment of which prediction against the Jews themselves, joined to his historic narrations before, of the accomplishment of many others against the heathen, both completes his arguments in favour of the credit and veracity of his predictions against Egypt, or other nations, and also proves, by a conspicuous example, the truth of that maxim with which he had concluded his late address to the captive Jews, That God will judge every one after his ways, both Jews and heathen.” — Obs. on Books, 2:196.
When I bring the sword upon a land — When an enemy approaches to any land, which never happens without my appointment or permission; if the people of the land take a man of their coast — Or, from among them, to which sense the word מקצה, here used, is translated, Genesis 47:2; and set him for their watchman — Such watchmen were placed upon the turrets of their city-walls, or upon high mountains near, to give notice of the enemy’s approach: see the margin. If when he seeth the sword come upon the land — If, when he spies the enemy marching against it, he blow the trumpet, sound the alarm; and warn the people — The sound of the trumpet is a warning, yet it is sometimes necessary to add a warning by word of mouth, and tell the people brought together by the trumpet what he sees. Whosoever heareth, &c., and taketh not warning — Considers not, minds not what he hears, nor will be made sensible of the danger, so as to provide for resisting or fleeing from the sword; if the sword come and take him away — Destroy him; his blood shall be upon his own head — His destruction is owing to himself. He heard the sound of the trumpet — He heard as well as others who escaped, and he might have delivered himself as they did who took warning. His blood shall be upon him — The guilt and blame of his death cannot be charged on any but himself. But he that taketh warning shall save his soul — Shall save his life from the danger that threatens it. In like manner, he that takes warning by the prophet’s admonition shall preserve himself from the judgments threatened against sinners. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet — If he neglect his charge, which is to give the alarm; and the people be not warned — But are surprised by the enemy; if the sword take any person from among them — Cut any one off unexpectedly; he is taken away in his iniquity — Punished and cut off by the Lord for his sins formerly committed, and in consequence of the present fault of not watching, a great fault in every one that is guilty of it in time of war. But his blood will I require at the watchman’s hands — The guilt of that blood will I charge upon the watchman, and punish him for it, for he sinned in not giving the necessary warning.Ezekiel 33:1-20, compare Ezekiel 18 notes.
Eze 33:1-33. Renewal of Ezekiel's Commission, Now that He Is Again to Address His Countrymen, and in a New Tone.
Heretofore his functions had been chiefly threatening; from this point, after the evil had got to its worst in the overthrow of Jerusalem, the consolatory element preponderates.According to the duty of a watchman in warning the people, Ezekiel is admoished of his duty in warning sinners, Ezekiel 33:1-9. God showeth the manner of his dealings with the righteous that revolteth, and with the returning sinner, Ezekiel 33:10-16. He mataineth the equity of his proceeding, Ezekiel 33:17-20. Upon the news of the taking of Jerusalem, Ezekiel prophesieth the desolation of the land, Ezekiel 33:21-29. The hypocrisy of the captive Jews reproved. Ezekiel 33:30-33.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1–6. The illustration—duty of the watchman in war.Verse 1. - If we may think of Ezekiel as compiling and arranging his own prophecies, we may think of him as returning, with something like a sense of relief, to his own special work as the watchman of the house of Israel. For upwards of two years the messages which it had been given him to write (how far they were in any sense published we have no means of knowing) in Ezekiel 25-32, had dealt exclusively with foreign nations. Now his own people are again the object of his care. He resumes his pastoral office at once for warning and consolation. From this point onwards, with the exception of the strange Meshech-Tubal episode in Ezekiel 38, 39, all is leading onwards to the final vision of the rebuilt temple, and the redistributed land of Israel, and through them to the times of the Messianic restoration. No date is given here for the word of the Lord which now came to him, but it may, perhaps be inferred, from Vers. 21, 22, that it was immediately before the arrival of the messenger who brought the tidings that Jerusalem was taken. In the ecstatic state indicated by "the hand of the Lord" he knew that some great change was coming, that he had a new message to deliver, a new part to play.
Ezekiel 31:15. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day that he went down to hell I caused a mourning: covered the flood for his sake, and stopped its streams, and the great waters were held back: I caused Lebanon to blacken itself for him, and all the trees of the field pined for him. Ezekiel 31:16. I made the nations tremble at the noise of his fall, when I cast him down to hell to those who go into the grave: and they comforted themselves in the nether world, even all the trees of Eden, the choice and most beautiful of Lebanon, all the water-drinkers. Ezekiel 31:17. They also went with him into hell, to those pierced with the sword, who sat as his helpers in his shade among the nations. Ezekiel 31:18. Whom dost thou thus resemble in glory and greatness among the trees of Eden? So shalt thou be thrust down to the trees of Eden into the nether world, and lie among uncircumcised ones with those pierced with the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his tumult, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In order that the overthrow of the Assyrian, i.e., the destruction of the Assyrian empire, may be placed in the clearest light, a picture is drawn of the impression which it made upon the whole creation. There is no necessity to understand כּה אמר in a past sense, as in Ezekiel 31:10. What God did on the overthrow of Asshur He may even now, for the first time, make known through the prophet, for a warning to Pharaoh and the people of Israel. That this is the way in which the words are to be interpreted, is evident from the use of the perfect האבלתּי, followed by the historical imperfects, which cannot be taken in a prophetical sense, as Kliefoth supposes, or turned into futures. It is contrary to Hebrew usage to connect האבלתּי and כּסּתי together as asyndeton, so as to form one idea, viz., "to veil in mourning" as Ewald and Hvernick propose. The circumstances under which two verbs are joined together to form one idea are of a totally different kind. In this instance האבלתּי is placed first as an absolute; and in the sentences which follow, it is more specifically defined by a detail of the objects which were turned into mourning. כּסּה עליו את־תּהום cannot mean her, "to cover the flood upon (over) him" (after Ezekiel 24:7 and Ezekiel 26:19); for this is altogether unsuitable to either the more remote or the more immediate context. The tree Asshur was not destroyed by a flood, but cut down by strangers. The following clauses, "I stopped its streams," etc., show very plainly that the connection between the flood (תּהום) and the tree which had been felled is to be understood in accordance with Ezekiel 31:4. A flood, which poured its נהרות round about its plantation, made the cedar-tree great; and now that the tree has been felled, God covers the flood on its account. כּסּה is to be explained from כּסּה שׂק, to veil or wrap in mourning, as Raschi, Kimchi, Vatablus, and many others have shown. The word שׂק is omitted, because it appeared inappropriate to תּהום. The mourning of the flood is to be taken as equivalent to drying up, so that the streams which issued from it were deprived of their water. Lebanon, i.e., the cedar-forest (Isaiah 10:34), and all the other trees, mourned over the fall of the cedar Asshur. הקדּיר, to clothe in black, i.e., to turn into mourning. עלפּה is regarded by Ewald as a Pual formed after the Aramean mode, that is to say, by attaching the syllable ae instead of doubling the middle radical; whilst Hitzig proposes to change the form into עלּפּה. In any case the word must be a perfect Pual, as a nomen verbale appears unsuitable; and it must also be a third person feminine, the termination ־ה being softened into ־ה, as in זוּרה (Isaiah 59:5), and the doubling of the ל being dropped on account of the Sheva; so that the plural is construed with the singular feminine (Ewald, 317a). עלּף, to faint with grief (cf. Isaiah 51:20). The thought is the following: all nature was so painfully affected by the fall of Asshur, that the whole of the resources from which its prosperity and might had been derived were dried up. To interpret the different figures as specially relating to princes and nations appears a doubtful procedure, for the simple reason that in Ezekiel 31:16 the trembling of the nations is expressly named.
Whilst all the nations on the surface of the earth tremble at the fall of Assyria, because they are thereby warned of the perishable nature of all earthly greatness and of their own destruction, the inhabitants of the nether world console themselves with the thought that the Assyrian is now sharing their fate (for this thought, compare Ezekiel 32:31 and Isaiah 14:9-10). "All the trees of Eden" are all the powerful and noble princes. The idea itself, "trees of Eden," is explained by the apposition, "the choice and beautiful ones of Lebanon," i.e., the picked and finest cedars, and still further strengthened by the expression כּל־שׁתי (cf. Ezekiel 31:14). מבחר are connected, as in 1 Samuel 9:2; and both words are placed side by side in the construct state, as in Daniel 1:4 (cf. Ewald, 339b). They comfort themselves because they have gone down with him into Sheol, so that he has no advantage over them. They come thither to those pierced with the sword, i.e., to the princes and peoples whom Asshur slew in wars to establish his imperial power. וּזרעו might also belong to ירדוּ as a second subject. In that case ישׁבוּ בצלּו should be taken in a relative sense: "and his arm," i.e., his resources, "which sat in his shadow among the nations." With this explanation זרעו would be different from הם, and could only denote the army of the Assyrian. But this does not harmonize with the sitting in his shadow among the nations, for these words obviously point back to Ezekiel 31:6; so that זרעו is evidently meant to correspond to כּּל־גוים רבּים (Ezekiel 31:6), and is actually identical with הם, i.e., with all the trees of Eden. We therefore agree with Osiander, Grotius, and others, in regarding the whole of the second hemistich as more precisely determining the subject, - in other words, as a declaration of the reason for their descending into hell along with the Assyrians, - and render the passage thus: "for as his arm (as his might) they sat in his shadow among the nations;" so that the cop. w is used in place of a causal particle. In any case, the conjecture which Ewald has adopted from the lxx and the Syriac, viz., וזרעו, and his seed, in support of which appeal might be made to Isaiah 14:21, is unsuitable, for the simple reason that the statement, that it sat in his shadow among the nations, does not apply. - After this description of the greatness and the destruction of the imperial power of Assyria, Ezekiel repeats in Ezekiel 31:18 the question already asked in Ezekiel 31:3 : to whom is Pharaoh like? כּכה, so, i.e., under such circumstances, when the glorious cedar Asshur has been smitten by such a fate (Hitzig). The reply to this question is really contained in the description given already; so that it is immediately followed by the announcement, "and thou wilt be thrust down," etc. ערלים, uncircumcised, equivalent to ungodly heathen 'הוּא פ, not "he is," as that would require פּרעה הוּא; but הוּא is the predicate: this is (i.e., so does it happen to) Pharaoh. המונו, as in Ezekiel 31:2.
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