As you did rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do to you: you shall be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Because it was desolate.—This is spoken of Israel; yet Israel was to preserve a remnant who should return to their land, and ultimately become the centre of the new covenant. So the desolation of Edom, though ultimately perpetual as far as its nationality is concerned, is not inconsistent with the fact foretold by Amos (Amos 9:12), that a remnant even of Edom should at last be received into the Church.
All Idumea.—It is better to keep the uniform name of Edom. Idumea is essentially the same country but is a more modern name, and when it came into use the boundaries had somewhat changed.Thou didst rejoice; thou tookest pleasure in the ruin of my people; for this thy sin I will ruin thee, and then do to thee as thou didst, I will retaliate, and rejoice in thy ruin: thou helpedst to make Jerusalem desolate, I will make thee so: thou criedst to ruin them all, to destroy all the land; all thy land shall be ruined, and by these judgments I will be known to be the Lord. Obadiah 1:12, and so the followers of the man of sin will rejoice at the slaying of the witnesses, Revelation 11:10, which is resented by the Lord, and therefore adds,
so will I do unto thee; make thee desolate, as is explained in the next clause:
thou shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it; not that mount only, but all the land of Edom, called Idumea; the destruction shall be general, as it was, and irretrievable; and so not Rome only, but all the antichristian states, will be destroyed, when God comes forth in his wrath against them:As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. The clause “as thou didst … do unto thee” is wanting in LXX.
As Edom had been active in the destruction of Judah, their own desolation must follow. The author of the Lamentations has a presentiment that the next great act of divine judgment will be on Edom (Lamentations 4:22; cf. Isaiah 34, Isaiah 63:1-6). The great empires which brought destruction upon Jerusalem were acting under commission from Jehovah and the work was according to his will. But in the first place there is a difference between the work itself and the spirit in which it is done. Jehu received commendation for his act in cutting off the seed of Ahab, but later his house was extirpated for the guilt of this same “blood of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:4). The Assyrian was entrusted with a commission against the ungodly nation; but he meant not so, it was in his heart to cut off nations not a few (Isaiah 10:7), and the decree that he should be broken upon the mountains of Israel went out against him (Isaiah 14:25). Nebuchadnezzar was the “servant” of the Lord, but because Babylon laid her yoke heavily on the aged of the people, not considering the issue of such things, bereavement and widowhood shall come upon her in one day (Isaiah 47:6-8). Here the prophet reprobates both the actions and the spirit of Edom, and threatens that Jehovah will recompense it into their bosom. In ancient modes of thought the people and their god were one. The people were but the reflection of the god, they were the people of Chemosh or Milcom or Jehovah. All wars were religious wars, wars against a god who animated and gave strength to his people (Exodus 12:12). Edom’s despite was to some extent in the strict sense directed against Jehovah. In truth they knew Jehovah only as the God of Israel, but it was he whom they knew, though they might not have such knowledge of him as Ezek. had attained to. But it is possible to be guilty of great sins against God, even though they are done unwittingly and without full knowledge of that which he is.
And in the second place, Edom received no commission from Jehovah against his people. Their place in history and among the nations of the earth gave them no significance in relation to Israel, or in Jehovah’s providence embracing all the world. The contact of Israel with the nations exercising universal empire over the earth, if it did not suggest conceptions of Jehovah’s universal power and dominion to the prophets, at least gave them occasion for expressing to the people and to all time such conceptions; and this period of Israel’s history lent a breadth and elevation to prophecy to which in political conditions such as existed in earlier times it could never have attained. The transportation of colonies of Israelites also into the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, besides purifying the religion of the people from its dependence on ritual observance and making it more inward among those who continued to adhere to it, leavened the populations of these heathen nations with truer conceptions of Deity and religion. The writers of this age often refer to the strangers joining themselves to the covenant of the Lord (Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 56:1-8), and no doubt the same influence was exerted by Israel, if not to the same extent, in Babylon and the countries of the East, as we are familiar with in later times in Rome and the empire of the West. In such respects Edom had no importance, and hardly entered into the larger designs of Jehovah with respect to his people and mankind.Verse 15. - As thou didst rejoice. כִי is here a particle of comparison; and the import of the passage is that precisely as Edom exulted over the desolation of Israel's inheritance, so would Jehovah cause others to rejoice over the downfall and desolation of Edom. All Idumea. Instead of this Greek term, the Revised Version properly substitutes the usual word Edom. Note: That the prediction here uttered concerning Edom received literal fulfillment, the following extract relative to the present state of the country will show: "Idumea, once so rich in flocks, so strong in its fortresses and rock-hewn cities, so extensive in its commercial relations, so renowned for the architectural splendor of its palaces, is now a deserted and desolate wilderness. Its whole population is contained in some three or four miserable villages. No merchant would now dare to enter its borders; its highways are untrodden, its cities are all in ruins" (J.L. Porter, in Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' art. "Idumea").
Ezekiel 34:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 34:2. Son of man, prophesy concerning the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, to the shepherds, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who fed themselves; should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ezekiel 34:3. Ye eat the fat, and clothe yourselves whit the wool; ye slay the fattened; the flock ye do not feed. Ezekiel 34:4. The weak ones ye do not strengthen, and that which is sick ye do not cure, the wounded one ye bind not up, the scattered ye bring not back, and the lost one ye do not seek; and ye rule over them with violence and with severity. Ezekiel 34:5. Therefore they were scattered, because without shepherd, and became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. Ezekiel 34:6. My sheep wander about on all the mountains, and on every high hill; and over all the land have my sheep been scattered, and there is no one who asks for them, and no one who seeks them. Ezekiel 34:7. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah: Ezekiel 34:8. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, because my sheep become a prey, and my sheep become food to all the beasts of the field, because there is no shepherd, and my shepherds do not inquire after my sheep, and the shepherds feed themselves, but do not feed the sheep, Ezekiel 34:9. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah, Ezekiel 34:10. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with the shepherds, and will demand my sheep from their hand, and cause them to cease to feed my flock, that they may feed themselves no more; and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may be food to them no more. - In Ezekiel 34:2 לרעים is an explanatory apposition to אליהם, and is not to be taken in connection with כּה אמר יי, in opposition to the constant use of this formula, as Kliefoth maintains. The reason for the woe pronounced is given in the apposition, who fed themselves, whereas they ought to have fed the flock; and the charge that they only care for themselves is still further explained by a description of their conduct (Ezekiel 34:3 and Ezekiel 34:4), and of the dispersion of the flock occasioned thereby (Ezekiel 34:5 and Ezekiel 34:6). Observe the periphrastic preterite היוּ רעים, they were feeding, which shows that the woe had relation chiefly to the former shepherds or rulers of the nation. אותם is reflective, se ipsos (cf. Gesen. 124. 1b). The disgracefulness of their feeding themselves is brought out by the question, "Ought not the shepherds to feed the flock?" Ezekiel 34:3 shows how they fed themselves, and Ezekiel 34:4 how they neglected the flock. חלב, the fat, which Bochart and Hitzig propose to alter into החלב, the milk, after the Septuagint and Vulgate, is not open to any objection. The fat, as the best portion of the flesh, which was laid upon the altar, for example, in the case of the sacrifices, as being the flower of all the flesh, is mentioned here as pars melior pro toto. Hvernick has very properly pointed, in vindication of the reading in the text, to Zechariah 11:16, where the two clauses, ye eat the fat, and slay the fattened, are joined together in the one clause, "the flesh of the fattened one will he eat." There is no force in the objection raised by Hitzig, that "the slaughtering of the fat beasts, which ought to be mentioned first, is not introduced till afterwards;" for this clause contains a heightening of the thought that they use the flock to feed themselves: they do not even kill the leaner beasts, but those that are well fattened; and it follows very suitably after the general statement, that they make use of both the flesh and the wool of the sheep for their own advantage. They care nothing for the wellbeing of the flock: this is stated in the last clause of Ezekiel 34:3, which is explained in detail in Ezekiel 34:4. נהלות is the Niphal participle of חלה, and is a contracted form of נחלות, like נחלה in Isaiah 17:11. The distinction between נהלות and חולה is determined by the respective predicates חזּק and רפא. According to these, נחלה signifies that which is weak in consequence of sickness, and חלה that which is weak in itself. נשׁבּרת, literally, that which is broken, an animal with a leg or some other member injured. נדּח, scattered, as in Deuteronomy 22:1.
In the last clause of Ezekiel 34:4, the neglect of the flock is summed up in the positive expression, to rule over them with violence and severity. רדה בפרך is taken from Leviticus 25:43, Leviticus 25:46; but there as well as here it points back to Exodus 1:13-14, where בפרך is applied to the tyrannical measures adopted by Pharaoh for the oppression of the Israelites. The result of this (Ezekiel 34:5, Ezekiel 34:6) was, that the sheep were scattered, and became food to the beasts of prey. מבּלי, on account of there not being a shepherd, i.e., because there was no shepherd worthy of the name. This took place when Israel was carried away into exile, where it became a prey to the heathen nations. When we find this mournful fate of the people described as brought about by the bad shepherds, and attributable to faults of theirs, we must not regard the words as applying merely to the mistaken policy of the kings with regard to external affairs (Hitzig); for this was in itself simply a consequence of their neglect of their theocratic calling, and of their falling away from the Lord into idolatry. It is true that the people had also made themselves guilty of this sin, so that it was obliged to atone not only for the sins of its shepherds, but for its own sin also; but this is passed by here, in accordance with the design of this prophecy. And it could very properly be kept out of sight, inasmuch as the rulers had also occasioned the idolatry of the people, partly by their neglect of their duty, and partly by their bad example. ותּפוּצינה is repeated with emphasis at the close of Ezekiel 34:5; and the thought is still further expanded in Ezekiel 34:6. The wandering upon all the mountains and hills must not be understood as signifying the straying of the people to the worship on high places, as Theodoret and Kliefoth suppose. The fallacy of this explanation is clearly shown by the passage on which this figurative description rests (1 Kings 22:17), where the people are represented as scattered upon the mountains in consequence of the fall of the king in battle, like a flock that had no shepherd. The words in the next clause, corresponding to the mountains and hills, are כּל־פּני הארץ, the whole face of the land, not "of the earth" (Kliefoth). For although the dispersion of the flock actually consisted in the carrying away of the people into heathen lands, the actual meaning of the figure is kept in the background here, as is evident from the fact that Ezekiel constantly uses the expression הארצות (plural) when speaking of the dispersion among the heathen (cf. Ezekiel 13). The distinction between דּרשׁ and בּקּשׁ is, that דרשׁ taht , signifies rather to ask, inquire for a thing, to trouble oneself about it, whereas בקשׁ means to seek for that which has strayed or is lost. In Ezekiel 34:7-10, the punishment for their unfaithfulness is announced to the shepherds themselves; but at the same time, as is constantly the case with Ezekiel, their guilt is once more recapitulated as an explanation of the threatening of punishment, and the earnest appeal to listen is repeated in Ezekiel 34:9. The Lord will demand His sheep of them; and because sheep have been lost through their fault, He will dispose them from the office of shepherd, and so deliver the poor flock from their violence. If we compare with this Jeremiah 23:2 : "Behold, I will visit upon you the wickedness of your doings," the threat in Ezekiel has a much milder sound. There is nothing said about the punishment of the shepherd, but simply that the task of keeping the sheep shall be taken from them, so that they shall feed themselves no more. This distinction is to be explained from the design of our prophecy, which is not so much to foretell the punishment of the shepherds, as the deliverance from destruction of the sheep that have been plunged into misery. The repetition of צאני, my flock (Ezekiel 34:8 and Ezekiel 34:10, as before in Ezekiel 34:6), is also connected with this. The rescue of the sheep out of the hand of the bad shepherds had already commenced with the overthrow of the monarchy on the destruction of Jerusalem. If, then it is here described as only to take place in the future, justice is not done to these words by explaining them, as Hitzig does, as signifying that what has already actually taken place is now to be made final, and not to be reversed. For although this is implied, the words clearly affirm that the deliverance of the sheep out of the hand of the shepherds has not yet taken place, but still remains to be effected, so that the people are regarded as being at the time in the power of bad shepherds, and their rescue is predicted as still in the future. How and when it will be accomplished, by the removal of the bad shepherds, is shown in the announcement, commencing with Ezekiel 34:11, of what the Lord will do for His flock.
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