Ezekiel 39:14
And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search.
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(14) Men of continual employment.—The word for “continual” is the same as that translated always in Ezekiel 38:8, where see Note. It implies that this occupation is to be one of long continuance, and the fact that they are to search the land through for the remains shows that the army of Gog is not conceived of as perishing when collected in one place, but when distributed all over the land. This search is only to begin after the close of the burying for seven months already described.

39:11-22 How numerous the enemies which God destroyed for the defence of his people Israel! Times of great deliverances should be times of reformation. Every one should help the utmost he can, toward cleansing the land from reproach. Sin is an enemy every man should strive against. Those engaged in public work, especially of cleansing and reforming a land, ought to be men who will go through with what they undertake, who will be always employed. When good work is to be done, every one should further it. Having received special favours from God, let us cleanse ourselves from all evil. It is a work which will require persevering diligence, that search may be made into the secret recesses of sin. The judgments of the Lord, brought upon sin and sinners, are a sacrifice to the justice of God, and a feast to the faith and hope of God's people. See how evil pursues sinners, even after death. After all that ambitious and covetous men do and look for, a place of graves is all the Lord gives them on earth, while their guilty souls are doomed to misery in another world.Men of continual employment - literally, as margin, i. e., men regularly appointed to this business. As the land of Israel represents figuratively the Church of Christ, the purification of that land is a proper part of the figure to indicate such a sanctification and cleansing of His Church, as Paul describes Ephesians 5:26-27. 14. with the passengers—The men employed continually in the burying were to be helped by those happening to pass by; all were to combine.

after the end of seven months shall they search—to see if the work was complete [Munster].

They, the rulers in Israel,

shall sever out, choose out men who shall make it their work.

Passing through; to go up and down over the whole land, for many of Gog’s wounded, flying soldiers died in thickets, and by corners into which they crept, when they could go no further.

With the passengers; whose assistance they would desire of courtesy, or command by order, and that with reason, all this care and labour for burying the dead tending to their good, that they might unoffended travel whither they were going.

That remain unburied by the public labour of the house of Israel during the seven months.

To cleanse it: a legal cleansing, if-referred to Antiochus Epiphanes’s times, but not so with those that refer it to a season not yet come, for all legal ceremonies are ended: when Gog’s army shall be destroyed and buried, the land shall be cleansed from the stench and noisomeness of these carcasses. These officers begin their work after the first seven months are expired, for during the seven months there would be work for all of them to bury the dead and slain of Gog’s army.

And they shall sever out men of continual employment,.... That is, the principal of the house of Israel, their magistrates and governors, shall select certain persons, to be daily employed in the following work, till ended:

passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it; these men will be appointed to go through the land of Israel, to gather up such carcasses and bones of dead men as remain anywhere after the seven months' burial before observed; and all passengers or travellers shall be assisting to them in it, both in directing where any such carcasses and bones may lie, and in bringing them to the common place of burial; that so the land may he thoroughly cleansed from such disagreeable objects:

after the end of seven months shall they search or begin to search, as the Targum; when seven months are ended, in which the people in general will be employed in burying the dead; these men before mentioned will be sent out into each part of the land, to search in caves, and dens and ditches; among thickets, thorns, and briers, where the slain may fall; or where soldiers, being wounded, might betake themselves and die; or their carcasses or bones be dragged and left by beasts and fowls; to find them out, and bring them to the place of interment.

And they shall set apart men for the continual task of passing through the {i} land to bury with the travellers those that remain upon the face of the land, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search.

(i) Partly that the holy land should not be polluted and partly for the compassion that the children of God have even on their enemies.

14. When the remains that are visible shall all have been buried, men shall be appointed whose continual task it shall be to go through the land to search for any bones that may have been overlooked. When they find a bone they shall set up a sign beside it that the buriers may come and inter it (Ezekiel 39:15).

of continual employment] lit. continual men (same phrase as “continual” burnt-offering),—men constantly occupied.

with the passengers] The words should probably be omitted with LXX. Read: to bury those that remain, &c. After seven months have been consumed in burying the masses of the dead everywhere visible, occasional bodies or bones may still be left, having escaped notice. These shall be diligently searched for by the “continual men.” Those who would retain the words “them that pass through” (passengers of A.V.) here read, to bury them that pass through (i.e. the invaders), even those that remain (cf. R.V.). The construction is unnatural, and any play of words between two classes of “passers through,” viz. invaders and searchers, has no probability. In Ezekiel 39:15 “those that pass through,” i.e. the searchers, are distinguished from the buriers, and a reader finding “buriers” in the present verse assumed that they were different from the searchers, and added “with those that pass through” (the searchers) on the margin.

Verse 14. - When the work of burying Gog should have gone on for seven months, at the end of that time the Israelites should sever out (comp. Deuteronomy 10:8) men of continual employment; literally, men of con-t/nuance; i.e. persons hired for a continuous work or devoted to a constant occupation, whose business it should be passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain - or, as the Revised Version reads, to bury them that pass through, that remain - upon the face of the land. Here, again, the old play upon the word "passengers" recurs, and with it two or three difficulties.

(1) It is not clear whether the commissioners consisted of two classes of officers, "passers through," or "searchers," who scoured the land in search of unburied skeletons or bones, which, however, they did not bury; and "buriers" proper, who, accompanying these searchers, conducted the interment of such skeletons or bones as were found (Hengstenberg, Keil); or whether the commissioners were only one body, who both searched and buried (Ewald and Smend).

(2) It is doubtful whether the אֶת in אֶת־הָעֹבְרִים should be taken as the sign of the accusative, and the clause translated as in the Revised Version, in which case the "passengers" that should be buried could only be the "invaders" as above (see ver. 11); or as a preposition, in which case the rendering of the Authorized Version must stand, and the "passengers" be regarded as the "searchers."

(3) It is open to debate whether ver. 14 should not close with the initial words of ver. 15, as Ewald proposes, "And the passengers shall search and pass through in the land;" or at least whether the first clause in ver. 15 should not form an independent sentence, thus: "And they that pass through in the land shall pass through," as in the Revised Version, in which case the sighting of unburied bones (ver. 15) would not necessarily be the work of "searchers," but of any one, the verb וְרָאָה being impersonal. It is impossible to decide dogmatically in a question of so much difficulty; but the Revised Version appears to present the most exact rendering of the Hebrew, and upon the whole the most intelligible account of what was intended to take place, viz. the appointment of a special body of commissioners, who should be designated both "passengers," in ironical allusion to Gog who had meant to pass through the land, and "buffers," from the nature of the task delegated to them, viz. the interment of the "passengers," i.e. the Gogites, and who should begin their work after the main body of the slain had been removed, i.e. at the end of the seven months of burying. Ezekiel 39:14Total Destruction of Gog and his Hosts

Ezekiel 39:9. Then will the inhabitants of the cities of Israel go forth, and burn and heat with armour and shield and target, with bow and arrows and hand-staves and spears, and will burn fire with them for seven years; Ezekiel 39:10. And will not fetch wood from the field, nor cut wood out of the forests, but will burn fire with the armour, and will spoil those who spoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:11. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will give Gog a place where his grave in Israel shall be, the valley of the travellers, and there will they bury Gog and all his multitude, and will call it the valley of Gog's multitude. Ezekiel 39:12. They of the house of Israel will bury them, to purify the land for seven months. V.1 3. And all the people of the land will bury, and it will be to them for a name on the day when I glorify myself, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:14. And they will set apart constant men, such as rove about in the land, and such as bury with them that rove about those who remain upon the surface of the ground, to cleanse it, after the lapse of seven months will they search it through. Ezekiel 39:15. And those who rove about will pass through the land; and if one sees a man's bone, he will set up a sign by it, till the buriers of the dead bury it in the valley of the multitude of Gog. Ezekiel 39:16. The name of a city shall also be called Hamonah (multitude). And thus will they cleanse the land. Ezekiel 39:17. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Say to the birds of every plumage, and to all the beasts of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, gather together from round about to my sacrifice, which I slaughter for you, to a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, and eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:18. Flesh of heroes shall ye eat, and drink blood of princes of the earth; rams, lambs, and he-goats, bullocks, all fattened in Bashan. Ezekiel 39:9. And ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood to intoxication, of my sacrifice which I have slaughtered for you. Ezekiel 39:20. And ye shall satiate yourselves at my table with horses and riders, heroes and all kinds of men of war, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show how terrible the judgment upon Gog will be, Ezekiel depicts in three special ways the total destruction of his powerful forces. In the first place, the burning of all the weapons of the fallen foe will furnish the inhabitants of the land of Israel with wood for firing for seven years, so that there will be no necessity for them to fetch fuel from the field or from the forest (Ezekiel 39:9 and Ezekiel 39:10). But Hvernick is wrong in supposing that the reason for burning the weapons is that, according to Isaiah 9:5, weapons of war are irreconcilable with the character of the Messianic times of peace. This is not referred to here; but the motive is the complete annihilation of the enemy, the removal of every trace of him. The prophet therefore crowds the words together for the purpose of enumerating every kind of weapon that was combustible, even to the hand-staves which men were accustomed to carry (cf. Numbers 22:27). The quantity of the weapons will be so great, that they will supply the Israelites with all the fuel they need for seven years. The number seven in the seven years as well as in the seven months of burying (Ezekiel 39:11) is symbolical, stamping the overthrow as a punishment inflicted by God, the completion of a divine judgment.

With the gathering of the weapons for burning there is associated the plundering of the fallen foe (Ezekiel 39:10), by which the Israelites do to the enemy what he intended to do to them (Ezekiel 38:12), and the people of God obtain possession of the wealth of their foes (cf. Jeremiah 30:16). In the second place, God will assign a large burying-place for the army of Gog in a valley of Israel, which is to be named in consequence "the multitude of Gog;" just as a city in that region will also be called Hamonah from this event. The Israelites will bury the fallen of Gog there for seven months long, and after the expiration of that time they will have the land explored by men specially appointed for the purpose, and bones that may still have been left unburied will be sought out, and they will have them interred by buriers of the dead, that the land may be thoroughly cleansed (Ezekiel 39:11-16). מקום שׁם, a place where there was a grave in Israel, i.e., a spot in which he might be buried in Israel. There are different opinions as to both the designation and the situation of this place. There is no foundation for the supposition that גּי העברים derives its name from the mountains of Abarim in Numbers 27:12 and Deuteronomy 32:49 (Michaelis, Eichhorn), or that it signifies valley of the haughty ones (Ewald), or that there is an allusion to the valley mentioned in Zechariah 14:4 (Hitzig), or the valley of Jehoshaphat (Kliefoth). The valley cannot even have derived its name (העברים) from the עברים, who passed through the land to search out the bones of the dead that still remained unburied, and have them interred (Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15). For העברים cannot have any other meaning here than that which it has in the circumstantial clause which follows, where those who explored the land cannot possibly be intended, although even this clause is also obscure. The only other passage in which חסם occurs is Deuteronomy 25:4, where it signifies a muzzle, and in the Arabic it means to obstruct, or cut off; and hence, in the passage before us, probably, to stop the way. העברים are not the Scythians (Hitzig), for the word עבר is never applied to their invasion of the land, but generally the travellers who pass through the land, or more especially those who cross from Peraea to Canaan. The valley of העברים is no doubt the valley of the Jordan above the Dead Sea. The definition indicates this, viz., קדמת, on the front of the sea; not to the east of the sea, as it is generally rendered, for קדמת never has this meaning (see the comm. on Genesis 2:14). By היּם we cannot understand "the Mediterranean,"as the majority of the commentators have done, as there would then be no meaning in the words, since the whole of the land of Israel was situated to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. היּם is the Dead Sea, generally called היּם הקּדמוני (Ezekiel 47:18); and קדמת, "on the front side of the (Dead) Sea," as looked at from Jerusalem, the central point of the land, is probably the valley of the Jordan, the principal crossing place from Gilead into Canaan proper, and the broadest part of the Jordan-valley, which was therefore well adapted to be the burial-place for the multitude of slaughtered foes. But in consequence of the army of Gog having there found its grave, this valley will in future block up the way to the travellers who desire to pass to and fro. This appears to be the meaning of the circumstantial clause.

From the fact that Gog's multitude is buried there, the valley itself will receive the name of Hamon-Gog. The Israelites will occupy seven months in burying them, so enormously great will be the number of the dead to be buried (Ezekiel 39:12), and this labour will be for a name, i.e., for renown, to the whole nation. This does not mean, of course, "that it will be a source of honour to them to assist in this work;" nor is the renown to be sought in the fact, that as a privileged people, protected by God, they can possess the grave of Gog in their land (Hitzig), - a thought which is altogether remote, and perfectly foreign to Israelitish views; but the burying of Gog's multitude of troops will be for a name to the people of Israel, inasmuch as they thereby cleanse the land and manifest their zeal to show themselves a holy people by sweeping all uncleanness away. יום is an accusative of time: on the day when I glorify myself. - Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15. The effort made to cleanse the land perfectly from the uncleanness arising from the bones of the dead will be so great, that after the great mass of the slain have been buried in seven months, there will be men specially appointed to bury the bones of the dead that still lie scattered here and there about the land. אנשׁי תּמיד are people who have a permanent duty to discharge. The participles עברים and מקבּרים are co-ordinate, and are written together asyndetos, men who go about the land, and men who bury with those who go about. That the words are to be understood in this sense is evident from Ezekiel 39:15, according to which those who go about do not perform the task of burying, but simply search for bones that have been left, and put up a sign for the buriers of the dead. ראה, with the subject indefinite; if one sees a human bone, he builds (erects) a ציּוּן, or stone, by the side of it (cf. 2 Kings 23:17). - Ezekiel 39:16. A city shall also receive the name of Hamonah, i.e., multitude or tumult. To שׁם־עיר we may easily supply יהיה from the context, since this puts in the future the statement, "the name of the city is," for which no verb was required in Hebrew. In the last words, וטהרוּ הארץ, the main thought is finally repeated and the picture brought to a close. - Ezekiel 39:17-20. In the third place, God will provide the birds of prey and beasts of prey with an abundant meal from this slaughter. This cannot be understood as signifying that only what remain of the corpses, and have not been cleared away in the manner depicted in Ezekiel 39:11-16, will become the prey of wild beasts; but the beasts of prey will make their meal of the corpses before it is possible to bury them, since the burying cannot be effected immediately or all at once. - The several features in the picture, of the manner in which the enemies are to be destroyed till the last trace of them is gone, are not arranged in chronological order, but according to the subject-matter; and the thought that the slaughtered foes are to become the prey of wild beasts is mentioned last as being the more striking, because it is in this that their ignominious destruction culminates. To give due prominence to this thought, the birds and beasts of prey are summoned by God to gather together to the meal prepared for them. The picture given of it as a sacrificial meal is based upon Isaiah 34:6 and Jeremiah 46:10. In harmony with this picture the slaughtered foes are designated as fattened sacrificial beasts, rams, lambs, he-goats, bullocks; on which Grotius has correctly remarked, that "these names of animals, which were generally employed in the sacrifices, are to be understood as signifying different orders of men, chiefs, generals, soldiers, as the Chaldee also observes."

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