Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 25:1-17. Appropriately in the Interval of Silence as to the Jews in the Eight Chapters, (Twenty-fifth through Thirty-second) Ezekiel Denounces Judgments on the Heathen World Kingdoms.
If Israel was not spared, much less the heathen utterly corrupt, and having no mixture of truth, such as Israel in its worst state possessed (1Pe 4:17, 18). Their ruin was to be utter: Israel's but temporary (Jer 46:28). The nations denounced are seven, the perfect number; implying that God's judgments would visit, not merely these, but the whole round of the heathen foes of God. Babylon is excepted, because she is now for the present viewed as the rod of God's retributive justice, a view too much then lost sight of by those who fretted against her universal supremacy.
Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them;
And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity;
3. (Jer 49:1).
when … profaned; … when … desolate; … when … captivity—rather, "for … for … for": the cause of the insolent exultation of Ammon over Jerusalem. They triumphed especially over the fall of the "sanctuary," as the triumph of heathenism over the rival claims of Jehovah. In Jehoshaphat's time, when the eighty-third Psalm was written (Ps 83:4, 7, 8, 12, "Ammon … holpen the children of Lot," who were, therefore, the leaders of the unholy conspiracy, "Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession"), we see the same profane spirit. Now at last their wicked wish seems accomplished in the fall of Jerusalem. Ammon, descended from Lot, held the region east of Jordan, separated from the Amorites on the north by the river Jabbok, and from Moab on the south by the Arnon. They were auxiliaries to Babylon in the destruction of Jerusalem (2Ki 24:2).
Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.
4. men of … east—literally, "children of the East," the nomad tribes of Arabia-Deserta, east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.
palaces—their nomadic encampments or folds, surrounded with mud walls, are so called in irony. Where thy "palaces" once stood, there shall their very different "palaces" stand. Fulfilled after the ravaging of their region by Nebuchadnezzar, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (compare Eze 21:22; Jer 49:1-28).
And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couchingplace for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
5. Rabbah—meaning "the Great," Ammon's metropolis. Under the Ptolemies it was rebuilt under the name Philadelphia; the ruins are called Amman now, but there is no dwelling inhabited.
Ammonites—that is, the Ammonite region is to be a "couching place for flocks," namely of the Arabs. The "camels," being the chief beast of burden of the Chaldeans, are put first, as their invasion was to prepare the Ammonite land for the Arab "flocks." Instead of busy men, there shall be "still and couching flocks."
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel;
6, 7. "Because thou hast clapped thine hands," exulting over the downfall of Jerusalem, "I also will stretch out Mine hand upon thee" (to which Eze 21:17 also may refer, "I will smite Mine hands together").
hands … feet … heart—with the whole inward feeling, and with every outward indication. Stamping with the foot means dancing for joy.
Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
7. a spoil—so the Hebrew Margin, or Keri, for the text or Chetib, "meat" (so Eze 26:5; 34:28). Their goods were to be a "spoil to the foe"; their state was to be "cut off," so as to be no more a "people"; and they were as individuals, for the most part, to be "destroyed."
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen;
8. Moab, Seir, and Ammon were contiguous countries, stretching in one line from Gilead on the north to the Red Sea. They therefore naturally acted in concert, and in joint hostility to Judea.
Judah is like … all … heathen—The Jews fare no better than others: it is of no use to them to serve Jehovah, who, they say, is the only true God.
Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim,
9, 10. open … from the cities—I will open up the side, or border of Moab (metaphor from a man whose side is open to blows), from the (direction of) the cities on his northwest border beyond the Arnon, once assigned to Reuben (Jos 13:15-21), but now in the hands of their original owners; and the "men of the east," the wandering Bedouin hordes, shall enter through these cities into Moab and waste it. Moab accordingly was so wasted by them, that long before the time of Christ it had melted away among the hordes of the desert. For "cities," Grotius translates the Hebrew as proper names, the Ar and Aroer, on the Arnon. Hence the Hebrew for "cities," "Ar" is repeated twice (Nu 21:28; De 2:36; Isa 15:1).
glory of the country—The region of Moab was richer than that of Ammon; it answers to the modern Belka, the richest district in South Syria, and the scene in consequence of many a contest among the Bedouins. Hence it is called here a "glorious land" (literally, "a glory," or "ornament of a land") [Fairbairn]. Rather, "the glory of the country" is in apposition with "cities" which immediately precedes, and the names of which presently follow.
Beth-jeshimoth—meaning "the city of desolations"; perhaps so named from some siege it sustained; it was towards the west.
Baal-meon—called also "Beth-meon" (Jer 48:23), and "Beth-baal-meon" (Jos 13:17, called so from the worship of Baal), and "Bajith," simply (Isa 15:2).
Kiriathaim—"the double city." The strength of these cities engendered "the pride" of Moab (Isa 16:6).
Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations.
10. with the Ammonites—Fairbairn explains and translates, "upon the children of Ammon" (elliptically for, "I will open Moab to the men of the east, who, having overrun the children of Ammon, shall then fall on Moab"). Maurer, as English Version, "with the Ammonites," that is, Moab, "together with the land of Ammon," is to be thrown "open to the men of the east," to enter and take possession (Jer 49:1-39).
And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;
12. taking vengeance—literally, "revenging with revengement," that is, the most unrelenting vengeance. It was not simple hatred, but deep-brooding, implacable revenge. The grudge of Edom or Esau was originally for Jacob's robbing him of Isaac's blessing (Ge 25:23; 27:27-41). This purpose of revenge yielded to the extraordinary kindness of Jacob, through the blessing of Him with whom Jacob wrestled in prayer; but it was revived as an hereditary grudge in the posterity of Esau when they saw the younger branch rising to the pre-eminence which they thought of right belonged to themselves. More recently, for David's subjugation of Edom to Israel (2Sa 8:14). They therefore gave vent to their spite by joining the Chaldeans in destroying Jerusalem (Ps 137:7; La 4:22; Ob 10-14), and then intercepting and killing the fugitive Jews (Am 1:11) and occupying part of the Jewish land as far as Hebron.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.
13. Teman … they of Dedan—rather, "I will make it desolate from Teman (in the south) even to Dedan (in the northwest)" [Grotius], (Jer 49:8), that is, the whole country from north to south, stretching from the south of the Dead Sea to the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea.
And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.
14. by … my people Israel—namely, by Judas Maccabeus. The Idumeans were finally, by compulsory circumcision, incorporated with the Jewish state by John Hyrcanus (see Isa 34:5; 63:1, &c.; 1 Maccabees 5:3). So complete was the amalgamation in Christ's time, that the Herods of Idumean origin, as Jews, ruled over the two races as one people. Thus the ancient prophecy was fulfilled (Ge 25:23), "The elder shall serve the younger."
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred;
15. (1Sa 13:1-14:52; 2Ch 28:18). The "old hatred" refers to their continual enmity to the covenant-people. They lay along Judea on the seacoast at the opposite side from Ammon and Moab. They were overthrown by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6), and by Hezekiah (2Ki 18:8). Nebuchadnezzar overran the cities on the seacoast on his way to Egypt after besieging Tyre (Jer 47:1-7). God will take vengeance on those who take the avenging of themselves out of His hands into their own (Ro 12:19-21; Jas 2:13).
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast.
16. cut off the Cherethims—There is a play on similar sounds in the Hebrew, hichratti cherethim, "I will slay the slayers." The name may have been given to a section of the Philistines from their warlike disposition (1Sa 30:14; 31:3). They excelled in archery, whence David enrolled a bodyguard from them (2Sa 8:18; 15:18; 20:7). They sprang from Caphtor, identified by many with Crete, which was famed for archery, and to which the name Cherethim seems akin. Though in emigration, which mostly tended westwards, Crete seems more likely to be colonized from Philistia than Philistia from Crete, a section of Cretans may have settled at Cherethim in South Philistia, while the Philistines, as a nation, may have come originally from the east (compare De 2:23; Jer 47:4; Am 9:7; Zep 2:5). In Ge 10:14 the Philistines are made distinct from the Caphtorim, and are said to come from the Casluhim; so that the Cherethim were but a part of the Philistines, which 1Sa 30:14 confirms.
remnant of—that is, "on the seacoast" of the Mediterranean: those left remaining after the former overthrows inflicted by Samuel, David, Hezekiah, and Psammetichus of Egypt, father of Pharaoh-necho (Jer 25:20).
And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.
17. know … vengeance—They shall know Me, not in mercy, but by My vengeance on them (Ps 9:16).