Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
A–B. CHAPTERS 25–32
THE TRANSITION FROM THE PROPHECY OF JUDGMENT TO THE PROPHECY OF COMPASSION, OR THE PROPHECIES AGAINST THE ADVERSARIES.
THE prophecies against the heathen nations are put here into one collection, as is the case also in Jeremiah and Isaiah (Introd. pp. 10, 11). The common character of their contents admits of their standing thus together, whilst they are also distinguished from each other by occasional chronological notices. From Ezekiel 29:17, it is probable that the prophet made up at that time the preceding smaller collection, if not the greater one, of his whole book; comp. ch; 40:1. According to most, however, these prophecies actually lie between Ezekiel 24 and 33.
“The prophecies (Kliefoth remarks) against foreign nations, that is, against heathenism and the heathen world, against the worldly power as opposing the kingdom of God and its development, form continually, since the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24:17–24), a separate chapter of prophecy.” So is it first of all in Obadiah, then also in Joel, Amos, etc. The later prophets in this lean upon their predecessors, whose prophecies they partly employ by citation, partly supplement and expand.
The thought which dominates the collection of Ezekiel is that of judgment, as seen in the burning of Jerusalem, the flight-fire. Ezekiel, in consequence, limits himself in the survey he takes of the heathen, as that is also still further limited, that no reference is made in it to the Chaldeans.
Only the idea of judgment connects exactly with Ezekiel 24. The discourse of judgment as now to go forth upon the adversaries was, as the silence of compassion had been, “an astonishment,” in respect to its being appointed to the prophet for this particular time. If the prophecies are viewed as an appendage to the first main division, the connection can scarcely be conceived of more precisely.
The judicial character of these chapters, however, still keeps within the historical position,—the recompense which actually takes place in the world’s history. Among the peoples that here make their appearance, there occur the heathen members of the coalition against Babylon, those who partook in Judah’s breach of oath and fidelity, denounced in Ezekiel 17. The prophets are “the divinely-authorized conscience-preachers,” as Tholuck designates them, “the directors of conscience whether wished for or not,” who stand among the people, “as the wakeful eye of the God of Israel.” The judgment of Judah must go forth from them upon these heathens; for that in human affairs there prevails a holy ordering of retributive righteousness is the general theme of prophecy.
The limitation in Ezekiel’s predictions to judgment is not to be regarded as an exclusion of the heathen from Messiah’s salvation. For out of the judgment, as for Israel, so also for the heathen, comes forth the great salvation of the future destined to embrace both. Ezekiel stands in no antagonism to the other prophets as regards their prophetic announcements on the heathen nations. It is enough to compare Ezekiel 16. There is merely a certain difference between him and them in this respect. “But he still holds by the right landmarks; temporal subversion alone, the loss of their political and civil existence, is what he threatens them with; but that a remnant of them should survive, according to the word of the earlier prophets, and that this might spiritually attain to blessing, he leaves open, without contradiction” (Kliefoth).
That the idea of judgment specially controls the following collection of Ezekiel has its explanation in his prophetic mission. It is so precisely adapted to this, that, in consequence, we find in this collection no prophetic judgment against Babylon. The explanation which is given, even by Hengstenberg, that “no reason existed for his braving the danger,” can afford little satisfaction; must “the personal relations” have been pleasantly adjusted for an Ezekiel? If Ezekiel 21:30 sq. is not to be understood as directed against Babylon (see, however, at the passage), the silence of Ezekiel generally respecting the judgment upon Babylon, and in particular. the absence of any prediction of judgment in the section Ezekiel 25–32, finds its explanation simply in his position and calling in the exile. That Ammon, Moab, Edom, the Philistines, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, were accessaries to the judgment upon Judah, to Judah’s faithless breach of oath towards Babylon,—this of itself would have made Babylon’s place in the midst of them fit badly. In that respect alone it would have injured the moral nexus. Still more, however, in another respect was silence upon Babylon’s judgment ordered. It may be enough for this to point to Ezekiel 23:45; for that other decisive respect is the circumstance that Babylon had, in God’s name, to execute judgment as well upon the nations in question as upon Judah-Israel. Ezekiel’s prophetic mission we have recognised to be that of the prophet of Jehovah’s glory in the exile; and likewise, the revelation of the glory of Jehovah meets us immediately in the 1st chapter as primarily taking effect in judgment and through righteousness. Hence it follows that it was also very suitable to the prophetic mission of Ezekiel, since it accords with the glory of Jehovah as now manifesting itself, that Babylon, its instrument, should directly appear only as such, in the light of the divine judgment and the divine righteousness upon Israel, and upon the related heathen nations. The exile in its primary aspect was judgment, the judgment of God, which Babylon inflicted. With this did not suit a prophetic judgment also upon Babylon. [More especially as one of the prevailing tendencies of the time was to overlook the hand of God in the present elevation of Babylon to its high ascendency, and to fret against the dominion which God had for a season given her over the nations.—P. F.] It should necessarily, too, have obscured the more direct impression to be produced. “Whosoever,” says Hengstenberg, “obtained an insight into the whole of God’s judicial acts, must have been powerfully drawn away from politics to repentance.”
That the announcement of judgment, and of judgment alone, upon the heathen was done for the sake of consolation, which was implied therein for the exiled,—that such a consoling must here already be regarded as the prophetic mission of Ezekiel, is without warrant, according to Ezekiel 1–24, and is certainly not agreeable to the manner in which Ezekiel 25–32. are connected with that principal portion of our book.
It becomes, then, a matter of special importance to justify the position of this collection of predictions here against the heathen after Ezekiel 24, with the contents, design, etc., of these predictions. The question of place goes first; the question of time follows as the second. For as their fulfilment took place later than the downfall of Jerusalem-Judah, so their announcement also took place, and consequently the reading of them, first at the time of the second main division, so that they might also serve as a foil for this. Considered from the point of view of the later publication, we may therefore conjoin with the mode of connecting this collection relatively to the first main division, a transition-character to the idea of the second main division of our book, as scattered and occasional indications of such a transition are to be found in Ezekiel 28:24 sq., 29:21. “These prophecies present themselves as forerunners of cheering intelligence, in so far as the downfall of the heathen powers here announced is throughout total and definitive, whereas hope is still always left to Israel” (Hengst.). This is also to be considered in accordance with the same, that the injury done to Israel is brought prominently forward among the causes of the divine judgment upon the heathen, Ezekiel 25:3, 8, 12, 15. Ewald remarks, besides, that the punishment of Edom was expected from Israel, and for the Philistines immediately from Jehovah Himself, which would connect more closely with the manner in which the prophet, onwards from Ezekiel 33, is going to speak of Israel (comp. also Introd. § 6).
In agreement with the general considerations affecting the whole, which serve to justify the position and character of the following collection, there is also to be noticed this and that individual trait in the particular parts, which belong alike to the form and to the substance of these predictions.
There are seven separate prophecies; and to this number, says Hitzig, “he very persistently adheres.” With a symbolic tendency, the Philistines are reckoned in the number, who do not appear as members of that coalition in Jer. 27; and so, too, Tyre and Sidon are kept quite apart from each other, as in Jeremiah. “The placing together also of four nations immediately at the beginning, while three follow, indicates the clear consciousness with which the author is minded to make out a seven number” (Hitzig). This intentional form should be reckoned as belonging to the transition-character of the portion Ezekiel 25–32: On the ground of the covenant of the Eternal with Israel, the judgment upon their open and secret enemies goes forth. In these judgments, therefore, Jehovah brings to remembrance His covenant with Israel.
Ewald delineates the particulars of the prophetic series geographically as beginning on the north-east from Judah with Ammon, thence turning south wards toward Moab, going down with Edom entirely to the south, thereafter bending in a western direction to the Philistines, then in the west stretching again to Tyre and Sidon, lastly to Egypt. Hävernick finds a beautiful harmony in the following connection between the individual predictions:—First, peoples that were in open enmity to the theocracy, Ezekiel 25; then, in Tyre and Sidon, haughtiness, fleshly security, Ezekiel 26–28; finally, their combination in Egypt, Ezekiel 29–32. Keil has with good right perceived a distinction between Egypt and the other nations; but to suppose a formal twofold division on that account of six and one, destroys the symbol of the number seven, and is not warranted by that distinction, which lies much deeper than Keil has indicated (comp. Doct. Reflections, Ezekiel 29:32, 3). The idea of the coalition rather appears to have been distributed after this manner: first the four nearer are mentioned, then the two more remote members, whereupon the proper fulcrum of the whole conspiracy discovers itself according to its real significancy. The coalition could as such also historically have been one first against Babylon, and the last Egypt alone (comp. at Jer. 27), and so giving play to the sequence in respect to time. With this agrees the just remark of Keil, that, as well in Ezekiel 28:24 sq. as in Ezekiel 29:21, a prospect full of promise for Israel forms a cæsura in the heroic measure of the members.
According to the specific chronological statements (see Introd. § 6), there result, as successive series of prophecies against the heathen, since the indeterminate, if special reasons to the contrary do not exist, become determinate through the immediately preceding chronological indication:—1. Ammon, Moab, Edom, the Philistines, Ezekiel 25; 2. Egypt (first and second word), Ezekiel 29:1–16, 30:1–19; 3. Tyre (first, second, third, and fourth word) and Sidon, Ezekiel 26–28; 4. Egypt (third word), Ezekiel 30:20–26; 5. Egypt (fourth word), Ezekiel 31; 6. Egypt (fifth word), Ezekiel 32:1–16; 7. Egypt (sixth word), Ezekiel 32:17–32; 8. Egypt (concluding word), Ezekiel 29:17–21.
1. AMMON, MOAB, EDOM, AND THE PHILISTINES (CH. 25)
1And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying: 2Son of man, direct thy face 3to the sons of Ammon, and prophesy upon them. And say to the sons of Ammon, Hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Because thou sayest “Aha” to My sanctuary, for it is profaned, and to Israel’s ground, for it is desolate, 4and to the house of Judah, for they have gone into banishment: Therefore, behold! I give thee to the sons of the east for a possession, and they place in thee their enclosures, and make in thee their dwellings: they shall eat thy 5fruit, and they shall drink thy milk! And I have given Rabbah for pasture-ground [stable] of camels, and the sons of Ammon for the lair [resting-places] of flocks; and ye know that I am Jehovah. 6For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou didst strike the hand [in the hand], and with the foot didst stamp, and didst rejoice thyself in all thy despite in the soul upon the ground of 7Israel; Therefore, behold! I have stretched out My hand against thee, and have given thee for food [booty] to the heathen; and I root thee out from among the peoples, and make thee to perish from among the lands: I will destroy thee! and thou dost know that I am Jehovah. 8Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because Moab says, and [as] Seir: Behold, as all the heathen is the house of Judah. 9Therefore, behold, I open the shoulder of Moab, from the cities, from his cities, from his end, the ornament of the land, Beth-Hajesimoth, 10Baal-Meon, and toward Kirjathaim, To the sons of the east, to the sons of Ammon; and I have given it for a possession, that the sons 11of Ammon may not be [any more] a remembrance among the heathen. And on Moab will I do judgment; and they know that I am Jehovah. 12Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because Edom exercises vindictive revenge upon the house of Judah, and they made themselves guilty and guilty, and avenged 13themselves upon them; Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, And I have (there have I) stretched out My hand upon Edom, and I root out from him man and beast; and I have given it for salvation; from Teman and to Dedan 14shall they fall by the sword. And I have given My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel; and they do on Edom as My wrath and My fury is; and they know My vengeance—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. 15Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because the Philistines act in revenge, and vengefully revenged themselves in disdain, in the soul, for destruction, everlasting enmity; 16Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and root out the Cherethim, and destroy the remnant 17by the coast of the sea. And I do on them great revenges, in punishments of fury; and they know that I am Jehovah, in that I give on them My revenge.
Ezekiel 25:7. בגוים, Sept. Arabs.
Ezekiel 25:8. Sept.: ... ὁ οἰκος Ἰσραηλ και Ιουδα.
Ezekiel 25:9. ...ἀπο πολεων ἀκρωτηριων αὐτου, ἐκλεκτην γην, … ἐπανω πηγης πολεως παραθαλασσιας.
Ver 12. ... και ἐμνησυκακησαν κ. ἐξεδικησαν δικην,
Ver.13. και ἐκ Θαιμαν διωκομενοι ἐν ῥομφαια—
Ezekiel 25:15. Sept.: ... του ἐξαλειψαι ἑως αἰωνος,—implentes inimicitias veteres—
Ezekiel 25:16. Vulg.: … et interficiam interfectores.
Ezekiel 25:1–7. The Ammonites.
The time is not specified in Ezekiel 25:1. As will be seen from what follows, however, the final execution of judgment on Jerusalem is presupposed. If the actual fact is assumed, the prediction would have its proper place after Ezekiel 333 (JEROME). The presupposition, however, is that only of anticipation, the position of the prophecy being taken from the idea of the connection with Ezekiel 24. As the prophet foretells how it is going to he with Ammon, there is a pointing backwards also to what Ammon has been. It cannot behave itself otherwise than it has been perpetually manifesting itself. See Doct. Reflections, 1:3.
Ezekiel 25:2. Comp. Ezekiel 6:2, 21:2, 13:17. With eye and hand.—Comp. for the following prophecy that already pronounced against Ammon in Ezekiel 21:28 sqq.
Ezekiel 25:3 Ezekiel 6:3, 13:2. Where parties look merely at results that are pleasing to them, they ought assuredly at the outset to be called upon to hear, and, indeed, what Jehovah says, not what they may themselves think, and approvingly give one another to hear.—The current speech of Ammon (אמרךְ)—feminine as a nation, the popular community—significantly places itself directly over against My sanctuary. In the judgment of it His people vanish, as in His compassion their sins vanish; He meets on behalf of this people the Aha, the malignant joy, of their enemies; comp. Ezekiel 24:21. At the same time, the enmity of Ammon is thereby, from the first, marked as blasphemy of the Spirit who ruled over and in Judah-Israel. It is not merely injury to the land and people (Ezekiel 21:28), that their national, human form of existence should be shattered to pieces, although there should be this also, in accordance with what follows. In the latter respect, the neighbourly relation has to be thought of, which, in point of space, was relationship of the nearest kind, to say nothing of what there was of blood-relationship, in consequence of the derivation through Lot.—בגולה, HENGST.: “went as exiles;” comp. Ezekiel 12:11.
Ezekiel 25:4. The offence draws after it the punishment, wherein Nebuchadnezzar entirely falls into abeyance. Jehovah comes forth, and the sons of the east—according to Grotius and others, undoubtedly the Chaldeans; according to that which is here declared of them, and always elsewhere, the Arabian tribes—descendants of Ishmael, the Bedouin, especially as in the text it is not properly the execution that is assigned to them; but they, after the judgment took effect, only gave conclusive evidence of the completed fact. They are in a sort of way classical for this, since “they always appear where fire and sword have wasted a country” (HENGST.), or generally where a place has become desert. “The old Ammonitis, the ruin of which began in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and continued thenceforward without interruption, is abandoned to the Bedouin Arabs to this day” (HENGST.).—HITZIG translates: “and settled in thee shall be their pens;” but ישבו is probably Piel, though only here. טירוח are the enclosures (for cattle) of a nomad village.—The repeated המה impressively dismisses the Ammonites from their territory, because others have taken their place.—Besides the fruit of the ground (פריך). there is mentioned exhaustively the produce from the cattle-tending.
Ezekiel 25:5. There is here still an especial signalizing of the old Ammonite capital city, Rabbah, Ezekiel 21:20 (later, Philadelphia). HENGST.: “the name (the populous) in melancholy contrast to what follows, as camel and wilderness go inseparably together;” comp. Amos 1:14; Jer. 49:2. The sons of Ammon, parallel for “their other cities” (Zeph. 2:9). [Surely a somewhat peculiar parallel: the sons of Ammon are just the Ammonites; men, not cities or places. But they were to be given “for the couching of flocks”—flocks for men, and not that merely, but flocks in a state of perfect repose. In plain terms, the agricultural parts of the country were to become pastoral—where men were wont to be seen labouring, there should only be found sheep browsing or resting.—P. F.] In the present day, Rabbah, while it has great ruins, for example, of a theatre belonging to the Roman period, yet it is wholly destitute of inhabitants. Arabians with camels met Seetzen in the neighbourhood, dangerous people for a visit to these ruins. When Buckingham spent a night among the ruins, an Arab was pitching there; and the traveller could not sleep for the bleating of sheep, the neighing of horses, and the barking of dogs.—The transition to the Ammonites themselves is prepared for Ezekiel 25:6 (וידעתם).
Ezekiel 25:6. Comp. for the gestures, Ezekiel 21:14, 17, 6:11. The undoubted import is given by the and thou didst rejoice. The malicious joy is strengthened, marked, and deepened, since, as hand and foot were not wanting in it, nothing failed of despite; it was whole and entire: in the innermost soul. (HITZIG: “So that one is therein with the soul, with passion; therefore with the whole heart’s contempt of which you are capable.”)
Ezekiel 25:7. Hand against hand. Instead of לבג, for food, the Qeri has לבז, for booty. But “booty” expresses too little, where an “allotment,” a portion had been explicitly assured, and in the comparison at Ezekiel 25:4 is so very suitable. HITZIG only objects that “the book of Daniel is not contemporaneous with Ezekiel;” for in Dan. 1:5, 8, etc., פַּתְבַג is used of court-food [this latter word being thought by Hengst., Häv., and others to countenance the text against the Qeri here.—P. F.]
Ezekiel 25:8–11. The Moabites.
The association of Edom, by means of the mountain (Seir), with Moab in this affair, implies that the sentiment uttered was one that had a much more extensive prevalence, and already provides a ground for the later judicial sentence upon Edom. What they say amounts to disavowal and blasphemy of the Spirit in Judah. Comp. with Ammon (= where is now their God?).
Ezekiel 25:9. The punishment is, as in the case of Ammon, that the land is opened to the nomadic Arabians (Ezekiel 25:10), and primarily, indeed, with an eye to the fortified cities. The portion contemplated therein, because it was the upper north side which leant on Ammon, is called the shoulder of Moab, on account of the position, which is more clearly indicated in what follows, probably not without respect to the gradually ascending or sloping ground; but hardly, with Grotius and Hengst.: “because there blows and sword-strokes are most easily applied,” of which nothing is said. From the cities (the מן on no account to be taken in a privative sense, with Hitzig: “bare of cities”) commences the opening very intelligibly; then occurs the strongest opposition, and, indeed, from the cities, which are designated as from the end (not: “to the last,” for to how far has not yet been said), that is, as border cities in the extremity of the land, according to the supposed side; so must the rest of the land assuredly lie open, as it is called the ornament of the land, therefore that which is brilliant by its fruitfulness, or perhaps by rich pastures. After some cities, mentioned by way of example, there is expressed in to Kirjathaim the point how far, and the intended compass is marked off.—בית הישימות, south or south-east from Jericho, on the Dead Sea (Bethsimuth, Besimoth), signifies house of the wastes—might it be Suaime, on the north-east border of the Dead Sea?—Baalmeon, now Mæin, the considerable ruins of which Seetzen saw from a distance, lying on the east of Attarus, where there are said to be springs.—Kirjathaim, west of Medaba, el Teym (?). These cities clearly point to the ancient inheritance of Reuben (Josh 13); but when the Assyrians led into captivity the transjordanic tribes, the Moabites obtained possession of them. Comp. on Ezekiel 21:36  sq. (EWALD: “Therefore I now loose Moab’s crown from the cities.”)
Ezekiel 25:10 על׳, on to, upon Ammon and also Moab (Ezekiel 16:37). HÄVERNICK: “primarily upon Ammon, then pouring itself forth upon Moab.” The Ammonites still stand forth directly before the Moabites. Comp. on Ezekiel 21:37 .
Ezekiel 25:11. When the land of the Ammonites should fall into the enemy’s hand, then would similar divine judgments be executed on Moab, Ezekiel 5:10. (Comp. besides, Isa. 16:6; Jer. 48.)
Ezekiel 25:12–14. The Edomites.
The charge in respect to sinning mounts up; for as Edom appears in Ezekiel 25:8 as the ringleader against the people of the Lord, so is it as to intellectual supremacy.
Ezekiel 25:12. The old spirit of revenge, in which he had acted from the olden time, still keeps by his side. While in the more distant relationship of Ammon and Moab, malignant joy is the expression of hostile feeling, with Edom, in his much nearer relationship, the same feeling vents itself in actions of revenge (עשות־בנקם נקם): hence the charge of sinful procedure as the incurring of guilt; comp. besides, Gen. 36:31 sq., 27:17 sq.; Obad. 10 sq.; Amos 1:11; Ps. 137.
Ezekiel 25:13. In such dealings the stretching out of the hand is plain enough (Ezekiel 25:7). The ו, and, denotes continuation of the foregoing punishments, which form one chain.—Ezekiel 14:13, 17.—Ch. 5.14.—From Teman to Dedan designates the land of the Edomites from south to north.—Ezekiel 24:21.
Ezekiel 25:14. Revenge for revenge. So also My people Israel is set over against Edom, without, however, thereby referring to the mode of the execution. Since Israel is here so expressly announced as the executor of the divine vengeance, Nebuchadnezzar cannot possibly be thought of in connection with it; but we must think of the times of the Maccabees (John Hyrcanus). The Messianic interest must not be brought, into view. The compulsory reception into Israel, whereby the Edomites ceased as a people, is plainly to be regarded as the proper execution of judgment, as this national annihilation.
Ezekiel 25:15–17. The Philistines.
The Philistines are in Ezekiel 25:15 joined to Edom on the side of their doing (Ezekiel 25:12 sq.); to Ammon-Moab on account of their contempt of the people of God. The latter was the inmost feeling, hostility the impelling force, wherein the distinction from Edom lay. For destruction, this is the design, the abiding tendency. The everlasting enmity reaches back to the earliest days. A perpetually enduring war is the standing feature of the relation, while fixed hostility was the root of it.
Ezekiel 25:16. The outstretched hand, as in Ezekiel 25:13, 7.—The effect of the action on the Philistines is the extirpation of the Cherethites, a name manifestly given, not to a part of this people, but to the whole of the Philistines, for the sake of the paronomasia. HENGST.: “The name Philistines probably signifies the emigrants, those from the regions on the Black Sea, from Colchis and the adjacent Pontic Cappadocia, Kaphtor. Of substantially the same import with this name is Kretim (Eng. form: Cherethites), that is, the extirpated, namely, from their native country. These Kretim are now to become a second time Kretim; their name shall verify itself anew.”—The annihilation is announced as total, including the remnant also by the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. To this also corresponds the closing word, Ezekiel 25:17: in punishments of fury, as at Ezekiel 5:15. “Jehovah Himself, never again ceasing” (HITZIG).
1. Ammon and Moab share together, not merely the incestuous nature of their origin (Gen. 19:30 sq.), but the juxtaposition of their residences, their historical outcome, in particular their hostility toward the people of God, which, having respect to what is said of them in the time of Moses (Deut. 2:9–23), was the more unjustifiable in its manifestations. (See Doctrinal Reflections, 4, at the passage.) There is nothing to be alleged in vindication of it, for its root is to be traced to the strife, in Gen. 13:6 sq., which led to the separation from Israel,—a separation which was kept up by the latter with the utmost care and vigilance. It is therefore the natural contrast of the carnal spirit against the Spirit of God—haughtiness its manifestation on the one side, injurious treatment on the other, blasphemy of the Spirit in all. The prescription in the law (Deut. 23:3) is already a significant one as to the relation which existed between Israel and Ammon-Moab.
2. In the dark contrast, however, between Israel on the one side and Ammon-Moab on the other, the analogy is not to be overlooked; here also the elder (Moab), as there Esau, is the one that falls into the background. The younger (Ammon), on the other hand, bears the sword, and is named before the other. Both, as distinct tribes, disappear wholly at last in the Arabians.
3. Ammon and Moab, the demoniacal counterpart to Judah-Israel.
4. The people of God must undergo the experience which the man of God undergoes. Matt. 10:36; Mic. 7:6. Out of his blood-relationships there springs a hostility even to blood. While this revolves around the Spirit that wrought in Israel, it could not but finally array itself against the Messiah, as He has Himself said that we shall be hated for His name’s sake.
5. Edom might be the bad conscience of Israel. Esau himself, however, after Israel’s night-conflict, met him in a gracious spirit, and parted from him in peace (Gen. 33). He who has wrestled with God, and has obtained mercy, has also overcome man. Thus it was only the respect paid to the kin-relationship, which in the case also of Ammon and Moab came into consideration, but was specially made mention of in regard to Edom (Deut. 2:4), that determined the holding aloof on the part of Israel. But the nearer the affinity was in Edom to Israel, so much the more horrible appears the spirit of revenge, which will even avenge, because grace has been shown to the other, because to him on that ground precedence has been granted, in order to compensate for the disadvantage on the territory of nature. The revenge of Edom, which was just a relapse into the feeling of Esau (Gen. 27:41), could not endure that Israel should be a separate, and what was called God’s chosen, people. “Edom holds his ground constantly as the bitterest denier of the right of the first-born, of the divine preference of Israel” (KLIEFOTH). The vengeance of God could not in a more marked retribution manifest itself upon Edom than by the extirpation of his nationality, and that precisely in the form of an absorption by Israel.—Robinson delineates a scene in the land of Idumæa as it has come to be, Res. 2. p. 502: “We were now upon the plain, or rather the rolling desert, of the ’Arabah; the surface was in general loose gravel and stones, everywhere furrowed and torn with the beds of torrents. A more frightful desert it had hardly been our lot to behold. Now and then a low shrub of the Ghudâh was almost the only trace of vegetation. The mountains beyond presented a most uninviting and hideous aspect: precipices and naked conical peaks of chalky and gravelly formation rising one above another without any sign of life or vegetation.”
6. “The revenge of Edom on account of the precedence granted to Israel by God, his superiority, viewed in respect to its deep religious significance, is nothing else than the constant resistance, the permanent protest raised against the higher dispensation established by God, His method of salvation; and in that is mirrored a fundamental characteristic of heathendom generally” (HÄV.).
7. As in Ammon, Moab, and Edom there appear three degenerations toward heathenism, so the whole picture is fitly closed in by the heathenish Philistines (the Ἀλλοφυλοι of the Septuagint and the Apocrypha). Heathendom was round about Israel; it was the background, the soil from which his relief comes out so much the more distinctly.
8. “The four number (remarks KLIEFOTH) points to the four regions of the world, and so to mankind at large; it indicates that it will not fare otherwise with collective heathenism throughout the whole earth, alike inimical to the people of God, than it did with those hostile tribes which on all the four sides surrounded that people.”
Ezekiel 25:1 sq. “The fall of Jerusalem was in a religious point of view a catastrophe for the world. The subjection of the covenant-people under heathenish ascendancy is therefore no victory of heathendom over the true theocracy. Exactly the reverse: the apparent annihilation of Israel leads to a new resurrection of it. Out of its death-conflict there breaks forth a new glorious life, salvation in its world-overcoming power. Precisely now on this account does the period always more decidedly approach when the worldly power will discover itself as a broken one, when the kingdoms of heathendom, with all the splendour of their earthly glory, shall appear as evanescent powers of the past. Accordingly, the judgment upon the theocracy and the heathen on the one side stands in inseparable connection; on the other side, it is an essentially different one” (HÄV.).—“Judgment indeed begins at the house of God; but if the Father of the household does not spare the sons, how soon must it alight upon the others! This doctrine first of all shines forth from the connection of this chapter with the preceding chapters. Then, also, we see here how, with all the special solicitude wherewith God interested Himself in Israel, He still by no means let the heathen out of His sight, since He must show Himself to be a God also for the heathen” (L.).—“If thou wilt not rightly apply the gifts and loving-kindnesses of God, God can take them from thee and give them to another” (ST.).
Ezekiel 25:3. Hear: Ah, yes, it depends on the hearing! Give right ears, O God, to hear! He who suffers the damage need not care for the mockery; but sit not where the mockers sit: their seats, however festive they may be, have nothing to make them fast.
Ezekiel 25:4 sq. The Arabians, through Mohammed, were executors of punishment of quite another sort.
Ezekiel 25:7. “Thou canst think of no man so poor as thou thyself mayest actually become” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 25:8 sq. However degenerate Christian people may become, Christian truth can never be as one ring among the well-known three rings.—“But we must watch that we do not cause the adversaries of the Lord to blaspheme” (W.).—What unites the world, separates it from the kingdom of God.—The Almighty God is in possession of a universal passport.—Grace makes friends, but also enemies; God, however, is expert with His enemies.—“It is best to learn to know God from His benefits” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 25:12 sq. Edom’s revenge his special hereditary sin.—“Revenge is God’s, and not man’s; whosoever, therefore, anticipates Him in this, on him will He be again avenged. Let no one, then, recompense evil for evil” (TÜB. B.).—“When relatives by affinity or blood become inimical to one another, they are much more embittered against each other than strangers” (O.).—Even the oldest grudge that nations have toward one another must be turned to peace through the power of the gospel; else God will place Himself between them, and finally root out the haters, who will not abandon their hatred.—Disdain and frivolous scorn may stalk on before; so much the more surely will God’s judgment come after.
Ezekiel 25:15 sq. “It is an essential part and property belonging to the judicial administration of God, that He exercises vengeance on the ungodly; therefore He will have the same also preserved as an especial royalty, Deut. 32:35” (CR.). Above all else, survey the old world—where remain those who were enemies to God and His kingdom? Their places know them no more. But God’s word remains, as it has been verified in them.—The depopulated places of the ancient historical world.—“Israel was hated of all those nations, not on account of his sins, but for the sake of his religion. Thus the cause of Israel was God’s cause. Blessed people, whom men cannot hate and slander without hating and slandering God Himself! The malignant contempt was recompensed with the extirpation of the remembrance, the hostile revenge with a divine revenge,” etc. (KEITH).—“If these prophecies of judgment only came into complete fulfilment after the lapse of centuries, one still sees their fulfilment to this day before the eyes of travellers” (RICHT.).—[It is still to be remembered, however, that, as the prediction had respect not simply to the land of Edom (and the same applies equally to the other predictions of judgment), but to the land as connected with the Edomite race, “these desolations of later times have no direct relation to the Edom of Scripture; and if they are to be taken into account at all, it should only be as affording a collateral (or supplementary) proof of the judgment that was to befal the children of Edom. But it is the desolations of an earlier period, and above all, the utter extinction of Edom as a people, and that by the hand of Jacob, in which the more direct and proper fulfilment of the prophecy is to be sought. … At the present day there are, in certain parts of what was the territory of Edom, ‘wadys full of trees, and shrubs, and flowers, and the eastern and higher parts are extensively cultivated, and yield good crops’ (Robinson). Still the Edom of prophecy—Edom considered as the enemy of God and the rival of Israel—has perished for ever: all, in that respect, is an untrodden wilderness, a hopeless ruin; and therein the veracity of God’s word finds its verification.”—P. F. on Prophecy, p. 219 sq.]
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,