The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them;
Verse 2. - Set thy face against the Ammonites. The main facts that are essential to a right understanding of the message to this people, not to speak of their long-standing enmity against Israel for many centuries, are
(1) that they formed part of Nebuchadnezzar's army, as allies or tributaries, against Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:2);
(2) that afterwards they, with other neighboring nations, intrigued with Zedekiah against the Chaldean king (Jeremiah 27:3), so that it was an open question whether his first act of vengeance should fall on Rabbath-Ammon or Jerusalem (Ezekiel 21:20). In Ezekiel 21:28-32, written not long before, Ezekiel had uttered his prediction of the coming judgment. Here we read that when they saw that Jerusalem had been laid waste, they, like Edom (Psalm 137:7), exulted in her downfall. Earlier traces of cruelty and outrage are found in Psalm 83:7; Amos 1:13 - 15; Zephaniah 2:8-11. We learn from Jeremiah 40:14 that the name of the Ammonite king at this time was Baalis.
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;
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.
Verses 4, 5. - The men of the east; Hebrew, children of the east. The name is applied in Genesis 29:1; 1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:3; Judges 6:3, 33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10, to the nomadic tribes, Midianites and others, which roamed to and fro in the wilderness east of Ammon and Moab, after the manner of the modern Bedouins, with their sheep and camels, and were looked upon as descendants of Ishmael. Palaces; better, with the Revised Version, encampments, or tent-villages. The word is found, in this sense, in Genesis 25:16; Psalm 69:25; Numbers 31:10. This was, probably, the immediate result of Nebuchadnezzar's march. Rabbah was left undefended, and became a stable for the camels of the Midianites and other tribes (Judges 6:5). The prediction has been slowly fulfilled. Under the Greece-Egyptian rule the city revived, was named after Ptolemy Philadel-phus, and was flourishing under the Roman Empire. Remains of temples, theatres, houses, are still found on its site, but its present desolate condition agrees with the picture drawn here by Ezekiel and in Jeremiah 49:2. The language of Jeremiah 49:6 implies captivity and a partial return from it.
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.
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;
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.
Verse 7. - A spoil to the heathen. The noun for "spoil" is not found elsewhere, but probably means "food." The Hebrew Keri, i.e. its marginal reading, gives the same word as that rendered "spoil" in Ezekiel 27:5. The meaning is substantially the same whichever word we choose. Ezekiel, it will be noticed, says nothing about the return of the Ammonites, but contemplates, as in Ezekiel 21:32, entire destruction. The moaning of Rabbah ("great" or "populous"), the mother-city of Ammon, gives greater force to the prophecy of desolation.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen;
Verse 8. - Moab and Seir. "Seir" stands elsewhere for Edom, but here appears as distinguished from it, the latter nation having a distinct message in Ver. 12. A possible explanation is found in 2 Chronicles 20:23, where we find Moab and Ammon joined together against the inhabitants of Mount Seir. The Moabites may have retained possession of it, and so Ezekiel may have coupled the two names together. Their sin also, like that of Ammon, is that they exulted in the fall of Jerusalem. It was come down to the level of other cities, no longer exalted above them by the blessing of Jehovah. The Moabite Stone, found in the ruins of Dibon ('Records of the Past,' 9:165), on which Mesha, King of Moab, narrates his conquests over neighboring nations, including Israel, testifies to the strength of the kingdom, and in Isaiah 15. and 16. it is represented as conspicuous for its pride. They too, like the Ammonites, served in Nebuchadnezzar's army (2 Kings 24:2).
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,
Verse 9. - I will open the side of Moab; literally, the shoulder, i.e. the slopes of the mountain of Moab (Joshua 15:8, 10). For Beth-jeshimoth (equivalent to "House of wastes"), see Numbers 33:49; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:20. It had been assigned to Reuben, but had been seized by the Moabites. It has been identified by De Sauley with the ruins now known as Suaime, on the northeastern border of the Dead Sea. Baal-moon (Numbers 32:38), more fully Beth-baal-meon (Joshua 13:17), or Beth-moon (Jeremiah 48:23). The name is found in ruins of some extent, known as the fortress of Mi'un or Maein, about three miles south of Heshbon ('Dict. Bible,' s.v.). Kiriathaim. The dual form of the name (equivalent to "Two cities") implies, perhaps, the union of an old and new town, or two towns on the opposite sides of a brook or wady. The name appears in Genesis 14:5; Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:19; Jeremiah 48:1, 23. It has been identified with El-Teym, about two miles from Medeba (Burckhardt), and with Kurei-yat, on the south side of Jebel Attarus. Eusebius ('Onom.,' s.v.) describes it as about ten miles from Medeba, and close to the Baris, lint nothing is known as to the last-named place. The three cities all belonged to the region which Sihon and Og had conquered from the Moabites before Israel obtained possession of them, and they were afterwards claimed as belonging to the Israelites by right of conquest (Judges 11:23), and them may therefore be a touch of irony in Ezekiel's language describing them as Moabite cities. Collectively they were the glory of the country, the region known as the Belka, in which they were situated, giving the best pasturage, then as now, in Southern Syria. Havernick quotes a Bedouin proverb, "There is no land like Belka" (see Tristram's 'Land of Moab,' pp. 275, 303-305, 350). Kirjath and Baal-meon appear in Mesha's inscription on the Moabite Stone.
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.
Verse 10. - Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites. The Authorized Version is obscure. What is meant is that the Moabites as well as the Ammonites were to be given to the nomadic tribes, the "children of the east," for a possession. The doom that Ammon was to be no more remembered (Ezekiel 21:32) was to be carried out to the uttermost, and the children of the east were to complete what Nebuchadnezzar had begun. The utter destruction of Ammon was, as it were, uppermost in the prophet's thoughts, and that of Moab was but secondary. Historically, the words received a partial fulfillment in Nebuchadnezzar's conquests five years after the destruction of Jerusalem (Josephus,' Ant.,' 10:9.7, and M. yon Niebuhr's 'Geseh. Assurs,' p. 215), but the Ammonites were still an important people in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 5:6, 30-45) and Justin Martyr ('Dial. cum Trypho, p. 272).
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;
Verses 12, 13. - Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah, etc. The statement receives many illustrations, notably in Psalm 137:7, and at an earlier date in Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:11. What had been malicious exultation (the ἐπιχαιρεκακία, which Aristotle describes as the extremest type of evil) passed in the case of Edom into overt acts of hostility. The moment of Judah's weakness was seized on as an opportunity for gratifying what Ezekiel elsewhere (Ezekiel 35:5) calls the "perpetual hatred" of the people against Israel, for taking vengeance for the primal wrong which Esau had suffered at the hand of Jacob (Genesis 27:36). (For other prophecies against Edom, see Numbers 24:18, 19; Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:7-12; Joel 3:19.) Teman. The name, which signifies "South," was probably applied to a district - twice, here and in Jeremiah 49:7, 8, coupled with Dedan. In Jeremiah 49:20, 21 the cry of the inhabitants of Teman is said to have been "heard in the Red Sea," and this determines its geographical position, as being, in accordance with its name, the southern region of Edom. In Job 2:11 we have Eliphaz the Temanite as one of the patriarch's friends, and the same name appears as that of a son of Esau (Genesis 36:11). In Jeremiah (loc. cit.) Teman is named as famous for its wisdom. Dedan is named as a grandson of Cash in Genesis 10:7, and of Abraham by Keturah in Genesis 25:3. It has been inferred from this that there were two branches of the nation, one on the shores of the Persian Gulf, nomadic and trading, as in the "travelling companies" of Dedanim (Isaiah 21:13; Ezekiel 27:15, 20); the other settled in the territory of the Edomites ('Dict. Bible'). The latter is that to which Ezekiel refers. A various punctuation gives, with a better sense, "From Teman even unto Dedan they shall fall by the sword."
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.
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.
Verse 14. - By the hand of my people Israel: The words received a fulfillment in the conquest of Edom by John Hyrcanus, who compelled its people to receive circumcision (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 13:09. 1). In Amos 9:12 its subjugation is connected with the Messianic prophecy that the fallen tabernacle of David should be raised up. There is an obvious emphasis in the repetition of the word vengeance. The law of a Divine retribution will work out its appointed purpose-vengeance to those who sought vengeance. They (the Edomites) shall reap as they have sown, and shall know that the vengeance of Jehovah is more terrible than their own.
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;
Verse 15. - The sin of the Philistines is virtually the same as that of the Edomites. They also had a perpetual hatred. Century after century they had been, with various fortunes, the enemies of Israel - defeated (to confine ourselves to more recent history) by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:11) and Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), formidable under Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16) and Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:18), repressed by Hezekiah (Isaiah 14:31), combining with Amalek, and Ammon, and Tyre, and Assyria against Jerusalem (Psalm 83:7).
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.
Verse 16. - The Cherethims. The name appears, coupled with the Philistines, in Zephaniah 2:5, and has been supposed to be connected with Crete as the region from which they came, or in which they afterwards settled. By many writers both names are identified with the Cherethites and Pelethites, who appear as David's body-guard in 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 15:18, et al., and who are supposed to represent a body of mercenary or subject troops formed out of the two nations. Both Ezekiel and Zephaniah connect the Cherethims with a paronomasia, the verb I will cut off being almost identical in sound with it. (For other prophecies, see Isaiah 11:14; Isaiah 14:29-31; Jeremiah 47; Joel 3:4; Amos 1:6-8; Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zechariah 9:4-7.)
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.