Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:
Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.
But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:
And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;
Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD.
Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The Salvation of Israel Founded upon Its Sanctification
Because Israel has defiled its land by its sins, God has scattered the people among the heathen; but because they also profaned His name among the heathen, He will exercise forbearance for the sake of His holy name (Ezekiel 36:16-21), will gather Israel out of the lands, cleanse it from its sins, and sanctify it by the communication of His Spirit, so that it will walk in His ways (Ezekiel 36:22-28), and will so bless and multiply it, that both the nations around and Israel itself will know that He is the Lord (Ezekiel 36:29-38). - This promise is shown by the introductory formula in Ezekiel 36:16 and by the contents to be an independent word of God; but it is substantially connected in the closest manner with the preceding word of God, showing, on the one hand, the motive which prompted God to restore and bless His people;, and, on the other hand, the means by which He would permanently establish the salvation predicted in Ezekiel 34 and Ezekiel 36:1-15. - The kernel of this promise is formed by Ezekiel 36:25-28, for which the way is prepared in Ezekiel 36:17-24, whilst the further extension is contained in Ezekiel 36:29-38.
The Lord will extend His forbearance, for the sake of His holy name, to the people who have been rejected on account of their sins. - Ezekiel 36:16. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 36:17. Son of man, the house of Israel dwelt in its land, and defiled it with its way and its doings; like the uncleanness of the unclean woman, was its way before me. Ezekiel 36:18. Then I poured out my fury upon them on account of the blood which they had shed in the land, and because they had defiled it through their idols, Ezekiel 36:19. And scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed in the land; according to their way and their doings I judge them. Ezekiel 36:20. And they came to the nations whither they came, and profaned my holy name, for men said of them, "These are Jehovah's people, and they have come out of His land." Ezekiel 36:21. And so I had pity upon my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations whither they came. - The address commences with a description of the reasons why God had thrust out His people among the heathen, namely, on account of their sins and idolatrous abominations, by which the Israelites had defiled the land (cf. Leviticus 18:28 and Numbers 35:34). Their conduct resembled the most offensive uncleanness, namely, the uncleanness of a woman in her menstruation (Leviticus 15:19), to which the moral depravity of the people had already been compared in Isaiah 64:5. - In Ezekiel 36:18 the consequence of the defiling of the land by the people is introduced with the impression ואשׁפּך. In Ezekiel 36:17, ויטמּאוּ is the continuation of the participle ישׁבים; and the participle is expressive of the condition in the past, as we may see from the words 'ואשׁפּך וגו. The simile in Ezekiel 36:17 is an explanatory, circumstantial clause. For Ezekiel 36:18, compare Ezekiel 7:8, and for 'על הדּם וגו, Ezekiel 22:3, Ezekiel 22:6. The last clause, "and through their idols they have defiled it," is loosely appended; but it really contains a second reason for the pouring out of the wrath of God upon the people. For Ezekiel 36:19, compare Ezekiel 22:15. ויּבוא in Ezekiel 36:20 refers to בּית־ישׂראל; but there is no necessity to read ויבאוּ on that account. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the subject proposed by Kliefoth, viz., "the report of what had happened to Israel" came to the heathen, which is quite foreign to the connection; for it was not the report concerning Israel, but Israel itself, which came to the heathen, and profaned the sacred name of God. This is not only plainly expressed in Ezekiel 36:21, but has been already stated in Ezekiel 36:20. The fact that the words of the heathen, by which the name of God was profaned, are quoted here, does not prove that it is the heathen nations who are to be regarded as those who profaned the name of God, as Kliefoth imagines. The words, "these are Jehovah's people, and have come out of His (Jehovah's) land," could only contain a profanation of the holy name of God, if their coming out was regarded as involuntary, i.e., as an exile enforced by the power of the heathen; or, on the other hand, if the Israelites themselves had denied the holiness of the people of God through their behaviour among the heathen. Most of the commentators have decided in favour of the former view. Vatablus, for example, gives this explanation: "if their God whom they preach had been omnipotent, He would not have allowed them to be expelled from His land." And we must decide in favour of this exposition, not only because of the parallel passages, such as Numbers 14:16 and Jeremiah 33:24, which support this view; but chiefly on account of the verses which follow, according to which the sanctification of the name of God among the nations consists in the fact that God gathers Israel out of its dispersion among the nations, and leads them back into His own land (vid., Ezekiel 36:23 and Ezekiel 36:24). Consequently the profanation of His name can only have consisted in the fact that Israel was carried away out of its own land, and scattered in the heathen lands. For, since the heathen acknowledged only national gods, and regarded Jehovah as nothing more than such a national god of Israel, they did not look upon the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the carrying away of the people as a judgment of the almighty and holy God upon His people, but concluded that that catastrophe was a sign of the inability of Jehovah to defend His land and save His people. The only way in which God could destroy this delusion was by manifesting Himself to the heathen as the almighty God and Lord of the whole world through the redemption and glorification of His people. ואחמל על־שׁם ק: so I had pity, compassion upon my holy name. The preterite is prophetic, inasmuch as the compassion consists in the gathering of Israel out of the nations, which is announced in Ezekiel 36:22. as still in the future. The rendering, "I spared (them) for my holy name's sake" (lxx, Hvernick), is false; for חמל is construed with על, governing the person or the thing toward which the compassion is shown (vid., Ezekiel 16:5 and 2 Chronicles 36:15, 2 Chronicles 36:17).
Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.
Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:
And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
For His holy name's sake the Lord will bring Israel back from its dispersion into His own land, purify it from its sins, and sanctify it by His Spirit to be His own people. - Ezekiel 36:22. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I do it not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the nations whither ye have come. Ezekiel 36:23. I will sanctify my great name, which is profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them, so that the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, when I prove myself holy upon you before their eyes. Ezekiel 36:24. I will take you out of the nations, and gather you out of all lands, and bring you into your land, Ezekiel 36:25. And will sprinkle clean water upon you, that ye may become clean; from all your uncleannesses and from all your idols will I cleanse you, Ezekiel 36:26. And I will give you a new heart, and give a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:27. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and keep my rights, and do them. Ezekiel 36:28. And ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to your fathers, and shall become my people, and I will be your God. - These verses show in what way the Lord will have compassion upon His holy name, and how He will put an end to the scoffing thereat, and vindicate His honour in the sight of the heathen. "Nor for your sake," i.e., not because you have any claim to deliverance on account of your behaviour (cf. Isaiah 48:11 and Deuteronomy 9:6), but for my holy name's sake, i.e., to manifest as holy the name which has been profaned among the heathen, I do it, namely, what follows from Ezekiel 36:23 onwards. The Lord will sanctify His name, i.e., show it to be holy by proving Himself to be holy upon Israel. קדּשׁ is not equivalent to glorify, although the holiness of God involves the idea of glory. Sanctifying is the removing or expunging of the blots and blemishes which adhere to anything. The giving up of His people was regarded by the heathen as a sign of the weakness of Jehovah. This blot through which His omnipotence and glory were dishonoured, God would remove by gathering Israel out of the heathen, and glorifying it. Instead of לעיניכם, the ancient versions have rendered לעיניהם. This reading is also found in many of the codices and the earliest editions, and is confirmed by the great Masora, and also commended by the parallel passages, Ezekiel 20:41 and Ezekiel 28:25, so that it no doubt deserves the preference, although לעיניכם can also be justified. For inasmuch as Israelites had despaired in the midst of their wretchedness through unbelief, it was necessary that Jehovah should sanctify His great name in their sight as well. The great name of Jehovah is His almighty exaltation above all gods (cf. Malachi 1:11-12). The first thing that Jehovah does for the sanctification of His name is to bring back Israel from its dispersion into its own land (Ezekiel 36:24, compare Ezekiel 11:17 and Ezekiel 20:41-42); and then follows the purifying of Israel from its sins. The figurative expression, "to sprinkle with clean water," is taken from the lustrations prescribed by the law, more particularly the purifying from defilement from the dead by sprinkling with the water prepared from the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19:17-19; compare Psalm 51:9). Cleansing from sins, which corresponds to justification, and is not to be confounded with sanctification (Schmieder), is followed by renewal with the Holy Spirit, which takes away the old heart of stone and puts within a new heart of flesh, so that the man can fulfil the commandments of God, and walk in newness of life (Ezekiel 36:26-28; compare Ezekiel 11:18-20, where this promise has already occurred, and the necessary remarks concerning its fulfilment have been made). - With regard to the construction 'עשׂה את אשׁר , to make or effect your walking, compare Ewald, ֗337b.
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
The Lord will richly bless, multiply, and glorify His people, when thus renewed and sanctified. - Ezekiel 36:29. And I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and will call the corn, and multiply it, and no more bring famine upon you; Ezekiel 36:30. But I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that ye will no more bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Ezekiel 36:31. But ye will remember your evil ways, and your deeds which were not good, and will loathe yourselves on account of your iniquities and your abominations. Ezekiel 36:32. Not for your sake do I this, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, be this known to you; be ye ashamed and blush for your ways, O house of Israel! Ezekiel 36:33. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day when I shall cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will make the cities inhabited, and the ruins shall be built, Ezekiel 36:34. And the devastated land shall be tilled instead of being a desert before the eyes of every one who passed by. Ezekiel 36:35. And men will say, This land, which was laid waste, has become like the garden of Eden, and the desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Ezekiel 36:36. And the nations, which have been left round about you, shall know that I Jehovah build up that which is destroyed, and plant that which is laid waste. I, Jehovah, have said it, and do it. Ezekiel 36:37. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will still let myself be sought by the house of Israel in this, to do it for them; I will multiply them, like a flock, in men; Ezekiel 36:38. Like a flock of holy sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem on its feast-days, so shall the desolate cities be full of flocks of men; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - The words 'הושׁעתּי , I help or save you from all your uncleannesses, cannot be understood as relating to their purification from the former uncleannesses; for they have already been cleansed from these, according to Ezekiel 36:25. The טמאות can only be such defilements as are still possible even after the renewing of the people; and הושׁע, to help, means to guard them against any further recurrence of such defilements (cf. Ezekiel 37:23), and not to deliver them from the consequences of their former pollutions. But if God preserves His people from these, there is no longer any occasion for a fresh suspension of judgments over them, and God can bestow His blessing upon the sanctified nation without reserve. It is in this way that the further promises are appended; and, first of all, in Ezekiel 36:29 and Ezekiel 36:30, a promise that He will bless them with an abundant crop of fruits, both of the orchard and the field. "I call to the corn," i.e., I cause it to come or grow, so that famine will occur no more (for the fact, compare Ezekiel 34:29).
In consequence of this blessing, Israel will blush with shame at the thought of its former sins, and will loathe itself for those abominations (Ezekiel 36:31); compare Ezekiel 20:43, where the same thought has already occurred. To this, after repeating what has been said before in Ezekiel 36:22, namely, that God is not doing all this for the sake of the Israelites themselves, the prophet appends the admonition to be ashamed of their conduct, i.e., to repent, which is so far inserted appropriately in the promise, that the promise itself is meant to entice Israel to repent and return to God. Then, secondly, in two strophes introduced with 'כּה אמר יי, the promise is still further expanded. In Ezekiel 36:33-36, the prophet shows how the devastated land is to be restored and rebuilt, and to become a paradise; and in Ezekiel 36:37 and Ezekiel 36:38, how the people are to be blessed through a large increase in their numbers. Both of these strophes are simply a further elaboration of the promise contained in Ezekiel 36:9-12. הושׁיב, causative of ישׁב, to cause to be inhabited, to populate, as in Isaiah 54:3. לעיני כּל־עובר, as in Ezekiel 5:14. The subject to ואמרוּ in Ezekiel 36:35 is, "those who pass by." For the comparison to the garden of Eden, see Ezekiel 31:9. בּצוּרות is a circumstantial word belonging to ישׁבוּ: they shall be inhabited as fortified cities, that is to say, shall afford to their inhabitants the security of fortresses, from which there is no fear of their being expelled. In Ezekiel 36:36 the expression, "the heathen nations which shall be left round about you," presupposes that at the time of Israel's redemption the judgment will have fallen upon the heathen (compare Ezekiel 30:3 with Ezekiel 29:21), so that only a remnant of them will be still in existence; and this remnant will recognise the work of Jehovah in the restoration of Israel. This recognition, however, does not involve the conversion of the heathen to Jehovah, but is simply preparatory to it. For the fact itself, compare Ezekiel 17:24. הדּרשׁ, to let oneself be asked or entreated, as in Ezekiel 14:3. זאת, with regard to this, is explained by לעשׂות . What God will do follows in 'ארבּה ותו. God will multiply His people to such an extent, that they will resemble the flock of lambs, sheep, and goats brought to Jerusalem to sacrifice upon the feast days. Compare 2 Chronicles 35:7, where Josiah is said to have given to the people thirty thousand lambs and goats for the feast of the passover. כּצּאן אדם does not mean, like a flock of men. אדם cannot be a genitive dependent upon צאן, on account of the article in כּצּאן, but belongs to ארבּה, either as a supplementary apposition to אותם, or as a second object, so that ארבּה would be construed with a double accusative, after the analogy of verbs of plenty, to multiply them in men. Kliefoth's rendering,, "I will multiply them, so that they shall be the flock of men" (of mankind), is grammatically untenable. צאן קדשׁים, a flock of holy beasts, i.e., of sacrificial lambs. The flock of Jerusalem is the flock brought to Jerusalem at the yearly feasts, when the male population of the land came to the sanctuary (Deuteronomy 16:16): So shall the desolate cities be filled again with flocks of men (compare Micah 2:12).
And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.
As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.