|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:10-26. The history of Israel in the wilderness is referred to in the new Testament as well as in the Old, for warning. God did great things for them. He gave them the law, and revived the ancient keeping of the sabbath day. Sabbaths are privileges; they are signs of our being his people. If we do the duty of the day, we shall find, to our comfort, it is the Lord that makes us holy, that is, truly happy, here; and prepares us to be happy, that is, perfectly holy, hereafter. The Israelites rebelled, and were left to the judgments they brought upon themselves. God sometimes makes sin to be its own punishment, yet he is not the Author of sin: there needs no more to make men miserable, than to give them up to their own evil desires and passions.
Verse 26. - I polluted them through their own gifts. The noun includes all forms of blessing bestowed on Israel - its corn and wine and oil (see Ezekiel 16:19, 20), even its sons and daughters, the fruit of the womb, as well as the increase of the earth. (For the prevalence of Moloch worship, and for the phrase, "pass through," see notes on Ezekiel 16:21.) The sins were to bring desolation as their punishment, and then men would learn to know Jehovah as indeed he is.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And one polluted them in their own gifts,.... Suffered them to defile themselves; or declared them to be, and treated them as polluted persons, in the gifts and sacrifices which they offered to idols, particularly their firstborn: as the next clause explains it:
in that they caused to pass though the fire all that openeth the womb; this very likely they did, when they sacrificed to Baalpeor, the same with Molech, Numbers 25:3;
that I might make them desolate; their families, by stripping them of their children, their firstborn, and strength:
to the end that they might know that I am the Lord; a righteous God, in punishing men for sin, in a way it deserves. Some interpret this, not of causing the firstborn to pass through fire to an idol; but of causing them to pass, or of setting them apart, to the Lord, according to the law in Exodus 13:12; where the same word is used as here; and the sense is that God declared them to be impure in or with all their gifts, by commanding them to cause their firstborn to pass to him, which they were obliged to redeem; which sense is approved of by Gussetius (l); and so Abendana, taking the words to refer to both, gives this sense of them,
"I pronounced them impure, and removed them far from me, instead of sanctifying them; because they caused everyone that opens the womb to pass from me, whom I commanded to give to me for holiness, but they have given them to idolatry;''
rather, according to Braunius (m), the words may be understood of God's rejecting and causing the firstborn to pass from him, and not suffering them to offer gifts and sacrifices unto him; which may be meant by pronouncing them impure, or polluting them in their gifts; this was after the worship of the golden calf; when he took Aaron and his sons in their room.
(l) Ebr. Comment. p. 576, 939. (m) Selecta Sacra, l. 4. c. 11. p. 522.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. I polluted them—not directly; "but I judicially gave them up to pollute themselves." A just retribution for their "polluting My sabbaths" (Eze 20:24). This Eze 20:26 is explanatory of Eze 20:25. Their own sin I made their punishment.
caused to pass through the fire—Fairbairn translates, "In their presenting (literally, 'the causing to pass over') all their first-born," namely, to the Lord; referring to the command (Ex 13:12, Margin, where the very same expression is used). The lustration of children by passing through the fire was a later abomination (Eze 20:31). The evil here spoken of was the admixture of heathenish practices with Jehovah's worship, which made Him regard all as "polluted." Here, "to the Lord" is omitted purposely, to imply, "They kept up the outward service indeed, but I did not own it as done unto Me, since it was mingled with such pollutions." But English Version is supported by the similar phraseology in Eze 20:31, see on Eze 20:31. They made all their children pass through the fire; but he names the first-born, in aggravation of their guilt; that is, "I had willed that the first-born should be redeemed as being Mine, but they imposed on themselves the cruel rites of offering them to Molech" (De 18:10).
might know … the Lord—that they may be compelled to know Me as a powerful Judge, since they were unwilling to know Me as a gracious Father.
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