|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:45-49 Judah and Jerusalem had been full of people, as a forest of trees, but empty of fruit. God's word prophesies against those who bring not forth the fruits of righteousness. When He will ruin a nation, who or what can save it? The plainest truths were as parables to the people. It is common for those who will not be wrought upon by the word, to blame it.
Verse 46. - Drop thy word. The verb is used specially of prophetic utterances (Ezekiel 21:2; Amos 7:6; Micah 2:6, 11), and stands, therefore, in the Hebrew without an object. Toward the south. Three distinct words are used in the Hebrew for the thrice-repeated "south" of the Authorized Version.
(1) One which primarily means "the region on the right hand," sc. as a man looks to the east. which Ezekiel also uses in Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28);
(2) the "shining land," used repeatedly in Ezekiel 40, 42. (Deuteronomy 33:23; Job 37:17; Ecclesiastes 1:6; Ecclesiastes 11:3); and
(3) the Negeb, the "dry" or "parched" land, the South (always in Revised Version with a capital letter), of Joshua 15:21, and the historical books generally, the region lying to the south of Judah. The use of the three words where one might have sacrificed is, perhaps, characteristic of Ezekiel's affluence of diction. The LXX. treats all three as proper names, and transliterates them as Thaiman, Darom, and N'ageb. Against this region and its inhabitants (they, of course, are the "trees") Ezekiel is directed to utter his words of judgment. The parenthesis in the last sentence gives the key to the prophet's cypher writing. From Ezekiel's standpoint on the Chebar, the whole of Judah is as the forest of the south. The "green tree," as in Psalm 1:1, 2, is the man who is relatively righteous; the "dry tree" is the sinner whose true life is withered; the "fire" the devastation wrought by the Chaldean invaders, as executing the Divine judgment. In our Lord's words in Luke 23:31 we may probably find an echo of Ezekiel's imagery.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Son of man, set thy force toward the south,.... The land of Judea, which lay south of Babylon, where the prophet now was, as Babylon lay north of that, Jeremiah 1:14 to set his face was to speak freely and boldly, with courage and constancy, and without fear and dread, to the inhabitants of it; and as a token of the Lord's face being set against them for their sins. The Targum is,
"take a prophecy towards the way of the south.''
And drop thy word toward the south; or prophesy, as the Targum; doctrine or prophecy being compared to rain, and the delivery of it to the dropping or distilling of rain; which falls gently, gradually, successively, and oftentimes with weight, and to good purpose; see Deuteronomy 32:2, which metaphorical phrase is explained in the next clause:
and prophesy against the forest of the south field; the city of Jerusalem, in the land of Judea, which was very full of people, as a forest of trees; but these barren and unfruitful, as the trees of the wood generally are; and a rendezvous of wicked persons, comparable to beasts of prey, that haunt in woods and forests.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
46. south … south … south—three different Hebrew words, to express the certainty of the divine displeasure resting on the region specified. The third term is from a root meaning "dry," referring to the sun's heat in the south; representing the burning judgments of God on the southern parts of Judea, of which Jerusalem was the capital.
set thy face—determinately. The prophets used to turn themselves towards those who were to be the subjects of their prophecies.
drop—as the rain, which flows in a continuous stream, sometimes gently (De 32:2), sometimes violently (Am 7:16; Mic 2:6, Margin), as here.
forest—the densely populated country of Judea; trees representing people.
Ezekiel 20:46 Parallel Commentaries
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