|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:11-22 How numerous the enemies which God destroyed for the defence of his people Israel! Times of great deliverances should be times of reformation. Every one should help the utmost he can, toward cleansing the land from reproach. Sin is an enemy every man should strive against. Those engaged in public work, especially of cleansing and reforming a land, ought to be men who will go through with what they undertake, who will be always employed. When good work is to be done, every one should further it. Having received special favours from God, let us cleanse ourselves from all evil. It is a work which will require persevering diligence, that search may be made into the secret recesses of sin. The judgments of the Lord, brought upon sin and sinners, are a sacrifice to the justice of God, and a feast to the faith and hope of God's people. See how evil pursues sinners, even after death. After all that ambitious and covetous men do and look for, a place of graves is all the Lord gives them on earth, while their guilty souls are doomed to misery in another world.
Verse 14. - When the work of burying Gog should have gone on for seven months, at the end of that time the Israelites should sever out (comp. Deuteronomy 10:8) men of continual employment; literally, men of con-t/nuance; i.e. persons hired for a continuous work or devoted to a constant occupation, whose business it should be passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain - or, as the Revised Version reads, to bury them that pass through, that remain - upon the face of the land. Here, again, the old play upon the word "passengers" recurs, and with it two or three difficulties.
(1) It is not clear whether the commissioners consisted of two classes of officers, "passers through," or "searchers," who scoured the land in search of unburied skeletons or bones, which, however, they did not bury; and "buriers" proper, who, accompanying these searchers, conducted the interment of such skeletons or bones as were found (Hengstenberg, Keil); or whether the commissioners were only one body, who both searched and buried (Ewald and Smend).
(2) It is doubtful whether the אֶת in אֶת־הָעֹבְרִים should be taken as the sign of the accusative, and the clause translated as in the Revised Version, in which case the "passengers" that should be buried could only be the "invaders" as above (see ver. 11); or as a preposition, in which case the rendering of the Authorized Version must stand, and the "passengers" be regarded as the "searchers."
(3) It is open to debate whether ver. 14 should not close with the initial words of ver. 15, as Ewald proposes, "And the passengers shall search and pass through in the land;" or at least whether the first clause in ver. 15 should not form an independent sentence, thus: "And they that pass through in the land shall pass through," as in the Revised Version, in which case the sighting of unburied bones (ver. 15) would not necessarily be the work of "searchers," but of any one, the verb וְרָאָה being impersonal. It is impossible to decide dogmatically in a question of so much difficulty; but the Revised Version appears to present the most exact rendering of the Hebrew, and upon the whole the most intelligible account of what was intended to take place, viz. the appointment of a special body of commissioners, who should be designated both "passengers," in ironical allusion to Gog who had meant to pass through the land, and "buffers," from the nature of the task delegated to them, viz. the interment of the "passengers," i.e. the Gogites, and who should begin their work after the main body of the slain had been removed, i.e. at the end of the seven months of burying.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they shall sever out men of continual employment,.... That is, the principal of the house of Israel, their magistrates and governors, shall select certain persons, to be daily employed in the following work, till ended:
passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it; these men will be appointed to go through the land of Israel, to gather up such carcasses and bones of dead men as remain anywhere after the seven months' burial before observed; and all passengers or travellers shall be assisting to them in it, both in directing where any such carcasses and bones may lie, and in bringing them to the common place of burial; that so the land may he thoroughly cleansed from such disagreeable objects:
after the end of seven months shall they search or begin to search, as the Targum; when seven months are ended, in which the people in general will be employed in burying the dead; these men before mentioned will be sent out into each part of the land, to search in caves, and dens and ditches; among thickets, thorns, and briers, where the slain may fall; or where soldiers, being wounded, might betake themselves and die; or their carcasses or bones be dragged and left by beasts and fowls; to find them out, and bring them to the place of interment.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. with the passengers—The men employed continually in the burying were to be helped by those happening to pass by; all were to combine.
after the end of seven months shall they search—to see if the work was complete [Munster].
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