|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
34:9-17 Those who aim to ruin the church, can never do that, but will ruin themselves. What dismal changes sin can make! It turns a fruitful land into barrenness, a crowded city into a wilderness. Let us compare all we discover in the book of the Lord, with the dealings of providence around us, that we may be more diligent in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What the mouth of the Lord has commanded, his Spirit will perform. And let us observe how the evidences of the truth continually increase, as one prophecy after another is fulfilled, until these awful scenes bring in more happy days. As Israel was a figure of the Christian church, so the Edomites, their bitter enemies, represent the enemies of the kingdom of Christ. God's Jerusalem may be laid in ruins for a time, but the enemies of the church shall be desolate for ever.
Verse 11. - The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it. Compare the prophecy against Babylon in Isaiah 14:23. The Hebrew word translated "cormorant," is now generally regarded as designating the "pelican," while the one rendered "bittern" is thought by some to mean "hedgehog" or "porcupine." Animals that delight in solitude are certainly meant, but the particular species is, more or less, matter of conjecture. He shall stretch out upon it; rather, and one shall stretch out upon it. The verb is used impersonally. The line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness; rather, the line of desolation, and the plummet of emptiness (comp. 2 Kings 21:13; Lamentations 2:8; Amos 7:7, 8). The destruction of cities was effected by rule and measure, probably because different portions of the task were assigned to different sets of laborers, and, if the work was to be completely done, it required to be done systematically. Here, the measuring-tape and the plumb-line are to be these of tohu and vohu, or of the eternal chaos out of which God, by his word, produced order (Genesis 1:2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it,.... The word for "cormorant" is rendered a "pelican", in Psalm 102:6 they were both unclean fowls according to the law, of which see Leviticus 11:17 and See Gill on Isaiah 14:23,
the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it; which were likewise unclean creatures; and these, with the former, and other creatures after mentioned, delight to dwell in desolate and ruinous places; and so Babylon or Rome being destroyed, will become a cage of every unclean and hateful bird, Revelation 18:2,
and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness; "he", that is, God, as Kimchi interprets it; the allusion is to builders, that make use of the line and plummet, as to build, so to pull down, that they may know what is to be pulled down, and how far they are to go; see 2 Kings 21:13 and hereby it is signified, that as the destruction should be entire, nothing should be left but confusion and emptiness; and all should become "tohu" and "bohu", which are the words used here; and are the same that are used to express the confused chaos, the unformed and empty earth, Genesis 1:2 so likewise that it should be by line and level, by rule and measure; or according to the rules of justice and equity.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. cormorant—The Hebrew is rendered, in Ps 102:6, "pelican," which is a seafowl, and cannot be meant here: some waterfowl (katta, according to Burckhardt) that tenants desert places is intended.
bittern—rather, "the hedgehog," or "porcupine" [Gesenius] (Isa 14:23).
owl—from its being enumerated among water birds in Le 11:17; De 14:16. Maurer thinks rather the heron or crane is meant; from a Hebrew root, "to blow," as it utters a sound like the blowing of a horn (Re 18:2).
line … stones—metaphor from an architect with line and plummet-stone (see on Isa 18:2; Isa 28:17); God will render to it the exact measure of justice without mercy (Jas 2:13; 2Ki 21:13; La 2:8; Am 7:7, 8).
emptiness—desolation. Edom is now a waste of "stones."
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