Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 35–36 The Land
After the review of the dark history of the “shepherds” of the people in the past and the promise of the good shepherd who shall rule the restored community, securing protection and peace to them for ever, there follows a similar oracle in regard to the Land of Israel. The passage has three divisions:—
First, Ch. 35. Negatively, a threat against Edom. Edom had shewn despite to the people all through their history: particularly, first, it had expressed malicious joy over the desolation of the country at the time of its great calamity, which it had helped forward (Ezekiel 35:5; Ezekiel 35:11-15); and secondly, it had arrogated to itself the right to take possession of the country, though it was Jehovah’s abode (Ezekiel 35:10; Ezekiel 35:12) Therefore desolation shall overtake the mountain of Seir; it shall be made desolate when all the earth rejoices (Ezekiel 35:14-15).
Secondly, Ch. Ezekiel 36:1-15. Positively, an oracle in behalf of the mountain land of Israel. It shall be delivered out of the hand of the heathen who are round about, and they shall bear their shame (Ezekiel 36:1-7).
Thirdly, Ezekiel 36:16-38. The redemptive principles illustrated in all this—not for Israel’s sake but for his own name’s sake it is that Jehovah doeth all these things for his people.
Ch. 35 Threat against Edom
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,1. On Edom cf. Ezekiel 25:12 seq.
Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it,2. set thy face against] Cf. ch. Ezekiel 6:2.
And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate.3. stretch out mine hand] Ch. Ezekiel 6:14. Edom shall be made a complete desolation, and it shall realize whose hand it is that falls so heavily upon it (Ezekiel 35:4).
I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:5. The causes of the judgment on Mount Seir. These causes are three: first, its perpetual hatred of Israel, Ezekiel 25:15; Amos 1:11; second. its malicious joy over the downfall of Israel and the part it took in the destruction of the people in the day of their calamity, when the consequences of their guilt fell upon them, Obad. Ezekiel 35:10-14; and third, Edom’s invasion of the land and seizure of it as their own, though the Lord dwelt in it (Ezekiel 35:10).
hast shed … of the sword] and didst deliver the children of Israel over into the hands of the sword. Jeremiah 18:21; Psalm 63:10.
time iniquity had an end] Lit. time of the iniquity of the end. The “iniquity of the end” is either, the final punishment of iniquity, or, the iniquity whose punishment was seen in the end (of the state). Cf. ch. 7. The phrase again Ezekiel 21:30. The ref. is to the destruction of Jerusalem; so the “calamity” referred to is the downfall of the city and state, as Ob. Ezekiel 35:13; cf. Psalm 137:7, “the day of Jerusalem.”
Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.6. prepare thee unto blood] make thee blood (cf. Ezekiel 16:38, and on Ezekiel 34:26), i.e. all blood—give thee over to universal slaughter. The clause “I will … pursue thee” is wanting in LXX.
sith thou hast not hated] The words might mean: surely thou hast hated (hatest) blood, and blood shall …, a sense not very clear, but probably similar to Ezekiel 11:8, “Ye fear the sword, and I will bring the sword.” LXX. reads: ye have sinned even unto blood (Ezekiel 22:4).
Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth.7. passeth out … returneth] A phrase like “shut up and free,” used to denote all classes, cf. “the shod and the barefoot” in Arab. LXX. has altered into “man and beast,” the usual phrase after “cut off,” e.g. Ezekiel 25:13.
And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.
I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.9. cities shall not return] Probably, shall not be inhabited (Heb. text teshabnah). The pointing “return” possibly reposes on Ezekiel 16:55.
Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there:10. In aggravation of their historical bearing towards Israel and their participation in her overthrow, Edom has proceeded to lay hands upon the territory of the two houses of Israel, although it is the place of the Lord’s abode and consecrated by his presence.
These two nations] Judah and Israel.
whereas the Lord] Or, although the Lord was there. The ref. appears to be to the time when the people were in the land, and the Lord dwelt in it in the midst of them, consecrating it by his presence. This relation of his to the land was unalterable; and Edom had “profaned” his holy abode.
Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee.11. Amos 1:11 also uses the word “anger” of Edom’s demeanour. LXX. reads the verse in a shorter form.
amongst them] i.e. Israel, or, those who behold it. LXX. in thee (Edom, changing one letter), which is more pointed, cf Ezekiel 35:12. For “have judged,” better, shall judge.
And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.12. all thy blasphemies] Or, contumelies, 2 Kings 19:3.
Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.14. When the … rejoiceth] Probably: to the rejoicing of the whole earth will I make thee desolate. This gives the requisite antithesis to Ezekiel 35:15 : as Edom rejoiced over the destruction of Judah, the whole earth will be overjoyed at her desolation.
As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.15. The clause “as thou didst … do unto thee” is wanting in LXX.
As Edom had been active in the destruction of Judah, their own desolation must follow. The author of the Lamentations has a presentiment that the next great act of divine judgment will be on Edom (Lamentations 4:22; cf. Isaiah 34, Isaiah 63:1-6). The great empires which brought destruction upon Jerusalem were acting under commission from Jehovah and the work was according to his will. But in the first place there is a difference between the work itself and the spirit in which it is done. Jehu received commendation for his act in cutting off the seed of Ahab, but later his house was extirpated for the guilt of this same “blood of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:4). The Assyrian was entrusted with a commission against the ungodly nation; but he meant not so, it was in his heart to cut off nations not a few (Isaiah 10:7), and the decree that he should be broken upon the mountains of Israel went out against him (Isaiah 14:25). Nebuchadnezzar was the “servant” of the Lord, but because Babylon laid her yoke heavily on the aged of the people, not considering the issue of such things, bereavement and widowhood shall come upon her in one day (Isaiah 47:6-8). Here the prophet reprobates both the actions and the spirit of Edom, and threatens that Jehovah will recompense it into their bosom. In ancient modes of thought the people and their god were one. The people were but the reflection of the god, they were the people of Chemosh or Milcom or Jehovah. All wars were religious wars, wars against a god who animated and gave strength to his people (Exodus 12:12). Edom’s despite was to some extent in the strict sense directed against Jehovah. In truth they knew Jehovah only as the God of Israel, but it was he whom they knew, though they might not have such knowledge of him as Ezek. had attained to. But it is possible to be guilty of great sins against God, even though they are done unwittingly and without full knowledge of that which he is.
And in the second place, Edom received no commission from Jehovah against his people. Their place in history and among the nations of the earth gave them no significance in relation to Israel, or in Jehovah’s providence embracing all the world. The contact of Israel with the nations exercising universal empire over the earth, if it did not suggest conceptions of Jehovah’s universal power and dominion to the prophets, at least gave them occasion for expressing to the people and to all time such conceptions; and this period of Israel’s history lent a breadth and elevation to prophecy to which in political conditions such as existed in earlier times it could never have attained. The transportation of colonies of Israelites also into the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, besides purifying the religion of the people from its dependence on ritual observance and making it more inward among those who continued to adhere to it, leavened the populations of these heathen nations with truer conceptions of Deity and religion. The writers of this age often refer to the strangers joining themselves to the covenant of the Lord (Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 56:1-8), and no doubt the same influence was exerted by Israel, if not to the same extent, in Babylon and the countries of the East, as we are familiar with in later times in Rome and the empire of the West. In such respects Edom had no importance, and hardly entered into the larger designs of Jehovah with respect to his people and mankind.