Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 39 Resumption of the prophecy against Gog
(1) Ezekiel 39:1-7. Renewal of the prophecy: Gog shall be broken on the mountains of Israel by a divine interposition.
(2) Ezekiel 39:8-15. For seven years the wood of his weapons shall suffice the people for fuel. It will take seven months to bury his dead. His burial-place shall be beyond the Jordan, east of the Dead Sea; and the land shall be carefully purified of every bone of his host.
(3) Ezekiel 39:16-24. Jehovah invites the fowls of the heaven and the beasts of the earth to a great feast, a sacrificial meal which he shall slay for them. They shall eat the flesh of princes and mighty men, be sated with fat and drunk with blood. And this interposition of Jehovah to protect his restored and now righteous people shall teach the nations that Israel’s former expulsion from the land was due to their iniquity.
(4) Ezekiel 39:25-29. The prophet, abandoning the point of view of Gog’s invasion in the future, occupied by him in these two chapters, returns to the position he occupied in predicting Israel’s restoration (ch. 33–37), which he prophesies anew.
Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:1. Cf. Ezekiel 38:2-3.
chief prince] prince of Rosh, Meshech, &c., Ezekiel 38:2.
And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:2. turn thee back … sixth part] Perhaps: turn thee about and lead thee. The word “lead” does not elsewhere occur. A.V. derived from numeral “six.”
And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.3. The northern warriors were bowmen.
Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.4. Cf. Ezekiel 39:17, Ezekiel 38:21.
Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.6. Magog is the name of the country of Gog.
in the isles] the countries, i.e. the distant lands of the earth. The armies of Gog and his allies are annihilated on the mountains of Israel, but the judgment extends simultaneously to their distant abodes, that the ends of the earth may know and fear the Lord.
So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.7. will not let them pollute] will not let my holy name be profaned, lit. I will not profane. Jehovah’s holy or divine name was profaned,—his majesty and power were detracted from—when Israel his people were subjected by the heathen and dispersed abroad from their own land (Ezekiel 36:20). Israel’s sins constrained Jehovah to cast them out of his land, and thus to profane his holy name. Now they are another people, a new heart has been given them, and his signal protection of them in their defenceless condition (Ezekiel 38:11) from so extreme a danger (Ezekiel 38:4-6) will reveal both to Israel and the nations what Jehovah is, and what are the principles on which he rules his people (Ezekiel 39:23). Thus shall his name be sanctified—he shall be known to be God alone, all powerful and righteous.—While Isaiah says “Holy One of Israel,” Ezek. says in Israel, a usage which shews that the element “of Israel” forms no part of the conception of “holiness.”
Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.8. The words vividly bring into the presence of the speaker the great catastrophe. Revelation 16:17; Revelation 21:6.
And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:9. The wood of the weapons of Gog’s warriors shall serve the people of Israel as fuel for seven years, they shall go neither to gather faggots for fire in the fields nor to cut down any wood out of the forests (Ezekiel 39:10).
set on fire and burn] make fire of the weapons and burn them—i.e. they shall use them as fuel. The “handstaves” are probably those with which the animals ridden upon or others were driven.
burn them with fire] make fire of them.
So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.10. burn the weapons] make fire with the weapons. Such abundance of fuel shall the weapons supply, that firewood shall neither be gathered in the field nor cut down out of the forests.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.11. Gog’s burial—place shall be east of the Dead Sea.
a place there of graves] a place for a grave, lit. a place where a grave may be. For “there” LXX. reads name—a place of renown (name), a grave in Israel.
valley of the passengers] In Ezekiel 39:14-15 the word is used of those appointed to go through the land in search of the scattered bones. The term cannot have that sense here. Ew. conjectured that it was a term applied to the hosts of Gog, the invaders, from their overflowing the country (Isaiah 8:8). The reading of Ezekiel 39:14, however, which would be the strongest support of this view, is doubtful. The expression is probably a proper name; the “valley of the passers through” may have been so named as the usual route of communication between the east and west of the sea. Others by altering the points read “the (or, a) valley of Abarim” (Hitz. Corn.).
shall stop the noses] it shall stop them that pass through (or, the passengers). The valley shall be filled up with the graves of the innumerable hosts of Gog, so that the way of passers through shall be barred. A.V. has no probability. Neither LXX. nor Syr. read the words “those that pass through;” the former renders: and they shall build up the mouth of the valley round about.
Hamon-gog] i.e. Gog’s multitude.
And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.12. It shall take all Israel (Ezekiel 39:13) seven months to bury Gog’s dead. The bones scattered over the land defiled it, for it was holy to the Lord, and they must be gathered and interred, cf. Ezekiel 39:14; Ezekiel 39:16.
Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD.13. a renown) Or, a glory (lit. a name), viz. that they have seen their last enemy destroyed by their God. The triumph is theirs, being his, Psalm 149:9.
the day that … glorified] i.e. on the day (at the time) when I shall be glorified (or, glorify myself).
And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search.14. When the remains that are visible shall all have been buried, men shall be appointed whose continual task it shall be to go through the land to search for any bones that may have been overlooked. When they find a bone they shall set up a sign beside it that the buriers may come and inter it (Ezekiel 39:15).
of continual employment] lit. continual men (same phrase as “continual” burnt-offering),—men constantly occupied.
with the passengers] The words should probably be omitted with LXX. Read: to bury those that remain, &c. After seven months have been consumed in burying the masses of the dead everywhere visible, occasional bodies or bones may still be left, having escaped notice. These shall be diligently searched for by the “continual men.” Those who would retain the words “them that pass through” (passengers of A.V.) here read, to bury them that pass through (i.e. the invaders), even those that remain (cf. R.V.). The construction is unnatural, and any play of words between two classes of “passers through,” viz. invaders and searchers, has no probability. In Ezekiel 39:15 “those that pass through,” i.e. the searchers, are distinguished from the buriers, and a reader finding “buriers” in the present verse assumed that they were different from the searchers, and added “with those that pass through” (the searchers) on the margin.
And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.15. Render with R.V., And they that pass through the land (the searchers) shall pass through; and when any seeth a man’s bone, then shall he set up (lit. build) a sign (or pillar), &c. On Hamon-Gog cf. Ezekiel 39:11.
And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.16. name of the city … Hamonah] Or, a city. Hamonah is fem. of Hamon, multitude, and presumably of the same meaning. The words, however, are enigmatical and alien to the connexion. The last clause, “and they shall cleanse the land,” suggests the previous mention of some action which has this result. The Versions, however, are in agreement with Heb. text. If the text be correct, the prophet’s meaning is that a city shall also be built in commemoration of Gog’s overthrow; naturally this city must be supposed situated near the valley of Hamon-Gog, because its name Hamonah (multitude), if the city were situated elsewhere, would not of itself suggest any connexion with Gog.
Ezekiel 39:17 seq. The great sacrificial feast provided by Jehovah for the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the field. They shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of princes of the earth (17–20). And thus shall that which Jehovah is be made known both to Israel and the heathen; and the nations shall understand, from Jehovah’s defence of his godly people now, why it was that aforetime he inflicted such evils upon them and cast them out of his land (21–24).
And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.17. to my sacrifice] The eating of flesh was of rarer occurrence in ancient times than it is now. All slaughtering of animals was a sacrificial act. The blood and some parts of the victim were given to Jehovah; and the rest eaten before him by the company. Hence the terminology here: Jehovah’s slaughter of his enemies is to afford a sacrificial feast. Cf. Zephaniah 1:8; Isaiah 34:6.
Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.18. The actual victims sacrificed were princes and mighty men; here they are described as rams and goats—the usual animals sacrificed. Jeremiah 51:40.
fatlings of Bashan] Bashan was a pastoral country, producing the fattest and greatest beasts. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:14; Amos 4:1; Isaiah 34:6-7; Psalm 22:12.
And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.20. my table] It is the Lord that holds the sacrificial feast here (Ezekiel 39:19), and it is his table to which he invites the fowls and beasts.
horses and chariots] It is scarcely necessary to point with LXX. horse and rider; “chariot” suggests that those borne in the chariot are intended. The term rendered “chariot” seems used, however, of “riding-beasts,” e.g. the ass and the camel, Isaiah 21:7; Isaiah 21:9; and there is no intimation elsewhere that Gog’s army rode in chariots: they were horsemen and bowmen.
And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.21. The great discomfiture of Gog will reveal Jehovah’s power to the nations. None but God alone could deal so wonderfully. Cf. Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 38:23.
So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.22. And Israel from that day will feel secure in the protection of Jehovah their God; all misgivings which the past might create will disappear, and they shall know that now Jehovah is indeed their God.
And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.23. Jehovah’s dealing with his people Israel is the great lesson which he reads to the heathen; it is the history of Israel in the hand of Jehovah their God that reveals to the nations what Jehovah is. For the nations knew Jehovah only as God of Israel, and it was thus only through Israel that he could reveal himself to them. This last great event in the history of Israel, Jehovah’s signal defence of them now that they are his people in truth, casts light on his former hiding of his face from them. Deeper elements than mere power enter into his rule of his people; a conception of God is suggested to the nations unlike any they had hitherto entertained—there is a God who is omnipotent and who rules the nations in righteousness, the God of Israel.
According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.24. have I done unto them] did I do unto them.
Ezekiel 39:25 seq. The prophet returns to the point of view occupied in ch. 33–37, before the restoration of Israel. The transition is suggested by the words I hid my face from them (Ezekiel 39:24). This shall no more be (Ezekiel 39:29); they shall be restored, and dwell safely in their land (Ezekiel 39:26), and Jehovah shall be their God in truth.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;25. bring again the captivity] Cf. Ezekiel 16:53, Ezekiel 29:14.
jealous for my holy name] little different from “my divine name.” The prophet represents Jehovah as acting from the sense of that which he is. The representation is to be explained from the profound sense which the prophet, and other prophets, had of the Godhead of Jehovah, with all that Godhead meant. Cf. Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22; Ezekiel 20:44.
After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid.26. after that … borne] Rather: And they shall bear their shame. The phrase “bear shame” is not used in the sense of bearing the outward disgrace (Ezekiel 32:24-25; Ezekiel 32:30, Ezekiel 34:29, Ezekiel 36:7), but in the sense of bearing the inward feeling of unworthiness, which the undeserved goodness of Jehovah creates (Ezekiel 16:52; Ezekiel 16:54). The word “bear” is written defectively and by a change of a “tittle” might mean “forget.” While “forget their shame” however might well be said, shame meaning reproach (Isaiah 54:4), “forget their trespasses,” implying complete obliteration of the unhappy past, is so powerful an idea that it causes surprise. Either idea is beautiful; whether the idea be that the redeemed people sit in abashed gladness, the memory of former evil adding depth to the gladness, or whether it be that the assurance that Jehovah is their God (Ezekiel 39:22) is so exalted that the memory of former sad days is wholly wiped out by it.
when they dwelt … afraid] when they dwell with confidence … and none maketh them afraid. Reference is to the time of restoration.
When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;27. The verse is closely connected with the preceding: none maketh them afraid; when I have brought … and have been sanctified in (or, through) them. Cf. Ezekiel 36:23-24, Ezekiel 38:16. For people, peoples.
Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.28. Read: And they shall know … in that I caused them … and will gather … and will leave. The words: and I will gather, &c. to the end are wanting in LXX., which also points the first clause differently.
Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.29. poured out my spirit] This states in brief all the regenerating influences more fully dwelt upon in Ezekiel 36:25-31. Cf. Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10. On first clause, Isaiah 54:8-10; Jeremiah 31:3 seq.