Ezekiel 16:3
And say, Thus said the Lord GOD to Jerusalem; Your birth and your nativity is of the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite, and your mother an Hittite.
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(3) Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan.—In the original the words “births” and “nativities” are in the plural, already indicating what the whole context makes plain, that the reference is not to the natural, but to the spiritual origin of Israel. So our Lord says to the Jews of His time, “Ye are of your father, the devil” (John 8:44; comp. Matthew 3:9); and Isaiah addresses his contemporaries as “rulers of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrha” (Isaiah 1:10). The word births, as indicated by the margin, comes from a verb meaning to cut or dig out, as stone from the quarry; and there is a play upon this sense in Isaiah 51:1. Israel’s character, her spiritual nativity, was thoroughly Canaanitish.

An Amorite . . . an Hittite.—These two tribes, especially the former, as the most prominent in Canaan, are frequently put for the whole (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 1:44, with Numbers 14:45; Joshua 10:5; 2Kings 21:11, &c). The dealings of the patriarchs in Canaan were particularly with the Hittites (Genesis 23; Genesis 26:34-35; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:1; Genesis 28:6-8). This once great and powerful nation had almost faded from history; but their monuments and inscriptions are just now beginning to be discovered and deciphered.

Ezekiel 16:3. Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem — Unto the whole race of the Jews, and especially to the natives and inhabitants of that proud city, who thought it a singular privilege to be born or to live there, counting it a more holy place than the rest of the land of Canaan. Thy birth and thy nativity — The LXX. render it, Η ριζα σου και η γενεσις, thy root and thy generation, and so also the Vulgate. The word rendered birth, or root, however, מכרתין, seems rather to mean, commerce, or dealings, appearing to be derived from מכר, to sell. Accordingly Buxtorf translates it commercia tua, thy dealings. Houbigant, indeed, whom Bishop Newcome inclines to follow, prefers deriving the word from כרה, to dig, referring to Isaiah 51:1, and then the sense will be, thy origin, or thy rise, and thy nativity, is of the land of Canaan. If understood of the city of Jerusalem, the assertion is strictly true. It was a Canaanitish city, or strong hold, possessed and inhabited by the Jebusites, till David took it from them: see 2 Samuel 5:6. The father, therefore, of this city, might be properly said to be an Amorite, and its mother, a Hittite; these names comprehending all the idolatrous nations of Canaan, of which the Jebusites were a branch. Or if the Jews or Israelites be intended, their progenitors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sojourned in the land of Canaan long before the possession of it was given to their posterity; and the two latter were natives of that country. But as those are said to be our parents, in Scripture language, whose manners we imitate, the Jews or Israelites, may be here represented as being of Canaanitish origin, because they followed the manners of the idolatrous inhabitants of that country, rather than those of the pious patriarchs: see Ezekiel 16:45; John 8:44; Matthew 3:7. There is an expression of the same import in the history of Susannah, Ezekiel 16:56, that seems to be borrowed from this passage, O thou seed of Canaan, and not of Judah, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart.16:1-58 In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.Birth - See the margin; the word represents "origin" under the figure of "cutting out stone from a quarry" (compare Isaiah 51:1).

An Amorite - the Amorite, a term denoting the whole people. The Amorites, being a principal branch of the Canaanites, are often taken to represent the whole stock Genesis 15:16; 2 Kings 21:11.

An Hittite - Compare Genesis 26:34. The main idea is that the Israelites by their doings proved themselves to be the very children of the idolatrous nations who once occupied the land of Canaan. Compare Deuteronomy 20:17.

3. birth … nativity—thy origin and birth; literally, "thy diggings" (compare Isa 51:1) "and thy bringings forth."

of … Canaan—in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned before going to Egypt, and from which thou didst derive far more of thy innate characteristics than from the virtues of those thy progenitors (Eze 21:30).

an Amorite … an Hittite—These, being the most powerful tribes, stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare Jos 1:4; Am 2:9), which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter extermination by God (Le 18:24, 25, 28; De 18:12). Translate rather, "the Amorite … the Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of Israel (Ge 15:16). "The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives, daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah (Ge 26:34, 35; 27:46), but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare Eze 16:45).

The proud and blinded Jews thought their original more pure than that of the heathen; this was an old tradition among them, now that the prophet is to acquaint them with the truth of their polluted original, which they will storm and fret at, he comes thus prefacing his discourse with a Divine commission.

The Lord God; who is omniscient, knows all we are and do, who is so just and true, speaks not any thing but the very truth, who is supreme Judge and determiner of controversies. He tells the prophet what they were, and commands him to tell them.

Unto Jerusalem, i.e. the whole race of the Jews, as Ezekiel 16:2. Or, perhaps, in more special manner the inhabitants and natives of that proud city, who thought it a singular privilege to be born there, which the Jews counted more holy than the rest of the land of Canaan.

Thy birth; thine habitation and thy kindred, so our English of the time of 2 Elizabeth. Thy root whence thou didst spring, the rock whence thou wast cut, the place where thou grewest up, the company and commerce thou didst use, all were of the land of Canaan, and thou hast a fulness of their vicious nature, manners, and practices, both in civil and religious things, as vile and obnoxious to my curse as Canaan itself.

Thy father: if the prophet refer to Abraham, it must be understood of his state and religion before God called him, when he, as his father and kindred, worshipped strange gods beyond the river, Joshua 24:14, with Ezekiel 16:2. If the prophet refer to those that were in Egypt, the Jews’ ancestors that dwelt there, it is certain that many of them forgot Abraham’s God, closed with the Egyptian idolatry, and were polluted with idols, Joshua 24:2. If you refer it as a figurative speech, and call them fathers whom we reverence, consult, obey, and imitate, as well we may call such fathers, these were not the best and holiest of men, Matthew 3:7 12:34 23:33. O ye Jews, be it known to you, whatever you think, you have no cause to boast of your nobler or purer descent, your fountain was corrupt and poisonous.

Was; might have been, for likeness of manners.

An Amorite; either because this comprehended all the rest of the cursed nations; or because the Amorites, as the most powerful and mighty, so were the most wicked among them; it was the Amorites which were filling up their sins, Genesis 15:16.

Thy mother: sometimes the ill nature of a father is corrected in the child by the sweetness of the mother, but you Jews were not so happy, your mother was as bad every whit as your father; both prodigiously vile in their inclination, civil converse, and choice of their religion, and in the practice of it. The daughters of Heth were women of ill fame and worse manners, Genesis 27:46, enough to make a good soul weary of life. Such is your race, O ye Jews. And say, thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem,.... To the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as the Targum:

thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; here the Jewish ancestors for a time dwelt and sojourned, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and so the Targum, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the first word, "thy habitation" or "sojourning" (f): but whereas it follows, "and thy nativity", this does not solve the difficulty; which may be said to be of the land of Canaan, because their ancestors were born here; for though Abraham was a Chaldean he was called out of Chaldea into the land of Canaan, where Isaac was born; and so was Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes; besides, the Israelites were the successors of the Canaanites in their land, and so seemed to descend from them; and it is not unusual for such to be reckoned the children of those whom they succeed; to which may be added, that they were like to the Canaanites in their manners, particularly in their idolatries; and so their children, as such, are said to be the offspring and descendants of those whose examples they follow, or whom they imitate; see the history of Susannah in the Apocrypha:

"So he put him aside, and commanded to bring the other, and said unto him, O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thine heart.'' (Susannah 1:56)

thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite; Abraham and Sarah, who were, properly speaking, the one the father, the other the mother, of the Jewish nation, were Chaldeans; and neither Amorites nor Hittites; yet, because they dwelt among them; are so called; and especially since before their conversion they were idolaters, as those were; besides, the Jews who descended from Judah, and from whom they have their name, very probably sprung from ancestors who might be Amorites and Hittites: since Judah married the daughter of a Canaanite, and such an one seems to be Tamar, he took for his son Er, and by whom he himself had two sons, Pharez and Zarah, from the former of which the kings of Judah lineally descended, Genesis 37:2; besides, the Jews were the successors of these people, and possessed their land, and imitated them in their wicked practices, Amos 2:10; and these two, the Amorite and Hittite, of all the seven nations, are mentioned, because they were the worst, and the most wicked, Genesis 15:16. The Jews (g) say Terah the father of Abraham, and his ancestors, came from Canaan.

(f) "habitationes tuae", Pagninus, Calvin; "mansiones tuae", Montanus; "habitatio tua", Vatablus, Grotius; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 30. 1.((g) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 2. & Gloss. in ib.

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD to Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land {a} of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

(a) You boast to be of the seed of Abraham, but you are degenerate and follow the abominations of the wicked Canaanites as children do the manners of their fathers, Isa 1:4,57:3.

3. Thy birth … land of Canaan] of the Canaanite. “Birth” is origin (ch. Ezekiel 21:30, Ezekiel 29:14), the figure being taken from a mine or a quarry, cf. Isaiah 51:1, “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” When Jerusalem’s origin is said to be from the land of the Canaanite several references seem combined, e.g. the fact that Jerusalem was a Canaanite city; that Israel first became a family in Canaan (Ezekiel 16:4); and that having originated there its moral character corresponded to its Canaanite origin and had cleaved to it all through its history.

an Amorite] the Amorite. The Amorites and Hittites are named as the two chief Canaanitish peoples, the whole population being sometimes called the Amorites (Genesis 15:16; Amos 2:9), and at other times the Hittites (Joshua 1:4). Jerusalem has the one for father, and the other for mother (Ezekiel 16:45).The rule expounded in Ezekiel 14:13-20 is here applied to Jerusalem. - Ezekiel 14:21. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, How much more when I send my four evil judgments, sword, and famine, and evil beasts, and pestilence, against Jerusalem, to cut off from it man and beast? Ezekiel 14:22. And, behold, there remain escaped ones in her who will be brought out, sons and daughters; behold, they will go out to you, that ye may see their walk and their works; and console yourselves concerning the evil which I have brought upon Jerusalem. Ezekiel 14:23. And they will console you, when ye see their walk and their works: and ye will see that I have not done without cause all that I have done to her, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - By כּי in Ezekiel 14:21 the application of the general rule to Jerusalem is made in the form of a reason. The meaning, however, is not, that the reason why Jehovah was obliged to act in this unsparing manner was to be found in the corrupt condition of the nation, as Hvernick supposes, - a thought quite foreign to the context; but כּי indicates that the judgments upon Jerusalem will furnish a practical proof of the general truth expressed in Ezekiel 14:13-20, and so confirm it. This כּי is no more an emphatic yea than the following "אף is a forcible introduction to the antithesis formed by the coming fact, to the merely imaginary cases mentioned above" (Hitzig). אף has undoubtedly the force of a climax, but not of an asseveration, "verily" (Hv.); a meaning which this particle never has. It is used here, as in Job 4:19, in the sense of אף כּי; and the כּי which follows אף swollof hcihw in this case is a conditional particle of time, "when." Consequently כי ought properly to be written twice; but it is only used once, as in Ezekiel 15:5; Job 9:14, etc. The thought is this: how much more will this be the case, namely, that even a Noah, Daniel, and Job will not deliver either sons or daughters when I send my judgments upon Jerusalem. The perfect שׁלּחתּי is used, and not the imperfect, as in Ezekiel 14:13, because God has actually resolved upon sending it, and does not merely mention it as a possible case. The number four is significant, symbolizing the universality of the judgment, or the thought that it will fall on all sides, or upon the whole of Jerusalem; whereby it must also be borne in mind that Jerusalem as the capital represents the kingdom of Judah, or the whole of Israel, so far as it was still in Canaan. At the same time, by the fact that the Lord allows sons and daughters to escape death, and to be led away to Babylon, He forces the acknowledgment of the necessity and righteousness of His judgments among those who are in exile. This is in general terms the thought contained in Ezekiel 14:22 and Ezekiel 14:23, to which very different meanings have been assigned by the latest expositors. Hvernick, for example, imagines that, in addition to the four ordinary judgments laid down in the law, Ezekiel 14:22 announces a new and extraordinary one; whereas Hitzig and Kliefoth have found in these two verses the consolatory assurance, that in the time of the judgments a few of the younger generation will be rescued and taken to those already in exile in Babylon, there to excite pity as well as to express it, and to give a visible proof of the magnitude of the judgment which has fallen upon Israel. They differ so far from each other, however, that Hitzig regards those of the younger generation who are saved as צדּיקים, who have saved themselves through their innocence, but not their guilty parents, and who will excite the commiseration of those already in exile through their blameless conduct; whilst Kliefoth imagines that those who are rescued are simply less criminal than the rest, and when they come to Babylon will be pitied by those who have been longer in exile, and will pity them in return.

Neither of these views does justice to the words themselves or to the context. The meaning of. Ezekiel 14:22 is clear enough; and in the main there has been no difference of opinion concerning it. When man and beast are cut off out of Jerusalem by the four judgments, all will not perish; but פּליטה, i.e., persons who have escaped destruction, will be left, and will be led out of the city. These are called sons and daughters, with an allusion to Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:18, and Ezekiel 14:20; and consequently we must not take these words as referring to the younger generation in contrast to the older. They will be led out of Jerusalem, not to remain in the land, but to come to "you," i.e., those already in exile, that is to say, to go into exile to Babylon. This does not imply either a modification or a sharpening of the punishment; for the cutting off of man and beast from a town may be effected not only by slaying, but by leading away. The design of God in leaving some to escape, and carrying them to Babylon, is explained in the clauses which follow from וּראיתם onwards, the meaning of which depends partly upon the more precise definition of דּרכּם and עלילותם, and partly upon the explanation to be given of נחמתּם and ונחמוּ אתכם. The ways and works are not to be taken without reserve as good and righteous works, as Kliefoth has correctly shown in his reply to Hitzig. Still less can ways and works denote their experience or fate, which is the explanation given by Kliefoth of the words, when expounding the meaning and connection of Ezekiel 14:21-23. The context certainly points to wicked ways and evil works. And it is only the sight of such works that could lead to the conviction that it was not חנּם, in vain, i.e., without cause, that God had inflicted such severe judgments upon Jerusalem. And in addition to this effect, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:23 as produced upon those who were already in exile, by the sight of the conduct of the פּליטה that came to Babylon, the immediate design of God is described in Ezekiel 14:22 as 'ונחמתּם על־הרעה וגו. The verb נחם with על cannot be used here in the sense of to repent of, or be sorry for, a judgment which God has inflicted upon him, but only of evil which he himself has done; and נחם does not mean to pity a person, either when construed in the Piel with an accusative of the person, or in the Niphal c. על, rei. נחמתּם is Niphal, and signifies here to console oneself, as in Genesis 38:12 with על, concerning anything, as in 2 Samuel 13:39; Jeremiah 31:15, etc.; and נחמוּ (Ezekiel 14:23), with the accusative of the person, to comfort any one, as in Genesis 51:21; Job 2:11, etc. But the works and doings of those who came to Babylon could only produce this effect upon those who were already there, from the fact that they were of such a character as to demonstrate the necessity for the judgments which had fallen upon Jerusalem. A conviction of the necessity for the divine judgments would cause them to comfort themselves with regard to the evil inflicted by God; inasmuch as they would see, not only that the punishment endured was a chastisement well deserved, but that God in His righteousness would stay the punishment when it had fulfilled His purpose, and restore the penitent sinner to favour once more. But the consolation which those who were in exile would derive from a sight of the works of the sons and daughters who had escaped from death and come to Babylon, is attributed in Ezekiel 14:23 (נחמוּ אתכם) to the persons themselves. It is in this sense that it is stated that "they will comfort you;" not by expressions of pity, but by the sight of their conduct. This is directly affirmed in the words, "when ye shall see their conduct and their works." Consequently Ezekiel 14:23 does not contain a new thought, but simply the thought already expressed in Ezekiel 14:22, which is repeated in a new form to make it the more emphatic. And the expression את כּל־אשׁר , in Ezekiel 14:22, serves to increase the force; whilst את, in the sense of quoad, serves to place the thought to be repeated in subordination to the whole clause (cf. Ewald, 277a, p. 683).

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