Ezekiel 16:53
When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of your captives in the middle of them:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(53) Shall bring again their captivity.—This is not a promise of restoration to Israel; but, on the contrary, is an expression of the utter hopelessness of their punishment in the strongest possible form. The “bringing again of captivity “does not, indeed, necessarily mean a return from exile (into which Sodom had not been carried); but, as explained in Ezekiel 16:55, a return to the former estate, that is, a state of happiness and prosperity. In the case of Sodom this was manifestly impossible; and even in the case of Samaria it would, if accomplished, lack any historical identification. Sodom and her daughters (the surrounding cities) had perished with all their inhabitants many ages ago, leaving no descendants behind. Restoration was, therefore, obviously impossible; and by conditioning the restoration of Jerusalem on an impossible thing, it is meant to be most strongly denied.

Ezekiel 16:53-56. When I shall bring again the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, &c. — “Sodom and her daughters may mean cities placed in the district where Sodom stood. Sodom was not where the lake is, Genesis 19:24.” — Bishop Newcome. “The Moabites and Ammonites, descended from Sodom, are called by this name.” — Michaelis. “When the fulness of the Gentiles shall come into the church, some of whom may be compared with Sodom for wickedness, Isaiah 1:9, then will I also remember you were my ancient people. St. Paul tells us the Jews will be provoked to emulation by the Gentiles coming into the church, and thereby be induced to acknowledge the truth, Romans 11:11-31. And the conversion of the Gentiles is expressed, Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:6; Jeremiah 49:39, by returning the captivity of Moab, Ammon, and Elam; and Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 19:24-25; Isaiah 23:18, by the Egyptians, Syrians, Assyrians, and Ethiopians bringing presents to God, and acknowledging themselves his servants. And by the same analogy we may understand the bringing again the captivity of Sodom here, of the Gentiles coming into the church.” — Lowth. “The sense of this,” says Bishop Newcome, “is again expressed Ezekiel 16:55, and both verses are to be explained by Ezekiel 16:61. I refer the words rather to the future restoration of the Jews than to their return from Babylon.” This prediction was partly fulfilled in the age of the apostles and first disciples of Christ; but the full accomplishment of it is undoubtedly yet future. That thou mayest bear thine own shame — That thou mayest be humbled and made ashamed, in having those put upon a level with thee whom thou hadst before so greatly contemned, and thought so much beneath thee. For thy sister Sodom — Including the cities in or near the place where she stood, and the Ammonites, Moabites, and other neighbouring nations, termed her daughters, Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 16:55, and here put for the Gentiles in general; was not mentioned in the day of thy pride — Was held in such contempt, that thou didst not think her worthy of being named by thee; before thy wickedness was discovered, Ezekiel 16:57 — Before it was made apparent to the world by the judgments or punishments inflicted on thee. Or, as Bishop Newcome and some others interpret the words, “The exemplary punishment of Sodom was not duly considered and spoken of by thee in the time of thy prosperity and self-confidence; before thy humiliation showed thy wickedness, and defeats and distresses were brought on thee by the Syrians and Philistines.”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.A denunciation of hopeless ruin. When Sodom shall be rebuilt and shall flourish, when Samaria shall be again a mighty people, then, but not until then, shall Jerusalem be restored. 53. Here follows a promise of restoration. Even the sore chastisements coming on Judah would fail to reform its people; God's returning goodness alone would effect this, to show how entirely of grace was to be their restoration. The restoration of her erring sisters is mentioned before hers, even as their punishment preceded her punishment; so all self-boasting is excluded [Fairbairn]. "Ye shall, indeed, at some time or other return, but Moab and Ammon shall return with you, and some of the ten tribes" [Grotius].

bring again … captivity—that is, change the affliction into prosperity (so Job 42:10). Sodom itself was not so restored (Jer 20:16), but Ammon and Moab (her representatives, as sprung from Lot who dwelt in Sodom) were (Jer 48:47; 49:6); probably most of the ten tribes and the adjoining nations, Ammon and Moab, &c., were in part restored under Cyrus; but the full realization of the restoration is yet future; the heathen nations to be brought to Christ being typified by "Sodom," whose sins they now reproduce (De 32:32).

captivity of thy captives—literally, "of thy captivities." However, the gracious promise rather begins with the "nevertheless" (Eze 16:60), not here; for Eze 16:59 is a threat, not a promise. The sense here thus is, Thou shalt be restored when Sodom and Samaria are, but not till then (Eze 16:55), that is, never. This applies to the guilty who should be utterly destroyed (Eze 16:41, 42); but it does not contradict the subsequent promise of restoration to their posterity (Nu 14:29-33), and to the elect remnant of grace [Calvin].

It is disputed whether this be a promise or menace; it is most likely to be a threat; and if you consider the difference between a temporal and spiritual restitution, and the difference between an entire and partial restitution, it will be evident. Sodom and Samaria never were restored to that state they had been in, nor were the two tribes ever made so rich, mighty, and renowned, though God brought some of them out of Babylon; and yet were these words promissory, both Sodom, Samaria, and the two tribes would have been restored. The words seem to confirm irrecoverably a low, afflicted, despised state, as the future condition of the Jews for ever in their temporals.

Then; then, not before: this doth not preclude a future full restitution, but is an argument that concludes against the consequence, but a negation of the antecedent, as if it were said, If ever Sodom and Samaria may hope, then thou mayst hope for a restoring to thy former glory; but Sodom and Samaria never shall, therefore neither thou, O Jerusalem, and deluded Jews. And this may have respect to the false prophets, who deceived this people with promises of deliverance from being made captives, or of sudden restitution of all to them. When I shall bring again their captivity,.... The captivity of Sodom and Samaria, as after mentioned:

the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters; which some understand as what never will be, as it never yet has been: Sodom remains to this day a dead sea, and the ten tribes are not returned:

then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them; that is, it shall never be brought again, according to the above sense; but rather this is to be understood of the calling of the Gentiles, comparable to Sodom for their wickedness, as the great city of Rome is, Revelation 11:8; and of the calling of God's elect among the ten tribes, scattered up and down among the Gentiles, by the preaching of the apostles; and when the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in then will follow the conversion of the Jews, and all Israel will be sawed, Romans 11:25; for it is certain those sisters, Sodom and Samaria, were to be restored, and received into the church, and given to her for daughters, Ezekiel 16:61; thus the conversion, of the Gentiles is signified by bringing again the captivity of Moab and Ammon, in Jeremiah 48:47.

When I shall bring again {e} their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:

(e) This he speaks in comparison seeing that he would restore Jerusalem when Sodom would be restored, that is, never: and this is meant of the greatest part of the Jews.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
53. Sodom and Samaria shall be restored, and Jerusalem along with them.

When I shall bring again] Rather; and I will bring again. The phrase “turn the captivity” probably means: turn the fortunes (lit. the turning) of one.

captivity of thy captives] Most moderns by a slight change of reading after LXX. render: and I will bring again thy captivity in the midst of them. Cf. Isaiah 19:24, “In that day shall Israel be a third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.”Verse 53. - When I shall bring again; better, with the Revised Version, both here and in ver. 55, and I will turn again. The Authorized Version reads like a sentence of hopeless and perpetual condemnation, as per impossible. When Sodom and Samaria should be pardoned, then, and not till then, should there be hope for Judah. But all that follows in the chapter shows that what is meant is a promise of restoration, not for Judah only, but also for her less guilty sisters. Ezekiel sees a far off hope for his own nation, and he cannot limit the mercy of God in bringing them also, as she was to be brought, to repentance. For them also punishment was a means to an end beyond itself, corrective, and not merely retributive. The language of Isaiah (Isaiah 19:23-2.5) as to Egypt and Assyria presents a striking parallel, and may have been in Ezekiel's thoughts. As Israel has been worse than all the heathen, Jehovah will punish it notwithstanding its election, so that its shame shall be uncovered before all the nations (Ezekiel 16:36-42), and the justice of the judgment to be inflicted upon it shall be made manifest (Ezekiel 16:43-52). According to these points of view, the threat of punishment divides itself into two parts in the following manner: - In the first (Ezekiel 16:35-42) we have, first of all (in Ezekiel 16:36), a recapitulation of the guilty conduct described in vv. 16-34; and secondly, an announcement of the punishment corresponding to the guilt, as the punishment of adultery and murder (Ezekiel 16:37 and Ezekiel 16:48), and a picture of its infliction, as retribution for the enormities committed (Ezekiel 16:39-42). In the second part (Ezekiel 16:43-52) there follows a proof of the justice of this judgment.

Ezekiel 16:35-42

The punishment will correspond to the sin. - Ezekiel 16:35. Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah! Ezekiel 16:36. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy brass has been lavished, and thy shame exposed in thy whoredom with thy lovers, and because of all the idols of thine abominations, and according to the blood of thy sons, which thou hast given them; Ezekiel 16:37. Therefore, behold, I will gather together all thy lovers, whom thou hast pleased, and all whom thou hast loved, together with all whom thou hast hated, and will gather them against thee from round about, and will expose thy shame to them, that they may see all thy shame. Ezekiel 16:38. I will judge thee according to the judgment of adulteresses and murderesses, and make thee into blood of wrath and jealousy. Ezekiel 16:39. And I will give thee into their hand, that they may destroy thy arches, and pull down thy heights; that they may strip thy clothes off thee, and take thy splendid jewellery, and leave thee naked and bare. Ezekiel 16:40. And they shall bring up a company against thee, and stone thee, and cut thee in pieces with their swords. Ezekiel 16:41. And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgment upon thee before the eyes of many women. Thus do I put an end to thy whoredom.; and thou wilt also give payment no more. Ezekiel 16:42. And I quiet my fury toward thee, and will turn away my jealousy from thee, that I may repose and vex myself no more. - In the brief summary of the guilt of the whore, the following objects are singled out, as those for which she is to be punished: (1) the pouring out of her brass and the exposure of her shame; (2) the idols of her abominations (with על before the noun, corresponding to יען before the infinitive); (3) the blood of her sons, with the preposition כּ, according to, to indicate the measure of her punishment. Two things are mentioned as constituting the first ground of punishment. The first is, "because thy brass has been poured out." Most of the commentators have explained this correctly, as referring to the fact that Israel had squandered the possessions received from the Lord, viz., gold, silver, jewellery, clothing, and food (Ezekiel 16:10-13 and Ezekiel 16:16-19), upon idolatry. The only difficulty connected with this is the use of the word nechōsheth, brass or copper, in the general sense of money or metal, as there are no other passages to support this use of the word. At the same time, the objection raised to this, namely, that nechōsheth cannot signify money, because the Hebrews had no copper coin, is an assertion without proof, since all that can be affirmed with certainty is, that the use of copper or brass as money is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, with the exception of the passage before us. But we cannot infer with certainty from this that it was not then in use. As soon as the Hebrews began to stamp coins, bronze or copper coins were stamped as well as the silver shekels, and specimens of these are still in existence from the time of the Maccabees, with the inscription "Simon, prince of Israel" (cf. Cavedoni, Bibl. Numismatik, transl. by Werlhof, p. 20ff.). Judging from their size, these coins were in all probability worth a whole, a half, and a quarter gerah (Caved. pp. 50, 51). If, then, the silver shekel of the value of 21 grains contained twenty gerahs in Moses' time, and they had already silver pieces of the weight of a shekel and half shekel, whilst quarter shekels are also mentioned in the time of Samuel, there would certainly be metal coins in use of the value of a gerah for the purposes of trade and commerce, and these would in all probability be made of brass, copper, or bronze, as silver coins of the value of a penny would have been found too small. Consequently it cannot be positively denied that brass or copper may have been used as coin for the payment of a gerah, and therefore that the word nechōsheth may have been applied to money. We therefore adhere to the explanation that brass stands for money, which has been already adopted by the lxx and Jerome; and we do so all the more, because every attempt that has been made to fasten another meaning upon nechōsheth, whether by allegorical interpretation (Rabb.), or from the Arabic, or by altering the text, is not only arbitrary, but does not even yield a meaning that suits the context.

השׁפך, to be poured out equals squandered or lavished. To the squandering of the possessions bestowed by the Lord upon His congregation, there was added the exposure of its shame, i.e., the disgraceful sacrifice of the honour and dignity of the people of God, of which Israel had made itself guilty by its whoredom with idols, i.e., by falling into idolatry, and adopting heathen ways. על־מאהביך, to (towards), i.e., with thy lovers (על standing for אל, according to later usage: vid., Ewald, 217i, p. 561), is to be explained after the analogy of זנה אל, as signifying to commit adultery towards a person, i.e., with him. But it was not enough to sacrifice the gifts of the Lord, i.e., His possessions and His glory, to the heathen and their idols; Israel also made for itself כּל־גּלּוּלי תּועבות, all kinds of logs of abominations, i.e., of idols, upon which it hung its ornaments, and before which it set oil and incense, meal and honey (Ezekiel 16:18 and Ezekiel 16:19). And it was not even satisfied with this, but gave to its idols the blood of its sons, by slaying its children to Moloch (Ezekiel 16:20). Therefore (Ezekiel 16:37.) the Lord will uncover the shame of His people before all the nations. He will gather them together, both friend and foe, against Jerusalem, and let them execute the judgment. The punishment will correspond to the sin. Because Israel has cultivated friendship with the heathen, it shall now be given up altogether into their power. On the uncovering of the nakedness as a punishment, compare Hosea 2:12. The explanation of the figure follows in Ezekiel 16:38. The heathen nations shall inflict upon Jerusalem the punishment due to adultery and bloodshed. Jerusalem (i.e., Israel) had committed this twofold crime. It had committed adultery, by falling away from Jehovah into idolatry; and bloodshed, by the sacrifices offered to Moloch. The punishment for adultery was death by stoning (see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:40); and blood demanded blood (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12). 'וּנתתּיך דּם וגו' does not mean, "I will put blood in thee" (Ros.), or "I will cause thy blood to be shed in anger" (De Wette, Maurer, etc.); but I make thee into blood; which we must not soften down, as Hitzig proposes, into cause thee to bleed. The thought is rather the following: thou shalt be turned into blood, so that nothing but blood may be left of thee, and that the blood of fury and jealousy, as the working of the wrath and jealousy of God (compare Ezekiel 16:42). To this end the heathen will destroy all the objects of idolatry (גּב and רמות, Ezekiel 16:39, as in Ezekiel 16:24, Ezekiel 16:25), then take from the harlot both clothes and jewellery, and leave her naked, i.e., plunder Jerusalem and lay it waste, and, lastly, execute upon her the punishment of death by stoning and by sword; in other words, destroy both city and kingdom. The words 'העלוּ , they bring (up) against thee an assembly, may be explained from the ancient mode of administering justice, according to which the popular assembly (qâhâl, cf. Proverbs 5:14) sat in judgment on cases of adultery and capital crimes, and executed the sentence, as the law for stoning expressly enjoins (Leviticus 20:2; Numbers 15:36; Deuteronomy 22:21; compare my Bibl. Archol. II. p. 257). But they are also applicable to the foes, who would march against Jerusalem (for qâhâl in this sense, compare Ezekiel 17:17). The punishment of adultery (according to Leviticus 20:10) was death by stoning, as we may see from Leviticus 20:2-27 and Deuteronomy 22:24 compared with John 8:5. This was the usual mode of capital punishment under the Mosaic law, when judicial sentence of death was pronounced upon individuals (see my Archol. II. p. 264). The other form of punishment, slaying by the sword, was adopted when there were many criminals to be put to death, and was not decapitation, but cutting down or stabbing (bâthaq, to hew in pieces) with the sword (see my Archol. l.c.). The punishment of death was rendered more severe by the burning of the corpse (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9). Consequently the burning of the houses in Ezekiel 16:41 is also to be regarded as intensifying the punishment; and it is in the same light that the threat is to be regarded, that the judgment would be executed "before the eyes of many women." The many women are the many heathen nations, according to the description of Jerusalem or Israel as an unfaithful wife. "As it is the greatest punishment to an adulterous woman to be exposed in her sin before the eyes of other women; so will the severest portion of Israel's punishment be, that it will stand exposed in its sin before the eyes of all other nations" (Kliefoth). This is the way in which God will put an end to the fornication, and appease His wrath and jealousy upon the harlot (Ezekiel 16:41 and Ezekiel 16:42). השׁבּית, with מן, to cause a person to cease to be or do anything. For Ezekiel 16:42, compare Ezekiel 5:13. By the execution of the judgment the jealousy (קנאה) of the injured husband is appeased.

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