Ezekiel 16:6
And when I passed by you, and saw you polluted in your own blood, I said to you when you were in your blood, Live; yes, I said to you when you were in your blood, Live.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Live.—While they were in this condition, God took pity on them. He delivered them from their oppressors; He raised up a leader for them , He gave them a law and a Church, with its priesthood and its sacraments; He led them into the land of promise, delivered them from their enemies, and constituted them a nation under the most favourable circumstances for their growth and development in all righteousness. The sense is well expressed in our version; but the original does not contain the word when, nor words corresponding to the words in italics. The connection shows that “in thy blood” is to be taken with “I said,” and not with “live;” it was while Israel was in its unclean and neglected condition that the gracious word “live” was spoken. The Chaldee paraphrast has adopted the other connection, and ingeniously explained, “I revealed myself that I might redeem you, because I saw that you were afflicted in your bondage; and I said unto you, In the blood of circumcision I will pity you. and I said unto you, In the blood of the passover I will redeem you.” The word polluted is better rendered by the margin, trodden under foot, referring to their oppressed condition in Egypt.

Ezekiel 16:6-7. And when I passed by thee — While as yet no body took so much care of thee as to wash thee from thy native filthiness, I took pity on thee; as a traveller that passes by and sees an infant lie exposed; and I provided all things necessary for thy support. God here speaks after the manner of men. I said unto thee, Live — This is such a command as sends forth a power to effect what is commanded: he gave that life: he spake, and it was done. I caused thee to multiply, &c. — The prophet in this verse describes the Israelites increasing in Egypt, under the metaphor of a female child growing up to maturity: compare Exodus 1:7. Thou art come to excellent ornaments — Hebrew, כעדי עדיים, to ornaments of ornaments, that is, thou wast adorned with the choicest blessings of Divine Providence. Or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, “Thou didst arrive to the perfection of beauty.” Thy breasts were fashioned, &c. — Thou didst come to woman’s estate.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.Or, Then I passed by thee ... and Isaid.

Polluted - wallowing, "treading upon oneself."

In thy blood - may be connected either with "I said" or with "Live." In the latter case, the state of blood and defilement is made the very cause of life, because it called forth the pity of Him who gave life. Since in the Mosaic Law "blood" was especially defiling, so was it also the special instrument of purification.

6. when I passed by—as if a traveller.

polluted in … blood—but Piscator, "ready to be trodden on."

I said—In contrast to Israel's helplessness stands God's omnipotent word of grace which bids the outcast little one "live."

in thy blood—Though thou wast foul with blood, I said, "Live" [Grotius]. "Live in thy blood," that is, Live, but live a life exposed to many deaths, as was the case in the beginnings of Israel's national existence, in order to magnify the grace of God [Calvin]. The former view is preferable. Spiritually, till the sinner is made sensible of his abject helplessness, he will not appreciate the provisions of God's grace.

After the manner of man God here speaks, alluding to some traveller or walker abroad, like Pharaoh’s daughter, or the good Samaritan that lighted on this poor forlorn infant.

Saw thee, in such manner as to pity and consider how to relieve. To Omniscience every thing is seen, but here compassion is included in this seeing, this was the only eye that pitied.

Polluted in thine own blood; most exact emblem of man’s sinful and miserable state, his filthiness and death arising from himself, as the death and filthiness of one wallowing in his own blood.

I said unto thee; I purposed to save thy life, I declared my purpose, and wrought the effect; I took care of thee, that thou mightest not die.

Yea, I said: this is repeated, both to set forth the freeness and abundance of God’s love, and to work our heart to a suitable resentment thereof, and to intimate the stability and stedfastness of the purposes and effects of grace.

Live; it sounds like a command, but it is such a command as sends forth a power accompanying it to effect what is commanded; he gave that life; he spake, and it was done. And when I passed by thee,.... Alluding to a traveller passing by where an infant lies, exposed, and looks upon it, and takes it up; or it may be to Pharaoh's daughter walking by the river side, when she spied the ark in which Moses was, and ordered it to be taken up, and so saved his life:

and saw thee in thine own blood; keeping up the simile of a newborn infant, that has nothing done to it, but is all over covered with menstruous blood; denoting the wretched and miserable estate the Jews were in when in Egypt; when they were not only loathsome and abominable to the Egyptians, and ill used and unpitied by them; but were in danger of being utterly destroyed, and ready to expire. The word rendered "polluted" signifies "trodden underfoot" (l); like mire in the streets; and so denotes both pollution and distress; so the Israelites were trodden under foot by the Egyptians, when they made them to serve with rigour, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field; and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"for it was manifest before me that you were afflicted in your bondage;''

as they then sighed and cried because of their bondage, the Lord looked upon them with an eye of pity and compassion, and delivered them, Exodus 1:14;

I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, live: yea, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, live; the Lord preserved them and saved them alive, when they were near to ruin, and delivered them by the hands of Moses, which was as life from the dead; and this he did of his own sovereign good will and pleasure, and not for any worth or merit, in them, any goodness or righteousness of theirs; for this he did when they were in their blood, pollution, and guilt; and which, that it might be observed, is repeated. The word for "blood", which is thrice mentioned, is in the plural number, "bloods"; and denotes not the blood of circumcision, and the blood of the passover; for, or by which, the Lord had mercy upon them, and redeemed them, as the Targum and Jarchi interpret it; but the abundance of it, as upon a newborn infant; and the great pollution and distress in which the Israelites were, through the many murders committed on them by their enemies. The whole is an emblem of the state and condition the elect of God are in, when they are quickened by him; who are by their first birth unclean; under the pollution, power, and guilt of sin; wallowing and weltering in it; deserving of the wrath of God, and liable to punishment for it; trodden under foot, quite neglected and despised in all appearance; and are both hopeless and helpless: when the Lord "passes" by them, not by chance, but on purpose, knowing where they are; and this he often does by the ministry of the word, under which they are providentially cast; and where he "sees" them, and looks upon then, not merely with his eye of omniscience, much less with an eye of scorn, contempt, and abhorrence; but with an eye of pity and compassion, and even of complacency and delight in their persons, though not in their sins: and when he speaks life into them, a principle of spiritual life; or quickens them by his word, so that they live a life of faith and holiness, which issues in everlasting life: this flows from divine love, and is the effect of divine power; it is of pure rich grace, and not of man's merit; as his case, being in his blood, and dead in sins, show; see Ephesians 2:4.

(l) "conculcatam", Pagninus, Montanus, Starckius; "praebentem conculcandam te", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Piscator.

And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thy {c} own blood, I said to thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said to thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

(c) Being thus in your filthiness and forsaken by all men, I took you and gave you life: by which is meant that before God wash his Church and give life, there is nothing but filthiness and death.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. And when I passed] More pathetic in the Heb. order: and I passed by thee and saw thee.

polluted] weltering; wallowing or struggling.

when thou wast in thy blood] The meaning may be: “I said unto thee, In thy blood live!” i.e. in spite of thy blood; although unclean and loathsome, live! Jehovah’s pitying eye looked through that which might repel, and saved. The repetition (which LXX., however, omits) may emphasise the great act of Jehovah’s pity.Verse 6. - For polluted, read, with the Revised Version, weltering, the primary meaning of the verb being that of stamping or treading, and omit "when thou wast," as weakening the condensed force of the original. The marvel of that unlooked for pity is emphasized by the iteration of the word of mercy, Live. The commentary of the Chaldee Targum is sufficiently curious to be quoted: "And the memory of my covenant with your fathers came into my mind, and I was revealed that I might redeem you, because it was manifest to me that ye were afflicted in your bondage, and I said unto you, 'I will have compassion on you in the blood of circumcision,' and I said unto you, 'I will redeem you by the blood of the Passover'" (Rosenmuller). The thought underlying this strange interpretation is that blood might be the means of life as well as of pollution, and in that thought there is a significance at once poetical and profound, almost, as it were, anticipating the later thoughts that the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5), that we make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). There is no reason, however, for believing that such thoughts were present to the prophet's mind. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 15:2. Son of man, what advantage has the wood of the vine over every wood, the vine-branch, which was among the trees of the forest? Ezekiel 15:3. Is wood taken from it to use for any work? or do men take a peg from it to hang all kinds of vessels upon? Ezekiel 15:4. Behold, it is given to the fire to consume. If the fire has consumed its two ends, and the middle of it is scorched, will it then be fit for any work? Ezekiel 15:5. Behold, when it is uninjured, it is not used for any work: how much less when the fire has consumed it and scorched it can it be still used for work? Ezekiel 15:6. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As the wood of the vine among the wood of the forest, which I give to the fire to consume, so do I give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 15:7. And direct my face against them. They have gone out of the fire, and the fire will consume them; that ye may learn that I am Jehovah, when I set my face against them. Ezekiel 15:8. And I make the land a desert, because they committed treachery, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - Israel is like the wood of the wild vine, which is put into the fire to burn, because it is good for nothing. From Deuteronomy 32:32-33 onwards, Israel is frequently compared to a vine or a vineyard (cf. Psalm 80:9.; Isaiah 5; Hosea 10:1; Jeremiah 2:21), and always, with the exception of Psalm 80, to point out its degeneracy. This comparison lies at the foundation of the figure employed, in Ezekiel 15:2-5, of the wood of the wild vine. This wood has no superiority over any other kind of wood. It cannot be used, like other timber, for any useful purposes; but is only fit to be burned, so that it is really inferior to all other wood (Ezekiel 15:2 and Ezekiel 15:3). And if, in its perfect state, it cannot be used for anything, how much less when it is partially scorched and consumed (Ezekiel 15:4 and Ezekiel 15:5)! מה־יּהיה, followed by מן, means, what is it above (מן, comparative)? - i.e., what superiority has it to כּל־עץ, all kinds of wood? i.e., any other wood. 'הזמורה אשׁר וגו is in apposition to עץ הנּפן, and is not to be connected with מכּל־עץ, as it has been by the lxx and Vulgate, - notwithstanding the Masoretic accentuation, - so as to mean every kind of fagot; for זמורה does not mean a fagot, but the tendril or branch of the vine (cf. Ezekiel 8:17), which is still further defined by the following relative clause: to be a wood-vine, i.e., a wild vine, which bears only sour, uneatable grapes. The preterite היה (which was; not, "is") may be explained from the idea that the vine had been fetched from the forest in order that its wood might be used. The answer given in Ezekiel 15:3 is, that this vine-wood cannot be used for any purpose whatever, not even as a peg for hanging any kind of domestic utensils upon (see comm. on Zechariah 10:4). It is too weak even for this. The object has to be supplied to לעשׂות למלאכה: to make, or apply it, for any work. Because it cannot be used as timber, it is burned. A fresh thought is introduced in Ezekiel 15:4 by the words 'את שׁני ק. The two clauses in Ezekiel 15:4 are to be connected together. The first supposes a case, from which the second is deduced as a conclusion. The question, "Is it fit for any work?" is determined in Ezekiel 15:5 in the negative. אף כּי: as in Ezekiel 14:21. נחר: perfect; and יחר: imperfect, Niphal, of חרר, in the sense of, to be burned or scorched. The subject to waויּחר is no doubt the wood, to which the suffix in אכלתהוּ refers. At the same time, the two clauses are to be understood, in accordance with Ezekiel 15:4, as relating to the burning of the ends and the scorching of the middle. - Ezekiel 15:6-8. In the application of the parable, the only thing to which prominence is given, is the fact that God will deal with the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the same manner as with the vine-wood, which cannot be used for any kind of work. This implies that Israel resembles the wood of a forest-vine. As this possesses no superiority to other wood, but, on the contrary, is utterly useless, so Israel has no superiority to other nations, but is even worse than they, and therefore is given up to the fire. This is accounted for in Ezekiel 15:7 : "They have come out of the fire, and the fire will consume them" (the inhabitants of Jerusalem). These words are not to be interpreted proverbially, as meaning, "he who escapes one judgment falls into another" (Hvernick), but show the application of Ezekiel 15:4 and Ezekiel 15:5 to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Out of a fire one must come either burned or scorched. Israel has been in the fire already. It resembles a wild vine which has been consumed at both ends by the fire, while the middle has been scorched, and which is now about to be given up altogether to the fire. We must not restrict the fire, however, out of which it has come half consumed, to the capture of Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiachin, as Hitzig does, but must extend it to all the judgments which fell upon the covenant nation, from the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes to the catastrophe in the reign of Jehoiachin, and in consequence of which Israel now resembled a vine burned at both ends and scorched in the middle. The threat closes in the same manner as the previous one. Compare Ezekiel 15:7 with Ezekiel 14:8, and Ezekiel 15:8 with Ezekiel 14:15 and Ezekiel 14:13.
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