Ezekiel 16:6
And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
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(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.

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. Ezekiel 16:6Israel therefore owes its preservation and exaltation to honour and glory to the Lord its God alone. - Ezekiel 16:6. Then I passed by thee, and saw thee stamping in thy blood, and said to thee, In thy blood live! and said to thee, In thy blood live! Ezekiel 16:7. I made thee into myriads as the growth of the field, and thou grewest and becamest tall, and camest to ornament of cheeks. The breasts expanded, and thy hair grew, whereas thou wast naked and bare. Ezekiel 16:8. And I passed by thee, and saw thee, and, behold, it was thy time, the time of love; and I spread my wing over thee, and covered thy nakedness; and I swore to thee, and entered into covenant with thee, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, and thou becamest mine. Ezekiel 16:9. And I bathed thee in water, and rinsed thy blood from thee, and anointed thee with oil. Ezekiel 16:10. And I clothed thee with embroidered work, and shod thee with morocco, and wrapped thee round with byssus, and covered thee with silk. Ezekiel 16:11. I adorned thee with ornaments, and put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain around thy neck. Ezekiel 16:12. And I gave thee a ring in thy nose, and earrings in thine ears, and a splendid crown upon thy head. Ezekiel 16:13. And thou didst adorn thyself with gold and silver; and thy clothing was byssus, and silk, and embroidery. Wheaten-flour, and honey, and oil thou didst eat; and thou wast very beautiful; and didst thrive to regal dignity. Ezekiel 16:14. Thy name went forth among the nations on account of thy beauty; for it was perfect through my glory, which I put upon thee, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The description of what the Lord did for Israel in His compassionate love is divided into two sections by the repetition of the phrase "I passed by thee" (Ezekiel 16:6 and Ezekiel 16:8). The first embraces what God had done for the preservation and increase of the nation; the second, what He had done for the glorification of Israel, by adopting it as the people of His possession. When Israel was lying in the field as a neglected new-born child, the Lord passed by and adopted it, promising it life, and giving it strength to live. To bring out the magnitude of the compassion of God, the fact that the child was lying in its blood is mentioned again and again. The explanation to be given of מתבּוססת (the Hithpolel of בּוּס, to trample upon, tread under foot) is doubtful, arising from the difficulty of deciding whether the Hithpolel is to be taken in a passive or a reflective sense. The passive rendering, "trampled upon" (Umbreit), or ad conculcandum projectus, thrown down, to be trodden under foot (Gesenius, etc.), is open to the objection that the Hophal is used for this. We therefore prefer the reflective meaning, treading oneself, or stamping; as the objection offered to this, namely, that a new-born child thrown into a field would not be found stamping with the feet, has no force in an allegorical description. In the clause Ezekiel 16:6, which is written twice, the question arises whether בּדמיך is to be taken with חיי or with ואמר : I said to thee, "In thy blood live;" or, "I said to thee in thy blood, 'Live.' " We prefer the former, because it gives a more emphatic sense. בּדמיך is a concise expression; for although lying in thy blood, in which thou wouldst inevitably bleed to death, yet thou shalt live. Hitzig's proposal to connect בּדמיך in the first clause with חיי , and in the second with אמר, can hardly be entertained. A double construction of this kind is not required either by the repetition of אמר לך, or by the uniform position of בדמיך before חיי in both clauses, as compared with 1 Kings 20:18 and Isaiah 27:5.

In Ezekiel 16:7 the description of the real fact breaks through the allegory. The word of God חיי, live, was visibly fulfilled in the innumerable multiplication of Israel. But the allegory is resumed immediately. The child grew (רבה, as in Genesis 21:20; Deuteronomy 30:16), and came into ornament of cheeks (בּוא with בּ, to enter into a thing, as in Ezekiel 16:8; not to proceed in, as Hitzig supposes). עדי, not most beautiful ornament, or highest charms, for עדיים is not the plural of עדי; but according to the Chetib and most of the editions, with the tone upon the penultima, is equivalent to עדיים, a dual form; so that עדי cannot mean ornament in this case, but, as in Psalm 39:9 and Psalm 103:5, "the cheek," which is the traditional meaning (cf. Ges. Thes. p. 993). Ornament of cheeks is youthful freshness and beauty of face. The clauses which follow describe the arrival of puberty. נכון, when applied to the breasts, means to expand, lit., to raise oneself up. שׂער equals שׂער רגלים, pubes. The description given in these verses refers to the preservation and marvellous multiplication of Israel in Egypt, where the sons of Israel grew into a nation under the divine blessing. Still it was quite naked and bare (ערם and עריה are substantives in the abstract sense of nakedness and bareness, used in the place of adjective to give greater emphasis). Naked and bare are figurative expressions for still destitute of either clothing or ornaments. This implies something more than "the poverty of the people in the wilderness attached to Egypt" (Hitzig). Nakedness represents deprivation of all the blessings of salvation with which the Lord endowed Israel and made it glorious, after He had adopted it as the people of His possession. In Egypt, Israel was living in a state of nature, destitute of the gracious revelations of God.

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