Ezekiel 16:63
That you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more because of your shame, when I am pacified toward you for all that you have done, said the Lord GOD.
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(63) Pacified toward theo.—Better, when I pardon thee. The original word is the one used technically in the law for the atonement or “covering up” of sins; and the thought is, when God shall forgive the sins of His people, and receive them to communion with Himself.

16:59-63 After a full warning of judgments, mercy is remembered, mercy is reserved. These closing verses are a precious promise, in part fulfilled at the return of the penitent and reformed Jews out of Babylon, but to have fuller accomplishment in gospel times. The Divine mercy should be powerful to melt our hearts into godly sorrow for sin. Nor will God ever leave the sinner to perish, who is humbled for his sins, and comes to trust in His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ; but will keep him by his power, through faith unto salvation.The promise of restoration must almost have sounded as strangely as the threat of punishment, including as it did those whom Judah hated and despised Ezekiel 16:61. The covenant of restoration was not to be like the old covenant. Not "by thy covenant," but "by My covenant." The people's covenant was the pledge of obedience. That had been found ineffectual. But the covenant of God was by "promise" Galatians 3:17. See 63. never open thy mouth—in vindication, or even palliation, of thyself, or expostulation with God for His dealings (Ro 3:19), when thou seest thine own exceeding unworthiness, and My superabounding grace which has so wonderfully overcome with love thy sin (Ro 5:20). "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1Co 11:31).

all that thou hast done—enhancing the grace of God which has pardoned so many and so great sins. Nothing so melts into love and humility as the sense of the riches of God's pardoning grace (Lu 7:47).

Mayest remember: see Ezekiel 16:61.

Confounded: see Ezekiel 16:61.

Never open thy mouth, neither to justify thyself, or to condemn others, or to quarrel with thy God, but, as a true penitent, be silent under the judgments sins have deserved, and God hath inflicted, to draw away from sin, and to bring a people to submit to God, and to give him glory.

Because of thy shame; such a confusion for thy sin will cover thee, that thou wilt readily justify God, and blush in remembrance of all thine own wickednesses.

When I am pacified; when I have pardoned, when I have covered all thy sins, and am reconciled to thee, thou wilt ingenuously acknowledge, remember, and hate what thy God hath graciously pardoned, will no more remember against thee, or punish any more upon thee. That thou mayest remember, and be confounded,.... The more souls are led into the covenant of grace, and the more they know of God in Christ, and of him as their covenant God and Father, the more they remember of their former evil ways, and reflect upon them with shame and confusion:

and never open thy mouth any more; against God, and the dispensations of his providence; against his Gospel, truths, and ordinances; against his people, the followers of Christ, and particularly the Gentiles; seeing they will now see themselves as bad and worse than ever they were; for this may have a special regard to the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn, Zechariah 12:10; and remember the evil ways of their ancestors, and their own stubbornness and infidelity, and be ashamed thereof; and say not one word by way of complaint of the judgments of God that have been upon them as a nation so long:

because of thy shame; because they will now be ashamed of their opposition to Christ and his Gospel; of their rejection and treatment of him; and of the evil things they have been guilty of:

when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God; God may be said to be pacified, or propitious, when he is at peace with men, his anger is turned away, his law and justice are satisfied, reconciliation and atonement are made for sin, and he signifies that for Christ's sake; and especially when his pardoning love and grace is manifested and applied: and this pacification is made, not by men themselves, by their obedience, or repentance, or faith; but by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; which, when made known to the conscience; or when this atonement, propitiation, and pacification is received by faith; or there is a comfortable sense of pardon, through the blood of Christ, for all sins and transgressions that have been committed in heart and life; it has such an effect, as to cause men to remember and call to mind their former evil ways, and to fill them with shame for them, and to put them to silence, so as never more to open their mouths to excuse their sins; or commend themselves and their own righteousness; or to murmur against God, or censure others. This is the nature of pardoning grace and mercy.

That thou mayest remember, and be {p} confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

(p) This declares what fruits God's mercies work in his, that is, sorrow and repentance for their former life.

63. when I am pacified] Better active: when I forgive thee. The word is the technical sacrificial word to “atone” or make atonement for. It probably means to “cover,” though it is no more used in the physical sense but only in reference to sins or guilt. Hence when God is the agent this covering of sin is pardon, Jeremiah 18:23; Deuteronomy 21:8 (be merciful to); 2 Chronicles 30:18. The important point is to retain the active sense of the word. An act of God is described, not an effect produced upon his mind.

The great grace of Jehovah in restoring Jerusalem will humble and ashame her, when she remembers her past evil. What all chastisements could accomplish but indifferently, goodness will accomplish fully. Jerusalem will no more “open her mouth,” but sit in abashed though glad silence before God. His goodness and her own sin will so fill her mind that the thoughts will be too deep for words. Formerly she accused God’s providence, thinking she suffered for the iniquities of generations before her; formerly she boasted of her place before Jehovah, and her sister Sodom was not in her mouth. Now her mind will muse on other things.

Though the language and conceptions of Ezekiel are less familiar and natural to western minds than those of some of the other writers of Scripture, his thoughts are very elevated.

(1) The figure of the adulterous wife expresses the conviction, felt by him very strongly, that all through her history Israel had sinned against Jehovah, especially in the matter of his service. While former prophets like Amos and Hosea condemn the ritual and the manner of the worship because this implies a false conception of Jehovah, a conception so false as to correspond in no sense to Jehovah as he really is, Ezekiel condemns the worship at the high places as in itself false. He regards the high places as Canaanite shrines, and the service there is no service of Jehovah. And when he says that Jerusalem was unfaithful with Egypt, Assyria and Babylon, besides expressing his belief that the kingdom of Jehovah is not as one among the other kingdoms, he assails the strange infatuation which the people displayed in adopting the gods and rites of the nations with which in successive ages they entered into relation. What took place in regard to the worship of the Canaanites when Israel entered upon possession of that land, took place all down the history as they successively came under the influence of the great states around.

(2) When the prophet charges Jerusalem with outbidding Samaria and Sodom in wickedness, his judgment agrees with that of Jeremiah, and is founded partly on the fact that Jerusalem had fuller knowledge of Jehovah from her more extended history, and consequently her sin was greater than that of Samaria. The judgment, however, may also be partly based on objective grounds. So far as appears from the prophets Amos and Hosea idolatry in the strict sense was not greatly prevalent in the North. What prevailed was mainly a sensuous worship of Jehovah, due to false conceptions of his nature, which probably had arisen from a long syncretism with the idea and service of the Baals. But in the later history of Judah idolatry in the sense of the worship of gods different from Jehovah greatly prevailed. Neither does the cruel rite of child-sacrifice appear to have invaded the Northern Kingdom.

(3) It is, however, when the prophet brings the sin of Jerusalem into connexion with that of Samaria and Sodom, which it exceeded, and lifts that strange fact up into the region of divine thoughts and providential operations, that his ideas become most profound. The sin of Jerusalem, so great amidst all God’s love and favour, reveals to himself the nature of sin and its power over men, and he remembers with compassion those heathen peoples, like Sodom, on whom his former judgments had so unsparingly fallen. His own people’s fall causes him to take to his heart the Gentile world. The Apostle Paul touches the same or a kindred idea when he says: By their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles; the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world (Romans 11:11-12).

Again when the prophet says that Jerusalem “shall be ashamed in that she has justified her sisters,” the thought is similar to that expressed by St Paul, “Salvation is come unto the Gentiles for to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy.’ Cf. Deuteronomy 32:21. The sight of other peoples received by her God awakens Israel to the meaning of her own past, and to recollections of her former relations to God. Finally the receiving again of Israel and the incoming of the Gentile peoples like Sodom illustrate the manner of salvation, shewing it to be of grace, a grace that is stronger to overcome sin and awaken sorrow for it than all judgments—he hath shut up all into disobedience that he might have mercy upon all. Neither the prophet nor the apostle moves in the region of second causes; they lift up the whole movement of salvation into the region of the divine thoughts and compassions.

(4) The prophet predicts the restoration of Jerusalem, Samaria and Sodom, and that Jerusalem, though like a sister to them in wickedness, shall receive all these greater and smaller sisters as daughters. There shall then in the new kingdom of Jehovah be only one mother city, all other cities or peoples shall be her children. To the prophet’s mind the identity of Samaria and Sodom remains even when they are destroyed, and they shall remember and turn to the Lord. There is in such passages, what is not unusual in Ezekiel, a struggle between the spiritual conception or fact and the external form in which he still feels it must be embodied. It is the spiritual conception of the conversion to Jehovah even of peoples like Sodom that fills his mind; but he is unable to give this expression in any other way than by saying that Sodom shall return to her former estate.


Ch. 17 The treacherous vineplant—King Zedekiah’s disloyalty to the King of Babylon

The chapter is without date. Nebuchadnezzar appeared in Palestine in the ninth year of Zedekiah to punish his disloyalty and intrigues with Egypt. The present passage assumes this disloyalty and may be dated a year or two earlier (c. 590).

The chapter contains these divisions:

First, Ezekiel 16:1-10. The riddle of the great eagle.

Secondly, Ezekiel 16:11-21. Explanation of the riddle.

Thirdly, Ezekiel 16:22-24. Promise that Jehovah will set up in Israel a kingdom that shall be universal.Verse 63. - That thou mayest remember. The words paint vividly the attitude of the penitent adulteress, humble, contrite, silent, ashamed (Hosea 3:3-5), and yet with a sense that she is pardoned, and that the husband against whom she has sinned is at last pacified. Revised Version, when I have forgiven thee. The Hebrew verb so rendered is that which expresses the fullest idea of forgiveness, and which marked both the "day" and the "sacrifice" of atonement (Numbers 8:12; Leviticus 23:27, et al.). This, according to the received etymology, was represented in the mercy seat, the ἱλαστήριον, of the ark of the covenant (cophereth, as from caphar). So the prophet closes with the wet, Is of an eternal hope what had at first seemed to heal up to nothing but eternal condemnation. How far the prophet expected a literal fulfilment in the restoration of Sodom and Samaria, we cannot define with certainty; but the ideal picture of the purification of the waters of the Dead Sea in ch. 47:8 suggests that it entered into his vision of the future. For us, at least, it is enough to pass from the temporal to the eternal, from the historical to the spiritual, and to see in his words the noblest utterance of mercy prevailing over judgment - a theodikea, a "vindication of the ways of God to man," like that of Romans 11:33-36.

This judgment is perfectly just; for Israel has not only forgotten the grace of its God manifested towards it in its election, but has even surpassed both Samaria and Sodom in its abominations. - Ezekiel 16:43. Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, and hast raged against me in all this; behold, I also give thy way upon thy head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that I may not do that which is wrong above all thine abominations. Ezekiel 16:44. Behold, every one that useth proverbs will use this proverb concerning thee: as the mother, so the daughter. Ezekiel 16:45. Thou art the daughter of thy mother, who casteth off her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, who cast off their husbands and their children. Your mother is a Hittite, and your father an Amorite. Ezekiel 16:46. And thy great sister is Samaria with her daughters, who dwelleth at thy left; and thy sister, who is smaller than thou, who dwelleth at thy right, is Sodom with her daughters. Ezekiel 16:47. But thou hast not walked in their ways and done according to their abominations a little only; thou didst act more corruptly than they in all thy ways. Ezekiel 16:48. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, Sodom thy sister, she with her daughters hath not done as thou hast done with thy daughters. Ezekiel 16:49. Behold, this was the sin of Sodom, thy sister: pride, superabundance of food, and rest undisturbed had she with her daughters, and the hand of the poor and needy she did not hold. Ezekiel 16:50. They were haughty, and did abominations before me; and I swept them away when I saw it. Ezekiel 16:51. And Samaria, she hath not sinned to the half of thy sins; thou hast increased thine abominations more than they, and hast made thy sisters righteous by all thine abominations which thou hast done. Ezekiel 16:52. Bear, then, also thy shame, which thou hast adjudged to thy sisters. Through thy sins, which thou hast committed more abominably than they, they become more righteous than thou. Be thou, then, also put to shame, and bear thy disgrace, as thou hast justified thy sisters. - יען אשׁר, which corresponds to יען in Ezekiel 16:36, introduces a new train of thought. Most of the commentators take Ezekiel 16:43 in connection with what precedes, and place the pause at Ezekiel 16:44. But the perfect נתתּי shows that this is wrong. If Ezekiel 16:43 simply contained a recapitulation, or a concluding summary, of the threat of judgment in Ezekiel 16:35-42, the punishment would be announced in the future tense, as it is in Ezekiel 16:37. By the perfect נתתּי, on the contrary, the punishment is exhibited as a completed fact, and further reasons are then assigned in vindication of the justice of the divine procedure, which we find in Ezekiel 16:44. To this end the guilt of Jerusalem is mentioned once more: "thou didst not remember the days of thy youth," i.e., what thou didst experience in thy youth; the misery in which thou didst find thyself, and out of which I rescued thee and exalted thee to glory (Ezekiel 16:4-14). To this there was added rage against Jehovah, which manifested itself in idolatrous acts. רגז , to be excited upon or against any person, to rage; thus in Hithpael with אל in 2 Kings 19:27-28. For נתן דּרך , compare Ezekiel 9:10. The last clause of Ezekiel 16:43, 'ולא עשׂיתי וגו, has been misinterpreted in many ways. According to the Masoretic pointing, עשׂיתי is the second person; but this does not yield a suitable meaning. For עשׂה זמּה is not used in the sense adopted by the Targum, upon which the Masoretic pointing is undoubtedly based, and which Raschi, Kimchi, and Rosenmller retain, viz., cogitationem facere: "thou hast not take any thought concerning all thy abominations," i.e., has not felt any remorse. The true meaning is to commit a crime, a wrong, and is used for the most part of unnatural offences (cf. Judges 20:6; Hosea 6:9). There is all the more reason for retaining this meaning, that זמּה (apart from the plural זמּוה equals מזמּות) only occurs sensu malo, and for the most part in the sense of an immoral action (vid., Job 31:11). Consequently we should have to adopt the rendering: and thou no longer committest this immorality above all thine abominations. But in that case not only would עוד have to be supplied, but a distinction would be drawn between the abominations committed by Israel and the sin of lewdness, i.e., adultery, which is quite foreign to the connection and to the contents of the entire chapter; for, according to these, the abominations of Israel consisted in adultery or the sin of lewdness. We must therefore take עשׂיתי as the first person, as Symm. and Jerome have done, and explain the words from Leviticus 19:29, where the toleration by a father of the whoredom of a daughter is designated as zimmâh. If we adopt this interpretation, Jehovah says that He has punished the spiritual whoredom of Israel, in order that He may not add another act of wrong to the abominations of Israel by allowing such immorality to go on unpunished. If He did not punish, He would commit a zimmâh Himself, - in other words, would make Himself accessory to the sins of Israel.

The concluding characteristic of the moral degradation of Israel fits in very appropriately here in Ezekiel 16:44., in which Jerusalem is compared to Samaria and Sodom, both of which had been punished long ago with destruction on account of their sins. This characteristic is expressed in the form of proverbial sayings. Every one who speaks in proverbs (mōsheel, as in Numbers 21:27) will then say over thee: as the mother, so her daughter. Her abominable life is so conspicuous, that it strikes every one, and furnishes occasion for proverbial sayings. אמּה may be a feminine form of אם, as לבּה is of לב (Ezekiel 16:30); or it may also be a Raphe form for אמהּ: as her (the daughter's) mother, so her (the mother's) daughter (cf. Ewald, 174e, note, with 21, 223). The daughter is of course Jerusalem, as the representative of Israel. The mother is the Canaanitish race of Hittites and Amorites, whose immoral nature had been adopted by Israel (cf. Ezekiel 16:3 and Ezekiel 16:45). In Ezekiel 16:45 the sisterly relation is added to the maternal, to carry out the thought still further. Some difficulty arises here from the statement, that the mothers and the sisters despise their husbands and their children, or put them away. For it is unquestionable that the participle גּעלת belongs to אמּך, and not to בּת, from the parallel relative clause אשׁר גּעלוּ, which applies to the sisters. The husband of the wife Jerusalem is Jehovah, as the matrimonial head of the covenant nation or congregation of Israel. The children of the wives, viz., the mother, her daughter, and her sisters, are the children offered in sacrifice to Moloch. The worship of Moloch was found among the early Canaanites, and is here attributed to Samaria and Sodom also, though we have no other proofs of its existence there than the references made to it in the Old Testament. The husband, whom the mother and sisters have put away, cannot therefore be any other than Jehovah; from which it is evident that Ezekiel regarded idolatry generally as apostasy from Jehovah, and Jehovah as the God not only of the Israelites, but of the heathen also.

(Note: Theodoret has explained it correctly in this way: "He shows by this, that He is not the God of Jews only, but of Gentiles also; for God once gave oracles to them, before they chose the abomination of idolatry. Therefore he says that they also put away both the husband and the children by denying God, and slaying the children to demons.")

אחותך (Ezekiel 16:45) is a plural noun, as the relative clause which follows and Ezekiel 16:46 clearly show, and therefore is a contracted form of אחותיך (Ezekiel 16:51) or אחיותך (Ezekiel 16:52; vid., Ewald, 212b, p. 538). Samaria and Sodom are called sisters of Jerusalem, not because both cities belonged to the same mother-land of Canaan, for the origin of the cities does not come into consideration here at all, and the cities represent the kingdoms, as the additional words "her daughters," that is to say, the cities of a land or kingdom dependent upon the capital, clearly prove. Samaria and Sodom, with the daughter cities belonging to them, are sisters of Jerusalem in a spiritual sense, as animated by the same spirit of idolatry. Samaria is called the great (greater) sister of Jerusalem, and Sodom the smaller sister. This is not equivalent to the older and the younger, for Samaria was not more deeply sunk in idolatry than Sodom, nor was her idolatry more ancient than that of Sodom (Theodoret and Grotius); and Hvernick's explanation, that "the finer form of idolatry, the mixture of the worship of Jehovah with that of nature, as represented by Samaria, was the first to find an entrance into Judah, and this was afterwards followed by the coarser abominations of heathenism," is unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that, according to the historical books of the Old Testament, the coarser forms of idolatry forced their way into Judah at quite as early a period as the more refined. The idolatry of the time of Rehoboam and Abijam was not merely a mixture of Jehovah-worship with the worship of nature, but the introduction of heathen idols into Judah, along with which there is no doubt that the syncretistic worship of the high places was also practised. גּדול and קטן do not generally mean old and young, but great and small. The transferred meaning old and young can only apply to men and animals, when greatness and littleness are really signs of a difference in age; but it is altogether inapplicable to kingdoms or cities, the size of which is by no means dependent upon their age. Consequently the expressions great and small simply refer to the extent of the kingdoms or states here named, and correspond to the description given of their situation: "at the left hand," i.e., to the north, and "at the right hand," i.e., to the south of Jerusalem and Judah.

Jerusalem had not only equalled these sisters in sins and abominations, but had acted more corruptly than they (Ezekiel 16:47). The first hemistich of this verse, "thou walkest not in their ways," etc., is more precisely defined by ותּשׁחתי מהן in the second half. The link of connection between the two statements is formed by כּמעט קט yb d. This is generally rendered, "soon was there disgust," i.e., thou didst soon feel disgust at walking in their ways, and didst act still worse. But apart from the fact that while disgust at the way of the sisters might very well constitute a motive for forsaking those ways, i.e., relinquishing their abominations, it could not furnish a motive for surpassing those abominations. This explanation is exposed to the philological difficulty, that קט by itself cannot signify taeduit te, and the impersonal use of קוּט would at all events require לך, which could not be omitted, even if קט were intended for a substantive. These difficulties fall away if we interpret קט from the Arabic qaṭṭ omninô tantum, as Alb. Schultens has done, and connect the definition "a little only" with the preceding clause. We then obtain this very appropriate thought: thou didst walk in the ways of thy sisters; and that not a little only, but thou didst act still more corruptly than they. This is proved in Ezekiel 16:48. by an enumeration of the sins of Sodom. They were pride, satiety, - i.e., superabundance of bread (vid., Proverbs 30:9), - and careless rest or security, which produce haughtiness and harshness, or uncharitableness, towards the poor and wretched. In this way Sodom and her daughters (Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim) became proud and haughty, and committed abominations לפני, i.e., before Jehovah (alluding to Genesis 18:21); and God destroyed them when He saw this. The sins of Samaria (Ezekiel 16:51) are not specially mentioned, because the principal sin of this kingdom, namely, image-worship, was well known. It is simply stated, therefore, that she did not sin half so much as Jerusalem; and in fact, if we except the times of Ahab and his dynasty, pure heathenish idolatry did not exist in the kingdom of the ten tribes, so that Samaria seemed really a righteous city in comparison with the idolatry of Jerusalem and Judah, more especially from the time of Ahaz onward (vid., Jeremiah 3:11). The punishment of Samaria by the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes is also passed over as being well known to every Israelite; and in Ezekiel 16:52 the application is directly made to Jerusalem, i.e., to Judah: "Thou also, bear thy shame, thou who hast adjudged to thy sisters," - sc. by pronouncing an uncharitable judgment upon them, thinking thyself better than they, whereas thou hast sinned more abominably, so that they appear more righteous than thou. צדק, to be righteous, and צדּק, to justify, are used in a comparative sense. In comparison with the abominations of Jerusalem, the sins of Sodom and Samaria appeared perfectly trivial. After וגם אתּ , the announcement of punishment is repeated for the sake of emphasis, and that in the form of a consequence resulting from the sentence with regard to the nature of the sin: therefore be thou also put to shame, and bear thy disgrace.

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