And has not oppressed any, but has restored to the debtor his pledge, has spoiled none by violence, has given his bread to the hungry, and has covered the naked with a garment;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To the debtor his pledge.—In the simple state of early Hebrew society borrowing was resorted to only by the very poor, and the law abounds in precepts against any oppression or taking advantage in such cases (Exodus 22:25-27; Leviticus 25:14; Leviticus 25:17, &c). Especial provision was made for restoring in a considerate way a pledge for borrowed money (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:6; Deuteronomy 24:10, &c).
Given his bread.—In addition to the negative duties mentioned, were also the positive ones of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked; and it is to be remembered that these duties, and general helpfulness to those who need our help, are not left optional in Scripture, but are positively required, both in the Old and the New Testament, and their neglect is sin. (See Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Job 31:16-22; Isaiah 58:5; Isaiah 58:7; Matthew 25:34-46; James 1:27; James 2:15-16).Deuteronomy 12:17.
bread to … hungry … covered … naked—(Isa 58:7; Mt 25:35, 36). After duties of justice come those of benevolence. It is not enough to refrain from doing a wrong to our neighbor, we must also do him good. The bread owned by a man, though "his," is given to him, not to keep to himself, but to impart to the needy.Hath not oppressed; by rigorous dealing grieve, injure, or damnify, and cause them to cry out, Ezekiel 22:9 Zechariah 7:10, which is done many ways; and how slyly soever it is done, yet it is a crying sin, Exodus 22:21-24. Much of oppression is in detaining what was laid in pawn, which was always of greater value than the thing that was taken upon it; and the poor often pawned their most necessary utensils, and oftentimes needed them ere they could redeem them; in such cases God will not that the pledge be detained; as Exodus 22:26 Deu 24:6,10-13,17; but here mercy ought to be preferred above profit; nor might the pledge be any way lessened by embezzling it.
Hath spoiled none by violence; nor by force robbed any one, and taken out of the hand of the owner, as the thief doth; whoso hath forborne these courses of inhumanity and injustice.
Hath given his bread; with compassion hath given to the necessitous, communicating to them as their case required, and our ability will reach.
Bread here is largely to be taken, Isaiah 58:7.
To the hungry; such as truly want, are not able to help themselves, and, we may with reason think, have none to help them if we do not. Hath covered the naked; clothed the naked, who else are like to perish for want of clothing, as Job 31:19. Who are such, and live so just, so holy, so inoffensive, so beneficent a life among men, shall not suffer for the sins others commit.
but hath restored to the debtor his pledge; which was pawned; not embezzling it, or keeping it beyond the time fixed by the law of God, Deuteronomy 24:12;
hath spoiled none by violence; has not committed theft and robbery, or done injury to any man's person and property:
hath given his bread to the hungry; which was his own; what he had laboured for, and come by honestly, and so had a right to dispose of; and being merciful, as well as just, eats not his morsel alone, but distributes it to the poor and hungry, Isaiah 58:7;
and hath covered the naked with a garment; as Job did, as well as the former, and for which Dorcas is commended, Job 31:17.And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. hath not oppressed] In Ezekiel 18:12 the opposite course reads: hath oppressed the poor and needy. Occasion of oppression would arise when the poor was in debt (Amos 2:6-7); or being unprotected he might be defrauded of his hire, Malachi 3:5 (James 5:4). Cf. the claim made by Job 31:13.
to the debtor his pledge] This refers to the duty of returning to the debtor any pledge which was an article necessary to his existence or comfort, as a garment which was his cover by night. Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:6; cf. Job 22:6; Amos 2:8. On the positive duties of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked cf. again the claims of Job 31:17-20.
7, 8. Duties to one’s neighbour.Verse 7. - Hath restored to the debtor his pledge. The law, found in Exodus 22.25 and Deuteronomy 24:6, 13, was a striking instance of the considerateness of the Mosaic Law. The garment which the debtor had pledged as a security was to be restored to him at night. Such a law implied, of course, the return of the pledge in the morning. It was probably often used by the debtor for his own fraudulent advantage, and it was a natural consequence that the creditor should be tempted to evade compliance with it. The excellence of the man whom Ezekiel describes was that he resisted the temptation. Hath spoiled none by violence. Comp. Leviticus 6:1-5, which Ezekiel probably had specially in view. The sin, common enough at all times (1 Samuel 12:3), would seem to have been specially characteristic of the time in which Ezekiel lived, from the king downwards (Jeremiah 22:13). As contrasted with the sin, there was the virtue of generous almsgiving (Isaiah 58:5-7).
Ezekiel 17:11. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 17:12. Say to the refractory race: Do ye not know what this is? Say, Behold, the king of Babel came to Jerusalem and took its king and its princes, and brought them to himself to Babel. Ezekiel 17:13. And he took of the royal seed, and made a covenant with him, and caused him to enter into an oath; and he took the strong ones of the land: Ezekiel 17:14. That it might be a lowly kingdom, not to lift itself up, that he might keep his covenant, that it might stand. Ezekiel 17:15. But he rebelled against him by sending his messengers to Egypt, that it might give him horses and much people. Will he prosper? will he that hath done this escape? He has broken the covenant, and should he escape? Ezekiel 17:16. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, surely in the place of the king, who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he broke with him, in Babel he will die. Ezekiel 17:17. And not with great army and much people will Pharaoh act with him in the war, when they cast up a rampart and build siege-towers, to cut off many souls. Ezekiel 17:18. He has despised an oath to break the covenant, and, behold, he has given his hand and done all this; he will not escape. Ezekiel 17:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As I live, surely my oath which he has despised, and my covenant which he has broken, I will give upon his head. Ezekiel 17:20. I will spread out my net over him, so that he will be taken in my snare, and will bring him to Babel, and contend with him there on account of his treachery which he has been guilty of towards me. Ezekiel 17:21. And all his fugitives in all his regiments, by the sword will they fall, and those who remain will be scattered to all winds; and ye shall see that I Jehovah have spoken it.
In Ezekiel 17:12-17 the parable in Ezekiel 17:2-10 is interpreted; and in Ezekiel 17:19-21 the threat contained in the parable is confirmed and still further expanded. We have an account of the carrying away of the king, i.e., Jehoiachin, and his princes to Babel in 2 Kings 24:11., Jeremiah 24:1, and Jeremiah 29:2. The king's seed (זרע המּלוּכה, Ezekiel 17:13, as in Jeremiah 41:1 equals זרע המּלך, 1 Kings 11:14) is Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah, whom Nebuchadnezzar made king under the name of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17), and from whom he took an oath of fealty (2 Chronicles 36:13). The strong of the land (אילי equals אוּלי, 2 Kings 24:15), whom Nebuchadnezzar took (לקח), i.e., took away to Babel, are not the heads of tribes and families (2 Kings 24:15); but the expression is used in a wide sense for the several classes of men of wealth, who are grouped together in 2 Kings 24:14 under the one term כּל־גּבּורי ח (אנשׁי חיל, 2 Kings 24:16), including masons, smiths, and carpenters (2 Kings 24:14 and 2 Kings 24:16), whereas the heads of tribes and families are classed with the court officials (סריסים, 2 Kings 24:15) under the title שׂריה (princes) in Ezekiel 17:12. The design of these measures was to make a lowly kingdom, which could not raise itself, i.e., could not revolt, and to deprive the vassal king of the means of breaking of the covenant. the suffix attached to לעמדהּ is probably to be taken as referring to ממלכה rather than בּריתי, although both are admissible, and would yield precisely the same sense, inasmuch as the stability of the kingdom was dependent upon the stability of the covenant. But Zedekiah rebelled (2 Kings 24:20). The Egyptian king who was to give Zedekiah horses and much people, in other words, to come to his assistance with a powerful army of cavalry and fighting men, was Hophrah, the Apries of the Greeks, according to Jeremiah 44:30 (see the comm. on 2 Kings 24:19-20). היצלח points back to תּצלח in Ezekiel 17:9; but here it is applied to the rebellious king, and is explained in the clause 'הימּלט וגו. The answer is given in Ezekiel 17:16 as a word of God confirmed by a solemn oath: he shall die in Babel, the capital of the king, who placed him on the throne, and Pharaoh will not render him any effectual help (Ezekiel 17:17). עשׂה אותו, as in Ezekiel 15:1-8 :59, to act with him, that is to say, assist him, come to his help. אותו refers to Zedekiah, not to Pharaoh, as Ewald assumes in an inexplicable manner. For 'שׁפך סללה , compare Ezekiel 4:2; and for the fact itself, Jeremiah 34:21-22, and Jeremiah 37:5, according to which, although an Egyptian army came to the rescue of Jerusalem at the time when it was besieged by the Chaldeans, it was repulsed by the Chaldeans who marched to meet it, without having rendered any permanent assistance to the besieged.
In Ezekiel 17:18, the main thought that breach of faith can bring no deliverance is repeated for the sake of appending the further expansion contained in Ezekiel 17:19-21. נתן ידו, he gave his hand, i.e., as a pledge of fidelity. The oath which Zedekiah swore to the king of Babel is designated in Ezekiel 17:19 as Jehovah's oath (אלתי), and the covenant made with him as Jehovah's covenant, because the oath had been sworn by Jehovah, and the covenant of fidelity towards Nebuchadnezzar had thereby been made implicite with Jehovah Himself; so that the breaking of the oath and covenant became a breach of faith towards Jehovah. Consequently the very same expressions are used in Ezekiel 17:16, Ezekiel 17:18, and Ezekiel 17:19, to designate this breach of oath, which are applied in Ezekiel 16:59 to the treacherous apostasy of Jerusalem (Israel) from Jehovah, the covenant God. And the same expressions are used to describe the punishment as in Ezekiel 12:13-14. נשׁפּט אתּו is construed with the accusative of the thing respecting which he was to be judged, as in 1 Samuel 12:7. Jehovah regards the treacherous revolt from Nebuchadnezzar as treachery against Himself (מעל); not only because Zedekiah had sworn the oath of fidelity by Jehovah, but also from the fact that Jehovah had delivered up His people and kingdom into the power of Nebuchadnezzar, so that revolt from him really became rebellion against God. את before כּל־מברחו is nota accus., and is used in the sense of quod adtinet ad, as, for example, in 2 Kings 6:5. מברחו, his fugitives, is rendered both by the Chaldee and Syriac "his brave men," or "heroes," and is therefore identified with מבחרו (his chosen ones), which is the reading in some manuscripts. But neither these renderings nor the parallel passage in Ezekiel 12:14, where סביבותיו apparently corresponds to it, will warrant our adopting this explanation, or making any alteration in the text. The Greek versions have πάσας φυγαδείας αὐτοῦ; Theodoret: ἐν πάσαις ταῖς φυγαδείαις αὐτοῦ; the Vulgate: omnes profugi ejus; and therefore they all had the reading מברחו, which also yields a very suitable meaning. The mention of some who remain, and who are to be scattered toward all the winds, is not at variance with the statement that all the fugitives in the wings of the army are to fall by the sword. The latter threat simply declares that no one will escape death by flight. But there is no necessity to take those who remain as being simply fighting men; and the word "all" must not be taken too literally.
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