Ezekiel 20:10
Why I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.
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(10) Brought them into the wilderness.—Here begins the second period of the history under review—viz., the earlier part of the life in the wilderness (Ezekiel 20:10-17). It includes the exodus, the giving of the law, the setting up of the tabernacle, the establishment of the priesthood, and the march to Kadesh. By all this the nation was constituted most distinctly the people of God, and brought into the closest covenant relation with him.

Ezekiel 20:10-11. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of Egypt — Removed all obstacles, furnished them with all necessaries, went before them, and showed them the way they should go, Exodus 13:17; And brought them into the wilderness — It was not Moses’s error, though Pharaoh thought so, Exodus 14:3-4, but the peculiar conduct of God that brought them thither. And I gave them my statutes — A favour not afforded to other nations: see Deuteronomy 4:8; Psalm 147:20. This was a treasure which David declared he prized above thousands of gold and silver, Psalm 119:72. Which if a man do, he shall even live in them — That is, in keeping God’s commandments there is abundance of comfort, and a great reward. “By life is generally meant, in the Old Testament, all that happiness which is contained in the literal sense of the promises belonging to that covenant. Under these were mystically comprehended the promises of a better life, wherein God will bestow upon his servants the peculiar marks of his favour, Psalm 16:11. These promises were made to the Jews upon condition of their punctual obedience to the whole law, Leviticus 18:5; Leviticus 26:3, &c.; Deuteronomy 27:26. And several persons under that dispensation are styled blameless, by reason of the sincerity of their obedience, though it was not perfect, or unsinning: see Luke 1:6; Php 3:6. But if we understand the forementioned condition in its rigorous sense, as implying a perfectly exact and unsinning obedience; and as the word life contains the promise of eternal life under it; (a promise which the pious Jews expected, and hoped to obtain, Matthew 19:16-17; Acts 26:6-7;) as it was impossible to be performed, so no person could lay claim to eternal life by virtue of any promise therein contained; from whence St. Paul infers the necessity of seeking to Christ, and laying hold on the promises in the gospel, for the obtaining of justification and eternal life.” — Lowth. It must always be remembered, that the promises of spiritual blessings that we find in the Old Testament, such as pardon, acceptance with God, the Holy Spirit, sanctification, &c., belong to the gospel, or covenant of grace, as much as those in the New Testament: see 2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 6:17-18; Hebrews 8:10-12; Hebrews 11:13.20:10-26. The history of Israel in the wilderness is referred to in the new Testament as well as in the Old, for warning. God did great things for them. He gave them the law, and revived the ancient keeping of the sabbath day. Sabbaths are privileges; they are signs of our being his people. If we do the duty of the day, we shall find, to our comfort, it is the Lord that makes us holy, that is, truly happy, here; and prepares us to be happy, that is, perfectly holy, hereafter. The Israelites rebelled, and were left to the judgments they brought upon themselves. God sometimes makes sin to be its own punishment, yet he is not the Author of sin: there needs no more to make men miserable, than to give them up to their own evil desires and passions.The probation in the wilderness. The promise was forfeited by those to whom it was first conditionally made, but was renewed to their children.8, 9. then I said, I will … But, &c.—that is, (God speaking in condescension to human modes of conception) their spiritual degradation deserved I should destroy them, "but I wrought (namely, the deliverance 'out of … Egypt') for My name's sake"; not for their merits (a rebuke to their national pride). God's "name" means the sum-total of His perfections. To manifest these, His gratuitous mercy abounding above their sins, yet without wrong to His justice, and so to set forth His glory, was and is the ultimate end of His dealings (Eze 20:14, 22; 2Sa 7:23; Isa 63:12; Ro 9:17). Wherefore, Heb. And.

I caused them to go forth; removed all obstacles, furnished them with all necessaries, went before them, and showed them the way they should go, as is expressed, Exodus 13:17.

And brought them; I brought; it was not Moses’s error, though Pharaoh thought so, Exodus 14:3,4, but the peculiar conduct of God, Exodus 14:2.

Into the wilderness; a barren, sandy part of the country, the borders of Egypt towards the Red Sea; yet having mountains which shut them in on both sides, and frontier garrisons near them: and as he brought them in, so he conducted them out of these straits, though here it is not mentioned. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt,.... It was the Lord that brought them out from thence with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; that obliged Pharaoh to let them go, and gave them favour in the eyes of the Egyptians, that they went out unmolested by them:

and brought them into the wilderness; before they went into the land of Canaan; here they had freedom from their bondage, and were in a wonderful manner provided for by the Lord, guided, supported, preserved, and at last brought to the promised land.

Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.
10. First half of the verse is wanting in LXX.Destruction of the Kingdom, and Banishment of the People

Ezekiel 19:10. Thy mother was like a vine, planted by the water in thy repose; it became a fruitful and rich in tendrils from many waters. Ezekiel 19:11. And it had strong shoots for rulers' sceptres; and its growth ascended among the clouds, and was visible in its height in the multitude of its branches. Ezekiel 19:12. Then it was torn up in fury, cast to the ground, and the east wind dried up its fruit; its strong shoots were broken off, and withered; fire devoured them. Ezekiel 19:13. And now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. Ezekiel 19:14. There goeth out fire from the shoot of its branches, devoureth its fruit, so that there is no more a strong shoot upon it, a sceptre for ruling. - A lamentation it is, and it will be for lamentation. - From the lamentable fate of the princes transported to Egypt and Babylon, the ode passes to a description of the fate, which the lion-like rapacity of the princes is preparing for the kingdom and people. Israel resembled a vine planted by the water. The difficult word בּדמך we agree with Hvernick and Kliefoth in tracing to the verb דּמה, to rest (Jeremiah 14:17), and regard it as synonymous with בּדמי in Isaiah 38:10 : "in thy repose," i.e., in the time of peaceful, undisturbed prosperity. For neither of the other renderings, "in thy blood" and "in thy likeness," yields a suitable meaning. The latter explanation, which originated with Raschi and Kimchi, is precluded by the fact that Ezekiel always uses the word דּמוּת to express the idea of resemblance. - For the figure of the vine, compare Psalm 80:9. This vine sent out strong shoots for rulers' sceptres; that is to say, it brought forth powerful kings, and grew up to a great height, even into the clouds. עבתים signifies "cloud," lit., thicket of clouds, not only here, but in Ezekiel 31:3, Ezekiel 31:10,Ezekiel 31:14. The rendering "branches" or "thicket of foliage" is not suitable in any of these passages. The form of the word is not to be taken as that of a new plural of עבות, the plural of עב, which occurs in 2 Samuel 23:4 and Psalm 77:18; but is the plural of עבות, an interlacing or thicket of foliage, and is simply transferred to the interlacing or piling up of the clouds. The clause 'ויּרא וגו, and it appeared, was seen, or became visible, simply serves to depict still further the glorious and vigorous growth, and needs no such alteration as Hitzig proposes. This picture is followed in Ezekiel 19:12., without any particle of transition, by a description of the destruction of this vine. It was torn up in fury by the wrath of God, cast down to the ground, so that its fruit withered (compare the similar figures in Ezekiel 17:10). מטּה עזּהּ is used collectively, as equivalent to מטּות עז (Ezekiel 19:11); and the suffix in אכלתהוּ is written in the singular on account of this collective use of מטּה. The uprooting ends in the transplanting of the vine into a waste, dry, unwatered land, - in other words, in the transplanting of the people, Israel, into exile. The dry land is Babylon, so described as being a barren soil in which the kingdom of God could not flourish. According to Ezekiel 19:14, this catastrophe is occasioned by the princes. The fire, which devours the fruit of the vine so that it cannot send out any more branches, emanates ממּטּה בדּיה, from the shoot of its branches, i.e., from its branches, which are so prolific in shoots. מטּה is the shoot which grew into rulers' sceptres, i.e., the royal family of the nation. The reference is to Zedekiah, whose treacherous breach of covenant (Ezekiel 17:15) led to the overthrow of the kingdom and of the earthly monarchy. The picture from Ezekiel 19:12 onwards is prophetic. The tearing up of the vine, and its transplantation into a dry land, had already commenced with the carrying away of Jeconiah; but it was not completed till the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying away of Zedekiah, which were still in the future at the time when these words were uttered. - The clause 'קינה היא does not contain a concluding historical notice, as Hהvernick supposes, but simply the finale of the lamentation, indicating the credibility of the prediction which it contains. ותּהי is prophetic, like the perfects from ותּתּשׁ in Ezekiel 19:12 onwards; and the meaning is this: A lamentation forms the substance of the whole chapter; and it will lead to lamentation, when it is fulfilled.

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