Ezekiel 20:23
I lifted up my hand to them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) I would scatter them among the heathen.—This threatening was not designed to be fulfilled in that immediate generation, as abundantly appears from Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:27, Deut. 27:64, and the other passages in which it is given, especially Deuteronomy 29, 30. It was given to that generation as representing the nation, but was only to be carried out when, by a long course of obdurate sin, it should be shown to be imperatively required. The threat had now been already realised in part, and was on the eve of being fully accomplished. It was important that the people should be made to understand that this had been the Divine warning from the beginning, and that in its fulfilment they were only receiving that punishment which had always been designed for such sin as they had committed.

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 book of Deuteronomy contains the address to "the children" of those who perished in the wilderness. The whole history of Israel was a repetition of this course. The covenant was made with one generation, broken by them, and then renewed to the next.23. It was to that generation the threat of dispersion was proclaimed (De 28:64; compare Eze 29:4). On this solemn gesture and signification, see Ezekiel 20:5. Here it is an oath added to a threat, to make it more dreadful to them, and to make it successful in keeping them from the sin threatened.

That I would scatter them; foretold them of a captivity which should come upon them for their sins, which it is probable was often inculcated in their hearing before Moses penned it for them, Deu 32:15 -42 Le 26:31-33, and it is ingeminated to make it pierce the deeper, and affect them the more. I lifted up mine hand also to them in the wilderness,.... Swore unto them, as in Ezekiel 20:5;

that I would scatter them among the Heathen, and disperse them through the countries; after they came to be settled in the land of Canaan, they sinning against the Lord; which was fulfilled in the times of the Babylonish captivity, and in their destruction by the Romans; but was threatened and foretold while they were in the wilderness, Leviticus 26:33; with this compare Psalm 106:26.

I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. I lifted up … also] Moreover I lifted up, lit. And I on my part, so Ezekiel 20:25.

scatter … among the heathen] The people entered Canaan laden with this heavy threat for their sins in the wilderness. Such threats were always conditional, Jeremiah 18, Jonah. This conditional character is expressed in other passages where a similar idea occurs, Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:64. The prophet hardly means that the exile was due to the people’s sins in the wilderness, except in so far as the moral character of the people remained the same throughout down to the generation then living. But cf. Exodus 32:34.

23–26. Yet though he wrought for his name’s sake not to destroy them their sins could not be altogether passed by. In two ways they were marked: Jehovah laid a heavy threat upon the people of dispersion among all nations, Ezekiel 20:23-24; and he gave them laws that were not good, that by following them they might be destroyed, Ezekiel 20:25-26.Verse 23. - That I would scatter them among the heathen. The words seem to refer to the generation that had grown up in the wilderness, and, so taken, do not correspond with the history of the conquest of Canaan. What Ezekiel contemplates, however, as the resolve of Jehovah, is the commutation of the sentence of destruction for that of the dispersion of the people, leaving the time and manner of that dispersion to be determined by his own will. Possibly even in the time of the judges, with its many conquests and long periods of oppression, there were instances of such dispersion, and these, with others that would naturally accompany an invasion like that of Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:2-9), not to speak of frequent attacks from Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Edomites, and Syrians, may have seemed to the prophet the working out, step by step, of the dispersion which culminated in the deportation of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser, and of Judah and Benjamin by Nebuchadnezzar. Traces of such dispersions before Ezekiel's time meet us in Psalm 78:59-64; Isaiah 11:11, 12; Zephaniah 3:10, 20. Behaviour of Israel in the Desert

Ezekiel 20:10. And I led them out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the desert; Ezekiel 20:11. And gave them my statutes, and my rights I made known to them, which man is to do that he may live through them. Ezekiel 20:12. I also gave them my Sabbaths, that they might be for a sign between me and them, that they might now that I Jehovah sanctify them. Ezekiel 20:13. But the house of Israel was rebellious against me in the desert: they did not walk in my statutes, and my rights they rejected, which man is to do, that he may live through them, and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned: Then I thought to pour out my wrath upon them in the desert to destroy them. Ezekiel 20:14. But I did it for my name's sake, that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations, before whose eyes I had led them out. Ezekiel 20:15. I also lifted my hand to them in the desert, not to bring them into the land which I had given (them), which floweth with milk and honey; it is an ornament of all lands, Ezekiel 20:16. Because they rejected my rights, did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths, for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20:17. But my eye looked with pity upon them, so that I did not destroy them, and make an end of them in the desert. - God gave laws at Sinai to the people whom He had brought out of Egypt, through which they were to be sanctified as His own people, that they might live before God. On Ezekiel 20:11 compare Deuteronomy 30:16 and Deuteronomy 30:19. Ezekiel 20:12 is taken almost word for word from Exodus 31:13, where God concludes the directions for His worship by urging upon the people in the most solemn manner the observance of His Sabbaths, and thereby pronounces the keeping of the Sabbath the kernel of all divine worship. And as in that passage we are to understand by the Sabbaths the actual weekly Sabbaths, and not the institutions of worship as a whole, so here we must retain the literal signification of the word. It is only of the Sabbath recurring every week, and not of all the fasts, that it could be said it was a sign between Jehovah and Israel. It was a sign, not as a token, that they who observed it were Israelites, as Hitzig supposes, but to know (that they might know) that Jehovah was sanctifying them, namely, by the Sabbath rest - as a refreshing and elevation of the mind, in which Israel was to have a foretaste of that blessed resting from all works to which the people of God was ultimately to attain (see the comm. on Exodus 20:11). It is from this deeper signification of the Sabbath that the prominence given to the Sabbaths here is to be explained, and not from the outward circumstance that in exile, when the sacrificial worship was necessarily suspended, the keeping of the Sabbath as the only bond which united the Israelites, so far as the worship of God was concerned (Hitzig). Historical examples of the rebellion of Israel against the commandments of God in the desert are given in ex. EZechariah 32:1-6 and Numbers 25:1-3; and of the desecration of the Sabbath, in ex. EZechariah 16:27 and Numbers 15:32. For the threat referred to in Ezekiel 20:13, compare Exodus 32:10; Numbers 14:11-12. - Ezekiel 20:15 and Ezekiel 20:16 are not a repetition of Ezekiel 20:13 (Hitzig); nor do they introduce a limitation of Ezekiel 20:14 (Kliefoth). They simply relate what else God did to put bounds to the rebellion after He had revoked the decree to cut Israel off, at the intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:11-19). He lifted His hand to the oath (Numbers 14:21.), that the generation which had come out of Egypt should not come into the land of Canaan, but should die in the wilderness. Therewith He looked with pity upon the people, so that He did not make an end of them by following up the threat with a promise that the children should enter the land. עשׂה כלה, as in Ezekiel 11:13.

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