Ezekiel 20:37
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) To pass under the rod.—A figure taken from the shepherd’s way of counting and examining his flock. (Comp. Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Micah 7:14.) By this the people were to be brought into the land of the covenant,” selected and reconstituted God’s covenant people.

Ezekiel 20:37-38. I will cause you to pass under the rod — Of punishment. I will bring you under the chastisement due to you for breaking my covenant. Or there may be an allusion to the custom of numbering flocks and herds, by striking them with a rod: and so the sense will be, “I will take an exact account of you, as a shepherd does of his flock, and will sever between the good and the bad, between the sheep and the goats.” And I will bring you into the bond of the covenant — By these methods I will reduce you to that obedience to which, by my covenant, you are obliged. And I will purge out from among you the rebels — I will separate the righteous from the wicked, in order to destroy the latter, as I did the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness. I will bring them forth out of the country, &c. — I will bring them (namely, the rebels, or wicked ones) forth out of the land of Judea, where they now sojourn, and where they boast that they shall always continue; and they shall not enter into the land of Israel — They shall never return into it again. Bishop Newcome thinks “those are here referred to, who, after the murder of Gedaliah, went into Egypt, called here the land of their sojourning. Some of these were to be carried into Chaldea with the captive Egyptians, Jeremiah 43:11, though the greater part were to be consumed, Jeremiah 44:12. Some of the obstinately rebellious Jews might also sojourn in other neighbouring countries subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, as Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, &c., and might thence be taken into captivity. The small number who returned from Egypt into Judea were righteous men, and not such as are here called rebels and transgressors.”

20:33-44 The wicked Israelites, notwithstanding they follow the sinful ways of other nations, shall not mingle with them in their prosperity, but shall be separated from them for destruction. There is no shaking off God's dominion; and those who will not yield to the power of his grace, shall sink under the power of his wrath. But not one of God's jewels shall be lost in the lumber of this world. He will bring the jews to the land of Israel again; and will give them true repentance. They will be overcome with his kindness: the more we know of God's holiness, the more we see the hateful nature of sin. Those who remain unaffected amidst means of grace, and would live without Christ, like the world around them, may be sure it is the way to destruction.To pass under the rod - i. e., to be gathered into the flock Micah 7:14.

The bond - The shepherd collects the flock, and separates the sheep from the goats, which are rejected. Compare Romans 11:7-11.

37. pass under the rod—metaphor from a shepherd who makes his sheep pass under his rod in counting them (Le 27:32; Jer 33:13). Whether you will or not, ye shall be counted as Mine, and so shall be subjected to My chastening discipline (Mic 7:14), with a view to My ultimate saving of the chosen remnant (compare Joh 10:27-29).

bond of … covenant—I will constrain you by sore chastisements to submit yourselves to the covenant to which ye are lastingly bound, though now you have cast away God's bond from you. Fulfilled in part, Ne 9:8, 26, 32-38; 10:1-39; fully hereafter (Isa 54:10-13; 52:1, 2).

I will bring you out by number, yet so as you shall either by a voluntary submission own my sceptre and government, or by a conquered subjection yield to my sword and power.

Under the rod; either referring to the manner of shepherds in that country, which did tell their sheep in and out of the fold; or rather, as a king, whose sceptre protects some, and dasheth others, and maintains his own right. I will difference persons and persons, that I may deal with each suitably to their state and carriage.

Will bring you, i.e. the voluntary and obedient, into covenant with myself.

And I will cause you to pass under the rod,.... That is, such whom God will not take vengeance on, and shall not die in the wilderness of the people; but whom he will have mercy on, and show favour to, and bring at length into their own land; these he indeed will bring under the rod of correction and chastisement, by which they shall be brought to a sense of sin, a confession of it, humiliation for it, and to seek to Christ for salvation from it; or under the rod of his word, the rod of his strength, he sends out of Zion the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation; by which they shall be brought to agree unto and comply with the way of salvation by Christ; to submit to his righteousness; to embrace the doctrines of the Gospel, and be subject to the ordinances of it: or the allusion is to shepherds, in taking an account of their flocks, or at the tithing of them, who strike and mark them with their rod, Leviticus 27:32, and thus, as the Lord has in election distinguished his sheep from others, taken an exact account of them, and set his seal or mark of foreknowledge on them; so in effectual calling he separates them from others, takes special knowledge of them, and sets his mark of sanctification on them. This will be the case of the converted Jews in the latter day:

and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: or, "the discipline of the covenant", as the Syriac Version; the same with the rod of correction, being what is provided in covenant for the good of the covenant ones. This covenant is the covenant of grace; the bond of which are not faith, repentance, and new obedience; for these are parts and blessings of the covenant; nor any outward ordinance; not circumcision formerly, nor baptism and the Lord's supper now; which persons may submit to, and yet not be in the covenant: but it designs that which makes the covenant firm, sure, and lasting; which are the everlasting love of God, from whence it springs; his unchangeable counsel, according to which it proceeds; his solemn oath, that it shall never be removed; his faithfulness, which will not suffer it to be made void; and his power, which will accomplish every article of it; and the blood of Christ, which ratifies and confirms it. So Kimchi interprets it, "I will bind you in a covenant, that ye shall not go out of it for ever": or it is that which binds persons, or lays them under obligation to love, fear, and serve the Lord; and that is the love of God and Christ, and the exceeding great and precious promises of the covenant; and now into this sure, firm, and obliging covenant the Lord has brought all his chosen ones in eternity, when it was first made with Christ; and into which he may be said to bring them in time; as he will the converted Jews, when he manifests it to them, and applies the blessings and promises of it; shows them it, and their interest in it.

And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
37. to pass under the rod] According to the usage of the language (Leviticus 27:32, cf. Jeremiah 33:13) the rod or staff here is that of the shepherd, which he uses in counting his flock. “The shepherds carried a staff (Psalm 23:4; Micah 7:4; Zechariah 11:7) and used it in counting when they brought the beasts forth from the place where they were kept or made them go into it. It was customary to count the beasts every day (Jeremiah 33:23), usually at evening when they came home (Theocr. Ezekiel 8:16; Virg. Georg. iv. 436), sometimes twice, morning and evening (Virg. Ecl. iii. 34),” Dillm. on Leviticus 27:32.

bond of the covenant] The word “bond” is otherwise unknown. LXX. reads: and I will cause you to go in by number, i.e. probably in special or precise tale (Isaiah 40:26; 1 Chronicles 9:28; Ezra 8:34). This carries on the figure of passing under the staff, and is amplified in Ezekiel 20:38. The word “covenant” is possibly a duplicate of the next word “purge” (Ezekiel 20:38). The expression “by or, in number” hardly of itself means few (cf. ch. Ezekiel 5:3), neither is the idea of fewness suitable here. Cf. Jeremiah 3:14.

Verse 37. - I will cause you to pass under the rod. The "rod" (same word as in Psalm 23:4) is primarily that of chastisement, but it is also that of the shepherd who gathers in his flock (Ezekiel 34:11; Leviticus 27:32; Micah 7:14). Into the bond of the covenant. The word for "bond" (only found here in the Old Testament) is probably cognate with that for "fetter" or "bond" (Isaiah 52:2; Jeremiah 5:5; Jeremiah 27:2). The chastisement was, for those who accepted it, to do its work by restoring the blessings of the covenant which apostasy had forfeited. Ezekiel 20:37The Judgment Awaiting Israel of Purification among the Heathen

Ezekiel 20:32. And that which riseth up in your mind shall not come to pass, in that ye say, We will be like the heathen, like the families of the lands, to serve wood and stone. Ezekiel 20:33. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, with strong hand and with outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you. Ezekiel 20:34. And I will bring you out of the nations, and gather you out of the lands in which ye have been scattered, with strong hand and with outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, Ezekiel 20:35. And will bring you into the desert of the nations, and contend with you there face to face. Ezekiel 20:36. As I contended with your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so will I contend with you, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 20:37. And I will cause you to pass through under the rod, and bring you into the bond of the covenant. Ezekiel 20:38. And I will separate from you the rebellious, and those who are apostates from me; out of the land of their sojourning will I lead them out, but into the land of Israel shall they not come; that ye may know that I am Jehovah. - העלה על רוּח, that which rises up in the spirit, is the thought that springs up in the mind. What this thought was is shown in Ezekiel 20:32, viz., we will be like the heathen in the lands of the earth, to serve wood and stone; that is to say, we will become idolaters like the heathen, pass into heathenism. This shall not take place; on the contrary, God will rule over them as King with strong arm and fury. The words, "with strong hand and stretched-out arm," are a standing expression in the Pentateuch for the mighty acts by which Jehovah liberated His people from the power of the Egyptians, and led them out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 6:1, Exodus 6:6 with וּבמשׁפּטים גּדולים). Here, on the contrary, they are connected with בּחמה שׁפוּכה, and are used in Ezekiel 20:33 with reference to the government of God over Israel, whilst in Ezekiel 20:34 they are applied to the bringing out of Israel from the midst of the heathen. By the introduction of the clause "with fury poured out," the manifestation of the omnipotence of God which Israel experience in its dispersion, and which it was still to experience among the heathen, is described as an emanation of the divine wrath, a severe and wrathful judgment. The leading and gathering of Israel out of the nations (Ezekiel 20:34) is neither their restoration from the existing captivity in Babylon, nor their future restoration to Canaan on the conversion of the people who were still hardened, and therefore rejected by God. The former assumption would be decidedly at variance with both מן העמּים and מן הארצות, since Israel was dispersed only throughout one land and among one people at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Moreover, neither of the assumptions is reconcilable with the context, more especially with Ezekiel 20:35. According to the context, this leading out is an act of divine anger, which Israel is to feel in connection therewith; and this cannot be affirmed of either the redemption of the people out of the captivity in Babylon, or the future gathering of Israel from its dispersion. According to Ezekiel 20:35, God will conduct those who are brought out from the nations and gathered together out of the lands into the desert of the nations, and contend with them there. The "desert of the nations" is not the desert lying between Babylonia and Palestine, on the coastlands of the Mediterranean, through which the Israelites would have to pass on their way home from Babylon (Rosenmller, Hitzig, and others). For there is no imaginable reason why this should be called the desert of the nations in distinction from the desert of Arabia, which also touched the borders of several nations. The expression is doubtless a typical one, the future guidance of Israel being depicted as a repetition of the earlier guidance of the people from Egypt to Canaan; as it also is in Hosea 2:16. All the separate features in the description indicate this, more especially Ezekiel 20:36 and Ezekiel 20:37, where it is impossible to overlook the allusion to the guidance of Israel in the time of Moses.

The more precise explanation of the words must depend, however, upon the sense in which we are to understand the expression, "desert of the land of Egypt." Here also the supposition that the Arabian desert is referred to, because it touched the border of Egypt, does not furnish a sufficient explanation. It touched the border of Canaan as well. Why then did not Ezekiel name it after the land of Canaan? Evidently for no other reason than that the time spent by the Israelites in the Arabian desert resembled their sojourn in Egypt much more closely than their settlement in Canaan, because, while there, they were still receiving their training for their entrance into Canaan, and their possession and enjoyment of its benefits, just as much as in the land of Egypt. And in a manner corresponding to this, the "desert of the nations" is a figurative expression applied to the world of nations, from whom they were indeed spiritually distinct, whilst outwardly they were still in the midst of them, and had to suffer from their oppression. Consequently the leading of Israel out of the nations (Ezekiel 20:34) is not a local and corporeal deliverance out of heathen lands, but a spiritual severance from the heathen world, in order that they might not be absorbed into it or become inseparably blended with the heathen. God will accomplish this by means of severe chastisements, by contending with them as He formerly contended with their fathers in the Arabian desert. God contends with His people when He charges them with their sin and guilt, not merely in words, but also with deeds, i.e., through chastening and punishments. The words "face to face" point back to Deuteronomy 5:4 : "Jehovah talked with you face to face in the mount, out of the midst of the fire." Just as at Sinai the Lord talked directly with Israel, and made know to it the devouring fire of His own holy nature, in so terrible a manner that all the people trembled and entreated Moses to act the part of a mediator between them, promising at the same time obedience to him (Exodus 20:19); so will the Lord make Himself known to Israel in the desert of the world of nations with the burning zeal of His anger, that it may learn to fear Him. This contending is more precisely defined in Ezekiel 20:37 and Ezekiel 20:38. I will cause you to pass through under the (shepherd's) rod. A shepherd lets his sheep pass through under his rod for the purpose of counting them, and seeing whether they are in good condition or not (vid., Jeremiah 33:13). The figure is here applied to God. Like a shepherd, He will cause His flock, the Israelites, to pass through under His rod, i.e., take them into His special care, and bring them "into the bond of the covenant" (מסרת, not from מסר Raschi, but from אסר, for מאסרה, a fetter); that is to say, not "I will bind myself to you and you to me by a new covenant" (Bochart, Hieroz. I. p. 508), for this is opposed to the context, but, as the Syriac version has rendered it, b-mardûtâ (in disciplina), "the discipline of the covenant." By this we are not merely to understand the covenant punishments, with which transgressors of the law are threatened, as Hvernick does, but the covenant promises must also be included. For not only the threats of the covenant, but the promises of the covenant, are bonds by which God trains His people; and אסר is not only applied to burdensome and crushing fetters, but to the bonds of love as well (vid., Sol 7:6). Kliefoth understands by the fetter of the covenant the Mosaic law, as being the means employed by God to preserve the Israelites from mixing with the nations while placed in the midst of them, and to keep them to Himself, and adds the following explanation, - "this law, through which they should have been able to live, they have now to wear as a fetter, and to feel the chastisement thereof." But however correct the latter thought may be in itself, it is hardly contained in the words, "lead them into the fetter (band) of the law." Moreover, although the law did indeed preserve Israel from becoming absorbed into the world of nations, the fact that the Jews were bound to the law did not bring them to the knowledge of the truth, or bring to pass the purging of the rebellious from among the people, to which Ezekiel 20:38 refers. All that the law accomplished in this respect in the case of those who lived among the heathen was effected by its threatenings and its promises, and not by its statutes and their faithful observance. This discipline will secure the purification of the people, by severing from the nation the rebellious and apostate. God will bring them forth out of the land of this pilgrimage, but will not bring them into the land of Israel. ארץ is the standing epithet applied in the Pentateuch to the land of Canaan, in which the patriarchs lived as pilgrims, without coming into actual possession of the land (cf. Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:4; Genesis 36:7; Exodus 6:4). This epithet Ezekiel has transferred to the lands of Israel's exile, in which it was to lead a pilgrim-life until it was ripe for entering Canaan. הוציא, to lead out, is used here for clearing out by extermination, as the following clause, "into the land of Israel shall they not come," plainly shows. The singular יבוא is used distributively: not one of the rebels will enter.

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