Ezekiel 20:45
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
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(45) Toward the south.—The parable of Ezekiel 20:45-48 forms what might be called the text of the discourse in Ezekiel 21. The word south, here occurring three times, is represented in the Hebrew by three separate words, which mean, by their derivation, respectively, “on the right hand” (the orientals always supposing themselves to face the east when they speak of the points of the compass),” the brilliant or mid-day direction,” and “the dry land,” a common name for the south of Palestine. Judæa is spoken of as “the south,” because, although actually nearly west from Babylon, it could only be approached by the Babylonians from the north, on account of the great intervening desert. Hence the prophets always speak of the armies of Babylon as coming from the north (see Note on Ezekiel 1:4; Jeremiah 1:14-15, &c.).

The forest of the south field, might be originally a mere poetic description of the land; but the figure is developed in the following verses, to make the forest the nation, and its trees the people which compose it.

Ezekiel 20:45-49. Moreover, the word of the Lord, &c. — Here we have a new prophecy, with which Houbigant, following many learned commentators, begins the xxist chapter, and that very properly; for what is contained in that chapter is only an explanation of what is contained in the remainder of this. Song of Solomon of man, set thy face toward the south — The prophets were generally commanded to turn themselves toward the places concerning which they were going to prophesy; and Ezekiel being now in Chaldea, near the river of Chebar, Judea lay to the south of him. And drop thy word, &c. — That is, prophesy. The gift of prophecy seems to be here compared to rain, or dew, distilling from heaven upon the earth, and refreshing and rendering it fruitful: see Deuteronomy 32:2. Such is the benefit of sound doctrine wherever it is received. And prophesy against the forest of the south field — By this is meant Jerusalem, the word forest being taken metaphorically for a city; either because its stately buildings resembled tall cedars standing in their several ranks, or, as Archbishop Secker supposes, from the number of its inhabitants. And say, Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee — By fire here is meant, not only the burning of literal fire, but every thing which destroys or consumes, as in Ezekiel 19:12. Indeed, fire is often taken, in a general sense, for God’s severe judgments, which, it is here said, shall devour both the green tree and the dry, that is, the righteous as well as the wicked; the righteous being here, as elsewhere, compared to green and flourishing trees, and the wicked to dry and withered ones, such as are only fit for the fire. The flaming flame shall not be quenched — The evils I will send upon them shall not cease, till what I will has been accomplished. And all faces from the south to the north shall be burned — The destruction shall reach from one end of the land to the other: see Ezekiel 21:2; Ezekiel 21:4. Ah, Lord God! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables? — They make this an argument for disregarding what I say, that I use so many similitudes and metaphorical expressions, that they cannot understand my meaning. To take away all ground for this objection, God commands him, in the next chapter, to speak the same thing in plain words.

20:45-49 Judah and Jerusalem had been full of people, as a forest of trees, but empty of fruit. God's word prophesies against those who bring not forth the fruits of righteousness. When He will ruin a nation, who or what can save it? The plainest truths were as parables to the people. It is common for those who will not be wrought upon by the word, to blame it.This paragraph is in the Hebrew text, Septuagint and Vulgate the beginning of Ezekiel 21 to which it belongs, as it contains a prophecy delivered in a form which is there explained. It may, however, be regarded as a link between the foregoing and following prophecies, being a general introduction to seven words of judgment about to be pronounced in development of that which has just been delivered.45-49. An introductory brief description in enigma of the destruction by fire and sword, detailed more explicitly in Eze 21:1-32. A new prophecy, and which pertains, say some, to the next chapter, which is a large comment on this short prophecy in the three last verses, for the 45th and 46th are introductory.

Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying. Or the word of prophecy, as the Targum. Here begins a new prophecy, and most properly a new chapter should here begin; for the next chapter is of the same argument with this, and an explanation of it, and an enlargement upon it. And here Ben Melech begins one; and so Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, and Castalio. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Ch. Ezekiel 20:45 to Ezekiel 21:32. The avenging sword of the Lord

The passage Ezekiel 20:45-49 belongs to ch. 21 (as in Heb.). The time to which the chapter is to be assigned is the early period of Nebuchadnezzar’s movements westwards. The prophet foresees the coming desolation of Israel by the conqueror, which he expresses under the figure of a devouring fire, consuming all indiscriminately. The passage has two divisions, ch. Ezekiel 20:45 to Ezekiel 21:27, and Ezekiel 21:28-32.

First division. Ezekiel 20:45 to Ezekiel 21:27.

-1Ezekiel 20:45-49. A conflagration shall be lighted in the forest of the south, which shall consume all, the green tree and the dry.

-2Ezekiel 21:1-5. Explanation: the sword of the Lord shall be on Jerusalem and her sanctuaries, and on the land of Israel. Righteous and wicked shall perish; and men shall know that the Lord hath drawn his sword.

(3) Ezekiel 20:6-7. Agitation of the prophet at the thought of the coming desolation: so shall all men be agitated and confounded.

(4) Ezekiel 20:8-17. Song of the sword—the sword of the Lord whetted and furbished against Jerusalem.

(5) Ezekiel 20:18-27. He who is the sword or wields it, the king of Babylon. The prophet returning to the point from which he started represents the king of Babylon hesitating whether to march against Ammon or Jerusalem. He consults the oracle and the lot comes out “Jerusalem.”

Ezekiel 20:45-49. Figure of a forest in which a great conflagration is kindled. The fire is unquenchable (Ezekiel 20:47-48), it devours all alike, the green tree and the dry (Ezekiel 20:47); all faces from north to south shall be scorched by it (Ezekiel 20:47); and all flesh shall see that it is the hand of the Lord which has kindled so great a flame (Ezekiel 20:48).

Verse 45. - In the Hebrew the verses that follow form the opening of the next chapter. The Authorized Version follows the LXX., the Vulgate, and Luther. The section has clearly no connection with what has preceded, and, though fragmentary in its character, seems by the words, "set thy face," to connect itself with Ezekiel 21:2, and to lead up to it. The words of ver. 45 imply, as always, an interval of silence and repose. Ezekiel 20:45The Burning Forest

Ezekiel 20:45. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 20:46. Son of man, direct thy face toward the south, and trickle down towards the south, and prophesy concerning the forest of the field in the south land; Ezekiel 20:47. And say to the forest of the south land, Hear the word of Jehovah; Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I kindle a fire in thee, which will consume in thee every green tree, and every dry tree: the blazing flame will not be extinguished, and all faces from the south to the north will be burned thereby. Ezekiel 20:48. And all flesh shall see that I, Jehovah, have kindled it: it shall not be extinguished. Ezekiel 20:49. And I said, Ah, Lord Jehovah! they say of me, Does he not speak in parables? - The prophet is to turn his face toward the south, and prophesy concerning the forest of the field there. הטּיף is used for prophesying, as in Amos 7:16 and Micah 2:6, Micah 2:11. The distinction between the three epithets applied to the south is the following: תּימן is literally that which lies on the right hand, hence the south is a particular quarter of the heavens; דּרום, which only occurs in Ezekiel and Ecclesiastes, with the exception of Deuteronomy 33:23 and Job 37:17, is derived from דּרר, to shine or emit streams of light, and probably signifies the brilliant quarter; נגב, the dry, parched land, is a standing epithet for the southern district of Palestine and the land of Judah (see the comm. on Joshua 15:21). - The forest of the field in the south is a figure denoting the kingdom of Judah (נגב is in apposition to השּׂדה, and is appended to it as a more precise definition). שׂדה is not used here for a field, as distinguished from a city or a garden; but for the fields in the sense of country or territory, as in Genesis 14:7 and Genesis 32:3. In Ezekiel 20:47, יער , forest of the south land, is the expression applied to the same object (הנגב, with the article, is a geographical term for the southern portion of Palestine). The forest is a figure signifying the population, or the mass of people. Individual men are trees. The green tree is a figurative representation of the righteous man, and the dry tree of the ungodly (Ezekiel 21:3, compare Luke 23:31). The fire which Jehovah kindles is the fire of war. The combination of the synonyms להבת שׁלהבת, flame of the flaming brightness, serves to strengthen the expression, and is equivalent to the strongest possible flame, the blazing fire. כּל־פּנים, all faces are not human faces or persons, in which case the prophet would have dropped the figure; but pânim denotes generally the outside of things, which is the first to feel the force of the flame. "All the faces" of the forest are every single thing in the forest, which is caught at once by the flame. In Ezekiel 21:4, kŏl-pânim (all faces) is interpreted by kŏl̇-bâsar (all flesh). From south to north, i.e., through the whole length of the land. From the terrible fierceness of the fire, which cannot be extinguished, every one will know that God has kindled it, that it has been sent in judgment. The words of the prophet himself, in Ezekiel 20:49, presuppose that he has uttered these parabolic words in the hearing of the people, and that they have ridiculed them as obscure (mâshâl is used here in the sense of obscure language, words difficult to understand, as παραβολή also is in Matthew 13:10). At the same time, it contains within itself request that they may be explained. This request is granted; and the simile is first of all interpreted in Ezekiel 21:1-7, and then still further expanded in Ezekiel 21:8.

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