Ezekiel 20:9
But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.
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(9) For my name’s sake.—This is the express ground of Moses’ pleading for the people in the passage just referred to, and again in Exodus 32:12; Deuteronomy 9:28; and it is repeatedly given, as in Deuteronomy 32:27-28, as the ground on which the Lord spared His rebellious people. Had they been treated according to their deserts, and destroyed for their sins, the heathen would have said that God was unable to deliver them.

20:1-9. Those hearts are wretchedly hardened which ask God leave to go on in sin, and that even when suffering for it; see ver.I wrought for my name's sake - Lest it should appear to the Egyptians that Yahweh was a God who would, but could not, save. 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). I wrought, according to my promise, ny infinite mercy, and the hopes of those few that heard and obeyed.

For my name’s sake; for my glory: had you been used as you deserved, you had died slaves in Egypt, and there had been your graves; but the glory of God’s mercy and faithfulness is the motive of him sparing them.

Polluted; reproached, blasphemed, and lessened among the heathen.

The heathen, among whom they were; the Egyptians, amongst whom Israel had sojourned two hundred and fifteen years, in which time many of the children of Israel, no doubt, had discoursed of their hopes of going out of Egypt to the land promised to Abraham for them, and were apt to boast of their God, and that country; and, to render the thing credible in the eyes of the Egyptians, would speak of the mercy, power, faithfulness, and wisdom of the Lord to effect this, the glory of which would have been eclipsed, and the heathen blasphemed, if God had not brought them out; when it was thus God wrought for his name’s sake.

But I wrought for my name's sake,.... In a way of grace and mercy; did well by thorn, did what he promised to do; not for any merits of theirs, but for his own honour, and the glory of his name:

that it should not be polluted before the Heathen, among whom they were; be spoken evil of, which is a polluting it; saying, either that he was not true to his word, in not doing what he promised; or else that it was not in his power to perform; either of which would reflect dishonour on his name, and so defile it:

in whose sight I made myself known unto them; by the wonders he wrought; and who, by one means or another, became acquainted with the promises of God to Israel, that he would bring them out of Egypt, and settle them in the land of Canaan: wherefore for the honour of his name he exerted his power,

in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt; as he did, as follows:

But I wrought for my {f} name's sake, that it should not be profaned before the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known to them, in bringing them forth from the land of Egypt.

(f) God had ever this respect to his glory, that he would not have evil spoken of his Name among the Gentiles for the punishment that his people deserved, in confidence of which the godly ever prayed, as in Ex 32:12, Nu 14:13.

9. for my name’s sake] This idea, very common in this prophet, also in Isaiah 40-66, does not appear in the earlier prophets, except Isaiah 37:35. Cf. however, Deuteronomy 9:28-29; Jeremiah 14:7; Jeremiah 14:21; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 48:9; Isaiah 48:11. Jehovah’s name expresses that which he is, or has revealed himself to be, and the phrase does not differ from “for my own sake,” cf. ch. Ezekiel 36:22; Ezekiel 36:32.

should not be polluted] Rather: profaned. The words explain, “for my name’s sake,” viz. lest it should be profaned among the nations. Deuteronomy 9:28-29 suggests one way in which the name of Jehovah might be profaned among the nations. To “profane” is the opposite of to “sanctify.” The one is to cherish any thoughts of Jehovah or to attribute any deed to him inconsistent with his being the one true God, or derogatory to him who is so. To “sanctify” him is to recognise him in thought and in act, particularly in worship, to be the one true God; to assign to him attributes and operations befitting his nature, and to live in such a way as those who are the people of Jehovah ought to live, for the manner of the people is reflected on the character of their God (Amos 2:7). This is the way, at least, in which Ezek., with the conception of Jehovah which in his age he had reached, uses the terms “profane” and “sanctify.”

Ezekiel 20:9Election of Israel in Egypt. Its resistance to the commandments of God. - Ezekiel 20:5. And say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day that I chose Israel, and lifted my hand to the seed of Jacob, and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, and lifted my hand to them, saying, I am Jehovah, your God: Ezekiel 20:6. In that day I lifted my hand to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into the land which I sought out for them, which floweth with milk and honey - it is an ornament of all lands: Ezekiel 20:7. And said to them, Cast away every man the abominations of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am Jehovah, your God. Ezekiel 20:8. But they were rebellious against me, and would not hearken to me. Not one of them threw away the abominations of his eyes, and they did not forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I thought to pour out my wrath upon them, to accomplish my anger upon them in the midst of the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 20:9. But I did it for my name's sake, that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations, in the midst of which they were, before whose eyes I had made myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. - Ezekiel 20:5 and Ezekiel 20:6 form one period. בּיּום בּחרי (Ezekiel 20:5) is resumed in בּיּום ההוּא (Ezekiel 20:6), and the sentence continued. With ואשּׂא the construction with the infinitive passes over into the finite verb. Lifting the hand, sc. to heaven, is a gesture employed in taking an oath (see the comm. on Exodus 6:8). The substance of the oath is introduced by the word לאמר at the close of Ezekiel 20:5; but the clause 'ואוּדע וגו (and made myself known) is previously inserted, and then the lifting of the hand mentioned again to indicate the importance of this act of divine grace. The contents of Ezekiel 20:5 and Ezekiel 20:6 rest upon Exodus 6:2., where the Lord makes Himself known to Moses, and through him to the children of Israel, according to the nature involved in the name Jehovah, in which He had not yet revealed Himself to the patriarchs (Exodus 6:3). Both נשׂאתי ידי (I lifted my hand) and אני יהוה are taken from Exodus 6:8. The word תּרתּי, from תּוּר, to seek out, explore, also belongs to the Pentateuch (compare Deuteronomy 1:33); and the same may be said of the description given of Canaan as "a land flowing with milk and honey" (vid., Exodus 3:8, etc.). But צבי, ornament, as an epithet applied to the land of Israel, is first employed by the prophets of the time of the captivity - namely, in Ezekiel 20:6 and Ezekiel 20:15 of this chapter, in Jeremiah 3:19, and in Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16, Daniel 11:41. The election of the Israelites to be the people of Jehovah, contained eo ipso the command to give up the idols of Egypt, although it was at Sinai that the worship of other gods was for the first time expressly prohibited (Exodus 20:3), and Egyptian idolatry is only mentioned in Leviticus 17:7 (cf. Joshua 24:14). Ezekiel calls the idols "abominations of their eyes," because, "although they were abominable and execrable things, they were looked upon with delight by them" (Rosenmller). It is true that there is nothing expressly stated in the Pentateuch as to the refusal of the Israelites to obey the command of God, or their unwillingness to give up idolatry in Egypt; but it may be inferred from the statements contained in Exodus 6:9 and Exodus 6:12, to the effect that the Israelites did not hearken to Moses when he communicated to them the determination of God to lead them out of Egypt, and still more plainly from their relapse into Egyptian idolatry, from the worship of the golden calf at Sinai (Exodus 32), and from their repeated desire to return to Egypt while wandering in the desert.

(Note: The remarks of Calvin upon this point are very good. "We do not learn directly from Moses," he says, "that they had been rebels against God, because they would not throw away their idols and superstitions; but the conjecture is a very probable one, that they had always been so firmly fixed in their abominations as to prevent in a certain way the hand of God from bringing them relief. And assuredly, if they had embraced what Moses promised them in the name of God with promptness of mind, the execution of the promise would have been more prompt and swift. But we may learn that it was their own obtuseness which hindered God from stretching out His hand forthwith and actually fulfilling all that He had promised. It was necessary, indeed, that God should contend with Pharaoh, that His power might be more conspicuously displayed; but the people would not have been so tyrannically afflicted if they had not closed the door of divine mercy.")

Nor is there anything said in the Pentateuch concerning the determination of God to pour out His wrath upon the idolatrous people in Egypt. We need not indeed assume on this account that Ezekiel derived his information from some special traditional source, as Vitringa has done ObservV. ss. I. 263), or regard the statement as a revelation made by God to Ezekiel, and through him to us. The words do not disclose to us either a particular fact or a definite decree of God; they simply contain a description of the attitude which God, from His inmost nature, assumes towards sinners who rebel against His holy commandments, and which He displayed both in the declaration made concerning Himself as a zealous, or jealous God, who visits iniquities (Exodus 20:5), and also in the words addressed to Moses when the people fell into idolatry at Sinai, "Let me alone, that my wrath may wax not against them, and that I may consume them" (Exodus 32:10). All that God expresses here, His heart must have felt in Egypt towards the people who would not desist from idolatry. For the words themselves, compare Ezekiel 7:8; Ezekiel 6:12; Ezekiel 5:13. ואעשׂ (Ezekiel 20:9), "but I did it for my name's sake." The missing object explaining what He did, namely, abstain from pouring out His wrath, is to be gathered from what follows: "that I might not profane my name." This would have taken place if God had destroyed Israel by pouring out His wrath; in other words, have allowed them to be destroyed by the Egyptians. The heathen might then have said that Jehovah had been unable to liberate His people from their hand and power (cf. Numbers 14:16 and Exodus 32:12). החל is an infin. Niphal of חלל for החל (cf. Leviticus 21:4).

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