Ezekiel 21:14
You therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite your hands together. and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which enters into their privy chambers.
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(14) Smite thine hands together.—A gesture of strong emotion (see Ezekiel 21:17, Ezekiel 22:13, and comp. Note on Ezekiel 6:11; Numbers 24:10).

Let the sword be doubled the third time.—The exact translation is here also obscure and difficult, but the meaning is plain that the activity of the sword is to be intensified to the utmost.

The sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain.—Literally, the sword of the overthrown (plural), it is the sword of the overthrown (sing.), of the great one. The word translated slain does not necessarily mean actually killed, but is used in a moral as well as physical sense; and in Ezekiel 20:16; Ezekiel 20:21; Ezekiel 20:24, as often, the verb from which this adjective is formed is translated polluted. The sword is called “the sword of the overthrown” because it is the means of their overthrow, and “the sword of the great one overthrown,” with especial reference to the king.

Which entereth into their privy chambers.—Rather, which begirts them round about, so that none can escape.

Ezekiel 21:14; Ezekiel 21:17. Prophesy, and smite thy hands together — In token of amazement and sorrow. And let the sword be doubled the third time — Bishop Newcome reads, Bring the sword twice; yea, bring it thrice; namely, that God’s judgments might be fully executed, and his justice satisfied. It is probable that the three great slaughters which should be made of the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem are here intended, namely, 1st, During the siege, in which, undoubtedly, great numbers fell who were without the walls of the city, and many within: 2dly, When the city was taken by assault, which certainly was not without great slaughter: and 3dly, The massacre of Gedaliah, and those that sided with him. The sword of the slain — Wherewith many shall be slain. It is the sword of the great men, &c. — Appointed for the slaughter of the great men, namely, the princes, rulers, and captains; which entereth into their privy chambers — Where they were hidden in hopes of escaping. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates — I have gathered together the Chaldeans round about Jerusalem, with their swords sharpened and drawn at every gate, to meet and slay all that shall attempt to come out, or to slay all they find on entering the city. Ah! it is made bright — Hebrew, עשׂויה לברק, is made like lightning. The same metaphor which occurs in Virgil:

“Vaginaque eripit, ensem fulmineum.” — ÆN. 4. 50:579.

“He drew his sword, which did like lightning blaze.”

It is wrapped — Or rather, It is sharpened for the slaughter. So Kimchius and some others translate מעשׂה, deriving the word from עשׂ, a style, or iron pen: see Buxtorf. Go thee one way or other — God is here represented as speaking, by way of apostrophe, to the sword, and giving it an unlimited commission to destroy wherever it should be drawn. I will also smite my hands together — In token of my approbation. I will animate and encourage the slayers to go on. And I will cause my fury to rest — I will satisfy my anger by a full execution of my judgments.21:1-17 Here is an explanation of the parable in the last chapter. It is declared that the Lord was about to cut off Jerusalem and the whole land, that all might know it was his decree against a wicked and rebellious people. It behoves those who denounce the awful wrath of God against sinners, to show that they do not desire the woful day. The example of Christ teaches us to lament over those whose ruin we declare. Whatever instruments God uses in executing his judgments, he will strengthen them according to the service they are employed in. The sword glitters to the terror of those against whom it is drawn. It is a sword to others, a rod to the people of the Lord. God is in earnest in pronouncing this sentence, and the prophet must show himself in earnest in publishing it.Doubled the third time - i. e., "thrice doubled" to express its violence and force.

The sword of the slain - The sword whereby men are to be slain.

Of the great men ... - Or, The sword of the mighty slain, which presseth hard upon them.

14. smite … hands together—(Nu 24:10), indicative of the indignant fury with which God will "smite" the people.

sword … doubled the third time—referring to the threefold calamity:—(1) The taking of Zedekiah (to whom the "rod," or scepter, may refer); (2) the taking of the city; (3) the removal of all those who remained with Gedaliah. "Doubled" means "multiplied" or "repeated." The stroke shall be doubled and even trebled.

of the slain—that is, by which many are slain. As the Hebrew is singular, Fairbairn makes it refer to the king, "the sword of the great one that is slain," or "pierced through."

entereth … privy chambers—(Jer 9:21). The sword shall overtake them, not merely in the open battlefield, but in the chambers whither they flee to hide themselves (1Ki 20:30; 22:25). Maurer translates, "which besieged them"; Fairbairn, "which penetrates to them." English Version is more literal.

Smite thine hands together; either in token of amazement and sorrow, or else to signify what pleasure it should be to see justice executed on obstinate rebels; or rather, as Ezekiel 21:17, clap thy hands, to awaken and hearten the Babylonians on to the slaughter.

Let the sword be doubled the third time: perhaps it is too curious to search out what particular calamities are pointed out by this trebled sword; whether,

1. Zedekiah’s captivity with many of the princes. And,

2. Taking of the city.

3. Killing of Gedaliah and those with him: to be sure it speaks both the certainty of the thing, and the greatness of the affliction.

Sword of the slain; wherewith many shall be slain.

The great men; which were princes, and captains, and rulers.

Entereth into their privy chambers; searcheth the most secret rooms, where they slew such as they found hidden in hope to escape. Thou, therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together,.... As being in the greatest agony for what is coming upon thy people: or "strike hand to hand" (y); clap them together, as encouraging the enemy with his drawn, sharp, and glittering sword, to make use of it, and do execution with it:

and let the sword be doubled the third time; some think this has reference to the three captivities of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah: others to the threefold calamity in Zedekiah's time; the first, the taking of him; the second, the taking of the city; the third, the carrying captive the residue along with Gedaliah: or to the three times the Chaldeans came against Jerusalem, after this prophecy; first with Nebuchadnezzar, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, and took him and the city; then with Nebuzaradan, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and burnt the city and temple; and again in the twenty third of Nebuchadnezzar, and carried away the remnant of the people, Jeremiah 52:5,

the sword of the slain: by which many should be slain:

it is the sword of the great men that are slain: of the sons of the kings, and of the princes and nobles of the land:

which entereth into their privy chambers; where they should endeavour to hide themselves from it, but in vain, none should escape; their privy chambers could not secrete nor secure them: or "which remains with them"; as that which is laid up, and reserved in a privy chamber, as De Dieu, from the use of the word in the Ethiopic language, renders it.

(y) "percute manum ad manum", Pagninus, Polanus; "volum ad volam"; Montanus; "feri manum ad manum", Starckius.

Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite {m} thy hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their private chambers.

(m) That is, encourage the sword.

14. doubled the third time] The reading must mean: let the sword be doubled, tripled! lit. unto a third (sword), i.e. till it be three-fold. Of course there were not to be three swords or even two; what is called for is a double and triple intensity and operation of the one sword (cf. Ezekiel 21:16).

great men that are slain] Rather: the great one that is slain, i.e. doomed to be slain—ref. being to king Zedekiah, cf. Ezekiel 21:25. A different division of letters gives: the great sword of the slain (collective)—which is less probable as “slain” is plur. immediately before.

entereth … privy chambers] Rather: which compasseth them about—still descriptive of the sword.Verse 14. - Smite thine hands together, etc. Another gesture follows, either of horror and lamentation, or perhaps, looking to ver. 17, of imperative command. The sword is to do its thrice-redoubled work (the words emphasize generally the intensity, and are scarcely to be taken numerically, of the repeated invasions of the Chaldeans); it is "the sword of the slain" (better, pierced ones, or, with Revised Version, the deadly wounded). The next clause should be taken, with the Revised Version, in the singular - the sword of the great one that is deadly wounded; sc. the sword should smite the king as well as the people. For entereth into their privy chambers, read, with the Revised Version (margin), Ewald, and Keil, it compasseth them about. The Sword of the Lord and Its Disastrous Effects

Ezekiel 21:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:2. Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and trickle over the holy places, and prophesy over the land of Israel, Ezekiel 21:3. And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, and will draw my sword out of its scabbard, and cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Ezekiel 21:4. Because I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword to go forth from its scabbard against all flesh from south to north. Ezekiel 21:5. And all flesh shall know that I, Jehovah, have drawn my sword out of its scabbard: it shall not return again. Ezekiel 21:6. And thou, son of man, sigh! so that the hips break; and with bitter pain sigh before their eyes! Ezekiel 21:7. And when they say to thee, Wherefore dost thou sigh? say, Because of a report that it is coming; and every heart will sink, and all hands become powerless, and every spirit will become dull, and all knees turn into water: Behold, it cometh, and will happen, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In the preceding parable, the expression "forest of the field in the south," or "forest of the south-land," was enigmatical. This is explained to signify Jerusalem with its holy places (מקדּשׁים, see comm. on Ezekiel 7:24), and the land of Israel, i.e., the kingdom of Judah. In accordance with this, the fire kindled by the Lord is interpreted as being the sword of the Lord. It is true that this is a figurative expression; but it is commonly used for war, which brings with it devastation and death, and would be generally intelligible. The sword will cut off both righteous and wicked. This applies to the outer side of the judgment, inasmuch as both good and bad fall in war. This is the only aspect brought into prominence here, since the great purpose was to alarm the sinners, who were boasting of their security; but the distinction between the two, as described in Ezekiel 9:4., is not therefore to be regarded as no longer existing. This sword will not return, sc. into the scabbard, till it has accomplished the result predicted in Ezekiel 21:3 (cf. 2 Samuel 1:22; Isaiah 55:11). As Tremellius has aptly observed upon this passage, "the last slaughter is contrasted with the former ones, in which, after the people had been chastened fore a time, the sword was returned to its scabbard again." In order to depict the terrors of this judgment before the eyes of the people, the prophet is commanded to groan before their eyes in the most painful way possible (Ezekiel 21:6.). בּשׁברון מתנים, with breaking of the hips, i.e., with pain sufficient to break the hips, the seat of strength in man (compare Nahum 2:11; Isaiah 21:3). מרירוּת, bitterness, i.e., bitter anguish. The reason which he is to assign to the questioners for this sighing is "on account of the report that is coming," - an antiptosis for "on account of the coming report" (cf. Genesis 1:4, etc.). the report comes when the substance of it is realized. The reference is to the report of the sword of the Lord, - that is to say, of the approach of the Chaldeans to destroy Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. The impression which this disclosure will make upon the hearers will be perfectly paralyzing (Ezekiel 21:7). All courage and strength for offering resistance will be crippled and broken. נמס כּל־לב (cf. Nahum 2:11) is strengthened by כּהתה, every spirit will become dull, so that no one will know what counsel to give. 'כּל־בּרכּים תּלכנה וגו corresponds to רפוּ כּל־ידים (cf. Ezekiel 7:17). The threat is strengthened by the words, "behold, it cometh, and will take place." The subject is שׁמוּעה, the report, i.e., the substance of the report. - This threat is more fully expanded in Ezekiel 21:8-17; Ezekiel 21:8-13 corresponding to Ezekiel 21:1-5, and Ezekiel 21:14-17 to Ezekiel 21:6, Ezekiel 21:7.

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