Ezekiel 21:16
Go you one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, wherever your face is set.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Go thee one way or other.—An address to the sword, the animation of which is singularly lost in our version; the sword is addressed as a host, to be prepared for instant action in every quarter: “Gather thyself up (close up ranks) right; set thyself, left.”

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.The prophet addresses the sword,

Gather thyself up, O sword, to the right or to the left.

Another rendering is: "Turn thee backwards! get thee to the right! Set thee forwards (?)!get thee to the left! O whither is thy face appointed?

16. Apostrophe to the sword.

Go … one way—or, "Concentrate thyself"; "Unite thy forces on the right hand" [Grotius]. The sword is commanded to take the nearest route for Jerusalem, "whither their face was set," whether south or north ("right hand or left"), according to where the several parts of the Chaldean host may be.

or other, … on the left—rather "set thyself on the left." The verbs are well-chosen. The main "concentration" of forces was to be on "the right hand," or south, the part of Judea in which Jerusalem was, and which lay south in marching from Babylon, whereas the Chaldean forces advancing on Jerusalem from Egypt, of which Jerusalem was north, were fewer, and therefore "set thyself" is the verb used.

O sword, take thy own course; O ye slaughtermen, ye Babylonian soldiers, all is open before you, go which way you will; I have brought you to waste the land from south to north, begin where you will, and proceed as you will, none shall be able to resist you. Go thee one way or another,.... Go to some one place: or "unite thyself" (a); to other swords, or join other soldiers holding swords; the address is to the sword, to steer its course some one way, and slay as it goes along, sparing none:

either on the right, or on the left; or south, or north; so the Targum,

"unsheathe, and slay on the south, and destroy on the north:''

whithersoever thy face is set; or prepared, as the Targum, or appointed for destruction; this is the usual interpretation: but why may not the words be an apostrophe to the prophet, to go alone or single, either to the right or left, south or north, as his face was set, Ezekiel 21:2, sighing and crying, smiting his hands together, in order to affect the minds of the people with the sense of their calamities coming upon them?

(a) "unito Montanus", Piscator, Polanus; "unitor te", Starckius; "in unum dirigitor", Cocceius.

Go thee {n} one way or other, either on the right hand, or on the left, wherever thy face is set.

(n) Provide for yourself: for you will see God's plague of all parts on this country.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Perhaps with R.V., “gather thee together, go to the right; set thyself in array, go to the left!” The sword is addressed by the Lord and bidden concentrate its force to smite on the right, and set itself on to slaughter on the left. Others by changes in the text find a command to the sword to smite in all the four directions (Boett.), which is more artificial.

thy face is set] Or, thine edge is appointed. Cf. same word “appointed” used of the sword, Jeremiah 47:7, of the rod, Micah 6:9.Verse 16. - Go thee one way or another, etc.; i.e. as in the following, to the right hand or the left - to the north or the south. Whichever way the prophet turned (Ezekiel 20:47), he would see nothing but the sword and its work of slaughter. Jehovah had given that command with the gesture of supreme authority. He would not rest till he had appeased his wrath by letting it work itself out even to the end. With these words the "Lay of the Sword of Jehovah" ends, and there is again an interval of silence. 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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