Ezekiel 21:2
Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,
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(2) Set thy face . . . drop thy word . . . prophesy.—These expressions, with the “say to the land” of Ezekiel 21:3, connect this with 20:46, 47; but there they were followed by figurative terms, while here we have plainly “Jerusalem,” “the holy places,” and “the land of Israel.”

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 first word of judgment Ezekiel 21:1-7. Ezekiel speaks first to the people of Israel, shows the universality of the coming destructions, and indicates by a sign (that of sighing) the sadness of the calamity.

The words and order of words are identical with Ezekiel 20:45-46, except that for "south," there are substituted:

(1) "Jerusalem;"

(2) "the holy place," i. e., the temple and its various parts;

(3) "the land of Israel."

No subterfuge is left for the people to pretend misunderstanding.

2. the holy places—the three parts of the temple: the courts, the holy place, and the holiest. If "synagogues" existed before the Babylonian captivity, as Ps 74:8 seems to imply, they and the proseuchæ, or oratories, may be included in the "holy places" here. Set thy face; put thyself in a posture may bespeak thy going to prophesy.

Toward Jerusalem, or against Jerusalem, called, Ezekiel 20:46, forest of the south field. Drop thy word; of the phrase see Ezekiel 20:46; as rain from heaven, so distil my word.

The holy places; either the temple, and all the parts of it, which were three, the porch, the holy, and holy of holies; or their synagogues, in which they met to worship and read the law, which were burnt up by this fire, Psalm 74:8.

Against the land of Israel; not only against Jerusalem, but the whole land of Israel, from the south thereof to the north; as Ezekiel 20:47.

Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem,.... Which shows that this city was meant by "the south", Ezekiel 20:46,

and drop thy word toward the holy places; which also are meant by the south in the passage referred to, even the holy land, holy city, and holy temple; or the temple itself is only meant, with the courts adjoining to it; or as consisting of three parts, as Kimchi, the porch, the temple, and the oracle; or the outward court, the holy place, and the holy of holies; and it may respect all other places for sacred worship, as their synagogues, both in city and country; which were not to be spared any more than the temple, nor were they, Psalm 74:7. Jarchi thinks that the destruction both of the first and second temple is here intended; and which sense Kimchi also mentions.

And prophesy against the land of Israel: by which it appears that this is intended by the "forest of the south field": even the numerous inhabitants of it in general, as well as the city of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 20:46.

Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, {a} and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,

(a) Speak sensibly, that all may understand.

2. the holy places] Or, sanctuaries. These are not the rural sanctuaries or high places, but the holy buildings in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 7:24; Lamentations 2:6).

Verses 2, 3. - The opening words, reproducing those of Ezekiel 20:46, indicate that the interpretation of that parable is coming. So the three variants of "south" are shown to mean respectively Jerusalem, the holy places, and the land of Israel. So, in ver. 3, the righteous and the wicked take the place of the "green" and the "dry" tree, and the fire is explained as meaning the sword of the invader. The teaching of ch. 18, had shown that Ezekiel had entered, as regards the ultimate judgment of individual men, into the spirit of Abram's words "That be far from thee to destroy the righteous with the wicked" (Genesis 18:25). But in regard to temporal judgments there would be in this case, as in the complaint of Job 9:22, no distinction. The sword went forth "against all flesh." Ezekiel 21:2The 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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