Ezekiel 21:20
Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defended.
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21:18-27 By the Spirit of prophecy Ezekiel foresaw Nebuchadnezzar's march from Babylon, which he would determine by divination. The Lord would overturn the government of Judah, till the coming of Him whose right it is. This seems to foretell the overturnings of the Jewish nation to the present day, and the troubles of states and kingdoms, which shall make way for establishing the Messiah's kingdom throughout the earth. The Lord secretly leads all to adopt his wise designs. And in the midst of the most tremendous warnings of wrath, we still hear of mercy, and some mention of Him through whom mercy is shown to sinful men.Appoint thee - Set before thee.

Choose thou a place, choose it - Rather, "mark a spot, mark it," as upon a map, at the head of the two roads, one leading to Jerusalem, the other to Ammon. These were the two roads by one or other of which an invading army must march from Babylon to Egypt.

20. Rabbath of the Ammonites—distinct from Rabbah in Judah (2Sa 12:26). Rabbath is put first, as it was from her that Jerusalem, that doomed city, had borrowed many of her idols.

to Judah in Jerusalem—instead of simply putting "Jerusalem," to imply the sword was to come not merely to Judah, but to its people within Jerusalem, defended though it was; its defenses on which the Jews relied so much would not keep the foe out.

This royal city of the Ammonites, it seems, the king of Babylon had a quarrel with, as well as with Jerusalem, and he was resolved, when he came out of Babylon, to set upon one of them. There were two or three cities of this name Rabba, or Rabbath; one in the tribe of Judah, one in Issachar, one in Moab; but this in the text is distinguished by Rabbath of the Ammonites.

The Ammonites were the children of Lot’s daughter by incestuous mixture.

To Judah i.e. the Jews, the land for the people of the land. In Jerusalem; particularly against Jerusalem, whose fortifications do now as little discourage as they shall ere long hinder Nebuchadnezzar from taking the city and destroying it Appoint a way,.... Mark out a way, describe a road, draw one out upon the ground, or point out one upon a table, or tile:

that the sword may come; in which the sword will come; or those that kill with the sword, as the Targum, even the Chaldean army under Nebuchadnezzar:

to Rabbath of the Ammonites; which was the metropolis of the Ammonites, and is now called Philadelphia, as Jerom writes; it is so called, to distinguish it from others of the same name; see 2 Samuel 12:26,

and to Judah in Jerusalem, the defenced city; which was so both by nature and art; it had mountains round about it, and had been fortified by several kings from the time of David, as Solomon, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Judah is said to be in it; though it would seem more properly that Jerusalem was in Judah, because that people from all parts of Judah, upon hearing of the king of Babylon's intention and near approach to invade their land, fled to Jerusalem, being a fortified place, for security. Now the prophet is bid to describe a way hither; not that one and the same way led to Rabbath and Jerusalem; but he was to describe a way from the place where Nebuchadnezzar stopped, which led to Rabbath, and another which led to Jerusalem.

Mark a way, that the sword may come to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and {p} to Judah in Jerusalem the fortified.

(p) That is, to the tribe of Judah that kept themselves in Jerusalem.

20. On Rabbah cf. Ezekiel 25:5.

in Jerusalem] unto Jerus. For “the defenced” LXX. reads: “in the midst of it,” i.e. of Judah.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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