And you, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus said the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; even say you, The sword, the sword is drawn: for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Concerning the Ammonites.—At the opening of this prophecy (Ezekiel 21:19-20) the king of Babylon was represented as hesitating whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah, and as being led to the determination of attacking the former. This would leave the inference that the Ammonites might escape altogether; and from the destruction of God’s peculiar people, along with the immunity of their ancient enemies, the heathen would be likely to draw conclusions inconsistent with the power and majesty of God. Hence this prophecy is added to show that His judgments shall certainly fall on them also, and in this case the ruin foretold is final and hopeless, without the promise given to Israel in Ezekiel 21:27. Another prophecy against Ammon is given in Ezekiel 25:1-7. As a matter of history, the Ammonites were conquered, and their country desolated, by Nebuchadnezzar a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and they gradually dwindled away until their name and place among the nations finally disappeared.Ezekiel 21:28-29. Thus saith the Lord concerning the Ammonites — Because the Ammonites were reprieved by Nebuchadnezzar’s decision to besiege Jerusalem, they were ready to promise themselves security, and to insult over the calamities brought on the Jews; a practice for which they are often reproved very severely by the prophets, and threatened with the like judgments. And concerning their reproach — Wherewith they reproached Israel in the day of Israel’s afflictions; say thou, The sword is drawn, is drawn — Warlike preparations are made against you, the war is declared, and your enemy hath drawn the sword. For the slaughter it is furbished — It is prepared to make dreadful destruction, to lay waste your country, and consume its inhabitants. While they see vanity unto thee — While the soothsayers and pretenders to divination foretel nothing but happy events to thee, O Ammon! the sword is preparing to destroy thee. To bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain — To add thy people to the number of those who are slain in Judea, (Ezekiel 21:14-15,) and to make thy condition like theirs; whose day is come — See Ezekiel 21:25. When their iniquity shall have an end — When their deserved punishment, coming upon them, shall put a stop to their wickedness. This prophecy concerning the Ammonites was fulfilled by the Babylonians, about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, because the Ammonites assisted Ishmael to wrest the government of Judea out of the hands of Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had fixed there as his deputy.
Their reproach - The scorn with which they reproach Judah (marginal references).
The sword ... the glittering - Or, "the sword is drawn for the slaughter; it is furbished that it may detour, in order that it may glitter." In the Septuagint (and Vulgate) the sword is addressed; e. g., Septuagint, "Arise that thou mayest shine."
their reproach—This constituted a leading feature in their guilt; they treated with proud contumely the covenant-people after the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Eze 25:3, 6; Zep 2:9, 10), and appropriated Israel's territory (Jer 49:1; Am 1:13-15).
furbished, to consume—Maurer punctuates thus, "Drawn for the slaughter, it is furbished to devour ('consume'), to glitter." English Version, "to consume because of the glittering," means, "to consume by reason of the lightning, flash-like rapidity with which it falls." Five years after the fall of Jerusalem, Ammon was destroyed for aiding Ishmael in usurping the government of Judea against the will of the king of Babylon (2Ki 25:25; Jer 41:15) [Grotius].Ezekiel 21:19,20 you had the mention of Rabbath, chief city of the Ammonites, in equal danger with Jerusalem; but while Jerusalem is threatened, Rabbath is no further minded, till now God directs the prophet to declare the ruin thereof.
The Ammonites; a stout, but proud, injurious, and insulting people.
Their reproach, wherewith they reproached Israel in the day of Israel’s afflictions, as Jeremiah 49:1, and Ezekiel 25:3,5,6, and blasphemed the God of Israel.
The sword; all warlike preparations are made against you.
The sword is drawn; the war is declared, and your enemy hath drawn the sword: see Ezekiel 21:9-11.
For the slaughter; to make waste, by avenging former quarrels and affronts. The Babylonish king comes out with bloody mind against you, O Ammonites! You countenanced Ishmael, who slew Gedaliah, viceroy by Nebuchadnezzar’s appointment, and you would have set Ishmael on the throne; this affront you shall satisfy for with your blood.
Because of the glittering: see Ezekiel 21:9,10.
thus saith the Lord God concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; Nebuchadnezzar, agreeably to the above prophecy, having taken his route to Jerusalem, as his divination directed him, and destroyed that, returned to Babylon, without making any attempt upon the Ammonites; which so flushed them, that they insulted the Jews, and laughed at their destruction, as if their God whom they served could not save them; attributing their safety and prosperity to the idols they worshipped; see Ezekiel 25:1,
even say thou, the sword, the sword is drawn for the slaughter; the same sword of the Chaldeans, which was drawn for the slaughter of the Jews, is now drawn for the slaughter of the Ammonites; and which is repeated for the certainty of it, and to inject terror; and this, as Josephus (u) says, was accomplished five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the twenty third year of Nebuchadnezzar:
it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering; being brightened and made sharp, it not only terrified with its glittering, but was more fit and prepared to cut and destroy; see Ezekiel 21:9.And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach; even say thou, The sword, the sword is drawn: for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. the sword … is drawn] Rather with disregard of the accents: a sword, a sword is drawn for slaughter; it is furbished to the uttermost in order that it may glitter.
to consume] Rather: to the uttermost, lit. as far as it can hold or receive. Corn. amends: to flash (hahel for hakil).
Appendix. 28–32. Threatening prophecy against Ammon
The passage is obscure, but several things seem evident. 1. In spite of the similarities between the language of Ezekiel 21:28 and that in Ezekiel 21:9-10, the sword here is that of Ammon. This is certain from the words Ezekiel 21:30 “return it to its sheath.” 2. It is against Israel, not against the Chaldeans, that the Ammonites furbish and draw their sword. This appears from the words “concerning Ammon, and concerning their reproach” Ezekiel 21:28. Deceived by false prophecies they cherish purposes of conquest outside their own borders, which shall be far from being realized; on the contrary they shall be assailed in their own home and there annihilated (Ezekiel 21:25, cf. Ezekiel 25:4). History does not enable us to follow the progress of events. It is possible that simultaneously with Judah all the neighbouring peoples threw off the yoke of Babylon, so that it might be doubtful which of them Nebuchadnezzar would attack first (Ezekiel 21:20-21), but that in the course of events Ammon, true to its instincts, assumed an attitude hostile to Judah (cf. 2 Kings 24:2). The date of the present passage is no doubt later than that of the rest of the chapter, and may owe some of its colour to events subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem. Cf. Ezekiel 25:1-7.Verse 28. - Thus saith the Lord God concerning the Ammonites. Ezekiel has not forgotten that scene at the parting of the ways. The Ammonites, when they saw the issue of the divination, and the march of the Chaldean army to the west, thought themselves safe. They took up their reproach against Jerusalem, and exulted in its fall. They are warned, as in another strophe of the "Lay of the Sword of Jehovah," that their confidence is vain (comp. Zephaniah 2:8 for a like exultation at an earlier period).
Ezekiel 21:8. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:9. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith Jehovah, A sword, a sword sharpened and also polished: Ezekiel 21:10. That it may effect a slaughter is it sharpened; that it may flash is it polished: or shall we rejoice (saying), the sceptre of my son despiseth all wood? Ezekiel 21:11. But it has been given to be polished, to take it in the hand; it is sharpened, the sword, and it is polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. Ezekiel 21:12. Cry and howl, son of man, for it goeth over my people, it goeth over all the princes of Israel: they have fallen by the sword along with my people: therefore smite upon the thigh. Ezekiel 21:13. For the trial is made, and what if the despising sceptre shall not come? is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 21:14. And thou, son of man, prophesy and smite the hands together, and the sword shall double itself into threefold, the sword of the pierced: it is the sword of a pierced one, of the great one, which encircles them. Ezekiel 21:15. That the heart may be dissolved, and stumbling-blocks may be multiplied, I have set the drawing of the sword against all their gates: Alas! it is made into flashing, drawn for slaying. Ezekiel 21:16. Gather thyself up to the right hand, turn to the left, whithersoever thine edge is intended. Ezekiel 21:17. And I also will smite my hands together, and quiet my wrath: I, Jehovah, have spoken it. - The description of the sword is thrown into a lyrical form (Ezekiel 21:8-13), - a kind of sword-song, commemorating the terrible devastation to be effected by the sword of the Lord. The repetition of חרב in Ezekiel 21:9 is emphatic. הוּחדּה is the perfect Hophal of חדד, to sharpen. מרוּטה is the passive participle of מרט, to polish; מרטּה (Ezekiel 21:10), the participle Pual, with מ dropped, and Dagesh euphon. היה, a rare form of the infinitive for היות. The polishing gives to the sword a flashing brilliancy, which renders the sharpness of its edge still more terrible. The very obscure words, 'או נשׂישׂ וגו, I agree with Schmieder and Kliefoth in regarding as a protest, interposed by the prophet in the name of the people against the divine threat of the sword of vengeance, on the ground of the promises which had been given to the tribe of Judah. או, or perhaps; introducing an opposite case, or an exception to what has been said. The words 'שׁבט are to be taken as an objection, so that לאמר is to be supplied in thought. The objection is taken from the promise given in Jacob's blessing to the tribe of Judah: "the sceptre will not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10). שׁבט בּני points unquestionably to this. בּני is taken from Ezekiel 21:9, where the patriarch addresses Judah, whom he compares to a young lion, as בּני. Consequently the sceptre of my son is the command which the patriarch holds out to view before the tribe of Judah. This sceptre despises all wood, i.e., every other ruler's staff, as bad wood. This view is not rendered a doubtful one by the fact that שׁבט is construed as a feminine here, whereas it is construed as a masculine in every other case; for this construction is unquestionable in Ezekiel 21:7 (12), and has many analogies in its favour. All the other explanations that have been proposed are hardly worth mentioning, to say nothing of refuting, as they amount to nothing more than arbitrary conjectures; whereas the assumption that the words are to be explained from Genesis 49:10 is naturally suggested by the unquestionable allusion to the prophecy in that passage, which we find in Ezekiel 21:27 of the present chapter. ויּתּן in Ezekiel 21:11 is to be taken adversatively, "but he gave it (the sword) to be sharpened." The subject to ויּתּן is not Jehovah, but is indefinite, "one" (man, Angl. they), although it is actually God who has prepared the sword for the slaughter of Israel. The train of thought is the following: Do not think we have no reason to fear the sharply-ground sword of Jehovah, because Judah has received the promise that the sceptre shall not depart from it; and this promise will certainly be fulfilled, and Judah be victorious over every hostile power. The promise will not help you in this instance. The sword is given to be ground, not that it may be put into the scabbard, but that it may be taken in the hand by a slayer, and smite all the people and all its princes. In the phrase היא הוּחדּה חרב, חרב is in apposition to the subject היא, and is introduced to give emphasis to the words. It is not till Ezekiel 21:19 that it is stated who the slayer is; but the hearers of the prophecy could be in no doubt. Consequently - this is the connection with Ezekiel 21:12 - there is no ground for rejoicing from a felling of security and pride, but rather an occasion for painful lamentation.
This is the meaning contained in the command to the prophet to cry and howl. For the sword will come upon the nation and its princes. It is the simplest rendering to take היא as referring to הרב, היה ב, to be at a person, to fasten to him, to come upon him, as in 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 24:17. מגוּרי, not from גּוּר, but the passive participle of מגר in the Pual, to overthrow, cast down (Psalm 89:45): "fallen by the sword have they (the princes) become, along with my people." The perfects are prophetic, representing that which will speedily take place as having already occurred. - Smiting upon the thigh is a sign of alarm and horror (Jeremiah 31:19). בּחן, perfect Pual, is used impersonally: the trial is made. The words allude to the victories gained already by Nebuchadnezzar, which have furnished tests of the sharpness of his sword. The question which follows וּמה contains an aposiopesis: and what? Even if the despising sceptre shall not come, what will be the case then? שׁבט מאסת, according to Ezekiel 21:10, is the sceptre of Judah, which despises all other sceptres as bad wood. יהיה, in this instance, is not "to be," in the sense of to remain, but to become, to happen, to come (come to pass), to enter. The meaning is, if the sceptre of Judah shall not display, or prove itself to possess, the strength expected of it. - With Ezekiel 21:14 the address takes a new start, for the purpose of depicting still further the operations of the sword. Smiting the hands together (smiting hand in hand) is a gesture expressive of violent emotion (cf. Ezekiel 6:11; Numbers 24:10). The sword is to double, i.e., multiply itself, into threefold (שׁלישׁתה, adverbial), namely, in its strength, or its edge. Of course this is not to be taken arithmetically, as it has been by Hitzig, but is a bold paradoxical statement concerning the terrible effect produced by the sword. It is not even to be understood as referring to three attacks made at different times by the Chaldeans upon Jerusalem, as many of the commentators suppose. The sword is called חבב חללים, sword of pierced ones, because it produces the pierced or slain. The following words are rendered by Hitzig and Kliefoth: the great sword of the slain. But apart from the tautology which this occasions, the rendering can hardly be defended on grammatical grounds. For, in the first place, we cannot see why the singular חלל should have been chosen, when the expression was repeated, instead of the plural חללים; and secondly, חגּדול cannot be an adjective agreeing with חרב, for חרב is a noun of the feminine gender, and is construed here as a feminine, as החדרת clearly shows. הגּדול is in apposition to חלל, "sword of a pierced man, the great one;" and the great man pierced is the king, as Ewald admits, in agreement with Hengstenberg and Hvernick. The words therefore affirm that the sword will not only slay the mass of the people, but pierce the king himself. (See also the comm. on Ezekiel 21:25.) - Ezekiel 21:15 is not dependent upon what precedes, but introduces a new thought, viz., for what purpose the sword is sharpened. God has placed the flashing sword before all the gates of the Israelites, in order that (למען, pleonastic for למען) the heart may dissolve, the inhabitants may lose all their courage for defence, and to multiply offendicula, i.e., occasions to fall by the sword. The ἁπ. λεγ. אבחת signifies the rapid motion or turning about of the sword (cf. Genesis 3:24); אבח, related to הפך, in the Mishna אפך. The ἁπ. λεγ. מעטּה, fem. of מעט, does not mean smooth, i.e., sharpened, synonymous with מרט, but, according to the Arabic m̀t, eduxit e vagina gladium, drawn (from the scabbard). In Ezekiel 21:16 the sword is addressed, and commanded to smite right and left. התאחדי, gather thyself up, i.e., turn with all thy might toward the right (Tanchum). To the verb השׂימוּ it is easy to supply פּניך, from the context, "direct thine edge toward the left." אנה, whither, without an interrogative, as in Joshua 2:5 and Nehemiah 2:16. מעדות, from יעד, intended, ordered; not, directed, turned. The feminine form may be accounted for from a construction ad sensum, the gender regulating itself according to the חרב addressed in פּניך. The command to the sword is strengthened by the explanation given by Jehovah in Ezekiel 21:17, that He also (like the prophet, Ezekiel 21:14) will smite His hands together and cool His wrath upon them (cf. Ezekiel 5:13).
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