Ezekiel 21:3
And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.
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(3, 4) The righteous and the wicked.—This explains the green tree and the dry of Ezekiel 20:47; and “all flesh” of Ezekiel 21:4-5, corresponds to “all faces” of the same. These expressions are meant to show the universality of the approaching desolation. The actual separation in God’s sight between the righteous and the wicked has already been plainly set forth in 9:4-6. But still in this, as in all national judgments, the innocent must of necessity be involved in the same temporal sufferings with the guilty. The general terms of this prophecy are to be limited by what is elsewhere said of the mercy which shall be shown to a remnant.

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.

3. righteous … wicked—not contradictory of Eze 18:4, 9 and Ge 18:23. Ezekiel here views the mere outward aspect of the indiscriminate universality of the national calamity. But really the same captivity to the "righteous" would prove a blessing as a wholesome discipline, which to the "wicked" would be an unmitigated punishment. The godly were sealed with a mark (Eze 9:4), not for outward exemption from the common calamity, but as marked for the secret interpositions of Providence, overruling even evil to their good. The godly were by comparison so few, that not their salvation but the universality of the judgment is brought into view here. Publish it to all the people of the land, if any will consider it; it is not the severe and morose conjecture of a disturbed and injured man, let them know God the Lord speaks it. Weigh this, I say it is of great importance. You think yourselves more righteous than those that come against you, that they are heathen, you my peculiar people, that my temple is with you, and that I will be on your side; but be not deceived, for

I am, and I will be, against you.

Will draw forth as an enemy resolved to slay,

my sword, the Chaldean army under captains that are skilful to destroy, out of his sheath; I will bring them out of their land, where they are now quiet and at rest. This army shall not vanish, but effect what it is raised for, it shall make a general havoc.

Will cut off, or take away out of the midst of thee, partly by the sword, and partly by captivity, or by famine.

The righteous; some say here is meant such as seemed to be, but were not, just; but it is no unusual thing that in outward troubles and public calamities those who are indeed righteous should be involved with others, nor does this contradict any places which seem to promise a security to them; they may be chastised, but shall not be condemned.

And the wicked; profane, ungodly, and vicious ones, who shall be cut off with double destruction.

And say to the land of Israel,.... The inhabitants of it, signified by the "forest of the south field", Ezekiel 20:47,

thus saith the Lord, behold, I am against thee; and sad it is to have the Lord against a people, a nation, a city, or a family, or a particular person; for there is no contending with him, or standing before him; there is always a reason for it, it is for sin when God is against a people, even his own professing people:

and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath; bring the Chaldean army out of Babylon; which interprets what is meant by the "fire" he would kindle in the land of Israel, Ezekiel 20:47, namely, the sword of the enemy, which he would bring upon it; or war, with all its desolating train of judgments:

and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked; meant by the green and dry tree, Ezekiel 20:47, who, though they shall not perish everlastingly together, yet may fall together in temporal calamities; the one may be chastised, and the other condemned; or the one be carried captive for their good, as Ezekiel and Daniel, &c. and others be cut off by sword and famine; and such as were captives, never the better for their captivity. The Targum is,

"I will remove out of thee thy righteous ones, that I may destroy thy wicked ones.''

Some think that only such who were righteous in appearance, or in their own sight, are here meant. R. Saadiah Gaon, as Kimchi quotes him, interprets them of such as were righteous to Baal, and served him continually, in distinction from such as were wicked to him, and did not serve him continually; and both were wicked before the Lord, and therefore justly cut off.

And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of its sheath, and will cut off from thee the {b} righteous and the wicked.

(b) That is such which seem to have an outward show of righteousness by observation of the ceremonies of the law.

Ezekiel 21:3The 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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