Ezekiel 21:31
And I will pour out my indignation on you, I will blow against you in the fire of my wrath, and deliver you into the hand of brutish men, and skillful to destroy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Mine indignation.—The figure of the sword, which has been kept up through the entire chapter, is here dropped; but the language immediately falls into another figure, already employed in Ezekiel 20:47, “I will blow against thee in” (rather, with) “the fire of my wrath.” (Comp. the same expression in Ezekiel 22:21.) The image is that of the consuming fire of God’s wrath blown by His power against Ammon, as fire is turned by the wind upon a forest to its destruction. (Comp. Isaiah 54:16.) The word “brutish” of the text in the last clause is better than the “burning” of the margin.

21:28-32 The diviners of the Ammonites made false prophecies of victory. They would never recover their power, but in time would be wholly forgotten. Let us be thankful to be employed as instruments of mercy; let us use our understandings in doing good; and let us stand aloof from men who are only skilful to destroy.Shall I cause it to return ... - Or, Back to its sheath! The work of the sword is over. 31. blow against thee in, &c.—rather, "blow upon thee with the fire," &c. Image from smelting metals (Eze 22:20, 21).

brutish—ferocious.

skilful to destroy—literally, "artificers of destruction"; alluding to Isa 54:16.

Pour out; as a flood sweeps all away, so God will let out his indignation to overwhelm the Ammonites.

I will blow against thee; as those who melt down metals blow upon the metal in the fire, that the fire might burn the fiercer, and consume the dross.

Deliver thee; or, as there is no hope to one delivered up to barbarous, merciless ruffians, whose trade is to destroy, so will God deal with these Ammonites. And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee,.... Like a mighty flood, which should sweep them away for their sins and transgressions; and particularly for their reproaches of God and his people, which caused his indignation to rise, and him to pour it out upon them in such a manner:

I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath; as men put metal into a furnace, and then blow upon it, in order to melt it, and consume the dross; and which fire, so blown, is exceeding fierce and very consuming; who can stand against such a blast as that of the wrath of God, not only kindled, but blown with his breath like a stream of brimstone?

and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men; or "burners" (x); that burn with fierce anger, barbarous and inhuman, that would show no mercy nor compassion, such were the Chaldeans, Habakkuk 1:6,

and skilful to destroy; though like brutes or beasts of prey for their cruelty; yet, like men, rational, cunning, and artful to devise ways and means to destroy men; well versed in the art of war; and thoroughly learned in all the lessons and methods of violence and destruction.

(x) "ardentium", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus; "urentium", so some in Vatablus.

And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skilful to destroy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. brutish men] i.e. wild and savage men. So in Ezekiel 25:4 it is the “men of the east,” the children of the desert, who are to execute the judgment on Ammon.

skilful to destroy] lit. the smiths or forgers of destruction. Ewald’s “smiths of hell,” i.e. demons who forge in hell, is fanciful.Verse 31. - I will blow against, etc. The imagery of fire takes the place of that of the sword. The brutish men (same word as in Psalm 49:10; Psalm 92:6) are the Chaldean conquerors. The fact that the adjective may also mean "those that burn" may, in part, have determined Ezekiel's choice of it. The sword of the king of Babylon will smite Jerusalem, and then the Ammonites also. - Ezekiel 21:18. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:19. And thou, son of man, make to thyself two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come by them; out of one land shall they both come forth, and draw a hand, at the cross road of the city do thou draw it. Ezekiel 21:20. Make a way that the sword may come to Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem. Ezekiel 21:21. For the king of Babylon is stopping at the cross road, at the parting of the two ways, to practise divination. He is shaking the arrows, inquiring of the teraphim, looking at the liver. Ezekiel 21:22. The divination falls to his right: Jerusalem, to set battering-rams, to open the mouth with a death-cry, to lift up the voice with a war-cry, to set battering-rams at the gates, to heap up a rampart, to build siege towers. - After the picture of the terrible devastation which the sword of the Lord will produce, the last word of God in this prophecy answers the questions, in whose hand Jehovah will place His sword, and whom it will smite. The slayer into whose hand the sharpened sword is given (Ezekiel 21:11) is the king of Babylon, and it will smite not only Judah, but the Ammonites also. Jerusalem and Judah will be the first to fall, and then the arch-enemy of the covenant nation, namely Ammon, will succumb to the strokes of the sword of Jehovah, in order that the embittered enemies of the Lord and His people may learn that the fall of Jerusalem is not, as they fancy, a proof of the impotence, but rather of the omnipotence, of its God. In this way does our prophecy expand into a prediction of the judgment which will fall upon the whole of the world in hostility to God. For it is only as the arch-enemies of the kingdom of God that the Ammonites come into consideration here. The parallel between Israel and the sons of Ammon is carried out in such a way as to give constant prominence to the distinction between them. Jerusalem will fall, the ancient theocracy will be destroyed till he shall come who will restore the right (Ezekiel 21:26 and Ezekiel 21:27). Ammon, on the other hand, will perish, and not a trace be left (Ezekiel 21:31, Ezekiel 21:32).

This prediction is exhibited to the eye by means of a sign. The prophet is to make two ways, i.e., to prepare a sketch representing a road leading from a country, viz., Babylon, and dividing at a certain spot into two roads, one of which leads to Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the kingdom of the Ammonites, the other to Judah, into Jerusalem. He is to draw the ways for the coming (לבוא) of the sword of the king of Babylon. At the fork of the road he is to engrave a hand, יד, i.e., an index. בּרא signifies in the Piel to cut away (Joshua 17:15, Joshua 17:18), to dig or hew (Ezekiel 23:47), here to engrave written characters in hard material. The selection of this word shows that Ezekiel was to sketch the ways upon some hard material, probably a brick or tile (cf. Ezekiel 4:1). יד does not mean locus spatium, but a hand, i.e., an index. ראשׁ , the beginning of the road, i.e., the fork of the road (Ezekiel 16:25), is explained in Ezekiel 21:21, where it is called אם, mother of the road, inasmuch as the roads start from the point of separation, and ראשׁ שׁני הדּרכים, beginning of the two roads. דּרך עיר, the road to a city. For Rabbath-Ammon, which is preserved in the ruins of Ammn, on the Upper Jabbok (Nahr Ammn), see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:11. The road to Judah is still more precisely defined by בּירוּשׁלים בּצוּרה, into fortified Jerusalem, because the conquest of Jerusalem was the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar's expedition. The omission of the article before בּצוּרה may be explained from the nature of the participle, in which, even in prose, the article may be left out after a definite noun (cf. Ewald, 335a). The drawing is explained in Ezekiel 21:21 and Ezekiel 21:22. The king of Babylon is halting (עמד, to stand still, stop) to consult his oracles, and inquire which of the two roads he is to take. קסם, to take in hand, or practise divination. In order that he may proceed safely, he avails himself of all the means of divination at his command. He shakes the arrows (more strictly, the quiver with the arrows). On the practice itself Jerome writes as follows: "He consults the oracle according to the custom of his nation, putting his arrows into a quiver, and mixing them together, with the names of individuals inscribed or stamped upon them, to see whose arrow will come out, and which state shall be first attacked."

(Note: The arrow-lot (Belomantie) of the ancient Greeks (Homer, Il. iii. 324, vii. 182, 183) was similar to this; also that of the ancient Arabs (vid., Pococke, Specim. hist. Arab. pp. 327ff., and the passages from Nuweiri quoted by Reiske, Samml. einiger Arab. Sprichwrter von den Stecken oder Stben, p. 21). Another kind, in which the lot was obtained by shooting off the arrows, was common according to the Fihrist el Ulum of En-Nedm among the Hananian Ssabians (see Chwolsohn, Ssabier, ii. pp. 26 and 119, 200).)

He consults the Teraphim, or Penates, worshipped as oracular deities and gods of good fortune (see the comm. on Genesis 31:19 and my Biblical Archaeology, 90). Nothing is known concerning the way in which these deities were consulted and gave their oracles. He examines the liver. The practice of ἡπατοσκοπία, extispicium, in which signs of good or bad luck, of the success or failure of any enterprise, were obtained from the peculiar condition of the liver of the sacrificial animals, was a species of divination to which great importance was attached by both the Babylonians (vid., Diod. Sic. ii. 29) and the Romans (Cicero, de divin. vi. 13), and of which traces were found, according to Barhebr. Chron. p. 125, as late as the eighth century of the Christian era among the Ssabians of Haran.

The divination resulted in a decision for Jerusalem. בּימינו היה is not to be translated "in his right hand was," but "into his right hand there came." היה: ἐγένετο (lxx), נפיל (Chald.), קסם does not mean lot (Ges.), but soothsaying, divination. ירוּשׁלים is connected with this in the form of a noun in apposition: the divination which indicated Jerusalem. The right hand is the more important of the two. The meaning of the words cannot be more precisely defined, because we are not acquainted with the king of divination referred to; even if we were to take the words as simply relating to the arrow in this sense, that an arrow with the inscription "Jerusalem" came into his right hand, and thus furnished the decision, which was afterwards confirmed by consulting the Teraphim and examining the liver. But the circumstance itself, that is to say, the fact that the divination coincided with the purpose of God, must not be taken, as Hvernick supposes, as suggesting a point of contact between Hebraism and the soothsaying of heathenism, which was peculiar to Ezekiel or to the time of the captivity. All that is proved by this fact is, that even heathenism is subject to the rule and guidance of Almighty God, and is made subservient to the accomplishment of the plans of both His kingdom and His salvation. In the words, to set bettering rams, etc., the substance of the oracle obtained by Nebuchadnezzar is more minutely given. It is a double one, showing what he is to do: viz., (1) to set bettering rams, i.e., to proceed to the siege of Jerusalem, as still further described in the last portion of the verse (Ezekiel 4:2); and (2) to raise the war-cry for storming the city, that is to say, to take it by storm. The two clauses 'לפתּח וגו and 'להרים וגו are synonymous; they are not "pure tautology," however, as Hitzig affirms, but are chosen for the purpose of giving greater emphasis to the thought. The expression בּרצח creates some difficulty, inasmuch as the phrase "ut aperiat os in caede" (Vulg.), to open the mouth in murder or ruin, i.e., to put to death or lay in ruins, is a very striking one, and could hardly be justified as an "energetic expression for the battle-cry" (Hvernick). ב does not mean "to," and cannot indicate the intention, all the less because בּרצח is parallel to בּתרוּעה, where תרועה is that in which the raising of the voice expresses itself. There is nothing left then but to take רצח in the sense of field-or war-cry, and to derive this meaning either from רצח or, per metathesin, from צרח.

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