Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezekiel 21:8-13 corresponding to 2-5, and Ezekiel 21:14-17 to Ezekiel 21:6-7. In several of its clauses modern criticism has been able to improve the translation, and make it clearer.Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8–17. The destroying sword of the Lord. The violent agitation of the prophet at the thought of the coming destruction finds expression in a wild and irregular ode upon the sword of the Lord. The general sense of the poem is discernible, but as in ch. 7 the text is in several places very obscure (e.g. Ezekiel 21:10; Ezekiel 21:13). There appear to be four divisions:—
Ezekiel 21:9-11. A sword is furbished that it may glitter terribly in the eyes of men (cf. Ezekiel 32:10); it is sharpened for the slaughter—furbished and sharpened to give it into the hand of the slayer.
Ezekiel 21:12-13. The prophet must cry and howl and smite in wild excitement on his thigh, for the princes of Israel and the people are delivered over to the sword. His agitation is but the reflexion of the carnage which shall be witnessed.
Ezekiel 21:14-15. The sword is doubled and tripled; universal shall be the carnage.
Ezekiel 21:16-17. Wild apostrophe to the sword to execute its task in all directions. Sympathy of Jehovah with the terrible work.Verses 8, 9. - A sword, a sword, etc. The new section (vers. 9-17) rises out of the thought of the unsheathed sword in ver. 3. More than most other portions of Ezekiel's writings, it assumes a distinctly lyrical character, and might be headed, "The Lay of the Sword of Jehovah." The opening words are probably an echo of Deuteronomy 32:41. The dazzling brightness of the sword is added to its sharpness as a fresh element of terror.
Ezekiel 20:39. Ye then, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Go ye, serve every one his idols! but afterwards - truly ye will hearken to me, and no longer desecrate my holy name with your sacrificial gifts and your idols, Ezekiel 20:40. But upon my holy mountain, upon the high mountain of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, there will all the house of Israel serve me, the whole of it in the land; there will I accept them gladly; there will I ask for your heave-offerings and the first-fruits of your gifts in all that ye make holy. Ezekiel 20:41. As a pleasant odour will I accept you gladly, when I bring you out from the nations, and gather you out of the lands, in which you have been scattered, and sanctify myself in you before the eyes of the heathen nations. Ezekiel 20:42. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the land which I lifted up my hand to give to your fathers; Ezekiel 20:43. And there ye will think of your ways and your deeds, with which ye have defiled yourselves, and will loathe yourselves (lit., experience loathing before yourselves) on account of all your evil deeds. which ye have performed; Ezekiel 20:44. And ye will know that I am Jehovah, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways and according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, is the saying of Jehovah. - After the Lord has declared to the people that He will prevent its being absorbed into the heathen world, and will exterminate the ungodly by severe judgments, the address passes on, with the direction henceforth to serve idols only, to a prediction of the eventual conversion, and the restoration to Canaan of the purified nation. The direction, "Go ye, serve every one his idols," contains, after what precedes it, a powerful appeal to repent. God thereby gives up the impenitent to do whatever they will, having first of all told them that not one of them will come into the land of Canaan. Their opposition will not frustrate His plan of salvation. The words which follow from ואחר onwards have been interpreted in different ways. It is opposed to the usage of the language to connect ואחר with עבדוּ, serve ye hereafter also (De Wette, etc.), for ו has not the force of the Latin et equals etiam, and still less does it signify "afterwards just as before." Nor is it allowable to connect ואחר closely with what follows, in the sense of "and hereafter also, if ye will hearken to me, profane ye my name no more" (Rosenmller, Maurer). For if תּחלּלוּ were used as an imperative, either it would have to stand at the beginning of the sentence, or it would be preceded by אל instead of לא. Moreover, the antithesis between not being willing to hear and not profaning the name of God, is imported arbitrarily into the text. The name of the Lord is profaned not only by sacrifices offered in external form to Jehovah and in the heart to idols, but also by disobedience to the word and commandments of God. It is much better to take ואחר by itself, and to render the following particle, אם, as the ordinary sign of an oath: "but afterwards (i.e., in the future)...verily, ye will hearken to me;" that is to say, ye will have been converted from your idolatry through the severe judgments that have fallen upon you. The ground for this thought is introduced in Ezekiel 20:40 by a reference to the fact that all Israel will then serve the Lord upon His holy mountain. כּי is not "used emphatically before a direct address" (Hitzig), but has a causal signification. For 'הר מרום ישׂ, see the comm. on Ezekiel 17:23. In the expression "all Israel," which is rendered more emphatic by the addition of כּלּה, there is an allusion to the eventual termination of the severance of the people of God (compare Ezekiel 37:22). Then will the Lord accept with delight both them and their sacrificial gifts. תּרוּמות, heave-offerings (see the comm. on Exodus 25:2 and Leviticus 2:9), used here in the broader sense of all the sacrificial gifts, along with which the gifts of first-fruits are specially named. משׂאות, as applied to holy offerings in the sense of ἀναθήματα, belongs to the later usage of the language. בּכל־קדשׁיכם, consisting of all your consecrated gifts. קדשׁים, as in Leviticus 22:15. This promise includes implicite the bringing back of Israel from its banishment. This is expressly mentioned in Ezekiel 20:41; but even there it is only introduced as self-evident in the subordinate clause, whereas the cheerful acceptance of Israel on the part of God constitutes the leading thought.
בּריח ניחח, as an odour of delight (ב, the so-called Beth essentiae), will God accept His people. ריח ניחח, odour of satisfaction, is the technical expression for the cheerful (well-pleased) acceptance of the sacrifice, or rather of the feelings of the worshipper presenting the sacrifice, which ascend to God in the sacrificial odour (see the comm. on Genesis 8:21). The thought therefore is the following: When God shall eventually gather His people out of their dispersion, He will accept them as a sacrifice well-pleasing to Him, and direct all His good pleasure towards them. ונקדּשׁתּי בכם does not mean, I shall be sanctified through you, and is not to be explained in the same sense as Leviticus 22:32 (Rosenmller), for ב is not equivalent to בּתוך; but it signifies "I will sanctify myself on you," as in Numbers 20:13; Leviticus 10:3, and other passages, where נקדּשׁ is construed with ב pers. (cf. Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 36:23; Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 39:27), in the sense of proving oneself holy, mostly by judgment, but here through having made Israel into a holy nation by the refining judgment, and one to which He can therefore grant the promised inheritance. - Ezekiel 20:42. Then will Israel also recognise its God in His grace, and be ashamed of its former sins. For Ezekiel 20:43, compare Ezekiel 6:9 and Ezekiel 16:61. - With regard to the fulfilment, as Kliefoth has correctly observed, "in the prediction contained in Ezekiel 20:32-38, the whole of the searching judgments, by which God would lead Israel to conversion, are summed up in one, which includes not only the Babylonian captivity, the nearest and the first, but the still more remote judgment, namely, the present dispersion; for it is only in the present dispersion of Israel that God has really taken it into the wilderness of the nations, just as it was only in the rejection of Christ that its rebellious attitude was fully manifested. And as the prophecy of the state of punishment combines in this way both the nearer and more remote; so are both the nearer and more distant combined in what Ezekiel 20:40 to 44 affirm with regard to the ultimate fate of Israel." The gathering of Israel from among the heathen will be fulfilled in its conversion to Christ, and hitherto it has only taken place in very small beginnings. The principal fulfilment is still to come, when Israel, as a nation, shall be converted to Christ. With regard to the bringing back of the people into "the land of Israel," see the comm. on Ezekiel 37, where this promise is more fully expanded.
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