Ezekiel 23:9
Why I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, on whom she doted.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:1-49 A history of the apostacy of God's people from him, and the aggravation thereof. - In this parable, Samaria and Israel bear the name Aholah, her own tabernacle; because the places of worship those kingdoms had, were of their own devising. Jerusalem and Judah bear the name of Aholibah, my tabernacle is in her, because their temple was the place which God himself had chosen, to put his name there. The language and figures are according to those times. Will not such humbling representations of nature keep open perpetual repentance and sorrow in the soul, hiding pride from our eyes, and taking us from self-righteousness? Will it not also prompt the soul to look to God continually for grace, that by his Holy Spirit we may mortify the deeds of the body, and live in holy conversation and godliness?For the cause which at last brought destruction on Israel, see marginal reference. 9. God, in righteous retribution, turned their objects of trust into the instruments of their punishment: Pul, Tiglath-pileser, Esar-haddon, and Shalmaneser (2Ki 15:19, 29; 17:3, 6, 24; Ezr 4:2, 10). "It was their sin to have sought after such lovers, and it was to be their punishment that these lovers should become their destroyers" [Fairbairn]. Wherefore, for this boundless idolatry and lewdness

I have delivered her; long ago I have delivered the ten tribes: first, Pul put them under tribute, 2 Kings 15:19,20, about two hundred years before our prophet’s time; then Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings 15:29; and finally into Shalmaneser’s hand, who destroyed the kingdom, 2 Kings 17:6.

Into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted; punished them for their sins by those who were fellow sinners with her. Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers,.... To destruction; their persons, families, riches, and kingdom itself:

into the hand of the Assyrians, on whom she doted; first into the hands of Pul, then Tiglathpileser, then Shalmaneser, all kings of Assyria, by whom they were spoiled or carried captive; by the two first in part, by the last wholly; see 2 Kings 15:19.

Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. I have delivered] I delivered. The Assyrians overthrew Samaria in 722 b.c. Menahem was supported on the throne by Assyria (2 Kings 15:19); and Hoshea, the last king, was dethroned on account of his intrigues with Egypt (2 Kings 17:4).The corrupt state of all classes in the kingdom is the immediate cause of its destruction. - Ezekiel 22:23. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 22:24. Son of man, say to it, Thou art a land which is not shined upon, nor rained upon in the day of anger. Ezekiel 22:25. Conspiracy of its prophets is within it; like a roaring lion, which rends in pieces the prey, they devour souls, take possessions and money; they multiply its widows within it. Ezekiel 22:26. Its priests violate my law and profane my holy things; they make no distinction between holy and unholy, and do not teach the difference between clean and unclean, and they hide their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Ezekiel 22:27. Its princes in the midst of it are like wolves, which rend prey in pieces, that they may shed blood, destroy souls, to acquire gain. Ezekiel 22:28. And its prophets plaster it with cement, seeing what is worthless, and diving lies for them, saying, "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah," when Jehovah hath not spoken. Ezekiel 22:29. The common people offer violence and commit theft; they crush the wretched and the poor, and oppress the foreigner against right. Ezekiel 22:30. I seek among them for a man who might build a wall and step into the breach before me on behalf of the land, that I might not destroy it, but I find none. Ezekiel 22:31. Therefore I pour out my anger upon them; I destroy them in the fire of my wrath, I give their way upon their head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show the necessity for the predicted judgment still more clearly, in the third word of God contained in this chapter a description is given of the spread of deep corruption among all classes of the people, and the impossibility of saving the kingdom is plainly shown. The words אמר־להּ, "say unto her," are taken by most of the commentators as referring to Jerusalem, the abominations of which the prophet is commanded to declare. But although the clause, "thou art a land," etc. (Ezekiel 22:24), could unquestionably be made to harmonize with this, yet the words of Ezekiel 22:30, "I sought for a man who might stand in the gap before Jehovah for the land," indicate most unquestionably that this word of God is directed against the land of Judah, and consequently להּ must be taken as referring to ארץ which follows, the pronoun is this case being placed before the noun to which it refers, as in Numbers 24:17. Any allusion to the city of Jerusalem would therefore be somewhat out of place, inasmuch as in the preceding word of God the object referred to was not the city, but the house of Israel, or the nation generally, from which a transition is here made to the land, or the kingdom of Judah. The meaning of Ezekiel 22:24 is a disputed question. לא מטהרה היא, which is rendered ἡ οὐ βρεχομένηin the Sept., is taken by most of the expositors to mean, "it is not cleansed," the form מטהרה being correctly rendered as a participle Pual of טהר. But this rendering does not furnish any appropriate sense, unless the following words לא גּשׁמהּ are taken as a threat: there shall not be rain, or it shall not be rained upon in the day of wrath. But this view is hardly reconcilable with the form of the word. גּשׁמהּ, according to the Masoretic pointing with Mappik in the ה, is evidently meant to be taken as a noun גּשׁם equals גּשׁם. In that case, if the words were intended to contain a threat, יהיה ought not to be omitted. But without a verb the words contain a statement in harmony with what precedes. We regard the Chetib גשׁמה as the perfect Pual גּשׁמהּ. And let it not be objected to this that the Pual of this verb is not met with elsewhere, for the form of the noun גּשׁם with the u sound does not occur anywhere else. As a perfect Pual, לא גּשׁמהּ is a simple continuation of the participial clause לא מטהרה היא, containing like this an affirmation, and cannot possibly be taken as a threat or prediction. But "not cleansed" and "not rained upon" do not agree together, as rain is not a means of purification according to the Hebrew idea. It is true that in the law the withdrawal or suspension of rain is threatened as a punishment from God, and the pouring out of rain is promised as a theocratical blessing. But even if the words are taken in a tropical sense, as denoting a withdrawal of the blessings of divine grace, they will not harmonize with the other clause, "not cleansed." We therefore take מטהרה in the sense of "shined upon by the light," or provided with brightness; a meaning which is sustained by Exodus 24:10, where tohar occurs in the sense of splendour, and by the kindred word tzohar, light. In this way we obtain the suitable thought, land which has neither sunlight nor rain in the day of wrath, i.e., does not enjoy a single trace of the divine blessing, but is given up to the curse of barrenness.

The reason for this threat is given in Ezekiel 22:25., where a picture is drawn of the moral corruption of all ranks; viz., of the prophets (Ezekiel 22:25), the priests (Ezekiel 22:26), the princes (Ezekiel 22:27), and the common people (Ezekiel 22:29). There is something very striking in the allusion to the prophets in Ezekiel 22:25, not so much because they are mentioned again in Ezekiel 22:28, - for this may be accounted for on the ground that in the latter passage they are simply introduced as false advisers of the princes, - as on account of the statement made concerning them in Ezekiel 22:25, namely, that, like lions tearing their prey, they devour souls, etc.; a description which is not given either in Ezekiel 13 or elsewhere. Hitzig therefore proposes to alter נביאיה into נשׂיאיה, after the rendering ἀφηγούμενοι given by the lxx. This alteration of the text, which confines itself to a single letter, is rendered very plausible by the fact that almost the same is affirmed of the persons mentioned in Ezekiel 22:25 as of the princes in Ezekiel 22:27, and that in the passage in Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:3-4), which is so similar to the one before us, that Ezekiel appears to have had it in his mind, the princes (שׂריה) and the judges (שׁפטיה) are called the prophets and the priests. The נשׂיאים here would correspond to the שׂרים of Zephaniah, and the שׂרים to the שׁפטים. According to Ezekiel 22:6, the נשׂיאים would indicate primarily the members of the royal family, possibly including the chief officers of the crown; and the שׂרים eht dna ;n (Ezekiel 22:27) would be the heads of tribes, of families, and of fathers' houses, in whose hands the national administration of justice principally lay (cf. Exodus 18:19.; Deuteronomy 1:13-18; and my Bibl. Archol. ii. 149). I therefore prefer this conjecture, or correction, to the Masoretic reading, although the latter is supported by ancient witnesses, such as the Chaldee with its rendering ספרהא, scribes, and the version of Jerome. For the statement which the verse contains is not applicable to prophets, and the best explanation given of the Masoretic text - namely, that by Michaelis, "they have made a compact with one another as to what kind of teaching they would or would not give; and in order that their authority may continue undisturbed, they persecute even to blood those who do not act with them, or obey them, but rather contradict" - does not do justice to the words, but weakens their sense. קשׁר is not a predicate to 'נב, "they are (i.e., form) a conspiracy;" but 'נב is a genitive. At the same time, there is no necessity to take קשׁר in the sense of "company," a rendering which cannot be sustained. The fact that in what follows, where the comparison to lions is introduced, the נביאים (נשׂיאים) are the subject, simply proves that in the first clause also these men actually form the prominent idea. There is no ground for supplying המּה to 'כּארי (they are like, etc.); but the simile is to be linked on to the following clause. נפשׁ אכלוּ is to be explained from the comparison to a lion, which devours the prey that it has captured in its blood, in which is the soul, or nephesh (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11.). The thought is this: in their insatiable greed for riches they sacrifice men and put them to death, and thereby multiply the number of victims (for the fact, see Ezekiel 19:5, Ezekiel 19:7). What is stated in Ezekiel 22:26 concerning the priests is simply a further expansion of Zephaniah 3:4, where the first two clauses occur word for word; for קדשׁ in Zephaniah is really equivalent to קדשׁי, holy things and deeds. The desecration of the holy things consisted in the fact that they made no distinction between sacred and profane, clean and unclean. For the fact, compare Leviticus 10:10-11. Their covering their eyes from the Sabbaths showed itself in their permitting the Sabbaths to be desecrated by the people, without offering any opposition (cf. Jeremiah 17:27).

The comparison of the rulers (sārim) to ravening wolves is taken from Zephaniah 3:3. Destroying souls to acquire gain is perfectly applicable to unjust judges, inasmuch as, according to Exodus 18:21, the judges were to hate בּצע. All that is affirmed in Ezekiel 22:28 of the conduct of the false prophets is repeated for the most part verbatim from Ezekiel 13:10,Ezekiel 13:9, and Ezekiel 13:7. By להם, which points back to the three classes of men already mentioned, and not merely to the sārim, the prophets are represented as helpers of those who support the ungodly in their wicked ways, by oracles which assured them of prosperity. עם (Ezekiel 22:29), as distinguished from the spiritual and secular rulers of the nation, signifies the common people. With reference to their sins and wickednesses, see Ezekiel 18:7, Ezekiel 18:12, Ezekiel 18:18; and for the command against oppressing the poor and foreigners, compare Exodus 22:20-21; Deuteronomy 24:17. - The corruption is so universal, that not a man is to be found who could enter into the gap as a righteous man, or avert the judgment of destruction by his intercession. מהם refers not merely to the prophets, who did not enter into the gap according to Ezekiel 13:5, but to all the classes previously mentioned. At the same time, it does not follow from this, that entering into the gap by means of intercession cannot be the thing intended, as Hitzig supposes. The expression לפני בּעד הארץ clearly refers to intercession. This is apparent from the simple fact that, as Hitzig himself observes, the intercession of Abraham for Sodom (Genesis 18:13.) was floating before the mind of Ezekiel, since the concluding words of the verse contain an obvious allusion to Genesis 18:28. Because the Lord does not find a single righteous man, who might intercede for the land, He pours out His anger upon it, to destroy the inhabitants thereof. With reference to the fact and the separate words employed, compare Ezekiel 21:36; Ezekiel 7:4; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21, and Ezekiel 16:43. It does not follow from the word ואשׁפּך, that Ezekiel "is speaking after the catastrophe" (Hitzig). For although ואשׁפּך expresses the consequence of Jehovah's seeking a righteous man and not finding one, it by no means follows from the occurrence of the preterite ולא מצאתי that ואשׁפּך is also a preterite. ואשׁפּך is simply connected with ואבקּשׁ as a consequence; and in both verbs the Vav consec. expresses the sequence of thought, and not of time. The seeking, therefore, with the result of not having found, cannot be understood in a chronological sense, i.e., as an event belonging to the past, for the simple reason that the preceding words do not record the chronological order of events. It merely depicts the existing moral condition of the people, and Ezekiel 22:30 sums up the result of the description in the thought that there was no one to be found who could enter in the gap before God. Consequently we cannot determine from the imperfect with Vav consec. either the time of the seeking and not finding, or that of the pouring out of the wrath.

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