Ezekiel 25:4
Behold, therefore I will deliver you to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in you, and make their dwellings in you: they shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) To the men of the east.—Literally, sons of the east, i.e., the various nomadic tribes inhabiting the Eastern deserts, who occupy the country to this day. They are described as its possessors, not its conquerors; the conquest was effected by Nebuchadnezzar. In Ezekiel 21:20-23 he was represented as hesitating whether to attack first Judah or Ammon, and determined to the former by the Divine direction; in this attack some of the Ammonites joined his army, but he nevertheless afterwards carried out his purpose and desolated their country. (See Ezekiel 21:28.)

Palaces.—The word properly means an enclosure for folding cattle. The same word is used in connection with tribes of the desert in Genesis 25:16; Numbers 31:10, and in both is translated castles, a singularly inappropriate sense. It afterwards came to mean a dwelling-place of any kind. The Ammonites and Moabites appear to have practically constituted one nation, the latter being, for the most part, the settled, and the former the nomadic portion. After the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar the Ammonites gradually dwindled away, until lost from history. The Ptolemies founded the city Philadelphia on the site of Rabbah, and there are still extensive ruins there belonging to the period of the Roman occupation; but the Ammonites had no part in either of these successive cities. The place is now utterly without inhabitants, and the most recent traveller says, “Lonely desolation in a rich country was the striking characteristic.”

Ezekiel 25:4-7. Behold, I will deliver thee to the men of the east — That is, to the Chaldeans, whose country lay east of the Ammonites. This people was accordingly conquered and subdued by the Chaldeans, about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem. And they shall drink thy milk — Milk was the principal sustenance of those people, whose riches consisted chiefly in their stocks of cattle. The Hebrew word חלב, however, here rendered milk, signifies also the fattest or choicest parts of any flesh or fruits. So it is used Genesis 45:18, Ye shall eat the fat of the land; and Psalm 81:16, where our translation reads, The finest of the wheat, in the Hebrew it is, The fat of the wheat. And this clause is rendered by the LXX., Και αυτοι πιονται τον πιοτητα σου, And they shall drink, or swallow down, thy fatness. And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels — Rabbah was the chief city of the Ammonites. What is said of it here, that it should be made a stable for camels, implies, that instead of being a city inhabited by men, it should be a place for cattle, and particularly for camels, to feed and lie down in, of which that and the neighbouring countries had great store. It is a proverbial expression for utter destruction, to say that grass grows where a town stood. Because thou hast clapped thy hands, &c. — Showed expressions of joy and satisfaction in the most insolent manner, with all thy despite against the land of Israel — With the utmost hatred and contempt of my people; I will stretch out my hand upon thee — Namely, my hand of wrath. And will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen — Or, for meat, as the word in the Hebrew text, לבג, properly means, though the marginal reading of the Masorites is, לבז, for a prey. The greedy, covetous soldiers shall make thy wealth their prey; the hungry enemies shall eat thee up. And I will cut thee off from the people — Thou shalt no more be reckoned among the nations, but shalt cease from being a people. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord — In these words the threatenings, both in Ezekiel 25:5 and in this verse, conclude. For thus, 1st, God would maintain his own honour, and make it appear that he was the God of Israel, though he suffered them for a time to be captives in Babylon. And, 2d, He would bring those that were strangers to him into an acquaintance with him, and it would be a blessed effect of their calamities. How much better is it to be poor and know God, than to be rich and ignorant of him!25:1-7. It is wicked to be glad at the calamities of any, especially of God's people; it is a sin for which he will surely reckon. God will make it appear that he is the God of Israel, though he suffers them for a time to be captives in Babylon. It is better to know Him, and to be poor, than to be rich and ignorant of him.Men of the east - The wild wandering Arabs who should come in afterward upon the ruined land. The name was a common term for the nomadic tribes of the desert. Compare Isaiah 13:20.

Palaces - encampments. The tents and folds of nomadic tribes. After subjugation by Nebuchadnezzar Ezekiel 21:28, the land was subjected to various masters. The Graeco-Egyptian kings founded a city on the site of Rabbah Ezekiel 25:5, called Philadelphia, from Ptolemy Philadelphus. In later times, Arabs from the east have completed the doom pronounced against Rabbah.

4. men of … east—literally, "children of the East," the nomad tribes of Arabia-Deserta, east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.

palaces—their nomadic encampments or folds, surrounded with mud walls, are so called in irony. Where thy "palaces" once stood, there shall their very different "palaces" stand. Fulfilled after the ravaging of their region by Nebuchadnezzar, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (compare Eze 21:22; Jer 49:1-28).

I, the God whom thou hast despised, whose people thou hast reproached, whose worship thou hast vilified, I will avenge myself, and deliver time up.

To the men of the East; the Medes and Persians, say some; the Babylonians, say others, but this suits not well with geography; Arabians, say others, associates of Nehuchadnezzar, who, it is likely, recompensed their labour and service with giving them this country when it was conquered, as it was five years after the desolation of Jerusalem.

For a possession; they shall settle on it, as a very convenient country for their sheep and camels, and possess it, as their inheritance.

Set their palaces in thee: the word palaces seems little to agree with Arabians, who dwelt in tents, but this manner of dwelling many of them would be ready to change, where they might to so great advantage, as in that country, which was fruitful, as this was; besides, the word signifieth, what is fenced, as Isaiah 2:15, and is paraphrased by camp, and Arabians had their munitions and fortified camps, and these they shall set here while they stay. And I add this also, that the next words explain these.

Make their dwellings in thee; they shall set up their tents, as the word properly; their tents and habitations they would fortify in some manner or other, that in their camp they might be safe, if they did not build cities in the country.

Eat thy fruit; the fruit of that land was once thine, of the trees thou plantedst.

Drink thy milk; which in so fruitful land and rich pastures they had in abundance from the multitude of their kine, and it was a drink that well suited with those hot regions. Behold, therefore, I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession,.... The Chaldeans and Syrians, which were on the east side, as Jarchi; or the Medes and Persians, as Kimchi, which lay more eastward; or it may be the Arabians, who are commonly called the men of the east; who were a part of Nebuchadnezzar's army, and whom he might reward with this country, when taken by him; for this prophecy, according to Josephus (q), was fulfilled five years after the destruction of Jerusalem:

and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee; or, "their camps and their tents" (r); and so the Syriac version renders it, their armies and their tents; who should subdue them, and take possession of their cities and fields, and enjoy what they found there:

they shall eat thy fruit, and drink thy milk; the fruit of their land, their vineyards and fields, and the milk of their flocks and herds, which was commonly drank in those countries; these are put for the whole of their substance. So the Targum,

"they shall eat the good of thy land, and spoil thy substance.''

(q) Antiqu. l. 16. c. 9. sect. 7. (r) "arces suas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus, Coeccius. "tentoria sua", V. L. "tabernacala sus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus, Cocceius, Starckius.

Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the {b} men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their {c} palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.

(b) That is, to the Babylonians.

(c) They will chase you away, and take your gorgeous houses to dwell in.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. men of the east] lit. children of the east, the nomad tribes of the Arabian desert, Jdg 6:3.

set their palaces] their encampments, Jdg 6:1-6.

drink thy milk] Ammon, lying toward the desert, was a pastoral country.Verses 4, 5. - The men of the east; Hebrew, children of the east. The name is applied in Genesis 29:1; 1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:3; Judges 6:3, 33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10, to the nomadic tribes, Midianites and others, which roamed to and fro in the wilderness east of Ammon and Moab, after the manner of the modern Bedouins, with their sheep and camels, and were looked upon as descendants of Ishmael. Palaces; better, with the Revised Version, encampments, or tent-villages. The word is found, in this sense, in Genesis 25:16; Psalm 69:25; Numbers 31:10. This was, probably, the immediate result of Nebuchadnezzar's march. Rabbah was left undefended, and became a stable for the camels of the Midianites and other tribes (Judges 6:5). The prediction has been slowly fulfilled. Under the Greece-Egyptian rule the city revived, was named after Ptolemy Philadel-phus, and was flourishing under the Roman Empire. Remains of temples, theatres, houses, are still found on its site, but its present desolate condition agrees with the picture drawn here by Ezekiel and in Jeremiah 49:2. The language of Jeremiah 49:6 implies captivity and a partial return from it. The Sign of Silent Sorrow Concerning the Destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel 24:14. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 24:16. Son of man, behold, I take from thee thine eyes' delight by a stroke, and thou shalt not mourn nor weep, and no tear shall come from thee. Ezekiel 24:17. Sigh in silence; lamentation for the dead thou shalt not make; bind thy head-attire upon thee, and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and do not cover thy beard, and eat not the bread of men. Ezekiel 24:18. And I spake to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died, and I did in the morning as I was commanded. Ezekiel 24:19. Then the people said to me, Wilt thou not show us what this signifies to us that thou doest so? Ezekiel 24:20. And I said to them, The word of Jehovah has come to me, saying, Ezekiel 24:21. Say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, and the desire of your soul; and your sons and your daughters, whom ye have left, will fall by the sword. Ezekiel 24:22. Then will ye do as I have done, ye will not cover the beard, nor eat the bread of men; Ezekiel 24:23. And ye will have your head-attired upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet; ye will not mourn nor weep, but will pine away in your iniquity, and sigh one towards another. Ezekiel 24:24. Thus will Ezekiel be a sign to you; as he hath done will ye do; when it cometh, ye will know that I the Lord am Jehovah. - From the statements in Ezekiel 24:18, to the effect that the prophet spoke to the people in the morning, and then in the evening his wife died, and then again in the (following) morning, according to the command of God, he manifested no grief, and in answer to the inquiry of the people explained to them the meaning of what he did, it is evident that the word of God contained in this section came to him on the same day as the preceding one, namely, on the day of the blockade of Jerusalem; for what he said to the people on the morning of this day (Ezekiel 24:18) is the prophecy contained in Ezekiel 24:3-14. Immediately after He had made this revelation to him, God also announced to him the approaching death of his wife, together with the significance which this event would have to the people generally. The delight of the eyes (Ezekiel 24:16) is his wife (Ezekiel 24:18) בּמגּפה by a stroke, i.e., by a sudden death inflicted by God (vid., Numbers 14:37; Numbers 17:13). On the occurrence of her death, he is neither to allow of any loud lamentings, nor to manifest any sign of grief, but simply to sigh in silence. מתים אבל does not stand for אבל מתים, but the words are both accusatives. The literal rendering would be: the dead shalt thou not make an object of mourning, i.e., thou shalt not have any mourning for the dead, as Storr (observv. p. 19) has correctly explained the words. On occasions of mourning it was customary to uncover the head and strew ashes upon it (Isaiah 61:3), to go barefoot (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2), and to cover the beard, that is to say, the lower part of the face as far as the nose (Micah 3:7). Ezekiel is not to do any of these things, but to arrange his head-attire (פּאר, the head-attire generally, or turban, vid., Ezekiel 24:23 and Isaiah 61:3, and not specially that of the priests, which is called פּארי in Exodus 39:28), and to put on his shoes, and also to eat no mourning bread. לחם אנשׁים does not mean panis miseroroum, cibus lugentium, in which case אנשׁים would be equivalent to אנשׁים, but bread of men, i.e., of the people, that is to say, according to the context, bread which the people were accustomed to send to the house of mourning in cases of death, to manifest their sympathy and to console and refresh the mourners - a custom which gave rise in the course of time to that of formal funeral meals. These are not mentioned in the Old Testament; but the sending of bread or food to the house of mourning is clearly referred to in Deuteronomy 26:14; Hosea 9:4, and Jeremiah 16:7 (see also 2 Samuel 3:35). - When Ezekiel thus abstained from all lamentation and outward sign of mourning on the death of his dearest one, the people conjectured that such striking conduct must have some significance, and asked him what it was that he intended to show thereby. He then announced to them the word of God (Ezekiel 24:20-24). As his dearest one, his wife, had been taken from him, so should it dearest object, the holy temple, be taken from the nation by destruction, and their children by the sword. When this occurred, then would they act as he was doing now; they would not mourn and weep, but simply in their gloomy sorrow sigh in silence on account of their sins, and groan one toward another.

The profanation (חלּל) of the sanctuary is effected through its destruction (cf. Ezekiel 7:24). To show the magnitude of the loss, the worth of the temple in the eyes of the nation is dwelt upon in the following clauses. גּאון עזּכם is taken from Leviticus 26:19. The temple is called the pride of your strength, because Israel based its might and strength upon it as the scene of the gracious presence of God, living in the hope that the Lord would not give up His sanctuary to the heathen to be destroyed, but would defend the temple, and therewith Jerusalem and its inhabitants also (cf. Jeremiah 7:4). מהמל נפשׁכם , the desire or longing of the soul (from המל, in Arabic, desiderio ferri ad aliquam rem). The sons and daughters of the people are the relatives and countrymen whom the exiles had been obliged to leave behind in Canaan. - The explanation of this lamentation and mourning on account of the destruction of the sanctuary and death of their relations, is to be found in the antithesis: 'וּנמקּתם בעו, ye will pine or languish away in your iniquities (compare Ezekiel 4:17 and Leviticus 26:39). Consequently we have not to imagine either "stolid indifference" (Eichhorn and Hitzig), or "stolid impenitence" (Ewald), but overwhelming grief, for which there were no tears, no lamentation, but only deep inward sighing on account of the sins which had occasioned so terrible a calamity. נהם, lit., to utter a deep growl, like the bears (Isaiah 59:11); here to sigh or utter a deep groan. "One toward another," i.e., manifesting the grief to one another by deep sighs; not "full of murmuring and seeking the sin which occasioned the calamity in others rather than in themselves," as Hitzig supposes. The latter exposition is entirely at variance with the context. This grief, which consumes the bodily strength, leads to a clear perception of the sin, and also to true repentance, and through penitence and atonement to regeneration and newness of life. And thus will they attain to a knowledge of the Lord through the catastrophe which bursts upon them (cf. Leviticus 26:40.). For מופת, a sign, see the comm. on Exodus 4:21.

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