Ezekiel 31:12
And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: on the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Gone down.—Because the cedar is represented as growing upon the height of Lebanon. Yet “the people of the earth” is literal.

31:10-18 The king of Egypt resembled the king of Assyria in his greatness: here we see he resembles him in his pride. And he shall resemble him in his fall. His own sin brings his ruin. None of our comforts are ever lost, but what have been a thousand times forfeited. When great men fall, many fall with them, as many have fallen before them. The fall of proud men is for warning to others, to keep them humble. See how low Pharaoh lies; and see what all his pomp and pride are come to. It is best to be a lowly tree of righteousness, yielding fruit to the glory of God, and to the good of men. The wicked man is often seen flourishing like the cedar, and spreading like the green bay tree, but he soon passes away, and his place is no more found. Let us then mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.More accurately: Therefore I will deliver him, etc ... he shall surely deal with him. I have driven him out, etc.12. from his shadow—under which they had formerly dwelt as their covert (Eze 31:6). Strangers; foreigners, who regard neither justice nor mercy, such were those who made up his army of Arbaces the Mede.

The terrible; so these were for their strength and valour much, but for their numbers and barbarity more, to be dreaded.

Have cut him off; not shall, for it was done before Ezekiel’s time, about the time Hezekiah was born, and about two hundred and forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonish captivity.

Left him; revolted or forsaken Sardanapalus.

Upon the mountains: as a tree, growing on the mountains which hang over the valleys, when it falls breaks, and its branches are scattered in the lower ground, on the banks of rivers that run in the bottom; so is this mighty cedar, this king and kingdom, fallen from highest power and honour into deepest contempt and impotence, not able to repel his adversaries or escape out of their hands.

Have left him; all that were tributary to him have withdrawn their tribute, and rejected his dominion; and such as were his allies, and depended on his patronage, have quit their leagues and dependences, and left his shadow. And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off,.... Cut off the boughs and branches of this cedar, and cut him down to the ground; that is, utterly destroyed him, his empire and monarchy: these "strangers" were the Medes, who lived in a country distant from Assyria; and "the terrible of the nations", the cruel and merciless Chaldeans, the soldiers of the king of Babylon's army; see Ezekiel 30:11,

and have left him upon the mountains, like a tree cut down there, and its boughs and branches lopped off, which roll down from thence into the valleys, and by the rivers of water signifying his depression from a high and exalted state to a very low one, as follows:

and in all the valley his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; signifying that many provinces and countries under his dominion were broken off, and by force taken away from him; or they broke off and revolted of themselves, and either set up for themselves, and recovered their former power and authority; or gave up themselves to the conqueror. The Targum is,

"and in all valleys his army fell, and his auxiliaries were scattered by all the rivers of the land:''

and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him: those that joined themselves to his empire, put themselves under his protection, or sought his friendship and alliance, now withdrew themselves from him, and left him alone to shift for himself; as frightened birds and beasts will do, when a tree is cut down and fallen, in the boughs or under the shadow of which they dwelt. The Targum paraphrases it,

"from the shadow of his kingdom.''

And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are {f} broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth have gone down from his shadow, and have left him.

(f) By this is signified the destruction of the power of the Assyrians by the Babylonians.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The tenses in Ezekiel 31:12-13 are perfects of threatening: the fut. would be plainer in Ezekiel 31:12 as A.V. Ezekiel 31:13. On “terrible” cf. Ezekiel 28:7.

have left him] cast him down, ch. Ezekiel 32:4; Amos 5:2. His great trunk covers the land and fills the watercourses. The nations who dwelt under his shadow, seeking his protection, have fled away from him (Daniel 4:11). For people, peoples.

have left him] and (or, for) they have cast him down. The words seem emphatic repetition from the beginning of the verse.Verse 12. - Strangers, the terrible of the nations. We note the recurrence of the phrase of Ezekiel 30:11, as pointing, here as there, to the Chaldean invaders. The branches of the tree were broken, the people of the earth no longer dwelt under its shadow (Daniel 4:11). Announcement of the judgment upon Egypt and its allies. - Ezekiel 30:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 30:2. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Howl ye! Woe to the day! Ezekiel 30:3. For the day is near, the day of Jehovah near, a day of cloud, the time of the heathen will it be. Ezekiel 30:4. And the sword will come upon Egypt, and there will be pangs in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take her possessions, and her foundations are destroyed. Ezekiel 30:5. Ethiopians and Libyans and Lydians, and all the rabble, and Chub, and the sons of the covenant land, will fall by the sword with them. - In the announcement of the judgment in Ezekiel 30:2 and Ezekiel 30:3, Ezekiel rests upon Joel 1:13, Joel 1:15, and Joel 2:2, where the designation already applied to the judgment upon the heathen world by Obadiah, viz., "the day of Jehovah" (Obadiah 1:15), is followed by such a picture of the nearness and terrible nature of that day, that even Isaiah (Isaiah 13:6, Isaiah 13:9) and Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:14) appropriate the words of Joel. Ezekiel also does the same, with this exception, that he uses ההּ instead of אההּ, and adds to the force of the expression by the repetition of קרוב יום. In Ezekiel 30:3, the words from יום ענן to יהיה are not to be taken together as forming one sentence, "a day of cloud will the time of the nations be" (De Wette), because the idea of a "time of the nations" has not been mentioned before, so as to prepare the way for a description of its real nature here. יום ענן and עת גּוים contain two co-ordinate affirmations concerning the day of Jehovah. It will be a day of cloud, i.e., of great calamity (as in Joel 2:2), and a time of the heathen, i.e., when heathen (גּוים without the article) are judged, when their might is to be shattered (cf. Isaiah 13:22). This day is coming upon Egypt, which is to succumb to the sword. Ethiopia will be so terrified at this, that it will writhe convulsively with anguish (חלחלה, as in Nahum 2:11 and Isaiah 21:3). לקח המנהּ signifies the plundering and removal of the possessions of the land, like נשׂא המנהּ in Ezekiel 29:19. The subject to לקחוּ is indefinite, "they," i.e., the enemy. The foundations of Egypt, which are to be destroyed, are not the foundations of its buildings, but may be understood in a figurative sense as relating to persons, after the analogy of Isaiah 19:10; but the notion that Cush, Phut, etc. (Ezekiel 30:9), i.e., the mercenary troops obtained from those places, which are called the props of Egypt in Ezekiel 30:6, are intended, as Hitzig assumes, is not only extremely improbable, but decidedly erroneous. The announcement in Ezekiel 30:6, that Cush, Phut, etc., are to fall by the sword along with the Egyptians (אתּם), is sufficient of itself to show that these tribes, even if they were auxiliaries or mercenaries of Egypt, did not constitute the foundations of the Egyptian state and kingdom; but that, on the contrary, Egypt possessed a military force composed of native troops, which was simply strengthened by auxiliaries and allies. We there interpret יסדותיה, after the analogy of Psalm 11:3 and Psalm 82:5, as referring to the real foundations of the state, the regulations and institutions on which the stability and prosperity of the kingdom rest.

The neighbouring, friendly, and allied peoples will also be smitten by the judgment together with the Egyptians. Cush, i.e., the Ethiopians, Phut and Lud, i.e., the Libyans and African Lydians (see the comm. on Ezekiel 27:10), are mentioned here primarily as auxiliaries of Egypt, because, according to Jeremiah 46:9, they served in Necho's army. By כּל־הערב, the whole of the mixed crowd (see the comm. on 1 Kings 10:15 - πάντες οἱ ἐπίμικτοι, lxx), we are then to understand the mercenary soldiers in the Egyptian army, which were obtained from different nations (chiefly Greeks, Ionians, and Carians, οἱ επίκουροι, as they are called by Herodotus, iii. 4, etc.). In addition to these, כּוּב ,eseht (ἁπ λεγ.) is also mentioned. Hvernick connects this name with the people of Kufa, so frequently met with on the Egyptian monuments. But, according to Wilkinson (Manners, etc., I 1, pp. 361ff.), they inhabited a portion of Asia farther north even than Palestine; and he ranks them (p. 379) among the enemies of Egypt. Hitzig therefore imagines that Kufa is probably to be found in Kohistan, a district of Media, from which, however, the Egyptians can hardly have obtained mercenary troops. And so long as nothing certain can be gathered from the advancing Egyptological researches with regard to the name Cub, the conjecture that כּוּב is a mis-spelling for לוּב is not to be absolutely set aside, the more especially as this conjecture is naturally suggested by the לוּבים of Nahum 3:9 and 2 Chronicles 16:8, and the form לוּב by the side of לוּבים is analogous to לוּד by the side of לוּדים in Jeremiah 46:9, whilst the Liby-Aegyptii of the ancients, who are to be understood by the term לוּבים (see the comm. on Genesis 10:13), would be quite in keeping here. On the other hand, the conjecture offered by Gesenius (Thes. p. 664), viz., נוּב, Nubia, has but a very weak support in the Arabic translator; and the supposition that לוּב may have been the earlier Hebrew form for Nubia (Hitzig), is destitute of any solid foundation. Maurer suggests Cob, a city (municipium) of Mauretania, in the Itiner. Anton. p. 17, ed. Wessel. - The following expression, "sons of the covenant land," is also obscure. Hitzig has correctly observed, that it cannot be synonymous with בּעלי , their allies. But we certainly cannot admit that the covenant land (made definite by the article) is Canaan, the Holy Land (Hitzig and Kliefoth); although Jerome writes without reserve, de filiis terrae foederis, i.e., de populo Judaeorum; and the lxx in their translation, καὶ τῶν υιῶν τῆς διαθήκης μου, undoubtedly thought of the Jews, who fled to Egypt, according to Theodoret's exposition, along with Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem and the murder of the governor Gedaliah, for fear of the vengeance of the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 42-43, and 44). For the application of the expression "land of the covenant" to the Holy Land is never met with either in the Old or New Testament, and cannot be inferred, as Hitzig supposes, from Psalm 74:20 and Daniel 11:28, or supported in any way from either the epithet "the land of promise" in Hebrews 11:9, or from Acts 3:25, where Peter calls the Jews "the children of the prophets and of the covenant." We therefore agree with Schmieder in regarding ארץ as signifying a definite region, though one unknown to us, in the vicinity of Egypt, which was inhabited by a tribe that was independent of the Egyptians, yet bound to render help in time of war.

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