Ezekiel 32:21
The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the middle of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Speak to him.—The pronoun oscillates between the masculine and the feminine, because the thought is partly of the king and partly of the kingdom. The pronoun is determined by whichever is for the moment uppermost in the prophet’s mind. On Hell, see Note on Ezekiel 31:16-17. It occurs also at Ezekiel 32:27.

Ezekiel 32:21. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him — Namely, to the king of Egypt; out of the midst of hell — Or, the pit, as Bishop Newcome renders the word: see Ezekiel 32:23. The passage is “a poetical description of the regions of the dead; where the ghosts of deceased tyrants, with their subjects, are represented as coming to meet the king of Egypt and his auxiliaries, upon their arrival at the same place. Hell signifies here the state of the dead.” — Lowth. See note on Isaiah 14:9. They are gone down — The warriors, famous in their time for their exploits, have undergone the same fate with other men of blood, and are gone down to the grave by violent deaths.32:17-32 Divers nations are mentioned as gone down to the grave before Egypt, who are ready to give her a scornful reception; these nations had been lately ruined and wasted. But though Judah and Jerusalem were about this time ruined and laid waste, yet they are not mentioned here. Though they suffered the same affliction, and by the same hand, yet the kind design for which they were afflicted, and the mercy God reserved for them, altered its nature. It was not to them a going down to the pit, as it was to the heathen. Pharaoh shall see, and be comforted; but the comfort wicked ones have after death, is poor comfort, not real, but only in fancy. The view this prophecy gives of ruined states shows something of this present world, and the empire of death in it. Come and see the calamitous state of human life. As if men did not die fast enough, they are ingenious at finding out ways to destroy one another. Also of the other world; though the destruction of nations as such, seems chiefly intended, here is plain allusion to the everlasting ruin of impenitent sinners. How are men deceived by Satan! What are the objects they pursue through scenes of bloodshed, and their many sins? Surely man disquiets himself in vain, whether he pursues wealth, fame, power, or pleasure. The hour cometh, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of Christ, and shall come forth; those that have done good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.The uncircumcised - throughout this dirge is equivalent to pagan viewed as impure (Ezekiel 31:18 note). 21. (Eze 31:16). Ezekiel has before his eyes Isa 14:9, &c.

shall speak to him—with "him" join "with them that help him"; shall speak to him and his helpers with a taunting welcome, as now one of themselves.

The prophet seems in this verse to introduce the next speakers in this parley, and bringing them in, gives their character.

The strong; the powerful, the valiant, whose natural strength of body was great, and their courage greater, those that were strongest.

Among the mighty; for feats they did, by which it appeared they might compared with others, pass for giants, mighty warriors. conquerors, and riders.

Shall speak to him, the king of Egypt.

Hell; or rather, the grave, where they lie without strength, as dead mortals, though while they lived they bore themselves as if gods and immortal.

Them that help him; either these great ones shall speak to Hophra’s helpers, or else these his friends, slain in his quarrel and dead before him, shall speak to him.

Gone down to the grave: see Ezekiel 32:18. Uncircumcised; neglected and forgotten, or remembered with contempt: see Ezekiel 32:19. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him,.... The strongest of them, such who have excelled others in strength and courage, famous for military exploits, who have been generals of armies, great warriors, and conquerors; and yet with all their might and strength could not withstand death, but were subdued by it, and brought down to the grave; these are, by a poetical figure, represented as meeting Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he came to his grave, saluting and welcoming him to the state of the dead in which they were; taking a sort of comfort in it, and insulting him as being as weak as they; see Isaiah 14:9, which they should do

out of the midst of hell, or the grave, "Hades", the state of the dead:

with them that help him; the associates, allies, and friends of Pharaoh, his auxiliaries that fell with him, and were brought to the grave at the same time with him; these should be greeted, saluted, and welcomed in like manner:

they are gone down; to the grave; those mighty ones that are represented as speaking, and the Egyptians and their helpers who are spoken to:

they lie uncircumcised; among them that are so, Ezekiel 32:19,

slain by the sword; of their enemies, who got the victory over them.

The strong among the mighty shall speak to {n} him out of the midst of the grave with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.

(n) To make the matter more sensible, he brings in Pharaoh whom the dead will meet and marvel at him, read Isa 14:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. The Pharaoh and his multitude are supposed here to have descended into Sheòl, and the “mighty ones” already there address them (Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 14:10) or speak of them.

The strong among the mighty] lit. the strong of the mighty, where “strong” is not a class among the mighty, but identical with them—the strong mighty ones (gen. of appos.). In LXX. “strong” is wanting as in Ezekiel 32:27. The word “strong” is that rendered mighty one of the nations, Ezekiel 31:11. It is probably entirely different (though the same in spelling) from the word God, Ezekiel 28:2, and from the phrase “mighty God,” Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 10:21.

speak to him] Or, of him. The words that follow seem spoken in regard to Pharaoh—though such a meaning is rather flat.

that help him] his helpers, auxiliary nations. The meaning must be that the mighty speak to (of) Pharaoh and his helpers, hardly that Pharaoh’s helpers already gone down join the mighty in mocking Pharaoh.

In LXX. these three verses stand in a different order, viz. Ezekiel 32:20 a, 20 b (read differently), 21 a, 19, and the first three words of Ezekiel 32:20 again, “They shall fall with him in the midst of them that are slain with the sword, and all his multitude (strength) shall lie down. And the mighty (lit. giants, Ezekiel 32:27) shall say unto thee: Be thou in the depth of the pit; to whom art thou superior? go down, and lie with the uncircumcised, in the midst of them that are slain with the sword.” Probably neither text presents the original, though the general meaning of both is the same. It is in favour of Heb. that it begins with the interrogation, and rather against the LXX. that it makes the address rather prolix. The “mighty” who speak are in any case those already in Sheòl, and not persons upon the earth such as the Babylonians (Hitz.).Verse 21. - The strong among the mighty. Those already in Sheol watch the new arrival, and make their scornful comments (comp. Isaiah 14:9, 18), at once classing them with the uncircumcised. Had they heard, we ask, of the downfall of Egypt? The might of Pharaoh resembles the greatness and glory of Asshur. - Ezekiel 31:1. In the eleventh year, in the third (month), on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 31:2. Son of man, say to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and to his tumult, Whom art thou like in thy greatness? Ezekiel 31:3. Behold, Asshur was a cedar-tree upon Lebanon, beautiful in branches, a shadowing thicket, and its top was high in growth, and among the clouds. Ezekiel 31:4. Water brought him up, the flood made him high, its streams went round about its plantation, and it sent its channels to all the trees of the field. Ezekiel 31:5. Therefore its growth became higher than all the trees of the field, and its branches became great, and its boughs long from many waters in its shooting out. Ezekiel 31:6. In its branches all the birds of the heaven made their nests, and under its boughs all the beasts of the field brought forth, and in its shadow sat great nations of all kinds. Ezekiel 31:7. And he was beautiful in his greatness, in the length of his shoots; for his root was by many waters. Ezekiel 31:8. Cedars did not obscure him in the garden of God, cypresses did not resemble his branches, and plane-trees were not like his boughs; no tree in the garden of God resembled him in his beauty. Ezekiel 31:9. I had made him beautiful in the multitude of his shoots, and all the trees of Eden which were in the garden of God envied him. - The word of God is addressed to King Pharaoh and to המונו, his tumult, i.e., whoever and whatever occasions noise and tumult in the land. We must not interpret this, however, as Hitzig has done, as signifying the ruling classes and estates in contrast with the quiet in the land, for no such use of המון is anywhere to be found. Nor must we regard the word as applying to the multitude of people only, but to the people with their possessions, their riches, which gave rise to luxury and tumult, as in Ezekiel 30:10. The inquiry, whom does Pharaoh with his tumult resemble in his greatness, is followed in the place of a reply by a description of Asshur as a glorious cedar (Ezekiel 31:3-9). It is true that Ewald has followed the example of Meibom (vanarum in Cod. Hebr. interprett. spec. III p. 70) and J. D. Michaelis, and endeavours to set aside the allusion to Asshur, by taking the word אשּׁוּר in an appellative sense, and understanding אשּׁוּר ארז as signifying a particular kind of cedar, namely, the tallest species of all. But apart altogether from there being no foundation whatever for such an explanation in the usage of the language, there is nothing in the fact to justify it. For it is not anywhere affirmed that Pharaoh resembled this cedar; on the contrary, the question, whom does he resemble? is asked again in Ezekiel 31:18 (Hitzig). Moreover, Michaelis is wrong in the supposition that "from Ezekiel 31:10 onwards it becomes perfectly obvious that it is not Assyria but Egypt itself which is meant by the cedar-tree previously described." Under the figure of the felling of a cedar there is depicted the overthrow of a king or monarchy, which has already taken place. Compare Ezekiel 31:12 and Ezekiel 31:16, where the past is indicated quite as certainly as the future in Ezekiel 31:18. And as Ezekiel 31:18 plainly designates the overthrow of Pharaoh and his power as still in the future, the cedar, whose destruction is not only threatened in Ezekiel 31:10-17, but declared to have already taken place, can only be Asshur, and not Egypt at all.

The picture of the glory of this cedar recalls in several respects the similar figurative description in Ezekiel 17. Asshur is called a cedar upon Lebanon, because it was there that the most stately cedars grew. חרשׁ מצל, a shade-giving thicket (מצל is a Hiphil participle of צלל), belongs to יפה ענף as a further expansion of ענף, corresponding to the further expansion of גּבהּ קמה by "its top was among the clouds." If we bear this in mind, the reasons assigned by Hitzig for altering חרשׁ into an adjective הרשׁ, and taking מצל as a substantive formation after the analogy of מסב, lose all their force. Analogy would only require an adjective in the construct state in the event of the three statements 'יפה ע, 'הרשׁ מ, and 'גּבהּ גּבהּ ק being co-ordinate with one another. But what is decisive against the proposed conjecture is the fact that neither the noun מצל nor the adjective הרשׁ is ever met with, and that, in any case, מצל cannot signify foliage. The rendering of the Vulgate, "frondibus nemorosus," is merely guessed at, whilst the Seventy have omitted the word as unintelligible to them. For עבתים, thicket of clouds, see the comm. on Ezekiel 19:11; and for צמּרת, that on Ezekiel 17:3. The cedar grew to so large a size because it was richly watered (Ezekiel 31:4). A flood poured its streams round about the place where the cedar was planted, and sent out brooks to all the trees of the field. The difficult words את־נהרתיה וגו' are to be taken literally thus: as for its (the flood's) streams, it (the flood) was going round about its plantation, i.e., round about the plantation belonging to the flood or the place situated near it, where the cedar was planted. את is not to be taken as a preposition, but as a sign of the accusative, and את־נהרתיה dna , as an accusative used for the more precise definition of the manner in which the flood surrounded the plantation. It is true that there still remains something striking in the masculine הלך, since תּהום, although of common gender, is construed throughout as a feminine, even in this very verse. But the difficulty remains even if we follow Ewald, and take הלך to be a defectively written or irregular form of the Hiphil הוליך; a conjecture which is precluded by the use of הוליך, to cause to run equals to cause to flow away, in Ezekiel 32:14. מטּעהּ, its (the flood's) plantation, i.e., the plantation for which the flood existed. תּהום is used here to signify the source of starting-point of a flood, as in Deuteronomy 8:7, where תּהמות are co-ordinate with עינות. - While the place where the cedar was planted was surrounded by the streams of the flood, only the brooks and channels of this flood reached to the trees of the field. The cedar therefore surpassed all the trees of the field in height and luxuriance of growth (Ezekiel 31:5). fגּבהאheb>, an Aramean mode of spelling for גּבהה heb>; and asרעפּתheb>, ἁπ. λεγ.., an Aramean formation with ר inserted, for סעפת, branches. For פּארת, see the comm. on Ezekiel 17:6. בּשׁלּחו cannot mean "since it (the stream) sent out the water" (Ewald); for although תּהום in Ezekiel 31:4 is also construed as a masculine, the suffix cannot be taken as referring to תּהום, for this is much too far off. And the explanation proposed by Rosenmller, Hvernick, Kliefoth, and others, "as it (the tree) sent them (the branches) out," is open to this objection, that בּשׁלּחו would then contain a spiritless tautology; since the stretching out of the branches is already contained in the fact of their becoming numerous and long. the tautology has no existence if the object is left indefinite, "in its spreading out," i.e., the spreading not only of the branches, but also of the roots, to which שׁלּח is sometimes applied (cf. Jeremiah 17:8). By the many waters which made the cedar great, we must not understand, either solely or especially, the numerous peoples which rendered Assyria great and mighty, as the Chaldee and many of the older commentators have done. It must rather be taken as embracing everything which contributed to the growth and greatness of Assyria. It is questionable whether the prophet, when describing the flood which watered the cedar plantation, had the description of the rivers of Paradise in Genesis 2:10. floating before his mind. Ewald and Hvernick think that he had; but Hitzig and Kliefoth take a decidedly opposite view. There is certainly no distinct indication of any such allusion. We meet with this for the first time from Ezekiel 31:8 onwards.

In Ezekiel 31:6-9 the greatness and glory of Asshur are still further depicted. Upon and under the branches of the stately tree, all creatures, birds, beasts, and men, found shelter and protection for life and increase (Ezekiel 31:6; cf. Ezekiel 17:23 and Daniel 4:9). In כּּל־גּוים רבּים, all kinds of great nations, the fact glimmers through the figure. The tree was so beautiful (ויּיף from יפה) in its greatness, that of all the trees in the garden of God not one was to be compared with it, and all envied it on that account; that is to say, all the other nations and kingdoms in God's creation were far inferior to Asshur in greatness and glory. גּן אלהים is the garden of Paradise; and consequently עדן in Ezekiel 31:9, Ezekiel 31:16, and Ezekiel 31:18 is also Paradise, as in Ezekiel 28:13. There is no ground for Kliefoth's objection, that if עדן be taken in this sense, the words "which are in the garden of God" will contain a superfluous pleonasm, a mere tautology. In Genesis 2:8 a distinction is also made between עדן and the garden in Eden. It was not all Eden, but the garden planted by Jehovah in Eden, which formed the real paradisaical creation; so that the words "which are in the garden of God" give intensity to the idea of the "trees of Eden." Moreover, as Hvernick has correctly pointed out, there is a peculiar emphasis in the separation of בּגן אלהים from ארזים in Ezekiel 31:8 : "cedars...even such as were found in the garden of God." Not one even of the other and most glorious trees, viz., cypresses and planes, resembled the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters, in its boughs and branches. It is not stated in so many words in Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9 that the cedar Asshur stood in the garden of God; but it by no means follows from this, that by the garden of God we are to understand simply the world and the earth as the creation of God, as Kliefoth imagines, and in support of which he argues that "as all the nations and kingdoms of the world are regarded as trees planted by God, the world itself is quite consistently called a garden or plantation of God." The very fact that a distinction is made between trees of the field (Ezekiel 31:4 and Ezekiel 31:5) and trees of Eden in the garden of God (Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9), shows that the trees are not all regarded here as being in the same sense planted by God. If the garden of God stood for the world, where should we then have to look for the field (השּׂדה)? The thought of Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9 is not that "not a single tree in all God's broad earth was to be compared to the cedar Asshur," but that even of the trees of Paradise, the garden in Eden, there was not one so beautiful and glorious as the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters.

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