Ezekiel 33:24
Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Inhabit those wastes.—It is said in 2Kings 25:12; 2Kings 25:22; Jeremiah 52:16, that the poor of the people were left in the land for vine-dressers and for husband. men, and that these were joined by fugitive Jews from Moab and Ammon and other places. It is to these that the present part of this prophecy (Ezekiel 33:23-29) is addressed, and it is plain that the murder of Gedaliah, and consequent flight into Egypt, had not yet taken place.

Abraham was one . . . we are many.—The argument used by these people was a simple one: the land was promised to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. He was but one, and the promise was fulfilled; we, his seed, are many, and it cannot fail us. This disposition to rely upon their descent from Abraham was characteristic of the Jews in all ages (see Matthew 3:9; John 8:33-39). The same tendency to trust in the external privileges given them is apt to be found in all ages among those whose hearts are alienated from God. These Jews, to avoid the force of the prophet’s reproofs, passed from one subterfuge to another. First it was that God would not abandon His holy city and Temple; then that the judgments were so far in the future that they need cause no present alarm; now, when these warnings had all been fulfilled, they clung to the fact that the land was theirs by promise, forgetting the conditions which had been attached from the first to its enjoyment.

Ezekiel 33:24. They that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel — They that are left behind in the land, that is now wasted with fire and sword: see the margin. Speak, saying, Abraham was one, and inherited the land — Had the privilege of dwelling and feeding his flocks in it; as if he had said, ‘If Abraham, being only a single person, had the whole country of Judea given him, there is much greater reason to conclude, that God will preserve the possession of it to us, who are a numerous part of Abraham’s posterity. These men speak after the vain manner of the Jews, who fondly presume that they have a right to all the promises made to Abraham, without considering the vast difference between them and Abraham, both in faith and practice. The appellation of one is given to Abraham in other parts of Scripture, because he was singled out from the rest of his family, to be the original, or head, of the Jewish nation.” — Lowth.

33:21-29 Those are unteachable indeed, who do not learn their dependence upon God, when all creature-comforts fail. Many claim an interest in the peculiar blessings to true believers, while their conduct proves them enemies of God. They call this groundless presumption strong faith, when God's testimony declares them entitled to his threatenings, and nothing else.Those wastes - The places in the holy land devastated by the conqueror.

Abraham - The argument is, Abraham was but one man, and he had the promise of the land, though he did not at once possess it; much more shall we, the descendants of Abraham, being many, retain this promise and possess the land, though for a time we are depressed and subject. Compare Matthew 3:9; John 8:33, John 8:39.

24. they that inhabit … wastes of … Israel—marking the blindness of the fraction of Jews under Gedaliah who, though dwelling amidst regions laid waste by the foe, still cherished hopes of deliverance, and this without repentance.

Abraham was one … but we are many—If God gave the land for an inheritance to Abraham, who was but one (Isa 51:2), much more it is given to us, who, though reduced, are still many. If he, with 318 servants, was able to defend himself amid so many foes, much more shall we, so much more numerous, retain our own. The grant of the land was not for his sole use, but for his numerous posterity.

inherited the land—not actually possessed it (Ac 7:5), but had the right of dwelling and pasturing his flocks in it [Grotius]. The Jews boasted similarly of their Abrahamic descent in Mt 3:9 and Joh 8:39.

They that inhabit; who were left behind, having either hid themselves, but now come out of their holes, or returned from neighbour countries, whither they fled, or permitted by the conqueror to stay and plant vineyards.

Wastes; places once very fruitful and abounding with people, but now by the spoil of the soldiers emptied of inhabitants. and made as a desolate wilderness.

Speak, saying; thus think and speak; thus with vain reasonings they deceive them. selves.

He inherited the land; our father had hereditary right to all this land when but one, and he multiplied to a great company, and so they possessed the land; we children of Abraham, though diminished, are many, and the Divine goodness will surely appear then, and continue to us both right and possession, and we shall fill the land, and recover our former state and privileges.

Is given us; it was given by promise to us the seed, as well as to our progenitor; nay more, it is given us in possession, we dwell in it, when Abraham had not one foot of it in his possession.

For inheritance; the perpetual inheritance is ours. Thus with vain, fallacious arguments they cheat one another.

Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel,.... The places which were laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar's army, going and returning, in and about Jerusalem, and in several parts of Judea; these were they that were left in the land after the destruction, to people and plant it; or who, having fled to distant parts, were now returned, and took possession of it, though it was in a wretched condition, a mere waste or desert; and yet they were lifted up with it, and proud and haughty, as their language shows: for thus they speak,

saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land; he was but one, and had no child, when the promise of inheriting the land was made unto him; and he was but a single worshipper of God, and yet he had this favour and privilege:

but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance: so they oppose themselves to Abraham, and argue from the lesser to the greater; that if a single person was vouchsafed to inherit it, then much more many, and those of his seed; and to whom the land was particularly given for an inheritance, and who were now in the possession of it, as Abraham never was; and, being many, were able to defend their right, and secure themselves in the enjoyment of it; all which reasoning shows their pride and vanity, though they were under such humbling circumstances; their land being waste, their numbers lessened, and the enemy had but just left it, having made dreadful devastations in it; and which had had no influence upon them to reform them, or bring them to repentance, as the following verses show.

Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, {m} Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given to us for inheritance.

(m) Thus the wicked think themselves more worthy to enjoy God's promises than the saints of God, to whom they were made: and would bind God to be subject to them, though they would not be bound to him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. Regarding those remaining in the land even before the fall of the city, cf. Ezekiel 11:5-12; Ezekiel 11:14-21; Jeremiah 24. Those remaining in the land express their confident hopes. Though reduced in numbers they are still many in comparison of the single individual Abraham. Yet he was multiplied in such a way as to take possession of the land; much more may they hope yet to assert their claims to it. They perhaps hardly argued on mere natural probabilities; they felt themselves the heirs of the promises made to Abraham, and in spite of disasters hoped that Jehovah would fulfil them to them. They display the same temper as the people had always shewn; they have a faith in Jehovah but no knowledge of what Jehovah is (Amos 5:14; Hosea 4:1; Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 5:2; Jeremiah 5:4). Another prophet of this age applies the strange history of Abraham and his multiplication to comfort “the few men of Israel” who followed after righteousness, Isaiah 51:2.

inhabit those wastes] The ruined cities chiefly, Ezekiel 33:27; but cf. Ezekiel 36:4.

the land is given us] Words of confident anticipation.

Verse 24. - They that inhabit thou wastes of the land. The utterance that follows was probably the direct result of what Ezekiel heard from the messenger. He it was who reported the boastful claims of those who had been left in the land by the Chaldean armies - the "bad figs" of Jeremiah's parable, the least worthy representatives of the seed of Abraham. the assassins of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:1, 2), who in these "waste places," the dens and eaves in which they found a refuge (or, it may be, the phrase describes the condition of the whole country), led the lives of outlaws and bandits. The very words of their boast are reproduced: "Abraham, when he was yet but one, received the premise of inheritance. We are comparatively many, and are left as the true seed of Abraham (comp. Matthew 3:9). The land is ours, and we will take possession of the estates of the exiles." Ezekiel 33:24Preaching of Repentance after the Fall of Jerusalem

The first word of God, which Ezekiel received after the arrival of the fugitive with the intelligence of the destruction of Jerusalem, was not of a consolatory, but of a rebuking nature, and directed against those who, while boasting in an impenitent state of mind of the promise given to the patriarchs of the everlasting possession of the Holy Land, fancied that they could still remain in possession of the promised land even after the destruction of Jerusalem and of the kingdom of Judah. This delusion the prophet overthrows by the announcement that the unrighteous are to have no share in the possession of the land of Israel, but are to perish miserably, and that the land is to be utterly waste and without inhabitants (Ezekiel 33:23-29). The Lord then shows him that his countrymen will indeed come to him and listen to his words, but will only do that which is pleasant to themselves; that they will still seek after gain, and not do his words; and that it will not be till after his words have been fulfilled that they will come to the knowledge of the fact that he really was a prophet (Ezekiel 33:30-33). We perceive from these last verses that the threat uttered in Ezekiel 33:24-29 was to form the basis for Ezekiel's further prophecies, so that the whole of this word of God has only the force of an introduction to his further labours. But however the two halves of this word of God may appear to differ, so far as their contents are concerned, they are nevertheless closely connected. The state of heart disclosed in the first half, with reference to the judgment that has already fallen upon the land and kingdom, is to preclude the illusion, that the fact of the people's coming to the prophet to hear his words is a sign of penitential humiliation under the punishing hand of God, and to bring out the truth, that the salvation which he is about to foretell to the people is only to be enjoyed by those who turn with sincerity to the Lord.

Ezekiel 33:23-29

False reliance upon God's Promises

Ezekiel 33:23. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 33:24. Son of man, the inhabitants of these ruins in the land of Israel speak thus: Abraham was one, and received the land for a possession; but we are many, the land is given to us for a possession. Ezekiel 33:25. Therefore say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Ye eat upon the blood, and lift up your eyes to your idols, and shed blood, and would ye possess the land? Ezekiel 33:26. Ye rely upon your sword, do abomination, and one defileth another's wife, and would ye possess the land? Ezekiel 33:27. Speak thus to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, By my life, those who are in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field him do I give to the beasts to devour, and those who are in the fortresses and caves shall die of the pestilence. Ezekiel 33:28. And I make the land devastation and waste, and its proud might shall have an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be waste, so that no one passeth through. Ezekiel 33:29. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I make the land devastation and waste because of all the abominations which they have done. - This threat is directed against the people who remained behind in the land of Judah after the destruction of Jerusalem. ישׁבי are the Israelites who dwelt amidst the ruins of the Holy Land, the remnant of the people left behind in the land. For it is so evident as to need no proof that Kliefoth is wrong in asserting that by החרבות we are to understand the district bordering on the Chaboras, which was not properly cultivated; and by the inhabitants thereof, the exiles who surrounded Ezekiel. It is only by confounding אמר and דּבּר that Kliefoth is able to set aside the more precise definition of the inhabitants of these ruins contained in the words על אדמת ישׂראל, and to connect ישׂ 'על אד with אמרים, "they speak concerning the land of Israel;" and in Ezekiel 33:27 it is only in a forced manner that he can generalize החרבות and take it as referring to the waste places both in the Holy Land and on the Chaboras. The fact, moreover, that Ezekiel 33:30-33 treat of the Israelites by the Chaboras, is no proof whatever that they must also be referred to in Ezekiel 33:24-29. For the relation in which the two halves of this word of God stand to one another is not that "Eze 33:30-33 depict the impression made upon the hearers by the words contained in Ezekiel 33:24-29," so that "the persons alluded to in Ezekiel 33:30-33 must necessarily be the hearers of Ezekiel 33:24-29." Ezekiel 33:30-33 treat in quite a general manner of the attitude which the prophet's countrymen would assume towards his words - that is to say, not merely to his threats, but also to his predictions of salvation; they would only attend to that which had a pleasant sound to them, but they would not do his words (Ezekiel 33:31, Ezekiel 33:32). It is quite in harmony with this, that in Ezekiel 33:23-29 these people should be told of the state of heart of those who had remained behind on the ruins of the Holy Land, and that it should be announced to them that the fixed belief in the permanent possession of the Holy Land, on which those who remained behind in the land relied, was a delusion, and that those who were victims of this delusion should be destroyed by sword and pestilence. Just as in the first part of this book Ezekiel uttered the threatened prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah in the presence of his countrymen by the Chaboras, and addressed them to these, because they stood in the same internal relation to the Lord as their brethren in Jerusalem and Judah; so here does he hold up this delusion before them as a warning, in order that he may disclose to them the worthlessness of such vain hope, and preach repentance and conversion as the only way to lie.

The meaning of the words spoken by these people, "Abraham was one," etc., is, that if Abraham, as one solitary individual, received the land of Canaan or a possession by the promise of God, the same God could not take this possession away from them, the many sons of Abraham. The antithesis of the "one" and the "many" derived its significance, in relation to their argument, from the descent of the many from the one, which is taken for granted, and also from the fact, which is assumed to be well know from the book of Genesis, that the land was not promised and given to the patriarch for his own possession, but for his seed or descendants to possess. They relied, like the Jews of the time of Christ (John 8:33, John 8:39), upon their corporeal descent from Abraham (compare the similar words in Ezekiel 11:15). Ezekiel, on the other hand, simply reminds them of their own sinful conduct (Ezekiel 33:25, Ezekiel 33:26), for the purpose of showing them that they have thereby incurred the loss of this possession. Eating upon the blood, is eating flesh in which the blood is still lying, which has not been cleansed from blood, as in Leviticus 19:26 and 1 Samuel 14:32-33; an act the prohibition of which was first addressed to Noah (Genesis 9:4), and is repeatedly urged in the law (cf. Leviticus 7:26-27). This is also the case with the prohibition of idolatry, lifting up the eyes to idols (cf. Ezekiel 18:6), and the shedding of blood (cf. Ezekiel 18:10; Ezekiel 22:3, etc.). עמד, to support oneself, or rely (עמד, used as in Ezekiel 31:14) upon the sword, i.e., to put confidence in violence and bloodshed. In this connection we are not to think of the use of the sword in war. To work abomination, as in Ezekiel 18:12. עשׂיתן is not a feminine, "ye women," but ן is written in the place of מ on account of the ת which follows, after the analogy of פּדיון for פּדיום (Hitzig). On the defiling of a neighbour's wife, see the comm. on Ezekiel 18:6. Such daring sinners the Lord would destroy wherever they might be. In v. 37 the punishment is individualized (cf. Ezekiel 14:21). Those in the חרבות shall fall by the חרב (the play upon the word is very obvious); those in the open country shall perish by wild beasts (compare 2 Kings 17:25; Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 26:22); those who are in mountain fastnesses and caves, where they are safe from the sword and ravenous beasts, shall perish by plague and pestilence. This threat is not to be restricted to the acts of the Chaldeans in the land after the destruction of Jerusalem, but applies to all succeeding times. Even the devastation and utter depopulation of the land, threatened in Ezekiel 33:28, are not to be taken as referring merely to the time of the Babylonian captivity, but embrace the devastation which accompanied and followed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. For גּאון ע, see the comm. on Ezekiel 7:24. For Ezekiel 33:29, compare Ezekiel 6:14.

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