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." Introduction and first strophe. - Ezekiel 32:18. Son of man, lament over the tumult of Egypt, and hurl it down, her, like the daughters of glorious nations, into the nether world, to those who go into the pit! Ezekiel 32:19. Whom dost thou surpass in loveliness? Go down and lay thyself with the uncircumcised. Ezekiel 32:20. Among those slain with the sword will they fall; the sword is handed, draw her down and all her tumult. Ezekiel 32:21. The strong ones of the heroes say of it out of the midst of hell with its helpers: they are gone down, they lie there, the uncircumcised, slain with the sword. - נהה, utter a lamentation, and והורדהוּ, thrust it (the tumult of Egypt) down, are co-ordinate. With the lamentation, or by means thereof, is Ezekiel to thrust down the tumult of Egypt into hell. The lamentation is God's word; and as such it has the power to accomplish what it utters. אותהּ is not intended as a repetition of the suffix ־הוּ, but resumes the principal idea contained in the object already named, viz., מצרים, Egypt, i.e., its population. אותהּ and the daughters of glorious nations are co-ordinate. בּנות, as in the expression, daughter of Tyre, daughter Babel, denotes the population of powerful heathen nations. The גּוים אדּרם can only be the nations enumerated in Ezekiel 32:22, Ezekiel 32:24., which, according to these verses, are already in Sheol, not about to be thrust down, but thrust down already. Consequently the copula ו before בּנות is to be taken in the sense of a comparison, as in 1 Samuel 12:15 (cf. Ewald, 340b). All these glorious nations have also been hurled down by the word of God; and Egypt is to be associated with them. By thus placing Egypt on a level with all the fallen nations, the enumeration of which fills the middle strophes of the ode, the lamentation over Egypt is extended into a funeral-dirge on the fall of all the heathen powers of the world. For ארץ תּחתּיּות and יורדי , compare Ezekiel 276:20. The ode itself commences in Ezekiel 32:19, by giving prominence to the glory of the falling kingdom. But this prominence consists in the brief inquiry ממּי נעמתּ, before whom art thou lovely? i.e., art thou more lovely than any one else? The words are addressed either to המון מצרים (Ezekiel 32:18), or what is more probable, to Pharaoh with all his tumult (cf. Ezekiel 32:32), i.e., to the world-power, Egypt, as embodied in the person of Pharaoh; and the meaning of the question is the following: - Thou, Egypt, art indeed lovely; but thou art not better or more lovely than other mighty heathen nations; therefore thou canst not expect any better fate than to go down into Sheol, and there lie with the uncircumcised. ערלים, as in Ezekiel 31:18. This is carried out still further in Ezekiel 32:20, and the ground thereof assigned. The subject to יפּלוּ is the Egyptians, or Pharaoh and his tumult. They fall in the midst of those pierced with the sword. The sword is already handed to the executor of the judgment, the king of Babel (Ezekiel 31:11). Their destruction is so certain, that the words are addressed to the bearers of the sword: "Draw Egypt and all its tumult down into Sheol" (משׁכוּ is imperative for משׁכוּ in Exodus 12:21), and, according to Ezekiel 32:21, the heathen already in Sheol are speaking of his destruction. ידבּרוּ לו is rendered by many, "there speak to him, address him, greet him," with an allusion to Isaiah 14:9., where the king of Babel, when descending into Sheol, is greeted with malicious pleasure by the kings already there. But however obvious the fact may be that Ezekiel has this passage in mind, there is no address in the verse before us as in Isaiah 14:10, but simply a statement concerning the Egyptians, made in the third person. Moreover, את־עזריו could hardly be made to harmonize with ידבּרוּ לו, if לו signified ad eum. For it is not allowable to connect עת־עזריו (taken in the sense of along with their helpers) with אלי גבּורים as a noun in apposition, for the simple reason that the two are separated by מתּוך שׁאול. Consequently את־עזריו can only belong to ידבּרוּ: they talk (of him) with his helpers. עזריו, his (Pharaoh's) helpers are his allies, who have already gone down before him into hell (cf. Ezekiel 30:8). The singular suffix, which has offended Hitzig, is quite in order as corresponding to לו. The words, "they have gone down, lie there," etc., point once more to the fact that the same fate has happened to the Egyptians as to all the rest of the rulers and nations of the world whom God has judged. For אלי גבּורים, strong ones of the heroes, compare the comm. on Ezekiel 31:11. שׁאול, hell equals the nether world, the gathering-place of the dead; not the place of punishment for the damned. חללי without the article is a predicate, and not in apposition to הערלים. On the application of this epithet to the Egyptians, Kliefoth has correctly observed that "the question whether the Egyptians received circumcision is one that has no bearing upon this passage; for in the sense in which Ezekiel understands circumcision, the Egyptians were uncircumcised, even if they were accustomed to circumcise their flesh."

In the four following strophes (Ezekiel 32:22-30) a series of heathen nations is enumerated, whom the Egyptian finds already in hell, and with whom he will share the same fate. There are six of these - namely, Asshur, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and Sidon. The six are divisible into two classes - three great and remote world-powers, and three smaller neighbouring nations. In this no regard is paid to the time of destruction. With the empire of Asshur, which had already fallen, there are associated Elam and Meshech-Tubal, two nations, which only rose to the rank of world-powers in the more immediate and more remote future; and among the neighbouring nations, the Sidonians and princes of the north, i.e., The Syrian kings, are grouped with Edom, although the Sidonians had long ago given up their supremacy to Tyre, and the Aramean kings, who had once so grievously oppressed the kingdom of Israel, had already been swallowed up in the Assyrian and Chaldean empire. It may, indeed, be said that "in any case, at the time when Ezekiel prophesied, princes enough had already descended into Sheol both of the Assyrians and Elamites, etc., to welcome the Egyptians as soon as they came" (Kliefoth); but with the same justice may it also be said that many of the rulers and countrymen of Egypt had also descended into Sheol already, at the time when Pharaoh, reigning in Ezekiel's day, was to share the same fate. It is evident, therefore, that "any such reflection upon chronological relations is out of place in connection with our text, the intention of which is merely to furnish an exemplification" (Kliefoth), and that Ezekiel looks upon Egypt more in the light of a world-power, discerning in its fall the overthrow of all the heathen power of the world, and predicting it under the prophetic picture, that Pharaoh and his tumult are expected and welcomed by the princes and nations that have already descended into Sheol, as coming to share their fate with them.

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