Ezekiel 33:25
Why say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; You eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall you possess the land?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) Ye eat with the blood.—The people who remained in the land went on as before in their course of sin. The crimes here charged upon them (Ezekiel 33:25-26) are the same as those all along alleged against them, and Jeremiah gives a sad picture of their open rebellion against the express commands of God (Jeremiah 42, 43). This particular sin of eating flesh with the blood had been repeatedly forbidden, first to Noah (Genesis 9:4), and again under the Law (Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:16).

Ezekiel 33:25-26. Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord — Remove from them this destructive carnal confidence, and show them what they do, and how far they are from being Abraham’s genuine seed. Ye eat with the blood — Which was expressly forbidden in the Jewish law, as appears from Leviticus 7:26, as well as that more ancient law ordained to all mankind, Genesis 9:4; and lift up your eyes toward your idols — Offer up your prayers unto your fictitious gods; and shed blood — That is, commit murders; and shall ye possess the land? — When you do not perform the conditions on which the land was given, namely, that of being a holy people, can you think that you shall continue to enjoy it? Ye stand upon your sword — You make your strength the law of justice, and, confiding in that, you do whatsoever your inclinations lead you to, whether right or wrong; according to the character given of ungodly men, Wis 2:11, who say, “Let our strength be the law of justice, for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worthy” &c. Houbigant translates the clause, You stand in your high way, or the corners of your streets, and commit your abominations, considering the words as referring to their public and open profession of idolatry. Dr. Spencer (De Legib. Hebrew, lib. 2. cap. 11) thinks that the expression alludes to a custom of the heathen, “who put the blood of their sacrifices into a vessel, or pit, in order to call up and consult evil spirits, and then stood with their swords drawn, to keep the demons off from doing them any harm.” Ye defile every one his neighbour’s wife — Ye universally commit adultery; and shall ye possess the land? — The question implies a peremptory denial. Thus the prophet shows how vain and ill-grounded their expectations were of being continued in the possession of Judea, since they did those things which were contrary to the divine law, and which consequently excluded them from any right to the land.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.To eat flesh with the blood was forbidden (see the marginal references). It seems to have been connected with the idolatries of Canaan. The prohibition was, on account of its connection with idolatry, continued in the enactment of the Council of Jerusalem Acts 15:29.25. eat with the blood—in opposition to the law (Le 19:26; compare Ge 9:4). They did so as an idolatrous rite. Say unto them; remove them from this dangerous carnal confidence, and show them what they do, and by that what they are, how far from Abraham’s seed, his genuine seed.

Ye eat with the blood: whatever might be the reason why, it is most certain this was forbidden, Genesis 9:4 Leviticus 17:14 19:26: they sinned by violating this law.

Lift up your eyes; honouring, praying, depending on, and committing yourselves to the protection and guidance of those dumb idols: see Ezekiel 18:6. Shed blood, innocent blood, ye are murderers.

Shall ye possess the land, polluted with such and many other heinous sins? and what colour of hope can you have, that you shall possess the land? The question includes a peremptory denial. Wherefore say unto them, thus saith the Lord God,.... Send them this message in writing, as from the Lord; for the prophet was now in Chaldea, and could not deliver it by word of mouth to those that inhabited the wastes of Israel; but he could tell it to the messenger that came to him, who had escaped from Jerusalem; or send it by him, or some other:

ye eat with the blood; or rather "upon", or "by" the "blood" (l); contrary to the law in Leviticus 19:26 which is a different law from that in Genesis 9:4, and from that in Leviticus 3:17 and refers to an idolatrous practice of the Heathens, which these Jews imitated; who, having slain and offered their sacrifices to devils, sat down round about the blood of them, and ate their food or part of their sacrifice by it, as Kimchi on the text observes. The account Maimonides (m) gives of the Zabians is this,

"you must know (says he) that the blood is reckoned very unclean and impure by the Zabians, yet is eaten by them, because they think it is the food of devils; and that he that eats it by this means obtains some communications with them; so that they converse familiarly with him, and reveal things future to him, which the vulgar commonly attribute to devils: notwithstanding there were some among them, with whom it seemed very grievous and difficult to eat blood (for it is a thing which the nature of man abhors); these used to slay some beast, and take its blood, and put it in a vessel, or in a hole dug in the earth, and eat the slain beast, sitting in a circle about the blood; imagining to themselves, in so doing, while they ate the flesh the devils ate the blood, and that this is their food; and by this means friendship, fraternity, and familiarity were contracted between them, because they all ate at one table, and sat on one seat; besides, they were of opinion that the devils appeared to them in dreams, and told them things to come, and were of much advantage to them;''

and accordingly it follows:

and lift up your eyes towards your idols; make your devotion, and pray unto them, and worship them, and expect help and assistance from them:

and shed blood; innocent blood, as the Targum; they were guilty of murder as well as of idolatry, or shedding of blood, in sacrifice to idols:

and shall ye possess the land? can such wretches as you, such gross idolaters and murderers, ever think that you are the children of Abraham, and have a right to the inheritance of this land, or shall long continue in the possession of it, living in such abominable iniquities as these?

(l) "super sanguinem", Munster, Montanus, Cocceius, Starckius; "juxta sanguinem"; so some in Vatablus. (m) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 46. p. 484.

Wherefore say to them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the {n} blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?

(n) Contrary to the law, Le 17:14.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. The claim of the remnant is repudiated by Ezek. with indignation. They persist in the sins for which their country fell, and the same judgment shall overtake them.

ye eat with the blood] i.e. eat flesh slaughtered in such a way that the blood remains in it. According to the law animals had to be slaughtered in such a way as to drain away the blood, which was poured into the ground, where not dashed upon the altar. An example of a prohibited way of slaughtering was breaking the neck, Isaiah 66:3. Cf. Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16; 1 Samuel 14:32. See on Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:11; Ezekiel 18:15, Ezekiel 22:9.

lift up your eyes] See Ezekiel 18:6. On “shed blood” Ezekiel 22:6; Ezekiel 22:9.Verse 25. - Ye eat with the blood. It is characteristic of Ezekiel that the first offence which he names with horror should be a sin against a positive commandment. He felt, as it were, a sense of loathing at what seemed to him a descent into the worst form of pollution, forbidden, not to the Jews only (Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16), but to mankind (Genesis 9:4); compare the scene in 1 Samuel 14:32. The same feeling shows itself in Zechariah 9:7 and Acts 15:20, 29. The prohibition of blood took its place, in later Judaism, as among the precepts of Noah, which were binding even on the proselytes of the gate, upon whom, as distinct from the proselytes of righteousness, the rite of circumcision was not enforced; and as such were accepted by the council at Jerusalem, as binding also among Christian converts. Not for such as these was the inheritance of Israel, and the prophet asks indignantly, after naming yet . more hateful offenses, Shall ye possess the land? 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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