Ezekiel 33:27
Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.
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(27) In the forts—is rather, in the natural fastnesses in which the land abounded.

Ezekiel 33:27. Surely they that are in the wastes — They who continue to dwell among the desolations of Jerusalem and Judea; shall fall by the sword — This they accordingly did, both through the civil dissensions among them, in the conspiracy formed against Gedaliah, and likewise by the Chaldeans revenging his death. And him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts — He shall be a prey to lions and other ravenous beasts, that will multiply in the ruined country. And they that be in the forts and caves — Out of the reach of men and beasts; shall die of the pestilence — My hand shall reach them, and send among them those destructive disorders which shall sweep them away. These three judgments here mentioned, the sword, destructive beasts, and the pestilence, together with famine, are often threatened as the last and finishing strokes of divine vengeance upon the Jewish nation: see Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 6:12; Ezekiel 14:21; Jeremiah 15:3. By the forts and caves here spoken of, are meant the strong holds formed by nature in the rocks, or cut out in the sides of the mountains. Many of them were so large that men might secure themselves, their families, and their goods in them. So David is said, 1 Samuel 23:14, to abide in strong holds, and remain in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. Such was the cave of Adullam, where David had his residence for some time, and was there resorted to by his relations, (1 Samuel 22:1,) and at another time by his principal officers, 2 Samuel 23:15.

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.Ye stand upon your sword - Ye put your trust in your swords.27. shall fall by the sword—The very object of their confidence would be the instrument of their destruction. Thinking to "stand" by it, by it they shall "fall." Just retribution! Some fell by the sword of Ishmael; others by the Chaldeans in revenge for the murder of Gedaliah (Jer 40:1-44:30).

caves—(Jud 6:2; 1Sa 13:6). In the hilly parts of Judea there were caves almost inaccessible, as having only crooked and extremely narrow paths of ascent, with rock in front stretching down into the valleys beneath perpendicularly [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 1.16.4].

The wastes; the ruinous heaps of cities or towns, in which some sorry habitations might possibly be found by them.

Shall fall; the Chaldean soldier ransacking all places, and either expecting or by chance finding them there, shall kill in revenge of Gedaliah’s death and Ishmael with others shall destroy some of them.

That is in the open field; that wanders in the fields, shall be a prey to lions, or other ravenous beasts, that will multiply in that ruined country.

In the forts; out of the reach of men and beasts my hand shall reach, I will send the pestilence, that shall sweep them away.

Say thou thus unto them, thus saith the Lord God,.... Send or write unto them in the name of the Lord, after this manner,

as I live, which is the form of an oath; the Lord swears by himself his life, because he could swear by no greater, and for the confirmation of what follows:

surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword; by their own sword, falling out one with another; or by the sword of Ishmael Jeremiah 41:2 or by the sword of the Chaldeans, who revenged the death of Gedaliah and others; even such who dwelt amidst the ruins of the city of Jerusalem, and other places, that were become desolate through the ravages of the enemy:

and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured; of which it may be supposed there were the greater numbers, since the land was so depopulated: and they that be in the forts, and in the caves, shall die of the pestilence; such as were in fortified cities, or in caverns of the earth, dug in rocks and mountains, where, in neither of them, men and beasts could easily come at them; here the Lord would send his arrow, the plague, that flies by day, and reach them, and destroy them; none can escape his hands; these are three of the Lord's sore judgments, the sword, pestilence, and noisome beasts.

Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.
27. The “wastes” are the desolate cities; those that still hover about these ruins shall be slain by the enemy. The “open field” is the country, now depopulated and “the possession of wild beasts;” and the “forts,” coupled with caves, are the natural fastnesses of the land. Those taking refuge there shall die of the pestilence, due to crowding and famine. The remnant shall be exterminated from the land.

Verse 27. - They that are in the wastes. The words paint, with a terrible vividness, what was passing in Ezekiel's fatherland. Did the fugitives of Judah seek the open country? they were exposed to the sword of the Chaldeans or of marauding outlaws. Did they seek safety in fortresses or caves? they were exposed, crowded together as they were under the worst possible conditions, to the ravages of pestilence. Ezekiel 33:27Preaching 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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