Ezekiel 33:32
And, see, you are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not.
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33:30-33 Unworthy and corrupt motives often lead men to the places where the word of God is faithfully preached. Many come to find somewhat to oppose: far more come of curiosity or mere habit. Men may have their hearts changed. But whether men hear or forbear, they will know by the event that a servant of God has been among them. All who will not know the worth of mercies by the improvement of them, will justly be made to know their worth by the want of them.As the people cometh - literally, as in the margin, i. e., in crowds. Render it: they shall come "unto thee" like the coming of a people," and" shall "sit before thee as My people" etc., i. e., they assume the attitude of God's people listening to His prophet. Compare Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1.32. very lovely song—literally, a "song of loves": a lover's song. They praise thy eloquence, but care not for the subject of it as a real and personal thing; just as many do in the modern church [Jerome].

play well on an instrument—Hebrew singers accompanied the "voice" with the harp.

These Jews esteem and regard thee and what thou sayest, as men regard a skilful musician, who to a well-tuned instrument hath sung the praises of virtue or of virtuous men; it pleaseth their ear, but it doth not frame their hearts and life to virtue. They loved him for his eloquent lamentation, and reproof of their enemies, and for foretelling that they should fall, and saying nothing against them and their sins for these three years past; but when he exhorts them to duty, or dissuades from sin, they will hear, not do. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice,.... Whose voice, and the music of it, are regarded, and not the matter of the song, but the manner in which it is sung; so these people did not so much attend to what the prophet said as the manner of his delivery; they were delighted with the harmony of his voice, the eloquence of his speech, the propriety of his expressions, the eloquence and aptness of his diction, and the cadency of his words, and not with the excellent doctrines he delivered; they were affected and pleased no otherwise than if they had been at a concert of music; or had been entertained by one that understood not only vocal music, but could "play well on an instrument" at the same time, and make both agree together; which yields much pleasure to lovers of music. The Gospel is a lovely song indeed; "a song of loves" (o), as it may be rendered; of the love of God, and of the love of Christ; and the voice of a Gospel minister is a pleasant charming voice to those that understand it, but to others it is a voice, and nothing else; they may be delighted with his accents, but not with his matter: for they hear thy words, but they do them not; which is repeated, that it might be observed.

(o) "sicut canticum astorum", Vatablus.

And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
32. lovely song of one] lit. a lovely song; one that hath. The comparison “like a lovely song” is as usual inexact; “like” merely indicates the circumstances—as when there is a lovely song. The prophet is compared to the singer as A. V.Verse 32. - A very lovely song; literally, a song of love, an erotic idyll, the word being the same as in Ver. 31. Yet this was the meaning of the large gathering. They came to hear the prophet, as they would to hear a hired singer at a banquet, like those of Amos 6:5. The prophet's words passed over them and left no lasting impression. All that they sought was the momentary tickling of the sense. The words receive a special significance from Psalm 137:3. The Jewish exiles were famous among their conquerors for the minstrel's art. The nobler singers refused to "sing the songs of Zion in a strange land;" others, it may be, were not so scrupulous. Had the prophet seen his people gather to listen to such a singer? Were they better occupied when they were listening to his message from Jehovah. Fourth strophe. - Ezekiel 32:26. There is Meshech-Tubal and all its multitude, its graves round about it; all of them uncircumcised, slain in with the sword, because they spread terror before them in the land of the living. Ezekiel 32:27. They lie not with the fallen heroes of uncircumcised men, who went down into hell with their weapons of war, whose swords they laid under their heads; their iniquities have come upon their bones, because they were a terror of the heroes in the land of the living. Ezekiel 32:28. Thou also wilt be dashed to pieces among uncircumcised men, and lie with those slain with the sword. - משׁך and תּבל, the Moschi and Tibareni of the Greeks (see the comm. on Ezekiel 27:13), are joined together ἀσυνδετῶς here as one people or heathen power; and Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose that the reference is to the Scythians, who invaded the land in the time of Josiah, and the majority of whom had miserably perished not very long before (Herod. i. 106). But apart from the fact that the prophets of the Old Testament make no allusion to any invasion of Palestine by the Scythians (see Minor Prophets, vol. ii. p. 124, Eng. transl.), this view is founded entirely upon the erroneous supposition that in this funeral-dirge Ezekiel mentions only such peoples as had sustained great defeats a longer or shorter time before. Meshech-Tubal comes into consideration here, as in Ezekiel 38, as a northern power, which is overcome in its conflict with the kingdom of God, and is prophetically exhibited by the prophet as having already fallen under the judgment of death. In Ezekiel 32:26 Ezekiel makes the same announcement as he has already made concerning Asshur in Ezekiel 32:22, Ezekiel 32:23, and with regard to Elam in Ezekiel 32:24, Ezekiel 32:25. But the announcement in Ezekiel 32:27 is obscure. Rosenmller, Ewald, Hvernick, and others, regard this verse as a question (ולא in the sense of הלא): "and should they not lie with (rest with) other fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who...?" i.e., they do lie with them, and could not possibly expect a better fate. But although the interrogation is merely indicated by the tone where the language is excited, and therefore ולא might stand for הלא, as in Exodus 8:22, there is not the slightest indication of such excitement in the description given here as could render this assumption a probable one. On the contrary, ולא at the commencement of the sentence suggests the supposition that an antithesis is intended to the preceding verse. And the probability of this conjecture is heightened by the allusion made to heroes, who have descended into the nether world with their weapons of war; inasmuch as, at all events, something is therein affirmed which does not apply to all the heroes who have gone down into hell. The custom of placing the weapons of fallen heroes along with them in the grave is attested by Diod. Sic. xviii. 26; Arrian, i. 5; Virgil, Ane. vi. 233 (cf. Dougtaei Analectt. ss. i. pp. 281, 282); and, according to the ideas prevailing in ancient times, it was a mark of great respect to the dead. But the last place in which we should expect to meet with any allusion to the payment of such honour to the dead would be in connection with Meshech and Tubal, those wild hordes of the north, who were only known to Israel by hearsay. We therefore follow the Vulgate, the Rabbins, and many of the earlier commentators, and regard the verse before us as containing a declaration that the slain of Meshech-Tubal would not receive the honour of resting in the nether world along with those fallen heroes whose weapons were buried with them in the grave, because they fell with honour.

(Note: C. a Lapide has already given the true meaning: "He compares them, therefore, not with the righteous, but with the heathen, who, although uncircumcised, had met with a glorious death, i.e., they will be more wretched than these; for the latter went down to the shades with glory, but they with ignominy, as if conquered and slain.")

כּלי מלחמה, instruments of war, weapons, as in Deuteronomy 1:41. The text leaves it uncertain who they were who had been buried with such honours. The Seventy have confounded מערלים with מעולם, and rendered ,נפלים τῶν πεπτωκότων ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος possibly thinking of the gibborim of Genesis 6:4. Dathe and Hitzig propose to alter the text to this; and even Hvernick imagines that the prophet may possibly have had such passages as Genesis 6:4 and Genesis 10:9. floating before his mind. But there is not sufficient ground to warrant an alteration of the text; and if Ezekiel had had Genesis 6:4 in his mind, he would no doubt have written הגבּורים. The clause ותּהי עונותם is regarded by the more recent commentators as a continuation of the preceding 'ויּתּנוּ וגו, which is a very natural conclusion, if we simply take notice of the construction. But if we consider the sense of the words, this combination can hardly be sustained. The words, "and so were their iniquities upon their bones" (or they came upon them), can well be understood as an explanation of the reason for their descending into Sheol with their weapons, and lying upon their swords. We must therefore regard ותּהי עונותם as a continuation of ישׁכּבוּ, so that their not resting with those who were buried with their weapons of war furnishes the proof that their guilt lay upon their bones. The words, therefore, have no other meaning than the phrase ישׂאוּ כלמּתם in Ezekiel 32:24 and Ezekiel 32:30. Sin comes upon the bones when the punishment consequent upon it falls upon the bones of the sinner. In the last clause we connect גבּורים with חתּית, terror of the heroes, i.e., terrible even to heroes on account of their savage and cruel nature. In Ezekiel 32:28 we cannot take אתּה as referring to Meshech-Tubal, as many of the commentators propose. A direct address to that people would be at variance with the whole plan of the ode. Moreover, the declaration contained in the verse would contradict what precedes. As Meshech-Tubal is already lying in Sheol among the slain, according to Ezekiel 32:26, the announcement cannot be made to it for the first time here, that it is to be dashed in pieces and laid with those who are slain with the sword. It is the Egyptian who is addressed, and he is told that this fate will also fall upon him. And through this announcement, occurring in the midst of the list of peoples that have already gone down to Sheol, the design of that list is once more called to mind.

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