Ezekiel 34:18
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Tread down . . . foul the residue.—The charge against them is that they not only first supplied and took care of themselves, but with careless insolence destroyed what should have been for others.

34:17-31 The whole nation seemed to be the Lord's flock, yet they were very different characters; but he knew how to distinguish between them. By good pastures and deep waters, are meant the pure word of God and the dispensing of justice. The latter verses, 23-31, prophesy of Christ, and of the most glorious times of his church on earth. Under Him, as the good Shepherd, the church would be a blessing to all around. Christ, though excellent in himself, was as a tender plant out of a dry ground. Being the Tree of life, bearing all the fruits of salvation, he yields spiritual food to the souls of his people. Our constant desire and prayer should be, that there may be showers of blessings in every place where the truth of Christ is preached; and that all who profess the gospel may be filled with fruits of righteousness.With judgment - It is characteristic of Yahweh as a shepherd that He judges between sheep and sheep, rejecting the proud and accepting the penitent and broken-hearted. 18, 19. Not content with appropriating to their own use the goods of others, they from mere wantonness spoiled what they did not use, so as to be of no use to the owners.

deep waters—that is, "limpid," as deep waters are generally clear. Grotius explains the image as referring to the usuries with which the rich ground the poor (Eze 22:12; Isa 24:2).

God awakens them by this interrogatory to think first, and then speak what this is. When you are full fed, and others hungry and ready to starve, who might live on that you leave if you did not spoil it, do you think such killing is no crime? Is it not a very great cruelty, and a most barbarous inhumanity? You great ones, who have much more than others, partly by the bounty of the Lord of the sheep, and partly by your injustice and rapine, you eat the fat and sweet, and what you cannot eat you waste and spoil; and what would you say, if your proud, fat, and spiteful servants in your houses should do so to their weaker, leaner, and modester servants?

The deep waters; which are clear to the eye and pleasant, which are sweet to their palate, which are wholesome to the drinker.

Ye must foul the residue with your feet; in spite as much as wantonness you stamp in them, raise all the mud from the bottom, that makes the waters unfit to be drunk: is this a trivial thing thus to starve and choke those you should feed and refresh? Such hath been the carriage of you rich, powerful, ruling, and governing part of my people, who have been forced either to live on what you made unwholesome and noxious, or to starve at home, or seek somewhat abroad; this hath destroyed many and dispersed more, but I will not always wink at and bear this.

Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture,.... This is directed to the rams and he goats, to the people of power and wealth, or who had the key of knowledge and instruction; who, by their conduct, showed as if it was not enough for them to eat and drink the best of things themselves, to enjoy their wealth and riches, and keep their posts of honour and profit, and the revenues of them, in church and state:

but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? but they must oppress the poor, by taking away from them that little they have; or by making their lives uncomfortable to them, by their severities and exactions; so that that small pittance they had, they cannot enjoy with any pleasure, The allusion is to beasts in pasture, which tread down and put dung what they do not eat, which makes what is left unfit for others; and to cattle, at ponds of water, which having drank, foul the rest with their feet; as camels particularly are said to do; so that others cannot drink after them, at least not so agreeably: this may be applied to the Scribes and Pharisees, and such as they were, who devoured widows' houses, and made void the word and commandments of God, by their traditions; teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; and so polluted the pure waters of the sanctuary; defiled the Scriptures of truth, and delivered out such doctrines as were not food and drink to the souls of men, and yet were obliged to receive them; and such are heretical persons, who sometimes arise out of the churches, are a part of the flock, that corrupt the word of God, pervert the Scriptures, and handle them deceitfully; and may be said to tread down and trample upon the wholesome truths of the Gospel, and to muddy the clear doctrines of grace; so that the children of God cannot, as they desire, have the pure, unmixed, sincere milk of the word.

Seemeth it a small thing to you to have eaten up the good {i} pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? and to have drank of the deep waters, but ye must foul the rest with your feet?

(i) By good pasture and deep waters is meant the pure word of God and the administration of justice which they did not distribute to the poor till they had corrupted it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. The words are addressed to the rams and he-goats—the magnates and ruling classes.

deep waters] clear (lit. settled) waters, cf. Ezekiel 32:14.

Ezekiel 34:18Jehovah Himself will seek His flock, gather it together from the dispersion, lead it to good pasture, and sift it by the destruction of the bad sheep. - Ezekiel 34:11. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I myself, I will inquire after my flock, and take charge thereof. Ezekiel 34:12. As a shepherd taketh charge of his flock in the day when he is in the midst of his scattered sheep, so will I take charge of my flock, and deliver them out of all the places whither they have been scattered in the day of cloud and cloudy night. Ezekiel 34:13. And I will bring them out from the nations, and gather them together out of the lands, and bring them into their land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all the dwelling-places of the land. Ezekiel 34:14. I will feed them in a good pasture, and on the high mountains of Israel will their pasture-ground be: there shall they lie down in a good pasture-ground, and have fat pasture on the mountains of Israel. Ezekiel 34:15. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 34:16. That which is lost will I seek, and that which is driven away will I bring back; that which is wounded will I bind up, and that which is sick will I:strengthen: but that which is fat and strong will I destroy, and feed them according to justice. Ezekiel 34:17. And you, my sheep, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will judge between sheep and sheep, and the rams and the he-goats. Ezekiel 34:18. Is it too little for you, that ye eat up the good pasture, and what remains of your pasture ye tread down with your feet? and the clear water ye drink, and render muddy what remains with your feet? Ezekiel 34:19. And are my sheep to have for food that which is trodden down by your feet, and to drink that which is made muddy by your feet? Ezekiel 34:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah to them, Behold, I, I will judge between fat sheep and lean. Ezekiel 34:21. Because ye press with side and shoulder, and thrust all the weak with your horns, till ye have driven them out; Ezekiel 34:22. I will help my sheep, so that they shall no more become a prey; and will judge between sheep and sheep. - All that the Lord will do for His flock is summed up in Ezekiel 34:11, in the words דּרשׁתּי את־צאני וּבקּרתּים, which stand in obvious antithesis to 'ואין דּורשׁ וגו in Ezekiel 34:6 - an antithesis sharply accentuated by the emphatic הנני אני, which stands at the head in an absolute form. The fuller explanation is given in the verses which follow, from Ezekiel 34:12 onwards. Observe here that biqeer is substituted for בּקּשׁ. בּקּר, to seek and examine minutely, involves the idea of taking affectionate charge. What the Lord does for His people is compared in Ezekiel 34:12 to the care which a shepherd who deserves the name manifests towards sheep when they are scattered (נפרשׁות without the article is connected with צאנו in the form of apposition); and in Ezekiel 34:12 it is still more particularly explained. In the first place, He will gather them from all the places to which they have been scattered. הצּיל implies that in their dispersion they have fallen into a state of oppression and bondage among the nations (cf. Exodus 6:6). בּיום belongs to the relative clause: whither they have been scattered. The circumstance that these words are taken from Joel 2:2 does not compel us to take them in connection with the principal clause, as Hitzig and Kliefoth propose, and to understand them as relating to the time when God will hold His judgment of the heathen world. The notion that the words in Joel signify "God's day of judgment upon all the heathen" (Kliefoth), is quite erroneous; and even Hitzig does not derive this meaning from Joel 2:2, but from the combination of our verse with Ezekiel 30:3 and Ezekiel 29:21. The deliverance of the sheep out of the places to which they have been scattered, consists in the gathering together of Israel out of the nations, and their restoration to their own land, and their feeding upon the mountains and all the dwelling-places of the land (מושׁב, a place suitable for settlement), and that in good and fat pasture (Ezekiel 34:14); and lastly, in the fact that Jehovah bestows the necessary care upon the sheep, strengthens and heals the weak and sick (Ezekiel 34:15 and Ezekiel 34:16) - that is to say, does just what the bad shepherds have omitted (Ezekiel 34:4) - and destroys the fat and strong. In this last clause another side is shown of the pastoral fidelity of Jehovah. אשׁמיד has been changed by the lxx, Syr., and Vulg. into ,אשׁמורφυλάχω; and Luther has followed them in his rendering, "I will watch over them." But this is evidently a mistake, as it fails to harmonize with ארענּה במשׁפּט. The fat and strong sheep are characterized in Ezekiel 34:18 and Ezekiel 34:19 as those which spoil the food and water of the others. The allusion, therefore, is to the rich and strong ones of the nation, who oppress the humble and poor, and treat them with severity. The destruction of these oppressors shows that the loving care of the Lord is associated with righteousness - that He feeds the flock בּמשׁפּט.

This thought is carried out still further in Ezekiel 34:17-21, the sheep themselves being directly addressed, and the Lord assuring them that He will judge between sheep and sheep, and put an end to the oppressive conduct of the fat sheep and the strong. בּין שׂה לשׂה: between the one sheep and the other. לשׂה is extended in the apposition, "the rams and he-goats," which must not be rendered, "with regard to the rams and he-goats," as it has been by Kliefoth. The thought is not that Jehovah will divide the rams and he-goats from the sheep, as some have explained it, from an inappropriate comparison with Matthew 25:32; but the division is to be effected in such a manner that sheep will be separated from sheep, the fat sheep being placed on one side with the rams and he-goats, and kept apart from the lean (רזה, Ezekiel 34:20) and the sickly sheep (נהלות, Matthew 25:21). It is to the last-named sheep, rams, and he-goats that Matthew 25:18 and Matthew 25:19 are addressed. With regard to the charge brought against them, that they eat up the pasture and tread down the remainder with their feet, etc., Bochart has already correctly observed, that "if the words are not quite applicable to actual sheep, they are perfectly appropriate to the mystical sheep intended here, i.e., to the Israelites, among whom many of the rich, after enjoying an abundant harvest and vintage, grudged the poor their gleaning in either one or the other." משׁקע, a substantive formation, like מרמס, literally, precipitation of the water, i.e., the water purified by precipitation; for שׁקע, to sink, is the opposite of רפשׂ, to stir up or render muddy by treading with the feet (compare Ezekiel 32:14 and Ezekiel 32:2). בּריה, Ezekiel 34:20 equals בּראה or בּריּה. Ezekiel 34:22 brings to a close the description of the manner in which God will deliver His flock, and feed it with righteousness. והושׁעתּי points back to והצּלתּי in Ezekiel 34:12, and ושׁפטתּי to ארענּה במשׁפּט in Ezekiel 34:16. - To this there is appended in Ezekiel 34:23. a new train of thought, describing how God will still further display to His people His pastoral fidelity.

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