And you my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, said the Lord GOD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The flock of my pasture.—The chapter closes with the strongest and tenderest assurance that the object of its figurative language is to point out the renewed and close communion which is to come about between God and His people. They are to be His flock, and He is to be their God. Yet still, the vast and infinite distance between them is not left out of view, but rather brought prominently forward—they are men; He is God. They were not yet prepared to understand how this infinite chasm could be bridged over; only it should be by their shepherd David. We know that He was the Mediator, both God and man, thus uniting both in one.Ezekiel 34:31. And ye my flock, &c., are men — These words at the conclusion of the chapter, explain the metaphor which runs through the whole of it; namely, that what was said of a flock and its shepherds, is to be understood of men and their governors, and especially of God’s people, whom their civil and ecclesiastical governors neglected, or misled and oppressed, but whom God regards, watches over, provides for, and takes care of, as a shepherd does his flock. It is justly observed here by Mr. Ostervald, that “this is a chapter which both magistrates and rulers of the church ought to meditate upon very seriously. The complaints that God here makes of false shepherds, and the curses he denounces against them, show that it is the duty of pastors, with their utmost diligence, to watch over the sheep with which they are intrusted, and to provide with care and readiness for all their wants; and that if they fail herein, they must give a severe account to God for it. This too lays an obligation upon princes and magistrates, to govern faithfully and justly the people committed to their trust. What befell the Jews, who, for the unfaithfulness of their prophets and magistrates, were utterly destroyed, shows that it is the greatest misfortune to a nation to have wicked rulers; and that all who are concerned for the glory of God, and the happiness and edification of the church, have great reason to pray to God, that he would always raise up to his people faithful and good pastors.” Jeremiah 23:1); ye are men, and I am your God."1 Peter 2:25. The Talmudists (u) frequently make use of this text, to prove that Israelites are only called men, and not the Gentiles; see Matthew 15:26.
and I am your God, saith the Lord God; which is often repeated for the certainty of it, because a blessing of the greatest importance, and which includes all others in it; see Ezekiel 34:24.And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. ye my flock … are men] Omit “are men” with LXX. and read: and ye are my flock … pasture, and I am your God.Verse 31. - And ye my flock. The great utterance, we might call it the "ode of the shepherds," comes round to the point from which its second portion started (ver. 11). All blessings were summed up in the thought that, behind every representative of the Father's care, the ideal David and his house, there was the eternal relationship between Jehovah and his people, even that of the Shepherd and his sheep. The LXX. omits the words "are men," and here also is followed by Cornill.
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.
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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