Ezekiel 34:5
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) They were scattered, because. . . .—The calamities of the people are attributed to the fault of the rulers, not because the people themselves were free from sin—the contrary has already been abundantly asserted in this book—but because the people’s sins were largely due to the evil example, the idolatries, the oppressions, and the disobedience of their rulers.

Ezekiel 34:5-6. And they were scattered, &c. — Driven into other parts of the land, or into other countries, by the severity, exactions, and oppressions of their rulers. Because there is no shepherd — No one worthy of the name of a shepherd; none that cared for or properly watched over and fed the flock. And they became meat to all the beasts of the field — They were made a prey to, and were spoiled by, their enemies, temporal and spiritual. My sheep wandered through all the mountains — As silly sheep, when there is no one to look after them, wander from one mountain and hill to another; so my thoughtless and infatuated people, disregarded and neglected, or treated with cruelty by those that should have protected and guided them, have manifested their ignorance and folly in following various species of idolatry, and in forming to themselves religions after their own imaginations, full of superstition and impiety. And none did search or seek after them — Their priests and princes were so far from calling them back from these wanderings, that they were the first to follow them; nay, and even to go before, and set them the example.

34:1-6 The people became as sheep without a shepherd, were given up as a prey to their enemies, and the land was utterly desolated. No rank or office can exempt from the reproofs of God's word, men who neglect their duty, and abuse the trust reposed in them.Shepherds - Not priests or prophets, but rulers and kings (see the Jeremiah 2:8 note). The most ancient title for "ruler" is a monogram which occurs on the oldest monuments discovered in the cuneiform character. In the Assyrian language it became riu (compare Hebrew רעה râ‛âh equals shepherd). In the traditions of Berosus we find that Alorus, the first king in the world, received from the Divinity the title of Shepherd. The title, as well as the monogram, was preserved to the latest times of the Assyrian monarchy. While the distress and misery of the people daily in creased, the last kings of Judah exacted more and more from their subjects and lavished more and more on personal luxury and show. 5. scattered, because … no shepherd—that is, none worthy of the name, though there were some called shepherds (1Ki 22:17; Mt 9:36). Compare Mt 26:31, where the sheep were scattered when the true Shepherd was smitten. God calls them "My sheep"; for they were not, as the shepherds treated them, their patrimony whereby to "feed themselves."

meat to all … beasts—They became a prey to the Syrians, Ammon, Moab, and Assyria.

They, my neglected sheep, were scattered, by the inroads and invasions of their enemies, that broke in like devouring beasts.

No shepherd; no vigilant, faithful, good shepherd that loved the flock, and of love studied its welfare.

Became meat; were made a prey of, and devoured by Syrians, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, &c., all their neighbours might the devour them.

The beasts, signify men, troops of robbers, and spoilers.

When they were scattered; as sheep scattered are easily devoured by every hungry wolf or fox.

And they were scattered because there is no shepherd,.... No good one; there were shepherds, but they were idol shepherds, good for nothing, and it was all one as if there were none: so, in Christ's time, there were the Scribes and Pharisees; yet, since these did not feed the people with wholesome doctrine, they are said to be as sheep without a shepherd, and scattered abroad, as here from the fold, and from one another; dispersed here and there, seeking food, and none, which moved his compassion, Matthew 9:36, in the political sense it may refer to their captivity, and their dispersion among the nations, having no king: So the Targum,

"and they were scattered without a governor.''

And they became meat to all beasts of the field when they were scattered; the Targum is,

"and they were delivered to all the kingdoms of the people to be consumed;''

such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Ammonites, Moabites, and others; and may be applied to false teachers, those grievous wolves, which spare not the flock, into whose hands members of churches, professors of religion, fall, when neglected by their shepherds.

And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they {d} became food to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

(d) For lack of good government and doctrine they perished.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. The allegory is simple enough. Owing to the evil and selfish government of the rulers the people became the prey of all the nations round about them. The figure of the flock indicates, however, the affection of Jehovah for his people and his compassion over their sufferings.

Verse 5. - And they were scattered. The words are an echo of 1 Kings 22:17, and are, in their turn, echoed by Matthew 9:36. The words that follow paint the sufferings of the exiles who left their homes and were scattered among the heathen in the days of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Of these the kings took no heed, and shut themselves up in the luxurious seclusion of their palace. Ezekiel 34:5Woe to the Bad Shepherds

Ezekiel 34:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 34:2. Son of man, prophesy concerning the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, to the shepherds, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who fed themselves; should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ezekiel 34:3. Ye eat the fat, and clothe yourselves whit the wool; ye slay the fattened; the flock ye do not feed. Ezekiel 34:4. The weak ones ye do not strengthen, and that which is sick ye do not cure, the wounded one ye bind not up, the scattered ye bring not back, and the lost one ye do not seek; and ye rule over them with violence and with severity. Ezekiel 34:5. Therefore they were scattered, because without shepherd, and became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. Ezekiel 34:6. My sheep wander about on all the mountains, and on every high hill; and over all the land have my sheep been scattered, and there is no one who asks for them, and no one who seeks them. Ezekiel 34:7. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah: Ezekiel 34:8. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, because my sheep become a prey, and my sheep become food to all the beasts of the field, because there is no shepherd, and my shepherds do not inquire after my sheep, and the shepherds feed themselves, but do not feed the sheep, Ezekiel 34:9. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah, Ezekiel 34:10. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with the shepherds, and will demand my sheep from their hand, and cause them to cease to feed my flock, that they may feed themselves no more; and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may be food to them no more. - In Ezekiel 34:2 לרעים is an explanatory apposition to אליהם, and is not to be taken in connection with כּה אמר יי, in opposition to the constant use of this formula, as Kliefoth maintains. The reason for the woe pronounced is given in the apposition, who fed themselves, whereas they ought to have fed the flock; and the charge that they only care for themselves is still further explained by a description of their conduct (Ezekiel 34:3 and Ezekiel 34:4), and of the dispersion of the flock occasioned thereby (Ezekiel 34:5 and Ezekiel 34:6). Observe the periphrastic preterite היוּ רעים, they were feeding, which shows that the woe had relation chiefly to the former shepherds or rulers of the nation. אותם is reflective, se ipsos (cf. Gesen. 124. 1b). The disgracefulness of their feeding themselves is brought out by the question, "Ought not the shepherds to feed the flock?" Ezekiel 34:3 shows how they fed themselves, and Ezekiel 34:4 how they neglected the flock. חלב, the fat, which Bochart and Hitzig propose to alter into החלב, the milk, after the Septuagint and Vulgate, is not open to any objection. The fat, as the best portion of the flesh, which was laid upon the altar, for example, in the case of the sacrifices, as being the flower of all the flesh, is mentioned here as pars melior pro toto. Hvernick has very properly pointed, in vindication of the reading in the text, to Zechariah 11:16, where the two clauses, ye eat the fat, and slay the fattened, are joined together in the one clause, "the flesh of the fattened one will he eat." There is no force in the objection raised by Hitzig, that "the slaughtering of the fat beasts, which ought to be mentioned first, is not introduced till afterwards;" for this clause contains a heightening of the thought that they use the flock to feed themselves: they do not even kill the leaner beasts, but those that are well fattened; and it follows very suitably after the general statement, that they make use of both the flesh and the wool of the sheep for their own advantage. They care nothing for the wellbeing of the flock: this is stated in the last clause of Ezekiel 34:3, which is explained in detail in Ezekiel 34:4. נהלות is the Niphal participle of חלה, and is a contracted form of נחלות, like נחלה in Isaiah 17:11. The distinction between נהלות and חולה is determined by the respective predicates חזּק and רפא. According to these, נחלה signifies that which is weak in consequence of sickness, and חלה that which is weak in itself. נשׁבּרת, literally, that which is broken, an animal with a leg or some other member injured. נדּח, scattered, as in Deuteronomy 22:1.

In the last clause of Ezekiel 34:4, the neglect of the flock is summed up in the positive expression, to rule over them with violence and severity. רדה בפרך is taken from Leviticus 25:43, Leviticus 25:46; but there as well as here it points back to Exodus 1:13-14, where בפרך is applied to the tyrannical measures adopted by Pharaoh for the oppression of the Israelites. The result of this (Ezekiel 34:5, Ezekiel 34:6) was, that the sheep were scattered, and became food to the beasts of prey. מבּלי, on account of there not being a shepherd, i.e., because there was no shepherd worthy of the name. This took place when Israel was carried away into exile, where it became a prey to the heathen nations. When we find this mournful fate of the people described as brought about by the bad shepherds, and attributable to faults of theirs, we must not regard the words as applying merely to the mistaken policy of the kings with regard to external affairs (Hitzig); for this was in itself simply a consequence of their neglect of their theocratic calling, and of their falling away from the Lord into idolatry. It is true that the people had also made themselves guilty of this sin, so that it was obliged to atone not only for the sins of its shepherds, but for its own sin also; but this is passed by here, in accordance with the design of this prophecy. And it could very properly be kept out of sight, inasmuch as the rulers had also occasioned the idolatry of the people, partly by their neglect of their duty, and partly by their bad example. ותּפוּצינה is repeated with emphasis at the close of Ezekiel 34:5; and the thought is still further expanded in Ezekiel 34:6. The wandering upon all the mountains and hills must not be understood as signifying the straying of the people to the worship on high places, as Theodoret and Kliefoth suppose. The fallacy of this explanation is clearly shown by the passage on which this figurative description rests (1 Kings 22:17), where the people are represented as scattered upon the mountains in consequence of the fall of the king in battle, like a flock that had no shepherd. The words in the next clause, corresponding to the mountains and hills, are כּל־פּני הארץ, the whole face of the land, not "of the earth" (Kliefoth). For although the dispersion of the flock actually consisted in the carrying away of the people into heathen lands, the actual meaning of the figure is kept in the background here, as is evident from the fact that Ezekiel constantly uses the expression הארצות (plural) when speaking of the dispersion among the heathen (cf. Ezekiel 13). The distinction between דּרשׁ and בּקּשׁ is, that דרשׁ taht , signifies rather to ask, inquire for a thing, to trouble oneself about it, whereas בקשׁ means to seek for that which has strayed or is lost. In Ezekiel 34:7-10, the punishment for their unfaithfulness is announced to the shepherds themselves; but at the same time, as is constantly the case with Ezekiel, their guilt is once more recapitulated as an explanation of the threatening of punishment, and the earnest appeal to listen is repeated in Ezekiel 34:9. The Lord will demand His sheep of them; and because sheep have been lost through their fault, He will dispose them from the office of shepherd, and so deliver the poor flock from their violence. If we compare with this Jeremiah 23:2 : "Behold, I will visit upon you the wickedness of your doings," the threat in Ezekiel has a much milder sound. There is nothing said about the punishment of the shepherd, but simply that the task of keeping the sheep shall be taken from them, so that they shall feed themselves no more. This distinction is to be explained from the design of our prophecy, which is not so much to foretell the punishment of the shepherds, as the deliverance from destruction of the sheep that have been plunged into misery. The repetition of צאני, my flock (Ezekiel 34:8 and Ezekiel 34:10, as before in Ezekiel 34:6), is also connected with this. The rescue of the sheep out of the hand of the bad shepherds had already commenced with the overthrow of the monarchy on the destruction of Jerusalem. If, then it is here described as only to take place in the future, justice is not done to these words by explaining them, as Hitzig does, as signifying that what has already actually taken place is now to be made final, and not to be reversed. For although this is implied, the words clearly affirm that the deliverance of the sheep out of the hand of the shepherds has not yet taken place, but still remains to be effected, so that the people are regarded as being at the time in the power of bad shepherds, and their rescue is predicted as still in the future. How and when it will be accomplished, by the removal of the bad shepherds, is shown in the announcement, commencing with Ezekiel 34:11, of what the Lord will do for His flock.

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