Ezekiel 36:2
Thus said the Lord GOD; Because the enemy has said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:
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(2) The ancient high places.—This is very nearly the same expression as in Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:15, where it is translated “everlasting (or lasting) hills,” and is probably an allusion to those passages. “The enemy” is a general term, which may refer to Edom; but from the following verses it is more likely that it is used for the heathen at large. When Israel’s land had been left desolate, the surrounding nations claimed that God’s promise to His people had failed, and that they themselves might now enter upon its secure possession.

Ezekiel 36:2-7. Because the enemy hath said, &c. — This prophecy appears to be a continuation of the preceding. “The Idumeans have made their boasts (see Ezekiel 36:5, and Ezekiel 35:10) that they should become masters of the mountainous parts of Judea, where the ancient fortresses were placed which commanded all the rest of the country.” — Lowth. And ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, &c. — Your calamities have made you become a proverb, a by-word, and a reproach among the heathen round about you, according to the threatenings of the prophets denounced against you: see the margin. Thus saith the Lord to the mountains, &c., which became a prey to the residue of the heathen — To those heathen that were left after the general desolations threatened to the neighbouring countries, Moab, Edom, Ammon, &c. Surely in the fire of my jealousy — In that fervent zeal and concern that I have for my own honour, which is blasphemed among the heathen; have I spoken against the residue of the heathen — Against all the nations that are and have been enemies to Israel; against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession — Who have fully expected to get the dominion of my land, and be the sole possessors of it. Because ye have borne the shame of the heathen — Because the heathen nations have made a scoff of you; therefore I have lifted up my hand — I have sworn, or absolutely determined: see Genesis 14:22. Surely the heathen that are about you shall bear their shame — The heathen nations around, that have made a mock of you, shall be mocked themselves, and be as much held in contempt as they have held you.36:1-15 Those who put contempt and reproach on God's people, will have them turned on themselves. God promises favour to his Israel. We have no reason to complain, if the more unkind men are, the more kind God is. They shall come again to their own border. It was a type of the heavenly Canaan, of which all God's children are heirs, and into which they all shall be brought together. And when God returns in mercy to a people who return to him in duty, all their grievances will be set right. The full completion of this prophecy must be in some future event.The "mountains of Israel" are opposed to "Seir," the mount of Edom Ezekiel 35:3. CHAPTER 36

Eze 36:1-38. Israel Avenged of Her Foes, and Restored, First to Inward Holiness, Then to Outward Prosperity.

The distinction between Israel and the heathen (as Edom) is: Israel has a covenant relation to God ensuring restoration after chastisement, so that the heathen's hope of getting possession of the elect people's inheritance must fail, and they themselves be made desolate (Eze 36:1-15). The reason for the chastisement of Israel was Israel's sin and profanation of God's name (Eze 36:16-21). God has good in store for Israel, for His own name's sake, to revive His people; first, by a spiritual renewal of their hearts, and, next, by an external restoration to prosperity (Eze 36:22-33). The result is that the heathen shall be impressed with the power and goodness of God manifested so palpably towards the restored people (Eze 36:34-38).

1, 2. mountains of Israel—in contrast to "Mount Seir" of the previous prophecy. They are here personified; Israel's elevation is moral, not merely physical, as Edom's. Her hills are "the everlasting hills" of Jacob's prophecy (Ge 49:26). "The enemy" (Edom, the singled-out representative of all God's foes), with a shout of exultation, "Aha!" had claimed, as the nearest kinsman of Israel (the brother of their father Esau), his vacated inheritance; as much as to say, the so-called "everlasting" inheritance of Israel and of the "hills," which typified the unmoved perpetuity of it (Ps 125:1, 2), has come to an end, in spite of the promise of God, and has become "ours" (compare De 32:13; 33:15).

Many were the enemies of God’s people, but they so conspired in one design, with one consent, and were so one in their humours, and enmity, and carriage, that the prophet speaks of them as one, and particularly of Edom.

Aha; rejoicingly and with insulting pride, as Ammon did, Ezekiel 25:3, and Tyre did, Ezekiel 26:2, which see.

The ancient high places; the everlasting hills; but this is common with other hills, whose foundations, as these of Israel, are from the beginning, and shall be to the end. What they aim at is a deriding of Israel, who by promise from God claimed these mountains as a perpetual inheritance, but were now cast out of it, and they hereby tax the God of Israel as not keeping his promise. So they blaspheme God and insult over his people.

Ours; our right, as of the elder house, now conquerors and feudatories to him that hath subdued them; thus they pretend right to justify their injustice.

In possession; we are now where we should have been these one thousand one hundred and sixty years or more, where we thought we would be one time or other, in spite of them and all their boasts of their God; we are where we will keep, and none shall put us out. Such impious brags were their ruin, and are implied in the words. Thus saith the Lord God,.... By the mouth of the prophet, who was bid to prophesy:

because the enemy had said against you, aha: rejoicing at the calamity of God's people, particularly the Edomites or Idumeans, as in the preceding chapter; and who are chiefly meant; and also the Ammonites and Tyrians, Ezekiel 25:3,

even the ancient high places are ours in possession; or, "the high places of the world shall be unto us for a possession" (f); the land of Israel, according to Kimchi and others, was the highest part of the world, Jerusalem the highest part of that land, and the temple was built on the highest part of the city; and all these the Edomites claimed as their own, the land, city, and temple, and thought themselves sure of the same, as if they had them in actual possession; even the hilly part of the country, which had been so from the creation, and where stood many of the fortified and frontier towns and cities; which as strong as they were, or had been, they fancied would easily fall into their hands, now such desolations were made in the land.

(f) "excelsa seculi haereditario jure futura sunt nobis", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; "celsa seculi haereditas evenit nobis", Cocceius, Starckius.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the {a} enemy had said against you, Aha, even the ancient {b} high places are ours in possession:

(a) That is, the Idumean.

(b) That is Jerusalem, which for God's promises was the chief of all the world.

2. Cf. Ezekiel 25:3, Ezekiel 26:2.

ancient high places] “High places” is not used here in the usual religious sense of rural sanctuaries, but said of the mountain—land of Israel, cf. Deuteronomy 32:13; Micah 3:12. On ancient or “eternal” as an epithet of mountains cf. Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:15; Psalm 24:7. For “high places” LXX. reads “wastes,” cf. perpetual desolations, Ezekiel 35:9.Verse 2. - Because the enemy hath said against you. The ground of Jehovah's purposed proceeding against Edom and the surrounding heathen peoples (vers. 3, 5) is expressly declared to be the jubilation over the downfall of Israel, and the eagerness with which they sought to appropriate to themselves her forsaken land. Aha! Exulting over Israel's misfortune (comp. Ezekiel 25:3; Psalm 40:16). The ancient high places, which Israel's enemies fancied had become theirs in possession, were probably "the everlasting hills" of Genesis 49:26 and Deuteronomy 33:15, the principal mountains of Palestine, which, as Havernick finely observes, were "the honorable witnesses and indestructible monuments of that ancient blessing spoken by Israel's ancestor, and still resting on the people;" and to assail which was, in consequence, not only to sin against Jehovah, but to attempt an enterprise foredoomed to failure and shame. At the same time, Plumptre's suggestion ('Ezekiel: an Ideal Biography,' Expositor, vol. 8:284; and Unpublished Notes) is not without plausibility, that, considering the special significance of the term bamoth in Ezekiel, the phrase should be held as referring to the sanctuaries which stood upon those heights - including, of course, the chief sanctuary, or temple (Schroder); in support of which the dean cites the frequency with which the enemies of Israel, as, for instance, the Assyrians and the Moabites, in their inscriptions, boasted that they had captured these sanctuaries (see 'Records of the Past,' 2nd series, tel. 1. p. 107; 2:203). Jehovah 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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