And when they entered to the heathen, where they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When they said to them.—We are not here to understand that the Israelites profaned God’s name among the heathen in the way spoken of in Romans 2:24, though this also may have been done; but they profaned it by the very fact of their captivity, the consequence of their former sins. The heathen regarded Jehovah as merely the national God of the Israelites, and seeing them dispersed, in distress, and in captivity, concluded that He was unable to protect them. Hence, for the vindication of His name (Ezekiel 36:21-24) God would restore His people to their land.Ezekiel 36:20. When they entered unto the heathen, they profaned my holy name — 1st, By their evil practices they brought a scandal on God’s name, and gave occasion to the heathen to say, See what profligate wretches these are, who call themselves Jehovah’s peculiar people; judge what sort of a God he is who has such worshippers. The Jews were no credit to their profession wherever they went; but, on the contrary, a reproach to it, and the name of God and his holy religion was blasphemed through them, Romans 2:24. Observe, reader, when those that pretend to stand related to God, as his servants and children, and to be in covenant and communion with him, are nevertheless found corrupt in their morals, slaves to their appetites and passions, dishonest in their dealings, and false to their words, and the trusts reposed in them, the enemies of the Lord have thereby great cause given them to blaspheme both him and his religion. 2d, God’s name was profaned by the sufferings of Israel; for from them the enemies of God took occasion to reproach God, as unable to protect his own worshippers, and to make good his own grants. They said in scorn, These are the people of the Lord; these wicked people! you see he could not keep them in their obedience to his precepts; these miserable people! he could not keep them in the enjoyment of his favours. These are the people that came out of Jehovah’s land; they are the very scum of the nations!
said to them—the Israelites.
These, &c.—The Israelites gave a handle of reproach to the heathen against God, who would naturally say, These who take usury, oppress, commit adultery, &c., and who, in such an abject plight, are "gone forth" as exiles "out of His land," are specimens of what Jehovah can or will effect, for His people, and show what kind of a God this so-called holy, omnipotent, covenant-keeping God must be! (Isa 52:5; Ro 2:24).When they entered; when they were come into Babylon, and entered into familiarity with the inhabitants as neighbours.
Profaned my holy name; did profanely sin against those precepts of my law, which heathens did know, venerate, and observe better than the Jews; or it may include the misery their sins had brought them to, which misery reflected upon their God in the opinion of the heathen.
They said, their heathen neighbours, to them, the miserable and profane Jews,
These are the people of the Lord; with taunt and cutting reprimand. These, these captive slaves, that are most forlorn of men, will have it that their God is the Lord, the mighty and the good God, the true and faithful One, that gave them the land out of which they are driven. If he be good, as they boast, how comes it to pass his people are in such ill state? Or is he not able to better their state? Was he weak, and could not keep them in their own land? or doth he falsify his word? You miserable Jews, say what this meaneth. But by their impure life they opened the mouths of the heathen more to blaspheme, and call the holiness of God into question; when they saw his people so unholy, they concluded. As is the people so is their God; and this, as it was a great offence and scandal to the heathen, so it was a great dishonour to God.
they profaned my holy name; by their irreligion and immorality; by their violation of both tables of the law; by their wicked lives and conversations, whereby they gave the enemy an occasion to reproach them, their religion, and their God, Romans 2:24,
when they said to them, these are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land; these are the men that boast they are the people of the Lord, whom he has chosen above all people, and see what a wicked people they are; for their sins they are driven out of the land, and become our captives: or though they were the Lord's people, as they pretend, and were under his care and protection; yet he was not able to keep them in their own land, and deliver them out of our hands, but they are carried captive by us; and thus the name of God, his being and perfections, were blasphemed, and his word, worship, and worshippers, were ridiculed by them. The Targum is,And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. These disasters which the people of Jehovah brought on themselves led to the desecration of his name among the heathen. The nations judged him weak and unable to protect his people. In the eyes of the nations the interests of the god and his people were one; if a people was subdued by another it was because its god was too feeble to protect it. Naturally the idea of a god exercising a moral rule over his own people would not yet occur to them. That Jehovah so rules is the lesson which the history of Israel, its dispersion and restoration, is intended to read to the nations of the earth. This lesson was one which Israel itself was slow to learn, and when Amos (Ezekiel 3:2) read it to them, it was perhaps as strange to some as it might be to the heathen.
they profaned] i.e. Israel. Israel by bringing their dispersion upon themselves led to the desecration of Jehovah’s name by the nations, and hence they are said directly to have profaned his name (Ezekiel 36:21).
when they said to them] when it was said of them, These are … and they are gone forth …, i.e. though the people of Jehovah, they have been driven into exile out of the land—he has not been able to protect them.Verse 20. - They profaned my holy Name; or, the name of my holiness. According to Kliefoth, the subject of the verb is "the heathen," but expositors generally regard it as "the house of Israel" of ver. 17. Plumptre thinks that "while grammatically the words may refer to either the heathen or the exiles of Israel, possibly the sentence was purposely left vague, so as to describe the fact in which both were sharers," and cites in support of this view similar constructions in Isaiah 55:5 and Romans 2:24. What led to the profanation of Jehovah's Name by the heathen was the arrival among them, not of the news of the calamity which had befallen Israel (Kliefoth, Hengstenberg), but of the house of Israel itself; and the actual profanation lay in this, that, having beheld the exiles, they said, These are the people of the Lord, and they are gone forth out of his land. As the heathen recognized only local divinities, they concluded Jehovah had either behaved capriciously towards his people and east them off (comp. Jeremiah 23:40; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 33:24), or had proved unequal to the task of protecting them so that they had been driven off (comp. Ezekiel 20:5, etc.; Numbers 14:16; Jeremiah 14:9). In either case, the honor of Jehovah had been lessened in the minds and tarnished by the words of the heathen, and inasmuch as this result had been brought about by Israel's sin, on Israel properly the blame lay.
Ezekiel 34:23. And I will raise up one shepherd over them, who shall feed them, my servant David; he will feed them, and he will be to them a shepherd. Ezekiel 34:24. And I, Jehovah, will be God to them, and my servant David prince in the midst of them: I, Jehovah, have spoken it. Ezekiel 34:25. And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and destroy the evil beasts out of the land, so that they will dwell safely in the desert and sleep in the forests. Ezekiel 34:26. And I will make them and the places round my hill a blessing, and cause the rain to fall in its season: showers of blessing shall there be. Ezekiel 34:27. The tree of the field will give its fruit, and the land will give its produce, and they will be safe in their land, and will know that I am Jehovah, when I break their yoke-bars in pieces, and deliver them out of the hand of those who made them servants. Ezekiel 34:28. They will be no more a prey to the nations, and the wild beasts will not devour them; but they will dwell safely, and no one will terrify them. Ezekiel 34:29. And I will raise up for them a plantation for a name, so that they will no more be swept away by famine in the land, and shall no longer bear the disgrace of the heathen nations. Ezekiel 34:30. And they shall know that I, Jehovah, their God, am with them, and they are my people, the house of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 34:31. And ye are my sheep, the flock of my pasture; ye are men, I am your God, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - God will cause to stand up, raise up, one single shepherd over His flock. הקים, the standing expression for the rising up of a person in history through the interposition of God (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15; 2 Samuel 7:12, and other passages). רעה, not unicus, singularis, a shepherd unique in his kind, but one shepherd, in contrast not only with the many bad shepherds, but with the former division of the people into two kingdoms, each with its own separate king. Compare Ezekiel 37:24 with Jeremiah 28:6, where it is expressly said that the David to be raised up is to feed Israel and Judah, the two peoples that had been divided before. "My servant David:" Jehovah calls him עבדּי, not merely with reference to the obedience rendered (Hvernick), but also with regard to his election (Isaiah 42:1; Hengstenberg). There is no necessity to refute the assertion of Hitzig, David Strauss, and others, that Ezekiel expected the former King David to be raised from the dead. The reference is to the sprout of David (Jeremiah 23:5), already called simply David in Hosea 3:5 and Jeremiah 30:9. In Ezekiel 34:24 the relation of Jehovah to this David is more precisely defined: Jehovah will then be God to His people, and David be prince in the midst of them. The last words point back to 2 Samuel 7:8. Through the government of David, Jehovah will become in truth God of His people Israel; for David will feed the people in perfect unity with Jehovah, - will merely carry out the will of Jehovah, and not place himself in opposition to God, like the bad shepherds, because, as is therewith presupposed, he is connected with God by unity of nature.
In Ezekiel 34:25. the thought is carried out still further, - how God will become God to His people, and prove Himself to be its covenant God through the pastoral fidelity of the future David. God will fully accomplish the covenant mercies promised to Israel. The making of the covenant of peace need not be restricted, in accordance with Hosea 2:20 (18), to a covenant which God would make with the beasts in favour of His people. The thought is a more comprehensive one here, and, according to Leviticus 26:4-6, the passage which Ezekiel had in his mind involves all the salvation which God had included in His promises to His people: viz., (1) the extermination of everything that could injure Israel, of all the wild beasts, so that they would be able to sleep securely in the deserts and the forests (Ezekiel 34:25, compare Leviticus 26:6); (2) the pouring out of an abundant rain, so that the field and land would yield rich produce (Ezekiel 34:26, Ezekiel 34:27; cf. Leviticus 26:4-5). "I make them, the Israelites, and the surroundings of my hill, a blessing." גּבעתי, the hill of Jehovah, is, according to Isaiah 31:4, Mount Zion, the temple-mountains, including the city of Jerusalem. The surroundings of this hill are the land of Israel, that lay around it. But Zion, with the land around, is not mentioned in the place of the inhabitants; and still less are we to understand by the surroundings of the hill the heathen nations, as Hengstenberg does, in opposition both to the context and the usage of the language. The thought is simply that the Lord will make both the people and the land a blessing (Hvernick, Kliefoth). בּרכה, a blessing, is stronger than "blessed" (cf. Genesis 12:2). The blessing is brought by the rain in its season, which fertilizes the earth. This will take place when the Lord breaks the yokes laid upon His people. These words are from Leviticus 26:13, where they refer to the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt; and they are transferred by Ezekiel to the future redemption of Israel from the bondage of the heathen. For עבדים , compare Exodus 1:14. This thought is carried out still further in Ezekiel 34:28; and then, in Ezekiel 34:29, all that has been said is summed up in the thoughts, "I raise up for them a plantation for a name," etc. מטּע, a plantation, as in Ezekiel 17:7; not a land for planting (Hitzig). לשׁם, for a name, i.e., not for the glory of God (De Wette); but the plantation, which the Lord will cause to grow by pouring down showers of blessing (Ezekiel 34:26), is to bring renown to the Israelites, namely, among the heathen, who will see from this that Israel is a people blessed by its God. This explanation of the words is supplied by the following clause: they shall no more be swept away by famine in the land, and no more bear the disgrace of the heathen, i.e., the disgrace which the heathen heaped upon Israel when in distress (compare Zephaniah 3:19; Jeremiah 13:11; and the primary passage, Deuteronomy 26:29). From this blessing they will learn that Jehovah their God is with them, and Israel is His people. The promise concludes in Ezekiel 34:31 with these words, which set a seal upon the whole: "Ye are my flock, the flock of my pasture (lit., my pasture-flock; צאן , Jeremiah 23:1, the flock fed by God Himself); men are ye, I am your God." That these last words to not serve merely as an explanation of the figurative expression "flock," is a fact of which no proof is needed. The figure of a flock was intelligible to every one. The words "call attention to the depth and greatness of the divine condescension, and meet the objection of men of weak faith, that man, who is taken from the earth האדמה, and returns to it again, is incapable of so intimate a connection with God" (Hengstenberg).
If we take another survey, in conclusion, of the contents of our prophecy, the following are the three features of the salvation promised to the people of Israel: - (1) The Lord will liberate His people from the hand of the bad shepherds, and He Himself will feed it as His flock; (2) He will gather it together from its dispersion, bring it back to the land of Israel and feed it there, will take charge of the sheep in need of help, and destroy the fat and strong sheep by which the weak ones are oppressed; (3) He will raise up the future David for a shepherd, and under his care He will bestow upon His people the promised covenant blessings in richest measure. These saving acts of God for His people, however, are not depicted according to their several details and historical peculiarities, as Kliefoth has correctly observed, nor are they narrated in the chronological order in which they would follow one another in history; but they are grouped together according to their general design and character, and their essential features. If, then, we seek for the fulfilment, the Lord raised up His servant David as a shepherd to Israel, by sending Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11), and who calls Himself the Good Shepherd with obvious reference to this and other prophetic declarations of a similar kind (John 10:11.). But the sending of Christ was preceded by the gathering of Israel out of the Babylonian exile, by which God had already taken charge of His flock, Yet, inasmuch as only a small portion of Israel received the Messiah, who appeared in Jesus, as its shepherd, there fell upon the unbelieving Israel a new judgment of dispersion among all nations, which continues still, so that a gathering together still awaits the people of Israel at some future time. No distinction is made in the prophecy before us between these two judgments of dispersion, which are associated with the twofold gathering of Israel; but they are grouped together as one, so that although their fulfilment commenced with the deliverance of Israel from the Babylonian captivity and the coming of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd of the family of David, it was only realized in that portion of Israel, numerically the smallest portion, which was willing to be gathered and fed by Jesus Christ, and the full realization will only be effected when that conversion of Israel shall take place, which the Apostle Paul foretells in Romans 11:25. - For further remarks on the ultimate fulfilment, we refer the reader to a later page.
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