Ezekiel 36:3
Therefore prophesy and say, Thus said the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that you might be a possession to the residue of the heathen, and you are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) In the lips of talkers, and are an infamy.—A phrase equivalent to a by-word and a reproach. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:37; 1Kings 9:7, &c.) In the previous clause the words, “have swallowed you up,” should rather be “pant for you,” the word being taken from the snuffing and panting of wild beasts. It was after this fashion that “the residue of the heathen,” all those whom the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar had yet left, panted for the possession of the lands of Israel.

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 residue of the pagan - Those of the surrounding nations which had survived Jerusalem's fall, and may have profited by it. 3. Literally, "Because, even because."

swallowed you up—literally, "panted after" you, as a beast after its prey; implying the greedy cupidity of Edom as to Israel's inheritance (Ps 56:1, 2).

lips of talkers—literally, "lips of the tongue," that is, of the slanderer, the man of tongue. Edom slandered Israel because of the connection of the latter with Jehovah, as though He were unable to save them. De 28:37, and Jer 24:9 had foretold Israel's reproach among the heathen (Da 9:16).

Because they, Edomites, and others with them,

have made you desolate; first broken your strength, wasted your cities, and burnt the temple, and waylaid you, to cut off them that were escaped at last.

Swallowed you up; devoured you, as hungry beasts devour the prey.

On every side; from all coasts of the land, through the whole.

That ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen; that such of the heathen as remained here might have, what they no where else could have, being the scum and worst of men, an inheritance and possession; so unnatural was Edom, that east out his own kindred, to bring in the vilest of men and the most barbarous strangers.

Ye are taken up in the lips of talkers; you are the subject on which wild and foul mouths discourse, which is explained, in that the people ever talked of them with reproach, and branding them as infamous. This was foretold to Israel, Jeremiah 24:9, and they were advised to prevent it. Therefore prophesy and say, thus saith the Lord God,.... Who heard all the enemy said, and knew all their designs and purposes, their schemes and devices:

because they have made you desolate; ravaged their country, destroyed their cities, burnt their temple, and carried them captive, and left the land without men or cattle:

and swallowed you up on every side; all their neighbours, being their enemies, were like ravenous beasts of prey, gaping upon them with their mouths; and, observing the low condition into which they were brought by the king of Babylon, helped forward the destruction; and everyone shared in the spoil and plunder nearest to them they could conveniently come at:

that ye might be a possession to the residue of the Heathen; either to those that were left in the land by the king of Babylon, or to the rest of the Heathen nations round about them:

ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people; reproached, defamed, and made a proverb and byword, by every foul mouthed prating fellow.

Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession to the rest of the nations, and ye are taken up in the lips of {c} talkers, and are an infamy of the people:

(c) You are made a matter of talk and derision to all the world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Because …] lit. because, because, Ezekiel 13:10. The passage throughout betrays passionate feeling on the part of the prophet. His patriotism is aglow as the loved mountains of his native land rise before his mind; cf. the pathetic words in reference to the exiled king, Ezekiel 19:9. Hence the excitation and solemnity displayed in introducing the prophecy, which itself is expressed (Ezekiel 36:7 seq.) only after four or five commands to utter it (Ezekiel 36:3-6). For made desolate gaped for might be read, Isaiah 42:14.

and ye are taken up] Or, and are come up upon the lips, Deuteronomy 28:37; Lamentations 2:15; Daniel 9:16 (niph. not unusual in this verb, Jeremiah 37:5).Verse 3. - Therefore. Ewald calls attention to the fivefold repetition of this conjunction, saying, "It repeats itself five times, the reasons [for God's judgments] against these enemies thrusting themselves forward, before the discourse calmly dwells upon the mountains of Israel, of which it is strictly intended to treat." As it were, the prophet's emotion is so strong, and his indignation against Israel's enemies so vehement, that, though he three times in succession begins to prophesy to the mountains of Israel, he on each occasion breaks off before he can get his message told, to expatiate upon the wickedness of Israel's foes. In the prophet's estimation that wickedness was so heinous as to inevitably carry in its bosom appropriate retribution. Because - literally, because and because, or even because, a reduplication for the sake of emphasis, as in Ezekiel 13:10 and Leviticus 26:43 - they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side; literally, wasting of and panting after you (are) round about. Fairbairn, Ewald, and Smend, deriving שַׁמות from נָשַׁם, "to pant," rather than from שָׁמַם, "to lay waste," translate, "because there is snapping and puffing at you round about," which Plumptre thinks "falls in better with the context," since "the prophet's spirit seems to dwell throughout on the derision rather than the desolation to which his country, the mountains of Israel, had been subject." And ye are taken up; literally, ye are made to come, if וַתֵּעֲלוּ be an imperf., niph. of עָלַה, "to go up "(Rosenmüller, Schroder); or, ye are come, if it be imperf., kal of עָלַל, "to press, or go in" (Ewald, Havernick); or, ye are gone up, if it be second pers. kal of עָלַה (Hitzig, Smend). In the lips of talkers; literally, upon the lip of the tongue - the lip being regarded as the instrument or organ with which the tongue speaks. Havernick unnecessarily takes "the tongue" as equivalent to "people" in the parallel clause - a signification לָשׁון has only in Isaiah 66:18; while Kliefoth views it as synonymous with "slander," as in Psalm 140:11, and translates, "upon the lip of slander and of the evil report of the people." Keil sees in "the tongue" a personification for the "tongue-man" or talker of Psalm 140:11; and Gesenius considers the two clauses as tautological. 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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