Ezekiel 36:5
Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
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(5) Idumea = Edom, as in Ezekiel 35:15, where see Note. For “cast it out,” in the last clause of the verse, read, empty it out. The idea of casting out a land for a prey is incongruous, and the other sense is admissible.

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. 5. to cast it out for a prey—that is, to take the land for a prey, its inhabitants being cast out. Or the land is compared to a prey cast forth to wild beasts. Fairbairn needlessly alters the Hebrew pointing and translates, "that they may plunder its pasturage." Surely; in the Hebrew it is in the form of an oath.

In the fire; in my hot displeasure.

Spoken against; threatened ruin and desolation to all the nations that are and have been enemies to Israel.

Idumea; the land in which the Edomites dwelt; the Hebrew is Edom.

Have appointed my land; have given or delivered, helped to take the land from my people, and then left it in the hand of the Chaldeans, in hope it should be given back to them for their possession.

With the joy of all their heart; transported with joy; Jacob’s children put out, the heathen came in to possess the land, with rancorous minds, swelling with hatred, and from that acting with the utmost vigour to slay the inhabitants, that there might be no pretenders to the land, but that they might inherit it. Therefore thus saith the Lord God,.... Because these Heathens have acted such an unkind and cruel part to Israel:

surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken; in his fierce wrath and hot displeasure, resenting the ill usage of his people; hot with indignation against their enemies, having a fervent zeal for his own glory, and an affectionate concern for the good of his people. It is in the original text in the form of an oath, "if I have not spoken", &c. (g); let me be reckoned a liar, or not God; believe me that I have spoken, and in this warm manner; and have not only foretold in prophecy, and threatened the destruction of these nations, but have resolved and determined upon it in my own mind. So the Targum,

"if I have not in the fire of my vengeance decreed in my word:''

against the residue of the Heathen, and against all Idumea; or Edom; the Edomites, even all of them, who of all the Heathen were the most inveterate and implacable enemies of the Jews, though related to them, and are therefore particularly mentioned as the objects of the divine vengeance: the reason follows,

which have appointed my land into their possession; this land where his chosen people dwelt, and which he chose for them, and gave unto them; the land where he himself dwelt, and granted his presence; where his temple was, and he was worshipped. So the Targum,

"the land of the house of my majesty.''

Now this the Lord took ill at their hands, and resented, that they should lay out this land for themselves, and determine upon it as a possession and inheritance of theirs.

With the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey; with the utmost joy they joined Nebuchadnezzar's army when he invaded the land of Judea and besieged Jerusalem, out of pure malice and spite to the people of the Jews, in order to eject them from the possession of their land, that it might become a prey to them; see Psalm 137:7.

(g) "si non", Cocceius, Starckius; "sub. mentiar", Junius & Tremellius; "non ero Deus", Piscator.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who have {d} appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.

(d) They appointed with themselves to have it, and therefore came with Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem for this purpose.

5. fire of my jealousy] “Jealousy” is injured self-consciousness; it is the reaction of Jehovah’s sense of himself against the injurious conduct of Edom and the nations in relation to him or that which is his, cf. my land.

to cast it out] The expression is difficult both in grammar (as Ezekiel 17:9) and meaning. To take “cast it (the land) out” in the sense of cast out the inhabitants is not quite natural, though cf. Ezekiel 24:6. The reading may be faulty.Verse 5. - Surely. אִם־לא, the particle of adjuration, as in Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 33:27; Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 38:19. The fire of my jealousy. Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:18; Zephaniah 3:8) uses the same phrase. Similar expressions occur in Ezekiel 21:31, "the fire of my wrath;" and Ezekiel 38:19, "in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath" (comp. Deuteronomy 4:24). Against all Idumea. Edom. As in Ezekiel 35:15, so here, it is the wickedness, more especially of the Edomites, that excites the prophet's indignation. They had not only concluded that Israel's territory should be to them for a possession, but they had done so with the joy of all their heart, and with despiteful minds; or, with contempt of soul (comp. Ezekiel 25:6, 15); i.e. with deadly (Ewald) or hearty (Smend) contempt. "The temper of the Edomites," writes Plumptre, "might almost serve as the regulative instance of the form of evil for which Aristotle ('Eth. Nit.,' 2, 7, 15) seems to have coined the word ἐπιχαιρεκακία, the temper which rejoices in the ills that fall on others." The concluding clause, to cast it out for a prey, has been differently rendered.

(1) Regarding מִגְרָשָׁהּ as an infinitive after לְמַעַן, "to spoil it," i.e. the land (Gesenius), "empty out" (Keil) or "drive out" (Ewald, Smend) its inhabitants (so as to get it) for a prey.

(2) Taking מִגְרָשָׁהּ as a noun, "for the sake of its possession for a prey" (Kliefoth), that their suburbs should be a prey" (Hengstenberg) "on account of its pasturage for a prey" (Schroder).

(3) Changing לָבַז into לָבֹז, "in order to plunder its produce" (Hitzig) or "pasturage" (Fairbairn). 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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