Ezekiel 38:17
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
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(17) Of whom I have spoken in old time.—This is put in that interrogative form which is often used for emphatic assurance. The word many before “years” is not in the original, but is correctly inserted to mark the accusative of duration. The statement is then an emphatic one, that God had of old and for a long time foretold by His prophets this attack of Gog. But the name of Gog is not mentioned in any earlier prophecy now extant, nor is it likely that any such, far less that any long series of such prophecies, have been lost. This concurs with many other indications in the prophecy to show that it does not relate to any particular event, but that Gog and his allies represent the enemies of the Church in general, and that the prophet is here depicting the same great and prolonged struggle between evil and good, between the powers of the world and the kingdom of God, which has formed the burden of so much of both earlier and later prophecy.

Ezekiel 38:17. Art thou he? — This would be better translated, Art thou not he? a sense which the Hebrew particle of interrogation often imports; of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets — “It is doubtful by what prophets God foretold the irruption of Gog; but though nothing of this kind be found in the prophets that remain, it is enough that Ezekiel did not first foretel these things. Many of the sacred pages are lost, which might probably be extant when Ezekiel delivered this prophecy.” — Houbigant. The expressions here used, of old time, and which prophesied in those days, many years, plainly imply that there was to be a succession of many ages between the publishing of these prophecies, and this event foretold by them.

38:14-23 The enemy should make a formidable descent upon the land of Israel. When Israel dwell safely under the Divine protection, shalt not thou be made to know it by finding that endeavours to destroy them are made in vain? Promises of security are treasured up in the word of God, against the troubles and dangers the church may be brought into in the latter days. In the destruction of sinners, God makes it appear that he is a great and holy God. We should desire and pray daily. Father, glorify thine own name.Gog - is not mentioned by name in any existing prophecy before Ezekiel's time. The reference here shows

(1) that the conflict with Gog does not represent a particular event, but one of which the prophets in general had to speak;

(2) that in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy we are to look beyond special fulfillments.

Events in the world's history come within a prophet's ken as parts of the divine administration whereby evil struggles against but is overcome by good. As every such conflict is a prelude to the final struggle, so its prediction has reference ultimately to the consummation here foretold.

17. thou he of whom I have spoken in old time—Gog, &c. are here identified with the enemies spoken of in other prophecies (Nu 24:17-24; Isa 27:1; compare Isa 26:20, 21; Jer 30:23, 24; Joe 3:1; Mic 5:5, 6; Isa 14:12-14; 59:19). God is represented as addressing Gog at the time of his assault; therefore, the "old time" is the time long prior, when Ezekiel uttered these prophecies; so, he also, as well as Daniel (Da 11:1-45) and Zechariah (Zec 14:1-21) are included among "the prophets of Israel" here.

many years—ago.

Art thou he? either by way of contempt from God, upon him and all his preparations, or by way of monition: All these enterprises I foresaw, have spoken of them, and I will as well defeat as I did foretell them.

Of whom I have spoken: it is not said it is written, though that be true also, but it was more spoken of.

In old time; in the days of those years past, or of their years, in the times when those prophets lived.

The prophets of Israel; not by prognostication or soothsayers, but by true prophets, my servants whom I sent, Da 11 Zec 14. Now, though they had not foretold this when Ezekiel did, yet when the question shall be asked by the church, it will be so many hundreds of years past, it may well refer to these two prophets; beside Isaiah 26:20,21, with Isaiah 27:1 Jeremiah 30:23,24 Joe 3:1,15,16; and Micah 5:5,6, are prophets cited, as those who spake of this mighty enemy and his coming, and from which an understanding reader may soon collect that this foe was intended as well as others in those places.

Thus saith the Lord God,.... Putting the question that follows:

art thou he of whom I have spoken of old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I will bring thee against them? certainly thou art he: but who were the prophets that prophesied of Gog before Ezekiel, since he is the first that makes mention of him? to this it may be replied, that though he is not mentioned by name, yet he might be prophesied of under other names, as by Isaiah under the name of Leviathan, Isaiah 27:1 and by Micah under the name of the Assyrian, Micah 5:5. The Jews (r) say that Eldad and Medad prophesied of him, which Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abendana remark; who all observe, agreeably to the Talmudists in the place referred to, that these two are the prophets meant; and therefore it is directed to be read not "shanim", years, but "shenaim", two; namely, those two prophets prophesied one prophecy at one time, or together; but this is not to be depended upon: it should be observed, that this must be considered as spoken at the time of the accomplishment of this prophecy, and so may have respect to the Prophet Ezekiel himself, or to Joel, Joel 3:1, and to Zechariah, Zechariah 14:1, and even to the book of the Revelation, Revelation 16:14.

(r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 17. 1. & Gloss. in ib.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken of old {m} by my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?

(m) By this he declares that no affliction can come to the Church of which they have not been advertised before to teach them to endure all things with more patience when they know that God has so ordained.

17. The question gives vividness to the fact of Gog’s invasion having been long predicted, and identifies him with the subject of these predictions. These former prophecies had not named Gog; the identification is matter of inference.

those days many years] The construction is peculiar, but this is probably the sense. Gog, though not by name, had formed the subject of repeated predictions by many prophets. The prophecies referred to are probably such as Zephaniah 1 (Ezekiel 3:8), which agrees with Ezek. Ezekiel 38:20 in mentioning the fishes of the sea (again only Hosea 4:3), and Jeremiah 3-6 (Isaiah 17:12 seq.). The age of Joel may be later than Ezek., and passages like Joel 3, Zechariah 14, possibly repose rather on him, or at all events shew the continued prevalence of the same ideas, which indeed passed as current conceptions into the Apocalyptic prophecy dating from this age. The passage Micah 4:11 seq. is also of uncertain date. It is possible that the invasion of the Scythians may have suggested the prophecies of Zeph. and Jer., though the supposition is less necessary in the case of the latter prophet. It is not likely, however, that Ezekiel’s renewal of the prophecy was occasioned by any fresh movements among these northern nations occurring in his time (Sm. Kuen.), because he regards the inroad of Gog as an event to happen in the far distant future.

17–23. This invasion of Gog has been long predicted. It shall be the occasion of a final manifestation of himself by Jehovah to creation and the nations, which shall inspire universal awe, and leave in the minds of all mankind the knowledge of Jehovah, and that which he is.

Verse 17. - Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time? As no existing prophecy, prior to Ezekiel's time, mentions Cog by name, it must be concluded either

(1) that Ezekiel refers to prophecies known in his day, though no longer extant; or

(2) that his words simply mean that earlier prophets had predicted such an invasion of Israel in the last times as that which he announces under the leadership of Gog. The former opinion, though countenanced by Ewald, Kuenen, and Smend, is less probable than the latter, which expositors both ancient and modern favor. Schroder considers the hypothesis that earlier prophets had spoken of Gog by name as excluded by the interrogatory form of the sentence, since, had Cog been thus explicitly pointed out, there would, he thinks, have been no need to ask, "Art thou he?" But it is doubtful if the interrogatory form of the words had any other intention than to lend emphasis to the assertion that Gog was he to whom the earlier prophets had unconsciously referred. As to which earlier prophets he alluded opinions vary. Ewald cites Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 17:4; Smend adding Micah 5:11; Zephaniah 3:8; Keil, Isaiah 25:5, 10; Jeremiah 30:23, 25; Joel 4:2, 11, etc.; Hengstenberg, Deuteronomy 32; Isaiah 24-27; Isaiah 34; and Fairbairn, Numbers 24:17-24; Isaiah 14:28-32; Isaiah 18; Joel 3; Daniel 2:44, 45; though Schroder is probably correct in holding that all should be included which represent the hostility of the heathen world as culminating in the latter days in a grand concentrated attack upon Israel. Smend sees in the unusual phenomenon that Ezekiel reflects upon earlier prophecies an indication of the declining spirit of prophetism; it should, however, rather be regarded as a sign of superior spiritual insight on the part of Ezekiel, who could discern that from the first the prophets had been guided in their utterances by One who was intimately acquainted with the whole world-program, and knew the end from the beginning, so that however dark and enigmatical their predictions might be when taken separately, when viewed in connection they were recognized as forming parts of a harmonious whole. Ezekiel 38:17Announcement of the Wrathful Judgment upon Gog, as a Proof of the Holiness of the Lord

Ezekiel 38:17. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Art thou he of whom I spoke in the former days through my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days, that I would bring thee over them? Ezekiel 38:18. And it cometh to pass in that day, in the day when Gog cometh into the land of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that my wrath will ascend into my nose. Ezekiel 38:19. And in my jealousy, in the fire of my anger, have I spoken, Truly in that day will a great trembling come over the land of Israel; Ezekiel 38:20. The fishes of the sea, and the birds of heaven, and the beasts of the field, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the ground, and all the men that are upon the ground, will tremble before me; and the mountains will be destroyed, and the rocky heights fall, and every wall will fall to the ground. Ezekiel 38:21. I will call the sword against him to all my holy mountains, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah: the sword of the one will be against the other. Ezekiel 38:22. And I will strive with him by pestilence and by blood, and overflowing rain-torrents and hailstones; fire and brimstone will I rain upon him and all his hosts, and upon the many peoples that are with him; Ezekiel 38:23. And will prove myself great and holy, and will make myself known before the eyes of many nations, that they may know that I am Jehovah. - The announcement of the way in which the Lord will sanctify Himself upon Gog (Ezekiel 38:16) commences with the statement in Ezekiel 38:17, that Gog is he of whom God has already spoken by the earlier prophets. This assertion is clothed in the form of a question: האתּה, not הלא אתּה, which is the interrogative form used for an emphatic assurance; whereas האתּה does not set down the point in question as indisputably certain, but suggests the inquiry for the purpose of giving a definite answer. The affirmative reply to the question asked is contained in the last clause of the verse: "to bring thee upon them;" so that האתּה הוּא really means, thou art truly he. The statement, that Gog is he of whom God had already spoken by the earlier prophets, does not mean that those prophets had actually mentioned Gog, but simply that Gog was the enemy of whose rising up against the people of God the prophets of the former time had prophesied, as well as of his destruction by a wrathful judgment of the Lord. שׁנים (for years, or years long) is an accusative of measure, not asyndeton to baבּיּמים, as the lxx and many of the commentators down to Hvernick have taken it to be. The design of this remark is not to accredit the prophecy by referring to the utterances of earlier prophets, but to show that the attack of the peoples gathered together by Gog, upon the land and people of the Lord, is not an unexpected event, or one at variance with the promise of the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of peace. To what utterances of the older prophets these words refer is a question difficult to answer. Zechariah (Zechariah 12:2-3; Zechariah 14:2-3) is of course not to be thought of, as Zechariah himself did not prophesy till after the captivity, and therefore not till after Ezekiel. But we may recall Joel 4:2 and 11ff.; Isaiah 25:5, Isaiah 25:10., Ezekiel 26:21; Jeremiah 30:23 and 25; and, in fact, all the earlier prophets who prophesied of Jehovah's day of judgment upon all the heathen.

(Note: Aug. Kueper (Jeremias librr. sacrr., interpr. atque vindex, p. 82) has correctly observed concerning this verse, that "it is evident enough that there is no reference here to prophecies concerning Gog and Magog, which have been lost; but those general prophecies, which are met with on every hand directed against the enemies of the church, are here referred to Gog." And before him, J. F. Starck had already said: "In my opinion, we are to understand all those passages in the prophets which treat of the enemies of the church and its persecutions...these afflictions were preludes and shadows of the bloody persecution of Gog.")

Ezekiel 38:18 and Ezekiel 38:19 do not contain words which Jehovah spoke through the ancient prophets, and which Ezekiel now transfers to Gog and the time of his appearing (Hitzig and Kliefoth). The perfect דּבּרתּי in Ezekiel 38:19 by no means warrants such an assumption; for this is purely prophetic, expressing the certainty of the divine determination as a thing clearly proved. Still less can 'נאם אד in Ezekiel 38:18 be taken as a preterite, as Kliefoth supposes; nor can Ezekiel 38:18 and Ezekiel 38:19 be regarded as a thing long predicted, and so be separated from Ezekiel 38:20-23 as a word of God which is now for the first time uttered. For the anthropopathetic expression, "my wrath ascends in my nose," compare Psalm 18:9, "smoke ascends in His nose." The outburst of wrath shows itself in the vehement breath which the wrathful man inhales and exhales through his nose (see the comm. on the Psalm, l.c.). The bursting out of the wrath of God is literally explained in Ezekiel 38:19. In the jealousy of His wrath God has spoken, i.e., determined, to inflict a great trembling upon the land of Israel. בּקנאתי (cf. Ezekiel 5:13) is strengthened by בּאשׁ עברתי (cf. Ezekiel 21:36; Ezekiel 22:21). The trembling which will come upon the land of Israel, so that all creatures in the sea, in the air, and upon the ground, tremble before Jehovah (מפּני), who appears to judgment, will rise in nature into an actual earthquake, which overthrows mountains, hills, and walls. מדרגות are steep heights, which can only be ascended by steps (Sol 2:14). This picture of the trembling of the whole world, with all the creatures, before the Lord who is coming to judgment, both here and in Joel 4:16, Zechariah 14:4-5, rests upon the fact which actually occurred in connection with the revelation of God upon Sinai, when the whole mountain was made to quake (Exodus 19:16.). The inhabitants of the land of Israel tremble at the terrible phenomena attending the revelation of the wrath of God, although the wrathful judgment does not apply to them, but to their enemies, Gog and his hosts. The Lord calls the sword against Gog, that his hosts may wound and slay one another. This feature of the destruction of the enemy by wounds inflicted by itself, which we meet with again in Zechariah 14:13, has its typical exemplar in the defeat of the Midianites in the time of Gideon (Judges 7:22), and also in that of the enemy invading Judah in the reign of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:23). In לכל־הרי the ל is not distributive, but indicates the direction: "to all my mountains." The overthrow of the enemy is intensified by marvellous plagues inflicted by God - pestilence and blood (cf. Ezekiel 28:23), torrents of rain and hailstones (cf. Ezekiel 13:11), and the raining of fire and brimstone upon Gog, as formerly upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24). - Thus will Jehovah prove Himself to be the almighty God by judgment upon His enemies, and sanctify Himself before all the nations (Ezekiel 38:23, compare Ezekiel 38:16 and Ezekiel 36:23).

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