Ezekiel 38:20
So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) The mountains shall be thrown down.—In Ezekiel 38:19-22 the whole earth, animate and inanimate, is represented as affected by the terrible judgment of the Almighty upon His enemies. Such, as has been already noted, is the common language of prophecy in describing great moral events, and it is especially used in connection with the judgments of the last day.

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.

20. fishes—disturbed by the fleets which I will bring.

fowls, &c.—frightened at the sight of so many men: an ideal picture.

mountains—that is, the fortresses on the mountains.

steep places—literally, "stairs" (So 2:14); steep terraces for vines on the sides of hills, to prevent the earth being washed down by the rains.

every wall—of towns.

Here is a lofty strain indeed, giving us the description of the tokens of God’s presence against his enemies; the effects of his displeasure against them are seen on all the creatures, sensible that their Maker is angry, though they know not with whom or for what. If to be interpreted literally, we shall find some parallels: when our God. marched before Israel through the Red Sea, as the waters, so the fishes, saw, trembled, and fled, Psalm 77:16,19. When he breaketh the cedars, Psalm 29:5, and discovers the forests, the birds that make their nests there shake at his presence and power. When Sinai trembled, Lebanon and Sirion skipped like a young unicorn, the creeping things in them no doubt shook, and the beasts feeding on them did no less, Psalm 29:6. But men, apprehensive of God’s displeasure, and shaken with their own guilt, shall much more shake. But I think it is a very elegant allusive description of those strange troubles and consternation of men’s minds at that day, and so metaphorically to be understood. Mountains may be great ones. Or, possibly, when God comes to judge Gog, he will by his mighty power give the world so great a shake, that it shall be a preface to his dreadful judgment day.

So that the fishes of the sea shall shake at my presence,.... From whence it appears that this great shaking shall not be on account of the army of Gog, and the devastations that it shall make; but on account of the powerful presence of God, which will be manifest in the destruction of his army: and what is here said of the shaking of the fishes of the sea,

and the fowls of the heaven, and the beast of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the earth, must be understood figuratively and hyperbolically, as Kimchi observes, and in allusion to earthquakes, which both shake and terrify all kind of creatures; the blow given to Gog will be so terrible, that all nature will seem to be thrown into a convulsion and agitation by it; see Jeremiah 4:24,

and the mountains shall be thrown down; as they are sometimes by earthquakes; and as the mount of Olives will at this time cleave asunder; and perhaps other mountains will, as Kimchi observes, see Zechariah 14:2,

and the steep places shall fall; the Targum renders the word "towers"; and so the Syriac version, and Piscator: the word signifies stairs or steps (t), such as in a ladder; and is translated "stairs", Sol 2:14 it seems to me to design such mounts as are raised by besiegers of a city, by means of which they may be able to scale the walls of it, which Jarchi suggests; though he says he had heard it said that these, are rocks bending over and hanging, and appear as if they were falling; which agrees with our version; and it may be observed, in some of those precipices, there are like stairs or steps to go up them:

and every wall shall fall to the ground: this shows that the words are not to be taken literally, but figuratively; only to express how sensibly the power of God should be felt and perceived by all creatures, and in all parts of the land; since now the Jews will dwell in a land of unwalled villages, and in cities without walls, bars, and gates; see Ezekiel 38:11.

(t) "gradus", Munster, Pagninus, Montanus.

So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping animals that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be overturned, and the {n} steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

(n) All means by which man would think to save himself will fail, the affliction in those days will be so great, and the enemies destruction will be so terrible.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. The terror of creation before the majesty of Jehovah shall be universal, and all that is high shall be brought down. The passage agrees with the usual prophetic descriptions of the day of the Lord, cf. Zephaniah 1:1 seq.; Isaiah 2-3; Jeremiah 4:23-26. It describes Jehovah’s final manifestation of himself in his fury and jealousy. In the earlier prophets this manifestation of his majesty by Jehovah usually precedes or accompanies the final restoration of his people, here it is postponed until long after they have entered upon the rest of God in their own land. In other words that which earlier writers view as one scene, comprising Jehovah’s revelation of himself and the final restoration of his people, is resolved into two, one of which takes place long after the other. The same difference is observable in the New Test. between the representation of the Apocalyptist and that of the other writers.

the steep places] the clefts of the hills. In Song of Solomon 2:14 the term is rendered “stairs,” but it is parallel to “clefts of the rock,” and has the same general meaning.

Ezekiel 38:20Announcement 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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