Ezekiel 39:12
And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.
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39:11-22 How numerous the enemies which God destroyed for the defence of his people Israel! Times of great deliverances should be times of reformation. Every one should help the utmost he can, toward cleansing the land from reproach. Sin is an enemy every man should strive against. Those engaged in public work, especially of cleansing and reforming a land, ought to be men who will go through with what they undertake, who will be always employed. When good work is to be done, every one should further it. Having received special favours from God, let us cleanse ourselves from all evil. It is a work which will require persevering diligence, that search may be made into the secret recesses of sin. The judgments of the Lord, brought upon sin and sinners, are a sacrifice to the justice of God, and a feast to the faith and hope of God's people. See how evil pursues sinners, even after death. After all that ambitious and covetous men do and look for, a place of graves is all the Lord gives them on earth, while their guilty souls are doomed to misery in another world.The prophet pictures to himself some imaginary valley (compare Zechariah 14:5) at the "east of the sea," the Dead Sea, a place frightful in its physical character, and admonitory of past judgments. He calls it "the valley of the passengers" (or, passers-by), because they who there lie buried were but as a passing cloud. In Ezekiel 39:11-15 there is a play upon words - there were "passengers" to be buried, "passengers" to walk over their graves, "passengers" to bury them; (or, a play upon the treble meaning of passing in (invading), passing by, and passing through.)

Stop the noses - The word thus rendered occurs only once more in Scripture Deuteronomy 25:4 where it is rendered muzzle. See Isaiah 34:3.

Hamon-gog - See the margin, compare Ezekiel 39:16.

11. place … of graves—Gog found only a grave where he had expected the spoils of conquest.

valley—So vast were to be the masses that nothing but a deep valley would suffice for their corpses.

the passengers on the east of the sea—those travelling on the high road, east of the Dead Sea, from Syria to Petra and Egypt. The publicity of the road would cause many to observe God's judgments, as the stench (as English Version translates) or the multitude of graves (as Henderson translates, "it shall stop the passengers") would arrest the attention of passers-by. Their grave would be close to that of their ancient prototypes, Sodom and Gomorrah in the Dead Sea, both alike being signal instances of God's judgments.

Seven months shall the house of Israel, many of the house of Israel, some voluntarily, others by appointment, be burying of them; a little time would not suffice to bury so great multitude, make what haste they could.

Cleanse the land; not in a legal sense, but in a natural, to clear the land of hurtful stinks. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them,.... So long time will the burial of Gog's army take up, because of the multitude of it, and by reason their bones will be scattered here and there; which will require time to gather them together, and bring them to one place: the reason of the burial of them will be, partly out of humanity, which the Christian religion, which will then be embraced by the Jews, teaches and encourages; and partly because of the disagreeable sight and ill smell of the carcasses of the slain, and to prevent the air being infected therewith, which might cause noxious diseases. Jarchi gives the reason of it, because Gog is of the seed of Japheth, who covered his father's nakedness, and therefore worthy of a funeral: but a better reason follows,

that they may cleanse the land: not from ceremonial uncleanness, a place being unclean, by the ceremonial law, where dead carcasses, or the bones of dead men, lay; for the ceremonial law, as it is abrogated, will now be disused by the Jews themselves, when converted; but from natural pollution, before mentioned.

{h} And seven months shall the house of Israel be in burying them, that they may cleanse the land.

(h) Meaning a long time.

12. It shall take all Israel (Ezekiel 39:13) seven months to bury Gog’s dead. The bones scattered over the land defiled it, for it was holy to the Lord, and they must be gathered and interred, cf. Ezekiel 39:14; Ezekiel 39:16.Verses 12, 13. - The time that should be occupied in Gog's funeral should be seven months - so great should be the number of the dead - the sacred number seven recalling the seven years consumed in the burning of the weapons (ver. 9), and reminding one of the "seven times heated" furnace into which the Hebrew children were cast, and of the "seven times" of Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation (Daniel 3:19; Daniel 4:23). The parties who should conduct his obsequies should be the house of Israel, even all the people of the land, indicating the common joy occasioned by the barbaric chieftain's overthrow. The motive which should impel them in their work would be a desire to cleanse the land from the defilement it had contracted from the corpses of the slain (comp. Numbers 19:11, 22; Numbers 31:19; Numbers 35:33); and the end should be that the work should be to them, not for "a remembrance" (Ewald), but a renown, not because they should have helped to bury Gog (Hengstenberg), or through burying Gog should have proved themselves his conquerors (Smend), and in virtue of Jehovah's protection the possessors of his grave (Hitzig), but because in the day when Jehovah glorified himself through Gog's destruction, he (Jehovah) should also be glorified by their (Israel's) zeal "to show themselves a holy people by sweeping all uncleanness away" (Keil). The Lord will richly bless, multiply, and glorify His people, when thus renewed and sanctified. - Ezekiel 36:29. And I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and will call the corn, and multiply it, and no more bring famine upon you; Ezekiel 36:30. But I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that ye will no more bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Ezekiel 36:31. But ye will remember your evil ways, and your deeds which were not good, and will loathe yourselves on account of your iniquities and your abominations. Ezekiel 36:32. Not for your sake do I this, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, be this known to you; be ye ashamed and blush for your ways, O house of Israel! Ezekiel 36:33. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day when I shall cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will make the cities inhabited, and the ruins shall be built, Ezekiel 36:34. And the devastated land shall be tilled instead of being a desert before the eyes of every one who passed by. Ezekiel 36:35. And men will say, This land, which was laid waste, has become like the garden of Eden, and the desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Ezekiel 36:36. And the nations, which have been left round about you, shall know that I Jehovah build up that which is destroyed, and plant that which is laid waste. I, Jehovah, have said it, and do it. Ezekiel 36:37. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will still let myself be sought by the house of Israel in this, to do it for them; I will multiply them, like a flock, in men; Ezekiel 36:38. Like a flock of holy sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem on its feast-days, so shall the desolate cities be full of flocks of men; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - The words 'הושׁעתּי , I help or save you from all your uncleannesses, cannot be understood as relating to their purification from the former uncleannesses; for they have already been cleansed from these, according to Ezekiel 36:25. The טמאות can only be such defilements as are still possible even after the renewing of the people; and הושׁע, to help, means to guard them against any further recurrence of such defilements (cf. Ezekiel 37:23), and not to deliver them from the consequences of their former pollutions. But if God preserves His people from these, there is no longer any occasion for a fresh suspension of judgments over them, and God can bestow His blessing upon the sanctified nation without reserve. It is in this way that the further promises are appended; and, first of all, in Ezekiel 36:29 and Ezekiel 36:30, a promise that He will bless them with an abundant crop of fruits, both of the orchard and the field. "I call to the corn," i.e., I cause it to come or grow, so that famine will occur no more (for the fact, compare Ezekiel 34:29).

In consequence of this blessing, Israel will blush with shame at the thought of its former sins, and will loathe itself for those abominations (Ezekiel 36:31); compare Ezekiel 20:43, where the same thought has already occurred. To this, after repeating what has been said before in Ezekiel 36:22, namely, that God is not doing all this for the sake of the Israelites themselves, the prophet appends the admonition to be ashamed of their conduct, i.e., to repent, which is so far inserted appropriately in the promise, that the promise itself is meant to entice Israel to repent and return to God. Then, secondly, in two strophes introduced with 'כּה אמר יי, the promise is still further expanded. In Ezekiel 36:33-36, the prophet shows how the devastated land is to be restored and rebuilt, and to become a paradise; and in Ezekiel 36:37 and Ezekiel 36:38, how the people are to be blessed through a large increase in their numbers. Both of these strophes are simply a further elaboration of the promise contained in Ezekiel 36:9-12. הושׁיב, causative of ישׁב, to cause to be inhabited, to populate, as in Isaiah 54:3. לעיני כּל־עובר, as in Ezekiel 5:14. The subject to ואמרוּ in Ezekiel 36:35 is, "those who pass by." For the comparison to the garden of Eden, see Ezekiel 31:9. בּצוּרות is a circumstantial word belonging to ישׁבוּ: they shall be inhabited as fortified cities, that is to say, shall afford to their inhabitants the security of fortresses, from which there is no fear of their being expelled. In Ezekiel 36:36 the expression, "the heathen nations which shall be left round about you," presupposes that at the time of Israel's redemption the judgment will have fallen upon the heathen (compare Ezekiel 30:3 with Ezekiel 29:21), so that only a remnant of them will be still in existence; and this remnant will recognise the work of Jehovah in the restoration of Israel. This recognition, however, does not involve the conversion of the heathen to Jehovah, but is simply preparatory to it. For the fact itself, compare Ezekiel 17:24. הדּרשׁ, to let oneself be asked or entreated, as in Ezekiel 14:3. זאת, with regard to this, is explained by לעשׂות . What God will do follows in 'ארבּה ותו. God will multiply His people to such an extent, that they will resemble the flock of lambs, sheep, and goats brought to Jerusalem to sacrifice upon the feast days. Compare 2 Chronicles 35:7, where Josiah is said to have given to the people thirty thousand lambs and goats for the feast of the passover. כּצּאן אדם does not mean, like a flock of men. אדם cannot be a genitive dependent upon צאן, on account of the article in כּצּאן, but belongs to ארבּה, either as a supplementary apposition to אותם, or as a second object, so that ארבּה would be construed with a double accusative, after the analogy of verbs of plenty, to multiply them in men. Kliefoth's rendering,, "I will multiply them, so that they shall be the flock of men" (of mankind), is grammatically untenable. צאן קדשׁים, a flock of holy beasts, i.e., of sacrificial lambs. The flock of Jerusalem is the flock brought to Jerusalem at the yearly feasts, when the male population of the land came to the sanctuary (Deuteronomy 16:16): So shall the desolate cities be filled again with flocks of men (compare Micah 2:12).

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