Ezekiel 39:17
And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Every feathered fowl.—Compare Ezekiel 39:4, also Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 29:5. The birds and beasts of all kinds represent all nations.

A great sacrifice.—The representation of a destructive judgment upon the Lord’s enemies as a sacrifice is found also in Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10. The figure is not to be pushed beyond the single point for which it is used—“to fill out and heighten the description of an immense slaughter.”

Ezekiel 39:17-22. Thou son of man, speak unto every feathered fowl, &c. —

It was the custom of persons that offered sacrifice, to invite their friends to the feast that was made of the remainder: see Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 9:13. So here the prophet, by God’s command, invites the beasts and fowls to partake of the sacrifice of his enemies slain. The slaughter of God’s enemies is called a sacrifice, because it is offered up as an atonement to the divine justice: see the margin. A great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel — Where this great army was to be destroyed. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes — Rather, of the chief ones, of the earth, of rams, &c. — By the names of these several animals, all wont to be used in sacrifices, are here signified men of all orders and ranks, as princes, generals, captains, and common soldiers. All of them fatlings of Bashan — All of them in the prime of life and strength, like young fatted beasts. And drink blood till ye be drunken — Or, be satiated. Ye shall be filled at my table — At the table which is, as it were, spread by me. The allegory is continued. “The table of God is the field covered with dead bodies, the place of the slaughter of Magog. It is impossible to conceive how unbelievers could quote this verse to prove that the Jews of old times ate the flesh of horses, and even of men. Voltaire, though cautioned that not the Jews, nor men, but wild beasts and birds, were invited to this feast of slaughter, that is, to the consumption of the slain, yet resisted to the last on his strange accusation.” — Michaelis. And all the heathen shall see my judgments — Shall see the punishments which I have executed on those who despise my name. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God — Both by my acts of mercy, in bringing them out of their captivity, and gathering them from their dispersions, and by my judgments executed upon their enemies.

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 purposes of the past dispensation shall be made clear to God's people themselves and to the pagan. His judgments were the consequence of their sins; and these sins once abandoned, the favor of their God will return in yet more abundance.17. (Re 19:17).

sacrifice—Anciently worshippers feasted on the sacrifices. The birds and beasts of prey are invited to the sacrificial feast provided by God (compare Isa 18:6; 34:6; Zep 1:7; Mr 9:49). Here this sacrifice holds only a subordinate place in the picture, and so is put last. Not only shall their bones lie long unburied, but they shall be stripped of the flesh by beasts and birds of prey.

Speak; though they understand not thy word, yet speak. for they will understand my word, which shall go out with thine.

Unto every feathered fowl; to all sorts of carnivorous birds, every kind of those that eat flesh.

To every beast, that are for the prey, little or great, which either by craft or power get their food out of the flesh of others.

Assemble yourselves; come in whole companies, flocks and herds too; and this repeated twice more,

come, gather yourselves: they have an earnest invitation, from all sides.

To my sacrifice: when sacrifices were offered, there usually was a feast to the priest the sacrificer, and for what guests were invited; now God is about to make such, he invites his guests, resolved to entertain them plentifully.

That I do sacrifice: the punishment of these God calls a sacrifice, which he doth offer, i.e. to his own justice, to satisfy that.

For you: it was for higher ends, yet since God intends to fill them with the flesh and blood of it, he is pleased to tell them he hath slain for their entertainment.

A great sacrifice, where more thousands are offered at once than ever were at any time offered; it is a sacrifice so great, that none ever was or will be like.

The mountains of Israel; the land of Canaan.

Eat flesh; the flesh of the sacrifice.

And drink blood; the blood of it: this was entertainment fitting these invited guests.

And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord God,.... What the prophet is ordered by the Lord to say is to creatures not then in being, nor yet; and, were they, they could not understand his words; but however, when the time comes, partly by an instinct in nature, and partly by a particular direction of Providence, they will be gathered together upon so great a slaughter of men; for what follows, though mentioned in this place, will be between the slaughter of Gog's army, and the burial of it, as Kimchi well observes; after the burial such an invitation would be impertinent; and which is made not for the sake of creatures, but of men, to denote the certainty of this great carnage that shall be made:

speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field; this must be understood of such fowls, and such beasts, as devour dead carcasses, for all will not feed on them; a like invitation is given after the battle at Armageddon, the same with this here, Revelation 19:17 only with this difference, there an angel is said to cry, here the prophet; there to the fowls only, here to the beasts of the field also; no doubt respect there is had to this passage:

assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifices that I do sacrifice for you; such a slaughter of men is called a sacrifice, because there is a likeness between that and the killing of beasts for sacrifice; besides, these enemies of God and his people will fall a victim to his justice, as well as be a repast for fowls and beasts, who are invited, as to a feast, to feed upon them; and there being so much of the power and providence of God in all this, it is ascribed to him, and is called "the supper of the great God", Revelation 19:17,

even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel; where Gog's army will fall, Ezekiel 39:4, and in such vast numbers, that it may well be called a great sacrifice; the sacrifice of a great army by the great God, and for such great number of creatures:

that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood; the flesh and blood of the sacrifices, even of slain men, which carnivorous creatures delight in. The Targum is,

"draw near everywhere round about to the slain, which I slay for you with a great slaughter upon the mountains of Israel, and ye shall eat the flesh, and drink the blood.''

And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak to every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; {k} gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.

(k) By which he signifies the horrible destruction that would come on the enemies of his Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. to my sacrifice] The eating of flesh was of rarer occurrence in ancient times than it is now. All slaughtering of animals was a sacrificial act. The blood and some parts of the victim were given to Jehovah; and the rest eaten before him by the company. Hence the terminology here: Jehovah’s slaughter of his enemies is to afford a sacrificial feast. Cf. Zephaniah 1:8; Isaiah 34:6.

Verses 17-20 exhibit in a third way the severity of Gog's overthrow by setting forth the bloody carnage which should attend it. Verse 17. - Expanding the thought of ver. 4, and borrowing the imagery of the older prophets, Isaiah (Isaiah 34:6; Isaiah 56:9) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46:10; Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:40), Ezekiel represents Gog's destruction as a great sacrifice - literally, slaying; hence a sacrificial feast or simply banquet (as in Genesis 31:54) - upon the mountains of Israel, prepared by Jehovah for the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field, which he, therefore, invites to come from all quarters to eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:17Total Destruction of Gog and his Hosts

Ezekiel 39:9. Then will the inhabitants of the cities of Israel go forth, and burn and heat with armour and shield and target, with bow and arrows and hand-staves and spears, and will burn fire with them for seven years; Ezekiel 39:10. And will not fetch wood from the field, nor cut wood out of the forests, but will burn fire with the armour, and will spoil those who spoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:11. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will give Gog a place where his grave in Israel shall be, the valley of the travellers, and there will they bury Gog and all his multitude, and will call it the valley of Gog's multitude. Ezekiel 39:12. They of the house of Israel will bury them, to purify the land for seven months. V.1 3. And all the people of the land will bury, and it will be to them for a name on the day when I glorify myself, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:14. And they will set apart constant men, such as rove about in the land, and such as bury with them that rove about those who remain upon the surface of the ground, to cleanse it, after the lapse of seven months will they search it through. Ezekiel 39:15. And those who rove about will pass through the land; and if one sees a man's bone, he will set up a sign by it, till the buriers of the dead bury it in the valley of the multitude of Gog. Ezekiel 39:16. The name of a city shall also be called Hamonah (multitude). And thus will they cleanse the land. Ezekiel 39:17. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Say to the birds of every plumage, and to all the beasts of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, gather together from round about to my sacrifice, which I slaughter for you, to a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, and eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:18. Flesh of heroes shall ye eat, and drink blood of princes of the earth; rams, lambs, and he-goats, bullocks, all fattened in Bashan. Ezekiel 39:9. And ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood to intoxication, of my sacrifice which I have slaughtered for you. Ezekiel 39:20. And ye shall satiate yourselves at my table with horses and riders, heroes and all kinds of men of war, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show how terrible the judgment upon Gog will be, Ezekiel depicts in three special ways the total destruction of his powerful forces. In the first place, the burning of all the weapons of the fallen foe will furnish the inhabitants of the land of Israel with wood for firing for seven years, so that there will be no necessity for them to fetch fuel from the field or from the forest (Ezekiel 39:9 and Ezekiel 39:10). But Hvernick is wrong in supposing that the reason for burning the weapons is that, according to Isaiah 9:5, weapons of war are irreconcilable with the character of the Messianic times of peace. This is not referred to here; but the motive is the complete annihilation of the enemy, the removal of every trace of him. The prophet therefore crowds the words together for the purpose of enumerating every kind of weapon that was combustible, even to the hand-staves which men were accustomed to carry (cf. Numbers 22:27). The quantity of the weapons will be so great, that they will supply the Israelites with all the fuel they need for seven years. The number seven in the seven years as well as in the seven months of burying (Ezekiel 39:11) is symbolical, stamping the overthrow as a punishment inflicted by God, the completion of a divine judgment.

With the gathering of the weapons for burning there is associated the plundering of the fallen foe (Ezekiel 39:10), by which the Israelites do to the enemy what he intended to do to them (Ezekiel 38:12), and the people of God obtain possession of the wealth of their foes (cf. Jeremiah 30:16). In the second place, God will assign a large burying-place for the army of Gog in a valley of Israel, which is to be named in consequence "the multitude of Gog;" just as a city in that region will also be called Hamonah from this event. The Israelites will bury the fallen of Gog there for seven months long, and after the expiration of that time they will have the land explored by men specially appointed for the purpose, and bones that may still have been left unburied will be sought out, and they will have them interred by buriers of the dead, that the land may be thoroughly cleansed (Ezekiel 39:11-16). מקום שׁם, a place where there was a grave in Israel, i.e., a spot in which he might be buried in Israel. There are different opinions as to both the designation and the situation of this place. There is no foundation for the supposition that גּי העברים derives its name from the mountains of Abarim in Numbers 27:12 and Deuteronomy 32:49 (Michaelis, Eichhorn), or that it signifies valley of the haughty ones (Ewald), or that there is an allusion to the valley mentioned in Zechariah 14:4 (Hitzig), or the valley of Jehoshaphat (Kliefoth). The valley cannot even have derived its name (העברים) from the עברים, who passed through the land to search out the bones of the dead that still remained unburied, and have them interred (Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15). For העברים cannot have any other meaning here than that which it has in the circumstantial clause which follows, where those who explored the land cannot possibly be intended, although even this clause is also obscure. The only other passage in which חסם occurs is Deuteronomy 25:4, where it signifies a muzzle, and in the Arabic it means to obstruct, or cut off; and hence, in the passage before us, probably, to stop the way. העברים are not the Scythians (Hitzig), for the word עבר is never applied to their invasion of the land, but generally the travellers who pass through the land, or more especially those who cross from Peraea to Canaan. The valley of העברים is no doubt the valley of the Jordan above the Dead Sea. The definition indicates this, viz., קדמת, on the front of the sea; not to the east of the sea, as it is generally rendered, for קדמת never has this meaning (see the comm. on Genesis 2:14). By היּם we cannot understand "the Mediterranean,"as the majority of the commentators have done, as there would then be no meaning in the words, since the whole of the land of Israel was situated to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. היּם is the Dead Sea, generally called היּם הקּדמוני (Ezekiel 47:18); and קדמת, "on the front side of the (Dead) Sea," as looked at from Jerusalem, the central point of the land, is probably the valley of the Jordan, the principal crossing place from Gilead into Canaan proper, and the broadest part of the Jordan-valley, which was therefore well adapted to be the burial-place for the multitude of slaughtered foes. But in consequence of the army of Gog having there found its grave, this valley will in future block up the way to the travellers who desire to pass to and fro. This appears to be the meaning of the circumstantial clause.

From the fact that Gog's multitude is buried there, the valley itself will receive the name of Hamon-Gog. The Israelites will occupy seven months in burying them, so enormously great will be the number of the dead to be buried (Ezekiel 39:12), and this labour will be for a name, i.e., for renown, to the whole nation. This does not mean, of course, "that it will be a source of honour to them to assist in this work;" nor is the renown to be sought in the fact, that as a privileged people, protected by God, they can possess the grave of Gog in their land (Hitzig), - a thought which is altogether remote, and perfectly foreign to Israelitish views; but the burying of Gog's multitude of troops will be for a name to the people of Israel, inasmuch as they thereby cleanse the land and manifest their zeal to show themselves a holy people by sweeping all uncleanness away. יום is an accusative of time: on the day when I glorify myself. - Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15. The effort made to cleanse the land perfectly from the uncleanness arising from the bones of the dead will be so great, that after the great mass of the slain have been buried in seven months, there will be men specially appointed to bury the bones of the dead that still lie scattered here and there about the land. אנשׁי תּמיד are people who have a permanent duty to discharge. The participles עברים and מקבּרים are co-ordinate, and are written together asyndetos, men who go about the land, and men who bury with those who go about. That the words are to be understood in this sense is evident from Ezekiel 39:15, according to which those who go about do not perform the task of burying, but simply search for bones that have been left, and put up a sign for the buriers of the dead. ראה, with the subject indefinite; if one sees a human bone, he builds (erects) a ציּוּן, or stone, by the side of it (cf. 2 Kings 23:17). - Ezekiel 39:16. A city shall also receive the name of Hamonah, i.e., multitude or tumult. To שׁם־עיר we may easily supply יהיה from the context, since this puts in the future the statement, "the name of the city is," for which no verb was required in Hebrew. In the last words, וטהרוּ הארץ, the main thought is finally repeated and the picture brought to a close. - Ezekiel 39:17-20. In the third place, God will provide the birds of prey and beasts of prey with an abundant meal from this slaughter. This cannot be understood as signifying that only what remain of the corpses, and have not been cleared away in the manner depicted in Ezekiel 39:11-16, will become the prey of wild beasts; but the beasts of prey will make their meal of the corpses before it is possible to bury them, since the burying cannot be effected immediately or all at once. - The several features in the picture, of the manner in which the enemies are to be destroyed till the last trace of them is gone, are not arranged in chronological order, but according to the subject-matter; and the thought that the slaughtered foes are to become the prey of wild beasts is mentioned last as being the more striking, because it is in this that their ignominious destruction culminates. To give due prominence to this thought, the birds and beasts of prey are summoned by God to gather together to the meal prepared for them. The picture given of it as a sacrificial meal is based upon Isaiah 34:6 and Jeremiah 46:10. In harmony with this picture the slaughtered foes are designated as fattened sacrificial beasts, rams, lambs, he-goats, bullocks; on which Grotius has correctly remarked, that "these names of animals, which were generally employed in the sacrifices, are to be understood as signifying different orders of men, chiefs, generals, soldiers, as the Chaldee also observes."

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