Ezekiel 46:17
But if he give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty; after it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them.
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46:1-24 The ordinances of worship for the prince and for the people, are here described, and the gifts the prince may bestow on his sons and servants. Our Lord has directed us to do many duties, but he has also left many things to our choice, that those who delight in his commandments may abound therein to his glory, without entangling their own consciences, or prescribing rules unfit for others; but we must never omit our daily worship, nor neglect to apply the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to our souls, for pardon, peace, and salvation.The prince was robe provided with possessions of his own, in order to prevent exactions from his subjects; further enactments are added to prevent the alienation of the prince's land. Any gifts made to his servants must revert to the prince in the "year of liberty," or jubilee (see the marginal reference note). 16-18. The prince's possession is to be inalienable, and any portion given to a servant is to revert to his sons at the year of jubilee, that he may have no temptation to spoil his people of their inheritance, as formerly (compare Ahab and Naboth, 1Ki 21:1-29). The mention of the year of jubilee implies that there is something literal meant, besides the spiritual sense. The jubilee year was restored after the captivity [Josephus, Antiquities, 14.10,6; 1 Maccabees 6:49]. Perhaps it will be restored under Messiah's coming reign. Compare Isa 61:2, 3, where "the acceptable year of the Lord" is closely connected with the comforting of the mourners in Zion, and "the day of vengeance" on Zion's foes. The mention of the prince's sons is another argument against Messiah being meant by "the prince." Of his inheritance; of any part or parcel of the crown land, or the prince’s inheritance.

To one of his servants; whether such servant be, strictly taken, a servant or bondman or in more large sense any of his servants in the court, and in office about it.

The year of liberty; the year of jubilee, as Leviticus 25:10,13,28.

To the prince; or his heirs, if the prince be dead.

His inheritance: this may be understood either of the prince or the servant. Either thus, though the land by gift go back to the prince or his heirs from the servant, yet what lands this servant had of his own inheritance shall descend to the heirs of that servant, and be theirs: or else thus, whatever lands of the prince are given to servants, by gift, shall at the year of jubilee revert to the sons of the prince, who shall repossess them, forasmuch as they are lands of inheritance, and of right belong to the heir.

For them; and for theirs after them.

But if he give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants,.... Who are not his sons, but his hired servants, and who serve him in a mercenary way; such are unregenerate ministers of the word, who preach Christ in pretence, and not in reality, for by ends, to serve themselves, and not him, or to advance his glory; and all carnal professors, who have only an outside of religion, a form of godliness without the power of it: to these Christ gives gifts, the gifts of nature, wealth, and riches, to some, to whom he gives not grace; these are his left hand blessings, which are given to the men of the world, who have their portion in this life: to others external means, the word and ordinances, but not internal special grace; yea, to some, gifts for the ministry, so as to be able to prophesy or preach in his name, which are meant by the talents, and pounds in the parable; some of which were given to slothful and unprofitable servants; see Matthew 7:20.

Then it shall be his to the year of liberty; the servant's to whom it is given, as long as the prince pleases; who when they make no use, or an ill use of them, takes them away in lifetime, and gives them to those that have more, and employ them to better purpose, Zechariah 11:17, or however at death, which is a time of liberty from civil bondage, the servant is free from his master; and when good men are freed from the oppression of others, and from sin, Satan, and the world, and are delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God; this is a year of liberty indeed to them; and then all external gifts to others, as riches, are held no longer; the word and ordinances no more enjoyed; prophesying, speaking with tongues, and all mere natural knowledge, cease, and vanish away, 1 Corinthians 13:8, the allusion is to the year of jubilee, when liberty was proclaimed throughout the land, and every man returned to his possession, and to his family, Leviticus 25:10, and so the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it of the year of jubilee; a type of the heavenly glory, and of the joy of the Lord, which Christ's faithful servants enter into; and when there will be a manifest difference between them and slothful servants, and the gifts of the one and of the other, and of their use of them, as well as between sons and servants:

after it shall return to the prince; signifying that such gifts are not durable; they are revertible to the donor of them; who will call these servants to an account for them at death or judgment, if not in time of life:

but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them; the prince's inheritance shall be theirs; for being sons they are heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ: or that which is given them for an inheritance shall always continue; it shall never be taken from them or returned; but it shall be their own, for themselves, and enjoy it for ever; which is a confirmation of what is said in the preceding verse.

But if he shall give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the {c} year of liberty; afterward it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be to his sons for them.

(c) Which was at the Jubile, Le 25:9.

17. year of liberty] In Jeremiah 34:14 the year of liberty is that of the freeing of the bondservant in the seventh year; and this year may be meant here. Cf. Isaiah 61:1. Otherwise the year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year, is referred to, when all landed property that had been alienated reverted to its original owner, Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 27:24.

but his inheritance … them] lit. but (or, only as for) his inheritance, his sons, it shall be theirs, i.e. the portion of his inheritance which the prince may bestow on his sons shall remain theirs, without reverting to the prince (Ezekiel 46:16). LXX., Syr. more clearly; the inheritance of his sons, it shall be theirs.

Verse 17. - The second regulation. Should the prince, however, bestow a portion of his inheritance on one of his servants, what was thus bestowed should not belong to that servant in perpetuity, but should be regarded simply as a temporary loan which should be his till the year of liberty, הֲדְּרור שְׁנַת, i.e. the year of free flowing general - comp. Exodus 30:23, מָראּדּרור, pure myrrh (Authorized Version) or flowing myrrh (Revised Version) - hence the year of release; after which it should return to the prince. Smend thinks Ezekiel could hardly have had in view the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 27:24), else he would not have employed the term "liberty," which Jeremiah (Jeremiah 34:8, 15, 17) uses to denote the freedom regained by Hebrew bondmen in the seventh year (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12). But

(1) the seventh year was only a year of the release of bondmen, not of the reversion of property, and to this rather than to that Ezekiel refers.

(2) The year of jubilee might properly be called the "year of liberty," since in it both slaves were emancipated and property was liberated. And

(3) Ezekiel's phraseology is not framed (nor is Jeremiah's) in imitation of either Exodus or Deuteronomy, the latter of which in particular speaks of "the year of release" (שְׁםנת הַשְּׂמִטָּה), but adheres closely to the style of Leviticus, which, in fact, it presupposes. שְׁנַת הַדְּרור can only signify the year of the release, i.e. the well-known year of emancipation. The last clause should be rendered, as in the Revised Version, "As for his inheritance (generally), it shall be for his sons," or, as Keil translates, "Only his inheritance it is," i.e. the prince's; "as for his sons, it shall be for them." Ezekiel 46:17On the Right of the Prince to Dispose of his Landed Property

Ezekiel 46:16. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, If the prince gives a present to one of his sons, it is his inheritance, shall belong to his sons; it is their possession, in an hereditary way. Ezekiel 46:17. But if he gives a present from his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall belong to him till the year of liberty, and then return to the prince; to his sons alone shall his inheritance remain. Ezekiel 46:18. And the prince shall not take from the inheritance of the people, so as to thrust them out of their possession; from his own possession he shall transmit to his sons, that no one of my people be scattered from his possession. - According to Ezekiel 45:7-8, at the future division of the land among the tribes, a possession was to be given to the prince on both sides of the holy heave and of the city domain, that he might not seize upon a possession by force, as the former princes had done. The prince might give away portions of this royal property, but only within such limits that the design with which a regal possession had been granted might not be frustrated. To his sons, as his heirs, he might make gifts therefrom, which would remain their own property; but if he presented to any one of his servants a portion of his hereditary property, it was to revert to the prince in the year of liberty; just as, according to the Mosaic law, the hereditary field of an Israelite, which had been alienated, was to revert to its hereditary owner (Leviticus 27:24, compared with Leviticus 25:10-13). The suffix in נחלתו (Ezekiel 46:16) is not to be taken as referring to the prince, and connected with the preceding words in opposition to the accents, but refers to אישׁ מבּניו. What the prince gives to one of his sons from his landed property shall be his נחלה, i.e., after the manner of an hereditary possession. On the other hand, what the prince presents to one of his servants shall not become hereditary in his case, but shall revert to the prince in the year of liberty, or the year of jubilee. The second half of Ezekiel 46:17 reads verbally thus: "only his inheritance is it; as for his sons, it shall belong to them." - And as the prince was not to break up his regal possession by presents made to servants, so was he (Ezekiel 46:18) also not to put any one out of his possession by force, for the purpose, say, of procuring property for his own sons; but was to give his sons their inheritance from his own property alone. For הונה, compare Ezekiel 45:8, and such passages as 1 Samuel 8:14; 1 Samuel 22:7. We shall return by and by to the question, how this regulation stands related to the view that the prince is the Messiah.

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