Matthew Poole's Commentary
Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:The land of Israel is comforted with a prospect of the ruin of its spiteful neighbours, and of its own blessings promised by God, Ezekiel 36:1-15. Israel was rejected for their sin, and shall be restored with blessings for the sake of God’s name only, Ezekiel 36:16-38.
Also, Heb. And.
Prophesy, declare from me, and in my word,
unto the mountains of Israel; the inhabitants wasted or in captivity, speak concerning the mountains, that is, the land of Judah and Israel, which was a country full of mountains, which were now horrid, unplanted.
Hear what further revenge I will take on Edom, and on other nations that wasted you: this continued to the end of the 6th verse. And hear what good I will do to you: this from the 7th to the end of the chapter.
The word of the Lord; the severe judgments against your enemies, his gracious promises to you.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:Many were the enemies of God’s people, but they so conspired in one design, with one consent, and were so one in their humours, and enmity, and carriage, that the prophet speaks of them as one, and particularly of Edom.
Aha; rejoicingly and with insulting pride, as Ammon did, Ezekiel 25:3, and Tyre did, Ezekiel 26:2, which see.
The ancient high places; the everlasting hills; but this is common with other hills, whose foundations, as these of Israel, are from the beginning, and shall be to the end. What they aim at is a deriding of Israel, who by promise from God claimed these mountains as a perpetual inheritance, but were now cast out of it, and they hereby tax the God of Israel as not keeping his promise. So they blaspheme God and insult over his people.
Ours; our right, as of the elder house, now conquerors and feudatories to him that hath subdued them; thus they pretend right to justify their injustice.
In possession; we are now where we should have been these one thousand one hundred and sixty years or more, where we thought we would be one time or other, in spite of them and all their boasts of their God; we are where we will keep, and none shall put us out. Such impious brags were their ruin, and are implied in the words.
Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:Because they, Edomites, and others with them,
have made you desolate; first broken your strength, wasted your cities, and burnt the temple, and waylaid you, to cut off them that were escaped at last.
Swallowed you up; devoured you, as hungry beasts devour the prey.
On every side; from all coasts of the land, through the whole.
That ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen; that such of the heathen as remained here might have, what they no where else could have, being the scum and worst of men, an inheritance and possession; so unnatural was Edom, that east out his own kindred, to bring in the vilest of men and the most barbarous strangers.
Ye are taken up in the lips of talkers; you are the subject on which wild and foul mouths discourse, which is explained, in that the people ever talked of them with reproach, and branding them as infamous. This was foretold to Israel, Jeremiah 24:9, and they were advised to prevent it.
Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;To the hills: now is added a particular of hills, valleys, &c., whereas before only the mountains were mentioned, but by them the whole land was understood; and to assure them thereof, all parts are here particularly mentioned: all that the enemy wasted shall be repaired, all that he took away shall be restored in kind, and those he derided shall be vindicated; their estates repaired, cities rebuilt and filled, their credit and honour cleared and vindicated. Their deliverance should be complete and full.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.Surely; in the Hebrew it is in the form of an oath.
In the fire; in my hot displeasure.
Spoken against; threatened ruin and desolation to all the nations that are and have been enemies to Israel.
Idumea; the land in which the Edomites dwelt; the Hebrew is Edom.
Have appointed my land; have given or delivered, helped to take the land from my people, and then left it in the hand of the Chaldeans, in hope it should be given back to them for their possession.
With the joy of all their heart; transported with joy; Jacob’s children put out, the heathen came in to possess the land, with rancorous minds, swelling with hatred, and from that acting with the utmost vigour to slay the inhabitants, that there might be no pretenders to the land, but that they might inherit it.
Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:Say unto the mountains: see Ezekiel 36:4.
In my fury: see Ezekiel 36:5, where is no difference in the thing expressed, though a little difference in the expressing of it; there it was
the fire of my jealousy, here
in my jealousy and in my fury. Have borne the shame of the heathen; which in Ezekiel 36:5 is, being a
derision to the residue of the heathen; these loaded them with reproaches, and exposed them to contempt, and Israel could not prevent it, they were forced to bear it.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.Lifted up mine hand; sworn in my wrath, but in my truth also, Deu 32:40; and when men did swear solemnly, they did heretofore use this rite, Genesis 14:22.
The heathen that are about you; Moabites, Ammonites, and Idumeans shall be repaid in their own coin; I will, as sure as I am God, as sure as I can, so surely make them a taunt, a proverb, and a curse among men.
But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.Shall shoot; shall be fruitful, and send forth the branches, trees, plants, herbs, and grass, that are proper for you, and these branches shall not have leaves only, but they shall bring forth their fruit.
They are at hand; the time will come, yea is near, when my people shall come out of Babylonish captivity to resettle in their own land. I will perform my word, and give them assured peace, and this will not be long ere it is begun at least.
For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:I am for you; favour you, and am pacified towards you, or I come towards you with redemption, that your old inhabitants may return to you with singing.
Turn unto you; look towards you, with regard to what hath been and is your estate, your sufferings, which were less than you deserved, yet were the greater because ye are mine. Your inhabitants gave me the back and sinned against me, and I turned the back on you and regarded you not; then all darkness covered you. now my face shall be towards you, and you shall prosper and be fruitful, to the comfort of those that shall dwell in you and plough and sow you.
And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:No text from Poole on this verse.
And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.These verses contain much the same promise of future good which God engageth to do for Israel after their return out of Babylon. He will multiply men upon the mountains of Israel, he will increase them; now, lest any should reply there had been too many men on the mountains, even all the heathen, God addeth, they shall be all of them of the house of Israel, Jews, and they should settle and build the wasted cities, not Jerusalem only, but other cities also; even wasted houses shall be built, you shall have large stocks of cattle, that your condition shall be as in days of old.
Will do better unto you; I will give spiritual blessings instead of temporal, and Messiah’s kingdom shall hasten to you instead of that which was abolished: in whatsoever this better consisted, it is certain God performed his word.
Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.For years past since your captivity wild devouring beasts ranged up and down, but now, instead of such, men shall walk up and down in the mountains of Israel; I will take away the beasts from off you, and bring men upon you.
My people Israel; a people that are mine by covenant, whom I will own, my Israel.
They shall possess thee; Edom boasted he would possess you, O mountains; not Edom, or heathens, but your own ancient dwellers shall possess you, even Abraham’s seed.
Their inheritance, for perpetuity, as inheritances are.
Thou, O land of Canaan.
Bereave them; consume and destroy thine inhabitants.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;They say; the heathen round about, the enemies of Israel, accuse the land of destroying its natives, and bring an evil report on it.
Devourest up men; either by intestine wars, or foreign invasions, or by unhealthful air, or by multitude of wild beasts, or by barrenness and famine, thou killest them, art like a womb that conceives often, but almost as often miscarrieth, as the word implieth.
Hast bereaved; consumed thy nations, so the French; deprived them of their hope of increasing in numbers of men, as a miscarrying womb deprives a family of hoped children.
Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD.I will so bless thee, O land, that thou shalt bring forth and breed up many sons and daughters, thou shalt see thy children’s children increase, and this reproach shall cease for ever.
Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.This verse is a confirmation of what was promised in Ezekiel 36:12-14, all which is doubled for more assurance, and each part already explicated. See Ezekiel 36:6.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.In their own land; in fullness, case, and security, as in days past they did.
They defiled it; brought in much sin and great guilt upon the land, i.e. on themselves who dwelt there, and sinned greatly.
By their own way; leaving my law, despising my counsel, forsaking my worship and temple.
By their doings; by their carriage and practices in their whole conversation.
As the uncleanness, & c.; or as one excommunicate, and cut off from the congregation, because of some great sin. Or, since idolatry is so often compared to fornication and whoredom, possibly it may be here the filthiness of spiritual whoredom. I hated and loathed the filthiness of their ways, as I would the impurity of a whorish woman prostituting herself for gain. The word may include the reward of a whore, as it doth Ezekiel 16:33.
Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:Wherefore; these and other sins were the true cause that the land was emptied of men, there was no ground for the heathen’s calumny.
I poured my fury; I was angry with them, and the effects of my anger were such as made the land and cities desolate.
For the blood that they had shed; for murders committed in the land, and frequently charged on them, Ezekiel 22:3,6,9,12,27 23:45.
For their idols: idolatry was another of their sins, which brought desolation on them.
And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.My hand scattered them, and what hand can retain the inhabitants that God will fling out?
They were driven away, as chaff before the wind. As their ways and doings provoked me, and deserved what I brought on them, so I judged them, and punished them with desolation.
And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.When they entered; when they were come into Babylon, and entered into familiarity with the inhabitants as neighbours.
Profaned my holy name; did profanely sin against those precepts of my law, which heathens did know, venerate, and observe better than the Jews; or it may include the misery their sins had brought them to, which misery reflected upon their God in the opinion of the heathen.
They said, their heathen neighbours, to them, the miserable and profane Jews,
These are the people of the Lord; with taunt and cutting reprimand. These, these captive slaves, that are most forlorn of men, will have it that their God is the Lord, the mighty and the good God, the true and faithful One, that gave them the land out of which they are driven. If he be good, as they boast, how comes it to pass his people are in such ill state? Or is he not able to better their state? Was he weak, and could not keep them in their own land? or doth he falsify his word? You miserable Jews, say what this meaneth. But by their impure life they opened the mouths of the heathen more to blaspheme, and call the holiness of God into question; when they saw his people so unholy, they concluded. As is the people so is their God; and this, as it was a great offence and scandal to the heathen, so it was a great dishonour to God.
But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.I had pity; I spared them, who in captivity continued to sin greatly against me, and for which sins I had just cause to cut them off; but I had pity.
For mine holy name; for my own sake, and for the glory of my name: had I destroyed them, the heathen would have concluded against my omnipotence and my truth. I preserved, I reduced, I re-established them for the honour of my mercy, truth, and power.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.I do not this, which I have done, sparing you and preserving you, and giving you favour in the sight of the heathen; nor do I that I am about to do for you, returning you to Judea, planting you, increasing you, and establishing you, and making you a blessing; I do not this for your sake, you deserve no such kindness from me.
For mine holy name’s sake; my infinite mercy is the spring and fountain; the vindicating my name from all imputation of weakness or unfaithfulness, and the magnifying the glory of my goodness, wisdom, truth, and power, are the reasons on which I do what I do for Israel.
Which ye have profaned; brought under suspicion with the heathen, who think that the only and almighty God should do better for his own and only people!
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.Will sanctify, by clearing it up, and removing the objection that the Jews’ sufferings and sins among the Babylonians had raised.
My great name; they gave the heathen occasion to think meanly and contemptibly of me, but I will show I am as great as good, in both infinite.
Was profaned: see Ezekiel 36:20,22.
Which ye have profaned; God chargeth the Jews with the blasphemies the heathen cast on God, the Jews were the cause of them, and they are therefore justly imputed to the Jews.
That I am the Lord; by what I do, the heathen shall know what I am, and from the great and good things I do for you, performing my promises, and purifying you, shall see I am great, good, faithful, and holy; then shall I be sanctified in you, as I have been profaned by you in their eyes: and so it was, Psalm 127:2.
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.The heathen purpose, as Pharaoh did, to detain you servants, and think it impossible any power should take you out of their hand or break the yoke; but I will do it. I will by my omnipotent hand rescue you from their power.
Gather you; they were scattered so through a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, that the heathen judged it impossible to reassemble them, but God will do this too. Will bring you into your own land: so many difficulties lay in their way of getting into their own land, that they thought them insuperable, so long a journey, so many enemies, and strong, crafty, and malicious, such weak, poor, and unarmed people, &c.; yet all these shall not prevent me; I will bring them safe to their own land, and settle them. When this is done, they shall confess, and the heathen shall confess, that I am great, good, wise, and faithful to my promise; a God not like theirs, but-worthy to be thought well of, and to be spoken well of, to be praised and obeyed.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.He alludes to the sprinklings under the law, perhaps to that Numbers 19:9, which was for purification of sin; and Ezekiel 36:19,20. So God will purify them from their guilt. Clean water: some think it may refer to baptismal water; if so, it is to the blood of Christ, signified by it, and this, say the best expositors, is here intended, and this is
the blood of sprinkling, Hebrews 12:24.
Ye shall be clean; when sin is remitted, the person is indeed clean, both in the account of God and Christ.
From all your filthiness; though they have been many of all sorts, and among all ranks of men, yet multitude of sins shall not hinder me from pardoning.
From all your idols; that notorious great abomination, your multiplied idolatry, I will pardon that also, that ye may be clean. Thus remission of sin is promised.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.A new heart; a renewed frame of soul, a disposition and mind changed from sinful to holy, from evil to good, from carnal to spiritual. See Ezekiel 11:19. A heart in which the law of God is written, as Jeremiah 31:33. It is a sanctified heart, in which the almighty grace of God is victorious, and turns it from sin to God.
Will I give you; God takes it to himself, as indeed it is his only work, see Ezekiel 11:19.
A new spirit: this is exegetical, and tells us what the new heart is; it is a new holy frame in the spirit of man, which is put in him, not found in him; given to him, not wrought by his own power.
The stony heart; stubborn, senseless, untractable heart, that receives no kindly impressions from the word, providences, or Spirit of God in its ordinary operations and influences, that hardens itself in a day of provocation, that is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; this evil heart shall be taken away, and this God will do, who only can do it.
Out of your flesh, put for the man. An heart of flesh; that is, a heart different from the stony, hard heart, quite of another temper and frame, hearkening to God’s law, trembling at his threats, by gentlest providences mounded to a compliance with his will; to forbear, do, be, or suffer what God will, receiving the impress of God, as softened wax receiveth the impress of the seal.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.Put, elsewhere pour out; God will give freely and abundantly.
My spirit; the Holy Spirit of God, which is the immediate principal cause of that change of an old heart into new, and of hard into soft. By the efficient cause we may know the effect; and understand what a new heart is, and what the new spirit is, when we know they are wrought in us by the Spirit of God, which is given to and dwelleth in the saints, which makes them saints, and then abideth with them.
Cause you; sweetly, powerfully, successfully, yet without compulsion; for our spirit, framed by God’s Spirit to a disposition suitable to his holiness, readily concurreth and co-worketh.
Keep my judgments; be willing and ready, able, and in your degree sufficient, to keep the judgments and to walk in the statutes of God, which is to live holiness.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.Spiritual blessings, promised in Ezekiel 36:25-27, are now followed with temporal blessings; so earth doth follow heaven.
Ye shall dwell: God adds this to his taking, gathering, and bringing into the land, Ezekiel 36:24; when they are there, they shall settle and continue proprietors, possessing their own houses and lands.
Which I gave; they were greatly pleased to think Canaan their land was by God given to their fathers; in this land under this character you shall dwell, the land that was your right by promise to Abraham, 1346 years or near it.
My people, as your fathers were, who reverenced, loved, worshipped, obeyed, and believed in me.
Your God, as I was their God, to protect, guide, comfort, and enrich, &c.; see Ezekiel 11:20; to perform my promise to their faith and patience; and so you shall inherit the blessing.
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.Perhaps the former part of this verse would have been better joined with the former verse, as a glorious fruit of God’s taking them to be his people, and his condescending to be their God. Salvation from all uncleannesses includeth justification, in our pardon, sanctification, the renewing our minds, somewhat of adoption in peace and hope, and a consummate glorification in heaven, that state of absolute purity. All this God gives when he is our God. Corn; all necessaries for aliment comprised in one, and these brought to them at God’s call, which they will hear, Psalm 105:16,40 Ho 2:21,22.
Famine is God’s arrow, he shoots it; where it is, he layeth it; but his people shall neither have it their misery nor their reproach any more; as in the next verse.
And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.The former part of this verse is explained Ezekiel 34:27, and Ezekiel 36:8-10 of this chapter. The latter part is explained in Ezekiel 36:29.
Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.Then, when I have given you my Spirit, renewed your hearts, brought you by miraculous mercy out of captivity in a strange land unto liberty in your own, ye shall call to mind, review, and examine all your past life, your ways opposite to God’s; therefore both their own by choice, and also evil in their very nature, the ways the prophets condemned and threatened, as Ezekiel 22 Jer 3:5, &c.
Not good; it is a meiosis; not good, i.e. exceeding evil, like, yea worse than, other nations, Ezekiel 5:6, than Sodom, Ezekiel 16:46.
Loathe yourselves: see Ezekiel 6:9. Your mind shall abhor what you loved, and deeply grieve at what you rejoiced in; when swine, ye wallowed in mire; when made sheep, you shall as much fear and flee from it.
In your own right; not in sight of others, but repentance in the chief parts lieth more retired and inward, and loathes sins that are in the heart, though none ever knew them beside God and his own soul. This fruit is the first and most sure sign of true repentance.
Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.Not for your sakes: to a self-exalting people, who have too high thoughts of themselves, this is a necessary monition; we are all like the Jews, proud of somewhat we have not; see veri. 22; an old disease, and we are long since warned of it, as well as they, Deu 9:5,6.
Be ashamed and confounded: shame and confusion, self-abhorrence and deepest humiliation, will become you, for you have walked stubbornly in your own ways, though I would have reclaimed you, and did call you back from them by my prophets.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.Committed sin, that deserveth, and imputed sin, that doth bring down, judgments on the sinner, so did the Jews’ sins, and continued the punishment in those judgments, until a pardon take away guilt, and then judgments will be removed; so here, pardoned captives return to and dwell in their own cities. Sin unpardoned wasted the country, but sinners repenting and pardoned shall build the wastes. Sin unpardoned leaves the land untilled and barren, but pardoned ones shall plough, sow, reap, and eat.
And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.They shall say; strangers or foreigners, who had heard or seen the sad wastes, and now either hear or see the replanting of it, and how it succeedeth.
Like the garden of Eden; see the phrase Ezekiel 28:13; most fruitful, pleasant, and desirable. This is true of the church of Christ without an hyperbole, but here it is to be accommodated by a comparative, thus; that good state the Jews are now in, compared with what they were in, is as an Eden to a wilderness. Fenced; not only built for habitation, but fortified for defence.
Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.That are left; that were not carried away and dispersed, whether they were Tyrians, Zidonians, on the north, or Ammon, and Moab, and the Philistines, and Edomites, eastward and southward, these remnants of the heathen shall see and confess a peculiar providence of God toward the Jews, in their flourishing so greatly upon their return.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.Though I have repeated so often my promise to return them, to rebuild, to multiply them, yet they shall know it is their duty to entreat it, to wait on me, and then I will give a merciful answer and do it. Thus Daniel prayed, when he knew the return was sure and near. Or else it may be thus; Above all this, or yet more than all this, I will be found of them when they do seek me: thus it is a promise made to their prayer, in the other it is a requiring them to pray, so they shall increase as a flock.
As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.The holy flock; flocks designed to holy uses, as sacrifices, and therefore further described by the place where they are, Jerusalem.
Her solemn feasts; the occasion and time, solemn feasts, either the three annual great feasts, or you may hake in the daily sacrifices. These flocks were for quality the best of all, and for numbers very great, on the solemn feasts; thirty thousand at once of lambs and kids in Josiah’s time, and many more at the passover in aftertimes. Thus should men multiply, and fill the cities of replanted Judea.