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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Ezekiel 36

 

 

Verses 1-38

CHAPTER36

1And thou, son of Prayer of Manasseh, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, Mountains of Israel, hear the word of Jehovah 2 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because the enemy says over you, Aha! and the everlasting heights have become a possession for us; 3Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because, because “make desolate” [is said to you], and they snap after you round about, that ye may be [become] a possession to the remnant of the heathen, and ye are lifted up on the lip of the tongue and 4 are become a people’s talk [a calumny]; Therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the, valleys, to the desolate ruins and to the forsaken cities, which have become a prey [booty] and a derision to 5 the remnant of the heathen who are round about; Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken regarding the remnant of the heathen and regarding the whole of Edom, who gave themselves My land for a possession, in joy of the whole heart, in contempt of 6 soul, on account of its pasturage, for a prey. Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I, I have spoken in My jealousy and in My fury, because ye have borne the reproach of the heathen; 7Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I, I have lifted up My hand; surely the heathen that are round about you, they shall bear their 8 shame. And ye mountains of Israel shall give your foliage and bear your fruit to My people Israel; for they draw near to come 9 For, behold, 1come 10 to you, and turn Myself to you, and ye are tilled and down. And I multiply upon you men, the whole house of Israel, all of it; and the cities are 11 inhabited and the ruins built. And I multiply upon you man and beast, and they multiply themselves and are fruitful, and I settle you [make you inhabited] as at your origin, yea, I do you good more than in your beginnings, 12and ye know that I am Jehovah. And I make men walk over you, My people Israel, and they shall possess thee, and thou art to them for an inheritance, and thou shalt no more make them childless 13 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because they say to you, A devourer of men art thou, and hast made 14 thy people childless; Therefore shalt thou no more devour men, and no more 15 make thy people stumble,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. And I will no more let be heard against [over] thee the reproach of the heathen, and thou shalt no more bear the contumely [mockery, scorn] of the nations, and shalt no 16 more make thy people stumble,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 17Son of Prayer of Manasseh, the house of Israel were dwelling on their land, and they defiled it by their way and by their works, as the uncleanness of the monthly separation was their way before Me 18 And I poured out My fury upon them on account of the blood which they 19 shed upon the land, and by their foul idols defiled they it. And I dispersed them among the heathen, and they were scattered in the lands; according to 20 their way and according to their works have I judged them. And it came to the heathen whither they came, and they profaned the name of My holiness, since it was said of them, Jehovah’s people are these, and out of His land 21 have they gone forth. And I felt pity for the name of My holiness, which they, the house of Israel, profaned among the heathen whither they came 22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Not for your sakes act I, O house of Israel, but on account of the name of My 23 holiness, which ye profaned among the heathen whither ye came. And I sanctify My name, the great, the profaned among the heathen, which ye profaned in their midst, and the heathen know that I am Jehovah,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah,—when I sanctify Myself on [in] you before their [your] eyes 24 And I take you out of the heathen, and gather you out of all lands, and 25 bring you into your land. And I sprinkle upon you clean water, and ye become clean from all your defilements [uncleannesses, Ezekiel 36:17 sq.], and from all your foul idols will I cleanse you. And I give you 26 a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I take away the heart of stone out of your 27 flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And My Spirit will I put within you, and cause that ye shall walk in My statutes, and keep and do My judgments 28 And ye dwell in the land which I have given to your fathers, and are to Me 29 a people, and I will be to you a God. And [yea] I help you from all your defilements, and I call to the corn and multiply it, and will not send upon 30 you hunger. And I multiply the fruit of the tree, and the produce of the field, that ye may no longer have to bear the reproach of hunger among the 31 heathen. And ye remember your evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and loathe your own faces, for your iniquities and for your abominations 32 Not for your sakes act I,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah,—be it known to you; be ashamed, yea, shame yourselves away from your ways, O house of Israel 33 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day of My cleansing you from all your iniquities, I make the cities inhabited, and the ruins shall be built 34 And the desolated [devastated] land shall be cultivated, instead of being 35 a waste in the eyes of every passer-by. And they say, This land, the desolated, is become as the garden of Eden, and the ruined and desolated and 36 demolished cities are securely inhabited. And the heathen that are left round about you know that I, Jehovah, built the demolished [cities], and planted the desolated [land]; I, Jehovah, spoke and did 37 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will still in regard to this let Myself be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them; I will multiply them in men as a flock 38 As a flock of sacred rites, as the flock of Jerusalem in her festal seasons, so shall the ruined cities be full of flocks of men, and they know that I am Jehovah.

Ezekiel 36:2. Sept: ... εἰπενἐρημκ αἰωνια—

Ezekiel 36:3. ... ʼΑντι του ἀτιμκασθηναι ὑμας κ. μισηθηναι ὑμας ὑπο τ. ἐθνων—Vulg.: quod desolati estis et conculcati per circuitum—(Another reading: בהיותכם.)

Eze 36:4. ... κ. τ. ναπαις τ. ἑρημωμεναις κ. ἠφανισμεναις, κ. τ. πολεσιν τ. καταλελειμμεναιςκ. εἰς καταπατημα—

Ezekiel 36:5. Another reading: כלה c. ה and כנפש, Sept.: ... ἀτιμασντες ψυχας του ἀφανισας ἐν προνομη. Vulg.: … et ex animo, et ejecerunt eam ut vastarent.

Ezekiel 36:8. Sept.: ... τμν σταφυλην κ. τον καρπον ὐμων φκγεται λαος μον, ὁτι ἑλπιζουσιν του ἐλθειν.

Eze 36:10. ... παν οἰκον ʼΙσρ. εἰς τελος

Ezekiel 36:12. ... ἐτι ἀτεκνωθναι ἀπ’ αὐτων. Vulg.: et non addes ultra, ut absque eis sis.

Ezekiel 36:13. ... κ. ἠτεκνωμενη ὑπο του ἐθνους, Vulg.: … et suffocans gentem tuam.

Ezekiel 36:14. Vulg.: … Gentem tuam non necabis ultra

Ezekiel 36:17. Sept.: ... ὁδω . . κ. ἐν τ. εἰδωλοιςκ. ἐν τ. ἀκαθαρσικις αὠτοων.

Eze 36:19. ... κ. ἐλικμησα αὐτους—

Ezekiel 36:20. Another reading: ויבאו, so the old translations.

Ezekiel 36:21. Κ. ἐφεισαμην αὐτων—Et peperci nomini

Ezekiel 36:23. Another reading: בהם and לעיניהם (so also the Masora).

Ezekiel 36:31. Sept.: ... κ. προςοχθιειτε κατα προςωπον αὐτων ἐν ταις—

Ezekiel 36:32. Sept.: ... κ. ἐντραπητε ἐκ τ. ὁδων—

Eze 36:35. ... ὡς κηπος τρυφηςὀχυραι ἐκαθισαν.

Ezekiel 36:37. ... ζητηθησομαι τω—Vulg.: … invenient me—Another reading: אֶדרשׁ, active (Syr. Arabs.)

Eze 36:38. ... ὡς προβατα ἁγια—

[“In this chapter we have a continuation of the present great theme of the prophet—Israel’s prospective revival and prosperity as the Lord’s covenant-people. But it treats of this under different aspects. In the first section ( Ezekiel 36:1-15) the prophet unfolds the essential distinction between Israel and Edom with the other nations of heathendom, in that the former had, what the others had not, an interest in the power and faithfulness of God, in consequence of which Israel’s heritage must revive and flourish, and the hopes of the heathen concerning it must be disappointed. In the next section ( Ezekiel 36:16-21) the reason is given why the Lord had for a time acted toward His land and people as if their connection with Him was an evil rather than a blessing; it is traced up to the incorrigible wickedness of the people, and the necessity of God’s vindicating the cause of His holiness by exercising upon them the severity of His displeasure. Then in another section ( Ezekiel 36:22-33) the purpose of the Lord for their future good is unfolded—His purpose for His own name’s sake to revive His cause among His people, and that in the most effectual manner, by first renewing their hearts to holiness, and then by restoring them to a flourishing condition outwardly. And in a short concluding section ( Ezekiel 36:34-38) the general result is summed up, and the impressions noticed which the whole was fitted to produce upon the minds of others.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, p386.—W. F.]

EXEGETICAL REMARKS

Ezekiel 36:1-15.The Mountains of Israel.

After that Ezekiel 35, which is connected with the one that follows as antithesis and thesis, has already ( Ezekiel 36:12) introduced the mountains of Israel, parallel to Mount Seir (again Ezekiel 35:15 for the last time), and reminding us of Ezekiel 6 (comp. also Ezekiel 33:28), as that to which the prophecy before us is directly addressed, they now form the immediate theme of the divine sayings.

Ezekiel 36:1. אֶל, see on Ezekiel 6:2. Here, too, by the mountains of Israel it is not the land that is characterized after its most prominent part, but, as Ezekiel 36:2 will immediately show, the mountains come into consideration according to their religious signification for Israel.

Ezekiel 36:2. The phrase: thus saith the Lord Jehovah, which, when one cannot put one’s self in the position of those concerned, is repeated to weariness in our chapter, belongs to its peculiarities. It is intended not only to contradict the saying of the adversary, but still more to contravene what the poor doubting heart itself says, when looking at that which the eyes see; at the same time the divine comfort appears in presence of this visibility as a comfort solely in word, as correspondingly in the closing part of the chapter the name of the Lord will come forth above all.—The enemy Isaiah, as the word implies, he who turns himself against any one, in the connection here Edom ( Ezekiel 35:10), but in the signification developed Ezekiel 35; hence, as we go on farther, illustrated also by the heathen round about ( Ezekiel 36:5; Ezekiel 25:3; Ezekiel 25:8; Ezekiel 25:12).—Comp. on Ezekiel 25:3. That the everlasting heights refer primarily to the temple is clear; at the same time, however, Zion will have to be viewed as the seat of the everlasting royal dominion. “An allusion to the inmost and most tender feelings of Israel” (Schmieder). [Hävernick refers to Genesis 49:26 ( Deuteronomy 33:15), according to which the mountains are held to stand in relation to the promises of Israel as imperishable memorials of the patriarch’s blessing. Hengst: The natural mountains as a figure of the unchangeable grandeur of which Israel boasted, because it had in the Eternal its protector and the guarantee of its own perpetuity ( Psalm 125:2).]— Ezekiel 35:10.

Ezekiel 36:3. Ewald directs attention to the first five repetitions of therefore, because the grounds against these enemies always press on anew before the discourse becomes calmer, and will have it observed that, as in Ezekiel 5:12 sq, sacred numbers ( Ezekiel 3:5) fit into one another, and that in various ways, as for most certain assurance; there is a threefold address to the mountains; and the assignment of reasons has five steps in its process.— Ezekiel 21:14, 33.—יַעַן בְּיַעַן, see Ezekiel 13:10.—שַׁמּוֹת (Ewald, Ausf-Lehrb. 8th ed. p611), according to Gesenius, properly nom. verbale, but here only for the inf. Kal of שָׁמַם transitive: “to devastate.” [Ewald: “they snap and puff at you round about.” Hitzig: “they puff and snap after you,” under a mistaken comparison of Isaiah 42:14 from נָשַׁם] Now if it cannot be rendered: “they devastate you” (Keil), and will scarcely be rendered, with Hengst.: “ye are devastated,” then perhaps the most obvious thing Isaiah, in accordance with Ezekiel 35:12; Ezekiel 35:14 sq, to think of the standing: “make desolate,” “desolation”! They appear to the enemy round about as a morsel ready for swallowing, that they are already a possession for the remnant of the heathen, as מִםָּבִיב is more definitely explained to he. The presupposition in שְׁאֵדִית (what remains after defeat) is the judgment inflicted by the Chaldeans. As with a little brotherly love the injury received would have kept them back, so with their enmity against Israel it goaded them on to commit still farther injury to indemnify themselves on Israel.—וַתֵּעֲלוּ, according to Rosenm, imperf. Niph. from עָלַה (to be lifted or taken up); according to Ewald, intransitive imperf. Kal from עָלל (Aramaic, “to press in,” “to go in”); according to Hitzig, 2d plur. Kal from עָלַה, for וַתַּעֲלוּ (“ye are gone up”). The lip as instrument, the tongue as originator; the former having as its parallel calumny, and the latter, people; so that שָׂפָה is not = talk, and לָּשׁוֹן not a personification for talkers, as Klief. thinks, yet it need not be tautology (Gesen.), or לָשׁוֹן=; speech, people (Hävern.).

Ezekiel 36:4. Ezekiel 6:3. (“The mountains are for the land what the heads of the tribes are for the people, as it were the elders, the venerable fathers of the land, to whom the word of the Lord which is applicable to the whole land is announced,” Schmieder.) The mention of particulars is meant to point to the eye which observes all, the divine care which beholds each and all, over which only a human eye weeps, or on the contrary rejoices. As a prey points back to the beginning of Ezekiel 36:3, so a derision points to its close.

Ezekiel 36:5.The fire of my jealousy reminds of Ezekiel 35:11.— Ezekiel 35:15.—Ch25,35 also testify that Jehovah has spoken in this manner.—Comp. Ezekiel 25:6; Ezekiel 25:5, although the application here is somewhat different. Ewald: “in mortal contempt.” Hitzig: “contempt from the soul” (?).—מִגְרָשָׁהּ, according to Gesenius, an Aramaic infinitive from נָּדַשׁ, “in order to empty it (the uninhabited land) for a prey.” But what would be still there to empty? Ewald’s translation: “in order to drive it out for pillage,” is quite as unsuitable. Hitzig does better, taking, it as a substantive, but wrongly in the sense of ‘produce,’ and according to a peculiar construction translating: “in order to plunder (לָבֹז) its produce.” Hengst. (Cocc.): “that its environs should be a prey to them.” But which environs? of the land? Hence he is obliged to substitute the capital as the centre! The signification pasturage would at least be simpler; and the emptied land is in keeping with this, and is consequently a desirable prey. [Many interpret also: “on account of the expulsion of the land” (land for people), Ezekiel 31:11, whereby it (now again the land) has become a prey.]

Ezekiel 36:6. עַל־אַדְמַת, hence as the native home of Israel, with precursory reference to the return of the people, Ezekiel 36:8 sq, 28 sq.—Partly a repetition of Ezekiel 36:4.

Ezekiel 36:5. The reproach is to be understood of words (invectives, Ezekiel 36:3-4) as well as of deeds.

Ezekiel 36:7. Ezekiel 20:5. The attitude of swearing, yet not that alone, but also a sign of the intended action.—The roles shall change. Ezekiel 36:6, Ezekiel 16:52. Upon the heathen the reproach shall abide, but not upon the land which they have thus reproached to its inhabitants !

Ezekiel 36:8. The honour to be restored to the land is represented as the causing of it to yield leaves and fruit; Hengst. thinks: leaves and branches as food for cattle, while the fruit is for man.—קֵרְבוּ לָבוֹא can only be individuals concerned of the people. “Of the seventy years of Jeremiah, twenty had already elapsed ( Ezekiel 33:21)” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 36:9. Because hitherto (as late as Ezekiel 34:10) employed in a hostile sense, an explanation follows the הִנְנִיִ אֲל׳ ( Deuteronomy 11:12). The sowing shows that the work of cultivation is the subject spoken of, hence already with reference to men.

Ezekiel 36:10. Then farther in correspondence with the cultivation of the land is the peopling of it.—כָּל־בֵּית׳ כֻּלִּה, antithesis to Ezekiel 35:15.

Eze 36:4.

Ezekiel 36:11. To the men also cattle.— Genesis 1:28. “A new creation-blessing, as it were” (Hävern.). The more than indicates the figurative in the manner of expression ( Deuteronomy 30:5), as does also the fact that the mountains are addressed.

Ezekiel 36:12 rounds off as commerce (וְהוֹלַבְתִּי) what has been said of the peopling, after there has previously been a rural population with tilling of fields and rearing of cattle, and a town population with building of ruins; and the mention is made of the abiding, enduring possession of the land (לְנַחֲלָה, as inheritance).—־ךָ, what must be meant is the land, mountains and all; masc, which אֶרֶץ ( Ezekiel 36:5) may be also, as afterwards fem. gen.—The make childless, said of the land, may also be referred to the wild beasts introduced in consequence of its desolation ( Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 14:15).

Ezekiel 36:13. What is here said has in reality as little to do with Numbers 13:32 (observe, however, the statement of motive there) as with 2 Kings 2:24 (a mere particular case). The promised land was neither in itself of such a kind ( Deuteronomy 8:7 sq, Ezekiel 11:10 sq.), nor, without giving a forced meaning, can we, with Hengst, understand a reference to its position between Asiatic and African powers; but what is here said to the mountains of Israel (as previously, Ezekiel 36:12, of the land) is directed against the reproach, the scorn of the heathen ( Ezekiel 36:15), who would draw an inference from the desolation of the capital against its holy character as this land of divine promise. The reference here made to Numbers 13. can only be this, that what the adversaries say appears as a repetition of the unbelieving speech of those spies (אֶרֶץ אִכֶלֶת יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ), with which they brought out דִּבַּת הָאָרֶץ (comp. here Ezekiel 36:3); hence here somewhat in the sense of: Israel should have stayed away from it, not have come into the land, not have trod on the trap (birdlime) of the promise. [Ewald: “an exterminator of men art thou, and an unnatural mother of thy people wast thou.” Hävern.: “a swallower of men,” and “making nations (Israel and Judah) childless.” Hitzig observes: שִׁכֵּל is said of a mother—to bring children dead into the world, or to kill them afterwards. But is it, then, the children of the land, and not rather of the inhabitants, that are here spoken of?] The land is desolation, fit now only for pasture ( Ezekiel 36:5), thinks and says the surrounding heathen world. In opposition to this there was forcibly set forth the cultivation of the land already and the peopling of it with men, to whom the cattle ( Ezekiel 36:11) were only an adjunct; also the rebuilding of the ruins, in view, however, of the cities being again inhabited ( Ezekiel 36:10). But the sight of the desolation of the land took this general form in the mind and the mouth of the heathen, that this promised land consumes those who receive it, and especially that it can be no possession for their children, and consequently no inheritance. Comp. on this what was said in reference to the wilderness, Numbers 14:16; Deuteronomy 9:28; Exodus 32:12 sq. ( Ezekiel 20). To this repeated reproaching, which is at the same time a reproaching of the name of Jehovah as the promiser of the land,—especially, however, to the second part of it ( Ezekiel 36:12-13), the making childless, a statement immediately, Ezekiel 36:12, explained perfectly by: and thou art to them for an inheritance,

Ezekiel 36:14 forms a parallel, with repetition only of the phrase: to devour men. The alliterative (כִּשֵּׁל, Piel instead ofשִׁכֵּל), “making to stumble (to fall),” of the Kethib is significant, for thus is brought to view what the heathen standpoint of reproach so entirely overlooked, what, when the promised land had to be spoken of, should have been said of its abundance and beauty, namely, that thereby, by the misuse of its resources, it had been the occasion of Israel’s sin and downfall; and thus also a preparation is already made for speaking of, first, the profaning, and then the sanctifying of the name of Jehovah treated of in the course of the chapter. (Keil: “if the consuming of the population stands connected with the stumbling, then the people are devoured by the consequences of their sins, that Isaiah, by judicial punishments, sterility, pestilence, and war,” etc.) And inasmuch as Israel is now to possess the land abidingly, hence in his descendants, שִׁכֵּל, “to make childless,” is accordingly not repeated. This decides as completely as possible against the Qeri תְשַׁכְּלי (also against Hitzig); while, moreover, כשל is repeated in Ezekiel 36:15 without Qeri in the Hiphil. [Hengst. understands the stumbling in the sense of the Qeri, and evidently under the influence of Hitzig’s absurd objection, as signifying “to make unfortunate”!]

Ezekiel 36:15. According to another translation: “and I will no longer make thee hear” (Keil).

Eze 36:6; Eze 36:3-4.

Ezekiel 36:16-38. Profanation of the Name of Jehovah by Israel ( Ezekiel 36:16-21), and Sanctification of it by Jehovah Himself ( Ezekiel 36:22-38).

Ezekiel 36:16. A new word of God, but, as we have seen, prepared for by what has preceded ( Ezekiel 36:14-15).

Ezekiel 36:17 begins with a retrospect into the moral history of the house of Israel, for which comp. Leviticus 18:28; Numbers 35:34; Jeremiah 2:7.—Their way, their walk, as the expression their works explains ( Ezekiel 14:22-23), and כְּטֻמְאַת׳ renders still more clear. נִדָּה (from נָדַד) is: “rejection” = abhorrence, abomination, Ezekiel 7:19 sq.; then: separation= purification, especially the monthly purification of a woman by separation, issue of blood ( Leviticus 15). Gesen, on the other hand, explains the word by “uncleanness,” i.e., an unclean issue of blood. Comp. besides Isaiah 64:5, 6]. Yet not, however, as the “most loathsome uncleanness” (Keil)—it is in reality the natural peculiarity of woman—but the comparison appears to be used on account of the blood, as Ezekiel 36:18 makes obvious. Concerning the tenses comp. Hitzig. In Ezekiel 36:17 a habitual state in the past, on which the action in Ezekiel 36:18 breaks in. Ezekiel 7:8.— Ezekiel 22:3; Ezekiel 22:6; Ezekiel 33:25.—Comp. on Ezekiel 6:4 ( Ezekiel 8:10). “Murder and idolatry, with reference to the first commandment of the first table and the first of the second” (Hengst.).

Eze 36:19. Eze 22:15.—Eze 7:3; Eze 7:8.

Ezekiel 36:20. The singular is interpreted by Hengst. of the fate spoken of in Ezekiel 36:19, namely, the news (!) of it, although he goes on giving the following turn: the news came at the same time with themselves; they were the embodied intelligence. Keil understands it more simply as meaning the house of Israel. Hitzig, like the ancient versions, reads the plural, which, however, should be doubly avoided. That they themselves came to the heathen is repeatedly expressed in what follows, and that for the very purpose of explaining the fact therewith connected, the actual profanation of the name of the Lord by Israel’s presence there. As in their own land, so also outside of it. The name of My holiness is not simply: the holy name of Jehovah, but the name in which His holiness is manifest, so that by it man names His holiness, and hence the Holy God Himself. The profanation is traced home to the Jews as originators, as occasion of the saying which follows; and hence it is said indefinitely בֶּאֱמֹר לָהֶם, so that the heathen, who certainly also desecrated the name of Jehovah in their mouth, are yet not looked upon as the desecrators of the name of His holiness, but the Jews [Hengst.: “not by their doing, Romans 2:24, but by their suffering, because they had brought on the fate by their active desecration”], who, moreover, unrepentingly remained silent concerning their sin and guilt. They just came where they came; and with their impenitence gave there the impression merely of wretched, unfortunate, deceived, betrayed beings, in whom the blame was not to be sought, but in their God, who was powerless in comparison with the gods of the heathen, or unfaithful to His chosen people.—עַם׳ has also been interpreted interrogatively by various expositors.—יָצָאוּ is as much as to say: and they have run away out of Jehovah’s land which He had promised to them, where He dwelt among them; so that their having gone might be ironically held as a voluntary departure.

Ezekiel 36:21. חָמַל is: to draw one’s self together, to bend over (על) any one, to incline one’s self to him; hence: to compassionate him. [Hävern, wrongly: “and I spared for My holy name’s sake” (Sept.). The Vulgate is confused. Rosenm.: “I will take care for it, so that it shall not come to harm.” In this striking expression also lies something more active than: “to have compassion” (Klief.), or as Hengst.: “I had pity for My,” sq.] What follows shows what is contained in this prophetic preterite.

Ezekiel 36:22. There is first the announcement, which is at the same time an explanation of the divine pity, as His pitying of Himself in harmony with His holiness, in short, as a holy love,—an explanation which cuts off everything possible with men. The self-existent majesty of the Holy One of Israel, who stands in need of no one, says: לֹא לְמַעַנְכֶם( Deuteronomy 9:6). Neither in Israel’s virtue, nor yet in his misery, is there now any ground for Jehovah to act. Israel has no qualification whatever.—אֲנִי עשֶֹׁה, namely, what I do,—thus spoken absolutely, denoting the pure action, just as is specially suitable here. He does it, however, for glory and honour to ( ל, dat. comm.) His name.

Ezekiel 36:23. The “acting” of Jehovah is expressed and here announced as a sanctifying, i.e. of My holiness as expressed in My name, securing due weight to it, so that it shall not simply be named as name, but evidently experienced as fact. In its being the name of His holiness lies the necessity, when the people who can thus name God do not sanctify it, but on the contrary only contribute everywhere to its profanation, that then Jehovah should take in hand the sanctification of His name and thereby of Himself (בְּהִקָּדְשִׁי).—הַגָּדוֹל, together with the following הַמְחֻלָּל, makes observable the infinite grandeur as well as the omnipotence which are able to secure due regard for themselves ( Joshua 7:9; Malachi 1:11). That we might well expect: “before their (instead of: before your) eyes,” which reading is almost universally preferred, Hengst. also acknowledges, but finds, however, the thought of the manifest salvation better expressed in those immediately concerned. These, however, are not the Jews, because they have beheld the misery ( Job 19:27), but the heathen as spectators of the profanation of the divine name by the Jews ( Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 28:25). The Jews’ part in the matter is sufficiently expressed by בָכֶם (in your persons).

[“The expression: ‘when I sanctify Myself in you before your eyes,’ for which many critical authorities, both ancient and modern, would substitute ‘before their eyes,’ namely, those of the heathen—this expression creates no difficulty to a person who enters thoroughly into the import of the passage. For it points to the fact that Israel, as well as the heathen, needed the manifestation in question of Jehovah’s righteousness. It must be done first before the eyes of the people, who by their depravity had lost sight of God’s real character; and then what was seen by them experimentally would also be seen reflectively by the heathen who dwelt around. This twofold perception of God’s character is also brought out in other passages of our prophet; as in Ezekiel 20:41-42 : ‘And I will be sanctified in you before the eyes of the heathen, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. ’ ”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel.—W. F.]

Ezekiel 36:24. The first thing in this self-sanctification of Jehovah is an act of power, which puts an end to the outward occasion for the saying in Ezekiel 36:20, and to the actual profanation of the name of His holiness among the heathen ( Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41).

Ezekiel 36:25. The next thing, to which the first only subserves, is the raising up of Israel inwardly to a holy nation, so that בָכֶם ( Ezekiel 36:23) signifies: in them, as well as: on them; this, too, is a forth-putting, yea, the most mighty forth-putting of power, because wrought in the core of the national life. In Ezekiel 36:24, Israel’s justification before the heathen; in Ezekiel 36:25, Israel’s sanctification in himself as also among the heathen.—The “sprinkling,” as it will be in respect to a nation the only imaginable method of lustration, Song of Solomon, moreover, from the clean water(מַוִים טְהוֹרִים cannot be = מֵי נִדָּה) it cannot in the least point to the rite with the ashes, Numbers 19 (Hengst.); it would be preferable, with Hävern, to think of Numbers 8:7 sq, but מֵי חַטָּאת there also is something different from what clean water expresses here. The latter is meant expressly to symbolize the idea of purification, and specially from all etc, the טֻּמְוֹתֵיבֶם of the people, which, if not directly explained, is yet illustrated by וִּלוּלֵיכֶם; the “sprinkling,” again (comp. Exodus 25.), is doubtless meant to signify an act of consecration. Because sacrificial blood is not mentioned here, but such emphasis is laid on clean water, the best known means of purification, and also the most suitable for stains which show outwardly, we are as little at liberty to import without farther mediation—as Hengst. attempts under citation of Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 52:15—New Testament ideas into our chapter as into Ezekiel 11:19 sq. (see Comm. there). Neither does Psalm 51coincide with our passage. The immediate sense of our verse is: That Jehovah leads back Israel from exile into their own land, and consecrates them there to be a people, since the punishment, so characteristic for the sin that occasioned it, is shown to be removed by the bringing of them again into their own land; the forgiveness of sin thereby already proclaimed at once evinces and manifests itself as purification of the people, and the people (as in point of fact took place after the exile) put from them their old life, especially their idolatry ( Ezekiel 11:18; Ezekiel 18:31). Certainly not without some ground has Abarbanel referred back to the comparison of the issue of blood used in Ezekiel 36:17.—As to how Ezekiel 36:26 is to be understood, comp. on Ezekiel 11:19. Instead of the new heart here, לֵב אֶחָר is mentioned there, and only the “new spirit” is spoken of; while here both heart and spirit (as Ezekiel 18:31) appear as new, whereby the religious moral regeneration of the nation, a national restoration, is placed in prospect. “It is very consonant to the priestly character to portray the new community as a truly spiritually purified band of Levites or priests, Isaiah 61:6” (Hävern. ?).

Ezekiel 36:27. Since Jehovah’s Spirit is put בְּקִרְבְּכֶם, and thus is brought to pass that Israel’s conformity to law in walk and honesty of dealing return again, therefore the “new spirit” of Ezekiel 36:26 is primarily to be understood as a divine spiritual impulse back to the law of Jehovah ( Ezekiel 11:20).

[Kliefoth here looks forward as far as the “last times,” since God will gather out of the whole world His people, who are still scattered in a quite different manner and far wider in the world, and will place them in the heavenly Canaan, free them absolutely from sin ( Ezekiel 36:25), and as absolutely renew them inwardly ( Ezekiel 36:26), and by both acts as absolutely sanctify them ( Ezekiel 36:27).] Comp. Leviticus 25:18; Leviticus 26:12.

Ezekiel 36:29. וְהוֹשַׁעְתִּי is by anticipation understood Messianically ( Matthew 1:21) by those resolved to find the New Testament ordo salutis in Ezekiel, interpreted of the divine protection ( Ezekiel 34:22), or, by way of distinction from Ezekiel 36:25, referred to the consequences of the defilements of Israel. The expression rather sums up the foregoing, which regarded the people, while now, subjoined to Ezekiel 36:28, a transition is made to the land. Idolatry disappears, and the promises concerning the land are fulfilled, Ezekiel 34:29. (The opposite, although in the same figure, we find in 2 Kings 8:1.)

Eze 36:30. Eze 34:27; Eze 34:29.

Ezekiel 36:31. Ezekiel 20:43; comp. on Ezekiel 6:9. The anti-heathen abhorrence and loathing became national, and still speaks out of its distorted pietism in Pharisaism. If the gospel order of salvation were to be sought in Ezekiel 36:25 sq, then we would rather expect to find here joy in the Holy Ghost ( Leviticus 26:40).

Ezekiel 36:32. Comp. on Ezekiel 36:22.—That this acting of Jehovah, irrespective of them, is still so particularly placed before and inculcated on them, Isaiah, however, by no means designed to leave the Jews undisturbed, as if they might simply wait for the things which would come upon them and happen to them; but as the love of God, without worthiness deserving it, certainly excludes any merit on the part of Prayer of Manasseh, yet should so much the more awaken to reception and love in return, so there is attached to the promise here the imperative, repeated with additional emphasis, in relation to the family, the household of Israel.

Ezekiel 36:33. Ezekiel 36:25.—Hitzig translates וְהוֹשַׁבְתִּי: “then I again erect the cities,” make them to sit instead of lying, since he denies that it ever ( Isaiah 54:3) signifies: “to make inhabited.” So also Hengstenberg always: “sit,” in contrast to: lie prostrate, and here: “cause to sit.” Gesenius, Ewald, etc, on the other hand, support the causative signification, as: to cause that one sit, dwell therein, to make inhabited. Keil: make stocked with inhabitants.

Eze 36:34. Eze 36:9.—Eze 35:3; Eze 6:14.—Eze 5:14.

Ezekiel 36:35. וְאָמְדוּ are those individualized from כָּל־עוֹבֵר Ezekiel 36:34. (הַלָּזֶוּ only here,= הַלָּזֶה, but probably fem.) Observe the antithesis to Ezekiel 35:12; Ezekiel 35:9, and the probable allusion in Eden to Edom ( Ezekiel 31:8-9; Genesis 13:10; Isaiah 51:3; Joel 2:3). From this allegorical way of speaking, Hengstenberg justly rejects the idea of “the restoration of Canaan to a really paradisaic glory.”—Ewald: “flourish, well fortified.” Hengst.: “sit fortified;” whereas a city whose wall is broken lies on the ground. According to another translation, said of the inhabitants, who feel themselves secure, protected therein as in fortresses. (Comp. on Ezekiel 38:11.)

Ezekiel 36:36. The heathen brought in as left (“the remnant of the heathen,” Ezekiel 36:3) are, on the contrary, made known only by the judgments that have passed over them, but by no restitution. Comp. Ezekiel 17:24.

Ezekiel 36:37. Ezekiel 14:3 ( 1 Samuel 28:6-7). On לַעֲשׂ׳ לָהֶם, comp. on the opposite, the לֹא׳ אֲנִי־עשֶֹׁה ( Ezekiel 36:32; Ezekiel 36:22).—The land—well, we are again in it, but where are the people? This question Jehovah will answer by actual (לַעֲשׂוֹת) increase ( Ezekiel 36:10 sq.), in that He will show them as a flock ( Ezekiel 34; Micah 2:12). [While Hitzig takes אָדָם as in apposition to אֹתָם (them, the men, as a flock), Kliefoth translates incorrectly: “that they became the flock of mankind.”] Hävernick cites Bochart for the particularly great increase of flocks of sheep. (Comp. also Ezekiel 34:31.) But what Ezekiel 36:38 says on this is more significant. According to Hengstenberg, formal mention is made of the festivals in general, but the connection (as Mark 15:6) points to the great accumulation of sheep at the passover ( 2 Chronicles 35:7), with which the abundance in men of restored Israel is compared. (Thus the Chaldee.) Hengstenberg translates: “as consecrated flocks of sheep” (the people of the saints of the Lord), and seeks the fulfilment in the Church of Christ rather than in the times between the exile and Christ.—קָדָשִׁים that Isaiah, of hallowed ones, in this sense: of sacrificial beasts ( Romans 12:1); whereby the reference to the consecration of the people ( Ezekiel 36:25) gains confirmation. The people is embraced in its chief points of worship, Deuteronomy 16:16.

DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS

1. The comparison of our chapter with Ezekiel 6 indicates that, in considering the “mountains of Israel,” especially when they are by the best interpreter, the “enemy,” sneeringly termed the “everlasting heights,” we are not to direct our attention to the mountainous character of the Holy Land. Palestine is a hilly country, which leans upon the towering heights of Lebanon and Hermon; but this conformation did not so much qualify it for its significance in the Old World, so that we might at once recur to that, as its position on the boundaries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and again its peculiar isolation, while occupying such a position in the centre of the Old World. In considering this position of the land, its littleness, ridiculed as is well known by Cicero, and from which the Roman statesman would infer the little god of the Jews, has as little, or rather as much, to say as the grain of mustard seed in the parable, Matthew 13. The focus of the concave mirror Isaiah, in like manner, merely a point. The outward littleness of the Holy Land only compels us to one thing, and that Isaiah, to keep always in view its spiritual significance. As, then, for such a view, its separation from the other countries, and again, at the same time, its position in the midst of them ( Ezekiel 5:5) (the former, that amid the universal blowing of the world and the nations there might be a protecting hand before the light; the latter, that when the light burst forth, its brilliancy might easily shine in all directions), claim our attention much more than its mountainous character,—so under the “everlasting heights,” the “mountains of Israel,” Zion, as seat of the Davidic-Messianic kingdom ( Psalm 2), and the temple-mountain, in so far as Israel worshipped what it knew ( John 4), and the σωτηρικ ἑκ των ʼΙουδαιων ἐστιν, must come into consideration ( Ezekiel 34:26; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1); however beautifully that reads which has been said by Schmieder, accordant, no doubt, with “natural human feeling,” while citing Psalm 90:2 and Job 15:7, and referring to the “ways and manners of mountaineers,” and the thread of “remembrances,” especially Israel’s ( Genesis 22; 1 Kings 18).

2. The antithesis of Seir places before our eyes the rugged mountain height and the rude mountain strength, that Isaiah, exactly the things which have no value for enduring victory, for abiding blessing in the higher order of things.

3. The combating of the allegorizing method of explanation—for example, by J. A. Crusius, from whom Rosenmüller quotes when commenting on our chapter—is unquestionably in the right against the arbitrary extravagances and exaggerations of Cocceius and his followers; but where the Bible language in general is symbolical, with the prophets, above all, a symbolical way of speaking will be conceded. A natural or historical sub-stratum on which the symbolical is based is supposed with the symbolical itself. Consequently, all that is here said in Ezekiel has a fulfilment in the time after the exile. On the other hand, modern apocalypticism, by its converting the letter of prophecy into future revelations of any and every kind, sets itself against the apocalyptic mode of expression, the characteristic of which is certainly not literality. The national physiognomy of Israel, as Genesis traces it back to Adam, the father of all men, indicates a reference to humanity as a whole. This reference prevails in Noah’s prophetic discourse, Genesis 9, when Japhet is destined to dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan, the son of Ham, to be a servant in the house. The Holy Land fits in with Abraham to this symbolism of the nation, and Abraham is to be a blessing (as is said in Genesis 12 : “to all the families of the earth, Adamah”), through his seed, which is Christ, as the apostle says in Galatians 3Hence humanity in Christ will also be the theological point of view in the case of the land of Israel. So long as He who is τέλος νόμου ( Romans 10:4) was not born in the land of promise, the land remained, in respect to the realization of the blessing of Abraham to the race of Adam, a prophetic symbol of the earth, just as the nation was symbolico-prophetic for the nations of mankind. The land of Israel is also νομός (from νέμω), and, like the legal nationality of Israel, has its final fulfilment in Christ. As His beatitudes ( Matthew 5) assign to His people the kingdom of heaven, so also do they the inheritance of the land. Hitherto out of Israel shines humanity, and representatively for it the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, the true Israel. The Christian interpretation of the people of Israel as the Church, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, embraces now also the Holy Land in the signification of the land of glory, paradise, and Eden. From the standpoint of the fulfilling of Israel as to its universal human signification by Christ, the Old Testament outward expression of the letter, that Isaiah, what is said propædeutically and pædagogically in accordance with the economy of the Old Covenant, in the style of the people and the land, may remain in its full force; but what is given with the idea of Israel, namely, that the promises in question are to be fulfilled in a very different sense from the outward literal sense, that they are to be fulfilled “in spirit and in truth,”—this even the literal expression itself demands from its unmistakable depth of meaning, which often makes plainly ridiculous a merely literal interpretation, whether looking to the time after the exile, or to the very last time. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John, the baptizer of Christ ( Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16). And what Christ said ( John 4) of worshipping at Jerusalem: “the hour cometh, and now Isaiah,” bears witness to the Messianic (Christological) and in general the spiritual sense of the Old Testament letter; as the setting of it free from every temporary limitation as to place or nation bears witness to its sense for eternity, and to the spiritual interpretation as that which is at the same time interpretation “in truth,” the true understanding, so that the Christian truth of the prophecies is also to be regarded as their true and full reality. The Jewish Christianity of individual expositors (e.g. of Baumgarten) is not the Old Testament Christianity of the prophets.

4. On Ezekiel 3:17 the characteristic individualization was noted as a mark of the time; but that which is peculiar to the Christological utterances of our prophet (Introd. § 9), his putting of the Christological thought, as Ezekiel 40 sq, in the form of Palestinian worship, and so generally in the manner of the people and land of Israel, is always to be adhered to. Fundamentally, the latter form was only that of the law as early as Exodus 20:12. But when the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, of the seed of David according to the flesh, realized the kingdom of Israel as eternal—when, by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, His gift of prophecy became the common property of mankind, then, as with the worshipping in spirit and in truth, the peculiar localization of the sanctuary and the priestly service, always accomplished for the time, ceased; Israel also could, in whatever part of the earth, consider themselves as in their own land, and so much the more as their true King had ( John 18) witnessed the good confession of the supra-mundane nature of His kingdom before the representative of the Roman earthly world-power. For the Israel of fulfilment Canaan lay, in the first instance, in the world above with Christ, as the apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:23, where also paradise is ( Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4); and in this world only, in the renewal of heaven and earth according to the Christian hope. Song of Solomon, likewise, the true, the fulfilled nationality of Israel is to be sought for in the Christian world, in humanity, according to the Spirit of Christ; now in measure, in fulness only hereafter, Revelation 21:3.

5. Schmieder sums up the moral guilt of Edom as threefold: (1) taking possession at his own hand; (2) doing this in a bad frame of mind, with malignant joy and scornful laughter; (3) doing this not to keep and cultivate the land (for which man was ordained of God in paradise), but to devastate and plunder it.

6. It belongs to the local colour of the land, that, when it is spoken of distinctively, its fruitfulness also is spoken of. Comp. for climate and nature of the soil, the well-known passages of Scripture. Writers in the first century still bear witness to what heathens and Jews of former times celebrated with one accord, the immense population of the land, corresponding to its great fertility. At present, indeed, Jerusalem, the largest city of Palestine, has scarcely more inhabitants than the smaller towns of Galilee had in the time of Josephus.

7. On the parallel minatory prophecy in Ezekiel 6 it was observed (p94) how Israel’s idolatrous self-righteousness is broken in pieces in every way by God’s judgment. A parallel observation will correspond to the kernel and inmost contents of our chapter, namely, that divine grace alone will restore Israel, land and people—the latter especially, in the way of Jehovah’s sanctifying His own name. In this, Israel’s misery is as little the motive as any righteousness on the side of Israel. What befalls the heathen, indeed, with respect to Israel, happens to them because they have insulted in His people the name of Jehovah revealed in Israel. Hence the fundamental reference which Jehovah takes is finally Himself. Israel, as has been repeatedly said, four times in succession (in the cosmic number, Ezekiel 36:20-23), gave by their exile, and hence by their misery, occasion for the profanation of the name of Jehovah. Their misery made the heathen sin against Jehovah; thus it was viewed, but by no means as cause of the divine pity. What is said of pity is Jehovah’s pity for His own name, Ezekiel 36:21. The divine love appears not as compassion in relation to misery, but the misery itself appears as sin, so that the reference is taken simply to sin; the divine love appears purely as grace.

8. Hävernick emphasizes this, that “the holiness of God forms the centre of the discourse before us;” but he makes too little account of the holiness of Jehovah, when he makes no more of it than “the relation therein established of God to the evil,” So also it is not acutely thought, when, in explanation of Ezekiel 36:1-15, that “the punitive judgment threatened against the heathen must have its ultimate explanation ” from the holiness of God, Hävernick places the essence of heathenism in assailing the holiness of God. It must be observed, however, that heathenism knows nothing of God’s holiness. The name of Jehovah’s holiness, as the expression, chosen three times in succession (according to the number of the godhead, Ezekiel 36:20-22), and which is not to be resolved into the “holy name of Jehovah,” significantly runs, is even as “name” (as Beck justly observes) “the expression with living power of the divine presence in Revelation,” so that by the name of Jehovah’s holiness this revelation of God as adapted exclusively to Israel is set forth; hence, as to the “transgressions of the heathen,” no direct relation of them to the holiness of God is expressed, but a misapprehension of the revelation of the holy in Israel, consequently a relation to Israel as the people of Jehovah. The holiness of God has, however, so much the more significance in our chapter, as the setting of it forth in Israel is thoroughly in accordance with what is thus emphasized, that what Jehovah does ( Ezekiel 36:22; Ezekiel 36:32) He does for His own sake. For God’s holiness is “the real intrinsic ideality of God, His harmoniousness of essence, as it manifests itself also in this, that He makes Himself known in a church of His pure divine consciousness, and preserves and perfects this church in the ideality of its pure essence, until by it the world is restored to perfection in the real ideality, the personal harmoniousness of essence” (P. Lange, Pos. Dogm. p95). By setting forth the holiness of God, as is done in our chapter, Ezekiel puts himself in harmony with Isaiah (p41).

9. Lange observes on the holiness of God, that the concept of it is “mediated to us through the Old Testament almost more than any other concept;” “the leading thought of the Hebrew view of the world is holiness; the קָדוֹשׁ, or קְדוֹשׁ יִשׂרָאֵל, is He who is pure in essence, true to Himself, corresponding to His name.” Lange finds the “mythologico-typical reflection” of holiness in ideality, the “leading thought of the Hellenic view of the world,” just as he calls “the Greek culture the mythologico-typical counterpart of the theocracy.”

10. Because love, which is God, is holy, breaking of the law, and still more the dishonouring of divine benefits, as in Ezekiel 36:16 sq, can expect no support or indulgence in Him, the righteous God, the “Founder and Guardian of right” (Lange). Since He as the “Holy One,” who is the absolute opposite of the evil, can originate nothing evil, so contrariety to Him as such, and especially misuse of His gifts, here of the land, can find no encouragement with the “Holy One of Israel,” the Giver of righteous recompense. Since the native land of a people, especially like Israel, may be misused as the δος μοι που στω in relation to heaven or higher interests than the earth, the corresponding righteous opposition and reaction of the holiness of God will be either deterioration of such a land (failure of crops and the like), or expulsion of the people from it, or both. Song of Solomon, too, the earth must finally pass away for mankind, although for the people of God there is hope of a “new earth.” The latter gives proof of God’s truth and faithfulness, which, keeping promise, provides for the need of finite spirits not only a corporeity, but also a locality in harmony therewith, according to the purpose of His wise and holy will; and perhaps this is typified also in Israel’s possession of the land in the signification of their native land. But with God not only is goodness accompanied by justice, as that according to which God gave Israel scope and opportunity to expel (exile) themselves from their land among the heathen—just as man can procure hell for himself—and thus left as well as gave their right to Israel, but divine justice as revelation of God’s holiness is more than mere retribution; it becomes on and in the sinner self-sanctification of God.

11. As the Holy One, Jehovah is the God of Israel ( Leviticus 11:44 sq.); and it is only in keeping with this relation that Israel, His people, have to appear before Him, not merely in symbolical but still more in legal moral purity of life, above all in that they keep themselves religiously pure from idols. It is not only this mutual relation that results to Israel from the fact that their God is the Holy One, but also that, so long as the relation of the Holy One to Israel has not ceased, in like manner the holiness of this people is not to be surrendered; hence that, as on them by exile and by restoration, so in them Jehovah will sanctify His name or Himself. “The command: Be ye holy, for I am holy, contains (says Hävernick) at the same time the promise of the realization of a holy kingdom of God as surely as God Himself is holy. But God reveals Himself as the Holy One not merely in condemning evil and destroying the offender, but also in the extirpation of evil and the transformation and renewal of the sinner by virtue of a new divine breath of life, the spiritual creation of God in man.”

12. Sanctification implies in general that something is removed from its common worldly relations. Since this does not usually take place without reference to sinful concomitants, the symbolical act of washing readily connects itself with sanctification; but it is by no means to have a merely negative interpretation, as “annulling of the false profane world-relation of the object” (Lange), especially when, as here in Ezekiel, no mention is made of the positive symbol of anointing; which, moreover, does not symbolize induction into the service of the Lord, the “restoration of the true religious world-relation,” but the divine equipment for the service of the Lord. Even in itself, and still more from its thus standing alone, washing will represent purification, which is consecration.

13. Jehovah sanctifies Himself on Israel before the eyes of the rest of the world ( Ezekiel 36:23), in that by taking and gathering Israel out of all nations and countries He actually places them again as His people in the land of promise ( Ezekiel 36:24). Jehovah sanctifies Himself in Israel, hence in Israel’s own consciousness, by making them experience, as a fresh national dedication, a moral and religious purification. The expressions employed are to be interpreted as referring to the nation as such, and not to single individuals; we have not so much to understand spiritual states of mind as to think of national regeneration. But if what has been already remarked on Ezekiel 9 suffices as to the letter for our chapter also and Ezekiel 18, the sprinkling of the clean water in Ezekiel 36:25 symbolizes the national moral and religious cleansing of Israel, and the “new heart” in Ezekiel 36:26 is nothing else than a “heart of flesh” instead of a “heart of stone” in the flesh; yet in Ezekiel 36:27 the Spirit of Jehovah (רוּחִי), which the “new spirit” within Israel is interpreted to mean, points beyond Ezekiel 11:19 ( Ezekiel 18:31); the Holy One of Israel appears as the spirit of Israel, just as “God as Spirit of the Church and indweller in the human heart is preeminently the Holy One” (Nitzsch). And although Ezekiel 36:25 sq. in relation to Ezekiel 36:8 sq. may be taken as complement of the promise given there, or even as the condition for the promised inheritance continuing to the children, and hence parallel thereto ( Ezekiel 36:24 carrying out the declaration: “for they draw near to come,” Ezekiel 36:8), yet we are not hindered from making the Messianic salvation of the people, as the true and full sanctification of Jehovah in as well as on them, shine forth behind all this (p24), and the “clean water” of Ezekiel 36:25 approximates to the Holy Ghost ( Joel 2:28 sq.). Comp. Umbreit.

14. “The true essence of the Messianic time,” says Hävernick, “its very kernel, from which all its other blessings flow, and its entire glory unfolds itself, is the purification of the people. At the time of Christ this idea was deeply rooted in the national consciousness, and John the Baptist unquestionably adapted to it his rite of lustration, the βαπτισμα της μετανοιας.”

15. Jesus could ( John 3:5) refer to Ezekiel 36:25 sq. of our chapter, namely, that water and spirit are requisite for regeneration for the kingdom of God, which truth the master in Israel ( Ezekiel 36:10) should have known. “For Ezekiel teaches here in clear words that Israel had to receive another and new heart and spirit—that it had to be sprinkled with clean water by the Spirit of God. Thus should a master in Israel have known regarding water and spirit in this relation” (Cocceius).

16. “Striking is the word of the prophet, and pointing exactly to the times of Christian fulfilment,—the people of the new planting shall never again experience the reproach of hunger among the heathen. A deep saying, when we divest it of its allegorical covering, and understand by it the eternal appeasing of hunger of spirit. It was indeed a reproach to Israel, that, nourished as they were by the divine food of life in the words of Moses and the prophets, they went after the imaginary gods of the heathen, and, being carried away into the countries of strangers, were obliged to suffer hunger in a dry land,” etc. (Umbreit).

HOMILETIC HINTS

Ezekiel 36:1 sq. The mountains of Israel not only figures, but also places of the promises to Israel.—Word and name of the Lord; the former the revelation of His will, the latter the revelation of His nature.

Ezekiel 36:2. “Thus they mocked at the promises of God, as if their eternity were now come to an end” (Berl. Bib.).—The scorn of the world an old experience.—“Thus were the prophets and Christ reproached, and the Lord said that men would speak all manner of evil against His disciples, Matthew 5:11, and Paul, that we should be a spectacle to the world, 1 Corinthians 4:9” (Heim-Hoffmann).—“All things may and shall work for good to Christians, Romans 8:28” (Cr.).—The wicked also shall have an eternity, but of what kind? Just the eternity into the possession of which they have put themselves, according as their works deserve, as death is the wages of sin.

Ezekiel 36:3 sq. God knows, sees, and hears the misery of His children; that must comfort them, therefore they cannot despair.—“How ready men often are not only to count up the sufferings of others, but also in their talk to exaggerate them still more!” (Starck.)

Ezekiel 36:5 sq. What God calls His cannot be lost for ever. He is jealous with but also for His possession.—God lets His people be stricken only by whom He will; one cannot simply open the mouth and devour them at pleasure.

Ezekiel 36:8 sq. “Thus shall the ruined churches bring fruit, wine, and bread, that Isaiah, the mysteries of doctrine, to the profit of the people, that they may no longer be rude and ignorant, but a people taught of God. Therefore the spiritual husbandmen, vine-dressers, till and sow diligently. With the plough of fear they turn up the soil of the heart, in which they sow the new word of the gospel, whereby the forsaken churches become planted anew; and these are the mountains which the Lord addresses” (Heim-Hoffmann).—“When He appeared in the holy land who could say of Himself, ‘Come unto Me, ye who labour and are heavy laden,’ He far outshone Solomon in all his glory” (Hengst.).—“The wicked have no cause to rejoice over the chastisement of God’s children, Jeremiah 48:27” (Starke).—“The affairs of the people of God are never in so bad a state that God should be unable to set them right again; nay, experience has taught that the Church after persecution only increases so much the more” (O.).—“They are far wrong who consider a great increase of men as a curse, because it gives rise to want and distress. God can nourish many as well as few, and we should live moderately, avoid endeavouring to surpass others in expenditure, and seek for concord in families, etc.” (Luther).

Ezekiel 36:12 sq. “The promised good is always to be understood with the condition that men repent, Malachi 3:7” (Starke).—“The self evident condition Isaiah, that they do not fill up the measure of their sins anew. There is no charter of immunity against Ye would not” (Hengst.).—“How often is the country or a district made to bear the blame when there comes a pestilence among men or cattle, when, however, it should be known that sin gaining the upper hand provoked God’s wrath thereto” (O.).—“As already observed by Jerome, the Jews refer this to a kingdom of a thousand years, when Jerusalem shall be built and the temple of the latter chapters of our prophet erected; while in the opinion of others, the fulfilment took place under Zerubbabel, which cannot possibly be the case, as also Jerome grants, and then compares the Christian Chiliasts with the Jewish dreamers of their millennium. Hence we must abide by the spiritual interpretation regarding these blessings promised to the people, to which we are directed besides by Christ and the apostles” (Luther).

Ezekiel 36:16 sq. “Man’s previous course of action is the cause of God’s subsequent course of action, Jeremiah 2:19” (Starke).—“The goodness of God invites us to repentance, but not to evil-doing and pride” (Starck).—We shall have to give account not only because of the evil which we have done, but also for the good things which we have had.—The earth should not be full of wickedness and folly, but full of the knowledge of the Lord and of love unfeigned.—“The world is perfect throughout where man does not come in to disturb it.”—In our impure acting our impure nature also always comes forth. Storms clear the air, an observation which bears application in regard to the judgments of God.

Ezekiel 36:19. The scattering power of sin; in truth, it scatters the souls of men into the whole world, and that is already their judgment which sinners have to experience.

Ezekiel 36:20. With the sinner goes also his curse, his other shadow.—Our misfortunes and mistakes are very often God’s sentence on our transgressions, which, indeed, are best known to Him and ourselves.—How much blasphemy against God and offence against the truth do not those very persons occasion who are called to make God’s word and name honoured, acknowledged, and exalted above the world!—To have regard to the enemy,—a point to be well attended to for the walk of the friends of God in this world.—“Thus this chapter teaches us how the first petition of the Lord’s prayer should be understood. The name of the Lord, to wit, is hallowed as well by the prosperity of the elect, which may obtain even under the cross, as by their purification from sin” (Richter).—A bad life ought not to put good doctrine in question.

Ezekiel 36:21 sq. God His own justification in this world (Theodicy).—“God sanctifies His name among men by benefits as well as by judgments and punishments” (Starck).—“So saints are accustomed to pray who put no trust in their own merit, but humbly entreat God to look to His own name, that it may be praised and sanctified. But Christ is the holy name of God, for whose sake God is gracious to us; whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Heim-Hoffmann).

Ezekiel 36:24. We shall come home out of this world.—Gathering even in the midst of the scattering of this world is of the grace of God.

Ezekiel 36:25 sq. “It is God alone who can truly convert us to Himself, and purify our hearts by His almighty Spirit, Jeremiah 31:18” (Tüb. Bib.).—“Without true purification from sin no one can come into real union and communion with God, Isaiah 1:16 sq.” (Starke).—“No unclean person shall enter into the New Jerusalem, Revelation 22, hence our cleansing has to take place in this life” (Starck).—“Purification must precede the filling of men with the new spirit. David in the first place supplicates God to wash him quite clean from his guilt, and then prays for the creation in him of a clean heart and of a new sted-fast spirit, Psalm 51” (Umbreit).—“The prophets frequently reproach the Jews, as a stiff-necked people, that they will not hearken to the word of the Lord. Here, on the contrary, a heart and spirit which shall be new is promised to them, that they may not henceforth live after their former custom, but begin a new manner of life, so that the old and disobedient heart of stone may become the new but pliant and submissive heart” (Luther).—“The heart of stone does not bear bending according to God’s will, whereas the heart of flesh is soft, and of such a texture that God can impress into its understanding a living knowledge, into its will a voluntary obedience, and into the inclinations a holy order” (Starke).—“Our heart and inward parts are designed to be occupied as an abode by God Himself, John 14:23” (Starck).—For the furniture with which God is accustomed to furnish His abode in Prayer of Manasseh, see Galatians 5:22.—“Of flesh and fleshly (carnal) are two different things; the former may be dealt with, the latter becomes always harder” (Starck).—“The new birth does not consist in annihilating the Prayer of Manasseh, nor in the entire removal of sinful corruption and of the old Adamic disposition, but in the creation of an entirely new disposition and nature, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24” (Starke).—“God gives the Holy Ghost and all the riches of grace not for gold, but He gives all things without price to all who ask Him for them, Isaiah 55” (Cr.).

Ezekiel 36:27. “The Holy Ghost is not inactive in the regenerate, but active and powerful, Romans 8:15 sq.” (Starke).—First the inward and then the outward change is God’s order, while we men always proceed in the reverse order.—“What good, however, a man does is not his, but God’s work in him, Philippians 2:13” (Starke).

Ezekiel 36:28 sq. To the heavenly among men there is no lack even on earth; to him who has what alone is worth having nothing shall be wanting.—So long as Christ was not born in the land of promise, the land of promise had to be also the home of Israel. Since the time that Christ is in heaven, only heaven can be the true home of the true Israel.—“The regenerate man stands in the covenant of grace with God” (Starke).

Ezekiel 36:30. God will not only finally redeem us from all distress of body and soul, but will also free us from all reproach; Song of Solomon, then, we do not in vain believe in a resurrection of the body and an eternal life.

Ezekiel 36:31. In conversion man regains his memory.—A man can be of good courage when he loathes himself.—Loathing is not a sign of sickness only, but in matters spiritual it is a sign of convalescence.—The loathing of oneself, the requital of self-complacency.—Our life must become sorrow to us, otherwise sorrow will not become life to us.

Ezekiel 36:32 sq. Grace works shame, and so much the more as it makes the wilderness a paradise, the beggar a king, and the sinner a priest.—“Blessed shame” (Schmieder).—We boast of nothing in Christ, and we boast of all things.

Ezekiel 36:35 sq. The last sentence of the world on the people of God will be its own self-condemnation, just as it will be our justification. It will not be in vain that we have comforted ourselves with God in this world.—Our help stands in the name of the Lord.—The comfort of the Church, that God is Builder and Planter.—“Yea, this is the honour of the holy name of God. Hebrews, the Creator, who created what was not, is also the Restorer, who creates anew that which was ruined and laid waste by the guilt of disobedient creatures” (Schmieder).

Ezekiel 36:37 sq. “But the men of this flock shall also be as the sheep, that Isaiah, no wild beasts shall be among them; hence it follows that God will purify His Church from these noxious animals” (Cocc.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ezekiel-36.html. 1857-84.

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