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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 21

 

 

Verses 1-32

Ezekiel 20:45 to Ezekiel 21:32. The Terrible Sword of Nebuchadrezzar.—Here again, as shortly before (chs. 18f.), a piece of theological oratory is followed by a poem—this time a wild irregular dithyramb (esp. Ezekiel 21:8-17), the text of which is, unhappily, corrupt in places to the point of desperation. But perhaps its very perplexities reflect the tumult of the prophet's soul. The nearer the doom approaches, the more vividly does he conceive it.

Ezekiel 20:5-49. He begins by announcing a supernatural conflagration in the south, which is to scorch the land bare. On Ezekiel's audience objecting to his allegorical description, he then speaks his mind with deadly plainness.

Ezekiel 21:1-7. The south land is Judah, and in particular Jerusalem, and the conflagration is the fire of war, or rather the sword; and the whole chapter has been well called The Song of the Sword. It is Nebuchadrezzar's sword, but it is even more truly Yahweh's, for He has drawn it, and it is destined to slay righteous and wicked alike. (Ezekiel sees that the fall of Jerusalem will involve this indiscriminate destruction, though this rather conflicts with his theory of strict individual retribution which he had so fully expounded in ch. 18.) The thought of this inexorable issue makes Ezekiel's heart faint and sore.

Ezekiel 21:8-17. This awful sword will do its work well. It is sharp and shining, ready for the slaughter of Israel's princes and people, a great murderous sword to be brandished again and yet again. It will strike terror into every heart, whirling to the rear, to the right, to the front, to the left, wherever its edge has been appointed by the indignant Yahweh for slaughter. (Ezekiel 20:10 and Ezekiel 20:13 defy translation.)

Ezekiel 21:18-23. This deadly sword is making straight for Jerusalem. In an unusually interesting passage, Nebuchadrezzar is represented as reaching a point in his westward march from which two roads diverge, one leading to the capital of Ammon, the other to Jerusalem. Along which shall he move? In various ways he seeks to ascertain the will of his gods—by shaking two arrows, one marked Rabbah (Jeremiah 49:2*), the other Jerusalem, and drawing one out, by consulting his images, by inspecting the liver of an animal. These superstitions of Nebuchadrezzar were all overruled to advance Yahweh's purpose. The lot decided for a march upon Jerusalem, and though the infatuated inhabitants are represented as not greatly perturbed, the Babylonian advance is a stern reminder of Zedekiah's perfidy (Ezekiel 17:19), which they are coming to avenge.

Ezekiel 21:24-27. At this point Ezekiel's emotion flames into white heat. He apostrophises the "wicked" Zedekiah, sees him stripped of his regalia, and announces for his kingdom utter ruin, until some worthy successor shall arise—even the Messianic king—to whom it will be given back.

Ezekiel 21:28-32. Ammon, though spared for the moment (Ezekiel 20:22), shall not escape. Despite plausible oracles to the contrary, the sword that cut so deep into Judah will cleave Ammon too (in Ezekiel 20:29 for "thee" read "it"). The Divine fury would be wreaked upon her through the brutish Babylonians; but unlike Judah (Ezekiel 20:27) she would never rise again.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 21:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezekiel-21.html. 1919.

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