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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 31

 

 

Introduction

Oracles against Ammon (Ezekiel 25:1-7), Moab (Ezekiel 25:8-11) Edom (Ezekiel 25:12-14), Philistia (Ezekiel 25:17).—All of these petty powers were ancient hereditary enemies of Israel. Their enmity dated back to the days before the monarchy, and in the recent disasters and sorrows of Israel had expressed itself in violent and malicious ways. The Ammonites had instigated the treacherous murder of Gedaliah, the Jew whom the Babylonians had appointed governor of Judah (Jeremiah 40:14). The Edomites had behaved with savage malice in the day of Jerusalem's distress (Psalms 137:7), as also had the Ammonites, who stamped and shouted for joy (Ezekiel 25:3; Ezekiel 25:6). The fate of them all is to be desolation and destruction—in the case of the Ammonites and Moabites at the hands of "the children of the east," i.e. the nomads of the Arabian desert; in the case of Edom, significantly enough at the hands of Israel herself: in the case of the Philistines the agent of the Divine vengeance is left vague. All these nations will thus be taught "that I am Yahweh," the mighty Yahweh, not the weak God they had taken Him to be, as they contemplated the fate of His people. The saying of Moab in Ezekiel 25:8 implies that Judah had claimed a certain pre-eminence (cf. Deuteronomy 4:32 ff.); in her noblest representatives she was beyond all question the spiritual superior of all her neighbours. (In Ezekiel 25:9 read "from the cities of its border to the glory of the land"; the three cities mentioned are all N. of the Amon. Ezekiel 25:13, Teman in north, Dedan in south of Edom. Ezekiel 25:16, Cherethites (p. 56), a Philistine tribe.)

Ezekiel 26-28. Oracle against Tyre.—From Israel's petty neighbours with their petty spite, Ezekiel turns to the great empires of Tyre (Ezekiel 26 ff.) and Egypt (Ezekiel 29 ff.). They too must go. In a passage of great literary power, which reveals the imaginative genius of Ezekiel, he describes the brilliance of Tyre, the range of her commerce, the pity and terror inspired by her (contemplated) fall.

Ezekiel 25-32. Oracles against the Foreign Nations. Ezekiel's denunciations (Ezekiel 1-24) are now over; with the news of the fall of Jerusalem his prophecies of restoration will begin (Ezekiel 33-48). But before Israel is restored, those who are opposed to her, and to the Divine purpose which is so mysteriously bound up with her, must be cleared out of the way. Appropriately therefore, at this point come the oracles against the foreign nations—first the near neighbours who had insulted and harassed her, then those more distant and powerful. These oracles, however, were not written between the beginning and the end of the siege; some of them clearly imply the fall of the city (cf. Ezekiel 25:3). But they are appropriately inserted here, as preliminary to the restoration.


Verses 1-18

Ezekiel 31. Fallen is the Mighty Cedar.—In this striking poem, Pharaoh (= Egypt) is likened to a cedar of surprising height and beauty, fed by the waters of the deep (i.e. the Nile) and giving shelter to birds and beasts (i.e. protection to dependent peoples). For beauty, height, luxuriance no tree (= nation) could compare with it—it was the envy of all (Ezekiel 31:1-9). (In Ezekiel 31:3 delete "the Assyrian," and read simply, "there was a cedar," etc. For "thick boughs" read "clouds" with LXX. In Ezekiel 31:4 for "the trees of the field," read "its soil.")

But the mighty Nebuchadrezzar, with his terrible army, will send it crashing with a blow, boughs and branches will be scattered over mountain and valley, those whom once it sheltered will sit in triumph on its ruins; and its fate will serve as a warning to others not to lift themselves haughtily (Ezekiel 31:10-14). (In Ezekiel 31:12 watercourses = ravines. In Ezekiel 31:14 the trees = nations.)

Ezekiel 31:15-18. Its fall would be widely mourned—by Lebanon, on which it grew, and by the waters, which nourished it. Others fainted away at the thought that the like might happen to themselves. The trees (i.e. the other dead nations) in the underworld would be "comforted" to find this mighty cedar (Egypt) sharing their fate. Thus would this incomparable tree—Pharaoh and his multitude—be brought down: like the unburied slain they would lie dishonoured in the underworld. (In Ezekiel 31:15 omit "I covered," and read, "I caused the deep to mourn for him." Ezekiel 31:16. "Hell," i.e. Sheol, the underworld. Ezekiel 31:17. "They that were his arm," read perhaps "his helpers." Ezekiel 31:18. Circumcision was important in Egypt: this explains the peculiar horror of their fate in Sheol.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 31:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezekiel-31.html. 1919.

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