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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 36

 

 

Verse 1

Ezekiel 36:1. Son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel — The prophet had been ordered, Ezekiel 6:2, to set his face toward the mountains of Israel, and to prophesy against them. Then God was coming forth to contend with his people; but now he is returning in mercy to them, and his prophet must speak good and comfortable words to these mountains; and what he saith to them, he saith to the hills, to the valleys, to the desolate wastes in the country, and to the cities that were forsaken, Ezekiel 36:4, and again, Ezekiel 36:6. The people were gone, some one way and some another; nothing remained there to be spoken to but the places, the mountains and valleys: these the Chaldeans could not carry away with them. Now to show the mercy God had in reserve for the people, the prophet is to speak of him as having a regard for the country, which if the Lord had been pleased for ever to abandon, he would not have called upon it to hear his word, nor would he have showed it such things as these.


Verses 2-7

Ezekiel 36:2-7. Because the enemy hath said, &c. — This prophecy appears to be a continuation of the preceding. “The Idumeans have made their boasts (see Ezekiel 36:5, and Ezekiel 35:10) that they should become masters of the mountainous parts of Judea, where the ancient fortresses were placed which commanded all the rest of the country.” — Lowth. And ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, &c. — Your calamities have made you become a proverb, a by-word, and a reproach among the heathen round about you, according to the threatenings of the prophets denounced against you: see the margin. Thus saith the Lord to the mountains, &c., which became a prey to the residue of the heathen — To those heathen that were left after the general desolations threatened to the neighbouring countries, Moab, Edom, Ammon, &c. Surely in the fire of my jealousy — In that fervent zeal and concern that I have for my own honour, which is blasphemed among the heathen; have I spoken against the residue of the heathen — Against all the nations that are and have been enemies to Israel; against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession — Who have fully expected to get the dominion of my land, and be the sole possessors of it. Because ye have borne the shame of the heathen — Because the heathen nations have made a scoff of you; therefore I have lifted up my hand — I have sworn, or absolutely determined: see Genesis 14:22. Surely the heathen that are about you shall bear their shame — The heathen nations around, that have made a mock of you, shall be mocked themselves, and be as much held in contempt as they have held you.


Verses 8-12

Ezekiel 36:8-12. But ye, O mountains of Israel, shall yield your fruit, &c. — Here the land of Judea is ordered to provide for the sustenance of the people of Israel, who were about to return out of captivity to dwell there again: for, says the prophet, they are at hand to come — That is, the deliverance of my people shall be effected in a short time. This prophecy seems to have an immediate reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon; but there can be no doubt, as Calmet justly observes, that it has also a further reference, even to the general return of the Israelites, and to the kingdom of the Messiah; the longest distance of time that the things of this world can extend to being but a moment in respect of eternity. For I am for you, and will return unto you, &c. — I will send down again my blessing upon you, and favourable seasons; and cause you to be inhabited, so that you shall again be cultivated and fruitful. This is also addressed, as it were, to the land of Judea. And the cities shall be inhabited — The cities and towns that lie in ruins shall be built again. And I will multiply upon you man and beast — As God, in his judgments, threatened to cut off man and beast from the land, (Ezekiel 14:17,) so here he promises to replenish it with both. And will do better unto you than at your beginning — In bestowing upon you the blessings of the gospel, the promises of which were first made to the Jews and to their children, Acts 2:39. The words may likewise imply, that God would give them a more lasting and secure possession of their land than ever they had before: see the following verses. Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you — O mountains, or land of Israel, Ezekiel 36:8. And thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men — That is, thou shall no more be remarkable for thy inhabitants dying in uncommon numbers, by pestilence, the sword, and famine.


Verses 13-15

Ezekiel 36:13-15. Because they say, Thou land devourest men — Or, thy people. The country of Judea (as appears from what is here said) was spoken of by the neighbouring nations with disgrace, as a country particularly fatal to its inhabitants, where more died by famine, pestilence, and the sword, than in any other place: and therefore God here says, that there should be no more any occasion to give this character of Judea, for that these judgments and frequent calamities should cease in it. Therefore thou shall devour men no more — Thou shalt be free from such destructive judgments as have, in past ages, consumed thy people. Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen — Neither shall thy inhabitants hear any more the scoffs of the heathen nations round, reproaching them on account of their grievous calamities, as if they were an accursed people, forsaken by their God, and abandoned to destruction. Neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall, &c. — Or, as the Chaldee and some other ancient versions translate the words, Neither shalt thou bereave thy people any more, an interpretation adopted by Bishop Newcome. The Vulgate renders the clause, Et gentem tuam non amittes amplius — And thou shall not lose thy nation (or people) any more, that is, by these remarkable calamities. Those who think these promises were fulfilled in the restoration of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, and their re-establishment in their own land, take the expressions no more, and not any more, in a limited sense, and understand thereby only a long period of time: but it seems more reasonable to suppose that these and such like prophecies, of which there are many in the Scriptures, remain yet to be accomplished, and that they respect the future restoration of the Jews to their own land, after their conversion to Christianity.


Verses 17-19

Ezekiel 36:17-19. When the house of Israel dwelt in their own land — In fulness of bread, ease, and security, as they did in days past; they defiled it Rendered it abominable before God, and uncomfortable to themselves; by their own way and by their doings — By the way of their own choice, their wicked way, forsaking my law, despising my counsel, deserting my worship and temple; and by their unholy conversation and unrighteous practices. Their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman — As a woman under a legal pollution was forbidden to come within the courts of the temple, or to attend upon God’s worship there; so the defilements which the Jews had contracted by their idolatries, adulteries, murders, and other heinous sins, rendered them unfit to be acknowledged as God’s people, or to offer up any religious service to him. Wherefore I poured my fury upon them — These and their other sins were the true causes of the desolation of their country, and of all the miseries which they underwent, and not any thing in the land itself, as the heathen said, Ezekiel 36:13. According to their doings I judged them — God frequently repeats that his judgments upon the Jews were no more than what their own ways or doings obliged him to inflict. There was in his dealings with them no arbitrary exercise of sovereignty, but they were dealt with according to their own conduct. And thus God deals with mankind in general: his actions, in regard to them, are not founded in an arbitrary exercise of his absolute sovereignty over them, but in impartial justice, wisdom, and goodness, and he judges them according to their own ways, and not according to the dictates of an arbitrary will.


Verse 20

Ezekiel 36:20. When they entered unto the heathen, they profaned my holy name — 1st, By their evil practices they brought a scandal on God’s name, and gave occasion to the heathen to say, See what profligate wretches these are, who call themselves Jehovah’s peculiar people; judge what sort of a God he is who has such worshippers. The Jews were no credit to their profession wherever they went; but, on the contrary, a reproach to it, and the name of God and his holy religion was blasphemed through them, Romans 2:24. Observe, reader, when those that pretend to stand related to God, as his servants and children, and to be in covenant and communion with him, are nevertheless found corrupt in their morals, slaves to their appetites and passions, dishonest in their dealings, and false to their words, and the trusts reposed in them, the enemies of the Lord have thereby great cause given them to blaspheme both him and his religion. 2d, God’s name was profaned by the sufferings of Israel; for from them the enemies of God took occasion to reproach God, as unable to protect his own worshippers, and to make good his own grants. They said in scorn, These are the people of the Lord; these wicked people! you see he could not keep them in their obedience to his precepts; these miserable people! he could not keep them in the enjoyment of his favours. These are the people that came out of Jehovah’s land; they are the very scum of the nations!


Verses 21-23

Ezekiel 36:21-23. But I had pity for my holy name — That is, as it is expressed Ezekiel 20:9, I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted, or brought into disgrace, among the heathen: I preserved, reformed, brought back my people from captivity, and re-established them in their own land, for the honour of my mercy, truth, and power. Say, I do not do this for your sakes, &c. — The promises I make in your favour are not owing to any desert of yours, but purely to vindicate my own honour. And I will sanctify my great name, &c. — I will give illustrious proofs of my power and goodness, and vindicate my honour from the reproaches with which it hath been blasphemed among the heathen, upon the occasion of your evil doings and your sufferings. And the heathen shall know that I am the Lord — The return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity was taken notice of by the heathen as a signal instance of God’s providence toward them, as appears from Psalms 126:2. And their general conversion, and future restoration to their own land, will be a much more remarkable proof of God’s fulfilling the promises made to their fathers; so that the heathen themselves will be compelled to observe and acknowledge it: see Ezekiel 37:28. When I shall be sanctified in you before your eyes — When, by means of the wonderful power and goodness which I shall manifest in your restoration, they shall be convinced that I am indeed the living and true God.


Verse 25

Ezekiel 36:25. I will sprinkle clean water upon you — The expression here alludes to those legal purifications which were made by sprinkling water upon the unclean persons: see Numbers 8:7; Numbers 19:13. But the cleansing intended is plainly that of the soul, by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon men’s consciences to take away their guilt, (see Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 12:24,) and by the grace of the Holy Spirit sprinkled on the whole soul, to purify it from all corrupt inclinations and dispositions; both which blessings are received by faith in Christ, and in the promises of God made through him: see Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:14; Acts 15:9. From all your filthiness — Filthiness, as the apostle expresses it, of flesh and spirit; from all unhallowed appetites, passions, and dispositions; from all impurity of heart and life; from every thing contrary to the mind of Christ, the image of God, or the divine nature; and from all your idols will I cleanse you — From all internal as well as external idolatry; from putting that trust in the work of your own hands, or in any creature, which you ought to put only in your Creator; or from setting your affections on any person or thing in preference to him, who is your Redeemer and Saviour, your Friend and Father, your portion and treasure, your God, and your all. Observe, reader, sin is of a defiling nature; idolatry particularly is so; it renders sinners odious to God, and unhappy in themselves; but when our guilt is pardoned, and our corrupt nature sanctified, then we are cleansed from this filthiness; and there is no other way of being saved from it. This God promises to his people here, in order to his being sanctified in them, Ezekiel 36:23. We cannot sanctify God’s name, unless he sanctify our hearts, nor live to his glory, but by his grace.


Verse 26-27

Ezekiel 36:26-27. A new heart also will I give you — A new disposition of mind, excellent in itself, and vastly different from what it was before; a frame of soul changed from sinful to holy, from carnal to spiritual; a heart in which the law of God is written, Jeremiah 31:33; a sanctified spirit, in which the almighty grace of God is victorious, and turns it from the world to God, and from all sin to all holiness; a state of mind which is the supernatural gift of God, and not wrought in any man by his own power. And I will take away the stony heart — The hard, senseless, unfeeling, inflexible heart; the heart unapt and averse to receive any divine impressions, and to return any devout affections. Out of your flesh — That is, out of you. And I will give you a heart of flesh — A soft and tender heart, that has spiritual senses exercised, and is conscious to itself of spiritual pains and pleasures; a heart of quite another temper, hearkening to God’s law, trembling at his threats, moulded into a compliance with his whole will; disposed to do, to be, or to suffer what God wills; receiving the divine impress as soft wax receives the impress of the seal. I will put my Spirit within you — My enlightening, regenerating, and sanctifying Spirit; that Holy Spirit which is given to and dwells in all true believers; and cause you — Sweetly and powerfully, yet without compulsion; to walk in my statutes — In all my ordinances and commandments, and that from judgment, choice, and affection. For our spirits, when renewed by God’s Spirit to a disposition conformed to his holiness, readily comply with his will in all things, concur with his designs, and become workers together with him. And ye shall keep my judgments, and do them — Ye shall be willing and able to perform all acceptable obedience, and to live a life of universal holiness and righteousness.


Verses 28-30

Ezekiel 36:28-30. And ye shall dwell in the land — Spiritual blessings, promised in the last three verses, are now followed with temporal blessings. Thus does earth often follow heaven, and godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. When the Israelites are thus prepared for mercy, then shall they return to their possessions, and be settled again in them. And there God will acknowledge them for his people, and will protect and bless them as such, bestowing liberally upon them all good things. I will also save you — Will continue to save you; from all your uncleannesses — I will take away the guilt of them, deliver you from the power and pollution of them, and preserve you from the punishments due to them. Salvation from all uncleanness includes justification, entire sanctification, and meetness for glory. And I will call for the corn, &c. — All necessaries are here comprised in one. And lay no famine upon you — This was one of the judgments which they had laboured under; and it had been as much as any other a reproach to them, that they should be starved in a land so famed for fruitfulness. But it is here promised, that now this calamity should afflict them no more, nor should they any more bear the reproach of it, but should have the credit of possessing abundance; the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, being multiplied to them.


Verse 31-32

Ezekiel 36:31-32. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways — Reflect seriously upon your former sins. And shall loathe yourselves in your own sight — With holy shame and confusion of face, seeing how loathsome you have made yourselves in the sight of God; for your iniquities and for your abominations — Being convinced that they were without all excuse. Here we see what is the most powerful inducement to an evangelical repentance, namely, a just sense of the mercy and grace of God toward us. The more we see of his readiness to receive us into favour upon our repentance, the more reason we shall see we have to be ashamed of ourselves that we should ever sin against so much love. That heart is hard indeed that will not be thus melted: see notes on Ezekiel 6:9; Ezekiel 16:61. Not for your sakes do I this, be it known to you — Here is repeated what is said Ezekiel 36:22, on purpose to check all vain presumption in the Jews, and confidence of their own merit; a fault they have been very prone to in every age.


Verse 37-38

Ezekiel 36:37-38. I will yet be inquired of by the house of Israel — The house of Israel must, 1st, Pray for these blessings; for by prayer God is sought unto and inquired after. What is the matter of God’s promises, must be the matter of our prayers. By asking for the mercy promised, we give glory to the donor, express our value of the gift, our own dependance upon God, and put honour upon prayer, upon which he has put honour. Christ himself must ask, and then God will give him the heathen for his inheritance; must pray the Father, and then he will send the Comforter; much more must we ask that we may receive. 2d, They must consult the oracles of God, for thus also God is sought unto and inquired after: the mercy must not be an act of providence only, but a child of promise; and therefore the promise must be looked at, and prayer made for it, with an eye of faith fixed upon it, which must be both the guide and the ground of our expectations. In both these ways we find Daniel inquiring of God, in the name of the house of Israel: then when God was about to do these great things for them, he consulted the oracles of God, for he understood by books, namely, the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, both what was to be expected, and when; and then he set his face to seek God by prayer, Daniel 9:2-3. As the holy flock, &c. — Flocks designed for holy uses, as sacrifices, and therefore further described by the place where they were presented, namely, Jerusalem; in her solemn feasts — The three great annual feasts. These flocks were for quality the best of all, and for numbers very great on these solemn occasions: see 2 Chronicles 35:7; and 1 Kings 8:63. Thus shall men multiply, and fill the cities of replanted Judah. And the increase of the numbers of a people is then honourable, when they are all dedicated to God as a holy flock, to be presented to him as living sacrifices. Crowds are a lovely sight in God’s temple.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezekiel-36.html. 1857.

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