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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Ezekiel 35

The elimination of claimants to the land ch. 35

What follows in this chapter is another oracle against a foreign nation (cf. chs. 25-32). What is it doing here? Evidently the writer included this oracle here because it promises to desolate an enemy of Israel that wanted to occupy Israel’s land, which God promised to return to His people (ch. 34). An additional reason for the inclusion of chapter 35 here follows.

"It may appear at first as though the present prophecy belongs to the oracles against foreign nations, but it is probably here as a point of contrast to chapter 36, that is, wrath for Mount Seir contrasted with blessing for the mountains of Israel." [Note: Feinberg, p. 201.]

A common explanation for the apparent misplacing of this oracle, as well as for other apparently misplaced sections of Bible books, is that later editors of the book made an error in translation or added the section here mistakenly. This view manifests a low view of God’s ability to preserve His Word through history. It also fails to appreciate the similarities between chapters 35 and 36, and chapter 36 clearly is not out of place in this section of the book.

But why did the Lord target Edom here? Probably Edom was representative of all the enemies of Israel who wanted to take over her land and was selected because of her long history of land squabbles with Israel (cf. Genesis 25:22-34; Genesis 27; Genesis 36:6-8; Genesis 36:31-43; Numbers 20:14-21; Numbers 24:15-19; 1 Samuel 14:47; 1 Kings 11:14-22; 2 Kings 8:21; 2 Chronicles 20:1-23; 2 Chronicles 28:17; Psalms 137:7; Isaiah 11:14; Isaiah 34:5-6; Lamentations 4:21-22; Daniel 11:41; Amos 2:1; Obadiah 1:10-14; Malachi 1:2-5). Edom was the nation that had longest and most consistently resisted Israel’s occupation of the Promised Land. Therefore, if God is going to give Israel her land in the future, as He promised in chapter 34, He will have to deal with Edom and all other nations that oppose Israel’s possession of it. This section assures the readers, both ancient and modern, that He will deal with opponents to Israel occupying her land by prophesying the destruction of Israel’s greatest antagonist viewed as a representative of all such powers (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Edomite invasions of Israel following the Babylonian decimation of Judah also made Edom a major topic of interest. [Note: Stuart, p. 327.]

"Edom was the prototype of all Israel’s later foes. The destruction of Edom would signal the beginning of God’s judgment on the whole earth based on that nation’s treatment of Israel (cf. Genesis 12:3)." [Note: Dyer, "Ezekiel," p. 1295.]

Verses 1-2

The Lord directed Ezekiel to prophesy about Mount Seir (Edom, Genesis 32:3; Genesis 36:8), to "set your face against" it. The first use of the expression "set your face against" in this book occurs in a prophecy against the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 6:2). Why did God refer to Edom as "Mount Seir" when in the oracle against Edom in Ezekiel 25:12-14 He simply called it "Edom?" Apparently He did so to highlight the contrasts between the mountains of Edom and the mountains of Israel, which He contrasted in chapter 35 and Ezekiel 36:1-15 (cf. Ezekiel 36:1). [Note: Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, pp. 232-34; Block, The Book . . . 48, p. 310. See Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, pp. 170-71, for many other connecting links between these two contrasting parts of this prophecy. See also Cooper, pp. 306-8.] Two oracles against Edom in one book also double the certainty of fulfillment (cf. Genesis 41:32).

Verses 1-15

3. Preparation of the Promised Land 35:1-36:15

"Each of the next four speeches elaborates an aspect of the peace covenant. Ezekiel 35:1 to Ezekiel 36:15 describes how the foreign plundering nations would be removed and judged in preparation for Israel’s return to her own land. The message in Ezekiel 36:16 to Ezekiel 37:14 provides a beautiful and descriptive account of God’s restoration of Israel to her land. Ezekiel 37:15-28 stresses the full reunion of the nation and the fulfillment of her covenants when this peace covenant is established. Finally, Ezekiel 38-39 develops the concept of Israel’s permanent and complete security in the Lord, for he would thwart the final attempt by a foreign power (Gog) to possess Israel’s land and to plunder God’s people." [Note: Ibid., p. 914.]

Verses 3-4

Yahweh announced that He was opposed to Mount Seir (cf. Ezekiel 36:9), would stretch out His hand in judgment against it (cf. Ezekiel 6:14), and would turn it into a desolate waste. He would destroy its cities (cf. Ezekiel 36:10), and the Edomites would learn that He is God.

Verse 5

He would do this because the Edomites had been enemies of the Israelites throughout their history (cf. Ezekiel 25:12; Genesis 12:3). Furthermore, they had not helped their brethren Israelites in the time of their calamity, the time when God was punishing Israel, but had turned them over to their enemy, the Babylonians (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:10; Psalms 137:7; Lamentations 4:21-22).

Verses 6-7

For this reason, the sovereign Lord swore, He would turn the Edomites over to others who would shed their blood. Since they had not tried to prevent bloodshed in Israel, they would experience bloodshed in Edom. "Bloodshed" (Heb. dam, lit. blood) may be a play on Edom’s name (Heb. edom, from ’adom, "to be red"). God would make Mount Seir a desolate waste, such a desolation that few people would visit it.

Verses 8-9

The Edomites would fall slain in all parts of their land (cf. Ezekiel 6:3; Ezekiel 6:7). They would never recover from this judgment, and their cities would remain uninhabited. This was a harsher fate than even what God inflicted on Egypt (Ezekiel 29:14) or Ammon (Jeremiah 49:6). Then the Edomites would know that Yahweh is the only true God.

Verse 10

The Lord gave three more reasons for Edom’s judgment (cf. Ezekiel 35:5). The Edomites had wanted to take over the lands of both Israel and Judah even though they were the lands of Yahweh (cf. Ezekiel 36:12). Ancient Near Easterners viewed the lands of nations as the domain of the gods of those nations. To take a nation was to overcome its god. Thus in trying to take over Israel’s land Edom tried to discredit Yahweh since "the Lord was there," it was His land (cf. Ezekiel 35:12; Ezekiel 48:35). This in turn involved failing to recognize Yahweh as the only true God (Ezekiel 35:13).

Verses 11-13

Therefore, the sovereign Lord swore again (cf. Ezekiel 35:6), He would deal with them with the same anger, envy, and hatred that they had demonstrated toward the Israelites (cf. Ezekiel 36:5-6). People would know that He had done this when He judged them. This would teach them that the Lord had heard the hateful words that the Edomites had spoken against "the mountains of Israel" (cf. Ezekiel 35:2-3; Ezekiel 35:7; Ezekiel 35:15; Ezekiel 36:1; Ezekiel 36:4; Ezekiel 36:8). By speaking against the Israelites the Edomites had spoken against Yahweh since He was their God, and the Lord had heard them (cf. Ezekiel 36:5; Malachi 1:1-5).

Verses 14-15

The Lord would cause all the earth to rejoice when He made Edom a laughingstock in the world, just as it had rejoiced when Israel became desolate (cf. Ezekiel 36:5). Mount Seir and all of Edom would become absolutely desolate (cf. Ezekiel 36:10). It would not exist when the Lord restored His people to their land. Then the Edomites would learn that Yahweh is God.

"The prediction has been literally fulfilled. Edom was first subjugated by Babylon, then Medo-Persia, and then in 126 B.C. by John Hyrcanus the Hasmonean, who compelled them to become Jews. There is no trace of the Edomites now, although their desolate cities can still be identified, as predicted by Obadiah (Obadiah 1:18) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:13)." [Note: Feinberg, pp. 201-2.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 35". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/ezekiel-35.html. 2012.