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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ezekiel 35

Chapter 35

This contains the desolation of Edom. The light of Israel is set off by the shadow of Edom. There is a prophecy against Edom already in ch. Ezekiel 25:12-14. A special occasion for resuming it was here presented by the account of the fugitive, concerning the injustice committed by them in the destruction of Jerusalem, and particularly concerning the denial of the future of Israel by the Edomites; comp., besides that which is contained in our prophecy itself, ch. Ezekiel 36:2. We need not assume that Edom here represents the whole heathen world. That the heathen world universally is to be admitted to a participation in the salvation destined for Israel in the future, is affirmed in Ezekiel 35:14; comp. also ch. Ezekiel 34:26. In a like relation with Edom stand only the other small bordering nations, who correspond with it in intensity of hate ( Ezekiel 36:4). Edom appears here as a people corrupted to the root, that is to have no part in the Messianic salvation. In accordance with the present prophecy, not a trace of it is left on the earth.

Verses 1-15

Ezekiel 35:1-15. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, 3. And say to it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, O mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand over thee, and make thee desolate and waste, 4. Thy cities I will make a ruin, and thou shalt be desolate; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD. 5. Because thou hadst a perpetual hatred, and gavest over the sons of Israel to the hands of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time of the iniquity of the end: 6. Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I will make thee into blood, and blood shall pursue thee: forsooth thou hast hated blood, and blood shall pursue thee. 7. And I will make mount Seir desolate and waste, and cut off from him the passer and the returner. 8. And I will fill his mountains with his slain: in thy hills, and thy valleys, and all thy dales, the slain by the sword shall fall. 9. Perpetual desolations will I make thee, and thy cities shall not sit; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 10. Because thou saidst of the two nations and the two lands, They shall be mine, and we shall possess them; and the Lord was there: 11. Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I will do according to thy anger and thy jealousy, as thou hast done in thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, as I judge thee. 12. And thou shalt know that I the LORD have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, It is desolate, they are given to us for food. 13. And ye boasted against me with your mouth, and heaped up your words against me: I have heard it. 14. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will bring desolation on thee. 15. As thou didst rejoice over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do to thee; thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

Mount Seir, so called from a chieftain of the primeval Canaanitish inhabitants of the country, who were driven out by the posterity of Esau, appears as the dwelling-place of Edom in Genesis 36:9. The words, “And I will stretch out my hand against thee, and make thee desolate and waste,” are significantly repeated in Ezekiel 35:3 from ch. Ezekiel 6:14, where they occur in reference to Israel, to indicate that the judgment begins certainly at the house of God, yet never ends there, but infallibly passes to its foes and persecutors; so that these have never occasion to rejoice or triumph; much more must they say, This is done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? The confession in Ezekiel 35:4 is, as usual with Ezekiel in this formula, not voluntary, but constrained. That Jehovah, whom they have despised, is really God, they learn from their destruction. In Ezekiel 35:5, the announcement of the catastrophe is followed by the indication of its cause. The “time of the iniquity of the end,” that is, which brings on the end, the catastrophe, is taken from ch. Ezekiel 21:25, Ezekiel 21:29. The words point to the divine causality, concealed behind the human, in the fall of Judah. “Thou hast hated blood” ( Ezekiel 35:6): the murderer hates the blood which he sheds. If he hates the man with such an energy of hate that he attempts his life, he hates the blood, in which is the man’s soul. “And cut off from him the passer and the returner,” so that all intercourse ceases, and the land becomes a silent desolation, as it is at this day. The words refer to ch. Ezekiel 33:28, where this is threatened to the land of Israel. To-day to me, to-morrow to thee; so says the woebegone church to the triumphant world. “Thy cities will not sit” ( Ezekiel 35:9), but lie prostrate; comp. Ezekiel 26:20. [217] In Ezekiel 35:10 the second cause of the catastrophe. The two nations and lands can only be Judah and Israel. For they are designated as those in which the Lord was. After the removal of the ten tribes, Judah was successor to their rights, and in Judah Israel continued to exist,—a conception often found elsewhere in Ezekiel; comp. on ch. Ezekiel 23:44. From ch. Ezekiel 36:3 we see that Edom wished to put himself in possession of the previous inheritance of Israel, not alone, but in conjunction with other bordering nations. For our passage, it is indifferent whether he had associates in his plan or not. This only is of consequence, that this plan proceeded from him, and that the aim was directed to the complete exclusion of Israel. The plan had humanly taken much likelihood of success. The present clear and correct acknowledgment that it did not succeed—that Edom, so far from extending, will itself fall under the annihilating judgment—shows that the prophet spoke by another spirit than his own. The words, “And the Lord was there,” belong not to the Edomites, but to the prophet. They point to a great flaw in the otherwise correct reckoning of the Edomites. Whosoever will appropriate God’s portion to himself, will always be the loser. Where God is in the midst, there Edom cannot possibly gain a footing, though he give over His people even for a long time to the foe. It is not said, “The Lord is there,” but “was there.” For a moment He had withdrawn Himself (comp. ch. Ezekiel 11:23); but that He was there, secures that He will be there, since He has not yet definitely given up His inheritance, as happened after the rejection of the good Shepherd. “As thou hast done” ( Ezekiel 35:11); that is, as thou hast practised and wrought. “And I will make myself known among them” (the children of Israel, of whom the immediately preceding passage speaks). “As I judge thee:” both the becoming known to Israel and the judgment on Edom go hand in hand, and have like proportion. The becoming known, which according to ch. Ezekiel 34 has its central point in the raising up of David, is as glorious as the judgment is terrible. The salvation of Israel was also, in ch. Ezekiel 28:25-26, placed in contrast with the downfall of the neighbouring nations. A quite brief and as here allusive contra-position is also found in ch. Ezekiel 26:20. The inhabitants are, as it were, eaten up ( Ezekiel 35:12), when the land, which formed the basis of their existence, is appropriated. [218] In Ezekiel 35:14-15, the close. “When the whole earth rejoiceth”—over the great salvation which falls to Zion. This is an object of joy to the whole earth, because it bears witness to the glory of God, whose deeds for the part are always prophecies for the whole, and who can only bless His people, that in them all nations may be blessed. Already, Deuteronomy 32:43 f. calls upon the heathen to rejoice at that which the Lord does in the end of the penal period to His people. According to Isaiah 42:10 f., the isles, the inhabitants of the wilderness and the mountains, are to rejoice over the great deeds which the Lord does first for His people. In Psalms 97:1 it is said, “The Lord reigneth” (that is, He will in the future enter upon His reign, and prove Himself to be governor by the deliverance of His people); “let the earth rejoice, let the many isles be glad.” “The joy of the whole earth” is Zion designated in Psalms 48:3, Lamentations 2:15, on account of the unfolding of the glory of God in it.

[217] The marginal reading תשבנה , they will return, has arisen only from a misunderstanding. To return cannot, without addition, mean to be restored.

[218] The reading of the text, שׁ?ְ?מָ?מָ?ה , 3d fem, sing., refers to the land hidden behind the mountains of Israel, as ירשנוה ( Ezekiel 35:10). The Masoretes wish to read שממו , on account of the following plural; but this refers to the men: comp. the lands and the nations, Ezekiel 35:10.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 35". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.