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And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Having in Ezekiel 33:1-33 laid down repentance as the necessary preliminary to happier times for the people, he now promises the removal of the false shepherds, as preparatory to the raising up of the Good Shepherd.
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6 ("Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture ... Behold ... I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign ... THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS"), and Zechariah 11:17 ("Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock;" cf. Zechariah 12:7-8, "The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah," etc.) similarly make the removal of the false shepherds the preliminary to the interposition of Messiah the good Shepherd in behalf of His people Israel. The "shepherds" are not prophets or priests, but rulers who sought in their government their own selfish ends, not the good of the people ruled. The term was appropriate, as David the first king, and the type of the true David (Ezekiel 34:23-24), was taken from being a shepherd (2 Samuel 5:2; Psalms 78:70-71), and the office, like that of a shepherd for his flock, is to guard and provide for his people. The choice of a shepherd for the first king was therefore designed to suggest this thought, just as Jesus' selection of fishermen for apostles was designed to remind them of their spiritual office of catching men (cf. Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 23:1-2).
Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
Ye eat the fat, [ hacheeleb (H2459)] - or, by differently pointing the Hebrew, 'milk' [hachaalaab]: so the Septuagint Thus the repetition, "the fat," and "them that are fed," is avoided; also the eating of "the fat" would not probably be put before the "killing" of the sheep. The eating of sheep or goats' milk as food (Deuteronomy 32:14, "Butter of kine and milk of sheep;" Proverbs 27:27) was unobjectionable, had not these shepherds milked them too often, and that without duly "feeding" them (Bochart); (Isaiah 56:11, "Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough ... they all look to their own way"). The rulers levied exorbitant tributes.
Ye kill them that are fed - ye kill the rich by false accusation, so as to get possession of their property.
Ye feed not the flock - ye take no care of the people (John 10:12-13, "He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep").
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
The diseased have ye not strengthened - rather, those weak from the effects of 'disease,' as strengthened"
(i:e., with due nourishment) requires (Grotius).
Neither have ye bound up that which was broken - i:e., the fractures from wounds inflicted by the wolf.
Neither have ye brought again that which was driven away. If anyone be bound to "bring again an enemy's ox or ass" that "is going astray" (Exodus 23:4), much more is the shepherd bound to bring back again a straying sheep of the Lord's fold. Those "driven away" by the enemy into foreign lands through God's judgments are meant (Jeremiah 23:3). A spiritual reformation of the state by the rulers would have turned away God's wrath, and "brought again" the exiles. The rulers are censured as chiefly guilty (though the people, too, were guilty), because they, who ought to have been foremost in checking the evil, promoted it.
Neither have ye sought that which was lost. Contrast the love of the good Shepherd, who went into the wilderness after that one of the 100 sheep which was lost, and never gave up until He found it ( Luke 15:4).
But with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them - (Exodus 1:13-14, "The Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage"). With an Egyptian bondage these false shepherds ruled the sheep. The very thing forbidden by the law they did (Leviticus 25:43; cf. 1 Peter 5:3).
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
They were scattered, because there is no shepherd - i:e., none worthy of the name, though there were some called shepherds (1 Kings 22:17; Matthew 9:36). Compare Matthew 26:31, where the sheep were scattered on the true Shepherd being smitten ("I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad").
Meat to all ... beasts - they became a prey to the Syrians, Ammon, Moab, and Assyria.
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
My sheep wandered. God calls them "my sheep;" for they were not, as the shepherds treated them, their My sheep wandered. God calls them "my sheep;" for they were not, as the shepherds treated them, their patrimony whereby to "feed themselves."
Upon every high hill - the scene of their idolatries sanctioned by the rulers.
None did search or seek after them - rather, seek or search [ dowreesh (H1875) ... mªbaqeesh (H1245)]. The former is the part of the superior rulers to inquire after: to search out is the duty of the subordinate rulers (Junius).
No JFB commentary on these verses.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand - (Hebrews 13:17) rather, 'I require,' etc., for God already had begun to do so, having punished Zedekiah with the deprivation of eyesight, after having first caused his sons to be killed, and then the other princes to be slain ( Jeremiah 52:10).
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out - doing that which the so-called shepherds had failed to do, I being the rightful owner of the flock.
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered - i:e., in the day that He is in the midst of [ bªtowk (H8432)] his sheep that had been scattered. Referring to Messiah's second advent, when He shall be "the glory in the midst of Jerusalem" (Zechariah 2:5).
And will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day - the day of the nation's calamity (Joel 2:2).
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries - (Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 36:24; Ezekiel 37:21-22; Isaiah 65:9-10; Jeremiah 23:3).
I will feed them in a good pasture - (Psalms 23:2).
And upon the high mountains of Israel - in Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 20:40, the phrase is "the mountain of the height of Israel," in the singular number. The reason of the difference is, there Ezekiel spoke of the central seat of the kingdom, where the people met for the worship of Yahweh, mount Zion; here he speaks of the kingdom of Israel at large, all the parts of which are regarded as possessing a moral elevation.
I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick - in contrast to the unfaithful shepherds (Ezekiel 34:4). The several duties neglected by them I will faithfully discharge.
But I will destroy the fat and the strong - i:e., those rendered wanton by prosperity (Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 5:28), who use their strength to oppress the weak. Compare Ezekiel 34:20, "the fat cattle" (Isaiah 10:16). The image is from fat cattle that wax refractory.
I will feed them with judgment - i:e., justice and equity, as contrasted with the "force" and "cruelty" with which the unfaithful shepherds ruled the flock (Ezekiel 34:4).
As for you, O my flock - passing from the rulers to the people.
Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, [ seh (H7716) laaseh (H7716)] - rather, sheep and sheep; margin, small cattle, or flocks of lambs and kids - i:e., I judge between one class of citizens and another, so as to award what is right to each.
Between the rams and the he-goats. He next defines the class about to be punitively 'judged,' namely, "the rams and he-goats," or great he-goats (cf. Isaiah 14:9, "the chief ones of the earth," margin, 'great goats;' Zechariah 10:3; Matthew 25:32-33). They answer to "the fat and strong," as opposed to the "sick" (Ezekiel 34:16). The rich and ungodly of the people are meant, who imitated the bad rulers in oppressing their poorer brethren, as if it enchanced their own joys to trample on others' rights (Ezekiel 34:18).
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? Not content with appropriating to their own use the good of others, they, from mere wantonness, spoiled what they did not use, so as to be of no use to the owners.
And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? - "deep waters," i:e., limpid as deep waters are generally clear. Grotius explains the image as referring to the usuries with which the rich ground the poor (Ezekiel 22:12; Isaiah 24:2).
As for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet - "they eat" scantily.
They drink that which ye have fouled with your feet - "they drink" sorrowfully.
Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle - "fat ... lean," the rich oppressors ... the humble poor. Compare this verse with Ezekiel 34:17, "Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle" (sheep and sheep). He here defines the two classes meant by 'sheep and sheep'-namely, the fat or rich on the one hand, and the lean or poor on the other.
Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Because ye have thrust ... with your horns, until ye have scattered them abroad - ye have done so down to the time of the carrying away to Babylon (Grotius).
Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey. After the restoration from Babylon the Jews were delivered in some degree from the oppression, not only of foreigners, but also of their own great people, who had oppressed them with bondage arising out of debts and mortages (Nehemiah 5:1-19). The full and final fulfillment of this prophecy is future.
I will set up one Shepherd over them - i:e., raise up by divine appointment; alluding to the declaration of God to David, "I will set up thy seed after thee" (2 Samuel 7:12); and, "Yet have I set my king on my holy hill of Zion" (Psalms 2:6: cf. Acts 2:30; Acts 13:23).
One shepherd - literally, a shepherd, one; singularly and pre-eminently one: the only one of His kind, to whom none is comparable (Song of Solomon 5:10, "My beloved is ... the chiefest among ten thousand"). The Lord Jesus refers to this prophecy (John 10:14), "I am THE good Shepherd." Also "one" as uniting in one the heretofore divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and also, "in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, gathering together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth" (Ephesians 1:10); thus healing worse breaches than that between Israel and Judah (Colossians 1:20, "God by Him reconciling all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven").
David - the antitypical David, Messiah, of the seed of David, which no other king after the captivity was: who was fully, what David was only in a degree, "the man after God's own heart." Also, David means beloved; Messiah was truly God's beloved Son (Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:17). Shepherd means King, rather than religious instructor; in this preeminently He was the true David who was the Shepherd King (Luke 1:32-33). Messiah is called "David" in Isaiah 55:3-4; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5.
And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them - "my servant" implying fitness for ruling in the name of God, not pursuing a self-chosen course, as other kings, but acting as the faithful administrator of the will of God; Messiah realized fully this character (Psalms 40:7-8; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 53:11; Philippians 2:7), which David typically and partially represented (Acts 13:36); so He is the fittest person to wield the world-sceptre, abused by all the world-kings (Daniel 2:34-35; Daniel 2:44-45).
I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely - the original promise of the law (Leviticus 26:6) shall be realized for the first time fully under Messiah (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 35:9; Hosea 2:18).
I will make them and the places round about my hill - the Jews, and Zion, God's hill (Psalms 2:6), are to be sources of blessing, not merely to themselves, but to the surrounding pagan (Isaiah 19:24; Isaiah 56:6-7; Isaiah 60:3; Micah 5:7; Zechariah 7:13, "As ye were a curse among the pagan, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing").
And I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. The Holy Spirit's reviving influences are often compared to a refreshing shower (Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring"). The literal fulfillment is, however, the primary one, though the spiritual also is designed. In correspondence with the settled reign of righteousness internally, all is to be prosperity externally, fertilizing showers (according to the promise of the ancient covenant, Leviticus 26:4; Psalms 68:9; Malachi 3:10), and productive trees and lands (Ezekiel 34:27). Thus shall they realize the image of Ezekiel 34:14 - namely, a flock richly pastured by God Himself.
And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.
They ... shall know that I am the Lord, when I have ... delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them - "served themselves of them," availed themselves of their services, as if the Jews were their slaves (Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 25:14: cf. the bond-service of Israel to the Egyptians, Genesis 15:13; Exodus 1:14).
But they shall dwell safely - (Jeremiah 23:6).
I will raise up for them a plant of renown - Messiah, the "Rod," and "Branch" (Isaiah 11:1), the "righteous Branch" (Jeremiah 23:5), who shall obtain for them "renown." Fairbairn, less probably, translates, 'a plantation for a name' - i:e., a flourishing condition, represented as a garden (alluding to Eden, Genesis 2:8-11, with its various trees good for food and pleasant to the sight), the planting of the Lord (Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:3), and an object of "renown" among the pagan.
Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men - not merely an explanation of the image, as Jerome represents; but as God had promised many things which mere "men" could not expect to realize, He shows that it is not from man's might their realization is to be looked for, but from GOD, who would perform them for His covenant-people, "His flock" (Rosenmuller). When we realize most our weakness, and God's power and faithfulness to His covenant, we are in the fittest state for receiving His blessings. But if the Jews themselves were to be the "plant of renown," how could the expression be appropriate, "I will raise up for them a plant of renown"? (i:e., themselves.) Menochius makes the "plant of renown" to mean 'a renowned name among all nations.' But "I will raise up for them" is the regular phrase used for the Father raising up Jesus to be a Saviour for men (cf. note, Ezekiel 34:23). The very same Hebrew verb is in both verses [ wahªqimotiy (H6965)].
(1) The removal of the false rulers who have ruled for their own selfish aggrandizement, not for the glory of God, or the real good of their subjects, is to precede the setting up of the coming king, who is to rule in love and righteousness, Messiah the good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:2; Ezekiel 34:23). The Lord Jesus provides for the eternal well being of His own flock, both the elect remnant of the literal Israel, and also the spiritual Israel the Church, infinitely better than the best of earthly shepherds ever cared for his sheep. But the false shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel's days cared only for themselves, and for their own grovelling aims, selfish gain, and worldly pre-eminence, like Diotrephes in ages long subsequent (3 John 1:9), and not for the best interests of the flock (Ezekiel 34:3). Spiritual pastors should "feed the flock of God, not for filthy lucre, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:2-3).
(2) Moreover, it is not enough that pastors should do no harm to those committed to their charge, but God will hold them accountable if they do not "strengthen the spiritually diseased, heal the sick, bind up the broken (in heart), bring again those driven away, and seek the lost" (Ezekiel 34:4). The rulers of Israel failed in all these respects toward those under them, and added positive "force and cruelty" to their omissions of duty. The result was, the people of God "were scattered, because there was no (true) shepherd" to tend them aright, none to "search or seek after them." A timely spiritual reformation of the state by its rulers would have averted the judgments of God altogether; and even in Ezekiel's time, when wrath from God had already descended, faithful conduct on their part would have been followed by a mitigation of this punishment, and a restoration of the "scattered" exiles (Ezekiel 34:6).
(3) The consequences to the unfaithful shepherds of their negligence, God declares to be (Ezekiel 34:10), "Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore." Those who abuse any solemn trust must answer for it to God, and shall be deprived of the power of selfish misrule forever. It will be among the most bitter of the self-reproaches of many among the lost, to think that once they were in high places of trust, by faithfulness in which they might have inherited an eminent crown of glory; but by unfaithfulness and self-seeking they have precipitated themselves into the lowest and most terrible of the depths of hell.
(4) When the wicked shepherds are destroyed, the Lord Himself comes forward as the good Shepherd, Himself to interpose in behalf of His: "Behold, I, even I," the all-powerful, the all-wise, the all-loving God of my people, "will both search my sheep, and seek them out" (Ezekiel 34:11). That office which the unfaithful shepherds failed to perform, I myself will effectually fulfill in behalf of my flock. The Lord Jesus at His second coming shall stand "in the midst" of His people as their glory and their defense (note Ezekiel 34:12). He will "seek out and deliver the Israelites out of all places where, in the cloudy and dark day, they have been scattered (Ezekiel 34:12) ... and will bring them to their own land," where he shall "feed them, and cause them to lie down" in perfect ease and security (Ezekiel 34:15). In beautiful contrast to the culpable negligence and selfish cruelty and rapacity of the unfaithful shepherds, the Lord promises to "seek the lost, bring again those driven away, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick;" but those fattened and puffed up with pride through prosperity, who abuse their strength to oppress the weak "with force and with cruelty" (Ezekiel 34:4), God "will destroy" while He rules His people in justice and mercy.
(5) However God may seem now to make no difference between the oppressors and the oppressed, the wicked and the righteous, the time is fast coming when the Lord shall come as Judge of all men, to make a momentous and everlasting distinction between the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left (Ezekiel 34:17; Matthew 25:32-33). Then shall he call to strictest account the haughty great men who, not content with appropriating the goods of others, actually spoiled through gratuitous wantonness what they did not use, so as to render them useless to the rightful owners (Ezekiel 34:18-19). No wrong shall then remain unredressed. The Lord will vindicate His own righteousness in avenging the cause of His despised people on their proud oppressors (Ezekiel 34:20-22).
(6) The great instrument and willing "servant" in the hands of God for effecting this His sure purpose is the "One Shepherd," peerless and matchless in excellence and dignity, the Divine Messiah, "raised up to David" (Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 34:29), that He should once for all die for His people's sins, and forever reign, at His second coming, as their glorified Prince in the midst of them (Ezekiel 34:24). Then shall His people dwell in undisturbed peace and safety throughout their land, unmolested by man or beast (Ezekiel 34:25), and "showers of blessing" from above shall come down upon them and their land, so that they shall be a source of blessing to the nations around (Ezekiel 34:26). Internal righteousness and external prosperity shall go hand in hand (Ezekiel 34:27-28). The bondage (Ezekiel 34:27) and "shame" which they were forced by the pagan to submit to formerly (Ezekiel 34:29) shall then come to a perpetual end. Exemption from hunger and reproach shall be their happy portion henceforth.
(7) All these blessings flow from Jesus, Immanuel, "the Lord their God with them" (Ezekiel 34:30). For the Israelites are but "men," weak in themselves (Ezekiel 34:31), and most unlikely objects of such wonderful blessing. But God hath promised these blessings, as being their covenant God; and because of that His unchangeable promise, Messiah, the "plant of renown" (Ezekiel 34:29), shall be "raised up for them," as their Deliverer in the last days (Romans 11:26).
(8) All these promises belong also to us, if we be true believers in Chest. Then we can say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." When we were 'wandering' on the mountains of error (Ezekiel 34:6), Jesus sought us, and brought us safely into the fold (Ezekiel 34:11). He feeds us in the green pastures of His ordinances now. "He leads us in the paths of righteousness," and makes us to lie down at rest, reposing on His love (Ezekiel 34:15); and will at last bring us to the heavenly land of promise, where we shall hunger no more, and that no morel (Ezekiel 34:29), and our shame shall be turned into everlasting glory. Therefore, throughout eternity we shall praise the divine grace of God in Christ, which pitied us in our lost estate, and so marvelously led us the right way until we reached the heavenly city of habitation (Psalms 107:7).
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 34". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany