Lectionary Calendar
Monday, February 26th, 2024
the Second Week of Lent
There are 34 days til Easter!
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 34

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-31


1. Against the Shepherds of Israel, of the Shepherd Kindness of Jehovah toward His Flock, and of His Servant David (Ch. 34)

1And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying: 2Son of man, prophesy upon the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, to the shepherds, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, that were 3feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye ate the fat, and clothed yourselves with the wool; ye killed what was fed; ye fed not 4the flock. Those which became weak ye have not strengthened, and the sick ye have not healed, and the wounded [broken] have ye not bound up, and the driven away have ye not brought back, nor looked after that which was lost [perishing], and with rigour have ye ruled them, and with oppression. 5And they were scattered, because [there was] no shepherd, and were for food to all living creatures 6[for meat to all beasts] of the field, and they were scattered. They wander, My flock, upon all mountains, and upon every high hill; and upon the whole face of the earth have they been scattered, My flock, and there is none that 7seeks after, and none that looks after. Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah. 8As I live—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—Because My flock has become for a prey [for booty], and they have become, My flock, for food to all living creatures of the field, because [there was] not a shepherd, and My shepherds have not sought after My flock, and the shepherds fed themselves, 9and fed not My flock: Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah; 10Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I [am] against the shepherds, and demand My flock from their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; and the shepherds shall no more feed themselves; and I deliver [snatch] My flock out of their mouth, and they shall not henceforth be for food to them. 11For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I, I [am there], and seek for My flock, and inspect [scrutinize] them. 12As a shepherd inspects his flock, in the day that he is amongst his flock, the scattered [sheep], so will I inspect My flock, and deliver [rescue] them out of all the places whither they were scattered 13in the day of cloud and darkness. And I lead them forth from among the peoples, and gather them from the lands, and bring them to their ground, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all 14the dwellings of the land [the earth]. On good pasture will I feed them, and in [on] the high mountains of Israel shall their walk be: there shall they lie down in a good walk, and on a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down: sentence 16of the Lord Jehovah. I will look after the perishing, and the driven away will I bring back, and the broken will I bind up, and will strengthen the sick, and the fat and the strong I will destroy; I will feed it with judgment. 17And ye, My flock, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I Judges 18 between sheep and sheep, the rams and the he-goats. Is it too little for you that ye feed on the good [best] pasture, and ye tread down the rest of your pasture with your feet, and drink the sunk water, and with your feet trouble 19the residue? And My flock, must they feed on what your feet have trodden, 20and of what your feet have troubled must they drink? Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah to them: Behold, I, I [am there] and judge between 21fat sheep and lean [impoverished] sheep. Because ye push with side and with shoulder, and thrust with your horns all those which have become weak, till 22ye have scattered them abroad: Therefore I help My flock, and they shall no longer be for a prey, 23and I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I appoint [raise up] over them one shepherd, and he feeds them, My servant David; Hebrews 2:0; Hebrews 2:04will feed them, and he will be to them a shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will be to them a God, and My servant David prince in their midst. I, Jehovah, have 25spoken. And I conclude for them a covenant of peace, and cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they dwell securely in the wilderness, 26and sleep in the woods. And I give them and the environs of My hill [for a] blessing, and cause the rain to come down in its season—showers of blessing there shall be. 27And the tree of the field gives its fruit, and the land shall give its increase; and they are safe upon their ground, and they know that I am Jehovah, when I break the bars of their yoke, and I deliver [rescue] them from the hand of those whom they served [who wrought through them]. 28And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, and the beasts of the field shall not devour them, and they dwell secure, and there is none to make them afraid 29And I raise up for them a plantation for a name, and they shall no more be swept away from hunger in the land, and no more bear the reproach of the 30heathen. And they know that I, Jehovah, their God, [am] with them, and they [are] My people, the house of Israel: sentence of the Lord Jehovah 31And ye My flock, flock of My pasture, men [are] ye; I [am] your God: sentence of the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 34:2. Sept.: ... Ω ποιμενες ... μη οἱ ποινενες βοσκουσιν ἑαυτους;—

Ezekiel 34:3. ʼΙδου το γαλα κατεσθιετε—

Ezekiel 34:4. ... και το ἰσχυρου κατειργασθε μοχθω. (Anoth. read.: האבדות.)

Ezekiel 34:5. ... του�. τοις πετεινοις του ον̓ρανου.

Ezekiel 34:6. Και διεπαζμσαν τα προβατα μον … (παντι) προσωπω (πασης) κ. γμς … οὐδε ὁ� (Anoth. read.: ועל פני כל.) Vulg.: et non erat qui requireret, non erat, inquam, qui requireret.

Ezekiel 34:8. Sept.: ... εἰ μην� … εἰς κρονομην κ. γενεσθαι τ. πζοβατα μου—

Ezekiel 34:10. ... του μη κοιμαινειν τ. προβατα μου … ἐ τ. ποιμενες αν̓τα—

Ezekiel 34:12. ... ἐν ἡμερα γνοφου κ. νεφελης ἐν μεσω–

Ezekiel 34:14. Sept.: ... ἐν τ. ὀζει τω ὑψηλω, ἐν τ. ὀρει ʼΙσραηλ. Και ἐσονται αἱ μανδραι αὐτων ἐκει κ. κοιμηθηονται, κ. ἐκει αναπασονται ἐν τρυφη—

Ezekiel 34:15. ... .και ἐπιγνωσονται, δοι τι εἰμι κυριοκ. Ταδε λεγε–

Ezekiel 34:16. ... ἰσχνρον φνλαξω. κ … αἰτα μετα κριματος.. For אשמיד all read אשמיר) except Chald.

Ezekiel 34:21. Sept.: ... τ. κερασιν ὑμων ἐκερατιζετε, κ. παν το ἐκλειπον ἐξεθλ βετε.

Ezekiel 34:22. Κ. σωτω … κριον προς κριον.

Ezekiel 34:25. ... τω Δαυιδ διαθηκμν … κ. κατοικησουσιν ἐν τη ἐρημω—

Ezekiel 34:26. ... αν̓τους κυκλω τ.ὀρους μου, κ … τ. ὑετον, ὑετον εὐλογιας αὐτοις.

Ezekiel 34:27. ... ἑν ἐλπιδι εἰρηνης … τ. ζυγον τον κλοιου αὐτων—

Ezekiel 34:28. Sept.: ... ἐν ἐλπιδι—

Ezekiel 34:29. ... φυτον εἰρηνης

Ezekiel 34:30. Sept. Syr. Arab. add הנותם, and omit אתם.

Ezekiel 34:31. Κ. ὑμεις προβατα μου κ. προβατα τ. ποιμνιου μου ἐστε, κ. ἰγω–


Ezekiel 34:1-10. The Shepherds of Israel

Ezekiel 34:1. Hengstenberg regards the prophet with this word of Jehovah as meeting the trouble which arises from the loss of civil government: the seeming loss, he contends, is real gain, since the existing government was so bad. Keil excellently designates the turning against the bad shepherds as a foil for the ensuing promise. What the relation to the first part of the book, the natural sequel to the same already suggests, namely, a vivid representation of the past,—this will now show itself to be the more appropriate, since in the second part of the book the promise of God is what gives the prevailing tone. The future salvation cannot be better set off and characterized than upon the past distress; just as upon the dark background of our misery, redemption generally appears the brighter, and also so much the more a necessity; and John 8:10 (“Woman, where are those thine accusers?”) conveys an import of a similar kind with reference to a still more distant time than what is here referred to.

Ezekiel 34:2.עַל (comp. אֶל, Ezekiel 13:2), agreeably to the tenor of what follows, as much as: against; but as the controversy has respect to positions of eminence, it carries a certain reference to that. Kliefoth undoubtedly views the shepherds rightly, when he understands thereby generally the entire body of officials who had committed to them the leadership of the people. At least the following description, bearing as it does the shepherd form, is capable of comprehending all, and admits of application to all. Hence some have taken it with reference to the kings, and also to the priests; others have thought merely of the kings, or of the collective order then holding the reins of government (as Hengst.); others, again, have found here the false prophets and teachers of the people. The reference to Jeremiah 23:0., which has been leant upon, decides nothing; it only shows how, in the second part also of his book of prophecy, Ezekiel kept himself in unison of sentiment with his predecessor and companion. Nothing can be proved here by the “biblical idea of the shepherd” (Keil), since it is just the image of a shepherd which is set before us; and the fact that in Ezekiel 34:23 sq. David forms the antithesis, and that in the character of prince, finds its explanation in the Messianic idea, thereby symbolized and historically exhibited, which, as in our prophet, is viewed pre-eminently in its kingly aspect (pp. 23, 24). So, on the other hand, by means of the contrast with the anointed, it leaves, under the image of the shepherd, the complex of official life to be understood. All the offices—hence He is called Christ—and princes also (comp. on Ezekiel 12:10) must, the more they had been guilty, culminate in him.1 In order to retain the king and the great (שָׂרים, the magnates, Hitzig), Hengst. notices the circumstance that Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, and likewise many of the chiefs, were still in life; that the announcement therefore might extend into the future. But he holds that what the prophet here announces as having as to its main part already taken place, must be simply an explanation of the judgment in the form of an announcement of it!—לָרֹעִים, the address repeated, pleonasmus emphaticus, whereby the shepherd-idea at the same time is prominently brought out, while, on the other hand, the threatening attached and description of the reality comes thus into more marked contrast.—That were feeding themselves; this already indicates all (אוֹתָם, reflexive, Ewald, Gr. p. 788), the selfishness that merely seeks its own, instead of what belongs to the flock. (צֹאן, small cattle; especially sheep, but also goats.) Comp. Php 2:21; 2 Corinthians 12:14; Judges 5-12; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2.

Ezekiel 34:3. Here a detailed description is given of the “not feeding,” to which the “feeding,” the obligation involved in the relation of shepherd to flock (“should not the shepherd,” etc., Ezekiel 34:2), stands opposed; and the picture is drawn so as to make enjoyment merely take the primary place on the side of the shepherds. Such was their habitual acting. Instead of fat, Hitzig reads with the Sept. חָלָב, milk, as also Rosenmüller, so as thereby to avoid the anticipating and repeating as regards the killing in the third clause. Certainly the milk Would suit well with the “wool,” and the “eating” (1 Corinthians 9:7) should occasion no difficulty. There must not, however, be supposed the lawful use of the flock, but from the first the greed which appropriates to itself the best of the animal; at length the best animal itself is what appears in the representation—from which, however, nothing arises for determining more closely what office is meant, since it is applicable to each office [“but manifestly most strictly applicable to the kingly or ruling office,” P. F.].—To the greedy misappropriation for one’s own use, there is a companion picture in Ezekiel 34:4; the words: “ye fed not the flock,” farther declaring, on the one hand, the want of care for the flock, the contemptuous neglect of them, nay, on the other hand, the merciless energy with which what should have been protection had turned into simple domination. נַחְלוֹת, partic. Niphal from חָלָה, are those which had become weak, wretched, whether it may have been through sickness or overdriving. חוֹלָה is the sick itself. The Niph. pass. of שָׁבַר denotes what is wounded, what has been somewhat broken—corresponding to which is: “to bind up,” to wrap up firmly. Comp. Matthew 12:20.—נִדַּחָה is the driven away, the exiled, in consequence of harsh treatment (comp. 1 Peter 2:25). אָבַד, to lose one’s self, to be lost, to perish (comp. Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4; Luke 15:6; Luke 19:10). The two last expressions prepare the way for the רָדַה (to domineer, to trample on) with חָזְקָה, and with פֶּרֶך (tyranny). Comp. Exodus 1:13-14; Leviticus 25:43; Leviticus 25:46; Leviticus 25:53; Judges 4:3 : 1Sa 2:16; 1 Peter 5:3.

Ezekiel 34:5. There is here, finally, given the closing feature, as it is likewise involved in the verb דָעָה, the keeping together; while they did not discharge the shepherd-obligation, did not feed the flock, they also failed to keep them together, which is expressed by the Niphal of פּוּץ in respect to the sheep, which also had already been prepared for by הַכִּדַּחַת and הָאֹבֶדֶת (Ezekiel 34:4). The description now applies to the flock, not to single sheep merely. The first תְּפוּצֶינָה Hengst. understands of the internal dissolution of the people, in consequence of which the power of resisting was lost in regard to those without; the second he understands of the exile. Both expressions, however, are fundamentally the same. When Israel was not held together in the name of Jehovah through the theocratic offices, the scattering, the self-abandonment, and surrender to the worldly powers was the natural, necessary consequence.—מִבְּלִי רֹצֶה, from the want, the non-existence of a shepherd; because no shepherd who had discharged his duty according to his office was there; comp. Jeremiah 10:21; Zechariah 10:2; Matthew 9:36. In consequence of the scattering of the flock—this first of all—they became food to the nations round about; the other—and on this account is וַתְּפוּצֶינָה repeated—overtook them to the full in their state of exile—as previously in the ten tribes, so now also in Judah, as set forth in Ezekiel 34:6. (Num 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; John 10:12.) The representation in the image should plainly be understood as a pictorial delineation; so that: upon the whole face of the earth, by which the preceding: upon all mountains, and: upon every high hill, may be regarded as thrown together, must be taken to mean not their own land, as some have thought (Theodoret), viewing it in connection with the heathen worship practised there, but also the earth, without reference to heathen lands. The יִשׁגוּ, however, should be distinguished from נָפֹצוּ [that is, the “wandering” from the “scattering”], and possibly, therefore, the heathenizing tendency and the punishment borne among the heathen may be indicated. The repeated and emphasized My flock prepares for the resolutions of Jehovah that follow. There being none to search is explained by the preceding: “because there was no shepherd.” Upon דָּרַש and בָּקַשׁ, see at Ezekiel 3:18. According to Häv., דָּרַשׁ signifies to inquire farther, to search for, to concern one’s self about, while בָּקַשׁ signifies the seeking for the lost.

Ezekiel 34:7. There is now, on the ground of such unfaithfulness to duty, pronounced the “woe” of Ezekiel 34:2, under the form of hearing the word of Jehovah.

Ezekiel 34:8. The manner of proceeding, however, as commonly with Ezekiel, is first of all again to rehearse the guilt of the shepherds, and so to resume the charge that the flock, which Jehovah had committed to these shepherds as His own, had been taken away by the stranger, given up to the stranger, turned into a “booty,”—a contrast of such a kind that all, in a manner, was said by it. A prey is more exactly defined by: for food, agreeably to Ezekiel 34:5; and the expression: because there was no shepherd, after Ezekiel 34:6, is explained by: have not sought after My flock.

Ezekiel 34:9. This verse, with the therefore, renews the demand on the shepherds (Ezekiel 34:7).

Ezekiel 34:10. Instead of חַת־אָנִי׳ we have here בֹה־אָמ־ר׳, and הִנְנִי instead of אִם לֹאּ—Ezekiel 13:20; Ezekiel 13:8.—וְדָרַשְׁתִי, antithesis to ,וְלֹא־ מִפּיהֶם. Comp. Ezekiel 33:8; Zechariah 9:16.—The flock must be demanded of the officials, and these made to cease—which was fulfilled up to the time of Christ. With reference to the flock, such a seeking is a deliverance (הִצִיל), considering the character of the shepherds; and because the circumstance of their feeding themselves goes immediately before, which points back to Ezekiel 34:3, מִפִּיהֶס is put instead of מִיָּדָם, and לֹ־תִהיֶין forms the parallel to ולֹא־יִרְעוּ עוֹד, previously used (Ezekiel 13:21).

Ezekiel 34:11-22. Jehovah in His Shepherd Tenderness toward His Flock

Ezekiel 34:11. This verse grounds (For) the ceasing of the past relation of shepherd and flock through the all-expressive personal addition: הִנְנִי־אָנִי, which the Targum Jona. renders by: “Behold, I will manifest Myself.” As it is said in John 1:10 sq.: “He was in the world,” and: “He came unto His own.”—I seek for My flock, a contrast to: “there is none that seeketh for,” in Ezekiel 34:6, and to: “they have not sought for,” in Ezekiel 34:8. Instead of בָּקַשׁ, however, there stands the more inward בָּקַר, inspect, consider, by means of which the following expansion is introduced, which has respect exclusively to the flock,—“the community, on whose preservation everything depends” (Ewald).

Ezekiel 34:12. There must be the inspection (Gesen.: properly, Aram. inf. Poël) of a shepherd; Jehovah will therefore discover Himself not only as proprietor, whose proprietorship is of another kind, but specially as shepherd, which He really is, in contrast to the merely titular officials, nay, as if He alone were shepherd (Psalms 23:0.). Hence also עֵדֶר, where formerly there was צֹאן; comp. Jeremiah 13:17 (Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Luke 15:4).—In the day that he is amongst his flock describes more fully what is implied in the brief though energetic and significant: “Behold, I, I,” of Ezekiel 34:11. The epithet נִפְרָשׁוֹת to צֹאנוֹ indicates the assumed condition, however much, as a characteristic apposition, it is at variance with the meaning and nature of a flock. One has to think of the day that succeeds a nocturnal storm and tempest, and all the dangers arising from wild beasts, etc., when, after that the selfish shepherds had in a body proved faithless to their calling, now at length the true shepherd of the flock presents himself. So that: “in the day that he is amongst his flock,” evidently forms a contrast to: the day of cloud and darkness, at the close of the verse; which words are, therefore, improperly connected by Hitzig (Klief.), with an ahusion to Ezekiel 30:3; Ezekiel 29:21, and especially to Joel 2:2, with: and deliver them (וְהִצַּלְתִי). For the day “of cloud and darkness” (עֲרָפֶל, combination of “cloud” and darkness, yet not by a throwing together of עָרִיף and אֹפֶל, but an extended form, like כַּרְמֶל, from כֶּרֶם), as also the derivation of the formula from the lawgiving on Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:11; Hebrews 12:18) might indicate, is not the day of God’s judgment upon all the heathen—also, not “the dark showers of the birth of a better time,” as Ewald puts it, connecting the expression with Ezekiel 34:13, but the day of the dispersion of His people,—the punishment which, according to the law of God from Sinai, befell them by the instrumentality of the heathen. Accordingly, בְּיוֹם עָנָן׳ belongs to the immediately preceding relative clause אֲשֶׁר־נָפֹצוּ׳, a connection which is usual.—The rescuing, delivering out of, whereby the inspection of the flock accomplishes the kind of salvation indicated, presupposes in the general: a dangerous position,—in particular: imprisonment, servitude, oppression, tyranny, etc. That it was to be out of all the places, etc., besides being in accordance with the preceding figure (Ezekiel 34:6), arises from the form of the salvation, which is represented as primarily a gathering (Ezekiel 28:25), especially a bringing back out of exile to the land of their home, as is shown in Ezekiel 34:13 (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 7:4-5; Acts 2:9-11). Comp. also Ezekiel 11:17; John 11:52. But at the same time, as Hengst. has said, “other glorious gifts and benefits, which, however, all pointed forward to the true fulfilment, and called forth desire for it,” are indicated by: and feed them (וּדְעִיתִים)—Ezekiel 6:2-3.—And in all the dwellings of the land are, primarily, all the parts adapted for occupation, for inhabiting; might not הָאָרֶץ, however, have a farther reference?

Ezekiel 34:14. An explanation is here given of the “feeding” by Jehovah with regard to the fodder (מִרְעֶה), to which also נִוֵהֶם corresponds, but, at the same time, with reference to lairs, reposing, resting, dwelling. It lies, besides, in the thing itself that the pasture-ground was, at the same time, a lair and resting-place, fold, Psalms 23:0; Song of Solomon 1:7.—וּנְהָרֵי מְרוֹם׳, Philippson: “upon the mountains of the height of Israel;” comp. at Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 20:40.

Ezekiel 34:15. A bringing together of what has been said in both respects; comp. on דָבַץ, Ezekiel 29:3; Psalms 23:0.

Ezekiel 34:16. An explanation is here given, and in contrast to the denounced faithlessness (Ezekiel 34:4) of those who had hitherto held the shepherd-office, of the “feeding” as that is understood by Jehovah, of a much more internal nature, and indeed with an eye to right and righteousness. As the contrast in strong and strengthen (comp. for that Luke 22:32) may of itself indicate, but as the words: I will feed it with judgment, put beyond doubt, and the sequel shows, the feeding by Jehovah is also a judging, which does not mean simply a right dealing, or treatment according to right and equity, but involves, as we shall see, a separation. With judgment is sufficiently explained by the: I will destroy (אַשְׁמִיד)—Psalms 37:38; comp. also Ezekiel 14:9; Luke 1:51-52. The ironical turn given to the אֶרְעֶנָּה (the suffix does not relate to the flock) may easily be understood from the visible antithesis to the: “and with rigor have ye ruled them, and with oppression,” in Ezekiel 34:4; comp. also the distinction between חַשְּׁמֵנָה and הַחֲזָקָה in the comparison with הַבְּרִיאָה in Ezekiel 34:3. The Chaldee paraphrase interprets: “godless and sinners,” while the Vulg. translates: custodiam, as does Luther also, as if it had stood שָׁמַר. Comp. also Revelation 2:27; Psalms 2:9.

Ezekiel 34:17. As a confirmation of the sense put upon the last part of Ezekiel 34:16, this verse introduces by way of contrast the (remaining) flock: And ye, My flock. The officials are with Ezekiel 34:10 discharged and gone; the persons concerned can therefore only come into consideration according to their personal qualities, not according to their official rank; consequently, as one sheep merely with another, in other words, as “fat” and “strong,” or such like (Deuteronomy 32:15). Hence the: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, explains the: “in judgment,” of Ezekiel 34:16 as a judgment between one kind of sheep and another, individual members of the flock; therefore, that לָשֶׂה expresses the judicial separation in regard to those previously named fat and strong, and וְלָעַתּוּרִים (עָתַד, to urge, push; the he-goat עַתּוּד, properly: “pusher”) לָאֵילִים an enlarging apposition. Hitzig: “against the rams and the he-goats.” Beside the pushing and pressing (Ezekiel 34:21) there sounds distinctly forth the leading and guiding of the flock; so that the older expositors were right in thinking of the shepherds in Ezekiel 34:2, yet not in that character, but simply as individuals. (As, in another respect certainly, the Servant of Jehovah, the Deliverer, is represented as a sheep, as a lamb (Isaiah 53:7), so in Ezekiel are the destroyers.) The fat and the strong among the sheep are therefore regarded as like the rams and he-goats, and placed on the one side—the situation, therefore, not at all so dissimilar to that in Matthew 25:32, as Keil repeats after Hitzig, who merely gives this explanation: “The separation of the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25:32 has nothing to do here.” As belonging to the sheep-flock, he-goats and rams are also, in the general sense, sheep (small cattle), and they are expressly so called in the words: “between sheep and sheep” but undoubtedly sheep and sheep (Ezekiel 34:20) forms a distinction, namely, that those which Jehovah designates His are not like the he-goats and rams, from which He sets them apart. They are certainly not, as excellently remarked by Kliefoth, “represented as the righteous and innocent, but they are called the strayed, the driven away, the wounded, the weak: but they are the penitent, who hear the voice of God; therefore will He first seek them, and bring them back, and heal and strengthen them, but afterwards also will redeem them from the oppressions which the others, the he-goats, have exercised upon them.” According to Hitzig, these latter are with the fat and the strong “the rich and noble, who in manifold ways wrest from the humble by force and rigour their worldly goods.” But Kliefoth quite rightly: “a poor man can just as well be a he-goat as a rich man a sheep.” Only with the poor man the sphere is very limited; while for the rich and noble, power and the right to exercise it sit upon the very rim of their cradle. The “robber-knights,” as Hengst. calls them, are born in castles. The haughtiness, however, engendered by fatness and the misuse of their resources is to be taken into account. “David, even upon the throne, designates himself poor and needy” (Hengst.). The thing referred to, therefore, in the case of the rams and he-goats, is the wickedness which exhibits itself as violent procedure in superior positions of life. “God procures for the suffering sheep justice against the malicious” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 34:18. The unjust behaviour of the one portion toward the other is here exposed. Hengst.: “The address extends to the tyrants of the future”—that is, to the Scribes and Pharisees of our Lord’s time, whom it exactly suits.—Comp. on הַמְעַט מִבֶּם, Ezekiel 16:20. Are ye not content with your own enjoyment, but must ye also disturb that of others? Thus fatness and strength might have enjoyed themselves at smaller cost. (Revelation 3:17?) But now, as they left over to no one what they would not or could not use as pasture, but wantonly trampled it under foot, so did they also with respect to drink. מִשְׁקָע, from שָׁקַע, Ezekiel 32:14, “sinking of water,” is commonly interpreted as: “water clarified through sinking,” so that the clarifying is rather the main thing, the impurities have gone to the bottom. Hengst.: water of sinking, settled water; interpreted by Hitzig as: water on the ground, to be found at the bottom—that is, the coolest water. But as רָפַשׂ (promiscuously רָפַס Ezekiel 32:2)—by treading with the feet to make confused and troubled—shows, what perhaps most readily suggests itself is, that the water which was sunk, which had become little, and so threatened want, they in their wickedness had made undrinkable. (Luke 11:52?)

Ezekiel 34:19. וְצאֹנִי, with Athnach! Is this right?

Ezekiel 34:18.

Ezekiel 34:20. To them according to Ezekiel 34:17, to the last mentioned, the flock of Jehovah, and not to the evil and good together,—to the one for terror, and to the other for comfort (Rosenm.).

Ezekiel 34:11.—בִרְיָה only here, with the view probably of distinguishing from Ezekiel 34:3 (comp. at Ezekiel 34:16). Usually בְרִיָּה is read for it, also רָזָה —בְרִיאָה., to be thin, impoverished (comp. Mark 2:17; Mark 14:38; 1 Corinthians 9:22).

Ezekiel 34:21. Here follows an address to the others, as Ezekiel 34:18 does on Ezekiel 34:17. The point of view is not, with Hitzig, to be confined to the pressing of a flock to the fountain. Comp. at Ezekiel 34:4-5 (Jeremiah 23:1-2).

Ezekiel 34:22. וְהוֹשַׁתְעִי, more general and comprehensive than וְהִצַּלְתִּי, Ezekiel 34:10; Ezekiel 34:12.

Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 34:17; Ezekiel 34:20.

Ezekiel 34:23-31. The Servant David

The and here gives the immediate sequence, without indicating anything remarkable in what was coming, as this indeed formed the abiding anticipation of the religious thought of Israel; so that since here the removal of the offices and the judgment upon the persons has been effected, he who was now to be looked for must at length come,—the course of events has plainly reached him as the last member in the series, according to which the: “I raise up” (הֲקִימֹתִי), will have to be understood. No special forthcoming effected by God for the good of Israel, as in Deuteronomy 18:15 יָקִים לְךָ, in the more peculiar might and grace of the Spirit, but simply the official (mediately divine) appointment of the shepherd in question is announced, although with a reference to 2 Samuel 7:0. But what is said there at Ezekiel 34:12, וַהֲקִימֹתִי׳ (“I will set up thy seed”), was in Ezekiel 34:11 illustrated beforehand by the: “I commanded to be over My people” (צִוִּיתִי), said with respect to the judges. These, therefore, appear as only provisional arrangements, as temporary, through God’s command interjected into the disorder for putting an arrest on the same, while for the seed, of which Ezekiel 34:12 speaks, a permanent introduction and settlement was to be made. In spite of this diversity in the use of צִוִּיתִי, however, there lies nothing in וַהֲקִימֹתִי to suggest the fable of the Gilgul, as was done already by particular Rabbins, and recently has been resumed by Strauss, Hitzig, and others. At all events, Ezekiel would have expressed himself otherwise, if we were here scientifically to find the exegetical idiosyncrasy of a corporeal return of the historical David, by a resurrection from the dead. It is a desperate consolation, such as could have been imagined by no good exegetical conscience, to feel obliged to refer for such like fancies to Rosenmüller—even to the Zoroastrian doctrine of the return of the Paschutan.—On רֹעֶה, see the Doctrinal Reflections to our chapter.—אֶחָד signifies here certainly not “one,” one generally; also it can scarcely mean “only,” and has nothing immediately to do with the union of the two kingdoms under his sceptre, because there was nothing said of this previously; but the contrast is with the former shepherds and the sheep of the flock scattered through their guilt—this manifoldness on the one side, on the other has set over against it the oneness of this shepherd, who is the complex embodiment of shepherd watchfulness, as of all the duties of the shepherd office,—the divine realization of the idea of all that is involved generally in the nature of the office, as service toward the community for the sake of God, as sacred service in behalf of God’s people. [Kliefoth: “This shoot of David comprehends in his one person the whole shepherd-offices of Israel, and fulfils them; they are to be done away with him, but no other king over the people of God shall relieve him.”]—On account of the com. gen. of the “flock,” the fem. alternates with the masc. in the suffix.—He comes to his destination as a shepherd through the: and he feeds; the name is realized in his doing, with a reference to David’s former life and procedure; see Psalms 78:70-71.—My servant David, who, on account of his attitude of obedience as Jehovah’s servant, showed himself to be one peculiarly fitted for serving the community, over which he was placed officially for the performance of such service, namely, as His servant not only chosen by Jehovah (objectively), but also called, but also anointed, but also in every way confirmed. As David “after the flesh,” so My servant “after the Spirit” points back genealogically in connection with the dynasty. There will be a Davidic person, and he will be in accord with the kingly pattern of David, so that Jehovah’s servant David will revive in him to the consciousness of every one. Therefore, in fact, a return of David, and indeed in the seed of David (Jeremiah 23:5); therefore also different from the return of Elias in John the Baptist. Application is to be made to Christ, but to derive the exposition of the words from this presently fails, as when Kliefoth interprets “My servant” thus: “because, he, as God’s instrument, will accomplish what is written in Ezekiel 34:11-22.” One must be at home in the style of representation which is given throughout Scripture of David, but more especially in the prophetic style of representation concerning him, in accord also with the pregnant prophetic self-consciousness which discovers itself in his own psalms, in order rightly to understand these and similar descriptions of the Messiah. See the Doctrinal Reflections on the chapter, and comp. Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 1:32-33. Besides, the respect had to the fundamental passage 2 Samuel 7:0. itself leaves no doubt as to the proper understanding.—How much the comprehensive ideal, just because figurative, notion of the shepherd preponderates, is clear from the expressly and intentionally repeated: He will feed, etc. (Revelation 7:17).

Ezekiel 34:24. When it is said in 2 Samuel 7:14, in reference to the immediate posterity of David: “I will be a father to him,” there is here what corresponds to it in the words: And I, Jehovah, will be to them a God. Comp. Ezekiel 11:20. “Father” to him, “God” to them, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our God. In like manner: and My servant David points back to 2 Samuel 7:8, where this appears in the form of an address, along with the promise there given; נָגִיד is there, while here נָשִׂיא is used. That through the government of David Jehovah was going to be in truth the God of His people Israel, etc. (Keil), is not expressly said, but the grand ideal, the eternity of the Davidic elevation and loftiness, is certainly set forth (2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16; comp. Ephesians 1:22). But that Jehovah is He who thus speaks must dispose of all opposition from the present aspect of things.

As the whole service of David the prince in their midst is appointed for the salvation of the people, there is expressed in Ezekiel 34:25 the establishing for them the covenant—that which always, when so peculiarly said in the technical phraseology, proceeds from the Highest in relation to the lower, that is, from Jehovah (Jeremiah 31:31 sq.). The reason is, that the in itself ambiguous notion, yet corresponding to the covenant-relation originally in like manner established by God, manifests itself for the people as a revelation of such relationship, namely, as an attestation of offered grace, presenting itself, and giving assurance of God’s readiness to enter into fellowship with men. Comp. at Isaiah 55:3 (Hebrews 8:10; Acts 3:25).—Covenant of peace (Isaiah 54:10), since in consequence of the covenant relationship of God there is guaranteed to the people this security, happy condition, salvation (Romans 14:17), of which the “ceasing of evil beasts” symbolizes the negative, and “the dwelling securely” the positive side. Comp. Leviticus 26:6 (Hosea 2:20 [18]). According to Häv. and Hengst., the evil beasts are the hostile human potencies (Ezekiel 34:5), and the driving of the heathen world from its hitherto domineering position must be meant. According to Hitzig, the public security in the land is pledged. But security (לָבֶטַח, Ezekiel 28:26) the wilderness itself must have offered to those dwelling in it, which is sufficiently explained by the parallel בַּיְּעוֹרִים (Qeri: בַּיְּעָרִים), surrendering themselves carelessly to sleep in the thicket of the woods. [Häv. finds an allusion to Solomon’s time of peace and blessing; but Kliefoth a literal return of the paradisiacal state after a materialistic manner.]

Ezekiel 34:26. To the personelle (them) are annexed, in a local form of expression, the environs, by which, therefore, could not be meant men, with reference to the image of sheep, or the adjacent places for the persons inhabiting them. But the prominence given to My hill, that is, the temple-mount, or, with reference thereto, Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 10:32), carries over the representation of the people’s associates to the land. Comp. also Ezekiel 34:14 : “And on the mountains of the height of Israel.” The words: And I give … for a blessing, chiming in with Genesis 12:2, could not possibly (as Cocc. and Hengst. suppose) allow of our interpreting “the environs” as meaning the heathen joining themselves in the time of salvation to the old covenant-people (Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 16:61; Ezekiel 47:8), which is quite remote from the connection here. “And thou shalt be a blessing,” in Genesis 12:2, is certainly explained thus in Ezekiel 34:3; but here the expression: to “give for a blessing,” as the immediately following explanation of “rain in its season” shows us (Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23), adhering to the preceding reference to the land, will mean probably more than to bless. Yet still nothing essentially different, though giving utterance to it in a very marked manner.—The people shall be bodily a blessing through their land, to which Jehovah’s hand of blessing will mightily testify; hence showers of blessing (which mediate the blessing, in distinction from Ezekiel 13:13; Proverbs 28:3; comp. also Deuteronomy 32:2; Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 15:29; Ephesians 1:3)—shall be so primarily on no other account, but simply for their own experience and their own personal enjoyment. But comp. Ezekiel 34:29. [Rosenm. brings to remembrance how far superior Palestine was to Egypt in regard to such blessings of the material heavens.] Accordingly, Ezekiel 34:27 continues and portrays (comp. Leviticus 26:4) the fruitfulness thence arising in the field and land, in order presently to come back to the inhabitants settled again upon their home-soil—on which comp. Ezekiel 34:25, Ezekiel 28:25-26.—עֹל (from עָלַל, to join, make fast, bind) is generally the yoke of draught-cattle, in order to fasten them together or to the plough. מֹטּוֹת are the two ends of the cross-piece of wood which forms the chief strength of the yoke; hence in Ezekiel 30:18 = yoke. The cross-piece of wood laid upon the neck of the animal was fastened by a cord or thong to the pole of the plough, and passing under the neck of the animal (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 58:0). As the allusion to Leviticus 26:13 and what follows here will show, it is to be understood figuratively—not in general of the endurance of sufferings, but specially of slavery, as in Egypt formerly, which should be broken. For parallel with בְּשִׁבְרִי stands וְהִצַּלְתִים׳ and הָעֹבְדִים בָּהֶם (Exodus 1:14), of the laying on of slave labour. עָבַד with בְּ is to work with or through any one, so that the working stands out in him, he appears purely as an instrument (Matthew 11:28; Matthew 23:4; John 8:36; Acts 15:10; Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Galatians 2:4).

Ezekiel 34:28. Comp. Ezekiel 34:22; Ezekiel 34:8.

Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 34:8 (Ezekiel 29:5).—Leviticus 26:6; also Micah 4:4. Those whom they are said, in the preceding verse, to have served, are therefore the heathen, and the two other promises resume again the same two sides as Ezekiel 34:25, while the words: and there is none to make them afraid, portray still farther the secure peaceful rest, almost reminding us of the opposite picture at the close of Ezekiel 34:6.

Ezekiel 34:29. And I raise up for them is parallel to Ezekiel 34:23; the promise there begun in these terms reaches here its conclusion, for the whole of what has gone before relates to one and the same Messianic character.—According to Hitzig, מַטָּע can only mean a plant-place or ground; the plant-land should become to them for renown; what they planted should grow and prosper so as to be a glory for them. According to the older style of exposition it is the “plant,” Isaiah 11:1 : the Sept. and others read with it שָׁלוֹם. Simpler, certainly, is the rendering plantation (agreeably to Ezekiel 34:26 sq., and as at Ezekiel 17:7), and it is also explained by the: “no more sweeping away by hunger,” etc., by reason of the fruitfulness of the country, and in contrast to the state of destitution mentioned elsewhere (Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 6:11-12). So, too, לשם (for a name) has its explanation in their having no more “to bear reproach from the heathen.” [The exposition which, by a reference to Genesis 2:8-9, would understand it of “a renewal of the paradisiacal plantation” (Hengst.), is far-fetched, there being nothing in the connection for it; nor can it be understood how such a renewal, under comparison of Ezekiel 36:29 sq., would consist “in the rich distribution of harvest blessings.” According to Kliefoth, the plantation, like that of the first paradise, must be the suitable thing for holy men.] Instead of the contempt with which the heathen scoffed at the fallen, prostrate, ruined condition of the people, those same heathen should now be convinced, from the blessing upon Israel, that the children of Israel, those who really were such, were also in reality the blessed of the Lord. Hitzig merely: it should no longer be said among the heathen, “The Israelites are hunger-bitten, they have nothing to bite and chew.” Comp. on the other hand, Matthew 5:6; John 6:27; John 6:35; Revelation 7:16-17; Matthew 13:43.

Ezekiel 34:30. Jehovah will be their God, and as such will be with them, will show Himself to be such toward them (Revelation 21:3). To this corresponds the other side of such a relationship, indicated by: My people, as also by: the house of Israel (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Ezekiel 34:31. This verse does not, of course, mean that what was said of the flock has its application to men; but rather is it God’s design to testify that His promise in respect to both sides, as well what He is to them to whom He gives it—therefore against doubt and feeble faith—as what they are taken for by Him, and so equally against all undue self-exaltation, keeps in view Adam, the man, or: men, which also fits in exactly with the immediately preceding designation of the people as: “the house of Israel.”—וְאַתֵּן, comp. Ezekiel 34:17.—Flock of My pasture (Jeremiah 23:1; Psalms 74:1); not: “which I tend” (Ges.), but because Jehovah had given Israel the fruitful land of promise for a pasture-ground. The exposition of My people by men, and still more the repetition, notwithstanding that, of: I am your God, entirely corresponds to the character of the second main division of our book, to the prophecies respecting God’s compassions toward His people in the world (Psalms 36:8 [7]), and the rather so, if, with Hävernick, the fundamental prophecy in relation to what follows is to be seen here.—That the Sept. should have omitted אָדָם is not to be commended, although the Targum and the Arab. translation have done the same. The Syriac, however, has retained it, and it is scarcely to be explained how it should have been brought in, where (after Ezekiel 34:30) the solemn remark, that not real sheep and goats were meant, would have to be called more than superfluous and flat. Hengst. translates: “And ye are My flock, My pasture-sheep are ye men,” etc.; Keil: “And ye are My flock, etc., ye are men” Häv. explains: “Indeed ye, who are called to what is so great, are weak creatures; but where the Lord acknowledges to men that He is their God, He is strong in their weakness; no glory is too great that it might not come to be manifested in them.” Kliefoth, who finds the translation of Hengst. against grammar, and calls Hävernick’s exposition a superimposed one, carries forward his misunderstanding of the paradisiacal reference: those belonging to the people of God would, through the Branch of the house of David, be as Adam was when he received from God this name after creation. J. F. Starck, with an emphasis on the general grace: “And ye, etc., ye men, I am your God.” [“And ye, My flock, My pasture-flock, men are ye, I am your God.” There is evidently an emphasis on men: “men are ye, remember your place, you are merely human; but remember, at the same time, that I am your God; so that without Me nothing, but with Me all.”—P. F.]


1. We should admit, on the one side, that the term “shepherd,” as is also so natural from the fulness of the references which the image includes, has application to the guiding of the people in general, consequently to every, office of that nature; yet we should not deny, on the other side, that “shepherds” especially and primarily signified “kings.” Only the rendering of the word by “overseer,” and in particular when the overseers or elders of the exile come into consideration, is very wide of the mark. However, the notion also of civil magistracy, which Hengstenberg attributes to the shepherds as kings, is an abstraction which is not appropriate to the image. In relation to the theocratic people primarily, in which relation we must seek for the more immediate reference of the biblical expression “shepherd,” the feature of leading will naturally assume the more prominent place, as it does in John 10:3 sq., which gives us an interpretation from the fulfilment of what is contained in this chapter. That the shepherd is the leader finds, then, its culmination in the protection, which the giving of his life for the flock provides for it, John 10:11. The other features in the image do not therefore fail; they only fall behind the one more peculiarly brought out, such as discipline, tender care, which belong to the spiritual import of the image (comp. John 10:9-10). The prophetic or teaching office is therein expressed, as in the self-surrender of the shepherd for the flock the priestly office is indicated. The notion of the “shepherd,” accordingly, comprises generally the official form and representation of the Old Testament theocratic life, and likewise pre-eminently the kingly office, giving prominence to the kingly government (pp. 23, 24), as is the case with the Messianic idea under the Old Covenant, with that of “Christ” under the New Testament, so that “shepherd” and the “anointed” come near and mutually supplement each other. In the Messianic character of the shepherd, there comes out, along with the relation to the theocratic people, the other relation, that, namely, to Jehovah, the Lord of the theocracy, according to which the shepherd appears as the representative of Jehovah among His people. If in this respect Messiah is the term for the relation in question as regards equipment, or internal power of the Spirit, so in that of “shepherd” there is given, we might say, the fulfilment, the realization of the same relation by means of a corresponding government. On account of what they had not done, the shepherds of Israel are manifestly the unrighteous, the wicked ones. On account of that which He does who makes Himself known in John 10:0, He proves Himself to be the Good Shepherd. But as there the Jews (John 10:20) supposed Him to be actuated not by the Spirit of the God-anointed, the Messiah, but to have in him an evil spirit (δαιμόνιον ἔχει), so they misunderstood also His unbosoming of Himself on that occasion as the Shepherd, and turned away from Him.

2. “In this chapter” (says Cocceius) “the office of shepherd is taken from the shepherds of Israel, and promise is made of the kingdom of Christ, the Chief Shepherd. The shepherds of Israel are of a threefold order, Zechariah 11:3; Zechariah 11:8. The three shepherds there are vigil, et respondens, et offerens munus (Malachi 2:12); that is, elder, prophet or doctor, and priest. They are called ‘gods,’ but in Psalms 82:6 sq. their abolition is pronounced. Therefore the apostle, 1 Corinthians 2:6, says of the princes of this world, that they are come to nought.”

3. “The prophecy in Ezekiel 34:0 is kept very general, and does not connect itself closely with specific occasions and circumstances, hence admits (apart from its typical bearing on the experiences of Israel, outward and spiritual) of manifold applications to all states, churches, families; and with justice, for it is really designed for all that could be named figuratively shepherd and flock, like a mathematical formula which expresses a law that may be applied to innumerable cases” (Schmieder).

4. From the second verse of this chapter the Lord Jesus appears to have quoted the repeated “woe” against the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:0). The application to these throws light specially on the days of Christ, but generally on the period subsequent to the exile. The hierarchy, as it appears in its antagonism to Christ, is the final degradation of the theocratic officialism of Israel. Prophecy ceased with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. In its place, as the characteristic appearance of Ezra shows, and as fabled also by the Jewish traditions of the “Great Sanhedrim” and the “Great Synagogue,” came the learning of the Scribes. As it was already with the three last prophets in relation to the earlier prophetic office, so also did the princely dignity of Zerubbabel stand related to the Davidic kingdom of former times. Zerubbabel was leader to the returning captives, and was appointed royal governor over the new colony, in which his character as a born prince of Judah was lost sight of. Although he stood as governor directly under the Persian kings, still the Persian governors in Samaria were instructed to keep their eye upon his administration. What, however, in his appointment by Cyrus, carried, according to the Jewish mode of contemplation, a specially royal, that is, Davidic aspect, presently again fell into abeyance with the person of Zerubbabel. On this account alone the application by some of Ezekiel 34:23 to Zerubbabel is shown to be untenable. None of Zerubbabel’s sons succeeded him as governor. If from the time of Nehemiah’s death the post of provincial governor gradually disappeared, as is with much probability supposed, then, for the purpose of taking the oversight of civic affairs (and of any other kind of oversight we know nothing), only the office of the high-priesthood remained, the history of which henceforth became a very worldly one, full of ambition and crime. The Maccabees united with it the dignity of military general; afterwards, as conferred upon them by the people, a hereditary princedom, over against which the Sanhedrim, which had meanwhile been constituted, and was under pharisaical-priestly influence, strove to maintain its position; and then at last the title of king. That the dignity of high priest as combined with princely rank, especially when the prince was a Sadducee, formed a kind of caricature of Psalms 110:4, does not hinder on the other side the noting of an important feature therein with regard to Christ; just as in the resolutions of the people and their counsellors there is apprehended, with a clear consciousness, the future appearance of a faithful prophet (1Ma 14:41). The dissolution-process now indicated of the theocratic offices in Israel after the exile suffices for the chapter of Ezekiel before us.

5. Israel, as remarked by Beck, “should, amid the tumult of desolation and the luxurious forms of development of the God-forgetting worldly nationalities, have stood forth as a strictly separate sanctuary of God, to which not the present, indeed, but so much the more certainly the future belonged; and even the falling away from this simple isolation of the whole state-economy justified its real wisdom by means of the desolating results that ensued.” “A many-membered organism of law, like a comprehensive ring, encompassed the whole individual and commercial life, woven into the elements of the world’s fellowship, while the more determinative arrangements of the outward natural life, of the reckoning of time, of the physical and social human life, were consecrated as serviceable organs for the establishment of a pious fellowship with God, of a righteous ordering and wholesome direction of the life.” It was “an externality,” but “no hollow-surface existence ending in itself; rather a vessel and framework of a spiritual inwardness of being, destined to future development, and bearing this in itself in a manner pregnant with promise.” The proof of this is specially furnished by prophecy, whose foundation was already laid among the fathers of the Israelitish people, which came forth into peculiar external activity under the constitution of the Mosaic economy, and at last assumed formally the place of an order in the State. Hence its cessation was pre-eminently a mark of the time, as being that of the approaching advent of Him whose Spirit was in the prophets ! Were but the whole people of Jehovah prophets! was the wish of Moses (Numbers 11:29); expressing as regards Israel the design of prophecy, and at the same time with an eye toward the Pentecostal future. Still more, however, was this import involved in the priesthood, which was no caste foreign to the people, but rooted in a brotherly stem of the same, giving promise of a priestly position to the whole of Israel, with corresponding fulness of obligation to duties of service. So close and inward, because a service rendered to the whole, and springing out of its innermost idea, was the relation of these offices in Israel to Israel itself, that their unfolding and Israel’s unfolding overlap each other, are congenial. The destination of Israel to the kingdom lies enfolded in Exodus 19:6 (Revelation 1:6), although in what is merely the outward governing power of one, the civic subordination of the others may come more prominently out. The full prospect for the future looks toward those who are without, to the heathen nations, the world.

6. What “the servant” Moses (Hebrews 3:5) represented individually for the whole theocracy, this found its representation as regards Jehovah’s supreme authority in the entire community in David, who, as “servant of Jehovah,” takes up into himself “the servant Moses,” as prince in Israel represents the divine supremacy.

7. So much has the being “without a shepherd,” Ezekiel 34:5, become the case with Israel, that by the extirpation of the Good Shepherd through the bad shepherds of Israel, the scattering of the people has become complete; and certainly also the gathering of the true Israel has been fulfilled. Comp. on this Zechariah 13:7; Isa 53:6; 1 Peter 2:25.

8. Maintaining their position over against the world was “the one thing needful” for Israel as the people of God; so that the gathering through Christ, as on the one side it was restitution in conformity to the ideal of Israel, so on the other generally it was for them the condition of life, life’s deliverance. Thus Israel lives on still, not merely as to its character as a people, while the other peoples of antiquity have historically vanished, but the idea of Israel as a people is in Christ the idea of humanity.
9. “God’s will has from the first been directed to the object of gathering a new humanity out of the world, of a people of God out of all peoples; and the choosing of Israel as the people of God was only a first provisional step toward the accomplishment of this will: God gathers Israel to Himself as His people only for the purpose of gathering through their instrumentality a people from among all nations. But now it seemed, in the days of Ezekiel, as if through the scattering of Israel, as those in whom for the time being the people of God appeared, the collecting of a people of God had been abandoned and become impossible. To that, however, it could not be allowed to come; and in the text, which is quite general in its terms, there is embraced alike the bringing back of Israel from exile, the gathering of the Church of Christ by means of His word, and the final gathering of the children of God out of the world generally, as certainly as the matter itself belongs to the formation of a new humanity” (Kliefoth). The fourteenth verse is by the same expositor similarly explained in a quite general way, though he has a spiritual and external addition of this sort, that “the future return of the converted Jews to their land” should be taken into account.

10. The ceasing of the offices in Israel is not simply, therefore, a historical fact, a ceasing of life-forms that once existed, but it is the emptying of those forms in the spirit, and consequently in respect to truth. Office-bearing of the kind that belonged to Israel can no more be found in Christ; so that all churchism which would turn back to lay hold of that, or even look aslant toward it, merely (as statecraft also with respect to the kingdom) surrenders its Christianity, or places it in question. What the official constitution of things in Israel signified, has its correspondence in the anointing with the Spirit for all Christians, 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27; Revelation 1:6. What is called “office” in Christianity can only be ordinances as to service, or χαρίσματα, Romans 12:6, or the powers that be, which are ordained by God (Romans 13:0).

11. (Religion falls radically into the three distinctive actings of the three offices, beginning with a prophetic function as the knowledge of God and manifestation of God, maintaining always a high-priestly relation toward God in the spirit of consecration and surrender to Him, and perpetually unfolding its kingly character by the renewal and enlargement of soul in God, and a walk in God’s freedom and power. After P. Lange.)
12. Upon the judging between sheep and sheep Hengstenberg remarks that “the main fulfilment here also is to be sought in Christ, whose government and secret yet powerful guidance permits no tyranny and injustice to endure.” “A principal phase was the decision between the synagogue and the Christian church.” “But that this judging goes through the whole history, that we have to do in it with a true prophecy and not with a patriotic phantasy, appears from a comparison of the existing Christian world with that of the heathen and Mahometan, and also with the Old Testament judicial relationships. Since the appearance of Christ, there has been at work a reforming agency among the people of God.”
13. “A rich man in Scripture is not one who has many goods, but whose heart clings to what he possesses, so that it ceases to be for him something accidental; while a poor man is he only who knows and feels himself to be poor, who is so not merely in an outward respect, but in spirit also—in his consciousness” (Hengst.).

14. The introduction of David, as already remarked in the exposition, without anything farther or particular, confirms what is stated by Hengst., that “the Messiah, the glorious offspring of David, had in the time of the prophet been for long a lesson of the Catechism.” David, however, according to his personality in sacred history, not only appears as the readiest thought when a shepherd is the subject of discourse—though certainly the shepherd-state with him is so entirely his style and manner, that from being the shepherd of a flock he became the shepherd of Israel (Psalms 78:70; 2 Samuel 7:8)—but also, in an especial manner for the promised gathering of the flock, he suggests more than any one else who might be brought into consideration, since through him the tribal supremacy of Judah, toward which even in Egypt the hope of Israel was directed (Genesis 49:0), effected that the tribes of Israel, which had been in a state of division, should unite, and remain together for the glorious kingdom of Solomon under its ascendency. Much more, however, does the personality of David bring into view and represent in relation to the Messianic idea—viz. that he, the anointed of Jehovah, and the king who had been raised up from a low estate, was after God’s own heart, himself possessed of the prophetic Spirit (Acts 2:30; Matthew 22:43),—one who manifested earnest desire and love for the worship of Jehovah, by invigorating and supporting both it and the priesthood, as well as in his psalms, and by the building of the temple, which originated with him. There was then provided, as Beck says, “the substratum for a new aspect of salvation, and there was opened up by the promise a new mental horizon in the seed of David, who was chosen for an abiding reign of peace, and for the building of God’s house, and upheld with perpetual experiences of Fatherly grace, and that even amid chastisements for sin, and in the everlasting continuance of David’s house, kingdom, and throne (2 Samuel 7:8 sq., Ezekiel 23:1 sq.; Psalms 89:30; Psalms 89:37 sq., 72).” To the idea of a ruling power, which was contemplated by Moses, there was added the dynastic in the case of David, who became the founder not only of a kingly dynasty, but of one through which the kingdom of Israel was to reach its highest culmination. The entire image of the people’s shepherd, which expresses the divine title of this dynasty, stretches so manifestly beyond all the individual rulers belonging to the Davidic line, that “for the receiver of the promise, David, said promise does not at all stand or fall with Solomon, the first member in the chosen line, whose conditional rejection rather appears not to be excluded by the divine favour promised inalienably to the seed, 1 Chronicles 28:9” (Beck). The individual members of the Davidic dynasty served in their working and suffering as offerings and harvests to future times; “their blossom-seasons were far from reaching the height of the ideal of their house—formed merely the foil for the more definite limning of the glory which glimmered through it (Psalms 72:0); but, on the other hand, their periods of depression did not bring that ideal to destruction, only imprinted it more deeply in the heart, taking the divine grace and truth as a pledge for its realization (Psalms 89:0), and so left it over to the Son of David, in whom the image of the divine government and kingdom was concentrated, Luke 1:32 sq.” (Beck).

15. In the Messiah the whole existence of Israel as a people is comprised, its organization as plastically working itself out through the theocratic offices; while, on the other side, salvation and blessing, which these offices, had instrumentally to administer to the people, attained to perfection in His consecrated personality with an elevation, which is also indicated in the expression of Ezekiel 34:24 : “a prince among them.” The parallel expressions in this verse: “Jehovah a God to them,” and: “David a prince in their midst,” serve for the form of the salvation and the blessing to be made good, if the one statement is taken as the theme, and the other as its exposition. A moral signification like Keil’s: “pasturing in full unison with Jehovah, carrying out the will of Jehovah only,” imports too little into this text, and the filling of it up by pointing to “unity of being with God,” again, imports too much. To the theological judgment the relation will, perhaps, represent itself much as Psalms 2:0 does in respect to the sonship in its connection with the kingdom. In the psalm the theocratic temporal sonship is indicated, according to which mention is made in Romans 1:4 of his being “determined to be the Son of God;” and in like manner, here in Ezekiel, it is only the realization of the promised salvation and blessing, as it is suggested by the covenant-relation of Jehovah to Israel, which can immediately come into consideration. The verses that follow bring into notice the grace of the covenant; the covenant graciousness manifests itself, according to Ezekiel 34:24, in the David-Messiah, as the one who generally was to prove the covenant of Jehovah to be an abiding one with His people, and in particular the eternity of the kingdom of David. If the: “I have begotten thee,” in Psalms 2:7, seems to import more than: “I appoint (or raise up),” here, the expression in Psalms 2:6 : “I have anointed” (נָםַכְתִּי), does not indicate more (comp. at Ezekiel 22:30); and both expressions in the psalm, like the one here (הֲקִימֹתִי), refer to 2 Samuel 7:0, where the decree (חֹק) in Psalms 2:7 is obvious: “I will be to him a father, and he will be to me a son” (Ezekiel 34:14). While He is so called there on account of the unceasing filial relation to the divine favour, of course in connection with the promise of an eternal sovereignty, with Ezekiel, Ezekiel 34:23-24, it is the latter only which has a place, an everlasting princedom of David, the divine ideal of His sole governmental personality. In another light, however, will the parallel-membered passage of Ezekiel 34:24 appear to us, if we add in thought the: “Behold I” (הִנְנִי־אָנִי), which is so expressively repeated (Ezekiel 34:11; Ezekiel 34:20). In that case Jehovah Himself will have to be thought of as present in this David. If in the term “shepherd” a reference is made to the circumstance that David was literally such before he became king, so by the designation “servant” David, which likewise is twice used with emphasis, a relation is expressed, which Nitzsch characterizes as an Old Testament mode of describing “the religion of human life” (System, p. 187); since “the servant of God generally is the subject of the honour that comes from God, and as such is the chosen one, the one who is specially privileged, set up for the maintenance of the true religion in behalf of others, and actively engaged in doing so—nor merely a true and proved, but also an atoning, and finally a glorified human personality.” Farther, there is now on both occasions used the epithet “My” servant, with all the more emphasis in Ezekiel 34:24 as it is preceded by the expression: “I Jehovah” and there is to be compared the: “My shepherd,” in Zechariah 13:7, coupled with the words of explanation: “against the man that is My fellow.” Indeed, as the whole passage from Ezekiel 34:9 onwards is the self-manifestation of Jehovah, a divine background must form the gold-ground of the Messianic picture.

16. There is no need for placing any constraint on the אֶחָד of ver 23; so much it quite naturally implies, that although the basis of the “one” shepherd is the house of David destined to an everlasting continuance, and one can, with Hengstenberg, “understand by David the stem of David culminating in Christ, so that the fulfilment in Christ is not the sole, but only the highest, the true one,” still a definite, and indeed a unique personality, an individual, is contemplated here—one who has not his like. Comp. Jeremiah 23:5.

17. “The typical element in Israel’s condition, or the prefigurative representation of the future spiritual life, of which Israel itself was more or less unconscious,—a representation which was called forth and animated by the essential principles of that life,—was, like the typical character of the Israelitish religion generally, the basis of prophecy” (P. Lange, Philos. Dogm.).

18. Christ, “as the Anointed of God in the theocratic sense, the Messiah promised by the prophets,” is “the true Servant of God in the law of the Spirit, whom the Old Testament Israel prefigured in the law of the letter, the richly Anointed of God, whose precursors were all officially anointed typical sons of Jehovah under the Old Covenant.” “Jesus is the Christ, since His whole life was the discharge of a holy office.” “Jesus has not merely in some sense the office of a Christ, of a God-anointed person devoted to the wellbeing of the world; He is the Christ Himself. Hence His office is designated as the absolute office, as the sum of all the offices inseparably connected with salvation; and it is at the same time declared, that His office first represented in full reality and completeness what the separate callings in respect to salvation in the world could represent only figuratively, partly in a typical, partly in a symbolical manner.” “As guiding organs of the Old Testament life, the theocratic offices were such also for the future divine-human life.” “With the organic separation of these offices was connected the feature of their transitory character, their incompleteness. Hence the fulfilment of the religion in the person of Jesus was at the same time the fulfilment and completion of these offices. His life is, as the individualizing of the completed religion—absolute life from God, for God, and in and with God. Hence, also, must Christ comprise in His personality the three offices as a unity in their completed essence-form, and in the fundamental characteristics of His life they must shine forth in their rounded completeness” (P. Lange, Pos. Dogm.).

19. “The dark caricature and counterpart of the prophetic activity of Christ or of the revelation in Him is the Jewish Talmud; the reverse image of His high-priestly function is the penal wandering of Israel throughout the world; and over against His royal administration and kingdom stands the demoniacal worldly-mindedness of the Jews, with its important results” (P. Lange).

20. Upon the prophecy as a whole with respect to its fulfilment it may be said, that in its trichotomy the servant David, as the third piece, is the simultaneous discharge of the two parts that had preceded. Through Him has it come to an end with the offices of Israel (Ezekiel 34:1-10); with Him comes the manifestation of Jehovah Himself as the shepherd (Ezekiel 34:11-22). Now, if He who perfects Himself after this manner is the Messiah, then also everything that is essentially connected therewith must plainly be found in Jesus Christ. The appearance of the Son of God in the flesh, especially in the insight afforded into His mighty working by His resurrection from the dead, is so much the more the fulfilment of our prophecy, as this has in manifold ways been testified by Himself and His apostles. As in the exile and during the time that followed, till Christ, the dissolution of the theocratic offices in Israel as such (comp. Ezekiel 34:4) took effect, so did the gathering of the people, in contrast to the scattering (Ezekiel 34:5), by means of the return from Babylon, become a reality (Ezekiel 34:13, and comp. Isaiah 44:28, where Cyrus is called “My shepherd” ). But the so strongly marked scattering of Ezekiel 34:5 is only one thing; another is the wandering upon the mountains and hills (Ezekiel 34:6), to which not the gathering effected by the return to their home corresponds, but feeding upon the mountains, etc. (Ezekiel 34:13 sq., comp. also Isaiah 53:6), which had locally its fulfilment in Christ (Matthew 9:36; Luke 15:0), especially the distinctive characteristics described in Ezekiel 34:16. In like manner, also, the judgment of separation exercised through the person of Christ within Israel (Luke 2:34; Matthew 21:44) stands connected with what is written in Ezekiel 34:17 sq.; and immediately thereafter the Messiah-David (Ezekiel 34:23 sq.) is made distinctly to shine forth out of the prophetic representation. What is said, e.g., by Keil of “the twofold judgment of scattering along with the twofold gathering of Israel,” as being in this prophecy “not distinguished, but thrown complexly together,” has been imported into it from another quarter. “That only a small part of Israel,” as he says, “received the Messiah when appearing in Jesus as their shepherd,” gave occasion not so properly for a new judgment of dispersion among all nations, as rather, we may say, that the Babylonish judgment was in consequence thereof confirmed for unbelieving Israel as such, and also completed. For Israel was still, at the time of Christ’s appearing, in a state of dispersion among all nations, because scattered throughout the Roman world, so that even the gathering from Babylon must be referred to the advent of Jesus Christ, since thereby His birth in the City of David, as well as His resurrection in the place where He was crucified, after being loosed from the pains of death, and hence the turning of the promised land into a blessing after the manner indicated in Ezekiel 34:26, were rendered possible. One must not say that the fulfilment of this prophecy had begun “with the redemption of Israel from the Babylonish exile,” and still less that it began with the appearing of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd of the seed of David; but this latter appearing is the fulfilment, so that we have no other to expect, and the bringing back from Babylon to Canaan was merely its preparation; and the true understanding of this preparatory gathering as a gathering is to be sought in the Church of Jesus Christ, in the gathering of the Israel after the Spirit out of the whole world (John 10:16). If it “admits of no doubt” (Kliefoth), that what is said of the establishing of a new covenant in Ezekiel 34:25 “has been already fulfilled by the appearance of the Lord in the flesh, and by His work,” it should have given this intelligent expositor no further concern, as if the fulfilment of our prophecy could have “belonged entirely to what still is future.” This prophecy, also, has not been fulfilled by successive stages, but the fulfilment through Christ only presents itself separately in Christ, while the Church of Christ lives the Messianic life of the Son of God in the world as His body. The “judging between sheep and sheep, the separating of the he-goats, the purifying of the people of God into a sinless community,” wherein Kliefoth finds essential parts of the prophecy, which “belong even to the very close of time,”—all this comes into realization through the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit sent by Christ (comp. John 16:8; Romans 8:9)—does so onwards till the day of Christ, since as the Lord is the Spirit, so the Son of man has been appointed the Judge of the world. The delineation of blessing in Ezekiel 34:25 sq. is in form taken from the land and the people, but so as to be emblematical of the kingdom of the Anointed. Yes, even “the formation of a new paradise, and the restoration of humanity to its condition of original innocence,” does not lie in the text of Ezekiel, but in the exegesis of Kliefoth, who, with such a view of the meaning, cannot get the better of that Chiliasm which he opposes.

21. The characteristic manifestation of the Good Shepherd takes place when He calls His own sheep each by its name, while the sheep on their part hear His voice (John 10:0). Thus are they led out of the fold, the economy of the Old Covenant, after their state of wandering upon all mountains and on every high hill; and if Jehovah (Isaiah 53:6) lays upon Him the iniquity of all, so He who in John 10:10 testifies that He came in order that they might have life, and have it more abundantly, says also in Ezekiel 34:11; Ezekiel 34:16 there, that He was going to give His life for the sheep.

22. “Christ had to come to them, first, as the teaching Shepherd; secondly, as the Shepherd that should give His life for the sheep, in order that He might set them free from the bondage of the law, and at the same time from their rulers; thirdly, He should Himself become manifest among them as Prince. Thus should the promise to Abraham, that God would be a God to his seed, become yea and amen.—The Sadducees and Pharisees troubled and corrupted to the sheep of the flock, who were obliged to hear them, the pure doctrine; whereupon Christ appeared, and healed the sicknesses of Israel, and gave Himself up to death for His sheep. This is the one period in the prophecy; the other period is, when Christ is given as a prince, quickened from the dead, raised to heaven, and before all Jerusalem anointed through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, when, by the preaching of the apostles, sheep was distinguished from sheep” (Cocceius).

23. After the import of the similitude upon Israel has been given in Ezekiel 34:30, a still deeper thought is subjoined to this import, namely, the bearing of Israel on mankind generally. What of Israel attains to salvation does so not under the national title (“house of Israel”), which has been rendered obsolete through the new covenant, but simply as connected with “Adam,” whose antitype Christ is (Romans 5:0). Consequently, we have here the exposition of the people of the old covenant in relation to humanity at large.


Ezekiel 34:1-2. Corruption in the upper, the governing classes, those who give the tone and measure to society, carries along with it corruption among the whole people, and that not merely for a time, but for ever.—“It is a very honourable title to be called a shepherd, but to be so is a heavy burden, with much trouble, care, and labour” (Stck.).—“An entire tribe also of Israel, that guides the other tribes, and stands at their head, feeds the tribes of Israel, like a shepherd, 2 Samuel 7:7. And there are many degrees of upper and lower shepherds, down even to single householders. So also in Christendom are all authorities, whether in the State, the Church, or the family, to be regarded as shepherds of their respective flocks, smaller or greater. Every pastor is really a shepherd in the biblical sense. The same person can, however, be at once shepherd and sheep, according as he has to discharge the office of ruling, or the duty of letting himself be ruled. It is also a matter of indifference through what instrument the shepherd governs his flock, whether by means of the staff or the dog, whether by the rod, or the sword, or the word. The schoolmaster, too, in so far as he commands, and exercises discipline, and governs the school, is a shepherd” (Schmieder).—“Whoever would be a proper teacher must possess and manifest the true shepherd-faithfulness, must seek simply and alone what is Christ’s, Philippians 2:21” (Starke).—“They are hirelings who seek after spiritual work, that they may thereby enrich themselves, or gain their bread, Acts 20:18 sq.; Romans 16:18” (Tüb. Bible).—“I ask you on your conscience, Are ye not obliged to feed the souls of your hearers with the living word of God, if ye would be shepherds?” (Berl. Bib.)—“As shepherds, rulers also must not suck the blood of their subjects” (Starke).—Justice and injustice, blessing and cursing of feeding one’s self. The shepherd must also go upon the right pasture for his own poor soul.—The shepherd-office as at the same time duty to one’s self.

Ezekiel 34:3. “The shepherd receives from the flock his necessary support, his recompense from the Lord” (Augustine).

Ezekiel 34:4. “Pastors should confirm those who are not strong in the faith, cherish the weak and such as cannot go forward, that they may be strengthened, and step firmly on the way of God; should bind up those who have a wounded conscience, so that they may not be consumed by mourning; should bring back those who have been misled and seduced by other teachers; but should seek out such as are perishing for want of guidance and have lost the right way, guiding them to wholesome pasture,” etc. (Cocc.).—“Preachers should especially commend themselves to the corporeally and spiritually sick among their hearers” (Starke).—The shepherd office is sheer service (and those whose it is to serve have προβατων ἠθος); it is not lordship, nor must be, either over the goods or the consciences of men.—The obligations of the shepherd-office a mirror of human wretchedness.—The fivefold nature of a shepherd’s work. “Paul became all things to all men, that he might save some.”

Ezekiel 34:5. “Scattering, isolation, so that people know not rightly to whom they belong and what they should do, is the consequence of an inactive, tyrannical, luxurious government” (Schmieder.).—What is the consequence of bad shepherds, that is also unmistakably the curse for great communities.—The shepherd on an earthly domain knows well how many the sheep of his flock number; but how many spiritual shepherds, if they know it externally, and have the number of their church members in their head, bear them upon their hearts according to their internal states?—“Not merely in the bodily, but pre-eminently in the spiritual enemies of the people of God, inheres the wolf-spirit, the devil” (Schmieder).—The many shepherds (the hierarchy) may possibly disguise the one Good Shepherd to the sheep, as though He were not there.

Ezekiel 34:6. Scattering can become evil, wandering may be still worse; as in life, so in doctrine.—In front of the spiritual heights, as well as before flatness in spiritual things, a shepherd has to keep his flock together.

Ezekiel 34:7-14. To have not done according to the word of the Lord must lead to great trouble from the Lord’s word, namely, to hear its judgments.—God’s judgment on bad shepherds, a righteous and severe one.—The frightful judgment, which is contained even in the beautiful name of the shepherd.—“Corruption in the shepherds, princes, priests, is mentioned among the signs of the Lord’s advent” (Berl. Bib.).

Ezekiel 34:10. “In this, that those shepherds should no more be, it is not indicated that the shepherds then existing should perish, and others come into their place, who should bear the same office and have the same power, for this would not have been a full deliverance. Nor is this declared by the prophet, that, after the abolition of the shepherds of that time, no wolves should arise and false prophets, who would not care for the flock of God—comp. Acts 20:29; Zechariah 11:16. But this is what is meant, that even if such should arise, they were by no means to be accounted shepherds, but their commands and instructions might safely be repudiated, etc.; whereas under the Old Covenant the people were so placed under their shepherds as to be constrained to adhere to them, since the temple must be frequented by those who drew near to God” (Cocceius).—“The right shepherd is also the judge of the false shepherds” (Berl. Bib.).—A reward will be given to shepherds in righteousness, but also with a gracious recompense.

Ezekiel 34:11. “Christ the Chief Shepherd of our souls. Oh, with what love does He seek them! How does He bring them into the right condition, convert them through His Spirit, and guide them to the right pasture!” (Tüb. Bib.)

Ezekiel 34:12. Redemption out of all places the great prospect of faith, the blessed hope also of the resurrection.—“There comes a day of the Lord; a morning-star must appear after a dreary night” (A. Krummacher).

Ezekiel 34:13. “So again at last, when God poured out His Spirit upon the apostles, there was a gathering together from all places of the flock of God, Acts 2:9 sq.” (Cocc.).—“The genuine land of Israel is the new earth with the new heavens” (Schmieder).—Godliness has the promise not only of the life that now is, but also of that which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:0.—The divine refreshments of the Lord, images of the spiritual here, of the eternal hereafter.—Death a shepherd, Psalms 49:15 [14]. But while he does his work, there is also for believers the shepherd-staff of the Good Shepherd.—“This world is only an inn; not our home, rather a prison, since we have been made and redeemed for heaven” (Stck.).—“Hence we should not despair when we see that in troublous times only a few are left. The flock may continue small, but it can never happen that there shall be no flock. If the woman has fled with her children into the wilderness, Revelation 12:0, she must again return to be among men” (Heim-Hoff.).—Union of the faithful the work of the Lord; and the more that the churches, through the general falling away of the members, come to be composed of believers, will the union of the churches also come to be regarded as a matter of the Lord, and no merely political maxim.

Ezekiel 34:14. “The secret of the pasture of Christ” (Schmieder).—“How few consider the blessedness of the righteous, and how well it goes with them!” (Stck.).—Good pasture and bad pasture.—The high mountains of Israel, his promises in respect to their fulfilment, his worship in spirit and truth.

Ezekiel 34:15. Food and rest, the two great necessities of human life.—“Their rest will nourish them, and their nourishment will bring them new rest” (Berl. Bib.).—“Nothing can be more frequently repeated to believing souls, nothing more deeply impressed upon them, than what has been promised to them in Christ Jesus their Lord” (Stck.).—Rest, true, eternal repose, is only to be had under the shepherd-staff of Christ.—What can the whole world offer instead with all its enjoyments?—The everlasting promises of God in Christ, and the delusive shows of the devil in the lust of this passing world.

Ezekiel 34:16 sq. The Lord’s inspection of the flock at the same time a call to self-examination. (Preparation-sermon before the holy communion.)—“The lost, those who are cut off from grace, excommunicated, these, in our Lord’s time, were the publicans and sinners; now, those who are excluded and condemned by the alone blessed-making Church (or confession). The wandering are those who no longer hold to the Church,—the sects, separatists. The wounded are such as have taken some offence, like a sheep that has been bitten by a dog. The sick are those who, through false teaching and bad example, have become weak in the faith. The case of all these the Good Shepherd promises to take in hand” (Schmieder).—“But the Lord feeds with judgment, that is, with befitting difference, since He dispenses to each what is proper to him,—to one this, to another something else. He performs to the weak no more than is good for them. The children He feeds with milk, and defends them. He acts mildly or severely, consoles, frightens, blames, caresses, as at any time is good for us; for the fearful He relaxes the reins, and those who place their confidence in Him He draws to Himself. If some are fat, and corrupt the weak, He takes from them their strength. Some are proud of the gifts lent to them, and despise the simplicity of others; for these it is good when they are humbled, and are deprived of their gifts, so that they may obtain the salvation of Christ. Thus He accomplishes the judgment, and the separation between sheep and sheep; and so each one should be concerned about himself, and not trouble himself respecting others. The separation is already going on here in secret, but at last it will become manifest, and be seen to issue in a wide gulf” (Heim-Hoff.).—“The kingdom of God belongs to those who are weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28); by and by their turn shall be to rejoice in the Lord’s goodness, Luke 16:25” (Hitzig).—“Why should the he-goats be in the flock of God? on the same pastures, beside the same brooks as the sheep? They are at present tolerated, afterwards separated from it” (Augustine).—“Astern judge is the Good Shepherd; not merely the unscrupulous leaders of the flock, but even the sheep themselves, will be brought to account by Him” (Umbreit).—“Believers are thereby admonished to consider on what side they should place themselves, so that they may escape the future day of slaughter; and at the same time are comforted, so as to be able to hold out with patience during this life. Religious strifes and controversies also will be brought to an end by the judgment of the Lord” (Luther).

Ezekiel 34:18. Compare what is set forth here with what the King says in Matthew 25:34 sq. Would our so-called “men of culture” also but consider it, who only tread under foot the pure doctrine, or trouble it by their goat-like gambols!—“And keep thee from the judgments of men, whereby the noble treasure is corrupted: this I leave thee at the close” (Luther).

Ezekiel 34:19. “This, alas! represents so many church services in which unbelieving men preach, just as Ezekiel 34:21 points reprovingly to the empty churches” (Richt.).

Ezekiel 34:21 sq. The mischievous polemic in the Church.—A theology that is quarrelsome and combative scatters the churches in the world.—Spiritual dogmatism.—A more correct estimate of separation from the Bible point of view, than from that of a corrupt church with its anathemas.—“The righteous may certainly be oppressed, yet not wholly suppressed” (Stck.).—Redemption a judgment, and the judgment of the Lord a redemption.—The help of the flock is its Shepherd alone; therefore must we withdraw our confidence from all creatures, and expect nothing from new laws and constitutions.—“This is the manner of the divine compassion, that it takes our misery as an invitation” (Heim-Hoff.).

Ezekiel 34:23 sq. “Christ has not come without a call, but with the good-will and mission of His heavenly Father, John 5:43” (Cr.).—One, because all pointed to Him, in word and in deed, and because no one, except in Him, is anything.—“God names Him His servant, since Christ, made under the law, has fulfilled it, that He might extirpate sin, and bring in righteousness, and so might be complete goel and propitiation, Psalms 40:9-10 [8, 9]” (Cocc.).—“David: 1, as to the name, His beloved, Matthew 3:17; Matthew 2:0, as to His birth, in Bethlehem; 3, as to His humble state and littleness, Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 4:0, as to His shepherd-service; 5, as to His anointing; 6, as to His devotedness, David for the law, Christ for the flock; 7, as to His victories” (Stck.).—“He will not only feed them, but also discharge in their behalf all shepherd-duty besides needful for their preservation and support, their refreshment and invigoration, and will remain their Shepherd for ever. Thus will He teach and heal, and take away sicknesses—not do and act merely, but suffer also, purchase the sheep with His precious blood, whereby He will prove Himself to be the True Shepherd,” etc. (Cocc).—“He is the Prince among believers, because He is the Mediator between God and men; because as Head He communicates grace to the members and the living Spirit; and because, moreover, we see in His countenance the fatherly heart of God. Through Him is the Lord our God, that is, He is reconciled to us, and unites Himself to us” (Heim-Hoff.).—Where Christ reigns, there God is with us, Matthew 28:20.

Ezekiel 34:23-24. The One Shepherd according to the promise in its fulfilment: 1, His official position through all times; 2, His shepherd-service in the flesh and in the spirit; 3, His personality in respect to God and as regards the flock.

Ezekiel 34:25. “1. Justified by faith, we have peace with God through Christ. God is for us, who can be against us? 2. He blesses us with all spiritual blessings. The apostles teach and sow, but the Lord gives the showers of blessing, that the seed of the word may spring forth, and the trees yield their fruit; that is, that the great and the small may believe in Christ Jesus, and confess Him with the mouth. 3. He breaks the yoke of slavery to sin, and gives freedom from all enemies. Whence, naturally, there arises a strong confidence, Romans 8:35-39” (Heim-Hoff.).—The covenant of peace in Christ—its divine ground, its invincible strength, its blessed peace. The secure land even now in the midst of the world.—The evil beasts in the land,—spiritual false guides, worldly persecutors, plausible hypocrites.—“False teachers and tyrants God causes either to die or to change their mind; but the Son of God has conquered the roaring lion, who is the devil” (Luther).—In the world ye may be of good cheer, is the saying of the Good Shepherd to His own (John 16:33), as it certainly was their experience (John 14:27).—Security and security, carnal and spiritual, how different!—He gives sleep to His own, even in the wilderness (Psalms 127:3 [2]).

Ezekiel 34:26. Salvation is of the Jews, John 4:0.—What the father of the faithful was to be to the world (Genesis 12:0), namely, a blessing, that should believers be in this world.—Zion, as after the flesh in Christ, so after the Spirit in the spiritual Zion, in its destination to bless, its task of blessing, and its duty of service for the earth.—There the Church is a blessing where there is the rain of the Holy Spirit. Without this rain nothing grows in the kingdom of God; one cannot even say, Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Ezekiel 34:27. The blessed earth, and the land of Israel, when smitten with the curse.—“Where faith is, there is a good tree, and there also is produced good fruit” (Stck.).—Not only shall the axe be laid to the root of the trees, but for the trees also there is a promise of fruit.—Fruit and increase in spiritual things: the former, glory to the man himself, example and enjoyment for others; the latter, the thankfulness we owe to God.—The knowledge derived as well from the misery of servitude as from redemption out of all sin and misery.—The sinner a tool of the devil; the redeemed a servant of God.—The rest in Christ from the bondage in sin.

Ezekiel 34:28. Blessedness, to be no longer compelled to belong to the world; to be chosen out of it, although one must still be in it!—Spiritual boldness, over against the powers of the world, over against the wickedness of sin, over against the transitoriness and uncertainty of our earthly life, over against the solicitude of our own heart.

Ezekiel 34:29. The planting of the Heavenly Father, Matthew 15:13.—The kingdom of the Anointed a planting, inasmuch as the members of the kingdom are—1, sown by the word; 2, reared, fostered by the Holy Spirit; 3, grown in time for eternity, to the honour of God the Father.—The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; how, then, can there ever be want? (Luke 22:35)—The good, the glorious name, which the people of God should have in the world.—We should, however, not merely have the name to live (Revelation 3:1), and still be dead.—Hungering after righteousness as the means and preservative against the eternal hunger and distress on account of sin; hunger against hunger. Hunger in order not to hunger, as the way to everlasting satisfaction.—Eternal glory and temporal reproach in the world and from the world.—The rod of wickedness shall not rest for ever on the lot of the righteous (Psalms 125:3).

Ezekiel 34:30. “God at times conceals from His own His countenance, that He may thereafter embrace them with everlasting favour” (Stck.).—The last knowledge is the experience that God is our God, and we are His people.—The survey from the end back upon the beginning of the way leads us to recognise the eternal election of God above all else.—Only by the way do the pilgrims of God doubt; not at the beginning, and at the end not at all. At first they proceed in faith, at last they shall see face to face.

Ezekiel 34:31. “Under the more immediate interpretation of the similitude, that men are meant, there is at the same time indicated the universality of grace,—that not Israel alone, but Adam, humanity, are named as the flock; and the greatness also of the grace is perceptible in this, that Israel is not designated by its honourable name, that which expresses its election of grace (yet Ezekiel 34:30?), but ‘man,’ which calls to remembrance dust of the ground, sin, and death. Such significant addresses, containing much in little, in simple language both fulness and greatness of thought, we fitly call profound (rich in spirit, geistreick). And God, the Spirit of all spirits, should not His speech be with spiritual richness?” (Schmieder.)—The kindness and love of God toward man in Christ Jesus our Lord, Titus 3:4.—Israel in his significance for humanity.—That the true Israel is the Son of man, itself shows the wide horizon of the grace of God in Christ.—The Christian application of “My fatherland must be greater.”—Neither the shepherds nor the sheep of the flock are saints, but simply men.—God manifests in flesh a divine nil humani a me alienum.—The tabernacle of God with men, Revelation 21:0, the end and aim of Jehovah’s action as shepherd.


[1]style of interpretation here does not seem quite satisfactory. It is true, the representation is given under the image of a shepherd, and under that image all official administrations might be in a sense included. But the question is, what in Old Testament scripture, especially prophetical scripture, is actually included in it? In Jeremiah 2:8 the shepherds are expressly distinguished from both prophets and priests; they are named as a distinct class, and can only be understood of kings and rulers. These also are what are most naturally understood by shepherds in Jeremiah 23:1-4. It was, In fact, the case of David which gave rise to this metaphorical language, who was taken from the humble office of feeding his father’s sheep “to feed God’s people Israel, and to be a captain over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2; Psalms 78:70-71); and this gave the tone to future use. The actions here also ascribed to the false shepherds favour the same view: they are such as belong not to faithless and corrupt teachers, but to bad rulers—violence, selfish disregard of the weak and oppressed, wrongful dealings with their goods, etc. This also is the view taken by Henderson: “not ecclesiastical rulers or teachers, but the civil governor.”—P. F.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 34". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezekiel-34.html. 1857-84.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile