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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Ezekiel 36

Verse 1

Eze 36:1. Mountains, rivers, etc., are inanimate objects and incapable of receiving any communication of an intellectual character. Notwithstanding, this chapter through verse 15 is addressed to them and it will be necessary to keep that in mind in order to understand the sentence construction. We will bear in mind, of course, that all the good things that are said to and about the land are for the sake of the people of Israel who are again to return from captivity to their own land.

Verse 2

Verse 2. The land of Palestine had been made desolate by the heathen nations, the Assyrians and Babylonians, and they were boasting about it as if It had been solely through their own superior strength that it was accomplished. Aha is an expression that implies a feeling of derision and triumph.

Verse 3

Eze 36:3. They [the heathen nations] have made you [mountains of Israel] desolate. The Lord’s motive in giving the land into the hands of the heathen was to chastise Israel. The motive of the heathen was that they might take possession of it for tlieir own persona! profit. Such a motive was wrong and the Lord determined to repossess the land for His peple. Infamy means slander and the land of Palestine was so spoken of by the people of the world.

Verse 4

Eze 36:4. God was grieved and made furious because of the haughty spirit of the heathen, although He had used them as instruments in chastising the disobedient Israelites. He therefore delivered a favorable prediction to the mountains, hills, rivers, valleys and other parts of the desolated land.

Verse 5

Eze 36:5. This verse is a summing up of the complaints that God had against the people of Idumea (Edom) and the other heathen nations. Appointed my land into their possession means these heathen countries claimed the possessing of the land of Palestine was by their own appointment, whereas they were able to obtain it only because God willed it so. The evil attitude in the matter stirred up the fire of God’s jealousy and He was determined to "take the side” of the oppressed land. The foregoing verses of this chapter may well be regarded as introductory to the special prophecy that God is about to make on bebalf of the land of Palestine. They state the reasons for the predictions which will now follow.

Verse 6

Eze 36:6. For the sake of brevity we will consider the word land as including the mountains and rivers and all other geographical parts of the country. Ye (the land) have borne the shame of the heathen means the nations had desolated the land and that provoked the Lord to jealous fury.

Verse 7

Eze 36:7. When a nation is subdued it is held up to shame in the eyes of others, God had decreed that all the heathen who had desolated His land should be thus shamed. Eze 36:8

Verse 8

The land of Palestine had not been damaged by the heathen, but it had been made to lie uncultivated. That was in order for It to enjoy its sabbaths. (See Lev 26:34-35; Lev 26:43.) The most significant thought is in the words to my people. Even had the land produced anything in the 70-year captivity, the people of Israel could not have used it because they were exiles in a country far away.

Verse 9

Eze 36:9. This verse is virtually the same prediction as the preceding one.

Verse 10

Eze 36:10. Remember, the pronoun you. stands for the laud of Palestine. The men to be multiplied upon it will be those of the Israelites who will be permitted to return from captivity, to rebuild and inhabit the cities as before.

Verse 11

Eze 36:11, This verse continues the prediction that Israel will increase in population upon the land. Settle . . . old estates. The last word has no separate one in the original. The clause means that the people of Israel will settle on this land as they formerly did. Once more, the great object to be obtained is mentioned, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

Verse 12

Eze 36:12. This verse is virtually all literal and contains its own explanation to a great extent. The Lord promises the land that His people will be permitted to walk upon it and possess it. Bereave is from skakol, which Strong defines as follows: "A primitive root; properly to miscarry, i.e., suffer abortion; by analogy to bereave (literally or figuratively).” The statement represents the land to have previously cast out the people who were living in i t That was entirely just, for they had mistreated it by defrauding it of its 7th-year rest for so long. It is as if the land said to the Jews: "You have overworked me until I have been cheated out of 70 years of rest; now yon must leave me until I regain that many years.” The prediction of the verse 1b that such a revolution will never occur again.

Verse 13

Eze 36:13. When misfortune comes upon a man he sometimes will blame it. upon another person or thing, when perhaps he is to blame himself. And so it was that when Israel was cast out of her own land she was inclined to accuse it for the calamity. (A similar circumstance is found in Num 13:32 with the 10 spies who returned to Moses.)

Verse 14

Eze 36:14. However the preceding ac-cusation may be, it shall not occur again, for nothing like a national removal from the land will be done in the future,

Verse 15

Eze 36:15. The land of Palestine is still the thing to which the language is addressed. The same assurance is given that it will receive its rightful citizens again, thereby being freed from the shame under which it will have lain for 70 years.

Verse 16

Eze 36:16-17. A few verses will consist. of a direct message of God to Ezekiel in the nature of explanation and for his information. He recounts the events in the history of Israel while they were still in their own land. Their conduct was so corrupt that the Lord likened it to the condition of an unclean woman.

Verse 18

Eze 36:18. This verse explains why the house of Israel is at the very time all in the land of Babylon, except the comparatively few stragglers yet to be rounded up and taken if there should be any such still In Palestine.

Verse 19

Eze 36:19. Dispersed through the countries. The Babylonian Empire was made up of many small countries and kingdoms, and the captives were scattered out among them by the Babylonians after they brought them from Palestine.

Verse 20

Eze 36:20. When the Israelites came into the region of the heathen they were made the subject of sneers by those foreign people. They [the heathen] profaned my holy name refers to the scoffing remarks that were made by these heathen folks among whom the Lord had made his people to come. They belittled the unfortunate people of Israel by remarking that they had been thrust out of the land although they were the Lord's people. But we have seen more than once that God would never tolerate any rejoicing over His people regardless of how much they deserved the chastisement. Because of all this He has pity for his people and has determined to bring them out of their captive condition after they have been put through the necessary trial. Very logically, then, the next subject that God will give the prophet to deliver to Israel is that of the return, which will take up all the rest or this chapter which we will study verse by verse as they come in order.

Verse 21

Eze 36:21. The house of Israel was reproached by being taken captive among the heathen, and also the holy name of God was profaned by the situation. Hence He was concerned from that double viewpoint and decreed to reverse the conditions in time.

Verse 22

Eze 36:22. The house of Israel will be receiving better treatment than it deserves when God comes to its rescue and puts an end to the captivity. But the holy name of the Lord Is at stake and He must restore It to its proper position in the eyes of the world. Ye have profaned does not mean the Israelites purposely beiitted God’s name while in Babylon, for the opposite was the case. Psalms 137 shows the deep regard they had for everything that pertained to Him. But the mere fact that God’s people had to be cast among the heathen because of their unfaith-fulness was a reproach to His name.

Verse 23

Eze 36:23. Sanctify comes from qadash and Strong defines it as follows: "A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe aa) clean (ceremonially or morally)." According to the definition the word can apply to that which is already clean and holy, as well as to cause something to be so. That is why a writer may properly speak of sanctify-ing the Lord and his name. The great name of God had been profaned among the heathen and He purposed to clear it of all such a cloud, and prove to the whole world that the name of Jehovah is and always has been clean and holy. The condition that impiied any question about the Lord’s name was the enslavement of His people in a heathen land. They must be rescued from such impure surroundings and be separated from all the moral and religious taint clinging to them.

Verse 24

Eze 36:24. This identical prediction has been made a number of times (Deu 30:3; Jer 23:3; Eze 11:17; Eze 20:41; Eze 34:13). It is a prophecy that was to be fulfilled when the Jews were released from their bondage in the various countries that made up the great Babylonian Empire.

Verse 25

Eze 36:25. This verse pertains to the same people and conditions referred to in the preceding one, not to anyone of our day. God’s people had been corrupted by the false worship of the heathen among whom they had been living for 70 years. It was required of tlie Jews that if they came in contact witli something that was sinful and unclean, they should be purified by the use of a solution called wafer of separation (Numbers 19). In allusion to that ceremony the Lord promises to cleanse his people from their pollutions obtained from contact with idolatrous nations. Since the prediction was to be fulfilled upon the whole Israelite nation living at the end of the captivity, and also since a full record of that great purifying event Is in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we know the sprinkling o£ clean water on them was figurative. The result of their entire experience was to cleanse or cure them from idolatry. See the historical note on this subject at Isa 1:25 in volume. 3 of this Commentary.

Verse 26

Eze 36:26, A complete change of heart is the meaning of this verse. We know that the human heart as to the body is literally flesh, therefore we must understand this language to he figurative. It means their heart (mind) had become hardened in sin and the captivity was going to humbl6 them and make them yield to the law of God.

Verse 27

Eze 36:27. The reformation that, the captivity was destined to bring about in the lives of the people of Israel was to result in a better spirit or mind toward God. They were to have such an abhorrence for heathenism that the law of God will be their delight, thereby causing them to walk in its instructions.

Verse 28

Eze 36:28. The books of Ezra and Nehemlah give the history of the repossession of Palestine by the Jews. Be my people means they would be a group of people forming a nation, and that it would recognize the Lord as the true God instead of the heathen gods whom they formerly worshiped.

Verse 29

Eze 36:29, The leading thought in this verse is the promise of prosperity in the iand. God had at certain times punished his people by bringing a famine on tlie land (Rth 1:1; 2Sa 21:1; 1Ki 18:2 : 2Ki 6:25; 2Ki 8:1). Sometimes it was brought about by bringing a hostile army in to lay siege to the cities, and at the other times the Lord caused it. directly by withholding the rain in its season. The prediction is that the land will not again be so visited.

Verse 30

Eze 36:30. This is virtually the same thing promised in the preceding verse, with the added thought that a famine in a country encourages it to be reproached.

Verse 31

Eze 36:31. This verse makes another reference to the cure from idolatry that was to result from the 70-year captivity. (See the note cited in verse 25.)

Verse 32

Eze 36:32. This verse takes the same comments as verse 22.

Verse 33

Eze 36:33. The bearing of this verse is that Israel would not be permitted to reinhabit the cities of Palestine until they were cured of the chief evil of idolatry.

Verse 34

Eze 36:34. The land did He desolate during the captivity because the Lord desired it to regain the rest supposed to be coming to it under the law of the sabbatical year.

Verse 35

Eze 36:35. Eden is derived from a word defined ''pleasure" in the lexicon. It is used figuratively to describe a place that is “pleasant to the sight” (Gen 2:9). The thought is that the land of Palestine, so long in a state of desolation, was again to be put under cultivation.

Verse 36

Eze 36:36. The renewal of the land into a state of fruitful life was to be proof that God is able to do a thing after He has spoken it.

Verse 37

Eze 36:37. There was a time when God ignored his people when they made inquiries of him (Eze 14: 3; 20: 3, 31), but after their reformation they will he heard. The further assurance is given that when they make their petitions known they will be favored with an increase of population.

Verse 38

Eze 36:38. The flocks that would appear at Jerusalem at the time of the solemn feasts would be the best in quality, because no other kind was accepted for that service. This is a comparison to the condition of things after the return from Babylonian captivity and settlement in the home land.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.