Ezekiel 25:1-17 . APPROPRIATELY IN THE INTERVAL OF SILENCE AS TO THE JEWS IN THE EIGHT CHAPTERS, (TWENTY-FIFTH THROUGH THIRTY-SECOND) EZEKIEL DENOUNCES JUDGMENTS ON THE HEATHEN WORLD KINGDOMS.
If Israel was not spared, much less the heathen utterly corrupt, and having no mixture of truth, such as Israel in its worst state possessed ( 1 Peter 4:17 1 Peter 4:18 ). Their ruin was to be utter: Israel's but temporary ( Jeremiah 46:28 ). The nations denounced are seven, the perfect number; implying that God's judgments would visit, not merely these, but the whole round of the heathen foes of God. Babylon is excepted, because she is now for the present viewed as the rod of God's retributive justice, a view too much then lost sight of by those who fretted against her universal supremacy.
3. ( Jeremiah 49:1 ).
when . . . profaned; . . . when . . . desolate; . . . when . . . captivity--rather, "for . . . for . . . for": the cause of the insolent exultation of Ammon over Jerusalem. They triumphed especially over the fall of the "sanctuary," as the triumph of heathenism over the rival claims of Jehovah. In Jehoshaphat's time, when the eighty-third Psalm was written ( Psalms 83:4 Psalms 83:7 Psalms 83:8 Psalms 83:12 , "Ammon . . . holpen the children of Lot," who were, therefore, the leaders of the unholy conspiracy, "Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession"), we see the same profane spirit. Now at last their wicked wish seems accomplished in the fall of Jerusalem. Ammon, descended from Lot, held the region east of Jordan, separated from the Amorites on the north by the river Jabbok, and from Moab on the south by the Arnon. They were auxiliaries to Babylon in the destruction of Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 24:2 ).
4. men of . . . east--literally, "children of the East," the nomad tribes of Arabia-Deserta, east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.
palaces--their nomadic encampments or folds, surrounded with mud walls, are so called in irony. Where thy "palaces" once stood, there shall their very different "palaces" stand. Fulfilled after the ravaging of their region by Nebuchadnezzar, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (compare Ezekiel 21:22 Jeremiah 49:1-28 ).
5. Rabbah--meaning "the Great," Ammon's metropolis. Under the Ptolemies it was rebuilt under the name Philadelphia; the ruins are called Amman now, but there is no dwelling inhabited.
Ammonites--that is the Ammonite region is to be a "couching place for flocks," namely of the Arabs. The "camels," being the chief beast of burden of the Chaldeans, are put first, as their invasion was to prepare the Ammonite land for the Arab "flocks." Instead of busy men, there shall be "still and couching flocks."
6, 7. "Because thou hast clapped thine hands," exulting over the downfall of Jerusalem, "I also will stretch out Mine hand upon thee" (to which Ezekiel 21:17 also may refer, "I will smite Mine hands together").
hands . . . feet . . . heart--with the whole inward feeling, and with every outward indication. Stamping with the foot means dancing for joy.
7. a spoil--so the Hebrew Margin, or Keri, for the text or Chetib, "meat" (so Ezekiel 26:5 , 34:28 ). Their goods were to be a "spoil to the foe"; their state was to be "cut off," so as to be no more a "people"; and they were as individuals, for the most part, to be "destroyed."
8. Moab, Seir, and Ammon were contiguous countries, stretching in one line from Gilead on the north to the Red Sea. They therefore naturally acted in concert, and in joint hostility to Judea.
Judah is like . . . all . . . heathen--The Jews fare no better than others: it is of no use to them to serve Jehovah, who, they say, is the only true God.
9, 10. open . . . from the cities--I will open up the side, or border of Moab (metaphor from a man whose side is open to blows), from the (direction of) the cities on his northwest border beyond the Arnon, once assigned to Reuben ( Joshua 13:15-21 ), but now in the hands of their original owners; and the "men of the east," the wandering Bedouin hordes, shall enter through these cities into Moab and waste it. Moab accordingly was so wasted by them, that long before the time of Christ it had melted away among the hordes of the desert. For "cities," GROTIUS translates the Hebrew as proper names, the Ar and Aroer, on the Arnon. Hence the Hebrew for "cities," "Ar" is repeated twice ( Numbers 21:28 , Deuteronomy 2:36 , Isaiah 15:1 ).
glory of the country--The region of Moab was richer than that of Ammon; it answers to the modern Belka, the richest district in South Syria, and the scene in consequence of many a contest among the Bedouins. Hence it is called here a "glorious land" (literally, "a glory," or "ornament of a land") [FAIRBAIRN]. Rather, "the glory of the country" is in apposition with "cities" which immediately precedes, and the names of which presently follow.
Beth-jeshimoth--meaning "the city of desolations"; perhaps so named from some siege it sustained; it was towards the west.
Baal-meon--called also "Beth-meon" ( Jeremiah 48:23 ), and "Beth-baal-meon" ( Joshua 13:17 , called so from the worship of Baal), and "Bajith," simply ( Isaiah 15:2 ).
Kiriathaim--"the double city." The strength of these cities engendered "the pride" of Moab ( Isaiah 16:6 ).
10. with the Ammonites--FAIRBAIRN explains and translates, "upon the children of Ammon" (elliptically for, "I will open Moab to the men of the east, who, having overrun the children of Ammon, shall then fall on Moab"). MAURER, as English Version, "with the Ammonites," that is, Moab, "together with the land of Ammon," is to be thrown "open to the men of the east," to enter and take possession ( Jeremiah 49:1-39 ).
12. taking vengeance--literally, "revenging with revengement," that is, the most unrelenting vengeance. It was not simple hatred, but deep-brooding, implacable revenge. The grudge of Edom or Esau was originally for Jacob's robbing him of Isaac's blessing ( Genesis 25:23 , 27:27-41 ). This purpose of revenge yielded to the extraordinary kindness of Jacob, through the blessing of Him with whom Jacob wrestled in prayer; but it was revived as an hereditary grudge in the posterity of Esau when they saw the younger branch rising to the pre-eminence which they thought of right belonged to themselves. More recently, for David's subjugation of Edom to Israel ( 2 Samuel 8:14 ). They therefore gave vent to their spite by joining the Chaldeans in destroying Jerusalem ( Psalms 137:7 Lamentations 4:22 Obadiah 1:10-14 ), and then intercepting and killing the fugitive Jews ( Amos 1:11 ) and occupying part of the Jewish land as far as Hebron.
13. Teman . . . they of Dedan--rather, "I will make it desolate from Teman (in the south) even to Dedan (in the northwest)" [GROTIUS], ( Jeremiah 49:8 ), that is, the whole country from north to south, stretching from the south of the Dead Sea to the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea.
14. by . . . my people Israel--namely, by Judas Maccabeus. The Idumeans were finally, by compulsory circumcision, incorporated with the Jewish state by John Hyrcanus (see Isaiah 34:5 , 63:1 , &c.; I Maccabees 5:3). So complete was the amalgamation in Christ's time, that the Herods of Idumean origin, as Jews, ruled over the two races as one people. Thus the ancient prophecy was fulfilled ( Genesis 25:23 ), "The elder shall serve the younger."
15. (1 Samuel 13:1-14:52'2 Chronicles 28:18'). The "old hatred" refers to their continual enmity to the covenant-people. They lay along Judea on the seacoast at the opposite side from Ammon and Moab. They were overthrown by Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ), and by Hezekiah ( 2 Kings 18:8 ). Nebuchadnezzar overran the cities on the seacoast on his way to Egypt after besieging Tyre ( Jeremiah 47:1-7 ). God will take vengeance on those who take the avenging of themselves out of His hands into their own ( Romans 12:19-21 , 2:13 ).
16. cut off the Cherethims--There is a play on similar sounds in the Hebrew, hichratti cherethim, "I will slay the slayers." The name may have been given to a section of the Philistines from their warlike disposition ( 1 Samuel 30:14 , 31:3 ). They excelled in archery, whence David enrolled a bodyguard from them ( 2 Samuel 8:18 , 15:18 , 20:7 ). They sprang from Caphtor, identified by many with Crete, which was famed for archery, and to which the name Cherethim seems akin. Though in emigration, which mostly tended westwards, Crete seems more likely to be colonized from Philistia than Philistia from Crete, a section of Cretans may have settled at Chere thim in South Philistia, while the Philistines, as a nation, may have come originally from the east (compare Deuteronomy 2:23 , Jeremiah 47:4 , Amos 9:7 , Zephaniah 2:5 ). In Genesis 10:14 the Philistines are made distinct from the Caphtorim, and are said to come from the Casluhim; so that the Cherethim were but a part of the Philistines, which 1 Samuel 30:14 confirms.
remnant of--that is, "on the seacoast" of the Mediterranean: those left remaining after the former overthrows inflicted by Samuel, David, Hezekiah, and Psammetichus of Egypt, father of Pharaoh-necho ( Jeremiah 25:20 ).
17. know . . . vengeance--They shall know Me, not in mercy, but by My vengeance on them ( Psalms 9:16 ).