They that sanctify themselves
This is a description of the enemies of the Lord, and of his people, who shall be slain at this time; not who are sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God, but who sanctify themselves, pretend to make themselves holy, and give out that they are holier than others; professing great outward sanctity, as the Papists do, but destitute of real inward holiness: or, "that prepare themselves", as the Targum; to go and worship such an idol, on such a day, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it, and as the above followers of the man of sin do, ( Revelation 9:20 Revelation 9:21 ) that purify themselves in the gardens;
in pools or ponds of water in gardens. This Kimchi understands of the Persians, by whom he means the Mahometans, who bathe and purify themselves daily, but yet are unclean in their lives and actions; and it is true also of the Papists, who pretend to purify themselves with their holy water in their churches. "Behind one tree in the midst": so Aben Ezra supplies it. Some take Achad, rendered "one", to be the name of an idol. Macrobius F4 says, the Assyrians worshipped the sun under the name of Adad, which signifies "one"; him they adore as a most powerful deity; the same perhaps, with the Adodus of Sanchoniatho F5, whom he calls the king of the gods; and the Adadus of Pliny F6, the god of the Syrians, from whom the gem "adadunephros" has its name. The Targum paraphrases it, "company after company"; to which agrees the Syriac version, "that purify themselves--one after another"; as the Papists go to Mass company after company, when they make use of their holy water purification. The phrase, "after one in the midst" F7, as it may be rendered, may signify, after some middle person or mediator; and the note of Cocceius is not amiss, after the false vicar and head, that is, the pope, the pretended vicar of Christ, and head of the church the above things the Papists do after his orders and injunctions. So R. Bechai F8 interprets all of this of the Mahometans and Papists; his words are, as Buxtorf F9 has cited them,
``that sanctify themselves; these are the sons of Edom (that is, the Christians), whose custom it is to move their fingers here and there (that is, to sanctify themselves with the sign of the cross): that purify, themselves; these are the sons of Ishmael (that is, the Turks), whose custom is to wash their hands and their feet; which custom of washing they had from Esau and the Jews: "after one in the midst"; this signifies the cross of the Edomites (that is, the Christians), by which they sanctify, themselves;''the Papists he means. Ben Melech understands it of one pool in the midst of the garden; and observes, that others interpret it of one of the groves in the midst of it. Eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse;
the eating of swine's flesh, and the mouse, were forbidden by the law of Moses, ( Leviticus 11:7 Leviticus 11:29 ) and some think by the "abomination" is meant the "weasel", since that is mentioned in the above law with the "mouse"; though it may be rather things offered to idols, or blood, are designed. Mice have been eaten, at least some sort of them, as the dormouse, by some people, particularly the Romans, and counted delicious food, as Sanctius upon the place, from various authors, has showed; and Bochart
F11 also observes, that there is a kind of field mice, called by the Arabians "jarbuo", which are eaten by them, and had in great esteem, and is the very word the Arabic interpreter renders this by in the text. Now, though the ceremonial law is abolished, and all distinction of meats ceased, and will continue so in the times referred to; yet the description of these unclean people, pretending to so much sanctity and purity, is taken from such persons who were reckoned impure in the times the prophet wrote; and may particularly point at such who abstain from meats at certain times, to be eaten lawfully; and yet are as unclean as those under the law were, who ate things forbidden; they being such who are abominable, and make an abomination, and a lie, ( Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:27 ) : "these shall be consumed together, saith the Lord"; in the above mentioned battles, or in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.
F4 Saturnal. I. 1. c. 23.
F5 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. I. 1. c. 10. p. 38.
F6 Nat. Hist. 1. 37. c. 11.
F7 (Ktb dxa rxa) "post unam in medio", Montanus Munster, Vatablus; "post unum in medio", Cocceius, Vitringa.
F8 Comment. in Deut. xxx. fol. 220. col, 4.
F9 De Abbreviat. Heb. p. 199, 200.
F11 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 33. col. 1014.