Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Judgment upon the Idolatrous Places, and on the Idol-Worshippers
To God's address in Eze 5:5-17, explaining the signs in Eze 4:1-5, are appended in Eze 6:1-14 and 7 two additional oracles, which present a further development of the contents of these signs, the judgment portrayed by them in its extent and greatness. In Eze 6:1-14 there is announced, in the first section, to the idolatrous places, and on their account to the land, desolation, and to the idolaters, destruction (Eze 6:3-7); and to this is added the prospect of a remnant of the people, who are dispersed among the heathen, coming to be converted to the Lord (Eze 6:8-10). In the second section the necessity and terrible character of the impending judgment is repeatedly described at length as an appendix to Eze 6:12, Eze 6:14 (Eze 6:11-14).
The Desolation of the Land, and Destruction of the Idolaters
Eze 6:1. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Eze 6:2. Son of man, turn thy face towards the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them. Eze 6:3. And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains, and to the hills, to the valleys, and to the low grounds, Behold, I bring the sword upon you, and destroy your high places. Eze 6:4. Your altars shall be made desolate, and your sun-pillars shall be broken; and I shall make your slain fall in the presence of your idols. Eze 6:5. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and will scatter your bones round about your altars. Eze 6:6. In all your dwellings shall the cities be made desolate, and the high places waste; that your altars may be desolate and waste, and your idols broken and destroyed, and your sun-pillars hewn down, and the works of your hands exterminated. Eze 6:7. And the slain will fall in your midst; that you may know that I am Jehovah. - With Eze 6:1 cf. Eze 3:16. The prophet is to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. That the mountains are mentioned (Eze 6:2) as pars pro toto, is seen from Eze 6:3, when to the mountains and hills are added also the valleys and low grounds, as the places where idolatry was specially practised; cf. Hos 4:13; Jer 2:20; Jer 3:6; see on Hos. l.c. and Deu 12:2. אפיקים, in the older writings, denotes the "river channels," "the beds of the stream;" but Ezekiel uses the word as equivalent to valley, i.e., נחל, a valley with a brook or stream, like the Arabic wady. גּיא, properly "deepening," "the deep ground," "the deep valley;" on the form גּאיות, cf. Ewald, 186da. The juxtaposition of mountains and hills, of valleys and low grounds, occurs again in Eze 36:4, Eze 36:6, and Eze 35:8; the opposition between mountains and valleys also, in Eze 32:5-6, and Eze 24:13. The valleys are to be conceived of as furnished with trees and groves, under the shadow of which the worship of Astarte especially was practised; see on v. 15. On the mountains and in the valleys were sanctuaries erected to Baal and Astarte. The announcement of their destruction is appended to the threatening in Lev 26:30, which Ezekiel takes up and describes at greater length. Beside the בּמות, the places of sacrifice and worship, and the חמּנים, pillars or statues of Baal, dedicated to him as the sun-god, he names also the altars, which, in Lev. l.c. and other places, are comprehended along with the בּמות eht htiw; see on Lev 26:30 and Kg1 3:3. With the destruction of the idol temples, altars, and statues, the idol-worshippers are also to be smitten, so as to fall down in the presence of their idols. The fundamental meaning of the word גּלּוּלים, "idols," borrowed from Lev. l.c., and frequently employed by Ezekiel, is uncertain; signifying either "logs of wood," from גּלל, "to roll" (Gesen.), or stercorei, from גּל, "dung;" not "monuments of stone" (Hvernick). Eze 6:5 is taken quite literally from Lev 26:30. The ignominy of the destruction is heightened by the bones of the slain idolaters being scattered round about the idol altars. In order that the idolatry may be entirely rooted out, the cities throughout the whole land, and all the high places, are to be devastated, Eze 6:6. The forms תּישׁמנה and יאשׁמוּ are probably not to be derived from שׁמם (Ewald, 138b), but to be referred back to a stem-form ישׁם, with the signification of שׁמם, the existence of which appears certain from the old name ישׁימון in Ps 68 and elsewhere. The א in יאשׁמו is certainly only mater lectonis. In Eze 6:7, the singular חלל stands as indefinitely general. The thought, "slain will fall in your midst," involves the idea that not all the people will fall, but that there will survive some who are saved, and prepares for what follows. The falling of the slain - the idolaters with their idols - leads to the recognition of Jehovah as the omnipotent God, and to conversion to Him.
The survivors shall go away into banishment amongst the heathen, and shall remember the word of the Lord that will have been fulfilled. - Eze 6:8. But I shall preserve a remnant, in that there shall be to you some who have escaped the sword among the nations, when he shall be dispersed among the lands. Eze 6:9. And those of you who have escaped, will make mention of me among the nations whither they are led captive, when I have broken to me their whorish heart, which had departed from me, and their eyes, which went a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves because of the evil which they have done in reference to all their abominations. Eze 6:10. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Not in vain have I spoken this evil to you. - הותיר, superstites facere, "to make or preserve survivors." The connection with 'בּהיות וגו is analogous to the construction of הותיר, in the sense of "giving a superabundance," with בּ rei, Deu 28:11 and Deu 30:9, and is not to be rejected, with Ewald and Hitzig, as inadmissible. For בּהיות is supported by the old versions, and the change of והותרתּי into ודבּרתּי, which would have to be referred to Eze 6:7, is in opposition to the twofold repetition of the וידאתּם כּי אן (וידעוּ), Eze 6:10 and Eze 6:14, as this repetition shows that the thought in Eze 6:7 is different from that in 17, 21, not "they shall know that Jehovah has spoken," but "they shall know that He who has done this is Jehovah, the God of Israel." The preservation of a remnant will be shown in this, that they shall have some who have escaped the sword. הזּרותיכם is infin. Niph. with a plural form of the suffix, as occurs elsewhere only with the plural ending ות of nouns, while Ezekiel has extended it to the ות of the infinitive of ה''ל verbs; cf. Eze 16:31, and Ewald, 259b. The remembrance of Jehovah (Eze 6:9) is the commencement of conversion to Him. אשׁר before נשׁבּרתּי is not to be connected as relative pronoun with לבּם, but is a conjunction, though not used conditionally, "if," as in Lev 4:22; Deu 11:27, and elsewhere, but of time, ὅτε, "when," as Deu 11:6 and Ch2 35:20, and נשׁבּרתּי in the signification of the futur. exact. The Niphal נשׁבּר here is not to be taken as passive, but middle, sibi frangere, i.e., לבּם, poenitenti conterere animum eorum ut ad ipsum (Deum) redeant (Maurer, Hvernick). Besides the heart, the eyes also are mentioned, which God is to smite, as the external senses which allure the heart to whoredom. ונקטוּ corresponds to וזכרוּ at the beginning of the verse. קוּט, "the later form for קוּץ, "to feel a loathing," Hiphil, "to be filled with loathing;" cf. Job 10:1 with ב object., "in (on) their פנים, faces," i.e., their persons or themselves: so also in Eze 20:43; Eze 36:31. אל הרעות, in allusion to the evil things; 'לכל־תועב, in reference to all their abominations. This fruit, which is produced by chastisement, namely, that he idolaters are inspired with loathing for themselves, and led to the knowledge of Jehovah, will furnish the proof that God has not spoken in vain.
The Punishment Is Just and Well Deserved
Eze 6:11. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Smite with thy hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Woe on all the wicked abominations of the house of Israel! that they must perish by sword, hunger, and pestilence. Eze 6:12. He that is afar off will die by the pestilence; and he that is near at hand shall fall by the sword; and he who survives and is preserved will die of hunger: and I shall accomplish my wrath upon them. Eze 6:13. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when your slain lie in the midst of your idols round about your altars, on every high hill, upon all the summits of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick-leaved terebinth, on the places where they brought their pleasant incense to all their idols. Eze 6:14. And I will stretch out my hand against them, and make the land waste and desolate more than the wilderness of Diblath, in all their dwellings: so shall ye know that I am Jehovah. - Through clapping of the hands and stamping of the feet - the gestures which indicate violent excitement - the prophet is to make known to the displeasure of Jehovah at the horrible idolatry of the people, and thereby make manifest that the penal judgment is well deserved. הכּה בכפּך is in Eze 21:19 expressed more distinctly by הך כּף אל , "to strike one hand against the other," i.e., "to clap the hands;" cf. Num 24:10. אח, an exclamation of lamentation, occurring only here and in Eze 21:20. אשׁר, Eze 6:11, is a conjunction, "at." Their abominations are so wicked, that they must be exterminated on account of them. This is specially mentioned in Eze 6:12. No one will escape the judgment: he who is far removed from its scene as little as he who is close at hand; while he who escapes the pestilence and the sword is to perish of hunger. נצוּר, servatus, preserved, as in Isa 49:6. The signification "besieged" (lxx, Vulgate, Targum, etc.), Hitzig can only maintain by arbitrarily expunging הנּשׁאר as a gloss. On Eze 6:12, cf. Eze 5:13; on 13a, cf. Eze 6:5; and on 13b, cf. Eze 6:3, and Hos 4:13; Jer 2:20; Jer 3:6; Deu 12:2. 'אל כּל־גב, according to later usage, for על כּל־גב. ריח ניחח, used in the Pentateuch of sacrifices pleasing to God, is here transferred to idol sacrifices; see on Lev 1:9 and Gen 8:21. On account of the prevalence of idolatry in all parts, God will make the land entirely desolate. The union of שׁממה serves to strengthen the idea; cf. Eze 33:8., Eze 35:3. The words ממּדבּר דּבלתה are obscure, either "in the wilderness towards Diblath" (even to Diblath), or "more than the wilderness of Diblath" (מן of comparison). There is no doubt that דּבלתה is a nom. prop.; cf. the name of the city דּבלתים in Jer 48:22; Num 33:46. The second acceptation of the words is more probable than the first. For, if ממּדבּר is the terminus a quo, and דּבלתה the terminus ad quem of the extent of the land, then must ממּדבּר be punctuated not only as status absolut., but it must also have the article; because a definite wilderness - that, namely, of Arabia - is meant. The omission of the article cannot be justified by reference to Eze 21:3 or to Psa 75:7 (Hitzig, Ewald), because both passages contain general designations of the quarters of the world, with which the article is always omitted. In the next place, no Dibla can be pointed out in the north; and the change of Diblatha into Ribla, already proposed by Jerome, and more recently brought forward again by J. D. Michaelis, has not only against it the authority of all the old versions, but also the circumstance that the Ribla mentioned in Kg2 23:33 did not form the northern boundary of Palestine, but lay on the other side of it, in the land of Hamath; while the הרבלה, named in Num 34:11, is a place on the eastern boundary to the north of the Sea of Gennesareth, which would, moreover, be inappropriate as a designation of the northern boundary. Finally, the extent of the land from the south to the north is constantly expressed in a different way; cf. Num 23:21 (Num 34:8); Jos 13:5; Kg1 8:65; 2 Kings 14:65; Amo 6:14; Ch1 13:5; Ch2 7:8; and even by Ezekiel himself (Eze 48:1) לבוא is named as the boundary on the north. The form דּבלתה is similar to תּמנתה for תּמנה, although the name is hardly to be explained, with Hvernick, as an appellation, after the Arabic dibl, calamitas, exitium. The wilderness of Diblah is unknown. With 'וידעוּ כּי וגו the discourse is rounded off in returning to the beginning of Eze 6:13, while the thoughts in Eze 6:13 and Eze 6:14 are only a variation of Eze 6:4-7.