Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Predictions of Judgment upon the Heathen Nations - Ezekiel 25-32
While the prophet's mouth was to be mute to Israel, the Lord directed him to speak against the heathen nations, and to foretell to them the judgment of destruction, that they might not be lifted up by the fall of the people and kingdom of God, but might recognise in the judgment upon Israel a work of the omnipotence and righteousness of the Lord, the Judge of the whole earth. There are seven heathen nations whose destruction Ezekiel foretells in this section of his book, viz., (1) Ammon; (2) Moab; (3) Edom; (4) The Philistines (Ezekiel 25); (5) Tyre, (6) Sidon (Ezekiel 26-28); and (7) Egypt (Ezekiel 29-32). These prophecies are divided into thirteen words of God by the introductory formula, "The word of Jehovah came to me," the utterances against Ammon, Moab, Edom, and the Philistines, being all comprehended in one word of God; whereas there are four separate words of God directed against Tyre, one against Sidon, and seven against Egypt. In the seven nations and the seven words of God directed against Egypt we cannot fail to discover an allusion to the symbolical significance of the number. Sidon, which had lost its commanding position and become dependent upon Tyre long before the time of Ezekiel, is evidently selected for a special word of God only for the purpose of making up the number seven. And in order to make it the more apparent that the number has been chosen on account of its significance, Ezekiel divides his announcement of the judgment upon the seventh people into seven words of God. On the basis of Gen 1, seven is the number denoting the completion of the works of God. When, therefore, Ezekiel selects seven nations and utters seven words of God concerning the principal nation, namely Egypt, he evidently intends to indicate thereby that the judgment predicted will be executed and completed upon the heathen world and its peoples through the word and acts of God. - The predictions of judgment upon these seven heathen nations are divisible, accordingly, into two groups. Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Sidon form one group, while the second treats of Egypt alone. This is certainly the way in which the cycle of these prophecies is to be divided rather than the plan ordinarily adopted, according to which the nations included in Ezekiel 25, as representatives of the one phase of the world-power, are placed in contrast with the other phase of heathenism represented by Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. The latter is the opinion entertained by Hvernick, for example, with regard to the "beautiful and symmetrical arrangement" of these prophecies. "First of all," says he, "the prophet shows in one series of nations how the idea of the judgment of God was realized in the case of those nations which rose up in direct and open hostility to the theocracy, and thereby represented the might of heathenism as turned away from God and engaged in downright rebellion against Him (Ezekiel 25). The prophecies concerning Tyre and Sidon contemplate heathenism in a second aspect (Ezekiel 26-28). In Tyre we have an exhibition of pride or carnal security, which looks away from god, and plunges deeper and deeper into the sin and worthlessness of the natural life. Both aspects are then finally combined in Egypt, that ancient fore of the covenant nation, which had grown into a world-power, and while displaying in this capacity unbending arrogance and pride, was now, like all the rest, about to be hurled down from the summit of its ancient glory into a bottomless deep." But this interpretation is, in more than one respect, manifestly at variance with the substance of the prophecies. This applies, in the first place, to the antithesis which is said to exist between the nations threatened in Ezekiel 25 on the one hand, and Tyre and Sidon on the other. In the case of Ammon, Moab, Edom, and the Philistines, for example, the sins mentioned as those for which they would be overthrown by the judgment are their malicious delight at the fall of Israel, and their revengeful, hostile behaviour towards the covenant nation (Eze 25:3, Eze 25:8,Eze 25:12, Eze 25:15). And in the same way, according to Eze 26:2, Tyre had involved itself in guilt by giving utterance to its delight at the destruction of Jerusalem, which inspired the hope that everything would now flow into its own store. On the other hand, nothing more is said in the case of Pharaoh and Egypt about malicious pleasure, or hostility, or enmity towards Israel or the kingdom of God; but Pharaoh has rendered himself guilty by saying: the Nile is mine, I have made it for myself; and by the fact that Egypt had become a staff of reed to the house of Israel, which broke when they sought to lean upon it (Eze 29:3, Eze 29:6-7). According to these obvious explanations, Ezekiel reckoned Tyre and Sidon among the nations that were inimically disposed towards Israel, even though the hostile attitude of the Phoenicians was dictated by different motives from those of Edom and the other nations mentioned in Ezekiel 25; and the heathen nations are arranged in two groups, and not in three. This is established beyond all doubt, when we observe that each of these two groups terminates with a promise for Israel. To the threat of judgment uttered against Sidon there is appended the promise: and there shall be no more for Israel a malicious briar and smarting thorn from all that are round about them who despise them; and when the Lord shall gather Israel from its dispersion, then will He cause it to dwell safely and prosperously in His land, inasmuch as He will execute judgment upon all round about them who despise them (Eze 28:24-26). And the prediction of judgment upon Egypt in the last prophecy uttered concerning this land, in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity (Eze 29:17), closes in a similar manner, with the promise that at the time when the Lord gives Egypt as spoil to the king of Babylon, He will cause a horn to grow to the house of Israel (Eze 29:21). The fact that these two prophecies correspond to each other would not have been overlooked by the commentators if the prophecy concerning Egypt, which was really the last in order of time, had been placed in its proper chronological position in the book of Ezekiel, namely, at the close of the words of God directed against that land.
The date of the great mass of these prophecies falls within the period of the last siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, that is to say, in the interval between Ezekiel 24 and Ezekiel 33, as the chronological data in the headings plainly affirm. The first word concerning Tyre is from the eleventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin (Eze 26:1). Of the prophecies against Egypt, the one in Ezekiel 29:1-16 dates from the tenth month of the tenth year; that in Eze 30:20-26, from the first month of the eleventh year; that in Ezekiel 31, from the third month of the same year; the two in Eze 32:1. and 17ff., from the twelfth month of the twelfth year; and lastly, the brief utterance in Eze 29:17-21, from the twenty-seventh year of the captivity. There are no chronological data attached to the others. But the short, threatening words against the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and Philistines in Ezekiel 25 belong to the time immediately succeeding the fall of Jerusalem, since they presuppose its having occurred. The second and third utterances concerning Tyre in Ezekiel 27 and Ezekiel 28:1-19, as well as that concerning Sidon in Eze 28:20., are closely connected, so far as their contents are concerned, with the first word of God against Tyre belonging to the eleventh year of the captivity. And lastly, the threatening word concerning Egypt in Ezekiel 30:1-19, to which no definite chronological data are attached, appears to stand nearer in point of time to Ezekiel 29:1-16 than to Eze 29:17-21. - Consequently the arrangement is based upon the subject-matter of the prophecies, and the chronological sequence is kept subordinate to this, or rather to the comparative importance of the several nations in relation to the theocracy.
These prophecies evidently rest upon the predictions of the earlier prophets against the same nations, so far as their contents are concerned; and in the threats directed against Tyre and Egypt, more especially, many of the thoughts contained in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 23 and 19) are reproduced and expanded. But notwithstanding this resting upon the utterances of earlier prophets, Ezekiel's prophecy against the heathen nations is distinguished in a characteristic manner from that of the other prophets, by the fact that he does not say a word about the prospect of these nations being ultimately pardoned, or of the remnant of them being converted to the Lord, but stops with the announcement of the utter destruction of the earthly and temporal condition of all these kingdoms and nations. The prophecy concerning Egypt in Eze 29:13-16, to the effect that after forty years of chastisement God will turn its captivity, and gather it together again, is only an apparent and not a real exception to this; for this turning of the judgment is not to bring about a restoration of Egypt to its former might and greatness or its glorification in the future; but, according to Eze 24:14., is simply to restore a lowly and impotent kingdom, which will offer no inducement to Israel to rely upon its strength. Through this promise, therefore, the threat of complete destruction is only somewhat modified, but by no means withdrawn. The only thing which Ezekiel positively holds out to view before the seven heathen nations is, that in consequence of the judgment falling upon them, they will learn that God is Jehovah, or the Lord. This formula regularly returns in the case of all the nations (vid., Eze 25:5, Eze 25:7,Eze 25:11, Eze 25:17; Eze 26:6; Eze 28:22-23; Eze 29:6, Eze 29:9; Eze 30:8, Eze 30:19, Eze 30:25-26; Eze 32:15); and we might take it to mean, that through the judgment of their destruction in a temporal respect, these nations will come to the knowledge of the God of salvation. And with this interpretation it would contain a slight allusion to the salvation, which will flourish in consequence of and after the judgment, in the case of those who have escaped destruction. If, however, we consider, on the one hand, that in the case of Edom (Eze 25:14) the formula takes a harsher form, namely, not that they shall know Jehovah, but that they shall experience His vengeance; and, on the other hand, that the mighty Tyre is repeatedly threatened with destruction, even eternal extinction (Eze 26:20-21; Eze 27:36; Eze 28:19), and that the whole cycle of these prophecies closes with a funeral-dirge on the descent of all the heathen nations into Sheol (Ezekiel 32:17-32), - we shall see that the formula in question cannot be taken in the sense indicated above, as Kliefoth maintains, but must be understood as signifying that these nations will discern in their destruction the punitive righteousness of God, so that it presents no prospect of future salvation, but simply increases the force of the threat. There is nothing in this distinction, however, to establish a discrepancy between Ezekiel and the earlier prophets; for Ezekiel simply fixes his eye upon the judgment, which will fall upon the heathen nations, partly on account of their hostile attitude towards the kingdom of God, and partly on account of their deification of their own might, and is silent as to the salvation which will accrue even to them out of the judgment itself, but without in the least degree denying it. The reason for his doing this is not that the contemplation of the particular features, which form the details of the immediate fulfilment, has led him to avert his eye from the more comprehensive survey of the entire future;
(Note: Drechsler (in his commentary on BIBLE:Isaiah 23) has given the following explanation of the distinction to be observed between the prophecies of Isaiah and those of Ezekiel concerning Tyre, - namely, that in the case of Isaiah the spirit of prophecy invests its utterances with the character of totality, in accordance with the position assigned to this prophet at the entrance upon a new era of the world, embracing the entire future even to the remotest times, and sketching with grand simplicity the ground-plan and outline of the whole; whereas in the case of the later prophets, such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who were living in the midst of the historical execution, the survey of the whole gives place to the contemplation of particular features belonging to the details of the immediate fulfilment. But this explanation is not satisfactory, inasmuch as Jeremiah, notwithstanding the fact that he lived in the midst of the execution of the judgment, foretold the turning of judgment into salvation at least in the case of some of the heathen nations. For example, in Isa. 48:47 he prophesies to the Moabites, and in Isa 49:6 to the Ammonites, that in the future time Jehovah will turn their captivity; and in Isa 46:1-13 :26 he says, concerning Egypt, that after the judgment it will be inhabited as in the days of old.)
but that the proclamation of the spread of salvation among the heathen lay outside the limits of the calling which he had received from the Spirit of God. The prophetic mission of Ezekiel was restricted to the remnant of the covenant nation, which was carried into exile, and scattered among the heathen. To this remnant he was to foretell the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, and after the occurrence of that catastrophe the preservation and eventual restoration of the kingdom of God in a renewed and glorified form. With this commission, which he had received from the Lord, there was associated, it is true, the announcement of judgment upon the heathen, inasmuch as such an announcement was well fitted to preserve from despair the Israelites, who were pining under the oppression of the heathen, and to revive the hope of the fulfilment of the promise held out before the penitent of their future redemption from their state of misery and restoration to the position of the people of God. But this would not apply to the prophecies of the reception of the heathen into the renovated kingdom of God, as they contained no special element of consolation to the covenant people in their depression.
In connection with this we have the equally striking circumstance, that Ezekiel does not mention Babylon among the heathen nations. This may also be explained, not merely from the predominance of the idea of the judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem, which the Chaldeans were to execute as "righteous men" (Eze 23:45), so that they only came before him as such righteous men, and not as a world-power also (Kliefoth), but chiefly from the fact that, for the reason described above, Ezekiel's prophecy of the judgment upon the heathen is restricted to those nations which had hitherto cherished and displayed either enmity or false friendship toward Israel, and the Chaldeans were not then reckoned among the number. - For the further development of the prophecy concerning the future of the whole heathen world, the Lord had called the prophet Daniel at the same time as Ezekiel, and assigned him his post at the seat of the existing heathen imperial power.
Against the Ammonites
Eze 25:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 25:2. Son of man, direct thy face towards the sons of Ammon, and prophesy against them, Eze 25:3. And say to the sons of Ammon, Hear ye the word of the Lord Jehovah! Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou sayest, Aha! concerning my sanctuary, that it is profaned; and concerning the land of Israel, that it is laid waste; and concerning the house of Judah, that they have gone into captivity; Eze 25:4. Therefore, behold, I will give thee to the sons of the east for a possession, that they may pitch their tent-villages in thee, and erect their dwellings in thee; they shall eat thy fruits, and they shall drink thy milk. Eze 25:5. And Rabbah will I make a camel-ground, and the sons of Ammon a resting-place for flocks; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 25:6. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou hast clapped thy hand, and stamped with thy foot, and hast rejoiced in soul with all thy contempt concerning the house of Israel, Eze 25:7. Therefore, behold, I will stretch out my hand against thee, and give thee to the nations for booty, and cut thee off from the peoples, and exterminate thee from the lands; I will destroy thee, that thou mayst learn that I am Jehovah. - In Eze 21:28., when predicting the expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem, Ezekiel had already foretold the destruction of the Ammonites, so that these verses are simply a resumption and confirmation of the earlier prophecy. In the passage referred to, Ezekiel, like Zephaniah before him (Zep 2:8, Zep 2:10), mentions their reviling of the people of God as the sin for which they are to be punished with destruction. This reviling, in which their hatred of the divine calling of Israel found vent, was the radical sin of Ammon. On the occasion of Judah's fall, it rose even to contemptuous and malicious joy at the profanation of the sanctuary of Jehovah by the destruction of the temple (a comparison with Eze 24:21 will show that this is the sense in which נחל is to be understood), at the devastation of the land of Israel, and at the captivity of Judah, - in other words, at the destruction of the religious and political existence of Israel as the people of God. The profanation of the sanctuary is mentioned first, to intimate that the hostility to Israel, manifested by the Ammonites on every occasion that presented itself (for proofs, see the comm. on Zep 2:8), had its roots not so much in national antipathies, as in antagonism to the sacred calling of Israel. As a punishment for this, they are not only to lose their land (Eze 25:4 and Eze 25:5), but to be cut off from the number of the nations (Eze 25:6 and Eze 25:7). The Lord will give up their land, with its productions, for a possession to the sons of the east, i.e., according to Gen 25:13-18, to the Arabs, the Bedouins (for בּני קדם, see the comm. on Jdg 6:3 and Job 1:3). The Piel ישּׁבוּ, although only occurring here, is not to be rejected as critically suspicious, and to be changed into Kal, as Hitzig proposes. The Kal would be unsuitable, because the subject of the sentence can only be בּני קדם, and not טירותיהם; and ישׁב in the Kal has an intransitive sense. For טירות, tent-villages of nomads, see the comm. on Gen 25:16. משׁכּנים, dwellings, are the separate tents of the shepherds. In the last clauses of Eze 25:4, המּה is repeated for the sake of emphasis; and Hitzig's opinion, that the first המּה corresponds to the subject in the clause 'וישּׁבוּ וגו, the second to that in ונתנוּ, is to be rejected as a marvellous flight of imagination, which approaches absurdity in the assertion that פּרי הארץ signifies the folds, i.e., the animals, of the land. Along with the fruit of the land, i.e., the produce of the soil, milk is also mentioned as a production of pastoral life, and the principal food of nomads. On the wealth of the Ammonites in flocks and herds, see Jdg 6:5. The words are addressed to Ammon, as a land or kingdom, and hence the feminine suffix. The capital will also share the fate of the land. Rabbah (see the comm. on Deu 3:11) will become a camel-ground, a waste spot where camels lie down and feed. This has been almost literally fulfilled. The ruins of Ammn are deserted by men, and Seetzen found Arabs with their camels not far off (vid., von Raumer, Palestine, p. 268). In the parallel clause, the sons of Ammon, i.e., the Ammonites, are mentioned instead of their land.
In Eze 25:6 and Eze 25:7, the Lord announces to the nation of the Ammonites the destruction that awaits them, and reiterates with still stronger emphasis the sin which occasioned it, namely, the malicious delight they had manifested at Israel's fall. בּכל־שׁאטך is strengthened by בּנפשׁ: with all thy contempt in the soul, i.e., with all the contempt which thy soul could cherish. In Eze 25:7 the ἁπ λεγ.. לבג occasions some difficulty. The Keri has substituted לבז, for booty for the nations (cf. Eze 26:5); and all the ancient versions have adopted this. Consequently בּג might be a copyist's error for בּז; and in support of this the circumstance might be adduced, that in Eze 47:13, where גּה stands for זה, we have unquestionably a substitution of ג for ז. But if the Chetib בז be correct, the word is to be explained - as it has been by Benfey (Die Montasnamen, p. 194) and Gildemeister (in Lassen's Zeitschrift fr die Kunde des Morgenlandes, iv. 1, p. 213ff.) - from the Sanscrit bha=ga, pars, portio, and has passed into the Semitic languages from the Aryan, like the Syriac bagaa', esca, which P. Boetticher (Horae aram. p. 21) has correctly traced to the Sanscrit bhaj, conquere. - The executors of the judgment are not named; for the threat that God will give up the land of the Ammonites to the Bedouins for their possession, does not imply that they are to exterminate the Ammonites. On the contrary, a comparison of this passage with Amo 1:13-15 and Jer 49:1-5, where the Ammonites are threatened not only with the devastation of their land, but also with transportation into exile, will show that the Chaldeans are to be thought of as executing the judgment. (See the comm. on Eze 25:11.)
Against the Moabites
Eze 25:8. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because Moab, like Seir, saith, Behold, like all other nations is the house of Judah: Eze 25:9. Therefore, behold, I will open the shoulder of Moab from the cities, from its cities even to the last, the ornament of the land, Beth-hayeshimoth, Baal-meon, and as far as Kiryathaim, Eze 25:10. To the sons of the east, together with the sons of Ammon, and will give it for a possession, that the sons of Ammon may no more be remembered among the nations. Eze 25:11. Upon Moab will I execute judgments; and they shall learn that I am Jehovah. - Moab has become guilty of the same sin against Judah, the people of God, as Ammon, namely, of misunderstanding and despising the divine election of Israel. Ammon gave expression to this, when Judah was overthrown, in the malicious assertion that the house of Judah was like all the heathen nations, - that is to say, had no pre-eminence over them, and shared the same fate as they. There is something remarkable in the allusion to Seir, i.e., Edom, in connection with Moab, inasmuch as no reference is made to it in the threat contained in Eze 25:9-11; and in Eze 25:12-13, there follows a separate prediction concerning Edom. Hitzig therefore proposes to follow the example of the lxx, and erase it from the text as a gloss, but without being able in the smallest degree to show in what way it is probable that such a gloss could have found admission into an obviously unsuitable place. Seir is mentioned along with Moab to mark the feeling expressed in the words of Moab as springing, like the enmity of Edom towards Israel, from hatred and envy of the spiritual birthright of Israel, i.e., of its peculiar prerogatives in sacred history. As a punishment for this, Moab was to be given up, like Ammon, to the Bedouins for their possession, and the people of the Moabites were to disappear from the number of the nations. Eze 25:9 and Eze 25:10 form one period, לבני קדם in Eze 25:10 being governed by פּתח in Eze 25:9. The shoulder of Moab is the side of the Moabitish land. In the application of the word כּתף to lands or provinces, regard is had to the position of the shoulder in relation to the whole body, but without reference to the elevation of the district. We find an analogy to this in the use of כּתף in connection with the sides of a building. In 'מהערים וגו' , the מן cannot be taken, in a privative sense, for מהיות; for neither the article הערים, nor the more emphatic מעריו מקּצהוּ, allows this; but מן indicates the direction, "from the cities onwards," "from its cities onwards, reckoning to the very last," - that is to say, in its whole extent. מקּצהוּ, as in Isa 56:11; Gen 19:4, etc. This tract of land is first of all designated as a glorious land, with reference to its worth as a possession on account of the excellence of its soil for the rearing of cattle (see the comm. on Num 32:4), and then defined with geographical minuteness by the introduction of the names of some of its cities. Beth-Hayeshimoth, i.e., house of wastes (see the comm. on Num 22:1), has probably been preserved in the ruins of Suaime, which F. de Saulcy discovered on the north-eastern border of the Dead Sea, a little farther inland (vid., Voyage en terre sainte, Paris 1865, t. i. p. 315). Baal-meon, - when written fully, Beth-Baal-Meon (Jos 13:17) - contracted into Beth-Meon in Jer 48:23, is to be sought for to the south-east of this, in the ruins of Myun, three-quarters of an hour's journey to the south of Heshbon (see the comm. on Num 32:38). Kiryathaim was still farther south, probably on the site of the ruins of El Teym (see the comm. on Gen 14:5 and Num 32:37). The Chetib קריתמה is based upon the form קריתם, a secondary form of קריתים , like דּתן, a secondary form of דּתין, in Kg2 6:13. The cities named were situated to the north of the Arnon, in that portion of the Moabitish land which had been taken from the Moabites by the Amorites before the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan (Num 21:13, Num 21:26), and was given to the tribe of Reuben for its inheritance after the defeat of the Amoritish kings by the Israelites; and then, still later, when the tribes beyond the Jordan were carried into captivity by the Assyrians, came into the possession of the Moabites again, as is evident from Isa 15:1-9 and Isa 16:1-14, and Jer 48:1, Jer 48:23, where these cities are mentioned once more among the cities of the Moabites. This will explain not only the naming of this particular district of the Moabitish country, but the definition, "from its cities." For the fact upon which the stress is laid in the passage before us is, that the land in question rightfully belonged to the Israelites, according to Num 32:37-38; Num 33:49; Jos 12:2-3; Jos 13:20-21, and that it was therefore unlawfully usurped by the Moabites after the deportation of the trans-Jordanic tribes; and the thought is this, that the judgment would burst upon Moab from this land and these cities, and they would thereby be destroyed (Hvernick and Kliefoth). על, not "over the sons of Ammon," but "in addition to the sons of Ammon." They, that is to say, their land, had already been promised to the sons of the east (Eze 25:4). In addition to this, they are now to receive Moab for their possession (Hitzig and Kliefoth). Thus will the Lord execute judgments upon Moab. Eze 25:11 sums up what is affirmed concerning Moab in Eze 25:9 and Eze 25:10, in the one idea of the judgments of God upon this people.
The execution of these judgments commenced with the subjugation of the Ammonites and Moabites by Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the destruction of Jerusalem (vid., Josephus, Antt. x. 9. 7, and M. von Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs, etc., p. 215). Nevertheless the Ammonites continued to exist as a nation for a long time after the captivity, so that Judas the Maccabaean waged war against them (1 Macc. 5:6, 30-43); and even Justin Martyr speaks of ̓Αμμανιτῶν νῦν πολὺ πληθος (Dial. Tryph. p. 272). - But Origen includes their land in the general name of Arabia (lib. i. in Job). The name of the Moabites appears to have become extinct at a much earlier period. After the captivity, it is only in Ezr 9:1; Neh 13:1, and Dan 11:41, that we find any notice of them as a people. Their land is mentioned by Josephus in the Antiq. xiii. 14. 2, and xv. 4, and in the Bell. Jud. iii. 3. 3. - A further fulfilment by the Messianic judgment, which is referred to in Zep 2:10, is not indicated in these words of Ezekiel; but judging from the prophecy concerning the Edomites (see the comm. on Eze 25:14), it is not to be excluded.
Against the Edomites
Eze 25:12. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because Edom acteth revengefully towards the house of Judah, and hath been very guilty in avenging itself upon them, Eze 25:13. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will stretch out my hand over Edom, and cut off man and beast from it, and make it a desert from Teman, and unto Dedan they shall fall by the sword. Eze 25:14. And I will inflict my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, that they may do to Edom according to my anger and my wrath; and they shall experience my vengeance, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - Whilst the Ammonites and the Moabites are charged with nothing more than malicious pleasure at the fall of Israel, and disregard of its divine calling, the Edomites are reproached with revengeful acts of hostility towards the house of Judah, and threatened with extermination in consequence. The עשׂות, doing or acting of Edom, is more precisely defined as 'בּנקום וגו, i.e., as consisting in the taking of vengeance, and designated as very guilty, ישׁמוּ אשׁום. עשׂה, followed by בּ with an infinitive, as in Eze 17:17. Edom had sought every opportunity of acting thus revengefully towards Israel (vid., Oba 1:11; Amo 1:11), so that in Eze 35:5 Ezekiel speaks of the "eternal enmity" of Edom against Israel. For this reason we must not restrict the reproach in Eze 25:12 to particular outbreaks of this revenge at the time of the devastation and destruction of Judah by the Chaldeans, of which the Psalmist complains in Psa 137:1-9, and for which he invokes the vengeance of God upon Edom. Man and beast are to be cut off from Edom in consequence, and the land to become a desert from Teman to Dedan. These names denote not cities, but districts. Teman is the southern portion of Idumaea (see the comm. on Amo 1:12); and Dedan is therefore the northern district. Dedan is probably not the Cushite tribe mentioned in Gen 10:7, but the tribe of the same name which sprang from the sons of Abraham by Keturah (Gen 25:3), and which is also mentioned in Jer 49:8 in connection with Edom. דּדנה has ה local with Seghol instead of Kametz, probably on account of the preceding a (vid., Ewald, 216c). There is no necessity to connect מתּימן with the following clause, as Hitzig and Kliefoth have done, in opposition to the accents. The two geographical names, which are used as a periphrasis for Idumaea as a whole, are distributed equally through the parallelismus membrorum between the two clauses of the sentence, so that they belong to both clauses, so far as the sense is concerned. Edom is to become a desert from Teman to Dedan, and its inhabitants from Teman to Dedan are to fall by the sword. This judgment of vengeance will be executed by God through His people Israel. The fulfilment of this threat, no doubt, commenced with the subjugation of the Edomites by the Maccabees; but it is not to be limited to that event, as Rosenmller, Kliefoth, and others suppose, although the foundation was thereby laid for the disappearance of the national existence of Edom. For it is impossible with this limitation to do justice to the emphatic expression, "my people Israel." On the ground, therefore, of the prophecies in Amo 9:12 and Oba 1:17, that the people of God are to take possession of Edom, when the fallen tabernacle of David is raised up again, i.e., in the Messianic times, which prophecies point back to that of Balaam in Num 24:18, and have their roots, as this also has, in the promise of God concerning the twin sons of Isaac, "the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen 25:23), we must seek for the complete fulfilment in the victories of the people of God over all their foes, among whom Edom from time immemorial had taken the leading place, at the time when the kingdom of God is perfected. For even here Edom is not introduced merely as a single nation that was peculiarly hostile to Judah, but also as a type of the implacable enmity of the heathen world towards the people and kingdom of God, as in Eze 35:1-15, Isa. 34:63, etc. The vengeance, answering to the anger and wrath of Jehovah, which Israel, as the people of God, is to execute upon Edom, consists not merely in the annihilation of the national existence of Edom, which John Hyrcanus carried into effect by compelling the subjugated Edomites to adopt circumcision (see the comm. on Num 24:18), but chiefly in the wrathful judgment which Israel will execute in the person of Christ upon the arch-enemy of the kingdom of God by its complete extinction.
Against the Philistines
Eze 25:15. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because the Philistines act with revenge, and avenge themselves with contempt in the soul to destroy in everlasting enmity, Eze 25:16. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will stretch out my hand over the Philistines, and cut off the Cretans, and destroy the remnant by the seashore. Eze 25:17. And I will execute great vengeance upon them through chastisements of wrath, and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I bring my vengeance upon them. - The Philistines resembled the Edomites and Ammonites in their disposition towards the covenant nation, the former in their thirst for revenge, the latter in their malicious rejoicing at Israel's fall. For this reason they had already been classed by Isaiah (Isa 11:14) with Edom, Moab, and Ammon as enemies, who would be successfully attacked and overcome by Israel, when the Lord had gathered it again from its dispersion. In the description of its sin towards Israel we have a combination of elements taken from the conduct of Edom and Ammon (vv. 12 and 6). They execute revenge with contempt in the soul (שׁאט בּנפשׁ, as in v. 6), with the intention to destroy (למשׁחית) Israel; and this revenge springs from eternal, never-ending hostility. The Lord will cut off the whole of the people of the Philistines for this. כּרתים, Cretans, originally a branch of the Philistian people, settled in the south-west of Canaan. The name is used by Ezekiel for the people, as it had already been by Zephaniah (Zep 2:5), for the sake of the paronomasia with הכרתּי. The origin of the name is involved in obscurity, as the current derivation from Creta rests upon a very doubtful combination (cf. Stark, Gaza, pp. 66 and 99ff.). By the "remnant of the sea-coast," i.e., the remnant of the inhabitants of the coast of the Mediterranean, in other words, of the Philistines, the destruction of which had already been predicted by Amos (Amo 1:8), Isaiah (Isa 14:30), and Jeremiah (Jer 42:4), we are to understand the whole nation to the very last man, all that was still left of the Philistines (see the comm. on Amo 1:8). - The execution of the vengeance threatened by God began in the Chaldean period, in which Gaza was attacked by Pharaoh, and, judging from Jer 47:1-7, the whole of Philistia was laid waste by the Chaldeans (see the fuller comments on this in the exposition of Jer 47:1-7). But the ultimate fulfilment will take place in the case of Philistia also, through the Messianic judgment, in the manner described in the commentary on Zep 2:10.