Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Devastation of Edom, and Restoration of the Land of Israel - Ezekiel 35:1-36:15
The two sections, Eze 35:1-15 and Eze 36:1-15, form a connected prophecy. This is apparent not only from their formal arrangement, both of them being placed together under the introductory formula, "And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying," but also from their contents, the promise in relation to the mountains of Israel being so opposed to the threat against the mountains of Seir (Eze 35:1-15) as to form the obverse and completion of the latter; whilst allusion is evidently made to it in the form of expression employed (compare Eze 36:4, Eze 36:6, with Eze 35:8; and Eze 36:5 with Eze 35:15). The contents are the following: The mountains of Seir shall be laid waste (Eze 35:1-4), because Edom cherishes eternal enmity and bloody hatred towards Israel (Eze 35:5-9), and because it has coveted the land of Israel and blasphemed Jehovah (Eze 35:10-15). On the other hand, the mountain-land of Israel, which the heathen have despised on account of its devastation, and have appropriated to themselves as booty (Eze 36:1-7), shall be inhabited by Israel again, and shall be cultivated and no longer bear the disgrace of the heathen (Eze 35:8-15). This closing thought (Eze 35:15) points back to Eze 34:29, and shows that our prophecy is intended as a further expansion of that conclusion; and at the same time, that in the devastation of Edom the overthrow of the heathen world as a whole, with its enmity against God, is predicted, and in the restoration of the land of Israel the re-erection of the fallen kingdom of God.
The Devastation of Edom
Eze 35:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 35:2. Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, Eze 35:3. And say to it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Mount Seir, and will stretch out my hand against thee, and make thee waste and devastation. Eze 35:4. Thy cities will I make into ruins, and thou wilt become a waste, and shalt know that I am Jehovah. Eze 35:5. Because thou cherishest eternal enmity, and gavest up the sons of Israel to the sword at the time of their distress, at the time of the final transgression, Eze 35:6. Therefore, as truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will make thee blood, and blood shall pursue thee; since thou hast not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue thee. Eze 35:7. I will make Mount Seir devastation and waste, and cut off therefrom him that goeth away and him that returneth, Eze 35:8. And fill his mountains with his slain; upon thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy low places, those pierced with the sword shall fall. Eze 35:9. I will make thee eternal wastes, and thy cities shall not be inhabited; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 35:10. Because thou sayest, The two nations and the two lands they shall be mine, and we will take possession of it, when Jehovah was there; Eze 35:11. Therefore, as truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will do according to thy wrath and thine envy, as thou hast done because of thy hatred, and will make myself known among them, as I shall judge thee. Eze 35:12. And thou shalt know that I, Jehovah, have heard all thy reproaches which thou hast uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, "they are laid waste, they are given to us for food." Eze 35:13. Ye have magnified against me with your mouth, and heaped up your sayings against me; I have heard it. Eze 35:14. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will prepare devastation for thee. Eze 35:15. As thou hadst thy delight in the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was laid waste, so will I do to thee; thou shalt become a waste, Mount Seir and all Edom together; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
The theme of this prophecy, viz., "Edom and its cities are to become a desert" (Eze 35:2-4), is vindicated and earnestly elaborated in two strophes, commencing with 'יען וגו (Eze 35:5 and Eze 35:10), and closing, like the announcement of the theme itself (Eze 35:4), with 'כּי אני (וידעוּ) וידעתּם, by a distinct statement of the sins of Edom. - Already, in Ezekiel 25, Edom has been named among the hostile border nations which are threatened with destruction (Eze 35:12-14). The earlier prophecy applied to the Edomites, according to their historical relation to the people of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. In the present word of God, on the contrary, Edom comes into consideration, on the ground of its hostile attitude towards the covenant people, as the representative of the world and of mankind in its hostility to the people and kingdom of God, as in Isa 34 and Isa 63:1-6. This is apparent from the fact that devastation is to be prepared for Edom, when the whole earth rejoices (Eze 35:14), which does not apply to Edom as a small and solitary nation, and still more clearly from the circumstance that, in the promise of salvation in Ezekiel 36, not all Edom alone (Eze 35:5), but the remnant of the heathen nations generally (Eze 36:3-7 and Eze 36:15), are mentioned as the enemies from whose disgrace and oppression Israel is to be delivered. For Eze 35:2, compare Eze 13:17. הר is the name given to the mountainous district inhabited by the Edomites, between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf (see the comm. on Gen 36:9). The prophecy is directed against the land; but it also applies to the nation, which brings upon itself the desolation of its land by its hostility to Israel. For Eze 35:3, compare Eze 6:14, etc. חרבּה, destruction. The sin of Edom mentioned in Eze 35:5 is eternal enmity toward Israel, which has also been imputed to the Philistines in Eze 25:15, but which struck deeper root, in the case of Edom, in the hostile attitude of Esau toward Jacob (Gen 25:22. and Gen 27:37), and was manifested, as Amos (Amo 1:11) has already said, in the constant retention of its malignity toward the covenant nation, so that Edom embraced every opportunity to effect its destruction, and according to the charge brought against it by Ezekiel, gave up the sons of Israel to the sword when the kingdom of Judah fell. הנּיר על , lit., to pour upon ( - into) the hands of the sword, i.e., to deliver up to the power of the sword (cf. Psa 63:11; Jer 18:21). בּעת recalls to mind בּיום אידם in Oba 1:13; but here it is more precisely defined by בּעת עון , and limited to the time of the overthrow of the Israelites, when Jerusalem was taken and destroyed by the Chaldeans. בּעת עון קץ, as in Eze 21:30. On account of this display of its hostility, the Lord will make Edom blood (Eze 35:6). This expression is probably chosen for the play upon the words דּם and אדם. Edom shall become what its name suggests. Making it blood does not mean merely filling it with bloodshed, or reddening the soil with blood (Hitzig); but, as in Eze 16:38, turning it as it were into blood, or causing it to vanish therein. Blood shall pursue thee, "as blood-guiltiness invariably pursues a murderer, cries for vengeance, and so delivers him up to punishment" (Hvernick). אם לא cannot be the particle employed in swearing, and dependent upon חי־אני, since this particle introduces an affirmative declaration, which would be unsuitable here, inasmuch as דּם in this connection cannot possibly signify blood-relationship. אם לא means "if not," in which the conditional meaning of אם coincides with the causal, "if" being equivalent to "since." The unusual separation of the לא from the verb is occasioned by the fact that דּם is placed before the verb to avoid collision with ודּם. To hate blood is the same as to have a horror of bloodshed or murder. This threat is carried out still further in Eze 35:7 and Eze 35:8. The land of Edom is to become a complete and perpetual devastation; its inhabitants are to be exterminated by war. The form שׁממה stands for שׁמּמה, and is not to be changed into משׁמּה. Considering the frequency with which משׁמּה occurs, the supposition that we have here a copyist's error is by no means a probable one, and still less probable is the perpetuation of such an error. עבר ושׁב, as in Zac 7:14. For Eze 35:8 compare Eze 32:5-6 and Eze 31:12. The Chetib תּישׁבנה is scriptio plena for תּשׁבנה, the imperfect Kal of ישׁב in the intransitive sense to be inhabited. The Keri תּשׁבנה, from שׁוּב, is a needless and unsuitable correction, since שׁוּב does not mean restitui.
In the second strophe, Eze 35:10-15, the additional reason assigned for the desolation of Edom is its longing for the possession of Israel and its land, of which it desired to take forcible possession, although it knew that they belonged to Jehovah, whereby the hatred of Edom toward Israel became contempt of Jehovah. The two peoples and the two lands are Israel and Judah with their lands, and therefore the whole of the holy people and land. את is the sign of the accusative: as for the two peoples, they are mine. The suffix appended to ירשׁנוּה is neuter, and is to be taken as referring generally to what has gone before. ויהוה שׁם היה is a circumstantial clause, through which the desire of Edom is placed in the right light, and characterized as an attack upon Jehovah Himself. Jehovah was there - namely, in the land of which Edom wished to take possession. Kliefoth's rendering, "and yet Jehovah is there," is opposed to Hebrew usage, by changing the preterite היה into a present; and the objection which he offers to the only rendering that is grammatically admissible, viz., "when Jehovah was there," to the effect "that it attributes to Ezekiel the thought that the Holy Land had once been the land and dwelling-place of God, but was so no longer," calls in question the actual historical condition of things without the slightest reason. For Jehovah had really forsaken His dwelling-place in Canaan before the destruction of the temple, but without thereby renouncing His right to the land; since it was only for the sins of Israel that He had given up the temple, city, and land to be laid waste by the heathen. "But Edom had acted as if Israel existed among the nations without God, and Jehovah had departed from it for ever" (Hvernick); or rather as if Jehovah were a powerless and useless Deity, who had not been able to defend His people against the might of the heathen nations. The Lord will requite Edom for this, in a manner answering to its anger and envy, which had both sprung from hatred. נודעתּי בם, "I will make myself known among them (the Israelites) when I judge thee;" i.e., by the fact that He punishes Edom for its sin, He will prove to Israel that He is a God who does not suffer His people and His possession to be attacked with impunity. From this shall Edom learn that He is Jehovah, the omniscient God, who has heard the revilings of His enemies (Eze 35:12, Eze 35:13), and the almighty God, who rewards those who utter such proud sayings according to their deeds (Eze 35:14 and Eze 35:15). נאצות has retained the Kametz on account of the guttural in the first tone, in contrast with נאצות in Neh 9:18, Neh 9:26 (cf. Ewald, 69b). - The expression "mountains of Israel," for the land of Israel, in Eze 35:12 and Eze 36:1, is occasioned by the antithesis "mountain (mountain-range) of Seir." The Chetib hmmhs is to be pronounced שׁממה, and to be retained in spite of the Keri. The singular of the neuter gender is used with emphasis in a broken and emotional address, and is to be taken as referring ad sensum to the land. הגדּיל בּפה, to magnify or boast with the mouth, i.e., to utter proud sayings against God, in other words, actually to deride God (compare הגדּיל פּה in Oba 1:12, which has a kindred meaning). העתיר, used here according to Aramean usage for העשׁיר, to multiply, or heap up. In כּשׂמה, in Eze 35:14, כּ is a particle of time, as it frequently is before infinitives (e.g., Jos 6:20), when all the earth rejoices, not "over thy desolation" (Hitzig), which does not yield any rational thought, but when joy is prepared for all the world, I will prepare devastation for thee. Through this antithesis כּל־הארץ is limited to the world, with the exception of Edom, i.e., to that portion of the human race which stood in a different relation to God and His people from that of Edom; in other words, which acknowledged the Lord as the true God. It follows from this, that Edom represents the world at enmity against God. In כּשׂמחתך (Eze 35:15) כ is a particle of comparison; and the meaning of Eze 35:15 is: as thou didst rejoice over the desolation of the inheritance of the house of Israel, so will I cause others to rejoice over thy desolation. In Eze 35:15 we agree with the lxx, Vulgate, Syriac, and others, in taking תּהיה as the second person, not as the third. כּל־אדום כּלּהּ serves to strengthen הר־שׂעיר (compare Eze 11:15 and Eze 36:10).