A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
eze 39:1CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY AGAINST GOG. (Eze. 39:1-29)
Repeated from Eze 38:3, to impress the prophecy more on the mind.
eze 39:2leave but the sixth part of thee--Margin, "strike thee with six plagues" (namely, pestilence, blood, overflowing rain, hailstones, fire, brimstone, Eze 38:22); or, "draw thee back with an hook of six teeth" (Eze 38:4), the six teeth being those six plagues. Rather, "lead thee about" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU and Septuagint]. As Antiochus was led (to his ruin) to leave Egypt for an expedition against Palestine, so shall the last great enemy of God be.
north parts--from the extreme north [FAIRBAIRN].
eze 39:3bow--in which the Scythians were most expert.
eze 39:4(Compare Eze 39:17-20).
upon the mountains of Israel--The scene of Israel's preservation shall be that of the ungodly foe's destruction.
eze 39:6carelessly--in self-confident security.
the isles--Those dwelling in maritime regions, who had helped Gog with fleets and troops, shall be visited with the fire of God's wrath in their own lands.
eze 39:7not let them pollute my holy name--by their sins bringing down judgments which made the heathen think that I was unable or unwilling to save My people.
eze 39:8it is come . . . it is done--The prediction of the salvation of My people, and the ruin of their enemy, is come to pass--is done: expressing that the event foretold is as certain as if it were already accomplished.
eze 39:9The burning of the foe's weapons implies that nothing belonging to them should be left to pollute the land. The seven years (seven being the sacred number) spent on this work, implies the completeness of the cleansing, and the people's zeal for purity. How different from the ancient Israelites, who left not merely the arms, but the heathen themselves, to remain among them [FAIRBAIRN], (Jdg 1:27-28; Jdg 2:2-3; Psa 106:34-36). The desolation by Antiochus began in the one hundred and forty-first year of the SeleucidÃ&brvbr;. From this date to 148, a period of six years and four months ("2300 days," Dan 8:14), when the temple-worship was restored (1 Maccabees 4:52), God vouchsafed many triumphs to His people; from this time to the death of Antiochus, early in 149, a period of seven months, the Jews had rest from Antiochus, and purified their land, and on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month celebrated the EncÃ&brvbr;nia, or feast of dedication (Joh 10:22) and purification of the temple. The whole period, in round numbers, was seven years. Mattathias was the patriotic Jewish leader, and his third son, Judas, the military commander under whom the Syrian generals were defeated. He retook Jerusalem and purified the temple. Simon and Jonathan, his brothers, succeeded him: the independence of the Jews was secured, and the crown vested in the Asmonean family, in which it continued till Herod the Great.
eze 39:11place . . . of graves--Gog found only a grave where he had expected the spoils of conquest.
valley--So vast were to be the masses that nothing but a deep valley would suffice for their corpses.
the passengers on the east of the sea--those travelling on the high road, east of the Dead Sea, from Syria to Petra and Egypt. The publicity of the road would cause many to observe God's judgments, as the stench (as English Version translates) or the multitude of graves (as HENDERSON translates, "it shall stop the passengers") would arrest the attention of passers-by. Their grave would be close to that of their ancient prototypes, Sodom and Gomorrah in the Dead Sea, both alike being signal instances of God's judgments.
eze 39:13I . . . glorified--in destroying the foe (Eze 28:22).
eze 39:14with the passengers--The men employed continually in the burying were to be helped by those happening to pass by; all were to combine.
after the end of seven months shall they search--to see if the work was complete [MUNSTER].
eze 39:15First "all the people of the land" engaged in the burying for seven months; then special men were employed, at the end of the seven months, to search for any still left unburied. The passers-by helped them by setting up a mark near any such bones, in order to keep others from being defiled by casually touching them, and that the buriers might come and remove them. Denoting the minute care to put away every relic of heathen pollution from the Holy Land.
eze 39:16A city in the neighborhood was to receive the name Hamonah, "multitude," to commemorate the overthrow of the multitudes of the foe [HENDERSON]. The multitude of the slain shall give a name to the city of Jerusalem after the land shall have been cleansed [GROTIUS]. Jerusalem shall be famed as the conqueror of multitudes.
eze 39:17(Rev 19:17).
sacrifice--Anciently worshippers feasted on the sacrifices. The birds and beasts of prey are invited to the sacrificial feast provided by God (compare Isa 18:6; Isa 34:6; Zep 1:7; Mar 9:49). Here this sacrifice holds only a subordinate place in the picture, and so is put last. Not only shall their bones lie long unburied, but they shall be stripped of the flesh by beasts and birds of prey.
eze 39:18rams . . . lambs . . . goats--By these various animal victims used in sacrifices are meant various ranks of men, princes, generals, and soldiers (compare Isa 34:6).
fatlings of Bashan--ungodly men of might (Psa 22:12). Bashan, beyond Jordan, was famed for its fat cattle. Fat implies prosperity which often makes men refractory towards God (Deu 32:14-15).
eze 39:20my table--the field of battle on the mountains of Israel (Eze 38:8, Eze 38:20).
chariots--that is, charioteers.
eze 39:22So the house of Israel shall know . . . Lord--by My interposition for them. So, too, the heathen shall be led to fear the name of the Lord (Psa 102:15).
eze 39:23hid I my face-- (Deu 31:17; Isa 59:2).
eze 39:25bring again the captivity--restore from calamity to prosperity.
the whole house of Israel--so "all Israel" (Rom 11:26). The restorations of Israel heretofore have been partial; there must be one yet future that is to be universal (Hos 1:11).
eze 39:26After that they have borne their shame--the punishment of their sin: after they have become sensible of their guilt, and ashamed of it (Eze 20:43; Eze 36:31).
eze 39:27sanctified in them--vindicated as holy in My dealings with them.
eze 39:28The Jews, having no dominion, settled country, or fixed property to detain them, may return at any time without difficulty (compare Hos 3:4-5).
eze 39:29poured out my Spirit upon . . . Israel--the sure forerunner of their conversion (Joe 2:28; Zac 12:10). The pouring out of His Spirit is a pledge that He will hide His face no more (Co2 1:22; Eph 1:14; Phi 1:6).
The arrangements as to the land and the temple are, in many particulars, different from those subsisting before the captivity. There are things in it so improbable physically as to preclude a purely literal interpretation. The general truth seems to hold good that, as Israel served the nations for his rejection of Messiah, so shall they serve him in the person of Messiah, when he shall acknowledge Messiah (Isa 60:12; Zac 14:17-19; compare Psa 72:11). The ideal temple exhibits, under Old Testament forms (used as being those then familiar to the men whom Ezekiel, a priest himself, and one who delighted in sacrificial images, addresses), not the precise literal outline, but the essential character of the worship of Messiah as it shall be when He shall exercise sway in Jerusalem among His own people, the Jews, and thence to the ends of the earth. The very fact that the whole is a vision (Eze 40:2), not an oral face-to-face communication such as that granted to Moses (Num 12:6-8), implies that the directions are not to be understood so precisely literally as those given to the Jewish lawgiver. The description involves things which, taken literally, almost involve natural impossibilities. The square of the temple, in Eze 42:20, is six times as large as the circuit of the wall enclosing the old temple, and larger than all the earthly Jerusalem. Ezekiel gives three and a half miles and one hundred forty yards to his temple square. The boundaries of the ancient city were about two and a half miles. Again, the city in Ezekiel has an area between three or four thousand square miles, including the holy ground set apart for the prince, priests, and Levites. This is nearly as large as the whole of Judea west of the Jordan. As Zion lay in the center of the ideal city, the one-half of the sacred portion extended to nearly thirty miles south of Jerusalem, that is, covered nearly the whole southern territory, which reached only to the Dead Sea (Eze 47:19), and yet five tribes were to have their inheritance on that side of Jerusalem, beyond the sacred portion (Eze 48:23-28). Where was land to be found for them there? A breadth of but four or five miles apiece would be left. As the boundaries of the land are given the same as under Moses, these incongruities cannot be explained away by supposing physical changes about to be effected in the land such as will meet the difficulties of the purely literal interpretation. The distribution of the land is in equal portions among the twelve tribes, without respect to their relative numbers, and the parallel sections running from east to west. There is a difficulty also in the supposed separate existence of the twelve tribes, such separate tribeships no longer existing, and it being hard to imagine how they could be restored as distinct tribes, mingled as they now are. So the stream that issued from the east threshold of the temple and flowed into the Dead Sea, in the rapidity of its increase and the quality of its waters, is unlike anything ever known in Judea or elsewhere in the world. Lastly, the catholicity of the Christian dispensation, and the spirituality of its worship, seem incompatible with a return to the local narrowness and "beggarly elements" of the Jewish ritual and carnal ordinances, disannulled "because of the unprofitableness thereof" [FAIRBAIRN], (Gal 4:3, Gal 4:9; Gal 5:1; Heb 9:10; Heb 10:18). "A temple with sacrifices now would be a denial of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. He who sacrificed before confessed the Messiah. He who should sacrifice now would solemnly deny Him" [DOUGLAS]. These difficulties, however, may be all seeming, not real. Faith accepts God's Word as it is, waits for the event, sure that it will clear up all such difficulties. Perhaps, as some think, the beau ideal of a sacred commonwealth is given according to the then existing pattern of temple services, which would be the imagery most familiar to the prophet and his hearers at the time. The minute particularizing of details is in accordance with Ezekiel's style, even in describing purely ideal scenes. The old temple embodied in visible forms and rites spiritual truths affecting the people even when absent from it. So this ideal temple is made in the absence of the outward temple to serve by description the same purpose of symbolical instruction as the old literal temple did by forms and acts. As in the beginning God promised to be a "sanctuary" (Eze 11:16) to the captives at the Chebar, so now at the close is promised a complete restoration and realization of the theocratic worship and polity under Messiah in its noblest ideal (compare Jer 31:38-40). In Rev 21:22 "no temple" is seen, as in the perfection of the new dispensation the accidents of place and form are no longer needed to realize to Christians what Ezekiel imparts to Jewish minds by the imagery familiar to them. In Ezekiel's temple holiness stretches over the entire temple, so that in this there is no longer a distinction between the different parts, as in the old temple: parts left undeterminate in the latter obtain now a divine sanction, so that all arbitrariness is excluded. So that it is be a perfect manifestation of the love of God to His covenant-people (Eze. 40:1-43:12); and from it, as from a new center of religious life, there gushes forth the fulness of blessings to them, and so to all people (Eze. 47:1-23) [FAIRBAIRN and HAVERNICK]. The temple built at the return from Babylon can only very partially have realized the model here given. The law is seemingly opposed to the gospel (Mat 5:21-22, Mat 5:27-28, Mat 5:33-34). It is not really so (compare Mat 5:17-18; Rom 3:31; Gal 3:21-22). It is true Christ's sacrifice superseded the law sacrifices (Heb 10:12-18). Israel's province may hereafter be to show the essential identity, even in the minute details of the temple sacrifices, between the law and gospel (Rom 10:8). The ideal of the theocratic temple will then first be realized.