Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Divine Word which Explains the Symbolical Signs, in which the judgment that is announced is laid down as to its cause (5-9) and as to its nature (10-17). - Eze 5:5. Thus says the Lord Jehovah: This Jerusalem have I placed in the midst of the nations, and raised about her the countries. Eze 5:6. But in wickedness she resisted my laws more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries which are round about her; for they rejected my laws, and did not walk in my statutes. Eze 5:7. Therefore thus says the Lord Jehovah: Because ye have raged more than the nations round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, and have not obeyed my laws, and have not done even according to the laws of the nations which are round about you; Eze 5:8. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Lo, I, even I, shall be against thee, and will perform judgments in thy midst before the eyes of the nations. Eze 5:9. And I will do unto thee what I have never done, nor will again do in like manner, on account of all thine abominations.
'זאת ירוּשׁ not "this is Jerusalem," i.e., this is the destiny of Jerusalem (Hvernick), but "this Jerusalem" (Hitzig); זאת is placed before the noun in the sense of iste, as in Exo 32:1; cf. Ewald, 293b. To place the culpability of Jerusalem in its proper prominence, the censure of her sinful conduct opens with the mention of the exalted position which God had assigned her upon earth. Jerusalem is described in Eze 5:5 as forming the central point of the earth: this is done, however, neither in an external, geographical (Hitzig), nor in a purely typical sense, as the city that is blessed more than any other (Calvin, Hvernick), but in a historical sense, in so far as "God's people and city actually stand in the central point of the God-directed world-development and its movements" (Kliefoth); or, in relation to the history of salvation, as the city in which God hath set up His throne of grace, from which shall go forth the law and the statutes for all nations, in order that the salvation of the whole world may be accomplished (Isa 2:2.; Mic 4:1.). But instead of keeping the laws and statutes of the Lord, Jerusalem has, on the contrary, turned to do wickedness more than the heathen nations in all the lands round about (המרה, cum accusat. object., "to act rebelliously towards"). Here we may not quote Rom 2:12, Rom 2:14 against this, as if the heathen, who did not know the law of God, did not also transgress the same, but sinned ἀνόμως; for the sinning ἀνόμως, of which the apostle speaks, is really a transgression of the law written on the heart of the heathen. With לכן, in Eze 5:7, the penal threatening is introduced; but before the punishment is laid down, the correspondence between guilt and punishment is brought forward more prominently by repeatedly placing in juxtaposition the godless conduct of the rebellious city. המנכם is infinitive, from המן, a secondary form המון, in the sense of המה, "to rage," i.e., to rebel against God; cf. Psa 2:1. The last clause of Eze 5:7 contains a climax: "And ye have not even acted according to the laws of the heathen." This is not in any real contradiction to Eze 11:12 (where it is made a subject of reproach to the Israelites that they have acted according to the laws of the heathen), so that we would be obliged, with Ewald and Hitzig, to expunge the לא in the verse before us, because wanting in the Peshito and several Hebrew manuscripts. Even in these latter, it has only been omitted to avoid the supposed contradiction with Eze 11:12. The solution of the apparent contradiction lies in the double meaning of the משׁפּטי הּגוים. The heathen had laws which were opposed to those of God, but also such as were rooted in the law of God written upon their hearts. Obedience to the latter was good and praiseworthy; to the former, wicked and objectionable. Israel, which hated the law of God, followed the wicked and sinful laws of the heathen, and neglected to observe their good laws. The passage before us is to be judged by Jer 2:10-11, to which Raschi had already made reference.
(Note: Coccejus had already well remarked on Eze 11:12 : "Haec probe concordant. Imitabantur Judaei gentiles vel fovendo opiniones gentiles, vel etiam assumendo ritus et sacra gentilium. Sed non faciebant ut gentes, quae integre diis suis serviebant. Nam Israelitae nomine Dei abutebantur et ipsius populus videri volebant.")
In Eze 5:8 the announcement of the punishment, interrupted by the repeated mention of the cause, is again resumed with the words 'לכן כּה וגו. Since Jerusalem has acted worse than the heathen, God will execute His judgments upon her before the eyes of the heathen. עשׂה שׁפטים or עשׂה (Eze 5:10, Eze 5:15; Eze 11:9; Eze 16:41, etc.), "to accomplish or execute judgments," is used in Exo 12:12 and Num 33:4 of the judgments which God suspended over Egypt. The punishment to be suspended shall be so great and heavy, that the like has never happened before, nor will ever happen again. These words do not require us either to refer the threatening, with Coccejus, to the last destruction of Jerusalem, which was marked by greater severity than the earlier one, or to suppose, with Hvernick, that the prophet's look is directed to both the periods of Israel's punishment - the times of the Babylonian and Roman calamity together. Both suppositions are irreconcilable with the words, as these can only be referred to the first impending penal judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem. This was, so far, more severe than any previous or subsequent one, inasmuch as by it the existence of the people of God was for a time suspended, while that Jerusalem and Israel, which were destroyed and annihilated by the Romans, were no longer the people of God, inasmuch as the latter consisted at that time of the Christian community, which was not affected by that catastrophe (Kliefoth).
Further Execution of this Threat
Eze 5:10. Therefore shall fathers devour their children in thy midst, and children shall devour their fathers: and I will exercise judgments upon thee, and disperse all thy remnant to the winds. Eze 5:11. Therefore, as I live, is the declaration of the Lord Jehovah, Verily, because thou hast polluted my sanctuary with all thine abominations and all thy crimes, so shall I take away mine eye without mercy, and will not spare. Eze 5:12. A third of thee shall die by the pestilence, and perish by hunger in thy midst; and the third part shall fall by the sword about thee; and the third part will I scatter to all the winds; and will draw out the sword after them. Eze 5:13. And my anger shall be fulfilled, and I will cool my wrath against them, and will take vengeance. And they shall experience that I, Jehovah, have spoken in my zeal, when I accomplish my wrath upon them. Eze 5:14. And I will make thee a desolation and a mockery among the nations which are round about thee, before the eyes of every passer-by. Eze 5:15. And it shall be a mockery and a scorn, a warning and a terror for the nations round about thee, when I exercise my judgments upon thee in anger and wrath and in grievous visitations. I, Jehovah, have said it. Eze 5:16. When I send against thee the evil arrows of hunger, which minister to destruction, which I shall send to destroy you; for hunger shall I heap upon you, and shall break to you the staff of bread. Eze 5:17. And I shall send hunger upon you, and evil beasts, which shall make thee childless; and pestilence and blood shall pass over thee; and the sword will I bring upon thee. I, Jehovah, have spoken it. - As a proof of the unheard-of severity of the judgment, there is immediately mentioned in Eze 5:10 a most horrible circumstance, which had been already predicted by Moses (Lev 26:29; Deu 28:53) as that which should happen to the people when hard pressed by the enemy, viz., a famine so dreadful, during the siege of Jerusalem, that parents would eat their children, and children their parents; and after the capture of the city, the dispersion of those who remained "to all the winds, i.e., to all quarters of the world." This is described more minutely, as an appendix to the symbolical act in Eze 5:1 and Eze 5:2, in Eze 5:11 and Eze 5:12, with a solemn oath, and with repeated and prominent mention of the sins which have drawn down such chastisements. As sin, is mentioned the pollution of the temple by idolatrous abominations, which are described in detail in Ezekiel 8. The אגרע, which is variously understood by the old translators (for which some Codices offer the explanatory correction אגדע), is to be explained, after Job 36:7, of the "turning away of the eye," and the עיני following as the object; while ולא־תחוס, "that it feel no compassion," is interjected between the verb and its object with the adverbial signification of "mercilessly." For that the words ולא תחוס are adverbially subordinate to אגרע, distinctly appears from the correspondence - indicated by וגם אני - between אגרע and לא . Moreover, the thought, "Jehovah will mercilessly withdraw His care for the people," is not to be termed "feeble" in connection with what follows; nor is the contrast, which is indicated in the clause וגם־אני, lost, as Hvernick supposes. וגם־אני does not require גּרע to be understood of a positive act, which would correspond to the desecration of the sanctuary. This is shown by the last clause of the verse. The withdrawal without mercy of the divine providence is, besides, in reality, equivalent to complete devotion to destruction, as it is particularized in Eze 5:12. For Eze 5:12 see on Eze 5:1 and Eze 5:2. By carrying out the threatened division of the people into three parts, the wrath of God is to be fulfilled, i.e., the full measure of the divine wrath upon the people is to be exhausted (cf. 7, 8), and God is to appear and "cool" His anger. הניח חמה, "sedavit iram," occurs again in Eze 16:42; Eze 21:22; Eze 24:13. הנּחמתּי, Hithpael, pausal form for הנּחמתּי, "se consolari," "to procure satisfaction by revenge;" cf. Isa 1:24, and for the thing, Deu 28:63. In Eze 5:14. the discourse turns again from the people to the city of Jerusalem. It is to become a wilderness, as was already threatened in Lev 26:31 and Lev 26:33 to the cities of Israel, and thereby a "mockery" to all nations, in the manner described in Deu 29:23. והיתה, in Eze 5:15, is not to be changed, after the lxx, Vulgate, and some MSS, into the second person; but Jerusalem is to be regarded as the subject which is to become the object of scorn and hatred, etc., when God accomplishes His judgments. מוּסר is a warning-example. Among the judgments which are to overtake it, in Eze 5:16, hunger is again made specially prominent (cf. Eze 4:16) and first in Eze 5:17 are wild beasts, pestilence, blood, and sword added, and a quartette of judgments announced as in Eze 14:21. For pestilence and blood are comprehended together as a unity by means of the predicate. Their connection is to be understood according to Eze 14:19, and the number four is significant, as in Eze 14:21; Jer 15:3. For more minute details as to the meaning, see on Eze 14:21. The evil arrows point back to Deu 32:23; the evil beasts, to Lev 24:22 and Deu 32:24. To produce an impression, the prophet heaps his words together. Unum ejus consilium fuit penetrare in animos populi quasi lapideos et ferreos. Haec igitur est ratio, cur hic tanta varietate utatur et exornet suam doctrnam variis figuris (Calvin).