Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Overthrow of Israel
The second "word of God," contained in this chapter, completes the announcement of judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah, by expanding the thought, that the end will come both quickly and inevitably upon the land and people. This word is divided into two unequal sections, by the repetition of the phrase, "Thus saith Adonai Jehovah" (Eze 7:2 and Eze 7:5). In the first of these sections the theme is given in short, expressive, and monotonous clauses; namely, the end is drawing nigh, for God will judge Israel without mercy according to its abominations. The second section (vv. 5-27) is arranged in four strophes, and contains, in a form resembling the lamentation in Eze 19:1-14, a more minute description of the end predicted.
The End Cometh
Eze 7:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me thus: Eze 7:2. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: An end to the land of Israel! the end cometh upon the four borders of the land. Eze 7:3. Now (cometh) the end upon thee, and I shall send my wrath upon thee, and judge thee according to thy ways, and bring upon thee all thine abominations. Eze 7:4. And my eye shall not look with pity upon thee, and I shall not spare, but bring thy ways upon thee; and thy abominations shall be in the midst of thee, that ye may know that I am Jehovah. - ואתּה - .havoheJ ma I, with the copula, connects this word of God with the preceding one, and shows it to be a continuation. It commences with an emphatic utterance of the thought, that the end is coming to the land of Israel, i.e., to the kingdom of Judah, with its capital Jerusalem. Desecrated as it has been by the abominations of its inhabitants, it will cease to be the land of God's people Israel. 'לאדמת ישׂ (to the land of Israel) is not to be taken with כּה אמר (thus saith the Lord) in opposition to the accents, but is connected with qeets קץ (an end), as in the Targ. and Vulgate, and is placed first for the sake of greater emphasis. In the construction, compare Job 6:14. ארבּעת כּנפות הארץ is limited by the parallelism to the four extremities of the land of Israel. It is used elsewhere for the whole earth (Isa 11:12). The Chetib ארבּעת is placed, in opposition to the ordinary rule, before a noun in the feminine gender. The Keri gives the regular construction (vid., Ewald, 267c). In Eze 7:3 the end is explained to be a wrathful judgment. "Give (נתן) thine abominations upon thee;" i.e., send the consequences, inflict punishment for them. The same thought is expressed in the phrase, "thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee;" in other words, they would discern them in the punishments which the abominations would bring in their train. For Eze 7:4 compare Eze 5:11.
The execution of the judgment announced in Eze 7:2-4, arranged in four strophes: Eze 7:5-9, Eze 7:10-14, Eze 7:15-22, Eze 7:23-27. - The first strophe depicts the end as a terrible calamity, and as near at hand. Eze 7:3 and Eze 7:4 are repeated as a refrain in Eze 7:8 and Eze 7:9, with slight modifications. Eze 7:5. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Misfortune, a singular misfortune, behold, it cometh. Eze 7:6. End cometh: there cometh the end; it waketh upon thee; behold, it cometh. Eze 7:7. The fate cometh upon thee, inhabitants of the land: the time cometh, the day is near; tumult and not joy upon the mountains. Eze 7:8. Now speedily will I pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger on thee; and judge thee according to thy ways, and bring upon thee all thine abominations. Eze 7:9. My eye shall not look with pity upon thee, and I shall not spare; according to thy ways will I bring it upon thee, and thy abominations shall be in the midst of thee, that ye may know that I, Jehovah, am smiting. - Misfortune of a singular kind shall come. רעה is made more emphatic by אחת רעה, in which אחת is placed first for the sake of emphasis, in the sense of unicus, singularis; a calamity singular (unique) of its kind, such as never had occurred before (cf. Eze 5:9). In Eze 7:6 the poetical הקיץ, it (the end) waketh upon thee, is suggested by the paronomasia with הקּץ. The force of the words is weakened by supplying Jehovah as the subject to הקיץ, in opposition to the context. And it will not do to supply רעה (evil) from Eze 7:5 as the subject to הנּה באה (behold, it cometh). באה is construed impersonally: It cometh, namely, every dreadful thing which the end brings with it. The meaning of tzephirâh is doubtful. The only other passage in which it occurs is Isa 28:5, where it is used in the sense of diadem or crown, which is altogether unsuitable here. Raschi has therefore had recourse to the Syriac and Chaldee צפרא, aurora, tempus matutinum, and Hvernick has explained it accordingly, "the dawn of an evil day." But the dawn is never used as a symbol or omen of misfortune, not even in Joe 2:2, but solely as the sign of the bursting forth of light or of salvation. Abarbanel was on the right track when he started from the radical meaning of צפר, to twist, and taking tzephirâh in the sense of orbis, ordo, or periodical return, understood it as probably denoting rerum fatique vicissitudinem in orbem redeuntem (Ges. Thes. p. 1188). But it has been justly observed, that the rendering succession, or periodical return, can only give a forced sense in Eze 7:10. Winer has given a better rendering, viz., fatum, malum fatale, fate or destiny, for which he refers to the Arabic tsabramun, intortum, then fatum haud mutandum inevitabile. Different explanations have also been given of הד הרים. But the opinion that it is synonymous with הידד, the joyous vintage cry (Jer 25:30; Isa 16:10), is a more probable one than that it is an unusual form of הוד, splendor, gloria. So much at any rate is obvious from the context, that the hapax legomenon dh̀ is the antithesis of מהוּמה, tumult, or the noise of war. The shouting of the mountains, is shouting, a rejoicing upon the mountains. מקּרוב, from the immediate vicinity, in a temporal not a local sense, as in Deu 32:17 (= immediately). For כּלּה , see Eze 6:1-14;12. The remainder of the strophe (Eze 7:8 and Eze 7:9) is a repetition of Eze 7:3 and Eze 7:4; but מכּה is added in the last clause. They shall learn that it is Jehovah who smites. This thought is expanded in the following strophe.
Eze 7:10. Behold the day, behold, it cometh; the fate springeth up; the rod sprouteth; the pride blossometh. Eze 7:11. The violence riseth up as the rod of evil: nothing of them, nothing of their multitude, nothing of their crowd, and nothing glorious upon them. Eze 7:12. The time cometh, the day approacheth: let not the buyer rejoice, and let not the seller trouble himself; for wrath cometh upon the whole multitude thereof. Eze 7:13. For the seller will not return to that which was sold, even though his life were still among the living: for the prophecy against its whole multitude will not turn back; and no one will strengthen himself as to his life through his iniquity. Eze 7:14. They blow the trumpet and make everything ready; but no one goeth into the battle: for my wrath cometh upon all their multitude. - The rod is already prepared; nothing will be left of the ungodly. This is the leading thought of the strophe. The three clauses of Eze 7:10 are synonymous; but there is a gradation in the thought. The approaching fate springs up out of the earth (יצא, applied to the springing up of plants, as in Kg1 5:13; Isa 11:1, etc.); it sprouts as a rod, and flowers as pride. Matteh, the rod as an instrument of chastisement (Isa 10:5). This rod is then called za=dho4n, pride, inasmuch as God makes use of a proud and violent people, namely the Chaldeans (Hab 1:6.; Jer 50:31 seq.), to inflict the punishment. Sprouting and blossoming, which are generally used as figurative representations of fresh and joyous prosperity, denote here the vigorous growth of that power which is destined to inflict the punishment. Both châmâs (violence) and zâdhōn (pride) refer to the enemy who is to chastise Israel. The violence which he employs rises up into the chastening rod of "evil," i.e., of ungodly Israel. In Eze 7:11 the effect of the blow is described in short, broken sentences. The emotion apparent in the frequent repetition of לא is intensified by the omission of the verb, which gives to the several clauses the character of exclamations. So far as the meaning is concerned, we have to insert יהיה in thought, and to take מן ekat o in a partitive sense: there will not be anything of them, i.e., nothing will be left of them (the Israelites, or the inhabitants of the land). מהם (of them) is explained by the nouns which follow. המון and the ἁπ. λεγ. לחולםÅ¡, plural of הם or המה, both derivatives of המה, are so combined that המון signifies the tumultuous multitude of people, המה the multitude of possessions (like המון, Isa 60:2; Psa 37:16, etc.). The meaning which Hvernick assigns to hâmeh, viz., anxiety or trouble, is unsupported and inappropriate. The ἁπ λεγ. נהּ is not to be derived from נהה, to lament, as the Rabbins affirm; or interpreted, as Kimchi - who adopts this derivation - maintains, on the ground of Jer 16:4., as signifying that, on account of the multitude of the dying, there will be no more lamentation for the dead. This leaves the Mappik in ה unexplained. נהּ is a derivative of a root נוהּ; in Arabic, na=ha, elata fuit res, eminuit, magnificus fuit; hence ,נהּres magnifica. When everything disappears in such a way as this, the joy occasioned by the acquisition of property, and the sorrow caused by its loss, will also pass away (Eze 7:12). The buyer will not rejoice in the property he has bought, for he will not be able to enjoy it; and the seller will not mourn that he has been obliged to part with his possession, for he would have lost it in any case.
(Note: "It is a natural thing to rejoice in the purchase of property, and to mourn over its sale. But when slavery and captivity stare you in the face, rejoicing and mourning are equally absurd." - Jerome.)
The wrath of God is kindled against their whole multitude; that is to say, the judgment falls equally upon them all. The suffix in המונהּ refers, as Jerome has correctly shown, to the "land of Israel" (admath, Yisrâeel) in Eze 7:2, i.e., to the inhabitants of the land. The words, "the seller will not return to what he has sold," are to be explained from the legal regulations concerning the year of Jubilee in Lev 25, according to which all landed property that had been sold was to revert to its original owner (or his heir), without compensation, in the year of jubilee; so that he would then return to his mimkâr (Lev 25:14, Lev 25:27-28). Henceforth, however, this will take place no more, even if היּתם, their (the sellers') life, should be still alive (sc., at the time when the return to his property would take place, according to the regulations of the year of jubilee), because Israel will be banished from the land. The clause 'ועוד בּחיּים ה is a conditional circumstantial clause. The seller will not return (לא ישׁוּב) to his possession, because the prophecy concerning the whole multitude of the people will not return (לא), i.e., will not turn back (for this meaning of שׁוּב, compare Isa 45:23; Isa 55:11). As לא ישׁוּב corresponds to the previous לא ישׁוּב, so does חזון את־כּל המונהּ to חרון אל־כּל־המונהּ in Eze 7:12. In the last clause of Eze 7:13, חיּתו is not to be taken with בּעונו in the sense of "in the iniquity of his life," which makes the suffix in בּעונו superfluous, but with יתחזּקוּ, the Hithpael being construed with the accusative, "strengthen himself in his life." Whether these words also refer to the year of jubilee, as Hvernick supposes, inasmuch as the regulation that every one was to recover his property was founded upon the idea of the restitution and re-creation of the theocracy, we may leave undecided; since the thought is evidently simply this: ungodly Israel shall be deprived of its possession, because the wicked shall not obtain the strengthening of his life through his sin. This thought leads on to Eze 7:14, in which we have a description of the utter inability to offer any successful resistance to the enemy employed in executing the judgment. There is some difficulty connected with the word בּתּקוע, since the infin. absolute, which the form תּקוע seems to indicate, cannot be construed with either a preposition or the article. Even if the expression ּבתּקוע תּקעוּ in Jer 6:1 was floating before the mind of Ezekiel, and led to his employing the bold phrase ּבתּקוע, this would not justify the use of the infinitive absolute with a preposition and the article. תּקוע must be a substantive form, and denote not clangour, but the instrument used to sound an alarm, viz., the shōphâr (Eze 33:3). הכין, an unusual form of the inf. abs. (see Jos 7:7), used in the place of the finite tense, and signifying to equip for war, as in Nah 2:4. הכּל, everything requisite for waging war. And no one goes into the battle, because the wrath of God turns against them (Lev 26:17), and smites them with despair (Deu 32:30).
Thus will they fall into irresistible destruction; even their silver and gold they will not rescue, but will cast it away as useless, and leave it for the enemy. - Eze 7:15. The sword without, and pestilence and famine within: he who is in the field will die by the sword; and famine and pestilence will devour him that is in the city. Eze 7:16. And if their escaped ones escape, they will be upon the mountains like the doves of the valleys, all moaning, every one for his iniquity. Eze 7:17. All hands will become feeble, and all knees flow with water. Eze 7:18. They will gird themselves with sackcloth, and terrors will cover them; on all faces there will be shame, and baldness on all their heads. Eze 7:19. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be as filth to them. Their silver and their gold will not be able to rescue them in the day of Jehovah's wrath; they will not satisfy their souls therewith, nor fill their stomachs thereby, for it was to them a stumbling-block to guilt. Eze 7:20. And His beautiful ornament, they used it for pride; and their abominable images, their abominations they made thereof: therefore I make it filth to them. Eze 7:21. And I shall give it into the hand of foreigners for prey, and to the wicked of the earth for spoil, that they may defile it. Eze 7:22. I shall turn my face from them, that they defile my treasure; and oppressors shall come upon it and defile it. - The chastisement of God penetrates everywhere (Eze 7:15 compare with Eze 5:12); even flight to the mountains, that are inaccessible to the foe (compare 1 Macc. 2:28; Mat 24:16), will only bring misery. Those who have fled to the mountains will coo - i.e., mourn, moan - like the doves of the valleys, which (as Bochart has correctly interpreted the simile in his Hieroz. II. p. 546, ed. Ros.), "when alarmed by the bird-catcher or the hawk, are obliged to forsake their natural abode, and fly elsewhere to save their lives. The mountain doves are contrasted with those of the valleys, as wild with tame." In כּלּם המות the figure and the fact are fused together. The words actually relate to the men who have fled; whereas the gender of המות is made to agree with that of כּיוני. The cooing of doves was regarded by the ancients as a moan (hâgâh), a mournful note (for proofs, see Gesen. on Isa 38:14); for which Ezekiel uses the still stronger expression hâmâh fremere, to howl or growl (cf. Isa 59:11). The low moaning has reference to their iniquity, the punishment of which they are enduring. When the judgment bursts upon them, they will all (not merely those who have escaped, but the whole nation) be overwhelmed with terror, shame, and suffering. The words, "all knees flow with water" (for hâlak in this sense, compare Joel 4:18), are a hyperbolical expression used to denote the entire loss of the strength of the knees (here, Eze 7:17 and Eze 21:12), like the heart melting and turning to water in Jos 7:5. With this utter despair there are associated grief and horror at the calamity that has fallen upon them, and shame and pain at the thought of the sins that have plunged them into such distress. For כּסּתה פלּצוּת, compare Psa 55:6; for אל־כּל־פנים בּוּשׁה, Mic 7:10; Jer 51:51; and for קרחה 'בּכל־ראשׁ, Isa 15:2; Amo 8:10. On the custom of shaving the head bald on account of great suffering or deep sorrow, see the comm. on Mic 1:16.
In this state of anguish they will throw all their treasures away as sinful trash (Eze 7:19.). By the silver and gold which they will throw away (Eze 7:19), we are not to understand idolatrous images particularly - these are first spoken of in Eze 7:20 - but the treasures of precious metals on which they had hitherto set their hearts. They will not merely throw these away as worthless, but look upon them as niddâh, filth, an object of disgust, inasmuch as they have been the servants of their evil lust. The next clause, "silver and gold cannot rescue them," are a reminiscence from Zep 1:18. But Ezekiel gives greater force to the thought by adding, "they will not appease their hunger therewith," - that is to say, they will not be able to protect their lives thereby, either from the sword of the enemy (see the comm. on Zep 1:18) or from death by starvation, because there will be no more food to purchase within the besieged city. The clause 'כּי assigns the reason for that which forms the leading thought of the verse, namely, the throwing away of the silver and gold as filth; מכשׁול עונם, a stumbling-block through which one falls into guilt and punishment; צבי עדיו, the beauty of his ornament, i.e., his beautiful ornament. The allusion is to the silver and gold; and the singular suffix is to be explained from the fact that the prophet fixed his mind upon the people as a whole, and used the singular in a general and indefinite sense. The words are written absolutely at the commencement of the sentence; hence the suffix attached to שׂמהוּ, Jerome has given the true meaning of the words: "what I (God) gave for an ornament of the possessors and for their wealth, they turned into pride." And not merely to ostentatious show (in the manner depicted in Isa 3:16.), but to abominable images, i.e., idols, did they apply the costly gifts of God (cf. Hos 8:4; Hos 13:2). עשׂה, to make of (gold and silver); ב denoting the material with which one works and of which anything is made (as in Exo 31:4; Exo 38:8). God punishes this abuse by making it (gold and silver) into niddâh to them, i.e., according to v. 19, by placing them in such circumstances that they cast it away as filth, and (v. 21) by giving it as booty to the foe. The enemy is described as "the wicked of the earth" (cf. Psa 75:9), i.e., godless men, who not only seize upon the possession of Israel, but in the most wicked manner lay hands upon all that is holy, and defile it. The Chetib חלּלוּה is to be retained, notwithstanding the fact that it was preceded by a masculine suffix. What is threatened will take place, because the Lord will turn away His face from His people (מהם, from the Israelites), i.e., will withdraw His gracious protection from them, so that the enemy will be able to defile His treasure. Tsâphuun, that which is hidden, the treasure (Job 20:26; Oba 1:6). Tsephuunii is generally supposed to refer to the temple, or the Most Holy Place in the temple. Jerome renders it arcanum meum, and gives this explanation: "signifying the Holy of Holies, which no one except the priests and the high priest dared to enter." This interpretation was so commonly adopted by the Fathers, that even Theodoret explains the rendering given in the Septuagint, τὴν ἐπισκοπήν μου, as signifying the Most Holy Place in the temple. On the other hand, the Chaldee has ארעא בּית שׁכינתי, "the land of the house of my majesty;" and Calvin understands it as signifying "the land which was safe under His (i.e., God's) protection." But it is difficult to reconcile either explanation with the use of the word tsâphuun. The verb tsâphan signifies to hide, shelter, lay up in safety. These meanings do not befit either the Holy of Holies in the temple or the land of Israel. It is true that the Holy of Holies was unapproachable by the laity, and even by the ordinary priests, but it was not a secret, a hidden place; and still less was this the case with the land of Canaan.We therefore adhere to the meaning, which is so thoroughly sustained by Job 20:26 and Oba 1:6 - namely, "treasure," by which, no doubt, the temple-treasure is primarily intended. This rendering suits the context, as only treasures have been referred to before; and it may be made to harmonize with בּאוּ בהּ which follows. בּוא ב signifies not merely intrare in locum, but also venire in (e.g., Kg2 6:23; possibly Eze 30:4), and may therefore be very properly rendered, "to get possession of," since it is only possible to obtain possession of a treasure by penetrating into the place where it is laid up or concealed. There is nothing at variance with this in the word חלּל, profanare, since it has already occurred in Eze 7:21 in connection with the defiling of treasures and jewels. Moreover, as Calvin has correctly observed, the word is employed here to denote "an indiscriminate abuse, when, instead of considering to what purpose things have been entrusted to us, we squander them rashly and without selection, in contempt and even in scorn."
Still worse is coming, namely, the captivity of the people, and overthrow of the kingdom. - Eze 7:23. Make the chain, for the land is full of capital crime, and the city full of outrage. Eze 7:24. I shall bring evil ones of the nations, that they may take possession of their houses; and I shall put an end to the pride of the strong, that their sanctuaries may be defiled. Eze 7:25. Ruin has come; they seek salvation, but there is none. Eze 7:26. Destruction upon destruction cometh, and report upon report ariseth; they seek visions from prophets, but the law will vanish away from the priest, and counsel from the elders. Eze 7:27. The king will mourn, and the prince will clothe himself in horror, and the hands of the common people will tremble. I will deal with them according to their way, and according to their judgments will I judge them, that they may learn that I am Jehovah. - Those who have escaped death by sword or famine at the conquest of Jerusalem have captivity and exile awaiting them. This is the meaning of the command to make the chain, i.e., the fetters needed to lead the people into exile. This punishment is necessary, because the land is full of mishpat dâmim, judgment of blood. This cannot mean, there is a judgment upon the shedding of blood, i.e., upon murder, which is conducted by Jehovah, as Hvernick supposes. Such a thought is irreconcilable with מלאה, and with the parallel מלאה חמס. משׁפּט דּמים is to be explained after the same manner as משׁפּט מות (a matter for sentence of death, a capital crime) in Deu 19:6, Deu 19:21 -22, as signifying a matter for sentence of bloodshed, i.e., a crime of blood, or capital crime, as the Chaldee has already rendered it. Because the land is filled with capital crime, the city (Jerusalem) with violence, the Lord will bring רעי, evil ones of the heathen, i.e., the worst of the heathen, to put an end to the pride of the Israelites. גּאון עזּים is not "pride of the insolents;" for עזּים does not stand for עזּי פנים (Deu 28:50, etc.). The expression is rather to be explained from גּאון עז, pride of strength, in Eze 24:21; Eze 30:6, Eze 30:18 (cf. Lev 26:19), and embraces everything on which a man (or a nation) bases his power and rests his confidence. The Israelites are called עזּים, because they thought themselves strong, or, according to Eze 24:21, based their strength upon the possession of the temple and the holy land. This is indicated by ונחלוּ which follows. נחל, Niphal of חלל and מקדשׁיהם, not a participle Piel, from מקדּשׁ, with the Dagesh dropped, but an unusual form, from מקדּשׁ for מקדּשׁיהם (vid., Ew. 215a). - The ἁπ λεγ. חהצנצט;, with the tone drawn back on account of the tone-syllable which follows (cf. Ges. 29, 3. 6), signifies excidium, destruction (according to the Rabbins), from קפד, to shrink or roll up (Isa 38:12). בּא is a prophetic perfect. In Eze 7:25 the ruin of the kingdom is declared to be certain, and in Eze 7:26 and Eze 7:27 the occurrence of it is more minutely depicted. Stroke upon stroke does the ruin come; and it is intensified by reports, alarming accounts, which crowd together and increase the terror, and also by the desperation of the spiritual and temporal leaders of the nation - the prophets, priests, and elders - whom God deprives of revelation, knowledge, and counsel; so that all ranks (king and princes and the common people) sink into mourning, alarm, and horror. That it is to no purpose that visions or prophecies are sought from the prophets (Eze 7:26), is evident from the antithetical statement concerning the priests and elders which immediately follows. The three statements serve as complements of one another. They seek for predictions from prophets, but the prophets receive no vision, no revelation. They seek instruction from priests, but instruction is withdrawn from the priests; and so forth. T̄ōrâh signifies instruction out of the law, which the priests were to give to the people (Mal 2:7). In Eze 7:27, the three classes into which the people were divided are mentioned - viz. king, prince (i.e., tribe-princes and heads of families), and, in contradistinction to both, עם הארץ, the common people, the people of the land, in distinction from the civil rulers, as in Kg2 21:24; Kg2 23:30. מדּרכּם, literally from their way, their mode of action, will I do to them: i.e., my action will be derived from theirs, and regulated accordingly. אותם for אתּם, as in Eze 3:22, etc. (See the comm. on Eze 16:59.)