Ezekiel 25

 

 

The section on which we now enter — the great “parenthesis,” as I have

called it, of Ezekiel’s prophetic work — contains messages to the seven

nations that were most closely connected with the fortunes of Israel and

Judah. These were

 

  • Ammon (ch. 25:1-7);
  • Moab (ch.25:8-11);
  • Edom (ch. 25:12-14);
  • Philistia (ch. 25:15-17);
  • Tyre (ch. 26:1-28:19);
  • (Zidon (ch.28:20-24);
  • Egypt (ch.29:1-32:32).
  •  

A prophet’s work was hardly complete without such a survey of the Divine

order of the world so far as it came within the horizon of his thoughts; and

Ezekiel had before him the example of like groups of prophecies addressed

to the heathen nations with which Israel was brought into contact, in Isaiah

13-23. and Jeremiah 46-51. It was natural that the two contemporary

prophets should be led to address their messages to the same nations, and

so we find Ezekiel’s seven named together with others in Jeremiah 25:15-26,

and five of them (Egypt and Philistia being excepted) in Jeremiah 27:1-4;

while we have fuller and special prophecies for Egypt (Jeremiah 46.); Philistia

(Jeremiah 47.); Moab (Jeremiah 48.); Ammon (Jeremiah 49:1-6); Edom (Jeremiah

49:7-22), with the addition of Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-27); Kedar (Jeremiah

49:28-33); Elam (Jeremiah 49:34-39); Babylon (Jeremiah 50:1). What is remarkable

in Ezekiel is that he has no message for Babylon, which for Isaiah and

Jeremiah was the leading representative of the world-powers considered in

their antagonism to the Divine kingdom. This may, in part, be explained by

supposing that he omitted it in order to keep to his number of seven

nations as the symbol of completeness; but a more probable hypothesis is

that he was led, as Jeremiah had at one time been (Jeremiah 29:1-7), to

see in the Chaldean monarchy the appointed minister of the Divine

judgments on Jerusalem and on the other nations. For his immediate

purpose it was fitter that the exiles for whom he wrote should “seek the

peace of the people among whom they dwelt rather than that they should

exult in its future downfall. He, like Jeremiah, may have been personally

favored by Nebuchadnezzar and his officials; and Daniel, whom he

mentions with honor (ch. 14:14), and whom he may have known

personally, was the king’s chief minister. There was, we may well believe, a

sufficient reason for this exceptional reticence.

 

The Judgment of the Nations (vs. 1-17)

 

This verse introduces a new series of prophecies, which contain successive

utterances of judgment against foreign nations, extending over the

following chapters to the end of the thirty-second. The whole series is

deserving of consideration, both for the sake of its common character and

in order to note the distinctions of the several parts.

 

  • GOD RULES OVER THE WHOLE EARTH. The prophet has not

ended his mission when he has delivered his message to the Jews. He has a

new oracle to utter. The word of God comes to him again with fresh, full,

distinct declarations, and the whole of these declarations concern foreign

nations. Seven nations are specified. The number is suggestive; the typical

number of completeness, it implies that the nations named are not the only

ones over whom God exercises jurisdiction, but that those nations, being

the nearest to Israel, are selected as prominent specimens. The Hebrew

prophets repeatedly extended their gaze far beyond the hills of Palestine.

The Moabites might regard Jehovah as the tribal God of Israel, in the same

sense in which Chemosh was their God (see the Moabite Stone), and

Jephthah might use language which appeared to recognize this position

(Judges 11:24), but the inspired prophets made no such mistake. They

knew that the one God was Lord over the whole earth. God is now

concerned with the heathen. He is also concerned with the godless at

home. Men may ignore, renounce, or oppose Him, but they cannot elude

His notice or escape from His authority.

 

  • GOD EXERCISES HIS JUDGMENTS AGAINST WICKEDNESS

OVER THE WHOLE EARTH. Those seven nations were called to

account by God, charged with wickedness, and threatened with

destruction. They were heathen nations, but that fact did not exonerate

them from blame or protect them against just punishment. Christ

announced a judgment of all the nations to follow that of Israel

(Matthew 25:32).  Paul spoke to the Athenians of God’s judgment

of all men (Acts 17:30-31), and pointed out to the Romans that the

heathen would be subject to it (Romans 1:18). These and other

expressions show us that those people who had not light and law would

not be judged by the high standard of the more instructed, but that their

own consciences would be the measure of their guilt (Ibid. ch. 2:14-16).

The heathen know sin. Unbelievers cannot deny their own misconduct in

daily life, though they may deny the doctrines of Scripture. As sinners, just

like other men, if not as unbelievers, will they be judged. We cannot escape

the consequences of our sins by repudiating religion.

 

  • GOD VISITS NATIONAL SINS WITH NATIONAL JUDGMENTS.

 

Ř      Each nation is judged as a whole. There is and there will be separate,

individual judgments. Of this Christ spoke (Matthew 25:32). But while

the New Testament is individualistic, the Old Testament is national. It

more frequently takes a nation as a corporate unit. There are national sins,

 

o       sins which are committed by many in the nation, and so become

characteristic of it, as drunkenness among Teutonic nations; and

o       sins committed by the people as a whole through its government.

 

For such sins the nation is punished. America will be punished as a

nation for America’s sins.

 

Ř      Each nation is judged separately. A distinct judgment is pronounced

against each of the seven nations. God is discriminating in His judgment of

communities as well as in His judgment of individuals. All have not sinned

in the same way, therefore all will not be punished on the same scale.

THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH WILL DO RIGHT!  (Genesis 18:25)

In conclusion, note that God, who rules over all the nations, and will judge

them all, HAS SENT HIS ONLY SON TO BE SAVIOUR OF ALL! 

(John 3:16)  The gospel is as broad as the judgment (Romans 5:20).

 

1 “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them;

3 And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD;

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my

sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel,

when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they

went into captivity;” Set thy face against the Ammonites. The main facts that

are essential to a right understanding of the message to this people, not to

speak of their long-standing enmity against Israel for many centuries, are:

 

  • that they formed part of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, as allies or tributaries,

against Jehoiakim (II Kings 24:2);

 

  • that afterwards they, with other neighboring nations, intrigued with

Zedekiah against the Chaldean king (<242703>Jeremiah 27:3), so that it

was an open question whether his first act of vengeance should fall on

Rabbath- Ammon or Jerusalem (ch.21:20). In Ibid. vs. 28-32, written

not long before, Ezekiel had uttered his prediction of the coming judgment.

Here we read that when they saw that Jerusalem had been laid waste, they,

like Edom (Psalm 137:7), exulted in her downfall. Earlier traces of

cruelty and outrage are found in Ibid. ch.83:7; Amos 1:13 — 15;

Zephaniah 2:8-11. We learn from Jeremiah 40:14 that the name of

the Ammonite king at this time was Baalis.

 

4 “Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a

possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their

dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy

milk.  5 And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites

a couching place for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”

The men of the east; Hebrew, children of the east. The name is applied in

Genesis 29:1; I Kings 4:30; Job 1:3; Judges 6:3,33; 7:12; 8:10, to the nomadic

tribes, Midianites and others, which roamed to and fro in the wilderness east

of Ammon and Moab, after the manner of the modem Bedouins, with their

sheep and camels, and were looked upon as descendants of Ishmael. Palaces;

better, with the Revised Version, encampments, or tent-villages. The word is

found, in this sense, in Genesis 25:16; Psalm 69:25; Numbers 31:10. This was,

probably, the immediate result of Nebuchadnezzar’s march. Rabbah was left

undefended, and became a stable for the camels of the Midianites and other

tribes (Judges 6:5). The prediction has been slowly fulfilled. Under the Greece-

Egyptian rule the city revived, was named after Ptolemy Philadelphus, and was

flourishing under the Roman Empire. Remains of temples, theatres, houses, are

still found on its site, but its present desolate condition agrees with the picture

drawn here by Ezekiel and in Jeremiah 49:2. The language of Ibid. v.6 implies

captivity and a partial return from it.

 

6 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine

hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy

despite against the land of Israel;  7 Behold, therefore I will stretch out

mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen;

and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish

out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I

am the LORD.”  A spoil to the heathen. The noun for “spoil” is not found

elsewhere, but probably means “food.” The Hebrew Keri, i.e. its marginal

reading, gives the same word as that rendered “spoil” in ch. 25:7.

The meaning is substantially the same whichever word we choose. Ezekiel,

it will be noticed, says nothing about the return of the Ammonites, but

contemplates, as in ch.21:32, entire destruction. The moaning of Rabbah

(“great” or “populous”), the mother-city of Ammon, gives greater

force to the prophecy of desolation.

 

 

The Scoffing Nation (vs. 2-7)

 

The first nation selected for denunciation is the Ammonite, situated on the

east of the Jordan and to the north of Moab, with its further border

towards the Syrian desert. Its scoffing at the sacred things of the Jews, and

its cruel mockery of their calamities, are to be followed by a dreadful

destruction. Scoffing and mockery are dangerous practices for those who

indulge in them.

 

         

                                                                        (map from Wikipedia)

  • THE CRUEL SCOFFING.

 

Ř      An insult to religion. “Thou saidst, Aha! against my sanctuary when it

was profaned” (Ver. 3). No doubt the sanctuary was regarded as a mystical

center of the power of the Jews. When the sacred edifice was overthrown,

the talisman was destroyed, the spell was broken. This was a matter of

delight to an enemy. Thus scoffing is itself a testimony to the power of

religion, though that power may be apprehended in a very ignorant and

superstitious way. But to rejoice in the downfall of religious influence is

TO PROCLAIM ONE’S SELF AN ENEMY OF GOD!.   It is fair,

however, to see that scoffing at religion may be provoked by the misconduct

of its champions.  Much of the scoffing of unbelievers at Christianity is not

inspired by hatred to the gospel, but by disgust at the unworthy conduct of

Christians. The sins of the Jews led to dishonor to their temple. The sins of

Christians invite insults against Christ.

 

Ř      The love of destruction. The Ammonites scoffed “against the land of

Israel when it was desolate.” The northern nation had been already

destroyed and scattered, but the waste and ruined condition of the

deserted land was a delight to the jealous neighbors on the eastern border.

There is a fierce joy in the idea delenda est Carthago (Carthage must be

Destroyed). But this is heathenish and wicked. Sin that works for death

creates a delight in destruction (this is malicious – CY – 2014). The

Christian idea is the opposite to this — not breaking a bruised reed, but

helping on the time when “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be

glad; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).

 

Ř      A pleasure in cruelty. The Ammonites scoffed at the contemporary

calamity of the southern kingdom — “the house of Judah, when they went

into captivity.” The earlier destruction of Israel is a source of wild, fiendish

joy. “Thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and

rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel (v. 6).

There is no more Satanic wickedness than joy springing from the

contemplation of the misery of others.

 

  • THE NATIONAL DOOM. This is to be very similar to that of Israel

and Judah, so that what the Ammonites rejoiced to see in their neighbors

shall come on their own heads, but still with certain variations determined

by their situation and character.

 

Ř      Subjection to others. Ammon had rejoiced over the downfall of her

western neighbors. She in turn shall be overrun by people from the cast.

The destruction was to come from Babylon, but “the men of the east,” i.e.

the Arabs, would follow it, and like vultures pounce on the prey left by the

advancing Chaldean army. Cruelty makes many enemies and no friends.

The scoffer must expect to be scoffed at.

 

Ř      Reduced civilization. Rabbah, the proud capital, will become a pasture

for camels, and the once populous land of Ammon a sheep run. National

punishment lowers a people in the scale of social life.  (Read about

what happened to Babylon!  - Isaiah 14:22-23)

 

Ř      National destruction. The Ammonites are to “perish out of the

countries.” This old-world nation did cease to exist. Though individuals

may remain, the corporate life of the nation is destroyed. As the wages of

individual sin is individual death, so a nation’s sin is punished by national

destruction. The wicked Roman Empire was destroyed. It depends on our

national conduct whether the same fate will come on the United States of

America.

 

8  Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say,

Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen;”

Moab and Seir.Seir” stands elsewhere for Edom, but here

appears as distinguished from it, the latter nation having a distinct message

in v. 12. A possible explanation is found in II Chronicles 20:23,

where we find Moab and Ammon joined together against the inhabitants of

Mount Seir. The Moabites may have retained possession of it, and so

Ezekiel may have coupled the two names together. Their sin also, like that

of Ammon, is that they exulted in the fall of Jerusalem. It was come down

to the level of other cities, no longer exalted above them by the blessing of

Jehovah. The Moabite Stone, found in the ruins of Dibon (‘Records of the

Past,’ 9:165), on which Mesha, King of Moab, narrates his conquests over

neighboring nations, including Israel, testifies to the strength of the

kingdom, and in Isaiah 15. and 16. it is represented as conspicuous for its

pride. They too, like the Ammonites, served in Nebuchadnezzar’s army

(II Kings 24:2).

 

9 “Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities,

from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country,

Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim,  I will open the side of Moab;

literally, the shoulder, i.e. the slopes of the mountain of Moab (Joshua 15:8, 10).

For Bethjeshimoth (equivalent to “House of wastes”), see Numbers 33:49;

Joshua 12:3; 13:20. It had been assigned to Reuben, but had been

seized by the Moabites. It has been identified by De Sauley with the ruins

now known as Suaime, on the northeastern border of the Dead Sea. Baalmeon

(Numbers 32:38), more fully Beth-baal-meon (Joshua 13:17), or Beth-moon

(Jeremiah 48:23). The name is found in ruins of some extent, known as the

fortress of Miun or Maein, about three miles south of Heshbon (‘Dict. Bible,’ s.v.).

Kiriathaim. The dual form of the name (equivalent to “Two cities”) implies, perhaps,

the union of an old and new town, or two towns on the opposite sides of a brook

or wady. The name appears in Genesis 14:5; Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:19;

Jeremiah 48:1,23. It has been identified with El-Teym, about two miles

from Medeba (Burckhardt), and with Kurei-yat, on the south side of Jebel

Attarus. Eusebius (Onom.,s.v.) describes it as about ten miles from

Medeba, and close to the Baris, but nothing is known as to the last-named

place. The three cities all belonged to the region which Sihon and Og had

conquered from the Moabites before Israel obtained possession of them,

and they were afterwards claimed as belonging to the Israelites by right of

conquest (Judges 11:23), and them may therefore be a touch of irony in

Ezekiel’s language describing them as Moabite cities. Collectively they

were the glory of the country, the region known as the Belka, in which

they were situated, giving the best pasturage, then as now, in Southern

Syria. Havernick quotes a Bedouin proverb, “There is no land like Belka

(see Tristram’sLand of Moab,’ pp. 275, 303-305, 350). Kirjath and

Baalmeon appear in Mesha’s inscription on the Moabite Stone.

 

10 Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them

in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among

the nations.  11 And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they

shall know that I am the LORD.”  Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites.

The Authorized Version is obscure. What is meant is that the Moabites as well

as the Ammonites were to be given to the nomadic tribes, the “children of

the east,” for a possession. The doom that Ammon was to be no more

remembered (ch. 21:32) was to be carried out to the uttermost,

and the children of the east were to complete what Nebuchadnezzar had

begun. The utter destruction of Ammon was, as it were, uppermost in the

prophet’s thoughts, and that of Moab was but secondary. Historically, the

words received a partial fulfillment in Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests five

years after the destruction of Jerusalem (Josephus,’ Ant.,’ 10:9.7, and M.

yon Niebuhr’sGeseh. Assurs,’ p. 215), but the Ammonites were still an

important people in the time of the Maccabees (I Maccabees 5:6, 30-45)

and Justin Martyr (‘Dial. cum Trypho, p. 272).

 

 

The Skeptical Nation (vs. 8-11)

 

The sister nation of Moab, lying just to the south of Ammon, comes

second in the order of the peoples whose doom is pronounced by the

prophet of Jehovah. It has its characteristic sin, and it will have its

characteristic punishment.

 

  • THE RECKLESS SCEPTICISM. “Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the

house of Judah is like unto all the heathen.” This utterance expressed

unbelief in regard to the peculiar privileges of Judah. The Jews had given

themselves out as the chosen people of God, and their claim was disputed

by Moab.

 

Ř      The skepticism was prompted by jealousy. Moab was vexed at the

pretensions of the Jews. What right had one little nation to arrogate to

itself the favor of Heaven? The same jealousy leads those who are outside

the Christian profession to depreciate the privileges of the Church. But in

the latter case there is far less excuse, because the doors of the Church are

open for all to enter it. There is no exclusiveness in Christianity. Judaism

was narrow, and while men of most heathen nations could only enter the

covenant by becoming Jews, i.e. by renouncing their own nation, an

express provision was made to rigorously exclude Moabites and

Ammonites (Deuteronomy 23:3).

 

Ř      The skepticism was encouraged by the sins of the Jews. Unhappily there

was a sting of truth in the taunt which the Moabites had flung at the

degenerate Jews. As a fact, Judah had become only too like the heathen.

Her separateness was based on a distinction of faith and morals; but alas!

this distinction was fast melting away, and both in the practice of idolatry

and in a departure from the high ethical standard of the Law, the Jews were

assimilating themselves to their pagan neighbors. In the same way, the sins

of Christians sow seeds of skepticism in the world. The Church is too

much like the world, and the consequence is that the world doubts the high

pretensions of the Church.

 

Ř      This skepticism was grounded in error. The view of the Moabites was

superficial. They saw the glaring faults of the Jews, they observed the

external likeness of Judah to heathen people, but they did not look beneath

the surface to certain great spiritual truths. They did not see “the remnant”

of the faithful, in which the prophets detected the germ of the future and

recognized already the true Israel of God. They failed to note that a people

may fall grievously from its mission, and yet may not utterly lose its

vocation. It is the same with the world’s judgment of the Church. In the

darkest ages there has ever been a remnant of true Christians with whom

could be found the sacred deposit of truth and grace. Even when the

Church had sinned greatly, “the root of the matter” may still be in her, so

that after heavy chastisement she may learn to repent and be restored.

Moreover, the real Christian privileges which distinguish the true and

faithful people of God from the world, the privileges of membership in the

kingdom of heaven, fellowship with God, etc., are not perceived by the

worldly, for they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14), and

eye hath not seen… the things which God hath prepared,” etc.

(Ibid. v. 9)

 

  • THE JUST PUNISHMENT. This is assimilated to the guilt. There is to

be nothing distinctive in the punishment of Moab, only a repetition of that

of Ammon. Denying the distinction of the Jews, the Moabites are not to be

distinguished in their doom. Refusing to admit the unique national destiny

of Israel, they themselves are to cease to be remembered among the

nations. Now look at the just irony of history. In course of time, the

skeptical nation melts out of memory, while the people of God grow into a

greater distinction and fulfill a higher destiny than they ever anticipated.

 

12 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against

the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended,

and revenged himself upon them;  13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and

beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan

shall fall by the sword.” Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of

Judah, etc. The statement receives many illustrations, notably in Psalm 137:7,

and at an earlier date in Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:11. What had been malicious

exultation (the ἐπιχαιρεκακία epichairekakia -  which Aristotle describes

as the extremest type of evil) passed in the case of Edom into overt acts of

hostility. The moment of Judah’s weakness was seized on as an

opportunity for gratifying what Ezekiel elsewhere (ch.35:5) calls

the “perpetual hatred” of the people against Israel, for taking vengeance

for the primal wrong which Esau had suffered at the hand of Jacob

(Genesis 27:36). (For other prophecies against Edom, see Numbers 24:18-19;

Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:7-12; Joel 3:19.) Teman.  The name, which signifies

“South,” was probably applied to a district — twice, here and in Jeremiah 49:7-8,

coupled with Dedan. In Ibid. ch. 49:20-21 the cry of the inhabitants of Teman

is said to have been “heard in the Red Sea,” and this determines its geographical

position, as being, in accordance with its name, the southern region of Edom. In

Job 2:11 we have Eliphaz the Temanite as one of the patriarch’s

friends, and the same name appears as that of a son of Esau (Genesis

36:11). In Jeremiah (loc. cit.) Teman is named as famous for its wisdom.

Dedan is named as a grandson of Cush in Genesis 10:7, and of

Abraham by Keturah in Ibid. ch. 25:3. It has been inferred from this that

there were two branches of the nation, one on the shores of the Persian

Gulf, nomadic and trading, as in the “traveling companies” of Dedanim

(ch.27:15,20; Isaiah 21:13); the other settled in the territory

of the Edomites (‘Dict. Bible’). The latter is that to which Ezekiel refers. A

various punctuation gives, with a better sense, “From Teman even unto

Dedan they shall fall by the sword.”

 

14 And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people

Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and

according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the

Lord GOD.”  By the hand of my people Israel: The words received a

fulfillment in the conquest of Edom by John Hyrcanus, who compelled its

people to receive circumcision (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 13:9. 1). In Amos 9:12

its subjugation is connected with the Messianic prophecy that the

fallen tabernacle of David should be raised up. There is an obvious

emphasis in the repetition of the word vengeance. The law of a Divine

retribution will work out its appointed purpose-vengeance to those who

sought vengeance. They (the Edomites) shall reap as they have sown, and

shall know that the vengeance of Jehovah is more terrible than their own.

 

 

The Revengeful Nation (vs. 12-14)

 

The Edomites are characterized as an especially revengeful people, because

they watched for their opportunity, and, when the Jews were crushed and

prostrate beneath the cruel Chaldean invasion, rushed in to smite their

fallen foe.

 

  • THE WICKED REVENGE.

 

Ř      Vengeance is presumptuous. There is a right recompense for sin, but this

lies with God. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”

(Romans 12:19). He who seizes the weapons of vengeance usurps the

authority of God.

 

Ř      Vengeance is cruel. Divine vengeance is a just punishment. There is no

vindictive pleasure in it. But human vengeance springs from an evil

appetite, that seeks a personal satisfaction in the sufferings of its victim.

Such vengeance is distinctly wicked. Indeed, the self-elected minister of

vengeance is forced into this dilemma — either his vengeance is a delight

to him, or it is not. If it is a delight, the joy is wicked, devilish; if it is no

delight, why does he practice it, for the plea that he is urged by a sense of

public duty is delusive? Directly that becomes the motive, revenge vanishes

and punishment takes its place.

 

Ř      Vengeance is unchristian. It is to be noted that this vengeful spirit was

charged as a great wickedness against the Edomites. They lived in the pre-

Christian days, and they were a heathen nation. Much more, then, is

revenge sinful in a Christian. We have the clearer New Testament light; we

have also the wonderful example of Christ to deter us from revenge. For us

to behave as the Edomites is to merit their doom twice over.

 

Ř      Vengeance is mean-spirited. Apart from all the above-named

considerations, when the question is approached on the lowest ground,

vengeance bears a despicable aspect. The Edomites waited till the

Chaldean power had overthrown Judah; then they rushed in to complete

the destruction. This was behaving like the jackals, who cannot destroy

big game, but who are mad to devour the carrion that the lion has left.

Revenge knows no honorable laws of war. It has the degraded spirit of

The assassin.

 

  • THE NATURAL PUNISHMENT. There is generally a resemblance

between sin and its penalty. The punishment is just the fruit of the sin. Thus

the vengeful conduct of the Edomites brings vengeance on the head of the

vindictive people.

 

Ř      Revenge does not end a quarrel. This is the mistake of it. It is foolish

and short-sighted, for, in return for its own brief, wild delight, it rouses

fresh enmity and provokes retaliation. The too stern treatment of the

French by the Germans left a rankling spirit of vengeance in the breasts of

the defeated people. The vendetta in Corsica keeps up a feud for

generations — each member on one side provoking one in return from the

other side. Shylock speaks of the mutual vengeance of race-hatred, “if a

Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong

a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Revenge.”

 

Ř      Revenge provokes the most bitter punishment. This comes from the

wronged victim. Judah takes vengeance on Edom. Possibly this happens

indirectly through the Chaldean invasion predicted by Jewish prophets, or

Jews may have some direct hand in the work. Vengeance makes enemies.

This form of self-protection is a fatal failure. The true victory over one’s

enemies is by FORGIVENESS,  the heaping coals of fire on his head

(Proverbs 25:21-22).

 

15  Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by

revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to

destroy it for the old hatred;”  The sin of the Philistines is virtually the same as

that of the Edomites. They also had a perpetual hatred. Century after century

they had been, with various fortunes, the enemies of Israel — defeated

(to confine ourselves to more recent history) by Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 17:11)

and Uzziah (Ibid. ch. 26:6), formidable under Jehoram (Ibid. ch.21:16) and Ahaz

(Ibid. ch.28:18), repressed by Hezekiah (Isaiah 14:31), combining with Amalek,

and Ammon, and Tyre, and Assyria against Jerusalem (Psalm 83:7).

 

16 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine

hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy

the remnant of the sea coast.  17 And I will execute great vengeance upon

them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD,

when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.”  The Cherethims. The name

appears, coupled with the Philistines, in Zephaniah 2:5, and has been supposed

to be connected with Crete as the region from which they came, or in which

they afterwards settled. By many writers both names are identified with the

Cherethites and Pelethites, who appear as David’s body-guard in II Samuel

8:18; 15:18, et al., and who are supposed to represent a body of mercenary or

Subject troops formed out of the two nations. Both Ezekiel and Zephaniah

Connect the Cherethims with a paronomasia (a slight change of words),

the verb I will cut off being almost identical in sound with it. (For other

prophecies, see Isaiah 11:14; 14:29-31;  Jeremiah 47.; Joel 3:4; Amos 1:6-8;

Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zechariah 9:4-7.)

 

 

The Hating Nation (vs. 15-17)

 

The Philistines are signalized by an ugly preeminence in hatred, and they

are to be punished with an extremity of Divine vengeance.

 

  • THE PRE-EMINENT HATRED. Partly through her own mischief-

making, but largely on account of unwarrantable jealousy, the favored land

of Israel had been troubled with the enmity of most of her neighbors. But

no people had shown such bitter and long-cherished animosity as the little

fishing and farming community on its southwestern border. From the days

of the judges, the Philistines appear as the hereditary enemies of Israel.

Possibly the fact that they were hemmed in between the hill country of

Judah and the sea, and so were cramped for room and had their access to

the east and the west cut off from them, made them jealous of their more

prosperous and expansive neighbors. Be that as it may, hatred

characterizes the relations between the two peoples. Close contact does

not produce friendship if sympathy or its worldly substitute, mutual

interest, be lacking. The most bitter quarrels are those between near

neighbors. Family feuds are proverbially rancorous. Means of

communication will not bring “peace on earth” and “good will towards

men.” Commerce does not abolish war. Railways have not made friends of

France and Germany. Hatred must be conquered by deeper means than

worldly advantage.

 

  • THE DREADFUL DOOM.

 

Ř      It is a Divine vengeance. This must always be fearful; but there are

degrees in the execution of it determined by varieties in the character and

conduct of men. Here it is described as peculiarly heavy — “great

vengeance,” “with furious rebukes.” There is nothing that God prizes so

highly as unselfish love, the queen of all virtues; and accordingly there is

nothing that He so deeply hates as hatred. This is a sin that most surely

provokes the wrath of Heaven.

 

Ř      It is seen in destructions. The Philistines had been named “Cherethims

— “extirpated” from their old land when they came as exiles across the

Levant and settled on its eastern shore. Now they will deserve that name a

second time, for they must be extirpated outright. This thing has been

accomplished. The Philistines have ceased to exist. A similar doom had

been threatened against the other nations, but with Philistia it was most

impressive, as coming most directly from the hand of God.

 

Ř      It is experienced after long delay. For generations the Philistines had

been the incessant enemies of Judah, a perpetual thorn in her side,

sometimes utilized for purposes of needful castigation, often slumbering in

impotent inactivity, but never truly reconciled to the Jews. Their

punishment was long delayed, but it was not outlived. It is a fearful thing

to suffer from ACCUMULATED PUNISHMENT!   Awful must be the

doom of the aged sinner. YET IT IS NEVER TO LATE TO RETURN!

Even penitent Philistines will be pardoned.

 

 

 

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