Three more of Israel’s ill-natured neighbours are here arraigned, convicted, and condemned to destruction, for contributing to and triumphing in Jerusalem’s fall.
I. The Moabites. Seir, which was the seat of the Edomites, is joined with them (Ezek. 25:8), because they said the same as the Moabites; but they were afterwards reckoned with by themselves, Ezek. 25:12. Now observe,
1. What was the sin of the Moabites; they said, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen. They triumphed, (1.) In the apostasies of Israel, were please to see them forsake their God and worship idols, and hoped that in a while their religion would be quite lost and forgotten and the house of Judah would be like all the heathen, perfect idolaters. When those that profess religion walk unworthy of their profession they encourage the enemies of religion to hope that it will in time sink, and be run down, and quite abandoned; but let the Moabites know that, though there are those of the house of Judah who have made themselves like the heathen, yet there is a remnant that retain their integrity, the religion of the house of Judah shall recover itself, its peculiarities shall be preserved, it shall not lose itself among the heathen, but distinguish itself from them, till it deliver itself honourably into a better institution. (2.) In the calamities of Israel. They said, “The house of Judah is like all the heathen, in as bad a state as they; their God is no more able to deliver them from this overflowing scourge of these parts of the world than the gods of the heathen are to deliver them. Where are the promises they gloried in and all the wonders which they and their fathers told us of? What the better are they for the covenant of peculiarity, upon which they so much valued themselves? Those that looked with so much scorn upon all the heathen are now set upon a level with them, or rather sunk below them.” Note, Those who judge only by outward appearance are ready to conclude that the people of God have lost all their privileges when they have lost their worldly prosperity, which does not follow, for good men, even in affliction, in captivity among the heathen, have graces and comforts within sufficient to distinguish them from all the heathen. Though the event seem one to the righteous and wicked, yet indeed it is vastly different.
2. What should be the punishment of Moab for this sin; because they triumphed in the overthrow of Judah, their country shall be in like manner overthrown with that of the Ammonites, who were guilty of the same sin (Ezek. 25:9, 10): “I will open the side of Moab, will uncover its shoulder, will take away all its defences, that it may become an easy prey to any that will make a prey of it.” (1.) See here how it shall be exposed; the frontier-towns, that were its strength and guard, shall be demolished by the Chaldean forces, and laid open. Some of the cities are here named, which are said to be the glory of the country, which they trusted in, and boasted of as impregnable; these shall decay, be deserted, or betrayed, or fall into the enemies’ hands, so that Moab shall lie exposed, and whoever will may penetrate into the heart of the country. Note, Those who glory in any other defence and protection than that of the divine power, providence, and promise, will sooner or later see cause to be ashamed of their glorying. (2.) See here to whom it shall be exposed: The men of the east, when they come to take possession of the country of the Ammonites, shall seize that of the Moabites too. God, the Lord of all lands, will give them that land; for the kingdoms of men he gives to whomsoever he will. The Arabians, who are shepherds, and live quietly, plain men dwelling in tents, shall by an overruling Providence be put in possession of the land of the Moabites, who are soldiers, men of war, and cunning hunters, that live turbulently. The Chaldeans shall get it by war, and the Arabians shall enjoy it in peace. Concerning the Ammonites it is said, They shall no more be remembered among the nations (Ezek. 25:10), for they had been accessory to the murder of Gedaliah, Jer. 40:14. But of the Moabites it is said, I will execute judgments upon Moab; they shall feel the weight of God’s displeasure, but perhaps not to that degree that the Ammonites shall; however, so far as that they shall know that I am the Lord, that the God of Israel is a God of power, and that his covenant with his people is not broken.
II. The Edomites, the posterity of Esau, between whom and Jacob there had been an old enmity. And here is,
1. The sin of the Edomites, Ezek. 25:12. They not only triumphed in the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem, as the Moabites and Ammonites had done, but they took advantage from the present distressed state to which the Jews were reduced to do them some real mischiefs, probably made inroads upon their frontiers and plundered their country: Edom has dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance. The Edomites had of old been tributaries to the Jews, according to the sentence that the elder should serve the younger. In Jehoram’s time they revolted. Amaziah severely chastised them (2 Kgs. 14:7), and for this they took vengeance. Now they would pay off all the old scores, and not only incensed the Babylonians against Jerusalem, crying, Rase it, rase it (Ps. 137:7), but cut off those that escaped, as we find in the prophecy of Obadiah, which is wholly directed against Edom, Ezek. 25:11, 12 It is called here revenging a revenge, which intimates that they were not only eager upon it, but very cruel in it, and recompensed to the Jews more than double. “Herein he has greatly offended.” Note, It is a great offence to God for us to revenge ourselves upon our brother; for God has said, Vengeance is mine. We are forbidden to revenge or to bear a grudge. Suppose Judah had been hard upon Edom formerly, it was a base thing for the Edomites now, in revenge for it, to smite them secretly. But the Jews had a divine warrant to reign over the Edomites, for that therefore they ought not to have made reprisals; and it was the more disingenuous for them to retain the old enmity when God had particularly commanded his people to forget it. Deut. 23:7; Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite.
2. The judgments threatened against them for this sin. God will take them to task for it (Ezek. 25:13): I will stretch out my hand upon Edom Their country shall be desolate from Teman, which lay in the south part of it; and they shall fall by the sword unto Dedan, which lay north; the desolations of war should go through the nation. (1.) They had taken vengeance, and therefore God will lay his vengeance upon them (Ezek. 25:14): They shall know my vengeance. Those that will not leave it to God to take vengeance for them may expect that he will take vengeance on them; and those that will not believe and fear his vengeance shall be made to know and feel his vengeance; they shall be dealt with according to God’s anger and according to his fury, not according to the weakness of the instruments that are employed in it, but according to the strength of the arm that employs them. (2.) They had taken vengeance on Israel, and God will lay his vengeance on them by the hand of his people Israel. They suffered much by the Chaldeans, which seems to be referred to, Jer. 49:8. But besides that there were saviours to come upon Mount Zion, who should judge the mount of Esau (Obad. 1:21), and Israel’s Redeemer comes with dyed garments from Bozrah (Isa. 63:1), this implies a promise that Israel should recover itself again to such a degree as to be in a capacity of curbing the insolence of its neighbours. And we find (1 Macc. 5:3) that Judas Maccabeus fought against the children of Esau in Idumea, gave them a great overthrow, abated their courage, and took their spoil; and Josephus says (Antiq. 13.257), that Hircanus made the Edomites tributaries to Israel. Note, The equity of God’s judgments is to be observed when he not only avenges injuries upon those that did them, but by those against whom they were done.
III. The Philistines. And, 1. Their sin is much the same with that of the Edomites: They have dealt by revenge with the people of Israel, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, not to disturb them only, but to destroy them, for the old hatred (Ezek. 25:15), the old grudge they bore them, or (as the margin reads it) with perpetual hatred, a hatred that began long since and which they resolved to continue. The anger was implacable: they dealt by revenge, traded in the acts of malice; it was their constant practice, and their heart, their spiteful heart, was upon it. 2. Their punishment likewise is much the same, Ezek. 25:16. Those that were for destroying God’s people shall themselves be cut off and destroyed; and (Ezek. 25:17) those that were for avenging themselves shall find that God will execute great vengeance upon them. This was fulfilled when that country was wasted by the Chaldean army, not long after the destruction of Jerusalem, which is foretold, Jer. 47:1-7. It was strange that these nations, which bordered upon the land of Israel, were not alarmed by the success of the Chaldean army, and made to tremble in the apprehension of their own danger; when their neighbour’s house was on fire it was time to look to their own; but their impiety and malice made them forget their politics, till God by his judgments convinced them that the cup was going round, and they were the less safe for being secure.
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