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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–7
Verses 1–7

This prophecy begins as that before (Ezek. 38:3-4; I am against thee, and I will turn thee back); for there is need of line upon line, both for the conviction of Israel’s enemies and the comfort of Israel’s friends. Here, as there, it is foretold that God will bring this enemy from the north parts, as formerly the Chaldeans were fetched from the north, Jer. 1:14 (Omne malum ab aquilone—Every evil comes from the north), and, long after, the Roman empire was overrun by the northern nations, that he will bring him upon the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 39:2), first as a place of temptation, where the measures of his iniquity shall be filled up, and then as a place of execution, where his ruin shall be completed. And that is it which is here enlarged upon. 1. His soldiers shall be disarmed and so disabled to carry on their enterprise. Though the men of might may find their hands, yet to what purpose, when they find it is put out of their power to do mischief, when God shall smite their bow out of their left hand and their arrow out of their right? Ezek. 39:3. Note, The weapons formed against Zion shall not prosper. 2. He and the greatest part of his army shall be slain in the field of battle (Ezek. 39:4): Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel; there they sinned, and there they shall perish, even upon the holy mountains of Israel, for there broke he the arrows of the bow, Ps. 76:3. The mountains of Israel shall be moistened, and fattened, and made fruitful, with the blood of the enemies. “Thou shalt fall upon the open field (Ezek. 39:5) and shalt not be able even there to make thy escape.” Even upon the mountains he shall not find a pass that he shall be able to maintain, and upon the open field he shall not find a road that he shall be able to make his escape by. He and his bands; his regular troops, and the people that are with him that follow the camp to share in the plunder, shall all fall with him. Note, Those that cast in their lot among wicked people (Prov. 1:14), that they may have one purse with them, must expect to take their lot with them, and fare as they fare, taking the worse with the better. There shall be such a general slaughter made that but a sixth part shall be left (Ezek. 39:2), the other five shall all be cut off. Never was army so totally routed as this. And, for its greater infamy and reproach, their bodies shall be a feast to the birds of prey, Ezek. 39:4. Compare Ezek. 39:17; Thou shalt fall, for I have spoken it. Note, Rather shall the most illustrious princes (Antiochus was called Epiphanes—the illustrious) and the most numerous armies fall to the ground than any word of God; for he that has spoken will make it good. 3. His country also shall be made desolate: I will send a fire on Magog (Ezek. 39:6) and among those that dwell carelessly, or confidently, in the isles, that is, the nations of the Gentiles. He designed to destroy the land of Israel, but shall not only be defeated in that design, but shall have his own destroyed by some fire, some consuming judgment or other. Note, Those who invade other people’s rights justly lose their own. 4. God will by all this advance the honour of his own name, (1.) Among his people Israel; they shall hereby know more of God’s name, of his power and goodness, his care of them, his faithfulness to them. His providence concerning them shall lead them into a better acquaintance with him; every providence should do so, as well as every ordinance: I will make my holy name known in the midst of my people. In Judah is God known; but those that know much of God should know more of him; we should especially increase in the knowledge of his name as a holy name. They shall know him as a God of perfect purity and rectitude and that hates all sin, and then it follows, I will not let them pollute my holy name any more. Note, Those that rightly know God’s holy name will not dare to profane it; for it is through ignorance of it that men make light of it and make bold with it. And this is God’s method of dealing with men, first to enlighten their understandings, and by that means to influence the whole man; he first makes us to know his holy name, and so keeps us from polluting it and engages us to honour it. And this is here the blessed effect of God’s glorious appearances on the behalf of his people. Thus he completes his favours, thus he sanctifies them, thus he makes them blessings indeed; by them he instructs his people and reforms them. When the Almighty scattered kings for her she was white as snow in Salmon, Ps. 68:14. (2.) Among the heathen; those that never knew it, or would not own it, shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. They shall be made to know by dearbought experience that he is a God of power, and his people’s God and Saviour; and it is in vain for the greatest potentates to contend with him; none ever hardened their heart against him and prospered.