Ezekiel 25 – Judgment on the Nations Near Judah
A. Judgment upon Ammon.
1. (1-5) Against the Ammonites.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them. Say to the Ammonites, ‘Hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you said, ‘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, indeed, therefore, I will deliver you as a possession to the men of the East, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings among you; they shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk. And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels and Ammon a resting place for flocks. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”
a. Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites: This begins a new section of the book of Ezekiel, from chapters 25 through 32. This section is concerned with the judgment of the nations surrounding Judah. God’s general message is that though He had a first and proper focus on the sins of His people, He had not forgotten, and would not neglect, the judgment of the pagan nations surrounding Judah and Jerusalem.
i. In Ezekiel 24:26-27 the prophet announced a coming day when one who escaped the conquered Jerusalem would come to Babylon to tell the sad news that the siege that began (Ezekiel 24:1-2) was completed and the city was destroyed. The fulfillment of that promise is recorded in Ezekiel 33:21-22. In between, Ezekiel prophesied concerning the nations surrounding Israel.
ii. “What the nations didn’t realize was that the destruction of Jerusalem wasn’t just a punishment of the Jews; it was also a warning to the Gentiles.” (Wiersbe)
iii. “The principle of I Peter 4:17-18 is pertinent throughout this section. If God judged His own people, in justice He must judge the nations for their sins as well.” (Feinberg)
iv. “Although the Old Testament prophets addressed their messages primarily to their own people, or to a part at least of God’s covenant community, it was characteristic of them to survey the other nations of the world in order to demonstrate the Lord’s sovereignty over the heathen as well as over Israel. This is the pattern in Isaiah (chapters 13–23), in Jeremiah (chapters 46–51) and also in Amos (chapters 1, 2).” (Taylor)
v. “The principle which is operative in Matthew 25:31-46 is seen as applicable here also: the nations are judged on the basis of their treatment of ‘my brethren.’” (Feinberg)
vi. Of the section between Ezekiel 25 and 32, “There seems to be a fascination with the number seven. There are seven nations that the prophet addresses. The seventh nation is Egypt, which has seven prophecies devoted to it. In the seventh of these, the text surveys seven nations.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
vii. “It is remarkable that Ezekiel in his predictions did not mention judgment on Babylon, which was God’s instrument of wrath on Israel. In this particular, contrast the extended prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah and elsewhere.” (Feinberg)
viii. “Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, believed that Babylon was God’s instrument of judgment against an unfaithful Israel. To resist Babylon was to resist the divine will. That is why Jeremiah counseled submission to Babylon and why Ezekiel did not include Babylon among the nations he condemned.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
b. Against the Ammonites: The Ammonites lived in the area on the east side of the Jordan River, north of the Moabites. Their lands are included in what is today Jordan, and the capital of Jordan is named Amman because of this connection.
i. “In spite of its limited territory between the mountainous area of southern Gilead and the eastern desert, Ammon’s importance and wealth were significant. It enjoyed unrivalled domination of the King’s Highway. This important commercial artery ran the length of the Transjordanian highlands from the Gulf of Aqabah to Damascus.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
c. Because you said, “Aha!” against My sanctuary when it was profaned: The Ammonites felt no pity or sorrow for the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. This may be understandable in terms of political or national rivalry, but they should have mourned the desecration of the sanctuary of the true God, the creator of heaven and earth. They did not, and it made them liable for judgment.
d. And against the land of Israel when it was desolate, and against the house of Judah when they went into captivity: The sins of the Ammonites against the people of Israel went back a long time. They did not sorrow, and instead rejoiced, when Israel was conquered more than 100 years before and did the same when Judah later went into captivity.
i. “Ammon evidently took advantage of Babylon’s victory and·grabbed whatever land and property that they could. This is implied in Ezekiel 25:3 and is confirmed by Jeremiah 49.1. Here is the temporarily strong nation taking advantage of the weaker neighbour.” (Wright)
ii. “According to Ezekiel 21:18-20 Nebuchadnezzar had set out against Judah and Ammon. But there is no record of an attack on Ammon; apparently it had capitulated and turned against Judah (Ezekiel 21:28; Zephaniah 2:8-11).” (Feinberg)
e. Therefore, I will deliver you as a possession to the men of the East: It made them happy that Israel and Judah were conquered; soon they also would be conquered. The men of the East would come to eat their fruit and drink their milk, and they would occupy the cities of Rabbah and Ammon.
i. Men of the East: “Opinions vary as to the identity of the children of the east: some take them to be the Bedouin, the nomadic tribes beyond the Jordan (Judges 6:3); others feel they are the Ishmaelites; and yet others think they are doubtless the Babylonians.” (Feinberg)
ii. “The fulfilment of this prediction is not noted in Scripture: but Josephus tells us, that about five years after the taking of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar turned his arms against the Ammonites and Moabites, and afterwards against Egypt; and having subdued those nations, he returned to Babylon. Josephus Antiquities, l. x., c. ii.” (Clarke)
2. (6-7) The guilt of the Ammonites.
‘For thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations; I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
a. Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart: The sin first mentioned in Ezekiel 25:3 is now enlarged upon. They showed great disdain for the land of Israel and therefore for the God of Israel.
i. “The Ammonites were clapping their hands and stamping their feet with glee over Jerusalem’s fall.” (Block)
ii. Give you as plunder to the nations: “For a prey, or for meat, so the word will bear. The greedy, covetous soldier shall make thy wealth his prey; the hungry enemy shall eat thee up.” (Poole)
b. I will cause you to perish from the countries: As a nation, the Ammonites would pass into history, even though individual Ammonites would have a future through their descendants. Jeremiah 49:3 promised some kind of eventual restoration for the Ammonites.
i. “The pronouncement of the Lord was that Ammon and Moab were not to be remembered among the nations. Both were absorbed by the Arabs.” (Feinberg)
B. Judgment upon Moab, Edom, and the Philistines.
1. (8-11) Moab and Seir numbered among the Ammonites.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because Moab and Seir say, ‘Look! The house of Judah is like all the nations,’ therefore, behold, I will clear the territory of Moab of cities, of the cities on its frontier, the glory of the country, Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon, and Kirjathaim. To the men of the East I will give it as a possession, together with the Ammonites, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. And I will execute judgments upon Moab, and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
a. Moab and Seir: By ancestry, the people of Moab and Seir were cousins to Israel. The ancestor of Moab came from the incestuous pairing of Lot and his daughter (Genesis 19:37). Seir was a notable city of the Edomites, who were also cousins to Israel, being the descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau.
i. Moab was something of a cousin to Israel. They feared Israel as they came from Egypt towards Canaan (Numbers 22:3-4) and Balak king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:5-8). When Israel came into Canaan sometimes Moab attacked and ruled over them (Judges 3:12-14).
ii. Later Ruth the Moabite was the great-grandmother of King David, and David sent his parents to Moab for their protection when Saul hunted him (1 Samuel 22:3-4). When he was king, David fought against and defeated Moab (2 Samuel 8:2) and they became a vassal kingdom to Israel, sometimes rebelling (2 Kings 1:1, 2 Kings 3:4-5).
iii. The Edomites also lived in the lands east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, toward the southern mountains and deserts.
b. Look! The house of Judah is like all the nations: This was the mocking claim of the people of Moab and Seir. Sadly, the people of Judah gave them a reason to say this by acting like all the nations. Still, their joy in the decline and fall of God’s people made them guilty.
i. Judah is like all the nations: “To the Moabites, the fall of Jerusalem proved that the Jews were just like any other people. ‘If you are such a special nation,’ they argued, ‘why have you experienced such a humiliating defeat?’” (Wiersbe)
ii. “The Mesha Stone recounts the king of Moab’s boast that his god Chemosh had vanquished Israel (ANET, pp. 320–21).” (Alexander)
iii. “The Moabite taunt is not only against her neighbor, but also a direct assault on Yahweh himself, who had granted this status to his people.” (Block)
c. To the men of the East I will give it as a possession: The fate of Moab and Seir would be the same as that of the Ammonites. They would be conquered and occupied by the men of the East.
i. “Ammon was joined with Moab in the passage, and the Jewish historian Josephus records that Nebuchadnezzar came to fight against Ammon and Moab in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Feinberg)
ii. “It is worth noting that not long after this both Ammon and Moab were overrun by Nabatean tribesmen and ceased to have any independent existence as nations.” (Taylor)
2. (12-14) More on Edom’s guilt and judgment.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them,” therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord GOD.
a. Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance: When Nebuchadnezzar came against Judah, it seems that the Edomites not only approved, they helped, and did so with vengeance. Mentions of this are found in the short book of Obadiah, in Psalm 137:7, and Lamentations 4:21.
i. “The phrase ‘taking vengeance’ is literally ‘revenging with revenge’; it was to be an unrelieved, unabated revenge.” (Feinberg)
ii. “The Edomites were the most inveterate enemies of the Jews from the very earliest times, and ever did all that they could to annoy them.” (Clarke)
iii. “What the Edomites actually did we cannot say for sure, but they certainly sided with Nebuchadrezzar against Jerusalem and after the exile there is evidence of Edomite occupation of southern Judah.” (Taylor)
iv. “He may use others as His rod, just as at certain epochs of their national history He used Moab or Edom. But when the work of refining is done, He will lay the instruments aside, and even punish, if there has been an excess of malice.” (Meyer)
b. I will also stretch out My hand against Edom: God brought judgment to Judah first, but would also bring it to Edom and their cities (Teman and Dedan). The judgment would be great, affecting both man and beast. In some way, God would also use His people Israel in the process of judgment.
i. And beast: “Either their cattle should be driven away by the plundering soldier, or devoured by the mighty numerous army of Nebuchadnezzar, or wasted with murrain [plague, disease], or all should concur to unstock their pastures.” (Poole)
ii. “While differing slightly in form, the expression ‘from Teman and Dedan’ is reminiscent of the common phrase ‘from Dan to Beer-sheba,’ which delimited the extremities of Israel.” (Block)
iii. “The basis of Edom’s economy was its control of that portion of the King’s Highway that passed through its territory. Once the Babylonians ended this control in the 6th century, the Edomites were in serious economic trouble. By the 4th century the Nabateans replaced the Edomites, and the latter moved into southern Judah.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iv. “Edom also was overrun, and, eventually, in 109 B.C. it was finally subjugated by the Jewish leader, John Hyrcanus.” (Wright)
v. “This was fulfilled by the Maccabees, who not only defeated them and brought them under complete subjection, but obliged them to receive circumcision, Joseph. Antiquities l. xiii., c. 17; 1 Maccabees 5:65; 2 Maccabees 10:16.” (Clarke)
3. (15-17) Judgment against the Philistines.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because the Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred,” therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I lay My vengeance upon them.”’”
a. Because the Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart: The Philistines were ancient enemies of Israel, populating many of the seacoast cities in the land of Canaan. There was old hatred between the Philistines and Israel, and when the Babylonians invaded they put as much misery on Judah as they could.
i. “These inhabitants of the southern part of the coastal strip of Palestine were also inveterate foes of Israel during her early history, but they had no ties of kinship and were originally Mediterranean ‘sea peoples’ from the Aegean.” (Taylor)
ii. Feinberg on the long history of conflict between the Philistines and Israel: “They constantly harassed and oppressed Israel until subjugated by David, who broke their power after their repeated attacks in the reign of Saul (1 Samuel 13:17; 14). They were conquered by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:11); subjugated by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6); strong under Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16); powerful under Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:18); subdued by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8; Isaiah 14:31); and confederate against Jerusalem (Psalm 83:7).”
b. I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines: God promised to bring His judgment against them, against the relatedCherethites, those who lived along the seacoast.
i. “Nebuchadnezzar punished them because they had assisted the Tyrians during the time he was besieging their city.” (Clarke)
ii. “When Ezekiel announced that the Lord would cut off the Cherethites, he was playing on words, as ‘cut off the cutters off.’” (Feinberg)
iii. “David had a group of Cherethite mercenaries as well as others from Gath (2 Samuel 15.18).” (Wright)
c. And they shall know that I am the LORD: As with the Ammonites (Ezekiel 25:7), the Moabites and Edomites (Ezekiel 25:12), God would reveal Himself to these pagan, disobedient nations through His judgment. God’s purpose was always greater than just judgment or vengeance; there was, and always is, the strong purpose of His self-revelation.
i. With furious rebukes: “In fierceness of anger, and without pity. They, as other stupid nations, will not see till they feel, and then they shall confess it is the hand of an angry, but just, and mighty God.” (Poole)
ii. “Philistia has to face the most severe form of judgment since the prophet does not mention any human agent of punishment. God will pass judgment on the Philistines directly.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iii. “It is solemn to consider that all four nations of this chapter showed vindictive jealousy and hatred toward Israel. The nations of earth refused to learn that God meant every word in the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12:1-3, 7. No nation under heaven could touch Israel for ill without bringing down upon them the wrath of almighty God.” (Feinberg)
iv. “Here is the one purpose of Jehovah in His dealings with all nations. Those who fail to find Him in the light of His revelation of Himself by law or in the natural order, he brings to know Him through judgment.” (Morgan)