Ezekiel 35 – Jehovah Shammah; the LORD is There
A. The announcement of God’s judgment against Edom, Mount Seir.
1. (1-3a) God brings a word to Ezekiel against Mount Seir.
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir and prophesy against it, and say to it, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:
a. Set your face against Mount Seir: On the eastern side of the Jordan River, Mount Seir was a center of the Edomites, the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau. This was a word against the Edomites. Ezekiel had already spoken a short word against Edom (Ezekiel 25:12-14).
i. “Edom had sought to block Israel’s first entrance into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14–21; 24:15–19).” (Alexander)
ii. Alexander noted a long history of conflict between the Edomites and the kings of Israel (and Judah), during the reigns of:
· Saul (1 Samuel 14:47).
· Solomon (1 Kings 11:14–22).
· Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1–23).
· Jehoram (2 Kings 8:21).
· Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17).
iii. “The 8th-century prophet Amos inveighed against Edom for stifling natural brotherly compassion and pursuing Israel with the sword (Amos 1:11–12), and Isaiah viewed the nation as the archenemy of Israel (Isaiah 34; cf. 63:1–6).” (Block)
b. And prophesy against it: The theme of this general section of Ezekiel brings encouragement and hope to Israel and promises of future restoration. Part of that hope was the assurance that God would deal with some of their enemies and rivals, such as ancient Edom.
i. Perhaps Ezekiel put this prophecy here to answer the question, “How can we be restored if there are enemies like Edom who hate us so deeply and wish to take advantage of our desolation?”
2. (3b-4) The announcement of judgment.
“Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you;
I will stretch out My hand against you,
And make you most desolate;
I shall lay your cities waste,
And you shall be desolate.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
a. I am against you; I will stretch out My hand against you: For the fourth time in three verses, the word against is repeated. Like the solemn repetition of a drumbeat, Edom heard the terrible news that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, was against them.
b. I shall lay your cities waste: God promised to bring destruction and desolation to the cities of Edom. He would do it in a way that revealed Himself to them (then you shall know that I am the LORD).
B. The reasons for God’s judgment against Edom.
1. (5-9) Because of their ancient hatred.
“Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you. Thus I will make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it the one who leaves and the one who returns. And I will fill its mountains with the slain; on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those who are slain by the sword shall fall. I will make you perpetually desolate, and your cities shall be uninhabited; then you shall know that I am the LORD.
a. Because you have had an ancient hatred: God’s first stated reason for judgment against Edom was their ancient hatred of Israel. God may long remember a society’s sins and one day judge them (as in 1 Samuel 15:1-3). But this is not the place of man. For us, God does not want us to hold on to any ancient hatred against peoples, races, or nations.
i. “The Edomites were the descendants of Esau; the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. Both these were brothers; and between them there was contention even in the womb, and they lived generally in a state of enmity. Their descendants kept up the ancient feud: but the Edomites were implacable; they had not only a rooted but perpetual enmity to the Israelites, harassing and distressing them by all possible means.” (Clarke)
ii. “Edom could not escape the application of the Abrahamic covenant, which explains the strong language and the irrevocable judgment on her. When a nation gives itself over to perpetual hatred of Israel, then there is no other alternative than perpetual desolation from God.” (Feinberg)
b. And have shed the blood of the children of Israel: Edom gave expression to their ancient hatred by joining with armies set against Israel and by taking advantage of Israel at the time of their calamity.
i. Have shed the blood: “The victims are not merely Judeans who may have fallen to Edomite soldiers participating in Nebuchadrezzar’s campaign; the bloodguilt was incurred by searching out and slaughtering fugitives.” (Block)
ii. “Psalm 137:7 and Lamentations 4:21–22 imply that Edom gladly aided the Babylonian invasion of Judah in 589–586 B.C. Obadiah 10–14 also denounces Edom for her betrayal of Israel in time of need.” (Alexander)
iii. At the time of their calamity: “To afflict the afflicted is cruel. This is scarcely of man, bad as he is. He must be possessed by the malignant spirit of the devil, when he wounds the wounded, insults over the miseries of the afflicted, and seeks opportunities to add affliction to those who are already under the rod of God.” (Clarke)
c. I will prepare for you blood: Since Edom was responsible for the shedding the blood of Israel, God promised, “Therefore blood shall pursue you.” The punishment would fit their crime. Of the mountains of Edom, God said He would fill its mountains with the slain.
i. “The four occurrences of blood (Hebrew, dam) in verse 6 constitute a play on the name of Edom (red).” (Feinberg)
ii. “These were murderous actions. Where the blood of Abel had cried out to Yahweh to avenge Cain’s murder (Genesis 4:10), here the blood of Edom’s victims takes on a life of its own, like a near kinsman relentlessly pursuing the criminal and demanding full retribution.” (Block)
iii. On your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines: “The height of indignity in the Orient was not to be properly buried. The slain of Edom would be found in the mountains, hills, valleys and watercourses, all without benefit of burial.” (Feinberg)
d. Your cities shall be uninhabited: The judgment would be so severe that many Edomite cities would become empty and perpetually desolate.
i. “The main cities were Petra and Teman, which now lie in ruins. The prediction has been literally fulfilled.” (Feinberg)
ii. “Edom’s sin was perpetual hatred, and Edom’s punishment shall be perpetual desolations. Edomites would never return into friendship with the Israelites, but still hate, and molest, and waste them; now for just recompence Edom’s cities shall be wasted, and never return to their former glory.” (Poole)
2. (10-13) Because of their jealousy.
“Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the LORD was there, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are desolate; they are given to us to consume.’ Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me and multiplied your words against Me; I have heard them.”
a. These two nations and these two countries shall be mine: When the Babylonian armies came against Judah and Jerusalem, the Edomites believed that they could use Israel’s crisis to enlarge their own dominion. Instead of helping troubled Israel or at least sympathizing with them, for selfish gain they took advantage of Israel’s crisis.
i. Some think the two countries are Edom and Judah, and others think they are Judah and Israel. The sense is the same in both; Edom wanted the land of Judah and Israel and thought they might take it when the Assyrians exiled Israel out of the land and when the Babylonians depopulated Judah.
ii. “The fall of Jerusalem made it possible for Edom to exact its revenge on Judah by appropriating a portion of its territory. This is precisely what Edom did by expanding into the Negeb.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iii. “The Edomites, shut away in their mountain fastnesses, must often have cast greedy eyes at the more fertile lands to the north-west of them. But their only chance of success lay in Judah’s weakness, and this they attempted to exploit.” (Taylor)
iv. “Archeological evidence for Edomite encroachment into Judean territory is available from several sources. Arad Letter 24 refers to the pressure of the Edomites at this southern military outpost even before the fall of Jerusalem. An Edomite seal, whose nationality is established by the name Qaus, discovered at Aroer, 12 miles southeast of Beer-sheba, suggests Edomite presence at this place a short time later.” (Block)
b. Although the LORD was there: The Edomites wanted the land of Judah (and Israel), and thought that since the Babylonians had taken the Jews out of the land, it was theirs for the taking. They forgot the great truth that even though the Jews were temporarily exiled out of the land, the LORD was there. He would guard and preserve His land against them.
i. Even when God abandoned the temple regarding the special sense of His presence and glory (Ezekiel 11:23), Yahweh had not abandoned the land. It was still His land and He still had a sacred purpose for it.
ii. “With their typical ancient Near Eastern perspective they assumed that a land whose population had been deported and whose cities lay in ruins must have been abandoned by its god.” (Block)
iii. “It is interesting to note that, even in the hour of Judah’s judgment, God is still regarded as being there in the land and is shown to identify himself with his people.” (Taylor)
iv. “From this one incident we gather that whatever may be the machinations and devices of the enemies of God’s people, though there be nothing else to thwart them, there is this as an effectual barrier – the saints are God’s heritage, and the Lord is there, to guard and hold his own.” (Spurgeon)
v. “If Edom forget that the Lord is there, that forgetfulness does not change the fact. That land was, and is, sacred for carrying out a Divine purpose, for the world, and through Israel; and God has never abandoned it. He is still there; and whosoever may covet it cannot hold it, for He will dispossess them.” (Morgan)
vi. “When all conflicts shall be ended, when the scattered shall be gathered, when the tabernacle of the Lord shall be among them; then this which is Zion’s bulwark to-day, shall be her everlasting glory. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH – ‘The Lord is there.’” (Spurgeon)
vii. “How often do our foes plot against us, supposing that we shall fall an easy prey, and that they can divide the spoils without let. But God is there.” (Meyer)
c. I will do according to your anger and according to the envy: God promised to answer the anger of Edom and their envy against Israel. Their anger and envy were evident in their hatred against them.
i. Ezekiel 35 speaks powerfully to any people or nation who sets themselves against Israel:
· With anger and envy (Ezekiel 35:11).
· With an ancient hatred (Ezekiel 35:5).
· With a desire to take their land (Ezekiel 35:10).
· With rejoicing in Israel’s bloodshed (Ezekiel 35:6).
· By taking advantage of Israel’s troubles and increasing them (Ezekiel 35:5).
· By acting as if God Himself was not present in the land of Israel (Ezekiel 35:10).
· By speaking against and blaspheming the God of Israel (Ezekiel 35:12).
ii. When any nation or people sets themselves against Israel and God’s purpose in such a way, they can expect perpetual desolation (Ezekiel 35:9). This is especially tragic when, as in the case of Edom and Israel, they should be brothers. This is a powerful, accurate, and sad picture of many in the Arab and Palestinian world against the Jewish people and Israel today.
d. With your mouth you have boasted against Me: In hoping to take advantage of troubled Israel and even to consume them, Edom insulted the God of Israel. They boasted against Yahweh and spoke multiplied words against Him. God heard those words and promised to hold Edom accountable for them.
i. We see the connection between the words Edom spoke against God (Ezekiel 35:12-13) and the judgment God had determined against Edom (Ezekiel 35:1-3).
ii. “The arrogant insults hurled at the people of Judah were tantamount to blasphemies against the Lord, which he had heard.” (Taylor)
iii. I have heard them: “I have heard your words, you shall feel my sword.” (Poole)
3. (14-15) The joy of the earth when Edom is judged.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”’
a. The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate: Because Edom rejoiced in Israel’s desolation, so God would bring desolation to Edom – and the world would be happy about it. God’s judgments are true; the punishments fit the crime.
i. “In their arrogance, Edom rejoiced over the fall of Israel; but one day, the whole earth would rejoice over the fall of Edom!” (Wiersbe)
ii. “As thou wast sick of the devil’s disease, rejoicing at other men’s harms; so, by a strange turn of things, others shall rejoice at thy just destruction, and revel in thy ruins: and at the last day especially, when thou shalt be awarded thy portion with the devil and his angels.” (Trapp)
b.Then they shall know that I am the LORD: God would reveal Himself to Israel and to a watching world through His judgments upon Edom.