In this chapter, which forms a distinct section, the prophet denounces the judgments of God against the Jews for their idolatry, 1-7; but tells them that a remnant shall be saved, and brought to a sense of their sins by their severe afflictions, 8-14.
2Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,
2 Verse 2. Set thy face toward the mountains of Israel] This is a new prophecy, and was most probably given after the four hundred and thirty days of his lying on his left and right side were accomplished. By Israel here, Judea is simply meant; not the ten tribes, who had long before been carried into captivity. Ezekiel uses this term in reference to the Jews only.
The mountains may be addressed here particularly, because it was on them the chief scenes of idolatry were exhibited.
3And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.
5And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.b
5 Verse 5. Will scatter your bones round about your altars.] This was literally fulfilled by the Chaldeans. According to Baruch, Baruch 2:24, 25, they opened the sepulchres of the principal people, and threw the bones about on every side.
6In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.c
9And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
9 Verse 9. They that escape of you shall remember me] Those that escape the sword, the pestilence, and the famine, and shall be led into captivity, shall plainly see that it is God who has done this, and shall humble themselves on account of their abominations, leave their idolatry, and worship me alone. And this they have done from the Babylonish captivity to the present day.
11 ¶ Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
11 Verse 11. Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot] Show the utmost marks of thy astonishment and indignation, and dread of the evils that are coming upon them. Some have contended for the propriety of clapping and stamping in public worship from these words! It is scarcely a breach of charity to think that such persons are themselves incapable either of attending on or conducting the worship of God. To be consistent, they should copy the prophet in his other typical actions as well as these; and then we shall hear of their lying on their left side for three hundred and ninety days, and on their right side for forty days; shaving their heads, burning their hair, baking their bread with dung, &c. Now all these things, because they were typical and commanded, were proper in the prophet: in such persons as the above they would be evidences of insanity. Such extravagant acts are no part of God's worship.
13Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
14So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD.d
14 Verse 14. And make the land-more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath] Diblath or Diblathayim is situated in the land of Moab. It is mentioned , Almon-Diblathaim; and in , Beth-Diblathaim. It was a part of that horrible wilderness mentioned by Moses, , "wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought." The precise reason why it is mentioned here is not very evident. Some think it is the same as Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar slew the princes of Israel, and put out Zedekiah's eyes; the principal difference lying between the daleth and the resh, which in MSS. is often scarcely discernible; and hence vast multitudes of various readings. Five, probably six, of Kennicott's MSS. have riblathah, as likewise two of my oldest MSS.; though in the margin of one a later hand directs the word to be read bedaleth, with daleth. But all the Versions read the word with a D. This may appear a matter of little importance, but we should take pains to recover even one lost letter of the word of God.