And thou profane wicked prince of Israel - Zedekiah, called here profane, because he had broken his oath; and wicked, because of his opposition to God and his prophet.
Whose day is come - Who in a short time shalt be delivered into the hands of thy enemies.
The third word of judgment. The king of Babylon‘s march upon Judaea and upon the Ammonites. Destruction is to go forth not on Judah only, but also on such neighboring tribes as the Ammonites (compare Jeremiah 27:2-3).
Appoint thee - Set before thee.
Choose thou a place, choose it - Rather, “mark a spot, mark it,” as upon a map, at the head of the two roads, one leading to Jerusalem, the other to Ammon. These were the two roads by one or other of which an invading army must march from Babylon to Egypt.
The Chaldaean king is depicted standing at the entrance of the holy land from the north, meditating his campaign, using rites of divination that really belonged to the Akkadians, a primitive race which originally occupied the plains of Mesopotamia. The Accadians and the Etruscans belong through the Finnish family to the Turanian stock; this passage therefore shows a characteristic mode of divination in use among two widely separated nations; and as the Romans acquired their divination from the conquered Etruscans, so the Chaldaeans acquired the same art from the races whose soil they had occupied as conquerors.
He made his arrows briqht - Rather, he shook his arrow; a mode of divination much in practice with the Arabians. It was usual to place in some vessel three arrows, on one of which was written, “My God orders me;” on the other, “My God forbids me;” on the third was no inscription. These three arrows were shaken together until one came out; if it was the first, the thing was to be done; if the second, it was to be avoided; if the third, the arrows were again shaken together, until one of the arrows bearing a decided answer should come forth.
Images - Teraphim (Genesis 31:19 note).
He looked in the liver - It was the practice both of the Greeks and the Romans (derived from the Etruscans) to take omens from the inspection of the entrails (especially the liver) of animals offered in sacrifice.
The divination for Jerusalem - The lot fixing the campaign against Jerusalem.
It shalt be unto them - The Jews in their vain confidence shall look upon the hopes gathered from the divinations by the Babylonians as false and groundless.
To them that have sworn oaths - According to some, “oaths of oaths are theirs;” i. e., they have the most solemn oaths sworn by God to His people, in these they trust, forgetful of the sin which broke the condition upon which these promises were given. More probably the allusion is to the oaths which the Jews had sworn to Nebuchadnezzar as vassals Ezekiel 17:18-19; therefore they trust he will not attack them, forgetting how imperfectly they had kept their oaths, and that Nebuchadnezzar knew this.
Profane - Rather, “wounded,” - not dead but - having a death-wound. The prophet, turning from the general crowd, addresses Zedekiah.
When iniquity shall have an end - i. e., at the time when iniquity shall be closed with punishment. So in Ezekiel 21:29.
The diadem (“the mitre,” the unique head-dress of the high priest) shall be removed, and the crown taken off (this shall not be as it is), the low exalted, and the high abased. Glory shall be removed alike from priest and king; the present glory and power attached to the government of God‘s people shall be quite removed.
It shall be no more - Or, “This also shall not be;” the present state of things shall not continue: all shall be confusion “until He come” to whom the dominion belongs of right. Not Zedekiah but Jeconiah and his descendants were the rightful heirs of David‘s throne. Through the restoration of the true line was there hope for Judah (compare Genesis 49:10), the promised King in whom all power shall rest - the Son of David - Messiah the Prince. Thus the prophecy of destruction ends for Judah in the promise of restoration (as in Ezekiel 20:40 ff).
The burden of the Song of the Sword, also in the form of poetry, is again taken up, directed now against the Ammonites, who, exulting in Judah‘s destruction, fondly deemed that they were themselves to escape. For Judah there is yet hope, for Ammon irremediable ruin.
Their reproach - The scorn with which they reproach Judah (marginal references).
The sword the glittering - Or, “the sword is drawn for the slaughter; it is furbished that it may detour, in order that it may glitter.” In the Septuagint (and Vulgate) the sword is addressed; e. g., Septuagint, “Arise that thou mayest shine.”
Whiles unto thee - A parenthesis. The Ammonites had their false diviners who deluded with vain hopes.
To bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain - To cast thee (Ammon) upon the heap of slaughtered men.
Shall have an end - Shall have its final doom.
Shall I cause it to return - Or, Back to its sheath! The work of the sword is over.
The final overthrow of all earthly dominions is plainly foretold in the word of truth. In the prophecy uttered when sentence from God was pronounced upon the last king of Israel is given the message: Ed 179.1
“Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: ... exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Ezekiel 21:26, 27. Ed 179.2
The crown removed from Israel passed successively to the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God says, “It shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Ed 179.3Read in context »
“Shall he prosper?” the Lord inquired concerning the one who had thus basely betrayed every sacred trust; “shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered? As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war: ... seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape.” Ezekiel 17:15-18. PK 451.1
To the “profane wicked prince” had come the day of final reckoning. “Remove the diadem,” the Lord decreed, “and take off the crown.” Not until Christ Himself should set up His kingdom was Judah again to be permitted to have a king. “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it,” was the divine edict concerning the throne of the house of David; “and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Ezekiel 21:25-27. PK 451.2Read in context »