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Ezekiel 39

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
    Oracles of Restoration
(33:1-39:29)
   
Prophecy Against Gog-Invaders Destroyed Gog's Armies Destroyed Magog Oracles
(38:1-39:29)

Gog's Defeat

The Defeat of Gog Against Gog King of Magog
(38:1-39:29)
39:1-6 39:1-8 39:1-6 39:1-7 39:1-7
39:7-8   39:7-8    
      39:8-10 39:8
39:9-10 39:9-10 39:9-10   39:9-10
  The Burial of Gog   The Burial of Gog  
39:11-16 39:11-16 39:11-16 39:11-16 39:11-16
  A Triumphant Festival      
39:17-20 39:17-20

 (17b-20)

39:17-20 39:17-20 39:17-20
  Israel Restored to the Land   The Restoration of Israel Conclusion
39:21-24 39:21-24 39:21-24 39:21-24 39:21-24
Israel Restored        
39:25-29 39:25-29 39:25-29 39:25-29 39:25-29

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3, p. xvi). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:1-6
 1"And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal; 2and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel. 3I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand. 4You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. 5You will fall on the open field; for it is I who have spoken," declares the Lord God. 6"And I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord."

39:1 See notes at 38:2. Verses 1-16 parallel chapter 38.

39:2-6 Notice the verbs which emphasize YHWH's actions (i.e., "for it is I who have spoken," vv. 5,8; 38:4,8) against Gog.

1. I shall turn you around, v. 2, BDB 996, KB 1427, Polel perfect

2. I shall drive you, v. 2, BDB 1058, KB 1664, Piel perfect (this word is found only here in the OT. KB says possibly, "lead along on a rope" or "lead a child")

3. I shall take you up, v. 2, BDB 748, KB 828, Hiphil perfect

4. I shall bring you against, v. 2, BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil perfect

5. I shall strike your bow, v. 3, BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil perfect

6. I shall dash down your arrows, v. 3, BDB 656, KB 709, Hiphil imperfect

7. I shall give you as food, v. 4, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect

YHWH acts for Israel in 36:22-38, but here against the northern enemy!

39:2 "from the remotest parts of the north" This term (BDB 438) is used in Isa. 14:13 (cf. Ps. 48:2) for the far north. It is used in that same sense here (cf. 38:6,15). This term is used in Jeremiah to describe the invasion of Babylon (cf. Jer. 6:22; 25:32; 50:41). Another enemy is coming at YHWH's behest, but this one will not succeed, but be totally destroyed. This was a way to

1. show YHWH's power

2. vindicate YHWH's name (cf. v. 7)

3. reveal YHWH to the nations (cf. vv. 6,7)

 

▣ "against the mountains of Israel" This is a metaphor for Palestine (cf. 17:22-24). Earlier in Ezekiel these mountains are judged (cf. 6:2-7), but now in the context of a restored, forgiven, obedient Israel, they are defended by YHWH Himself.

This is another allusion to Isaiah 14 (esp. vv. 13-14). All of these world events are personally directed by YHWH for His revelatory and redemptive purposes (Isa. 14:26-27)!

39:4 "You shall fall on the mountains of Israel" This is a recurrent theme.

1. unfaithful Judah shall fall (cf. 6:2-7; 33:28)

2. Edom (Mt. Seir) shall fall (cf. 35:2-3,12; 36:4-7)

3. Egypt fell (cf. 31:12; 32:5,6)

4. Babylon fell (cf. 28:16)

5. and now another enemy from the north, Gog, will fall

 

▣ "I shall give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field" This curse (cf. vv. 17-20) reflects the horror and carnage of ancient battle fields, where the number of dead is so large and complete that no one is left to bury them.

This curse is also directed toward

1. Egypt, 29:5; 32:4-5

2. faithless Judah, 33:27 (cf. Isa. 46:11)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:7-8
 7"My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. 8Behold, it is coming and it shall be done," declares the Lord God. "That is the day of which I have spoken. 9Then those who inhabit the cities of Israel will go out and make fires with the weapons and burn them, both shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, war clubs and spears, and for seven years they will make fires of them."

39:7 This refers to 36:22-23! YHWH wants His name (i.e., Himself) to be known to all the world.

▣ "the Holy One in Israel" The title ("Holy One of Israel") for YHWH is used often in Isaiah (cf. 12:6; 43:3,14; 55:5; 60:9,14) and probably is derived from the vision of Isaiah 6. YHWH as "holy" goes back to Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7,26. It is clearly stated in Josh 24:19. It speaks of His unique character (cf. I Sam. 2:2; Ps. 22:3; 99:3,5,9; 111:9). YHWH the Holy One is also the creator of Israel (cf. Isa. 43:15; 45:11). For "holy" see Special Topic at 20:12.

39:8 The concept of a final day of reckoning was crystalized in Amos' "day of the YHWH."

39:9 This verse describes the huge number of the invading coalition army which was/will be totally defeated by YHWH (cf. Zechariah 12).

The number seven speaks of the symbolic nature of this context (as does the use of "God" and "the remotest parts of the north").

Notice that the weapons take seven years to burn and the bodies seven months (cf. v. 12) to bury. See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture at 1:5. It is only western literalism that demands that eastern prophetic texts be interpreted as literal history! This is prophetic symbolism. It certainly reveals truth, but modern interpreters must be genre-sensitive and cognizant of Jewish number symbolism!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:10
 10"They will not take wood from the field or gather firewood from the forests, for they will make fires with the weapons; and they will take the spoil of those who despoiled them and seize the plunder of those who plundered them," declares the Lord God.

39:10 There is a series of verbs followed by the participle of the same stem, which was a grammatical form of emphasis or intensity.

1. spoil, BDB 1021, KB 1531, Qal perfect, Qal participle, v. 10

2. plunder, BDB 102, KB 117, Qal perfect, Qal participle, v. 10

3. pass over, BDB 716, KB 778, Qal perfect, Qal participle, v. 15

4. bury, BDB 868, KB 1064, Qal perfect, Qal participle, v. 15 (also vv. 13,14)

Note the ironic reversal of the situation (so typical of the Bible). Those who came to gain spoils will be despoiled! Evil is overcome by the good God!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:11-16
 11"On that day I will give Gog a burial ground there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea, and it will block off those who would pass by. So they will bury Gog there with all his horde, and they will call it the valley of Hamon-gog. 12For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. 13Even all the people of the land will bury them; and it will be to their renown on the day that I glorify Myself," declares the Lord God. 14"They will set apart men who will constantly pass through the land, burying those who were passing through, even those left on the surface of the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search. 15As those who pass through the land pass through and anyone sees a man's bone, then he will set up a marker by it until the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog. 16And even the name of the city will be Hamonah. So they will cleanse the land."'

39:11 "Hamon-gog" The Hebrew construct (BDB 242 and 155) means "the multitude of God" (cf. vv. 15-16). Earlier in the verse another construct (BDB 161 and 716) calls the same valley "the Valley of the Travelers" or "the Valley of those who pass by" (cf. vv. 14,15). It seems to be a wordplay (i.e., The Jewish Study Bible, p. 1117) on "the valley of Abarim" (i.e., Vulgate), which is east of the Dead Sea and from whose peak (i.e., Mt. Nebo) Moses viewed the land of Canaan (cf. Num. 27:12; Deut. 32:49). Therefore, this refers to the Arnon River Valley.

39:14-15 Unburied bodies polluted the land making it Levitically unclean (i.e., Deut. 21:22-23). The new restored Israel wants to fully and completely observe God's laws.

39:16 "the name of the city will be Hamonah" This means "multitude" (BDB 242) and apparently is a city located in this burial valley by the same name.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:17-20
 17"As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God, 'Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, "Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. 18You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, as though they were rams, lambs, goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 19So you will eat fat until you are glutted, and drink blood until you are drunk, from My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. 20You will be glutted at My table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all the men of war,'" declares the Lord God.

39:17-20 This banquet for the birds of prey and carnivorous animals is symbolic of the judgment of God (cf. Isa. 18:6; 56:9; Jer. 12:9; Rev. 19:17-18). The unclean pagan soldiers are eaten by the unclean animals! The Deuteronomic curse, which threatened unfaithful Israel (cf. Lev. 26:22; Deut. 28:26) is now unleashed on Israel's end-time enemies.

Notice the number of imperatives in v. 17 to the wild, carnivorous birds and animals.

1. speak to, BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperative

2. assemble, BDB 867, KB 1062, Niphal imperative

3. come, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperative

4. gather, BDB 62, KB 74, Niphal imperative

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:21-24
 21"And I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them. 22And the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward. 23The nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity because they acted treacherously against Me, and I hid My face from them; so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword. 24According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I dealt with them, and I hid My face from them."'"

39:21-24 YHWH will reveal Himself! He was revealed by Israel, but in an inappropriate way. His people were not exiled because of His lack of power or interest, but because of their covenant disobedience. Now He will reverse this misinformation (cf. 38:22-23) by restoring His people (cf. vv. 25-29) and destroying all opposing human armies!

Israel was meant to be a light to the nations, a kingdom of priests, but they failed. See Special Topic at 12:16.

39:23 "I hid My face from them" This is a metaphorical way of asserting that YHWH would not hear their prayers (cf. Deut. 31:17-18; Isa. 1:15; 54:8; 57:17; 59:2). YHWH will reverse this in v. 29. This phrase is an antithetical parallel to "I shall pour out My Spirit"! Prayer sent, received, and acted on was a concrete sign of the covenant.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:39:25-29
 25Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. 26They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. 27When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. 28Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord God.

39:25-29 For those who see every prophecy as eschatological, this paragraph must refer to the post-exilic period introduced by Cyrus the king of Medo-Persia.

Prophecy characteristically takes a current situation (positive or negative) and projects it into a future setting. How God's people live today determines what future they will experience. To take prophecy "literally" misses the point. To take prophecy "unconditionally" misses the point. To take prophecy "as modern western prose" misses the point! See SPECIAL TOPIC: OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY at 13:2.

35:25 "Jacob" This is the Patriarch from whom the name Israel comes (cf. Gen. 32:28). YHWH is promising to have mercy (BDB 933, KB 1216, Piel perfect) on all the exiled people of God (i.e., the northern and southern kingdoms, cf. 36:10; 37:21-22).

▣ "I shall be jealous for My holy name" The verb (BDB 888, KB 1109, Piel perfect) describes YHWH's special love and care for Israel (cf. Exod. 34:14; Deut. 4:23-24), through whom He will reveal Himself to the world. They failed (cf. 36:22-23), but now through the new covenant (cf. 36:22-28; Jer. 31:31-34; Joel 2:28-32), He will succeed!

39:26 Israel will remember and be ashamed of her rebellion and sin (cf. 6:9; 16:61,63; 20:43; 36:31-32).

There is some variation in the translations of v. 26.

1. "forget" (BDB 674, נשה), NASB, NRSV, TEV, NJB, NIV, REB

2. "bear" (BDB 669, נשא), Peshitta, NKJV, JPSOA, NET Bible

 

39:28 "I made them go into exile" It was not the power of the pagan deities of the nations of the Ancient Near East, but YHWH's judgment (i.e. Jer. 29:4,7,14; Amos 5:27) and personal activity (i.e., He used Assyria, Babylon, and later Persia for His revelatory and redemptive purposes). This is "the" major theological issue in Ezekiel (i.e., God's holy name).

39:29 "I shall have poured out My Spirit" The verb (BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal perfect) is used of YHWH's equipping presence

1. for life, Ezek. 37:14

2. for new covenant, Ezek. 11:19; 36:26-27; Joel 2:28 (all mankind)

3. for fertility, Isa. 32:15; 44:3

In the OT God's Spirit is used in the sense of His power to accomplish His will in the world. The full NT Trinitarian sense does not occur. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY at 2:2.

This is a sacrificial term (cf. Lev. 17:13; Deut. 12:16; 15:23). It is used of pagan practices in Ezek. 16:15; 23:8).

Just a balancing note about this verb. It is also used of YHWH pouring out His wrath on the disobedient (cf. Isa. 42:25; Jer. 7:20; Lam. 2:4; Ezek. 21:31).