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Deeper Commentary

Ezekiel 25:1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying- We now have a distinct section, from Ez. 25-32, containing seven judgments upon the nations around Judah. The seven nations are surely a symbolic number. All the nations around her were to be judged for their participation in her judgment. The last of these prophecies was some 15 years later, so they were widely spaced. This sets the pattern for the book of Revelation, which described the seven judgments upon latter day Israel, followed by the various judgments upon those who have judged her.

Ezekiel 25:2 Son of man, set your face toward the people of Ammon, and prophesy against them-
Whilst Ezekiel looked toward them from Babylon, his prophecies were to be told to them (:3). Perhaps a scribe was taking down his words and would take the scroll to the Ammonites.

Ezekiel 25:3 And tell the people of Ammon, Hear the word of the Lord Yahweh-
All the practical effort involved in getting these prophecies to Ammon, not least the risk for the messenger, was surely only required because Ammon were intended to repent upon receiving these words of judgment.

Thus says the Lord Yahweh, Because you said, Aha, against My sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel when it was made desolate; and against the house of Judah when they went into captivity- Ammonites joined with the Babylonians in attacking God's people (2 Kings 24:2). Ez. 25:3,6,8,15 reveal how sensitive God is to  what is said and felt about the people whom He loves. Because Ammon mockingly said “Aha!” when Israel went into captivity, because Moab sneered that Judah were like any other nation now, because the Philistines had “despite of soul” (RV) against Israel… therefore God so condemned them even though Israel were so spiteful to Him at that very time. Even though they betrayed Him, His sensitivity for them, His feeling, His emotion, His passion, His pleading with them…surely inspires us to plead likewise with them, for His sake. For the sake of His feelings, His passion…

Ezekiel 25:4 Therefore behold, I will deliver you to the people of the east for a possession, and they shall set their encampments in you, and make their dwellings in you; they shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk-
The nomadic "people of the east" regularly attacked the more settled lands west of them such as Ammon. But they usually grabbed what they could and then returned to their nomad encampments. But now they were to actually move into Ammon and make permanent dwellings there. It has been suggested that Rabbah was left undefended whilst the Ammonites joined in the attack upon Jerusalem with the Babylonians; and so their judgment was immediate and appropriate.

Ezekiel 25:5 I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the people of Ammon a resting place for flocks: and you shall know that I am Yahweh-
As noted on :4, the Bedouin nomads usually attacked and retreated with their spoil. But now they were to come and settle down in Ammon, no longer always driving their flocks to new pasture, but using Rabbah as a resting place and stable. The intention was that Ammon too would come to 'know Yahweh' through this judgment, just as Judah were intended to.

Ezekiel 25:6 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because you have clapped your hands, stamped with the feet and rejoiced with all the despite of your soul against the land of Israel-
Ammon was like Judah, sometimes in covenant with Assyria and Babylon and sometimes not. But they eagerly joined in with their invasions of Israel to vent their anger upon God's people. It had been for Ezekiel to stamp with his feet to symbolize God's judgment of His people (Ez. 6:11). Ammon is here condemned for playing God in condemning others, when it is His prerogative alone to do that.

Ezekiel 25:7 Therefore behold, I have stretched out My hand upon you and will deliver you for a spoil to the nations; and I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish out of the countries. I will destroy you; and you shall know that I am Yahweh-
In the same way as God at times threatened total destruction upon Judah but didn't literally carry it out because of His pity or because some repented, so it seems it was with Ammon. For some form of Ammonites continued. And again we have the hope of a national revival, in that they were to be "cut off" as Judah was, and yet come to know Yahweh in repentance.

Ezekiel 25:8 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because Moab and Seir say, Behold, the house of Judah is like all the nations-
Moab had mocked Judah when they were destroyed (Zeph. 2:8; Jer. 48:27). The Moabite Stone, found in the ruins of Dibon records how Mesha, King of Moab, exults about his conquest of Judah along with other nations, treating them as just another nation he had defeated. This treatment of God's people as if they were nothing special was particularly offensive to God. We are to learn that His people are special, and even in disagreement, we are to respect them as His people and not treat them as if they are just worldlings.

Ezekiel 25:9 Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon, and Kiriathaim-
The "side" is Heb. "shoulder", referring to the high cliff face which formed Moab's defensive frontier. All that seems humanly invincible and the guarantee of our safety and endurance can be opened by God in an instant. We note that the names of the cities all have connections to idols, and that they were the defences of Moab's northern frontier- which was to be overcome by the Babylonians. These cities were actually part of the original Israelite inheritance (Jud. 11:23).

Ezekiel 25:10 To the people of the east, to go against the children of Ammon; and I will give them for a possession, that the people of Ammon may not be remembered among the nations-
As with the judgments upon Judah, it seems these were not carried out fully at this time. The Ammonites were still an important people in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 5:6,30-45) and are mentioned by Justin Martyr. As noted on :11, the final fulfilment will be in the last days.

Ezekiel 25:11 I will execute judgments on Moab; and they shall know that I am Yahweh-
The seven nations listed in Ezekiel for judgment are also spoken of in Jeremiah: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Zidon and Egypt. The original intention was that they would be judged, and along with a judged but repentant Israel enter into covenant with Yahweh in the restored Kingdom of God in Israel. But this potential didn't work out. So the prophecies must come true in the last days. But it seems unwise to try to look for geographical entities which match e.g. "Moab". The seven nations are surely meant to represent all the nations surrounding Israel, the peoples of the eretz promised to Abraham who are the focus of Bible prophecy. There are likewise seven nations mentioned in Amos 1 and 2.

Ezekiel 25:12 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because Edom has dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance and has greatly offended and revenged himself on them-
Edom had taken a special pleasure in desecrating the temple and ensuring it was razed to the foundation stones (Ps. 137:7). The theme of Edom / Esau wanting revenge is significant; it was the old hatred of Esau for Jacob (Ez. 35:5). The vengeance was for the incident of Jacob tricking Esau out of his birthright. But these prophecies against Edom demonstrate that the promises of Isaac associated with that birthright were in fact meaningless, and not worth any striving about. The judgment upon Esau / Edom, therefore, was effectively for their lack of forgiveness. And that is the abiding lesson for all ages. For out of the seven surrounding nations judged by Ezekiel, the others all finally will come to "know Yahweh", but Esau / Edom never will. This is not said of them. For hatred and unforgiveness of our brother is presented as the mortal sin.

Ezekiel 25:13 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, I will stretch out My hand on Edom, and will cut off man and animal from it; and I will make it desolate: from Teman even to Dedan shall they fall by the sword-
As with the curses upon Judah, this utter destruction of every man and animal didn't quite happen. God relented, or perhaps a minority repented. These words about Edom / Esau differ markedly from the 'blessing' of Isaac upon Esau, that he would live by his sword and throw off the yoke of Jacob and also find blessing. I suggest therefore that the blessings of Isaac were of his own will and paternal imagination, rather than from God. And so all the angst between Jacob and Esau about obtaining those blessings was utterly misplaced and human.

Ezekiel 25:14 I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel; and they shall do in Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath-
Israel never really fully did this, although John Hyrcanus did invade Edom and force its people to receive circumcision; but he did not make the area empty of man and animal (:13). And so as noted on :11, it will come true in the last days.

And they shall know My vengeance, says the Lord Yahweh- Unlike the other curses upon the nations, there is no comment that Edom would know Yahweh, i.e. enter into relationship with Him after the experience of judgment. God was going to take vengeance upon Esau / Edom, and the language of the curse upon Edom is far more intense than that upon the other nations. Esau was Jacob's brother, and therefore so much more was expected of him. Attitude and hatred toward our brother is therefore of paramount importance, and will lead to eternal condemnation as it did and shall do for Edom / Esau. The equivalent of "Edom" will have this fate in the last days (see on :11).

Ezekiel 25:15 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with despite of soul to destroy for the old enmity-
The Philistines were given Israelite territory by the Babylonians, both during the Assyrian invasion of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah. But the Philistines weren't satisfied with that, and are judged here for wanting personal vengeance. They sold Israelite villages into slavery (Am. 1:6-8), beyond what the Assyrians and Babylonians had intended. It's as if God cut the Philistines a certain amount of slack, but when they went beyond that in "despite of soul", they became the more culpable to judgment. The "enmity" is the same word as in Gen. 3:15, and the 'ancient' enmity strengthens the allusion. They were the seed of the serpent at enmity with Israel, the seed of the woman; which considering Judah's deep sin at this time, reveals how God by grace still saw them as His special people of purpose.

Ezekiel 25:16 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, Behold, I will stretch out My hand on the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites, and destroy the rest of the sea coast-
I suggested on :11 that these prophecies never came fully true as intended because Judah and these surrounding seven nations didn't repent after the Babylonian invasion. But they will come true in the last days. It is significant that the "sea coast", the Gaza strip, is a hotbed of hatred against God's people today; and judgment is threatened upon it. "Cherethites", those from Cyprus, is a word play upon the Hebrew word translated "I will cut off". These kinds of word play are common in the Bible because the text was initially used with illiterate people who would have appreciated such aids to memorization.

Ezekiel 25:17 I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes; and they shall know that I am Yahweh, when I shall lay My vengeance on them
- Zech. 9:7 implies that a remnant of the Philistines would repent and turn to Yahweh. But again, this wasn't seen in the immediate context, and so it must refer to the last days- even though in that day their territory will be given to Israel (Obadiah 19; Is. 11:14). But then, material possession of land will be unimportant; all that will matter is knowing Yahweh, being in relationship with Him, which is the ultimate purpose of His "vengeance" or judgments.