The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 35

Eze 35:2

MOUNT SEIR: A mountainous land inhabited by the Edomites. The etymology suggests something hairy or shaggy and may be descriptive of the former wooded nature of the landscape. Gen 36:8,9,30 connects the name with Edom ("red") and Esau ("hairy"). The mountainous region is southwest of the Dead Sea. One of the highest points of Seir was Mount Hor where Aaron was buried (Num 20:27,28). Apparently the name Seir was later applied to the entire territory of Edom both se and sw of the Dead Sea.

The earliest inhabitants of the area known to the OT were the Horites (Gen 14:6; Deu 2:12). Seir is listed as grandfather of the Horites (Gen 36:20,21; 1Ch 1:38). The children of Esau replaced them (Gen 32:3; 33:14,16; Deu 2:4,5,8,29; Jos 24:4). The Edomites (Num 24:18) were Israel's neighbors in this area until about the middle of the 5th century BC when they were overcome by Arabian tribesmen, later known as the Nabataeans.

Seir is significant in the OT as a synonym for Edom and Esau. The people to whom all three names apply stood in a unique relation to Israel. The three terms are related in the genealogy of Esau (Gen 36). The ambivalent attitudes of brotherhood and competitive enmity are reflected in the cycle of the Jacob narratives in Gen 25-36. The same tension is revealed when Moses and the Israelites were forced to detour around Edom (Num 20; Deu 2:4-8).

David brutally subjugated Edom (2Sa 8:14), and successive generations of Judean kings struggled in vain to maintain this subjection (2Ki 8:20-22; 14:7-10; 2Ch 20). The tension continued through the centuries. Lam 4:21,22 and Psa 137:7 accuse Edom of hateful collaboration with the common enemy during the sack of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Seir (= Edom) also stands in the prophetic denunciations of this people (Eze 25:8; 35:1-15). No other people except Philistia is mentioned so often in the prophecies against the nations (Amos 1:11,12; Isa 21:11,12; 34; 63:1-6; Jer 49:7-22; Eze 32; Oba; Joel 3:19; Mal 1:2-5; Zec 9:5...; Psa 60).

Why is Edom introduced here, separate from the Ezekiel section of prophecies about the Gentile nations (Eze 25-32)? Perhaps because, in this instance, Edom was representative of all the enemies of Israel who wanted to take over her land -- Edom was selected because of her long history of land squabbles with Israel (cf Gen 25:22-34; 27; 36:1; Num 20:14-21; 24:15-19; 1Sa 14:47; 1Ki 11:14-22; 2Ki 8:21; 2Ch 20:1-23; 28:17; Psa 137:7; Isa 1:11-16; Lam 4:21,22; Amos 2:1; Oba 1:10-14; Mal 1:2-5). Edom was the nation that had longest and most consistently resisted Israel's occupation of the Promised Land. Therefore, if God was going to give Israel her land in the future, as He promised in Eze 34, He would have to deal with Edom and all other nations that opposed Israel's possession of it. This section assures the readers, both ancient and modern, that He will deal with opponents to Israel occupying her land by prophesying the destruction of Israel's greatest antagonist viewed as a representative of all such powers. Edomite invasions of Israel following the Babylonian decimation of Judah also made Edom a major topic of interest.

"Edom was the prototype of all Israel's later foes. The destruction of Edom would signal the beginning of God's judgment on the whole earth based on that nation's treatment of Israel (cf Gen 12:3)" (Const).

Eze 35:3

A DESOLATE WASTE: Not necessarily true literally in the future, because the desert (where Edom is) will blossom: Isa 42:11; 43:20.

Eze 35:5

YOU HARBORED AN ANCIENT HOSTILITY AND DELIVERED THE ISRAELITES OVER TO THE SWORD AT THE TIME OF THEIR CALAMITY: He would do this because the Edomites had been enemies of the Israelites throughout their history (cf Eze 25:12; Gen 12:3). Furthermore, they had not helped their brethren Israelites in the time of their calamity, the time when God was punishing Israel, but had turned them over to their enemy, the Babylonians (cf 2Ch 20:10; Psa 137:7; Lam 4:21,22).

THE TIME THEIR PUNISHMENT REACHED ITS CLIMAX: Or, "the time of the iniquity of the end" (RV). Perhaps meaning the time of Jacob's final trouble (Jer 30:7), the last great crisis of the ages -- when Israel will be punished a final time, but the real wrath of God will fall on the enemies of Israel because of their abominable treatment of His people.

Eze 35:7

I WILL MAKE MOUNT SEIR A DESOLATE WASTE: As regards the nation of Edom, this was literally fulfilled. When the Jews were taken into captivity in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, the Nabateans, an Arab tribe, drove the Edomites out of their possessions and forced them westwards. The Edomites settled in southern Judea, but were ultimately conquered and converted by the Maccabees.

Eze 35:10

THESE TWO NATIONS: Meaning Israel and Judah. And to this very day, "Edom" -- meaning the Arab nations near Israel -- have been seeking to dispossess the people of Israel from their ancestral land.

Eze 35:14

WHILE THE WHOLE EARTH REJOICES, I WILL MAKE YOU DESOLATE: The LORD would cause all the earth to rejoice when He made Edom a laughingstock in the world just as it had rejoiced when Israel became desolate (cf Eze 36:5). Mount Seir and all of Edom would become absolutely desolate (cf Eze 36:10). It would not exist when the LORD restored His people to their land. Then the Edomites would learn that Yahweh is God.

Eze 35:15

YOU WILL BE DESOLATE, O MOUNT SEIR, YOU AND ALL OF EDOM: "The prediction has been literally fulfilled. Edom was first subjugated by Babylon, then Medo-Persia, and then in 126 BC by John Hyrcanus the Hasmonean, who compelled them to become Jews. There is no trace of the Edomites now, although their desolate cities can still be identified, as predicted by Obadiah (Oba 1:18) and Jeremiah (Jer 49:13)" (Feinberg, cited by Const).

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