Ezekiel Chapter 34: 2-6, 11-16, 22-24 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary


Prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, etc. Our modern associations with the words, our use of terms like” the pastoral office,” “the pastoral Epistles,” lead us to think of the priests and prophets, the spiritual guides of the people, as being those whom the prophet has in view. In the language of the Old Testament, however, as in that of Homer, the shepherds of the people are always its kings and other civil rulers (1Ki_22:17; Psa_77:20; Psa_78:71; Jer_23:1-6), and those whom Ezekiel had in his thoughts were the tyrannous rulers of the house of David, like Jehoiakim and Zedekiah and their satellites. Our Christian thoughts of the word are the outcome of the leading of Joh_10:1-16; Joh_21:15-17; 1Pe_5:2-4; Act_20:28; but it is probably true that even there the original thought is still dominant. Christ is the “good Shepherd,” because he is the true King. His ministers are shepherds as being officers in his kingdom. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? The question is an appeal to the universal conscience of Israel and of mankind. No shepherd was worthy of his name who did not do that which the very name implied. He that neglects that duty is simply as a hireling or a robber (Joh_10:10, Joh_10:12).

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Ezekiel 34:3

Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

Ye eat the fat , [ hacheeleb (H2459)] – or, by differently pointing the Hebrew, ‘milk’ [hachaalaab]: so the Septuagint Thus the repetition, “the fat,” and “them that are fed,” is avoided; also the eating of “the fat” would not probably be put before the “killing” of the sheep. The eating of sheep or goats’ milk as food (Deu_32:14, “Butter of kine and milk of sheep;” Pro_27:27) was unobjectionable, had not these shepherds milked them too often, and that without duly “feeding” them (Bochart); (Isa_56:11, “Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough … they all look to their own way”). The rulers levied exorbitant tributes.

Ye kill them that are fed – ye kill the rich by false accusation, so as to get possession of their property.

Ye feed not the flock – ye take no care of the people (Joh_10:12-13, “He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep”).

Adam Clarke
Ezekiel 34:4
The diseased have ye not strengthened – No person is fit for the office of a shepherd, who does not well understand the diseases to which sheep are incident, and the mode of cure. And is any man fit for the pastoral office, or to be a shepherd of souls, who is not well acquainted with the disease of sin in all its varieties, and the remedy for this disease, and the proper mode of administering it, in those various cases? He who does not know Jesus Christ as his own Savior, never can recommend him to others. He who is not saved, will not save.

Neither have ye healed that which was sick – The prophet first speaks of the general disease; next, of the different kinds of spiritual infirmity.

Neither have ye bound up that which was broken – If a sheep have broken a leg, a proper shepherd knows how to set the bones, and splint and bind it till the bones knit and become strong. And the skillful spiritual pastor knows, if one of the flock be overtaken in a fault, how to restore such. Those sudden falls, where there was not a strong propensity to sin, are, to the soul, as a broken bone to the body.

Neither have ye brought again – A proper shepherd loves his sheep: he feels interested for their welfare; he acquaints himself with them all, so that he knows and can distinguish each. He knows also their number, and frequently counts to see that none is missing; if one be lost or strayed, he goes immediately and seeks it; and as he is constantly on the watch, it cannot have strayed far before he is apprised of its absence from the flock; and the less it has strayed, the sooner it is found and brought back to the fold.

The shepherds of Israel knew nothing about their flock; they might have been diseased, infirm, bruised, maimed, their limbs broken, strayed, and lost; for they watched not over them. When they got fat sheep and wool for their table and their clothing, they regarded nothing else; as they considered the flock given them for their own use, and scarcely ever supposed that they were to give any thing in return for the milk and the wool.

But with force and with cruelty – Exacting tithes and dues by the strong arm of the law, with the most ungodly feeling; and with a cruelty of disposition that proved it was the fat and the wool they sought, and not the safety or comfort of the flock.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Ezekiel 34:5
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

They were scattered, because there is no shepherd – i:e., none worthy of the name, though there were some called shepherds (1Ki_22:17; Mat_9:36). Compare Mat_26:31, where the sheep were scattered on the true Shepherd being smitten (“I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad”).

Meat to all … beasts – they became a prey to the Syrians, Ammon, Moab, and Assyria.

Pulpit Commentary
Behold, I, even I, etc. The words, as the last reference shows, and as we find in Eze_34:23-31, do not exclude, rather they imply, human instrumentality, just us our Lord’s do in Mat_18:12 and Luk_15:4-7; but they reveal the truth that Jehovah is the true Shepherd of his people. Not the sweet psalmist of Israel only, but the lowest outcast, might use the language of Psa_23:1-6; and say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” He will gather the sheep that have been scattered in the “cloudy and dark day,” the day of the Lord’s judgment (Eze_30:3). For the prophet the words pointed to that vision of a restored Israel, which was dominant in the expectations both of Isaiah (or the Deutero-Isaiah) in Ezekiel 40-48; and in Jeremiah (Jer_33:12-18), which floated before the minds of the apostles (Act_1:6), and to which even St. Paul looked forward as the solution of the great problems of the world’s history (Romans 9-11.).

Matthew Poole Ezk 34:12
As a shepherd doth gently gather them together, counteth them, brings them to the fold, views what they have suffered, whether lame or torn, and binds up, and healeth; if any are wanting, he looks till he findeth them, and brings them back; so will I, saith the Lord. If the shepherd find the wolf or lion among them or near them, he will either kill or drive him away; so will God. If under-servants have been careless, they shall be warned or turned away; so here, &c.

Will deliver them; they are wronged in all places where they were scattered, the places in which they are and should not be are part of that danger I will free them from.

The cloudy day; when the storm first began to arise from abroad or at home; here in persecutions, there in warlike preparations.

Dark day; that the land was invaded till the desolation of Jerusalem, the times of maladministration of their own governors, and violent irruption of their enemies.

Matthew Poole Ezk 34:13
When Cyrus’s proclamation came forth that the Jews might return, this prophecy was literally fulfilled, God did incline the minds of the Jews to retire from the people amidst whom they had dwelt seventy years: see Ezr_1:5,6 7:13.

Gather them; assemble them together; so they did in a place appointed without the country, where they were, (as appears, Ezr_8:15) in their assembling at Ahava or Diava, near where it falls into Euphrates, in the country Adiabene, which was from the more inward recesses of the Babylonian kingdom onwards of their journey to Jerusalem.

Will bring them; lead, conduct, and as a shepherd go before them, till I have put them into possession again of their own land.

Their own land; Canaan, their own by grant from the crown of heaven, anciently possessed by their fathers, and out of which violence cast them.

Feed them; God will provide, maintain, and nourish them. The mountains of Israel; places proper for sheep, where now they shall once more be kept.

The rivers; water-brooks, as Psa_42:1; which run down from the spring-heads in the sides and tops of the mountains, with some impetuousness and noise; or if greater rivers, they are those that run by the foot of the mountains, on which these sheep shall feed.

The inhabited places: this may explain the former. On such hills by rivers the returned captives would first settle their habitations, and here these sheep would be safest; thus literally: spiritually, it refers to the gathering the elect by the gospel out of the world, &c.

John Trapp
Ezekiel 34:14
Eze_34:14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and [in] a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

Ver. 14. I will feed them in a good pasture.] Daily and daintily; feed them among the lilies; {Son_2:16Psa_23:1-3} feed them with the flesh and blood of my dear Son {Joh_6:51-58}

There shall they lie in a good fold.] Having a blessed calm in their consciences, full of spiritual security, and freed from all annoyances {Mic_5:5}

John Gill
Ezekiel 34:15
I will feed my flock,…. This is repeated for the further confirmation of it, that it might be depended upon that the Lord would feed his people in the manner before promised; and it gives a reason why he would do it, because they were his flock; he had a right unto them, a property in them; they were separated and distinguished from others by him, as the church of God is; and which is also purchased by Christ, and gathered out of the world by his Spirit and grace; and therefore he will feed them, or take care that they shall be fed, Act_20:28,

and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord; in the good fold provided for them; where they have both rest and safety, and also plenty of suitable food; See Gill on Eze_34:14. The Targum is,

“I will govern my people, and will cause them to dwell safely, saith the Lord God;”

The Septuagint and Arabic versions add, “and they shall know that I am the Lord”.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Ezekiel 34:16
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick – in contrast to the unfaithful shepherds (Eze_34:4). The several duties neglected by them I will faithfully discharge.

But I will destroy the fat and the strong – i:e., those rendered wanton by prosperity (Deu_32:15; Jer_5:28), who use their strength to oppress the weak. Compare Eze_34:20, “the fat cattle” (Isa_10:16). The image is from fat cattle that wax refractory.

I will feed them with judgment – i:e., justice and equity, as contrasted with the “force” and “cruelty” with which the unfaithful shepherds ruled the flock (Eze_34:4).

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Ezekiel 34:22

Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey. After the restoration from Babylon the Jews were delivered in some degree from the oppression, not only of foreigners, but also of their own great people, who had oppressed them with bondage arising out of debts and mortages (Neh_5:1-19). The full and final fulfillment of this prophecy is future.

Cambridge Bible Davidson
Ezekiel 34:23
23. my servant David] The meaning cannot be that David would in person revive and reappear. It is more doubtful whether the prophet means that the line or family of David would again occupy the throne or that a single person would be king. It is possible that this question was not strictly before his mind; it is the character of the ruler that he thinks of. The oriental mind hardly distinguishes between an ancient personage and one who appears in his power and spirit; when it compares it identifies. The new prince over the people will be David, the servant of the Lord. Both the person and the reign of David were idealized. He was not in general terms but in truth the man after God’s own heart. His rule was not merely extensive, it was universal. He gave the people victory and secured them peace—he was a leader and commander of the peoples (Isa_55:4; Psa_18:43). Such shall be the king of the restored community when Jehovah is indeed the God of Israel. For it is to be noted that in Messianic prophecy it is Jehovah who saves the people (Eze_34:22 and preceding verses); then he appoints a shepherd over the restored community, who feeds them in righteousness and peace. The Messiah is the king of the saved community, whom he rules in the fear of the Lord with all royal and godly qualities; and the virtues of his character, fruit of the spirit of the Lord, communicate themselves to those whom he rules (Isaiah 11). It is possible that the phrase “one shepherd” is to be interpreted as in Eze_37:24, with the meaning that the two kingdoms shall be one, and that this is part of the meaning of the term “David,” cf. Hos_1:11; Hos_3:5; Amo_9:11. See more fully ch. 37.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Ezekiel 34:24
And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.

I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them – “my servant” implying fitness for ruling in the name of God, not pursuing a self-chosen course, as other kings, but acting as the faithful administrator of the will of God; Messiah realized fully this character (Psa_40:7-8; Isa_42:1; Isa_49:3; Isa_49:6; Isa_53:11; Php_2:7), which David typically and partially represented (Act_13:36); so He is the fittest person to wield the world-sceptre, abused by all the world-kings (Dan_2:34-35; Dan_2:44-45).


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