The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 34

Eze 34:1

Eze 34: The promise of a coming Shepherd King: cp Psa 23; John 10. King David was looked upon as a shepherd of the nation of Israel (2Sa 5:2; Psa 78:70-72). But, above all, Yahweh Himself is the Shepherd of Israel (Psa 80:1).

Eze 34:2

SHEPHERDS: The Heb "raah" is related to the word for "friend"; it pictures an overseer who feeds (by leading into good pastures), who guides, who cares for, who protects, and who associates closely with his flock.

WOE TO THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL: Similar indictments in Jer 23:1; Zec 11:17; Mat 23:14.

WHO ONLY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES: Lit, they "shepherd" themselves! Looking out for their own selfish interests first.

Eze 34:3

YOU EAT THE CURDS: The LXX and Vulgate read "milk" instead of "fat" (as KJV), following a different reading: "chalab" (milk) instead of "cheleb" (fat). Either way, the shepherds were living off the flock instead of tending it: "They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain" (Isa 56:11).

Eze 34:4

Generally, Peter seems to be referring to this v and this ch: "Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (1Pe 5:3).

YOU HAVE NOT STRENGTHENED THE WEAK OR HEALED THE SICK OR BOUND UP THE INJURED: These are all things which Yahweh the Great Shepherd does for His people: Psa 147:3; Isa 61:1. "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Isa 40:11).

YOU HAVE NOT BROUGHT BACK THE STRAYS OR SEARCHED FOR THE LOST: Echoed in the parable of the lost sheep (Luk 15:4-7). Cp Mat 18:12-4; ct Acts 20:28-31.

Eze 34:5

SO THEY WERE SCATTERED BECAUSE THERE WAS NO SHEPHERD, AND WHEN THEY WERE SCATTERED THEY BECAME FOOD FOR ALL THE WILD ANIMALS: Driven away by their shepherds, Israel wandered like silly sheep, without purpose or true leadership. They wandered aimlessly as sheep will, following whichever sheep might take the lead, and fell -- as might be expected -- into danger and death.

BECAUSE THERE WAS NO SHEPHERD: "Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd" (Zec 10:2). "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mat 9:36).

Eze 34:8

FOOD FOR ALL THE WILD ANIMALS: "Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away" (Deu 28:26).

Eze 34:10

I AM AGAINST THE SHEPHERDS AND WILL HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR MY FLOCK: It was the shepherd's responsibility to make good any loss that resulted from his negligence -- this was alluded to by Jacob in talking with his father-in-law Laban: "I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself" (Gen 31:38,39).

In the spiritual realm, a similar responsibility rests upon the spiritual shepherds of God's flock -- who are to warn their charges of imminent danger, so as to save their lives (Eze 3:18). So believers are exhorted: "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account" (Heb 13:17). Those who serve in such a selfless way will ultimately receive the commendation of the Chief Shepherd when he appears: "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers -- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1Pe 5:1-4).

As the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus accounted for the entire flock placed in his charge: "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled" (John 17:12). A tremendous responsibility rests upon those who assume the authority over the ecclesial flock -- for surely they walk in the footsteps of the Master. Such duty should never be undertaken lightly.

Eze 34:12

A DAY OF CLOUDS AND DARKNESS: Times of storm and darkness might be particularly dangerous, as times when the sheep would be much more likely to stray or run away from the protection of the shepherd. Symbolically, such expressions have been used to describe times of trouble for the nation of Israel: Eze 30:3; 38:9; Zep 1:15.

Eze 34:16

BUT THE SLEEK AND THE STRONG I WILL DESTROY: Those who prospered by bullying and denying their fellow sheep.

Eze 34:17


AND BETWEEN RAMS AND GOATS: Cp the judgment parable of Mat 25:32,33: "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." Cp Zec 10:3; 13:7; Amo 9:9.

Eze 34:19

It is a graphic picture of the selfish attitude of those who may seem to have advanced further in their knowledge of the Word of God -- but what good has it done them, if their feelings of pride and superiority lead them to despise others? "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself" (Rom 15:1-3).

Eze 34:23

I WILL PLACE OVER THEM ONE SHEPHERD, MY SERVANT DAVID, AND HE WILL TEND THEM: The Lord promised to set over His sheep one shepherd, His servant David, who would personally feed them (cf John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12). Yahweh would be their God, and His servant David would be prince among them.

"David" sig "beloved", and this surely points to Christ the well-beloved Son of God (Mat 3:17), who is also called "My servant the beloved" in Isa 42:1. Since he is also the son of David (Isa 9:6,7; Luk 1:32; cp 2Sa 7:12-16; Isa 55:3,4; Jer 30:9; Hos 3:5), it is reasonable to refer to him as "David".

Eze 34:24

I THE LORD WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND MY SERVANT DAVID WILL BE PRINCE AMONG THEM: The Heb "nasi" may be intended as a contrast with the "wicked prince" of Eze 21:25.

I THE LORD HAVE SPOKEN: This the Lord assuredly promised (cf Eze 37:22-26).

Eze 34:25

I WILL MAKE A COVENANT OF PEACE WITH THEM...: That is, a covenant resulting in peace with Israel (cf Eze 16:60; 37:26-28; 38:11-13; 39:25-29; Isa 54:10). This is probably a reference to the New Covenant that God promised to make with Israel in the future (Jer 31:31-34). In the NT this is seen to be a covenant of oneness with Christ (John 14:27) which leads to peace with God (John 17:21).

The word peace (Heb "shalom") is used to describe the harmony that exists when covenant obligations are being fulfilled and the relationship is sound. It is not a negative concept, implying absence of conflict or worry or noise, as we use it, but a thoroughly positive state in which all is functioning well.

AND RID THE LAND OF WILD BEASTS SO THAT THEY MAY LIVE IN... SAFETY: The provisions of this covenant that Ezekiel mentioned here included, first, removing threats to the Israelites' safety from the land so they could even live at peace in its formerly dangerous parts, the wilderness and woods (cf John 10:27-29).

WILD BEASTS: Which sym the Gentile nations that oppress Israel (Dan 7:3).

Eze 34:26

SHOWERS IN SEASON... SHOWERS OF BLESSING: Showers of divine blessings (Lev 26:4; Deu 32:2; ct Amo 8:11,12). God's seasonal blessings on Israel, both people and land, would be like the rain, and He would send His blessings down in showers (cf Acts 3:19,20).

Eze 34:27

THE TREES OF THE FIELD WILL YIELD THEIR FRUIT: Fruit trees would bear abundantly, and fruits and vegetables and flowers would proliferate in the land (cf Hos 2:22; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13,14; Zec 8:12).

AND THE GROUND WILL YIELD ITS CROPS: Even the plants would be secure. A full increase: Psa 67:6. The curse (Gen 3:17,18) will be lifted. This takes place in the Kingdom Age: vv 23-25; Isa 51:3.

WHEN I BREAK THE BARS OF THEIR YOKE AND RESCUE THEM FROM THE HANDS OF THOSE WHO ENSLAVED THEM: As the deliverance from Egypt is pictured as a breaking of the yoke upon the shoulders of God's people (Jer 2:20), and is symbolic of the coming complete deliverance of the nation, once again, from their Gentile enemies (Jer 16:14,15; 32:37).

Eze 34:29

A LAND RENOWNED FOR ITS CROPS: Israel itself will be the "crops" of God: "Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor" (Isa 60:21).
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