5

Ezek. 34:25 וכרתי להם ברית שלום וְהשבתי חיה־רעה מן־הארץ וישבו במדבר לבטח וישנו ביערים׃

Ezek. 37:26 וכרתי להם ברית שלום ברית עולם יהיה אותם ונתתים והרביתי אותם ונתתי את־מקדשי בתוכם לעולם׃

Ezek. 34:25   I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely.(NRSV)

Ezek. 37:26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore.(NRSV)

Ezek. 34:25 καὶ διαθήσομαι τῷ Δαυιδ διαθήκην εἰρήνης καὶ ἀφανιῶ θηρία πονηρὰ ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, καὶ κατοικήσουσιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ ὑπνώσουσιν ἐν τοῖς δρυμοῖς.

Ezek. 34:25 LXX I will make a covenant of peace with David and I will eliminate dangerous beasts from the land and they will live in the wilderness and sleep in the forest.

Ezek. 37:26 καὶ διαθήσομαι αὐτοῖς διαθήκην εἰρήνης, διαθήκη αἰωνία ἔσται μετ᾿ αὐτῶν· καὶ θήσω τὰ ἅγιά μου ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

Ezek. 37:26 LXX I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will set my sanctuary among them forever.

While reviewing the mid-20th century dispensational hermeneutic in reference to restoration of Israel, reading Ezekiel 37-39 I noticed that Charles L. Feinberg and Ralph H. Alexander don’t appear to be in total agreement on the “Peace Covenant” even though they shared a similar hermeneutical framework and both wrote commentaries on Ezekiel in the same era.

Charles L. Feinberg: “The covenant of peace is none other than the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34” (The Prophecy of Ezekiel, 1969, p216).

Ralph H. Alexander’s treatment is more difficult to summarize. “The peace covenant forms the skeletal outline of the following night messages of Ezekiel. Chapters 35-39 …” “A vital concern of this covenant of peace is the restoration of the land of Israel to the people of Israel.” “… the covenant of peace explains how the land will be restored to Israel …” (R.H. Alexander 1976:108-109). Alexander makes the covenant of peace a significant structural feature of his exegesis.

More recently D.I. Block sees the covenant of peace as a unilateral (Ezekiel, NICOT, 1998, p303) and eternal (ibid. p419) covenant. “… two principal motifs … the appointment of David as under-shepherd of Yahweh’s flock and the covenant of peace, are fundamental to the Jewish messianism that flourished in the intertestamental period.” (ibid. p.296). “ … ‘covenant of peace’ … a state of harmony … among all participants in the divine-human-territorial relationships. … restoration of the people to their hereditary homeland.” (ibid. p.422).

These are not answers, just highlighting the significance of the question. What is the Covenant of Peace in Ezekiel?

  • I see that the Septuagint of 34.25 mentions David; could you provide an English translation of the Greek, since it differs from the Hebrew? – user2910 Jun 8 '15 at 3:20
  • I'd start by checking who your sources think is being spoken to here. @MarkEdward highlights that as well with the naming of David in the LXX. If they are Dispensational there is a good chance they are not making a distinction between the house of Judah and the house of Israel. Even though Ezra 34-37 clearly makes statements identifying who it is speaking to and most of it is specifically about the house of Israel. It's especially explicit in ch.34 when it's taking past tense about their leaders being poor shepherds and the people being scattered. The answer to Who will affect one's conclusion – Joshua Jun 8 '15 at 18:58
  • @MarkEdward, LXX is the version I start with and then dip into the H-MT for clarification using E.Tov MT-LXX parallel database when needed (seldom). Only questionable translation issue here is the rendering of τὰ ἅγιά μου which represents את־מקדשׁי. NETS renders "holy things" which I didn't accept. – C. Stirling Bartholomew Jun 8 '15 at 21:44
1

TLDR: I think the confusion here stems from extracting these two verses from their immediate context, as well as the wider context of Ezekiel. Chapter 34 is about the restoration from Exile, and chapter 37 is a messianic prophecy - there is no single "covenant of peace", because peace (shalom) is an aspect of every biblical covenant.


חיה: The 'Living Creatures' of Ezekiel

In Ezekiel 34 there is a promise to "banish wild animals (חיה־רעה, 'living creatures of calamity') from the land". If we're to understand this, we need to pay attention to how Ezekiel's prophecies handle 'living creatures'. This is key because the whole word for 'animals' stems from them being 'living things'.

Ezekiel chapter 1 opens with reference to YHWH's "living creatures", with nine references in this first chapter alone, and some parallels later on. As the book progresses, YHWH's key theme is judgement of Judah in Exile, in order that they will know that "I am YHWH" (this appears 50 times in Ezekiel, as a rejoinder emphasising the reason for the various judgements).

What does this mean? It means that YHWH is. YHWH is watching. YHWH is listening. YHWH is on the move. YHWH is alive, and indeed is on a chariot carried by living creatures (still חיה). Sixteen times YHWH asserts that indeed these things would happen "as I live",1 and so it's fair to consider that this is one of the main themes of Ezekiel as a whole: YHWH lives.

חיה־רעה: The 'Wild Animals' of Ezekiel

This specific construction, 'wild animals/evil beasts/living creatures of calamity', is used a handful of times, as follows:

Ezekiel 5:17 - "I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless..."

Ezekiel 14:15 - "If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no one may pass through because of the beasts..."

Ezekiel 14:21 - "For thus says the Lord GOD: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!"

Ezekiel 34:25 - "I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods."

A similar term 'unclean beast' is similarly used in the following passages:

Ezekiel 29:5 - "And I will cast you out into the wilderness, you and all the fish of your streams; you shall fall on the open field, and not be brought together or gathered. To the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the heavens I give you as food."

Ezekiel 32:4 - "And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you."

Ezekiel 34:28 - "They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid."

'Beasts of the field' also appears a number of times throughout chapters 31-39. These beasts are a significant element of the immediate judgement falling upon Judah during the Exile. 14:21 marks them out as one of YHWH's "four disastrous acts of judgment", intended to judge the people for their sins.

Therefore Ezekiel 34:25's promise of a 'covenant of peace' is akin to re-settling Israel in their land after the Exile and re-establishing the Mosaic Covenant (as seen in Ezra, Haggai and Zechariah), which was to give them peace (shalom) in their promised land. This is emphasised in v27:

Ezekiel 34:27 - "And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them."


Ezekiel 37 - the same thing, or different?

The problem with reading these two passages in parallel lies in how we understand their messianic aspects. We have two passages which are relatively close together, which both clearly state that "David" will be present (34:23,24; 37:24), so would we have any textual reason to justify considering them as separate fulfilments or separate covenants?

I see a clear progression from the former passage to the latter:

Ezekiel 34:23-24 "And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken."

This is consistent with what we see in the return from Exile, when YHWH gradually restores Israel and makes a firm point of re-establishing the Davidic line through Zerubbabel, who is their shepherd but not yet king:

Haggai 2:23 - "On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts."

see also Zechariah 4:6-10

And then we have your second passage:

Ezekiel 37:24-25 - "My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever."

Here we see a covenant that is linked to the Messiah becoming King. Depending on your eschatological understanding, this is either something that either happened during the life of Jesus (as I would argue is presented strongly in Matthew), or as a prophecy which only sees its ultimate fulfilment eschatologically.


Conclusion

As argued above, there is no single 'covenant of peace' in common between these two passages - the earlier passage is about the re-settlement of Israel in their land after Exile (and the cessation of their 'wild beast' judgment), and the later passage is in reference to the coming Messiah. Both times peace is proclaimed, but then again peace (shalom) was a common aspect of pretty much every covenant we see in the scriptures.


1 Ezk 5:11; 14:16,18,20; 16:48; 17:16,19; 18:3; 20:3,31,33; 33:11,27; 34:8; 35:6,11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.