Ezekiel Part 3: Visions of Judgment (Chapters 8-11)
(New American Standard, 1995):
Ezek. 8:1 ¶ It came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell on me there.
Ezek. 8:2 Then I looked, and behold, a likeness as the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal.
Ezek. 8:3 He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located.
Ezek. 8:4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.
Ezek. 8:5 ¶ Then He said to me, "Son of man, raise your eyes now toward the north." So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance.
Ezek. 8:6 And He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations."
Ezek. 8:7 ¶ Then He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall.
Ezek. 8:8 He said to me, "Son of man, now dig through the wall." So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance.
Ezek. 8:9 And He said to me, "Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here."
Ezek. 8:10 So I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around.
Ezek. 8:11 Standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising.
Ezek. 8:12 Then He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.'"
Ezek. 8:13 And He said to me, "Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing."
Ezek. 8:14 ¶ Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.
Ezek. 8:15 He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these."
Ezek. 8:16 ¶ Then He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun.
Ezek. 8:17 He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose.
Ezek. 8:18 "Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them."
Ezek. 9:1 ¶ Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, "Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand."
Ezek. 9:2 Behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with his shattering weapon in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
Ezek. 9:3 ¶ Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case.
Ezek. 9:4 The LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst."
Ezek. 9:5 But to the others He said in my hearing, "Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare.
Ezek. 9:6 "Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary." So they started with the elders who were before the temple.
Ezek. 9:7 And He said to them, "Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city.
Ezek. 9:8 As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, "Alas, Lord GOD! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?"
Ezek. 9:9 ¶ Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!'
Ezek. 9:10 "But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads."
Ezek. 9:11 ¶ Then behold, the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case reported, saying, "I have done just as You have commanded me."
Ezek. 10:1 ¶ Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.
Ezek. 10:2 And He spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, "Enter between the whirling wheels under the cherubim and fill your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim and scatter them over the city." And he entered in my sight.
Ezek. 10:3 ¶ Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner court.
Ezek. 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.
Ezek. 10:5 Moreover, the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks.
Ezek. 10:6 ¶ It came about when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, "Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim," he entered and stood beside a wheel.
Ezek. 10:7 Then the cherub stretched out his hand from between the cherubim to the fire which was between the cherubim, took some and put it into the hands of the one clothed in linen, who took it and went out.
Ezek. 10:8 The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man's hand under their wings.
Ezek. 10:9 ¶ Then I looked, and behold, four wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside each cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like the gleam of a Tarshish stone.
Ezek. 10:10 As for their appearance, all four of them had the same likeness, as if one wheel were within another wheel.
Ezek. 10:11 When they moved, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went; but they followed in the direction which they faced, without turning as they went.
Ezek. 10:12 Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around, the wheels belonging to all four of them.
Ezek. 10:13 The wheels were called in my hearing, the whirling wheels.
Ezek. 10:14 And each one had four faces. The first face was the face of a cherub, the second face was the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
Ezek. 10:15 ¶ Then the cherubim rose up. They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar.
Ezek. 10:16 Now when the cherubim moved, the wheels would go beside them; also when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels would not turn from beside them.
Ezek. 10:17 When the cherubim stood still, the wheels would stand still; and when they rose up, the wheels would rise with them, for the spirit of the living beings was in them.
Ezek. 10:18 ¶ Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.
Ezek. 10:19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.
Ezek. 10:20 ¶ These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim.
Ezek. 10:21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands.
Ezek. 10:22 As for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. Each one went straight ahead.
Ezek. 11:1 ¶ Moreover, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the LORD'S house which faced eastward. And behold, there were twenty-five men at the entrance of the gate, and among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people.
Ezek. 11:2 He said to me, "Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give evil advice in this city,
Ezek. 11:3 who say, Is not the time near to build houses? This city is the pot and we are the flesh.'
Ezek. 11:4 "Therefore, prophesy against them, son of man, prophesy!"
Ezek. 11:5 ¶ Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and He said to me, "Say, Thus says the LORD, "So you think, house of Israel, for I know your thoughts.
Ezek. 11:6 "You have multiplied your slain in this city, filling its streets with them."
Ezek. 11:7 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of the city are the flesh and this city is the pot; but I will bring you out of it.
Ezek. 11:8 "You have feared a sword; so I will bring a sword upon you," the Lord GOD declares.
Ezek. 11:9 "And I will bring you out of the midst of the city and deliver you into the hands of strangers and execute judgments against you.
Ezek. 11:10 "You will fall by the sword. I will judge you to the border of Israel; so you shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezek. 11:11 "This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be flesh in the midst of it, but I will judge you to the border of Israel.
Ezek. 11:12 "Thus you will know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor have you executed My ordinances, but have acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you."'"
Ezek. 11:13 ¶ Now it came about as I prophesied, that Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, "Alas, Lord GOD! Will You bring the remnant of Israel to a complete end?"
Ezek. 11:14 ¶ Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Ezek. 11:15 "Son of man, your brothers, your relatives, your fellow exiles and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Go far from the LORD; this land has been given us as a possession.'
Ezek. 11:16 "Therefore say, Thus says the Lord GOD, "Though I had removed them far away among the nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone."'
Ezek. 11:17 "Therefore say, Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."'
Ezek. 11:18 "When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it.
Ezek. 11:19 "And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Ezek. 11:20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
Ezek. 11:21 "But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I will bring their conduct down on their heads," declares the Lord GOD.
Ezek. 11:22 ¶ Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.
Ezek. 11:23 The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.
Ezek. 11:24 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me.
Ezek. 11:25 Then I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.
(Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology)
ÐynSa v®d$OjAl hDÚvImSjA;b ÐyIÚvIÚvA;b ty#IÚvIÚvAh hDnDÚvA;b yIh×yÅw Ezek. 8:1
:h`Iwøh×y y¶DnOdSa dAy
wy¢DnVtDm h¶EarA;mIm v$Ea_hEarAmV;k Ðtwmd h§EnIh×w h#RarRaÎw Ezek. 8:2
Ny¶EoV;k rAhäOz_hEarAmV;k hDlVo$AmVlw wyDnVtD;mImw v¡Ea hDÚfAmVlw
aDÚcI;tÅw y¡Ivaør tIxyIxV;b ynEj;q¥yÅw dYÎy tyInVbA;t ÐjAlVv¥yÅw Ezek. 8:3
hDmV%AlDvwr×y y°ItOa ·aEbD;tÅw My&AmDÚvAh NyEbw X®rDaDh_Ny`E;b Ajwêr yItOa
hÎnw$øpDx hRnwøÚpAh ÐtyImynVÚpAh rAo§Av jAt%RÚp_lRa My#IhølTa twâøarAmV;b
:h`RnVqA;mAh h¶Da×nI;qAh lRmEs b$Avwøm MDv_rRvSa
r¶RvSa hðRarA;mA;k l¡EarVcy yEhølTa dwäøbV;k M$Dv_h´n°Ih×w Ezek. 8:4
hÎnwóøpDx JK®râ®;d ÔKyRnyEo a¶Dn_aDc MðdDa_NR;b y$AlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:5
Aj$E;b×zI;mAh rAoAvVl ÐNwøpDxIm h§EnIh×w hÎnw$øpDx JK®râ®;d ÐyÅnyEo a§DÚcRaÎw
:h`DaI;bA;b hRzAh h¶Da×nI;qAh lRm¢Es
[hDm] MRhEm hD;tAa h¶RaørSh MðdDa_NR;b y$AlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:6
MyIcOo lEarVcy_ty`E;b r¶RvSa tw%ølOd×g tw°øbEowø;t My¡IcOo [MEh]
twäøbEowø;t h$RarI;t bwâvD;t Ðdwøo×w y$Iv;dVqIm lAoEm ÐhqFjárVl h#OÚp
h¶EnIh×w hðRarRaÎw r¡ExDj`Rh jAtRÚp_lRa yItOa a¶EbÎ¥yÅw Ezek. 8:7
râO;tVjRaÎw ryóî;qAb aDn_rDtSj MädDa_NR;b y$AlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:8
:d`DjRa jAt¶RÚp hEnIh×w ry$I;qA;b
tw$øorDh twâøbEowø;tAh_tRa ÐhEarw aôø;b y¡DlEa rRmaäø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:9
:háOÚp MyIcOo M¶Eh r¢RvSa
ÐhDmEhVbw cRmô®r tynVbA;t_lDk h½´nIh×w ~hRarRa`Dw ¤awøbDaÎw Ezek. 8:10
by¶IbDs ryäî;qAh_lAo hñ®;qUjVm l¡EarVcy tyE;b yElw;lg_lDk×w X®q$Rv
wh½Îy×nÅzSaÅy×w lEarVcyþ_ty`Eb yEnVqzIm vyIa MyIoVbIv×w Ezek. 8:11
wäø;trAfVqIm vy¶Ia×w M$Rhy´nVpIl MyâîdVmOo ÐMDkwøtV;b d§EmOo N%DpDv_NRb
:h`RlOo t®räOfV;qAh_N`AnSo r¶AtSoÅw wúødÎyV;b
y§EnVqz r°RvSa ~MdDa_NRb DtyIarSh ¤yAlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:12
yI;k wóøtyI;kVcAm yâérdAjV;b vyIa JKRv$OjA;b MyIcOo Ð lEarVcy_ty`Eb
:X®r`DaDh_tRa hDwh×y b¶AzDo wn$DtOa hRaør ÐhÎwh×y Ny§Ea My#îrVmOa
twäølOd×g twñøbEowø;t h¢RarI;t bwñvD;t dwâøo y¡DlEa rRmaäø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:13
rRvSa hYÎwh×y_tyE;b rAoAv ÐjAtÐRÚp_lRa y#ItOa aEbÎ¥yÅw Ezek. 8:14
twäø;kAbVm tw$øbVváOy MyIvÎnAh ÐMDv_h´nIh×w hÎnwóøpDxAh_lRa
h¢RarI;t bwñvD;t dwâøo MódDa_NRb DtyIarSh yAlEa rRmañø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:15
:hR;l`EaEm twäølOd×g twñøbEowø;t
~tyImynVÚpAh ¤hÎwh×y_tyE;b rAxSj_lRa y#ItOa aEbÎ¥yÅw Ezek. 8:16
MyñîrVcRoV;k Aj$E;b×zI;mAh NyEbw ÐMDlwa`Dh Ny§E;b hGÎwh×y lAkyEh jAt%Rp_h´nIh×w
hDmd$éq MRhy´nVpw ÐhÎwh×y l§AkyEh_lRa M%Rhyér°OjSa vy¡Ia hDÚvImSjÅw
:vRm`DÚvAl hDmdäéq M¶RtywSjA;tVvIm hD;m¢Eh×w
tyEbVl Ð léqÎnSh ~MdDa_NRb DtyIarSh ¤yAlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 8:17
w°aVlDm_y`I;k hóOp_wc`Do rRvSa twäøbEowø;tAh_tRa twðøcSoEm h$dwh×y
My¶IjVlOv M¢DnIh×w yn$EsyIoVkAhVl ÐwbÐUvÎ¥yÅw s#DmDj X®r%DaDh_tRa
aâøl×w yInyEo swñøjDt_aáøl h$DmEjVb hRcToRa ÐynSa_MÅg×w Ezek. 8:18
:M`Dtwøa oAmVvRa añøl×w lw$ødÎg lwêøq ÐyÅn×zDaVb wôarq×w lóOmVjRa
twêø;düqVÚp wäbrq r$OmaEl Ð lwødÎg lwûøq yGÅn×zDaVb aârVq¥yÅw Ezek. 9:1
:wíødÎyV;b wäøtEjVvAm y¶IlV;k vy¢Ia×w ry¡IoDh
NwøyVlRoDh rAo°Av_JK®r®;dIm MyIaD;b My&IvÎnSa hDÚvIv hEnIh×w Ezek. 9:2
d§DjRa_vyIa×w w$ødÎyV;b ÐwøxDÚpAm y§IlV;k vy°Ia×w hÎnw#øpDx hRnVpDm rRvSa
w$dVmAoA¥yÅw ÐwaÐøbÎ¥yÅw wy¡DnVtDmV;b rEpO;sAh tRsñ®q×w My$î;dA;b vUbDl ÐMDkwøtV;b
:tRváOj×nAh j¶A;b×zIm lRxEa
rRvSa ÐbwrV;kAh l§AoEm ÐhDlSoÅn l#EarVcy yEhølTa dwâøbVkw Ezek. 9:3
vUbD;lAh ÐvyIaDh_lRa a#rVq¥yÅw ty¡D;bAh NA;tVpIm lRa wy$DlDo hDyDh
s :wy`DnVtDmV;b rEpO;sAh tRsñ®q r¢RvSa My$î;dA;bAh
ry$IoDh JKwâøtV;b ÐrObSo [wy$DlEa] wølEa ÐhÎwh×y rRmaôø¥yÅw Ezek. 9:4
ÐMyIjÎnTa`RnAh My#IvÎnSaDh twâøjVxIm_lAo w%D;t Dty½wVtIh×w MÊ¡DlDvwír×y JKwäøtV;b
:;h`DkwøtV;b twäøcSoÅn`Ah tw$øbEowâø;tAh_lD;k lAo£ My$IqÎnTaRnAh×w
wó;kAh×w wyärSjAa ry¢IoDb wõrVbIo yYÅn×zDaV;b rAmDa ÐhR;lÐEaVlw Ezek. 9:5
:wláOmVjA;t_lAa×w [MRk×nyEo] MRky´nyEo sñOjD;t_[lAa]_lAo
ty#IjVvAmVl wâgrAhA;t My%IvÎn×w P°Af×w ·hDlwtVbw rwâjD;b N&éqÎz Ezek. 9:6
w;l¡EjD;t yIv;dVqI;mImw wvYÅgI;t_lAa ÐwD;tAh wy§DlDo_rRvSa vy°Ia_lD;k_lAo×w
:ty`D;bAh y¶EnVpIl rRvSa MyYnéq×zAh MyIvÎnSaD;b Ðw;lÐEjÎ¥yÅw
w¬aVlAmw ty#A;bAh_tRa wâaV;mAf M%RhyElSa rRma½ø¥yÅw Ezek. 9:7
:ry`IoDb wñ;kIh×w wäaVxÎy×w wa¡Ex MyIlDlSj twÿørExSjAh_tRa
yÅnDÚp_lAo h°DlVÚpRaÎw yn¡Da rAaSva`En×w M$Dtwø;kAhV;k ÐyIh×y`Aw Ezek. 9:8
tEa£ h#D;tAa tyIjVvAmSh hYwh×y yDnOdSa Ð;hDhSa ÐrAmOa`Dw q#Ao×zRaÎw
:MÊ`DlDvwr×y_lAo äÔKVtDmSj_tRa ñÔKV;kVpDvV;b l$EarVcy tyâîrEaVv_lD;k
Ð lwødÎg Ðhdwhy`Iw l§EarVcy_ty`E;b N°OwSo y#AlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw Ezek. 9:9
yI;k h¡RÚfUm hDaVlDm ryIoDh×w My$Im;d ÐX®rÐDaDh a§ElD;mI;tÅw d$OaVm dâOaVmI;b
:h`Raør hDwh×y Ny¶Ea×w X®r$DaDh_tRa ÐhÎwh×y b§AzDo w#rVmDa
MD;krå;d lóOmVjRa aâøl×w yInyEo swñøjDt_aøl yYnSa_M½Åg×w Ezek. 9:10
wyYÎnVtDmV;b ÐtRsÐ®;qAh r§RvSa My#î;dA;bAh vUbVl vyIaDh hH´nIh×w Ezek. 9:11
[r¶RvSa] [läOk][V;k] rRvSaAk yItyðIcDo róOmaEl rDb;d by¶IvEm
vaêør_lAo ÐrRvSa ÐAoyÐIqrDh_lRa h§EnIh×w h#RarRaÎw Ezek. 10:1
:M`RhyElSo hDarn a¡E;sI;k twâm;d hEarAmV;k ry$IÚpAs NRbRaV;k My$IbürV;kAh
·aø;b rRmaÓø¥yÅw My#î;dA;bAh vUbVl vyIaDh_lRa rRmaø¥yÅw Ezek. 10:2
ÔKy§RnVpDj a°E;lAmw bw#rV;kAl tAjA;t_lRa lÅgVlÅgAl tw½ønyE;b_lRa
:y`DnyEoVl aäøbÎ¥yÅw ry¡IoDh_lAo qëOr×zw My$IbürV;kAl twâønyE;bIm ÐvEa_yElSj`Ag
vy¡IaDh wâøaøbV;b tyA;bAl Ny¶ImyIm MyöîdVmáOo My#IbürV;kAh×w Ezek. 10:3
:ty`ImynVÚpAh rExDjRh_tRa a$ElDm NDnDoRh×w
ty¡D;bAh NA;tVpIm lAo bw$rV;kAh lAoEm ÐhÎwh×y_dwøbV;k Mr§D¥yÅw Ezek. 10:4
dwñøbV;k ;hÅgäOn_tRa h$DaVl`Dm ÐrExDj`Rh×w NYÎnDoRh_tRa ÐtyÐA;bAh a§ElD;m¥yÅw
rExDjRh_dAo oðAmVvn My$IbwrV;kAh yEp×nA;k Ð lwøq×w Ezek. 10:5
:wíørV;bådV;b yäå;dAv_lEa lwõøqV;k h¡DnOxyIjAh
jñåq r$OmaEl ÐMyî;dA;bAh_v`UbVl vy§IaDh_tRa ÐwøtOwAxV;b y#Ih×yÅw Ezek. 10:6
lRxEa d$OmSoÅ¥y`Aw ÐaøbÎ¥yÅw My¡IbwrV;kAl twäønyE;bIm lYÅgVlÅgAl twâønyE;bIm ÐvEa
My#IbwrV;kAl twâønyE;bIm w%ødÎy_tRa bw°rV;kAh ·jAlVv¥yÅw Ezek. 10:7
vUbVl yEnVpDj_lRa N$E;t¥yÅw ÐaDÚc¥yÅw My$IbürV;kAh twâønyE;b ÐrRvSa ÐvEaDh_lRa
:a`Ex´¥yÅw jäå;q¥yÅw Myóî;dA;bAh
:M`RhyEp×nA;k tAjA;t M$dDa_dÅy ÐtynVbA;t My¡IbürV;kAl aär´¥yÅw Ezek. 10:8
~MyIbwrV;kAh lRxEa ¤MynApwøa hDoD;brAa h½´nIh×w h#RarRaÎw Ezek. 10:9
bwêrV;kAh lRxEa d$DjRa NApwøa×w d$DjRa bwêrV;kAh lRxEa£ d#DjRa NApwøa
:vy`IvrA;t NRb¶Ra NyEoV;k MyYnApwâøaDh ÐhEarAmw d¡DjRa
h¶RyVhy r¢RvSaA;k M¡D;tVoA;brAaVl dDjRa twñm;d M$RhyEar°Amw Ezek. 10:10
:N`DpwøaDh JKwñøtV;b NApwøaDh
w;bA;sy añøl wk$El´y ÐMRhyEoVbîr tAo§A;brAa_lRa M#D;tVkRlV;b Ezek. 10:11
añøl wk$El´y wyârSjAa ÐvaørDh h§RnVpy_rRvSa MwÞøqD;mAh yI;k M¡D;tVkRlV;b
M¡RhyEp×nAk×w MRhyédy`Iw M$RhE;bÅg×w ÐMrDcV;b_lDk×w Ezek. 10:12
:M`Rhy´nApwøa MD;tVoA;brAaVl by$IbDs ÐMyÐÅnyEo My§IaElVm MyGnApwáøaDh×w
:y`Dn×zDaV;b lAgVlÅgAh añrwøq M¢RhDl My¡InApwäøaDl Ezek. 10:13
bw#rV;kAh yEnVÚp d%DjRaDh y½´nVÚp d¡DjRaVl MyInDp h¶DoD;brAa×w Ezek. 10:14
yIoyIbrDh×w hY´yrAa yEnVÚp ÐyIvyIlVÚvAh×w M$dDa yEnVÚp ÐynEÚvAh y§EnVpw
yItyIar r¶RvSa hYÎ¥yAjAh ayIh My¡IbwrV;kAh w;mëOr´¥yÅw Ezek. 10:15
M¡DlVxRa MyInApwøaDh wñkVl´y My$IbwrV;kAh ÐtRkÐRlVbw Ezek. 10:16
X®r$DaDh lAoEm ÐMwrDl M#RhyEp×nA;k_tRa My%IbwrV;kAh t°EaVcIbw
:M`DlVxRaEm MEh_MÅg My¢InApwøaDh w;bªA;sy_aøl
Ajwõr y¢I;k M¡Dtwøa w;mwêør´y MDmwørVbw wd$OmSoÅy MâdVmDoV;b Ezek. 10:17
däOmSoÅ¥y`Aw ty¡D;bAh NA;tVpIm lAoEm hYÎwh×y dwâøbV;k ÐaEx´¥yÅw Ezek. 10:18
w;mw°ør´¥yÅw MRhyEp×nA;kþ_tRa MyIbwrV;kAh wâaVc¥yÅw Ezek. 10:19
jAtRÚp d#OmSoÅ¥y`Aw M¡DtD;mUoVl MyInApwáøaDh×w M$DtaExV;b ÐyÅnyEoVl X®r§DaDh_NIm
MRhyElSo l¢EarVcy_y`EhølTa dw¬øbVkw yYnwømdå;qAh ÐhÎwh×y_tyE;b rAo§Av
lEarVcy_y`EhølTa tAj¶A;t yIty¢Iar r¶RvSa hGÎ¥yAjAh ayIh Ezek. 10:20
:hD;m`Eh MyIbwrVk y¶I;k oðådEaÎw r¡DbV;k_rAh×n`I;b
MyApÎnV;k o¶A;brAa×w d$DjRaVl ÐMynDp h§DoD;brAa h°DoD;brAa Ezek. 10:21
:M`RhyEp×nA;k tAjA;t M$dDa yâéd×y Ðtwmdw d¡DjRaVl
ÐyItyÐIar r§RvSa MyGnDÚpAh hD;mEh M$Rhy´nVÚp twâmdw Ezek. 10:22
:wk`El´y wyDnDÚp rRb¶Eo_lRa vy¢Ia M¡Dtwøa×w MRhyEarAm r$DbV;k_rAh×n_lAo
h§Dwh×y_tyE;b rAo°Av_lRa yItOaþ aEbD;tÅw Ajw#r y%ItOa a°DÚcI;tÅw Ezek. 11:1
MyñîrVcRo rAo$AÚvAh jAtRpV;b Ðh´nIh×w hDmy$îdq hRnwøÚpAh Ðynwømdå;qAh
r¢UzAo_NRb hªDy×nÅzSaÅy_tRa M%DkwøtVb h°RarRaÎw vy¡Ia hDÚvImSjÅw
p :M`DoDh yäérDc whDyÎnV;b_NRb wh¶DyVfAlVÚp_tRa×w
My¶IbVvOjAh MyÞIvÎnSaDh hR;lEa MðdDa_NR;b y¡DlEa rRmaäø¥yÅw Ezek. 11:2
:taáøzAh ry¶IoD;b oär_tAxSo My¶IxSoO¥yAh×w Nw¢Da
ry$I;sAh ayIh My¡I;tD;b twâønV;b bwëørqVb añøl My$îrVmâOaDh Ezek. 11:3
:MádDa_NR;b aEbÎnIh M¡RhyElSo aEbÎnIh NEkDl Ezek. 11:4
ÐrOmTa y#AlEa rRmaâø¥yÅw ~hÎwh×y Ajwêr ¤yAlDo lâOÚpI;tÅw Ezek. 11:5
MRkSjwír twñølSoAmw l¡EarVcy tyE;b MR;trAmSa N¶E;k hYÎwh×y rAmDa_hO;k
M¶RtaE;lImw taóøzAh ryIoD;b MRkyElVlAj M¶RtyE;brIh Ezek. 11:6
p :l`DlDj DhyRtOxwj
MR;tVmAc rRvSa ÐMRkyElVlAj ~hwh×y yDnOdSa ¤rAmDa_háO;k N#EkDl Ezek. 11:7
:;h`Dkwø;tIm ay¶Ixwøh MRkVtRa×w ry¡I;sAh ayIh×w rDcD;bAh hD;m¶Eh ;h$DkwøtV;b
y¶DnOdSa MUa×n M$RkyElSo ayIbDa Ðb®rÐRj×w M¡Rtaér×y b®rRj Ezek. 11:8
MRkVtRa y¶I;tAtÎn×w ;h$Dkwø;tIm ÐMRkVtRa y§ItaExwøh×w Ezek. 11:9
:My`IfDpVv MRkDb yIty¢IcDo×w MyóîrÎz_dÅyV;b
M¡RkVtRa fwâøÚpVvRa lEarVcy lwñb×g_lAo wl$OÚpI;t b®rRjA;b Ezek. 11:10
:h`Dwh×y y¶InSa_y`I;k MR;tVoådy`Iw
;hDkwøtVb wñyVhI;t M¢R;tAa×w ry$IsVl ÐMRkDl h§RyVhIt_aáøl ay#Ih Ezek. 11:11
:M`RkVtRa fñOÚpVvRa lEarVcy lwñb×g_lRa r¡DcDbVl
M$R;tVkAlSh aâøl Ðyå;qUjV;b r§RvSa hYÎwh×y yInSa_y`I;k ÐMR;tVoådy`Iw Ezek. 11:12
MRkyEtwøbyIbVs r¶RvSa M¢IywøgAh yªEfVÚpVvImVkáw M¡RtyIcSo aâøl yAfDÚpVvImw
l°OÚpRaÎw t¡Em hDyÎnV;b_NRb wh¶DyVfAlVpw y$IaVbDnIhV;k ÐyIh×y`Aw Ezek. 11:13
ÐhDlD;k hYwh×y yDnOdSa Ð;hDhSa ÐrAmOaÎw lw#ødÎg_lwøq qAo×zRaÎw yÅnDÚp_lAo
p :l`EarVcy tyñîrEaVv tEa h$RcOo hD;tAa
:ráOmaEl y¶AlEa hDwh×y_rAbd y¶Ih×yÅw Ezek. 11:14
ty¶E;b_lDk×w ÔK$RtD;lUa×g yEv×nAa ÐÔKyÐRjAa ÔKy§RjAa M#dDa_NR;b Ezek. 11:15
lAoEm ÐwqSjáår MÊ#AlDvwr×y yEbVvOy M%RhDl w°rVmDa ·rRvSa hóø;lU;k lEarVcy
s :h`DvrwømVl X®rDaDh h¶DnV;tn ay¢Ih wn¶Dl hYÎwh×y
ÐMyI;tVqAjrIh y§I;k ~hwh×y yDnOdSa ¤rAmDa_háO;k r#OmTa NEkDl Ezek. 11:16
f$AoVm vâ;dVqImVl ÐMRhDl y§IhTaÎw twóøxrSaD;b MyItwøxy`IpSh y¶Ik×w MYywøgA;b
s :M`Dv wa¶D;b_rRvSa twäøxrSaD;b
y§I;tVxA;bIq×w ~hwh×y yDnOdSa ¤rAmDa_háO;k r#OmTa NEkDl Ezek. 11:17
r¶RvSa tw$øxrSaDh_NIm M$RkVtRa yI;tVpAsDa×w My$I;mAoDh_NIm ÐMRkVtRa
:l`EarVcy t¶AmdAa_tRa MRkDl y¶I;tAtÎn×w M¡RhD;b MRtwøxOp×n
Dhy¢Rxw;qIv_lD;k_tRa wry%IsEh×w hD;m¡Dv_waDbw Ezek. 11:18
NE;tRa hDvdSj Ajwõr×w d$DjRa bEl ÐMRhDl y§I;tAtÎn×w Ezek. 11:19
b¶El MRhDl y¶I;tAtÎn×w M$rDcV;bIm ÐNRbÐRaDh b§El y%ItOr°IsShÅw M¡RkV;brIqV;b
wâcDo×w wërVmVvy y¶AfDÚpVvIm_tRa×w wk$El´y yAtO;qUjV;b ÐNAoÐAmVl Ezek. 11:20
:My`IhølaEl MRhDl h¶RyVhRa yÁnSaÅw M$DoVl yIl_wyDh×w M¡DtOa
JK¡ElOh MD;bIl MRhyEtwøbSowøt×w M¢RhyExw;qIv bªEl_lRa×w Ezek. 11:21
:h`Iwh×y y¶DnOdSa MUa×n yI;t$AtÎn MDvaørV;b ÐMD;krå;d
MyInApwáøaDh×w M$RhyEp×nA;k_tRa ÐMyIbwrV;kAh wôaVc¥yÅw Ezek. 11:22
:hDlVo`DmVlIm MRhyElSo l¢EarVcy_y`EhølTa dw¬øbVkw M¡DtD;mUoVl
ÐdOmSoÅ¥y`Aw ry¡IoDh JKwâø;t lAoEm hYÎwh×y dwâøbV;k Ð lAoÐÅ¥yÅw Ezek. 11:23
:ry`IoDl M®dñ®;qIm rRvSa r$DhDh_lAo
h$DlwøgAh_lRa ÐhDmyÐî;dVcAk yn§EayIbV;tÅw ynVt#AaDc×n Ajwêr×w Ezek. 11:24
:yIty`Iar r¶RvSa hRarA;mAh y$AlDo`Em Ð lAoÐÅ¥yÅw My¡IhølTa AjwêrV;b hRarA;mA;b
r¶RvSa hDwh×y yñérVbî;d_lD;k t¢Ea h¡DlwøgAh_lRa rE;bådSaÎw Ezek. 11:25
Ezekiel's Visions of Judgment for Defiling the Temple of God
This vision occurs exactly 14 months after the first (described in chapters 5-7), on September 17, 592 BC., while Ezekiel is at his home in Tel-Abib.
This is one of four visions Ezekiel mentions having while sitting with a group of people. Presumably, these people had come at those times specifically looking for a vision from the Lord.
The central message in this passage is that God favors the devout (He comes to Ezekiel, figuratively) , and condemns the proud and self-important (He departs from the Temple after those "important" people had defiled it).
The "idol that provokes to jealousy" is Asherah, a pagan goddess who is variously a mother/fertility figure, or the consort of the chief gods. "Asherah poles" mentioned elsewhere in the OT are referring to shines to her that were common in Canaan before the 6th century BC. She is also closely associated with the worship of Baal during this period.
The "worship of animals" is symbolic of any number of animistic religions that the people turned to from time to time, whenever they felt their needs were not being fulfilled by YHWH.
Tammuz (or "Dumuzid") is an ANE nature god, dating from at least the Sumerian empire period (roughly 4,000-3,000 BC), whose death in the fall and rebirth in the spring personify the creative processes of nature.
Sun worship was a leftover byproduct of the Egyptian captivity. The fact it was being done at all is hateful in God's eyes, the fact it was being done by His own priests on the portico of His own Temple is simply unspeakable blasphemy.
One of the major points made in this section is about the people left behind after the first Babylonian exiles left. The remaining "leaders" and priests, weak and incompetent as they were (or the Babylonians would have snatched them up, too) convinced themselves that it was the exiles who were the wretched and unacceptable ones . This is a position known as theodicy, or more simply, "bad things happen to bad people."
IVP-New Bible Commentary
8:1 Sixth year'592 BC. Elders'-only 14 months after his counselling vision Ezekiel has reached the stage where even the elders of Israel visit him for a consultation (cf. 14:1; 20:1).
2 Like that of a man'in this and subsequent verses Ezekiel is noticeably vague in his descriptions of the humanlike being he saw. He is careful to emphasize that what he saw was how it appeared to him, and not what actually [p. 722] were the physical attributes of the divine messenger.
3 North gate'in his vision Ezekiel is transported to the temple in Jerusalem. Idol that provokes to jealousy'possibly an image of Asherah, a fertility goddess. Unlike the idols mentioned later in this chapter, this image was in public view. It was a provocation; it was there to cause passersby to follow its ways; it would incite resentment among the faithful Israelites; but ultimately it invoked the jealous displeasure of God.
4 Glory of God'it was still there despite what was going on in the temple.
7-12 Ezekiel is now shown idolatry of a more secretive nature.
10 Portrayed'i.e. inscribed, carved.
11 Seventy elders'i.e. a substantial proportion of the elders of Israel.
14 Tammuz'(also called Dumuzi) was a Babylonian god whose worship included laments for his descent into the underworld.
16 The added insult here is that the sunworship took place right in front of the temple altar.
17 Putting the branch to their nose'possibly another ceremonial gesture connected with the sunworship.
9:1-11 This passage is strongly reminiscent of other apocalyptic passages of final judgment.
9:3 The glory of the Lord begins to leave the temple. The message is clear. God's patience with his people is longlasting but it is not everlasting. If we persist in our idolatrous ways he must depart and finally leave us to it.
9:4 Put a mark'the mark was the letter taw, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which would have looked like an x. The mark served to differentiate those who had been faithful from those who had not.
10:1 Throne of sapphire'this corresponds with Ezekiel's initial vision (cf. 1:26).
10:2 Cherubim'the majestic creatures of ch. 1 are now identified as cherubim. These mythological beings are described as standing under, or perhaps even supporting, the throne of God. Their role here as attendants to the Lord would fit with their depiction on the lid of the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:18-22) and with other OT references which portray the Lord as enthroned upon the cherubim' (1 Sa. 4:4; 2 Sa. 6:2; 2 Ki. 19:15; 1 Ch. 13:6; Ps. 80:1; cf. Ps. 18:10). They could vary somewhat in appearance; in Ezk. 41:18-20 a twoheaded variety is described.
10:14 Cherub'one of the four faces is described as that of a cherub and not as ox as in 1:10. The difference may be due to a scribal slip (cf. 10:22).
11:3 Will it not soon be time to build houses?'the exact translation of the first half of this verse is uncertain, but the general thrust of the verse is that the conspirators were trying to read the signs of the times and had come to the conclusion that they would be the elite among Jerusalem's society. They would be prime cuts, not the offal (cf. vs 7, 11).
11:13 As I was prophesying'i.e. in the course of the vision.
11:19 Heart of stone'flesh'a theme which would be repeated later (cf. 36:26).
11:23 The glory of the Lord finally leaves the city.
8:1. chronology. Fourteen months after his initial vision calling him to serve as a prophet, Ezekiel now experiences a new vision that will dramatically demonstrate the decadence of Jerusalem's religious state. Based on the calendar used for Ezekiel 1:1, the date of this vision would be September 1718, 592 B.C.
8:2. figure of metal and fire. A divine apparition that confronts Ezekiel is similar in its brilliance to the one in his call narrative (Ezek 1:2627). In both instances he uses qualifiers and the combination of blinding fire and shining metal or electrum. It is the magnificence of God's or a divine messenger's glory that is being conveyed here. This follows the pattern of the dangerous nature of contact with the divine found throughout ancient Near Eastern literature (see the comment on Ezek 1:2628).
8:3. transported in visions. Since Ezekiel will not physically leave the exile, it is necessary for him to be transported in a vision to Jerusalem, where he can witness the city's abominations. There is little in the literature of the ancient Near East to provide information on visions or visionary experiences. In one interesting text, A Vision of the Netherworld (seventh century), an Assyrian prince sees Nergal, king of the netherworld, seated on his throne, with lightning flashing from him. The text does not say how the prince was transported, but it does mention that he is dragged by his hair to Nergal. A parallel to spiritual transport might be found in the Mesopotamian hero Adapa's appearance before the divine assembly. His patron god, Ea, causes him to "take the road to heaven," and Adapa has the opportunity to gaze from that vantagepoint "from the horizon of heaven to the zenith of heaven."
8:3-16. temple complex topography. The rectangular temple structure (facing east) is surrounded by a walled inner courtyard. Outside of this wall is the outer courtyard. The wall is lined with chambers used for various purposes. Ezekiel first is set down in his vision outside the north gate leading from the outer courtyard into the inner court. From this outer courtyard, Ezekiel could look through the gate at the altar that dominated the inner courtyard. The gates leading into the temple precincts were added after Solomon's original construction of the temple (2 Kings 15:35). The hole near the gateway (v. 7) area may have led into one of those chambers lining the courtyard wall, perhaps a storage room that had been transformed into a shrine where the seventy elders stood in their own separate niches and worshiped idolatrous images. The next scene (v. 14) is outside a gate in the same wall further to the west, where women would be allowed. Then at verse 16 Ezekiel is led into the inner court of the temple where he will view a further abomination in the area between the porch of the temple and the altar.
8:5. idol of jealousy. The image of Asherah that Manasseh set up in the temple complex is referred to in a similar way (2 Chron 33:7, 15). Though this should not be considered the same image, it could easily be another Asherah. This is further suggested by the fact that the word used for "image" here is an unusual one that is thought to be a loan word from Phoenician or Canaanite. According to the second commandment of the Decalogue, any image that was the object of worship would provoke Yahweh's jealousy.
8:10. wall decorations as objects of worship. The text specifies these as images carved in relief on the walls. This art form was well known in Assyria and Babylon. Verse 12 additionally suggests that each of the seventy was worshiping in front of a separate niche where an image was engraved. The fact that these carvings were of animals suggests some connection to Egyptian mortuary practices. Animals were not typically the objects of worship in Canaanite or Mesopotamian practice. But the Egyptians used apotropaic rituals to ward off various creatures from the tombs of their ancestors, and incense was used throughout the ancient Near East in apotropaic contexts. The decoration of the walls of houses in Mesopotamia with images of ants and cockroaches may also have been apotropaic.
8:14. mourning for Tammuz. Like other fertility-oriented "dying gods," the Sumerian demigod Tammuz spent part of the year in the underworld (representing the dry, unproductive seasons) and then came back to life during the time of rains, planting and harvesting. The Mesopotamian ritual that formed part of his worship begged the gods to restore Tammuz and the land's fertility. It included a series of laments (based on those initiated in the epic story by his wife Inanna and his mother and sister). The women who performed these laments would wail and shed tears (a symbolic gesture of the need for rain). The fact that Ezekiel describes women performing this ritual before the gates of the temple in Jerusalem may reflect either the adoption of this fertility god as a substitute for Yahweh or wailing for Yahweh as a dying and rising fertility god using Tammuz lamentation liturgy. This adds a Mesopotamian heresy to the Canaanite- and Egyptian-style heresies in the two previous scenes.
8:16. sun worship. Evidence of official sun worship in ancient Israel seems to be tied primarily to the reign of Manasseh. The horses and chariots of the sun that he set up were destroyed by Josiah when he attempted to cleanse the temple complex of foreign religious influence (see comment on 2 Kings 23:11). Place names such as Beth Shemesh, Ein Shemesh and Mount Heres (Josh 15:7; Judg 1:35) also attest to the popularity of sun worship. Perhaps it is not coincidental that the chapter is dated to the time of the autumn equinox when the sun would be at the angle to shine directly into the temple at sunrise. While Egypt, Canaan and Mesopotamia all had sun gods (Amun-Re, Shemesh and Shamash respectively), it is more likely that this is syncretistic worship of Yahweh as a sun god. This would complete the series of scenes that portrayed Canaanite worship (v. 5), Egyptian worship (v. 1011), Mesopotamian worship (v. 14) and syncretistic worship of Yahweh (v.16).
8:17. branch to the nose. There is an Akkadian expression (laban appi) that refers to a gesture of humility used to come contritely before deity with a petition. When this act is portrayed in art, the worshiper has his hand positioned in front of his nose and mouth, and is sometimes shown with a short cylindrical object in his hand. From the Sumerian tale called Gilgamesh in the Land of the Living there is some evidence that what is held is a small branch cut off a living tree. This would suggest that in Ezekiel the people are putting on a show of humility. It must be admitted, however, that these connections are very hazy and the significance may lie somewhere else entirely.
9:2. six slaughterers. While there is an obvious parallel between this vision of divinely directed executioners and the "Destroyer" in the Passover narrative (Ex 12:23), the motif of seven destroyers is best exemplified in the eighth-century Neo-Babylonian Myth of Erra and Ishum. In this ancient poem the god Anu begets seven deities (Sebitti, associated with Pleiades) and gives them to Erra to serve "as his fierce weapons." These merciless beings spare no one, killing all in their directed path and thus functioning as the tools of chaos and violence. The poem, like Ezekiel's vision, provides a religious explanation for the destruction and humiliation of a major city (Babylon), but here there are only six rather than seven, the seventh having been replaced by a scribe (see next entry).
9:2. record-keeper. The motif of a divine record-keeper is found in the Gilgamesh Epic where Belet-Seri kneels before Ereshkigal (the queen of the underworld in Akkadian belief) and reads out the names of mortals who will die. But the scribal writing kit carried by the man here would evoke the image of Nabu, the god of scribes and scribe of the gods. Nabu was one of the most popular Babylonian gods of the period, as is demonstrated by his appearance in many of the names (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar). He is the one who keeps the accounts on the tablet of life, just as the scribal personage here in Ezekiel is doing.
9:2. writing kit. The ancient scribe typically carried a writing case that would serve as a palette when he was writing and also stored his pens and containers of ink (usually both black and red ink). In this passage, the term used for the writing kit included an Egyptian loan word (qeset) that identified it as a particular style of palette, with slots for the pens and two hollowed-out places to store ink. These palettes appear in numerous Egyptian tomb paintings. The pen was a rush or reed cut to a point that could serve as brush or point depending on the shape of the letter being drawn. Ink was made from a mixture of carbon and gum. Red ink had iron oxide added to produce the color needed for rubrics or the lines on the scroll. Completing his kit would be a knife to sharpen his pens (Jer 36:23).
9:2. bronze altar. The bronze altar was part of the furnishings of the original temple complex created by Solomon (see comment on 2 Chron 4:1). It had sat in front of the temple "between the new altar and the temple," and had then been moved to the north side to make room for the idolatrous altar erected by Ahaz (2 Kings 16:14).
9:3. glory of the Lord above the cherubim. There is an association between God's "glory" and the ark of the covenant as early as the Samuel narratives (see comment on 1 Sam 4:34). In Ezekiel God's presence is tied to the "glory"a physical manifestation that also plays on the image presented of the ark of God enthroned between the wings of the cherubim (for the iconography of the ark, see comment on Ex 25:1022).
9:4. marks on the forehead. The action of the scribe conjures up several parallels. The mark is the Hebrew letter taw, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which was used as a signature in some periods of Israelite history (Job 31:35). In the script used during Old Testament times it was either an X shape or a + shape. It may represent God's ownership of the remnant of the people who deserved to survive the coming destruction (a sentiment also expressed in the Egyptian Visions of Neferti). Jewish tradition continued to employ this sign as a mark of the righteous from the Dead Sea Scrolls, through the intertestamental period and into rabbinic traditions. Certainly, marking those who will survive God's wrath is comparable to the blood on the doorpost during the Exodus event (Ex 12:11). The same mark used in Ezekiel was early associated with the blood mark on the doorposts at Passover, but its resemblance to a cross made that connection unpopular among the rabbis in the post-Christian era.
10:1. throne of sapphire (lapis lazuli). The mention of God's throne is a reiteration of 1:26. At least since Roman times, based on the writings of Pliny, sapphire has actually denoted lapis lazuli. It remained common until the end of the medieval period to employ the term sapphire when referring to the deep blue of lapis lazuli. The word sapphire comes from the Sanskrit and was borrowed into Latin. Lapis lazuli, a combination of minerals including felspathoid, sodalite and lazurite, comes from the mountains of Afghanistan. It is a brittle stone and has been used for jewelry, in mosaics and to decorate furniture. Its sparkling character, a desirable quality for decorative purposes, is the result of pyrite fragments blended with the stone. In Akkadian texts this stone was commonly associated with the dwelling place of the high god.
10:1. cherubim. See the comment on Exodus 25:1820 and 26:16 for the decorative appearance of cherubim in the tabernacle and on the lid of the ark of the covenant. In the Jerusalem temple two cherubim were made from olivewood and overlaid with gold (see 1 Kings 6:2328). The significance of the iconography in each of these instances is to be found in the idea of God's presence being upheld on the wings of the cherubim. The close association of God and the cherubim may be related to the image of Canaanite and Mesopotamian gods riding or standing on the backs of animals (i.e., Baal astride a bull). It should also be noted that the winged beasts of Assyrian art may have also had some influence on the biblical depiction of the cherubim (see the comment on Ezek 1:5). In chapter 1 these creatures were not identified as cherubim, but here they are placed in that category. This is logical since cherubim were most commonly portrayed as the guardians of divine property or presence.
10:2. wheels. See comment on 1:1518.
10:4. radiance of the glory of the Lord. See the comments on Ezekiel 1:4 and 1:2628 for discussion of the kabod or "glory" of God and how it compares to the concept of melammu, "divine brilliance," that appears in Mesopotamian literature. For a comparison with Egyptian and Akkadian religious texts dealing with the radiance of the gods and the danger to humans who see this divine light, see the comments on Exodus 13:2122 and 33:1823.
10:9. chrysolite. As in 1:15 the semiprecious stone mentioned is tarshish. Most interpreters identify it as either beryl or topaz, both of which would have reflected the light and provided the sense of translucent brilliance in this text.
10:12. full of eyes. See comment on 1:1518 for the discussion of the wheels "full of eyes."
10:14. four faces. See comment on 1:6.
10:15. Kebar River. See comment on 1:1.
10:18. importance of the threshold. Entranceways have great symbolic significance in the biblical world. They serve as a place of judgment (Deut 22:2021) as well as a legal site where acts of submission and worship may take place (1 Sam 5:4; Ezek 46:12). They also mark the point of entry and exit from a private home or, as in Ezekiel, from the realm of sacred space to the secular world.
10:19. east gate. This would be the gate of the outer court of the temple. While the temple complex had an east-west orientation, it is unclear how closely tied to this sacred precincts were the buildings and courtyards of the royal palace. It is possible that the gate Ezekiel is referring to in this case is one of those that connected temple and palace. If this is the case, then its significance is heightened as Yahweh prepares to abandon both the religious community and the secular authorities to their fate.
11:1. leaders. All of these names appear on seals from this period, but with the exception of Pelatiah, it is unlikely that the seals should be related to the individuals named in this verse. The Pelatiah seal possibly refers to this individual, but there can be no certainty. For more about seals and persons named on them, see the sidebar in Jeremiah 32.
11:3, 7, 11. . metaphor of cooking pot and meat. Ezekiel refutes the claims of Jerusalem's new rulers that they have created a safe haven in the city for the people. He turns this around, transforming the pot (Jerusalem) from a tightly sealed storage jar into a cooking pot in which the people (see Mic 3:3) and their false rulers will be broiled over the flame of Yahweh's anger (compare Ezek 22:1822).
11:18. images and idols. See the comments on images in 8:5 and 8:10.
11:19. heart of stone. The concept of a heart of stone would have had a couple of associations in the ancient world, mostly from Egypt. First of all, in Egyptian beliefs it was the heart that was weighed in judgment to determine whether or not the afterlife could be attained. If it was weighed down with guilt and sin, the results could be disastrous (see comment on Ex 8:11). A heart of stone would be a heavy heart. More important is the imagery connected to the mummification process. From New Kingdom times on, the heart was removed from the mummy and placed in a canopic jar, as the other important organs were. This was done because the Egyptians believed that the heart might betray the individual when he came to judgment and thereby jeopardize the afterlife. The heart was replaced with a stone carved in the shape of a dung beetle. In Egypt this insect was the symbol of eternal life. By transplanting it inside the mummy in place of the heart, they believed they were securing the renewal of the person's life and vitality. In contrast, Yahweh is going to bring his people back to life by returning to them hearts of flesh that will not betray them. The imagery of an unhardened heart would be apt in that verses 1720 suggest a new exodus and a new covenant.
11:23. mountain east of the city. The mount to the east of the temple complex would be the Mount of Olives. From here one can look down on the temple mount and the city. From a vantagepoint in Jerusalem, this would be the limit of how far one could look to the east. Whether the implication is that God is going to sit outside the city and watch (compare Jon 4:5), or whether it is from here that he returns to heaven (it is the traditional site of the ascension of Christ as well, though New Testament support is slight).
1. sixth year namely, of the captivity of Jehoiachin, as in Ezekiel 1:2, the "fifth year" is specified. The lying on his sides three hundred ninety and forty days (Ezekiel 4:5, 6) had by this time been completed, at least in vision. That event was naturally a memorable epoch to the exiles; and the computation of years from it was to humble the Jews, as well as to show their perversity in not having repented, though so long and severely chastised. elders namely, those carried away with Jehoiachin, and now at the Chebar. sat before me to hear the word of God from me, in the absence of the temple and other public places of Sabbath worship, during the exile (Ezekiel 33:30, 31). It was so ordered that they were present at the giving of the prophecy, and so left without excuse. hand of . . . Lord God fell . . . upon me God's mighty operation fell, like a thunderbolt, upon me (in Ezekiel 1:3, it is less forcible, "was upon him"); whatever, therefore, he is to utter is not his own, for he has put off the mere man, while the power of God reigns in him [CALVIN].
2. likeness understand, "of a man," that is, of Messiah, the Angel of the covenant, in the person of whom alone God manifests Himself (Ezekiel 1:26; John 1:18). The "fire," from "His loins downward," betokens the vengeance of God kindled against the wicked Jews, while searching and purifying the remnant to be spared. The "brightness . . . upward" betokens His unapproachable majesty (1 Timothy 6:16). For Hebrew, eesh, "fire," the Septuagint, etc., read ish, "a man." colour of amber the glitter of chasmal [FAIRBAIRN], (see note on Ezekiel 1:4, "polished brass").
3. Instead of prompting him to address directly the elders before him, the Spirit carried him away in vision (not in person bodily) to the temple at Jerusalem; he proceeds to report to them what he witnessed: his message thus falls into two parts: (1) The abominations reported in Ezekiel 8:1-18. (2) The dealings of judgment and mercy to be adopted towards the impenitent and penitent Israelites respectively (Ezekiel 9:1-11:25). The exiles looked hopefully towards Jerusalem and, so far from believing things there to be on the verge of ruin, expected a return in peace; while those left in Jerusalem eyed the exiles with contempt, as if cast away from the Lord, whereas they themselves were near God and ensured in the possessions of the land (Ezekiel 11:15). Hence the vision here of what affected those in Jerusalem immediately was a seasonable communication to the exiles away from it. door of the inner gate facing the north, the direction in which he came from Chebar, called the "altar-gate" (Ezekiel 8:5); it opened into the inner court, wherein stood the altar of burnt offering; the inner court (1 Kings 6:36) was that of the priests; the outer court (Ezekiel 10:5), that of the people, where they assembled. seat the pedestal of the image. image of jealousy Astarte, or Asheera (as the Hebrew for "grove" ought to be translated, 2 Kings 21:3, 7; 23:4, 7), set up by Manasseh as a rival to Jehovah in His temple, and arresting the attention of all worshippers as they entered; it was the Syrian Venus, worshipped with licentious rites; the "queen of heaven," wife of Phoenician Baal. HAVERNICK thinks all the scenes of idolatry in the chapter are successive portions of the festival held in honor of Tammuz or Adonis (Ezekiel 8:14). Probably, however, the scenes are separate proofs of Jewish idolatry, rather than restricted to one idol. provoketh to jealousy calleth for a visitation in wrath of the "jealous God," who will not give His honor to another (compare the second commandment, Exodus 20:5). JEROME refers this verse to a statue of Baal, which Josiah had overthrown and his successors had replaced.
4. The Shekinah cloud of Jehovah's glory, notwithstanding the provocation of the idol, still remains in the temple, like that which Ezekiel saw "in the plain" (Ezekiel 3:22, 23); not till Ezekiel 10:4, 18 did it leave the temple at Jerusalem, showing the long-suffering of God, which ought to move the Jews to repentance.
5. gate of . . . altar the principal avenue to the altar of burnt offering; as to the northern position, see 2 Kings 16:14. Ahaz had removed the brazen altar from the front of the Lord's house to the north of the altar which he had himself erected. The locality of the idol before God's own altar enhances the heinousness of the sin.
6. that I should go far off from my sanctuary "that I should (be compelled by their sin to) go far off from my sanctuary" (Ezekiel 10:18); the sure precursor of its destruction.
7. door of the court that is, of the inner court (Ezekiel 8:3); the court of the priests and Levites, into which now others were admitted in violation of the law [GROTIUS]. hole in . . . wall that is, an aperture or window in the wall of the priests' chambers, through which he could see into the various apartments, wherein was the idolatrous shrine.
8. dig for it had been blocked up during Josiah's reformation. Or rather, the vision is not of an actual scene, but an ideal pictorial representation of the Egyptian idolatries into which the covenant-people had relapsed, practising them in secret places where they shrank from the light of day [FAIRBAIRN], (John 3:20). But compare, as to the literal introduction of idolatries into the temple, Ezekiel 5:11; Jeremiah 7:30; 32:34.
10. creeping things . . . beasts worshipped in Egypt; still found portrayed on their chamber walls; so among the Troglodytae. round about On every side they surrounded themselves with incentives to superstition.
11. seventy men the seventy members composing the Sanhedrin, or great council of the nation, the origination of which we find in the seventy elders, representatives of the congregation, who went up with Moses to the mount to behold the glory of Jehovah, and to witness the secret transactions relating to the establishment of the covenant; also, in the seventy elders appointed to share the burden of the people with Moses. How awfully it aggravates the national sin, that the seventy, once admitted to the Lord's secret council (Psalms 25:14), should now, "in the dark," enter "the secret" of the wicked (Genesis 49:6), those judicially bound to suppress idolatry being the ringleaders of it! Jaazaniah perhaps chief of the seventy: son of Shaphan, the scribe who read to Josiah the book of the law; the spiritual privileges of the son (2 Kings 22:10-14) increased his guilt. The very name means, "Jehovah hears," giving the lie to the unbelief which virtually said (Ezekiel 9:9), "The Lord seeth us not," etc. (compare Psalms 10:11, 14; 50:21; 94:7, 9). The offering of incense belonged not to the elders, but to the priests; this usurpation added to the guilt of the former. cloud of incense They spared no expense for their idols. Oh, that there were the same liberality toward the cause of God!
12. every man in . . . chambers of . . . imagery The elders ("ancients") are here the representatives of the people, rather than to be regarded literally. Mostly, the leaders of heathen superstitions laughed at them secretly, while publicly professing them in order to keep the people in subjection. Here what is meant is that the people generally addicted themselves to secret idolatry, led on by their elders; there is no doubt, also, allusion to the mysteries, as in the worship of Isis in Egypt, the Eleusinian in Greece, etc., to which the initiated alone were admitted. "The chambers of imagery" are their own perverse imaginations, answering to the priests' chambers in the vision, whereon the pictures were portrayed (Ezekiel 8:10). Lord . . . forsaken . . . earth They infer this because God has left them to their miseries, without succoring them, so that they seek help from other gods. Instead of repenting, as they ought, they bite the curb [CALVIN].
14. From the secret abominations of the chambers of imagery, the prophet's eye is turned to the outer court at the north door; within the outer court women were not admitted, but only to the door. sat the attitude of mourners (Job 2:13; Isaiah 3:26). Tammuz from a Hebrew root, "to melt down." Instead of weeping for the national sins, they wept for the idol. Tammuz (the Syrian for Adonis ), the paramour of Venus, and of the same name as the river flowing from Lebanon; killed by a wild boar, and, according to the fable, permitted to spend half the year on earth, and obliged to spend the other half in the lower world. An annual feast was celebrated to him in June (hence called Tammuz in the Jewish calendar) at Byblos, when the Syrian women, in wild grief, tore off their hair and yielded their persons to prostitution, consecrating the hire of their infamy to Venus; next followed days of rejoicing for his return to the earth; the former feast being called "the disappearance of Adonis," the latter, "the finding of Adonis." This Phoenician feast answered to the similar Egyptian one in honor of Osiris. The idea thus fabled was that of the waters of the river and the beauties of spring destroyed by the summer during the half year when the sun is in the upper heat. Or else, the earth being clothed with beauty, hemisphere, and losing it when he departs to the lower. The name Adonis is not here used, as Adon is the appropriated title of Jehovah.
15, 16. The next are "greater abominations," not in respect to the idolatry, but in respect to the place and persons committing it. In "the inner court," immediately before the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, where the priests advanced only on extraordinary occasions (Joel 2:17), twenty-five men (the leaders of the twenty-four courses or orders of the priests, 1 Chronicles 24:18, 19, with the high priest, "the princes of the sanctuary," Isaiah 43:28), representing the whole priesthood, as the seventy elders represented the people, stood with their backs turned on the temple, and their faces towards the east, making obeisance to the rising sun (contrast 1 Kings 8:44). Sun-worship came from the Persians, who made the sun the eye of their god Ormuzd. It existed as early as Job (Job 31:26; compare Deuteronomy 4:19). Josiah could only suspend it for the time of his reign (2 Kings 23:5, 11); it revived under his successors.
16. worshipped In the Hebrew a corrupt form is used to express Ezekiel's sense of the foul corruption of such worship.
17. put . . . branch to . . . nose proverbial, for "they turn up the nose in scorn," expressing their insolent security [Septuagint ]. Not content with outraging "with their violence" the second table of the law, namely, that of duty towards one's neighbor, "they have returned" (that is, they turn back afresh) to provoke Me by violations of the first table [CALVIN]. Rather, they held up a branch or bundle of tamarisk (called barsom ) to their nose at daybreak, while singing hymns to the rising sun [STRABO, 1.15, p. 733]. Sacred trees were frequent symbols in idol-worship. CALVIN translates, "to their own ruin," literally, "to their nose," that is, with the effect of rousing My anger (of which the Hebrew is "nose") to their ruin.
18. though they cry . . . yet will I not hear (Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15).
Ezekiel 9:1-11. CONTINUATION OF THE PRECEDING VISION: THE SEALING OF THE FAITHFUL.
1. cried contrasted with their "cry" for mercy (Ezekiel 8:18) is the "cry" here for vengeance, showing how vain was the former. them that have charge literally, officers; so "officers" (Isaiah 60:17), having the city in charge, not to guard, but to punish it. The angels who as "watchers" fulfil God's judgments (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23; 10:20, 21); the "princes" (Jeremiah 39:3) of Nebuchadnezzar's army were under their guidance. draw near in the Hebrew intensive, "to draw near quickly."
2. clothed with linen (Daniel 10:5; 12:6, 7). His clothing marked his office as distinct from that of the six officers of vengeance; "linen" characterized the high priest (Leviticus 16:4); emblematic of purity. The same garment is assigned to the angel of the Lord (for whom Michael is but another name) by the contemporary prophet Daniel (Daniel 10:5; 12:6, 7). Therefore the intercessory High Priest in heaven must be meant (Zechariah 1:12). The six with Him are His subordinates; therefore He is said to be "among them," literally, "in the midst of them," as their recognized Lord (Hebrews 1:6). He appears as a "man," implying His incarnation; as "one" (compare 1 Timothy 2:5). Salvation is peculiarly assigned to Him, and so He bears the "inkhorn" in order to "mark" His elect (Ezekiel 9:4; compare Exodus 12:7; Revelation 7:3; 9:4; 13:16, 17; 20:4), and to write their names in His book of life (Revelation 13:8). As Oriental scribes suspend their inkhorn at their side in the present day, and as a "scribe of the host is found in Assyrian inscriptions accompanying the host" to number the heads of the slain, so He stands ready for the work before Him. "The higher gate" was probably where now the gate of Damascus is. The six with Him make up the sacred and perfect number, seven (Zechariah 3:9; Revelation 5:6). The executors of judgment on the wicked, in Scripture teaching, are good, not bad, angels; the bad have permitted to them the trial of the pious (Job 1:12; 2 Corinthians 12:7). The judgment is executed by Him (Ezekiel 10:2, 7; John 5:22, 27) through the six (Matthew 13:41; 25:31); so beautifully does the Old Testament harmonize with the New Testament. The seven come "from the way of the north"; for it was there the idolatries were seen, and from the same quarter must proceed the judgment (Babylon lying northeast of Judea). So Matthew 24:28. stood the attitude of waiting reverently for Jehovah's commands. brazen altar the altar of burnt offerings, not the altar of incense, which was of gold. They "stood" there to imply reverent obedience; for there God gave His answers to prayer [CALVIN]; also as being about to slay victims to God's justice, they stand where sacrifices are usually slain [GROTIUS], (Ezekiel 39:17; Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 12:3; 46:10).
3. glory of . . . God which had heretofore, as a bright cloud, rested on the mercy seat between the cherubim in the holy of holies (2 Samuel 6:2; Psalms 80:1); its departure was the presage of the temple being given up to ruin; its going from the inner sanctuary to the threshold without, towards the officers standing at the altar outside, was in order to give them the commission of vengeance.
4. midst of . . . city . . . midst of Jerusalem This twofold designation marks more emphatically the scene of the divine judgments. a mark literally, the Hebrew letter Tau, the last in the alphabet, used as a mark ("my sign," Job 31:35, Margin ); literally, Tau; originally written in the form of a cross, which TERTULLIAN explains as referring to the badge and only means of salvation, the cross of Christ. But nowhere in Scripture are the words which are now employed as names of letters used to denote the letters themselves or their figures [VITRINGA]. The noun here is cognate to the verb, "mark a mark." So in Revelation 7:3 no particular mark is specified. We seal what we wish to guard securely. When all things else on earth are confounded, God will secure His people from the common ruin. God gives the first charge as to their safety before He orders the punishment of the rest (Psalms 31:20; Isaiah 26:20, 21). So in the case of Lot and Sodom (Genesis 19:22); also the Egyptian first-born were not slain till Israel had time to sprinkle the blood-mark, ensuring their safety (compare Revelation 7:3; Amos 9:9). So the early Christians had Pella provided as a refuge for them, before the destruction of Jerusalem. upon the foreheads the most conspicuous part of the person, to imply how their safety would be manifested to all (compare Jeremiah 15:11; 39:11-18). It was customary thus to mark worshippers (Revelation 13:16; 14:1, 9) and servants. So the Church of England marks the forehead with the sign of the cross in baptizing. At the exodus the mark was on the houses, for then it was families; here, it is on the foreheads, for it is individuals whose safety is guaranteed. sigh and . . . cry similarly sounding verbs in Hebrew, as in English Version, expressing the prolonged sound of their grief. "Sigh" implies their inward grief ("groanings which cannot be uttered," Romans 8:26); "cry," the outward expression of it. So Lot (2 Peter 2:7, 8). Tenderness should characterize the man of God, not harsh sternness in opposing the ungodly (Psalms 119:53, 136; Jeremiah 13:17; 2 Corinthians 12:21); at the same time zeal for the honor of God (Psalms 69:9, 10; 1 John 5:19).
5. the others the six officers of judgment (Ezekiel 9:2).
6. come not near any . . . upon whom . . . mark (Revelation 9:4). It may be objected that Daniel, Jeremiah, and others were carried away, whereas many of the vilest were left in the land. But God does not promise believers exemption from all suffering, but only from what will prove really and lastingly hurtful to them. His sparing the ungodly turns to their destruction and leaves them without excuse [CALVIN]. However, the prophecy waits a fuller and final fulfilment, for Revelation 7:3-8, in ages long after Babylon, foretells, as still future, the same sealing of a remnant (one hundred forty-four thousand) of Israel previous to the final outpouring of wrath on the rest of the nation; the correspondence is exact; the same pouring of fire from the altar follows the marking of the remnant in both (compare Revelation 8:5, with Ezekiel 10:2). So Zechariah 13:9; 14:2, distinguish the remnant from the rest of Israel. begin at . . . sanctuary For in it the greatest abominations had been committed; it had lost the reality of consecration by the blood of victims sacrificed to idols; it must, therefore, lose its semblance by the dead bodies of the slain idolaters (Ezekiel 9:7). God's heaviest wrath falls on those who have sinned against the highest privileges; these are made to feel it first (1 Peter 4:17, 18). He hates sin most in those nearest to Him; for example, the priests, etc. ancient men the seventy elders.
8. I was left literally "there was left I." So universal seemed the slaughter that Ezekiel thought himself the only one left [CALVIN]. He was the only one left of the priests "in the sanctuary." fell upon my face to intercede for his countrymen (so Numbers 16:22). all the residue a plea drawn from God's covenant promise to save the elect remnant.
9. exceeding literally, "very, very"; doubled. perverseness "apostasy" [GROTIUS]; or, "wresting aside of justice." Lord . . . forsaken . . . earth . . . seeth not The order is reversed from Ezekiel 8:12. There they speak of His neglect of His people in their misery; here they go farther and deny His providence (Psalms 10:11), so that they may sin fearlessly. God, in answer to Ezekiel's question (Ezekiel 9:8), leaves the difficulty unsolved; He merely vindicates His justice by showing it did not exceed their sin: He would have us humbly acquiesce in His judgments, and wait and trust.
10. mine eye to show them their mistake in saying, "The Lord seeth not." recompense their way upon their head (Proverbs 1:31). Retribution in kind.
11. I have done as thou hast commanded The characteristic of Messiah (John 17:4). So the angels (Psalms 103:21); and the apostles report their fulfilment of their orders (Mark 6:30).
Ezekiel 10:1-22. VISION OF COALS OF FIRE SCATTERED OVER THE CITY: REPETITION OF THE VISION OF THE CHERUBIM.
1. The throne of Jehovah appearing in the midst of the judgments implies that whatever intermediate agencies be employed, He controls them, and that the whole flows as a necessary consequence from His essential holiness (Ezekiel 1:22, 26). cherubim in Ezekiel 1:5, called "living creatures." The repetition of the vision implies that the judgments are approaching nearer and nearer. These two visions of Deity were granted in the beginning of Ezekiel's career, to qualify him for witnessing to God's glory amidst his God-forgetting people and to stamp truth on his announcements; also to signify the removal of God's manifestation from the visible temple (Ezekiel 10:18) for a long period (Ezekiel 43:2). The feature (Ezekiel 10:12) mentioned as to the cherubim that they were "full of eyes," though omitted in the former vision, is not a difference, but a more specific detail observed by Ezekiel now on closer inspection. Also, here, there is no rainbow (the symbol of mercy after the flood of wrath) as in the former; for here judgment is the prominent thought, though the marking of the remnant in Ezekiel 9:4, 6 shows that there was mercy in the background. The cherubim, perhaps, represent redeemed humanity combining in and with itself the highest forms of subordinate creaturely life (compare Romans 8:20). Therefore they are associated with the twenty-four elders and are distinguished from the angels (Revelation 5:1-14). They stand on the mercy seat of the ark, and on that ground become the habitation of God from which His glory is to shine upon the world. The different forms symbolize the different phases of the Church. So the quadriform Gospel, in which the incarnate Saviour has lodged the revelation of Himself in a fourfold aspect, and from which His glory shines on the Christian world, answers to the emblematic throne from which He shone on the Jewish Church.
2. he Jehovah; He who sat on the "throne." the man the Messenger of mercy becoming the Messenger of judgment (see note on Ezekiel 9:2). Human agents of destruction shall fulfil the will of "the Man," who is Lord of men. wheels Hebrew, galgal, implying quick revolution; so the impetuous onset of the foe (compare Ezekiel 23:24; 26:10); whereas "ophan," in Ezekiel 1:15, 16 implies mere revolution. coals of fire the wrath of God about to burn the city, as His sword had previously slain its guilty inhabitants. This "fire," how different from the fire on the altar never going out (Leviticus 6:12, 13), whereby, in type, peace was made with God! Compare Isaiah 33:12, 14. It is therefore not taken from the altar of reconciliation, but from between the wheels of the cherubim, representing the providence of God, whereby, and not by chance, judgment is to fall.
3. right . . . of . . . house The scene of the locality whence judgment emanates is the temple, to mark God's vindication of His holiness injured there. The cherubim here are not those in the holy of holies, for the latter had not "wheels." They stood on "the right of the house," that is, the south, for the Chaldean power, guided by them, had already advanced from the north (the direction of Babylon), and had destroyed the men in the temple, and was now proceeding to destroy the city, which lay south and west. the cherubim . . . the man There was perfect concert of action between the cherubic representative of the angels and "the Man," to minister to whom they "stood" there (Ezekiel 10:7). cloud emblem of God's displeasure; as the "glory" or "brightness" (Ezekiel 10:4) typifies His majesty and clearness in judgment.
4. The court outside was full of the Lord's brightness, while it was only the cloud that filled the house inside, the scene of idolatries, and therefore of God's displeasure. God's throne was on the threshold. The temple, once filled with brightness, is now darkened with cloud.
5. sound of . . . wings prognostic of great and awful changes. voice of . . . God the thunder (Psalms 29:3, etc.).
6. went in not into the temple, but between the cherubim. Ezekiel sets aside the Jews' boast of the presence of God with them. The cherubim, once the ministers of grace. are now the ministers of vengeance. When "commanded," He without delay obeys (Psalms 40:8; Hebrews 10:7).
7. See note on Ezekiel 10:3. one cherub one of the four cherubim. his hand (Ezekiel 1:8). went out to burn the city.
8. The "wings" denote alacrity, the "hands" efficacy and aptness, in executing the functions assigned to them.
9. wheels (See note on Ezekiel 1:15; see note on Ezekiel 1:16). The things which, from Ezekiel 10:8 to the end of the chapter, are repeated from the first chapter are expressed more decidedly, now that he gets a nearer view: the words "as it were," and "as if," so often occurring in the first chapter, are therefore mostly omitted. The "wheels" express the manifold changes and revolutions in the world; also that in the chariot of His providence God transports the Church from one place to another and everywhere can preserve it; a truth calculated to alarm the people in Jerusalem and to console the exiles [POLANUS].
10. four had one likeness In the wonderful variety of God's works there is the greatest harmony:
"In human works, though labored on with pain,
One thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God's one single doth its end produce,
Yet serves to second, too, some other use.
(See note on Ezekiel 1:16). wheel . . . in . . . a wheel cutting one another at fight angles, so that the whole might move in any of the four directions or quarters of the world. God's doings, however involved they seem to us, cohere, so that lower causes subserve the higher.
11. (See note on Ezekiel 1:17). turned not without accomplishing their course (Isaiah 55:11) [GROTIUS]. Rather, "they moved straight on without turning" (so Ezekiel 1:9). Having a face towards each of the four quarters, they needed not to turn around when changing their direction. whither . . . head looked that is, "whither the head" of the animal cherub-form, belonging to and directing each wheel, "looked," thither the wheel "followed." The wheels were not guided by some external adventitious impetus, but by some secret divine impulse of the cherubim themselves.
12. body literally, "flesh," because a body consists of flesh. wheels . . . full of eyes The description (Ezekiel 1:18) attributes eyes to the "wheels" alone; here there is added, on closer observation, that the cherubim themselves had them. The "eyes" imply that God, by His wisdom, beautifully reconciles seeming contrarieties (compare 2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 15:3; Zechariah 4:10).
13. O wheel rather, "they were called, whirling," that is, they were most rapid in their revolutions [MAURER]; or, better, "It was cried unto them, The whirling" [FAIRBAIRN]. Galgal here used for "wheel," is different from ophan, the simple word for "wheel." Galgal is the whole wheelwork machinery with its whirlwind-like rotation. Their being so addressed is in order to call them immediately to put themselves in rapid motion.
14. cherub but in Ezekiel 1:10 it is an ox. The chief of the four cherubic forms was not the ox, but man. Therefore "cherub" cannot be synonymous with "ox." Probably Ezekiel, standing in front of one of the cherubim (namely, that which handed the coals to the man in linen), saw of him, not merely the ox-form, but the whole fourfold form, and therefore calls him simply "cherub"; whereas of the other three, having only a side view, he specifies the form of each which met his eye [FAIRBAIRN]. As to the likelihood of the lower animals sharing in "the restoration of all things," see Isaiah 11:6; 65:25; Romans 8:20, 21; this accords with the animal forms combined with the human to typify redeemed man.
15. The repeated declaration of the identity of the vision with that at the Chebar is to arouse attention to it (Ezekiel 10:22; 3:23). the living creature used collectively, as in Ezekiel 10:17, 20; 1:20.
16. (See note on Ezekiel 10:11; see note on Ezekiel 1:19). lifted up . . . wings to depart, following "the glory of the Lord" which was on the point of departing (Ezekiel 10:18).
17. (Ezekiel 1:12, 20, 21). stood God never stands still (John 5:17), therefore neither do the angels; but to human perceptions He seems to do so.
18. The departure of the symbol of God's presence from the temple preparatory to the destruction of the city. Foretold in Deuteronomy 31:17. Woe be to those from whom God departs (Hosea 9:12)! Compare 1 Samuel 28:15, 16; 4:21: "I-chabod, Thy glory is departed." Successive steps are marked in His departure; so slowly and reluctantly does the merciful God leave His house. First He leaves the sanctuary (Ezekiel 9:3); He elevates His throne above the threshold of the house (Ezekiel 10:1); leaving the cherubim He sits on the throne (Ezekiel 10:4); He and the cherubim, after standing for a time at the door of the east gate (where was the exit to the lower court of the people), leave the house altogether (Ezekiel 10:18, 19), not to return till Ezekiel 43:2.
20. I knew . . . cherubim By the second sight of the cherubim, he learned to identify them with the angelic forms situated above the ark of the covenant in the temple, which as a priest, he "knew" about from the high priest.
21. The repetition is in order that the people about to live without the temple might have, instead, the knowledge of the temple mysteries, thus preparing them for a future restoration of the covenant. So perverse were they that they would say, "Ezekiel fancies he saw what has no existence." He, therefore, repeats it over and over again.
22. straight forward intent upon the object they aimed at, not deviating from the way nor losing sight of the end (Luke 9:52).
Ezekiel 11:1-25. PROPHECY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CORRUPT "PRINCES OF THE PEOPLE;" PELATIAH DIES; PROMISE OF GRACE TO THE BELIEVING REMNANT; DEPARTURE OF THE GLORY OF GOD FROM THE CITY; EZEKIEL'S RETURN TO THE CAPTIVES.
1. east gate to which the glory of God had moved itself (Ezekiel 10:19), the chief entrance of the sanctuary; the portico or porch of Solomon. The Spirit moves the prophet thither, to witness, in the presence of the divine glory, a new scene of destruction. five and twenty men The same as the twenty-five (that is, twenty-four heads of courses, and the high priest) sun-worshippers seen in Ezekiel 8:16. The leading priests were usually called "princes of the sanctuary" (Isaiah 43:28) and "chiefs of the priests" (2 Chronicles 36:14); but here two of them are called "princes of the people," with irony, as using their priestly influence to be ringleaders of the people in sin (Ezekiel 11:2). Already the wrath of God had visited the people represented by the elders (Ezekiel 9:6); also the glory of the Lord had left its place in the holy of holies, and, like the cherubim and flaming sword in Eden, had occupied the gate into the deserted sanctuary. The judgment on the representatives of the priesthood naturally follows here, just as the sin of the priests had followed in the description (Ezekiel 8:12, 16) after the sin of the elders. Jaazaniah signifying "God hears." son of Azur different from Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan (Ezekiel 8:11). Azur means "help." He and Pelatiah ("God delivers"), son of Benaiah ("God builds"), are singled out as Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, in the case of the seventy elders (Ezekiel 8:11, 12), because their names ought to have reminded them that "God" would have "heard" had they sought His "help" to "deliver" and "build" them up. But, neglecting this, they incurred the heavier judgment by the very relation in which they stood to God [FAIRBAIRN].
2. he the Lord sitting on the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:2). wicked counsel in opposition to the prophets of God (Ezekiel 11:3).
3. It is not near namely, the destruction of the city; therefore "let us build houses," as if there was no fear. But the Hebrew opposes English Version, which would require the infinitive absolute. Rather, "Not at hand is the building of houses." They sneer at Jeremiah's letter to the captives, among whom Ezekiel lived (Jeremiah 29:5). "Build ye houses, and dwell in them," that is, do not fancy, as many persuade you, that your sojourn in Babylon is to be short; it will be for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10); therefore build houses and settle quietly there. The scorners in Jerusalem reply, Those far off in exile may build if they please, but it is too remote a concern for us to trouble ourselves about [FAIRBAIRN], (Compare Ezekiel 12:22, 27; 2 Peter 3:4). this city . . . caldron . . . we . . . flesh sneering at Jeremiah 1:13, when he compared the city to a caldron with its mouth towards the north. "Let Jerusalem be so if you will, and we the flesh, exposed to the raging foe from the north, still its fortifications will secure us from the flame of war outside; the city must stand for our sakes, just as the pot exists for the safety of the flesh in it." In opposition to this God says (Ezekiel 11:11), "This city shall not be your caldron, to defend you in it from the foe outside: nay, ye shall be driven out of your imaginary sanctuary and slain in the border of the land. "But," says God, in Ezekiel 11:7, "your slain are the flesh, and this city the caldron; but (not as you fancy, shall ye be kept safe inside ) I will bring you forth out of the midst of it "; and again, in Ezekiel 24:3, "Though not a caldron in your sense, Jerusalem shall be so in the sense of its being exposed to a consuming foe, and you yourselves in it and with it."
4. prophesy . . . prophesy The repetition marks emphatic earnestness.
5. Spirit . . . fell upon me stronger than "entered into me" (Ezekiel 2:2; 3:24), implying the zeal of the Spirit of God roused to immediate indignation at the contempt of God shown by the scorners. I know (Psalms 139:1-4). Your scornful jests at My word escape not My notice.
6. your slain those on whom you have brought ruin by your wicked counsels. Bloody crimes within the city brought on it a bloody foe from without (Ezekiel 7:23, 24). They had made it a caldron in which to boil the flesh of God's people (Micah 3:1-3), and eat it by unrighteous oppression; therefore God will make it a caldron in a different sense, one not wherein they may be safe in their guilt, but "out of the midst of" which they shall be "brought forth" (Jeremiah 34:4, 5).
7. The city is a caldron to them, but it shall not be so to you. Ye shall meet your doom on the frontier.
8. The Chaldean sword, to escape which ye abandoned your God, shall be brought on you by God because of that very abandonment of Him.
9. out of the midst thereof that is, of the city, as captives led into the open plain for judgment.
10. in the border of Israel on the frontier: at Riblah, in the land of Hamath (compare 2 Kings 25:19-21, with 1 Kings 8:65). ye shall know that I am the Lord by the judgments I inflict (Psalms 9:16).
11. (See note on Ezekiel 11:3).
12. (Deuteronomy 12:30, 31).
13. Pelaliah probably the ringleader of the scorners (Ezekiel 11:1) was an earnest of the destruction of the rest of the twenty-five, as Ezekiel had foretold, as also of the general ruin. fell . . . upon . . . face (See note on Ezekiel 9:8). wilt thou make a full end of the remnant Is Pelatiah's destruction to be the token of the destruction of all, even of the remnant? The people regarded Pelatiah as a mainstay of the city. His name (derived from a Hebrew root, "a remnant," or else "God delivers") suggested hope. Is that hope, asks Ezekiel, to be disappointed?
15. thy brethren . . . brethren The repetition implies, "Thy real brethren" are no longer the priests at Jerusalem with whom thou art connected by the natural ties of blood and common temple service, but thy fellow exiles on the Chebar, and the house of Israel whosoever of them. belong to the remnant to be spared. men of thy kindred literally, "of thy redemption," that is, the nearest relatives, whose duty it was to do the part of Goel, or vindicator and redeemer of a forfeited inheritance (Leviticus 25:25). Ezekiel, seeing the priesthood doomed to destruction, as a priest, felt anxious to vindicate their cause, as if they were his nearest kinsmen and he their Goel. But he is told to look for his true kinsmen in those, his fellow exiles, whom his natural kinsmen at Jerusalem despised, and he is to be their vindicator. Spiritual ties, as in the case of Levi (Deuteronomy 33:9), the type of Messiah (Matthew 12:47-50) are to supersede natural ones where the two clash. The hope of better days was to rise from the despised exiles. The gospel principle is shadowed forth here, that the despised of men are often the chosen of God and the highly esteemed among men are often an abomination before Him (Luke 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28). "No door of hope but in the valley of Achor" ("trouble," Hosea 2:15), [FAIRBAIRN]. Get you far . . . unto us is this land the contemptuous words of those left still in the city at the carrying away of Jeconiah to the exiles, "However far ye be outcasts from the Lord and His temple, we are secure in our possession of the land."
16. Although anticipating the objection of the priests at Jerusalem, that the exiles were "cast far off." Though this be so, and they are far from the outer temple at Jerusalem, I will be their asylum or sanctuary instead (Psalms 90:1; 91:9; Isaiah 8:14). My shrine is the humble heart: a preparation for gospel catholicity when the local and material temple should give place to the spiritual (Isaiah 57:15; 66:1; Malachi 1:11; John 4:21-24; Acts 7:48, 49). The trying discipline of the exile was to chasten the outcasts so as to be meet recipients of God's grace, for which the carnal confidence of the priests disqualified them. The dispersion served the end of spiritualizing and enlarging the views even of the better Jews, so as to be able to worship God everywhere without a material temple; and, at the same time, it diffused some knowledge of God among the greatest Gentile nations, thus providing materials for the gathering in of the Christian Church among the Gentiles; so marvellously did God overrule a present evil for an ultimate good. Still more does all this hold good in the present much longer dispersion which is preparing for a more perfect and universal restoration (Isaiah 2:2-4; Jeremiah 3:16-18). Their long privation of the temple will prepare them for appreciating the more, but without Jewish narrowness, the temple that is to be (Ezekiel 40:1-44:31). a little rather, "for a little season"; No matter how long the captivity may be, the seventy years will be but as a little season, compared with their long subsequent settlement in their land. This holds true only partially in the case of the first restoration; but as in a few centuries they were dispersed again, the full and permanent restoration is yet future (Jeremiah 24:6).
17. (Ezekiel 28:25; 34:13; 36:24).
18. They have eschewed every vestige of idolatry ever since their return from Babylon. But still the Shekinah glory had departed, the ark was not restored, nor was the second temple strictly inhabited by God until He came who made it more glorious than the first temple (Haggai 2:9); even then His stay was short, and ended in His being rejected; so that the full realization of the promise must still be future.
19. I will give them lest they should claim to themselves the praise given them in Ezekiel 11:18, God declares it is to be the free gift of His Spirit. one heart not singleness, that is, uprightness, but oneness of heart in all, unanimously seeking Him in contrast to their state at that time, when only single scattered individuals sought God (Jeremiah 32:39; Zephaniah 3:9) [HENGSTENBERG]. Or, "content with one God," not distracted with "the many detestable things" (Ezekiel 11:18; 1 Kings 18:21; Hosea 10:2) [CALVIN]. new spirit (Psalms 51:10; Jeremiah 31:33). Realized fully in the "new creature" of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 5:17); having new motives, new rules, new aims. stony heart like "adamant" (Zechariah 7:12); the natural heart of every man. heart of flesh impressible to what is good, tender.
20. walk in my statutes Regeneration shows itself by its fruits (Galatians 5:22, 25). they . . . my people, . . . I . . . their God (Ezekiel 14:11; 36:28; 37:27; Jeremiah 24:7). In its fullest sense still future (Zechariah 13:9).
21. whose heart . . . after . . . heart of . . . detestable things The repetition of "heart" is emphatic, signifying that the heart of those who so obstinately clung to idols, impelled itself to fresh superstitions in one continuous tenor [CALVIN]. Perhaps it is implied that they and their idols are much alike in character (Psalms 115:8). The heart walks astray first, the feet follow. recompense . . . way upon . . . heads They have abandoned Me, so will I abandon them; they profaned My temple, so will I profane it by the Chaldeans (Ezekiel 9:10).
23. The Shekinah glory now moves from the east gate (Ezekiel 10:4, 19) to the Mount of Olives, altogether abandoning the temple. The mount was chosen as being the height whence the missiles of the foe were about to descend on the city. So it was from it that Jesus ascended to heaven when about to send His judgments on the Jews; and from it He predicted its overthrow before His crucifixion (Matthew 24:3). It is also to be the scene of His return in person to deliver His people (Zechariah 14:4), when He shall come by the same way as He went, "the way of the east" (Ezekiel 43:2).
24. brought me in a vision not in actual fact, but in ecstatic vision. He had been as to the outward world all the time before the elders (Ezekiel 8:3) in Chaldea; he now reports what he had witnessed with the inner eye.
25. things . . . showed me literally, "words"; an appropriate expression; for the word communicated to him was not simply a word, but one clothed with outward symbols "shown" to him as in the sacrament, which AUGUSTINE terms "the visible word" [CALVIN].
1. And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
1. Et fuit anno sexto, mense sexto, die quinto mensis, ego sedebam172 domi meae, et Seniores Jehudah sedentes coram facie mea, et cecidit super me illic manus Dominatoris Iehovae.
There is no doubt that a prophetic vision is here narrated; for the Prophet was not carried to Jerusalem, nor had he changed his place, nor were the elders of Judah before him, but he seemed to himself to be seized by the Spirit of God, that he might perceive the pollutions by which the Jews had profaned the temple. For he says, that he was at home when this vision occurred to him, and yet it was possible for him to be walking in the field. He does not, therefore, relate the thing as done, but simply teaches how God appeared, and adds the circumstances. By elders of Judah I do not understand captives, but those who were then dwelling at Jerusalem, that they should be witnesses of this prophecy, and so all excuse and pretense of mistake was taken away from them. He also expresses the time at which this vision happened, namely the sixth year, which he numbers from the exile of Jechoniah, as we saw in the first chapter. Hence an interval of a year and two months has elapsed since the first vision which was then unfolded, and the present which is now to be treated. Since, therefore, fourteen months had elapsed, God appeared again to his Prophet. This circumstance of the time is by no means superfluous, for this shows the great obstinacy of the people. The Prophet, as I have said, numbers the years from the exile of the king. But they were accustomed to count from the jubilee year; but he now renews the grief for that slaughter, when the king was treated ignominiously as a vile captive, and was harassed as a slave by the enemy. Since, therefore, the Prophet humbles the Jews by this computation of years, hence it appears how hardened was their obstinacy, as they did not grow wise though so severely chastened. But we shall see that they were seized with a prodigious madness, so that they cast aside the worship of God, they heaped together on every side new idolatries, and infected the temple with their abominations. We saw in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:17, and Jeremiah 44:17-19) that the worship of God was overthrown in the city Jerusalem, and in the temple itself; for they poured out libations to the workmanship of heaven others translate, the queen of heaven, but we have shown that those places ought to be understood of all the stars since, therefore, they offered incense to the workmanship of heaven, then they afterwards took to themselves idols and polluted themselves with the superstitions of all the nations. Our Prophet shows that they were not touched with any sense of their punishment, but that they became worse from the time when God began to raise his hand against them; for it was just as if he had begun to show himself from heaven the avenger of their superstitions. Hence we have a reason why the Prophet here mentions years and months, and even the fifth day of the month, namely, that the Jews may be held more convicted of their obstinacy, since no punishments recalled them into the way, but they wrestled with diabolical obstinacy against God. He says, the hand of God fell; by hand I do not simply understand prophecy as some do, but strength; for the sense seems too restricted to say, God's prophecy fell the phrase is too cold. But this is properly said of the power of God. It is just as if he professed that he did not bring forward anything of his own, because he put off, as it were, the man whilst Gods power reigned in him. Thus the power of God is opposed to all human faculties. It follows
2. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins, even downward, fire; and from his loins, even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the color of amber.
2. Et aspexi, et ecce similitudo173 tanquam aspectus ignis: ab aspectu lumborum infra ignis: et a lumbis ejus sursum tanquam aspectus splendoris, tanquam figura chasmal.
Some translate the last word angel, but in my opinion erroneously: for Nyo, gnin, properly signifies color, and I have already refuted that error in the first chapter. I am not clear as to what color it was, hence I follow the received opinion that, it was like amber. Now the Prophet says, he saw a likeness, or image composed of two parts; for from the loins downward it was like fire, but upwards it was brightness. By the word twmd, demoth, I do not doubt that he means the image of a man. God, therefore, appeared to his servant under some image; nor is the human figure out of place, because if it had been any other figure without doubt the Prophet had been silent. But we have already seen that God had put on the human form, and so represented himself in the person of his only begotten Son, as we have said, and shall see again in the tenth chapter. This, therefore, is the likeness of which the Prophet speaks, but he uses this word on purpose, that we may know that it was not a true and solid and substantial thing called body. As to the Prophet's beholding a figure or likeness, this took place only in a bare vision, not that God then put on a body; and concerning this point also I have treated at length in the first chapter, and shortly I shall glance at it again. Now as to his saying, one part of the figure was fiery, but in another, the aspect of splendor, he seems here to express what the Jews ought to hope for, when at length they perceived God to be near, from whom they thought themselves very far off, since they so boldly despised his law and all the prophecies. As to the splendor, God's majesty and incomprehensible glory is signified. For if brightness blinds our eyes, what would happen if we endeavor to penetrate to that immense light of which the sun is only a little spark? Since, therefore, Ezekiel says, there was the likeness of splendor above his loins, he doubtless shows how formidable the majesty of God ought to be to us. For God dwells in light, but inaccessible, as the Apostle says: but below, says he, was the appearance of fire, namely, because he must not. wait till the Jews received any joy from the presence of God. (1 Timothy 6:16.) We know, indeed, that hypocrites always boast rashly in the name of God, as Amos reproves them, What is to you the day of the Lord? it is a day of darkness and not light. (Amos 5:18.) For they boast that God would be entreated in their miseries, and that he must assist them, because he had taken them under his protection. The Prophet refutes this arrogance, and says, that the day of the Lord would be darkness. So also in this place, God appeared in the form of fire towards the earth, that the Jews should tremble when they saw the vengeance of God lighted up to consume them. Therefore in the splendor God's majesty was shown, which humbled the Prophet and all the pious, that they should receive the vision reverently; for in the fire God's vengeance was shown, lest the Jews should make for themselves too wide a shield of the name of God, which they extended falsely and fallaciously.
3. And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
3. Et misit similitudinem marius, et sustulit me in cincinno capiris met: et erexit174 me spiritus inter terram et inter coelum: et adduxit me Hierosolymam in visionibus Dei, ad ostium portae interioris, quae respicit Aquilonem: ubi illic sedes idoli zeli zelare facientis.
The Prophet here relates that he was carried to Jerusalem that he might behold the foul superstitions by which the Jews had defiled the temple. But first he says, that the form of a hand was put forth. Whence again we collect that the body was not solid or substantial which the Prophet had seen; but was only a visible figure as a symbol of God's presence. This explains the word likeness or figure, for it was not a real hand which seized the Prophet by the locks or hair of the head, but it was the likeness of a hand, and therefore he adds, in the visions of God it was done. He says indeed that he was carried up between heaven and earth, but let no one imagine that this was really done, for he explains himself and says, in the visions of God. By visions of God he understands a revelation free from all doubt: for there is a silent opposition between these divine revelations and the spectres which often deceive men's senses. Those who interpret "visions of God" simply as prophecy weaken what the Prophet wished to express emphatically; and those who think God's name used here as an epithet, (as the Hebrews call anything remarkable, divine,) also depart from the genuine sense of the Prophet. There is no doubt, therefore, that he opposes the visions of God to all spectres: for Satan as we know deludes men's senses with his prodigies and his wonderful arts of fascination: for it happens that the children of God are sometimes deluded: hence the Prophet, to take away all doubt from his teaching, says that he was carried to Jerusalem in visions of God, and adds, that he was carried to the northern gate. We know that there were many gates of the large area, so that the people's entrance should be more commodious. For if there had been only one gate open, they would have been more tumultuous, as a multitude usually is. The area of the temple then had an eastern and a northern gate: then it had other gates, which gave an easy entrance to the people as well as to the priests. The priests indeed had an inner area which was distinct, but when they offered victims on the altar, they mingled with the people. This therefore was the reason why the floor of the temple had different gates. Now the Prophet says, that he was carried to the porch of the gate, so that he did not penetrate directly into the secret part of the temple, but seemed to himself to be standing before the doors, till God informed him of what was doing within. He says, there was the seat of the idol. We know not what the idol was, except that the Prophet says it was abominable. He first calls it the idol of jealousy, and then adds the participle, provoking God to jealousy. But although the noun as well as the verb is often taken in a bad sense, yet God transfers the affection of jealousy to himself, and in this sense he says in Deuteronomy,
"They provoked me: they made me jealous with what is not God: therefore will I make them jealous," (Deuteronomy 32:21.)
He alludes to the jealousy of husband and wife, for if the woman prostitutes herself, the husband burns with indignation, and that outbreak of his anger is most flagrant, So also when the wife in her turn knows that her husband is an adulterer, she is carried away with intemperance and excess. Hence God, when he shows how he esteems his glory and worship, compares himself to a jealous man, when we turn aside to idolatrous and adulterous worship. In this sense the idol which was in the porch or entrance of the temple is called the idol of jealousy, and the idol which causes jealousy. Although we may also translate, it was the seat of the idol causing jealousy, since the noun, hanq, kenah, is taken in the ablative case. It is said that this idol provoked to jealousy, because the Jews by erecting this idol trod under foot their God, or at least endeavored to prostrate his glory. Now it follows
4. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
4. Et ecce illic gloria Dei Israel, secundum visionem quam videram in planicie.175
Now he only says that he saw God's glory as he had formerly beheld it near the bank of the river. This was as it were the seal of his prophecy: for the holy man ought to be so strengthened, that he should boldly restrain the furious audacity and obstinacy of the people. Hence he had to strive with hard heads, and God did not arm him in vain; and to this end again a new vision was offered. He knew that to be the glory of God. Hence he was again made more certain that the whole action was under divine direction, and that it was neither human nor fictitious, nor deceptive nor doubtful. It follows
5. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
5. Et dixit ad me, Fib hominis, tolle agedurn oculos tuos ad viam septentrionis: et sustuli oculos meos ad viam septentrionis: et ecce a septentrione ad portam altaris idolum illud zeli in introitu.
Here one profanation of the temple, is shown to the Prophet, namely, the idol erected at the entrance of the area near the altar. It may happen that the worship of God is but slightly vitiated, so that the corruption is scarcely apparent. But while the Prophet repeats that the idol was that of jealousy, lie points out the gross and shameful disgrace of that spectacle, so that they could not gloss over their impiety by any pretense, after they had so openly and confessedly revolted from the law of God. But when he is ordered to raise his eyes to the way of the north, this also avails for the confirmation of his teaching. For if the Prophet had turned his eyes that way of his own accord, his looking that way would have been of less moment, but when God directs his eyes by express command, the reproach which afterwards follows has more weight. This, therefore, is the reason why the Prophet did not cast his eyes of his own accord towards the idol, as he might have done, but was admonished by God to do so. Meanwhile it appears with what docility he obeyed God's commands. He puts these two things together, that he was ordered to raise his eyes, and that he immediately did so. We see here that he was so obedient to God's command, that he did not delay but instantly obeyed it. He says, the idol was near the gate of the altar, which circumstance exaggerates the crime. If the idol had been erected in any remote corner it would have been an intolerable sacrilege, though the modesty of the Jews had been greater: but when they erected the idol before the altar they flew as it were in the very face of God. If an immodest woman runs after an adulterer, her husband is justly enraged; but if she brings him before her husband, and wantons with him before his eyes, and prostitutes herself to all crimes, then certainly such wanton lust cannot be endured. But such was the audacity of the people, that when the idol was erected before the gate of the altar it seemed like wishing to dethrone the Almighty, and to contaminate his altar by the sight of the idol. It follows
6. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that should go far off from my sanctuary? But turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
6. Et dixit ad me, Fili hominis, an tu vidisti quod isti faciunt? abominationes magnas, quas domus Israel faeiunt176 illic ut procul recedam a sanctuario meo? et adhuc converte to,177 et videbis abominationes magnas.
Now God complains with his Prophet; and we must always mark the object and consider God's design, because at the end of the chapter we shall see how severe a vengeance God was about to take on the people. Hence the Prophet prevents those obstreperous reproaches with which the people loaded him through envy, when he chastised them according to their deserts. Hence he doubtless wished the exiles to be persuaded of what they could scarcely conceive, namely, that the destruction of Jerusalem was near. For we have said that those who had been drawn into captivity had displeased him, and wished to return to their country. Since therefore their condition was too grievous and severe, for this reason God wished to testify to them that the last overthrow of Jerusalem was at hand. He does this while he shows the great abominations which reigned in the very temple, whence the Almighty must of necessity appear as the avenger of his glory and worship. The rest to-morrow.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast treated us so indulgently, and when provoked by our iniquities, hast yet shown thyself a propitious Father to us, that we may no longer abuse thy patience, but return directly to thy way and submit ourselves to thee and, being humbled by a true sense of penitence, grant that we may be so dissatisfied with our sins, that we may devote ourselves to thee with our whole heart and follow the direction of thy holy calling; until after finishing the pursuits of this rife, we may arrive at that happy repose which thine only-begotten Son has acquired for us by his blood. Amen.
WE stopped yesterday at that. clause when God asks his Prophet, whether he saw the abominations which the sons of were perpetrating in the very temple: by which words he not only cites his servant as a witness, but constitutes him in some sense a judge, so that all should know that the coating vengeance was not only just but must be immediate. This is the reason why God asks, whether he saw the abominations. For if a mortal is compelled to pass an opinion, surely God, who sees much further than the eyes of man, cannot be ignorant of their crimes, when they had come to such a pitch of obstinacy that his patience could no longer hold out. Now the adverb of place is used, which seems to be put emphatically, because he refers to the temple, from which all filth and defilements ought to be removed. Since therefore God complains that abominations were perpetrated there, he magnifies the people's wickedness, because even the temple did not remain pure. He adds, for retreating: some refer this to the people and elicit this sense, that those who so pervert God's worship recede from his sanctuary, because they have no longer anything in common with God. But I rather interpret it concerning God himself, who is compelled to depart from his sanctuary, as we shall afterwards see. For while they so defiled the temple with their sacrilege, they yet thought God included therein. He now renounces the temple, and says, that he left the place empty and void, because he could not bear to dwell among that sordid defilement. The meaning is, that God would depart from his temple, because the complete worship which he had commanded under the law did not flourish there. And this place is worthy of notice, because we gather from it that God could not bear the profanation of his worship, but will leave those who pervert his law by their fictions, as we see the Jews did. At this day we know how haughtily the Papists pride themselves in their figments, but the more they heap together fictitious ceremonies the more they provoke God's anger. Hence it happens that they vainly boast that they have him in their temples, as they think. For this sentiment will ever remain fixed, that God cannot dwell in a profane place. Now nothing sanctifies a place more than obedience and sincerity of faith. When men introduce their inventions, it immediately causes God to depart from them: this is the full meaning. Now he adds, turn thyself, and thou shalt see great abominations. Some translate greater, but because a question would arise, why he calls the abomination first greater and then different, I interpret it simply that the Prophet should see other great abominations. Afterwards indeed he will express another, for he will say twldg
twbowt hlam, gedloth-maleh-thogn-both, but in my opinion there is no comparison here between greater and less; hlam, maleh, I simply interpret "beyond others," and I rather approve of this simplicity, because interpreters anxiously labor to show this last abomination heavier than all others, though the reason for it does not clearly appear. But there is no need of our making these difficulties, because the Prophet only speaks of great abominations. Let us go on
7. And he brought me to the door of the court; and, when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and, when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10. So I went in and saw; and, behold, every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
11. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand: and a thick cloud of incense went up.
7. Et induxit me in portam Atrii et aspexi, et ecce foramen unum in pariete.
8. Et dixit ad me, Fill hominis, fode agedum parietem: et fodi in pariete, et ecce porta una.
9. Et dixit ad me, Ingredere, et vide abominationes malas quas ipsi faciunt.
10. Et ingressus sum, et aspexi: et ecce omnis similitudo reptilis, et animalis abominatio, et omnia idola domus Israel, depictum178 in pariete circum circa.
11. Et viri septuaginta ex seni-oribus domus Israel, et Iazanias, filius Saphan stabat in medio ipso-rum qui stabant coram ipsis,179 et viro180 thuribulum in manu sua: et densiter nubis suffitus ascendebat.
Here now the Prophet is brought to another place, where another kind of abomination is shown. If an idol had been erected in some recess of the temple only, even that impiety when joined with sacrilege could not have been borne. But when all parts of the temple were contaminated with such filth, hence we collect that the people was utterly desperate. For the Prophet says, that he was led into a more secret place, and since there was a hole there, he dug it by God's command, so that it became a door by which he could enter. This only ought to be understood of a vision. For the Prophet had brought nothing with him with which he could so dig a wall, but when he could only behold that hidden abomination through a chink, God opened the wall. But the Prophet seems to himself to make a door of entrance by his own hand. But he says, there were painted birds, reptiles, and animals: then he adds, an abomination and all the idols of the house of Israel. We see that there was not only one idol, but a great number. And in truth as soon as the true worship of God is neglected, men place no bounds to themselves: they are not content with one or two errors, but they heap to themselves numberless delusions. So the children of Israel fell away from one idol to a great multitude. Meanwhile it must be remarked, that the idol which he has mentioned was detestable beyond all others. For it was not called a provocative of jealousy without reason, since it inflamed God to jealousy. It is therefore probable that this idol was more noble than others, and held in greater price and veneration, since the unbelievers had greater and lesser deities. But now the Prophet refers to common idols, of which there was a great abundance, but not such great honor. For he says, that part of the temple was full of pictures all around. It is indeed certain, that the use of painting was always plentiful, but God wished his temple to be pure from images, lest men, being taken with such enticements, should turn aside directly to superstition. For if we see a man or an animal painted in a profane place, a religious feeling does not creep into our minds: for all acknowledge it as a painting: nay idols themselves as long as they are in taverns or workshops, are not worshipped. If the painter's workshop is full of pictures, all pass them by, and if they are delighted with the view of them they do not show any sign of reverence to the paintings. But as soon as the picture is carried to another place, its sacredness blinds men and so stupifies them, that they do not remember that they had already seen that picture in a profane dwelling. This therefore is the reason why God did not admit any pictures into his temple, and surely when the place is consecrated, it must happen that the painting will astonish men just as if some secret divinity belonged to it. Although the Prophet here does not say simply that the walls were full of pictures, yet he says, that an abomination and the idols of the house of Israel were there. We see therefore not only that the walls were so decorated for the sake of ornament, but because the people desired to celebrate all the deities whose names it knew to be famous among the profane nations.
Now as to the Prophet's being ordered to dig through the wall, we gather from this that superstitions are sometimes so hidden in secret places, that they escape our eyes even while we look at them. For such is the weakness of the human mind, that it does not easily perceive how abominable it is to vitiate the worship of God. Thus the Prophet only looked through a chink, so that he could not form a correct judgment concerning those pollutions; hence he is ordered to dig through the wall, just as if God assured him that a thin and obscure view was not sufficient, but that a door must be opened by which he should look in and thoroughly consider what would otherwise be concealed beneath those coverings. Now he says that he entered and saw the likeness of everything, and we must remember what I have lately touched upon, that the Jews are here condemned for heaping to themselves a multitude of gods: for it was very disgraceful to worship reptiles and brutes. The worship of a human figure has a specious pretext, for the Greeks, who always seemed to themselves wise above others, and thought the rest of the world barbarians, were deceived in idols referring to the human figure, but it was too base and gross for them to worship an ox, a dog, or an ass, as a god. We see therefore how basely the Jews were blinded who mingled brutes and reptiles for gods. But it is no wonder that they were so deluded, because Egypt was near, where we know that dogs and oxen, and even cats, were considered deities: nay they worshipped all kinds of herbs. Since therefore the Egyptians imagined that the deity resided in reptiles and unclean animals, as well as in herbs, it is no wonder that the Jews were drawn into these delusions through neighborhood. But since heavenly teaching had shown them the way, such blindness was inexcusable, because they could not err so basely without suffocating and so extinguishing the light which had been set before their eyes. But we see how men's audacity breaks forth, when they do not restrain themselves within obedience to God's teaching. He says that pictures were painted all round on the wall, which again confirms our observation, that the Jews were inflamed with such desires that they left no space empty, because they wished their eyes to fall upon those figures, which more and more inflamed their superstition.
He says also, that seventy elders of the house of Israel made incense for their idols. I do not think that the seventy who were chosen for ruling the people are referred to here, though I suppose the Prophet to allude to this number. For we know that from the beginning seventy were set over the people, and were chosen from each tribe, and were united together. But with regard to this place, I think the number seventy is used of those whom, although they were not prefects, they called seniors in respect to their office, not through their age only. Meanwhile we must remember that the Prophet looks to that order, because from the beginning God had wished the seventy to bear rule and hold the government. (Numbers 11:16.) Thus the Prophet signifies that the leaders of the people, who ought to rule others by their counsel, were remarkable for corrupting the worship of God. He puts Jezaniah, the son of Saphah, who was probably a man of great repute. Since therefore he excelled in the reputation for prudence and piety, the Prophet wished to exaggerate his crime, because he also, among others, offered incense to idols. What then could remain pure among the people, when he who was esteemed a holy man, so profaned himself among the rest! Hence we see that the Prophet means, that the whole people, from the least to the greatest, was so corrupt, that those who were superior to the rest prostituted themselves to idolatry. He says, then, that he stood before them, and each had a censer in his hand. Incense was the sign of the greatest veneration, and even this was retained for common use. Hence at the outset of Christianity, when the impious wished to seduce the Christians to idolatry, they only gave two or three grains of frankincense:181 that was a sign of apostasy: they did not order them to bend the knee before idols, nor to offer sacrifices, but only to smell to a few grains of incense. In sign, therefore, of veneration, the seventy men are said to bear censers or incense dishes. The Prophet adds, and the incense ascended in a thick cloud. Here understand the particle of likeness. The incense ascended as a thick cloud. I do not doubt that they were profuse, or rather prodigal, in their madness, so as to spare no expense: since idolaters rashly squander all things, when the intemperance of their zeal seizes upon them. And this was not considered with sufficient prudence. The Prophet therefore says that it was not common incense, but was dense like a cloud, since they threw it forth in great abundance, so that the offering might be fatter and richer: just as if he had said, that they were so intemperate in their superstitions, that they threw away an abundance of incense, and had all their expense for nothing, and only to satisfy their idols. Now it follows
12. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
12. Et dixit mihi, An vidisti, fili hominis, quae seniores domus Israel faciunt in tenebris,182 quisque in absconditis183 imaginationis suae? qui dicunt, non rider nos Iehovah, deseruit Iehovah terram.
Again God questions his servant: we have explained the reason that he may pass sentence as a judge on his own people, whence it may be more clearly evident that those who had provoked God were unworthy of any pardon. Thou seest, says he, what the elders do? Through a feeling of honor he does not here name these elders of the house of Israel, but rather reproves their ingratitude, because they so drive others with them into alliance with their impiety. For elders ought to show the way to others. Since, therefore, the profanation of the worship of God took its origin from them, hence their disgrace is increased, and they were worthy of greater reproach. Seest thou, says he, what they do in darkness? From this word I gather that the place was remote from public observation; for there were near the floor of the Temple many cells and many chambers, as we see in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 20:2; 1 Kings 6:5.) Since, then, the ciders had their apartments there, it is not surprising that a place was shown to the Prophet which they had so stained with their paintings. But he says that they did it in darkness, because they kept secret their sacred rites; as also there were mysteries among profane nations, which were not open to any but the initiated. Since therefore the multitude was not thought worthy of those mysteries, it is therefore probable that the place among the Jews of which the Prophet speaks was like a small chapel, which the elders, and those who had authority among the people, retained to themselves. he adds, each within the recesses. Some translate in the chambers of their painting; but I take the word tykCm, meshkith, for imagination, as it is also taken in other places. It properly signifies painting, but it is also transferred to the thoughts of men. Therefore when he speaks of recesses or hidden places, I do not understand chambers, though I do not deny that he alludes to those recesses by which men separate themselves from the multitude, by way of honor. In the meantime he equally reproves those tortuous and perverse counsels which the ciders of the people inwardly cherished. For those who think themselves wiser than the vulgar, have some hidden pride, and swell with concealed haughtiness; and therefore they are said by Isaiah to dig for themselves hiding-places to escape from God, while they seem to themselves cunning. (Isaiah 29:15.)
Now, therefore, we see in what sense the Prophet mentions hiding-places of their imagination, namely, because they reckon such pictures the mark of the greatest and rarest prudence. This was again prodigious, that the elders so gave themselves up to foul defilements. For among profane nations no religion held the leaders and heads of the people. We shall not find, either among the Greeks or the Latins, any of the higher classes, and of the chief governors, involved in the errors of the common people, but they pretended religion, that they might hold others in obedience. They instituted, indeed, great pomp; they pretended no small degree of reverence; but when they passed their time as friends at home, they laughed at all these trifles. Since, therefore, all the ceremonies of the Gentiles were a laughing-stock to sensible men, this was indeed a detestable prodigy that the elders of the people of Israel, in a secret place, in the very recesses of their thoughts, fabricated idols for themselves. Now the cause is expressed why they heaped to themselves that multitude of gods, namely, because they thought that God no longer regarded them. This passage is badly explained when interpreters think that the elders were epicureans, who dreamt that God enjoyed case and indulgence in heaven. They bring forward other passages, which seem similar but in words only, as where, in the book of Job, the impiety of the multitude is described, he says they think that God walks upon the hinges of heaven. (Job 22:14.) But the Prophet speaks more within bounds. Hence those who take this passage generally, extenuate the force of the doctrine which ought to be elicited from these words. Why, then, had the Jews fabricated so many idols for themselves? because they thought that God no longer regarded them, as I have already explained it; and this was the sign of their gross depravity; for God had chastised them in various ways: they ought to have returned into the way, yet they were so far from repenting, that they rather champed the bit, and thus persuaded themselves to seek other deities. And this impiety has occurred in all ages. At this time it clearly appears in the Papacy; nay, even the blind may even feel it with their hands. For when God afflicts these wretched ones, at first they suppliantly ask pardon; but. when he presses upon them more severely, then they begin to rage and look hither and thither, and have a common proverb "I know not to what saint I ought to pay my vows." Boys learn this proverb in the Papacy, and old men always have it on their lips in perplexity. Hence Ezekiel reproves this fault, when he gives this as a reason for the aged heaping up this multitude of deities that they thought themselves overlooked by God Jehovah, they say, does not see us here: they do not speak simply of God's providence, but indignantly complain of his disregard, because he did not relieve their miseries, and had deserted the land, as they afterwards explain themselves; for they immediately assert that God had deserted the land. We see, therefore, that they did not speak simply against God's providence, as if he despised human things, but that they were inflamed with fury, because God's hand pressed them heavily, and they did not feel any help in him. Hence they descended to brutes, reptiles, various painting's, and all kinds of abomination, because they thought that they were worshipping in vain the one true God. It follows
13. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
13. Et dixit ad me, adhuc con-vertere, et videbis abominationes magnas quas ipsi faciunt.
14. Et deduxit184 me ad ostium portae domus Iehovae quod respicit ad aquilonem: et ecce illic mulieres sedebant lugentes Thammuz.
He now mentions the third kind of idolatry by which the Jews polluted the temple; for this was a kind of sin peculiar to females; and we know that they were always more addicted to such wickedness. Satan, indeed, fascinates men always more than enough, but in women recklessness reigned more than superstition. They had therefore a female worship in bewailing Thammuz. Who Thammuz was is uncertain. Jerome translates it Adonis, and Adonis was beloved by Venus, as the poets trifle; and when torn to pieces by a boar, he was turned into a flower of sweetest odor; and in honor of Venus women yearly solemnized by lamentations the death of that beautiful youth; but it is not probable that this rite prevailed in Judaea, because we do not read that this lamentation was practiced in the neighboring regions, but in Greece and Asia Minor I refer it rather to Osiris, for, as we said before, the Jews were neighbors to the Egyptians hence they adopted various rites from them; but we know that Osiris was yearly wept for by the Egyptians, and that great pollution occurred; for they carried the virile member on a pole in procession, and called it Phallus;185 and women also showed their parts to the idol, as if offering themselves to debauchery. This was a most disgraceful spectacle. But I conjecture that the Jews had adopted this rite when the women bewailed Thammuz. Here also we perceive, that when once Satan has prevailed, and cast men into deep depravity, they despise all moderation, nay, are reduced to more than brutal stupor. Who would think this could occur, that women should be reduced to such a pitch of defilement, when they had been taught in the doctrine of the law from their early childhood. But when God's temple was open to such pollutions, we see the Jews so blinded by madness, that God already was showing signs of his extreme vengeance, since he had endured them up to this point.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast delivered to us a sure rule of worship, which cannot deceive us, and since thy Son became for us a perfect master of all wisdom and of solid piety, that we may obediently follow whatever he prescribes for us, and turn neither to the right hand nor the left; but being content with that simplicity which we have learnt from his Gospel, may go on in the course of our holy calling, until at length, that pursuit being finished, we may arrive at the perfect state of thy glory, and may so enjoy it that we may be transformed into it, as thou hast promised us by the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
15. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt, see greater abominations than these.
16. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house; and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altars, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
15. Et dixit mihi, Fili hominis, adhuc convertere, videbis abominationes magnas prae istis.186
16. Et deduxit me in Atrium doritos Iehovae interins: et ecce ad portam Templi Iehovae inter vestibulum et inter altare, circiter viginti quinque viri, posteriora eorum versus Templum Iehovae, et facies eorum versus orientem: et ipsi adorabant in oriente Solem.
Here the Prophet refers to another profanation of the temple, since the chief citizens of Jerusalem and those who ought to point out the way to others, prostituted themselves to impious worship, lie says, therefore, that he saw about five and twenty men, and it is probable, that there were as many as this among the first rank of citizens. But a certain number is put for an uncertain, and I think that the Prophet. was not so scrupulous on this point, or rather the Spirit of God, who showed that number in the vision; whatever it was, they not only worshipped the sun in private houses, but in the temple itself, and that not without gross and pointed contempt of God. For when they turned their back upon the sanctuary, they made a laughing-stock of God. It hence appears, that they were of so daring a front, that they openly boasted in their superstitions, and purposely polluted God's temple. This, indeed, was monstrous, to see the elders of the city, and those practiced in the teaching and worship of the law, so alienated from all piety as to worship the sun. For this could not happen through either error or ignorance. For God in his law when he forbids the worship of the sun and stars, adds as a reason, that the whole celestial host was created for our use. (Deuteronomy 17:3.) Since, therefore, the sun is our servant and the moon our handmaid, and the stars also were created to serve us, it is preposterous to depart from the divinely ordained order, that the sun which was given us to spend his time in our service should be to us a god. Since, therefore, God has borne witness to this in his law, there was no excuse for error when the Jews adored towards the east.
Now he adds also another grosser dishonor done to God, when they turned their backs upon his sanctuary. They could, as I have said, pollute themselves at home and in conceal-merit with such defilements. But while they came of their own accord into the temple, it is just as if they provoked God by open daring, Now, when they turn their back, this is not only a foul denial but a contempt of God, as if they had said, that he was unworthy of their respect. Now, therefore, we see the whole force of the passage. But he says, turn yet again, and thou shalt see great abominations: some translate greater, as I have formerly mentioned, but I do not think it suitable. I do not contend for it, but if a reason is asked why this abomination is greater than others, it is not clear to me; hence I prefer to take it more simply in the positive degree. Nor is it an objection to this that hlam, maleh, is added, for
m is not always taken comparatively; but as I think it means only, as if God had said, you will see other abominations besides those of which mention has been already made. But he points out the place of the temple where they worshipped the sun, namely, between the porch and the altar. This was the sign of great impiety to break into the holy place, and from thence to despise God. Now we know this to be a sign of lawful adoration, when the faithful turned their eyes to the sanctuary and the ark of the covenant, but when they turned their backs upon it, there is no doubt that they professedly wished to boast in a contempt of God and the law. It already appears, that they had adopted various and numberless forms of superstition. In Egypt they had not seen the worship of the sun, nor do we read that such worship was in use in Chaldea; but because they heard that the Persians and other Orientals worshipped the sun as a god, they imitated their custom. Therefore we see, that from these people they heaped up rites for themselves, so as to make an immense assemblage. It follows
17. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
17. Et dixit mihi, Vidisti-ne fili hominis? an leve est domui Iehudah, ut faciat abominationes istas quas feterunt illic? quia repleverant terrain violentia: et conversi sunt ad me provocandum: et ecce ipsi emittunt ramum187 ad nasum suum.188
God complains as formerly of the wickedness of the people, especially of their perfidious and wicked revolt, because they so defiled the temple which ought to be sacred to God alone. He adds besides another complaint, that they were not content in their wickedness, which tended to violate human society and common rights, and the pursuit of mutual equity, unless even religion should be weakened by them. For under the word smj, chemes, is comprehended whatever is contrary to the second table of the law. There is, therefore, a use of the figure a part for the whole, in this word smj, chemes, violence, as if he had said, they were addicted to frauds, rapine, slaughter, cruelty, perjuries, spoliations. Since, therefore, they abstained from no injustice, says God, they manifestly provoke me also: as if he had said, after being unjust towards men, they now dare to erect their horns against me. We know that God's law was comprehended in the two tables. As to the former table, it prescribes what the true and pure worship of God is. The Jews had violated the second table, since they neglected all the duties of charity, and neither equity nor uprightness flourished among them. After they had filled the land with iniquity; this was their intolerable ungodliness, that after despising men they attacked God himself. We see now the reason of the context, Is this a light thing? says he. Thereafter he had spoken of the wickedness simply and by itself, as they say, he now amplifies by comparison when he says, before this they had filled the earth with violence, but now they have turned themselves to provoke me behold these, he says, etc. The adverb of place must be noticed here, as I have before advised. For their impiety is the more detestable, since they broke into the temple to defile themselves with their idols. That place at least ought to remain pure and unpolluted, though the whole land had been infected with many defilements; but when not even the temple is spared, this is a sign of desperate and almost furious audacity. He, therefore, repeats the adverb which he had used before, and in the same sense.
As to the latter part of the verse, some, as I have said, take hrwmzh, hez-moreh, for foulness: I know not why, for I am not aware that this noun is used elsewhere in this sense. But because nothing better occurred to them, they think it probable, and some have invented a foolish fable that they broke wind in honor of the sun, as if the noise of the belly was a grateful offering to the idol, since by this means they openly despised God. But these are conjectures. Others think more correctly who suppose this to be used metaphorically: for they were accustomed to burn incense to their idols; and so, according to them, God alludes to a pleasing and sweet odor when he names it a foul smell, as if he had said, even if the Jews pleased themselves in their superstitions, yet the incense sent forth a foetid odor and they should perceive it: for if he speaks of the nostrils it ought to be considered as a punishment. Some suppose that the relative of the third person is put for that of the first, as if God would say, to my nose or to my wrath: and they fabricate an insipid comment, that this place was changed by the Rabbins through reverence for God, as if forsooth there were not numberless passages where God pronounces in clearer words that he was disgracefully despised. But first, because this noun properly signifies a branch, and is taken in that sense in many places; then since the noun pa, aph, may be explained as well passively as actively, the context will flow best if we say, they put forth a branch to their wrath that is, to their destruction, because they provoked God. For what is the meaning of putting forth a branch, but that they heaped evil upon evil. They had violated, as I have said, the second table of the law, they were thieves, robbers, perjurers, and violent. Now at length their rage was directed against the former table of the law, so as to overthrow the whole worship of God. So therefore it will make good sense to say, that boughs were put forth for the singular number is taken for the plural, as often happens. Since, therefore, they so put forth boughs or budded, God says, that this should be for their destruction, because at length when he had spared them a long time, after a fit time for their punishment arrived, he would consume them. Now, therefore, we understand what the Prophet means. But if any other conjecture pleases, every one may form his own opinion; I do not contest the point, but I show what I think most probable. It follows
18. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.
18. Ego etiam189 vicissim faciam in iracundia mea: non parcet oculus meus et non miserebor: et cum elamaverint ad aurem meam voce magna, non audiam ipsos.
This seems to me a confirmation of the last clause. For he had said, that they sent forth their boughs or east them forth, but yet to their destruction. He now repeats the same thing in other words. Therefore I will also act in, my turn that is, as they now boldly increase their superstitions, and so continually provoke me, at length I will act, says he. There is a tacit contrast, since God forsooth had ceased for a long time, because there is a certain form of rest when he ceases from his judgments: God seems to rest when he does not take vengeance on man's wickedness, when he indulges them and passes them by for a time. Since, therefore, he had so suspended his judgments against the Jews, he seemed to cultivate ease in heaven: with this view he says, that he would do it in his anger, and he adds, that his vengeance would be so dreadful that there would be no place for pity. This ought indeed to strike us when God pronounces himself implacable. For what is more formidable than to have God hostile, and to be verily without any hope of pardon? As often as God withdraws his mercy he shows us material for trembling, nor is it wonderful that he threatened the Jews so harshly, because he had proved by all methods that they were desperate in their wickedness. For truly nothing had been omitted towards curing them, unless they had been of an abandoned disposition and of most obstinate manners. Since, therefore, they were such, it is not surprising that God was extremely enraged against them, so that he left them no hope of pardon. But this ought to be referred generally to the whole body of the people: meanwhile it is by no means doubtful, as we shall afterwards see, that God excepts his elect from the ordinary multitude. If any one object, that God always hears prayers, I reply that he never rejects prayers which spring from faith: but here that tumultuous clamor is alluded to which necessity occasions to unbelievers. For although they fly to God as their natural sense impels them, yet they do not this with composed minds, nor even relying upon the promises of God: but because the torture of their minds does not suffer them to rest, so that by a natural impulse they are carried to God and cry to him without any faith or sincere affection. He speaks, therefore, concerning that kind of ejaculation which is described to us in the case of Esau, and hence he says with a loud voice, (Genesis 27:34; Psalm 3:4; Psalm 22:2; and Psalm 32:3, and elsewhere often.) Although the faithful also raise their voice: nay even cry out loudly, as David testifies of himself, yet it is peculiar to the incredulous to utter their clamor with full cheeks though the mind is void of faith, and is even obstinate in its wickedness. Hence they do not open the heart when they thus cry to God. Hence it is not wonderful if God rejects them and is deaf to their complaints. Now it follows
1. He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
1. Et clamavit voce magna in aure mea190 dicendo, appropinquate191 praefecturae192 urbis: et quisque193 instrumentum perditionis194 suae in manu sua.
Now the manner of that vengeance which was lately mentioned is expressed. Hence the Prophet says, God exclaimed, so that his command reached to the Chaldeans, who were to be executors of his vengeance, and therefore the imperative mood pleases me better, approach ye therefore. Those who consider the tense past say "visitations," nor can they do otherwise, because no sense can be elicited from the words to have approached the prefecture of the city. But if we read the imperative mood, the sense agrees very well, approach ye the prefecture: the thing is put for the persons, or the name of the men may be understood, and thus twdqp, phekdoth, may be taken in the genitive case. As to the general meaning, God commands his servants who held authority over the devoted city, to approach, or apply themselves, or be ready to fulfill his work, and let each, says he, have his instrument of destruction: here destruction is taken actively. For God does not mean that the Chaldeans were armed for their own destruction, but for that of the Jews, and the ruin of the city. It follows
2. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter-weapon in his band; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
2. Et ecce sex viri venientes e via portae superioris195 quae est e regione aquilonis: et cuique196 instrumentum mallei sui197 in manu sua: et vir unus in medio ipsorum vestitus lineis,198 et atramentarium scribae in lumbis ejus: et venerunt, et steterunt e regione altaris aenei.
Now the Prophet writes that God's command was not vain or empty, because the effect appears directly by vision. Therefore six men offered themselves. Why again he names six, rather than more or fewer, I have not found out. For some cite the thirty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah, where eight leaders are referred to who were in Nebuchadnezzar's army, and had the chief authority; but first they vary in number, then they twist themselves in many ways. But I am not so anxiously curious, nor does it seem to me of any consequence, unless perhaps God wished to show his servant that a little band was sufficient, and that there was no need of a large army: or by six men he confusedly designated the whole army. It is certain indeed that Nebuchadnezzar came surrounded with a large force to destroy the city; but in the meantime God wished to destroy that pride and contumacy of the people, since he only shows to his servant six men who could destroy the whole city. He says therefore, that he came by the gate, or by way of a lofty gate, or higher one, which was towards the north, because Babylon lay towards that region with respect to Jerusalem. It appears therefore that the Chaldeans were here pointed out, to whom the way was direct through that gate, since it ascended from the north over against Jerusalem. He says, each man had an instrument of destruction, or of pounding. This word is derived from Xpn, nephetz, which is to destroy and rub to pieces: therefore it can be taken as well for the mallet as for the act itself. There is no doubt that the Prophet meant that God's command should not be without immediate effect: because as soon as he cried out, six men were directly at hand for obeying him, which he afterwards expresses more clearly when he says that they stood near the altar. For it was a sign of their readiness to obey God's commands when they placed themselves before the altar. But this passage is worthy of notice, because it shows us how anxiously we ought to give heed to God's threats, which are for the most part directed against us. In order that we may learn to rouse ourselves from our torpor, here as in a glass the conjunction of God's vengeance with his threats is proposed to us. For as soon as he had spoken, we see that there were six men armed and drawn up for destroying the city. But God wished to show his Prophet this vision, because his business was with a hard and stupid people, as we have already seen. God's voice was as it were their final doom: just as if a trumpet resounded, and announced that there was no hope of pardon unless the enemy gave himself up directly. So therefore God exclaimed with a loud voice, but this was no empty cause of fright, because he directly joined the execution of it, when six men appeared before the altar. But he calls the altar which Solomon had built of square stones brazen: even the brazen altar was not sufficient, but it looks to its first origin.
Now he says that there was among them, one man clothed with a linen garment. (1 Kings 8:64.) He is not placed among the multitude, as one among the others, but he is separated, because his signification is distinct. This man then doubtless sustained the character of an angel, and it is sufficiently customary in Scripture that angels, when they take a visible form, should be called men: not because they are really men, but because God endues them with such forms as he sees fit. Some, whose opinion I do not altogether reject, restrict this to Christ. But because the Prophet adds no remarkable traits, I had rather receive it generally of any angel. He says therefore, that there was among the Chaldeans, who were prepared to execute God's vengeance, one man clad in a linen garment. A distinct mark is sometimes given to angels which separates them from men. The linen garment was then a remarkable ornament. And the sacrificing Papists, as if they were apes, have imitated that custom in their garments called surplices. But since priests were accustomed to be clad in linen robes, here the angel was represented to the Prophet in this garb. Now let us go on, because in the next verse it will be evident why mention was made of that angel.
3. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house: and he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
4. And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
3. Et gloria Dei Israel ascendit199 a cherub super quem residebat200 ad limen domus: et clamavit ad vi-rum indutum vestibus lineis, eujus atramentarium seribae in lumbis erat.
4. Et dixit Iehovah ad ipsum, transi per medium urbis, per medium Hierosolymae: et signa signum super frontes virorum qui gemunt, et clamant super omnibus abominationibus quae patiuntur in medio ejus.
Now the Prophet shows why the angel was added to the Chaldeans, namely, to put a bridle on them, lest they should rage promiscuously and without selection against the elect and the reprobate. This is a remarkable passage, because from it we learn, first, that God effectually threatens the impious, so that he may have attendants always at hand to obey him; then, that even unbelievers make war under the direction of God, and are governed by his rod, and do nothing except at his will. Nor are the Chaldeans said to have come to the temple in vain, and to have placed themselves before the altar of God. This is not related to their praise, as if they obeyed God spontaneously, or as if they had purposed to themselves to carry out his commands, but the secret providence of God is here treated. Although, therefore, the Chaldeans gave the rein to their self-will, and did not think themselves divinely governed; yet God here pronounces that they were under his hand just as if God had them as hired soldiers: as Satan is said to have joined himself to the sons of God: this was not a voluntary obedience, but because his machinations could not attack the holy Job, unless by God's command. (Job 1:6.) God's sons appear in a very different way, since they offer a free obedience, and desire him only to reign. But how great soever is the difference between the sons of God and Satan, and all the reprobate, yet it is equally true that Satan and the wicked obey God. This, therefore, we must learn in the second place. But, thirdly, we are taught that God never rashly executes his vengeance without sparing his elect. For this reason in the slaughter of Jerusalem he has an angel, who opposes a shield, as it were, to the Chaldeans, lest their cruelty should injure them beyond God's pleasure, as we shall by and bye see. Therefore I said that the place was remarkable, because when God puts forth the signs of his wrath, the sky is, as it were, overclouded, and the faithful no less than the unbelieving are frightened, nay terrified with fear. For as to outward condition, there was no difference between them. Because therefore the sons of God are subject to that terror which obscures all sense of God's favor in adversity, so this doctrine must be held diligently, namely, when God gives the rein to furious men, so that they dissipate, overthrow, and destroy all things, then the angels are always united, who restrain their intemperance with a hidden bridle, since otherwise they would never be moderate.
He says, therefore, that the glory of the God of Israel ascended from the cherub to the threshold. He takes the glory of God for God himself, as we may readily collect from the next verse; for he says that Jehovah had spoken. But this speech agrees very well, because God cannot be comprehended by us, unless as far as he accommodates himself to our standard. Because therefore God is incomprehensible in himself, nor did he appear to his Prophet as he really is, (since not angels even bear the immense magnitude of his glory, much less a mortal man,) but he knew how far it was expedient to discover himself, therefore the Prophet here takes his glory for himself; that is, the vision, which was a sign or symbol of the presence of God. But he says that it ascended from the cherub. Here also is a change of number, because God is said everywhere to sit between the cherubim. (2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; Isaiah 37:16.) But here only one cherub is put, but this figure of speech is well understood, as it is so common, for God resided between the cherubim: it is said that he went thence to the threshold of the temple. This was a prelude to departure, as we shall afterwards see. And this testimony was needful to the Jews, because they thought that God was bounded by the visible temple. Hence the Prophet shows that God was not fixed to a place, so as to be compelled to remain there. This is the reason why it is said that he came from his seat to the threshold of the temple. Now, he adds, that he cried out to the man clad in the linen garment, and whose inkhorn was by his side, though others translate it writing-tablets: but as he afterwards says, write on their foreheads, it is very probable that the ink was in his girdle, that he might mark the elect of God, that the Chaldeans should not touch them. Again he calls the angel a man, but on account of the form which he put on, as I said before. I cannot proceed further.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast deigned to approach us so familiarly, that in return we may also desire to approach thee, and remain in firm and holy union; so that whilst we persevere in that lawful course which thou prescribest for us in thy word, thy blessings may increase towards us, until thou leadest us to fullness, when thou shalt gather us into thy celestial kingdom, by Christ our Lord. Amen.
WE began to explain the precept given to the angel before God sent forth the Chaldeans to cut off the city, and destroy the people. The angel is at length commanded to sign the foreheads of all the pious. But many take the noun wt, tho, which means the same as a mark, for the last letter of the alphabet, and yet there is no reason to compel them to do so. wt, tho, is a Hebrew mark. It is puerile to invent that subtle comment, that the foreheads of the pious were signed with that letter, because the noun hrwt, thoreh, which signifies the doctrine of the law, begins with the same letter. Jerome brings forward another figment: he says that in his time, among the Samaritans, the letter t was like a cross, with which the Christians used then to sign themselves. But all see how nugatory this is. Although it was not the figure which is now in use among the Papists, but was the mark which the brothers Antonii used: but I omit that as unworthy of mention. If puzzles please you, it would be a better reason why the faithful were marked with the last letter, because they were last among men, and as it were the offscouring of the world. Since therefore from the beginning, the world has treated the sons of God as if they were castaways, therefore I have said that they may be signed with the last letter: but we may be content with the simple and genuine sense of the Prophet: therefore God orders their foreheads to be signed. We yesterday explained the cause, and said that a most useful doctrine could be collected from this place, namely, when all things seem mingled on the earth, and turned upwards and downwards, yet that God never casts away the care of his own, but protects them from all harm. God therefore always restrains his judgments, so that he really proves that the safety of his people is dear and precious to himself. We gather also that angels are ministers of this grace, because they watch over the safety of the faithful, as Scripture everywhere testifies. (Psalm 91:11, 12, and elsewhere often.) Now, if any one asks what this sign was? it must be simply answered, that this vision was presented to the Prophet for the common perception of all; for if we wish to single out a few in a crowd, we need some sign. God therefore here borrows what we read concerning a sign from the customs of men: for the faithful could not otherwise understand that they were beyond the reach of weapons, when mixed with the unbelieving. Because therefore it seems the common condition of all, they might be frightened just as if God should raise his hand to chastise their sins. Therefore he says here, that they were signed in some way. It is true then that we daily bear a sign by which God distinguishes us from the reprobate. For the blood of Christ reconciles us to the Father, as is sufficiently known; but perhaps that also may be too far-fetched. It is also true that when God struck the land of Egypt, the Israelites were passed over by the angel, since the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the door-posts. (Exodus 12:22, 23.) Every house which had the mark of blood was secure and safe, when God's vengeance was inflicted upon all the Egyptians. But as to this passage, I interpret it thus: when God gives liberty to unbelievers, so float they seem to be able to overturn the whole world, the angels are at the same time sent forth, who hinder their lust that they should not touch the sons of God. This then is sufficient for us.
Now the Prophet adorns the faithful with various titles, when he says, upon the foreheads of men who groan and cry. There is a great likeness between these two words, Kna, anek, and hna, aneh; but one is written by K final, and the other by h. He says then, that the faithful groan over the abominations: and then, that they cry out: for thus they translate the latter clause, although it may also be taken for bewailing, if we only understand outward sorrow, and that which openly appears. Hence we gather how God receives us under his guardianship, and sends us his angels as protectors, so that if mixed with the impious, we may yet keep ourselves undefiled by their pollutions, and then when we cannot correct their wickedness, yet we bear testimony by grief and sorrow that they displease us. When the Apostle commends to us the patience of Lot, he says, that he tormented his heart while he dwelt in Sodom. A single stranger could not recall those abandoned ones to a sound mind, who had given themselves over to all wickedness. (2 Peter 2:7.) But he did not grow hardened to the foulness of so much sin, but continually groaned before God, and Was in perpetual grief. The Prophet now bears the same witness concerning other believers. Whatever it is, God here shows what he wishes his sons to be. Therefore if we allow ourselves to approve the sins of the impious, and take pleasure in them and applaud them, we boast ourselves in vain to be God's sons, because he does not reckon any among his own who do not groan at abominations. And truly this is the sign of too much sloth, when we see the sacred name of God made the subject of ridicule, and all order overthrown, and yet are not affected with grief. Nor is it surprising if we are involved in the punishment of sins which our own connivance has fostered, instead of their being a torment to us. For that exhortation must be remembered, that the zeal of God's house may eat us up, and the reproaches of those who reproach God may fall upon us, (Psalm 69:10,) as it is said elsewhere, May my tongue cleave to my palate, if I am unmindful of thee, O Jerusalem, at the summit of my mirth. (Psalm 137:6.) Therefore when we see on one side the name of God trodden as it were under foot, and all justice violated, we see on the other side the Church of God miserably and cruelly afflicted, if we smile in security, by this very thing we sufficiently show that we have nothing in common with God, and in vain we call him Father. Hence these titles must be marked, by which the Prophet marks all God's elect, when he says, whosoever groan over the abominations: then he adds the word, crying out, the better to express the ardor and vehemence of their zeal, just as if he said that groaning was not sufficient, as many groan in a corner, when they see the whole order of God so perverted, but when they come to the light and the sight of men, they dare not give any sign of the least suspicion, because they are unwilling to incur hatred and ill-will. The Prophet therefore here exacts more from the sons of God than secret groaning, when he wishes them to groan openly and vociferate; so that they bear witness that they abominate those things which God has condemned in his law. Now it follows
5. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6. Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
5. Illis autem dixit in auribus meis, Transite per civitatem post eum, percutite: et ne parcat oculus vester, et ne misereamini:
6. Senem, adolescentem, puellam, puerum et mulieres percutite ad internecionem: tamen ad omnem virum super quem fuerit signum, ne accesseritis,201 et a sanctuario meo incipite: et inceperunt a viris sentortbus qni erant coram domo.
Now the Prophet adds, that the Chaldeans were sent to destroy the city and its inhabitants, but the order must be observed, because they are ordered to go behind the angel. The grace of God therefore precedes to the safety of all the pious: then he opened the gate, and made a way open for his wrath, long and wide, after he had removed the faithful from all danger: for this reason it is said, that he went through the city yet after him. And Patti also signifies this, when he says, after that your obedience has been fulfilled, then wrath is at hand against all rebels and proud ones. (2 Corinthians 10:6.) God therefore first cares for his own; but after he has received them into his keeping, and hid them as it were under his wings, then he permits the flame of his wrath to burn against all the wicked. In fine, we see that as often as God revenges man's wickedness, he regards his Church, and treats all as worthy of peculiar care who are endued with true and serious piety.
Then he orders them to strike, so that their eye should not spare; what God had taken to himself he transfers to the Chaldees, because there ought to be an agreement between God and all his servants, even those who are not voluntary agents, but whom he bends every way by his secret instinct. Then he expresses more clearly, that they should not spare either old men or young men or boys or girls; as if he said, that he must rage against all promiscuously, without any choice of age or sex. He here opposes women to men, because that sex bends even the most cruel to pity, and we know that when men are slain, women are preserved. Now girls seem to hold a better position and boys also: and decrepit old men, because nothing is to be feared from them, are preserved safe. But God wishes the Chaldeans so to attack the whole city, that they respect neither age nor sex. Meanwhile he excepts the faithful of whom he had spoken, upon whomsoever the mark shall be, do not approach him. Here it is asked, were all the good preserved free from slaughter? for we know that Jeremiah was drawn into Egypt, to whom Chaldaea would have been a preferable place of banishment. Already Daniel and his companions had been snatched away before him, many were faithful in that multitude. On the other hand, we see many despisers of God either escaped or left in the land, as Nebuchadnezzar wished the dregs of the people to remain there. But we saw of what sort they were in Jeremiah. It follows therefore that God neither spared all the elect, nor made a difference in consequence of the mark, because the wicked obtained safety as well as the faithful. (Jeremiah 39:10; Jeremiah 43:2, 3, 4; Jeremiah 44:15, 16.) But we must observe, although God apparently afflicts his people with the ungodly, yet they are so separated, that nothing happens which does not tend to the safety of the righteous. When therefore God forbids the Chaldeans to approach them, he does not mean them to be free from all injury or disadvantage, but he promises that they should be so separated from the ungodly, that they should acknowledge by sure experience that God was never forgetful of his faith and promise. Now therefore we see how that difficulty must be solved, since God does not so spare his own as not to exercise their faith and patience, but he does spare them so that no destruction happens to them, while he is always their protector. But when he seems to give license to the impious, he grants this to their destruction, because they are rendered more and more inexcusable. And this daily experience teaches us. For we see that the very best are so afflicted, that God's judgment begins with them. We see meanwhile that many reprobate exult with joy, even when they wantonly rage against God. But God has the care of his own as if they had been sealed, and separates them from the ungodly; but their own destruction remains for the ungodly, and they are already held within its folds, although it is not yet perceptible by the eye.
It follows, begin at my sanctuary. By the word "sanctuary" the priests and Levites are doubtless intended, and their fault was clearly greater. There was indeed a small number who worshipped God purely, and stood firm in their duty, but the greater part had revolted from the worship of God. Hence this passage ought to be understood of those impious priests who had despised God and his servants. Nor is it surprising that God's wrath should begin with them. For they sin doubly; because if any private man fall away, his example is not so injurious as that of the eminent, who thus draw all men into the same ruin. For we know that the eyes of the multitude are turned towards their superiors. Since therefore the priests sinned more severely than all the rest, it is not surprising if God should punish them in the first place. Those who interpret this sentence generally, as if God ordered the Chaldeans to begin from his Church, extenuate the sense of the Prophet too much. For this is not a comparison between the Church of God and profane nations, but God rather compares the ministers of his temple with the people in general, and a clearer explanation follows directly after, that the Chaldeans began from the men, the elders who were before the house; that is, who were set over the temple. Now it follows
7. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
7. Et dixit ad eos, poiluite202 domum, et implete altaria occisis egredimini: et egressi sunt, et percusserunt in urbe.203
Here God. repeats what he had formerly touched upon shortly and obscurely, namely, that the Jews trusted in vain in the visible temple, because already he had ceased to dwell there, as we shall afterwards see that he had departed. He had promised that his perpetual dwelling should be there, (Psalm 132:14,) but that promise is not opposed by the casual desertion of that dwelling-place. Now therefore he adds this sentence, when he orders the Chaldeans to pollute the temple itself But it was already polluted, some one will say: I confess it: but it regards the Common perception of the people; for although the Jews had infected the sanctuary of God with their wickedness, yet they boasted that his worship still remained there and his sacred name. Now therefore he speaks of another kind of pollution, namely, that the Chaldeans should fill all the area with the slain. If a human corpse or even a dog was seen in the sanctuary, this was an intolerable pollution; all would cry out that it was portentous. But as often as they entered the temple, although they dragged their crimes into God's presence, (for they went there polluted with blood, rapine, fraud, perjuries, and a whole heap of guilt,) yet they reckoned all these pollutions as nothing. God therefore here obliquely derides their sloth, when he says that they boasted of the sanctity of the temple in vain, because they should see it at length filled with corpses, and then should really acknowledge that the temple was no longer sacred. Now therefore we understand the intention of the Holy Spirit. He adds, that they had gone forth, and occasioned a slaughter in the city. Here again the Prophet shows that the Chaldeans would be at hand to smite the Jews with terror, as soon as God commanded them to destroy the city and cut off the inhabitants. Perhaps the city had not yet been besieged, and that is probable, for the Jews thought Ezekiel's threatenings fabulous. For this reason he says that the Chaldeans appeared to him, that they might hear or receive the commandment of God: then that they had returned from the slaughter, to prove their obedience to God. In fine, he shows that God's threatenings should not be in vain, because as soon as the right time should arrive, the army of the Chaldeans would be prepared for obedience. It follows
8. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
8. Et factum est eum percuterent relictus fui ego: et cecidi super faciem meam, et clamavi, et dixi Aha204 Dominator Iehovah, an delebis tu quidquid residunm est Israelis?205 fundendo iracundiam tuam super Ierusalem.
The Prophet does not so carefully preserve the historical order in the context of the words. For he says, the Chaldeans had returned. He afterwards adds, while they were striking the city that he fell upon his face. But we know this to be sufficiently common among the Hebrews, to relate first what is done afterwards. Although the Prophet seems to have fallen upon his face a little after their return, i.e., as soon as he perceived the city to have been nearly destroyed; yet he says, while they were smiting, he himself was left. They think the word compounded of the past and future tense, because there can be no grammatical reason that the word should be one and single. Indeed the word seems compounded of the first and third persons, as if he would say that he was left alone when all the rest were perishing. Yet there is no ambiguity in the sense; for it signifies that the Chaldeans had so attacked them everywhere, that they left none remaining. Since, therefore, they raged so savagely against the whole multitude, the Prophet seemed to himself to remain alone, as if God had snatched him from the horrible burning, by which he wished the whole people to be consumed and perish. Now if any one should object, that they were not all slain, the answer is, that a slaughter took place which almost destroyed the name of the people; then the survivors were like the dead, because exile was worse to them than death itself. Lastly, we must remark that the prophecy was extended to the last penalty, which at length awaits the ungodly, although God connives at them for a time, or merely chastises them moderately.
In fine, the slaughter of the city was shown to the Prophet as if all the citizens had utterly perished. And so God wished to show how terrible a destruction pressed upon the people, and yet no one feared it. Now as the Prophet fell upon his face, it was a testimony of the human affection, by which he instructed the people although unworthy. Hence he fell upon his face as a mediator, for we know that when the faithful ask pardon of God, they fall upon their face. They are said also to pour forth their prayers for the sake of humility, because they are unworthy to direct their prayers and words upwards. (Psalm 102:1.) Therefore Ezekiel shows that he interceded for the safety of the people. And truly God was unwilling that his servants, under pretense of zeal, should cast off all sense of humanity, so that the slaughter of the people should be their play and joke. We have seen how anxiously Jeremiah prayed for the people, so that he was at length entirely overwhelmed with grief; for he wished, as we see in the ninth chapter, that his eyes flowed down as fountains. (Jeremiah 9:1.) Hence the Prophets, although they were God's heralds to promulgate his wrath, yet had not altogether put off all care and anxiety; for when they seemed to be hostile to the people they pitied them. And to this end Ezekiel fell on his face before God. And truly that was a grievous trial, which he did not disguise; for he complains that a populous city was destroyed, and women and boys slain promiscuously with men. But he lays before God his own covenant, as if he said, even if the whole world should perish, yet it was impossible for God to lose his own Church, because he had promised, that as long as the sun and moon shone in heaven, there should be a seed of the pious in the world. "They shall be my faithful witnesses in heaven," said he. (Psalm 89:37, 38.) The sun and moon are remaining in their place: therefore God seemed to have broken his covenant when he destroyed the whole people. This is the reason why the Prophet lies on his face, as if astonished, and exclaims with vehemence, Alas! O Lord God, wilt thou destroy the remnant of Israel by pouring forth thine anger? that is, whilst thou so purest forth thine anger against Jerusalem for that city remained as a testimony of God's covenant; for as yet some safety could be hoped for; but although after it was cut off, the faithful wrestled with that temptation, yet the contest was hard and fatiguing; for no one thought that any memorial of God's covenant could flourish when that city was extinct. For he had there chosen his seat and dwelling, and wished to be worshipped in that one place. Since, therefore, the Prophet saw that city destroyed, he broke forth into a cry, what then will become of it! For when thou hast poured forth thine anger against Jerusalem, nothing will remain left in the city. Hence also it will readily be understood, that God's covenant was almost obliterated, and had lost all its effect. Now it follows
9. Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.
9. Et dixit mihi, iniquitas do-mus Israel et Iehudah magna supra modum,206 et repleta fuit terra sanguinibus, et urbs repleta fuit perverse:207 quia dixerunt, Deseruit Iehovah terram, et Iehovah non respicit.
Here God so answers his Prophet, that he restrains too much fervor, and at the same time asserts his own justice for the Prophet might be impelled this way and that he might even doubt whether God would be true to his word. God might also shake his confidence in another manner, as by raging too much against the innocent; since therefore he might be agitated amidst those waves of trial, what God now does ought to set him at rest. Therefore, as I have already said, he mitigates the feelings of his Prophet, and at the same time asserts the equity of his judgment against all false opinions which are apt to creep over us when God's judgments do not answer to our will. Meanwhile it must be remarked, how the Prophet complains suppliantly of the slaughter of the city, and although he seemed to expostulate with God, yet he submitted all his senses to his command, and on that account an answer is given which can calm him. Whenever, therefore, God does not seem to work as our carnal reason dictates to us, we may learn, by the Prophet's example, how to restrain ourselves, and to subject our reason to God's will, so that it may suffice us that he wills a thing so, because his will is the most perfect rule of all justice. We see that Prophets sometimes complain, and seem also to permit themselves too much liberty when they expostulate with God, as we saw a memorable example in Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 12 and Jeremiah 20.) Then we read also a similar one in Habakkuk. (Habakkuk 1:2.) How so? Do the Prophets contend with God himself? yea, they directly return to themselves, and collect into order all those wandering opinions by which they perceive that they were greatly disturbed. So also our Prophet, on the one hand, wonders at the slaughter of the city, and exclaims vehemently; at the same time he falls upon his face, and in this way testifies that he would be obedient, as soon as God answered him. This is the reason, then, why God also desires to appease his servant; nor is it doubtful that we shall experience the same thing, if we modestly and soberly learn to enquire when God's judgments do not answer our opinions. If, therefore, we approach God in this way, he will doubtless show us that what he does is right, and thus supply us with material for rest. Hence, also, God's inestimable indulgence toward his people is collected, because he so deigns to render a reason, as if he wished to satisfy them. It is certain that men are carried forward into too much rashness, as often as they ask questions of God; for who will dare to oppose himself to his judgments? and who will reply to him? so Paul says. (Romans 9:20.) But God in his amazing goodness, descends even thus far, so as to render a reason of his deeds to his servants, to settle their minds, as I have said.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou didst formerly chastise thy people so harshly, that we may profit by their example; and may we be so restrained by fear of thy name and obedience to thy law, that thou mayest not pour forth thy wrath against us: then if thou chastisest us, grant that it may all turn out to our good: and may we so feel ourselves to have been sealed by thee, and to be acknowledged in the number of thy sons, until at length thou shalt gather us into that blessed inheritance which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen.
Lecture Twenty fifth.
We began yesterday to explain God's answer, when he restrains the Prophet's feelings: for he complained of the destruction of the whole nation. There was a specious reason for it, because he thought that in this way God's covenant was made vain. But God simply answers, that he does not exceed propriety in punishment. The question is not answered in this way: for the Prophet might still doubt how God's covenant remained firm and yet the people was cut off. But God does not in every way untie all the knots by which we are entangled: hence he leaves us in suspense, but while he does this, he wishes to prove our modesty, for if he satisfied us altogether, there would be no proof of our obedience. But when he commands us to acquiesce in his judgment, if we do not pass beyond it, then we bear ourselves towards him as modestly as becomes us. Thus, therefore, he now answers half the question of his Prophet when he pronounces, that the sin of Jerusalem and Judah is grievous. But he says, beyond measure, that the Prophet may understand that the city, together with the nation, was to be utterly destroyed, since there was no end to its wickedness. When he says, the land was filled with bloods, and the city with perverse judgments: bloods we may take for slaughters, or, generally, for all kinds of sin; for the Scripture sometimes calls atrocious crimes which deserve death, bloods, but it sometimes calls unjust slaughters so. But because God embraces all the sins of the people, I readily interpret bloods as crimes, by which those who had so often provoked his anger, brought destruction upon themselves.
It follows, because they said, Jehovah has deserted the land, Jehovah sees nothing. We had a similar sentence a little before, (Ezekiel 8:12,) and I then hinted that it was taken too coldly by interpreters, because they think that the Jews were Epicureans, who thought that God enjoyed his own ease, and did not regard human affairs. They think, therefore, that the Jews were so inebriated by a brutish contempt of God, as to think they could do as they pleased with impunity, since God was afar off: as at this time profane men allow themselves so much license, because they do not set God before their eyes, as the Scripture often says. But we said that the Prophet intended something else. For when the Jews had been often chastised, they were hardened in their sins, and when they ought to acknowledge that those punishments were justly inflicted upon them, they imagined that all things happened to them by chance; just as unbelievers reckon all events as fortuitous. Such then was the sloth of the people. God was visiting them, as he often says, that he would be known among them as a judge: when they felt God's hand present with them, they said he was far off, because he did not succor them in their miseries, nor offer himself as a shield against their enemies. For their fathers had experienced the helping hand of God in all their dangers. Since, then, God had cast away all regard for them, and showed himself rather their enemy than the defender of their safety, they said that he was afar off. And as we saw, he had stirred up the Chaldeans, and was then proving the faithfulness of all his prophecies when he was executing what he had denounced by his servants. Now, therefore, we see in what sense they said, that God had deserted the land, because, in truth, he was not granting it any taste of his favor. But they experienced his power in another manner when he executed his punishment upon them. Why then did they not think him a just avenger when he thus chastised them? But they laid hold of one thing, that they were not so regarded by God as to be rescued from their enemies. This passage then is worthy of notice. For when God not only invites wretched men to himself, but also draws them to receive the punishment due to their sins, they are often rendered more obstinate, and fancy that God' is afar off. Hence, therefore, it happens that they are seized with madness, and hesitate not to provoke him more boldly. This perverseness is now described when Ezekiel represents the Jews as saying, that God had deserted the land. For they are unable to see in it anything more than this; for when profane men once take up the principle that they are deserted by God, they think at the same time that whatever they do escapes his notice. But this was the extreme of impiety: hence God shows, that he could no longer spare men so abandoned. And he confirms this also in the next verse when he says
10. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; but I will recompense their way upon their head.
10. Etiam ego, non parcet208 oculus mens, et non miserebor: vias ipsorum in capita eorum reddam.
Now God pronounces the Jews to be so obstinate in their malice as to have cut off from themselves all hope of pardon. For when he now says, that he would be hostile to them without pity, he shows the necessity of taking vengeance, because their impiety had penetrated even heaven, so that he could not spare them without denying himself. And abrupt speech increases vehemence, as if God pronounced that he had changed his plans. Now then we understand the meaning of this answer, that the Jews were bound by so many and such impious crimes, that they had closed the door of God's pity: nay, they had compelled him to the utmost pitch of vengeance, because they continued to provoke him more and more. Let us learn then from this passage not to weigh God's judgments in our scale, because we are too much accustomed to extenuate our sins, and to treat our serious iniquities as but slight errors, because we do not attribute just honor to God as the only judge. Now when God commands his Prophet to rest and be silent, without doubt he at the same time restrains that rashness of ours by which we burst forth in disobedience when he seems to us to be too rigid. But, as I have said, we do not consider the greatness of our sins. Therefore it is God's province alone to pronounce concerning sins, that no mortal should estimate the quality of actions, for then we trench on God's peculiar office. It follows
11. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.
11. Et ecce vir indutus lineis vestibus, cui atramentarium erat in lumbis, reversus retulit dicendo, Feci quemadmodum praeceperas209 mihi.
This sentence confirms what I said yesterday about God's paternal anxiety towards the faithful. For the Prophet taught, before God would permit the Chaldeans to destroy the city, that an angel was sent before to succor the elect, and thus to oppose himself to the violence of the enemies: where we have said that it is shown to us as in a glass that God holds this order in his judgments, that his fatherly love towards the faithful always precedes them, so that he does not permit anything to happen to them but what tends to their safety. For this reason the angel now says, that he had done as he was commanded. Doubtless the obedience of the angel is reported to us, because it answers to the will of God. Hence, therefore, we gather that the safety of the faithful is always precious to God, and therefore they will always be safe and secure when we think heaven and earth mingled together. This then is the explanation. Now follows
1. Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire-stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
1. Et aspexi, et ecce super expansionem quae erat super caput cherubim tanquam lapis sapphiri, sicut aspectus similitudinis solii quod videbatur super cos.
Here the Prophet relates another vision which has a great likeness to the first which he related to us in the first chapter, but it has another object, as we shall soon see. Since we discussed the chief members of the vision in the first chapter, I shall now therefore be shorter. I shall only glance at what I formerly said, and at the same time point out any difference. But before we descend to that, God's design in this vision must be understood. God wished to bear witness to the Jews that he had nothing further in common with them, because he intended to leave the temple, and then to consume the whole city with burning. But lest this threat should be unheeded by the Jews, God's majesty was placed before them so fearfully that it might strike even the obstinate with fear. Now I come to the words. He says, that he saw again over the heads of the cherubim a throne, whose color was like sapphire. Instead of living creatures he now puts cherubim, and there is no doubt that those living creatures of which he formerly spoke were cherubim. But because the vision occurs in the temple, God begins familiarly to explain to his servant what was previously too obscure. For he had seen the four living creatures near the river Chebar, namely, in a profane country. When therefore the Jews and Israelites were absent as exiles far from the temple, it is no wonder that God did not appear so clearly to his Prophet as he now does when brought into the temple. For although the Prophet has not changed his place, yet he does not seem to have been transferred to Jerusalem in vain, and to behold what was done in the temple. This is the reason why he now calls those cherubim which he had before called simply living creatures. But we have explained why four cherubim were seen, while only two were in the sanctuary, namely, because the Jews were almost buried in gross ignorance. They had long ago departed from the pursuit of sincere piety, and the light of celestial doctrine had been almost extinct among them. Since, therefore, the ignorance of the people was so gross, something rude must be put before them, or otherwise they could not understand what they ought to learn.
Now it is by no means doubtful that God obliquely wishes to reprove that base ignorance, because it was not his fault that they did not perceive in the law and the temple whatever was useful to be known for their salvation. When, therefore, God changes this legal form, there is no doubt he shows how degenerate the people was, just as if he had transfigured himself. But we must also remember what I then said, that four cherubim were offered to the Prophet that God might show that he embraced the whole world under his own dominion. We saw a little while ago, that the Jews, While they thought themselves already without God's care, being thoroughly callous, were so blind that they supposed at the same time that God exercised no care over the world. In vain, therefore, in their perverse imaginations they shut up God in heaven; he shows that he rules the whole universe, and that nothing moves except by his secret power. Since then four cherubim are put instead of two, it is just as if God showed that he reigned throughout the four quarters of the globe, and that his power is extended in all directions, and hence that it was the height of impiety for the Jews to imagine that he had deserted the earth Thirdly, we must remark what has also been said before, that the cherubim had four heads, that God might show that angelic motions flourish in all creatures. But I shall repeat this last comment in its proper place. I now only touch it shortly.
We must now see why the Prophet says, there was a throne whose color was like sapphire, and the throne itself was above the four cherubim: because in truth God has his angels at hand to obey him: hence they are placed under his feet, that we may know that they are not independent, but are so subject to God that they always depend upon his nod, and are borne wherever he commands them. This is the reason why they were placed under the expanse where God's throne was. As far as the expanse is concerned, it is the noun which Moses uses in relating the creation of the world. (Genesis 1:6, 7, 8.) The Greeks translated it by sterewma but badly: the Latins imitated them when they used the expression "firmament:" but it is taken for the heavens, and for the whole space between us and heaven, and yet it is above the world. God shows his throne above the expanse of heaven, not without himself, lest the Prophet should conceive anything earthly. For we know how inclined men's minds are to their own fictions. But when God is mentioned, we cannot conceive anything aright unless we raise all our senses above the whole world. God, therefore, to raise up the mind of his Prophet, and to show himself at hand that the Prophet may reverently attend to the oracles, and then that he may regard the heavenly glory of God with becoming humility, interposed the expansion between his throne and the earth. It follows
2. And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight.
2. Et dixit ad virum, qui indutus erat vestibus lineis, dixit, Vade210 intra in medium rotarum211 sub cherub, et imple volas tuas carbonibus ignis212 e medio cherubim, et sparge contra urbem. Et ingressus est in oculis meis.213
Now the end of the vision is related, which I just touched upon, since God determined utterly to destroy the city; but this is described by a visible and external symbol. God therefore is said to have commanded the wan who was clad in linen garments to fill his hands with coals, and to scatter them, on the city, namely, that he might cause a general burning. Here, indeed, God's name is not expressed, but shortly afterwards the Prophet more clearly relates what he here touches so briefly and so obscurely. It is evident that the person seated on the throne is here spoken of, and we may collect from the context, that this command cannot be referred to any but to God. But we must observe, that the angel commanded to mark the elect now assumes a new character. And hence we collect that the angels were so the ministers of God's favor toward the faithful, that at the same time, whenever they were commanded, they executed his vengeance; as a steward placed over a large family, not only sustains the office of providing for the family, in supplying it with food and clothing, but in chastising those who conduct themselves sinfully and wickedly. Such, therefore, is the duty of God's angels. When God wishes to brand sinners with double shame, he often delivers them up to the devil as his executioner, and when we are delivered into the devil's hand, this is a sign of extreme vengeance. But God by his angels often exercises judgment against the reprobate, as examples everywhere occur; but that is peculiarly remarkable, when the angel slew so many thousands in the army of Sennacherib, that he raised the siege by which the Assyrians oppressed Jerusalem. (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36.) The same thing is now delivered by the Prophet. We saw the angel clad in the linen garments become the protector of the faithful, to preserve them from all injury. But now he is sent to scatter coals through the whole city, to consume the stones and the wood, as well as the men.
These things seem to be contrary to each other, but we show that there is nothing absurd in it, if God imposes a double character on his angels. He said, therefore, to the man who was clothed, enter within the wheel under the cherub. Here there is a change of number, because the singular number cherub is put for cherubim. But I remarked before that this is usual, and God proposed nothing else than to mark the place where the fiery coals were taken which burnt up the city. The altar was never without fire; for it was not lawful to use any kind of fire, since in this way the sacrifices were contaminated. (Leviticus 6:12, 13.) But that perpetual fire, which God wished to burn upon the altar, regarded reconciliation to himself; for sins were expiated by sacrifices, and therefore the fire on the altar was as it were the people's life. But now God signifies that he had a hidden fire within the wheels, which were near the cherubim, or the four animals. But we have said, and it will be necessary to repeat it again, that by wheels all agitations are represented which are discerned under heaven, or revolutions, as they are usually called. But he saw wheels under the angels, because when the wind rises, when the sky is covered with clouds and mists, when the rain descends, and the air is disturbed by lightnings, we think, when all these things happen, that such motions and agitations take place naturally. But before this God wished to teach us that great agitations are not blind, but are directed by secret instinct, and hence the notion or inspiration of the angels, always exists. Now, therefore, when God orders his angel to take fire from the midst of the wheel which was under the cherub, this only means that God has various means of destroying the city. Now the wheels, as we saw before, were carried in different directions, so that they flew throughout the city. Since, therefore, the fire was in the midst of the wheels, while the angels transferred the wheels by their own secret motion, hence we gather that the burning of the city was in the hand of God, and at the same time in the temple. For the Prophet does not now see the wheels near the river Chebar, but in the temple itself; and there is a tacit contrast, as I have reminded you, between the fire by whose incense God was reconciled, and whence also the sacrifices had their odor sweet and pleasing to God, and between this fire, which should be destructive to the whole people. But he says, the angel had entered, that we may know, as I have said before, as soon as God has pronounced what he wishes to be done, that the execution of it is at hand. Lastly, the Prophet here commends to us the effect of his command, when he says, that the angel entered immediately, as God had commanded. It follows
3. Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.
3. Et cherubim stabant ad extra domus cum veniret vir:214 et nubes replevit atrium interius.
Here the Prophet relates where the cherubim were when the men entered, which looks only to the certainty of the prophecy. For we are not here to seek any cunning speculations why they were on the right hand. It is only intended to show that the way was open to the angel to approach directly to God, and that the cherubim were disposed there to render their assistance; for there ought to be an agreement between the angel who took the fire which he scattered through the whole city, and the cherubim who carried all the angels. Here the Prophet shows this agreement, because the cherubim were turned to the right hand when he entered, so that God was at hand; then also the cherubim were at. hand, and thus the wheels bore along the fire.
Now we understand the intention of what we read. The interior court was filled with a cloud: doubtless this signifies, that God by all means confirmed the vision, that no suspicion should creep in that the Prophet was deluded with an empty spectra (Exodus 40:34, 35; Numbers 9:15.) This therefore is the reason why God not only appeared on his heavenly throne, but also filled the temple with a cloud; although, as I have said before, this cloud was a symbol of God's alienation, (1 Kings 8:10, 11; Psalm 18:12,) and we know that the sanctuary was filled with a cloud, although God then wished to testify his paternal favor: but in this place and elsewhere, as in Psalm 18, and in other places, a cloud seems to signify the averted face of God, as if the temple was full of darkness. And this afterwards is better confirmed; for he says
4. Then the glory of the Lord went up front the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory.
4. Et elevata fuit gloria Ie-hovae desuper cherub215 ad limen domus;216 et impleta fuit domus nube: et atrium impletum fuit fulgore gloriae Iehovae.
In this verse the Prophet confirms what he lately touched upon, viz., that the temple was filled with blackness, because God had transferred his glory away. He says then, that the brightness of God's glory appeared above the threshold. But the glory of God resided in the sanctuary and in the very ark of the covenant; but now, when it advances to the threshold, it is just as if he should extinguish the splendor of his glory by which the temple was adorned, and transfer it elsewhere. But he says, that the glory of Jehovah was elevated from its place: these words signify change of place: God is everywhere said to dwell between the cherubim, and he wished to be called upon there; but now his glory is said to be removed elsewhere. Hence, therefore, it appears, that the temple was deprived of God's presence, and was in some sense stripped of its furniture; for without God what remained? Hence that darkness which was formerly mentioned, and is again repeated. The glory of Jehovah then was withdrawn: from whence? from its own place and station, where it dwelt between the cherubim, and came to the threshold of the temple: then he says, all was changed. For the temple in which God's glory formerly shone forth became full of darkness; but the threshold of the house, which was as it were profane, was full of splendor: not that God dwelt at the threshold, for this vision has another meaning, viz., that God after leaving his temple appeared without it; for by the threshold he signifies a place conspicuous to all. Now therefore we understand the design of the Holy Spirit when he says, the glory of Jehovah was elevated from that seat, which he had chosen as a residence for himself between the cherubim, and was conspicuous above the threshold: whence it happened that the temple itself grew dark, but God's brightness was conspicuous in the court itself. It follows
5. And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.
5. Et vox alarum cherubim audita fuit usque ad exterius atrium, sicuti vox Dei omnipotentis cum loquitur.
In this verse also the Prophet confirms the vision, because God always gave signs of his presence. But it seems also to have another object, since the cherubim by the sound of their wings point out a remarkable change, both unusual and incomprehensible. For he says, there was a noise which shook the place, just as if God was speaking. When therefore we hear God's voice, the Prophet means to say, it is just as if God thundered from heaven and made the whole world tremble; for no concussion can be more severe than that sound of the cherubims' wings. From this a certain wonderful change must be perceptible, since God so filled his Prophet with terror, that he should be a messenger and witness of it to all others.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou now placest before our eyes proofs of thine anger, that we may not perversely provoke thy wrath, like thine ancient people; but rather, may we so profit by this teaching as to grow wise in time, and strive to be reconciled to thee, and to cast away all our depraved desires, until at length we shall be gathered unto that blessed rest which thine only-begotten Son has procured for us by his blood. Amen.
Lecture Twenty sixth.
6. And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.
7. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen; who took it, and went out.
6. Et factum est cum praecepisset viro qui indutus erat lineis, dicendo, Sume ignem e medio rotae, e medio cherubim; profectus est, et stetit e regione rotae.
7. Et extendit cherub manure suam e medio cherubim ad ignem qui erat in medio cherubim: et recepit, et dedit in volas217 ejus qui indutus erat lineis: et accepit, et egressus est.
HERE the Prophet teaches the end of the vision. The Jews thought that they should always be safe and secure under God's presence; they thought that the sacred fire on the altar availed for the expiation of all wickedness. But God showed that he so resided in the temple that he clothed himself with wrath against them, and that the cherubim were keepers of his arms by which they were at length to be destroyed. We see, therefore, that this false and perverse glowing by which the Jews were intoxicated was cut from under them, since they thought that God was in some way bound to themselves exclusively. Hence the angel is ordered to take fire and to sprinkle it about the city, that it may be destroyed by the burning. But this was necessary, because the Jews, while they for a long time obstinately abused the forbearance of God, could not be induced to repent by any fear of his wrath. For this reason this vision was shown to the Prophet. Then he says that fire was given, but whence was it taken? it was, says he, in the midst of the cherubim. When David prays to God, he makes mention of the cherubim, (Psalm 80:1,) by which a more familiar access is laid open, and deservedly so; because God, when inviting the faithful to himself, as if he stretched forth his hands to them, had angels at hand who brought him in contact with men. Now the Prophet teaches, that God's presence was of no use to the Jews, because he was in arms for their destruction; and the cherubim, who were formerly ministers of his grace, were now at hand to execute his vengeance, since they extend fire from hand to hand for the conflagration of the whole city. For he says, that he was come who was clad in linen garments, and stood near the wheels, by which words he signifies, that angels were thoroughly prepared to obey God's commands in every particular. In men there is great delay and even languor; but the Prophet assures us, that angels were ready for the performance of their duty. As soon as God shows them what he wishes to be done, they have their hands extended, and thus they are prepared to execute his will. For this reason he says, that they stood near the wheels. It follows
8. And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings.
8. Et visa est ipsis cherubim similitudo manus hominis sub alis
I will now pass rapidly over what I explained more copiously in the first chapter, lest I should burden you with vain repetition. I said that hands appeared under the wings, that the Prophet might understand the great vigor of angels for action: but in the meantime it marked the agreement of their agitation with the obedience which they offer to God. For doubtless wings in angels represent direction, by which God testifies that the angels have no proper or independent, motion, but are governed by his secret instinct: for wings signify something terrestrial and human. And it is clear that when wings were given to angels, by this symbol God's secret government was pointed out, (Colossians 1:16,) for they are not only called principalities, but powers. Since, therefore, God governs angels by his own will, he therefore wishes them to be represented in the sanctuary as winged. (Exodus 25:20, and Exodus 37:9.) Now, because there is no action without hands, the Prophet says that human hands appeared under the wings: as if he had said, that this alacrity was not without its effect, because it was joined with operation, for we know that all functions are designated by this word in Scripture. It is then as if he said, that the angels were winged, since they were animated by the secret virtue of God, and had no motion in themselves; then that they were apt and fit for exercising the functions committed to them, because they were endued with hands. But he says that those hands lay hid under their wings, because angels do not take up anything rashly, as men take up a matter vigorously, but without choice. He says, then, that their hands were covered by the wings, because angels undertake nothing rashly nor without consideration, but every operation of theirs depends on that secret government of God of which I have spoken. It follows
9. And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the color of a beryl-stone.
9. Et aspexi, et ecce quatuor rotae e regione cherubim, rota una e regione cherub unius, altera rota e regione alterius cherub: et aspectus rotarum tanquam similitudo lapidis Tharsis.
Here the Prophet, as in the first chapter, says that wheels were added to each living creature. I have previously explained what the wheels mean. I will now only allude to them; concerning the living creatures I shall by and bye treat more fully. But the wheels are images of all the changes which are discerned in the world. No more suitable figure can be chosen; for nothing is stationary in the world, but revolutions, as we commonly call them, are continually happening. Since, therefore, they are so changeable, nay even tumultuous at times, profane men cannot understand how the world is governed by the fixed counsel of God; but they fabricate for themselves a blind fortune: hence God in concession to our weakness has represented to us, under the form of wheels, all changes of things, all accidents, as they are called, and all events; as if he were to say, that all things in the world are revolving and changing, not only that all elements are agitated upwards and downwards, but human events especially. Meanwhile he has corrected the error, while he has conceded something to the rudeness of men. For we see manifold conversions which appear to us under the form of a wheel: but meanwhile we indulge in too much license, when we imagine a blind fortune. Hence the Prophet saw wheels near the cherubim; that is, he saw those changes by which men's minds are disturbed, as if all things happened rashly in the world. But he saw that the wheels did not revolve by their own force, but are annexed to the angels, since all events depend on a first cause, namely, on that secret ordinance and inspiration of God, by which the angels are moved, and whence also they have their vigor. In this explanation nothing is forced, because it is not doubtful that the living creatures, as we shall soon see, signify angela Let us go on then to the context
10. And as for their appearances, they four had' one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.
10. Et aspectus eorum similitudo una,218 ipsis quatuor, quemadmodum si rota esset in medio rotae.
We have also explained this part. He says that all had the same aspect, not because God always governs events in an equable manner, for experience opposes this. But he means that the appearance was the same, because the variety which causes darkness to our eyes, does not remove the perpetual and well-arranged tenor of the works of God. Hence there is one appearance to the four wheels, because all God's works agree among themselves; and although their wonderful variety draws our eyes this way and that, yet he knows how to direct to his own purposes things which appear so dissipated. There is again a kind of concession, when he says, that wheel was in the midst of wheel. For we see things so mutually involved, that no distinction occurs to us when we consider God's works by our own carnal sense. If we wish, therefore, to judge concerning God's works, wheel will be in the midst of wheel; that is, there will be wonderful perplexity, and this will hold us so bound together, that our minds cannot extricate themselves. This, therefore, is the concession, that. wheel was in the midst of wheel; but the common error is corrected directly afterwards, when the Prophet adds that the wheels were full of eyes. It follows then
11. When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.
12. And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.
11. Cum profisiscerentur, ad quatuor latera pergebant, non revertebantur in eundo219 quia ad locum ad quem respiciebat caput post illud ambulabant, non revertebantur eundo.
12. Et tota caro ipsorum, et dorsa ipsorum, et manus ipsorum, et alae ipsorum, denique rotae ipsae plenae erant oculis in circuitu ipsis quatuor rotis.
Now, as I have remarked, after the Prophet has granted that there are certain events of things as it were twisted and bending, and that God acts through windings, he then shows that God does nothing rashly: and that the events which we think tumultuous and confused have a certain direction, and that too the best. For this reason he says, first that the wheels had set out, they did not return, since each followed its own head. Interpreters do not agree on these words. For as to the turning of the head, some translate it "the first," and thus mean that in whatever way the first cherub goes, the others follow him. But I rather think that the wheels are compared with the cherubs themselves, and the singular noun head is here put for heads: for we before saw that wheels were annexed to each cherub, Therefore each wheel has its own head, that is, has a living creature by which it is ruled. Hence the sense of the Prophet is, that the wheels turned on this side or on that, by any outward or sudden impulse, but were governed by the cherubim themselves, which will explain this portion more clearly.
He adds, that the wheels were full of eyes. Hence we gather, that although by the events of things God may seem to sport and to have various erratic circuits, yet all things are governed by his inestimable wisdom: for this reason the wheels are said to be full of eyes. The Prophet uses the word flesh inappropriately for the very body of the wheels. But we know that the language which he used in exile was not very elegant, and hence it is by no means wonderful if it is rather rough and savors of asperity. Yet the sense is not doubtful, since the whole body of the wheels in their back and their hands was all full of eyes: he next adds, the wheels themselves, not to mark anything different, but afterwards when he speaks of the flesh, the back and the hands, he names the wheels simply: as if he had said that they were full of eyes in every part. Now we see how things contrary in appearance may be best reconciled. For the events of things are as unstable as if any one kept turning' a wheel: then they become complicated, as if wheel was within wheel: but in the meantime God so tempers all things among themselves which seem to us confused, that it may appear that he perceives best what is necessary to be done, and that the events of things are full of eyes. But whence does this arise? This clearness depends on the angelic inspiration, for the wheels are not turned in different directions of their own accord, but each follows its own leader and head. It is also said, in appearance like the stone Tharsis, (beryl.) Jerome thought the Cilician sea was intended, and so translated it sky-colored: but because we know that this name beryl occurs among the precious stones, I therefore retain the simple sense. Now it follows
13. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel!
13. Ad rotas ipsas clamavit, rota in auribus reels.
By this verse the Prophet better confirms what I have said, that the events of things are full of eyes, since they depend on the secret commands of God. Because therefore nothing happens unless by God's command, hence it happens in the multiform changes of things that there is an equable tenor with reference to God. He says therefore that God cried, or the angel, O wheel. We know that wheels are properly without sense: but here the Prophet signifies that God's voice is heard by all creatures, so that not even the slightest motion happens without that secret instinct. When the air is serene and calm, we do not think that God's voice reigns there, but we imagine some natural cause: so also when the sky is clouded, when it rains, when storms rise, when other changes happen, in some way or other we exclude God from these actions. But the Prophet, on the contrary, says, that he heard the voice of God when he cried O wheel. 220 But God did not exclaim by way of derision, but wished to testify that there was a certain hidden inclination by which all creatures obey his command To this end therefore God exclaims, O wheel, that we should not think that events are rashly moved, or that any agitation arises without control, or that the elements are so gross that they do not obey God, since his voice gives efficacy and vigor to all.
14. And every one had four faces: the first face was the time of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
14. Et quatuor facies uni, singulis animalibus, facies unius facies cherub, et facies secundi facies hominis, et tertii facies leonis, et quarti facies aquilae.
Now Ezekiel descends to the animals themselves, which he now pronounces to be cherubim, yet under another form than that in the sanctuary. We said in the first chapter why he saw four cherubim since only two surrounded the ark of the covenant. This variation may seem absurd, for God was accustomed to accommodate his visions to the forms of the law, that he might hold the people in the simplicity of the law. But the reason which I brought forward in the first chapter is by no means to be rejected, because in truth so great was the grossness and rudeness of the people, that it was necessary to bend aside from the first and genuine institution. God had been content with two cherubim, and in that number doubtless he represented all angels; but he was surrounded on the right hand and on the left that he might show the people that he could never be wanting in power to bring them help. Now the Jews were so stupified that they shut up God in heaven, because scarcely any recognition of his providence then remained, as we have already seen. Since, therefore, the Jews thus excluded God from the government of the world, he was obliged to use a new form, different from that of the law, that they might really perceive that God's government extended over the four quarters of the world. And there is no doubt that by the four living creatures God reminded them that nothing took place in the world without his control. But when the world is described, its four quarters or regions are put.
Now, therefore, we understand why the Prophet saw not two cherubim only but four: the same reason for difference in the form of the cherubim is also added. For the cherubim were like winged boys: but the Prophet says, that each of the living creatures was furnished with four heads. This was doubtless an assistance towards rousing' the people from their torpor, because the Jews could not otherwise understand the meaning and the force of the angelic inspiration by which God governs the whole world: hence after four living creatures had been presented before the Prophet, four heads were also given to each living creature, namely, the head of an ox, of a man, of a lion, and of an eagle. We said in the first chapter, that by these heads all living creatures were represented to us: for although trees, and the sea, and rivers, and herbs, and the air, and stars, and sun, are parts of the universe, yet in living beings there is some nearer approach to God, and some clearer display of his energy: for there is motion in a man, in an ox, in an eagle, and in a lion. These animals comprehend within themselves all parts of the universe by that figure of speech by which a part represents the whole. Meanwhile since angels are living creatures we must observe in what sense God attributes to angels themselves the head of a lion, an eagle, and a man: for this seems but little in accordance with their nature. But he could not better express the inseparable connection which exists in the motion of angels and all creatures. We have said, that angels are not called the powers221 of God in vain: now when a lion either roars or exercises its strength, it seems to move by its own strength, so also it may be said of other animals. But God here says, that the living creatures are in some sense parts of the angels though not of the same substance, for this is not to be understood of similarity of nature but. of effect. We are to understand, therefore, that while men move about and discharge their duties, they apply themselves in different directions to the objects of their pursuit, and so also do wild beasts; yet there are angelic motions underneath, so that neither men nor animals move themselves, but their whole vigor depends on a secret inspiration.
A difficult question remains, namely, why Ezekiel says here that the first head was that of a cherub, while in the first chapter he said it was that of an ox. (Ezekiel 10:10.) Some escape the difficulty by saying that it appeared at a distance like an ox, but a nearer inspection showed it to be a cherub, But this is too forced, so that I have no doubt that there is some difference in the vision; nor does what he afterwards adds, that this was the living creature which he saw at the river Chebar, oppose this; for he calls anything which is like another, and has the same object, the same thing. Paul says their fathers in the desert ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink. (1 Corinthians 10:3, 4.) But we know how different was the symbol manna, and the water flowing from the rock, from the sacred Supper which Christ left for us; but as I have already said, since there is an affinity between the sacred symbols, they are to be referred to the same scope. Thus Paul says, the same drink and the same food, and Ezekiel says, it was the same living creature. Meanwhile, there is nothing out of place in our saying that the vision is slightly changed, For when God opened himself at first, the Prophet was on profane ground, now the vision is added more in the form of the sanctuary, because he was seized by the Spirit, that he might see the abominations by which the Jews had stained the temple, as already stated. When therefore the face of an ox was presented to the Prophet, near the river Chebar, that he might now understand that they were angels, or living' cherubs, and that the four heads may not distract him, the face of a cherub is presented to him; so that, being admonished by this sign, he may determine that each living creature is nothing else than an angel or cherub, although it differs from the received form, of which God had proposed to Moses an example on the mount.
We now understand why God turned aside from the course prescribed in his law, when he offered this vision to his Prophet; because, in truth, the people had so degenerated from all sense of piety, that they could not be taught by the simple plan or rule of the law, but had need of gross remembrancers. This is one explanation. Then again four living creatures are employed, that God may signify that his energy is diffused through the whole universe. Then, again, four heads are assigned to each living creature, that we may know that no part of the world is free from his providence, and from that secret inspiration which is efficacious through angels. Then as to the last clause, where the face of an ox appeared to the Prophet before, now he beholds that of a cherub, that he may understand that these living creatures are nothing else than angels; but the reason why God endues his angels with a new form, is because the slothfulness of the people was so great, that they did not recognize what they ought to have been familiar with, for it was not God's fault that they had not imbibed the doctrine of piety from their earliest childhood. Now it follows
15. And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.
15. Et ascenderunt cherubim: ipsum est animal quod videram in fluvio Chebar.
We shall afterwards explain in the proper place why he says the cherubim ascended. The first and principal scope of this vision was that God would no longer dwell in the temple, because he had determined to depart thence on account of the impious and wicked profanations by which the temple had been contaminated. Now for this reason he says, the cherubim ascended; but he adds, that was the living creature, which he had seen near the river Chebar. He adds this for clearing up the vision, because if it had been offered only once, the Jews might doubt its tendency, and its obscurity would take away their taste for it, and render the prophetic teaching quite insipid. But since the vision is repeated, God confirms and sanctions what otherwise had not been sufficiently stamped upon the hearts of the people; for experience also teaches us this, that we increase in faith and make further progress according as God speaks with us again and again. For even if we seem to ourselves to follow up what we have learnt from the Scriptures, yet if the same sentence is repeated, we become still more familiar with it. Then again, if we read the same sentiment in two or three Prophets, God brings forward more witnesses, that so the truth may be better established; since we know our great propensity to doubt, we are always fluctuating, and although the word of God has in it sufficient energy to confirm us, we are still unsettled, unless our minds are propped up by various supports. God therefore wished to place the same thing twice before the eyes of his Prophet, that the former vision might make more impression not only on the Prophet himself, but also upon all the Jews. For we said that although there was some difference, yet there is no discordance in the Prophet's saying that the living creature was one and the same.
16. And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.
16. Et cum proficiscebantur cherubim proficiscebantur rotae e regione ipsorum:222 et cum attollerent cherubim alas suas in sublime e terra, non revertebantur rotae, etiam ipsae e regione ipsorum.
The Prophet here confirms what he had said before, namely, that there was no intrinsic motion in the wheels, but that they were drawn by a secret instinct wherever the cherubim moved themselves. Hence we gather that the events of things are not accidental, nor excited in various directions by any blind impulse, but directed by the hidden energy of God, and that too by means of angels. First he says, when the cherubim set out, the wheels set out at the same time: then when the cherubim raised their wings upwards, the wheels followed the same course, and did not return; that is, were not drawn aside from that agreement of which he had spoken before; but how the wheels were not reversed, we shall explain more clearly to-morrow.
Grant, Almighty God, since we are the work and fashioning of thy hands, that we may know that we exist and move in thee alone, so that we may submit ourselves to thee, and not only may we be ruled by thy hidden providence, but may it so appear that we are obedient and submissive to thee, as becometh sons, that we may desire to glorify thy name in the world, until we arrive at the fruition of that blessed inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lecture Twenty seventh.
WE began yesterday to explain the sentence of the Prophet when he says, that the wheels were raised together with the living creatures. But we have shortly taught that whatever we behold in creation so depends on angelic motion and inspiration, that there is an inseparable connection between them. Now the Prophet adds, that the wheels were not reversed, by which phrase he expresses their continual tenor. For it cannot happen that any agreement should appear for a time without a sudden change occurring. But the Prophet says that the wheels were so raised with the living creatures that they never departed from them. Now we understand his intention. He had previously asserted the same thing of the living creatures, and there was a kind of contradiction to be solved which might otherwise occasion a scruple, for he said that the living creatures were reversed and yet not reversed, but we can reconcile these two things, because the living creatures never deviated from their prescribed course and from a definite and settled space; meanwhile they were reversed, because they ran like lightning and hastened quickly from one action to another. Meanwhile the Prophet wished to teach, that in God's works nothing is abrupt, nothing cut off, nothing mutilated, but angels so direct all actions and all events of things, that whatever God determines arrives at its own end. But this does not prevent God from operating variously, and after at one goal from beginning a new course. Now it follows
17. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.
17. Et cum starent animilia stabant etiam: et cum elevaren-tur elevebant se: quia spiritus animalis in ipsis.
As he just said that the wheels were obedient to the movement of the living creatures, so he now says that they ceased with them. But in this place it seems as if some incongruity might arise: for it is not correct to say that angels ever rest. We know that their quickness and promptness in executing God's commands is celebrated. (Psalm 103:20, 21.) Then since angels are the powers of God, it follows that they never cease from their office of working. For God never can rest; he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. (Matthew 10:29.) And there is that known and celebrated sentence of Christ, My Father and I work hitherto. (John 5:17.) Since, therefore, God never rests from his works, how then can that resting be explained of which the Prophet says, when the angels stood, the wheels also stood? I reply: it must be taken in a human sense; for although God works continually by means of angels, yet he seems sometimes to rest between. For he does not govern his works in any equable manner, as for instance, the heavens are sometimes calm, and at others agitated, so that a great variety appears in God's works, from which we may imagine that he is sometimes in vehement motion, and at others at perfect repose. This, therefore, is the cessation of which the Prophet now speaks when he says, the living creatures stood, and at the same time the wheels with them. Experience also confirms this; for God sometimes seems to mingle heaven and earth, and rouses us by unaccustomed work, while at others the course of his works seems to flow like a placid river. So that it is not absurd to say that the wheels stood with the living creatures, and proceeded and were elevated with them. He adds, the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels, I explained this point, in the first chapter, but here it may be shortly explained, that the spirit is here taken for secret vigor or instinct. The wheels are not properly animated, because we said that the events of things are represented to us by this word, and whatever seems to happen in the world; but their incomprehensible vigor and agitation proceeds from God's command, so that all creatures are animated by angelic motion: not that there is a conversion of the angel into an ox or a man, but because God exerts and diffuses his energy in a secret manner, so that no creature is content with his own peculiar vigor, but is animated by angels themselves. Now it follows
18. Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
19. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them; and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
18. Et egressa est gloria Iehovae e limine domus, et stetit super cherubim:
19. Et sustulerunt cherubim alas suas, et ascenderunt e terra in oculis reels: cum egrederentnr rotae etiam coram ipsis: et stetit super limen portae Iehovae orientalis: et gloria Dei Israel super ipsa sursum.
Here the Prophet teaches us what is the principal point in the vision, namely, that God had deserted the temple: for we, know with what confidence the Jews boasted that they should be safe continually under the protection of God. In consequence of the promise, that God's temple should be the place of his rest wherein he would dwell, (Psalm 132:14,) they did not think it possible that God would ever leave them: so they sinned without restraint; and while they drove him far away from them by their crimes, yet they wished to have him in some way bound to them. This folly is derided by Isaiah Heaven is my seat, and earth is my foot. stool: what house therefore will ye build for me? (Isaiah 66:1.) God had commanded his temple to be built, and wished to have his earthly dwelling, place there: but he says that his wish had been rendered nugatory: and how? why when he promised that he would dwell in the temple, he wished his name to be purely and reverently invoked there.
But the Jews had polluted the temple in every way. Hence they thought that God was shut up there in vain: because his liberality did not tend to his partaking of the captivity of the Jews, but to his having them in obedience to himself. Therefore Isaiah deservedly says, that the temple became unfit for the use of God when it was profaned. So also we see in Jeremiah: Do not trust in lying words, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 7:4.) That repetition is used because they were so elated by their obstinacy. The Jews resisted the Prophets, and as often as any threat was uttered against them, they immediately fled to that asylum, the temple of the Lord.
For this reason therefore the Prophet now relates, that the glory of God had deserted the sanctuary: for otherwise what we have seen would have been out of place: he was sent to scatter burning through the whole city: in this way the temple would have been burnt, and God would have been consumed by peculiar fire: here I speak after the common form, because when the ark of the covenant is called the God of hosts, (2 Samuel 6:2,) how could it happen that the fire should destroy the ark, together with all parts of the temple? But God himself meets them and shows them that the temple was deprived of its glory when it was destroyed by the enemy. Afterwards the temple was overthrown And in the Psalms its lamentable ruin is described, how cruelly and proudly, and with what barbarous mockery the enemy insulted it, (Psalm 74, and Psalm 79) this was very disgraceful, and disturbed their weak minds. Hence it was necessary to persuade the faithful that God no longer dwelt in the temple, but that it remained only an empty spectacle, because he had taken away his glory since the place was corrupted by so many defilements. Now therefore we understand the design of the Prophet, when he says that the glory of Jehovah had departed from the threshold of the house, and stood above the cherubim. But he had already said that the cherubim had raised their wings, which he again confirms. Whence it follows, that God with his angels, when the temple was left, deserted the Jews, so that for the future they would boast themselves in vain to be safe under his protection. Therefore he says that the cherubim raised their wings, and ascended from the earth before his eyes. Nor is this clause superfluous, since it was difficult to persuade the Jews of what he said about his deserting them. There was a celebrated oracle, "here will I dwell, since I have chosen it." (Psalm 132:14.) When they grasped at that, they thought that the sun would sooner fall from heaven than God would leave that temple.
But the Prophet says that he saw it clearly, that no doubt might remain. If any one should here ask, how that promise which I have mentioned agrees with that departure which the Prophet here relates? the answer is easy, if we only understand that God does not always work by human means, nor yet according to our carnal perception. God often seems to act so abruptly that his beginning is without an end: in fine, God seems sometimes to sport and to draw back his hand, so that the event does not answer to the joyful beginnings. Since therefore, according to our carnal senses, God's works appear to be frustrated, it is necessary to use such language: otherwise we should never understand how God departed from the sanctuary, when he had chosen it in perpetuity. But he so departed, that the place still remained sacred, and the temple stood before God though it had been overthrown in the eyes of men. The visible appearance of the temple was taken away, but meanwhile, since the temple was founded on the promise of God, it stood among its ruins, as I have said. For this reason Daniel, although solitude and devastation ought to avert his eyes and senses from Judea, prayed in that direction, as if the temple had remained entire. And why so? He looked at the promise. (Daniel 6:10.) And for this reason the Prophet said, after the return from the captivity, that the glory of the second temple surpassed that of the first, as the Prophet Haggai says. (Haggai 2:9.) And we know with what copiousness and magnificence Isaiah discourses concerning the splendor of the second temple and its inestimable glory. (Isaiah 60:7.) We shall see also a similar doctrine at the end of this book. Since therefore the temple stood before God, because it was founded on his promise, this temporary desertion could not abolish what I have said concerning God's perpetual station.
same thing also must be said concerning the kingdom: that kingdom ought to stand while the sun and moon shone in heaven, (Psalm 89:37, 38,) this is true: and yet there was a sad interruption during many years. For we know what a serious disgrace the last king suffered: then had all dignity fallen to ruin, so that nothing could be seen but the horrible vengeance of God. And yet that promise always had its own effect; as long as the sun and moon shall stand, they shall be my faithful witnesses of the perpetuity of the kingdom. Now then we understand in what sense God left his temple, and yet did not in anywise break his promise. But he says, the glory of the God of Israel stood at the eastern gate, but above it, so that it was raised up from the earth. The meaning of that speech was, that the Jews might know that God was no longer to be sought in that dwelling of wood and stone, because he had not only left his seat, but had ascended upwards, that they should have no more intercourse with him. Now it follows
20. This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.
20. Ipsum est animal quod vide-ram subtus Deum Israel in fluvio Chebar: et cognovi quod cherubim esscut.
He repeats what we have seen before, namely, that one vision was offered twice, because God wished to mark distinctly what otherwise had been doubtful. The Prophet indeed was sufficiently persuaded that God had appeared to him, but the confirmation of it was not in vain, because he would have to sustain great conflicts. Meanwhile it must be observed, that the vision was confirmed a second time, not for the private advantage of a single person, but that this drawing attention to it might profit the whole people, or at any rate render those without excuse who so despised the favor of God, so manifest and so clearly laid open to them. He says, therefore, this was the living creature which he had seen under the God of Israel. In the first chapter he related that there was a throne in the open firmament of heaven, where he sat who was like a man in external form, and yet was not a man. There we saw that the true and only God was alluded to, and yet that this description could not apply to the Father, but necessarily belonged to the Son. These two things then are to be borne in mind: and the Prophet here takes away all doubt when he names the God of Israel like a man, which could not apply to the person of the Father. That likeness then ought, to be agreed upon among the pious. Controversy, therefore, on this point ought not be engaged in; for Sabellius, who took away the distinction of persons, was sufficiently refuted by his own extravagance. Since, therefore, the Father never put on the form or likeness of man, and it is nowhere read in the Scriptures that. he is compared to a man, we must explain this of Christ. And now Ezekiel bears witness that he is the God of Israel. We see, therefore, how foolishly the triflers of our day babble who desire to disturb the Churches by making Christ a sort of deity transfused from the substance of the Father. They confess, indeed, that he is God, but this confession is a mere pretense,223 since they say that the God of Israel means God the Father, and that the title cannot apply to either the Son or the Spirit. The Spirit, therefore, is mistaken when he says by the Prophet's mouth, the God of Israel appeared in human form. This place, therefore, is remarkable for refuting that delusion by which foolish men fatigue themselves and others: while they allow Christ to be God, yet they deprive him of his true deity, because they say that it is derived from the Father.
He says also, that he knew them to be cherubim. Now although he knew that God had appeared to him before, yet he had no certain knowledge concerning the living creatures, for with regard to them he remained in suspense; but now after God has familiarly explained to him the vision in the temple, he says, that he was taught that they were cherubim. So what we said yesterday is confirmed, that the face of the ox was changed into that of a cherub, so that the Prophet understood that angels were pointed out under the form of cherubim, even those which surrounded the ark of the covenant. Let us proceed
21. Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.
21. Quatuor quatuor:224 facies uni, et quatuor alae uni: et similitudo manuum hominis sub alis ipsorum.
The Prophet appears to dwell on points by no means doubtful: he has already spoken of the four heads, then why does he repeat it? Because he was dealing with a dull and perverse people: they were also slow in receiving the Prophet's doctrine: and they added this vice worse than all the rest, namely, a constant and open endeavor to detract from the authority of all the Prophets. For this reason the Prophet says, that there were four heads and four wings to each living creature, lest the Jews should scoffingly deride it as an empty specter and delusion of the Prophet, because he thought he saw what had no existence. For this reason he inculcates more frequently what. was sufficiently clear by itself had the Jews been docile and obedient. It follows
22. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.
22. Et similitude facierum ipsis, facies quam videram super fluvium Chebar, aspectus eorum et ipsa225 quisque226 ad227 faciem suam proficiscebatur.
He pursues the same sentiment, that nothing was obscure or perplexed in this vision, since all things were mutually suitable. For the remembrance of the vision which he had received remained in the Prophet's mind: but now when he is hurried into the temple, he recognizes the same God and the same forms as those to which he had been accustomed. We see then how he meets their perverseness, who had otherwise boasted that he had offered them only his own fictions without any truth in them. Hence he restrains this petulance, and shows that God had certainly appeared to him, and that too a second time. Since he now says that each living creature went, forward in the direction of its face, it is not doubtful that this refers to their actions. Hence he points out that angels did not wander in their course as a person usually does who looks this way and that, or deserts the path, or turns to the right hand or the left. The Prophet therefore says, that the living creatures proceeded so that each was intent on its own end or scope: because if the motion of the angels had been turbulent, they had not been the servants of God. Finally, the Prophet signifies that the angels were not only alert and prepared for obedience, but were at the same time arranged and formed after a fixed rule, so that they did not in the slightest degree turn aside from. the command and direction of God228 It now follows
1. Moreover, the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord's house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
2. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:
1. Et sustulit me Spiritus et introduxit me ad portam domus Iehovae orientalera:229 et ecce in limine portae vigintiquinque viri: et aspexi in medio ipsorum230 Iaazaniah filium Azur, et Pelthiah filium Benaiah, principes populi.
2. Et dixit ad me, Fili hominis, isti homines cogitant vanitatem, et consultant consilium perversum in urbe hae.
Here the Prophet admonishes the people that perverse leaders would be the cause of their destruction. For if the blind lead the blind both will fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39.) Since, therefore, the elders of the city were such wicked apostates, they drew with them the whole body of the people into the same ruin. ]Now, therefore, the Prophet shows that the state of the city was so corrupt that no hope of pardon remained, since those who ought to be the eyes of the whole people were involved in darkness. But he names the five and twenty seniors. Whence it is probable, that this number was chosen in the midst of confusion, or that a definite number is put for an indefinite; and I rather embrace this second view. Whatever it is, it implies that those who held the reins of government were impious despisers of God, and hence it is not surprising that impiety and defection from God and his law had begun to increase among the whole people. But we must remark the Prophet's intention. For common soldiers are accustomed to consider their commanders as a shield, as we this day see in the Papacy. For this is their last refuge, since they think themselves guilty of no fault when they obey their holy Mother Church. Such also formerly was the obstinacy of the people.
Lastly, men always throw off all blame from themselves, under pretense of error or ignorance. Hence the Prophet now shows that the city was not free from God's wrath, since it was corrupted by its leaders and rulers; nay, that this was a cause of its destruction, since the people were too easily led astray by perverse examples. Meanwhile, we must notice the Prophet's freedom, because he here fearlessly attacks the most noble princes. He was, indeed, out of danger, because he was an exile: but it seems that he was at Jerusalem when he uttered this prophecy. He shows, therefore, his strength of mind, since he does not spare the nobles. Hence this useful doctrine is collected, that those who excel in reputation and rank are not free from blame if they conduct themselves wickedly, as we see happens in the Papacy. For, as to the Pope himself, it is in his power to condemn the whole world, while he exempts himself from all blame. And as to the Bishops, now twenty or thirty witnesses are required, and afterwards even seventy: hence one of those horned beasts could not be convinced, unless the whole people should rise up: so also it was formerly. But here the Prophet shows, that however eminent are those who are endued with power over the people, yet they are not sacred nor absolved from all law by any peculiar privilege, since God freely judges them by his Spirit, and reproves them by his Prophets. Lastly, if we wish to discharge our duty rightly, especially when it consists of the office of teaching, we should avoid all respect of persons, for those who boast that they excel others are yet subject to the censures of God.. For this reason it follows
3. Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
3. Qui dicunt, non in propinquo: aedificare domos231 ipsa est olla232 nos autem sumus caro.
Here the Prophet explains what might be obscure through their perverseness. He brings forward, therefore, what the impious thought could be covered by many fallacies. For we know that hypocrites endeavor to fix their eyes on God, and when they scatter their own clouds before themselves, they think that he is blinded. For this reason Isaiah says, that God also is wise, (Isaiah 31:2,) and derides their cunning, since they think that they blind God's eyes whilst they conceal their sins with various coverings. Since, therefore, the obstinacy of these men was so great., the Prophet here strips off their mask; for they could be turned aside by perverse counsels to deny that they deserved anything of the kind. But the Prophet here cuts away their pretenses, because, in truth, their impiety was more than sufficiently evident, since they boast that the time is not yet at hand, and, therefore, that they might build houses at Jerusalem as in a time of ease and peace. As we saw in Jeremiah, the time of the last destruction was approaching; everything remaining in the city had now been destined to final ruin: and for this reason Jeremiah advised houses to be built in Chaldea and in foreign lands, since the captives must spend a long period there, even seventy years. (Jeremiah 29:5.) Since then the predicted time was now drawing on, it became extreme folly in the people to oppose themselves, and to treat God's threats as a laughing-stock, and to boast that it was a time for building. Now, therefore, we see what the Prophet blames and condemns in the five and twenty men who were princes of the people, namely, that they hardened the people in obstinate wickedness, and encouraged torpor, so that the Prophet's threats were unheeded. Since, therefore, they so stupified the people by their enticements, and took away all sense of repentance, they also set aside all fear of God's wrath which had been denounced against them. The Prophet condemns this depravity in their counsels.
But, in the second clause, this contempt appears more detestable when they say, that Jerusalem is the caldron, and they are the flesh. I do not doubt their allusion to Jeremiah; for in the first chapter the pot was shown, but the fire was from the north, (Jeremiah 1:13;) so then the Spirit wished to teach us, that the Chaldeans would come like a fire to consume Jerusalem, as if a pot is placed on a large and constant fire, even if it be full of water and flesh, yet its contents are consumed, and the juice of the flesh is dried up by too long cooking. God had demonstrated this by his servant Jeremiah: here the Jews deride and factiously elude what ought to strike them with no light fear, unless they had been too slothful: behold, say they, we are the flesh and Jerusalem is the caldron: So they seem to rate the Prophet Jeremiah, as if he were inconsistent, "What? do you threaten us with captivity? and meanwhile you say that this city will be the pot and the Chaldeans the fire. If God wishes to consume us, therefore let us remain within: thus we may build houses." Now we understand how they sought some appearance of inconsistency in the words of the Prophet: as reprobate and profane men always take up arguments by which they may diminish and extenuate all faith in heavenly doctrine, nay, even reduce it to nothing if they could. The Prophet, therefore, provides a remedy for this evil, as we have seen. But before he proceeds to it, he repeats their impious saying, that Jerusalem is a caldron, and the people flesh. They turned what had been said to a meaning directly contrary, for the Prophet said that they should burn since the Chaldeans would be like fire' but they said well, we shall be scorched, but that will be done lightly, so that we shall remain safe to a good old age. Hence we understand how diabolical was their audacity, who were so blinded by the just judgments of God, that they did not scruple petulantly to blame even God himself, and to make a laughingstock of the authority of his teaching. Thus we see in another way how faithfully Ezekiel had discharged his duty: he had been created a Prophet: he had not to discharge his office by himself, but was an assistant to Jeremiah. And we cannot otherwise discharge our duty to God and his Church unless we mutually extend our hands to each other, when ministers are mutually united and one studies to assist the other. Ezekiel now signifies this when he professes himself the ally and assistant of Jeremiah.
Grant, Almighty God, that as we know from thine ancient people how great our hardness is, unless we are inclined by thy Holy Spirit, nay, totally renewed into obedience to thy doctrine: that as often as we hear thy threatening, we may be seriously frightened, and that we may desire to return to true and perfect obedience, not by momentary but by permanent repentance, till at length we are gathered into that happy rest, which has been obtained for us through the blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen.
Lecture Twenty eighth.
4. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
4. Propterea prophetiza contra cos, prophetiza, fili hominis.
YESTERDAY we saw that the Jews scurrilously eluded the prophecies of Jeremiah, especially when he threatened them with God's wrath. For he had said, that a vision was offered to him, in which Jerusalem was like a pot, and the fire lighted from the north. For a laughing-stock they said that they could rest safely within the city, because they were not yet cooked but raw, so that if that prophecy is true, said they, we shall not so quickly depart from the city. For God foretold that we should be the flesh which was about to be cooked: if this city is a caldron, we ought to remain here till we are cooked: but this has not happened. Hence what Jeremiah pronounces is vain, that we shall be dragged into exile, because these two things disagree, viz., God wishing us to rest in the city, and yet dragging us into a distant region. Since it is so, Jeremiah's prophecy is vain; thus then they deceived themselves. But God commands another Prophet of his to rise up against them. And the repetition is emphatic, prophesy, prophesy against them. For nothing is less tolerable than that men should petulantly spurn God's anger, which ought to inspire all with fear. For if the mountains melt before him, (Isaiah 64:3,) if angels themselves tremble, (Job 4:18,) how comes it that the vessel of clay dares to conflict with its maker? (Isaiah 45:9.) And we see also how God grows angry against such perverseness; especially when he denounces, by the mouth of Isaiah, that this sin would be unpardonable. I have called you, said he, to ashes and mourning: but, on the other hand, ye have said, Let us eat and drink, and ye have turned my threats into a laughing-stock. For this was your proverb, to-morrow we shall die: as I live, your iniquity shall not go unpunished. God affirms by an oath, that he would never be appeased by the impious and profane despisers of his judgments. For this reason also he now repeats again, prophesy, prophesy. Let us go on
5. And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord, Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
5. Et cecidit super me Spiritus Iehovae, et dixit mihi, Die, sic dicit Iehovah, sic dixisti domus Israel: et ascensiones spiritus vestri ego novi ipsam.233
Here the Prophet turns the impious scurrility of the people into another sense, for they had corrupted what Jeremiah had said. They knew what he meant by the pot and the flesh, but they thought they could avert God's wrath by their cleverness. Here the Prophet brings forward another sense, not that of Jeremiah, nor that of the people, but a third. In the twenty-fourth chapter he will again denounce them as like flesh, since God will cast them into a pot to be cooked, so that even their bones should be consumed. But here the Prophet only considers how he shall refute their wicked saying, by which they think to catch Jeremiah in a snare, as they did not agree sufficiently with his prophecy. What does he say, then? First, that the Spirit had fallen upon, him, that he might gain a hearing for his prophecy; for if he had spoken from his own mind he might be rejected with impunity; for the speakers ought to utter God's word, and to be the organ of his Spirit. The Pope boasts this to his followers, but the true and faithful servants of God ought to do this in reality, namely, not to utter their own comments, but to receive from God's hands what they deliver to the people, and thus to discharge their duty faithfully. To this end the Prophet says, that the Spirit fell upon him. For although he had been previously endued with the gift of prophecy, yet as often as he exercised it this grace ought, to be renewed; because it is not sufficient for us to be imbued once with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, unless God works in us daily. Since, therefore, he follows up his gifts in his servants while he uses their assistance, hence it is not in vain that Ezekiel says, the Spirit was still given to him, because this gift was necessary for every act. Afterward she expresses more dearly what he had said, namely, that the Spirit had spoken; for it signifies that what he shortly subjoins had been dictated to him.
Here, therefore, he admonishes the Jews that they should not foolishly promise themselves impunity, when they despised his prophecies, since he does not speak from himself, but only relates what the Spirit suggested and dictated. Thus have ye spoken, O house of Israel, said he, and I have known the risings of your heart. God here precisely urges the Jews that they should not hope to obtain anything by turning their backs; for we know how carelessly and boldly hypocrites reject all teaching, and do not hesitate to strive with God, since they find many pretexts by which they excuse themselves. Hence there would be no end, unless the Lord should racet them, and with the supreme command and power of a judge, should show them that subterfuges were vain, and make all their excuses idle, and of no moment. This then is the Prophet's meaning when he says, that whatever rose up in their heart was known to God. But by these words he implies, that they sought in vain a theater in the world, as if they should succeed if they proved their cause before men: he says that it is vain, because they must come into the court of heaven, where God will be the only Judge. Now, when our thoughts are known to God, in vain we take up with this or that; because God will not admit our subterfuges, nor will he allow himself to be deluded by our smartness and cunning. Now, therefore, we see what the Prophet means by saying that God knows what sprang up in the heart of the Jews, because, forsooth, they had never desisted from contending and quarreling by their fallacies, so as to draw away all confidence from his prophecies. Hence we see the utility of the doctrine, that we deceive ourselves in vain by acuteness, so as to escape by our crooked imaginations, because God sees men's cunning, and while they desire to be ingenious, he seizes them, and shows the vanity of what they think the greatest wisdom. So let us desire to approve ourselves to God, and not esteem our deeds and plans according to our own sense and judgment. Now it follows
6. Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.
7. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Your slain, whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.
6. Multiplicasti interfectos vestres in urbe hac, et implevistis compita ejus inteffectis.
7. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Interfecti vestri quos posuistis in medio ejus, ipsi erunt caro, et ipsa olla234 et vos ejiciam e medio eius.
NOW Ezekiel attacks, as it were, in close combat, the buffoons who trifled with God by their jests, and brings forward that; sense which I have just before touched on, and of which the prophecy of Jeremiah was full, in a different manner to that. which they imagined. Ye, says he, have slain many; the city was full of many slaughters: therefore the pot was full of flesh; this flesh was cooked: there is no longer any room in the vessel. You must therefore of necessity be cast forth as froth, or as foul flesh, for which no vessel is found for cooking it. We see, then, that the Prophet here treats them wittily, and plays off jests in answer to them; meanwhile he strikes a deadly wound, when he shows that they joked so petulantly to their own destruction, and boasted that Jeremiah was their adversary. Hence he confirms the prophecy of Jeremiah, and yet he does not interpret it, because Jeremiah had spoken properly and clearly, when he said that they were flesh. The meaning was the same as if God were to pronounce that he would consume them in the midst of the city. It happened as we have formerly seen; for he scattered some of the people, and slew some with the sword, and some with hunger. Whatever it is, the prophecy of Jeremiah will always be found true, namely, that God had cooked the Jews with the fire of the Chaldees. (Jeremiah 1:13.) But since they had perverted that doctrine, the Prophet does not regard the meaning of Jeremiah, but shows that they never profited while they turned their backs on God. Ye shall not be flesh, says he, but your slain were flesh: ye have refilled the caldron, that is the city with the slain; now there is no room for you. What therefore remains, but that God should cast you out as foul flesh? Neither will he cook you, says he, nor will he consume you in a caldron, but where he has stretched you at full length on the earth, there will he consume you. Now, therefore, we see how great a destruction the Jews had brought upon themselves, when they took the liberty of joking and jesting at the Prophets. Hence he says, they had filled the city with the slain. He does not mean that men had been openly put to death in Jerusalem, but this form of speech embraces all forms of injustice; for we know that God esteems those homicides who oppress miserable men, overturn their fortunes, and suck innocent blood. Since, then, God esteems all violence as slaughter, he properly says, that the city was filled with the slain. The Jews might object that no one had brought violence upon them; they could not be convicted in the sight of men; but when their wickedness was so gross among themselves, that they did not spare the wretched, but cruelly afflicted them, he says that the city was filled with the slain. He now adds, when the city was full of flesh there was no more place for them, and he now shows that although Jeremiah had predicted that they should be cooked with the fire of the Chaldeans, yet they had advanced so far in wickedness, that they were unworthy of being cooked within the city. Hence, says he, a greater vengeance from God awaits you, since ye proceed to provoke his anger more and more. It follows
8. Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God.
9. And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
10. Ye shall fail by the sword; I will judge you in. the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
11. This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel.
8. Gladium timuistis, et gladium adducam super vos, dicit Dominator lehovah.
9. Et ejiciam vos e medio ejus, et tradam vos in manum extraneorum, et exercebo in vos judicia.
10. Et gladio cadetis: ad terminum Israel judicabo vos, et scietis quod ego sim Iehovah.
11. Ipsa non erit vobis in ollam: et vos non eritis235 in medio ejus in carnem: in termino Israel judicabo vos.
We ought to join these verses together, because the Prophet treats the same thing in many words. First he denounces that they should perish by the sword since they feared the sword. By these words he admonishes them, that even if God should draw them out of the city, yet Jeremiah's prophecy would prove true, since the Chaldeans would consume them as if the pot was boiling on the fire. Lastly, he shows how frivolous was their cavil when they said, "if we are flesh, we shall remain in the caldron." But the Prophet shows that they must not cavil like children with God, because when he showed the caldron to his servant Jeremiah, he meant nothing else than that the Jews should perish, since the Chaldeans would come to consume them. But they had purposely perverted the Prophet's sense, and thought themselves clever and shrewd when they corrupted the heavenly doctrine. First of all the Prophet says, ye have feared the sword, and ye shall fall by the sword: he afterwards adds the manner: I, says he, will bring the sword upon you, which ye feared: he says, I will draw you out from the midst of it. He declares the manner: namely, that he will bring them into an open plain, that he may more easily slay them there. If any should object, that this was not seething them in the city, the answer is easy: that God did not restrict his wroth to one kind of punishment, when he thus spoke by Jeremiah. For we know that the Prophets set before us God's judgments in various ways, and thus use various figures. Since therefore the Prophets do not always teach in the same manner, it is not surprising if, when he shortly shows that God's wrath was near the Jews, he used that simile: ye shall fall, says he, by the sword, and in the borders of Israel shall I judge you.
Here he clearly expresses what I lately touched upon. It was indeed God's judgment, when the Jews were drawn from the city in which they thought they had a quiet nest: for when they were violently dragged into exile, God exercised his judgments upon them: and from the time when he deprived them of their country, then he already began to be their judge. But here he begins to treat of a severer judgment. Although God had begun to chastise the Jews when he expelled them from the city, yet he treated them more severely in the boundaries of Israel; because when they came in sight of the king of Babylon, then the king saw his
slain: then he himself was rendered blind and dragged into Chaldea, and all the nobles slain. (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 39.) Hence we may gather that the people's blood was poured out without discrimination. Now therefore we understand what God means when he threatens to judge them in the borders of Israel, that is without their country. Lastly, he here denounces a double penalty, first because God would east them out of Jerusalem in which they delighted, and in which they said that they should dwell so long that exile would be their first punishment: then he adds, that he was not content with exile, but that a heavier punishment was at hand, when they should be cast out of their country, and the land should cast; them forth as a stench which it cannot bear. I will judge you therefore in the borders of Israel: that is, beyond the holy land: for since one curse has already occurred in exile, still a harder and more formidable revenge will await; you. Now he adds, ye shall know that I am Jehovah.
Doubtless Ezekiel reproves the sloth which was the cause of such great contumacy: for they had never dared to contend so perseveringly with God, unless their minds had been stupified; for were we to reflect that we are striving with God, horror would immediately seize upon us; for who labors under such madness as to dare to contend with God his maker? This torpor, therefore, Ezekiel now obliquely reproves, when he says that the Jews would know too late that they were dealing with God. Although therefore they sinned through ignorance, it does not follow that they were without, excuse, for whence arose their ignorance except from being inattentive to God? It sprang first from carelessness: then that carelessness and security produced contempt, and contempt sprang from their depraved lust of sinning. Since therefore they determined to give themselves up to all manner of sinning, they put away as far as possible all teaching: nay they willingly endeavored to stupify their own consciences, and thus we see that depraved desire impelled them to contempt, and contempt begat in them security, in which at length this ignorance plunged them. Since therefore at the time it did not come into their mind to contend with God, this does not extenuate their fault, because, as I have said, they had stupified themselves with determined and spontaneous wickedness.
Meanwhile, it is by no means doubtful that God always pricked them that they might feel themselves sinners, but the Prophet here speaks of that knowledge which is called experimental. For the impious are said to know God when, being struck by his hand, they unwillingly acknowledge his power: because whether they will or not they feel him to be their judge. But this knowledge does not profit them; nay even increases their destruction. But we understand the Prophet's meaning, that the Jews were rebellious and despised God's servants: because they pretended that they had to do only with men, and covered themselves with darkness, lest they should behold the light which was offered to their eyes. God pronounces that they should know at length with whom they contended, as Zechariah says, they shall see whom they have pierced; (Zechariah 12:10;) that is, they shall know that it is I whom they have wounded, when they so proudly despised my servants, and abjured all confidence in my teaching. Hence also we gather that the minds of the impious were so confused, that seeing they did not see; for when they experience God to be their judge, they are compelled in reality to confess that they feel his hand: yet they remain stupid, because they do not profit, as the Prophet had just now said, ye feared the sword. But they were careless, as we saw, and despised all threats. Of what kind, then, is this fear which is remarked upon by the Prophet? that of the impious forsooth, who while they make for themselves blandishments, and fancy that they have made a covenant with death, as is said in Isaiah, (Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 48:22; and Isaiah 57:21,) and promise themselves freedom from punishment, even when a scourge is passing through the land, yet tremble and are always ill-at-ease, because they have no peace, as it is said elsewhere. In fine, we see the impious always remaining careless and stupid: though they are careless, yet they tremble and are tortured with secret impiety, since the severity of God urges them on. At length he concludes, Jerusalem should not be their caldron, but he would punish them in the border of Israel. But I have sufficiently explained this clause. It follows
12. And ye shall know that I am the Lord: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.
12. Et cognoscentis quod ego sim Iehovah; quia in statutis meis non ambulastis, et judicia mea non fecistis: sed secundum judicia gentium quae in circmitu vestro sunt, fecistis.
He repeats what he had said, that they would acknowledge too late how impiously and wickedly they had despised the prophecies: because this was to draw down God himself from heaven; for God wishes that reverence which he exacts from us to be given to his own word. Therefore men rage in contempt of his teaching, as if after the manner of giants they wished to draw God down from heaven. But he expresses the cause more clearly: because indeed they have not walked in his law and his precepts; but have entangled themselves in the superstitions of the nations. Here we see that God could not possibly be accused of too much rigor, because he executed a judgment so heavy and severe against the Jews. For he had given them the law. This was the greatest ingratitude, to reject the teaching, which ought to be familiar to them, and at the same time to add to it the impious rites of the Gentiles: this was to prefer the devil to God himself with full deliberation. Hence God shows that although he would treat the Jews severely, yet that his wrath was moderate compared with their sins: because nothing was wanting to complete their impiety when they so rejected his law. When therefore he says that they did not walk in the law, he takes this principle for granted, that the law was not given in vain, but that in it the Jews were, faithfully and clearly taught the right way, as also Moses says, "this is the way, walk ye in it." There is no doubt that Ezekiel referred to that sentence of Moses, when he said,
that the Jews did not walk in the law, and did not perform the judgments of God. (Deuteronomy 5:33; Isaiah 30:21.)
Since therefore God has shown the way, so that they had no excuse for wandering, how great was their ingratitude in leaving the way and willfully casting themselves into wanderings?
Now comparison aggravates their crime, when he says, that they preferred the judgments and rites of the Gentiles which were around them. Because they had unbelieving neighbors, God had opposed his law like a rampart to separate them from the profane Gentiles. Since therefore they had so far approached these detestable rites, and that too by rejecting utterly the law of God, do we not perceive that they were worthy of severe punishment? Meanwhile let us observe, when God has borne with us a long time, if we persist in our obstinacy, that nothing else is left but the extinction of the light of doctrine, and that God should show himself in some other manner. For the Prophet's discourse is like a glass, in which God represents himself. But when we shut our eyes and throw down the glass and break it, then God shows himself in some other manner; that is, he no longer thinks it right to show us his face, but teaches us by his hand, and convinces us of our impious obstinacy by a proof of his power, because we were unwilling to submit to his teaching. It follows
13. And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died: then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?
13. Et fuit cum prophetarem, tunc Phalatias filius Benaim mortuus est: et cecidi super faciem meam, et clamavi voce magna, et dixi, Heus Dominator Iehovah, tu consumptionem facies residui Israel?
It is by no means doubtful that this Phalatias died at the same time at which the vision was offered to God's servant. We shall see at the end of the chapter that the Prophet was always in exile; but then he seemed to himself caught up into the temple, and seemed also to himself to behold Phalatias dead. And yet it is possible that he died at his own home, and not in the entrance or threshold of the temple. But we know that the vision was not limited to places. As, therefore, Ezekiel was only by vision in the temple, so also he saw the death of Phalatias; and in this way God began by a kind of prelude to show that the slaughter of the city was at hand. For Phalatias was one of the chief rulers, as was said in the first verse of this chapter, and was doubtless a man of good reputation: hence his death was a presage of a general destruction. Hence this exclamation of the Prophet, Ah Lord God, wilt thou utterly consume the remnant of Israel? for now only a small number out of an immense multitude remained. Phalatias is seized, and in this way he shows that destruction hangs over the whole people. Hence it came to pass that the Prophet fell upon the earth astonished, and exclaimed that it was by no means agreeable to God's promises to destroy the remnant of Israel. For some remnant ought to remain, as we often see in other places: even in the general slaughter of the whole people, God always gave some hope that he would not abolish his covenant. For this reason the Prophet now exclaims.
Grant, Almighty God, since we cease not to provoke thine anger every day, that at least being admonished by the prophecies which thine ancient people did not despise with impunity, we may be touched with a true sense of penitence, and may we so submit ourselves to thee, that we may willingly humble and renounce ourselves; and not only do thou mitigate the punishments which otherwise hang over us, but also show thyself a merciful and gracious Father towards us, until at length we enjoy the fullness of thy fatherly love in thy heavenly kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
IN the last Lecture the Prophet's complaint and lamentation on account of the death of Phalatias, was described to us. He had heard indeed by the Spirit that Phalatias and others like him were impious despisers of God, and corrupters of his whole worship: yet he exclaims when he sees him dead, as if all things were lost. But we must remember that the Prophet did not speak in his own senses.236 He regards also the reputation and dignity of Phalatias, for there is no doubt that he excelled the other elders, as the greater of the people thought their own stability depended on his counsel and prudence. Since, therefore, almost all thought Phalatias to be the support of the city and kingdom, it is not surprising that the Prophet, according to the common opinion, asks with wonder whether God is about to consume every remnant of the people. And he alludes to the man's name, For flp, phelet, is to escape; whence Myfylp (phelitim) is the name for survivors, and those who escape from any danger or slaughter. Since, therefore, Phalatias carried in his very name something of this kind, viz., if there was any hope of safety for them, it resided in his person: for this reason the Prophet asks whether God will destroy the remnant of his people. Now it follows
14. Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
15. Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the Lord; unto us is this land given in possession.
16. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God, Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
14. Et fuit sermo Iehovah ad me, dicendo,
15. Fili hominis, fratres tui, fratres tui, viri propinquitatis tuae, et omnis domus Israel tota ipsa: quibus dixerunt ipsis incolae Ierusalem, Procul discedite a Iehovah, nobis data est terra in haereditatem.
16. Propterea dic, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quia procul ejecti estis inter gentes, et quia dispersi estis per tetras: ideo237 ero ipsis in sanctuarium parrum238 in terris ad quas venerunt.
Here God seems to rebuke the thoughtlessness of his servant, or rather the error of the people, because we said that the Prophet announced not what he privately thought, but what was commonly received. Whatever it is, God answers his complaint as we saw, and shows that even if he takes away from the midst the eminent and conspicuous, and those who seem to be the supports of a city and kingdom, yet the Church does not perish on that account, because he has hidden reasons why he preserves it, not in splendid and magnificent pomp, as men call it, but that its safety may at length excite admiration. The sum of the matter is, therefore, although not only Phalatias, but all the councillors of the king, and all the leaders of the people should perish, yet that God can work in weakness, so that the Church shall nevertheless remain safe: and so he teaches that the remnant must not be sought in that rank which was then conspicuous, but rather among men ordinary and despised. Now we understand the intention of God in this answer.
He says therefore, thy brethren, thy brethren, and the men of thy relationship. He here recalls his servant to the exiles and the captives, of whom he himself was one, as if he would say that they were not cast out of the Church, as they were still in some estimation. For God seemed to east them off when he banished them from the promised land; but he now shows that they were reckoned among his sons although disinherited from the land of Canaan. Hence he twice repeats the name of brethren, and adds, men of thy relationship, that the Prophet might rather reckon himself also to be among the number. Those who refer this to the three exiles, weaken the vehemence of the passage, whilst they obtrude an inappropriate comment, and turn away the reader from the genuine sense of the Prophet. But rather, as I lately hinted, God here chastises the Prophet because he perversely restricts the body of the Church to the citizens at Jerusalem; as if he said, although the Israelites are captives, yet do they seem to you foreigners? and so will you not leave them a place in the Church? They are, therefore, thy brethren, thy brethren, says he, and the men of thy relationship. Hence the repetition is emphatic, and tends to this purpose, that the Prophet may cease to measure God's grace by the safety of the city alone, as he had done. Because one man had suddenly died, he thought that all must perish. Meanwhile he did not perceive how he injured the miserable exiles, whom God had so expelled from the land of Canaan, that yet some hope of pity remained, as all the Prophets show, and as we shall soon see. This passage then is worthy of observation, that we may learn not to estimate the state of the Church by the common opinion of mankind. And so with respect to the splendor which too often blinds the eyes of the simple. For it will so happen, that we think we have found the Church where there is none, and we despair if it does not offer itself to our eyes; as we see at this day that many are astonished by those magnificent pomps which are conspicuous in the Papacy. There the name of "The Church" keeps flying bravely in the face of all: there also its marks are brought forward: the simple are attracted to the empty spectacle: so under the name of the Church they are drawn to destruction; because they determine that the Church is there where that splendor which deceives them is seen. On the other hand, many who cannot discern the Church with their eyes and point to it with the finger, accuse God of deceiving them, as if all the faithful in the world were extinct. We must hold, therefore, that the Church is often wonderfully preserved in its hiding places: for its members are not luxurious men, or such as win the veneration of the foolish by vain ostentation; but rather ordinary men, of no estimation in the world. We have a memorable example of this, when God recalls his own Prophet from the chief leaders at Jerusalem, not to other leaders, who should attract men to wonder at themselves, but to miserable exiles, whose dispersion rendered them despicable. He shows therefore that some remnants were left even in Chaldea.
Now it follows, to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, depart, ye far from the sanctuary of Jehovah, the land is given to us. Here God inveighs against the arrogance of the people, which remained at home quiet and careless. For he here relates the words of the citizens of Jerusalem, because, forsooth, they preferred themselves to the exiles, nay boasted that they were alienated from the holy people because they had been dragged into exile, or had left the city of their own accord. As to their saying, depart afar off, it ought not to be taken strictly in the imperative mood; but the speech ought so to be understood, that while they depart far from the sanctuary, the land will remain as an inheritance for us. We see, therefore, that the citizens of Jerusalem pleased themselves, and were satisfied with their own ease, since they still enjoyed their country, worshipped God in the temple, and the name of a kingdom was still standing. Since therefore they so enjoyed themselves, God shows that on the contrary they were blinded with pride, since he had not entirely cast away his captives, although he afflicted them with temporal punishment. But this their boasting was very foolish, in congratulating themselves on their escape from exile. For meanwhile what was their state? In truth their king' was treated with ignominy, and we know what happened to themselves afterwards; for they were reduced to such straits, that mothers devoured their children, and those nourished in great, luxury consumed their dung. Nay even before the city was besieged, what reason was left them for boasting in themselves! but we here perceive how great was their obstinacy in which they hardened themselves against the scourge of God. Hence they stupidly supposed that God could not subdue them. Now what is their ferocity, that they insult over the miserable exiles as if they were cast away far from God? since Ezekiel and Daniel and their companions were among these exiles. We know that Daniel's piety was so celebrated at Jerusalem, that they all acknowledged him as the peculiar gift and ornament of his age. When, therefore, Daniel was in such estimation for superior piety, how could they erect their crests against him since they were Conscious of many crimes, profane, full of all defilements, addicted to cruelty, fraud, and perjury, being foul in their abominations, and infamous in their intemperance?
Since therefore we see that they so boldly insulted their brethren, can we wonder that at this day the Papists also are fierce, because they retain the ordinary succession and the title of the Church, and that they say that we are cast away and cut off from the Church, and so are unworthy of enjoying either a name or a place among Christians? If, therefore, at this day the Papists are so hot against us, there is no reason why their haughtiness should disturb us; but in this mirror we may learn that it always was so. But there was another reason why the citizens of Jerusalem said that their captives were cast far away. For it was clear that their exile was the just penalty for their crimes; but meanwhile how did they dare separate themselves from others, when their life was more wicked? Lastly, since God had already passed sentence upon them, their condition could not be really different from theirs, concerning whom the judge had pronounced his opinion, but they were deaf to all the Prophets' threats, so that they despised God, and hence that boasting which treated all as foreigners who did not remain in the land of Canaan. This passage also teaches us, that if God at any time chastises those who profess the same religion with us, yet there is no reason why we should entirely condemn them, as if they were desperate; for opportunity must be given for the mercy of God. And we must diligently mark what follows. For after the Prophet has related that the citizens of Jerusalem boasted when they thought themselves the sole survivors, God answers on the contrary, because they were cast away far among the nations, and dispersed among the lands, or through the lands, therefore I shall be to them as a small sanctuary.
We see that God even here claims some place for sinners in the Church, against whom he had exercised the rigor of his judgment. He says, by way of concession, that they were cast away and dispersed, but he adds, that he was still with them for a sanctuary; nay, because they bore their exile calmly and with equanimity, they pronounce this to be a reason why he should pity them. For neither is their sentence so general that God overlooked his own elect. This promise then ought not to be extended to all the captives without discrimination, because we shall see that God included only a few. Without doubt then, this was a peculiar promise which God wished to be a consolation to his elect. He says, because they bore exile and dispersion with calmness and composure, therefore God would be a sanctuary to them. But this was a gracious approval of their modesty and subjection, because they not only suffered exile but also dispersion, which was more severe. For if they had all been drawn into a distant region this had been a severe trial, but still they might have united more easily, had they not been dispersed. This second punishment was the sadder to them, because they perceived in it the material for despair, as if they could never be collected together again in one body.
thus their wrestling with these temptations was a sign of no little piety; and as some of the faithful did not demonstrate their obedience at once, yet because God knows his own, (2 Timothy 2:19,) and watches for their safety, hence he here opposes to all their miseries that protection on which their safety was founded. Because, therefore, they were dispersed through the lands, hence, says he, I will be to them a small sanctuary.
The third person is here used. Interpreters make fom, megnet, mean the noun toar, and understand it as "a small sanctuary," although it may be taken for a paucity of men, and we may, therefore, fairly translate it "a sanctuary of security." Although the other sense suits the passage best, that God would be a small sanctuary to the captives, so there will be an antithesis between the splendor of the visible temple and the hidden grace of God, which so escaped the notice of the Chaldeans that they rather trod it under foot, and even the Jews who still remained at Jerusalem despised it. The sanctuary, therefore, which God had chosen for himself on Mount Zion, because it deservedly attracted all eyes towards it, and the Israelites were always gazing at it, since it revealed the majesty of God, might be called the magnificent sanctuary of God: nothing of the sort was seen in the Babylonish exile: but God says, that he was to the captives as a small or contracted sanctuary. This place answers to the 90th Psalm, where Moses says, Thou, O God, hast always been a tabernacle to us, (Psalm 90:1,) and yet God had not always either a temple or a tabernacle from which he entered into a covenant with the fathers. But Moses there teaches what God afterwards represented by a visible symbol, that the fathers really thought that they truly lay hid under the shadow of God's wings, and were not otherwise safe and sheltered unless God protected them. Moses, therefore, in the name of the fathers, celebrates the grace of God which was continual even before the sanctuary was built. So also in this place God says by a figure, that he was their sanctuary, not that he had erected an altar there, but because the Israelites were destitute of any external pledge and symbol, he reminds them that the thing itself was not entirely taken away, since God had his wings outstretched to cherish and defend them. This passage is also worthy of notice, lest the faithful should despond where God has no standard erected: although he does not openly go before them with royal ensigns to preserve them, yet they need not conclude themselves altogether deserted; but they should recall to remembrance what is here said of a small sanctuary. God, therefore, although he does not openly exhibit his influence, yet he does not cease to preserve them by a secret power, of which in this our age we have a very remarkable proof. The world indeed thinks us lost as often as the Church is materially injured, and the greater part become very anxious, as if God had deserted them. Then let this promise be remembered as a remedy, God is to the dispersed and cast away a small sanctuary; so that although his hand is hidden, yet our safety proves that he has worked powerfully in our weakness. We see then that this sense is most suitable, and contains very useful doctrine. Yet the other sense will suit, that God is "the sanctuary of a few," because in that great multitude but few remain who are really the people of God, for the greater part was ignorant of him; since then God does not regard that multitude of the impious which was already within the Church, but only here directs his discourse towards his own elect, it is not surprising that he asserts them to be but few in number. Now it follows
17. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God, I will even gather you from among the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
17. Propterea dices, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, congregabo vos e populis, et colligam vos et terris, ad quas expulsi estis, et dabo vobis terrain Israel.
Now God expresses the effect of his grace. In the last verse he had said that he would be a sanctuary. I have reminded you that these words ought not to be understood of a visible place in which God was worshipped, but of that hidden influence by which he cherishes his people. But if the exile had been perpetual, that promise might seem vain. Why then did God protect his people in exile, if he wished them to be consumed there? because otherwise his covenant would have been in vain. Therefore lest any one should object that God deceives his faithful ones, when he pronounces that he would be their sanctuary, he now points out its result, viz., that he would restore them to their country. Therefore, says he, I will collect you from the people, and gather you from the nations to which ye have been, driven, and I will give you the land of Israel. Since therefore a return to their country was a certain pledge of God's love, hence he announces that they should at length return On the whole the restitution of the Church is promised, which should confirm God's covenant. In it had been said to Abraham, I will give this land to thee and to thy seed for ever. (Genesis 13:15; and Genesis 17:8.) God, therefore, to show his covenant still remaining entire and secure, which he had interrupted for a short time, here speaks concerning this restoration. And as to the Prophet so often inculcating the name of God, and relating his orders in God's name, and directing his discourse to the captives, this tends to confirm his message, because in such a desperate state of things it was difficult to wait patiently for what the Prophet taught, viz., that a time would come when God would collect them again, and recall them home. Hence the faithful were admonished that they must consider God's power, and put their trust in this prophecy. It follows
18. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof, and all the abominations thereof, from thence.
18. Et venient illuc, et tollent omnia idola ejus, et omnes abominationes ejus ex ea.
Here he adds something more important that when the Israelites had returned to their country they would be sincere worshippers of God, and not only offer sacrifices in the temple, but purge the land of all its pollutions. Here also the Prophet admonishes them how great and detestable was the impiety of the ten tribes, because they had contaminated the land with idols. He does not here allude to the idols of the Gentiles, but rather reproves the Israelites because they had contaminated with their defilements the land which had been dedicated to God. Hence the Prophet exhorted his countrymen to repentance, when he shows that they were not cast out of the land before it was polluted; and therefore that they were justly punished for their sacrilege. This is one point. Afterwards we must remark, that we then truly and purely enjoy God's blessings, when we direct their use to that end which is here set before us, namely, pure and proper worship. Nothing more frequently meets us than this teaching that we have been redeemed by God that we may celebrate his glory; that the Church was planted that in it he may be glorified, and we may make known his attributes. Hence let us learn that God's benefits then issue in our safety, and are testimonies of his paternal favor when they excite us to worship him. Thirdly, we must remark, that we do not rightly discharge our duty towards God, unless when we purge his worship from all stain and defilement. Many so worship God, that they corrupt with vicious mixtures whatever obedience they seem to render. And to this day even, those who seem to themselves very wise, are shamefully divided between God and the devil, as if they could satisfy God with half their allegiance. Hence let us learn from this passage, that God abhors such deceivers; for when he says that the Israelites after their return should be devoted to piety, he indicates it by this mark that they shall take away all their abominations, and all their idols from the land. It afterwards follows
19. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh;
20. That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
19. Et dabo illis cor unum, et spiritum novurn ponam in visceribus eorum, et tollam cor lapideum e carne ipsorum, et dabo ipsis cor carneum.
20. Ut in statutis meis ambulent, et jndicia mea custodiant, et faciant ea: et erunt mihi in populum, et ego ero ipsis in Deum.
As God had already spoken concerning the piety of the Israelites, he shows that they could not forsake their sins until they were renewed, and so born again by his Spirit. Therefore he seemed in the last verse to praise the Israelites; but because men too eagerly claim as their own what has been given them from above, now God claims to himself glow of their virtues, of which he had formerly spoken. Their zeal in purging the land of all abominations was worthy of praise; hence the survivors of the people of Israel are deservedly celebrated, because they were impelled by the fervor of zeal to free the worship of God from all corruptions; but lest they should boast, that they had done it in their own strength, and from the impulse of their own hearts, God now modifies his former assertions, and shows that such pursuit of piety would exist among the Israelites, after he had regenerated them by his Spirit. And this plea alone may suffice to refute the Papists, as often as they seize upon such passages from the Scriptures, where God either exacts something from his people, or proclaims their virtues. David does this; hence he does it of his own free will: God requires this; hence it is in the will of men that they are equal to the performance of all things. Thus they trifle. But we see that the Prophet unites two things together, namely, the faithful elect of God strenuously attending to their duty, and intent on promoting his glory, even with ardor in the pursuit of his worship; and yet they were nothing by themselves. Hence it is added immediately afterwards I will give them one heart, and will put a new spirit in their breasts. But we must defer the rest to the next lecture.
Grant, O Almighty God, that we may learn to east our eyes upon the state of thine ancient Church, since at the present day the sorrowful and manifest dispersion of thy Church seems to threaten its complete destruction: Grant also, that we may look upon those promises which are common to us also, that we may wait till thy Church emerges again from the darkness of death. Meanwhile, may we be content with thy help, however weak as to outward appearance, till at length it shall appear that our patience was not delusive, when we enjoy the reward of our faith and patience in thy heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the last lecture, after Ezekiel had announced the conversion of the people, at the same time he taught that the singular gift of repentance would be bestowed: because when any one has turned aside from the right way, unless God extends his hand, he will plunge himself even into the deep abyss. Hence after a man has once left God, he cannot return to him by himself. We then touched shortly on this doctrine: now a fuller explanation must be added. As soon as we consider the Prophet's words, we shall at once understand the matter. God promises to give the people one heart. Some explain this of mutual consent, but it does not suit in my opinion. In the third chapter of Zephaniah, at verse 9, (Zephaniah 3:9) "one shoulder" is taken in this sense. For when the Prophet says, that God would make all call upon him purely and worship with one shoulder, he seems to mean that all should be unanimous, and that each would excite, his neighbor. But in this place one heart is rather opposed to a divided one; for the Israelites were distracted after vague errors. They ought to listen to God's precepts, and subject themselves to his law: thus they had been content with him alone, and had addicted themselves entirely to true piety. But their heart was distracted: as when a woman does not preserve her fidelity to her husband, but is led away by her lusts, nothing is at rest in her. So also when the people revolted from the law of God, it was like a wandering harlot. We see, therefore, that the hearts of all the impious were divided and distracted, and that nothing in them was simple or sincere. Now God promises that he would take care that the people were not drawn aside after their superstitions, but remained in pure and simple obedience to the law. If any one objects, that the faithful endure a perpetual contest with the lusts of the flesh, and hence their heart is divided, the answer is easy, that one heart is understood in the sense of regeneration. For although the faithful feel a great contest within them, and their heart is by no means whole, since it is agitated by many temptations, yet as in the meantime they seriously aspire to God, their heart is said to be entire, because it is not double or feigned. We understand then what the Prophet means, and at chapter 36, (Jeremiah 36) where he repeats the same sentiment, for one heart he puts a new spirit, as also he says a little afterwards, I will put a new spirit in their bowels, or inward parts. As by the word heart he means affections, so also by the spirit he signifies the mind itself and all its thoughts. the spirit of a man is often taken for the whole soul, and then it comprehends also all the affections. But where the two are joined together, as the heart and spirit, the heart is called the seat of all the affections, it is in truth the very will of man, while the spirit is the faculty of intelligence. For we know that there are two special endowments of the mind: the first is its power of reasoning, and the next its being endued with judgment and choice: afterwards we shall say how men have the faculty of choosing and yet want free will. But this principle must be held, that the soul of man excels first in intelligence or reason, then in judgment, on which choice and will depend. We see, therefore, that by these words the Prophet testifies that men have need of a complete renovation that they may return into the way from which they once began to wander.
Afterwards he adds, I will take away the heart of stone, or the stony heart, from their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh. The word flesh is here received in a different sense; for the Prophet alludes to the heart, which we know to be part of the human body, when he says, I will take away the heart of stone from their flesh. When God regenerates his elect, he does not change either their flesh, or skin, or blood; the spiritual and interior grace has no relation to their body: but the Prophet speaks rather grossly, that he may conform his discourse to the state of a rude and gross people. For flesh in the former clause meant the same as body: but at the end of the verse a fleshy heart is put for a flexible heart: an opposition also must. be marked between the flesh and a stone: a stone by its own hardness repels even the strongest blows of the hammers, and nothing can be inscribed on it; but the fleshy heart by its softness admits whatever is inscribed or engraven on it. The Prophet speaks grossly, as I have said, yet the sense is by no means ambiguous: namely, since the Israelites were full of obstinacy, God afterwards changed their heart, so that they became flexible and obedient that is, by correcting their hardness he rendered their heart soft.
He adds afterwards, that they may walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Now the Prophet more clearly expresses how God would give his elect hearts of flesh instead of those of stone, when he regenerates them by his Spirit, and when he forms them to obey his law, so that they may willingly observe his commands, and efficiently accomplish what he causes them to will. Now let us consider more attentively the whole matter of which the Prophet treats. When God speaks of a stony heart, he doubtless condemns all mortals of obstinacy. For the Prophet is not here treating of a few whose nature differs from others, but as in a glass he puts the Israelites before us, that we know what our condition is, when being deserted by God we follow our natural inclinations. We collect, therefore, from this place, that all have a heart of stone, that is, that all are so corrupt that they cannot bear to obey God, since they are entirely carried away to obstinacy. Meanwhile it is certain that this fault is adventitious: for when God created man he did not bestow upon him a heart of stone, and as long as Adam stood sinless, doubtless his will was upright and well disposed, and it was also inclined to obedience to God. When therefore we say that our heart is of stone, this takes its origin from the fall of Adam, and from the corruption of our nature; for if Adam had been created with a hard and obstinate heart, that would have been a reproach to God. But as we have said, the will of Adam was upright from the beginning, and flexible to follow the righteousness of God; but when Adam corrupted himself, we perished with him. Hence, therefore, the stony heart, because we have put off that integrity of nature which God had conferred upon us at the beginning. For whatever Adam lost we also lost by the fall: because he was not created for his own self alone, but in his person God showed what would be the condition of the human race. Hence after he had been spoiled of the excellent gifts by which he was adorned, all his posterity were reduced to the same want and misery. Hence our heart is stony; but through original depravity, because we ought to attribute this to our father Adam, and not to throw the fault of our sin and corruption on God. Finally, we see what the beginning of regeneration is, namely, when God takes away that depravity by which we are bound down. But two parts of regeneration must be marked, of which also the Prophet treats.
God pronounces that he gives to his elect one heart and new spirit. It follows, therefore, that the whole soul is vitiated, from reason even to the affections. The sophists in the Papacy confess that man's soul is vitiated, but only in part. They are also compelled to subscribe to the ancients, that Adam lost supernatural gifts, and that natural ones were corrupted, but afterwards they involve the light in darkness, and feign that some part of the reason remains sound and entire, then that the will is vitiated only in part: hence it is a common saying of theirs, that man's free will was wounded and injured, but that it did not perish. Now they define free will, the free faculty of choice, which is joined with reason and also depends upon it. For the will by itself, without the judgment, does not contain full and solid liberty, but when reason governs and holds the chief power in the soul of man, then the will obeys and forms itself after the prescribed rule: that is free will. The Papists do not deny that free will is injured and wounded, but as I have already said, they hold back something, as if men were partly right by their own proper motion, and some inclination or flexible motion of the will remained as well towards good as evil. Thus indeed they prate in the schools: but we see what the Holy Spirit pronounces. For if there is need of a new spirit and a new heart, it follows that the soul of man is not only injured in each part, but so corrupt that its depravity may be called death and destruction, as far as rectitude is concerned. But here a question is objected, whether men differ at all from brute beasts? But experience proves that men are endued with some reason. I answer, as it is said in the first chapter of John, (John 1:5,) that light shines in darkness; that is, that some sparks of intelligence remain, but so far from leading any man into the way, they do not enable him to see it. Hence whatever reason and intelligence there is in us, it does not bring us into the path of obedience to God, and much less leads by continual perseverance to the goal.
What then? These very sparks shine in the darkness to render men without excuse. Behold, therefore, how far man's reason prevails, that he may feel self-convinced that no pretext for ignorance or error remains to him. Therefore man's intelligence is altogether useless towards guiding his life aright. Perverseness more clearly appears in his heart. For man's will boils over to obstinacy, and when anything right and what God approves is put before us, our affections immediately become restive and ferocious; like a refractory horse when he feels the spur leaps up and strikes his rider, so our will betrays its obstinacy when it admits nothing but what reason and a sound intelligence dictates. I have already taught that man's reason is blind, but that blindness is not so perspicuous in us, because, as I have said, God has left in us some light, that no excuse for error should remain. It is not surprising, then, if God here promises that he would give a new heart, because if we examine all the affections of men, we shall find them hostile to God. For that passage of St. Paul (Romans 8:9) is true, that all the thoughts of the flesh are hostile to God. Doubtless he here takes the flesh after his own manner, namely, as signifying' the whole man as he is by nature and is born into the world. Since, therefore, all our affections are hostile and repugnant to God, we see how foolishly the schoolmen trifle, who feign that the will is injured, and so this weakness is to them in the place of death. Paul says that he was sold under sin, that is, as far as he was one of the sons of Adam: The law, he says, works in us sin, (Romans 7:14,) I am sold and enslaved to sin. But what do they say? That sin indeed reigns in us, but only in part, for there is some integrity which resists it. How far they differ from St. Paul! But this passage also with sufficient clearness refutes comments of this kind, where God pronounces that newness of heart and spirit is his own free gift. Therefore Scripture uses the name of creation elsewhere, which is worthy of notice. For as often as the Papists boast that they have even the least particle of rectitude, they reckon themselves creators: since when Paul says that we are born again by God's Spirit, he calls us to\ poi÷hma, his fashioning or workmanship, and explains that we are created unto good works. (Ephesians 2:10.) To the same purpose is the language of the Psalm, (Psalm 100:3,) he made us, not we ourselves. For he is not treating here of that first creation by which we became men, but of that special grace by which we are born again by the Spirit of God. If therefore regeneration is a creation of man, whoever arrogates to himself even the least share in the matter, seizes so much from God, as if he were his own creator, which is detestable to be heard of. And yet this is easily elicited from the common teaching of Scripture.
Now it follows, that they shall walk in my statutes, and keep my precepts and do them. Here the Prophet removes other doubts, by which Satan has endeavored to obscure the grace of God, because he could not entirely destroy it. We have already seen that the Papists do not entirely take away the grace of God; for they are compelled to confess that man can do nothing except he is assisted by God's grace: that free will lies without vigor and efficacy until it revives by the assistance of grace. Hence they have that in common with us, that man, as he is corrupt, cannot even move a finger so as to discharge any duty towards God. But here they err in two ways, because, as I have already said, they feign that some-right motion remains in man's will, besides that there is sound reason in the mind; and they afterwards add that the grace of the Holy Spirit is not efficacious without the concurrence or co-operation of our free will. And here their gross impiety is detected. Hence they confess that we are regenerated by the Spirit of God, because we should otherwise be useless to think anything aright, namely, because weakness hinders us from willing efficaciously. But, on the contrary, they imagine God's grace to be mutilated, but how? because God's grace stirs us up towards ourselves, so that we become able to wish well, and also to follow out and perfect what we have willed.
We see, therefore, that when they treat of the grace of the Holy Spirit, they leave man suspended in the midst. How far then does the Spirit of God work within us? They say, that we may be able to will rightly and to act rightly. Hence nothing else is given us by the Holy Spirit but the ability: but it is ours to co-operate, and to strengthen and to establish what otherwise would be of no avail. For what advantage is there in the ability without the addition of the upright will? Our condemnation would only be increased. But here is their ridiculous ignorance, for how could any one stand even for a single moment, if God conferred on us only the ability. Adam had that ability in his first creation, and. then he was as yet perfect, but we are depraved; so that as far as the remains of the flesh abide in us which we carry about in this life, we must strive with great difficulties. If therefore Adam by and bye fell, although endued with rectitude of nature and with the faculty of willing and of acting uprightly, what will become of us? for we have need not only of Adam's uprightness, and of his faculty of both willing and acting uprightly, but we have need of unconquered fortitude, that we may not yield to temptations, but be superior to the devil, and subdue all depraved and vicious affections of the flesh, and persevere unto the end in this wrestling or warfare. We see, therefore, how childishly they trifle who ascribe nothing else to the grace of the Holy Spirit unless the gift of ability. And Augustine expounds this wisely, and treats it at sufficient length in his book "Concerning the gift of perseverance, and the predestination of the saints;" for he compares us with the first Adam, and shows that God's grace would not be efficacious, except in the case of a single individual, unless he granted us more than the ability. But what need have we of human testimonies, when the Holy Spirit clearly pronounces by the mouth of his Prophet what we here read? Ezekiel does not say: I will give them a. new spirit or a new heart, that they may walk and be endued with that moderate faculty: what then? that they may walk in my precepts, that they may keep my statutes, and perform, my commands. We see therefore that regeneration extends so far that the effect follows, as also Paul teaches: Complete, says he, your salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12;) here he exhorts the faithful to the attempt. And truly God does not wish us to be like stones. Let us strive therefore and stretch all our nerves, and do our utmost towards acting uprightly: but Paul advises that to be done with fear and trembling; that is, by casting away all confidence in one's own strength, because if we are intoxicated with that diabolical pretense that we are fellow-workers with God, and that his grace is assisted by the motion of our free will, we shall break down, and at length God will show how great our blindness was. Paul gives the reason, because, says he, it is God who works both to will and to accomplish. (Philippians 2:13.) He does not say there that it is God who works the ability, and who excites in us the power of willing, but he says that God is the author of that upright will, and then he adds also the effect; because it is not sufficient to will unless we are able to execute. As to the word "power," Paul does not use it, for it would occasion dispute, but he says that God works in all of us to accomplish.
If any one object, that men naturally will and act naturally by their own proper judgment and motion, I answer, that the will is naturally implanted in man, whence this faculty belongs equally to the elect and the reprobate. All therefore will, but through Adam's fall it happens that our will is depraved and rebellious against God: will, I say, remains in us, but it is enslaved and bound by sin. Whence then comes an upright will? Even from regeneration by the Spirit. Hence the Spirit does not confer on us the faculty of willing: for it is inherent to us from our birth, that is, it is hereditary, and a part of the creation which could not be blotted out by Adam's fall; but when the will is in us, God gives us to will rightly, and this is his work. Besides, when it is said that he gives us the power of willing, this is not understood generally, because it ought not to be extended to the bad as well as to the good; but when Paul is treating of the salvation of men, he deservedly assigns to God our willing uprightly. We now understand what the Prophet's words signify, and it seems that he denotes perseverance when he says, that they may walk in my precepts, and keep my judgments and do them. the whole matter had been explained in one word, that they may walk in my statutes: but because men always sinfully consider how they may lessen the grace of God, and by sacrilegious boldness endeavor to draw to themselves what belongs to him; therefore that. the Prophet may better exclude all pride, he says that we must attribute to God the walking in his precepts, preserving his statutes, and obeying his whole law. Hence let us leave entirely his own praise to God, and thus acknowledge that in our good works nothing is our own; and especially in perseverance, let us reckon it God's singular gift: and this is surely necessary, if we consider how very weak we are, and with how many and what violent attacks Satan continually urges us. First of all, we may easily fall every moment, unless God sustain us: and then the thrusts of Satan by far exceed our strength. If therefore we consider our condition without the grace of God, we shall confess that in our good works the only part which is ours is the fault, as also Augustine wisely makes this exception: for it is sufficiently known that no work is so praiseworthy as not to be sprinkled with some fault. Neither do the duties which we discharge proceed from a perfect love of God, but we have always to wrestle that we may obey him. We seem then to contaminate our deeds by this defect. There is then in our good works that very thing which vitiates them, so that they are deservedly rejected before God. But when we treat of uprightness and praise, we must learn to leave to God what is his own, lest we wish to be partakers in sacrilege.
Now it follows, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Under these words the Prophet doubtless includes that gratuitous pardon by which God reconciles sinners to himself. And truly, it would not be sufficient for us to be renewed in obedience to God's righteousness unless his paternal indulgence, by which he pardons our infirmities, is added. This is expressed more clearly by Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 31:33,) and by our Prophet, (Jeremiah 36:25-27,) but it is the mark of a Scripture phrase. For as often as God promises the sons of Abraham that they should be his people, that promise has no other foundation than in his gratuitous covenant which contains the forgiveness of sins. Hence it is as if the Prophet had added, that God would expiate all the faults of his people. For our safety is contained in these two members, that God follows us with his paternal favor, while he bears with us, and does not call us up for judgment, but buries our sins, as is said in Psalm 32:1, 2, Blessed is the man to whom God does not impute his iniquities.
It follows, on the other side, that all are wretched and accursed to whom he does impute them. If any one object, that we have no need of pardon when we do not sin, the answer is easy, that the faithful are never so regenerated as to fulfill the law of God. They aspire to keep his commands, and that too with a serious and sincere affection; but because some defects always remain, therefore they are guilty, and their guilt cannot be blotted out otherwise than by expiation when God pardons them. But we know that there were under the law rites prescribed for expiating their sins: this was the meaning of sprinkling by water and the pouring out of blood; but we know that these ceremonies were of no value in themselves, except as far as they directed the people's faith to Christ. Hence, whenever our salvation is; treated of, let these two things be remembered, that we cannot be reckoned God's sons unless he freely expiate our sins, and thus reconcile himself to us: and then not unless he also rule us by his Spirit. Now we must hold, that what God hath joined man ought not to separate. Those, therefore, who through relying on the indulgence of God permit themselves to give way to sin, rend his covenant and impiously sever it. Why so? because God has joined these two things together, viz., that he will be propitious to his sons, and will also renew their hearts, Hence those who lay hold of only one member of the sentence, namely, the pardon, because God bears with them, and omit the other, are as false and sacrilegious as if they abolished half of God's covenant. Therefore we must hold what I have said, namely, that under these words reconciliation is pointed out, by which it happens that God does not impute their sins to his own. Lastly, let us remark that the whole perfection of our salvation has been placed in this, if God reckons us among his people. As it is said in Psalm 33:12,
"Happy is the people to whom Jehovah is their God."
There solid happiness is described, namely, when God deems any people worthy of this honor of belonging peculiarly to himself. Only let him be propitious to us, and then we shall not be anxious, because our salvation is secure. It follows
21. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.
21. Et quorum cor pergit239 ad cor abominationurn240 et spurcitiarum ipserum, viam corum in caput ipsorum rependam, dicit Dominator Iehovah.
The phrase which the Prophet uses is indeed harsh: he says, their heart goes after heart, so that some interpret this of imitation: namely, since God promises that he will be an avenger if any of the people conduct themselves after bad examples and unite in alliance with the wicked, just as if they glued together their hearts and affections, but that is harsh. The repetition is therefore superfluous, and the Prophet means nothing else than that God will be avenged if the Israelites follow their own heart, so as to walk in their own foulness and abominations. First of all we must understand the reason why the Prophet uses this sentiment. God had liberally poured out the treasures of his mercy, but since, hypocrites have always been mixed with the good, at the same time that they confidently boast themselves members of the Church, and use the name of God with great audacity; so that the Prophet uses this threat that they may not think all the promises which we hear of to belong to themselves promiscuously. For there were always many reprobate among the elect people, because not all who sprang from father Abraham were true Israelites. (Romans 9:6, 7.)
Since therefore it was so, the Prophet properly shows here that what he had previously promised was peculiar to God's elect, and to the true and lawful members of the Church, but not to the spurious, nor to the degenerate, nor to those who are unregenerated by the true and incorruptible seed. This is the Prophet's intention. But lest there might seem to be too much rigor when God, as it were, armed comes down into the midst to destroy all who do not repent, the Prophet here declares their crime namely, because their heart walks after their heart, that is, thine heart draws itself, and so the word heart is twice repeated. It is indeed a superfluous repetition but emphatic, when he says, that the heart of those who so pertinaciously adhere to their own superstitions is then impelled by its own self to new motions, so that by its continual tenor it goes always towards superstitions. Hence I will be an avenger, says God. Hence as often as God proposes to us testimonies of his favor, let each descend into himself and examine all his affections. But when any one lays hold of his own vices let him not please himself in them, but rather groan over them, and strive to renounce his own affections that he may follow God: neither let him harden himself in obstinacy, so that his heart may not proceed and rush continually towards evil, as is here said.
Grant, Almighty God, since we have utterly perished in our father Adam, and there remains in us no single part which is not corrupt, whilst we carry material for wrath, and cursing, and death, as well in the soul as in the body, that being regenerated by the Spirit, we may more and more withdraw ourselves from our own will and our own spirit, and so submit ourselves to thee, that thy Spirit may truly reign within us: And afterwards, grant that we may not be ungrateful, but considering how inestimable is this benefit, may we dedicate our whole life and apply ourselves to glorify thy name, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lecture Thirty First,
22. Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
23. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.
22. Et sustulerunt cherubim alas suas, et rotae e regione ipsorum: et gloria Dei Israel super ipsos sursum.
23. Et ascendit gloria Iehovae e medio urbis, et stetit super montem qui est ab oriente urbis.
Here Ezekiel repeats what we saw before, namely, that God as he had chosen Mount Zion had at length rejected it, because that place had been polluted by the many wickednesses of the people. The Jews fancied that God was, as it were, held captive among them, and in this confidence they gave themselves up to licentiousness. Hence the Prophet shows them that God was not so bound to them as not to go wherever he pleased, and what is more, he announces that he has migrated, and that the temple is deprived of his glory. This indeed was almost incredible. For since God had pro-raised to dwell there perpetually, (Psalm 132:14,) his faithful ones could scarcely suppose that he would neglect his promise, and desert the temple which he had chosen. But this interruption does not interfere with his promise, which was always true and firm. God, therefore, did not entirely desert Mount Zion, because the opposite promise concerning his return must be kept. Since then the exile was temporary, and the temple was to be restored after seventy years, these points may be reconciled: namely, that God departed from it and yet the place remained sacred, so that after the lapse of that time which God had previously determined, his worship should be restored again in the temple and on Mount Zion. But he says, that God had visibly gone out of the city and the cherubim also: that is, that God was borne above the wings of the cherubim, as also the scripture elsewhere says: and he does this, because the Jews were governed by external symbols, and when the ark of the covenant was shut up in the sanctuary, no one could be persuaded that God could be torn away from it. With this view the Prophet says, The cherubim had flown away elsewhere, and that at the same time God was carried upon their wings. Now he adds
24. Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity: so the vision that I had seen went up from me.
24. Et Spiritus sustulit me, et reduxit me in Chaldaeam ad captivitatem, in visione, in Spiritu Dei. Et ascendit desuper me241 visio quam videram.
Let us add also the next verse
25. Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the Lord had shewed me.
25. Et locutus sum captivitati cunctos sermones Iehovae, quos mihi ostenderat.242
The Prophet here confirms what he had said at the beginning, viz., that this vision was divinely presented and was not an empty and deceptive specter. This prophecy was difficult of belief, so that all doubt ought to be removed, lest any one should object that God was not the author of the vision. He says, therefore, that he was raised up by the Spirit of God and brought into Chaldea. We have already asserted, that the Prophet did not change his place, though I am unwilling to contend for this, if any one think otherwise. But still it appears to me, that when the Prophet remained in exile he saw Jerusalem and the other places about which he discourses, not humanly but by a prophetic spirit. As then he had been carried to Jerusalem by the Spirit, so was he brought back into exile. But Spirit is here opposed to nature, since we know that our prospect is limited within a definite space. Now if the least obstacle occur our sight will not pass over five or six paces. But when God's Spirit illuminates us, a new faculty begins to flourish in us, which is by no means to be estimated naturally. We now see in what sense Ezekiel says, that he was brought back into Chaldea by the Spirit of God, because he was in truth like a man in an ecstasy. For he had been carried out of himself, but now he is left in his ordinary state. And this is the meaning of these words, in a vision in the Spirit of God. For a vision is opposed to a reality. For if the Prophet had been brought back by a vision, it follows that he had not really been at Jerusalem so as to be brought back into Chaldea. Now he meets the question which may be moved, viz.: "What was the efficacy of the vision?" For the Prophet recalls us to the power of the Spirit which we must not measure by our rule. Since, therefore, the operation of the Spirit is incomprehensible, we need not wonder that the Prophet was carried to Jerusalem in a vision, and afterwards brought back into captivity. He adds that the vision departed from him, by which words he commends his own doctrine, and extols it beyond all mortal speeches, because he separates between what was human in himself and what was divine when he says, the vision departed from me. Hence the Prophet wishes himself to be considered as twofold: that is, as a private man, and but one of many, for in this capacity he had no authority as if he was to be heard in God's stead. But when the Spirit acted upon him, he wished to withdraw himself from the number of men, because he did not speak of himself, nor treat of anything human, or in a human manner, but the Spirit of God so flourished in him that he uttered nothing but what was celestial and divine.
Afterwards he says, that he spoke all those words to the captives, or exiles. This passage seems superfluous. For to what purpose had the Prophet been taught concerning the destruction of the city, the overthrow of the kingdom, and the ruin of the temple, unless to induce the Jews who still remained in the country to desist from their superstition? But we must remember that the Prophet had a hard contest with those exiles among whom he dwelt, as will more clearly appear in the next chapter. For as the Jews boasted that they remained safe, and laughed at the captives who had suffered themselves to be drawn away into a distant land, so the exiles were weary of their miseries. For their condition was very sorrowful when they saw themselves exposed to every reproach, and treated by the Chaldeans servilely and insultingly. Since, then, this was their condition, they roared among themselves and were indignant, since they had to bear the manners of the Prophets, and especially Jeremiah. Since, therefore, the captives repented of their lot, it was needful for the Prophet to restrain their contumely. And this is the meaning of the words that he related the words of Jehovah to the captives. Nor was this admonition less needful for the exiles, than for the Jews who as yet remained safe in the city. He says, the words which God caused him to see, improperly, but very appositely to the sense; for not only had God spoken, but he had placed the thing itself before the eyes of the Prophet. Hence we see why he says, that words had been shown to him that he might behold them. I have already said that this language is improper for words, because it applies to the sight, for eyes do not receive words, but cars. But here the Prophet signifies that it was not the naked and simple word of God, but clothed in an external symbol. Augustine says that a sacrament is a word made visible, and he speaks correctly; because in baptism God addresses our eyes, when he brings forward water as a symbol of our ablution and regeneration. In the Supper also he directs his speech to our eyes, since Christ shows his flesh to us as truly food, and his blood as truly drink, when bread and wine are set before us. For this reason also the Prophet now says, that he saw the word of God, because it was clothed in outward symbols. For God appeared to his Prophet, as I have said, and showed him the temple, and there erected a theater, as it were, in which he beheld the whole state of the city Jerusalem.
Hermeneia: Ezekiel I and Ezekiel II, Walther Zimmerli
The New American Commentary: Ezekiel, Lamar Eugene Cooper, Sr.
Word Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel 1-19 & 20-48, Leslie C. Allen
The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 and The Book of Ezekiel: Chapter 25-48: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Damiel I. Block
Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Ezekiel, John B. Taylor
The Preacher's Commentary: Ezekiel, Douglas Stuart
"Ezekiel," Calvin's Commentaries, John Calvin
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871 Edition, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
Dr. Constable's Notes on Ezekiel, Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Dallas Theological Seminary (his class notes)
Dr. Kimmitt's Notes on Ezekiel, Dr. Francis X. Kimmitt, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (his class notes)
Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, Lasor, Hubbard, and Bush
Intervarsity Press' Old Testament Commentary
Intervarsity Press' New Bible Commentary
Intervarsity Press' Hard Sayings of the Bible
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