History Addict's Sunday School Lessons Series


Ezekiel Part 4: Signs, Messages and Parables of Judgment (Chapters 12-19)


(Please note: In addition to my original lesson plans here are some of the notes, annotations and references I used to create the lesson from a variety of sources, all listed at the bottom of the page)


 

(New American Standard, 1995):

 

Ezek. 12:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 12:2 "Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

Ezek. 12:3 "Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; even go into exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand though they are a rebellious house.

Ezek. 12:4 "Bring your baggage out by day in their sight, as baggage for exile. Then you will go out at evening in their sight, as those going into exile.

Ezek. 12:5 "Dig a hole through the wall in their sight and go out through it.

Ezek. 12:6 "Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark. You shall cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have set you as a sign to the house of Israel."

Ezek. 12:7 I did so, as I had been commanded. By day I brought out my baggage like the baggage of an exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands; I went out in the dark and carried the baggage on my shoulder in their sight.

Ezek. 12:8 In the morning the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 12:9 "Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, 'What are you doing?'

Ezek. 12:10 "Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem as well as all the house of Israel who are in it."'

Ezek. 12:11 "Say, 'I am a sign to you. As I have done, so it will be done to them; they will go into exile, into captivity.'

Ezek. 12:12 "The prince who is among them will load his baggage on his shoulder in the dark and go out. They will dig a hole through the wall to bring it out. He will cover his face so that he can not see the land with his eyes.

Ezek. 12:13 "I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there.

Ezek. 12:14 "I will scatter to every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezek. 12:15 "So they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries.

Ezek. 12:16 "But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD."

Ezek. 12:17 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Ezek. 12:18 "Son of man, eat your bread with trembling and drink your water with quivering and anxiety.

Ezek. 12:19 "Then say to the people of the land, 'Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel, "They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water with horror, because their land will be stripped of its fullness on account of the violence of all who live in it.

Ezek. 12:20 "The inhabited cities will be laid waste and the land will be a desolation. So you will know that I am the LORD."'"

Ezek. 12:21 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 12:22 "Son of man, what is this proverb you people have concerning the land of Israel, saying, 'The days are long and every vision fails'?

Ezek. 12:23 "Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will make this proverb cease so that they will no longer use it as a proverb in Israel." But tell them, "The days draw near as well as the fulfillment of every vision.

Ezek. 12:24 "For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.

Ezek. 12:25 "For I the LORD will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it," declares the Lord GOD.'"

Ezek. 12:26 Furthermore, the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 12:27 "Son of man, behold, the house of Israel is saying, 'The vision that he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies of times far off.'

Ezek. 12:28 "Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "None of My words will be delayed any longer. Whatever word I speak will be performed,"'" declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 13:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Ezek. 13:2 "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, 'Listen to the word of the LORD!

Ezek. 13:3 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing.

Ezek. 13:4 "O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins.

Ezek. 13:5 "You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the LORD.

Ezek. 13:6 "They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, 'The LORD declares,' when the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word.

Ezek. 13:7 "Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, 'The LORD declares,' but it is not I who have spoken?"'"

Ezek. 13:8 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 13:9 "So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 13:10 "It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash;

Ezek. 13:11 so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out.

Ezek. 13:12 "Behold, when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, 'Where is the plaster with which you plastered it?'"

Ezek. 13:13 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath. There will also be in My anger a flooding rain and hailstones to consume it in wrath.

Ezek. 13:14 "So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the LORD.

Ezek. 13:15 "Thus I will spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I will say to you, 'The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone,

Ezek. 13:16 along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 13:17 "Now you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who are prophesying from their own inspiration. Prophesy against them

Ezek. 13:18 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe to the women who sew magic bands on all wrists and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature to hunt down lives! Will you hunt down the lives of My people, but preserve the lives of others for yourselves?

Ezek. 13:19 "For handfuls of barley and fragments of bread, you have profaned Me to My people to put to death some who should not die and to keep others alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies."'"

Ezek. 13:20 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against your magic bands by which you hunt lives there as birds and I will tear them from your arms; and I will let them go, even those lives whom you hunt as birds.

Ezek. 13:21 "I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people from your hands, and they will no longer be in your hands to be hunted; and you will know that I am the LORD.

Ezek. 13:22 "Because you disheartened the righteous with falsehood when I did not cause him grief, but have encouraged the wicked not to turn from his wicked way and preserve his life,

Ezek. 13:23 therefore, you women will no longer see false visions or practice divination, and I will deliver My people out of your hand. Thus you will know that I am the LORD."

Ezek. 14:1 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me.

Ezek. 14:2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 14:3 "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all?

Ezek. 14:4 "Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,

Ezek. 14:5 in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols."'

Ezek. 14:6 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.

Ezek. 14:7 "For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person.

Ezek. 14:8 "I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the LORD.

Ezek. 14:9 "But if the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the LORD, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel.

Ezek. 14:10 "They will bear the punishment of their iniquity; as the iniquity of the inquirer is, so the iniquity of the prophet will be,

Ezek. 14:11 in order that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me and no longer defile themselves with all their transgressions. Thus they will be My people, and I shall be their God,"' declares the Lord GOD."

Ezek. 14:12 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Ezek. 14:13 "Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast,

Ezek. 14:14 even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 14:15 "If I were to cause wild beasts to pass through the land and they depopulated it, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through it because of the beasts,

Ezek. 14:16 though these three men were in its midst, as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the country would be desolate.

Ezek. 14:17 "Or if I should bring a sword on that country and say, 'Let the sword pass through the country and cut off man and beast from it,'

Ezek. 14:18 even though these three men were in its midst, as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

Ezek. 14:19 "Or if I should send a plague against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it,

Ezek. 14:20 even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness."

Ezek. 14:21 For thus says the Lord GOD, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!

Ezek. 14:22 "Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it.

Ezek. 14:23 "Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 15:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 15:2 "Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any wood of a branch which is among the trees of the forest?

Ezek. 15:3 "Can wood be taken from it to make anything, or can men take a peg from it on which to hang any vessel?

Ezek. 15:4 "If it has been put into the fire for fuel, and the fire has consumed both of its ends and its middle part has been charred, is it then useful for anything?

Ezek. 15:5 "Behold, while it is intact, it is not made into anything. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it still be made into anything!

Ezek. 15:6 "Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, 'As the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

Ezek. 15:7 and I set My face against them. Though they have come out of the fire, yet the fire will consume them. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I set My face against them.

Ezek. 15:8 'Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have acted unfaithfully,'" declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 16:2 "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations

Ezek. 16:3 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, "Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.

Ezek. 16:4 "As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths.

Ezek. 16:5 "No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

Ezek. 16:6 "When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, 'Live!'

Ezek. 16:7 "I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare.

Ezek. 16:8 "Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:9 "Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil.

Ezek. 16:10 "I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.

Ezek. 16:11 "I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck.

Ezek. 16:12 "I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.

Ezek. 16:13 "Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.

Ezek. 16:14 "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:15 "But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.

Ezek. 16:16 "You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen.

Ezek. 16:17 "You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them.

Ezek. 16:18 "Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them.

Ezek. 16:19 "Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:20 "Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter?

Ezek. 16:21 "You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire.

Ezek. 16:22 "Besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood.

Ezek. 16:23 "Then it came about after all your wickedness ('Woe, woe to you!' declares the Lord GOD),

Ezek. 16:24 that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square.

Ezek. 16:25 "You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry.

Ezek. 16:26 "You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry.

Ezek. 16:27 "Behold now, I have stretched out My hand against you and diminished your rations. And I delivered you up to the desire of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who are ashamed of your lewd conduct.

Ezek. 16:28 "Moreover, you played the harlot with the Assyrians because you were not satisfied; you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied.

Ezek. 16:29 "You also multiplied your harlotry with the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet even with this you were not satisfied."'"

Ezek. 16:30 "How languishing is your heart," declares the Lord GOD, "while you do all these things, the actions of a bold-faced harlot.

Ezek. 16:31 "When you built your shrine at the beginning of every street and made your high place in every square, in disdaining money, you were not like a harlot.

Ezek. 16:32 "You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!

Ezek. 16:33 "Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries.

Ezek. 16:34 "Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different."

Ezek. 16:35 Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD.

Ezek. 16:36 Thus says the Lord GOD, "Because your lewdness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered through your harlotries with your lovers and with all your detestable idols, and because of the blood of your sons which you gave to idols,

Ezek. 16:37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, even all those whom you loved and all those whom you hated. So I will gather them against you from every direction and expose your nakedness to them that they may see all your nakedness.

Ezek. 16:38 "Thus I will judge you like women who commit adultery or shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy.

Ezek. 16:39 "I will also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare.

Ezek. 16:40 "They will incite a crowd against you and they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords.

Ezek. 16:41 "They will burn your houses with fire and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women. Then I will stop you from playing the harlot, and you will also no longer pay your lovers.

Ezek. 16:42 "So I will calm My fury against you and My jealousy will depart from you, and I will be pacified and angry no more.

Ezek. 16:43 "Because you have not remembered the days of your youth but have enraged Me by all these things, behold, I in turn will bring your conduct down on your own head," declares the Lord GOD, "so that you will not commit this lewdness on top of all your other abominations.

Ezek. 16:44 "Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb concerning you, saying, 'Like mother, like daughter.'

Ezek. 16:45 "You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.

Ezek. 16:46 "Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters.

Ezek. 16:47 "Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they.

Ezek. 16:48 "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.

Ezek. 16:49 "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.

Ezek. 16:50 "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.

Ezek. 16:51 "Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus you have made your sisters appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed.

Ezek. 16:52 "Also bear your disgrace in that you have made judgment favorable for your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.

Ezek. 16:53 "Nevertheless, I will restore their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and along with them your own captivity,

Ezek. 16:54 in order that you may bear your humiliation and feel ashamed for all that you have done when you become a consolation to them.

Ezek. 16:55 "Your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to their former state, and you with your daughters will also return to your former state.

Ezek. 16:56 "As the name of your sister Sodom was not heard from your lips in your day of pride,

Ezek. 16:57 before your wickedness was uncovered, so now you have become the reproach of the daughters of Edom and of all who are around her, of the daughters of the Philistinesthose surrounding you who despise you.

Ezek. 16:58 "You have borne the penalty of your lewdness and abominations," the LORD declares.

Ezek. 16:59 For thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also do with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath by breaking the covenant.

Ezek. 16:60 "Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

Ezek. 16:61 "Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both your older and your younger; and I will give them to you as daughters, but not because of your covenant.

Ezek. 16:62 "Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD,

Ezek. 16:63 so that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done," the Lord GOD declares.

Ezek. 17:1 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Ezek. 17:2 "Son of man, propound a riddle and speak a parable to the house of Israel,

Ezek. 17:3 saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "A great eagle with great wings, long pinions and a full plumage of many colors came to Lebanon and took away the top of the cedar.

Ezek. 17:4 "He plucked off the topmost of its young twigs and brought it to a land of merchants; he set it in a city of traders.

Ezek. 17:5 "He also took some of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters; he set it like a willow.

Ezek. 17:6 "Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches.

Ezek. 17:7 "But there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and sent out its branches toward him from the beds where it was planted, that he might water it.

Ezek. 17:8 "It was planted in good soil beside abundant waters, that it might yield branches and bear fruit and become a splendid vine."'

Ezek. 17:9 "Say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withersso that all its sprouting leaves wither? And neither by great strength nor by many people can it be raised from its roots again.

Ezek. 17:10 "Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes itwither on the beds where it grew?"'"

Ezek. 17:11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 17:12 "Say now to the rebellious house, 'Do you not know what these things mean?' Say, 'Behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and princes and brought them to him in Babylon.

Ezek. 17:13 'He took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land,

Ezek. 17:14 that the kingdom might be in subjection, not exalting itself, but keeping his covenant that it might continue.

Ezek. 17:15 'But he rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant and escape?

Ezek. 17:16 'As I live,' declares the Lord GOD, 'Surely in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke, in Babylon he shall die.

Ezek. 17:17 'Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in the war, when they cast up ramps and build siege walls to cut off many lives.

Ezek. 17:18 'Now he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and behold, he pledged his allegiance, yet did all these things; he shall not escape.'"

Ezek. 17:19 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "As I live, surely My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will inflict on his head.

Ezek. 17:20 "I will spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. Then I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there regarding the unfaithful act which he has committed against Me.

Ezek. 17:21 "All the choice men in all his troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to every wind; and you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken."

Ezek. 17:22 Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.

Ezek. 17:23 "On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.

Ezek. 17:24 "All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it."

Ezek. 18:1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezek. 18:2 "What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying,

            'The fathers eat the sour grapes,

            But the children's teeth are set on edge'?

Ezek. 18:3 "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.

Ezek. 18:4 "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.

Ezek. 18:5 "But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness,

Ezek. 18:6 and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period

Ezek. 18:7 if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing,

Ezek. 18:8 if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man,

Ezek. 18:9 if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfullyhe is righteous and will surely live," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 18:10 "Then he may have a violent son who sheds blood and who does any of these things to a brother

Ezek. 18:11 (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor's wife,

Ezek. 18:12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination,

Ezek. 18:13 he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.

Ezek. 18:14 "Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father's sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise.

Ezek. 18:15 "He does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife,

Ezek. 18:16 or oppress anyone, or retain a pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing,

Ezek. 18:17 he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father's iniquity, he will surely live.

Ezek. 18:18 "As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.

Ezek. 18:19 "Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live.

Ezek. 18:20 "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

Ezek. 18:21 "But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Ezek. 18:22 "All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.

Ezek. 18:23 "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezek. 18:24 "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die.

Ezek. 18:25 "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?

Ezek. 18:26 "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die.

Ezek. 18:27 "Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life.

Ezek. 18:28 "Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Ezek. 18:29 "But the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?

Ezek. 18:30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.

Ezek. 18:31 "Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?

Ezek. 18:32 "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live."

Ezek. 19:1 "As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel

Ezek. 19:2 and say,

            'What was your mother?

            A lioness among lions!

            She lay down among young lions,

            She reared her cubs.

Ezek. 19:3       'When she brought up one of her cubs,

            He became a lion,

            And he learned to tear his prey;

            He devoured men.

Ezek. 19:4       'Then nations heard about him;

            He was captured in their pit,

            And they brought him with hooks

            To the land of Egypt.

Ezek. 19:5       'When she saw, as she waited,

            That her hope was lost,

            She took another of her cubs

            And made him a young lion.

Ezek. 19:6       'And he walked about among the lions;

            He became a young lion,

            He learned to tear his prey;

            He devoured men.

Ezek. 19:7       'He destroyed their fortified towers

            And laid waste their cities;

            And the land and its fullness were appalled

            Because of the sound of his roaring.

Ezek. 19:8       'Then nations set against him

            On every side from their provinces,

            And they spread their net over him;

            He was captured in their pit.

Ezek. 19:9       'They put him in a cage with hooks

            And brought him to the king of Babylon;

            They brought him in hunting nets

            So that his voice would be heard no more

            On the mountains of Israel.

Ezek. 19:10     'Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,

            Planted by the waters;

            It was fruitful and full of branches

            Because of abundant waters.

Ezek. 19:11     'And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers,

            And its height was raised above the clouds

            So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.

Ezek. 19:12     'But it was plucked up in fury;

            It was cast down to the ground;

            And the east wind dried up its fruit.

            Its strong branch was torn off

            So that it withered;

            The fire consumed it.

Ezek. 19:13     'And now it is planted in the wilderness,

            In a dry and thirsty land.

Ezek. 19:14     'And fire has gone out from its branch;

            It has consumed its shoots and fruit,

            So that there is not in it a strong branch,

            A scepter to rule.'"

This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

 

 

 

(Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology)

 

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 12:1

rRvSa bEvOy hD;tAa yrR;mAh_tyE;b JKwtV;b MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 12:2

alw AoOmVvIl MRhDl MynzDa w#ar alw tw%arIl MRhDl MynyEo

:M`Eh yrVm tyE;b yI;k wo$EmDv

MDmwy hElgw h$Dlwg yElV;k KVl hEcSo M#dDa_NRb hD;tAaw Ezek. 12:3

yAlwa M$RhynyEoVl rEjAa MwqDm_lRa %KVmwqV;mIm DtyIlgw MRhyny`EoVl

:hD;m`Eh yrVm tyE;b yI;k w$ary

MRhyny`EoVl MDmwy hDlwg yElVkI;k Ky%RlEk DtaExwhw Ezek. 12:4

:h`Dlwg yEaDxwmV;k M$RhynyEoVl brRoDb aExE;t h#D;tAaw

:w;b DtaExwhw ry;qAb KVl_rDtSj MRhynyEoVl Ezek. 12:5

KyRnDp ay$Ixwt hDfDlSoD;b aDcI;t PEtD;k_lAo M%RhynyEoVl Ezek. 12:6

tyEbVl KyI;tAtn tEpwm_y`I;k XrDaDh_tRa hRarIt alw h$R;sAkVt

:l`EarVcy

yElVkI;k yIta%Exwh yAlE;k ~yItywUx rRvSaA;k NE;k cAoAaw Ezek. 12:7

hDfDlSoD;b dDyV;b ry;qAb yIl_yI;tr`AtDj brRoDbw M$Dmwy hDlwg

p :M`RhynyEoVl yItaDcn PEtD;k_lAo yItaExwh

:rOmaEl rqO;bA;b yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 12:8

tyE;b lEarVcy tyE;b KyRlEa wrVmDa alSh MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 12:9

:h`RcOo hD;tAa hDm yrR;mAh

ayIcΊnAh hIwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k M$RhyElSa rOmTa Ezek. 12:10

hD;mEh_rRvSa lEarVcy tyE;b_lDkw M$AlDvwryI;b hzAh aDcA;mAh

:M`DkwtVb

hRcDoy NE;k yIty#IcDo rRvSaA;k MRkVtRpwm yInSa rOmTa Ezek. 12:11

:wk`Ely yIbVvAb hDlwgA;b M$RhDl

hDfDlSoD;b aDcy PEtD;k_lRa M%DkwtV;b_rRvSa ayIcΊnAhw Ezek. 12:12

rRvSa NAoGy h$R;sAky wyDnDp wb ayIxwhVl wrV;tVjy ry;qA;b a$Exyw

:Xr`DaDh_tRa awh NyAoAl hRary_al

yItdwxVmI;b cApVtnw wy$DlDo yI;tVvr_tRa yI;tVcrDpw Ezek. 12:13

MDvw hRary_al ;hDtwaw My$;dVcA;k XrRa hDlRbDb wtOa yItaEbEhw

:twmy

wyDpgSa_lDkw [wrzRo] hOrzRo wyDtObyIbVs rRvSa  lOkw Ezek. 12:14

:M`RhyrSjAa qyrDa brRjw Ajwr_lDkVl hrzTa

MYywgA;b MDtwa yIxyIpShA;b hDwhy yInSa_y`I;k wodyw Ezek. 12:15

:twxrSaD;b MDtwa yItyrzw

bDorEm brRjEm r$DpVsIm yEvnAa MRhEm yI;trAtwhw Ezek. 12:16

MywgA;b M#RhyEtwbSow;t_lD;k_tRa w%rVpAsy NAoAmVl rRb;dImw

p :h`Dwhy yInSa_y`I;k wodyw M$Dv waD;b_rRvSa

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 12:17

hDzgrV;b KyRmyEmw lEka;t vAorV;b KVmVjAl MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 12:18

:h`R;tVvI;t hDgDadIbw

hwhy ynOdSa rAmDa_hO;k Xr&DaDh MAo_lRa D;trAmDaw Ezek. 12:19

wl$Ekay hDgDadI;b MDmVjAl l$EarVcy tAmdAa_lRa MAlDvwry yEbVvwyVl

;h$DalV;mIm ;hDxrAa MAvE;t NAo%AmVl w;tVvy NwmD;mIvV;b MRhyEmy`Emw

:;h`D;b MyIbVvOyAh_l`D;k sAmSjEm

hDmDmVv XrDaDhw hnVb$rTjR;t twbDvwnAh MyrDoRhw Ezek. 12:20

p :h`Dwhy yInSa_y`I;k MR;tVody`Iw hRyVh`It

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 12:21

tAmdAa_lAo M$RkDl hzAh lDvD;mAh_h`Dm M#dDa_NR;b Ezek. 12:22

:NwzDj_lD;k dAbDaw My$ImΥyAh ЊwkrAa`Ay rOmaEl lEarVcy

~hwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k M#RhyElSa rOmTa NEkDl Ezek. 12:23

lEarVcyV;b dwo wtOa wlVvVmy_alw hYzAh lDvD;mAh_tRa yI;tA;bVvIh

:NwzDj_lD;k rAbdw My$ImΥyAh Њwbrq M$RhyElSa rE;b;d_MIa yI;k

qDlDj MAsVqImw awDv NwzSj_lD;k dwo hRyVh`Iy al yI;k Ezek. 12:24

:l`EarVcy tyE;b JKwtV;b

rDb;d rE;bdSa rRvSa tEa rE;bdSa hGwhy yInSa yI;k Ezek. 12:25

rE;bdSa yr#R;mAh tyE;b MRkyEmy`Ib yI;k dwo JKEvD;mIt al h$RcDoEyw

p :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan wy$ItyIcSow rDb;d

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 12:26

NwzDjRh My$rVmOa  lEarVcy_ty`Eb hEnIh M#dDa_NR;b Ezek. 12:27

:a`D;bn awh twqwjr MyI;tIoVlw MyI;br MyImyVl hRzOj awh_rRvSa

hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k M#RhyElSa rOmTa NEkDl Ezek. 12:28

MUan h$RcDoEyw rDb;d rE;bdSa rRvSa yrDb;d_lD;k dwo JKEvD;mIt_al

s :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 13:1

MyIaD;bnAh lEarVcy yEayIbn_lRa aEbΊnIh MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 13:2

:h`Dwhy_rAb;d woVmIv M$D;bI;lIm yEayIbnIl D;trAm`Daw

MyIlDb׊nAh MyIayIb׊nAh_lAo ywh hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k Ezek. 13:3

:war yI;tVlIbVlw MDjwr rAjAa MyIkVlOh rRvSa

:wyDh lEarVcy KyRayIbn twbrFjD;b MyIlDoUvV;k Ezek. 13:4

tyE;b_lAo rdg wr;dgI;tw tw$xrVpA;b MRtyIlSo al Ezek. 13:5

:h`Dwhy MwyV;b hDmDjVlI;mA;b dOmSoAl lEarVcy

hDwhy`Aw hYwhy_MUan MyrVmOaDh bYzD;k MRsqw awDv wzDj Ezek. 13:6

:r`Db;d MEyqVl wlSj`Iyw MDjDlVv al

MR;trAmSa bDzD;k MAsVqImw M$RtyzSj awDv_hzSj`Am awlSh Ezek. 13:7

s :yI;tr`A;bd al yInSaw hYwhy_MUan MyrVmOaw

aw$Dv MRkrR;b;d NAoy hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k N#EkDl Ezek. 13:8

:h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan M$RkyElSa yInnIh NEkDl bDzD;k MRtyzSjw

MyImVsO;qAhw awDv MyIzOjAh MyIayIb׊nAh_l`Ra y#dy hDtyDhw Ezek. 13:9

wb$EtD;ky al  lEarVcy_ty`E;b bDtVkIbw wGyVhy_al yI;mAo dwsV;b ~bzD;k

yDnOdSa yInSa yI;k MR;tVodyw waby al lEarVcy tAmdAa_lRaw

:h`Iwhy

NyEaw MwlDv rOmaEl yI;mAo_tRa woVfIh NAoyVbw NAoAy Ezek. 13:10

:l`EpD;t wtOa MyIjDf MDnIhw Xy$Aj hnO;b awhw MwlDv

P#Efwv MRvRg hDyDh lOpyw lEpDt yEjDf_lRa rOmTa Ezek. 13:11

:Ao;qAbV;t twrDoVs Ajwrw hnVl$OpI;t vyIbΊgVlRa yEnVbAa hn%E;tAaw

hEyAa M$RkyElSa rEmDay awlSh ry;qAh lApn hEnIhw Ezek. 13:12

s :M`R;tVjAf rRvSa AjyIfAh

yI;tVo;qIbw hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k N#EkDl Ezek. 13:13

yEnVbAaw hYyVh`Iy yIpAaV;b PEfOv MRvRgw yItDmSj`A;b twrDoVs_Ajwr

:h`DlDkVl hDmEjV;b vyIbΊgVlRa

lEpD;t MR;tVjAf_rRvSa ryI;qAh_tRa y%I;tVsrDhw Ezek. 13:14

MRtyIlVkw hDlVp`Dnw wdOsy hDlgnw XrDaDh_lRa whyI;tVoŊgIhw

:h`Dwhy yInSa_y`I;k MR;tVody`Iw ;h$DkwtV;b

lEpD;t wtOa MyIjDfAbw ry$I;qA;b yItDmSj_tRa yItyE;lIkw Ezek. 13:15

:wtOa MyIjDfAh NyEaw ry$I;qAh NyEa MRkDl rAmOaw

MyIzOjAhw M$AlDvwry_lRa MyIaV;bn`Ah l#EarVcy yEayIbn Ezek. 13:16

p :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan M$lDv NyEaw MlDv NwzSj ;hDl

$KV;mAo twnV;b_lRa KyДnDp MyIc M#dDa_NRb hD;tAaw Ezek. 13:17

:N`RhyElSo aEbΊnIhw NRhV;bI;l`Im twaV;bnVt`I;mAh

twrVpAtVm`Il ywh hGwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k D;trAmDaw Ezek. 13:18

var_lAo twjDpVsI;mAh twcOow y#dy yElyIxAa_lD;k  lAo tw%tDsV;k

y$I;mAoVl hnddwxV;t twvDp׊nAh twvDpn ddwxVl hDmwq_lD;k

:hny`RyAjVt hnRkDl twvDpnw

MyrOoVc yElSoAvV;b y#I;mAo_lRa y%ItOa hnVlR;lAjV;tw Ezek. 13:19

twyAjVlw hn$RtwmVt_al rRvSa twvDpn tyImDhVl ~MRjRl yEtwtVpIbw

s :b`DzDk yEoVmOv yI;mAoVl M$RkVbzAkV;b hnyRyVj`It_al rRvSa twvDpn

yInnIh hGwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k NEkDl Ezek. 13:20

twvDp׊nAh_tRa MDv twddOxVm hnE;tAa rRvSa hnRkyEtwtV;sI;k_lRa

yI;tVjA;lIvw MRkyEtOowrz lAoEm M$DtOa yI;tVorqw tw$jrOpVl

:tOjrOpVl MyIvDpn_tRa twddOxVm MR;tAa rRvSa tw$vDp׊nAh_tRa

yI;mAo_tRa yI;tVlAxIhw M#RkyEtOjVpVsIm_tRa yI;tVorqw Ezek. 13:21

yInSa_y`I;k NR;tVody`Iw hdwxVmIl NRkdyV;b dwo wyVhy_alw N$RkdyIm

:h`Dwhy

al yInSaw rq$Rv qy;dAx_bEl twaVkAh NAoAy Ezek. 13:22

orDh w;kr;dIm bwv_yI;tVlIbVl o$Dvr ydy qzAjVlw wyI;tVbAaVkIh

:wtOySjAhVl

dwo hnVmAsVqIt_al MRsqw hnyYzTjRt al awDv N#EkDl Ezek. 13:23

:h`Dwhy yInSa_y`I;k NR;tVody`Iw N$RkdyIm yI;mAo_tRa yI;tVlAxIhw

p :y`DnDpVl wbVvyw lEarVcy yEnVqzIm My$IvnSa yAlEa awbΥyw Ezek. 14:1

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 14:2

MRhyElw;lg wlToRh hR;lEaDh MyIvnSaDh M#dDa_NR;b Ezek. 14:3

vr;dIa vOr;dIaAh MRhynVp jAkOn wnVtn MYnOwSo lwvVkImw M$D;bIl_lAo

s :M`RhDl

rAmDa_hO;k M%RhyElSa D;trAmDaw MDtwa_rE;b;d NEkDl Ezek. 14:4

hRlSoy rRvSa l&EarVcy tyE;bIm vyIa vyIa hGwhy yDnOdSa

aDbw wyYnDp jAkOn MyIcy wnOwSo lwvVkImw w#;bIl_lRa wy%Dlw;lg_tRa

:wy`Dlw;lg bOrV;b [aDb] ;hDb wl yItyEnSon hGwhy yInSa ayIbΊnAh_lRa

ЊwrOzn rRvSa MD;bIlV;b lEarVcy_ty`E;b_tRa cOpV;t NAoAmVl Ezek. 14:5

s :M`D;lU;k MRhyElw;lgV;b y$AlDo`Em

yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k l#EarVcy tyE;b_lRa rOmTa NEkDl Ezek. 14:6

MRkyEtObSow;t_lD;k lAoEmw MRkyElw;lg lAoEm wby$IvDhw wbwv hYwhy

:M`RkynVp wbyIvDh

rwgy_rRvSa rgAhEmw l#EarVcy tyE;bIm vy%Ia vyIa yI;k Ezek. 14:7

lwvVkImw w$;bIl_lRa wyDlw;lg lAoAyw y#rSjAa`Em rEzΊnyw ~ lEarVcyV;b

yInSa y$Ib wl_vrdIl ayIbΊnAh_lRa aDbw wyDnDp jAkOn MyIcy wYnOwSo

:y`I;b w;l_hnSo`An hYwhy

twaVl ЊwhyItOm`IcShw aw#hAh vyIaD;b ynDp yI;tAtnw Ezek. 14:8

s :h`Dwhy yInSa_y`I;k MR;tVody`Iw yI;mAo JKw;tIm wyI;trVkIhw My$IlDvVmIlw

yIty$E;tIp hwhy yInSa r$Db;d rR;bdw hR;tUpy_y`Ik ayIbΊnAhw Ezek. 14:9

JKw;tIm wy$I;tdAmVvIhw wy$DlDo ydy_tRa yItyIfnw awhAh ayIbΊnAh tEa

:l`EarVcy yI;mAo

:h`RyVh`Iy ayIbΊnAh NOwSoA;k v$rO;dAh NOwSo`A;k MDnOwSo waVcnw Ezek. 14:10

y$rSj`AaEm  lEarVcy_ty`E;b dwo woVty_al NAoAmVl Ezek. 14:11

hRyVhRa ynSa`Aw M#DoVl yIl wyDhw MRhyEoVvIp_lDkV;b dwo waV;mAfy_alw

p :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan My$Ihla`El MRhDl

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 14:12

lAo$Am_lDoVmIl yIl_aDfTjRt yI;k XrRa M#dDa_NR;b Ezek. 14:13

;hDb_yI;tVjAlVvIhw MRjDl_hEfAm ;hDl yI;trAbDvw Dhy$RlDo ydy yItyIfnw

:h`DmEhVbw MdDa hΊnR;mIm yI;trVkIhw b$Dor

lEan;d AjOn ;h$DkwtV;b hR;lEaDh MyIvnSaDh tRvlVv wyDhw Ezek. 14:14

yDnOdSa MUan M$DvVpn wlVxny MDtqdIxVb hD;mEh bwyIaw [lEayn;d]

:h`Iwhy

hDtyDhw hD;tDlV;kIvw XrDaD;b ryIbSoAa hDor hDyAj_wl Ezek. 14:15

:h`DyAjAh yEnVpIm r$Ebwo yIlV;bIm hDmDmVv

MUan yn#Da_yAj ~;hDkwtV;b hR;lEaDh MyIvnSaDh tRvlVv Ezek. 14:16

wl$ExΊny M;dAbVl hD;mEh wlyIxy twnD;b_MIaw MyInD;b_MIa hYwhy yDnOdSa

:h`DmDmVv hRyVhI;t XrDaDhw

y#I;trAmDaw ayIhAh XrDaDh_lAo ayIbDa brRj wa Ezek. 14:17

:h`DmEhVbw MdDa hΊnR;mIm yI;trVkIhw Xr$DaD;b rObSoA;t brRj

MUan yn#Da_yAj ~;hDkwtV;b hR;lEaDh MyIvnSaDh tRvlVvw Ezek. 14:18

:wl`ExΊny M;dAbVl MEh yI;k twnDbw MyInD;b wlyIxy al hYwhy yDnOdSa

yI;tVkApDvw ayIhAh XrDaDh_lRa jA;lAvSa rRb;d wa Ezek. 14:19

:h`DmEhVbw MdDa hΊnR;mIm tyrVkAhVl M$dV;b DhyRlDo yItDmSj

MUan yn#Da_yAj ~;hDkwtV;b bwyIaw [lEayn;d] lEan;d AjOnw Ezek. 14:20

wlyIxy MDtqdIxVb hD;mEh wlyIxy tA;b_MIa NE;b_MIa hYwhy yDnOdSa

p :M`DvVpn

tAoA;brAa_y`I;k PAa hGwOhy yDnOdSa r%AmDa hOk yI;k Ezek. 14:21

yI;tVjA;lIv rRb$dw hDor hDyAjw bDorw brRj My&IorDh yAfDpVv

:h`DmEhVbw MdDa hΊnR;mIm tyrVkAhVl MʡDlDvwry_lRa

~twnDbw MyInD;b MyIaDxw;m`Ah h#DfElVp ;h%D;b_hrVtwn hnIhw Ezek. 14:22

MDtwly`IlSo_tRaw MD;kr;d_tRa MRtyIarw M$RkyElSa MyIaVxwy MΊnIh

tEa M$AlDvwry_lAo yItaEbEh rRvSa hDor`Dh_lAo M#R;tVmAjnw

:Dhy`RlDo yItaEbEh rRvSa_lD;k

MD;kr;d_tRa warIt_y`I;k M$RkVtRa wmSjnw Ezek. 14:23

tEa yItyIcDo MDnIj al yI;k M#R;tVody`Iw MDtwly`IlSo_tRaw

p :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan ;h$Db yItyIcDo_rRvSa_lD;k

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 15:1

hrwmׇzAh XEo_lD;kIm NRpRgAh_XEo hRyVh`Iy_hAm MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 15:2

:rAo`DyAh yExSoA;b hDyDh rRvSa

wjVqy_MIa hDkaDlVmIl twcSoAl X$Eo ЊwnR;mIm j;qySh Ezek. 15:3

:yIl`R;k_lD;k wyDlDo twlVtIl d$Ety ЊwnR;mIm

hDlVkDa wy%DtwxVq ynVv tEa hDlVkDaVl NA;tn vEaDl hEnIh Ezek. 15:4

:h`DkaDlVmIl jAlVxySh r$Djn wkwtw vEaDh

PAa hDkaDlVmIl hRcDo`Ey al My$ImDt wtwyVh`I;b hnIh Ezek. 15:5

s :h`DkaDlVmIl dwo hDcSonw r$Djyw ЊwhVtAlDkSa vEa_yI;k

NRpДgAh_XEo rRvSaA;k hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k N#EkDl Ezek. 15:6

yEbVvOy_tRa yI;t$Atn NE;k hDlVkDaVl vEaDl wyI;tAtn_rRvSa rAoYťyAh XEoV;b

:M`DlDvwry

vEaDhw wa$Dxy vEaDhEm M$RhD;b ynDp_tRa yI;tAtnw Ezek. 15:7

:M`RhD;b yAnDp_tRa yImwcV;b hYwhy yInSa_y`I;k MR;tVody`Iw MElVka;t

MUan lAo$Am wlSoDm NAoy hDmDmVv XrDaDh_tRa yI;tAtnw Ezek. 15:8

p :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 16:1

:Dhy`RtObSow;t_tRa MʁAlDvwry_tRa odwh MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 16:2

M$AlDvwryIl hwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k D;trAmDaw Ezek. 16:3

JKE;mIaw yrOmTaDh JKyIbDa yInSonV;k`Ah XrRaEm JKy$AtOdVlOmw JKyAtOrOkVm

:ty`I;tIj

JK$;rDv t;rDk_al JKDtOa tdR;lwh MwyV;b JKy#AtwdVlwmw Ezek. 16:4

lE;tVjDhw V;tAj$AlVmUh al AjElVmDhw yIoVvImVl V;tVxAjr_al MyAmVbw

:V;tVl`D;tUj al

hR;lEaEm tAjAa JKDl twcSoAl Ny#Ao JKy%AlDo hDsDj_al Ezek. 16:5

MwyV;b JK$EvVpn lAoOgV;b hdDcAh yEnVp_lRa yIkVlVvU;t`Aw JKyDlDo hDlVmUjVl

:JK`DtOa tdR;lUh

rAmOaw JKyDmdV;b tRsRsw;bVtIm JK$EarRa`Dw JKyAlDo rObToRaw Ezek. 16:6

:y`IySj JKyAmdV;b JKDl rAmOaw yYySj JKyAmdV;b JKDl

y$Il;dgI;t`Aw yI;brI;tw JKy$I;tAtn hdDcAh jAmRxV;k h#DbDbr Ezek. 16:7

MOrEo V;tAaw Aj$E;mIx JKrDoVcw ЊwnOkn MydDv MyIydSo ydSoA;b yIabD;tw

:h`DyrRow

My$dO;d tEo JKE;tIo hEnIhw JK#EarRaw JKy%AlDo rObToRaw Ezek. 16:8

awbDaw JKDl o`AbDvRaw JKEtwrRo hR;sAkSaw JKy$AlDo yIpnV;k cOrVpRaw

:y`Il yyVhI;tw hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan JK#DtOa ty%rVbIb

JKEkUsSaw JKyDlDo`Em JKyAm;d POfVvRaw My$A;mA;b JKExDjrRaw Ezek. 16:9

:NRm`DvA;b

v$EvA;b JKEvV;bVjRaw vAjD;t JKElSonRaw h$DmVqr JKEvyI;bVlAaw Ezek. 16:10

:yIv`Rm JKE;sAkSaw

dyIbrw JKy$dy_lAo MydyImVx hDnV;tRaw ydRo JK;dVoRaw Ezek. 16:11

:JK`Enwr׊g_lAo

JKyDnzDa_lAo MyIlygSow JK$EpAa_lAo MzДn NE;tRaw Ezek. 16:12

:JK`EvarV;b trRaVpI;t trRfSow

yIvRmw [vEv] yIvEv JKEvw;bVlAmw PRs#Rkw bDhz y;dVoA;tw Ezek. 16:13

dOaVmI;b yIpyI;tw [V;tVlDkDa] yI;tVlDkDa NRmRvw vAbdw tRlOs h$DmVqrw

:h`DkwlVmIl yIjVlVxI;t`Aw d$OaVm

aw#h lyIlD;k yI;k JKEyVpyV;b MIywgA;b MEv JKDl aExyw Ezek. 16:14

:h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan JKy$AlDo yI;tVmAc_rRvSa yrdSh`A;b

yIkVpVvI;tw JKEmVv_lAo yInzI;tw JKYyVpyVb yIjVfVbI;tw Ezek. 16:15

:yIh`Ry_wl rEbwo_lD;k_lAo JKyAtwnzA;t_tRa

tw$aUlVf twmD;b JKDl_yIcSo`A;tw JKy#dgV;bIm yIjVqI;tw Ezek. 16:16

:h`RyVhy alw twaDb al MRhyElSo yInzI;tw

rRvSa yIpVsA;kImw yIbDhׇzIm JK#E;trAaVpIt yElV;k yIjVqI;tw Ezek. 16:17

:M`Db_ynzI;tw rDkz yEmVlAx JKDl_yIcSoA;tw JK$Dl yI;tAtn

ynVmAvw MyI;sAkV;tw JKEtDmVqr ydgI;b_tRa yIjVqI;tw Ezek. 16:18

:M`RhynVpIl [V;tAtn] yI;tAtn y$I;trDfVqw

vAbdw NRmRvw tRlOs JK%Dl yI;tAtn_rRvSa yImVjAlw Ezek. 16:19

yDnOdSa MUan yIhRyw AjOjyn AjyrVl MRhynVpIl whyI;tAtnw JKy$I;tVlAkTa`Rh

:h`Iwhy

y$Il V;tdAly rRvSa JKyAtwnV;b_tRaw JKyAnD;b_tRa yIjVqI;tw Ezek. 16:20

[:JKy`DtwnzA;t][Im] JKEtnzA;tIm fAoVmAh lwkTaRl MRhDl MyIjD;bzI;tw

:M`RhDl MDtwa ryIbSoAhV;b MyYnV;tI;t`Aw yDnD;b_tRa yIfSjVvI;t`Aw Ezek. 16:21

yI;trAkz al JKy$AtnzAtw JKyAtObSow;t_lD;k tEaw Ezek. 16:22

tRsRsw;bVtIm hYyrRow MOrEo JKEtwyVh`I;b JKyrwon yEmy_tRa [V;trAkz]

:ty`IyDh JKEmdV;b

yDnOdSa MUan JK$Dl ywa ywa JKEtDor_lD;k yrSjAa yIhyw Ezek. 16:23

:h`Iwhy

:bwjr_lDkV;b hDmr JKDl_yIcSoA;tw bRg JKDl_ynVbI;tw Ezek. 16:24

yIbSo`AtV;tw JK$EtDmr tynD;b JKr#;d var_lD;k_lRa Ezek. 16:25

yI;brA;tw rEbwo_lDkVl JKyAlgr_tRa yqVcApV;tw JKYyVpy_tRa

[:JKy`DtwnzA;t] JKEtnzA;t_tRa

rDcDb yEldg JKyAnEkVv MyrVxIm_y`EnV;b_lRa yInzI;tw Ezek. 16:26

:yn`EsyIoVkAhVl JKEtnzA;t_tRa yI;brA;tw

JKHnV;tRaw JK;qUj orgRaw JKy$AlDo ydy yItyIfn hnIhw Ezek. 16:27

:h`D;mz JKE;kr;dIm twmDlVknAh My$I;tVvIlVp twnV;b JKyAtwanOc vRpRnV;b

MynzI;tw JKEtDoVbDc yI;tVlI;bIm rw$vAa yEnV;b_lRa ynzI;tw Ezek. 16:28

:V;tAo`DbDc al MAgw

hDmy;dVcA;k NAoAnV;k XrRa_lRa JKEtwnzA;t_tRa yI;brA;tw Ezek. 16:29

:V;tAo`DbDc al tazV;b_Mgw

JKEtwcSoA;b hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan JK$EtD;bIl hDlUmSa hDm Ezek. 16:30

:tRf`D;lAv hDnwz_h`DvIa hEcSoAm hR;l$Ea_lD;k_tRa

yItyIcDo JKEtDmrw JKr$;d_lD;k varV;b JKE;bŊg JKyAtwnVbI;b Ezek. 16:31

sE;lqVl hDnwzA;k [tyIyDh] ytyyDh_alw bwjr_lDkV;b [tyIcDo]

:N`DnVtRa

:Myrz_tRa j;qI;t ;h$DvyIa tAjA;t tRpDanV;mAh hDvIaDh Ezek. 16:32

JKyndn_tRa V;tAtn V;tAaw hdEn_wnV;ty twnOz_lDkVl Ezek. 16:33

byIbD;sIm JKyAlEa awbDl M#Dtwa ydFjVvI;tw JKy$AbSh`AaVm_lDkVl

:JKy`DtwnzAtV;b

JKyrSjAaw JKy$AtwnzAtV;b MyIvΊnAh_NIm JKRpEh JKDb_yIhyw Ezek. 16:34

:JKRp`RhVl yIhV;tw JKDl_NA;tn al NAnVtRaw NGnVtRa JKE;tItVbw hDnwz al

p :h`Dwhy_rAb;d yIoVmIv hYnwz NEkDl Ezek. 16:35

JKE;tVvUjn JKEpDvIh NAoAy hGwOhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k Ezek. 16:36

yElw;lg_lD;k  lAow JKyDbShAaVm_lAo JKyAtwnzAtV;b JK$EtwrRo hRlΊgI;tw

:M`RhDl V;tAtn rRvSa JKyYnDb yEmdIkw JKy$AtwbSowt

rRvSa JKyAbShAaVm_lD;k_tRa XE;bqVm ynnIh NEkDl Ezek. 16:37

taEnDc rRvSa_lD;k lAo V;tVb$AhDa rRvSa_lD;k tEaw M$RhyElSo V;tVbrDo

warw M$RhElSa JKEtwrRo yItyE;lgw by#IbD;sIm JKy%AlDo MDtOa yI;tVxA;bIqw

:JK`EtwrRo_lD;k_tRa

JKyI;tAtnw M;d tOkVpOvw tw$pSan yEfVpVvIm JKyI;tVfApVvw Ezek. 16:38

:h`DanIqw hDmEj M;d

JKy$AtOmr wxV;tnw JKE;bg wsrDhw M#dyV;b JK%Dtwa yI;tAtnw Ezek. 16:39

JKwjynIhw JKE;trAaVpIt yElV;k wjVqDlw JKy$dgV;b JKDtwa wfyIvVpIhw

:h`DyrRow MOryEo

JKwqV;tIbw NRbDaD;b JKDtwa wmgrw l$Dhq JKyAlDo wlToRhw Ezek. 16:40

:M`DtwbrAjV;b

yEnyEoVl My$IfDpVv JKDb_wcDow v$EaD;b JKyA;tDb wprDcw Ezek. 16:41

:dwo_ynV;tIt al NAnVtRa_Mgw hYnwzIm JKyI;tA;bVvIhw tw;br MyIvn

y$I;tVfqDvw JKE;mIm yItDanIq hrDsw JK$D;b yItDmSj yItOjnShw Ezek. 16:42

:dwo sAoVkRa alw

JKy$rwon yEmy_tRa [V;trAkz] yI;trAkz_al rRvSa NAoGy Ezek. 16:43

yI;t#Atn varV;b JKE;kr;d a%Eh ynSa_Mgw hR;lEa_lDkV;b yIl_yz׊grI;tw

lAo h$D;mzAh_tRa [tyIcDo] yItyIcDo alw hYwhy yDnOdSa MUan

:JKy`DtObSow;t_lD;k

hD;mIaV;k rOmaEl lOvVmy JKyAlDo l$EvO;mAh_lD;k hnIh Ezek. 16:44

:;h`D;tI;b

twjSaw DhyRnDbw ;hDvyIa tRlRoOg V;t$Aa JKE;mIa_tA;b Ezek. 16:45

ty$I;tIj NRkV;mIa N$RhynVbw NRhyEvnAa ЊwlSo`Dg rRvSa V;t#Aa JK%EtwjSa

:yrOmTa NRkyIbSaw

Dhy$RtwnVbw ayIh NwrVmOv hDlwd׊gAh JKEtwjSaw Ezek. 16:46

tRbRvwyAh JK#E;mIm hDnAfV;qAh JKEtwjSaw JKElwamVc_lAo tRbRvwyAh

:Dhy`RtwnVbw MOdVs JKYnyImy`Im

yItyIcDo NRhyEtwbSowtVbw V;tVk$AlDh NRhyEkrdVb alw Ezek. 16:47

:JKy`Dkr;d_lDkV;b NEhEm yItIjVvA;tw f$q fAoVmI;k [tyIcDo]

MOdVs hDtVc`Do_MIa hYwhy yDnOdSa MUan yn#Da_yAj Ezek. 16:48

:JKy`DtwnVbw V;tAa ty$IcDo rRvSaA;k DhyRtwnVbw ayIh JK$EtwjSa

NwaΊg JKEtwjSa MOdVs NOwSo hYyDh hRz_hnIh Ezek. 16:49

yInDo_dyw Dhy$RtwnVbIlw ;hDl hyDh f#qVvAh tAwVlAvw MRj%Rl_tAoVbIc

:hqy`IzTjRh al NwyVbRaw

ryIsDaw yDnDpVl hDbEowt hnyRcSoA;tw hny$RhV;bgI;t`Aw Ezek. 16:50

s :yIty`Iar rRvSaA;k NRhVtRa

yI;brA;tw hDaDfDj al JKyAtafAj yIxSjA;k Nw$rVmOvw Ezek. 16:51

[JKy$AtwjSa] JKEtwjSa_tRa yIq;dAxV;tw hΊn$EhEm JKyAtwbSow;t_tRa

[:ty`IcDo] ytyIcDo rRvSa JKyAtwbSow;t_lDkV;b

JK$EtwjSa`Al V;tVlA;lIp rRvSa JK#EtD;mIlVk yIaVc V;tAa_MŊg Ezek. 16:52

V;tAa_Mgw JKE;mIm hnVq;dVxI;t NEhEm V;tVbAoVtIh_rRvSa JKyAtafAjV;b

:JK`EtwyVjAa JKE;tVq;dAxV;b JK$EtD;mIlVk yIaVcw yIvw;b

MOdVs [twbVv] tyIbVv_tRa N$RhVtyIbVv_tRa yI;tVbAvw Ezek. 16:53

tyIbVvw DhyRtwnVbw NwrVmOv [twbVv] tyIbVv_tRaw Dhy$RtwnVbw

:hnVh`DkwtV;b JKyAtyIbVv [twbVv][w]

rRvSa lO;kIm V;tVmAlVknw JK$EtD;mIlVk yIaVcI;t NAoAmVl Ezek. 16:54

:N`DtOa JKEmSjnV;b tyIcDo

N$DtDmdqVl   NVbOvD;t DhyRtwnVbw MOdVs JKy#AtwjSaw Ezek. 16:55

hnyRbUvV;t JKy$AtwnVbw V;tAaw NDtDmdqVl   NVbOvD;t Dhy$RtwnVbw NwrVmOvw

:N`RkVtAmdqVl

MwyV;b JKyIpV;b hDowmVvIl JK$EtwjSa MOdVs hDty`Dh awlw Ezek. 16:56

:JKy`Dnwa׊g

tAprRj tEo w#mV;k ~JKEtDor hRlΊgI;t MrRfV;b Ezek. 16:57

twfaDvAh MyI;tVvIlVp twnV;b DhyRtwbyIbVs_lDkw M$rSa_twnV;b

:by`IbD;sIm JKDtwa

MUan MyItaDcn V;tAa JKyAtwbSow;t_tRaw JKEtD;mz_tRa Ezek. 16:58

s :h`Dwhy

[yItyIcDo][w] tyIcDow hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hOk yI;k Ezek. 16:59

:tyrV;b rEpDhVl hDlDa tyIzD;b_rRvSa tyIcDo rRvSaA;k JKDtwa

JKyrwon yEmyI;b JKDtwa yItyrV;b_tRa yInSa yI;trAkzw Ezek. 16:60

:M`Dlwo tyrV;b JKDl yItwmIqShw

JK#E;tVjqV;b ~V;tVmAlVknw JKyAkr;d_tRa V;trAkzw Ezek. 16:61

yI;tAtnw JKE;mIm twnAfV;qAh_lRa JK$E;mIm twlOd׊gAh JKyAtwjSa_tRa

:JK`EtyrV;bIm alw twnDbVl JKDl NRhVtRa

yInSa_y`I;k V;tAodyw JKD;tIa yItyrV;b_tRa yInSa yItwmyIqShw Ezek. 16:62

:h`Dwhy

NwjVtIp dwo JKD;l_hyVh`Iy alw V;tVv$Obw yrV;kzI;t NAoAmVl Ezek. 16:63

MUan ty$IcDo rRvSa_lDkVl JKDl_yrVpAkV;b JKEtD;mIlV;k yEnVpIm h$Rp

s :h`Iwhy yDnOdSa

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 17:1

tyE;b_lRa lDvDm lOvVmw hdyIj dwj MdDa_NR;b Ezek. 17:2

:l`EarVcy

 lwdΊgAh rRvRnAh hGwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k D;trAmDaw Ezek. 17:3

hDmVqr`Dh wl_rRvSa h$DxwnAh aElDm rRb$EaDh JKrRa MyApnV;kAh lwd׊g

:zr`DaDh trR;mAx_tRa j;qyw NwYnDbV;lAh_lRa aD;b

XrRa_lRa ЊwhEayIbyw PDfq wyDtwqy`Iny var tEa Ezek. 17:4

:wmDc MyIlVkOr ryIoV;b NAoYnV;k

jq orDz_hdVcI;b whEnV;ty`Aw Xr$DaDh orRzIm j;qyw Ezek. 17:5

:wmDc hDpDxVpAx My$I;br MyAm_lAo

twnVpIl h#Dmwq tAlVpIv tAj%rOs NRpgVl yIhyw j&AmVxyw Ezek. 17:6

cAoA;tw NRpYgVl yIhV;tw wyVh`Iy wyD;tVjA;t wyDvrDvw wy$DlEa wyDtwyIl;d

:twrap jA;lAvV;tw My$;dA;b

hDxwn_brw MyApnV;k lwd׊g lw$dΊg dDjRa_rRv`Rn yIhyw Ezek. 17:7

wyDtwyIldw wy#DlDo DhyRvrDv hDnVp`D;k tazAh NRpgAh hnIhw

:;h`DoDfAm twgrSoEm ;h$Dtwa twqVvAhVl w$;l_hDjVlIv

hDlwtVv ayIh MyI;br MyAm_lRa bwf hdDc_lRa Ezek. 17:8

s :tr;dAa NRpRgVl twyVhIl yr$Rp taEcDlw PnDo twcSoAl

awlSh jDlVxI;t hIwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k r#OmTa Ezek. 17:9

yEprAf_lD;k v#Ebyw sEswqy ;hDyrIp_tRaw q%E;tny DhyRvrDv_tRa

twaVcAmVl b$r_MAoVbw hDlwd׊g AoOrzIb_alw v$DbyI;t ;hDjVmIx

:Dhy`RvrDvIm ;hDtwa

Ajwr ;h%D;b tAogVk awlSh jDlVxItSh hDlwtVv hEnIhw Ezek. 17:10

p :v`DbyI;t ;hDjVmIx tOgrSo_lAo v$Oby vAbyI;t Myd;qAh

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 17:11

hR;lEa_hDm MR;tVody alSh yr$R;mAh tyEbVl an_rDmTa Ezek. 17:12

;hD;kVlAm_tRa j;qyw MAlDvwry lRbD;b_JKRl`Rm aDb_hnIh r#OmTa

:hDl`RbD;b wyDlEa MDtwa aEbΥyw Dhy$rDc_tRaw

aEbΥyw tyrV;b w;tIa tOrVkyw h$DkwlV;mAh orRzIm j;qyw Ezek. 17:13

:jqDl XrDaDh yElyEa_tRaw h$DlDaV;b wtOa

rOmVvIl aEcnVtIh yI;tVlIbVl h$DlDpVv hDkDlVmAm twyVh`Il Ezek. 17:14

:;hdVmDoVl wtyrV;b_tRa

wl_tRt`Dl My$rVxIm wyDkDaVlAm AjlVvIl w#;b_drVmyw Ezek. 17:15

tyrV;b rEpEhw hR;l$Ea hEcOoDh fElD;mySh jDlVxySh br_MAow MyIsws

:f`DlVmnw

MwqVmI;b a#l_MIa ~hwhy yDnOdSa MUan yn#Da_yAj Ezek. 17:16

rEpEh rRvSaw w$tDlDa_tRa hzD;b rRvSa w$tOa JKyIlVmA;mAh JKRlR;mAh

:twmy lRbD;b_JKwtVb w;tIa wtyrV;b_tRa

wtwa hRcSoy b#r lDhqVbw lw%dΊg lyAjVb alw Ezek. 17:17

tyrVkAhVl qEy;d twnVbIbw hDlVlOs JKOpVvI;b h$DmDjVlI;mA;b hOorAp

:tw;br twvDpn

wdy NAtn hnIhw tyrV;b rEpDhVl hDlDa hDzDbw Ezek. 17:18

s :f`ElD;my al hDcDo hR;lEa_lDkw

a#l_MIa ~ynDa_yAj hwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa_hO;k NEkDl Ezek. 17:19

:wvarV;b wyI;tAtnw ryIpEh rRvSa yItyrVbw hYzD;b rRvSa yItDl`Da

yItdwxVmI;b cApVtnw y$I;tVvr wyDlDo yI;tVcrDpw Ezek. 17:20

rRvSa wlSoAm M$Dv w;tIa yI;tVfApVvnw hDl#RbDb whyItwayIbShw

:y`I;b_lAo`Dm

brRjA;b wyDpgSa_lDkV;b [wyDjrVbIm] wjrVbIm_lD;k tEaw Ezek. 17:21

hDwhy yInSa yI;k MR;tVodyw wcrDpy Ajwr_lDkVl MyrDaVvnAhw wl$Opy

s :yI;tr`A;b;d

trR;mAxIm yn#Da yI;tVjqDlw hYwhy yDnOdSa rAmDa hO;k Ezek. 17:22

yI;tVlAtDvw P$OfVqRa JKr wyDtwqnOy varEm yI;tDtnw hDmrDh zrRaDh

:lwlDtw AhObΊg_rAh lAo yn$Da

hDcDow PnDo aDcnw wn$RlF;tVvRa  lEarVcy MwrVm rAhV;b Ezek. 17:23

PYnD;k_lD;k rwpIx lO;k wy#D;tVjAt wnVkDvw ry;dAa zrRaVl hDyDhw yr$Rp

:hΊnO;kVvI;t wyDtwyIl;d lExV;b

yI;tVlApVvIh hwhy yInSa yI;k h#dDcAh yExSo_lD;k wody`Vw Ezek. 17:24

yI;tVjrVpIhw j$Dl XEo yI;tVvAbwh l$DpDv XEo yI;tVhA;bgIh Ah#ObΊg XEo

p :yIty`IcDow yI;trA;b;d hDwhy yInSa vEby XEo

:rOmaEl yAlEa hDwhy_rAbd yIhyw Ezek. 18:1

hYzAh lDvD;mAh_tRa MyIlVvOm MR;tAa M#RkD;l_hAm Ezek. 18:2

MyInD;bAh yEnIvw rRs$Ob wlVkay twbDa rOmaEl lEarVcy tAmdAa_lAo

:hny`RhVqI;t

dw#o M%RkDl hyVh`Iy_MIa hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan ynDa_yAj Ezek. 18:3

:l`EarVcyV;b hRzAh lDvD;mAh lOvVm

vRpRnVkw bDaDh vRpRnV;k hΊn$Eh yIl twvDp׊nAh_lD;k NEh Ezek. 18:4

s :twmDt ayIh taEfOjAh vRpRnAh hΊnEh_yIl NE;bAh

:hqdVxw fDpVvIm hDcDow qy;dAx hRyVhy_yI;k vyIaw Ezek. 18:5

yElw;lg_lRa a$Dcn al wynyEow l$DkDa al MyrDh`Rh_lRa Ezek. 18:6

h;dn hDvIa_lRaw a$E;mIf al ЊwhEor tRvEa_tRaw lEarVcy tyE;b

:brVqy al

lOzgy al hDlz׊g by$Ivy bwj wtDlObSj hYnwy al vyIaw Ezek. 18:7

:dg`D;b_hR;sAky MOryEow N$E;ty bEorVl wmVjAl

byIvy lwDoEm j$;qy al tyI;brAtw N#E;ty_al JKRvRnA;b Ezek. 18:8

:vy`IaVl vyIa NyE;b h$RcSo`Ay tRmTa fApVvIm wdy

tRmTa twcSoAl rAmDv yAfDpVvImw JKE;lAhy yAtw;qUjV;b Ezek. 18:9

:h`Iwhy yDnOdSa MUan hYyVj`Iy hOyDj awh qy;dAx

dAjAaEm j$Da hDcDow M;d JKEpOv XyrDp_NE;b dyIlwhw Ezek. 18:10

:hR;l`EaEm

MAg yI;k hDcDo al hR;lEa_lD;k_tRa awhw Ezek. 18:11

:a`E;mIf whEor tRvEa_tRaw l$AkDa MyrDh`Rh_lRa

byIvy al lObSj lYzΊg twlz׊g hYnwh NwyVbRaw yInDo Ezek. 18:12

:h`DcDo hDbEow;t wyYnyEo aDcn MyIlw;lgAh_lRaw

tEa hGyVj`Iy al yDjw jqDl tyI;brAtw NAtn JKRvRnA;b Ezek. 18:13

:h`RyVhy w;b wyDm;d t$Dmwy twm h$DcDo hR;lEaDh twbEow;tAh_lD;k

wyIbDa tafAj_lD;k_tRa arťyw N$E;b dyIlwh hnIhw Ezek. 18:14

:N`EhD;k hRcSoy alw hRaryw hDcDo rRvSa

a$Dcn al wynyEow l$DkDa al MyrDh`Rh_lAo Ezek. 18:15

:a`E;mIf al whEor tRvEa_tRa lEarVcy tyE;b yElw;lg_lRa

lDzg al hDlzgw l$DbDj al  lObSj hYnwh al vyIaw Ezek. 18:16

:dg`Db_hD;sI;k MwrEow N$Dtn bEorVl wmVjAl

j$qDl al tyI;brAtw JKRvRn w#dy byIvEh yHnDoEm Ezek. 18:17

wyIbDa NOwSoA;b twmy al aw#h JKDlDh yAtw;qUjV;b h$DcDo yAfDpVvIm

:h`RyVjy hOyDj

rRvSaw j$Da lzEg  lzΊg qRv#Oo qAvDo_y`I;k wyIbDa Ezek. 18:18

:wnOwSoA;b tEm_hnIhw wyD;mAo JKwtV;b hDcDo bwf_al

NE;bAhw bDaDh NOwSoA;b NE;bAh aDcn_al Ao;dAm MR;trAmSaw Ezek. 18:19

MDtOa hRcSoťyw rAmDv yAtw;qUj_lD;k tEa h#DcDo hqdVxw fDpVvIm

:h`RyVjy hOyDj

NOwSoA;b aDcy_al NE;b twmDt ayIh taEfOjAh vRpRnAh Ezek. 18:20

hYyVh`I;t wyDlDo qy;dAxAh tqdIx N$E;bAh NOwSoA;b aDcy al bDaw b#DaDh

s :h`RyVh`I;t wyDlDo [oDvr][Dh] oDvr tAoVvrw

rRvSa [wyDtafAj] wtaDfAj_lD;kIm bwvy yI;k o#DvrDhw Ezek. 18:21

hOyDj hqdVxw fDpVvIm hDcDow y$AtwqUj_lD;k_tRa rAmDvw h$DcDo

:twmy al hRyVjy

wtqdIxV;b wl wrVk·zy al h$DcDo rRvSa wyDoDvVp_lD;k Ezek. 18:22

:h`RyVj`Iy hDcDo_rRvSa

hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan o$Dvr twm XOpVjRa XOpDjRh Ezek. 18:23

s :h`DyDjw wyDkr;dIm wbwvV;b awlSh

lOkV;k lw$Do hDcDow wtqdIxIm qy;dAx bwvVbw Ezek. 18:24

wtqdIx_lD;k yDjw hRcSoy oDvrDh hDcDo_rRvSa tw%bEow;tAh

lAoDm_rRvSa wlSoAmV;b hnr$Ak·zIt al hDcDo_rRvSa [wyDtOqdIx]

:twmy MD;b aDfDj_rRvSa wtaDfAjVbw

tyE;b an_woVmIv yDnOdSa JKr;d NEkD;ty al MR;trAmSaw Ezek. 18:25

:wn`EkD;ty al MRkyEkrd alSh N$EkD;ty al yI;krdSh l$EarVcy

MRhyElSo tEmw lwDo hDcDow wtqdIxIm qy;dAx_bwvV;b Ezek. 18:26

s :twmy hDcDo_rRvSa wlwAoV;b

fDpVvIm cAoAyw h$DcDo rRvSa wtDoVvr`Em o#Dvr bwvVbw Ezek. 18:27

:h`RyAjy wvVpn_tRa awh hqdVxw

hDcDo rRvSa wyDoDvVp_lD;kIm [bDvYΥy][w] bwvΥyw hRaryw Ezek. 18:28

:twmy al hRyVjy wyDj

yDnOdSa JKr;d NEkD;ty al l$EarVcy tyE;b ЊwrVm`Daw Ezek. 18:29

:N`EkD;ty al MRkyEkrd alSh l$EarVcy tyE;b ЊwnVk`D;ty al yAkr;dAh

l$EarVcy tyE;b MRkVtRa fOpVvRa wy%DkrdI;k vyIa NEkDl Ezek. 18:30

hRyVhy_alw M$RkyEoVvIp_lD;kIm ЊwbyIvDhw wbwv hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan

:NOwDo lwvVkImVl MRkDl

rRvSa MRkyEoVvIp_lD;k_tRa M#RkyElSoEm wkyIlVvAh Ezek. 18:31

hD;mDlw hDvdSj Ajwrw vdDj bEl MRkDl wcSow M$D;b MR;tVoAvVp

:l`EarVcy tyE;b wtUmDt

hIwhy yDnOdSa MUan t$E;mAh twmV;b XOpVjRa al yI;k Ezek. 18:32

p :wyVj`Iw wbyIvDhw

:l`EarVcy yEayIcn_lRa hYnyIq aDc hD;tAaw Ezek. 19:1

hDxDbr twyrSa NyE;b aYΥyIbVl KV;mIa hDm #D;trAmDaw Ezek. 19:2

:Dhyrwg hDtV;br MyrIpV;k JKwtV;b

dAmVlyw hDyDh ryIpV;k DhyrgIm dDjRa lAoA;tw Ezek. 19:3

:l`DkDa MdDa PrRf_PrVfIl

whUaIbyw cDpVtn MD;tVjAvV;b MIywg wyDlEa woVmVvyw Ezek. 19:4

:MyrVxIm XrRa_lRa MyIjAj`Ab

dDjRa j;qI;tw ;hDtwVqI;t hdVbDa h$DlSjwn yI;k arE;tw Ezek. 19:5

:whVt`DmDc ryIpV;k DhyrgIm

dAmVlyw hDyDh ryIpV;k twyrSa_JKwtV;b JKE;lAhVtyw Ezek. 19:6

:l`DkDa MdDa PrRf_PrVfIl

XrRa MAvE;tw byrTjRh MRhyrDow wy$DtwnVmVlAa odдyw Ezek. 19:7

:wtgSaAv lw;qIm ;h$DalVmw

wyDlDo wcrVpy`Aw twnydV;mIm byIbDs MIywg wyDlDo wnV;tyw Ezek. 19:8

:c`DpVtn MD;tVjAvV;b MD;tVvr

lRbD;b JKRlRm_lRa whUaIbyw My$IjAj`A;b rgw;sAb whUnV;ty`Aw Ezek. 19:9

yrDh_lRa dwo wlwq oAmDvy_al NAo#AmVl tw$dOxV;mA;b ЊwhUaIby

p :l`EarVcy

hΥyrOp hDlwtVv MyAm_lAo KVmdV;b NRpRgAk KV;mIa Ezek. 19:10

:My`I;br MyA;mIm hDtyDh h$DpnSo`Aw

;hA;bgI;tw My$IlVvOm yEfVbIv_lRa z#Oo twfAm ;hDl_wyVh`Iyw Ezek. 19:11

:wy`DtOyIl;d bOrV;b w$hVbgVb aryw MyItObSo NyE;b_lAo wtDmwq

Myd;qAh Ajwrw hDk$DlVvUh XrDaDl hDmEjV;b vA;tU;tw Ezek. 19:12

:whVt`DlDkSa vEa ;hDzUo hEfAm wvEbyw wqrDpVtIh ;hDyrIp vyIbwh

:a`DmDxw hDyIx XrRaV;b rD;bdI;mAb hDlwtVv hD;tAow Ezek. 19:13

hDl$DkDa ;hDyrIp DhyЮ;dAb hEfA;mIm v%Ea aExE;tw Ezek. 19:14

yIhV;tw ayIh hnyq lwvVmIl fRbEv zOo_hEfAm ;hDb hyDh_alw

p :h`DnyIqVl

 


Lesson Outline

 

God's reply to the invalid hopes of the Israelites, chapters 1219

 

1.     The dramatic tragedy of exile, 12:1-20

a.     Sign of the luggage, 12:1-16

b.     Sign of the trembling eater, 12:17-20

 

2.     The present judgment as evidence of divine faithfulness, 12:21-28

a.     Message of impending judgment

 

3.     The condemnation of contemporary false prophets, ch. 13

a.     False prophets denounced, 13:1-16

b.     False prophetesses denounced, 13:17-23

 

4.     The effect of false prophets on Israel's leaders, 14:1-11

a.     Message against the elders of Israel

b.     Repentance may avert judgment (though there is no guarantee)

 

5.     The need of personal righteousness for deliverance, 14:12-23

a.     Intercession will not avert judgment, even that of Noah, Daniel and Job

b.     Four possible judgments mentioned:

                                                              i.     Famine

                                                               ii.     Wild beasts

                                                                 iii.     The sword

                                                                iv.     Plague

c.     "Their conduct and actions" (repeated 7 times) refers in each case to evil actions

 

6.     The unprofitable vine of Jerusalem, ch. 15

a.     Parable of the vine, 15:1-8

b.     The Lord's clear interpretation of the parable, 15:6-8

 

7.     Jerusalem's history as a prostitute (or faithless wife), ch. 16

a.     The unwanted child, 16-1-5

b.     The unwanted child claimed in marriage, 16:6-14

c.     The unfaithful wife, 16:15-34

d.     The punishment of the wife, 16:35-43

e.     The enormity of the wife's sins, 16:44-52

f.      Restoration of the wife, 16:53-59

g.     Renewal of the covenant, 16:60-63

 

8.     The riddle and parable of the two eagles, ch. 17

a.     The two eagles, 17:1-21

b.     The tender twig, 17:22-24

 

9.     The importance of individual righteousness, ch. 18

a.     Complaints of the exiles, 18:1-2

b.     Principle of judgment stated, 18:3-4

c.     Principle of judgment illustrated, 18:5-18

                                                              i.     The righteous man, 18:5-9

                                                               ii.     The wicked son, 18:10-13

                                                                 iii.     The righteous grandson, 18:14-18

d.     Principle of judgment summarized, 18:19-20

e.     Principle of judgment elaborated, 18:21-32

 

10.  A lament for the kings of Israel, ch. 19

a.     Jehoahaz taken captive to Egypt, 19:1-4

b.     Jehoiachin taken captive to Babylon, 19:5-9

c.     Zedekiah taken captive to Babylon, 19:10-14

 

 

 

McKay's Notes

 

These are the third cycle of prophecies in the general series, which runs from chapters 4 through 24. It can be roughly summarized as a "grocery list" of reasons God is sending His people into exile and handing over His city to foreigners for its destruction.

 

You get the impression that Ezekiel is practically jumping up and down in frustration by this point, trying with everything he has to get the peoples attention, and warn them of what disaster is about to befall them. This has a very modern, current comparison to the constant warnings we receive about our lifestyles (deficit spending, high credit holdings, "balloon" mortgages, rampant immorality, etc.) and how they cannot help but impact the future of our nation.

 

The messages in this section focus on the specific reason for the fall of Judah that go beyond those enumerated in chapters 8-11.

 

Ten separate prophetic condemnations are in this section, each of which begins with a formulistic introduction: "The word of the Lord came to me." This continues Ezekiel's autobiographical style of writing (which helps confirm his authorship, linguistically) .

 

Seven specific and disparate reasons for the destruction of Jerusalem are included in this section, and summarized in 19:1-4.

 

Eight additional reasons for the exile of God's people are elaborated on in the longest single message included in the book of Ezekiel, 16:15-34.

 

 

 


IVP-New Bible Commentary

 

 

 

12:1-16 An acted message: exile foretold

In this oracle and its successor Ezekiel is to act out part of the message he has to convey. Although his prophecy is about the coming fall of Jerusalem, it is intended primarily for his fellowexiles in Babylon. The message has two elements. The people of Jerusalem would suffer exile. The prince (Zedekiah) would attempt to flee the city but would be caught (cf. 2 Ki. 25:4; Je. 39:4). The passage also hints at Zedekiah's fate: Ezekiel is to cover his own eyes (12:6, 12, 13). Zedekiah would be caught and blinded (2 Ki. 25:7).

            Ezekiel had to resort to acting the grim message of both this oracle and the next one. It was a means of conveying information to some who would otherwise not listen. Many people will hear only what they like to hear. Sometimes they have to be surprised into new knowledge. For Christians this must be seen as a challenge to examine our means of communicating the Good News. Fresh approaches may be more enlightening than traditional ones.

            1-6 To Ezekiel God says: 'Your people are rebellious. They only see and hear what they want to (2). Therefore perform these actions before themthey may understand: During the day pack what is needed for a journey into exile. Then set out on that journey from where you are and go to another place (3-4). In the evening make a hole in a wall, and go through it, carrying your pack on your shoulder. Wear a blindfold. Through this I have made you to be a sign to Israel' (5-6).

            7-14 Ezekiel does as he is commanded. The next day he receives the second part of the message, which he is to relay to Israel when they ask him what he is doing (7-10). He is to explain that he is a sign to them (11). To the people he is to proclaim that these actions concern the prince of Jerusalem and the whole of Israel. They will go into exile and captivity. The prince will shoulder his pack at dark and leave through a hole in the wall. He will be caught and brought to Babylon, where he will die (11-13). His followers will be dispersed to foreign lands. Some will survive to recount their evil acts. Then they will know that I am the LORD (14-16).

            Notes. 5 'Dig through the wall'the word for 'wall' here indicates a wall of a house, not the city wall. The mudbrick walls of the house could be dug through. This action would indicate the desperate nature of the flight into exile.

16 'sword, famine and plague'a common [p. 723] trio in the book of Ezekiel. The destruction of war engendered starvation and disease.

 

12:17-20 An acted message: Israel to tremble

The trauma of the coming attack on Jerusalem and its surrounding territory is to be acted out by Ezekiel's trembling. He is told to tremble as he takes his food and drink. He is to proclaim that those living in Jerusalem and in Israel would eat in anxiety and fear on account of the widespread violence. Town and country would be laid waste. Then they will know that God was their Lord.

            Note. 19 'Eat... in anxiety'cf. 4:16 where the emphasis of the acted message (cf. 4:9-17) is more on the scarcity of food.

 

12:21-25 Prophecy will be fulfilled...

Ezekiel was not the only one claiming to offer messages from God (cf. 13:1-23). The people could, with some justification, come to the conclusion that all these prophecies would never come to pass. Many had proved false before. Ezekiel warns that this time it would be different.

            There are many 'stock comforts' that people use when confronted with uncomfortable truths. Here we meet one of them: 'It will never happen'. A second one is to be found in the following oracle: 'It may happen, but not for a long time'. Ezekiel is to proclaim to Israel: 'The days when there are prophecies which do not come true are coming to an end. Soon every vision will be fulfilled. What I declare will not be delayedit will be done in your lifetime'.

            Note. 22 'Proverb'the seeming failure of prophetic forecasts had become proverbial.

 

12:26-28... and fulfilled soon

It was perhaps as a result of the preceding oracle that some people revised their opinion of Ezekiel's prophecies. They accepted that Ezekiel's warnings could be right, but would only be fulfilled in the distant future. As with today, it was easier to pass a problem on to the next generation than to face it squarely. 'After our time will come the deluge.'

            26-28 To Ezekiel the word of the Lord is: 'Israel thinks your prophecies are about the distant future' (27). But he is to proclaim: 'None of my words will be delayed any longer. What I declare will be fulfilled' (28).

            Note. 27 'Vision'cf. 7:26; 12:22.

 

13:1-23 Condemnation of false prophets and prophetesses

This oracle condemns two types of false prophets. The first grouping was wouldbe prophets who thought they really could divine the future. They expected their pronouncements to be fulfilled. Their messages were the sort people would like to hear (10). Yet despite their sincerity and their comforting messages they were wrong. The falsehood of their utterances would be exposed. It is not enough to be sincere. You can be sincerely wrong.

            The second grouping of false prophets had darker elements. For a start the prophetesses of this type operated for gain (19). Practising religion purely for economic reward is condemned in the Bible. Furthermore, they spiced up their act with some magic, possibly using a voodoolike control over people (18, 20, 21). Their actions had led to injustice, even death (19). Surprisingly, the condemnation of these witches is less severe than that of the first type of prophet. They would lose their power over the people and no longer practise their false prophecies. Perhaps their profession had resulted from economic necessity rather than malicious desire.

            1-15 Ezekiel is to proclaim to the false prophets: 'Woe to you! You have not helped Israel in her time of need. Your visions are false yet you foolishly expect them to come true (1-7). I the Lord am against you because of your false visions (8). You will not belong to the council of the people, or be listed in the book of the house of Israel, nor will you enter the land of Israel (9). You have given my people false comfort and a false sense of security (10-12). That security will be destroyed. With its demise will come yours too. Then you will know that I am the Lord' (13-15).

            16-21 To the false prophetesses Ezekiel must proclaim: 'You practised magic for gain. Your lies have led to acts of injustice being done (18, 19). I am against your magical devices and will rip them from you. I will break your hold on the people. Then you will know that I am the Lord' (20, 21).

            22-23 'You discouraged the upright and encouraged the unjust. Your practices will be stopped, then you will know that I am the Lord' (22, 23).

            Notes. 4 'Jackals among ruins'instead of trying to pick up the pieces and help people rebuild their lives, these prophets, like scavengers, were feeding off the remnants of the community.

9 Their punishment is threefold, resulting in ostracism from the Israelite society. They would be banned from the council i.e. lose any status as a leading citizen; they would be struck off the main community records, thus losing their rights as Israelite males; and they would be prevented from returning to Israel.

10 'Whitewash'the image might look good, but the reality underneath was weak and insubstantial.

18 'Magic charms... veils'the exact [p. 724] ways these women practised their magic is unclear. The purpose of their magic was to ensnare and control their victims.

19 'Barley... bread'this was their meagre fee.

 

14:1-11 Condemnation of idolatry

As a prophet Ezekiel would have been consulted by the exiles for a message from God. It seems that his status was such that even the elders of Israel came to him to 'enquire' of the Lord i.e. to hear an oracle (cf. 20:1-3).

            On this occasion it was revealed to Ezekiel that the elders had divided loyalties. They worshipped other gods in addition to the Lord. The message Ezekiel delivered was direct: they were to repent and turn from their idolatry. Anyone attempting both to worship idols and to consult a prophet of God would be punished. If such a prophet yielded to their requests he would be punished too. (See 20:1-44 for a similar topic.)

            There is no indication that the elders did not have a belief in the God of Israel. Their problem was that they also had other gods. noone can serve two (or more) masters (Mt. 6:24). There can be only one. Against the background of today's pluralism it may seem attractive to keep our options open and acknowledge many gods. The truth faces us when we become more deeply involved in one religion and find that it is incompatible with the rest. For instance, if Christ is the true way to God (John 14:6-7) other 'ways' cannot be contemplated.

            1-11 God speaks to Ezekiel concerning the elders: 'These men worship idolsshould I let them consult me?' (2-3) He is to proclaim to them: 'Repent and turn from your idolatry. If an Israeliteor a foreigner living in Israelpractises idolatry, and then seeks to consult me through a prophet, he will get a direct reponse: he will be made an example of and will be cut off from the people. Then you will know that I am the Lord (4-8). If that prophet utters a prophecy, I enticed him to do so. He will be cut off from Israel. He is as guilty as the other one who consults him. Then Israel will no longer stray. They will be my people, and I will be their God' (9-11).

            Notes. 7 'Alien'the prohibition is applied to nonIsraelite too.

9 'Enticed'if the prophet were worthy of his calling, it would be revealed to him (as in Ezekiel's case) that he should not give a prophecy at a consultation. If the prophet were not worthy, God would let him be seduced into uttering a prophecy, and that prophet would suffer the consequences.

 

14:12-23 Judgment on Israel will not be averted by the righteous few

Several of Ezekiel's oracles deal with the issues of guilt and responsibility (3:16-21; 18:1-32; 33:1-20). This oracle makes the point that a community cannot expect to escape punishment for its guilt by relying on the righteousness of a few of its members. A corrupt society cannot expect to be exonerated on the grounds that it has a few saints in its midst. Nor can having a godly ancestor atone for the faults of a corrupt family (16, 18, 20). Ezekiel warns Jerusalem not to make such a mistake. Its retribution was coming, though some would be saved.

            The oracle depicts the 'four dreadful judgments' which will afflict the land; famine (13-14), wild beasts (15-16), the sword (17-18) and plague (19-20). Such disasters were not unrelated. A debilitating war would bring with it famine, sickness and predators. There has been much debate whether modern disasters, have any direct connection with God's judgment. Ezekiel's grim message is that some natural disasters are divine punishments. Yet note that Ezekiel's task is not to exult, but to warn, so that people may turn from their ways.

            12-23 To Ezekiel the Lord says: 'If I punish a country for its unfaithfulness by sending famine upon it, even those with exemplary characters would only be able to save themselves (13, 14). If wild beasts were sent to stalk the land, or if war were declared against the country, or if a plague were to spread across the country, those with blameless characters would only be able to save themselves. Not even their sons and daughers would be saved (15-20). Thus will it be for Jerusalem, though some will be saved' (21-22).

            Notes. 14 'Noah, Daniel and Job'these three are singled out because of their outstanding righteousness. The name 'Daniel' is spelled differently from usual (cf. also 28:3) and may refer to a hero from Ugaritic literature. Most commentators believe that the Daniel of the OT would not yet have established his reputation.

21 'Four... judgments'the same four are used in Rev. 6:8.

 

15:1-8 Jerusalem the useless vine

Usually the vine is seen as a productive and valuable plant in OT imagery and as a picture of Israel, God's chosen people (cf. Is. 5). In this oracle it is pointed out that the wood of the vine is of practically no value. It is of even less value after the fire has scorched it. The people in Jerusalem had been like that vine. Little good had come from them before the siege (in 597), and there was no improvement afterwards.

            Punishment does not necessarily bring penitence. Changing the heart is the only true way to changing the actions.

            1-8 God asks Ezekiel what use is the wood of a vine? And when it gets burnt, what use are the charred remains (2-5)? The word of the Lord is [p. 725] that the people in Jerusalem will be treated like that vine. They have already gone through the fire, but they will go through it again (6-7). They will know that I am the LORD who will desolate the land because of their unfaithfulness (8).

            Note. 7 'The fire will yet consume them'another siege was to occur.

 

16:1-63 Jerusalem the unfaithful and promiscuous wife

Israel is depicted as a wildly adulterous wife, engaging in prostitution with the Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians. Her retribution would come at the hands of the very lovers she had pursued.

            The imagery may seem strong for modern tastes, but the choice of metaphor was quite appropriate. In her international dealings Israel had readily absorbed other religions, beliefs and practices. Her social intercourse had exposed her to many pagan ideas. Some of these included child sacrifice and idol worship (20, 21), but another important strand included cultic sex practices. Sexual activity was not included in worship rituals purely for the gratification of the participants but was linked to fertility, and fertility, when applied to the land, meant food and survival. Nevertheless, lust and promiscuity must still have had a presence in the cult activities.

            The practices condemned in this chapter include sex acts with idols (17) and cultic prostitution (16, 24, 25, 31). It seems that the cultic prositution which had been part of the ritual 'in the high places', i.e. the mountain shrines (16) came to be practised openly in the streets of Jerusalem itself (24, 25).

            An interesting twist to the sexual theme of the chapter is that Sodom and Samaria are cited as sisters in sin to Jerusalem (46-47). Yet the sin of Sodom that is emphasized is her arrogance and lack of social concern for the poor and helpless (49-50). Jerusalem is cited as being more committed to iniquity than her sisters. Furthermore, both Sodom and Samaria would be restored, compounding Jerusalem's shame (53-55). Yet there is hope. After Jerusalem's downfall and punishment the same suitor who rescued her at birth (4-7), took her in marriage (8), and clothed her in finery, would still remember his promise to her (59-62).

            The love of God towards his people is often likened to the love of a husband for his wife, but where a mortal husband might reject, despise, even hate a promiscuous unfaithful wife, God is patient and just and will remember his promises to his people even when they stray.

            The demand for fertility appears today in the 'developed' world's headlong quest for economic prosperity as the chief aim of life. The worship of material possessions and market forces have taken the place of Baal but are no less idolatrous.

            1-34 Ezekiel is instructed to confront Jerusalem and proclaim to her: 'When you were born you were despised (2-5). I took pity on you and kept you alive. When you reached maturity I took you as my wife and showered you with jewellery and clothes (6-14). You were famed for your beauty. Yet you used that beauty to engage in prostitution. You indulged in pagan sexual rites and other idolatrous practices. You forgot what I had done for you (15-22). Woe to you! Your promiscuity increased. You consorted publicly with foreigners from all around you, even bribing them to come to you (23-34).

            35-42 Because of your promiscuity and heathen rites I will humiliate and punish you in front of your lovers. They in turn will strip and stone you. You will stop your prostitution and my anger will then subside.

            44-58 Your behaviour runs in the family. Your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, were like you, but you are more depraved than they. I will restore the fortunes of Samaria and Sodom thus increasing your own shame. Even now you are scorned by your neighbours.

            59-63 Although you broke my covenant with you, I will remember that covenant and establish an everlasting convenant with you. You will then remember what you have done with shame.

            Notes. 3 'Amorite... Hittite'Jerusalem had existed long before it became an Israelite city.

4 'Rubbed with salt'a practice which probably had an antiseptic effect. The point of the verse is that the newborn baby was ignored at birth.

5-6 The baby was left abandoned in the open, still kicking in the blood of childbirth. This practice was not uncommon in ancient societies.

8 'Spread the corner of my garment over you'this act represented the claiming of the maiden in marriage (cf. Ru. 3:9).

9 'Washed the blood'these verses convey the total change in Jerusalem's condition. When born she was unwanted, unwashed, unclothed and lying in blood. Now she has become claimed in marriage, the water and blood are washed from her; and she is clothed with the finest dresses.

15-19 The very clothes and ornaments the bride received as presents are put to use in her prostitution.

27 'Reduced your territory'one instance where the allegory states bald fact: in 701 BC Sennacherib gave some of Jerusalem's territory to the Philistines.

35-42 Jerusalem's punishment would be like that of a prostitutehumiliation and destruction.

60-63 There is still the promise of the everlasting covenant, though Jerusalem will still be ashamed of her past. [p. 726]

 

17:1-24 Eagles, cedars and a vinea political parable

The chapter falls into three sections: 3-10 contain the allegory of the eagles and the vine; 11-21 contain the explanation of the allegory; and 22-24 contain a further allegorical promise.

            The allegory relates to the political events of the time. The first eagle is Nebuchadnezzar and the second is Pharaoh. The cedar in Lebanon represents the royal family in Jerusalem, the topmost shoot being the nobility. The 'seed of the land' was a member of the royal family, namely Zedekiah, who was placed in Jerusalem to rule. He was no longer a cedar, but a 'low, spreading vine', i.e. his powers were limited. However, Zedekiah sought to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar by the help of Egypt. This exercise ended in failure.

            The parable illustrates the point that the political arena is not outside the law of God. Zedekiah had sworn a treaty with Nebuchadnezzar in the name of God. Nebuchadnezzar may have been a cruel pagan king, but Zedekiah still had a moral obligation to honour his oath.

            1-8 Ezekiel must tell this parable to Israel: 'A splendid eagle took the topmost shoot from a cedar in Lebanon and planted it in a city noted for its commercial activity (2-4). He also took some seed and planted it in a fertile spot. The seed sprouted and grew into a leafy vine. At first, the vine's branches grew in the direction of the eagle (5-6). When a second eagle appeared, the vine directed its branches towards it instead (7-8).

            9-21 'The Lord God asks: ''Will the vine survive? Will it not be uprooted and then wither?''' (9-10). Do you not know what this means? The king of Babylon carried off Jerusalem's king and nobles to Babylon (11-12). He made one of Jerusalem's royal family swear a treaty with him and deported the chief men in the land, thus rendering it weak enough to be kept under his control (13, 14). However, the king rebelled by requesting military aid from Egypt. Will he succeed? No, he will die in Babylon. Egypt will be of no help. He will be punished for breaking his oath (15-21).

            22-24 'I the Lord will plant a cedar shoot on the mountains of Israel. It will become a splendid cedar. The others will know that I can do this' (22-24).

            Notes. 11-14 The Babylonians had executed a classic strategy for turning Israel into a puppet state. They deported the royal family, but left one of the weaker members in charge. This individual i.e. Zedekiah, was forced to sign a treaty with the Babylonians, ensuring Israel's 'allegiance'. Anyone who was deemed to be significant in running the country was deported. This action ensured that it would be difficult to organize (and administer) resistance.

16 'Die in Babylon'2 Ki. 25:1-7 relates the siege of Jerusalem and eventual capture of Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah was blinded and led off in shackles to Babylon.

22-24 Another message of hope: a new king will arrive some day and a kingdom will begin.

 

18:1-32 The accountability of the individual

This oracle is aimed directly at destroying the belief that people are bound by the guilt or merit of their parents. This belief took expression in the form of a proverb which is cited in v 2. Such a view could work in two ways. The oracle goes on to expound an example of each: (a) an evil son will not escape punishment because of the righteousness of his father (5-13), and (b) a righeous son will not be punished for the evil done by his father (14-18). The principle is declared in v 4: 'The soul who sins is the one who will die.' Ezekiel also counters the idea that salvation is solely a matter of storing up merit throughout the lifetime of an individual, and using that store to balance out iniquities. This notion is firmly rejected. If an evil man turns from his ways, he will live. If a righteous man turns to evil, he will be punished (21-28). This set of pronouncements was apparently thought to be unfair (29).

            2-4 The word of the Lord runs contrary to popular saying, for the person that commits sin will also be the one to be punished for it.

5-9 If a righteous man does what is just and right he will live.

10-13 If he has a son who is violent, unclean and oppressive, that son shall die because of his own sin.

14-18 If that man in turn has a son who avoids his father's iniquity and acts righteously, that son will not be punished for his father's sins. He will live.

19-20 The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor the father that of his son.

21-22 However if an evil man turns away from his sin, and starts to do what is just and right, he shall live.

24 If a righteous man turns away from his upright ways, and starts to do iniquity, he shall die.

            25-29 In spite of what Israel says, this teaching is not unjust.

30-31 Each will be judged according to what he/she has done. So repentget a new heart and spirit. The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (23, 32).

            Notes. 2 (cf. Je. 31:29)Jeremiah too had prophesied that this proverb would come to an end. The thrust of the saying is that people may suffer for the sins of their ancestors.

6-9 A selective list of sins is given here. This list is paralleled by those in vs 11-13 and 15-17. [p. 727]

19 This issue seems to have been one where the prophet's pronouncement was questioned. The great significance of inheritance and community in middleeastern cultures would have made such views harder to accept than in today's individualist societies. Today we blame 'society', rather than our ancestors, for our woes. In either case we are attempting to shift the blame from ourselves.

 

19:1-14 Lament for the princes of Israel

This chapter is a lament depicting in allegorical fashion the downfall of David's dynasty. A lioness (Israel) gives birth to several cubs (kings) who grow up to be strong lions. However, one of the kings is captured and led off to Egypt. Another is caught and caged and taken to Babylon (in 597 BC cf. 2 Ki. 25:1-7).

            In v 10 the imagery changes and Israel is likened to a vine which, although once strong, is uprooted and transplanted to the desert (i.e. Babylon). Fire spreads from one of its branches, consuming its fruit. No strong branch is left. The reference is to Nebuchadnezzar's deportation of the princes of Israel to Babylon. The rebellion by Zedekiah (the fire from one of the vine's branches) caused the Babylonians to effect so severe a retribution that David's line was brought to an end.

            The lament underlines the fact that past glories are no guarantee for the future. Western civilization has been living on its Christian heritage but the true faith has departed. The heritage is fast running out.

            1-9 Ezekiel is to take up this lament for the princes of Israel: 'Your royal line once produced a lion who became strong and was a maneater. The nations heard about him, captured him, and dragged him off with hooks to Egypt (2-4). A second lion became strong. He was a maneater. He threatened towns and terrified the inhabitants of the land. The nations came and trapped him and took him to the king of Babylon and imprisoned him (5-9).

            10-14 'Your royal line was once like a luxuriant vine with many branches. It was then uprooted. The east wind shrivelled it up and its branches withered and burnt. It has now been transplanted into the desert. Fire has devoured its branches and fruit. It no longer has a branch fit for a royal sceptre'.

            Note. 12 'The east wind'i.e. the Babylonians.

 

 

 

IVP-Old Testament Commentary

 

12:1-28

Prophecy of the Exile

 

12:5. digging through the wall. As depicted in Assyrian reliefs, a number of different measures were used to breach the defenses of a city under siege. Among these was undermining or drilling through the city walls. Ezekiel, since he was digging from the outside of his wall inward, therefore took on the role of the Babylonians, who were working, at God's command, to break through into the city.

12:6. covering the face. There were occasions when the face was covered in mourning or shame, but those use a different verb than the one used here. It is likely that covering the face here symbolizes the fate of the king he is representing (vv. 1213).

12:6. sign to Israel. Ezekiel's enacted prophecy provided God's sign of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people. By performing this set of actions, Ezekiel became the message. Sign-acts often go even further, as the prophet's life itself becomes a sign (see Is 8:18; Jer 16:2; Hos 1).

12:10. prince in Jerusalem. At the time Ezekiel was speaking, Zedekiah was the ruler of Jerusalem. He was the third son of Josiah to sit on the throne, although his power to rule was strictly curtailed and under the supervision of Nebuchadnezzar (see 2 Kings 24:1517). The fact that Ezekiel refers to Zedekiah as "prince" (Hebrew nasi}) instead of as king (Hebrew melek) is an indication that he does not consider him the true successor of David.

12:13. net, snare. The image of God snaring his enemies in a net is a common one in ancient Near Eastern art. Among the most graphic is the Stele of the Vultures, which depicts the Sumerian god Ningirsu holding a net of woven reeds in his left hand. Imprisoned within the net are the soldiers of Umma who had attacked Eannatum, the king of Lagash. Egyptian art from the reign of Necho II portrays the pharaoh gathering his foes in a gigantic net (see Hab 1:1415).

12:13. land of Chaldeans. The Chaldeans are first mentioned in Mesopotamian sources in the ninth century B.C. Although related ethnically to the other Aramean tribes of southern Babylonia, they had a distinct tribal structure. As the Assyrian empire began to weaken, Chaldean leaders, including Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar, eventually gained their independence and established the Neo-Babylonian dynasty after 625 B.C. The areas that they controlled and within which they settled the exiles from Judah ranged from all of southern Mesopotamia to the region west of Haran on the upper reaches of the Euphrates River.

12:13. will not see it, there he will die. This statement was fulfilled in the blinding of King Zedekiah after the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar's troops. Although he would be taken into the exile and would spend the rest of his life a prisoner, Zedekiah's eyes were destroyed after he was forced to witness the execution of his children (see 2 Kings 25:7). The practice of gouging out a prisoner's eyes appears in the Assyrian Annals of Ashurnasirpal II in the ninth century and those of Sargon II in the eighth century. This was simply one of several terror tactics employed to frighten and humiliate their enemies.

12:18. anxious eating and drinking. Since eating and drinking are the most basic activities of daily life, the mood at the table often reflects current conditions. At the Passover, the Israelites were to eat their meal "in haste" as a reflection of their readiness to leave. Here the anxiety betrays the threat they are living under.

12:24. flattering divinations. The task of the diviner was to determine the will of a god or gods through various ritualized actionsthe examination of sheep entrails, consultation with the dead (1 Sam 28:8) or the study of the astrological configurations. All of these practices were forbidden by Israelite law (see the comment on Deut 18:1013) because of their association with false gods and false religions. Naturally, a diviner would wish to please his paying clients and thus might be inclined to flatter or seduce them with his manner and statements (compare Prov 26:2426). Such desirable predictions were out of place and to be considered similar to those condemned by Jeremiah (see Jer 27:910).

 

 

13:1-23

False Prophets

 

13:10. flimsy wall covered with whitewash. Ezekiel uses an analogy similar to that in Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11. In both prophets reality is covered up and people delude themselves into believing that a wound is not serious or a wall is sturdy. It reflects the tendency to hide structural problems with cosmetic solutions. Mesopotamian law codes also deal with unscrupulous builders and homeowners who neglect repairs or attempt to hide unsafe workmanship (see both the Laws of Eshnunna and Hammurabi's Code).

13:11. God's destructive forces. The flimsy walls, held together by layers of plaster, cannot withstand the forces of nature unleashed by God. As in Isaiah 28:2 and 30:30, rain with accompanying high winds and destructive hailstones was to be considered God's voice, thundering out an answer and indictment on Judah. A similar image is found in the Sumerian Lament over the Destruction of Ur. In this recitation of misery, the poet describes how the god Enlil withheld the gentle winds that bring the rains needed for their crops. In their place were the desert winds (sirocco) that evaporated all the moisture from the ground and raging storm winds that collapsed buildings and whistled alarmingly through the gates of abandoned cities.

13:14. foundation laid bare. God's wrath is so strong that the symbolic wall constructed of deceptive prophecy is to be totally razed to its bare foundations. Its foundation will be seen for what it is: self-interest and self-advancement rather than the word of God. Foundations usually consisted of a few courses of stone laid in trenches.

13:18. sewing magic charms on wrists. The practice described here is a bit uncertain since the Hebrew term kesatot only appears in this chapter (vv. 18 and 20). It is possible that it is related to the Akkadian kasitu, "binding magic." Babylonian incantation texts describe how persons wishing to bind others to their will made bands that they wore on their arms or wrists, empowering them with an oath. Perhaps these false female prophets were employing something similar, or perhaps Ezekiel was simply comparing their influence to a practice known to him from Babylonia.

13:18. various length veils. Again, an Akkadian word, possibly sapahu ("to loosen"), may be the basis for the item mentioned here. If it is a parallel to the wristbands previously mentioned, then the "veil" might have been worn around the neck as another magic device to bind people to the woman's will. Certainly, a form of "attachment" is intended. Whatever paraphernalia are referred to in this verse, it is generally accepted that it indicates the presence of a familiar type of witchcraft that attempts to control its victims.

 

 

14:1-23

Judgment Against Idolatry

 

14:1-3. elders coming to inquire. The elders served as the authorities for the exiles. They came to Ezekiel as supplicants seeking counsel and an oracle. The gesture of sitting before him (at his feet) indicates his role as teacher and spokesperson for God. There is some question whether they sincerely accepted his authority or were simply curious about what he could offer as a word of God.

14:14. Noah, Daniel, Job. While Noah and Job are easily identified as righteous sages of antiquity, it has seemed unlikely to many interpreters that Ezekiel would place a contemporary prophet, Daniel, in this group. This chapter, however, likely dates from the late 590s. By that time Daniel had been in Babylon for almost fifteen years and would have been in his late twenties or early thirties. His success had come early (see comment on Dan 2:1), so he had been in a high position in the court for a decade. Nevertheless, Daniel does not mesh easily with the profile of the other two. First, both of them are non-Israelites. Noah lived during the flood and prior to Abraham. Job was from Uz, usually located around Edom. A Babylonian wisdom document that contains arguments on suffering similar to those in the book of Job suggests a long tradition for his character. Seeking a highly reputed character from antiquity, some interpreters have considered it possible that the Daniel mentioned here refers to Danil, the wise king of ancient Ugarit who was the father of the hero Aqhat. Like Deborah (Judg 4:5), Danil sat beneath a tree hearing the cases of his people, dispensing justice to widows and orphans. Since he is not associated with Yahweh worship, however, it would be difficult to envision Ezekiel giving Danil such an elevated status. As in the case of the marking of the innocents in Ezekiel 9, these three great wise men, known for their individual righteousness, could only save themselves during the coming catastrophe. The implication that a certain number of righteous persons is necessary to save a city from God's wrath (see Gen 18:2332; Jer 5:1) is thus set aside in the face of Judah's violations of the covenant.

14:15. wild beasts as judgment. In the passage from verses 1520, God posits a variety of means to punish the people of Judah for their crimes and thus cleanse the land of its impurity. With respect to using wild beasts as the instrument of God's wrath, see the comment on 5:17.

 

 

15:1-8

Analogy of the Vine

 

15:2-7. vine parables and metaphors. Like Isaiah in the "Song of the Vineyard" (Is 5:17), Ezekiel uses the vine as a metaphor for Judah (see also Ezek 17:510). In each case the uselessness of the vine versus a branch or a tree well rooted is the justification for its destruction. A similar image appears in an Egyptian wisdom piece, the Instruction of Amenemope. There too a plant that serves as the metaphor for fools who speak without thinking is uprooted, burned and destroyed because it soon withers and has no value once uprooted. The metaphor of a city as an unproductive plant is known from the Myth of Erra and Ishum (known copies date to the eighth century) in which Marduk laments Babylon. He says that he filled it with seeds like a pine cone, but no fruit came from it, and he planted it like an orchard but never tasted its fruit.

 

 

16:1-63

Analogy of the Discarded Woman

 

16:3. ancestry in land of Canaanites. Biblical references to Jerusalem describe it originally as a Jebusite city (Josh 18:28). David captured it and transformed it into the Israelite capital (2 Sam 5:610). Mention of Jerusalem is also found in nineteenth- and eighteen-century B.C. execration documents from Egypt and the fourteenth-century El Amarna texts. By making this identification, Ezekiel attempts to set aside the people's pride in Jerusalem as their city as God begins to lay out the indictment against Judah.

16:3. father an Amorite, mother a Hittite. This passage operates on two levels. First, it is correct to tie Jerusalem, at least the Jebusite city, to Amorite and North Syrian Hittite political origins. This is established by its mention in the El Amarna texts. However, on a symbolic level, in confronting Jerusalem with its mixed ancestry (tying it to three of the seven major inhabitant groups of Canaan listed in Ex 3:8), God identifies the place and the people as utterly corrupt. When the land was conquered, it was the responsibility of the Israelites to purify it of its idolatrous traditions (Deut 7:15), but instead the people became just like the nations they were supposed to displace.

16:4. treatment of a newborn. All of the actions described here would ordinarily be those of the midwife. She would cut and tie off the umbilical cord, rinse the placenta off the newborn, clean the baby's skin with salt water and finally wrap it in a blanket. The child would then be presented to the parents to be named. However, in this case the child is not accepted as a member of the household and instead is abandoned in a field, where its fate is left up to God. In the ancient world the role of the midwife in preparing the birthing room and caring for the newborn is often attributed to deity, especially in metaphors. In a segment of the Babylonian Atrahasis Epic the fertility goddess Mami is the midwife of the gods who brings humanity into being. In the Egyptian Hymn to the Aten, the sun god presides as midwife over the lands of Egypt each morning. The midwife rituals involved provide for the physical needs of the child as well as making a symbolic transference from the realm of the womb to the living world.

16:5. child exposure. Both classical and ancient Near Eastern sources make mention of infanticide. Graphic evidence of this from the Roman-Byzantine period has been found in recent excavations at Ashkelon, where the remains of a hundred infants who had been disposed of in a sewer drain were uncovered. Infanticide was usually employed to get rid of female or malformed children. This was done as a means of either population control or economic necessity, since many villages were barely able to feed and care for healthy children and adults. The fact that the infant's parents "cast it out" into a field has legal implications as well. They are renouncing all legal claims to the child and leaving it up to God and/or another person to "adopt" and thus save the child's life. Among the examples of this practice are Moses' exposure in the Nile (though this was not total abandonment; his sister was instructed to watch and see what would happen; Ex 2:110) and the birth legend of Sargon of Akkad.

16:8. covering nakedness with corner of garment. This is a legal and symbolic gesture by the husband that he intends to provide for the needs of his wife. It is further confirmed by the taking of an oath (bert). Another example of the practice is Boaz's expansive covering of Ruth on the threshing floor when he agrees to serve as her advocate before the village elders (Ruth 3:9).

16:9. ointments. As part of the marriage ritual, a "day of bathing" and anointing occurred that symbolized the transference of care of the young woman from her parents to her husband. Old Babylonian documents attest to this ceremony, and it may also be at the heart of a Middle Assyrian law in which a man pours oil over the head of a woman who is about to become a part of his household. This gesture stands in stark contrast to the lack of care given the infant child in Ezekiel 16:4.

16:10. embroidered dress. Among the bridal gifts is embroidered cloth for her gown. Only the finest cloth was embroidered, and it was considered a prize in war (Judg 5:30) as well as a luxury item suitable for trade with other countries (Ezek 27:16). On a more practical level, both Hammurabi's Code and the Lipit Ishtar Code from Mesopotamia list oil, grain and clothing as the items that husbands are required to supply their wives.

16:10. leather sandals. Ordinary sandals were made from woven fibrous material, secured with leather thongs (Is 5:27). For footwear to be entirely made of leather would be a luxury and a signifier of both wealth and power. Fine leather sandals are represented on Shalmaneser III's Black Obelisk panels (ninth century B.C.) and on wall paintings from the time of the Assyrian king Sargon II (721705 B.C.).

16:11-12. jewelry. The full array of jewelry provided by the husband consists of many of the types of jewelry regularly used to adorn a woman's body and head (compare the more complete list in Is 3:1823). Like the bride gifts for Rebekah (Gen 24:22), there are arm bracelets, possibly with animal heads at each end. The necklace may have been a strand of beads or linked metal rings similar to those in Assyrian reliefs or the Nimrud ivories depicting royal Assyrian women. The nose ring again follow the style of Rebekah's adornment (Gen 24:22), and the earrings were probably ovoid loops inserted into pieced ears. Most striking of all is the golden crown or tiara that completes the ensemble of a ruler's wife and has parallels in both Egyptian and Assyrian art.

16:13. fine foods. Just as Yahweh has provided the Israelites with food throughout their history, now, in this marriage metaphor, Yahweh as the bridegroom and husband provides Jerusalem the bride and wife with the very best quality flour, honey and olive oil. These staples are listed in the Mesopotamian law codes as the items due a wife for her daily maintenance. In this case, however, special provision is made to insure that she receives the very best with which to make her breadsomething that will then serve as a charge against her when she offers these items to other gods (Ezek 16:19).

16:15. prostitution in the ancient world. In ancient Mesopotamia a distinction can be drawn between commercial prostitution and "sacral sexual service" (as G. Lerner terms it). The term harimtu is used for both in cuneiform texts (for instance it is a harimtu who "civilizes" Enkidu in the Gilgamesh Epic), but there is a difference in social status as well as purpose. The sacral sexual service provided at the temple was tied into the sacred marriage ritual that insured fertility for the land. There were various levels of priestesses, from the high priestess, who represented the goddess Ishtar/Inanna and was said to be "visited" by the god Marduk each night, to cloistered female orders and more public figures like the naditu, who could own property, conduct business and even marry. The fact that commercial prostitution occurred near temples is based on the same considerations that brought prostitutes to frequent taverns and the city gatehigh traffic areas mean more customers. Both temple sacral servants and prostitutes accepted payment, but the former were expected to dedicate these offerings to the gods. What is particularly incongruous about the bride Jerusalem is that she is said to pay her lovers for their favors, an obvious reference to idolatry and the rejection of the covenant with Yahweh. For further discussion see comment on Deuteronomy 23:1718.

16:16. garments used to make high places. Once again the double meaning in the text refers both to the high places (bamt) where idolatrous worship took place as well as to the gaudily decorated beds of prostitutes on raised platforms. Similarly, Isaiah 57:7 describes making one's bed on a lofty hill where sacrifice is made to idols. Proverbs 7:1617 warns that the harlot's bed is covered with enticingly colorful and expensive garments (compare Ezek 23:17)choice colored linens like those that God had given to the bride Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16:10.

16:17. male idols. Mesopotamian sacred texts contain exact descriptions for fashioning an image of the god. There were additional rituals, including the "opening of the mouth" ceremony, which animated the image so that it could serve as a repository of the god's power and presence. Since this is specifically a male idol in Ezekiel, it is possible that an exact replica of a god is meant (usually featuring a crown or raised spear). However, it is also possible that a bull (compare the golden calf in Ex 32:24) or a phallic symbol was created. Using precious metals to create an idol is also found in the story of Micah in Judges 17:45.

16:20. human sacrifice. For previous discussion of child sacrifice to Molech, see the comments on Leviticus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 18:10. In this instance, children, the gift of Yahweh as part of the covenantal agreement, are being "fed" to the gods who have become Jerusalem's "lovers." This follows the line of reasoning that had begun with creating the image, dressing and anointing it, and then providing it with meals. All of these rituals have Mesopotamian counterparts in descriptions of their temple service, where two meals a day were served to the images of the gods. It was more specifically Phoenician and Canaanite practice, however, to offer children as sacrifices to the gods.

16:24. built a mound. To demonstrate her desire to play the role of the prostitute, Jerusalem constructed mounds (Hebrew geb) in prominent places. These may have been stylized representations of the harlot's bed (see Prov 7:1617) that served as the prostitute's "shingle," advertising her presence and her profession.

16:24-25. shrine in every square. The term employed here, rama, is not the usual one for shrine. It appears elsewhere as a platform (1 Sam 22:6), and like geb, may have simply been the symbol used to advertise the presence of a prostitute in that place. The fact that it is constructed in a public square simply makes good business sense. The woman would have wanted as high a traffic flow as possible in order to insure her commercial success. Taking it back to the metaphor of Jerusalem's idolatry recalls the multiple altars and shrines erected by Solomon for the gods of his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:48). For shrines on every street corner see the comment on 2 Chronicles 28:24.

16:27. territory reduction. When the treaty obligations of an ally or vassal are not fulfilled, it is the prerogative of the overlord to take punitive action. For instance, when Hezekiah of Judah refused to pay his annual tribute to the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, the latter states in his Annals that Hezekiah's territory was reduced and given to other vassal kings to administer. In this passage, a double meaning is expressed in the use of the word hoq for "territory." It usually refers to a regular allotment of food (Prov 30:8), but here in a covenant context it connotes that portion which the nation assumes belongs to it but is in fact a gift of God.

16:26-29. Egypt, Assyrian, Babylonia. As Ezekiel expounds on the theme of the evil that comes from foreign entanglements, he cites, in chronological order, countries that have seduced Judah away from Yahweh. These alliances have subsequently brought ruin upon the nation. It was Egypt's political meddling that the Rabshakeh (NIV: "field commander") chided Hezekiah about in Isaiah 36:6. More recently, Zedekiah's apparent alliance with Psammeticus II had brought Nebuchadnezzar's armies to besiege Jerusalem (see the comment on Jer 37:58). The Assyrians had imposed vassalage on Judah, but Ahaz had freely submitted himself, providing even more political and social assistance to the Assyrian cause (see 2 Kings 16:39). Finally, in Ezekiel's time the king of Judah continued the long-standing relationship with the Chaldeans that had begun in Hezekiah's time with the envoys of Merodach-Baladan (2 Kings 20:1219). The reference to a "land of merchants" may be Ezekiel's astute judgment that Judah once again was simply a pawn in the economic and political game of the Near Eastern superpowers.

16:36. children's blood. This is a reiteration of the charge made in verse 20 that Jerusalem has sacrificed her children on the altars to other gods. As is noted in Psalm 106:3839, not only is this considered an abomination, but it also would be considered the shedding of "innocent blood," one of the worst possible sins (see 2 Kings 21:16; Jer 26:15).

16:45. father an Amorite, mother a Hittite. See the comment on Ezekiel 16:3. Ezekiel's reference is not only to these Canaanite peoples but also to the intermarriage that must have taken place over the centuries between them and the Israelites.

16:46. Samaria and Sodom. The warning is quite clear here. Both Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, and Sodom were destroyed, having been judged corrupt by God (see Gen 19:1225 and 2 Kings 17:518). The reference to Samaria as the older or "big" sister may refer to its relative importance as the capital of ten tribes. It was constructed by Omri (1 Kings 16:24) in the ninth century and thus was much "younger" than even David's Jerusalem. God may have chosen Sodom simply because of the tradition of its destruction (Amos 4:11). As a city, it probably predated Jerusalem's founding, but it was probably smaller in terms of size, given the ease with which it is said to have been captured in Genesis 14:811.

16:57. Edom and Philistia. Given the apparent alliance between the Edomites and the Chaldeans at the time of Jerusalem's siege (see Ps 137:7), they would be in a position to gloat over or even loot Judah once the Babylonians had conquered the capital (see the comment on Jer 49:7). Philistia during the seventh century vacillated between antagonism and alliance with the Babylonians. Ashkelon, for instance, was sacked and burned by Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C. In any case, Jerusalem's capture in 597 and destruction in 587 would have been the basis upon which other states could chide the people of Jerusalem, considering that city to be the new Sodom and evidence of God's righteous anger against a corrupt and disobedient nation.

 

 

17:1-24

Eagles and the Vine

 

17:1. allegories and parables in ancient world. It was a common rhetorical device in ancient storytelling to use allegories and parables to make a point or create an image that would be more understandable or expressive to the audience. This is especially true in ancient wisdom literature and in prophetic texts. For instance, in the twentieth-century B.C. Egyptian Dispute Between a Man and His Ba a despondent man's soul tells him a parable about death and its unpredictability. Another Egyptian text, the Instruction of Ankhsheshonqy (eighth century B.C.), uses a vacant house and an unmarried woman as allegories for waste. The Egyptian Love Songs (thirteenth century B.C.) are filled with allegories comparing the various attributes of a beautiful woman to a lush marsh, a lotus bud and mandrake blossoms. In the prophetic visions of the Egyptian sage Neferti (twentieth century B.C.), he describes the invasion of Egypt as marked by the nest of a "strange bird" in the marsh and the appearance of desert herds drinking from the Nile. The images conjured up by these short tales and wordplays enhance enjoyment and drive home the author's point.

17:3. animal and tree fables. Among the most popular types of fables were those in which an animal talks (see the comment on Num 22:2831) or trees have a conversation or perform some action (see comment on Judg 9:8). There are several examples of this in ancient Near Eastern literature. For example, there is a dialogue between a thorn bush and a pomegranate tree in the Assyrian Words of Ahiqar (eighth century B.C.) over their relative merits. In the thirteenth-century Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers his cows warn the younger brother, Anubis, that his jealous brother Bata planned to kill him.

17:4. land of merchants. See Ezekiel 16:29 for the previous reference to the "land of merchants" as equivalent to Babylonia. King Jehoiachin, perhaps the "topmost shoot" in this allegory, had been taken into exile in 597 along with his royal court. Babylonian ration lists show that they were held under house arrest in the city of Nippur.

17:4. city of traders. Although the Phoenicians are more often associated with trade, their role was actually more as "middlemen," while the bankers and merchants who supplied the goods for transport were based in the cities of Mesopotamia (see Is 23:8). It was the Chaldean commercial empire that had, through the military efforts of the king, been able to absorb all aspects of business into their control. This is a theme that is found in many Mesopotamian annals in which a king makes an expedition "to the sea" and gains control of the "Cedars of Lebanon."

17:6-7. vine parables. See the comment on Ezekiel 15:27. The initial efforts of the gardener to care for his vine, planting it near abundant water in fertile soil, are rewarded by lush growth. However, at the appearance of the second eagle, the vine seems to reject the gardener's attentions and loses its purpose. It sends out tendrils toward the second bird as if seeking another, unnecessary, water source. This failure to respond as expected makes the parable similar to the "Song of the Vineyard" in Isaiah 5:17.

17:12. deportation of king and nobles. The interpretation of the parable of the eagle and the vine is the taking of Jehoiachin and his royal court as hostages by Nebuchadnezzar after the city of Jerusalem was captured in 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:617). Like the well-cultivated vine, Jehoiachin is treated with dignity, and the ration lists from Nebuchadnezzar's official records prove that he was well fed. If the model of Daniel and his three friends could be used here, it seems likely that Jehoiachin and his advisers were being assimilated into Babylonian culture so that they could eventually be restored to Jerusalem to serve as the king's loyal administrators (Dan 1:35).

17:13. member of royal family. After capturing Jerusalem in 597 B.C., the Babylonian Chronicle records that Nebuchadnezzar took King Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, as his hostage. Nebuchadnezzar then installed Jehoiachin's uncle, the third son of Josiah, on the throne of Judah. His name was originally Mattaniah, but the Babylonian king renamed him Zedekiah as a gesture demonstrating his puppet status (2 Kings 24:17).

17:15. Zedekiah's rebellion and deal with Egypt. Despite the example of 597 and the deportation of Jehoiachin, Zedekiah entertained ideas of rebellion against the Babylonians. He met with envoys from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon early in his reign (Jer 27:3) and apparently had dealings with Pharaoh Psammeticus II (see the comment on Jer 34:21). See the comment on Jeremiah 37:58 for discussion of the troop movements of the Egyptians. Pharaoh Apries made at least a brief response to Zedekiah's plea for help, but it did not prevent the fall of Jerusalem.

17:17. ramps and siege works. Although the portion of the Babylonian Chronicle that has survived does not contain a description of the siege of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 25:1), a similar operation is described in Sennacherib's Assyrian Annals from 701 B.C. It may be assumed that plans were laid for a long siege, since a great deal of time-consuming labor went into the construction of ramps and towers. See the comments on Jeremiah 6:6 and Ezekiel 4:2 for discussion of siege technology.

17:18. oath and covenant. Zedekiah's fate is attributed to his failure to honor his oath or treaty obligations. Treaties between nations typically contained a list of curses that will be inflicted on the party that violates the covenant between them. These treaties were signed under oath to the respective deities. That way, if the treaty were violated, it would become the responsibility of the country's own god(s) to punish the oath-breaker.

17:22. planting a cedar sprig. Just as the great eagle first plucked the topmost shoot from the cedar in verse 4, now Yahweh (identified as the eagle) will take a tender sprig and plant it on a high mountain. Following this line of reasoning, the Davidic house will be allowed to continue through the line of Jehoiachin. Similar horticultural metaphors for the revival of the Davidic House are found in Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5.

17:23. cosmic tree where animals find shelter. The concept of the cosmic tree or the "one tree" is common to many peoples and traditions. It stands as a representation of beauty and fertility, drawing its sustenance from the waters of the earth and providing shelter and food to all creatures that shelter under its bows. In ancient Near Eastern sources its symmetry and stability provide a check against death and a promise of the continuance of existence. Thus in Assyrian art is found a stylized tree of life that may have represented the role of the king to care for his people (see comment on Dan 4:1012).

 

 

18:1-32

Responsibility for Sin

 

18:5-9. negative confession from the Book of the Dead. Since the soul or ka of the dead Egyptian was to be examined by Osiris, the god of the underworld, a primer to prepare a person for this "final exam" was created, entitled the Book of the Dead. Its form, often painted on or carved into tomb walls, has its origins in early dynastic periods (2500 B.C.), and it continued to be refined at least until 500 B.C. One of the most popular sections was a declaration of innocence in the form of a negative confession. Examples include "I have not sinned against my neighbors" and "I have not mistreated cattle." A similar document appears in Job 31.

18:6. eating at mountain shrines. Presumably this is a charge of idolatry at local high places (bamt). However, there is no parallel from biblical or ancient Near Eastern law to help illumine this practice. It might be compared to the giving of Jerusalem's children as food to the gods in 16:20 and to the charge that the people of Judah are willing to "worship on every high hill" throughout the land. A similar condemnation of the use of hilltop shrines can be found in Hosea 4:13.

18:6. idols of the house of Israel. It would appear that Ezekiel is using a stock phrase coined during the late monarchy or perhaps during the exile to refer to the extreme impurity associated with idol worship. His language is intentionally vulgar and characterizes the idols in the crudest possible waythey are best likened to feces or stools of excrement.

18:8. usury in ancient Near East. Consistent with biblical law, Ezekiel considers the practice of charging interest on a loan an unrighteous act. See the comment on Exodus 22:25 for further explanation of money lending practices in the ancient Near East and the comment on Deuteronomy 15:111 for discussion of the financial systems that existed in these areas of the ancient world.

18:20. individual responsibility in the ancient Near East. While the social structure of the ancient Near East was primarily oriented toward the group (tribe, clan, family), there is a strand of individual responsibility that appears in literary and philosophical works. Among the examples of this is a statement in the Gilgamesh Epic. The Mesopotamian god Ea berates the chief god Enlil for bringing on the great flood without just cause: "On the sinner impose his sin, on the transgressor impose his transgression."

18:31. new heart, new spirit. See comment on 11:19.

 

 

19:1-14

Lament over the Princes of Israel

 

19:1. laments in ancient Near East. Laments may be personal statements of despair, such as that found in Psalm 22:121, dirges following the death of an important person (David's elegy for Saul in 2 Sam 1:1727) or communal cries in times of crisis, such as Psalm 137. The most famous lament from ancient Mesopotamia is the Lament over the Destruction of Ur, which commemorates the capture of the city in 2004 B.C. by the Elamite king Kindattu. It contains eleven stanzas, each describing a facet of the city's demise and the end of the ruling dynasty (compare Lam 2:9). Subsequently the work would have been employed prior to and during the rebuilding of the city's walls and public buildings. For more information see the sidebar in the book of Lamentations.

19:1-9. lion hunting, lion symbolism. Because of the many references in Israelite (Is 5:29; Nah 2:1112), Egyptian and Assyrian texts to the royal associations of lions, it is not surprising to find Ezekiel employing this image. There are numerous examples of lion hunting. It was a royal sport as well as a necessity when a beast became a man-eater (as on the ninth-century Assyrian plaque of Ashurnasirpal II depicting a Nubian being devoured) or a threat to villages (as in one Mari text, where a pit was used to trap the animal). The symbolism in this "lament" refers to two of the last kings of Judah (most likely Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim). This is probably a play on Jacob's blessing of his son Judah in Genesis 49:812, in which he refers to him as a "lion cub."

19:10-14. vineyard analogy. There is a strong parallel between this symbol in Ezekiel and the "Song of the Vineyard" in Isaiah 5:17. In both instances God's wrath against the vineyard is the result of failed expectations. Neither plant performed its proper role. Isaiah's vineyard produced "bad fruit," while Ezekiel's vineyard grew "high above the thick foliage," but there is little mention of fruit. All of its energy had gone to extending its branches farther and farther, a symbol for the hubris of the nation of Judah and her kings (Jehoiachin and Zedekiah). The fate is the same for these vineyards. They both become wastelands, dried by the winds, broken down with no root or branch remaining. Ezekiel in this way provides the basis for a lament over the end of the nation's independence and the setting aside of God's covenant with the House of David. See the comment on Ezekiel 15:27.

 

 

IVP Hard Sayings of the Bible

 

14:9 Is God the Author of Falsehood?

            Could the God of truth be guilty of sponsoring or condoning falsehood? Some have charged just that. The passages that are raised to back this charge are 1 Kings 22:2023, 2 Chronicles 18:1822, Jeremiah 4:10, 20:7 and Ezekiel 14:9.

            Such a charge is possible only if one forgets that many biblical writers dismiss secondary causes and attribute all that happens directly to God, since he is over all things. Therefore, statements expressed in the imperative form of the verb often represent only what is permitted to happen. Accordingly, when the devils begged Jesus to let them enter the swine, he said, "Go" (Mt 8:31). This did not make him the active sponsor of evil; he merely permitted the demons to do what they wanted to do. In a similar manner, Jesus commanded Judas, "What you are about to do, do quickly" (Jn 13:27). But Jesus did not become the author of the evil perpetrated on himself.

            God can be described as deceiving Ahab only because the biblical writer does not discriminate between what someone does and what he permits. It is true, of course, that in 1 Kings 22 God seems to do more than permit the deception. Without saying that God does evil that good may come, we can say that God overrules the full tendencies of preexisting evil so that the evil promotes God's eternal plan, contrary to its own tendency and goals.

            Because Ahab had abandoned the Lord his God and hardened his own heart, God allowed his ruin by the very instrument Ahab had sought to prostitute for his own purposes, namely, prophecy. God used the false declarations of the false prophets that Ahab was so enamored with as his instruments of judgment.

            That God was able to overrule the evil does not excuse the guilty prophets or their gullible listener. Even though the lying spirit had the Lord's permission, this did not excuse the prophets who misused their gifts. They fed the king exactly what he wanted to hear. Their words were nothing less than echoes of the king's desires. Thus the lying prophets, the king and Israel were equally culpable before God. The responsibility had to be shared. These prophets spoke "out of their own minds."

            This principle is further confirmed when we note that the passage in question is a vision that Micaiah reveals to Ahab. God is telling Ahab, "Wise up. I am allowing your prophets to lie to you." In a sense, God is revealing further truth to Ahab rather than lying to him. If God were truly trying to entrap Ahab into a life-threatening situation, he would not have revealed the plan to him! Even so, Ahab refuses to heed God's truth, and he follows his prophets' advice.

            The other two passages used to charge God with falsehood are easier to understand. In Ezekiel 14:9 we have another case of God allowing spiritual blindness to take its course. The biblical writer merely attributes the whole process of hardening of heart followed by judgment as falling within God's sovereignty. The strong statement of Jeremiah 20:7 is a complaint by the prophet, who had mistaken the promise of God's presence for the insurance that no evil or derision would come on him or his ministry. However, these verses cannot be cited as the basis for giving any credence to the charge that God is deceptive.

            Another instance where God sent an evil spirit was in Judges 9:23. There, one of Gideon's sons, Abimelech, acted as king for three years over the city of Shechem. But after those three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem so that they "acted treacherously against Abimelech."

            In this case, the "evil spirit" was the breaking out of discord and treachery against Abimelech. Once again, under the direction of his providence, but not in any positive agency, God allowed jealousies to arise, which produced factions and in turn became insurrections, civil discontent and ultimately bloodshed. God remained sovereign in the midst of all the evil that ensuedmuch of it deservedly happening to those who deliberately refused the truth and preferred their own version of reality.

 

18:120 Should Children Die for Their Fathers' Sins?

The principle governing Israelite courts was that human governments must not impute to children or grandchildren the guilt that their fathers or forebears accumulated. In Scripture each person stands before God as accountable for his or her own sin.

            While this principle is acknowledged in Deuteronomy 24:16, there seem to be cases where it was not put in practice. For example, the child born to David and Bathsheba died because of their sin (2 Sam 12:1418). And Saul's seven grandchildren were put to death because of Saul's sin (2 Sam 21:59). How are we to reconcile these contradictory sets of facts?

            Some will also bring up the fact that the sins of the fathers have an ill effect on the children to the third and fourth generations (Ex 20:5; Deut 5:9). Surely this is a direct contradiction of the principle in Deuteronomy 24:16.

            But Deuteronomy 24:16 is dealing with normal criminal law. It explicitly forbids blaming the children for the sin and guilt earned by the parent. If the son deserves the death penalty, the father must not be put to death in his place, or vice versa. This point is repeated in a number of texts, such as 2 Kings 14:6, 2 Chronicles 25:4, Jeremiah 31:30 and Ezekiel 18:20.

            The legal principle of dealing with each individual according to individual guilt is one side of the equation. The other side is that God has reserved for himself the right to render all final decisions. Not all situations can, or are, resolved in human courts. Some must await the verdict that God will give.

            There is a third element that must be accounted for as well. This notion is difficult for Westerners to appreciate, since we place such a high premium on the individual. But Scripture warns us that there is such a thing as corporate responsibility. None of us functions in complete isolation from the society and neighborhood to which we are attached. Lines of affinity reach beyond our home and church groups to whole communities and eventually to our nation and the world in which we live.

            There are three factors involved in communal responsibility in the Old Testament. First is unity. Often the whole group is treated as a single unit. In 1 Samuel 5:1011, for example, the ark of God came to Ekron of the Philistines. Because the bubonic plague had broken out in the previous Philistine cities where the ark had been taken, the Ekronites cried out, "They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people." The whole group sensed that they would share in the guilt of what their leaders had done in capturing the ark of God.

            Second, sometimes a single figure represents the whole group. Rather than someone who embodies the psychology of the group, this is a case of one, such as the suffering Servant of the Lord, standing in for many others.

            The third factor is oscillation from the individual to the group, and vice versa. The classic example appears in Joshua 7:11, where the Lord affirms, "Israel has sinned," even though Achan confesses, "I have sinned" (Josh 7:20).

            Each situation must be evaluated to see whether it is a principle of a human court that is involved, a divine prerogative of final judgment or a case of corporate solidarity. We in the West still understand that one traitor can imperil a whole army, but we do not always understand how individual actions carry over into the divine arena or have widespread implications. Scripture works with all three simultaneously.

            In the case of David and Bathsheba, it is clear that the loss of the baby was linked to the fact that David committed adultery with Uriah's wife, though Uriah remained determined to serve David faithfully in battle. This did not involve a human court but was a matter of divine prerogative.

            The story about Saul's seven grandchildren takes us into the area of national guilt. Saul violated a treaty made with the Gibeonites in the name of the Lord (Josh 9:315). The whole nation was bound by this treaty made in Joshua's day. Thus when Saul, as head of the nation, committed this atrocity against the Gibeonites, it was an act against God and an act that involved the whole nation. A divinely initiated famine devastated the land until the demands of justice were met. When David inquired into the reason for the famine, God answered, "It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death" (2 Sam 21:1).

            Saul and his sons had already fallen in the battle at Mount Gilboa, but his household shared in the stigma. Only God knew why the seven grandchildren shared in the guilt; it is not spelled out in the text. Apparently they had had some degree of complicity in the matter. Because only God knew, it was up to God, not a human court, to settle such cases.

            As for the commandment that has the sins of the fathers visiting the children to the third and fourth generations, we can only observe that the text clearly teaches that this happens when the children repeat the motivating cause of their parents' sinthat is, they too hate God. But when the children love God, the effect is lovingkindness for thousands of generations!

            Both individual responsibility and group or communal responsibility are taught in Scripture. We must carefully define and distinguish these types of responsibility. But in no case should the principle of courts be to blame children for the wrongful deeds of their forebears. And if God demanded that principle as a basis for fairness in human governments, should we think he would do any less in the running of his own government?

            No one will ever be denied eternal life because of what his or her forebears did or did not do. Each will live eternally or suffer everlasting judgment for his or her own actions (Ezek 18). Our standard of what constitutes fairness and justice, after all, is rooted in the character of God himself.

            The graciousness of God and his swift move to forgive and to forget every sin that we call upon him to cleanse is seen in Exodus 34:67. The theme of these verses is essentially repeated in Numbers 14:18, 2 Chronicles 30:9, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 111:4, 116:5, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2 and Nahum 1:3.

            But God's grace is balanced by the last part of Exodus 34:7, which warns that "[God] does not leave the guilty unpunished." The reverse side of the same coin that declares God's mercy and his love speaks of his justice and righteousness. For the wicked persons who by their actions tend to second their father's previous motions by continuing to sin boldly against God as their fathers did, with no repentance, this text again warns that the chastisement of God will be felt down to the "third and fourth generation." However, note carefully that the full formula includes the important qualifier "of those who hate me." But wherever there is love, the effect is extended to thousands of generations!

            In this connection, it is important to note that 2 Samuel 12:14 likewise declares about David's sin with Bathsheba, "But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." While it true that David was thoroughly forgiven of his sin of adultery and complicity in murder (see Psalms 32 and 51), there were consequences to his sin that could not be halted, for they followed as inexorably as day follows night. To put it in another way, just because God knows that a mugger will accept him as Savior a number of years after a mugging, God does not, thereby, turn the molecular structure of the bat used in the mugging, and which is now descending on the head of an innocent victim, into limp spaghetti; it leaves permanent damage on the skull of its poor unsuspecting target. The case of David and Bathsheba is similar: the consequences of sin are as real as the creation of a new life that comes out of a sexual affair. This in turn gave occasion for the enemies of God to vaunt themselves and demonstrate even further contempt for God, his people, and their alleged different style of life. It was for this reason that God brought immediate judgment on David: "the son born to [him would] die."

 

 

JFB Commentary

 

CHAPTER 12

 

Ezekiel 12:1-28. EZEKIEL'S TYPICAL MOVING TO EXILE: PROPHECY OF ZEDEKIAH'S CAPTIVITY AND PRIVATION OF SIGHT: THE JEWS' UNBELIEVING SURMISE AS TO THE DISTANCE OF THE EVENT REPROVED.

 

1, 2. eyes to see, and see not, . . . ears to hear, and hear not fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 29:4, here quoted by Ezekiel (compare Isaiah 6:9; Jeremiah 5:21). Ezekiel needed often to be reminded of the people's perversity, lest he should be discouraged by the little effect produced by his prophecies. Their "not seeing" is the result of perversity, not incapacity. They are wilfully blind. The persons most interested in this prophecy were those dwelling at Jerusalem; and it is among them that Ezekiel was transported in spirit, and performed in vision, not outwardly, the typical acts. At the same time, the symbolical prophecy was designed to warn the exiles at Chebar against cherishing hopes, as many did in opposition to God's revealed word, of returning to Jerusalem, as if that city was to stand; externally living afar off, their hearts dwelt in that corrupt and doomed capital.

 

3. stuff for removing rather, "an exile's outfit," the articles proper to a person going as an exile, a staff and knapsack, with a supply of food and clothing; so "instruments of captivity," Jeremiah 46:19, Margin, that is, the needful equipments for it. His simple announcements having failed, he is symbolically to give them an ocular demonstration conveyed by a word-painting of actions performed in vision. consider (Deuteronomy 32:29).

 

4. by day in broad daylight, when all can see thee. at even not contradicting the words "by day." The baggage was to be sent before by day, and Ezekiel was to follow at nightfall [GROTIUS]; or, the preparations were to be made by day, the actual departure was to be effected at night [HENDERSON]. as they that go forth into captivity literally, "as the goings forth of the captivity," that is, of the captive band of exiles, namely, amid the silent darkness: typifying Zedekiah's flight by night on the taking of the city (Jeremiah 39:4; 52:7).

 

5. Dig as Zedekiah was to escape like one digging through a wall, furtively to effect an escape (Ezekiel 12:12). carry out namely, "thy stuff" (Ezekiel 12:4). thereby by the opening in the wall. Zedekiah escaped "by the gate betwixt the two walls" (Jeremiah 39:4).

 

6. in . . . twilight rather, "in the dark." So in Genesis 15:17, "it" refers to "thy stuff." cover thy face as one who muffles his face, afraid of being recognized by anyone meeting him. So the Jews and Zedekiah should make their exit stealthily and afraid to look around, so hurried should be their fight [CALVIN]. sign rather, "a portent," namely, for evil.

 

9. What doest thou? They ask not in a docile spirit, but making a jest of his proceedings.

 

10. burden that is, weighty oracle. the prince The very man Zedekiah, in whom they trust for safety, is to be the chief sufferer. JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 10.7] reports that Ezekiel sent a copy of this prophecy to Zedekiah. As Jeremiah had sent a letter to the captives at the Chebar, which was the means of calling forth at first the agency of Ezekiel, so it was natural for Ezekiel to send a message to Jerusalem confirming the warnings of Jeremiah. The prince, however, fancying a contradiction between Ezekiel 12:13; "he shall not see Babylon," and Jeremiah 24:8, 9, declaring he should be carried to Babylon, believed neither. Seeming discrepancies in Scripture on deeper search prove to be hidden harmonies.

 

11. sign portent of evil to come (Ezekiel 24:27; Zechariah 3:8, Margin ). Fulfilled (2 Kings 25:1-7; Jeremiah 52:1-11).

 

12. prince . . . among them literally, "that is in the midst of them," that is, on whom the eyes of all are cast, and "under whose shadow" they hope to live (Lamentations 4:20). shall bear namely, his "stuff for removing"; his equipments for his journey. cover his face, that he see not the ground See note on Ezekiel 12:6; the symbol in Ezekiel 12:6 is explained in this verse. He shall muffle his face so as not to be recognized: a humiliation for a king!

 

13. My net the Chaldean army. He shall be inextricably entangled in it, as in the meshes of a net. It is God's net (Job 19:6). Babylon was God's instrument (Isaiah 10:5). Called "a net" (Habakkuk 1:14-16). bring him to Babylon . . . ; yet shall he not see it because he should be deprived of sight before he arrived there (Jeremiah 52:11).

 

14. all . . . about him his satellites: his bodyguard. bands literally, "the wings" of an army (Isaiah 8:8). draw out . . . sword after them (See note on Ezekiel 5:2; see note on Ezekiel 5:12).

 

16. I will leave a few . . . that they may declare . . . abominations God's purpose in scattering a remnant of Jews among the Gentiles; namely, not only that they themselves should be weaned from idolatry (see Ezekiel 12:15), but that by their own word, as also by their whole state as exiles, they should make God's righteousness manifest among the Gentiles, as vindicated in their punishment for their sins (compare Isaiah 43:10; Zechariah 8:13).

 

18. Symbolical representation of the famine and fear with which they should eat their scanty morsel, in their exile, and especially at the siege.

 

19. people of the land the Jews "in the land" of Chaldea who thought themselves miserable as being exiles and envied the Jews left in Jerusalem as fortunate. land of Israel contrasted with "the people in the land" of Chaldea. So far from being fortunate as the exiles in Chaldea regarded them, the Jews in Jerusalem are truly miserable, for the worst is before them, whereas the exiles have escaped the miseries of the coming siege. land . . . desolate from all that is therein literally "that the land (namely, Judea) may be despoiled of the fulness thereof"; emptied of the inhabitants and abundance of flocks and corn with which it was filled. because of . . . violence (Psalms 107:34).

 

20. the cities left in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

22. proverb The infidel scoff, that the threatened judgment was so long in coming, it would not come at all, had by frequent repetition come to be a "proverb" with them. This skeptical habit contemporary prophets testify to (Jeremiah 17:15; 20:7; Zephaniah 1:12). Ezekiel, at the Chebar, thus sympathizes with Jeremiah and strengthens his testimony at Jerusalem. The tendency to the same scoff showed itself in earlier times, but had not then developed into a settled "proverb" (Isaiah 5:19; Amos 5:18). It shall again be the characteristic of the last times, when "faith" shall be regarded as an antiquated thing (Luke 18:8), seeing that it remains stationary, whereas worldly arts and sciences progress, and when the "continuance of all things from creation" will be the argument against the possibility of their being suddenly brought to a standstill by the coming of the Lord (Isaiah 66:5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4). The very long-suffering of God, which ought to lead men to repentance, is made an argument against His word (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Amos 6:3). days . . . prolonged . . . vision faileth their twofold argument: (1) The predictions shall not come to pass till long after our time. (2) They shall fail and prove vain shadows. God answers both in Ezekiel 12:23, 25.

 

23. effect literally, "the word," namely, fulfilled; that is, the effective fulfilment of whatever the prophets have spoken is at hand.

 

24. no more . . . vain vision . . . flattering divination All those false prophets (Lamentations 2:14), who "flattered" the people with promises of peace and safety, shall be detected and confounded by the event itself.

 

25. word . . . shall come to pass in opposition to their scoff "the vision faileth" (Ezekiel 12:22). The repetition, "I will speak . . . speak," etc. (or as FAIRBAIRN, "For I, Jehovah, will speak whatever word I shall speak, and it shall be done") implies that whenever God speaks, the effect must follow; for God, who speaks, is not divided in Himself (Ezekiel 12:28; Isaiah 55:11; Daniel 9:12; Luke 21:33). no more prolonged in opposition to the scoff (Ezekiel 12:22), "The days are prolonged." in your days while you are living (compare Matthew 24:34).

 

27. Not a mere repetition of the scoff (Ezekiel 12:22); there the scoffers asserted that the evil was so often threatened and postponed, it must have no reality; here formalists do not go so far as to deny that a day of evil is coming, but assert it is still far off (Amos 6:3). The transition is easy from this carnal security to the gross infidelity of the former class.

 

CHAPTER 13

 

Ezekiel 13:1-23. DENUNCIATION OF FALSE PROPHETS AND PROPHETESSES; THEIR FALSE TEACHINGS, AND GOD'S CONSEQUENT JUDGMENTS.

 

1. As the twelfth chapter denounced the false expectations of the people, so this denounces the false leaders who fed those expectations. As an independent witness, Ezekiel confirms at the Chebar the testimony of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:21, 31) in his letter from Jerusalem to the captive exiles, against the false prophets; of these some were conscious knaves, others fanatical dupes of their own frauds; for example, Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah. Hananiah must have believed his own lie, else he would not have specified so circumstantial details (Jeremiah 28:2-4). The conscious knaves gave only general assurances of peace (Jeremiah 5:31; 6:14; 14:13). The language of Ezekiel has plain references to the similar language of Jeremiah (for example, Jeremiah 23:9-38); the bane of false prophecy, which had its stronghold in Jerusalem, having in some degree extended to the Chebar; this chapter, therefore, is primarily intended as a message to those still in the Jewish metropolis; and, secondarily, for the good of the exiles at the Chebar.

 

2. that prophesy namely, a speedy return to Jerusalem. out of . . . own hearts alluding to the words of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:16, 26); that is, what they prophesied was what they and the people wished; the wish was father to the thought. The people wished to be deceived, and so were deceived. They were inexcusable, for they had among them true prophets (who spoke not their own thoughts, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Peter 1:21), whom they might have known to be such, but they did not wish to know (John 3:19).

 

3. foolish though vaunting as though exclusively possessing "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:19-21); the fear of God being the only beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10). their own spirit instead of the Spirit of God. A threefold distinction lay between the false and the true prophets: (1) The source of their messages respectively; of the false, "their own hearts"; of the true, an object presented to the spiritual sense (named from the noblest of the senses, a seeing ) by the Spirit of God as from without, not produced by their own natural powers of reflection. The word, the body of the thought, presented itself not audibly to the natural sense, but directly to the spirit of the prophet; and so the perception of it is properly called a seeing, he perceiving that which thereafter forms itself in his soul as the cover of the external word [DELITZSCH]; hence the peculiar expression, "seeing the word of God" (Isaiah 2:1; 13:1; Amos 1:1; Micah 1:1). (2) The point aimed at; the false "walking after their own spirit"; the true, after the Spirit of God. (3) The result; the false saw nothing, but spake as if they had seen; the true had a vision, not subjective, but objectively real [FAIRBAIRN]. A refutation of those who set the inward word above the objective, and represent the Bible as flowing subjectively from the inner light of its writers, not from the revelation of the Holy Ghost from without. "They are impatient to get possession of the kernel without its fostering shell they would have Christ without the Bible" [BENGEL].

 

4. foxes which cunningly "spoil the vines" (Song Of Songs 2:15), Israel being the vineyard (Psalms 80:8-15; Isaiah 5:1-7; 27:2; Jeremiah 2:21); their duty was to have guarded it from being spoiled, whereas they themselves spoiled it by corruptions. in . . . deserts where there is nothing to eat; whence the foxes become so ravenous and crafty in their devices to get food. So the prophets wander in Israel, a moral desert, unrestrained, greedy of gain which they get by craft.

 

5. not gone up into . . . gaps metaphor from breaches made in a wall, to which the defenders ought to betake themselves in order to repel the entrance of the foe. The breach is that made in the theocracy through the nation's sin; and, unless it be made up, the vengeance of God will break in through it. Those who would advise the people to repentance are the restorers of the breach (Ezekiel 22:30; Psalms 106:23, 30). hedge the law of God (Psalms 80:12; Isaiah 5:2, 5); by violating it, the people stripped themselves of the fence of God's protection and lay exposed to the foe. The false prophets did not try to repair the evil by bringing back the people to the law with good counsels, or by checking the bad with reproofs. These two duties answer to the double office of defenders in case of a breach made in a wall: (1) To repair the breach from within; (2) To oppose the foe from without. to stand that is, that the city may "stand." in . . . day of . . . Lord In the day of the battle which God wages against Israel for their sins, ye do not try to stay God's vengeance by prayers, and by leading the nation to repentance.

 

6. made others to hope, etc. rather, "they hoped" to confirm (that is, 'make good') their word, by the event corresponding to their prophecy. The Hebrew requires this [HAVERNICK]. Also the parallel clause, "they have seen vanity," implies that they believed their own lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Subjective revelation is false unless it rests on the objective.

 

8. I am against you rather understand, "I come against you," to punish your wicked profanation of My name (compare Revelation 2:5, 16).

 

9. mine hand My power in vengeance. not . . . in . . . assembly rather, the "council"; "They shall not occupy the honorable office of councillors in the senate of elders after the return from Babylon" (Ezra 2:1, 2). neither . . . written in . . . Israel They shall not even have a place in the register kept of all citizens' names; they shall be erased from it, just as the names of those who died in the year, or had been deprived of citizenship for their crimes. were at the annual revisal erased. Compare Jeremiah 17:13; Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5, as to those spiritually Israelites; John 1:47, and those not so. Literally fulfilled (Ezra 2:59, 62; compare Nehemiah 7:5; Psalms 69:28). neither . . . enter . . . land They shall not so much as be allowed to come back at all to their country.

 

10. Because, even because The repetition heightens the emphasis. Peace safety to the nation. Ezekiel confirms Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11. one literally, "this one"; said contemptuously, as in 2 Chronicles 28:22. a wall rather, "a loose wall." Ezekiel had said that the false prophets did not "go up into the gaps, or make up the breaches" (Ezekiel 13:5), as good architects do; now he adds that they make a bustling show of anxiety about repairing the wall; but it is without right mortar, and therefore of no use. one . . . others besides individual effort, they jointly co-operated to delude the people. daubed . . . with untempered mortar as sand without lime, mud without straw [GROTIUS]. FAIRBAIRN translates, "plaster it with whitewash." But besides the hypocrisy of merely outwardly "daubing" to make the wall look fair (Matthew 23:27, 29; Acts 23:3), there is implied the unsoundness of the wall from the absence of true uniting cement; the "untempered cement" answering to the lie of the prophets, who say, in support of their prophecies, "Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken" (Ezekiel 22:28).

 

11. overflowing inundating; such as will at once wash away the mere clay mortar. The three most destructive agents shall co-operate against the wall wind, rain, and hailstones. These last in the East are more out of the regular course of nature and are therefore often particularly specified as the instruments of God's displeasure against His foes (Exodus 9:18; Joshua 10:11; Job 38:22; Psalms 18:12, 13; Isaiah 28:2; 30:30; Revelation 16:21). The Hebrew here is, literally, "stones of ice." They fall in Palestine at times an inch thick with a destructive velocity. The personification heightens the vivid effect, "O ye hail stones." The Chaldeans will be the violent agency whereby God will unmask and refute them, overthrowing their edifice of lies.

 

12. shall it not be said Your vanity and folly shall be so manifested that it shall pass into a proverb, "Where is the daubing?"

 

13. God repeats, in His own name, as the Source of the coming calamity, what had been expressed generally in Ezekiel 13:11.

 

14. The repetition of the same threat (see note on Ezekiel 13:11) is to awaken the people out of their dream of safety by the certainty of the event. foundation As the "wall" represents the security of the nation, so the "foundation" is Jerusalem, on the fortifications of which they rested their confidence. GROTIUS makes the "foundation" refer to the false principles on which they rested; Ezekiel 13:16 supports the former view.

 

16. prophesy concerning Jerusalem With all their "seeing visions of peace for her," they cannot ensure peace or safety to themselves.

 

17. set thy face put on a bold countenance, fearlessly to denounce them (Ezekiel 3:8, 9; Isaiah 50:7). daughters the false prophetesses; alluded to only here; elsewhere the guilt specified in the women is the active share they took in maintaining idolatry (Ezekiel 8:14). It was only in extraordinary emergencies that God bestowed prophecy on women, for example on Miriam, Deborah, Huldah (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14); so in the last days to come (Joel 2:28). The rareness of such instances enhanced their guilt in pretending inspiration.

 

18. sew pillows to . . . armholes rather, elbows and wrists, for which the false prophetesses made cushions to lean on, as a symbolical act, typifying the perfect tranquility which they foretold to those consulting them. Perhaps they made their dupes rest on these cushions in a fancied state of ecstasy after they had made them at first stand (whence the expression, "every stature," is used for "men of every age "). As the men are said to have built a wall (Ezekiel 13:10), so the women are said to sew pillows, etc., both alike typifying the "peace" they promised the impenitent. make kerchiefs magical veils, which they put over the heads of those consulting them, as if to fit them for receiving a response, that they might be rapt in spiritual trance above the world. head of every stature "men of every age," old and young, great and small, if only these had pay to offer them. hunt souls eagerly trying to allure them to the love of yourselves (Proverbs 6:26; 2 Peter 2:14), so as unwarily to become your prey. will ye save . . . souls . . . that come unto you Will ye haul after souls, and when they are yours ("come unto you"), will ye promise them life? "Save" is explained (Ezekiel 13:22), "promising life" [GROTIUS]. CALVIN explains, "Will ye hunt My people's souls and yet will ye save your own souls"; I, the Lord God, will not allow it. But "save" is used (Ezekiel 13:19) of the false prophetesses promising life to the impenitent, so that English Version and GROTIUS explain it best.

 

19. handfuls expressing the paltry gain for which they bartered immortal souls (compare Micah 3:5, 11; Hebrews 12:16). They "polluted" God by making His name the cloak under which they uttered falsehoods. among my people an aggravation of their sin, that they committed it "among the people" whom God had chosen as peculiarly His own, and among whom He had His temple. It would have been a sin to have done so even among the Gentiles, who knew not God; much more so among the people of God (compare Proverbs 28:21). slay . . . souls that should not die, etc. to predict the slaying or perdition of the godly whom I will save. As true ministers are said to save and slay their hearers, according to the spirit respectively in which these receive their message (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16), so false ministers imitate them; but they promise safety to those on the broad way to ruin and predict ruin to those on the narrow way of God. my people that hear your lies who are therefore wilfully deceived, so that their guilt lies at their own door (John 3:19).

 

20. I am against your pillows that is, against your lying ceremonial tricks by which ye cheat the people. to make them fly namely, into their snares, as fowlers disturb birds so as to be suddenly caught in the net spread for them. "Fly" is peculiarly appropriate as to those lofty spiritual flights to which they pretended to raise their dupes when they veiled their heads with kerchiefs and made them rest on luxurious arm-cushions (Ezekiel 13:18). let . . . souls go "Ye make them fly" in order to destroy them; "I will let them go" in order to save them (Psalms 91:3; Proverbs 6:5; Hosea 9:8).

 

21. in your hand in your power. "My people" are the elect remnant of Israel to be saved. ye shall know by the judgments which ye shall suffer.

 

22. ye have made . . . the righteous sad by lying predictions of calamities impending ever the godly. strengthened . . . wicked (Jeremiah 23:14). heart of . . . righteous . . . hands of . . . wicked Heart is applied to the righteous because the terrors foretold penetrated to their inmost feelings; hands, to the wicked because they were so hardened as not only to despise God in their minds, but also to manifest it in their whole acts, as if avowedly waging war with Him.

 

23. ye shall see no more vanity The event shall confute your lies, involving yourselves in destruction (Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 14:8; 15:7; Micah 3:6).

 

CHAPTER 14

 

Ezekiel 14:1-23. HYPOCRITICAL INQUIRERS ARE ANSWERED ACCORDING TO THEIR HYPOCRISY. THE CALAMITIES COMING ON THE PEOPLE; BUT A REMNANT IS TO ESCAPE.

 

1. elders persons holding that dignity among the exiles at the Chebar. GROTIUS refers this to Seraiah and those sent with him from Judea (Jeremiah 51:59). The prophet's reply, first, reflecting on the character of the inquirers, and, secondly, foretelling the calamities coming on Judea, may furnish an idea of the subject of their inquiry. sat before me not at once able to find a beginning of their speech; indicative of anxiety and despondency.

 

3. heart . . . face The heart is first corrupted, and then the outward manifestation of idol-worship follows; they set their idols before their eyes. With all their pretense of consulting God now, they have not even put away their idols outwardly; implying gross contempt of God. "Set up," literally, "aloft"; implying that their idols had gained the supreme ascendancy over them. stumbling-block of . . . iniquity See Proverbs 3:21, 23, "Let not them (God's laws) depart from thine eyes, then . . . thy foot shall not stumble." Instead of God's law, which (by being kept before their eyes) would have saved them from stumbling, they set up their idols before their eyes, which proved a stumbling-block, causing them to stumble (Ezekiel 7:19). inquired of at all literally, "should I with inquiry be inquired of" by such hypocrites as they are? (Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 15:29; 28:9).

 

4. and cometh and yet cometh, reigning himself to be a true worshipper of Jehovah. him that cometh so the Hebrew Margin reads. But the Hebrew text reading is, "according to it, according to the multitude of his idols"; the anticipative clause with the pronoun not being pleonastic, but increasing the emphasis of the following clause with the noun. "I will answer," literally, reflexively, "I will Myself (or for Myself ) answer him." according to . . . idols thus, "answering a fool according to his folly"; making the sinner's sin his punishment; retributive justice (Proverbs 1:31; 26:5).

 

5. That I may take that is, unveil and overtake with punishment the dissimulation and impiety of Israel hid in their own heart. Or, rather, "That I may punish them by answering them after their own hearts "; corresponding to "according to the multitude of his idols" (see note on Ezekiel 14:4); an instance is given in Ezekiel 14:9; Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, God giving them up in wrath to their own lie. idols though pretending. to "inquire" of Me, "in their hearts" they are "estranged from Me," and love "idols."

 

6. Though God so threatened the people for their idolatry (Ezekiel 14:5), yet He would rather they should avert the calamity by "repentance." turn yourselves CALVIN translates, "turn others" (namely, the stranger proselytes in the land). As ye have been the advisers of others (see Ezekiel 14:7, "the stranger that sojourneth in Israel") to idolatry, so bestow at least as much pains in turning them to the truth; the surest proof of repentance. But the parallelism to Ezekiel 14:3, 4 favors English Version. Their sin was twofold: (1) "In their heart" or inner man; (2) "Put before their face," that is, exhibited outwardly. So their repentance is generally expressed by "repent," and is then divided into: (1) "Turn yourselves (inwardly) from your idols"; (2) "Turn away your faces (outwardly) from all your abominations." It is not likely that an exhortation to convert others should come between the two affecting themselves.

 

7. stranger the proselyte, tolerated in Israel only on condition of worshipping no God but Jehovah (Leviticus 17:8, 9). inquire of him concerning me that is, concerning My will. by myself not by word, but by deed, that is, by judgments, marking My hand and direct agency; instead of answering him through the prophet he consults. FAIRBAIRN translates, as it is the same Hebrew as in the previous clause, "concerning Me," it is natural that God should use the same expression in His reply as was used in the consultation of Him. But the sense, I think, is the same. The hypocrite inquires of the prophet concerning God; and God, instead of replying through the prophet, replies for Himself concerning Himself.

 

8. And I will set my face against that man (See note on Leviticus 17:10). and will make him a sign literally, "I will destroy him so as to become a sign"; it will be no ordinary destruction, but such as will make him be an object pointed at with wonder by all, as Korah, etc. (Numbers 26:10; Deuteronomy 28:37).

 

9. I the Lord have deceived that prophet not directly, but through Satan and his ministers; not merely permissively, but by overruling their evil to serve the purposes of His righteous judgment, to be a touchstone to separate the precious from the vile, and to "prove" His people (Deuteronomy 13:3; 1 Kings 22:23; Jeremiah 4:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12). Evil comes not from God, though God overrules it to serve His will (Job 12:16; James 1:3). This declaration of God is intended to answer their objection, "Jeremiah and Ezekiel are but two opposed to the many prophets who announce 'peace to us." "Nay, deceive not yourselves, those prophets of yours are deluding you, and I permit them to do so as a righteous judgment on your wilful blindness."

 

10. As they dealt deceitfully with God by seeking answers of peace without repentance, so God would let them be dealt with deceitfully by the prophets whom they consulted. God would chastise their sin with a corresponding sin; as they rejected the safe directions of the true light, He would send the pernicious delusions of a false one; prophets would be given them who should re-echo the deceitfulness that already wrought in their own bosom, to their ruin [FAIRBAIRN]. The people had themselves alone to blame, for they were long ago forewarned how to discern and to treat a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:3); the very existence of such deceivers among them was a sign of God's judicial displeasure (compare in Saul's case, 1 Samuel 16:14; 28:6, 7). They and the prophet, being dupes of a common delusion, should be involved in a common ruin.

 

11. Love was the spring of God's very judgments on His people, who were incurable by any other process (Ezekiel 11:20; 37:27).

 

12. The second part of the chapter: the effect which the presence of a few righteous persons was to have on the purposes of God (compare Genesis 18:24-32). God had told Jeremiah that the guilt of Judah was too great to be pardoned even for the intercession of Moses and Samuel (Psalms 99:6; Jeremiah 14:2; 15:1), which had prevailed formerly (Exodus 32:11-14; Numbers 14:13-20; 1 Samuel 7:8-12), implying the extraordinary heinousness of their guilt, since in ordinary cases "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (for others) availeth much" (James 5:16). Ezekiel supplements Jeremiah by adding that not only those two once successful intercessors, but not even the three pre-eminently righteous men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, could stay God's judgments by their righteousness.

 

13. staff of . . . bread on which man's existence is supported as on a staff (Ezekiel 4:16; 5:16; Leviticus 26:26; Psalms 104:15; Isaiah 3:1). I will send a famine.

 

14. Noah, Daniel . . . Job specified in particular as having been saved from overwhelming calamities for their personal righteousness. Noah had the members of his family alone given to him, amidst the general wreck. Daniel saved from the fury of the king of Babylon the three youths (Daniel 2:17, 18, 48, 49). Though his prophecies mostly were later than those of Ezekiel, his fame for piety and wisdom was already established, and the events recorded in Daniel 1:1-2:49 had transpired. The Jews would naturally, in their fallen condition, pride themselves on one who reflected such glory on his nation at the heathen capital, and would build vain hopes (here set aside) on his influence in averting ruin from them. Thus the objection to the authenticity of Daniel from this passage vanishes. "Job" forms the climax (and is therefore put out of chronological order), having not even been left a son or a daughter, and having had himself to pass through an ordeal of suffering before his final deliverance, and therefore forming the most simple instance of the righteousness of God, which would save the righteous themselves alone in the nation, and that after an ordeal of suffering, but not spare even a son or daughter for their sake (Ezekiel 14:16, 18, 20; compare Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11). deliver . . . souls by . . . righteousness (Proverbs 11:4); not the righteousness of works, but that of grace, a truth less clearly understood under the law (Romans 4:3).

 

15-21. The argument is cumulative. He first puts the case of the land sinning so as to fall under the judgment of a famine (Ezekiel 14:13); then (Ezekiel 14:15) "noisome beasts" (Leviticus 26:22); then "the sword"; then, worst of all, "pestilence." The three most righteous of men should deliver only themselves in these several four cases. In Ezekiel 14:21 he concentrates the whole in one mass of condemnation. If Noah, Daniel, Job, could not deliver the land, when deserving only one judgment, "how much more" when all four judgments combined are justly to visit the land for sin, shall these three righteous men not deliver it.

 

19. in blood not literally. In Hebrew, "blood" expresses every premature kind of death.

 

21. How much more literally, "Surely shall it be so now, when I send," etc. If none could avert the one only judgment incurred, surely now, when all four are incurred by sin, much more impossible it will be to deliver the land.

 

22. Yet . . . a remnant not of righteous persons, but some of the guilty who should "come forth" from the destruction of Jerusalem to Babylon, to lead a,. life of hopeless exile there. The reference here is to judgment, not mercy, as Ezekiel 14:23 shows. ye shall see their . . . doings; and . . . be comforted Ye, the exiles at the Chebar, who now murmur at God's judgment about to be inflicted on Jerusalem as harsh, when ye shall see the wicked "ways" and character of the escaped remnant, shall acknowledge that both Jerusalem and its inhabitants deserved their fate; his recognition of the righteousness of the judgment will reconcile you to it, and so ye shall be "comforted" under it [CALVIN]. Then would follow mercy to the elect remnant, though that is not referred to here, but in Ezekiel 20:43.

 

23. they shall comfort you not in words, but by your recognizing in their manifest guilt, that God had not been unjustly severe to them and the city.

 

CHAPTER 15

 

Ezekiel 15:1-8. THE WORTHLESSNESS OF THE VINE AS WOOD ESPECIALLY WHEN BURNT, IS THE IMAGE OF THE WORTHLESSNESS AND GUILT OF THE JEWS, WHO SHALL PASS FROM ONE FIRE TO ANOTHER.

            This chapter represents, in the way of a brief introduction, what the sixteenth chapter details minutely.

 

2, 3. What has the vine-wood to make it pre-eminent above other forest-wood ? Nothing. Nay, the reverse. Other trees yield useful timber, but vine-wood is soft, brittle, crooked, and seldom large; not so much as a "pin" (the large wooden peg used inside houses in the East to hang household articles on, Isaiah 22:23-25) can be made of it. Its sole excellency is that it should bear fruit; when it does not bear fruit, it is not only not better, but inferior to other trees: so if God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly (Deuteronomy 32:32), for they are the vine; the sole end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory (Psalms 80:8, 9; Isaiah 5:1, etc. Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1; Matthew 21:33). In all respects, except in their being planted by God, the Jews were inferior to other nations, as Egypt, Babylon, etc., for example, in antiquity, extent of territory, resources, military power, attainments in arts and sciences. or than a branch rather, in apposition with "the vine tree." Omit "or than." What superiority has the vine if it be but a branch among the trees of the forest, that is, if, as having no fruit, it lies cut down among other woods of trees?

 

4. cast into . . . fire (John 15:6). both the ends the north kingdom having been already overturned by Assyria under Tiglath-pileser; the south being pressed on by Egypt (2 Kings 23:29-35). midst of it is burned rather, "is on flame"; namely, Jerusalem, which had now caught the flame by the attack of Nebuchadnezzar. Is it meet for any work "it," that is, the scorched part still remaining.

 

5. If useless before, much more so when almost wholly burnt.

 

6. So will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as being utterly unprofitable (Matthew 21:33-41; 25:30; Mark 11:12-14; Luke 13:6-9) in answering God's design that they should be witnesses for Jehovah before the heathen (Matthew 3:10; 5:13).

 

7. And I will set my face against them (See note on Leviticus 17:10). from one fire . . . another (Compare Isaiah 24:18). "Fire" means here every kind of calamity (Psalms 66:12). The Jewish fugitives shall escape from the ruin of Jerusalem, only to fall into some other calamity.

 

8. trespass rather, "they have perversely fallen into perverse rebellion." The Jews were not merely sinners as the other nations, but revolters and apostates. It is one thing to neglect what we know not, but quite another thing to despise what we profess to worship [JEROME], as the Jews did towards God and the law.

 

CHAPTER 16

 

Ezekiel 16:1-63. DETAILED APPLICATION OF THE PARABOLICAL DELINEATION OF THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER TO JERUSALEM PERSONIFIED AS A DAUGHTER.

            (1) Taken up by God's gratuitous favor from infancy (Ezekiel 16:1-7); (2) and, when grown up, joined to Him in spiritual marriage (Ezekiel 16:8-14); (3) her unfaithfulness, her sin (Ezekiel 16:15-34); (4) the judgment (Ezekiel 16:35-52); (5) her unlooked-for restoration (Ezekiel 16:53 to the close).

 

2. cause Jerusalem to know Men often are so blind as not to perceive their guilt which is patent to all. "Jerusalem" represents the whole kingdom of Judah.

 

3. birth . . . nativity thy origin and birth; literally, "thy diggings" (compare Isaiah 51:1) "and thy bringings forth." of . . . Canaan in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned before going to Egypt, and from which thou didst derive far more of thy innate characteristics than from the virtues of those thy progenitors (Ezekiel 21:30). an Amorite . . . an Hittite These, being the most powerful tribes, stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare Joshua 1:4; Amos 2:9), which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter extermination by God (Leviticus 18:24, 25, 28; Deuteronomy 18:12). Translate rather, "the Amorite . . . the Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of Israel (Genesis 15:16). "The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives, daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah (Genesis 26:34, 35; 27:46), but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare Ezekiel 16:45).

 

4. Israel's helplessness in her first struggling into national existence, under the image of an infant (Hosea 2:3) cast forth without receiving the commonest acts of parental regard. Its very life was a miracle (Exodus 1:15-22). navel . . . not cut Without proper attention to the navel cord, the infant just born is liable to die. neither . . . washed in water to supple thee that is, to make the skin soft. Rather, "for purification"; from an Arabic root [MAURER]. GESENIUS translates as the Margin, "that thou mightest (be presented to thy parents to) be looked upon," as is customary on the birth of a child. salted Anciently they rubbed infants with salt to make the skin firm.

 

5. cast . . . in . . . open field The exposure of infants was common in ancient times. to the loathing of thy person referring to the unsightly aspect of the exposed infant. FAIRBAIRN translates, "With contempt (or disdainful indifference) of thy life."

 

6. when I passed by as if a traveller. polluted in . . . blood but PISCATOR, "ready to be trodden on." I said In contrast to Israel's helplessness stands God's omnipotent word of grace which bids the outcast little one "live." in thy blood Though thou wast foul with blood, I said, "Live" [GROTIUS]. "Live in thy blood," that is, Live, but live a life exposed to many deaths, as was the case in the beginnings of Israel's national existence, in order to magnify the grace of God [CALVIN]. The former view is preferable. Spiritually, till the sinner is made sensible of his abject helplessness, he will not appreciate the provisions of God's grace.

 

7. caused . . . to multiply literally, "I . . . made thee a myriad." bud of . . . field the produce of the field. In two hundred fifty years they increased from seventy-five persons to eight hundred thousand (Acts 7:14) [CALVIN]. But see Exodus 12:37, 38. excellent ornaments literally, "ornament of ornaments." naked . . . bare (Hosea 2:3). Literally, "nakedness . . . bareness" itself; more emphatic.

 

8. thy time of love literally, "loves" (compare Song Of Songs 2:10-13). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace when the full time of thy deliverance was come (Genesis 15:13, 14; Acts 7:6, 7). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife (Song Of Songs 1:3-6; Jeremiah 31:3; Malachi 1:2). spread my skirt over thee the mode of espousals (Ruth 3:9). I betrothed thee (Deuteronomy 4:37; 10:15; Hosea 11:1). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means, "I entered into . . . covenant with thee," that is, at Sinai. So Israel became "the wife of God's covenant" (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:19, 20; Malachi 2:14). thou . . . mine (Exodus 19:5; Jeremiah 2:2).

 

9. washed I thee as brides used to pass through a preparatory purification (Esther 2:12). So Israel, before the giving of the law at Sinai (Exodus 19:14); "Moses sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes." So believers (1 Corinthians 6:11). oil emblem of the Levitical priesthood, the type of Messiah (Psalms 45:7).

 

10. Psalms 45:13, 14, similarly describes the Church (Israel, the appointed mother of Christendom) adorned as a bride (so Isaiah 61:10). It is Messiah who provides the wedding garment (Revelation 3:18; 19:8). badgers' skin tahash; others translate, "seal skins." They formed the over-covering of the tabernacle, which was, as it were, the nuptial tent of God and Israel (Exodus 26:14), and the material of the shoes worn by the Hebrews on festival days. (See note on Exodus 25:5). fine linen used by the priests (Leviticus 6:10); emblem of purity.

 

11. The marriage gifts to Rebekah (Genesis 24:22, 47).

 

12. jewel on thy forehead rather, "a ring in thy nose" (Isaiah 3:21). a crown at once the badge of a bride, and of her being made a queen, as being consort of the King; the very name Israel meaning "a prince of God." So they are called "a kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:6; compare Revelation 1:6). Though the external blessings bestowed on Israel were great, yet not these, but the internal and spiritual, form the main reference in the kingly marriage to which Israel was advanced.

 

13. flour . . . honey . . . oil These three mixed form the sweetest cakes; not dry bread and leeks as in Egypt. From raiment He passes to food (Deuteronomy 32:13, 14). exceeding beautiful Psalms 48:2, the city; also, Psalms 29:2, the temple. prosper into a kingdom exercising empire over surrounding nations.

 

14. thy renown . . . among . . . heathen The theocracy reached its highest point under Solomon, when distant potentates heard of his "fame" (1 Kings 10:1, etc.), for example, the queen of Sheba, Hiram, etc. (Lamentations 2:15). my comeliness It was not thine own, but imparted by Me.

 

15. Instead of attributing the glory of her privileges and gifts to God, Israel prided herself on them as her own (Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 7:4; Micah 3:11), and then wantonly devoted them to her idols (Hosea 2:8; compare Luke 15:12, 13). playedst . . . harlot because of thy renown "didst play the wanton upon thy name" [FAIRBAIRN], namely, by allowing thy renown to lead thee into idolatry and leagues with idolaters (Isaiah 1:21; 57:8; Jeremiah 3:2, 6). English Version is better, "because of thy renown," that is, relying on it; answering to "thou didst trust in thine own beauty." his it was Thy beauty was yielded up to every passer-by Israel's zest for the worship of foul idols was but an anxiety to have the approbation of heaven for their carnal lusts, of which the idols were the personification; hence, too, their tendency to wander from Jehovah, who was a restraint on corrupt nature.

 

16. deckedst . . . with divers colours or, "didst make . . . of divers colors" [FAIRBAIRN]; the metaphor and the literal are here mixed. The high places whereon they sacrificed to Astarte are here compared to tents of divers colors, which an impudent harlot would spread to show her house was open to all [CALVIN]. Compare as to "woven hangings for Astarte" (the right translation for "grove") 2 Kings 23:7. the like . . . shall not come, neither shall . . . be rather, "have not come, nor shall be." These thy doings are unparalleled in the past, and shall be so in the future.

 

17. my gold . . . my silver (Haggai 2:8). images of men rather, "of the phallus," the Hindu lingam, or membrum virile [HAVERNICK], deified as the emblem of fecundity; man making his lust his god. English Version, however, is appropriate; Israel being represented as a woman playing the harlot with "male images," that is, images of male gods, as distinguished from female deities.

 

18. tookest thy . . . garments . . . coveredst them that is, the idols, as if an adulteress were to cover her paramours with garments which she had received from the liberality of her husband. my oil the holy anointing oil sacred to God (Exodus 30:22-25). Also that used in sacrifices (Leviticus 2:1, 2).

 

19. My meat . . . I gave (Hosea 2:8). set it before them as a minchah or "meat offering" (Leviticus 2:1). a sweet savour literally "a savor of rest," that is, whereby they might be propitiated, and be at peace ("rest") with you; how ridiculous to seek to propitiate gods of wood! thus it was The fact cannot be denied, for I saw it, and say it was so, saith Jehovah.

 

20, 21. sons and . . . daughters borne unto me Though "thy children," yet they belong "unto Me," rather than to thee, for they were born under the immutable covenant with Israel, which even Israel's sin could not set aside, and they have received the sign of adoption as Mine, namely, circumcision. This aggravates the guilt of sacrificing them to Molech. to be devoured not merely to pass through the fire, as sometimes children were made to do (Leviticus 18:21) without hurt, but to pass through so as to be made the food of the flame in honor of idols (see note on Isaiah 57:5; see note on Jeremiah 7:31; see note on Jeremiah 19:5; and see note on Jeremiah 32:35). Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain my children rather, "Were thy whoredoms a small matter (that is, not enough, but) that thou hast slain (that is, must also slay)," etc. As if thy unchastity was not enough, thou hast added this unnatural and sacrilegious cruelty (Micah 6:7).

 

22. not remembered . . . youth Forgetfulness of God's love is the source of all sins. Israel forgot her deliverance by God in the infancy of her national life. See Ezekiel 16:43, to which Ezekiel 16:60 forms a lovely contrast (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 11:1).

 

23. woe, woe unto thee, etc. This parenthetical exclamation has an awful effect coming like a lightning flash of judgment amidst the black clouds of Israel's guilt.

 

24. eminent place rather, "a fornication-chamber," often connected with the impure rites of idolatry; spiritual fornication, on "an eminent place," answering to "fornication-chamber," is mainly meant, with an allusion also to the literal fornication associated with it (Jeremiah 2:20; 3:2).

 

25. at every head of the way in the most frequented places (Proverbs 9:14). thy beauty . . . abhorred, . . . opened . . . feet to every one The wanton advances were all on Israel's part; the idolatrous nations yielded to her nothing in return. She had yielded so much that, like a worn-out prostitute, her tempters became weary of her. When the Church lowers her testimony for God to the carnal tastes of the world, with a view to conciliation, she loses everything and gains nothing.

 

26. fornication with . . . Egyptians alliances with Egypt, cemented by sharing their idolatries. great of flesh of powerful virile parts; figuratively for the gross and lustful religion of Egypt (for example, Isis, etc.), which alone could satisfy the abominable lust of Israel (Ezekiel 20:7, 8; 23:19, 20, 21). to provoke me wantonly and purposely.

 

27. The consequent judgments, which, however, proved of no avail in reforming the people (Isaiah 9:13; Jeremiah 5:3). delivered thee unto . . . Philistines (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:18, 19). ashamed of thy lewd way The Philistines were less wanton in idolatry, in that they did not, like Israel, adopt the idols of every foreign country but were content with their own (Ezekiel 16:57; Jeremiah 2:11).

 

28. unsatiable Not satisfied with whoredoms with neighbors, thou hast gone off to the distant Assyrians, that is, hast sought a league with them, and with it adopted their idolatries.

 

29. multiplied . . . fornication in . . . Canaan unto Chaldea Thou hast multiplied thy idolatries "in Canaan" by sending "unto Chaldea" to borrow from thence the Chaldean rites, to add to the abominations already practised "in Canaan," before the carrying away of Jehoiachin to Chaldea. The name "Canaan" is used to imply that they had made Judea as much the scene of abominations as it was in the days of the corrupt Canaanites. The land had become utterly Canaanitish (Ezekiel 23:14, etc.).

 

30. weak . . . heart Sin weakens the intellect ("heart") as, on the contrary, "the way of the Lord is strength to the upright" (Proverbs 10:29).

 

31. Repetition of Ezekiel 16:24. not . . . as . . . harlot . . . thou scornest hire Unlike an ordinary harlot thou dost prostitute thy person gratis, merely to satisfy thy lust. JEROME translates, "Thou hast not been as a harlot in scorning (that is, who ordinarily scorns) a hire offered," in order to get a larger one: nay, thou hast offered hire thyself to thy lovers (Ezekiel 16:33, 34). But these verses show English Version to be preferable, for they state that Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for "no reward."

 

32. instead of her husband referring to Numbers 5:19, 20, 29. FAIRBAIRN translates, "whilst under her husband."

 

33, 34. Israel hired her paramours, instead of being, like other harlots, hired by them; she also followed them without their following her.

 

35. Here begins the threat of wrath to be poured out on her.

 

36. filthiness literally, "brass"; metaphor for the lowest part of the person [CALVIN]. English Version is better: thy filthy lewdness is poured out without restraint (compare Jeremiah 13:27). As silver is an emblem of purity, brass typifies "filthiness," because it easily contracts rust. HENDERSON explains it, "Because thy money was lavished on thy lovers" (Ezekiel 16:31, 33, 34). blood of thy children (Ezekiel 16:20; Jeremiah 2:34).

 

37. thy lovers the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. The law of retribution is the more signally exemplified by God employing, as His instruments of judgment on Israel, those very nations whose alliance and idols Israel had so eagerly sought, besides giving her up to those who had been always her enemies. "God will make him, who leaves God for the world, disgraced even in the eyes of the world, and indeed the more so the nearer he formerly stood to Himself" [HENGSTENBERG], (Isaiah 47:3; Jeremiah 13:26; Hosea 2:12; Nahum 3:5). all . . . thou hast hated the Edomites and Philistines; also Moab and Ammon especially (Deuteronomy 23:3). I . . . will discover thy nakedness punishment in kind, as she had "discovered her nakedness through whoredoms" (Ezekiel 16:36); the sin and its penalty corresponded. I will expose thee to public infamy.

 

38-40. judge thee, as women that break wedlock (Leviticus 20:10; compare Ezekiel 16:2). In the case of individual adulteresses, stoning was the penalty (John 8:4, 5). In the case of communities, the sword. Also apostasy (Deuteronomy 13:10) and sacrificing children to Molech (Leviticus 20:1-5) incurred stoning. Thus the penalty was doubly due to Israel; so the other which was decreed against an apostate city (Deuteronomy 13:15, 16) is added, "they shall stone thee with stones and thrust thee through with . . . swords." The Chaldeans hurled stones on Jerusalem at the siege and slew with the sword on its capture. shed blood . . . judged (Genesis 9:6). jealousy image taken from the fury of a husband in jealousy shedding the blood of an unfaithful wife, such as Israel had been towards God, her husband spiritually. Literally, "I will make thee (to become) blood of fury and jealousy."

 

39. thine eminent place literally, "fornication-chamber" (see note on Ezekiel 16:24), the temple which Israel had converted into a place of spiritual fornication with idols, to please the Chaldeans (Ezekiel 23:14-17). strip thee of . . . clothes (Ezekiel 23:26; Hosea 2:3). They shall dismantle thy city of its walls. fair jewels literally, "vessels of thy fairness" or beauty; the vessels of the temple [GROTIUS]. All the gifts wherewith God hath adorned thee [CALVIN].

 

40. (Ezekiel 23:10, 47). Compare as to the destruction under Titus, Luke 19:43, 44.

 

41. The result of the awful judgment shall be, when divine vengeance has run its course, it shall cease. burn (Deuteronomy 13:16; 2 Kings 25:9). women the surrounding Gentile nations to whom thou shalt be an object of mocking (Psalms 137:7). I will cause thee to cease . . . harlot (Ezekiel 23:27). Thou shalt no longer be able to play the harlot through My judgments. thou . . . shall give . . . no hire . . . any more Thou shalt have none to give.

 

42. my fury . . . rest when My justice has exacted the full penalty commensurate with thy awful guilt (see note on Ezekiel 5:13). It is not a mitigation of the penalty that is here foretold, but such an utter destruction of all the guilty that there shall be no need of further punishment [CALVIN].

 

43. (Ezekiel 16:22; Psalms 78:42). In gratitude for God's favors to her in her early history. fretted me (Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30). thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations that is, this the wickedness (compare Zechariah 5:8), peculiarly hateful to God, namely, spiritual unchastity or idolatry, over and "above" (that is, besides) all thine other abominations. I will put it out of thy power to commit it by cutting thee off. FAIRBAIRN translates, "I will not do what is scandalous (namely, encouraging thee in thy sin by letting it pass with impunity) upon all thine abominations"; referring to Leviticus 19:29, the conduct of a father who encouraged his daughter in harlotry. English Version is much better.

 

44. As . . . mother . . . her daughter "Is," and "so is," are not in the original; the ellipsis gives the proverb (but two words in the Hebrew ) epigrammatic brevity. Jerusalem proved herself a true daughter of the Hittite mother in sin (Ezekiel 16:3).

 

45. mother's . . . that loatheth her husband that is, God ("haters of God," Romans 1:30); therefore the knowledge of the true God had originally been in Canaan, handed down from Noah (hence we find Melchisedek, king of Salem, in Canaan, "priest of the most high God," Genesis 14:18), but Canaan apostatized from it; this was what constituted the blackness of the Canaanites' guilt. loathed . . . children whom she put to death in honor of Saturn; a practice common among the Phoenicians. sister of thy sisters Thou art akin in guilt to Samaria and Sodom, to which thou art akin by birth. Moab and Ammon, the incestuous children of Lot, nephew of Abraham, Israel's progenitor, had their origin from Sodom; so Sodom might be called Judah's sister. Samaria, answering to the ten tribes of Israel, is, of course, sister to Judah.

 

46. elder sister . . . Samaria older than Sodom, to whom Judah was less nearly related by kindred than she was to Samaria. Sodom is therefore called her younger sister; Samaria, her "elder sister" [GROTIUS]. Samaria is called the "elder," because in a moral respect more nearly related to Judah [FAIRBAIRN]. Samaria had made the calves at Dan and Beth-el in imitation of the cherubim. her daughters the inferior towns subject to Samaria (compare Numbers 21:25, Margin ). left The Orientals faced the east in marking the directions of the sky; thus the north was "left," the south "right." Sodom . . . daughters Ammon and Moab, offshoots from Sodom; also the towns subject to it.

 

47. their abominations Milcom and Chemosh, the "abominations of Ammon and Moab" (1 Kings 11:5, 7). corrupted more than they So it is expressly recorded of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:9).

 

48. Sodom (Matthew 11:24). Judah's guilt was not positively, but relatively, greater than Sodom's; because it was in the midst of such higher privileges, and such solemn warnings; a fortiori, the guilt of unbelievers in the midst of the highest of all lights, namely, the Gospel, is the greatest.

 

49. pride inherited by Moab, her offspring (Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:26), and by Ammon (Jeremiah 49:4). God, the heart-searcher, here specifies as Sodom's sin, not merely her notorious lusts, but the secret spring of them, "pride" flowing from "fullness of bread," caused by the fertility of the soil (Genesis 13:10), and producing "idleness." abundance of idleness literally, "the secure carelessness of ease" or idleness. neither did she strengthen . . . the poor Pride is always cruel; it arrogates to itself all things, and despises brethren, for whose needs it therefore has no feeling; as Moab had not for the outcast Jews (Isaiah 16:3, 4; Jeremiah 48:27; Luke 16:19-21; James 5:1-5).

 

50. haughty puffed up with prosperity. abomination before me "sinners before the Lord" (Genesis 13:13); said of those whose sin is so heinous as to cry out to God for immediate judgments; presumptuous sins, daring God to the face (Genesis 18:20; 19:5). I took them away (Genesis 19:24). as I saw good rather, "according to what I saw"; referring to Genesis 18:21, where God says, "I will go down, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto Me."

 

51. Samaria the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel less guilty than Judah; for Judah betrayed greater ingratitude, having greater privileges, namely, the temple, the priesthood, and the regular order of kings. justified thy sisters made them appear almost innocent by comparison with thy guilt (Jeremiah 3:11; Matthew 12:41, 42).

 

52. Thou . . . which hast judged . . . bear thine own (Matthew 7:1, 2; Romans 2:1, 17-23). Judah had judged Sodom (representing "the heathen nations") and Samaria (Israel), saying they were justly punished, as if she herself was innocent (Luke 13:2). thy shame ignominious punishment.

 

53. Here follows a promise of restoration. Even the sore chastisements coming on Judah would fail to reform its people; God's returning goodness alone would effect this, to show how entirely of grace was to be their restoration. The restoration of her erring sisters is mentioned before hers, even as their punishment preceded her punishment; so all self-boasting is excluded [FAIRBAIRN]. "Ye shall, indeed, at some time or other return, but Moab and Ammon shall return with you, and some of the ten tribes" [GROTIUS]. bring again . . . captivity that is, change the affliction into prosperity (so Job 42:10). Sodom itself was not so restored (Jeremiah 20:16), but Ammon and Moab (her representatives, as sprung from Lot who dwelt in Sodom) were (Jeremiah 48:47; 49:6); probably most of the ten tribes and the adjoining nations, Ammon and Moab, etc., were in part restored under Cyrus; but the full realization of the restoration is yet future; the heathen nations to be brought to Christ being typified by "Sodom," whose sins they now reproduce (Deuteronomy 32:32). captivity of thy captives literally, "of thy captivities." However, the gracious promise rather begins with the "nevertheless" (Ezekiel 16:60), not here; for Ezekiel 16:59 is a threat, not a promise. The sense here thus is, Thou shalt be restored when Sodom and Samaria are, but not till then (Ezekiel 16:55), that is, never. This applies to the guilty who should be utterly destroyed (Ezekiel 16:41, 42); but it does not contradict the subsequent promise of restoration to their posterity (Numbers 14:29-33), and to the elect remnant of grace [CALVIN].

 

54. bear thine own shame by being put on a level with those whom thou hast so much despised. thou art a comfort unto them since they see thee as miserable as themselves. It is a kind of melancholy "comfort" to those chastised to see others as sorely punished as themselves (Ezekiel 14:22, 23).

 

55. (See note on Ezekiel 16:53).

 

56. Sodom was not mentioned literally, "was not for a report." Thou didst not deign to mention her name as if her case could possibly apply as a warning to thee, but it did apply (2 Peter 2:6).

 

57. Before thy wickedness was discovered manifested to all, namely, by the punishment inflicted on thee. thy reproach of . . . Syria and . . . Philistines the indignity and injuries done thee by Syria and the Philistines (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chronicles 28:18; Isaiah 9:11, 12).

 

58. borne thy lewdness that is, the punishment of it (Ezekiel 23:49). I do not treat thee with excessive rigor. Thy sin and punishment are exactly commensurate.

 

59. the oath the covenant between God and Israel (Deuteronomy 29:12, 14). As thou hast despised it, so will I despise thee. No covenant is one-sided; where Israel broke faith, God's promise of favor ceased.

 

60. The promise here bursts forth unexpectedly like the sun from the dark clouds. With all her forgetfulness of God, God still remembers her; showing that her redemption is altogether of grace. Contrast "I will remember," with "thou hast not remembered" (Ezekiel 16:22, 43); also "My covenant," with "Thy covenant" (Ezekiel 16:61; Psalms 106:45); then the effect produced on her is (Ezekiel 16:63) "that thou mayest remember." God's promise was one of promise and of grace. The law, in its letter, was Israel's (thy) covenant, and in this restricted view was long subsequent (Galatians 3:17). Israel interpreted it as a covenant of works, which she while boasting of, failed to fulfil, and so fell under its condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:3, 6). The law, in its spirit, contains the germ of the Gospel; the New Testament is the full development of the Old, the husk of the outer form being laid aside when the inner spirit was fulfilled in Messiah. God's covenant with Israel, in the person of Abraham, was the reason why, notwithstanding all her guilt, mercy was, and is, in store for her. Therefore the heathen or Gentile nations must come to her for blessings, not she to them. everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 37:26; 2 Samuel 23:5; Isaiah 55:3). The temporary forms of the law were to be laid aside, that in its permanent and "everlasting" spirit it might be established (Jeremiah 31:31-37; 32:40; 50:4, 5; Hebrews 8:8-13).

 

61. thou shalt remember It is God who first remembers her before she remembers Him and her own ways before Him (Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 20:43; 36:31). ashamed the fruit of repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10, 11). None please God unless those who displease themselves; a foretaste of the Gospel (Luke 18:9-14). I will give them unto thee for daughters (Isaiah 54:1; 60:3, 4; Galatians 4:26, etc.). All the heathen nations, not merely Sodom and Samaria, are meant by "thy sisters, elder and younger." In Jerusalem first, individual believers were gathered into the elect Church. From Jerusalem the Gospel went forth to gather in individuals of the Gentiles; and Judah with Jerusalem shall also be the first nation which, as such, shall be converted to Christ; and to her the other nations shall attach themselves as believers in Messiah, Jerusalem's King (Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 2:2, 3). "The king's daughter" in Psalms 45:12-14 is Judah; her "companions," as "the daughter of Tyre," are the nations given to her as converts, here called "daughters." not by thy covenant This does not set aside the Old Testament in its spirit, but in its mere letter on which the Jews had rested, while they broke it: the latter ("thy covenant") was to give place to God's covenant of grace and promise in Christ who "fulfilled" the law. God means, "not that thou on thy part hast stood to the covenant, but that 'I am the Lord, I change not' (Malachi 3:6) from My original love to thee in thy youth" (see Romans 3:3).

 

62. (Hosea 2:19, 20). thou shalt know that I am the Lord not, as elsewhere, by the judgments falling on thee, but by My so marvellously restoring thee through grace.

 

63. never open thy mouth in vindication, or even palliation, of thyself, or expostulation with God for His dealings (Romans 3:19), when thou seest thine own exceeding unworthiness, and My superabounding grace which has so wonderfully overcome with love thy sin (Romans 5:20). "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31). all that thou hast done enhancing the grace of God which has pardoned so many and so great sins. Nothing so melts into love and humility as the sense of the riches of God's pardoning grace (Luke 7:47).

 

CHAPTER 17

 

Ezekiel 17:1-24. PARABLE OF THE TWO GREAT EAGLES, AND THE CROPPING OF THE CEDAR OF LEBANON. JUDAH IS TO BE JUDGED FOR REVOLTING FROM BABYLON, WHICH HAD SET UP ZEDEKIAH INSTEAD OF JEHOIACHIN, TO EGYPT; GOD HIMSELF, AS THE RIVAL OF THE BABYLONIAN KING, IS TO PLANT THE GOSPEL CEDAR OF MESSIAH.

            The date of the prophecy is between the sixth month of Zedekiah's sixth year of reign and the fifth month of the seventh year after the carrying away of Jehoiachin, that is, five years before the destruction of Jerusalem [HENDERSON].

 

2. riddle a continued allegory, expressed enigmatically, requiring more than common acumen and serious thought. The Hebrew is derived from a root, "sharp," that is, calculated to stimulate attention and whet the intellect. Distinct from "fable," in that it teaches not fiction, but fact. Not like the ordinary riddle, designed to puzzle, but to instruct. The "riddle" is here identical with the "parable," only that the former refers to the obscurity, the latter to the likeness of the figure to the thing compared.

 

3. eagle the king of birds. The literal Hebrew is, "the great eagle." The symbol of the Assyrian supreme god, Nisroch; so applied to "the great king" of Babylon, his vicegerent on earth (Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22). His "wings" are his great forces. Such symbols were familiar to the Jews, who saw them portrayed on the great buildings of Babylon; such as are now seen in the Assyrian remains. long-winged implying the wide extent of his empire. full of feathers when they have been renewed after moulting; and so in the full freshness of renovated youth (Psalms 103:5; Isaiah 40:31). Answering to the many peoples which, as tributaries, constituted the strength of Babylon: divers colours the golden eagle, marked with star-like spots, supposed to be the largest of eagles [BOCHART]. Answering to the variety of languages, habits, and costumes of the peoples subject to Babylon. came unto Lebanon continuing the metaphor: as the eagle frequents mountains, not cities. The temple at Jerusalem was called "Lebanon" by the Jews [EUSEBIUS], because its woodwork was wholly of cedars of Lebanon. "The mountain of the Lord's house" (Isaiah 2:2). Jerusalem, however, is chiefly meant, the chief seat of civil honor, as Lebanon was of external elevation. took the highest branch King Jeconiah, then but eighteen years old, and many of the chiefs and people with him (2 Kings 24:8, 12-16). The Hebrew for "highest branch" is, properly, the fleece-like tuft at the top of the tree. (So in Ezekiel 31:3-14). The cedar, as a tall tree, is the symbol of kingly elevation (compare Daniel 4:10-12).

 

4. land of traffic . . . merchants Babylon (2 Kings 24:15, 16), famous for its transport traffic on the Tigris and Euphrates. Also, by its connection with the Persian Gulf, it carried on much commerce with India.

 

5. seed of the land not a foreign production, but one native in the region; a son of the soil, not a foreigner: Zedekiah, uncle of Jehoiachin, of David's family. in a fruitful field literally, a "field of seed"; that is, fit for propagating and continuing the seed of the royal family. as a willow derived from a Hebrew root, "to overflow," from its fondness for water (Isaiah 44:4). Judea was "a land of brooks of water and fountains" (Deuteronomy 8:7-9; compare John 3:23).

 

6. vine of low stature not now, as before, a stately "cedar"; the kingdom of Judah was to be prosperous, but not elevated. branches turned toward him expressing the fealty of Zedekiah as a vassal looking up to Nebuchadnezzar, to whom Judah owed its peace and very existence as a separate state. The "branches" mean his sons and the other princes and nobles. The roots . . . under him The stability of Judah depended on Babylon. The repetition "branches" and "springs" is in order to mark the ingratitude of Zedekiah, who, not content with moderate prosperity, revolted from him to whom he had sworn allegiance.

 

7. another . . . eagle the king of Egypt (Ezekiel 17:15). The "long-winged" of Ezekiel 17:3 is omitted, as Egypt had not such a wide empire and large armies as Babylon. vine . . . bend . . . roots towards him literally, "thirsted after him with its roots"; expressing the longings after Egypt in the Jewish heart. Zedekiah sought the alliance of Egypt, as though by it he could throw off his dependence on Babylon (2 Kings 24:7, 20; 2 Chronicles 36:13; Jeremiah 37:5, 7). water it by . . . furrows of . . . plantation that is, in the garden beds (Judea) wherein (the vine) it was planted. Rather, "by" or "out of the furrows." It refers to the waters of Egypt, the Nile being made to water the fields by means of small canals or "furrows"; these waters are the figure of the auxiliary forces wherewith Egypt tried to help Judah. See the same figure, Isaiah 8:7. But see note on Ezekiel 17:10, "furrows where it grew."

 

8. It was planted in a good soil It was not want of the necessaries of life, nor oppression on the port of Nebuchadnezzar, which caused Zedekiah to revolt: it was gratuitous ambition, pride, and ingratitude.

 

9. Shall it prosper? Could it be that gratuitous treason should prosper? God will not allow it. "It," that is, the vine. he . . . pull up that is, the first eagle, or Nebuchadnezzar. in all . . . leaves of her spring that is, all its springing (sprouting) leaves. without great power or many It shall not need all the forces of Babylon to destroy it; a small division of the army will suffice because God will deliver it into Nebuchadnezzar's hand (Jeremiah 37:10).

 

10. being planted that is, "though planted." east wind The east wind was noxious to vegetation in Palestine; a fit emblem of Babylon, which came from the northeast. wither in . . . furrows where it grew Zedekiah was taken at Jericho, on Jewish soil (Jeremiah 52:8). "It shall wither, although it has furrows from which it expects continual waterings" [CALVIN], (Ezekiel 19:12; Hosea 13:15).

 

12. Know ye not He upbraided them with moral, leading to intellectual, stupidity. hath taken the king Jeconiah or Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:11, 12-16).

 

13. the king's seed Zedekiah, Jeconiah's uncle. taken . . . oath of him swearing fealty as a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:13). also taken the mighty as hostages for the fulfilment of the covenant; whom, therefore, Zedekiah exposed to death by his treason.

 

14. That the kingdom might be base that is, low as to national elevation by being Nebuchadnezzar's dependent; but, at the same time, safe and prosperous, if faithful to the "oath." Nebuchadnezzar dealt sincerely and openly in proposing conditions, and these moderate ones; therefore Zedekiah's treachery was the baser and was a counterpart to their treachery towards God.

 

15. he rebelled God permitted this because of His wrath against Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:20). horses in which Egypt abounded and which were forbidden to Israel to seek from Egypt, or indeed to "multiply" at all (Deuteronomy 17:16; Isaiah 31:1, 3; compare Isaiah 36:9). DIODORUS SICULUS [1.45] says that the whole region from Thebes to Memphis was filled with royal stalls, so that twenty thousand chariots with two horses in each could be furnished for war. Shall he prosper? The third time this question is asked, with an indignant denial understood (Ezekiel 17:9, 10). Even the heathen believed that breakers of an oath would not "escape" punishment.

 

16. in the place where the king dwelleth righteous retribution. He brought on himself in the worst form the evil which, in a mild form, he had sought to deliver himself from by perjured treachery, namely, vassalage (Ezekiel 12:13; Jeremiah 32:5; 34:3; 52:11).

 

17. Pharaoh Pharaoh-hophra (Jeremiah 37:7; 44:30), the successor of Necho (2 Kings 23:29). Neither . . . make for him literally, "effect (anything) with him," that is, be of any avail to Zedekiah. Pharaoh did not act in concert with him, for he was himself compelled to retire to Egypt. by casting up mounts, etc. So far from Pharaoh doing so for Jerusalem, this was what Nebuchadnezzar did against it (Jeremiah 52:4). CALVIN MAURER, etc., refer it to Nebuchadnezzar, "when Nebuchadnezzar shall cast up mounts."

 

18. given his hand in ratification of the oath (2 Kings 10:15; Ezra 10:19), and also in token of subjection to Nebuchadnezzar (1 Chronicles 29:24, Margin; 2 Chronicles 30:8, Margin; Lamentations 5:6).

 

19. mine oath The "covenant" being sworn in God's name was really His covenant; a new instance in relation to man of the treacherous spirit which had been so often betrayed in relation to God. God Himself must therefore avenge the violation of His covenant "on the head" of the perjurer (compare Psalms 7:16).

 

20. my net (Ezekiel 12:13; 32:3). God entraps him as he had tried to entrap others (Psalms 7:15). This was spoken at least upwards of three years before the fall of Jerusalem (compare Ezekiel 8:1, with Ezekiel 20:1).

 

21. all his fugitives the soldiers that accompany him in his flight.

 

22. When the state of Israel shall seem past recovery, Messiah, Jehovah Himself, will unexpectedly appear on the scene as Redeemer of His people (Isaiah 63:5). I . . . also God opposes Himself to Nebuchadnezzar: "He took of the seed of the land and planted it (Ezekiel 17:3, 5), so will I, but with better success than he had. The branch he plucked (Zedekiah) and planted, flourished but for a time, to perish at last; I will plant a scion of the same tree, the house of David, to whom the kingdom belongs by an everlasting covenant, and it shall be the shelter of the whole world, and shall be for ever." branch the peculiar title of Messiah (Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; Isaiah 11:1; 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15). a tender one Zerubbabel never reigned as a universal (Ezekiel 17:23) king, nor could the great things mentioned here be said of him, except as a type of Messiah. Messiah alone can be meant: originally "a tender plant and root out of a dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2); the beginning of His kingdom being humble, His reputed parents of lowly rank, though King David's lineal representatives; yet, even then, God here calls Him, in respect to His everlasting purpose, "the highest . . . of the high" (Psalms 89:27). I . . . will plant it upon an high mountain Zion; destined to be the moral center and eminence of grace and glory shining forth to the world, out-topping all mundane elevation. The kingdom, typically begun at the return from Babylon, and the rebuilding of the temple, fully began with Christ's appearing, and shall have its highest manifestation at His reappearing to reign on Zion, and thence over the whole earth (Psalms 2:6, 8; Isaiah 2:2, 3; Jeremiah 3:17).

 

23. under it . . . all fowl the Gospel "mustard tree," small at first, but at length receiving all under its covert (Matthew 13:32); the antithesis to Antichrist, symbolized by Assyria, of which the same is said (Ezekiel 31:6), and Babylon (Daniel 4:12). Antichrist assumes in mimicry the universal power really belonging to Christ.

 

24. I . . . brought down the high the very attribute given to God by the virgin mother of Him, under whom this was to be accomplished. high . . . low tree that is, princes elevated . . . lowered. All the empires of the world, represented by Babylon, once flourishing ("green"), shall be brought low before the once depressed ("dry"), but then exalted, kingdom of Messiah and His people, the head of whom shall be Israel (Daniel 2:44).

 

CHAPTER 18

 

Ezekiel 18:1-32. THE PARABLE OF THE SOUR GRAPES REPROVED.

            Vindication of God's moral government as to His retributive righteousness from the Jewish imputation of injustice, as if they were suffering, not for their own sin, but for that of their fathers. As in the seventeenth chapter he foretold Messiah's happy reign in Jerusalem, so now he warns them that its blessings can be theirs only upon their individually turning to righteousness.

 

2. fathers . . . eaten sour grapes, . . . children's teeth . . . set on edge Their unbelieving calumnies on God's justice had become so common as to have assumed a proverbial form. The sin of Adam in eating the forbidden fruit, visited on his posterity, seems to have suggested the peculiar form; noticed also by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:29); and explained in Lamentations 5:7, "Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities." They mean by "the children," themselves, as though they were innocent, whereas they were far from being so. The partial reformation effected since Manasseh's wicked reign, especially among the exiles at Chebar, was their ground for thinking so; but the improvement was only superficial and only fostered their self-righteous spirit, which sought anywhere but in themselves the cause of their calamities; just as the modern Jews attribute their present dispersion, not to their own sins, but to those of their forefathers. It is a universal mark of corrupt nature to lay the blame, which belongs to ourselves, on others and to arraign the justice of God. Compare Genesis 3:12, where Adam transfers the blame of his sin to Eve, and even to God, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

 

3. ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb because I will let it be seen by the whole world in the very fact that you are not righteous, as ye fancy yourselves, but wicked, and that you suffer only the just penalty of your guilt; while the elect righteous remnant alone escapes.

 

4. all souls are mine Therefore I can deal with all, being My own creation, as I please (Jeremiah 18:6). As the Creator of all alike I can have no reason, but the principle of equity, according to men's works, to make any difference, so as to punish some, and to save others (Genesis 18:25). "The soul that sinneth it shall die." The curse descending from father to son assumes guilt shared in by the son; there is a natural tendency in the child to follow the sin of his father, and so he shares in the father's punishment: hence the principles of God's government, involved in Exodus 20:5 and Jeremiah 15:4, are justified. The sons, therefore (as the Jews here), cannot complain of being unjustly afflicted by God (Lamentations 5:7); for they filled up the guilt of their fathers (Matthew 23:32, 34-36). The same God who "recompenses the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children," is immediately after set forth as "giving to every man according to his ways" (Jeremiah 32:18, 19) which "visited the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" (where the explanation is added, "of them that hate me," that is, the children hating God, as well as their fathers: the former being too likely to follow their parents, sin going down with cumulative force from parent to child), we find (Deuteronomy 24:16), "the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither the children for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." The inherited guilt of sin in infants (Romans 5:14) is an awful fact, but one met by the atonement of Christ; but it is of adults that he speaks here. Whatever penalties fall on communities for connection with sins of their fathers, individual adults who repent shall escape (2 Kings 23:25, 26). This was no new thing, as some misinterpret the passage here; it had been always God's principle to punish only the guilty, and not also the innocent, for the sins of their fathers. God does not here change the principle of His administration, but is merely about to manifest it so personally to each that the Jews should no longer throw on God and on their fathers the blame which was their own. soul that sinneth, it shall die and it alone (Romans 6:23); not also the innocent.

 

5. Here begins the illustration of God's impartiality in a series of supposed cases. The first case is given in Ezekiel 18:5-9, the just man. The excellencies are selected in reference to the prevailing sins of the age, from which such a one stood aloof; hence arises the omission of some features of righteousness, which, under different circumstances, would have been desirable to be enumerated. Each age has its own besetting temptations, and the just man will be distinguished by his guarding against the peculiar defilements, inward and outward, of his age. just . . . lawful . . . right the duties of the second table of the law, which flow from the fear of God. Piety is the root of all charity; to render to each his own, as well to our neighbor, as to God.

 

6. not eaten upon . . . mountains the high places, where altars were reared. A double sin: sacrificing elsewhere than at the temple, where only God sanctioned sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:13, 14); and this to idols instead of to Jehovah. "Eaten" refers to the feasts which were connected with the sacrifices (see Exodus 32:6; Deuteronomy 32:38; Judges 9:27; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 10; 10:7). lifted . . . eyes to namely, in adoration (Psalms 121:1). The superstitious are compared to harlots; their eyes go eagerly after spiritual lusts. The righteous man not merely refrains from the act, but from the glance of spiritual lust (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28). idols of . . . Israel not merely those of the Gentiles, but even those of Israel. The fashions of his countrymen could not lead him astray. defiled . . . neighbour's wife Not only does he shrink from spiritual, but also from carnal, adultery (compare 1 Corinthians 6:18). neither . . . menstruous woman Leprosy and elephantiasis were said to be the fruit of such a connection [JEROME]. Chastity is to be observed even towards one's own wife (Leviticus 18:19; 20:18).

 

7. restored . . . pledge that which the poor debtor absolutely needed; as his raiment, which the creditor was bound to restore before sunset (Exodus 22:26, 27), and his millstone, which was needed for preparing his food (Deuteronomy 24:6, 10-13). bread to . . . hungry . . . covered . . . naked (Isaiah 58:7; Matthew 25:35, 36). After duties of justice come those of benevolence. It is not enough to refrain from doing a wrong to our neighbor, we must also do him good. The bread owned by a man, though "his," is given to him, not to keep to himself, but to impart to the needy.

 

8. usury literally, "biting." The law forbade the Jew to take interest from brethren but permitted him to do so from a foreigner (Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 23:19, 20; Nehemiah 5:7; Psalms 15:5). The letter of the law was restricted to the Jewish polity, and is not binding now; and indeed the principle of taking interest was even then sanctioned, by its being allowed in the case of a foreigner. The spirit of the law still binds us, that we are not to take advantage of our neighbor's necessities to enrich ourselves, but be satisfied with moderate, or even no, interest, in the case of the needy. increase in the case of other kinds of wealth; as "usury" refers to money (Leviticus 25:36). withdrawn . . . hand, etc. Where he has the opportunity and might find a plausible plea for promoting his own gain at the cost of a wrong to his neighbor, he keeps back his hand from what selfishness prompts. judgment justice.

 

9. truly with integrity. surely live literally, "live in life." Prosper in this life, but still more in the life to come (Proverbs 3:1, 2; Amos 5:4).

 

10-13. The second case is that of an impious son of a pious father. His pious parentage, so far from excusing, aggravates his guilt. robber or literally, "a breaker," namely, through all constraints of right. doeth the like to any one The Hebrew and the parallel (Ezekiel 18:18) require us to translate rather, "doeth to his brother any of these things," namely, the things which follow in Ezekiel 18:11, etc. [MAURER].

 

11. those duties which his father did (Ezekiel 18:5, 9).

 

12. oppressed the poor an aggravation to his oppressions, that they were practised against the poor; whereas in Ezekiel 18:7 the expression is simply "oppressed any." abomination singular number referring to the particular one mentioned at the end of Ezekiel 18:6.

 

13. shall he . . . live? because of the merits of his father; answering, by contrast, to "die for the iniquity of his father" (Ezekiel 18:17). his blood shall be upon him The cause of his bloody death shall rest with himself; God is not to blame, but is vindicated as just in punishing him.

 

14-18. The third case: a son who walks not in the steps of an unrighteous father, but in the ways of God; for example, Josiah, the pious son of guilty Amon; Hezekiah, of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:1-20; 18:1-37; 21:1-22:20). seeth . . . and considereth The same Hebrew stands for both verbs, "seeth . . . yea, seeth." The repetition implies the attentive observation needed, in order that the son may not be led astray by his father's bad example; as sons generally are blind to parents sins, and even imitate them as if they were virtues.

 

17. taken off his hand from the poor that is, abstained from oppressing the poor, when he had the opportunity of doing so with impunity.The different sense of the phrase in Ezekiel 16:49, in reference to relieving the poor, seems to have suggested the reading followed by FAIRBAIRN, but not sanctioned by the Hebrew, "hath not turned his hand from," etc. But Ezekiel 20:22 uses the phrase in a somewhat similar sense to English Version here, abstained from hurting.

 

19. Here the Jews object to the prophet's word and in their objection seem to seek a continuance of that very thing which they had originally made a matter of complaint. Therefore translate, "Wherefore doth not the son bear the iniquity of his father?" It now would seem a consolation to them to think the son might suffer for his father's misdeeds; for it would soothe their self-love to regard themselves as innocent sufferers for the guilt of others and would justify them in their present course of life, which they did not choose to abandon for a better. In reply, Ezekiel reiterates the truth of each being dealt with according to his own merits [FAIRBAIRN]. But GROTIUS supports English Version, wherein the Jews contradict the prophet, "Why (sayest thou so) doth not the son (often, as in our case, though innocent) bear (that is, suffer for) the iniquity of their father?" Ezekiel replies, It is not as you say, but as I in the name of God say: "When the son hath done," etc. English Version is simpler than that of FAIRBAIRN.

 

20. son shall not bear . . . iniquity of . . . father (Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6). righteousness . . . wickedness that is, the reward for righteousness . . . the punishment of wickedness. "Righteousness" is not used as if any were absolutely righteous; but, of such as have it imputed to them for Christ's sake, though not under the Old Testament themselves understanding the ground on which they were regarded as righteous, but sincerely seeking after it in the way of God's appointment, so far as they then understood this way.

 

21-24. Two last cases, showing the equity of God: (1) The penitent sinner is dealt with according to his new obedience, not according to his former sins. (2) The righteous man who turns from righteousness to sin shall be punished for the latter, and his former righteousness will be of no avail to him. he shall surely live Despair drives men into hardened recklessness; God therefore allures men to repentance by holding out hope [CALVIN].

 

"To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,

Wrapt in his crimes, against the storm prepared,

But when the milder beams of mercy play,

He melts, and throws the cumbrous cloak away.

 

Hitherto the cases had been of a change from bad to good, or vice versa, in one generation compared with another. Here it is such a change in one and the same individual. This, as practically affecting the persons here addressed, is properly put last. So far from God laying on men the penalty of others' sins, He will not even punish them for their own, if they turn from sin to righteousness; but if they turn from righteousness to sin, they must expect in justice that their former goodness will not atone for subsequent sin (Hebrews 10:38, 39; 2 Peter 2:20-22). The exile in Babylon gave a season for repentance of those sins which would have brought death on the perpetrator in Judea while the law could be enforced; so it prepared the way for the Gospel [GROTIUS].

 

22. in his righteousness . . . he shah live in it, not for it, as if that atoned for his former sins; but "in his righteousness" he shall live, as the evidence of his being already in favor with God through the merit of Messiah, who was to come. The Gospel clears up for us many such passages (1 Peter 1:12), which were dimly understood at the time, while men, however, had light enough for salvation.

 

23. (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). If men perish, it is because they will not come to the Lord for salvation; not that the Lord is not willing to save them (John 5:40). They trample on not merely justice, but mercy; what farther hope can there be for them, when even mercy is against them? (Hebrews 10:26-29).

 

24. righteous one apparently such; as in Matthew 9:13, "I came not to call the righteous," etc., that is, those who fancy themselves righteous. Those alone are true saints who by the grace of God persevere (Matthew 24:13; 1 Corinthians 10:12; John 10:28, 29). turneth away from . . . righteousness an utter apostasy; not like the exceptional offenses of the godly through infirmity or heedlessness, which they afterwards mourn over and repent of. not be mentioned not be taken into account so as to save them. his trespass utter apostasy.

 

25. Their plea for saying, "The way of the Lord is not equal," was that God treated different classes in a different way. But it was really their way that was unequal, since living in sin they expected to be dealt with as if they were righteous. God's way was invariably to deal with different men according to their deserts.

 

26-28. The two last instances repeated in inverse order. God's emphatic statement of His principle of government needs no further proof than the simple statement of it. in them in the actual sins, which are the manifestations of the principle of "iniquity," mentioned just before.

 

27. he shall save his soul that is, he shall have it saved upon his repentance.

 

28. considereth the first step to repentance; for the ungodly do not consider either God or themselves (Deuteronomy 32:29; Psalms 119:59, 60; Luke 15:17, 18).

 

29. Though God's justice is so plainly manifested, sinners still object to it because they do not wish to see it (Micah 2:7; Matthew 11:18, 19).

 

30-32. As God is to judge them "according to their ways" (Proverbs 1:31), their only hope is to "repent"; and this is a sure hope, for God takes no delight in judging them in wrath, but graciously desires their salvation on repentance. I will judge you Though ye cavil, it is a sufficient answer that I, your Judge, declare it so, and will judge you according to My will; and then your cavils must end. Repent inward conversion (Revelation 2:5). In the Hebrew there is a play of like sounds, "Turn ye and return." turn yourselves, etc. the outward fruits of repentance. Not as the Margin, "turn others "; for the parallel clause (Ezekiel 18:31) is, "cast away from you all your transgressions." Perhaps, however, the omission of the object after the verb in the Hebrew implies that both are included: Turn alike yourselves and all whom you can influence. from all . . . transgressions not as if believers are perfect; but they sincerely aim at perfection, so as to be habitually and wilfully on terms with no sin (1 John 3:6-9): your ruin literally, "your snare," entangling you in ruin.

 

31. Cast away from you for the cause of your evil rests with yourselves; your sole way of escape is to be reconciled to God (Ephesians 4:22, 23). make you a new heart This shows, not what men can do, but what they ought to do: what God requires of us. God alone can make us a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27). The command to do what men cannot themselves do is designed to drive them (instead of laying the blame, as the Jews did, elsewhere rather than on themselves) to feel their own helplessness, and to seek God's Holy Spirit (Psalms 51:11, 12). Thus the outward exhortation is, as it were, the organ or instrument which God uses for conferring grace. So we may say with AUGUSTINE, "Give what thou requirest, and (then) require what thou wilt." Our strength (which is weakness in itself) shall suffice for whatever He exacts, if only He gives the supply [CALVIN]. spirit the understanding: as the "heart" means the will and affections. The root must be changed before the fruit can be good. why will ye die bring on your own selves your ruin. God's decrees are secret to us; it is enough for us that He invites all, and will reject none that seek Him.

 

32. (Lamentations 3:33; 2 Peter 3:9). God is "slow to anger"; punishment is "His strange work" (Isaiah 28:21).

 

CHAPTER 19

 

Ezekiel 19:1-14. ELEGY OVER THE FALL OF DAVID'S HOUSE.

            There is a tacit antithesis between this lamentation and that of the Jews for their own miseries, into the causes of which, however, they did not inquire.

 

1. princes of Israel that is, Judah, whose "princes" alone were recognized by prophecy; those of the ten tribes were, in respect to the theocracy, usurpers.

 

2. thy mother the mother of Jehoiachin, the representative of David's line in exile with Ezekiel. The "mother" is Judea: "a lioness," as being fierce in catching prey (Ezekiel 19:3), referring to her heathenish practices. Jerusalem was called Ariel (the lion of God) in a good sense (Isaiah 29:1); and Judah "a lion's whelp . . . a lion . . . an old lion" (Genesis 49:9), to which, as also to Numbers 23:24; 24:9, this passage alludes. nourished . . . among young lions She herself had "lain" among lions, that is, had intercourse with the corruptions of the surrounding heathen and had brought up the royal young ones similarly: utterly degenerate from the stock of Abraham. Lay down or "couched," is appropriate to the lion, the Arab name of which means "the coucher."

 

3. young lion Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, carried captive from Riblah to Egypt by Pharaoh-necho (2 Kings 23:33).

 

4. The nations Egypt, in the case of Jehoahaz, who probably provoked Pharaoh by trying to avenge the death of his father by assailing the bordering cities of Egypt (2 Kings 23:29, 30). in their pit image from the pitfalls used for catching wild beasts (Jeremiah 22:11, 12). chains or hooks, which were fastened in the noses of wild beasts (see note on Ezekiel 19:9).

 

5. saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost that is, that her long-waited-for hope was disappointed, Jehoahaz not being restored to her from Egypt. she took another of her whelps Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, who was placed on the throne by Pharaoh (2 Kings 23:34), according to the wish of Judah.

 

6. went up and down among the lions imitated the recklessness and tyranny of the surrounding kings (Jeremiah 22:13-17). catch . . . prey to do evil, gratifying his lusts by oppression (2 Kings 23:37).

 

7. knew . . . desolate palaces that is, claimed as his own their palaces, which he then proceeded to "desolate." The Hebrew, literally "widows"; hence widowed palaces (Isaiah 13:22). VATABLUS (whom FAIRBAIRN follows) explains it, "He knew (carnally) the widows of those whom he devoured" (Ezekiel 19:6). But thus the metaphor and the literal reality would be blended: the lion being represented as knowing widows. The reality, however, often elsewhere thus breaks through the veil. fulness thereof all that it contained; its inhabitants.

 

8. the nations the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moab, and Ammon (2 Kings 24:2).

 

9. in chains (2 Chronicles 36:6; Jeremiah 22:18). Margin, "hooks"; perhaps referring to the hook often passed through the nose of beasts; so, too, through that of captives, as seen in the Assyrian sculptures (see note on Ezekiel 19:4). voice that is, his roaring. no more be heard upon the mountains carrying on the metaphor of the lion, whose roaring on the mountains frightens all the other beasts. The insolence of the prince, not at all abated though his kingdom was impaired, was now to cease.

 

10. A new metaphor taken from the vine, the chief of the fruit-bearing trees, as the lion is of the beasts of prey (see Ezekiel 17:6). in thy blood "planted when thou wast in thy blood," that is, in thy very infancy; as in Ezekiel 16:6, when thou hadst just come from the womb, and hadst not yet the blood washed from thee. The Jews from the first were planted in Canaan to take root there [CALVIN]. GROTIUS translates as the Margin, "in thy quietness," that is, in the period when Judah had not yet fallen into her present troubles. English Version is better. GLASSIUS explains it well, retaining the metaphor, which CALVIN'S explanation breaks, "in the blood of thy grapes," that is, in her full strength, as the red wine is the strength of the grape. Genesis 49:11 is evidently alluded to. many waters the well-watered land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).

 

11. strong rods princes of the royal house of David. The vine shot forth her branches like so many scepters, not creeping lowly on the ground like many vines, but trained aloft on a tree or wall. The mention of their former royal dignity, contrasting sadly with her present sunken state, would remind the Jews of their sins whereby they had incurred such judgments. stature (Daniel 4:11). among the thick branches that is, the central stock or trunk of the tree shot up highest "among its own branches" or offshoots, surrounding it. Emblematic of the numbers and resources of the people. HENGSTENBERG translates, "among the clouds." But Ezekiel 31:3, 10, 14, supports English Version.

 

12. plucked up not gradually withered. The sudden upturning of the state was designed to awaken the Jews out of their torpor to see the hand of God in the national judgment. east wind (See note on Ezekiel 17:10).

 

13. planted that is, transplanted. Though already "dried up" in regard to the nation generally, the vine is said to be "transplanted" as regards God's mercy to the remnant in Babylon. dry . . . ground Chaldea was well-watered and fertile; but it is the condition of the captive people, not that of the land, which is referred to.

 

14. fire . . . out of a rod of her branches The Jews' disaster was to be ascribed, not so much to the Chaldeans as to themselves; the "fire out of the rod" is God's wrath kindled by the perjury of Zedekiah (Ezekiel 17:18). "The anger of the Lord" against Judah is specified as the cause why Zedekiah was permitted to rebel against Babylon (2 Kings 24:20; compare Judges 9:15), thus bringing Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem. no strong rod . . . sceptre to rule No more kings of David's stock are now to rule the nation. Not at least until "the Lord shall send the rod of His strength ("Messiah," Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 11:1) out of Zion," to reign first as a spiritual, then hereafter as a literal king. is . . . and shall be for a lamentation Part of the lamentation (that as to Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim) was matter of history as already accomplished; part (as to Zedekiah) was yet to be fulfilled; or, this prophecy both is a subject for lamentation, and shall be so to distant posterity.

 

 

John Calvin's Commentary

 

Ezekiel 12:1-2:

1. The word of the Lord also came unto me, saying,

2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

 

1. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,

2. Fili hominis, in medio domus rebellis tu habitas, oculi illis ad videndum, et non vident: aures illis ad audiendum, et non audiunt: quia domus rebellis ipsi.244

 

            Because God was about to give a command to his servant, he wished to inspire him with fortitude of mind, lest, when he saw that he was consuming his labor in vain, he should withdraw from his course. For we know how severe is that temptation to God's servants when they speak to the deaf, and not only is their doctrine rejected but even refused with ignominy. They think, therefore, that nothing is better than silence, because where their word is so despised it only exposes the name of God to the reproaches of the impious. Now then we understand for what purpose God admonishes his Prophet about the contumacy of the nation. The Prophet had tried enough, and more than enough, how unmanageable the Israelites were, but God confirms by his judgment what the Prophet had discovered sufficiently in practice. Then we must observe another reason, for God not only commanded his Prophet what to say, but he added an outward symbol, as we shall see. But the Prophet might object, that it would be ridiculous to take a staff, and scrip, and hat, as a traveler about to commence a journey. Nor is it doubtful that the Israelites derided through perverseness what he was doing, as a boyish amusement.

            Lest, therefore, the Prophet should think what he was commanded to do absurd, God instructs him, and gives him the reason of his plan. He says, therefore, the house of Israel is rebellious, and then he expresses the greatness of their contumacy, namely, that they are deaf, though endued with ears: that they are blind, and yet do not want eyes. God here shows that the Israelites could not defend their error, as if they had sinned without consideration; but he assigns their neither hearing nor seeing to their obstinacy. And this must be diligently remarked, because hypocrites, when convicted, catch as much as possible at this excuse, that they fell through error or ignorance. But God on the contrary here pronounces that the Israelites were blind and deaf, and shows that their blindness was voluntary. When, therefore, unbelievers pretend that they have not been illuminated by the Lord, it may be conceded to them that they are blind and deaf: but we must often proceed beyond this, since their own obstinacy is the fountain of their blindness and deafness: and God blinds them, because they will not admit the light offered them, but stop their ears. In God's judgments, indeed, the causes do not always appear, for we sometimes see a whole nation Minded without any reason apparent to us; but as far as the ten tribes are concerned, there can be no excuse for their error, since they were brought up from childhood in God's law, so that their pride and contempt caused God to reject them. Hence they were so stupified that they neither saw with their eyes nor heard with their ears. And this the Prophet expresses significantly, they hear not, says he, since they are a rebellious house; he does not say, because their senses do not penetrate to the secrets of God, are not sufficiently acute, are not endued with such great prudence; but because they are a rebellious house, that is, because they have stupified themselves. Hence it happens that they neither hear nor see. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:3

 

3. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.

 

3. Et tu fili hominis, fac245 tibi vasa transmigrationis: et transmigra interdiu in oculis ipsorum: migrabis autem a loco tuo ad locum alium in oculis ipsorum, si forte videant, quia domus rebellis strut.

 

            Now God instructs his Prophet in what he wishes him to do: he orders him to take vessels for journeying, that is, he orders him to prepare for a long journey, even for exile: for exile is the subject here. But he who is compelled to leave home to go into a foreign land, collects whatever he can carry with him, namely, his clothes, shoes, hat, scrip, and staff, and other things of that kind, if he have even a little money. Therefore the Prophet is advised to gird himself for his journey, by which he represents the character of those who were just about to be dragged into exile. For this reason he is ordered to prepare for himself vessels for traveling. The Latins call garments as well as other goods "vessels:" whence proverbially to collect goods is to remove baggage in a military phrase, or to take away one's stuff. But he orders this to be done in the day-time, that the Israelites may see what is done.

            Then the Prophet is ordered to remove from one place to another. As I have said, this might appear puerile. Cicero describes those legal fictions,246 how those who went to law about a field when called upon to plead, had, so to speak, an imaginary way of going to see it; for since it was too troublesome to the judge to mount his horse and ride over various fields, they retained an ancient and customary ceremony: the plaintiff said, the land which you say is yours, I claim for myself and say is mine, and if you wish to dispute with me legally, I summon you to the spot: the defendant replied, as you summon me there, I in return answer your summons. The judge then arose and moved from his place, and so an imaginary action took place. Cicero derides that by-play, and says it is unworthy of the gravity of a court of law. But such was the action of the Prophet; he took his hat, cloak, staff, and shoes, and other things, and changed his place as if he were moving. But he only went a short distance. But God previously had said, that he was dealing with a perverse nation, and so had need of such assistances. And we must remark the particle, if by chance they should see, because they are a rebellious house. For here God as it were suspends the event of his teaching, when he says, if perhaps they should hear. And the reason is added, because the hardness of the people was so great, that they could scarcely be turned to obedience by any discourses or signs. Meanwhile let us learn from this place, that we must still go on, although success does not answer to our labor, when we spend our strength for God. And this instruction is peculiarly necessary, because when God imposes on us any duty, we dispute with ourselves as to its result, and thus all energy flags, because we are seldom willing to put forth a finger unless we perceive a prosperous issue. Because, therefore, we are always too attentive to the fruit of our labor, hence this passage should be diligently regarded, when God sends his Prophet and yet adds, if by chance they should listen. Whatever may be the event, we must obey God; if our labor should not profit, yet God wishes us to obey him. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:4

 

4. Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.

 

4. Et effer vasa tanquam vasa captivitatis interdiu in oculis ipsorum: et tu egredieris vespere in oculis ipsorum secundum egressus captivitatis.

 

            The other verses must now be added

 

 

Ezekiel 12:5-6

 

5. Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.

6. In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground; for I have: set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.

 

5. In oculis ipsorum perfodies tibi parietem, et educes per ipsum.

6. In oculis ipsorum super humerum gestabis, in tenebris egredieris; faciem tuam occultabis et non aspicies terram, quia portentum constitui to domui Israel.

 

            Ezekiel is verbose in this narration. But in the beginning of the book we said, that because the teacher was sent to men very slow and stupid, he therefore used a rough style. We added also, that he had acquired it partly from the custom of the region in which he dwelt. For the people declined by degrees from the polish of their language, and hence it happens that the Prophet's diction is not quite pure, but is intermixed with something foreign. As to the subject itself there is no ambiguity, since God repeats that he should dig through a wall, and bring out his vessels by himself before their eyes. Here follows another part of the vision, namely, that there should be no free egress but that the Jews would desire to depart by stealth. First, therefore, it is shown to the Prophet, that the Jews who when secure at Jerusalem boasted that all was well with them, should be exiles; then, that it would not be in their power to go forth when they wished, unless perhaps they stealthily escaped the hands of the enemy through their hiding-place, as thieves escape by digging through a wall. Then the application will follow, but yet it was worth while to state what God intended by this vision. Afterwards everything is embraced. In their sight, says he, thou shalt bear upon thy shoulder, that is, thou shalt be prepared and girt for a journey as a traveler, and this shall be done in the day-time: but in darkness, says he, thou shalt bring them forth: after thy vessels have been prepared, wait for the evening: in the darkness afterwards thou shalt go forth. Here he shows what I have already touched upon, when necessity expelled the Jews from their country, that their departure would not be free, because they would be well off if' they could snatch themselves away from the sight of their enemies in hiding-places and the darkness of the night.

            He adds, thou shalt hide thy face, and the clause, neither shalt thou look upon the earth, means the same thing. Anxiety and trembling is marked by this phrase, as when he says, thou shalt hide thy face, it signifies that the Jews should be so perplexed that they should fear every event which happened. For those who fear everything veil their faces, as is well known. But this trembling is better expressed when he says, thou shaft not look upon the earth. For those who are in haste do not dare to bend down their eyes the least in either one direction or another, but are carried along to the place to which they are going, and press forward with their eyes, because they cannot hasten with their feet as quickly as they desire. Hence they seize their way, as it were, with their eyes. This is the reason why God says, thou shalt not look upon the earth, because I have set thee, says he, for a sign to the house of Israel. Here God meets the petulance of those who otherwise would laugh at what the Prophet was doing: what do you mean by that fictitious emigration? why do you not rest at home? why do you here frighten us with an empty spectacle? God, therefore, that the Jews should not obstinately despise what he shows them, adds, that the Prophet was a sign or a wonder to the house of Israel. The word wonder is here taken in its genuine sense, though sometimes it has an unfavorable meaning. We say that anything portentous is disagreeable: but a "portent" properly designates any sign of the future. When therefore men predict what is hidden, it is called a portent. And this is the meaning of Isaiah, (Isaiah 8:18,) where he says, Behold me, and the children whom God has given me, for signs and wonders. He puts twta, athoth, "signs," in the first place, then Mytpwm, mophthim, "portents." Here the Prophet speaks in the singular: I have given thee for a wonder. But since Isaiah treats of the rest of the faithful, he then uses signs and portents; since Isaiah seems to imply something more, namely, that the people were so stupid that they so feared and abhorred God's servants, as if they had met, with a prodigy. Here, therefore, the depravity of the people is to be marked, because when they saw any pious and sincere worshipper of God they turned away their eyes as from a formidable prodigy. But now the Prophet speaks simply, that he had been placed for a prodigy to the house of Israel: because in truth this action was a presage of that future captivity which the Jews did not fear for themselves, and which was also incredible to the Israelites; whence that penitence and weariness of which I have spoken. But I do not object if any think that the Prophet speaks of a portent, because the Israelites were struck with astonishment; but the former sense is far more apposite. In this way then God distinguishes the action of the Prophet from all empty spectacles, and so vindicates his servant from all opprobrium. Meanwhile he signifies that although the Prophet was despised, yet that he would be true, and at the same time the avenger of contempt. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:7

 

7. And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.

 

7. Atque ita feci quemadmodum jussus fueram, vasa mea eduxi tanquam vasa captivitatis interdiu: et vespere perfodi in parletem247 manu; in tenebris eduxi, super humerum extuli248 in oculis ipsorum.

 

            Here the Prophet relates that he had executed what God had commanded: nor did it escape him that this action would be exposed to many jeers and reproaches. But he esteemed nothing of equal moment with pleasing God: hence we must remark the Prophet's alacrity in executing God's commands. For since to ingenuous natures nothing is more distasteful than reproach, he might reject the burden imposed upon him, because it provoked the laughter of all men. But because God was otherwise pleased he did as he was ordered. He says, therefore, that he carried away his vessels, as it were vessels of captivity, or of migration, and that in the day-time: as if he said that he had prepared whatever was necessary for the journey, as if he saw that a long march, even exile was before him. This then was the reason why he prepared his goods in the day-time. Now it follows, at evening he dug through the wall. This belongs to the second clause, that the Israelites might understand that all egress was blocked up to the Jews, so that no safety remained but in concealed flight. He says also, by the hand, whence it appears to be done suddenly and tumultuously. He says, that he went out in darkness, and carried things on his shoulder namely, that he may confirm what we have so often said, that the Jews had no hope of safety except under cover of the night: because they were besieged on every side, and could not move on one side or the other, lest the enemy should seize them. This is the reason why the Prophet says, that he went out in darkness through the wall which had been dug through.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since thou so wishest us to live in this world, that we may travel onwards till thou gatherest us into thy heavenly rest, that we may truly contemplate that eternal inheritance, and apply to it all our endeavors: and next, that we may so travel in this world that we may not wander nor stray from the way; but being always intent on the mark which thou settest before us, grant us to proceed on our way, until we finish our course, and enjoy that glory which thine only-begotten Son has prepared for us through his own blood. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty-second

 

Ezekiel 12:8-11

 

8. And in the morning came the word of the Lord unto me, saying,

9. Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?

10. Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.

11. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them; they shall remove, and go into captivity.

 

8. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me mane, dicendo,

9. Fili hominis, an non dixerunt tibi, domus Israel, domus rebellis,249 Quid tu facis?

10. Dic illis, sic dicit Dominator Iehova, Principis onus hoc250 in Ierusalem, et totius domus Israel quae in medio ipsorum.

11. Dic els, Ego portentum vestrum sicuti feci ita fiet illis, in transmigrationem, in caprivitatem ibunt.

 

            We gather from these words of the Prophet, that he was himself derided when he began to migrate: then that he dug through the wall by night secretly, and thus carried away his baggage. For those who think that the Israelites enquired about this, as if it were unknown to them, do not sufficiently consider the Prophet's words. For the repetition of the epithet rebellious house is not in vain; for if this question had proceeded from mere folly, God would not have called them rebellious. This epithet, then, refers to the present passage, and thus we may determine that the Israelites asked the Prophet deridingly, what does this mean? For he seemed to them to be trifling, and thus they jeered at him; for we know the audacity of the nation in despising their Prophets. It is not, then, to be wondered at, when they obtained a plausible ground for it, if they commented rather freely upon what the Prophet was doing. We said yesterday 'that this seemed a childish spectacle. Hence the Israelites seemed, not without reason, to reject what the Prophet was doing as a thing of nought. But God does not suffer his servants to be reviled in this way. He now signified to the Prophet that his calling ought to be deservedly held sacred. Since therefore Ezekiel bore certain marks of the prophetic office, although at first sight his conduct could not appear serious, yet the people ought to have enquired modestly. For whatever we know to flow from God should be reverently received without controversy. But if there is any obscurity we may wonder and enquire into it; but as I have said, docility and modesty ought always to precede. But what did the Israelites do? they enquired, indeed, the meaning of the Prophet's conduct, but only to reject it with ridicule. For this reason God is angry, and announces himself a severe avenger of that audacity, because they persecuted the sacred Prophet. Hence this must be read emphatically what doest thou? as if they said that the Prophet was foolish, and carried and prepared his goods, and dug through the wall, in vain, since all these things were of no moment. But the answer, when it shows that God is greatly offended with such trifling, sufficiently demonstrates that they did not ask the question through ignorance, or want of thought, but through mere wantonness.

            He now says, this prophecy relates to the prince, and the whole house of Israel which is in the midst of them. Without doubt he understands the king, as we shall soon see: nor does he speak of any king indefinitely, but points out Zedekiah, as will be immediately evident from circumstances. He says, therefore, this burden, or this sorrowful prophecy, looks towards the prince, and to the house of Israel, which dwell at Jerusalem. But it is probable that some had fled that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy, since Jerusalem was a safe receptacle for them. The captives thought themselves bad managers, because they had not followed those leaders, since Jerusalem was a safe refuge for them, and hence the greater sorrow at their captivity. Hence God pronounces that the Israelites were comprehended with their king in this prophecy. It is indeed true that this was a common name to all the posterity of Abraham; for the twelve tribes sprung from the patriarch Jacob, but it was then becoming customary for the ten tribes to retain the name of Israel, and for that of Judah to have their own proper and peculiar name. Afterwards he confirms his teaching, that he was as a sign to them. We explained this expression yesterday, showing how the Prophet was placed before them as a sign, so that God represented what was as yet unknown to them; for signs divinely sent are called portents, when they foretell what no one would expect to happen. God, indeed, often shows what he is going' to do by many, yet ordinary signs; but an extraordinary one, which cannot be considered natural, is called a portent. So therefore the Prophet is ordered to say to the Israelites that he was to them for a wonder, namely, to reprove their obstinacy, which, as we have said, was the cause of their impious contempt. For it was no part of their religion for a Prophet to deride them, so that they should suppose him to be trifling with them, as if frightening children about nothing. God, therefore, that the Israelites might at length be roused up at his own time, pronounces his servant to be a wonder to them. And we gather from the reason which is added, what the name portent meant in yesterday's lecture. For he says, as I have done, so shall it be done to you; that is, what you now think to be child's play, shall be seriously fulfilled in yourselves. For the Prophet seemed to act a part, like a player, and on this account was derided. He now declares that it should not be fabulous, since the Israelites, who were left in Judea among the Jews, and the king himself, should not act a part; for God would compel them to collect their baggage, and to take flight by stealth in the darkness of the night, which he follows up through the whole verse. Into banishment and exile, says he, shall they go. When therefore the Prophet was commanded to collect and prepare his goods, he was a sign of the exile of which he now speaks. But the explanation of the second part is added.

 

 

Ezekiel 12:12

 

12. And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.

 

12. Et princeps qui in medio ipsorum est super humerum portabit in tenebris, et ingredietur in pariete quem effoderint ad educendum251 in ipso: faciem suam occultabit, ne (ut non) aspiciat oculo terram.

 

            We have said that two things were shown, both the people's exile and their clandestine flight: the Prophet now speaks again about this trembling. He says therefore, that not only the vulgar and the dregs of the people would be so anxious that they would endeavor to escape secretly and carry their own baggage; but the prince himself, that is, their king would be subject to such ignominy: the prince himself, says he, shall carry on his shoulder. Many followed him, as we have seen, and at length he was seized with a great company, as the Prophet will shortly subjoin, and being' caught in the desert of Jericho, he was dragged by the enemy before their king: but here mention is made of the king alone, because it was almost incredible that the enemy could not be reconciled. For surrender often appeases even the most hostile enemies; it often preserves kings, although an extended carnage may take place; and we know that kings are often preserved on account of their dignity, after they have been led in triumph. What therefore the Prophet pronounces concerning king Zedekiah does not imply any escape of the multitude from similar punishment: but because the king himself, together with his subjects in general, would be compelled to escape by stealth, and would be sure to fall into the hands of the enemy.

            Next, the prince who is in the midst of them. Here the words, the midst of them, are taken in a different sense from that in which the Israelites were lately said to be in the midst of the people who inhabited Jerusalem, because they had been mixed with the Jews from the time when they had dwelt within their territories. But he says their prince was in the midst in another sense, because in truth the eyes of all were turned towards him, as if when a standard is erected, it is beheld by all, and retains the whole multitude in their ranks, so also the king was in the midst, that the people might not disperse, for a miserable dispersion follows when the head is taken away. But the intention of the Holy Spirit must be observed. For the Jews, as we have formerly seen, were hardened in their wickedness by the false pretense that God would always maintain his dwelling among them. For it had been said of the throne of David, that it should stand as long as the sun and moon should shine in the heavens. (Psalm 89:36, 37.) And hence Jeremiah's lamentable complaint: the Christ, or anointed of God, in whose breath our life consisted. (Lamentations 4:20.) The Prophet does not speak there after the usual mode, and obtrusively remind God of his promise, as hypocrites do, but he has respect to God's counsel. For David, since he was a type of Christ, was truly the soul of the people, even among the Gentiles, as he is there reckoned to be. For they not only looked to their king for safety while included within the city walls, but although dispersed among the nations, they still hoped to be safe under their monarch's shadow. But their confidence was perverse, since they had impiously departed from the true worship of God. Hence the Prophet, to deprive them of that vain source of pride and boasting, says, now their king was in the midst of them: but it would not always be so, for God would drive him out, and even compel him to fly into secret hiding-places.

            He afterwards adds, he shall hide his face, that he shall not see the ground with his eyes. This also was accomplished, the sacred history narrates. For Zedekiah escaped through the gardens by subterraneous passages: he thought the enemy would be ignorant of his flight, but he was seized. (2 Kings 25:4, 5; and Jeremiah 39:4, 5.) We see, then, the meaning of this concealment of his face or countenance, namely, because Zedekiah distrusted any he might meet. But this was very bitter, and also base and disgraceful, for a king so to conceal himself, and not to dare to look upon the ground with his eyes. And now something far more disastrous follows.

 

 

Ezekiel 12:13

 

13. My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.

 

13. Et extendam rete meum super ipsum, et capietur in plagis meis,252 et educam eum inquit Babylonem in terrain Chaldaeae, et ipsam non videbit, et illic morietur.

 

            That was no slight slaughter, when Zedekiah at length, in his desperation, thought of flight, and thus descended into hidden trenches, as if seeking life in the tomb: thus was he reduced to extremities. But the Prophet now adds, that it would be useless, because notwithstanding this he should be taken by his enemies. Besides, what God executed by means of the Chaldeans he properly transfers to himself. The Chaldeans laid their snares when advised of the king's flight: they knew its direction, and hence they apprehended him. So God announces himself as the author: I, says he, will stretch out my net. This we know, that the Chaldeans did not leave their own country of their own accord, nor carry on the war in their own strength, nor take the king by their own counsel; but the whole affair was under the government of heaven. Men lent their aid, and seemed to carry' on the work by their own labor; but unless God had provided for the event, all their endeavors had proved fruitless. Hence, as God had stirred up the Chaldeans to exact punishment from the king and the people, so he raised their minds to confidence, then he strengthened them to persist in the siege of the city, and afterwards opened their eyes, and sent persons to disclose the plans of the king, so that he might be seized in a cave, as it really happened. The whole of this was done by the secret providence of God. So diligently ought we to observe those places in which God shows that what seems to be the work of men is really his own. Even likeness does not want its weight; for we seem always to have some refuge in perplexity, and on whatever side we look around, some hope deceives us. But God announces that he has nets spread, by which we are surrounded on every side: hence when we seem to have a way of escape, God has hidden nets in which he encloses us. So that this place compares God to a hunter, and ourselves to wild beasts; for when a huntsman follows wild beasts, they seek for a way of escape and rush out there, but they are caught in nets: so also when we endeavor to elude God's hands, we are entrapped and held by him: because when we wish to withdraw ourselves from his providence, we deserve that blindness which leads us to rush on our own destruction.

            Hence I will spread my net for him, and he shall be taken in my snares, I will lead him away, says he, to Babylon. The Prophet shows by degrees how formidably God's vengeance should alight on Zedekiah and the whole people. It was already most miserable to be taken by the enemy and subjected to their lust and cruelty. If he had been slain, this would have been accomplished in a single moment, but God wished him to be drawn into exile; meanwhile he says that he should die at Babylon, without seeing the city, both of which were accomplished. Zedekiah then wasted away in exile, for he lay even to his death in filth and defilement. And although he was buried, as we saw in Jeremiah, yet this condition was most sorrowful to fear through one's whole lifetime some fresh wrath of an enemy. Then he was barbarously and inhumanly treated: his eyes were put out on the journey; and here it is said, he shall not see Babylon, and yet he shall arrive there and die there. Afterwards he saw his sons strangled in his sight: then his eyes were dug out a spectacle more grievous than death. Now we may reflect on the kind of life a man must spend in exile, in prison, and in chains since he was bound with chains, as the sacred narrative informs us there to consume away by a slow death in a foul prison and in total darkness; yet all this happened to Zedekiah. We see then how God thunders against the Israelites, who thought themselves hardly treated in exile, since they might have remained safe at Jerusalem.

 

 

Ezekiel 12:14

 

14. And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.

 

14. Et omnes qui in circuitu ejus sunt in auxilium ejus, et omnes alas ejus253 dispergam ad omnem, vel ad quemlibet, ventura et gladium evaginabo post ipsos.

 

            He confirms the verse above, and says, that although Zedekiah had many soldiers as a garrison, and accustomed the people to bear arms, yet all this would not profit him, since God would disperse all the guards in whom he trusted. He says then, that he would scatter to every wind all who were around Zedekiah. For unbelievers were deceived when they saw the king surrounded by auxiliaries, and the people of the city trained to warfare: and since Zedekiah was so armed for the defense of the city, they thought it could never be taken by the Chaldeans. God, therefore, here first of all teaches that the war was carried on under his auspices, and then that there was no doubt of his taking the city. He does not speak of the Chaldeans, lest unbelievers should institute a comparison "it is true indeed that the Chaldeans are besieging the city with a strong and numerous army, but the city is impregnable, and besides it is defended with great spirit, and the king has forces sufficiently strong for his defense." Lest this opinion should foolishly deceive the disbelievers, God comes into the field and turns their attention away from the Chaldeans. For this reason he ascribes to himself the conduct of the enemy: hence we gather that profane nations are in God's hands, since he not only governs them by the spirit of regeneration, but compels even the impious, who desire to abolish his authority, to obey his commands. God does not draw his sword from heaven, nor do angels openly appear with drawn swords; the Chaldeans do that; but as it is said in Isaiah, (Isaiah 10:15,) Shall the ax boast itself against its owner? Since thus the vigor of the Chaldeans was nothing in itself, God armed them and then afforded them the success which he wished. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:15

 

15. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.

 

15. Et cognoscent quod ego Iehovah, postquam expulero ipsos inter gentes, 254 et dispersero ipsos per terrag.255

 

            Here God insults both Jews and Israelites who had united themselves. He says that he would so display his power that they should be compelled to acknowledge him, but to their own destruction. Experimental knowledge is sometimes attributed to the faithful; because when we are too slow, God shows us his power by sure proofs. But what is here said ought to be restricted to the reprobate and abandoned, who do not acknowledge God except in death. Yet Zedekiah was not entirely without the fear of God: he reverenced Jeremiah, and the seed of piety was not altogether extinct in his mind. As regards the people, inasmuch as they offered the daily sacrifice, they certainly cherished some opinion of God's favor, and also of his power. But because they despised the Prophets, they were altogether unsubdued, and made a laughing-stock of their threats, and for this cause they are said not to acknowledge God. And we must diligently notice this. For the impious do not think themselves so stupid as to refuse to God his just honor; but yet when God calls them they turn their backs: when he sets before them his message, even for their own advantage, they are not only deaf and stop their ears, but they are even riotous, and deride all his threats like idle stories. But it is certain that no knowledge of God can flourish when such contempt of his doctrine prevails. For this reason he says now, at length the Jews shall know, because this contempt hindered them from ascribing praise to God for his power; for they had been terrified by even his nod. Jeremiah had assiduously instructed them in God's word, but they were so hardened that they treated it as a thing of nought. The threat then is most grievous: as if God had said, When I smite you with my hand, you shall feel me to be God. Let us learn then to acknowledge God betimes by faith, because this is the fitting opportunity for salutary knowledge. Let us not abuse his patience while he rages against us with a stretched out hand, and pursues us fiercely. Sometimes, indeed, he chastises his own people for their good, but when it comes to pass that there is no hope of repentance to the reprobate, then he reduces them to nothing. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:15

 

15. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.

 

15. Et cognoscent quod ego Iehovah, postquam expulero ipsos inter gentes, 254 et dispersero ipsos per terrag.255

 

            Here God insults both Jews and Israelites who had united themselves. He says that he would so display his power that they should be compelled to acknowledge him, but to their own destruction. Experimental knowledge is sometimes attributed to the faithful; because when we are too slow, God shows us his power by sure proofs. But what is here said ought to be restricted to the reprobate and abandoned, who do not acknowledge God except in death. Yet Zedekiah was not entirely without the fear of God: he reverenced Jeremiah, and the seed of piety was not altogether extinct in his mind. As regards the people, inasmuch as they offered the daily sacrifice, they certainly cherished some opinion of God's favor, and also of his power. But because they despised the Prophets, they were altogether unsubdued, and made a laughing-stock of their threats, and for this cause they are said not to acknowledge God. And we must diligently notice this. For the impious do not think themselves so stupid as to refuse to God his just honor; but yet when God calls them they turn their backs: when he sets before them his message, even for their own advantage, they are not only deaf and stop their ears, but they are even riotous, and deride all his threats like idle stories. But it is certain that no knowledge of God can flourish when such contempt of his doctrine prevails. For this reason he says now, at length the Jews shall know, because this contempt hindered them from ascribing praise to God for his power; for they had been terrified by even his nod. Jeremiah had assiduously instructed them in God's word, but they were so hardened that they treated it as a thing of nought. The threat then is most grievous: as if God had said, When I smite you with my hand, you shall feel me to be God. Let us learn then to acknowledge God betimes by faith, because this is the fitting opportunity for salutary knowledge. Let us not abuse his patience while he rages against us with a stretched out hand, and pursues us fiercely. Sometimes, indeed, he chastises his own people for their good, but when it comes to pass that there is no hope of repentance to the reprobate, then he reduces them to nothing. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:16

 

16. But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the Lord.

 

16. Et residuos faciam ex illis homines numeri256 a gladio, a fame, a peste, ut enarrent cunctas abominationes suas in gentibus, ad quas venient; et cognoscent quod ego Iehovah.

 

            Some think that God here speaks of the faithful, whom he had determined to preserve in the very midst of death. And certainly there is some mitigation of his former vengeance. But it is not in harmony with the rest to understand the faithful here, for he is speaking of the people in general. But as we have already seen that the slaughter of the city was such that God scattered the remnant to the four winds, and this the Prophet confirms. We must hold, then, first of all, that this promise was not directed peculiarly to the elect or to God's Church, but rather that God is showing that exile will not be the end of woes to the captives, although they will not be directly cut to pieces. Their condition, indeed, might seem preferable, but God pronounces that he would be inexorable towards them. Although all should not perish by the sword, or famine, or pestilence, and some remnant should be left, that will happen, says he, not because I am going to be reconciled to them, but that I may spread their crimes among the Gentiles. For when he says, that they may narrate, he does not mean that they would be witnesses to their own sins, as the pious are accustomed, as we shall see elsewhere, to extol the mercy of God, and candidly to confess their faults before men. He does not mean that kind of confession which is a sign of repentance, but rather a real speech.257 For that exile uttered with a loud voice, that those men were abandoned whom God treated with such hostility. He had chosen the people, was the guardian of the city, and would have been their perpetual preserver, if their perverseness had not prevented it. Hence their being destitute of his aid, their being deprived of all their goods, their being treated tyrannically by their enemies, this made their extreme wickedness clearly appear. They narrated, then, not by words but by their actual position, their own sins to the Gentiles.

            Now, therefore, we understand the intention of God: although some remained alive and unconcerned by either the sword, or famine, or pestilence, yet they were cursed, since their expulsion to a distance served no other purpose than that of spreading their disgrace and rendering them detestable, so flint the profane Gentiles acknowledged that they deserved vengeance for their wickedness. Therefore they shall narrate among the Gentiles all their abominations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah. Again he repeats that sentiment, that they should know too late what they had despised: since God had acted towards them as a father, and they had not acknowledged his favor; and at length they should be compelled to feel him as their judge, even to their eternal destruction.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since thou declarest to us by so many proofs the formidable nature of thine anger, especially against the obstinate and rebellious, who reject thy word familiarly spoken to them: Grant, I say, that we may embrace what is proposed to us in thy name with the humility and reverence becoming' to thy children, so that we may repent of our sins, and obtain their pardon, until at length we are freed from all corruptions of the flesh, and become partakers of that eternal and celestial glory which thy only-begotten Son has purchased for us by his blood. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty third

 

Ezekiel 12:17-19

 

17. Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

18. Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;

19. And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord God of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel, They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.

 

17. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,

18. Fili hominis, panem tuam in tremore comede, et aquas tuas in tumultu et dolore258 bibe;

19. Et dices ad populum terrae, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah habitatoribus259 Hierosolymae super terrain Israel, Panem snare in anxietate260 comedent, et aquas suds in desolatione bibent, ut vastetur261 terra a sua plenitudine, propter violentiam omnium qui habitant in ea.

 

            The Prophet is now ordered to represent the famine which awaited the Jews in both the siege and exile. But this prophecy ought to be especially referred to the time of the siege; for the Jews were in continual fear, and thought that by means of their garrison they would be impregnable. But as the Lord had often removed this trust from them, so he does now: hence therefore that miserable anxiety and fear, so that they never ate their bread but in fear, nor drank their water but in confusion. For a besieged city always fears for itself, and then the enemy so harasses them that fatigue at length compels the besieged to surrender. And it is probable, since the army of the Chaldees could often attempt to take the city with ease and without any great loss, that the Jews would daily be subject to fresh terrors, so that they could neither eat bread nor drink water except in anxiety and confusion. But because simple and unadorned teaching would not have been effective among the ten tribes and the Jews, hence an outward symbol is added. The Prophet therefore is the image of the besieged people, and hence he is ordered to eat his bread with trembling, that the spectacle might the more affect these slow and slothful men. By and bye the application follows, thou shalt say to the people of the land. I do not doubt that he here means the ten tribes: hence the land signifies Chaldea, and those regions through which the exiles were dispersed. As we have before seen, it was to their advantage to hear this, because they thought that the Jews remaining at home were treated well, and themselves miserably. Hence not only their complaint but even their outcry against God and his servants, especially Jeremiah. This then is the reason why the Prophet is obliged to utter his discourse to the captives.

            But afterwards it follows, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the inhabitants of Jerusalem concerning the land of Israel, that is, those remaining in the land of Israel. We here see that the land of Israel is distinguished from the other land, of which mention was lately made. Those who dwelt at Jerusalem remained quiet in their own inheritance; and hence their condition was esteemed better, because nothing is more sad than exile and captivity. But God pronounces them more miserable than the captives, who had already been relieved from the principal part of their miseries. They shall eat, says he, their bread in pain, or torture, and shall drink their water in desolation: he does not repeat the same words which he had formerly used, but shortly shows that the Jews boasted in vain that they were still in safety: because very soon the enemy will press upon them, so that they should not be able to eat a mouthful of bread in peace. That the land may be reduced, says he, from plenty to devastation: some translate, after its plenty, which is forced and far-fetched; for the Prophet means that the land would be desert and empty through exhaustion: for plenty, as we well know, means an abundance of all things. Judea was then reduced from plenty to want, when the enemies plundered whatever it contained, and so the region was despoiled of its wealth. The reason follows, through the violence of those who dwell in it. Some explain this erroneously of the Chaldees, because they lost the whole land through their rapacity. For the Prophet rather advises that this vengeance of God was just, because in truth all the Jews were given up to violence, cruelty, and rapacity. smj, chemes, signifies all kinds of injury, but usually means violence and rapine. Hence we understand the Prophet's intention, namely, that the Jews suffered this slaughter deservedly, because the just reward of their wickedness was measured out to them. And thus Ezekiel represses all complaints, in which they too freely indulged, as if God was treating them too roughly and hardly. Therefore he shortly teaches them that he would not spare them any longer. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:20

 

20. And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

 

20. Et urbes habitatae redigentur in solitudinem, et terra vasta erit,262 et cognoscetis quod ego Iehovah.

 

            He pursues the same sentiment. He had threatened destruction to Jerusalem and its citizens: he now adds the other cities of Judah which were still inhabited. Lastly, he speaks of the whole land, as if he said that no single corner should suppose itself free from slaughter, since God's vengeance should attack it as well as the cruelty of enemies through all regions. Jerusalem was the head of the whole nation; Ezekiel predicts its siege, and after that it became easy to overthrow and spoil other cities, so that the whole region was rendered subject to the lust of the enemies. He afterwards adds what we have noticed previously, ye shall know that I am Jehovah. They had heard this instruction from the Prophets, they ought to have been imbued with it from their earliest childhood, for God had borne witness by many proofs that he was the true God. For his power had become sufficiently known and understood by the frequent succors by which that wretched people had been snatched from even immediate death. But as their impiety had stupified them, so that they carelessly despised not only the Prophet's teaching, but the very judgments of God, when he openly punished them, this knowledge is not mentioned without reason. When therefore God puts forth his hand for the last time to chastise them, he says that his power should be so manifest among them, that it should no longer escape them; but yet they were so hardened in their depravity that they almost entirely forgot God. For a contrast is always to be observed between that knowledge which springs from performance and that arising from utterance; for those who had closed their ears when God invites them to himself as servants, must be compelled to feel him to be God when he is silent and is executing his vengeance upon them. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:21-23

 

21. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

22. Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?

23. Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God, I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.

 

21. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,

22. Fill hominis, quodnam proverbium hoc vobis in terra Israel dicendo, prorogati sunt dies,263 et evanuit omnis prophetia?

23. Propterea dices illis, sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quiescere264 faciam proverbium hoc, et non pro-verbiabunt amplius in Israel: quin potius loquere ad eos, Appropinquarunt dies, et sermo omnis visionis.

 

            Here God inveighs against that gross ridicule which prevailed everywhere among the Jews. For when the Prophets had been threatening them so long, this their earnestness was so far from leading them to repentance, that they became more obstinate and callous. Since they persisted in this obstinacy, and boasted in their escape, and through confidence in their freedom from punishment, re-belied more and more against God, the Prophet is ordered to repress this their boasting. It was monstrous indeed for a people who had imbibed from childhood the teaching of the law and the Prophets, thus to break forth against God as if he had spoken falsely by his Prophets. For this was their boasting: Oh! the days are prolonged: therefore every vision has passed away and failed. From this delay they argued that they had no cause for fear, since whatever Jeremiah and the rest had predicted had passed away. We perceive then how unbelievers turn the patience of God into material for obduracy and stupidity. God spares them, gives them leisure, and invites them to repentance; but what do they do? They count the days and years, and when they see that God does not immediately, execute the judgment which he had uttered by his servants, they laugh at it, and esteem the Prophet's words as idle fables. Such, then, was the impiety against which the Prophet inveighs, saying, what is this? The question implies detestation, for God here wonders at the sloth, nay fury of the people, because it dared thus to vomit forth its blasphemies with open mouth:' for what remains when God is supposed to be false both in his promises and his threatenings? In this way all religion is abolished. Nor is it surprising that God detests so monstrous a thing, while he asks how it can happen that the Israelites break forth into such madness: what, says he, is the meaning of this your proverb? He seems to include his servant among the others, because he was one of the people: hence he participates in that which did not belong to him personally. Moreover, this passage must be diligently noticed, when the impious conclude that they have no occasion to fear, because their days are protracted.

            This is, as I have said, a sign of extreme folly, but it is not surprising if they imagine God to be false to his word and his threats to be in vain, because his hand does not instantly appear, since they treat his teaching without the slightest respect. Since, therefore, unbelievers are never afraid unless terrified by the power of God, and are never in the slightest degree moved, it is not surprising that they think it entirely illusory, when they see him at rest while his words still resound in men's ears. Hence the language of the Apostle should come to mind, that Noah built the ark by faith, because he feared the hidden judgment of God of which he had been admonished, as if the whole deluge was before his eyes, in which he saw the whole world immersed. (Hebrews 11:7.) Although, therefore, God conceals his hand for the time, let us learn so to fear the whole of his instructions that delay may not lead us into such sloth as this.

            Now he adds, Thou shalt tell them, therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will make this proverb cease from the land of Israel. Here God shows that his anger was more and more inflamed by their contempt. And the impious, by pretending that he is not true to his word, produce the effect of hastening the accomplishment of those judgments which otherwise God was prepared to suspend. Lastly, the impious stimulate God to exercise his vengeance, while they infer that they have escaped through delay, and that the vision was so fleeting and evanescent that they provoke him purposely to a contest. For the confirmation of this sentiment follows directly, that verily the days were approaching. Since time gave the Jews confidence in escape from punishment, God announces that the end was at hand, that they may feel themselves to have been too long blinded while they abused his continued forbearance. The days then approached: also the word of every vision: "the word" is here taken for the "effect." We know that rbd, deber, is often taken for "thing," "business," "result;" but in this place the Prophet takes the word for the effect of the vision, as if he had said, that whatever the Prophets had spoken should be firm and stable. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:24

 

24. For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.

 

24. Quia non erit amplius omnis visio265 mendacii,266 et divinatio blandientis in medio domus Israel.

 

            Here God deprives the Jews of another source of confidence; for they flattered themselves, and had their own agitators, that is false Prophets, who puffed them up with flatteries: hence when they heard prophecies of sadness they despised them, and afterwards hardened themselves as if the Prophets had frightened them needlessly. Every one was too much inclined to this besotted confidence, but, as I have said, enticements were added, by which the flatterers deceived them. For the false Prophets said, that God would not be so severe, and that those predictions about the destruction of the city and temple were at variance with many promises. We see then that the Prophets were despised by the voluntary contumacy of the people, and also by the perverse acts of the false Prophets. Afterwards God asserted, that the days approached: now he adds, that there should be no more vision of vanity, not that the false Prophets were altogether removed, but because their mouth was stopped, since the event had proved their wickedness. Since then the people were made ashamed by slaughter, in this sense and for this reason it is said, that prophecies of vanity must be taken away: afterwards, divination of flattery from the midst of the house of Israel. For in ease and shade they promised themselves a prosperous delivery from their miseries. For when the people were dragged out of the city into exile, some were slain, others spoiled of their fortunes and treated ignominiously, then the character of those Prophets appeared who had nursed the perverse confidence of the people by their vain enticements. Now we understand the Prophet's genuine sense. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:25

 

25. For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.

 

25. Quia ego Iehovah Ioquar: quod loquar verbum, faciam;267 non protrahetur amplius, quia in diebus vestris domus exasperans,268 quod loquar verbum, faciam illud, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            He confirms the last verse. there is some obscurity in the context of the words, but as to the general sense, the Prophet wishes to teach simply that what even God had spoken should be shortly accomplished, since God wishes to assert his own fidelity by the execution of the vengeance which he had threatened by his servants. The Prophet here means, that it is not right to separate God's word from its effect, because God who speaks is not divided against himself. Whenever he opens his mouth, he stretches out his hand to fulfill his words. Now we understand the Prophet's meaning; and hence we may collect the usefulness of this teaching. For, because God's word seems cold to us and to be dissipated into air, we must always consider his hand. Whenever the Prophets speak, let God come before our eyes, and let him come not merely with bare words, but armed with his power, as if his hand was in some way included in his word. This is the meaning of the whole verse, I Jehovah will utter a word, and whatever I shall utter that will I do: it shall be no lower delayed, but, as I have often said, it shall return, nay in your days, O rebellious house, I will do what I have spoken by my servants. Here he expresses what might yet appear doubtful. For since a thousand years are with God as one day, the time might be thought near, even if the city had not been taken and destroyed with the temple for thirty years. But now God, after the manner of men, defines the time to be near, because those who were then alive should see the accomplishment of the prophecies which they had despised. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 12:26-28

 

26. Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

27. Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.

28. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, There shall none of nay words be prolonged any more; but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God.

 

26. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo,

27. Fill hominis, ecce domus Israel dicunt,269 visio quam hic vidit, ad dies multos extenditur, et in tempora longinqua ipse prophetat.

28. Propterea dices ad cos, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, non prorogabitur amplius; omnes sermones quos locutus fuero, sermonem etiam faciam,270 dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here indeed such detestable blasphemy as we lately heard is not condemned in the Jews: but oblique ridicule, the tendency of which was first of all to weaken all confidence in Prophecy, and then to get rid of all heavenly doctrine. Those who are now condemned by the Prophet did not dare to bluster against God with swollen cheeks, but when others concluded the Prophecies to be vain and frivolous, because the time was put off, they said it may happen that God will accomplish what he has denounced against us by his servant: meanwhile let us feast securely as we shall be dead before these things can happen. We see, therefore, that there were two classes of men: some who utterly rejected God's Prophets, and wantonly derided their threats: this gross impiety has been already exposed. But others neither openly nor distinctly pronounced God to be a liar, but put far away from them the performance of the prophetic announcement. We see that the former were so abandoned, that they all but openly derided God, so as to turn away all fear from their own feelings since God prorogued the time. For Jeremiah had spent his strength in vain for many years in daily summoning them by a loud trumpet to God's tribunal, and in setting the Chaldeans before their eyes. Since he effected nothing, Ezekiel is chosen, and after he has inveighed against a fouler impudence in despising God, he now attacks the hypocrite who had not yet proceeded so far as to vilify God by the use of words. But as I have just remarked, the gliding down from this security to open contempt of God is easy. Those then who feign themselves quiet and without danger, since God patiently delays his judgments, at length determine him to be content with his own ease, and not to regard human affairs. Let us then be on our guard against the snares of Satan; and not only abhor the foul blasphemy of which the Prophet speaks, but as soon as God threatens us, let us prevent his judgment, and not promise ourselves a long period of escape, which may render us so stupid as to deprive us of all fear.

            The house of Israel then said, he prophesies for many days. They did not openly assert that Ezekiel was speaking rashly and arrogating to himself the prophetic name, but they said that he prophesied for many days and a long period. Now he adds, thou shalt say unto them, it shall not be any lower put off Some thus interpret these words all my discourses shall not be put off. They prefer a change of number, and resolve it thus each of my words shall not be put. off. But the other view seems to suit the context better: it shall not be put off any lower, for the words which I utter I will execute. Here again he confirms what we formerly saw: that God would not speak in vain, since he is not divided in opinion. It belongs to men to lie, and to utter vainly what they cannot perform, and to change their; nothing of the kind ought to be imagined of God, for his hand is always in union with his speech.271

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant us, Almighty God, since thou sparest us in some degree, and meanwhile dost admonish us by no obscure signs of thine anger, to be wise in time, lest sloth seize upon our minds and dispositions, and deprive us of sound judgment: Grant also that we may be attentive to thy words, and to all proofs of thy coming vengeance, and may we so strive to be reconciled to thee, that for the future being born again of thy Spirit, we may henceforth glorify thy name through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

 

 

 

CHAPTER 13

 

 

Lecture Thirty-Fourth.

 

Ezekiel 13:1-3

 

1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

2. Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say you unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear you the word of the Lord;

3. Thus says the Lord God, Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

 

1. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo,

2. Fili hominis, prophetiza contra prophetas Israel prophetizantes, et dic prophetizantibus ex corde suo, Audite sermonem Iehovah.

3. Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Vae super prophetas stultos272 qui ambulant post spiritum suum: et non viderunt.

 

            He speaks of the exiled prophets, as will be evident from the context: for among the captives there were those who assumed the name of God, boasting themselves endowed with the prophetic spirit: but meanwhile they intruded into the office, and then vainly boasted in their deceptions. But the end which they proposed to themselves was to promise the people a speedy return, and so to will the favor of the multitude. For the captives were already almost broken-hearted by weariness: and seventy years was a long period. When therefore they heard of returning after three years, they easily suffered themselves to be deceived by such blandishments. But although God is so vehemently enraged against those impostors, it does not therefore follow that when he charges them with their crime, he absolves the people, or even extenuates their fault. Nor could the people object that they were deceived by those falsehoods, since they willingly and knowingly threw themselves into the snare. They were not destitute of true prophets; and God had distinguished his servants from false prophets by well-known marks, so that no one could mistake except willfully. (Deuteronomy 13:3.) But in the midst of light they blinded themselves, and so God suffered them to be deceived. But that was the just reward of their pride, since they could not be subject to God and his servants. Then when they thought enticements, as is evident from many passages, God also gave the reins to Satan, that there should be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets. Micah reproves them because they desired prophets to be given them who should promise large grape-gatherings and a plentiful harvest, (Ezekiel 2:11;) meanwhile, when God chastised them severely, they roared and were tumultuous. We see, therefore, that while God inveighs so sharply against false prophets, the people's fault was not diminished; but rather each thought thus to reason with himself if God spares not our prophets, what better have we to hope for?

            When therefore the Prophet turns his discourse to the false prophets, there is no doubt of his intention to reprove the whole people for attending to such fallacies while they despised the true doctrine, and not only so, but even rejected it with fury. Say therefore to the prophets of Israel while prophesying, say to those prophesying out of their own hearts. Here he concedes the name of prophets of Israel to those who thrust themselves forward, and rashly boasted that they were commanded to utter their own imaginations, or what the devil had suggested. For then indeed no others thought to have been lawfully reckoned prophets, unless divinely chosen. But because the wicked seized upon this title, they are often called prophets, though God's Spirit is a complete stranger to them: but the gift of prophecy can only flow from that one fountain. This great struggle then happened when the prophets, or those who assumed the title, engaged with hostility among themselves: for we are commanded to acquiesce in God's truth alone: but when he is offered to us instead of truth, what can we do but fluctuate and at length engage in conflict? There is no doubt, then, that weak minds were thus vehemently shaken when they saw contests and dissension's of this kind between prophets. At this day God wishes to prove the fidelity of his people by such an experiment, and to detect the hypocrisy of the multitude. For, as Paul says, there must be heresies, that those who are approved may be made manifest. (1 Corinthians 11:19.) God therefore does not rashly permit so much license to Satan's ministers, that they should petulantly rise up against sound doctrine: nor yet without a cause does he permit the Church to be torn asunder by diverse opinions, and fictions to grow so strong sometimes, that truth itself is buried under them: he wishes indeed in this way to prove the constancy of the pious, and at the same time to detect the lightness of hypocrites who are tossed about by every wind. Meanwhile, if the contention which we now perceive between those who boast themselves pastors of the Church disturbs us, let this example come to mind, and thus novelty will not endanger our faithfulness. What we suffer the ancients have experienced, namely, the disturbance of the Church by intestine disputes, and a similar tearing asunder of the bond of unity.

            Next, God briefly defines who the false prophets are; namely, those who prophesy out of their own hearts: he will afterwards add, they have seen nothing, they only boast in the name of God, and yet they are not sent by him. The same thing is expressed in various ways, but I shall treat other forms of speech in their own places. Here, as I have said, we may readily decide at once who are the true and who the false prophets: the Spirit of God pronounces every one who prophesies from his own heart to be an impostor. Hence nothing else remains but for the prophets faithfully to utter whatever the Spirit has dictated to them. Whoever, therefore, has no sure testimony to his vision, and cannot truly testify that he speaks from God's mouth and by the revelation of his Spirit, although he may boast in the title of prophet, yet he is only an impostor. For God here rejects all who speak from their own heart. And hence we also gather the extreme vanity of the human mind: for God puts a perpetual distinction between the human mind and the revelation of his Spirit. If this be so, it follows that what men utter of themselves is a perverse fiction, because the Spirit of God claims to himself alone, as we have said, the office of showing what is true and right. It follows

            Woe to, the foolish or disgraceful prophets. lbn, nebel, signifies "a vile person," "a castaway," just as hlbn, nebeleh, means "foulness," "crime," "wickedness," although lbn, nebel, is oftener taken for folly, and I willingly embrace this sense as it is generally received. He calls false prophets foolish, because they doubtless fiercely insulted the true servants of God just like upstarts puffed up with wonderful self-conceit; for the devil, who reigns in them, is the father of pride: hence they carry themselves haughtily, arrogate all things to themselves, and wish to be thought angels come down from heaven. And when Paul speaks of human fictions, he grants them the form of wisdom. (Colossians 2:23.) Hence there is no doubt that these pretenders of whom Ezekiel speaks were held in great esteem, and so, when swollen with bombast, they puffed forth surprising wisdom; but meanwhile the Holy Spirit shortly pronounces them fools: for whatever pleases the world under the mask of wisdom, we know to be mere folly before God.

            Now he adds, who walk after their own spirit, without seeing any thing: that is, when no vision has been given them. Ezekiel explains himself more clearly, or rather the Spirit who spoke through him. As, therefore, he has lately condemned all who prophesy out of their own mind or heart, for the noun "heart" is here used for "intellect," as in other places, as, therefore, the Spirit has lately condemned all such, so he says that those who walk after their own spirit wickedly abuse the prophetic office. He here alludes to the prophetic gift when he speaks of "spirit." For, because they might object that false prophets did not speak from their own heart, but had secret revelations, he concedes to them the use of the word "spirit" by a rhetorical figure,273 and thus refutes their boasting, as if Ezekiel had said that those fictitious revelations are mere fancies: they have indeed something in them more than common, but still they are fanatics. This then is the sense of the word "spirit." Meanwhile there is no doubt that he repeats what he lately saw, and the contrast removes all doubt. Without seeing any thing, says he: thus vision is opposed to the human heart and spirit; but what is vision but a supernatural gift? When, therefore, God raises his servants above the capacity of human ability, and makes them discern what no mortal power can bestow, that is a vision; and if a vision is removed, nothing will remain but the spirit or heart of man. Hence those who cannot really show that their utterance is evidently inspired, shall be compelled to confess that they speak of their own minds. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:4

 

4. O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

 

4. Tanquam vulpes in locis solitaries prophetae tui, Israel, fuerunt.

 

            Hence Ezekiel exposes the snares of the false prophets. The ten tribes had been dispersed, just as if a field or a vineyard had been removed from a habitable neighborhood into desert regions, and foxes held their sway there instead. For they have many hiding-places; they insinuate themselves through hedges and all openings, and so break into the vineyard or field, and lay waste its fruits. Such, as I have said, was the condition of the people from the time of its dispersion. While the Israelites dwelt at home, they were in some way retained within their duty, as if fortified by certain ramparts. At Jerusalem, too, the high Priest presided over spiritual trials, that no impious doctrine should creep in: but now, since the people were so dispersed, greater license was given to the false prophets to corrupt the people, since the miserable exiles were exposed to these foxes; for they were liable to injuries just as if desert regions surrounded them. Being thus destitute of protection, it was easy for foxes to enter by clandestine arts, and to destroy whatever good fruits existed. Meanwhile Ezekiel obliquely reproves the people's carelessness. Although they were dispersed, and were so open to the snares of the false prophets, yet they thought to have been attentive and cautious, and God would doubtless have afforded them aid, as he promises to his people the spirit of discretion and judgment whenever they need it. (1 Corinthians 12:10.) But when the Israelites were wandering exiles, and attention to the law no longer flourished among them, it came to pass that foxes, meaning their false prophets, easily entered. Whence it follows that the people were not free from faults, since they exposed themselves to the snares of these false prophets. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:5

 

5. You have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to, stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.

 

5. Non ascendistis ad rupturas274 neque sepiverunt sepem super domum Israel ad standum in praelio in die Iehovae.

 

            Hence he pursues the same sentiment, but presses the false prophets harder. He has said generally that they were sacrilegious, making a false use of God's name when speaking entirely in their own. He now separates them by another mark from the approved and faithful servants of God, namely, they had not gone up into the breach, nor built up a hedge to protect the house of Israel, that they might stand in the battle in the day of Jehovah. This verse is variously explained: some refer what is here said to prayer; others twist it according to different imaginations, but I restrict it to their teaching.275 Ezekiel not only blames their inner and hidden perfidy, he not only strikes their minds, so as to convince them that they had no desire for piety, and no zeal for God's glory, but he shows that their teaching must be altogether rejected, because they did not propose to themselves the right object. But what is the mark at which all God's servants thought to aim? Surely to consult the public safety; and when they see signs of God's wrath, to meet them, and prevent the urgent calamity. These impostors saw the people not only impious, but rebellious, so that there was no hope of their repentance. On the other hand, they saw God threatening; and although they were blind, yet they could behold the signs of God's reproaching vengeance. Hence it was their duty to go up to the breaches. Hence, also, we understand what the Prophet means by "breaches," namely, as an approach is open to an enemy to storm a city when a breach is made in the wall, so also, when the iniquity of the people overflows like a deluge, a rupture is already made, by means of which God's wrath is able to penetrate immediately, and to lay everything waste till it is reduced to nothing.

            As often, then, as we see God offended by the people's wickedness, let us learn that a breach has been made, as if we had been destined to destruction. Hence those who desire to discharge the office of teaching faithfully ought to hasten to the breach, to recall the people from their impiety, and to exhort them to repentance. Thus the wall becomes restored, because God is appeased, and we are able to rest in quietness and security. What follows has the same object they have not restored the hedge. For when a people breaks through all rights, and violates God's law, it is just as if they laid themselves bare in every part from the protection of God, as Moses reproves them when speaking of the molten calf: Behold, says he, this day you are naked; that is, because they had hurled themselves into destruction. (Exodus 32:25.) So the Prophet says that these traitors did not run up to restore the hedge when the house of Israel was exposed to robbers, thieves, and wild beasts, because it was no longer protected by the hand of God. What follows has the same object, that they should stand in the battle in the day of the Lord; that is, to oppose themselves to God's vengeance. This relates to prayers, when mention is made of Phinehas, in Psalm 106:30, and also in the same psalm, Psalm 106:23, where it is said of Moses, Unless Moses had stood in the breach to turn away God's wrath. Here also, as I have said, the Prophet looks rather to doctrine. For here he sharply rebukes the folly of false prophets who had promised wonderful things. Now, when God approached in earnest, all their prophecies vanished: he says, therefore, they stood not in the battle in the day of Jehovah; for, if they had diligently exhorted the people to repentance, those sinners had reconciled God to themselves: for we turn aside his judgment beforehand when we turn to him in time, as Paul teaches. (1 Corinthians 11:31.) If, therefore, the people had been thus diligently advised, they had stood in the battle; that is, their teaching would have been a bulwark against the breaking out of God's wrath to destroy them utterly. Now, therefore, we see the meaning of Ezekiel, namely, to show how the fallacies of the false prophets could be perceived, since by their blandishments and flatteries they destroyed the people. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:6

 

6. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord says; and the Lord has not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

 

6. Viderunt vanitatem, divinarunt mendacium, dicentes, dicit Iehovah, et non misit eos Iehovah: et sperare fecerunt276 ad stabihendum sermonem.

 

            Here again he pronounces generally that those false prophets were vain, and this assertion depends upon the principle that they had spoken from their own heart or spirit, for nothing false or vain can proceed from God. It follows, therefore, that they are here condemned of vanity and lying, because they dared falsely to use the name of God when they uttered nothing but their own dreams. He now confirms what we saw in the last verse, when he says, they hoped to establish their word. Hence they puffed up the people with vain hope, when they said that God would not be so severe as to exact continual punishment of the holy and elect nation. True prophets also often recall sinners to the mercy of God, and magnify it so, that those who wrestle with despair may not doubt God's long-suffering, since he is said to be slow to anger, and inclined to reconciliation; and his pity endures for a life, while his anger passes away in a moment. (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 103:8, and Psalm 30:5.) True prophets indeed act thus; but they join two members which must not be separated, otherwise God himself would be, as it were, dissipated.277 Hence, when true prophets exhort sinners to hope and predict God's freeness to pardon, they likewise discourse about penitence; they do not indulge sinners, but rouse them, nay, wound them sharply with a sense of God's anger, so as in some way to stir them up, since God's mercy is set before us for that end, that by it we may seek life. Hence we must be dead in ourselves; but false prophets sever between the two, and divide God, as it were, in half, since they speak only of his freeness to forgive, and declare his clemency to be set before all, while they are profoundly silent about repentance. Now, therefore, we see why the Prophet here reproves these traitors278 who abused the name of God, since they made the people to hope. Without hope, indeed, the sinner could not be animated to seek God: but they promised peace, as he will say directly, when there was no peace. Therefore let us proceed with the exposition.

 

 

Ezekiel 13:7

 

7. Have you not seen a vain vision, and have you not spoken a lying divination, whereas you say, The Lord says it; albeit I have not spoken?

 

7. An non visionem vanitatis vidistis? et divinationem mendacii locuti estis? Et loquentes279 dicit Iehovah: ego non fueram locutus?

 

            Here God shows why he had formerly pronounced that they brought forward nothing but vanity and falsehood, namely, because they used his name falsely, and out of light created darkness; for by the feint of speaking in God's name, they darkened men's minds. That sacred name is, as it were, a fount of splendor, so as far to surpass the light of the sun; nay, whatever light exists, is made apparent and refulgent by it. But, as I have said, the servants of Satan turn light, into darkness, because they audaciously boast that God has said so. This passage and similar ones show us how diligently we ought to guard against Satan's fallacies. This is their astounding boldness to bring forward God's name while they so wantonly trifle with his judgments. For to boast that God has spoken is as if we wished, by impious profanation, purposely to draw him into a dispute. For how can God bear us to turn his truth into lie? But there have been impostors in all ages who have thus thoughtlessly flown in the face of God. We are not surprised at the heathen doing so; but in the chosen people, it was certainly an incredible prodigy and an intolerable disgrace, when they had access to all heavenly doctrine for the guidance of their conduct, and when God was daily calling forth prophets, as he had promised by Moses, to see these impious dogs who barked so, and you pretended so proudly to speak in God's name. (Deuteronomy 18:15-18.) Admonished, then, by this caution, let us be on our guard when we see Satan's servants endued with such arrogance. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:8-9

 

8. Therefore thus says the Lord God, Because you have spoken vanity, and seen is, therefore, behold, I am against you, says the Lord God.

9. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine is: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord God.

 

8. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, eo quod locuti estis vanitatem, et vidistis mendacium,280 propterea ecce ego contra eos, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

9. Et erit manus mea contra prophetas qui vident vanitatem, et qui divinant mendacium: in consilio populi mei non erunt, et in scriptura281 domus Israel non scribentur: et ad terram Israel non redibunt: et cognoscitis quod ego Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here at length he begins to pronounce judgment against the false prophets. Hitherto, under the form of a complaint, he shows how wickedly they had corrupted and profaned his sacred name: then how impiously they had rendered prophecies contemptible by their lies, and how cruel they were to the people whose safety ought to be their first care, and how they drew on the miserable to destruction. For after God has so narrated their sins, he now denounces punishment; and, first, generally he says that he was their adversary. This clause is by no means superfluous, since such carelessness would not have besotted the impious, unless they thought themselves free from all dealings with God; hence they utterly reject all fear and sin with freedom. But this could not happen, unless they determined that God either sleeps, or does not behold human affairs or trifles as they do. Since, therefore, false prophets very licentiously corrupt God's word, when they pretend it to be a pleasant sport; God, on the other hand, pronounces Himself their adversary; as if he said, your contest shall not be with men, but I will be the avenger of so wicked a profanation of my name.

            Besides, he afterwards points out the punishment; my hand, says he, shall be against the prophets. For although God threatens to become an adversary to the reprobate, yet this is not sufficient to terrify them, they are so stupid. But it is necessary to use another stimulus, namely, that God should display his power. This is the reason why he now adds, his hand should be against the false prophets. The hand is sometimes taken for a blow: but because God sees the impious torpid amidst their sins, he says that he would not only be their enemy and an avenger of his glory, but he brings forward his own hand into the midst. It follows, they shall not be in the counsel of my people. Some explain the noun dws, sod, more subtlety than they need for that experience of God which is offered to the elect for their salvation. But this explanation is forced, for they are deceived in thinking that the Prophet's meaning is different in the second clause, where he adds, they shall not be written in the list of the house of Israel: he repeats the same thing in different words: in the first place he had said, they should not be in the secret of the people: for dws, sod, signifies a secret, but it is taken for counsel: they shall not be therefore in the assembly of the people: afterwards he adds, they shall not be in the catalogue of the house of Israel. He mentions a catalogue, because judges and others elected to any office were written in a list. We see, therefore, what the Prophet intends for I am compelled to break off here namely, that those impostors who wished to enjoy the prophetic title, were altogether without the Church, since God had cast them off.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since we are so torpid in our vices that excitements are daily necessary to rouse us up, first, that our destined pastors may faithfully call us to repentance; then, that we in our turn may be so attentive to their exhortations, and so suffer ourselves to be condemned, that we may be our own judges: Grant also, that when you chastise us severely, the taste of thy paternal goodness may never be so lost to us, so that a way may always be open to us to seek reconciliation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty-Fifth.

 

            We explained yesterday what the Prophet meant when he pronounces that the impostors who deceived the people should not be in the counsel of the pious nor in their catalogue, and we said that this was twice repeated. Now the question arises, did the Prophet speak of the secret election of God, or only of an external state? For although these traitors were at the greatest distance from the Church, yet we know that they boasted in a common title like Ishmael, who, until he was cast out of his father's house, proudly boasted in his right of birth. (Genesis 21:9.) And at this day, we see how the Papists claim to themselves the name of "the Church," since they pretend to the perpetual succession: and truly we are compelled to confess that the ordinary ministry is with them. But because they have tyrannically abused their power, and have altogether overthrown that method of governing the Church which the Lord had appointed, we may safely laugh at their boastings.282 There was the same haughtiness in the false prophets of old, who asserted that they held no mean rank among the people, because they were created prophets by God. Hence, therefore, we gather that these words are not used of any external state, because a place among the elect people was always conceded to them. Without doubt, then, we must understand the contrast between the true members of the Church and hypocrites, who pretend to the name of God. And for this reason it is said in Psalm 15:2, as well as Psalm 24:4, that not all who go up to the mount of God have a perpetual seat there, unless they are pure in heart and hand. The sum of the whole then is, although false prophets thunder forth their boasts with inflated cheeks, and claim the prophetic name, yet they thought not to be reckoned in that rank, as they are altogether without the elect people.

            But a second question arises out of this. If the Prophet denies their right to be included in the council of the pious, he ought not to speak in the future tense: because as God's election is eternal, so his sons were written in the book of life before the creation of the world. But he says they shall not be written, and this seems absurd. But Ezekiel here accommodates his language to the usual custom of mankind. The language of the psalm is harsher: let them be blotted from the book of life, since they are not written among the just. (Psalm 69:28.) For it cannot happen that he who is once written in the book of life can ever be blotted out. But in the second clause the Prophet explains himself that they be not written with the just; that is, that they be not written in the catalogue of the just. So also Ezekiel now says: they shall not be in the secret of my people, and they shall not be written in the writing of the house of Israel: because for a time they seemed to be in the number of the pious: hence a change of expression is here used, but only in accommodation to the rudeness of our mind.

            This passage is useful in this sense. The Holy Spirit admonishes us that it is not sufficient to suppose men members of the Church because the greater number seem to excel others, just as the chaff is above the wheat and suffocates it: thus hypocrites bury the sons of God whose number is small, while they shine forth in their own splendor, and their multitude makes them seem exclusively worthy of the title of the Church. Hence let us learn to examine ourselves, and to search whether those interior marks by which God distinguishes his children from strangers belong to us, viz., the living root of piety and faith. This passage also teaches that nothing is more formidable than to be rejected from God's flock. For no safety is to be hoped for, except as God collects us into one body under one head. First, all safety resides in Christ alone; and then we cannot be separated from Christ without falling away from all hope of safety: but Christ will not and cannot be torn from his Church with which he is joined in all indissoluble knot, as the head to the body. Hence, unless we cultivate unity with the faithful, we see that we are cut off from Christ: hence I said that nothing was more to be feared than that separation of which mention is here made. On the other hand, it is said in Psalm 106:4, Remember me, O God, in thy good will towards thy people: visit me with thy salvation. When the author of the Psalm prays in this way, he at the same time acknowledges that our true and solid happiness is placed in the Lord's embracing us with the rest of the faithful. For God's good will towards his people is that fatherly kindness by which he embraces his own elect. If, therefore, God thinks us worthy of that fatherly favor, then we have a sure confidence of safety.

            Afterwards he adds, And they shall not return to the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Ezekiel here places an outward mark as the sign of reprobation, since, while a free return was permitted to others, these were excluded. Hence Ezekiel signifies that God's anger would be manifest in the case of false prophets by their exclusion from the benefits common to the people. For when God shall open the door, and promulgate an edict concerning a free return: they shall remain exiles, and shall never enjoy that native country to which they boasted that they should in a short time return. He confirms then by an outward symbol what he has already said about reprobation. For although many died in exile who were real members of the Church, as Daniel and his allies, and many others, yet., as far as these deceivers were concerned, it was a sure sign of their rejection that they boasted of their speedy return to their country. Since, therefore, they were deprived of that advantage, God openly shows that they were unworthy of being reckoned among the elect people. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:10-11

 

10. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered, mortar:

11. Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

 

10. Propterea et propterea283 quod deceperunt populum meum dicendo, pax et non erat pax: et ipse aedificavit parietem, et ecce ipsi leverunt ipsum insipido.

11. Dic ad linentes insipido, cadet:284 erit pluvia vel imber inundans: et dabo lapides grandinis,285 et spiritus turbinum vel tempestatum scindet vel disrumpet.

 

            Here Ezekiel pursues the same metaphor which he had used with a very slight difference, for there is such an agreement that the connection is apparent between the former and the present sentence. He had said that the false prophets did not go up to the breaches, and did not restore the hedges of the house of Israel: we have explained these words thus teachers who discharge their duties honestly and sincerely are like builders, who, if they see a breach in a wall, instantly and carefully repair it: they are like gardeners who do not allow either a field or a vineyard to be exposed to wild beasts. As, then, he had formerly said that these false prophets did not go up to the breach through their not being affected by the dispersion of the people, but knowingly and willingly betrayed the people's safety through open and gross perfidy; so also he now says, that they built a wall indeed, but without mortar. The word lpt, thephel, "untempered," is variously explained, but I doubt not the Prophet meant sand without lime. Jerome thinks it to be mortar without chaff; but my view is better, namely, that they built only in appearance; and in this the image which the Prophet now uses differs from the preceding one. He had said before, they did not go up to the breach; he now grants them more that they really built; but it is easy to reconcile the two assertions: since they did not go up to the breach to provide safety for the people; and yet they feigned themselves anxious, and seemed as if they wished to restore the ruins. But while the Prophet merely grants their intention, he adds that they were bad builders, just as if any one should heap together a quantity of sand, and moisten it with water, yet it would profit him nothing; for the sand disperses by itself, and grows solid by lime alone, and thus becomes cement. Therefore the Prophet means that those impostors accomplish nothing seriously; and when they show great anxiety and care, that is in vain, because they only heap up sand and dust when they ought to temper the mortar with sand and lime. We understand then how these two places mutually agree: because, even because they have deceived my people: this is without a figure. Now he adds figuratively, they have built up a wall, but they have daubed it only with untempered mortar, that is, sand.

            The kind of fallacies are now mentioned: because they said, Peace, when there was no peace. We yesterday reminded you that impostors have something in common with God's true servants, just as Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14.) We know that all the prophets were always messengers of peace: now this agrees chiefly with the good news, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace. (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15.) Whenever God commends his own word, he adds its character of peace. For when he is justly at enmity with us, there is one way of reconciliation and remission of sin. This springs from the preaching of the gospel. The prophets formerly discharged this duty; and when these impostors strove to deceive the people, they stripped off their masks and deceived the simple through the difficulty of discerning between themselves and the true servants of God. And yet, as we said yesterday, no one could be deceived except through their own fault. For God, indeed, offers us peace, and invites us to reconciliation by his own prophets; but on this condition, that we make war with our own lusts. This, then, is one way of being at peace with God by becoming enemies to ourselves, and fighting earnestly against the depraved and vicious desires of the flesh. But how do false prophets preach peace? Why! so that miserable and abandoned men may sleep in the midst of their sins. We must diligently attend, then, to this difference, that we may safely embrace the peace which is offered us by true prophets, and be on our guard against the snares of those who fallaciously flatter us with peace, because under promise of reconciliation they foment hostilities between God and ourselves.

            How, then, can it happen that we can be at rest while God is opposed to us? Thou shalt say, therefore, to those who daub with untempered mortar, it shall fall. Here the Spirit signifies that the false prophets should be subject to the greatest ridicule, when they shall be convicted by the event, and their is shall be proved by clear proof. Hence, also, we may gather the utility of the doctrine which Paul teaches, that we must stand bravely when God gives the reins to impostors to disturb or disperse the Church. They shall not proceed any further, says he. (2 Timothy 3:9.) He says elsewhere in the same epistle, (2 Timothy 3:13,) They shall wax worse and worse; that is, as far as God pleases to be patient with them. But meanwhile the end is at hand, when the Lord shall shame all the impious false prophets, and detect their ignorance, rashness, and audacity, because they dared to use his name in offering peace to the reprobate. Thou shalt say, therefore, the wall shall fall. He speaks here of doctrine. There shall be an overflowing shower, says he a desolating rain. Here the Spirit signifies that there shall be a violent concussion which shall disperse all the artifices of the false prophets, and detect their frauds, when the Lord should bring on the Chaldaeans, and deliver the city to them. Hence the same meaning is intended by the shower, by stones, by the rush of a whirlwind, but it was necessary to express the same thing in many ways, because the Israelites had grown torpid through their fallacies, and willingly seized upon what the false prophets said that God would be propitious to them. After he had mentioned the shower, he goes on to hailstones. The more probable reading is, Ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; unless perhaps it is better to take the verb hnlpt, thephelneh, transitively, as I am inclined to do, ye shall make fall. This apostrophe is emphatic, because God addresses the stones themselves, and thereby obliquely reproves the sloth of those who thought to escape in safety through their blandishments. When God, therefore, addresses the stones, he doubtless reproaches the Israelites for hardening themselves so completely. He adds the violence of whirlwinds, or of tempests, in the same sense. The violence of the whirlwinds, then, shall break down or overthrow the wall. In conclusion, Ezekiel teaches that the doctrine of the false prophets had no need of any other refutation, that the arrival of the Chaldaeans, and their boasting, is like a storm and whirlwind to devastate the whole land: and thus he derides those praters who used their tongues so audaciously: he says that those strangers should come to refute these lies, not by words only, but by a violent attack. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:12

 

12. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith you have daubed it?

 

12. Et ecce cadet paries,286 annon dicetur ad vos, ubi litura287 quam levistis.

 

            He confirms the last sentence, namely, that the false prophets would be a laughing-stock to all when their prophecies and divinations came to nothing, for the event would show them to be liars. For when the city was taken it sufficiently appeared that they were the devil's ministers of deceit, for they were trained in wickedness and boldness when they put forth the name of God. Now the Prophet teaches that a common proverb would arise when the wall fell; for by saying, shall it not be said to them, he signifies that their folly and vanity would be completely exposed, so that this proverb should be everywhere current where is the daubing with which you daubed it? It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:13

 

13. Therefore thus says the Lord God, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury, to consume it.

 

13. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah. Cadere faciam288 spiritum tempestatum in ira mea: et imbre inundans in ira mea: et erit imber inundans in ira mea,289 et lapides grandinis in excandescentia ad consumptionem.

 

            He still pursues the same sentiment; but he says he will send forth storms and hail, and a whirlwind. He formerly spoke of hail, and showers, and violent storms; but he now says, that those winds, storms, and showers should be at hand to obey him. We see, therefore, that this verse does not differ from the former, unless in God's showing more clearly that he would send forth storms, whirlwind, and hail to overthrow the empty building which the false prophets had raised. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:14

 

14. So will I break down the wall that you have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

 

14. Et evertam parietem quem levistis insipido, et projiciam in terram, et discooperietur fundamentum ejus, et cadet: et consumemini in medio ejus: et cognoscetis quod ego Iehovah.

 

            This verse ought to be united with the other: God says, I will throw down the wall. For the false prophets had acquired so much favor, that their boasting was as much esteemed as an oracle. Hence the people were persuaded that what even these impostors dreamt was uttered by God. Since, therefore, they had so bound men's minds to themselves, the Prophet was obliged to inveigh vehemently against those impostures, since he would not have succeeded by simple language. This language, indeed, may seem superfluous; but if any one considers how greatly these miserable exiles were deluded by the false prophets, he will easily acknowledge that God does not repeat the same thing so often in vain: as in this place he brings forward nothing new; but he so inculcates what we have already seen as to confirm it. I will pull down, therefore, the wall which you have daubed with untempered mortar, and I will lay it low on the ground, and its foundation shall be uncovered, or discovered. Here the Prophet signifies that God would so lay bare the fallacies of those who had deceived the people with vain hopes, that no disguise should remain for them, but their disgrace should be plain to every one. Now, such was the shamelessness of these impostors, that if they were convicted on one point, yet they did not desist on that account, but took credit to themselves if anything turned out more fortunately than they could expect,290 as if they had not prophesied in vain, while a single thing came true. Since, therefore, the impious so turned their backs when God detected their folly, the Prophet adds, that the false prophets would have nothing left, because God will not only overthrow whatever they seemed to build, but he will uncover even the foundations, so that the people may understand that there was not a scruple or the least particle of truth in them.

            And it shall fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. He had just said that it should be ruinously consumed: hailstones, he said, should fall to consume it; by which word he understood that the final slaughter should be so severe that no hope should be left. For as long as Jerusalem stood, the Israelites always look forward to a return. But when they saw the kingdom not only weakened, but utterly destroyed, the temple overthrown, and the city ruined, whenever they heard of their dreadful dispersion, not the slightest remnant of hope survived. Now this consumption is transferred to the false prophets. As that consumption was final, and without a gleam of hope, ye shall be consumed, says he, in the midst of it, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. He does not inculcate this particular so often in vain; but he inveighs with indignation against the wicked audacity of the false prophets, who dared so petulantly to oppose themselves to the true servants of God, and to assume his name, and to trifle with him like children. Such is the prodigious madness of mortals who dare to set themselves against God: for this reason, he says, they shall at length perceive with whom they have to do. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:15

 

15. Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered mortar; and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it.

 

15. Et complebo excandescentiam meam in pariete et linentem ipsum insipido: et dicam illis non est paries, et non sunt qui leverunt ipsum.

 

            If the inveterate obstinacy of the people had not been known to us, Ezekiel would seem too verbose, since he might have said in a few words what he explains at such length. But if we bear in mind the perverse and refractory disposition of the people, we shall find that there was need of such continual repetition, I will fulfill, says he, my burning wrath upon the wall; that is, I will show how detestable and destructive to my people was this doctrine. Hence God fined up his anger on the wall, when he reduced to nothing all the lies of the false prophets: afterwards also he attacked them, since the mark of disgrace was attached to their characters, and this rendered their doctrine detestable: afterwards, says he, I will say, There is no wall; those who daubed it are not. When God speaks thus, he means that he will suffer the false prophets to triumph among the people for only a short time. For even to the destruction of the city and temple they always withstood God's servants with a bold forehead, as if they would thrust their horns against God and his announcements. Let us observe, then, that while Jerusalem was standing, the appearance of a wall existed; for there was the prop of false doctrine, and the people fed willingly on such deceits. Their daubing, therefore, stood till it vanished with the ruin of the city, and then their vanity was proved, for God took vengeance on these insolent triflers. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:16

 

16.To wit, the prophets of Israel, which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, aid there is no peace, says the Lord God.

 

16. Prophetae Israel prophetarunt de Hierusalem, et viderunt ei visionem pacis, et non est pax, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            He now concludes this discourse, and shows what he had hitherto intended by a building badly cemented, by using sand without lime. The prophets of Israel prophesied concerning Jerusalem. Here he does not mean false prophets, with whom Jeremiah was continually contending, but those who in exile still hardened the wretched. While they thought to make use of the occasion, and so to humble the people who had been so grievously wounded by the hand of God, they stirred them up to pride, as we have formerly seen. Our Prophet was obliged to strive with them for the comfort of his exiles, for he was peculiarly sent to the captives, as we have said, although the advantage of his prophecies also reached Jerusalem. The prophets, those of Israel, that is, the ten tribes dispersed in different directions, prophesied concerning Jerusalem. Why then did they not rather predict a happy result? For they were reduced to extremes, and meanwhile promised victory to the Jews. And they saw a vision, for it, says he. This clause seems opposed to another, in which the Prophet says that they saw nothing. How, then, do these two things agree to see a vision, and yet to see nothing'? What he now says as to seeing a vision refers to their false boasting. For they were altogether without the Spirit of God, nor did they possess any revelation. Yet when they boasted themselves to be endowed with the Spirit, and many had faith in their words, the Prophet concedes to them the name of a vision, although there was none, by accommodation. He says, therefore, that they saw a vision, that is, that they boasted in one since they professed to be spiritual. As at this time the Papists deny that they utter anything out of their own minds, and say that they have all those fictions, by which they adulterate all piety, from the Holy Spirit; so these prophets said they were spiritual: and as far as the title is concerned, the Prophet grants what in reality he disallows when he adds, there was no peace when they said there was peace. Hence it appears that a vision was in their mouth united with sacrilegious boldness: yet there was no vision; because, if God had manifested anything by his Spirit, he would really have proved it as he says by Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:32.) Since, then, there was no peace, but the final overthrow of the city was at hand, it is easily collected that they saw nothing, but made false use of that sacred name of vision to acquire confidence for themselves. As to his saying there is no peace, it extends to the future. They promised peace by saying that the siege of the city was to be raised, and prosperity to await the Jews. But God, on the other hand, pronounces there should be no peace, because it will shortly be evident that Jerusalem is devoted to utter destruction.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since we do not cease to provoke thee by our sins, that we may at length consider our wretched condition, unless you govern us by thy Spirit, and subject us to thyself in true obedience: and may we so desire to be reconciled to thee, that we may not flatter ourselves, but being altogether humbled and emptied of self, may we fly to thy mercy with a true feeling of piety: and so find what is prepared for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty-Sixth.

 

Ezekiel 13:17-18

 

17. Likewise, you son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy you against them,

18. And say, Thus saith, the Lord God, Woe to the women that sew pillows to all arm-holes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature, to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people, and will you save the souls alive that come unto you?

 

17. Et tu fliesi hominis, pone faciem tuam contra filias populi tui, quae prophetant ex corde suo: et propheta contra eas.

18. Et dices, sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Vae consuentibus pulvillos super omnes cubitos manus, et facientibus pepla291 super caput omnis staturae ad venandum animas: in animas venabimini a populo meo,292 et animas quae vobis sunt293 vivificabitis.

 

            WE may gather from this passage that Satan's lies were not spread among the people so much by men as by women. We know that the gift of prophecy is sometimes though rarely allowed to women, and there is no doubt that female prophets existed whenever God wished to brand men with a mark of ignominy as strongly as possible. I say as much as possible, because the sister of Moses enjoyed the prophetic gift, and this never ceased to the reproach of her brother. (Exodus 15:20.) But when Deborah and Huldah discharged the prophetic office, (Judges 4:4, and 2 Kings 22:14,) God doubtless wished to raise them on high to shame the men, and obliquely to show them their slothfulness. Whatever may be the reason, women have sometimes enjoyed the prophetic gift. And this is the meaning of Joel's second chapter, (Joel 2:28,)Your sons shall see visions and your daughters shall prophesy. There is no doubt that the Spirit transfers to the kingdom of Christ what had been customary among the ancient people. For we know that Christ's kingdom is described, or rather depicted, under the image of that government which God formerly held under the law. Since, then, certain women were gifted with the prophetic spirit, Satan, according to his custom, abused this under a false pretense. We know that he always emulates God and transforms himself into an angel of light, because if he were to show himself openly, all would instantly flee from him: hence he uses God's name deceptively, to ingratiate himself among the simple and incautious. And he not only sends forth false prophets to scatter abroad their lies and impostures, but he turns even females to the same injurious use.

            Here we see how anxiously we ought to guard against any corruption which may creep in to contaminate the pure gifts of God. But this contest seems not to have been sufficiently honorable to the servant of God; for it was almost a matter of shame when they engaged with women. We know that those who desire praise for their bravery do not willingly engage with unequal antagonists who have no strength to resist; since there is no praise in a victory when it is too easy: so also Ezekiel could put away from him this undertaking, since it was unworthy of the prophetic office. Hence it appears, that God's servants cannot faithfully discharge the duties assigned to them, unless they strive to remove all impediments. This then is the condition of all those to whom God assigns the office of teaching, that they may oppose all false doctrines and errors, and never consider or wish for great praise from their victory: it should suffice them to assert God's truth against all Satan's devices. Thus we see Paul strove with a workman (Demetrius), (Acts 19:24,) and that was all but ridiculous: and truly he might seem not sufficiently to regard his dignity; for from the time when he saw secret things which it was not lawful for him to utter, and was carried up to the third heaven, (2 Corinthians 12:4,) when he engages in a contest with a craftsman, he seems to forget that dignity to which God had raised him. But we must remember the reason which I have mentioned, that as the duty of teaching is assigned to God's servants, so they are appointed as his avengers and defenders of the doctrine of which they are heralds. Hence if, so to speak, fleas were to come out of the earth and rail at sound doctrine, none who are influenced by a desire of edification will hesitate to contend even with those fleas. Thus the Prophet's modesty is conspicuous, because by God's command he turns to these weak women to refute even them.

            It is said, then, woe to those who sew pillows or cushions; it is the same thing to all armholes, and to those who make covers for the head of every stature. There is no doubt that by these tricks they deluded the minds and eyes of the simple. It is evident from the law that some ceremonies are useful, since God commands nothing superfluous; but Satan by his cunning turns everything useful to man's destruction. Meanwhile we must remark that false prophets were always immoderately fond of outward signs; for since they have nothing substantial to offer, they have need of ostentation to dazzle all eyes. This then is the reason why men and women who intend to deceive, always heap together a number of ceremonies. Hence Ezekiel says, that those women had sown together pillows, and he adds, for all armholes. Whence it appears that they laid them under the armpits of those by whom they were consulted, although he afterwards seems to hint that they themselves reclined upon these pillows. But now he is treating of the people. The ancients were accustomed when they reclined at table to have cushions under their arms, though this is not our habit. But there is no doubt that they wished to represent a kind of sleep, like the foolish who consult oracles, and think themselves in ecstasies, and snatched away beyond all thoughts of this world. Then they had veils or coverings which they put over their heads. In this way imposture flourished with the Roman augurs; for they veiled their head when they wished to begin their incantations. Livy says, that the augur stood at the threshold with his head covered, and uttered these words, "O Jupiter, hear;"294 so that it is probable that veils covered the heads of those who wished to consult God, that they might be as it were separated from the world, and no longer look upon human things, but have only spiritual eyesight. With this view these women used such ceremonies that wretched men thought themselves caught up above the world, and all earthly thoughts being laid aside, they dozed so as to receive the oracles, and at the same time had the head covered to avoid everything which might call them off and distract them, and to be wholly intent on spiritual meditations.

            As to his saying, upon all arms, and upon the head of every stature. I doubt not that the Prophet teaches by these words that these women exercised a promiscuous trade, making no distinctions, but, gratifying all without choice, so long as they brought their money in their hands, as we shall by and by see. Hence this mark of universality ought to be noticed emphatically, because these women did not attend to the disposition with which persons came, but only grasped at their reward, and thus the gate was as open to all as that of the market-place. For shops are open to all, since all are expected to promote profit and make bargains, and merchants by their allurements entice as many as they can to purchase their goods. So also veils were provided for all heads and cushions for all arms, for there was no difference except in reference to profit from these profane and base transactions. With regard to the word "stature," the opinion of those who think it used, because the women ordered those who consulted the oracles to stand, appears to me forced, and not in accordance with the Prophet's intention. I have no doubt that, the Prophet uses the word for "age," or person, as others correctly interpret it; as if he had said, that they made no difference between old and young, tall and short, but prostituted their answers to all from whom they looked for gain.

            It afterwards follows, Is it not to hunt souls? Here God reproves one crime, but he will shortly add another, namely, the profanation of his sacred name. But he here speaks only of the death of souls, as if he said that the women laid those snares to deceive wretched souls. And because Ezekiel was commanded to, prophesy against them, he here addresses them more vehemently Will ye hunt the souls of my people? It is literally the souls which belong to my people; but it will be more simple to receive it thus will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye give life to your own souls, unless any one wishes to interpret it so as to make the Prophet repeat the same thing twice. For the souls of the people were also their own. For as we shall afterwards see, no one is deceived by the devil unless he offers himself of his own accord, and entangles himself in his snares on purpose. Since then it is always true that wretched men who catch at vain oracles devote themselves to the devil and his ministers, hence the passage may be explained in this way. But the sense which I have proposed is more simple, namely, that these women must not be yielded to because they have hunted the souls of the people; as if the Prophet had said, the people are precious to God, who has undertaken the care of them. Thus then he reasons; such is your audacity, nay, even fury, that you doubt not to seize upon God's people: since therefore your impiety is so licentious and bold, will God suffer you to rage with impunity against the souls of which he is the guardian? Lastly, he signifies that punishment is prepared for the women who ensnare God's people, because although those who are deceived are worthy of death, yet God will still exact punishment of Satan's ministers who have endeavored to despoil him of his rights. It, follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:19

 

19. And will you pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley, and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

 

19. Et profanastis me erga populum meum in pugillis hordeorum295 propter frusta296 panis: ut occidaris animas quae non moriebantur, et ad vivificandum animas quae non vivebant, decipiendo populum meum audientes mendacium.297

 

            Here God accuses these women of a double crime; one crime was that which I have mentioned, cruelly to destroy the souls which were sacred to God, and hence were destined to be saved; but he added a more atrocious crime that of sacrilege, because they had abused the name of God to deceive. Nothing is less tolerable than when God's truth is turned into a lie, because this is like reducing him to nothing. God is truth; if, therefore, that is abolished, what else will remain behind? God will be, as it were, a dead specter. Hence the Prophet, in God's name, complains of both: ye have profaned me, says he, before my people. For as the gift of prophecy was a rare and remarkable pledge of God's love and paternal anxiety towards the Israelites, so when that gift was corrupted, the name of God was at the same time polluted. For God was never willing to be disjoined from his word, because he is himself invisible, and never appears otherwise than in a mirror. Hence God's glory, and sanctity, and justice, and goodness, and power, ought to shine in the gift of prophecy; but when that gift is contaminated, we see how such a disgrace becomes a reproach against God. In this way his holiness is defiled, his justice, virtue, and fidelity, are corrupted, and his very existence called in question. So it is not without cause that God pronounces his own name to be polluted. Then he adds, among the people. And this circumstance increases the crime, since God's name was profaned where he wished it to be peculiarly worshipped; for it was also profaned among the Gentiles: but since God had never made himself known there, their profanation was the less detestable. But, because God erected his throne among the people of Israel, and wished his glory to shine there, we see how sacrilege increases, while his name is profaned in that sanctuary which he had chosen. This is one crime.

            But he also adds, on account of handfuls of barley and pieces of bread. Here God shows how much and how basely he was despised by those females, who sold their prophecies for a piece of bread or a few grains of barley which any one could hold in his hand. If they had demanded a great reward, their insatiable avarice would not have extenuated their crime; but their impiety is the rather discovered, when on account of a small reward they so prostituted themselves and the name of God. They boasted themselves to be the organs of the Holy Spirit: but when by this mask they deceived the people, injustice was done to the Holy Spirit, since for so paltry a reward they vainly boasted in their prophecies. They prostituted even God himself: and in fine, this was just as if; being corrupted by a small bribe of no value, they did not treat God's name with sufficient respect to be withheld from the crime by the slightest of the recompense. A comparison will make the matter clearer. If a person is tempted by a moderate reward to the perpetration of any crime and refuses, and then when he is offered a far more valuable reward, and thus yields to the temptation, this shows that his will was upright, though not sufficiently firm. But if any one, for a single farthing, undertakes to do what he is ordered, and refuses no crime, this shows his readiness to all sorts of wickedness. If a girl rejects bribes when she knows her modesty to be assailed, but yet yields for a large reward, here, as I have said, virtue struggles with vice; but if she prostitutes herself for a morsel of bread, here she manifests that depravity which all abominate. This, then, is God's intention, when he says that these women traded in their lies for handfuls of barley and pieces of bread. If any one objects that prophecies were anciently saleable, since it was customary with the people to offer the prophets rewards, I answer, that the women are not condemned merely for receiving either the handful of barley or the piece of bread, but because they did not hesitate to corrupt God's truth for a trifling gain, and then to turn it into a lie. The Prophet afterwards points out the nature of their deceit, for it would not have been sufficient to blame these women generally, unless Ezekiel had pointed with his finger at their pestiferous impostures.

            Now, therefore, he says, that they slew the souls which were not dying, and kept alive the souls which were not living. We have said before, that by this mark the true and righteous servants of God were distinguished from impostors. For the servants of God, who faithfully discharge the duty enjoined upon them, kill and make alive: for God's word is life, and brings health to lost mankind; but is a savor of death unto death in those who perish, as Paul says. (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.) Hence it is true that prophets who faithfully and properly discharge their duty both kill and make alive: but they give life to the souls which are to be freed from death, and slay the souls which are devoted to destruction; for they denounce eternal death to all unbelievers unless they repent; and whatever they bind on earth is also bound in heaven. (Matthew 18:18.) Their teaching, therefore, is effective for destruction, as also Paul elsewhere teaches. We have at hand, says he, vengeance against every high thing which exalts itself against Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5, 6.) Hence honest teachers are armed by God's vengeance against all unbelievers who remain obstinate: but they convey life to those who repent, since they are messengers of reconciliation; nay, they reconcile men to God when they offer Christ to them as our peace, and by whom the Father is propitious to us. (Ephesians 2:16.) When false prophets desire to rival God's servants, they omit the principal part, namely, faith and repentance; hence it happens that they proclaim life to souls already adjudged to destruction; for they give life to the reprobate who are hardened in contempt of God by their flatteries; for they do not require of men either faith or penitence, but only a reward. Hence also it happens that they slay the souls which ought not to die, namely, because nothing is prouder or more cruel than these false prophets. For they fulminate according to their pleasure, and sink even to the lowest hell the whole world when no hope of profit appears.

            Here then we see the vices of these women of whom Ezekiel treats so pointedly out, that no one need be any longer deceived by them except through his own fault. Hence also we gather a perpetual rule in examining doctrine, lest the deceits of Satan should surprise us for the word of God. Let us learn, then, that the prophetic word is life-giving to us, if we are dissatisfied with our sins, and fly to God's pity with true and serious penitence; for all souls are slain who do not receive this kind of life; and whoever compares the papacy with that corruption which Ezekiel describes to us, will see that, although Satan has many methods of deceiving men, yet they will always be discovered like himself. Ezekiel spoke of veils and cushions. We see many rites exhibited in the papacy, so that the incredulous, being snatched as it were out of the world, are not only delirious, but suffer themselves to be drawn in any direction like cattle by the grossest impostures. But in their teaching we perceive what Ezekiel condemns, namely, that they give life to souls devoted to death, and slay souls which thought to be kept alive. For what is the meaning of their immense heap of laws, except to bury wretched consciences? For any one who wishes to satisfy the laws of the papacy from his heart, must cut himself to pieces, so to speak, through his whole life. We now perceive with what intent our Prophet will elsewhere say that legislators of this kind are implacable, since they remit nothing, and exact all their conditions with the utmost rigor. Hence it happens that these miserable souls perish, because despair oppresses them and overwhelms them in the deep. Meanwhile we see how they give life to souls subject to death, since; pardon is prepared for adulterers, robbers, manslayers, and all criminals, if they only buy themselves off, as popish priests and monks pretend that God is appeased by satisfactions and prayers. Hence they thrust expiation's of no value upon God; and, to speak more correctly, trifles and follies, which do not deceive even children, they call expiation's, as if God could change his nature. Hence we must diligently remark this passage, that we may know how to distinguish between true and false prophets, and may not despise the test which the Prophet puts before us.

            He says, in deceiving my people by listening to a lie. He accuses some of lying, and others of willingly embracing is. For the noun bzk, kezeb, which is repeated, is derived from the same root. Here, again, God undertakes the cause of his people; for though they were all worthy of being drawn into exile by Satan, yet when God took care of them, it was like snatching them out of Satan's hand, and claiming them as his own peculiar people. This is one point. But meantime these wretches are deprived of all excuse for seeking false oracles. For the Prophet pronounces them deceived because they listened to vanity, that is, because they wished to be deceived, since it was entirely their own fault, and they could not in any way throw it off. It is true they were deceived under false pretenses through the abuse of the prophetic name, and hence their vision was obscured by a darkened cloud; but still they thought to have gone to the fountain, for no opening would have been found for Satan if they had been properly fortified: for God had surrounded them with ramparts by giving them a law to protect them from all fallacies. Since, then, they thus exposed themselves of their own accord, it is not surprising if God allowed them to be deceived.

 

 

Ezekiel 13:20

 

20. Wherefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith you there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that you hunt to make them fly.

 

20. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Ecce, ego ad vestros pulvillos quibus vos venamini illic animas ad volandum; et lacerabo eos desuper brachiis vestris, et eruam animas quas vos venamini, animas ad volandum.

 

            Here Ezekiel begins to threaten those women with what would shortly happen, namely, that God would not only render them contemptible, but also ridiculous, before the whole people, that their delusions and impostures might sufficiently appear. This is the Prophet's intention, as we shall afterwards see; but the Prophet is verbose in this denunciation. God therefore says, that he is an enemy to those cushions, that is, to those false ceremonies which were like cloaks to deceive miserable men: hence he says, that those souls were a prey. He uses the comparison from hunting: ye have hunted, says he, the souls of my people. And this is the meaning of the word used immediately afterwards for flying. This word jrp, pherech, signifies also "to flourish;" but I here willingly subscribe to the opinion of all who interpret it to fly: unless the paraphrast is right in translating it "to perish;" for he thought the Prophet was speaking metaphorically, as if he meant that those souls were ensnared, and so vanished away. But I do not think this quite suitable, since it is more probable that the Prophet is speaking of their lofty speculations. For we know that false prophets boasted in this artifice, when they either raise, or pretend they raise, men's minds aloft, and curious men desire this only; and hence it happens that the doctrines of the Law and the Gospel are insipid to them, because subtleties alone delight them. And we see at this day how many embrace the follies of Dionysius298 about the celestial hierarchy, who treat all the prophets, and even Christ himself, as of no value. Hence the Prophet says, that these women hunted the souls of the people, because they had snares prepared in which they entangled all who were subject to their impostures and fallacies. Yet, in my opinion, he also alludes to birds. When, therefore, he has said that all impostures were Satan's method of hunting souls, he now adds obliquely another simile, that all false prophecies are so many allurements to catch birds. The sense of the passage now appears clear. Behold, therefore, says he, God will arise against your cushions, by which you have hunted birds to make them fly; that is, when you promised wonderful revelations those wretched dupes whom their own curiosity urged on were deceived by such enticements. Afterwards he adds, I will free them from your arms, and I will let go the souls which you have hunted to make them fly, says he. He repeats again what we have already said about deep speculations, by the sweetness of which false prophets are accustomed to entice all fools who cannot be content with true doctrine, nor be wise with sobriety. Meanwhile it is by no means doubtful that God here speaks peculiarly of his elect, who were left among the people. For although they were but few, God was unwilling for them to perish: and for this reason he announces that he would be their avenger, and undeceive them, whether they had been already entrapped, or were just surrounded by these allurements. Since, then, he uses the same word, we gather from this that the phrase cannot be used indiscriminately. For God suffers many to perish, as he says by the Prophet Zechariah, "Let what perishes perish," (Zechariah 9:9); but meanwhile he rescued a small number as the remnant of his choice, as Paul says. (Romans 11:5.)

 

 

Prayer

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since you show us that our salvation is so precious in thy sight, that through our ingratitude we may not cast away this testimony of thy favor, but be anxious to listen to thy instructions: Grant also, that being gifted by thee with the spirit of discretion, we may not be exposed to capture as a prey; but may we be so ruled by the light of thy word that we may hold on in the right way, till after our allotted time is finished we may arrive at that happy repose which is laid up for us in heaven through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty-Seventh.

 

Ezekiel 13:21

 

21. Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

 

21. Et conscindam pepla vestra,299 et eruam populum meum e manibus vestris: et non erunt amplius in manibus vestris in praedam: et cognoscetis quod ego Iehovah.

 

            What the Prophet had said concerning the pillows he now pronounces of the veils, by which they were accustomed to cover either their own heads, or those of the persons who consulted them. The conclusion is, that God would put an end to such follies. For the people were so fascinated by these silly things, that it became necessary to strip away these masks, since these women were always ready to deceive. He adds also, that he would do that for the benefit of his own people. We have said that this ought not to be extended generally to all the sons of Abraham according to the flesh. For God suffered almost all to perish, as he had said by Isaiah:

 

"Even if thy people had been as the sand of the sea-shore, a remnant only shall be saved," (Isaiah 10:22.)

 

            When, therefore, God speaks here concerning his own people, this sentence ought to be restricted to the elect: as when it is said in the psalm, How soft and kind is God to his people Israel; and then he adds by way of correction, to those who are upright in heart, (Psalm 73:1,) Since many boasted themselves to be Israelites who are very unlike their father, and through being degenerate deprived themselves of that honor: hence the Prophet restricts God's goodness peculiarly to the elect who are upright in heart, after he had spoken of the whole people. Although Ezekiel did not distinctly express what we have cited from the psalm, yet the sense is the same; and this is easily gathered from the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 11:5, 6), where God sets before us the remnant preserved according to God's gratuitous election. For the same sense it is added, that they should no longer be for a prey. We have said how these women hunted these wretched souls, not only for purposes of gain, but also because Satan abused their fallacies. So, therefore, it happened that these souls were enticed to their destruction. For this reason God pronounces that they should no longer be their prey. And he repeats what he had already said, ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Here God brings before us his power, because we know how safely hypocrites allude his sacred name; and this easily appears in the boldness and licentiousness of these women. Hence God here threatens them: he says that they should feel at length who had spoken, since they ridiculed Ezekiel and his other servants. There is, then, a silent antithesis between God and the prophets; not that God separates himself from his servants; for the truth, of which they are ministers and heralds, is an indissoluble bond of union between them; but the language is adapted to the senses of those with whom the Prophet treats. Now, since these women were so wanton, he says that he was not despised by them, but God himself. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 13:22-23

 

22. Because with is you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life;

23. Therefore you shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

 

22. Quia contristastis cor justi mendacio,300 et ego non contristaveram ipsum;301 et roborastis manus impii, ut non converteretur a via sua mala, vivificando ipsum.

23. Propterea mendacium non videbitis, et divinationem non divinabitis amplius: et eruam populum meum e manu vestra: et scietis quod ego Iehovah.

 

            He explains in other words what we saw yesterday: but the repetition adds to the weight of the matter. The Prophet therefore shows that he had a just cause of complaint, because the women so deceived the people. He says now that they made the heart of the righteous sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked: the sentiment is the same, though the words are changed. He had previously said that they gave life to those devoted to death, and slew those destined to life; but now he shows more clearly the meaning of killing the soul that should not, or ought not to die, when the heart of the righteous is made sorrowful. By the righteous he means those whom the false prophets inspired with causeless terror. But why, it is asked, does he say that the righteous are grieved, since we have formerly taught that no others were deceived unless those who spontaneously throw themselves into the snares and traps of Satan? I answer, that the false prophets thundered so, and their lies were so spread about here and there as to involve the simple: for they scatter their threats so as to reach all men. Hence they wound weak consciences; as at this day when the lies of Satan fly about; by which true religion is corrupted, many simple ones are frightened, for they are destitute of judgment, and do not distinguish whether God threatens, or man vaunts himself rashly.

            We see, then, how false prophets cause the righteous sorrow, when they suggest scruples, and, under the penalty of mortal sin, denounce first one thing and then another: then they deprive them of confidence in God's favor, and strike them with various terrors, as we discern clearly in the papacy of this very day. Let us take that one point which is with them without controversy, that our confidence springs from our works, and hence that we cannot determine whether God is propitious to us or not., and thus they overthrow all assurance of faith. They retain, indeed, the name of faith, but meantime they wish wretched consciences to vacillate and be turned about with disquiet, since no one can know whether he can invoke God as a father.302 That confidence which Paul says is common to all Christians, they call presumption and rashness. (Ephesians 3:12.) We see, then, how that point not only grieves the righteous, but disturbs innocent consciences: for a series of traditions is afterwards added, and the penalty of eternal death is always annexed. hence it happens that those who wish to worship God in any other way, when they are thus rendered spiritless, know not which way to turn: hence also they lose all fear of God, since no one can seriously reverence God unless he who feels him to be easily entreated, as we learn from Psalm 130:6.

            We now understand what the Holy Spirit means when he reproves the women because they made the heart of the righteous sad. It is added, but I was unwilling to grieve them. For God's faithful servants often inspire terror, but only when necessary. For they cannot otherwise subdue those who exult in their lusts, and they cannot bring them to obedience unless they overcome them with fear. Hence even true prophets and evangelists cause pain, as Paul says: If I have caused you sorrow, I do not repent of it: for so I thought to do: for there is salutary grief. (2 Corinthians 7:8.) Besides, true prophets do not afflict men for nothing; they only cause anxiety in the minds of those whom God wishes to grieve: hence they do not fabricate the material for sorrow and pain in their own brain, but receive it from God's mouth and the spirit of revelation. Hence the word righteous is used, and falsely is added, by which particle the severity which true prophets are often compelled to use is distinguished from the roughness, or rather savage rudeness, of false prophets. For as I have said, they frighten wretched consciences. But by what right? by transferring God's power to themselves; just as at the present day the Pope with swelling cheeks thunders forth that himself and his throne are apostolic, and therefore infallible. Since, therefore, false prophets thus contend by fallacies, the simple are overcome by fear.

            It is now added, that they strengthened the hands of the impious (literally, of the impious man in the singular). When the Prophet spoke of the righteous, he used the word heart: he now uses the word hand, and not without reason. For the false terrors in which the false prophets indulged, penetrate even to the intimate affections, and as each is affected by the fear of God, so he becomes afraid of those threats which he hears uttered in God's name. We see, then, that it was said with very good reason that the mind of the righteous was sadly grieved; and now when he says that he had strengthened the hands of the impious, he means that audacity was added, so that not only the wicked always remain obstinate against God, but they break out in unbridled license, and hesitate not openly to violate God's law: for strengthening the hands is more than grieving the mind. For it may and it does happen, that a man may swell with pride and contempt of God, and yet modesty may hinder him from basely contaminating himself with many crimes. But when the hands themselves are engaged in licentiousness, all evils are heaped together. Now, therefore, we understand the reason of this difference. In fine, Ezekiel means that the impious had been hardened by the blandishments of these women, so as not only to despise God in their minds, but to bear witness through their whole life, that they were openly and confessedly erecting the standard of war against God. In this sense, then, he says, that they had strengthened the hands of the impious.

            He adds, that he should not be converted. Here he more clearly defines how those souls which were devoted to death303 were kept alive, since such confidence was set before them as to lull and stupefy their consciences. He does not say, then, that the hands of the impious were strengthened, as in a conspiracy of the wicked one often assists another, as if they mutually bound their hands together. But the Prophet now speaks in another sense, namely, that these women so hardened the wicked that they went on securely in their wickedness, and made a laughing-stock of God and his law. You have strengthened the hands that they should not be converted: but how? by affording them life. Hence we gather that men cannot be humbled otherwise than by placing death before them, because all willingly indulge themselves, and hypocrisy is so ingrained in us by natural corruption, that every one readily persuades himself that all things will turn out well. Unless, therefore, death is presented before our eyes, and God himself appears as a judge to destroy us, we remain like ourselves, and proceed to still greater audacity. The Prophet signifies this when he says, that by giving life to the impious the false prophets strengthened their hands, and opposed their repentance altogether. How so? When the sinner thinks God propitious to him, he is not anxious about reconciliation, but abuses God's forbearance, and is daily rendered bolder, until at last he puts off all sense of fear. Hence this is the true preparation for conversion, when the sinner is slain; that is, acknowledges himself liable to the judgment of God, and takes a formidable view of his wrath. When, therefore, he sees himself lost, then he begins to think of conversion; but when men sleep over their sins, as I have said, they persist till they arrive at constant apathy, as Paul says when he remarks that they have no longer any sense of sorrow. (Ephesians 4:19.)

            It follows, you shall not see a lie any more. He has hitherto explained the reason why God grew so warm against these women, because they destroyed miserable souls either by their cruelty or their flatteries, and thus were like false prophets: now he adds, you shall not see a lie any more. This ought not to be understood as if God promised these women a sound mind, so that they should cease to hurt the people by their lies: but he confirms the sentiment previously expressed, namely, that they should be subject to the taunts of all men, as boys themselves acknowledge that what they boasted to be oracles were mere imposture. It is just as if he had said I will make you ashamed, so that hereafter you may be deprived of the use of the prophetic name, as you have hitherto used it. Although these women persisted in their madness, yet they saw vanity no more, since it became openly apparent that those wretched ones who trusted in them were deceived. Lastly, this thought to be adapted not to any change of feeling in these women, but rather to a failure in the effect. It is just as if any one were to say to a foolish fellow boasting himself to be a Lawyer or a physician, I will take care that you profit no more as either a Lawyer or a physician; and yet that foolish person should not be able to put away the opinion which he had ever formed of his own skin. But this is said, because the mere vanity of his boasting should be evident to all. So also God now speaks. This addition has the same meaning: you shall not divine divination any more. And yet there is no doubt that they desired by all means to invent new prophecies, and to boast in new revelations: but they were despised, because God had detected their lies when Jerusalem was taken, and the people dragged into exile: then because they promised the people a speedy return, when the same God refuted them by prolonging their exile. When, therefore, any one suffers the just penalty of his impiety, then the vanity of those women was detected: in this way they ceased to divine. He repeats I will free my people from your hand: and you shall know that I am Jehovah. Since I have lately explained this phrase I now pass it by. It follows

 

 

 

Ezekiel 14:1-3

 

1. Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.

2. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

3. Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?

 

1. Et venerunt ad me viri ex senioribus Israel, et sederunt coram facie mea.304

2. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo,

3. Fili hominis, viri isti ascendere fecerunt idola sua super cor suum, et offendiculum iniquitatis suae posuerunt coram facie sua. An quaerendo quaerar ipsis?305

 

            Here Ezekiel relates an event worthy of notice. For this was not a mere vision, but a real transaction, since some of the elders of Israel came to him for the sake of consultation. He says that he sat, as men who are perplexed and astonished by evils are accustomed to do, when they see no remedy. The gesture then which the Prophet describes was a sign of anxiety and despair. A person wishing for an answer is said to sit before another; but since it is probable that they disputed among themselves about beginning, and did not immediately discover how they should commence, hence they became anxious to consult the Prophet. Ezekiel, indeed, might be touched and softened by pity when he saw them seeking God in this way. For this was a sign of repentance when they turned to the true and faithful servant of God. But since they had no sincerity, the Prophet is warned in time against supposing them to come with cordiality. Hence God instructs his servant not to give way with too much facility when he sees old men coming to be disciples. But he shows their hypocrisy, because superstition still reigned in their hearts; nay, they desired openly to violate God's law, and they did not disguise this feeling whenever occasion offered. First, he says they have set up idols in their hearts; by which words he means that they were addicted to superstition, so that idols obtained a high rank in their hearts; as Paul exhorts the faithful, that the peace of God which passes all understanding may obtain the rule in their hearts (Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15); so on the other hand the Prophet says that these men had given supreme sway to idols. And again an implied comparison must be remarked between God and idols. For God has erected the seat of his empire in our hearts: but when we set up idols, we necessarily endeavor to overthrow God's throne, and to reduce his power to nothing. Hence the most heinous crime of sacrilege is here shown in those old men who caused idols to rise above their hearts. For hence it follows that all their senses were drowned in their superstitions.

            He adds, they placed the stumblingblock of their iniquity before his face. By this second clause he signifies their hardness and perverseness; as if he had said, although the doctrine of the law was put before their eyes, yet they had no regard for piety, and despised even God's threats, as if he were not going to be their judge. When, therefore, the sinner is not moved by any admonitions, and is more than convicted of his impiety, and is compelled, whether he will or not, to suffer God's anger, and yet afterwards despises it, he is said to put the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face. For many slide away by error and thoughtlessness, because they do not think they can attempt anything against God. But here Ezekiel expresses that there was a gross contempt of God in these old men, and even a professed rebellion against him. Now he asks, Shall I by inquiring be inquired of by them? Some translate, Shall I, when consulted or asked, answer them? But this comment seems to me too remote from the mind of the Prophet; and it is probable that they thought this to be the sense, because they could not understand what else the Prophet meant. But God shows that this was like a wonder, since these old men dared to break forth, and to pretend to have some desire to inquire the truth. Hence their impudence is shown here, because they did not hesitate to place themselves before God's servant, and to pretend a regard for piety when they had none. God says, therefore, can it be done? For this question expresses the absurdity of the thing, and that for the above mentioned purpose, that their wickedness may be the more apparent in their daring to insult the face of God. For what else is it than openly to reproach God when impure men approach him, and wish to become partakers of his counsel? Meanwhile they show by their whole life that they are most inveterate enemies of the whole heavenly doctrine. Afterwards it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:4

 

4. Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus says the Lord God, Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling- block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols.

 

4. Propterea loquere ad ipsos, et dic illis: sic Dominator Iehovah, vir vir, domo Israel,306 ascendere fecerit idola sua super cor suum, et offendiculum iniquitatis suae posuerit coram facie sua: et venerit ad prophetam: ego Iehovah respondebo huic307 secundum multitudinem idolorum ejus.308

 

            Here God seems to treat those hypocrites too indulgently who pretend to ask his advice and yet despise his counsel. But God here rather threatens what would be destructive to the wicked than promises anything which they ought to expect. It is indeed a singular testimony of God's grace when he answers us: for prophecy is an image of God's paternal anxiety towards us and our salvation. But sometimes prophecy only ends in destruction; and this is but an accident. Although, therefore, God's word by itself is naturally to be greatly desired, yet when God answers as a judge, and takes away all hope of pardon and pity, no taste of his favor can then be perceived. Thus this passage must be understood. God pronounces that he would answer, but whom? The reprobate, and those who tauntingly inquired of the Prophet what they should do. When he answers them, he only shows himself the avenger of their perfidy; and thus his answer contains nothing else but the fearful judgment which hangs over all the reprobate. For God does not here impose a perpetual law on himself; for he does not always act in the same way towards all the reprobate, but says that those impious ones should feel that they shall not profit by their cunning and artifices, since they shall find the difference between God and Satan: for they were accustomed to lies, and had itching ears; hence they wished to have some pleasing and flattering answer from the servant of God, since the false prophets gratified their inclinations. What then does God say? I will answer them, but far otherwise than they either wish or desire: for I will answer them according to the multitude of their idols: for they bring with them the material for their own condemnation: hence they shall take back nothing from me but the seal of that condemnation which is already placed upon their hearts, and appears on their hands. In fine, God here laughs at the foolish confidence of those who inquire about future events of his prophets; but meanwhile they have their heart bound up with superstitions, so as openly to show their gross impiety: hence he says, that he would answer them, not as they thought, but as they deserved.

 

 

Ezekiel 14:5

 

5. That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

 

5. Ut deprehendam domum Israel in corde ipsorum, quia alienarunt se309 a me in suis idolis omnes.

 

            He shows God's object in being unwilling to dismiss without an answer the hypocrites who still impiously trifled with him. He says, that I may seize the house of Israel in their heart. It is yet asked how the impious are seized, when God answers them neither according to the opinion of their mind nor their expectation, but pronounces what they dislike and fear most grievously. I reply, that the impious are answered when they are driven to madness, and God thus extracts from them what was formerly hidden in their own hearts. He says, therefore, that their impiety may be manifest to all, I will answer them. For as long as God spares the impious, they endeavor to soothe him by a kind of flattery; but when they see that they take nothing by their false blandishments, then they roar, nay, bellow furiously against God: thus they are caught in their own hearts: that is, all their former dissembling is made bare, so that all may easily perceive that there never was a spark of piety in their hearts. God, therefore, bears witness that his answers would be of this kind, that he may take the house of Israel in their hearts; that is, that his severity may draw out into the light what was formerly hidden; for the word of God is a two-edged sword, and examines all the sentiments of men. (Hebrews 4:12.) Some are so slain by this sword that they grow wise again; but others are stung with fury when they see that they must engage with the power of God; therefore they are seized in their own hearts when God twists from them what they would willingly have kept always hidden. Since they have estranged themselves from me, literally, in their idols. This passage is explained in two ways, as we have said. Some say, because they separated themselves; but I approve of the other version, because they have alienated themselves, and we shall understand the point more clearly afterwards when the subject leads us to it. They alienated themselves, then, from God; that is, when they had utterly declined from God's law; yet, as long as this was concealed, they still wore their masks. The separation of which the Prophet here speaks seems to be referred to this pretense. Since, then, they so alienated themselves from me by their idols; that is, he says they are deceived in thinking that they cannot be discovered, and that their abominations, however foul they are, will remain secret. And this agrees with the last clause, namely, that he would seize the hypocrites in their own heart.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since we are so inclined to all kinds of vices, that we may be restrained by the power of thy Spirit: then that we may be attentive to the teaching which sounds continually in our ears, so that we may persevere in the pure worship of thy name; and thus being strengthened against the cunning of the wicked, may we be upheld in our weakness, and preserved from all error, until we finish our course, and arrive at the goal which is proposed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty-Eighth.

 

Ezekiel 14:6

 

6. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, Repent, and turn, yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

 

6. Propterea die ad domum Israel, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, revertimini et redire facite ab idolis vestris, et a cunctis abominationibus vestris redire facite310 facies vestras.

 

            Now God shows why he had threatened the false prophets and the whole people so severely, namely, that they should repent; for the object of God's rigor is, that, when terrified by his judgments, we should return into the way. Now, therefore, he exhorts them to repentance. Hence we gather the useful lesson, that whenever God inspires us with fear, he has no other intention than to humble us, and thus to provide for our salvation, when he reproves and threatens us so strongly by his prophets, and in truth is verbally angry with us, that he may really spare us. But the exhortation is short, that they may be converted and turned away from their idols, and may turn their faces from all their abominations. When he uses the word wbyCh, heshibev, in the second clause, some understand "wives;" but this is frigid: others think the verb transitive, but yet impersonal, thus make yourselves return: this also is harsh.311 I have no doubt that the Prophet here exhorts the Israelites that each should desire to reconcile himself to God, and at the same time bring others with him. As many were mutually the authors of evils to each other, he now orders them to do their utmost to bring back others with them: and surely this is a true proof of our repentance, when we are not only converted to God one by one, but, when we stretch forth our hand to our brethren, and recall them from error; especially if they have wandered away through our fault, we must take care to make up for the injury by at least equal diligence. The sense therefore of the Prophet is, first, that, the Israelites should repent; next, that one should assist another to repentance, or that they should mutually unite in the pursuit of piety, just as each was previously corrupted by his companion and brother. This seems to be the full meaning. Besides, this series must be remarked: because many show zeal in seizing others, and stretching out the hand to free them from error; but they themselves never think of repenting. But the Holy Spirit here shows us the true method of proceeding, when he commands us to repent, and then extends our desires to our brethren who have need of our exhortations. At length he adds, withdraw your faces, or turn away from all your abominations. A part is here put by the Prophet for the whole, since turning away the face means the same as withdrawing all the senses. Since, therefore, they had been almost affixed to their own abominations to which they had cast their eyes, and were completely intent upon them, he orders them to turn away their faces, so as to bid them farewell. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:7

 

7. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself.

 

7. Nam quisquis, domo Israel, et e peregrino qui peregrinatur apud Israelem, et separatus fuerit312 de post me (ad verbum), et ascendere fecerit idola sua super cor suum, et offendiculum iniquitatis suae posuerit coram facie sua, et venerit ad Prophetam ad inquirendum ipsum ex me,313 ego Iehovah respondebo ei in me (vel per me).

 

            Ezekiel again returns to threats, because exhortations was not sufficiently effectual with such hardened ones; for we have seen that they were obdurate in their vices and almost like untamed beasts. For unless God's judgment had been often set before them, there had been but small fruit of teaching and exhortation. This then is the reason why God here sets before them his vengeance: a man, a man, says he, or a stranger who sojourns among Israel. When he adds strangers, he doubtless speaks of the circumcised who professed to be worshipers of the true God, and so submitted to the law as to refrain from all impieties. For there were two kinds of strangers, those who transacted business there, but were profane men, continuing uncircumcised. But there were others who were not sprung from the sacred race, and were not indigenous to the soil, but yet they had been circumcised, and as far as religion was concerned, had become members of the Church; and God wishes them to be esteemed in the same class and rank as the sons of Abraham. The law shall be the same for the stranger and the home-born, wherever the promise is concerned, (Numbers 15:15,16,) and the same sentiment is repeated in many places. Thus the word foreigners is now to be explained. But this circumstance exaggerates the crime of the chosen people. For if any one settled in the land of Canaan and embraced God's law, this was an accidental event: but the Israelites were by nature heirs of eternal life, for the adoption was continued through successive ages. Since then they were born sons of God, it was the more disgraceful to depart from his worship. And so when Ezekiel here gravely rebukes the strangers, he shows how much more atrocious the crime was in the case of those who were bound by a more sacred bond to the worship of God. He says, and he was separated from after me. The Prophet yesterday said ylom, megneli, from near or from towards me: here he more clearly expresses declension, when men reject the teaching of the law, and openly show that they pay no obedience to God. For he is said to follow God or to walk after him, who proposes to himself God as a guide, and is devoted to his precepts, and holds on in the way pointed out by him. Thus by the obedience of faith we follow God or walk after him: so we recede from him when we reject his law, and are openly unwilling to bear his yoke any longer. Hence he shows of what kind the separation of the people or of individuals from God is, namely, when they refuse to follow his law. The Israelites indeed wished God always to remain united to them, but they made the divorce, although they denied it: hence the Prophet cuts away from them beforehand this prop of backsliding, when he says that they separated from God by not following him.

            At length he repeats what we saw yesterday, he who caused his idols to ascend unto his heart, he who placed the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, that is, was drowned in his own superstitions, so that his idols bore sway in his heart: lastly, he who is so forward in audacity that he did not conceal his wish to oppose the Almighty: if any one, says he, came to a prophet to inquire of him in me, or my name, I will answer him. He confirms what we saw yesterday, that he could no longer bear the hypocrites who deluded themselves so proudly. And certainly when they openly worshipped idols, and were fined with many superstitions, what audacity and pride it was to consult true prophets? It is much the same as if a person should want only insult and rail at a physician, and not only load him with reproaches, but even spit in his face: and should afterwards go and ask his advice, saying, "What do you advise me to do? How must I be cured of this disease?" Such pride could not be borne between man and man. How then will God permit such reproaches to go unpunished? For this reason he says that he would answer, but after his own manner, as if he had said they seek flatteries, but I will answer in myself: that is, in my natural character. I will not change it according to their pleasure, for they change my character by their fictions, but they are deceived: they profit nothing when they expect me to answer according to their views: I will answer, says he, in myself; that is, they shall feel that the answer proceeds from me, and they shall have no reason for thinking that my servants will be submissive to them, as they are accustomed to abuse the false prophets whom they buy for reward, because they are venal. For when any one is venal he is compelled to flatter like a slave. For there is no freedom but in a good and upright conscience. Hence God here separates his servants from impostors who make a trade of their flatteries. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:8

 

8. And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

 

8. Et penam ficiem meam in viro illo,314 et ponam illum315 in signum et proverbia et excidem eum e medio populi mei: et cognoscetis quod ego Iehovah.

 

            Here God adds, that the execution of his wrath would be ready when the prophet had denounced it. For profane men always fabricate for themselves empty treaties, and when God threatens they say that it is only thunder without lightning. Since the prophetic threats moved the reprobate either nothing or but little, so God now shows that he would not only answer what they did not wish to hear, but they should perceive by its effect how truly he had spoken. And this ought to be understood from the last sentence; for when God answers by himself, he neither is nor strikes the air with threatening words, but denounces what he determined to fulfill and accomplish in his own time. For God never answers in himself without joining the effect with the prophecy. But hypocrites are too stupid to acknowledge this, unless a clearer explanation was afforded. This then is the reason why the Prophet brings a message respecting the effect.

            He says, I will put my face upon that man: when God speaks openly against us, this is sufficient for our destruction; but he wished to express more in this case, namely, that prophets were the heralds of his wrath, and that hypocrites should be admonished about the penalties which await them, and even now hang over them, since his hand is stretched out against them. He is said to place his face against another who rises against him, or descends to a contest and engages hand to hand. So also God pronounces that he would be an adversary to all the reprobate who thus endeavored to elude him. He says, I will place him for a sign and a proverb. He marks the heaviness of the punishment by these words: for God sometimes chastises the faults of men, but after a common and accustomed manner. But when punishment excites the wonder of all and is like a portent, then God puts forth the sign of his wrath in no common fashion, as they say. The Prophet then means this, and hence at the same time admonishes us how detestable a crime it is to decline from the pure worship of God. For God chastises thefts and lewdness, drunkenness, deceits, and rapines: but not always so rigorously that the punishment is remarkable, and turns the minds of all towards itself. Hence from the greatness of the punishment the atrocity of the crime is made known. He now adds, for proverbs. This phrase is taken from the law, as the prophets who are the interpreters of Moses make use of words from it. (Deuteronomy 28:37.) When any remarkable slaughter occurs it is said to be for a proverb, as all persons usually boast when speaking of any slaughter, that none is equal to it or more horrible. But, lCm, meshel, is also used for a disgrace: as if he had said, it should not only be material for remark among the whole people, but their name should be subject to reproach and contempt. At length he adds, I will cut him off from my people. This is most severe of all, for even the hope of pity is taken away. A person may be a wonder for a time: then his calamity may be the subject of vulgar taunts and proverbs: and yet God is still exorable, and may not cut him off from his people. But when any one is cut off from God's people, his safety is already beyond hope. It is not in vain that this sentence is so often repeated, you shall know that I am Jehovah, says he, since we even formerly saw hypocrites always put a veil before them, since they think they have only to do with the prophets, and thus they despise mortals with security. Hence God here inscribes his name on his word, that they may know that he has spoken, and may experience the effect of his words by his hand. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:9

 

9. And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet; and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

 

9. Et Propheta cum deceptus fuerit, et locutus fuerit sermonem: ego Iehovah decepi prophetam eum: et extendam manum meam super ipsum, et delebo illum e medio populi mei Israel.

 

            Here God meets that foolish thought in which many minds are rapt up. When they had their own impostors at hand, they thought that all God's threats could be repelled as it were by a shield. Jeremiah and Ezekiel threaten us, say they, but we have others to cheer us with good hope: they promise that all things shall be joyful and prosperous to us: since, therefore, only two or three deprive us of the hope of safety, and others, and those, too, far more numerous, promise us security, we have no need to despair. Since they thus oppose their impostors to the true prophets, and imagine a kind of conflict, in which imposture prevails and God's truth is vanquished, he says there is no reason why the flatteries of the false prophets should deceive you. For if you say that they bear also the prophetic name and office, I reply, that they err through your fault; for I deceive them because your impiety deserves it. This may as yet be obscure, but I will endeavor to explain it by a familiar example. At this time we see that many through sloth withdraw themselves from all fear, and promise themselves freedom from punishment, while they reject all care for God. O, say they, what have I to do with religion? for this only occasions me trouble; whoever wishes to give himself up seriously to God amidst, these dissension's and divisions will enter a labyrinth. Since, therefore, many think themselves free from fault, even if they reject God, this doctrine may be turned against them. There are, indeed, at this day dissension's in religion which disturb many; but do you think that this happens rashly: Oh! we know not which party to follow: inquire; for God has not so given the rein to Satan and his ministers, that the Church is disturbed, and men are mutually opposed by chance. But when this happens by the just judgment of God, it is certain that no one can be deceived unless of his own accord. For the Prophet takes that principle from Moses, whenever false prophets come forth, that this is a proof of faithfulness and of sincere piety. Thy God tries thee, says Moses, whether you love him. (Deuteronomy 8:3.) Since, therefore, no false prophet arises without the just judgment of God, and since God wishes to distinguish between sincere worshipers and hypocrites, it follows that no one can be excused on this pretext, of differing opinions which arise by wise ordination. For since God wishes to make an experiment, as I have said, concerning his servants and sons, and since false prophets so mingle all things, and involve the clear daylight in darkness, no one who truly and heartily seeks God shall be entangled among their snares.

            But Ezekiel will proceed still further, as I have previously hinted, namely, that all impostures and errors do not spring up rashly, but proceed from the ingratitude of the people itself. For if they had not so willingly given themselves up to the false prophets, God would doubtless have spared them. But, since false prophets abounded on every side, and were so plentiful everywhere, hence it may be understood that, the people were worthy of such impostures. Now then we perceive the meaning of the Holy Spirit when God pronounces that he is the author of all the error which the false prophets were thus scattering abroad. For it is not sufficient to observe merely the sound of the words, and then to illicit the substance of the prophetic teaching; but we must attend to the Spirit's purpose. I have already explained why the Prophet says this, namely, that. the Israelites should cease to turn their backs according to their custom, saying, that if they remained in doubt amidst various opinions, this ought not to be imputed to them as a crime. For he answers, that the false prophets only took this license, because the people deserved to be blinded: and in fine, he says that Satan's lies multiplied not at random or at the will of men, but because God repays a graceless and perfidious people with a just recompense. So Paul says that error has a divine efficacy, when men prefer embracing a lie to the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12), and do not submit themselves to God, but rather shake off his yoke. Now, therefore, whoever wishes to excuse himself under the pretext of simplicity for not acquiescing in God's word, this answer is at hand that all things are thus mingled by God's just decree. Since, therefore, Satan eclipses the light whenever clouds are scattered to disturb the weak, we here find God to be the author of it, since man's impiety deserves it. For the Prophet does not here discourse profanely about God's absolute power, as they say; but when he brings forward God's name, he takes it for granted that God is not delighted with such disturbance, when false prophets seize upon his name. It is certain, then, that God does not delight in such deception; but the cause must be thought, as we shall soon see: the cause is not always manifest; but without controversy this is fixed, that God punishes men justly, when true religion is so rent asunder by divisions, and truth is obscured by falsehood.

            We must hold, then, that God does not rage like a tyrant, but exercises just judgment. Besides, this passage teaches us that neither impostures nor deceptions arise without God's permission. This seems at first sight absurd, for God seems to contend with himself when he gives license to Satan to pervert sound doctrine: and if this happens by God's authority, it seems perfectly contradictory to itself. But let us always remember this, that God's judgments are not without reason called a profound abyss (Psalm 36:6), that when we see rebellious men acting as they do in these times, we should not wish to comprehend what far surpasses even the sense of angels. Soberly, therefore, and reverently must we judge of God's works, and especially of his secret counsels. But with the aid of reverence and modesty, it will be easy to reconcile these two things that God begets, and cherishes, and defends his Church, and confirms the teaching of his prophets, all the while that he permits it to be torn and distracted by intestine broils. Why so? He acts thus that he may punish the wickedness of men as often as he pleases when he sees them abuse his goodness and indulgence. When God lights up the flame of his doctrine, this is the sign of his inestimable pity; when he suffers the Church to be disturbed, and men to be in some degree dissipated, this is to be imputed to the wickedness of men. Whatever be the explanation, he pronounces that he deceived the false prophets, because Satan could not utter a single word unless he were permitted, and not only so, but even ordered; while God exercises his wrath against the wicked.

            In another sense Jeremiah says that he was deceived (Jeremiah 20:7). I am deceived, but you Jehovah have deceived me: for there he speaks ironically. For when ungodly men boasted that so many of his prophecies were delusive, and derided him as a foolish and misguided man, he says, If I am deceived, you, O Lord, have deceived me. We see, then, that by false irony he reproves the petulance of those who despised his prophecies; and finally, he shows that God was the author of his teaching. But in this place God pronounces without a figure that he deceived the false prophets. If any one now objects, that nothing is more remote from God's nature than to deceive, the answer is at hand. Although the metaphor is rather rough, yet we know that God transfers to himself by a figure of speech what properly does not belong to him. He is said to laugh at the impious; but we know that it is not agreeable to his nature to ridicule, to laugh, to see, and to sleep. (Psalm 2:4; Psalm 37:13.) And so in this place, I confess, there is an improper form of speaking; but the sense is not doubtful that all impostures are scattered abroad by God since Satan, as I have said, can never utter the slightest word unless commanded by God. But the kind of deceit which will solve this difficulty for us is described in the sacred history. For when Ahab had a great crowd of false prophets, Micah alone stood firm, and faithfully discharged his duty to God: when brought before king Ahab, he immediately blows away their boastings Behold! all my prophets predict victory: he answers I saw God sitting on his throne; and when all the armies of heaven were collected before him, God inquired, Who shall deceive Ahab? And a spirit offered himself, namely, a devil, and said, I will deceive him, because I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. God answers, Depart, and thus it shall be. (1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18.) Afterwards it follows, Therefore the Lord put a lie in the mouth of all those prophets. Here he distinctly shows us the manner in which God maddens the false prophets, and deceives them, namely, since he sends forth Satan to fill them with his lies. Since, then, they are impelled by Satan, the father of lies, what can they do but lie and deceive? The whole of this, then, depends on the just judgments of God, as this place teaches. God, therefore, does not deceive, so to speak, without an agency, but uses Satan and impostors as organs of his vengeance. If any one flies to that subtle distinction between ordering and permitting, he is easily refuted by the context. For that cannot be called mere permission when God willingly seeks for some one to deceive Ahab, and then he himself orders Satan to go forth and do so. But the last clause which I have quoted takes away all doubt, since God put a lie in the mouth of the prophets, that is, suggested a lie to all the false prophets. If God suggests, we shall see that Satan flies forth not only by his permission to scatter his impostures; but since God wished to use his aid, so he afforded it on this condition and to this end. But we shall leave the rest for the next lecture.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since we are so prone to error, that thy truth may always shine upon us amidst the darkness of this world: Grant, also, that we may gaze upon it with open eyes, and subject ourselves to thee with true docility, so that being governed by both thy Word and thy Spirit, we may fulfill our course, and at length arrive at that happy rest, which your only begotten Son has prepared for us. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Thirty Ninth.

 

            WE saw in the last lecture with what intention God permits so much license to the false prophets to deceive the people. For men would desire to throw the fault of their errors on God, if he did not meet their rashness. But God has pronounced in this place, that his judgment is just, since the exiles as well as the Jews remaining in the city were equally blind. Hence we must understand that there was no cause for excuse when God's hand was against an impious and wicked people. He now adds, that he would be an avenger in destroying the false prophets from the midst of the people. This seems at first sight not to be in accordance with justice, that God should impel and precipitate men into error, and then exact punishment of them: and as I have said, men think themselves free from blame, if God blinds them, casts them into a reprobate state of mind, and even hurries them into impious desires. But I have already remarked that those act erroneously who estimate God's judgment by their own notions. For how small is the measure of our intelligence: for God's judgments are a profound abyss. (Psalm 36:6.) Nothing therefore remains, except waiting for that day in which we shall see face to face the things which we now behold darkly and obscurely, as Paul says. (1 Corinthians 13:12.) Whatever may be the sense, God does rightly in deceiving the false prophets by way of punishing an impious people; and when he summons the false prophets to judgment, that also is free from blame. But if men are restive through their own rashness and audacity, God will free himself from all their calumnies. Wherefore let us diligently mark this passage where God pronounces that he is the deceiver; because however Satan may plot by his lies to abolish the truth, yet he can accomplish nothing unless God permit him, as we have already explained at full length. But when false prophets are dragged to punishment, they have no cause of expostulation with God. and they profit nothing by their complaints, since their own consciences condemn them. They cannot object that they were compelled or drawn violently aside by God, since of their own accord and by their own efforts they endeavored to deliver wretched men to destruction by their lies. Since this is the case, God justly extends his hands to punish them, as he now says. But let us proceed to the next verse.

 

 

Ezekiel 14:10

 

10. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.

 

10. Et ferent iniquitatem suam, sicut iniquitas sciscitantis sic iniquitas Prophetae erit.

 

            Here what Ezekiel had partially touched upon is more clearly taught. For he had said, that at length false prophets should meet with punishment, but he now joins the whole people with them, and at the same time repels the empty pretenses by which men are always willing to conceal their fault. For when he mentions their iniquity by name, it is the same as forbidding them to turn their back any more. In this way, then, God removes all the cavils to which men usually resort, since they never pursue these tortuous paths without being conscious of their iniquity. For when God says that he is a searcher of hearts, he brings openly before us the secret feelings of mankind. As long as hypocrites have to deal with men, they easily delude them: and then they put on various disguises, by which they throw off the blame from themselves. But when God addresses them, his language necessarily penetrates to their hidden thoughts. Now therefore we understand the force of the words which God uses, they shall bear their iniquity.

            He now adds, the iniquity of the inquirer shall be like that of the prophet. We have said that the sacred name of prophet is improperly transferred to impostors: but God often speaks thus by concession, and in this way a stumbling block occurs by which the weak are disturbed. For when they hear that deceivers, who not only obscure God's word but pervert it, proudly boast in their title, they are moved, and not without reason. For divine things ought seriously to move us to reverence, since prophets are organs of the Holy Spirit. Hence that man is worthy of such honor that no man ought to despise one who is reckoned a prophet. But because God tries his own people and blinds the reprobate, as we have said, when he sends them false prophets, in order that the faith of the pious should not faint when they hear that sacred name profaned, he says by concession well, they shall be called prophets but he does not mean that those shall be truly and really esteemed such who falsely claim to themselves that glory. Now let us come to the next clause, the iniquity of the inquirer shall be like that of the prophet. We have already spoken of the iniquity of those who, being led captive by the lies of Satan, endeavor to pervert both the worship and the pure doctrine of God. Since therefore they propose to contend with God, their iniquity is by no means excusable. But another question may arise concerning the people, which, although we have solved it before, yet it may be expedient to repeat it. He says, then, that those who had been deceived by the false prophets would be subject to punishment, that they may sustain the same penalty. This seems hard, as I have said: but the Prophet had previously taught that the people would be justly involved in the same punishment with the impostors, because they erred knowingly and willingly. For if they had cordially devoted themselves to God, and had suffered themselves to be ruled by his Spirit, and by the teaching of the law, they had doubtless been freed from all error. For God takes care of his own people, though he does not defend them from the insults of the ungodly, yet he fortifies them by the foresight and fortitude of his Spirit. Those who are deceived, receive the just reward of either their sloth or pride or ingratitude. For many scarcely deigned to inquire what the will of God was: others looked down as from an eminence on whatever was uttered in God's name: for through self-confidence they receive with difficulty any instruction but their own. Since then they were so unteachable, they are worthy of the reward which I have mentioned. Others again are ungrateful to God: for they stifle his instructions and the knowledge of heavenly things, and contaminate and pollute what is sacred; so that God justly joins the disciples with their masters when he revenges sacrilege as we see, since all sacred teaching is overthrown.

            But Ezekiel expresses more when he says, that the people had inquired. For they had counselors, who thereby gave a direct approbation to their employment. If they had been teachable they would not have betaken themselves so eagerly to the false prophets: hence the greater their diligence in this direction, the more their crime was apparent, since they purposely rejected God and his servants, by transferring themselves to the false prophets. We now understand the meaning of this sentence. It only remains that each of us should apply what is here said to his own profit. The Papists think themselves to be twice or thrice absolved if they have been deceived in any quarter. But, on the other hand, Christ exclaims If the blind lead the blind, it is not surprising if both fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:14.) The reason is here expressed, because however those who are deceived show their simplicity, it is by no means doubtful that they flee from the light and desire the darkness by a crooked and perverse craving. Hence it happens that the iniquity of the inquirer is like that of the prophet.

 

 

Ezekiel 14:11

 

11. That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, says the Lord God.

 

11. Ut non errent amplius domus Israel a me,316 et non polluantur amplius in cunctis sceleribus suis: ut sint mihi in populum, et ego sim illis in Deum, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here God shows that there was no other remedy, if he would recall to safety those who had almost perished, and at the same time he teaches that it is useful to the Church to chastise those who had so impiously declined from himself. Meanwhile it happens that God thunders, and exercises his judgments even to the extreme of rigor: meanwhile men do not repent but remain obstinate: nay, the punishment which God inflicts upon the reprobate sinks them into deeper destruction. How so? Those who harden themselves against the hand of God heap upon themselves severer punishments, since the reprobate do not submit to the yoke when God wishes to correct their hardness and obstinacy. But here God announces that he will not be so severe as not to consult for their safety. But this contradiction might disturb many, since God destined the people as well as the false prophets to destruction, for this seems to render his covenant vain. But he prevents this question, and says, since he should exact such severe penalties from the despisers of his word and from apostates, that rigor would be useful to the Church. Now we understand the meaning of the saying, the house of Israel shall not err any more: since otherwise their obstinacy was incurable: and unless God had seriously roused them up, they had never been brought back into the way of their own accord. Here therefore God obliquely rebukes the hardness of his people, because they could not be instructed except by punishment. For incorrigible indeed are those sons who, while their father cherishes and indulges them, despise him, and become worse by the indulgence. Of this then God now complains, that the children of Israel were so untractable that they could not bear destruction, unless he descended to the utmost rigor. For it was a very sad spectacle, that God's truth should be corrupted and adulterated by lies, and that the people, with those who imposed upon them, should utterly perish. But we now hear that there was but one remedy since the children of Israel were untameable, unless they were completely broken down. He now adds, from me: a phrase worthy of notice, for we here gather, that as soon as we bend ever so little from following God, we wander after errors: for we shall never hold on in the right way unless we follow God, that is, unless we are intent upon the end which he sets before us: and then unless our eyes are turned in the direction that he points out, lest we bend to either the right hand or the left. Thus we shall be beyond any danger of wandering if we, follow God: on the other hand, if our minds turn to either this side or that, and we are not retained in obedience to God alone, the Prophet teaches that we wander in error, and that this will at length turn out unhappily for us. When he speaks of the house of Israel, he does not embrace without exception those who spring from Jacob; for both the false prophets and those who consulted them were of Jacob's line, and had a name in that family. But we have already seen what was decreed concerning them, namely, that God would destroy them and blot them out from the midst of his people. We see then that they are not; comprehended under the offspring of Abraham or the house of Israel; but this is restricted to the remnant of the people whom God wished to spare. For we know that there was always some seed left, that the covenant which had been made with Abraham might be firm and sacred. This sentence then properly refers to the elect, who are called by Paul the remnant of grace. (Romans 11:5.) But God says that the example would be useful to the survivors, since the punishment of others would instruct them: and when they should see the false prophets perish, and should acknowledge God's remarkable judgment in their destruction, then they would profit by it. Now we understand what the Prophet means by the destruction of the false prophets and of those hypocrites who despised the true prophets, and prostituted themselves to be deceived by impostors: when God makes them an example of his wrath, the Prophet says that the house of Israel should receive advantage from their perishing, and profit by their utter ruin.

            Now he adds, And that they should not be polluted any more in all their wickedness. Here he purposely enlarges on their crime, that he may the more magnify the mercy of God; for if they had been only moderately guilty, his pardoning them had not been so remarkable. But the Prophet here pronounces them abandoned in sin, and does not condemn them for one sin but for many: he says they were polluted and contaminated in their crimes: and when God's mercy is extended to such as these, we discover with certainty how inestimable it is. Finally, let us learn from this passage, that God not only pardons men who transgress but lightly through want of thought and error, but that he is also merciful to the abandoned who are convicted of many iniquities. He says, that they may be my people and I may be their God. God had already adopted the whole seed of Abraham, and all were circumcised to a man: and thus they bore personally the testimony and covenant of God's paternal favor. Since, therefore, they were already God's people, and were considered as members of the Church, what can it mean that they shall be my people? For God seems here to promise them something new. But by this form of speech the Prophet marks their declension and manifests their deserts. For although God had thought them worthy of such honor as to reckon them among his elect people, yet they had cast themselves out by their own depravity. For since all religion among them was corrupt, God's worship was profaned, his whole law almost buried, and they were separated as far as possible from God, as we shall afterwards see. On the part of God the adoption remained firm: but here Ezekiel regards their condition if they would really look at it themselves, namely, as one of estrangement, since their own wickedness had cut them off: hence he speaks as of a new benefit when he says, they should be for a people when they repented.

            The second chapter of Hosea will help us to understand this more clearly, when it is said,

 

"I will call them my people who are not my people,

and her beloved who is not beloved." (Hosea 2:23.)

 

            For the Prophet was commanded to go into an improper house and to take an impure female and to beget sons: he says that a son was born to whom God gave the name ymoal, lagnemi, it shall not be my people: and then when a daughter was born, she was unworthy of love. There Hosea signifies that the Jews were cut off from the sacred root, and he speaks not of one or two, but of the whole race; for they were neither God's people nor a beloved daughter. Afterwards when reconciled, they begin again to be God's people and a beloved daughter. Paul does not accommodate that sentence to the calling of the Gentiles rashly: (Romans 9:25,) namely, that there was no difference between Jews and Gentiles, since the former were rejected. Whatever it is, we see that those who had a place and a name among God's people, and whom he had chosen for himself, were cast off and had become strangers through their own fault. Thus they begin to be God's people afresh when they repent and God receives them to favor. The conclusion is, I will restore them afresh, that my covenant may be renewed in some way, that they may be my people as they formerly were; and I may be to them a God, since by their own backsliding they deserved to be treated as entire strangers. Besides, it is well to remember what we said elsewhere, that under these words is contained whatever belongs to solid happiness. For if God acknowledges us as his people, we are certain of our salvation, as when he pronounces that he will be our God while we call upon him as a father. But whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13.) Then we must remember that celebrated sentence of the Prophet Habakkuk, You art our God: we shall not die. (Habakkuk 1:12.) Lastly, we have nothing else to wish for towards the fullness of all good things and confidence in eternal life, than that God should reckon us among his people, so that there may be open to us a free access to him in prayer. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:12-13

 

12. The word of the Lord came again to me, saying,

13. Son of man, when the land shineth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:

 

12. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo.

13. Fili hominis terra cum scelerate egerit erga me,317 et extendero manum meam super eam, et confregero in ipsa baculum panis, et immisero in ipsam famem, et excidero ex ipsa hominem et jumentum.

 

            The next verse thought to be joined: for some interpreters altogether pervert the Prophet's sense by finishing the sentence there, as if he had said, I will extend my hand over it, & e. But the sentence is dependent, as we shall see

 

 

Ezekiel 14:14

 

14. Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, says the Lord God.

 

14. Et fuerint tres viri isti in medio ejus, Noe, Daniel, et Job, ipsi in justitia sua eripient318 animas suas, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here again God threatens the people of Israel with final destruction: but the words seem opposed, that God would be merciful and propitious to his people, and yet that no hope of pardon would be left. But we must remember the principle, that the prophets sometimes directed their discourse to the body of the people which was utterly devoted to destruction, since its wickedness was desperate; yet afterwards they moderated that rigor, when they turned to the remainder, which is the seed of the Church in the world, that God's covenant should not be extinguished, as we have already said. Hence, when we meet with this kind of contradiction, we know that God affords no hope to the reprobate, since he has decreed their destruction: so that language ought to be transferred to the body of the people which was already alienated, and like a putrid carcass. But when God mingles and intersperses any testimony of his favor, we may know that the Church is intended, and that he wishes a seed to remain, lest the whole Church should perish, and his covenant be abolished at the same time. The Prophet, therefore, as before, so also now, sets before himself the people desperate in wickedness, and says that they had no right to hope that God would act mercifully as usual, since necessity compelled him to put his hand for the last time to the destruction of the impious. This is the full meaning. We had a similar passage in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:1), where he said, If Moses and Samuel had stood before me, my mind is not towards this people; that is, it never could be that I should return to favor them, even if Moses and Samuel should intercede for them, and endeavor to obtain pardon by their own intercession. The papists foolishly distort this passage to prove that the dead intercede for us, for Moses and Samuel had been dead some time; but God says, Even if they should pray for the people, their prayers would be in vain. But this passage refutes that gross ignorance: for God is not here making a difference between the living and the dead; but it is a kind of personification, and of bringing back Moses and Samuel from the grave; as if he had said, Were they living at this time, and entreating for these wicked ones, I would never listen to them: for Ezekiel here mentions three, Noah, Job, and Daniel. But Daniel was then alive: he had been dragged into exile, and lived to a mature old age, as is well known. Then he expresses his meaning more clearly, by saying, if they had been in the midst of the city they had escaped in safety themselves, but they would not have prevailed for others. The whole meaning is, that God cuts off all hope of mercy from the abandoned people.

            We must remark the form of speech which is used: he relates four kinds of punishments by which men's crimes are usually avenged, and enumerates them distinctly. If I shall break the staff of bread, says he, because the land has revolted from me, and I shall send famine upon it, Daniel, Job, and Noah, shall preserve their own souls, but shall not profit others by their holiness: then he adds, if I shall send a sword, that is, if I shall follow up the impious by wars, even Daniel, and Job, and Noah, shall save their own souls, but they shall not intercede for others. He pronounces the same of pestilence and wild beasts. At length He reasons from less to greater. When I shall have punished any nation, says He, with famine, pestilence, and the sword, and wild beasts, how much less shall Daniel, Job, and Noah, prevail with me by their intercession? But God had condemned the house of Israel to all punishments, just as if he had poured all his curses like a deluge to destroy them. Hence He concludes that there is no reason for cherishing any hope of escape from these imminent dangers. Now then we comprehend the Prophet's meaning.

            Now let us come to the first kind of punishment. If the land, says he, acts wickedly against me, or conducts itself wickedly, afj, cheta, to act wickedly, but by prevaricating with prevarication. By these words the crime of perfidy is distinguished from error, because men often fall away and depart far from God through ignorance of the way which they thought to pursue. But here the Prophet condemns the people's defection through perfidy, as if he had said that they purposely, and by deliberate malice, were estranged from God, since they had been correctly taught how God ought to be worshipped. Although the Prophet speaks generally, yet he wished to show God's wrath to be of no ordinary kind: for God will often chastise men's sins by either pestilence, or sword, or famine, and yet will not be implacable. But he here speaks of a desperate people, and one already addicted to eternal destruction. He says, therefore, by prevaricating with prevarication; that is, by deceiving my confidence by open and gross perfidy.

            Again, and I will stretch forth, my hand upon it, and will break the staff of bread, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off from it man and beast. Here, as I have mentioned, he touches upon only one kind of punishment; for God is accustomed to take vengeance on men in four ways; and the prophets, as you have often heard, usually adopt the form of speech used by Moses. These four curses of God are everywhere related in the law, war, famine, pestilence, and the assault and savageness of wild beasts. Now the Prophet begins with hunger; but he points out the kind of hunger if God has broken the staff of bread. For sometimes, when he does not reduce men to poverty, yet he puffs up the bread, so that those who think to use it as nourishment do not gather any rigor from it. But the Prophet properly means it in this second sense, as we see in Ezekiel 4 and Ezekiel 5. The metaphor is in accordance with the word staff: for as the lame cannot walk unless they lean on a staff and tremulous old men need a similar support so by degrees men's strength vanish, unless new rigor is replaced by meat and drink. Bread is, therefore, like a staff which restores our strength when want has weakened it. We now come to the word breaking. How does God break the staff of bread? By withdrawing the nourishment which he had infused into it; for the virtue which we perceive in bread is not intrinsic: I mean this that bread is not naturally endued with the virtue of continuing and inspiring life within men; and why? Bread has no life in it: how then can any one derive life from it? But the teaching of the law has been marked: that man lives not by bread only, but by every word proceeding from God's mouth. (Deuteronomy 8:3.) Here Moses intends, that even if God has inserted the virtue of nourishment in bread, yet this is not to be so attributed to it as if it were inherent in it. What follows then? That as God breathes a secret virtue into the bread, it sustains and refreshes us, and becomes our aliment. On the other hand, God says that he breaks the virtue of the bread when he withdraws from it that virtue: because, as I have already said, when we taste bread, our minds ought to rise immediately to God, since men, if they cram themselves a thousand times, yet will not feel their life to be deposited in the bread. Therefore, unless God breathes into bread the virtue of nourishment, the bread is useless; it may fill us up, but without any profit. Now, then, we understand the meaning of this sentence, about which we shall have something more to say.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since you shine so clearly upon us with the teaching of thy Gospel, in which thy Son reveals himself familiarly to us, Grant that we may not shut our eyes to this light, or turn them hither and thither by depraved curiosity, but may remain in simple obedience, until at length having passed through the course of this life, we may arrive at the fullness of light, when you will transform us into thy glory by the same your only-begotten Son. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Fortieth.

 

            I have already partially explained the Prophet's design, when he says, if God has sent famine upon a land, and Job, Noah, and Daniel were in it, that they indeed should be safe, but that the land should perish, since he had determined to destroy it. Moreover, he described the kind of famine, when he said, when I shall have broken the staff of bread; because, though wheat should be plentiful, and men be prevented from starving, yet they would not be refreshed, since the bread would only burden them. On the whole, God means that famine, even if it arise from natural causes, proceeds from his judgments: for by continual rains the seed rots in the ground, and drought consumes all its juice and substance. Then, if hail devastates the sown fields, the causes of the ensuing famine are manifest. But it is necessary to look higher, because, as we are nourished by God's bounty, so we never suffer poverty unless when he withdraws his hand.

            Let us now come to the next verse. If these three men, the most just of all, had been in the land, they should only free their own souls. The exclusive particle is not expressed, but it is easy to gather the Prophet's sense from the context; as if he had said that God's decree was fixed when he had determined to afflict the land grievously. It is sometimes asked why Noah, Daniel, and Job are named, rather than Abraham, Jacob, or David, or any others. Those who wish to be precise guess various comments; namely, because Noah could not preserve the old world from the deluge, but only his sons an their wives. But this example does not suit: and as to the others, they say that Job did not preserve his own sons, since they were all consumed by the lightning. But the same thing happened to others. Thus Abraham was the common father of the people, and even he could not snatch his posterity from the wrath of God: nay, Jeremiah describes Rachel, though dead, weeping for her children, and refusing consolation because none of them survived. (Jeremiah 31:15.) We see, then, that this is cold. Others say that these three men had experienced three different kinds of life; that Noah, living before the deluge, had seen the horrible devastation of the whole earth, and yet the renovation of the world had followed: they say, also, that Job had flourished in prosperity, and then was deprived of all his goods and his children, and was so defiled by disease and filth as to be rather a carcass than a living man, and yet was restored like a captive from the enemy's hand. Daniel, again, had lived at Jerusalem, had been taken captive, and had lived there in exile; that he at length saw the beginning of the restoration of the people when that sudden change happened, and the Babylonian monarchy passed to the Persians. These things, at the first glance, seem to be clever; but whatever is affected is always cold and tame. Ezekiel here mentions these three men, simply because they first occurred to him. For we must remember that passage of Jeremiah which I quoted yesterday, (Jeremiah 15:1,)where it is said, If Moses and Samuel had stood before me, I should not have listened to them for the safety of the people. A question may arise, why Jeremiah names Moses and Samuel rather than any others? What will these clever speculators say? We see, therefore, that each of these things must not be so scrupulously beaten out, since it is enough to understand the general intention of the Holy Spirit. Three men, then, are placed here, whose holiness was celebrated. Daniel was then living: the others had been dead many ages ago; but the integrity of them all was universally manifest. It is then as if he had said, even if those should come who either are or have been most perfect among men, yet they would avail nothing in interceding for a land already devoted to destruction.

            But the Prophet's saying, they should be saved on account of their own righteousness, seems absurd: for no one can be found whose righteousness can stand before God's tribunal: for if God was to reason with men, every one must be found guilty, as the Scripture also often teaches, and experience most fully convinces us. Here the Prophet seems to extol too much the merit of works, when he attributes the person's freedom to his righteousness. But the solution is easy; namely, this righteousness of which mention is made ought not to be separated from gratuitous pardon, which reconciles men to God, so that their sins are not imputed to them: for as to some saying that they were justified by faith, this does not forward the inquiry; and besides that, it is forced. By their own righteousness shall they free their own souls, that is, say they, by their faith. But when God addresses Noah himself, (Genesis 7:1,) and says that he was found just through his piety, he does not mean that he was endued with faith; this would be nugatory. There is no doubt, then, that he commends sanctity and integrity in his servant; so also in this passage, under the word righteousness or justice, he implies the fear of God, in which all virtues are founded, and chastity and temperance, and whatever belongs to the rule of living holy and justly. But meanwhile this derogates nothing from the righteousness of faith; for the faithful are reckoned just before God, and their works are also reckoned just not by any inherent merit not because they bring any perfection of that kind before God which may conciliate his favor, and in which they can stand; but because God pardons them indulgently through his own paternal clemency, and so approves their righteousness, which otherwise might be deservedly rejected. For example, Pinnehas was thought just when he avenged the reproach of the sanctuary. (Numbers 25:7, 8.) When inflamed with zeal, Pinnehas brought out of the midst the courtezan with her paramour; for this cause, as is said in the Psalm, (Psalm 106:31,) he was reckoned just. But that could not suffice for a man's righteousness, since one special act could not render a man just. Pinnehas, then, could not be reckoned just on that ground; but while his work was pleasing to God, for that reason it was just. But, on a serious inquiry, that work was also condemned as being infected with some fault, and so was not just in itself. But because God pardons his sons, as we have said, hence he accepts their works: so he acknowledges them also as just, and they do not obtain this by either their own worthiness or peculiar merits. For the beginning of the righteousness about which we are now speaking is a gratuitous reconciliation by which all the faults of the faithful are buried: whence it happens also that their integrity, although not perfect, is still pleasing to God. We see, therefore, that these things are easily reconciled; that men are freed by their righteousness, and yet that their temporal safety depends only on the mere pity of God: for when God's gratuitous favor has gone before, hence he seems to acknowledge as true righteousness which was in itself mutilated and but half complete. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:15-16

 

15. If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:

16. Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.

 

15. Si bestiam malam transire fecero per terram, et orbaverit eam, et fuerit vastitas ut nemo transeat propter bestiam.319

16. Tres viri isti in medio ejus, vivo ego, dicit Dominator Iehovah, si filios et filias liberabunt: ipsi soli liberabuntur, et terra erit in vastitatem.

 

            Now he mentions the second kind of punishment. For we said that God's four scourges were here brought before us, which are more familiarly known to men through frequent use. They are hunger and wild beasts, war and pestilence. The Prophet has spoken of famine; he now comes down to wild beasts. This kind of scourge is rarely used in Scripture; for God more frequently mentions the sword, pestilence, and famine; but when he distinctly treats, of his scourges, he adds also savage beasts. Now therefore he says, if he had sent wild beasts to lay waste the land, and Noah, Job, and Daniel, had been in that land, they would be free from the common slaughter, but that their righteousness would not profit others. He expresses a little more clearly what he had spoken briefly and obscurely when he treated of the famine. If, says he, I shall cause an evil beast to pass through and injure the land, so as to lay it waste, that no one may pass through on account of the wild beasts, as I live, says he, if these three men shall free their sons and their daughters. This passage teaches what I lately touched upon about the famine, namely, that the beasts did not break in by chance to attack and rage against men, but that they are sent by God. Thus God follows out his judgments no less by means of lions, and bears, and tigers, than by rain and drought, the sword and the pestilence: and surely this may be understood, if we reflect upon the great savageness of these beasts; first, when hunger arouses them they are carried along by a ravenous impulse; and then, without the compulsion of necessity, they are hostile to the human race, and without doubt they would urge themselves on to tear to pieces all whom they met with, unless restrained by God's secret instinct. If, therefore, God restrains the wild beasts, thus also he sends them forth as often as it pleases him, to exercise their ferocity against mankind, and in this way to become his scourges. But here an oath is interposed that God may inspire confidence in his sentence, so God swears by his own life. This is the meaning of the phrase as I live; that is, I swear by my life. This is indeed spoken improperly, but elsewhere we have seen that God swears by his life; that is, just as if he swore by himself, because he has no greater by whom he can swear, as the Apostle says (Hebrews 6:13); and as often as we swear by the name of God we attribute the supreme power to him, and thus we profess our life to be in his hand, and he to be our only Judge. When, therefore, he swears by himself, he admonishes us at the same time that his name is profaned if we swear by any others: then he shows how much religion is to be exhibited in oaths. Let us follow, therefore, God's example, when our speech needs confirmation, by calling in a witness and judge: next, that we should not use his name rashly and falsely, but that our oath should be truly a testimony to our piety. But here in truth a question arises, How God can say that the land should perish which has been once subjected to wild beasts? For sometimes wild beasts have infected many regions, and God has immediately restrained them, and so their cruelty has passed away like a storm.

            Again, we knew that the prayer of the saints are not superfluous when they pray for others; but God seems here to deny what is clearly manifest. But the solution is easy. For since he does not inflict his judgments equably but variably, and at one time hastens punishments and at another suspends them: at one time punishes men's sins and at another delays doing so, he fixes for himself no sure law by which he is always bound, but he speaks of the land which he has destined to destruction. God therefore will strike one region with famine, another with war, a third with pestilence, a fourth with wild beasts, and yet he can mitigate his own rigor, and when men begin to be terrified, he can withdraw his hand. But if it has been once decreed that any land must perish, all the saints would run together in vain, because no one would be a fit intercessor to abolish that inviolable decree. We now understand the Prophet's intention, for he does not speak generally of any lands whatever, but he points out the very land which was devoted to final destruction. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:17-18

 

17. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:

18. Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.

 

17. Vel gladium transire fecero super terram illam, et dixero gladio, Transi per terram, ut excidatur ex ea homo et jumentum.

18. Et tres viri isti in medio ejus, vivo ego, dicit Dominator Iehovah, non liberabunt filios et filias, quia ipsi soli liberabuntur.

 

            The Prophet now descends to the third kind of punishment. Hence God says, if he send a sword upon a land, he cannot be entreated so as not to consume it utterly, neither will he admit any man's intercession, although the most holy dwell there, namely, Job, Noah, and Daniel. But the phrase used must be marked: if I shall say to the sword, pass through to exterminate and blot out the whole land, or cut off from it, both man and beast, because we here gather the great power of God's secret government. For we think that wars are stirred up at random: and as men are in agitation, so also we imagine war to be nothing but confusion and turbulence. But God governs even wars by his inestimable wisdom, and also men and their swords: men are enraged, their swords fly about in their hands, and they seem to go hither and thither at random by blind impulse. But God here announces that he permits swords to pass through a land, and to destroy both men and cattle. If he had said, after the language used in many places, that he would arm men, it would not have been very wonderful: for everywhere throughout the Prophets he calls the Chaldaeans and Assyrians executors of his judgment. Hence that sentence of Jeremiah, Cursed is he who has done God's work negligently. (Jeremiah 48:10.) But that work of God was the slaughter at Jerusalem. So also Nebuchadnezzar is called God's servant and minister when he laid waste Egypt, and God promises him the reward of his labor. (Ezekiel 29:20.) So here Ezekiel proceeds further, not only that the hands of men are directed as God wishes, but also that their swords listen to his secret command, so that they neither pass by nor strike any man or animal except as far as God pleases. But if God so commands the swords, let us know that whenever men rise up against us, that our patience is exercised and our sins chastised in this way: and that the impious are God's agents: and let us determine that we shall never profit by noise and resistance, since there is but one remedy, to humble ourselves under God's strong hand. Now the fourth kind of punishment follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:19-20

 

19. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:

20. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

 

19. Vel pestem immisero in terram illam, et effudero iracundiam meam super ipsam in sanguine ad perdendum320 ex ea hominem et jumentum.

20. Et Noe, Daniel, et Job in medio ejus, vivo ego, dicit Dominator Iehovah, si filium et filium liberaverint: ipsi in justitia sua liberabunt animam suam.

 

            He now affirms of the fourth kind of punishment, what he has hitherto pronounced of the rest. He says, then, If I shall have sent a pestilence, and have devoted a land to devastation, that Job, Daniel, and Noah, should be safe if they dwelt there: but that their righteousness should not profit even their sons and their daughters. Nay, he seems to speak with greater restriction, since he has substituted the singular number for the plural: for he had just said, they shall not free either sons or daughters. He now says, not even a son or a daughter, that is, they shall not prevail with me by their intercession so much as to save from death even a single son or daughter. We must also remember what I have said, that God does not always act in the way related here: for he has manifold and various methods of carrying out his judgments. Hence it would not be just to impose a law not to liberate any one, and according to his own will either to hear or reject their prayers. But here he only means, that when he has determined to destroy a land, there is no hope of pardon, since even the most holy will not persuade him to desist from his wrath and vengeance. But now the conclusion follows

 

 

Ezekiel 14:21-22

 

21. For thus says the Lord God, How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?

22. Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters; behold, they shall come forth unto you, and you shall see their way and their doings: and you shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.

 

21. Quoniam sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quanto magis cum quatuor judicia mea mala, gladium, et famem, et bestiam malam, et pestem immisero contra Hierusalem ad excidendum ex ea hominem et animal?

22. Et ecce evasio in ea residua,321 evasio egredientium, inquit nempe filii et filiae: ipsi egredientur ad vos: et videbitis vias ipsorum, et opera ipsorum: et consolationem sumetis super malo quod venire fecero super Hierusalem, super omni quod venire fecero super eam.

 

            He now reasons, as we said in the beginning, from the less to the greater. Hitherto he has said, If I shall have sent forth only one weapon to take vengeance upon men, no one will oppose my following out my decree: then he enumerated four weapons, one after another. Now he adds, What then, when I shall have heaped together all punishments, and not only shall have sent pestilence or sword or famine, but as it were when I have four armies prepared and drawn up, and shall command them to attack and destroy mankind, how shall even one person escape? If Job, Daniel, and Noah, cannot snatch away even their sons and daughters from a single scourge, how shall they snatch them from four at once! We see, then, that God here cuts away the false and specious hopes by which the false prophets deluded the miserable exiles when they promised them a return to their country, and daily proclaimed how impossible it was that the sacred city, the earthly dwelling-place of God, could be taken by the enemy, and the religion which God had promised should be eternal could perish. Since, therefore, the false prophets so deceived these miserable exiles, here God shows how greatly they erred while they cherished any hope in their minds; because he had not only held one kind of scourge over Jerusalem, but approached it with a whole heap of them to destroy and cut off both man and beast. This then is the full meaning.

            Now he says, If I shall have sent my four evil judgments. Here God calls his judgments evils, in the sense in which he says in Isaiah, that he creates good and evil, (Isaiah 45:7,) since immediately afterwards he expresses his meaning by saying life and death. Hence what is against us is here called evil, and so this epithet ought to be referred to our perceptions. For our natural common sense dictates that whatever is desirable and useful to us is good: food and life and peace are good, and whatever is conducive to life, and what we naturally wish for, we call good. So also, on the other hand, death and famine are evils: so are nakedness, want, and shame: why so? since we dread whatever is not useful to us; and because we fly from evils as soon as reason dawns. In fine, evil here is not opposed to justice and right, but, as I have said, to men's opinion and our natural senses. He now confirms what we before said, namely, that these are God's judgments when enemies rage against us, pestilence attacks us: poverty assails us, and wild beasts break in upon us. When therefore we suffer under these afflictions, let us learn immediately to descend into ourselves and to discover the cause why God is so angry with us. For if we turn our attention towards the sword, and pestilence, and famine, we are like dogs which gnaw and bite what is thrown at them, and do not regard the hand which threw it, but only vent their rage upon the stone. For such is our stupidity when we complain of famine being injurious to us, wild beasts troublesome, and war horrible. Hence this passage should always be borne in mind that, these are God's evil judgments, that is, scourges by which he chastises our sins, and thus shows himself hostile and opposed to us.

            He now adds, there shall be a remnant in that escape. They explain this verse parenthetically, as if God by way of correction engaged to act more mercifully towards that city, than if he struck any land with only one scourge. They explain it thus: although these four scourges should meet together, yet I will mitigate the rigor of my vengeance, since some shall go out safely, and reach even to you. Almost all agree in this sense; but when I weigh the Prophet's intention more accurately, I cannot subscribe to it: because God seems to me to confirm what he had said before, that he would be a just avenger of wickedness while he treats the Jews so harshly. To discover the most suitable sense, we must consider the condition of the exiles: it was surely worse than if they had been destroyed by a single death for they were dying daily; and at length, when cast out of the sacred land, they were like the dead. Hence that exile was more sorrowful than death, since it was better to be buried in the holy land than among the profane. Since, then, they had been mixed with dog's, it was no life to them to protract a wretched existence amidst constant languor; and if the hope of restoration had been taken away, concerning which we are not now treating, and to which not a single syllable applies, exile was by itself like death. Since, then, the Prophet here says, that some should be left, to escape, he does not mean that they should be safe: hence this is not a mitigation of their punishment. For as we saw before, and especially in Jeremiah, those who died quickly were less to be deplored. (Jeremiah 22:10.) Finally, when the Prophet here says that some should come to Babylon, he does not promise them pardon, as if God was propitious to them, or noticed them favorably; no such thing: for he speaks of the reprobate, and of those who bore on their forehead the manifest sign of their impiety, and show by their whole life that they are abandoned, and most worthy of final destruction.

            For he says, a departure of those who go forth shall come: sons as well as daughters shall come to you, says he, and you shall see their ways and their work: that is, you shall see that the men are so wicked, that their ungodliness shall compel you to confess the city to be worthy of perishing, and the people deserving destruction. For the word consoling, which the Prophet uses immediately afterwards, refers here to the acknowledgment of their wickedness appeasing the minds of those who formerly roared and murmured against God. Neither does he mean that consolation which, according to the common proverb, has many friends; but only the calm acknowledgment of God's just vengeance, in which the ten tribes acquiesced. For before they saw the state in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem were, they thought that God was too severe, and hence their outcry and complaint against God. The Prophet, therefore, now says, that the sight of your wickedness will bring you consolation; for you shall see that it could not be otherwise, and that you deserved such punishment: hence, when you have acknowledged your abandoned wickedness, you will regard my justice with peaceful and tranquil minds; and you will so finish and cease your complaints which now agitate your minds in different directions. The rest, to-morrow.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since you daily exercise thy judgments in all parts of the world, and since many regions are harassed by pestilence and war, that so long as you spare us we may profit by the evils and slaughters of others: Grant, also, if thy scourges reach also unto us, that we may not be obstinate, but may submit ourselves to thy judgment, and being truly humble, may we seek pardon by the serious pursuit of piety, so that we may truly acknowledge thee; and may feel thee to be a propitious Father to us, until at length we enjoy thy love in thy heavenly kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-First.

 

            WE said in yesterday's lecture, when the Lord pronounces that he would have some remnants when destroying Jerusalem, that this is no act of clemency, as if he had relaxed the rigor of his justice. For exile was not preferable to death, as we may collect from the context, since God does not use these words of his elect. For there is no mention of repentance, so that the cause of his vengeance would be conspicuous in their crimes. You shall see, therefore, and shall take comfort: because the exiles who were then in Chaldaea could not subscribe to the judgment of God. But when they saw their brethren of such abandoned morals, the review of their sins availed to their comfort, that is, to appease their minds. He repeats the same in the last verse of the chapter.

 

 

Ezekiel 14:23

 

23. And they shall comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings: and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, says the Lord God.

 

23. Et consolabuntur vos, quia videbitis vias ipsorum et opera ipsorum: et scietis quod non frustra fecerim quaecunque feci in ea, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            He now puts the verb for comforting in the third person, but in the same sense, because after the Jews shall have been led captive, they will bear sure and special marks of God's justice against their sins. This, then, is the consolation, as I explained it yesterday, while the exiles acknowledge that cruelty cannot be ascribed to God, as if he had exceeded moderation in exacting punishment; for the desperate wickedness of the people demanded it. But this passage contains a useful doctrine, since we collect from it that we are never tranquil in our minds unless when the greatest equity and justice appears in God's judgments, and become present to our minds. As long, therefore, as we do not acknowledge God to be severe in just cases, our minds must necessarily be disturbed and disarranged: hence the word "consolation" is opposed to those turbulent thoughts. But since nothing is more miserable than to be distracted and drawn hither and thither, and to be anxiously disturbed, let us learn that those profit most who acquiesce in God's judgments, although they do not perceive the reason of them, yet modestly adore them. But when God shows why he treats either us or others so severely, this is a special favor, since he offers us material for joy and tranquillity. Let us proceed.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 15

 

 

Ezekiel 15:1-5

 

1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

2. Son of man, What is the vine-tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?

3. Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?

4. Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?

5. Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned?

 

1. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,

2. Fili hominis, quid erit322 lignum vitis prae omni arbore rami323 quae est inter arbores sylvae?

3. An sumetur ex eo324 lignum ad formandum, ut sit opus, vel an sument,325 ex eo paxillum, ut suspendatur in eo omne vas?326

4. Ecce in ignem traditur327 ad consumptionem, duas extremitates ejus consumpsit ignis, et medium ejus exustum est,328 an utile erit ad opus?

5. Ecce, cum esset integrum non factum fuit329 ut esset opus: quanto magis postquam ignis consumpsit ipsum et exaruit330 formabitur adhuc ut sit opus?

 

            The Prophet's intention is to humble the foolish confidence of the people, who boasted of the gratuitous kindness of God, as if they were naturally excellent: hence, also, their obstinacy against his threats was so great. For when the prophets reprove them sharply, they boasted against them the remarkable gifts by which they were divinely adorned: as if they had been so armed by God's benefits to resist his power, for we know that they were so blinded. Since, then, that disease had attacked the people, it is not surprising that the prophets in many places refute such folly. But the Prophet here uses a simile to show the Jews that they were not intrinsically but only accidentally excellent, since God had treated them as worthy of remarkable benefits. Since it is so, their arrogance is easily refuted, when they oppose their superiority to God, as if it were peculiar to them, and not God's special gift. But we must understand the simile which Ezekiel uses: what is the vine more than other trees of the woods? It is certain that the vine produces very good fruit, and therefore is preferred to other trees: the very flower of the vine has a most, delicious scent; but the fruit which it produces proves its excellence. For the wood of the vine is without elegance and shapeless: it does not attain to any thickness; it is slender, pliable, and twisted. In looking at a vine, it. seems scarcely worth numbering among shrubs: if compared with trees, it clearly has no value; but in the excellency of trees something is easily acknowledged which surpasses all vines. For when we cast our eyes upon a branching tree, we are struck with admiration, while the vine lies at, our feet. If, therefore, a tree is compared with the wood of the vine, it will be praised for its beauty, while the vine will be despised as a low and insignificant wood. Hence God collects that the Jews were in no respect more excellent than others, unless because they are planted by himself, as he says in many places in Isaiah, O my vine, I have planted thee. (Isaiah 5.) Then in the 80th Psalm: he brought his vine out of Egypt, and planted and propagated it even to the sea, (Psalm 80:9-12; Jeremiah 2:21.)

            Now we understand the Prophet's meaning, namely, that the Jews excelled, indeed, in privileges, but not in nature, nor yet by themselves, but by the gratuitous kindness of God: and if other nations were compared with them, they had greater dignity than the Jews. And we know that other nations flourished in arts and wealth, in population, in warlike valor, and in other respects: the profane nations were like lofty trees which grow up and attract all eyes to themselves. But the Jews were like a vine which, being planted by God's hand, deserved more praise than the trees of the wood which were fruitless. Ezekiel now carries on the comparison at, greater length: if the vine is torn up, can its wood, says he, be fitted to any use? it will not make beams or tables, or any vessels; it will not make a peg or a hook on which to hang a hat or cloak, or anything of the kind. Since, then, the wood of the vine is useless when torn from the soil, and is of no use but for burning, hence the Jews are made acquainted with their condition since their excellence and worthiness depend on the mere good pleasure of God: since, as he planted them, he can pluck them up in a moment; and when they have been torn up, they will be altogether useless, and will be cast into the fire, while trees are of some use. But, the Prophet proceeds another step: if a bundle of twigs were cast into the fire, and the two extreme parts were burnt up, and the middle made dry, that scorched part would be much less useful. For since fire penetrates to the very marrow, wood, which is half consumed, is reduced to powder by the touch alone: He afterwards accommodates what he had said about the vine to the city of Jerusalem; therefore let us go on to the rest of the context.

 

 

Ezekiel 15:6

 

6. Therefore thus says the Lord God, As the vine-tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

 

6. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quemadmodum lignum vitis in ligno sylvae, quod posuli331 in ignem ad consumptionem, sic dedi habitatores Hierusalem.

 

            Here the Prophet shows that the citizens of Jerusalem were cast into a fire, by which they suffered various kinds of death: for although they were not immediately and entirely consumed, yet the extremities were burnt off. For the whole region was laid waste all around, and the kingdom of Israel was entirely cut off: Jerusalem remained like the middle portion of the bundle. But the inhabitants of Jerusalem were so worn down by adversity, that they were like a stick burnt at both ends. Since this was so, we here perceive their great stupidity in persisting in contumacy, although God had humbled them so in various ways. Now, therefore, we understand the meaning of this point. But the words of the Prophet must be explained, what shall be, or what is the wood of the vine compared with other wood? Some translate, with the palm branch; others, with the wild vine; but both of these are foreign to the mind of the Prophet: especially the wild vine cannot have any place here. As far as the palm is concerned, what reference is there to the palm branch in the midst of a wood? for palms are not planted in woods amidst lofty trees. But since the wood, hrwmz, zemoreh, signifies boughs as well as palms, it agrees best with the sense to speak of every tree as branching. What, therefore, is the vine in comparison with every branching tree which is among the trees of the forest? Here the Prophet brings before us fruitless trees, but yet those which attract our notice by their beauty: and so he implies, if the Jews wish to compare themselves with the profane nations, they are not superior in any worthiness or elegance which they have naturally and of themselves. This must be diligently noticed; although God sometimes adopts those who excel in ability and learning, in warlike prowess, in riches, and in power, yet he gathers his Church as much as possible from lowly-born men, in whom no great splendor is refulgent, that they may be objects of wonder to the world. For what end, then, does God do this? for he could fashion his own elect, that they may be completely perfect in every way. But since we are too inclined to pride, it is necessary that our infirmity should always be set before our eyes to teach us modesty. For if nothing in us reminded us of our weakness, our worthiness would blind us, or turn away our eyes from ourselves, or intoxicate us with false glory. Hence God wishes us to be inferior to the profane, that we may learn always to acknowledge as received from him whatever he has gratuitously conferred upon us, and not to arrogate anything to ourselves when our humility is so plainly set before our eyes. But as far as concerns the Jews, they were, as we have said, like a vine, because their excellence was not natural, but external. God had fashioned them, as it were, from nothing; and although they were adorned with many remarkable gifts, yet they could claim nothing from themselves.

            Shall there be taken, says he, any wood from it to fashion it for any work? God here shows that the Jews were deservedly preferred to others, because he had planted them with his hand; for if they had been pulled out of the earth, he shows that the wood would be useless, since it could not be used for any purpose. And Christ uses the same simile (John 15:1-7), when he shows that we have no root in us by nature, nor yet sap or moisture or rigor, since we are a vine planted by our heavenly Father. But if he roots us up, nothing remains for us but to be cast into the fire and utterly burnt. Lastly, God shows that the Jews should be viler than the nations, if he took away from them whatever he gave them; and he admonishes them that their state has no firmness unless through his goodwill towards them. For if the Prophet had only said, that whatever the Jews had they owed to God, and for this reason were bound to his liberality, yet they might still exalt themselves. But it is added in the second place, that they remained safe day by day, as far as God spares them, cherishes, defends, and sustains them. Therefore the Prophet means this when he says, Shall it be taken to form any work from it, or will they take it for a peg to hang any vessels upon it. Behold, says he, it was given for consumption, and its two ends were burnt up. Here, as I said, he points out various calamities by which the Jews were almost struck down, though not subdued. For they were hardened in their obstinacy; and although they were like burnt and rotten wood, yet they boasted themselves to be perfect through their adoption, and through the covenant which God had made with Abraham: they boasted themselves to be a holy race, and a royal priesthood. Yet God reproves their sloth when he says theirs was like burnt wood, when a bundle of twigs has been cast into the fire, and there is some remnant so injured by the smoke as to be deprived of its strength.

            Behold, says he, when it was whole could it be formed into any work! How much less after the fire has consumed it. Here we pursues the same sentiment. If any one should take any part of the bundle after the fire had dried it, could he fit it for any work? If he should take the twig when whole, it would not be fit to receive any shaping: how much less could the burnt wood be used for a peg or anything else. If, then, not even a peg can be found in the entire bundle, when the stem is like an ember through being parched by fire, how can it be turned to any use? Now follows the application: as I have given the wood of the vine among woods, says he: verbally, in the wood of the forest. Hence gather we what I formerly said about the branch, that it agrees with trees and is not put for the wild vine or the palm branch: for he now says, simply, amidst all the wood of the forest. But he says that the wood of the vine was among the wood of the forest not because vines are merely planted there, but this comparison is used: that is, among woods, or even among all the woods of the forest, because these trees are felled, and destined for buildings, or vessels are made from them, and all kinds of wooden furniture, as well as the materials of houses, are taken from trees. He says, therefore, that the wood of the vine is given among the wood, of the forest, that is, among the woods of the forest, since the twigs are burnt, as they cannot be rendered useful to men: so have I given, says he, the citizens of Jerusalem.

            Now after we understand the Prophet's meaning, let us learn that the Holy Spirit so addressed the Jews formerly, that this discourse might profit us in these days. We must perceive, in the first place, that we are superior to the whole world, through God's gratuitous pity: but naturally we have nothing of our own in which to boast. But if we carry ourselves haughtily, through reliance on God's gifts, this arrogance would be sacrilege: for we snatch away from God his own praise, and clothe ourselves, as it were, in his spoils. But Paul, when he speaks of the Jews, shortly, but clearly, defines both sides: Do we excel? says he (for he there makes himself one with the people) Do we excel the Gentiles? says he, (Romans 3:1); by no means: for Scripture denounces us all to be sinners all to be, accursed. Since, therefore, we are children of wrath, he says, there is nothing which we can claim to ourselves over the profane Gentiles. After he has so prostrated all the pride of his own nation, he repeats again What? Are we not superior to others? Yea, we excel in every way. For the adoption, and the worship, and the law of God, and the covenant, confer upon us remarkable superiority, and such as we find nothing like it in the whole world. How do those things agree? That the Jews excel, and are to be preferred to others, and yet that they excel in nothing! namely, since they have nothing in themselves to cause them to despise the Gentiles, or boast themselves superior; hence their excellence is not in themselves but in God. And so, Paul here does not commend their virtues, but says that they excel by gratuitous adoption, because God made his covenant with Abraham, and they were to arise from the holy nations, because he instituted a fixed line of piety among them, in promising himself to be a Father to them; nay, he determined that Christ should spring from them, who is the life and light of the world. We see, then, the former privileges of the Jews: ours is the same in these days. As often as we are favored with God's gifts, by which we approach near him and overcome the world, we ought also to remember what we were before God took us up. Then our origin will prostrate all arrogance, and prevent us from being ungrateful to God. But that is not yet sufficient; but we must come to the second clause, that not only has God's free grace raised us to such a height, but also sustains us; so that our standing is not founded in ourselves, but depends only on his will. Hence not only the remembrance of our origin ought to humble us, but the sense of our infirmity. Whence we gather that we have no perseverance in ourselves unless God daily, nay, momentarily strengthen us, and follow us up with his favor. This is the second point: the third is, if God afflicts or chastises us with his rods, we should know that the foolish confidence by which we deceive ourselves is by this means beaten out of us. Here we ought diligently to weigh the meaning of the phrase the wood of the vine is useless when it is torn up, and especially when dry. For although the profane nations perish, yet it is not surprising if God's judgments are more severe towards the reprobate, who had obtained a place in his Church, and who had been enriched with his spiritual gifts. This ingratitude requires us to become an example to others, so that the whole world may be astonished at beholding in us such dreadful signs of God's anger. Hence the Jews were for a hissing and an abhorrence, an astonishment and a curse to the profane nations. Why so? They had more grievously exasperated God who had acted so liberally towards them, and were not only ungrateful and perfidious, but had purposely provoked him. Thus also it happens to other reprobates. So this clause is to be diligently noticed, when the Prophet says that the wood of the vine is cast into the fire, although trees, when cut down, are still useful either for building or for furniture. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 15:7-8

 

7. And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them: and you shall know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.

8. And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, says the Lord God.

 

7. Et ponam faciem meam in ipsos: ex igni egredientur, et ignis vorabit332 eos: et scietis quod ego Iehovah, cum posuero faciem meam in ipsis.333

8. Et ponam terram in vastitatem, quia transgressi sunt transgressione334 dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            He confirms what had been said in the last verse, and at the same time explains it: as if the citizens of Jerusalem retained some form, because they were not reduced to dust; but the fire had burnt all round them, as if the flame was licking a bundle of twigs. While the royal seat remained to them, the name of a people remained, and hence an opportunity for their obstinacy. For they were not to be subdued, since they were not entirely consumed: and now another madness is added; for as soon as they had escaped from any misfortune, they thought themselves quite safe, "O now we shall rest," said they; if the enemy had departed from the city, or if new forces had not arrived against them, or if provisions failed the enemy's troops, they immediately regained their courage, and not only breathed again, but proudly laughed at God and his prophets, as if they were beyond all danger. For this reason he now says, I have set my face against them. To set, or, if any one prefers it, to establish one's face, is to persist constantly, so as not only to do anything on passing, but to remain there until we have accomplished our intention; so that those are not bad expounders of the Prophet who say, "I have set my face firmly:" they do not translate verbally, but according to God's meaning. For he often chastises a whole nation or city, and yet he does not set his face, that is, he does not stay there, but chastises them lightly, and but for a short time, as if passing in another direction. But he means something else here that he would set his face; that is, never desist until the people's name, as well as their city, was utterly abolished. For we have said that the prophets speak of the present state of the people when they threaten such destruction. I will set my face, therefore, against them: they shall escape from one fire, and another shall devour them. Here the Prophet strikes down that foolish opinion by which the Jews deceived themselves. For if they escaped from one danger, they thought it the last, and hence their security, and even obstinacy. But the Prophet says here, after they had escaped from one fire, that a new fire to consume them was lighted up: he means, that there were different means in God's hand by which he destroys and extinguishes a people: as he had previously said, that he was armed with pestilence and the sword, and famine and wild beasts; so now under the name of fire he comprehends various scourges. If, therefore, men have escaped the sword, a new attack shall inter them, since God will press them with famine, or urge them with pestilence, or in other ways: and then, they shall know, says he, that I am Jehovah, when I shall set my face against it. By these words he signifies that his glory could not otherwise remain safe, since impunity blinded the Jews nay, hardened them till they became like the brutes. If, therefore, God had spared them, his glory would have been as it were buried, and through so long a connivance he had been no longer acknowledged as God. There was a real necessity for so much rigor: since he would never show himself to be God otherwise than by destroying the impious who were so stupefied by their sins as long as he bore with them. At length he adds, I will lay the land waste since they have prevaricated by prevarication. Here, also, God expresses how terrible, yet just, was that judgment, because the Jews were no trifling offenders, but perfidiously departed from his worship, and from the whole teaching of the law, and were obstinate in their ingratitude. Since they were so abandoned, we gather that God was not too severe when he put forth his hand to destroy them utterly.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant. Almighty God, since you have not only deigned to separate us from the common herd of men, but also to renew your image in us: and while thy favors towards us are conspicuous you exhort us at the same time to glorify thy name: Grant that being mindful of our calling we may study to devote ourselves wholly to thee. and so to extol thee by peculiar and true and rightful praises, that we may be at length partakers of the glory to which you invite us, and which has been acquired for us by the blood of your only begotten Son. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-Second

 

CHAPTER 16

 

 

Ezekiel 16:1-3

 

1. Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

2. Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,

3. And say, Thus says the Lord God unto Jerusalem, Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father w, as an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

 

1. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo,

2. Fili hominis, indica335 Hierosolymae suas abominationes,

3. Sic dices, Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah Hierosolymae, habitationes tuae, et natales tui e terra Chanaan: pater tuus Amorrhaeus, mater tua Hithaea, et quae sequuntur.

 

            This chapter contains very severe reproaches against the people of Judea who were left at Jerusalem. For although Ezekiel had been a leader to the Israelites and the Jewish exiles, yet God wished his assistance in profiting others. Hence the office which God had imposed upon his Prophet is now extended to the citizens of Jerusalem, whose abominations he is ordered to make manifest. The manner is afterwards expressed, when God shows the condition of that nation before he embraced it with his favor. But after recounting the benefits by which he had adorned the people, he reproves their ingratitude, and shows in many words, and by different figures, how detestable was their perfidy in revolting: so far from God after he had treated them so liberally. These things will now be treated in their own order. As to Ezekiel's being ordered to lay bare to the Jews their abominations, we gather from this that men are often so blinded by their vices that they do not perceive what is sufficiently evident to every one else. And we know that the people was quite drunk with pride, for they voluntarily blinded themselves by their own flatteries. It is not surprising, then, that God orders them to bring their abominations into the midst, so that they may at length feel themselves to be sinners. And this passage is worthy of notice, since we think those admonitions superfluous until God drags us into the light, and places our sins before our eyes. There is no one, indeed, whose conscience does not reprove him, since God's law is written on the hearts of all, and so we naturally distinguish between good and evil; but if we think how great our stupidity is concealing our faults, we shall not wonder that the prophets uttered this command, to lay open our abominations to ourselves. For not only is that self-knowledge of which I have spoken cold, but also involved in much darkness, so that he who is but partially conscious grows willingly hardened while he indulges himself. Again, we must remember that the Jews were to be argued with in this way, because they pleased themselves with their own superstitions. For the Prophet shows that their chief wickedness consisted in deserting God's law, in prostituting themselves to idols, and in setting up adulterous worship like houses of ill fame; but in this they pleased themselves, as we daily see in the papacy, that under this pretext the foulest idolatries are disguised, since they think themselves to be thereby worshipping God.

            It is not surprising, then, if God here obliquely blames the stupidity and sloth of the Jews when he commands their abominations to be laid open, which are already sufficiently known to all. Afterwards, that God may begin to show how improperly the people were behaving, he recalls them to the first origin or fountain of their race. But we must notice that God speaks differently of the origin of the people. For sometimes he reminds them of Abraham's condition before he had stretched forth his hand and dragged them, as it were, from the lowest regions into life, as it is said in the last chapter of Joshua, (Joshua 24:2, 3,) Thy father Abraham was worshipping idols when God adopted him. But sometimes the beginning is made from the covenant of God, when he chose Abraham with his posterity for himself. But in this passage God takes the time from the period of the small band of men emerging by wonderful increase into a nation, although they had been so wretchedly oppressed in Egypt; for the redemption of the people which immediately followed is called sometimes their nativity. So here God says that the Jews were there born when they increased so incredibly, though when oppressed by the Egyptian tyranny they had scarcely any place among living men. And what he says of Jews applies equally to all the posterity of Abraham: for the condition of the ten tribes was the same as that of Judea. But since the Prophet speaks to a people still surviving, he is silent about what he would have said, if he had been commanded to utter this mandate to the exiles and captives, as well as to the citizens of Jerusalem. Whatever its meaning, God here pronounces that the Jews sprang from the land of Canaan, from an Amorite father, and from a Hittite mother.

            A question arises here When God had adopted Abraham two hundred years previously, why was not that covenant taken into account? for he here seems not to magnify his own faithfulness and the constancy of his promise when he rejects the Jews as sprung from the Canaanites or Amorites; but this only shows what they were in themselves: for although he never departed from his purpose, and his election was never in vain, yet we must hold, as far as the people were concerned, that they are looked upon as profane Gentiles. For we know how they corrupted themselves in Egypt. Since, then, they were so degenerate and so utterly unlike their fathers, it is not surprising if God says that they were sprung from Canaanites and Amorites. For by Hosea he says, that they were all born of a harlot, and that the place of their birth was a house of ill fame. (Hosea 2:4.) This must be understood metaphorically: since here God does not; chide the women who had been false to their husbands, and had borne an adulterous offspring; but he simply means that the Jews were unworthy of being called or reputed Abraham's seed. Why so? for although God remained firm in his covenant, yet if we consider the character of the Jews, they had entirely cut themselves off by their faithlessness. Since, then, they did not differ from the profane Gentiles, they are deservedly rejected with reproach, and are called an offspring of Canaan, as in other places. Now therefore, we understand the intention of the Prophet, or rather of the Holy Spirit. For if God had only said that he would pity that race when reduced to extreme misery, it would not have been subjected to such severe and heavy reproof, as we shall see. Hence God not only relates his kindness towards them, but at the same time shows from what state he had taken the Jews when he first aided them, and what, was their condition when he deigned to draw them out of such great misery. Moreover, since he was at hand to take them up, their redemption was founded on covenant, and so they were led forth, because God had promised Abraham four centuries ago that he would be the liberator of the people. That they should not be ignorant of the favor by which God had bound himself to Abraham, the Prophet meets them, and pronounces them a seed of Canaan, having nothing in common with Abraham, because, as far as they were concerned, according to common usage, God's promise was extinct, and their adoption dead and buried. Since they had acted so perfidiously, they could no longer boast themselves to be Abraham's children. Hence he says, thy habitations, that is, the place of their origin. Jerome translates it "root;" but the word "nativity" suits better, or native soil, or condition of birth in the land of Canaan: and thy father an Amorite and thy mother a Hittite. There were other tribes of Canaan, but two or three kinds are put here for the whole. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:4-5

 

4. And as for thy nativity, in the day you was born thy navel was not cut, neither was you washed in water to supple thee: you was not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

5. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon time; but you was east out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that you was born.

 

4. Et nativitates tuae in die qua nata es tu336 non praecisus fuit umbilicus tuus, aquis non fuisti lota, ad mollitiem337 sale non fuisti salita, et non fuisti involuta fasciis.338

5. Non misertus est super te oculus faciendum tibi unum ex his ad considerandum super te et projecta fuisti in superficie agri, in probrum animae tuae quo die nata es.

 

            Here the Prophet metaphorically describes that most miserable state in which God found the Jews. For we know that scarcely any nation was ever so cruelly and disgracefully oppressed. For when they were all driven to servile labor without reward, the edict went forth that their males should be cut off. (Exodus 1:16, 22.) No species of disgrace was omitted, and their life was worse than a hundred deaths. This, then, is the reason why God says that the Jews were so cast forth on the face of the earth without any supply of the common necessaries of life. He takes these figures from customary usage; for it is usual to cut the navel-string of infants: for the navel affords them nourishment in their mothers' womb, and mother and child would both perish unless a separation took place; and if the navel-string were not tied the child would perish; for all the blood flows through that organ, as the child received its sustenance through it: and this is the midwife's chief care as soon as the child is born, to cut away what must afterwards be restored to its place, and to bind up the part, and to do it, as I have said, with the greatest care, as the infant's life depends upon it.

            But God says, that the navel-string of the Jews is not cut off. Why so? because they were cast, says he, on the surface of the earth; that is, they were deserted and exposed, using but a single word. He now adds, they were not washed with water: for we know how young infants require ablution; and unless it be performed immediately, they will perish. Hence he says, they were not washed with water. He adds, to soften or refresh, or "fettle" them, as the common phrase is; for water softens and smoothes the skin, though others translate it in the sense of causing it to shine: but we understand the Prophet's meaning sufficiently. He afterwards adds, they were not rubbed with salt; for salt is sprinkled on the body of an infant to harden the flesh, while care must be taken not to render it too hard; and this moderate hardness is effected by the sprinkling of salt. The full meaning is, that the Jews at their birth were cast out with such contempt, that they were destitute of the necessary care which life requires. He adds, No eye pitied thee, so as to discharge any of these duties, and to show thee pity: and this is sufficiently evident, since the Israelites would have been destroyed had no one taken compassion on them; for they were in some sense buried in the land of Egypt; for we know how cruel was the conspiracy of the whole land against them. No wonder, then, if God here relates that they were cast upon the surface of the land, so that no eye looked upon them and showed them pity. He adds, they were cast to the loathing of their life. He simply means, that they were so despicable that they had no standing among men; for loathing of life means the same as rejection. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:6

 

6. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in your own blood, I said unto thee, when thou was in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee, when you was in thy blood, Live.

 

6. Et transivi juxta te, et vidi te foedatam339 in sanguinibus tuis: et dixi tibi, in sanguinibus tuis, Vive: et dixi tibi, in sanguinibus tuis, Vive.

 

            I have already explained the time to which the Prophet alludes, when the seed of Abraham began to be tyrannically oppressed by the Egyptians. For God here assumes the character of a traveler when he says that he passed by. For he had said that the Jews and all the Israelites were like a girl cast forth and deserted. Now, therefore, he adds, that this spectacle met him as he passed by: as those who travel cast their eyes on either side, and if anything unusual occurs they attend and consider it; meanwhile God declares that he was taking care of his people. And truly the matter is sufficiently evident, since he seemed to have neglected those wretched ones, while he had wonderfully assisted them. For they might have perished a hundred times a-day, and if he had not taken notice of them, they had not dragged out their life to the end. That celebrated sentence is well known I have seen, I have seen, the affliction of my people. When he sent for Moses and commanded him to liberate the people, he prefaces it in this way, I have seen, I have seen. (Exodus 3:7) Hence he had long ago seen, though he seemed to despise them by shutting his eyes. There is no doubt that the doubling of the word here means that God always watched for the safety of this desperate people, although he did not assist them directly: he now means the same thing when he says, that he passed by: I passed by, then, near thee, and saw thee defiled with blood. That spectacle could not turn away God's eyes; for whatever is contrary to nature excites horror. God therefore here shows how compassionate he was towards the people, because he was not horrified by that disgraceful foulness, when he saw the infant so immersed in its own gore without any shape. As to the following phrase, I said to thee, he does not mean that he spoke openly so that the people heard his voice, but he announces what he had determined concerning the people. The expression, live in thy blood, may indeed be taken contemptuously, as if God had grudged moving his hand, lest the very touch should prove contagious; for we do not willingly touch any putrid gore. The words, live in thy blood, may be thus explained, since at first God did not deign to take care of the people. But it is evident from the context, that God here expresses the secret virtue by which the people was preserved contrary to the common feelings. For if we consider what has been previously said, the people surely had not lived a single day, unless it had received rigor from this voice of God. For if a new-born child is cast out, how can it bear the cold of the night? surely it will instantly expire: and I have already said that death is prepared for infants, unless their navel-string be cut. Since therefore a hundred deaths encompassed the people, they could never have continued alive, had not the secret voice of God sustained them.

            God therefore in commanding them to live, already shows that he was willingly and wonderfully preserving them amidst various kinds of death. As it is said in the 68th psalm, (Psalm 68:20,) "In his hands are the issues of death," so that death is converted into life: since he is the sovereign and lord of both. But this phrase is doubled, since the people were afflicted in Egypt for no short period. But if that tyranny had endured only a few years, they must have been consumed. But their slavery was protracted to many years: whence that remarkable wonder occurred, that their remembrance and their name were not often cut off. We see then that God has reason enough to speak that sentence in which the safety of the people was included, live in thy bloods, live in thy bloods. The fact itself shows the people to have been preserved, since it pleased God. The history which Moses relates in the book of Exodus is a glass in which we may behold the living image of that life of which we have made mention as drawing its whole vigor from the secret good pleasure of God. Now the reason is asked why God did not openly and directly take up his people, and treat them as kindly as he did during their youth? The reason is sufficiently manifest, since if the people had been freed at the very first, the memory of the benefit would have by and by vanished away, and God's power would have been more obscure. For we know that men, unless thoroughly convinced of their own misery, never acknowledge that they have obtained safety through God's pity. The people then thought so to live, as always to have death before their eyes nay, as if they were bound by the chains of death. It lived, then, in bloods, that is, in the tomb, like a carcass remaining in its own putridness, and its life in the meantime lying hid: so it happened to the sons of Abraham. Now then we understand God's intention why he did not raise up the children of Abraham with grandeur from the beginning, but suffered them to drag out a miserable life, and to be steeped in the very pollution of death. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:7

 

7. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and you has increased and waxen great, and you art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and your hair is grown, whereas you was naked and bare.

 

7. Et magnam te feci quasi germen agri:340 et crevisti, et adolevisti,341 et venisti in ornamentum ornamentorum:342 ubera tua aptata sunt,343 et pilus tuus germinavit: tu autem nuda et discooperta eras.

 

            Here what I lately touched upon is now clearly expressed, that the people in their extreme distress were not only safe, but increased by God's singular favor. For if the infant after exposure retains its life, it will still be a weak abortion. Hence God here by this circumstance magnifies his favor, since the people increased as if it had been properly and attentively cared for, and as if no kind office had been omitted. This is the meaning of the words they were increased; for though he looks to the propagation of Abraham's family, yet the simile is to be observed, for the people is compared to a girl exposed in a field from its birth, and their growth took place when God increased them so incredibly, as we know. And surely God's blessing was great when they entered Egypt, 75 in number, and were many thousands when they left it. (Acts 7:14; Exodus 12:37.) For within 250 years, the family of Abraham was so multiplied, that they amounted to 800,000 when God freed them. But since the Prophet speaks metaphorically, when he says the people were increased, and, under the image of a tender girl, until they grew up to a proper age; meanwhile he shows that this was done only by the wonderful counsel and power of God. I placed thee, says he. God claims to himself the praise for this great multiplication, and then strengthens what I have said, namely, that the people's safety was included in that phrase live in bloods: then he says, she came into ornament of ornaments. Here ydo, gnedi, cannot mean any occasional ornament, since it is added directly, thou wast naked and bare. It follows then that it refers to personal comeliness. It means not only that the girl grew in loftiness of stature but in beauty of person. Hence elegance and loveliness are here marked, as the context shows us. Thou camest then to excellent or exquisite beauty, for we know this to be the meaning of the genitive, signifying excellence. He adds at the same time, thy breasts were made ready, for Nwk, kon, means to prepare, to strengthen: but as he is speaking of breasts, I have no doubt that he means them to have swelled as they ought to do. Thy breasts then were fashioned, that is, of the right size, as in marriageable girls. Thy hair also grew long. Finally, the Prophet expresses thus grossly what he could have said more concisely, in consequence of the people's rudeness. Thy hair grew long, whilst thou wast naked and bare; that is, as yet you had no outward ornament, you was like a marriageable girl you had great beauty of person, a noble stature, and all parts of thy body mutually accordant, but you had cause to be ashamed of thy nakedness. And such was the condition of the people since the Egyptians devised everything against them, and conspired by all means for their destruction: we see then how God stretched forth his hand not only for the people's defense, but to carry them forth against the tyranny of Pharaoh and of all Egypt. He points out the time of their redemption as near, because the people had increased and multiplied, just like a girl who had reached her twentieth year. Now it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:8

 

8. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: you, I swear unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, says the Lord God, and you became mine.

 

8. Et transivi juxta te, et vidi te; et ecce tempus tuum tempus amorum: et extendi alam meam344 super te, et texi nuditatem tuam,345 et juravi tibi, et veni in foedus tecum, dicit Dominator Iehovah: et fuisti mea.

 

            God now reproaches the Jews with his kindness towards them, since he had clothed them in splendid ornaments, and yet they afterwards cast themselves into the vilest lusts, as we shall see. But we must remember that the Prophet is now speaking of the time of their liberation. But God says that he passed by again and saw the state of the people, not that he had ever forgotten it. For we know that even when he dissembles and seems to shut his eyes and turn them from us or even to sleep, yet he is always anxious for our safety. And we have already said that there was need of his present power, that the people might prolong their lives, since if he had not breathed life into them, a hundred deaths would have immediately prevailed. But it is sufficiently common and customary to mark an open declaration of help by God's aspect. When God appears so openly to deliver us that it may be comprehended by our senses, then he is said to look down upon us, to rise up, and to turn himself towards us. He passed by, then, near the people, namely, when he called Moses out of the desert and appointed him the minister of his favor, (Exodus 3,) he then saw his people, and proved by their trial that he had not utterly cast them away. I looked, then, and behold thy time, thy time of years. Here God speaks grossly, yet according to the people's comprehension. For he personates a man struck with the beauty of a girl and offering her marriage. But God is not affected as men are, as we well know, so that it is not according to his nature to love as young men do. But such was the people's stupidity, that they could not be usefully taught, unless the Prophet accommodated himself to their grossness. Add also that the people had been by no means lovely, unless God had embraced them by his kindness, so that his love depended on his good pleasure towards them. So by the time of loves, we ought to understand the complete time of their redemption, for God had determined to bring the people out of Egypt when he pleased, and that had been promised to Abraham: after four hundred years I will be their avenger. (Genesis 15:13, 14; Acts 7:6, 7,) We see, then, that the years were previously fixed in which God would redeem the people. He now compares that union to a marriage. Hence if God would bind his people to himself by a marriage, so also he would pledge himself to conjugal fidelity. But I cannot proceed further I must leave the rest till tomorrow.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since from our first origin we have been entirely accursed, so that we were entirely foul and polluted in thy sight, that we may be mindful of our condition, and acknowledge your inestimable pity towards us, since you have deigned to draw us from the lowest estate, and to adopt us among thy children: and may we so desire to spend our whole life in obedience to thee, that we may at length enjoy that blessed glory to which you has called us, and which you have prepared for us in your only-begotten Son. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-Third.

 

            We began yesterday to explain another point of which the Prophet treats, namely, the liberation of the people. For then was the fitting time in which God espoused them to himself. He now adds, that he spread out the skirt of his garment to cover the foulness and disgrace of the people. This spreading comprehends all the virtues which God exercised in freeing his people. For he then delivered them from all reproaches by which they were shamefully and disgracefully treated in Egypt. Some think that it was a nuptial rite for a spouse or husband to cover the bride with his garment, but this is only a conjecture. Hence I simply interpret it, the border of the garment was spread out, when God vindicated his people from the reproaches by which they had been deformed. He afterwards adds, and I have sworn to thee, and come into covenant with thee. There is no doubt that this thought to be referred to the promulgation of the law. For although God had long ago made a covenant with Abraham, and the adoption of the people was founded upon it, yet that favor on the people's part had almost vanished away, as I yesterday said; hence God pronounces that he had, as it were, adopted the people afresh. It was like the renewal of the covenant, when God bound the people to himself by a fixed law, and prescribed a fixed method of worship. These, then, were the accustomed marriage rites. But God deservedly announces that he had come into covenant, because he then coupled the people to himself; whence also that eulogy of Moses What nation is so illustrious under heaven, which has God so near them, as thy God approaches unto thee? You shall be to me a kingdom of priests; you shall be my inheritance. (Deuteronomy 4:7; Exodus 19:6.) We should remark the word swear as emphatic, for God increases his indulgence when he says that he swore. If we think of the majesty of God, and of what his people was, this is surely incredible, that God should deign to descend so far as to swear like men accustomed to pledge their faith, and to sanction it by an oath. Now, therefore, we see the singular benefit expressed here with which God adorned his people, when, at the giving of the law, he chose them as his own, and appointed them to be a kingdom of priests. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:9

 

9. Then washed I thee with water; you, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.

 

9. Et lavi te aquis, et mundavi346 sanguines tuos abs te347 et unxi te oleo.

 

            Here God more clearly explains what had been formerly touched upon, namely, that he then married the people, as a young man marries his bride. But he here states that he endowed her; for they would not have been sufficiently adopted by God unless they had been adorned with superior presents; since if they had been left in that miserable slavery by which they were oppressed, God's favor would have been very obscure. Now, therefore, God means, that by his law he had entered into a new covenant with his people, so that he did not leave them naked and bare, but clothed with remarkable gifts. First of all, he says, I washed thee with water. Although he had just said that the people were like a beautiful damsel, and had praised their beauty, yet the filth of which the prophet had spoken yet remained: it ought, therefore, to be cleansed from those stains: I have cleansed thee with water, says he, and washed off thy bloods, namely, the corrupt blood which the damsel whom Ezekiel mentions had retained from her birth. Lastly, Ezekiel says that God performed those offices which the nurse discharges for the child. Afterwards he adds

 

 

Ezekiel 16:10-13

 

10. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.

11. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.

12. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.

13. Thus was you decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; you did eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and you was exceeding beautiful, and you did prosper into a kingdom.

 

10. Et vestivi te Phrygionica veste,348 et calceavi te taxo,349 et cinxi te bysso, et operui te serico.

11. Et ornavi te ornatu, et posui armillas in manibus tuis, et torquem in collo tuo.

12. Et posui circulum super faciem tuam,350 et inaures super aures tuas, et coronam decoris in capite tuo.351

13. Et ornata fuisti auro et argento, et vestitus tuus byssus, et sericum352 et variegatus:353 similam, et mel, et oleum comedisti, et pulchra fuisti in valde valde,354 et prospere355 progressa es usque ad regnum.

 

            Here the Prophet, in a metaphor, relates other benefits of God by which he liberally adorned his people; for we know that nothing has been omitted in God's pouring forth the riches of his goodness on the people. And as to the explanations which some give of these female ornaments allegorically, I do not approve of it, as they fruitlessly conjecture many trifles which are at variance with each other. First of all, their conjectures may be refuted by the Prophet's words: then, if we suffer the Prophet's words to be turned and twisted, what these allegorical interpreters chatter with each other is entirely contrary in their meaning. Let us, therefore, be content with the genuine sense, that God was so generous towards the Israelites that he poured forth all his blessings in enriching them. Now, if one asks how the people were adorned? I answer, in two ways first, God embraced them with his favor, and promised to be their God, and this was their chief honor; as Moses says they were naked, and their shame was discovered when they set up an idol in the place of God. He now adds a second kind of blessing, when God took care of them in the desert: he appeared by day in a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire: the water flowed for them from the rock; daily food was given them from heaven, as if God with his own hands had placed it within their mouths: then in his strength they conquered their enemies, and entered the promised land; while he slew the nations for them, and gave them quiet possession and dominion there: then he blessed the land, so that it nourished them abundantly, and made it testify that it was no vain promise that the land should flow with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:21, 22; Exodus 16:15,16; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 22:25; Numbers 20:11.) Ezekiel includes all these things under necklaces, bracelets, gold, silver, linen garments, broidered work, etc. As to the particular words I will not, accurately insist, unless I shortly touch on a point or two which may occasion doubt.

            When he says that he clothed them, hmqr, rekmeh, this is in accordance with eastern customs: for they were accustomed to use clothing of different colors; as Benjamin wore a dress of this kind when he was a boy; and this was no royal splendor on his father's part, who was a shepherd, but simply the usual custom. At this day, indeed, if any one among us wore a party colored garment, it would not be manly: nay, women who desire such variety in colors show themselves to have cast off all modesty. But among the Orientals, as I have said, this was the usual kind of dress. He afterwards adds, I shod thee with badgers' skin. I know not why Jerome translates it violet-colored, and others hyacinth: it is sufficiently clear that it was a precious kind of skin. The word is often used by Moses when treating of the tabernacle; for the coverings were of violet-colored skin, and the whole tabernacle was covered with them. The badger was an animal unknown to us: but since he is here treating of shoes, there is no doubt that the skin was more elegant, and more highly esteemed by God. (Exodus 35:23; 36:19.) Afterwards he adds, I bound thee with fine linen. We know that linen garments were in more frequent use among that people than in Greece or in Italy, or in these parts: for linen was rarely used by the Romans even in their greatest luxury; but in the East they wore linen, as that region is very warm. But we know that linen is very fine, and that they were accustomed to weave transparent veils. Now this clothing was commonly worn by men in the East, though it is by no means manly: nay, in women it is scarcely tolerable. But the priests afterwards adopted the custom, and clothed themselves in linen while performing sacred rites. The Papal priests too apes in all things have imitated the custom; and although they do not wear fine linen, yet use linen robes, which they call surplices.

            He now adds, and I covered thee with silk, or silken garments, or silk cloth. He adds, that he placed bracelets upon the hands: barbarians call them armlets. This luxury was spread abroad almost everywhere; but the circular ornament which the Prophet adds to it was rejected by other nations. He puts a chain round the neck: chains were in common use as they are this day: nay, to necklaces were added looser chains double, threefold, and fourfold; for this fault was too common. And what he afterwards adds of the ring was left to the Orientals, for they had jewels hanging from their nostrils: and I wonder why interpreters put earrings here, and then instead of earrings put nose-rings. But the Prophet here means a ring, whence a jewel was hung from the nose; and this with us is ridiculous and deforming: but in those barbarous regions both men and women have gems hanging from both their noses and ears. He adds, a crown on thy head. He does not mean a diadem or crown as a sign of royalty, but an ornament sufficiently common.

            If any one makes any inquiry about these various kinds of dresses, whether it was lawful for women to use so many ornaments, the answer is easy, that the Prophet here does not approve of what he relates, but uses a common image. We said that his only intention was to show that God could not have treated his people more freely; since in every way he had unfolded the incomparable treasures of his beneficence in adorning the Israelites. He now describes this in a metaphor, and under figures taken from the common practice everywhere received. It does not follow, therefore, that women ought to adorn themselves in this way. For we know that superfluous ornaments are temptations; and we know also the vanity of women, and their ambition to show themselves off, as the saying is: and we see how sharply this eager desire of women is blamed, especially by Isaiah. (Isaiah 3.) But it is sufficient to elicit what God wished to teach by these figures, namely, that he had not omitted any kind of liberality. Whence it follows, that the people's ingratitude was the less excusable, as Ezekiel will immediately add. But before we proceed further, we must turn this instruction to our use. What has hitherto been said of the Israelites does not suit us, I confess, in all things: but yet there is some likeness between us and them. If we reflect upon our origin, we are all born children of wrath, all cursed, all Satan's bondsmen, (Ephesians 2:3;) and although many have been well brought up, yet as to our spiritual state we are like infant children or the new-born babe, exposed and immersed in its own filth and corruption. For what can be found in man before his renewal but the curse of God? Hence we are such slaves of Satan, that God hates us, as it is said in Genesis, (Genesis 6:7,) I repent of having formed man; where he does not acknowledge his image in us, which is not only defiled by original sin, but is all but extinct, surely this is the height of deformity: and though we do not perceive what is said by our senses, yet we are sufficiently detestable before God and the angels. We have no cause, then, to please ourselves; nay, if we open our eyes, the foulness which I have mentioned will be sufficiently clear to us. Meanwhile, God so aided us that he truly fulfilled what Ezekiel relates. For although we were not freed from any external tyranny, yet God espoused us: then he adopted us into his Church: this was our greatest honor; this was more than royal dignity. We see, then, that this instruction is useful for us also at this time, if we only consider in what we are like the ancient people. I had almost omitted one point the nourishment. God here not only reminds them that he had adorned the people with various kinds of clothing, and necklaces, and gems, and silver; but he adds also, you did eat fine flour, or fine meal, and honey and oil, and you was very beautiful, and proceeded prosperously, even to a kingdom. Here God again commends and extols his beneficence, because he not only clothed sumptuously his spouse of whom he speaks, but also fed her plentifully with the best, and sweetest, and most delicate food. He puts only three species: he makes no mention of will or flesh; but by fine flour he means that they lacked no delicacy: the oil and honey mean the same thing. This clause points out an accumulation of grace when he says that they progressed happily even to a kingdom: all God's benefits could not be recounted: he says that his bride was not only magnificently clothed and delicately brought up, but that she proceeded even to the royal dignity. In the next verse he still reminds them of his benefits.

 

 

Ezekiel 16:14

 

14. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, says the Lord God.

 

14. Et egressum tibi fuit nomen in gentibus in pulchritudine tua:356 quia perfecta fuisti in decore quem posueram super te, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here the Prophet still continues to recite those blessings of God by which he had bound the people to himself. As to his saying, that its name had gone forth, it cannot be restricted to a short period; but it embraces a continued series of God's favors until the people reached the highest point of happiness; and this happened under David. There is no doubt that God here means that he was so continually liberal towards the people that their fame became celebrated, for the name of the Israelites were spread far and wide; and God deservedly recounts their nobility or celebrity of fame among his benefits: hence he adds, on account of the beauty or elegance which I have placed upon thee, says he; because you was perfect through the ornament which I had placed upon thee. Here, therefore, God signifies that the people had not earned their fame by their own virtue, nor were they noble through their own native excellence, so to speak; but rather by ornament bestowed upon them. You, therefore, was of great name among the nations, said he. But wherein was that nobility and excellence? Certainly from my gifts. For nothing was accomplished by thyself so to arrive at a name and dignity more than royal. Through that ornament thy fame was spread abroad among the nations. But this enlargement must be noticed, since the people had not only experienced God's goodness in that corner of Judea, but, when they ought to be content with their lot, were held in admiration and repute among foreigners. Now follows the reproof

 

 

Ezekiel 16:15

 

15. But you did trust in your own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by: his it was.

 

15. Et confisa es in pulchritudine tua, et fornicata es pro nomine tuo,357 et effudisti fornicationes tuas ad omnem transeuntem;358 illius fuit.

 

            Here God begins to expostulate with his people; and with this view relates all the benefits which for a long time he had bestowed upon the Israelites, and especially upon the tribe of Judea. The Prophet now addresses them. Nothing was more unworthy or preposterous than for the Jews to be proud through the pretext of God's gifts. But this vice has always been rife in the world, as it is now too prevalent, and especially among handsome women; for, though beauty is God's gift, nine women out of ten who possess it are proud, and fond of men, and unite lust with elegance of form. This is quite unworthy of them; but it was customary in all ages, as it is this day: for we recognize the same in men; for as each excels in anything, so he arrogates to himself more than he ought, when he exults against God, and is reproachful towards others. If any one abounds in riches, he immediately gives himself to luxury and empty pomp; and others abuse them to various perverse, and even corrupt uses. If any one is endowed with ability, he turns his acuteness to cunning and fraud; then he plans many devices, as if he wished to mingle earth and heaven. Thus almost all men profane God's gifts. But here the Prophet shows the fountain of this pride, when he says that the Jews trusted in their own beauty: for if modesty flourished in us, it would certainly suffice for restraining all insolence; but when that restraint has been once thrown off, there is no moderation before either God or man. This passage, then, is worthy of observation, where God reproves his ancient people for trusting in their beauty: because the figure signifies that they drew their material for pride from the gifts which ought rather to lead them to piety; for the gifts which we receive from God's hand ought to be invitations to gratitude: but we are puffed up by pride; and luxury, so that we profane God's gifts, in which his glory ought to shine forth. We must also observe that God has thus far recited his benefits, that the people's ingratitude may appear more detestable: for God gives all things abundantly, and upbraids not, as James says, (James 1:5;) that is, if we acknowledge that we owe all things to him, and thus devote and consecrate ourselves in obedience to his glory, with the blessings which he has bestowed upon us. But when God sees us impiously burying and profaning his gifts, and, through trusting in them, growing insolent, it is not surprising if he reproves us beyond what is customary. Hence we see that God assumes as it were another character, when he expostulates with us concerning our ingratitude; because he willingly acknowledges his gifts in us, and receives them as if they were our own; as we call that bread ours by which he nourishes us, although it is compelled to change its nature as far as we are concerned. It always remains the same in itself; but I speak of external form. God therefore, as it were, transfigures himself, so as to reprove his own gifts, conferred for the purpose of our glorying only in him. (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13.)

            God afterwards says, that the people had played the harlot according to their renown. I have no doubt that the Prophet alludes to famous harlots who excel in beauty, and interpreters have not observed this sufficiently; for they do not explain anything by saying, you have committed fornication in thy name: for as many lovers flow from all sides in troops towards a famous harlot, so the Prophet says the Jews were like her; and since they were universally noted, they were exposed to promiscuous lust, and attracted lovers to themselves. Here the Prophet condemns two kinds of fornication in the Jews; one consisting in superstitions and in the multiplication of idols, the other in perverse and unlawful treaties: and we know this to be the worst kind of fornication, when God's worship is vitiated; for this is our spiritual chastity, if we worship God purely according to the prescription of his teaching, if we do not bend to either the right or the left from his commands: so on the other hand, as soon as we pass the goal fixed by him, we wander like impure harlots, and all our superstitions are so many acts of defilement. The Prophet begins with the former kind, when he says that the Jews had committed fornication, namely, with their idols. But before he comes to that, he shows that their lust had been insatiable, since they had so eagerly and ardently approached their various idols, just as a harlot burns with unsatisfied desire, and is carried hither and thither, and must have a number of men; so the Prophet here says that the Jews committed fornication, not with one or two only, but with whomsoever they met; and this was occasioned by that favor of which we formerly spoke. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:16

 

16. And of thy garments you did take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colors, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.

 

16. Et sumpsisti e vestibus tuis, et fecisti tibi excelsa conspersa maculis,359 et scortata es cum illis: non venientes:360 deinde et non erit.

 

            He says that the Jews erected houses of ill fame for themselves; and the language is mixed, because the Prophet, expresses simply the kind of harlotry of which he is speaking, and yet in the meantime mingles another figure; for he says that they took garments and made themselves altars. No doubt he compares the high places to tents, just as if a harlot wished to attract a number of eyes to herself, and, through desire of a crowd, should place her standard on a lofty place. So also the Prophet says that the Jews, when they gave themselves up to fornication, made high places for themselves. When he says high places with different colors, some refer this to ornaments; yet it may be taken in a bad sense, since those high places were stained, so that they could be distinguished from chase and modest dwellings; as if he had said, If you had been a modest woman, you had remained in retirement at home, as honest matrons do, and you would not have done anything to attract men to thee; but you has erected thy high places, like conspicuous houses of ill fame, as if a female, forgetful of modesty and delicacy, should set up a sign, and show her house to be open to all, and especially to her own adulterers. It seems to me that the Prophet intends this; for when he adds, that they committed fornication with them, he means doubtless with their lovers, and all besides; but this is not the sense of the words twalf twmb, bemoth telaoth. Now, at the end of the verse, where he says, they do not come, and it shall not be, some explain this part as if the Prophet had said that there was no instance like it in former ages, and there should be none such hereafter. In this way they understand that the insane lust of the people is condemned, as if it were a prodigy, such as was never seen, nor yet to be expected. Others say, that such was the multitude of high places, that nothing was ever like it; because, although the Gentiles built idols, and temples, and altars everywhere, yet the Prophet says that the madness and fury of the people surpassed the intemperance of the Gentiles: this is indeed to the purpose. Meanwhile, as to the general scope, it is not of much consequence; as in the former verse, where he said it shall be theirs, some understand appetite or desire. But I interpret it more simply that she was exposed to every passer-by, and that it was in his power to engage her. The sense does not seem to me doubtful, because the Jews were so cast out, that no liberty remained to them, as when a woman becomes abandoned, she is the slave of all, and all use her disgracefully after that, since she is no longer her own mistress. Ezekiel now reproves the Jews for the same vice.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, that we may diligently consider in how many ways we are bound to thee, and may deservedly magnify thy fatherly indulgence towards us, so that in return we may desire to devote ourselves to thee: Grant also, that as you have adorned us with thy glory, we may endeavor to glorify thy name, until at length we arrive at the enjoyment of that eternal glory which you have prepared for us in heaven by Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-Fourth.

 

Ezekiel 16:17

 

17. You has also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and made to thyself images of men, and did commit whoredom with them.

 

17. Et sumpsisti vasa pulchritudinis tuae ex auro meo et ex argento meo quae dederam tibi: et fecisti tibi imagines masculi,361 et scortata es cum illis.

 

            THE Prophet reproves them because they used silver and gold in making idols for themselves. He not only condemns idolatry, but ingratitude, since they turned to God's dishonor the gifts which he had bestowed. First, the profanation of his gifts was base; besides this, they had rashly and purposely abused his liberality to his dishonor, and that was not to be endured. He reproves at the same time their blind intemperance, since they willingly gave themselves up to licentiousness, and buried themselves in their superstitions. But he does not say that they simply took gold and silver, but vessels of elegance or beauty of gold and silver. Whence it appears that they were blinded by furious lusts, as we have seen. He still pursues the simile of fornication, when he calls these manufactured deities images of males; and it seems obliquely to mark the excess of lust in having to do with shadows; by which he means that they were hurried away about nothing by their unbridled appetites, just as a woman feeds her passion by the mere picture of her paramour. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:18-19

 

18. And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and you has set mine oil and mine intense before them.

19. My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, you has even set it before them for a sweet savor: and thus it was, says the Lord God.

 

18. Et tulisti362 vestes tuas discolores,363 et operuisti eos364 et oleum meum, et suffitum meum dedisti coram ipsis.365

19. Et. panem meum quem dederam tibi, similam, et oleum, et mel quibus te cibaveram366 etiam dedisti coram ipsis in odorem quietis: et ita fuit, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

 

            Here God complains that the Jews turned their abundance of all things to perverse worship: for, as a husband who indulges his wife freely supplies all her wants, so a woman who is immodest was what she has received from her husband, and bestows it on adulterers; so also the Jews were prodigal in the worship of idols, and wasted upon them the blessings which God had bestowed upon them. Ezekiel, therefore, now follows up this sentiment. He says that they took those variegated garments, of which we spoke yesterday, and covered their idols; just as if an adulteress were to clothe her paramours in the very garments which she had received from her husband's liberality: you have covered them, he says. He afterwards adds, you have offered my oil and incense. Here he speaks more clearly, although he does not depart far from the figure, for they were accustomed to use oil in sacrifices; and incense was used by all nations when they wished to propitiate their deities. There is no doubt that the unbelievers imitated the holy fathers, but sinfully, because they did not consider the right end. We know that the fathers used oil in their sacrifices, (Leviticus 2:1, and often elsewhere;) we know that incense was prescribed by God's law, and it was used promiscuously by all the nations, but without reason and judgment. So now God complains that they made incense of his herbs, and an offering of the oil which he had bestowed upon the Jews. He then adds the same of bread, and fine flour, oil, and honey. We said yesterday that by these words ample and delicate food was intended; for by the figure, a part for the whole, fine flour comprehends the best and sweetest bread, as well as other viands. Oil and honey are added. It is then just as if the Prophet had said that the Jews overflowed with all luxuries, yet consumed them badly. But this was a mockery not. to be borne, when the Jews, after being enriched by God's beneficence, rashly threw it all away, and not only so, but adorned their false gods to the dishonor of God himself, when they ought to have offered to him what they wasted upon idols. For this reason he calls it his own bread, and explains the passage in this sense, that the Jews could neither ascribe to themselves the abundance of their possessions, nor boast in the fruitfulness of the soil; for all these things flowed from the mere benevolence of God. This ingratitude, then, was too foul to bestow upon idols what God had given for a far different purpose. I, says he, have fed thee. He shows the legitimate use of such manifold abundance. Since they abounded in wheat, whence they obtained fine flour, and were stuffed full of other delicacies, they thought to be elevated towards God, and to exercise themselves in the duties of gratitude; but they abused that abundance in adorning false deities.

            You have offered it to them, therefore, for a savor of peace. Rest no doubt signifies appeasing here, as frequently with Moses, though others translate "for an odor of sweetness;" but they do not sufficiently express the meaning of Moses; for he means that when God is appeased there is peace between himself and men. (Leviticus 3:9, 13, 17, and often.) There is no doubt that "the odor of quiet" signifies a just expiation, by which God is appeased, so that he receives men into favor. This is everywhere said of the sacrifices of the law, since there was no other means by which men could be reconciled to God, unless by offering sacrifices according to his command. Now the Prophet transfers this ironically to their impious worship, when he says that they offered to idols all the delicacies by which God nourishes his people. To what purpose? for a sweet savor; that is, that they may be propitious to you. But it was ridiculous to wish to appease gods of stone and wood and silver. We see then how Ezekiel reproves the people's folly, when he says, that they offered both fine flour and other things to their idols to reconcile themselves to them. Now the crime is increased since the Jews did not recognize that singular blessing of being so reconciled to God, that he no longer imputed their sins to them. Woe indeed to us if we are destitute of this remedy! because we constantly commit various faults, and are thus subject to God's judgments. Unless, then, God receives us into favor, we see that nothing can be more miserable for us. But he has prescribed a fixed and easy rule by which he will be appeased, namely, by sacrifices I am speaking of the fathers who lived under the law: for we know that we of this day must flee to the only sacrifice of Christ, which the sacrifices of the law shadowed forth. Since, therefore, the Jews could return to God's favor, and bury all their sins, and redeem themselves from the curse, how great was their madness in willingly depriving themselves of so inestimable a boon! Hence the Prophet now rebukes this folly, when he says that they propitiated their idols that they might appease them. He concludes at length, and it was so, says the Lord Jehovah. Here God takes away all occasion for their turning aside, when he says it was so; for we know that men always have various pretenses by which they lay the blame on some other parties, or soften it off, or cover it with some disguise. But God here says that there is no occasion for dispute, since the matter is perfectly plain. We see, then, that this word is used emphatically, when he says I am the Lord; for, if Ezekiel had announced it, they would not have listened to him; but God himself comes before them, and cuts off all excuses from the Jews. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:20

 

20. Moreover, you has taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom you has born unto me, and these has you sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter?

 

20. Et sumpsisti filios tuos, et filias tuas quos genueras mihi: et jugulasti eos367 ad comedendum:368 an parum a scortationibus tuis?

 

            Here God blames them for another crime, that of sacrificing their offspring to idols. This was a very blind superstition, by which parents put off the sense of humanity. It is indeed a detestable prodigy when a father rejects his children, and has no regard or respect for them. Even philosophers place among the principles of nature those affections which they call natural affections.369 When, therefore, the affection of a father towards his children ceases, which is naturally implanted in all our hearts, then a man becomes a monster indeed. But not only did an inconsiderate fury seize upon the Jews, but, by slaying their own offspring, they thought that they obeyed God, as at this day the Papists are content with the name of good intentions, and do not think that any offering can be rejected if it be only daubed over with the title of either good intention or zeal for good. Such also was the confidence of the Jews; but, as I have said, we see that they were seized with a diabolic fury when they slew their sons and daughters. Abraham prepared to offer his son to God, but he had a clear command. (Genesis 22:9, 10, and Hebrews 11:19.)

            Then we know that his obedience was founded on faith, because he was certainly persuaded, as the Apostle says, that a new offspring could spring up from the ashes of his son. Since, therefore, he extols the power of God as equal to this effect, he did not hesitate to slay his son. But since these wretches slew their sons without a command, they must be deservedly condemned for prodigious madness. The Prophet therefore now brings this crime before us: that they had taken, their sons and their daughters, and slew them to idols. He now adds, to consume them, since it is probable, and may be collected from various passages, that the sons were not always slain, but there were two kinds of offerings.370 Sometimes they either slew their sons or cast them alive into the fire and burnt them as victims. Sometimes they carried them round and passed them through the fire, so that they received them safe again. But God here shows that he treats of that barbarous and cruel offering, since they did not spare their sons.

            In this sense he adds, that they slew their sons to eat them up, or consume them. But another exaggeration of their crime is mentioned, when God expostulates concerning the insult offered: thou, says he, hath slain thy sons and daughters, but they are mine also, for you barest them to me. Here God places himself in the position of a parent, because he had adopted the people as his own: the body of the people was as it were his spouse or wife. All their offspring were his sons, since, if God's treaty with the people was a marriage, all who sprung from the people ought to be esteemed his children. God therefore calls those his sons who were thus slain, just as if a husband should reproach his wife with depriving him of their common children. God therefore not only blames their cruelty and superstition, but adds also that he was deprived of his children. But this, as is well known, is a most atrocious kind of injury. For who does not prefer his own blood to either fields, or merchandise, or money? As children are more precious than all goods, so a father is more grievously injured if children are taken away, as God here pronounces that he had done: you had born them unto me, says he. Hence sacrilege was added to idolatry when you did deprive me of them. He will soon call them again his own in the same sense. A question arises here, how God reckons among his sons those who were complete strangers to him? He had said in the beginning of the chapter (Ezekiel 1:3) that the people derived their origin from the Amorites and Hittites, since they had declined from the piety of Abraham and the other fathers. Since then the Jews were cast off while they were in Egypt, and after that had been such breakers of the covenant as the Prophet had thus far shown, were they not aliens? Yes; but God here regards his covenant, which was inviolable and could not be rendered void by man's perfidy. The Jews, then, of whom the Prophet now speaks, could no longer bear children to God: for he said that the body of the people was like a foul harlot, who walks about and turns round and seeks vague and promiscuous meetings. Since it was so, the children whom such idolaters bore were spurious, instead of being worthy of such honor that God should call them his sons: this is true with respect to them, but as concerns the covenant, they are called sons of God. And this is worthy of observation, because in the Papacy such declension has grown up through many ages, that they have altogether denied God. Hence they have no connection with him, because they have corrupted his whole worship by their sacrilege, and their religion is vitiated in so many ways, that it differs in nothing from the corruption's of the heathen. And yet it is certain that a portion of God's covenant remains among them, because although they have cut themselves off from God and altogether abandoned him by their perfidy, yet God remains faithful. (Romans 3:3, 4.) Paul, when he speaks of the Jews, shows that God's covenant with them is not abolished, although the greater part of the people had utterly abandoned God. So also it must be said of the papists, since it was not in their power to blot out God's covenant entirely, although with regard to themselves, as I have said, they are without it; and show by their obstinacy that they are the sworn enemies of God. Hence it arises, that our baptism does not need renewal, because although the Devil has long reigned in the papacy, yet he could not altogether extinguish God's grace: nay, a Church is among them; for otherwise Paul's prophecy would have been false, when he says that Antichrist was seated in the temple of God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4.) If in the papacy there had been only Satan's dungeon or brothel, and no form of a Church had remained in it, this had been a proof that Antichrist did not sit in the temple of God. But this, as I have said, exaggerates their crime, and is very far from enabling them to erect their crests as they do. For when they thunder out with full cheeks "We are the Church of God," or, "The seat of the Church is with us," the solution is easy; the Church is indeed among them, that is, God has his Church there, but hidden and wonderfully preserved: but it does not follow that they are worthy of any honor; nay, they are more detestable, because they ought to bear sons and daughters to God: but they bear them for the Devil and for idols, as this passage teaches. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:21

 

21. That you has slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?

 

21. Et maetasti filios meos, et posuisti eos ut transirent illis.371

 

            He strengthens the same sentence, and more clearly explains that they offered their sons and daughters by cruelly sacrificing them when they passed them through the fire. This was a kind of purifying, as we have seen elsewhere. When, therefore, they passed their children through the fire, it was a rite of illustration and expiation; and they brought them to the fire, as I have lately explained, in two different ways. Here the Prophet speaks especially of that cruel and brutal offering. We have already mentioned the sense in which God claims a right in the sons of his people, not as members of the Church properly speaking, but as adopted by God. And here again we must hold what Paul says, that all the progeny of Abraham were not lawful sons, since a difference must be made between sons of the flesh and sons of promise. (Romans 9:7, 8.) This is as yet partially obscure, but it may be shortly explained. We may remark that there was a twofold election of God: since speaking generally, he chose the whole family of Abraham. For circumcision was common to all, being the symbol and seal of adoption: since when God wished all the sons of Abraham to be circumcised from the least to the greatest, he at the same time chose them as his sons: this was one kind of adoption or election. But the other was secret, because God took to himself out of that multitude those whom he wished: and these are sons of promise, these are remnants of gratuitous favor, as Paul says. (Romans 11:8.) This distinction, therefore, now takes away all doubt, since the Prophet speaks of the unbelievers and the profane who had departed from the worship of God. For this their unbelief was a complete abdication. It is true, then, that as far as themselves were concerned, they were strangers, and so God's secret election did not flourish in them, but yet they were God's people, as far as relates to external profession. If any one objects that this circumcision was useless, and hence their election without the slightest effect, the answer is at hand: God by his singular kindness honored those miserable ones by opening a way of approach for them to the hope of life and salvation by the outward testimonies of adoption. Then as to their being at the same time strangers, that happened through their own fault. Hence we may shortly hold, that the Jews were naturally accursed through being Adam's seed: but by supernatural and singular privilege, they were exempt and free from the curse: since circumcision was a testimony of the adoption by which God had consecrated them to himself: hence they were holy; and as to their being impure, it could not, as we have said, abolish God's covenant. The same thing ought at this time to prevail in the Papacy. For we are all born under the curse: and yet God acknowledges supernaturally as his sons all who spring from the faithful, not only in the first or second degree, but even to a thousand generations. And so Paul says that the children of the faithful are holy, since baptism does not lose its efficacy, and the adoption of God remains fixed, (1 Corinthians 7:14,) yet the greater part is without the covenant through their own unbelief. God meanwhile has preserved to himself a remnant in all ages, and at this day he chooses whom he will out of the promiscuous multitude.

            Now let us go on. I had omitted at the end of the last verse the phrase, Are thy fornications a small matter? By this question God wishes to press the Jews home, since they had not only violated their conjugal fidelity by prostituting themselves to idols, but had added the cruelty which we have seen in slaying their sons. Lastly, he shows that their impiety was desperate.

 

 

Ezekiel 16:22

 

22. And in all your abominations and thy whoredoms you has not remembered the days of thy youth, when you was naked and bare, and was polluted in thy blood.

 

22. Et in omnibus abominationibus tuis et scortationibus tuis non recordata es dierum adolescentiae tuae, cum tu esses nuda et discooperta, et foedata in sanguinibus tuis esses.

 

            Here God accommodates to his own ends what he has hitherto related, namely, the extreme wickedness and baseness of the people's ingratitude in thus prostituting themselves to idols. Hence he recalls to mind their condition when he espoused them. For if the wretched slavery from which they had been delivered had been present to their mind, they had not been so blinded with perverse confidence, nor had they exulted in their lasciviousness. But since they had forgotten all God's benefits, they became lascivious, and prostrated themselves to foul idolatries, and provoked God in every way. Now the Prophet proves this when he says, behold, through these abominations the people did not remember their youth. Whence happens it that impure and lustful women thus despise their husbands, unless through being blinded by their own beauty? And since they do not recognize their own disgrace, they please themselves in foul loves, as says the Prophet Hosea, (Hosea 2:5.) Such then was the self-confidence of the, Jews, that they pleased themselves by their beauty and ornaments: though God's glory and brightness shone forth in them, yet they did not perceive the source of their dignity; and hence the addition of ingratitude to pride. You have not remembered, says he, the days of thy youth, when you was naked, and bare, and defiled in thy blood. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:23-25

 

23. And it came to pass, after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! says the Lord God,)

24. That you has also built unto thee an eminent place, and has made thee an high place in every street.

25. You has built thy high place at every head of the way, and has made thy beauty to be abhorred, and has opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.

 

23. Et fuit post omnem malitiam tuam, Vae vae tibi, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

24. Et aedificasti tibi excelsum, et fecisti tibi excelsum in omni platea.372

25. Ad omne caput373 viae aedificasti excelsum tuum: et abominabilem fecisti tuam pulchritudinem: et divaricasti374 pedes tuos omni transeunti, et multiplicasti tuas scortationes.

 

            The first verse is variously explained. Some read the clause separately, Ktor lk yrja yhyw, vihi achri kel regnethek it was after all thy wickedness: and they think that God threatens the Jews here as he did in Hosea, (Hosea 2:9,10.) For after God had there complained that his wool and his flax had been taken away, and offered as gifts to idols, he afterwards adds, I will demand all things back again, and then all thy beauty shall be taken from thee, and thy nakedness shall be laid bare, so that you shall be deservedly ashamed. Thus then they explain these words, that the condition of the Jews should be as it formerly was; as if he had said in one word, I will so avenge myself, that whether you will or not, you shall be compelled to feel the disgrace of your nakedness, since I will manifest it again. But this sense seems forced; therefore I unite it with the remainder of the verse which follows it. Thus then the language of the Prophet flows on: and it was after all thy wickedness that you built a high place for thyself you made for thyself a lofty place in every street: there are two different words, but the sense is the same: you did set up thy high places in all the principal ways, and so, says he, thy beauty became abominable. But this is inserted by way of parenthesis, Alas! alas for thee! This exclamation is abruptly interposed. But, at the same time, I have no doubt that these things all adhere together, since the Jews added sin to sin, and never made an end of sinning. He says, therefore, after they had been perfidious and ungrateful to God, after they had basely devoted all they had to perverse worship, then this new crime was added, that they had erected high places in every street and in every path.

            If any one objects that this was not a greater crime than others, the answer is easy, that God does not speak of one high place only, or of one altar, but he comprehends all the signs of idolatry by which they had infected the land; for it was the height of impudence to erect everywhere the standard of their superstitions. For every high place and every altar was a testimony of their backsliding; just as if they had openly boasted that they would not magnify the worship of the law, and intended purposely to overthrow whatever God had prescribed. God therefore, not without cause, burns with wrath because the Jews had erected high places and altars everywhere. Now, then, we understand the Holy Spirit's meaning as far as these words are concerned. It is added, after all thy wickedness, says he; that is, in addition to all thy crimes, this sin and impudence is added, that you have built not only one, but innumerable high places in every street, nay, in every pathway of importance, that is, in the most celebrated places. For the heads of the pathways are the most conspicuous places, and whatever is done there is more exposed to the eyes of all.

            We must now notice the exclamation which is interposed. Alas! alas! for thee, says the Lord Jehovah. Since the Jews, through their sloth, were not at all attentive to the reproofs of the prophets, that God might waken them up, he here pronounces his curse twice. It is clear that they were not moved by it: but this vehemence tended to their severer condemnation, since, though they were drowned and sunk in deep sleep, yet they might be raised by this formidable voice. There is no doubt that they applauded themselves for their own superstitions; but it is on that account profitable to estimate the weight of these words of God. For we gather from hence, that when idolaters indulge in their own fictions, and think themselves entirely free from blame, the word of God is sufficient, by which he thunders against them, saying, alas! alas! for thee. Hence men cease to judge according to their own notions, and are rather attentive to the sentence of God, and acknowledge his curse passing on them when they think that they are rightly discharging the duty of piety in worshipping idols.

            He now adds, that he made their beauty to be abhorred. I have no doubt that the Prophet alludes to the filthiness of abandoned women; and even the Latins called them "worn out," whose foulness arises from their utterly giving themselves up to every wickedness. The Prophet then says that the people were not only like an abandoned woman who engages in impure amours, but that their conduct was gross in the extreme; for though many gratify improper desires through intemperate lust, yet they fastidiously reject those foul and shameless females who are notorious for profligacy. The Prophet means, then, that the people had come to such a pitch of abomination, just as the most abandoned of the sex. He now adds, you have spread thy feet to every passer-by, and have multiplied thy fornications. This is taken also from the conduct of harlots and confirms what we have already explained, that the Jews indulged not only in one kind of idolatry, but were prone to all abominations, like females who beset the paths, and address all they meet, and not only so, but shamelessly spread their feet everywhere to entice admirers.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since you desire to receive us not only into confidence and dependence, but to the condition of sons, that we may worship thee with sacred love, and revere thee through our whole life as a Father; and may we so submit ourselves to thee as to feel thy covenant firm and sacred towards us; and may we experience that you never call men to thee in vain, so long as they obey thee and respond to thy promises; until at length we enjoy that blessedness which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-Fifth

 

Ezekiel 16:26

 

26. You has also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and has increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.

 

26. Et scortata es cum fills AEgypti vicinis tuis magnis carne: et multiplicasti scortationes tuas ad irritandum me.

 

            I MENTIONED at the beginning of the chapter, that the Prophet blames the Jews not for one single kind of fornication, but for two different kinds. Interpreters do not observe this, but think that the Prophet is always discoursing of idols and superstitions. But if we prudently weigh all the circumstances, what I have said will not appear doubtful, namely, that the Jews were condemned not only for vitiating the worship of God by their perverse fictions, but for flying, now to the Egyptians, now to the Assyrians, and thus involving themselves in unlawful covenants. It is a very common method with the Prophets to call such covenants fornications: for as a wife ought to lie under the shadow of her husband, so God wished the Jews to be content under his protection. But as soon as any danger frightened them, they fled tremblingly to either Egypt, or Assyria, or Chaldea. We see, then, that they had in some sense renounced God's help, since they could not rest under his protection, but were hurried hither and thither by vague impulse. After the Prophet had inveighed against their superstitions, he now approaches another crime, namely, the Jews implicating themselves in forbidden treaties. He begins with Egypt. God had clearly forbidden the elect people to have any dealings with Egypt. Even if God had not made known the reason, yet they ought to have obeyed his command. But I have already explained the reason why God was unwilling that the Israelites should enter into any covenant with the Egyptians, because he wished to try their faith and patience, and if they would fly to his help when any danger pressed upon them, as the saying is, like a sacred anchor. There was also another reason, because from the time when God drew his people out from thence, he wished them separated from that nation which had raged so cruelly against their miserable guests. As far as the Chaldmans and Assyrians are concerned, the former reason prevailed thus far, that it was not lawful for them to distrust God's aid in their dangers.

            Now, therefore, we understand the Prophet's meaning when he says, that the Jews had committed fornication with the sons of Egypt. He adds, they were gross in flesh. He means that they were foul and immodest, and were inflamed with disgraceful lust.375 He uses a grosser simile by and by, for the perfidy of this detestable people could not be sufficiently condemned. The Prophet here says reproachfully, you have committed fornication with the Egyptians, as a licentious woman acting most basely. He adds, you have multiplied thy fornications: he speaks to the people under the character of a woman, as we have formerly seen: to irritate me. Here the Prophet takes away all excuse for error from the impious people. He says, therefore, since they so wandered after these impure desires, that they had not fallen through ignorance, since they knew well enough what God had commanded in his law. And there is no doubt that they darkened their own minds, as the impious always dig hiding-places for themselves, and have specious pretexts, by which they not only hide their malice before men, but also deceive themselves. Hence it is probable that the Jews were not free from such pretenses. But, on the other hand, we must remark that they were abundantly instructed by God's law what was lawful and right. Since, therefore, through neglect of the law they were so ravenous in impious desires, the Prophet says that they had purposely and designedly entered into a contest with God. For if any one raises the question whether it is lawful to enter into an alliance with the impious, the answer is easy, that we must beware of all alliances which may couple us under the same yoke; for we are naturally enough inclined towards all vices: and when we invent fresh occasions for sin we tempt God. And when any one joins himself in too great familiarity with the impious, it is just like using a fan to inflame his corrupt affections, which, as I have said, were already sufficiently flagrant in his mind. We must take care, therefore, as far as we can, not to make agreements with the impious. But, if necessity compels us, this conduct cannot be thought wrong in itself, as we see that Abraham entered into an agreement with his neighbors, though their religion was different. (Genesis 21:27,32.) But because he could not otherwise obtain peace, that was a kind of agreement by which Abraham hoped to acquire peace for himself. (Genesis 14:13; Isaiah 51:2.) Nor did he hesitate to use the assistance of allies when he succored his nephew. But if we seek the principle and the cause which induced Abraham to enter into a treaty with his neighbors, we shall find his intention to be nothing else but to dwell at home in peace, and to be safe from all injury. He was solitary, as Isaiah calls him: he had, indeed, a numerous family, but no offspring; and hence he could not escape making treaties with his neighbors. But when the Lord placed the people in the land of Canaan on the condition of defending them there, of protecting them on all sides, and of opposing all their foes, we see them enclosed, as it were, by his protection, so as to render all treaties useless; since they could not treat with either the Egyptians or the Assyrians without at the same time withdrawing themselves from God's aid.

            As far as we are concerned, I have said that we have more freedom, if we are only careful that the lusts of the flesh do not entice us to seek alliances which may entangle us in the sins of others; for it is difficult to retain the favor of those with whom we associate, unless we entirely agree with them. If they are impious, they will draw us into contempt of God and adulterous rites, and so it will happen that one evil will spring from another. Nothing, therefore, is better than to reef our sails, and to look to God alone, and to have our minds fixed on him, and not to allow any kind of alliance, unless necessity compels us. And though we must prudently take care that no condition be mingled with it which may draw us off from the pure and sincere worship of God, since the devil is always cleverly plotting against the sons of God, and draws them into hidden snares. When, therefore, we are about to contract an alliance, we should always take care lest our liberty be in any degree abridged, and lest we be drawn aside by stealthy and concealed arts from the simple worship of God. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:27

 

27. Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished your ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistilles, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.

 

27. Et ecce, extendi manum meam super te, et diminui demensum tuum, et tradidi te desiderio376 earum quae te oderant filiarum Philistim, quae pudefactae sunt a viis tuis sceleris.377

 

            Here God reproves the hardness of the Jews because admonition did not render them wise. The common proverb aptly says, "fools grow wise only by the rod;" and when their obstinacy is such that the rod does no good, their faults are indeed desperate. Hence God complains, when he had chastised the Jews, that even this did not profit them, for they were so perverse that they did not apply their minds to reflect upon their sins. For God's blows ought to rouse us up, so that our faults previously hidden ought to be brought to light and knowledge; but when we champ the bit, and are not affected by the blows, then our abandoned disposition is made manifest. Now the Prophet condemns this obstinacy in the Jews: I have extended, says he, my hand over thee. He now enumerates two kinds of chastisement, first, when God deprived the Jews of the abundance of the possessions by which they were enriched; and then because he had subjected them to the lust of their enemies. Those who translate justification as Jerome does, depart from the sense of the Prophet: qj, chek, signifies, indeed, a statute and edict, and he explains it of the law. But how will this agree with the Prophet's retaining the simile already used? for he compares God to a husband. God now pronounces that he had taken away their appointed portion, when he saw himself a laughingstock through his impure wife; that is, what he had intended for both food and clothing: for husbands spend a fixed sum on their wives in food, clothing, and ornament. And God previously recounted, among other things, that what he had conferred upon the Jews they had spent in superstitions. Hence, for this reason, he now says, I have taken away their allotted portion, that is, what I had assigned to them. This was one part of the chastisement: for he compares the fruitfulness of the land and other advantages to the portion which the husband assigns to the wife.

            Now the other chastisement follows their being harassed by their enemies; for not only did the Jews find themselves encompassed by the Philistines, but they were delivered up and bound to slavery, as Moses says, (Deuteronomy 32:30,) How, then, could one vanquish ten, and ten chase a thousand, unless we had been shut up in his hand? He shows, therefore, that our enemies are never our superiors unless God enslaves us to them. But those who do not calmly subject themselves to God's command, but are refractory, are delivered into the enemy's hand, that their contumacy may be subdued by severe tyranny. Now we understand what the Prophet means by this verse: he enlarges upon the people's wickedness in not turning to God, though they felt by clear experience that they were under a curse. They ought to examine their lives, to groan before God, to acknowledge their fault, and to beg for pardon: since no feeling was awakened, the Prophet gathers that their obstinacy was desperate. This passage is worthy of our notice, that we may be attentive to God's chastisements. Whenever God even raises his finger and threatens us, let us know that he is anxious for our safety: hence in our turn let us rouse ourselves and implore his pity, and especially let us repent of our sins by which we see his anger to have been enflamed. (Jeremiah 2:30.) But if we remain slothful, we see that no excuse for us remains, since God elsewhere complains that he is trifled with, when he has chastised his children in vain. Here, Cpn, nepish, the soul is used for lust or desire, as I have explained it. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:28

 

28. You has played the where also with the Assyrians, because you was unsatiable; yea, you has played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.

 

28. Et scortara es cum fills Assur,378 quia, non esse satietatem tibi,379 scortata es inquam cum illis, et ne sic quidem fuisti satiata.

 

            I interpret this verse also of the covenant by which the Jews had entangled themselves, when they willingly joined themselves to the Assyrians; for this was a sure sign of distrust, when they so desired foreign aid, as if they had been deprived of God's protection. And it would be absurd to explain this verse of idolatries, since the prophets were not accustomed to speak in this way, that the people committed fornication with the Assyrians, because they imitated their superstitions and perverse worship. As, therefore, we formerly saw that the Jews had defiled themselves with idols, and prostituted themselves to impious ceremonies, forgetful of God's law; so now the Prophet accuses them of a different kind of pollution, since they eagerly sought for aid from all quarters, as if God had not sufficient strength for their protection. For otherwise there was no religious reason for their not making peace with the Assyrians; but when they saw themselves oppressed by the kings of Israel and Syria, then they thought of sending for the Assyrians; and this was like thrusting God from his place. (2 Kings 16:7-9.) For God was willing to defend the land with extended wings, and to cherish the Jews as a hen does her brood, as Moses says, (Deuteronomy 32:11.) Now, in thinking themselves exposed to any danger, they really throw off the help of God. It is not surprising, then, that the Prophet says, that they had polluted themselves with the Assyrians, because they were not satisfied. He pursues the simile on which we have dwelt sufficiently; for he blames the Jews for their insatiable lust, just as when a woman is not content with a single follower, and attracting a crowd obtrudes herself without modesty or delicacy, and sells herself to wickedness. Such was the licentiousness of the Jews, that they united many acts of pollution together. They had already departed from the true faith in making a treaty with the Egyptians, and they added another imagination, that it was useful to have the Assyrians in alliance with them: hence that unbridled lust which the Prophet metaphorically rebukes. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:29

 

29. You has moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet you was not satisfied herewith.

 

29. Et multiplicasti380 scortationes tuas super terram Chanaan in Chaldaea, et ne in hoc quidem fuisti satiata.

 

            Here the Prophet teaches that the Jews were immoderate in their desires, just as if a woman was not satisfied with two or three followers, should wantonly crave after many lovers: such, says the Prophet, was the Jews' licentiousness. As to his saying, over the land of Canaan in Chaldaea, some think it means, that they heaped up the impure rites of all the nations, and not only defiled themselves with the ancient. idolatries of the nations of Canaan, but imitated the Chaldaeans in their impiety. Others say in Chaldea, which is next to the land of Canaan; but this comment, like the last, is too forced: others take la, al, comparatively, for "through" the land of Canaan. But I only understand it as a particle expressing likeness, thus, you have multiplied thy pollution's in Chaldaea just as in the land of Canaan. It is not surprising if they defiled themselves with their neighbors, as the Prophet had formerly said they did with the Egyptians, but when they ran about to a remote region of the world, this indeed was most remarkable. This then seems the real sense, and it reads best, that they increased their defilement in Chaldaea as in the land of Canaan. For if a female meets with a stranger she may act sinfully without so much disgrace, but when she runs about to a distance to seek followers, this proves her most abandoned. I have no doubt that the Prophet here exaggerates the people's crimes by comparison, since they penetrated even to the Chaldaeans to pollute themselves among them. He says that the Jews were not satisfied even with this, using the same expression as when treating of the Assyrians. The sum of the whole is, that the Jews were seized with such a furious impulse that they manifested no moderation in their wickedness. For they had not revolted from God once only, or in one direction: but wherever occasion offered, they were accustomed to seize it too eagerly, so that they showed in this way that not even a drop of piety remained in their minds. Let us learn then from this passage to put the bridle on cur lusts in time: for when the fire is lighted up, it is not easily extinguished, and the devil is always supplying wood or adding oil to the furnace, as the phrase is. Let us then prevent the evil which is here condemned in the Jews, and let us restrain ourselves, lest the devil seize upon us with insane fury. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:30

 

30. How weak is your heart, says the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman.

 

30. Quam molle381 est cor tuum! dicit Dominator Iehovah, cum facis hoc totum opus mulieris meretricis robustae.382

 

            The Prophet seems at variance with himself when he compares the Jews to a robust or very strong woman, and yet says that their heart was dissolute. For those who translate an obstinate heart are without a reason for it, for this seems to imply some kind of resistance, as they were strong and bold, and yet of a soft or weak or infirm heart. But in the despisers of God both evils are to be blamed when they flow away like water and yet are hard as rocks. They flow away, then, when there is no strength or constancy in them; for they are drawn aside this way and that, as some explain it, by a distracted heart, but we must always come to the idea of softness. All who revolt from God are borne along by their own levity, so that the minds of the impious are changeable and moveable: for the heart is here taken for the seat of the intellect, as in many other places. Hence the Prophet accuses the Jews of sloth, but under the name of a dissolute heart: as in French we say un coeur lasche, and the Prophet's sense is best explained by that French word faint-hearted. But it is sufficient to understand the Prophet's meaning, that the Jews were unstable, and agitated and distracted hither and thither, since there was nothing in them either firm or solid. Meanwhile he compares them to a strong and abandoned woman, since we know the boldness of the despisers of God in sinning against him. Since then they are dissolute, because they have no power of attention, and nothing is stable in their minds: yet they are like rocks, and carry themselves audaciously, and do not hesitate to strive with God. Although therefore these two states of mind appear contrary in their nature, yet we may always see them in the reprobate, though in different ways. Thus he properly calls the Jews not only a robust or abandoned woman, but "a high and mighty dame," as it may best be rendered in French, une maitresse putain ou painarde.383 It is forced to explain the word "lofty," as taking license for her desires. I do not hesitate to interpret it of the people being like dissolute women, who throw aside all modesty, and seek lovers from all quarters, and entertain them all. This is the Prophet's sense. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:31

 

31. In that you build your eminent place in the head of every way, and makest your high place in every street; and has not been as an harlot, in that you scornest hire.

 

31. Cum extulisti sublime tuum in capite omnis viae, et excelsum tuum fecisti in omni celebri loco: et non fuisti tanquam meretrix ad spernendum munus.

 

            Here the Prophet again reproves the superstitions to which the Jews had devoted themselves: but yet he speaks figuratively, because by high places he does not simply mean altars, but tents by which the Jews had attempted to entice their neighbors: just as if an immodest female should choose a high place, and build her couch there conspicuously to attract her followers. Although therefore he inveighs against superstitions, the language is not simple, but retains the same simile as had been previously used. He says that the Jews were so prone to lust, that they were ostentatious and thought followers from a distance, and erected their tents or couches in high places. Since this has been treated before, I now pass it over slightly. But we may remark that a thing which seems of slight importance is here seriously condemned by the Prophet, whence we may learn that the worship of God is not to be estimated by our natural perception. For who would think it so great a crime to build an altar on a high place to God's honor? but we see that the Prophet abhors that. superstition. Since therefore God wishes nothing to be changed in his worship, as the principal part of his worship is obedience, which he prefers to all sacrifices, (1 Samuel 15:22,) let us learn that things which we might tolerate ought to be detested by us, because God condemns them so severely.

            Since therefore you have erected and made for thyself a high place at the head of all streets and paths, that is in every celebrated place. Here we see how ardently they were enflamed by idolatry so as to provoke the anger of God, and this seemed unworthy of them, as the papists at this day, who are bent upon idol worship, and under the title of "devotion," think that any vice both can and ought to be excused before God. But, on the other side, the Holy Spirit says that idolaters sin the more grievously in being so eager for those impure rites. He says, you was not like a harlot in despising hire. Some explain this coldly, that harlots mentally despise the folly of those who reward them, but this comment is incorrect: the other view is more probable, namely, that the Jews were not like a harlot who despises the bribe by which she is deceived: for by this craftiness they gain most influence when they contemptuously despise what is offered them, and scarcely deign to touch it: they do this that the wretched lover may not think himself sufficiently liberal, and so may double his gift and squander away all his goods. This passage then may mean that the people were not like a harlot who despises her reward that the wretched lover may feel ashamed and increase his offer. But the Prophet's sense seems to me different, though I do not altogether reject this. I interpret it thus: the Jews were not like a harlot, since they despised any reward for their sin, and harlots do not: they make a gain of their lusts, whence the name they bear. Since then such persons sell themselves for reward, the Prophet say's that the Jews were not like them: how so? because they despised reward, and through the mere desire of gratifying their appetites, they neither asked nor expected any reward. Afterwards it follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:32

 

32. But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!

 

32. Mulier adultera loco viri sui sumit extraneos.

 

            Some translate it an adulteress under her husband's roof, and tjt, thecheth, signifies "instead of:" and they explain it thus, that adulteresses do not divorce themselves from their husbands when they violate the marriage bond, but always remain at home for the purpose of admitting strangers; and they think the people's crime increased by this comparison, that they not only acted deceitfully towards God, but openly revolted from him, and left his home; for many shameless women remain at home, and hide their crimes as far as they can; but when a woman deserts her husband and children, then her case is most deplorable: they think, therefore, that the Prophet is here exaggerating the divorce or revolt of the people from God; but the sense seems better simply to compare them to an adulteress who admits strangers in her husband's stead: thou art says he, an adulteress who has sent for strange lovers instead of thy husband: for a woman married to a liberal husband is treated by him honorably; and if she seeks lovers from all sides, she is induced by neither avarice nor covetousness, but by her own lusts. In fine, as the Prophet lately said that they despised all gain through being blinded by their appetites, so he now says they were like an adulteress who rejects her husband; and not only so, but throws herself into the protection of others, while she has an honorable and happy home.

 

 

Prayer.

 

            Grant, Almighty God, since you have thought us worthy of such honor, that we should be bound to thee in your only-begotten Son by the bond of a spiritual marriage, that we may remain in that fidelity which we promised to thee, since we have found thee faithful to us by so many proofs on thy part, until, having passed through this present life, we arrive at the enjoyment of that blessedness which is the fruit of our faithful chastity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Lecture Forty-Sixth.

 

Ezekiel 16:33

 

33. They give gifts to all whores; but you givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them. that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.

 

33. Cunctis meretricibus dant munus,384 tu autem dedisti munera tua cunctis amatoribus tuis: et conduxisti eos ut ingrederentur ad te undique385 in scortationibus tuis.

 

            HERE the Prophet shows the great folly of the Jews in shamelessly squandering their goods; for gain impels harlots to their occupation: they feel the disgrace of it, but want urges them on. But the Prophet says, that when the Jews committed sin they did it with extravagance, since they spared no expense in attracting their lovers. He pursues the simile which we have had before; for he compares the nation to a perfidious woman who leaves her husband and offers herself to adulterers. We now understand the Prophet's meaning. It is clear that the Jews did not act thus on purpose, for they thought they would profit by their treaties with the Egyptians and Assyrians' they were unwilling to serve their idols for nothing, since they hoped for most ample rewards from this their adulterous worship. But the Holy Spirit does not regard either what they wished or hoped for, but speaks of the matter as it was. It is clear, then, that the Jews were very prodigal in their superstitions, and we see this even now in the papacy. Those who grudge even a farthing for the relief of the poor will throw away guineas when they wish to compound for their sins; and there is no end to their extravagance under this madness. The very same rage prevailed among the Jews for which Ezekiel now reproves them. He says, then, that they offered gifts to their lovers; for, as I have said, they were so prodigal in the worship of false gods, that when they desired a treaty with either the Egyptians or Assyrians, they were necessarily loaded with valuable presents; and history bears witness that they entirely exhausted themselves. Lastly, the Prophet here shows that the Jews were so blind, that in leaving God, and devoting themselves to idols, they failed to obtain any advantage. Then, when they implicated themselves in perverse and wicked treaties, he shows that they were so utterly deranged as to deprive themselves of all their goods, and yet to receive nothing but disgrace in return for their extravagance: presents are given to all harlots, but thou bestowest thine. Jerome takes the pronoun passively, meaning the blessings which God had bestowed upon the people: and this passage is like that in Hosea, (Hosea 2:5-8) where God complains that the Jews had profaned the blessings which he had conferred upon them, just as if a wife should bestow on adulterers what she had received from her husband. Foul indeed is this! for a husband thought these would be pledges of chastity when he adorned his wife with precious garments, or enriched her with other presents and ornaments; but when a wife, forgetful of modesty and propriety, throws her husband's gifts at the feet of adulterers, this is indeed outrageous. Hence this sense does not displease me, although it would be more simple to understand it that the Jews had washed away all their goods. He says, that they had hired their lovers to come in from every side for wickedness. He repeats again what we saw before, that the Jews were abandoned sinners, for some, though impure, are content with a single lover. But as he had before said that the Jews spread their feet widely, so he now adds, that they hired lovers from all sides. Shameful indeed is such conduct in any woman: yet Ezekiel reproves the Jews for this indelicacy, and we saw the reason in yesterday's lecture. It follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:34

 

34. And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that you givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore you art contrary.

 

34. Et fuit in te inversio a mulieribus, in scortationibus tuis, et post tua postrema386 non erit scortatio:387 quia dedisti munus, et munus tibi non fuit datum: ita fuisti in contrarium.388

 

            But the Prophet only confirms his former teaching, that the Jews were seized with such lust, and in so unaccustomed a manner, that they could only satisfy their desires with severe loss; but this comparison only magnifies their crime, since they were worse than any harlots; for although they basely sell themselves, yet the hope of gain is a kind of pretext and excuse, and a starving woman may be led into great excess; but far fouler and less excusable is her conduct who purchases her lovers. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:35-37

 

35. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord:

36. Thus says the Lord God, Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which you did give unto them;

37. Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom you has to taken pleasure, and all them that you has loved, with all them that you has hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.

 

35. Propterea, meretrix, audi sermonem Iehovae.

36. Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, quia effusum fuit infimum tuum,389 et detecta fuit turpitudo tua390 in scortationibus tuis erga amatores tuos, et erga omnia idola abominationum tuarum, et in sanguinibus filiorum tuorum quos dedisti illis.

37. Propterea ecce congregabo cunctos amatores tuos, quibus te oblectasti erga eos, et omnes quos dilexisti, et quos odisti: congregabo inquam, eos contra te a circuitu, et retegam391 pudenda tua392 coram ipsis, et videbunt totam turpitudinem tuam.

 

            After God has inveighed against the people's sins, and treated the whole nation as guilty, he now pronounces judgment on their wickedness. He repeats shortly what he had said, as a judge explains the reason of his sentence. Since, says he, the lower parts of thy body and thy disgrace has been discovered before thy lovers. This is the reason of the judgment, whence it is collected that God is induced to treat his people harshly for just and necessary causes. It now follows: therefore, says he, I will assemble all thy lovers, with those also whom you hate, I will assemble them, and uncover thy shame before them. We may now see what the Jews are threatened with, namely, a disgraceful destruction, so that they become a common laughingstock without any one to succor them; for the diction is metaphorical when he speaks of lovers and of parts of the body; for by lovers he here means the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeeans. Whence their opinion is refuted who think that the Prophet treats only of superstitions. Nor can this language be transferred to idols, since we know that false gods were not spectators of the punishment which the Prophet denounces against the Jews. Whence it follows that this language will only suit those persons to whose protection the Jews trusted, so as to treat God's help as useless. Since, then, such is the metaphorical sense of the passage, we understand that shame means spoliation and slaughter; nay, the destruction of both the kingdom and city, and even of the temple. Thus the nation was a common laughingstock, and in this way like a foul and aged harlot. Now we understand the Prophet's intention. As to Jerome translating "wealth," it is altogether adverse to the Prophet's meaning; there is no doubt that he means the lower part of the body, and it follows in the same sense, thy shame was uncovered. But at the same time God expresses why it was done, namely, for fornication, as if an abandoned woman were to act so disgracefully. He now says it was done towards your lovers, towards the idols of your abominations: lo, gnel, is here taken for towards or against. He distinguishes between lovers and idols. Those who think that the Prophet treats only of superstitious think the copula superfluous; but there is no doubt that the Prophet means, on one side, the Assyrians, and Egyptians, and Chaldeeans; and on the other, false gods.

            And in bloods, says he. He here adds another crime, namely, that of barbarous cruelty, because they did not spare their own sons, as we saw before: many offered up their children, and some were found so excited as to cast them into the fire: it was indeed a monstrous crime when they hesitated not to rage against their own offspring: but they were so carried away by insane zeal that they burnt, up their children when others only drew them through the fire. Hence the Prophet again accuses them of cruelty for offering their children to idols, and so pouring forth innocent blood. Now follows the punishment. Behold, says he, I collect all thy lovers. We said that this ought to be understood of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldreans, all of whom looked upon the slaughter of that perverse and perfidious nation, but none of them helped her. God therefore pronounces the destruction of the people just like that of a harlot abandoned by her lovers, and perishing through hunger, want, and other miseries: for it very often happens that a person under the impulse of love prefers a harlot to his own life; for he will throw off all regard for his wife; he will be disrespectful to both his father and mother, and will break through every restraint to enjoy her company: but when such persons are grown old, and their hair becomes white, which represents the winter of life, and when wrinkles deform the face, then they are despised, and especially if they suffer through disease. So also the Prophet now says that the Jews would be despised by all, so that their lovers should be compelled to behold that example; and meanwhile they scarcely deign to look at the foul appearance which had formerly sweetly delighted them.

            Then he proceeds further, namely, that their enemies should behold their ignominy: we know that the Jews were surrounded on all sides by enemies, and that all their neighbors were hostile to them. The Prophet now says that the nations disgrace should be exposed before their lovers, that is, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Chaldaeans, Philistilles, Edomites, and other nations. This passage teaches us, that although the reason for God's judgments does not always clearly appear, yet they are never too severe; and when he condescends to afford us a reason, he grants us a gratuitous indulgence. But when he silently executes his judgments, let us learn to acquiesce in his justice, and not to cry out if he exceeds moderation; because when he has once explained that his severity is only justice, hence we must gather the general rule, that whenever he seems to treat his people too severely and harshly, yet he has just reasons for it. Let us learn, also, that the Jews only suffered a just recompense when God so cursed all their counsels. They thought themselves very provident and circumspect when they engaged in alliances with Egyptians and Assyrians. But all their plans turned out unhappily for them, since they consulted their own will contrary to that of God. Let us learn, then, if we wish to promote our own salvation, and to obtain a prosperous result, to do nothing without God's permission, and not to undertake any deliberations except those which God has dictated and suggested by his word and Spirit. For here every future event is shown to us as in a glass when we wish to be wiser than they ought, and than God permits them. It now follows

 

 

Ezekiel 16:38

 

38. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

 

38. Et judicabo te judiciis adulterarum, et fundentium sanguinem et ponam te sanguinem excandescentiae393 et zeli.394

 

            This verse is only added for the sake of explanation. Already God had explained shortly and clearly every event which should happen to the Jews, yet they should perish in the greatest disgrace and be destitute of all help, since through distrust in God they sought the favor of men, like a woman eager for lovers. But he confirms the same teaching, that they should suffer double punishment, since they not only polluted themselves thus shamefully, but also by impious slaughters, since they burnt their children in honor of false gods. This sentence may be explained generally, I will judge you with the judgments of women pouring out blood, as we know that not only idolatry was rampant at Jerusalem, but rapine, and all kinds of cruelty; for since they had departed from God and his worship, they boldly violated his law. By the second word we may understand all the crimes by which they had provoked God's anger on account of their cruelty. But since he has lately spoken of sons, I willingly retain that sense, that they should suffer as an adulteress and a parricide who has put her children to death. But they thought that they obeyed: but he not only rejects, but abominates such foolish thoughts; for nothing is more disgraceful than, under the pretense of piety, to slay and to burn one's own children: this, I say, was a profanation of God's name scarcely tolerable. No wonder, then, that he denounces double vengeance, since, when the Jews pleaded their zeal, God branded upon them the mark of wickedness, though they thought him bound to their interests. It afterwards follows