all the things the Lord had showed me; all the visions contained in the preceding chapters, from the beginning of the fourth chapter to the end of this: as the portraying Jerusalem on a tile, and lying on his side for a long time, as an emblem of the siege of that city; the barley cakes, denoting a famine; the sharp knife with which he cut off his hair, signifying the destruction of its inhabitants; how he was brought to Jerusalem, what idolatries he saw in the temple; the vision of the six men with slaughter weapons, and of another with a writer's inkhorn by his side; and also the vision of the cherubim and wheels, and the glory of the God of Israel, and their departure from the city and temple, together with what was threatened to the Jews in Jerusalem, and was promised to them in Chaldea; all which the prophet faithfully related, and kept back nothing that the Lord had made known unto him by words or signs.
INTRODUCTION TO Ezekiel 12
In this chapter, under the sign of the prophet's removing household goods, is represented the removal of the king of Judah and his people from their own land into captivity; and under another sign, of the prophet's eating and drinking with quaking, and trembling, and carefulness, is set forth, either the famine that should be during the siege of Jerusalem, or the desolations following the taking of it; and the chapter is concluded with a reproof of the Jews flattering themselves that these prophecies respected times a great way off, and therefore hoped they would never be accomplished. The preface to the first sign is in Ezekiel 12:1; which describes the people of the Jews as rebellious, and given up to judicial blindness and hardness; and suggests the cause of all their calamities: the order to prepare goods for removing, to show to the people; for digging a wall; carrying the stuff out in their sight, on his shoulders, at twilight; and covering his face when he did it, is in Ezekiel 12:3; the execution of this order, which is declared in part for the whole, is in Ezekiel 12:7; then follows the explication of this sign, Ezekiel 12:8; and the application of it, first to King Zedekiah, in whom should be fulfilled several of the particulars mentioned, Ezekiel 12:12; and to the people about him, and his army that should be scattered and fall by the sword, Ezekiel 12:14; the end of which should be, that the Lord should be known, his power, truth, and righteousness, by a few that should escape the famine, pestilence, and sword, Ezekiel 12:15. The second sign, with the explication and application of it, is in Ezekiel 12:17; and the chapter is closed with a reproof of the Jews; the proverbial expression they used, and which the Lord resented, is cited Ezekiel 12:21; and the prophet is bid to assure them that it should cease, or there should be no room for it; and also every vain vision and flattering divination, Ezekiel 12:23; and that the word of the Lord should not be prolonged, but should quickly and certainly be accomplished; and that their hopes of the contrary were in vain, Ezekiel 12:25.
which have eyes to see, and see not: they have ears to hear, and hear not; they had natural sense and understanding, and means and opportunities of being better informed, and of knowing the true state of things, and how they were, and would be; but they wilfully shut their eyes against all light and evidence, and stopped their ears, and would not hearken to the words of the prophets:
for they are a rebellious house; stubborn, obstinate, and self-willed: or, "a house of rebellion" (r).
(r) "domus rebellionis", Montanus, Vatablus, Starckius; "domus inobedientiae", Cocceius.
and remove by day in their sight; be carrying the stuff out, day by day, several days running, as Jarchi from Menachem interprets it; that they may see and take notice of it, and ask the reason of it; which, when known, they might send to their correspondents at Jerusalem, and acquaint them with it:
and thou shall remove from thy place to another place in their sight; from the house in which he dwelt, to another house at some distance; yet so as to be seen by them, both from whence and whither he moved:
it may be they will consider; or "see" (t); make use of their eyes, and of their understandings, and think better of things. The Targum is,
"perhaps they will fear;''
the Lord, and regard his prophets, and be afraid of his judgments:
though they be a rebellious house; such who are the most obstinate may be reclaimed.
(s) "vasa transmigrationis", Pagninus, Montanus, Starckius; "instrumenta migrationis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus. (t) "fortasse visuri sunt", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; "fortasse videbunt", Piscator, Starckius.
as stuff for removing; that is intended to be removed from one place to another, and is carried away in the daytime, in the view of everyone:
and thou shall go forth at even in their sight; as a man, having removed his goods in the daytime, goes forth himself at evening: this denotes the flight of Zedekiah from Jerusalem in the night, Jeremiah 39:4;
as they that go forth into captivity: with a sorrowful countenance, in a mournful habit, and with airs and gestures showing anger, anxiety, and distress; with a bundle on their shoulders, and a staff in their hands.
and carry out thereby; not his stuff, as before; but provisions for himself, necessary for his journey or flight; as no doubt Zedekiah and those with him did.
and carry it forth in the twilight; signifying the same as before:
thou shall cover thy face, that thou see not the ground; or "land"; not the land of Israel, but the land of Chaldea, where the prophet was: this shows that great shame and confusion which should attend the king of Judah when he fled, and great fear and terror also; and likewise his regard to his eyes being put out by the king of Babylon; so that he saw not the land into which he was carried captive, Jeremiah 52:11;
for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel; to show unto them by deeds, as well as by words, what should befall them; see Isaiah 8:18.
I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity; brought his goods out of his house, in order to be had to another place, as a type of the captivity of his countrymen the Jews:
and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; not with an iron instrument, with which walls are dug; but with his hand, he having no such instrument with him, and being in haste, and also that it might be done without noise; denoting the suddenness of Zedekiah's flight, and the haste he was in; not having time and leisure to take proper instruments with him, he and his men pulled out the stones of the wall with their own hands, and silently made their way through and escaped; see Ezekiel 12:12;
I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight: that it might be a sign and emblem of the above things to them, and they might learn some instructions from it.
said unto thee,.... The Jews that were in captivity; for with these the prophet was, and before their eyes he had done the above things; and they only could put the following question to him, who were "the rebellious house"; Ezekiel 12:2;
what dost thou? this they put not seriously, as desirous of being informed what was meant by all this; but as deriding the prophet for acting such a weak and silly part: this the Lord knew they had done, and therefore directs the prophet to make a proper answer; though some think the sense is, "hath not the house of Israel said unto thee, what dost thou?" no, they have not; they take no notice of it; never say one word about it, or inquire into the meaning of it; quite careless, thoughtless, and stupid; wherefore, though they will not ask anything concerning it, yet begin with them, and show them the design of it.
this burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem; the present reigning prince in Jerusalem, King Zedekiah. The sense is, either that that burden of goods the prophet carried out on his shoulders had a regard to the king of Judah and his captivity, and was an emblem of it; or rather that the burden of prophecy, or that sorrowful calamity predicted by the above sign or type, had relation to that prince, and would be fulfilled in him; and so the Targum,
"upon the prince is the burden of this prophecy;''
in like manner Jarchi interprets it of prophecy:
and all the house of Israel which are among them; they were also concerned in it, and would be carried captive with their prince.
like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them; as he had carried out his stuff, and had removed it from one place to another, so they should be carried away out of their own land into a foreign country, as follows:
they shall remove, and go into captivity; the Babylonish captivity.
shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth; out of Jerusalem, where his palace and throne were, leaving the main of his riches behind him; only should carry away what he could on his shoulder, a bundle of his most valuable effects, or provisions for his flight: or, as Kimchi and Ben Melech think, his clothes, for lighter march, and more speedy haste:
they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby; it seems by this, that when the king, and his nobles and servants, made their escape, they not only went forth between two walls, but broke through one, in order to get away; which was done, not by the king himself, but by his servants; so the Targum,
"in a wall shall they dig to bring him out by it;''
and therefore the number is changed, not "he", but "they, shall dig", &c. though in the following words the singular is again used:
he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes; either through shame at leaving the city, his palace, and all his grandeur. The Targum is,
"he shall cover his face because he hath sinned:''
or that he might not be known and be discovered who he was; and so it was through fear of being betrayed by a false friend, or taken by the enemy: or else this may respect his having his eyes put out at Riblah, so that he could not see with them the land he was carried into; though it rather seems to refer to his first escape out of Jerusalem with a mask or vizor on him, which might hinder his seeing the ground he went upon; and which, in his fright, he could not attend to, looking out here and there, not being able to keep his eye long upon any place. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it, "that he may not be seen with the eye, and he shall not see the land".
and he shall be taken in my snare; as a bird is taken in the snare of the fowler; or a wild beast by the hunter. The Jews have a tradition, which is mentioned both by Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abendana on the place, that there was a cave which reached from Zedekiah's house to the plains of Jericho, by the way of which he fled; and that God prepared a deer, which went upon the top of the cave; and the Chaldeans pursued it; and when it came to the mouth of the cave, Zedekiah was coming out, and they took him:
and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it; his eyes being put out at Riblah, Jeremiah 39:7. The Prophet Jeremiah says that his eyes should behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 34:3; and yet here Ezekiel says that he should not see the land of the Chaldeans. Josephus (u) observes, that Zedekiah thought these two prophecies contradicted each other, and therefore gave credit to neither; but they both proved true; he saw the king of Babylon at Riblah; but his eyes being there put out, he saw not Babylon, whither he was carried captive:
though he shall die there; as he did, Jeremiah 52:11.
(u) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 2. and c. 8. sect. 2.
and all his bands: or "wings" (w); the wings of his army. The Targum interprets it his army; these were all scattered from him when he was taken, Jeremiah 52:8;
and I will draw out the sword after them: which fled into Egypt, and other countries; so that they did not escape, though they went not into captivity; see Ezekiel 5:12.
(w) "alas militum", Montanus; "alas ejus", Cocceius, Starckius; so Ben Melech.
when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries; of Egypt, Babylon, Media, and other places.
from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; during the siege of Jerusalem, and at the breaking of it up; but then they should be carried captive into other countries:
that they may declare all their abominations among the Heathen whither they come; who, observing their calamities, and distresses, would read their sin in their punishment; and conclude they must have been guilty of great enormities, who were punished in such a manner; so that their punishment was a visible and standing declaration to the Heathens of the abominable sins they had been guilty of: or else the end of reserving a few of them from the above capital judgments was, that they being brought to a sense of their sins by their afflictions, might freely confess them, express their repentance for them, and justify God in his proceedings towards them:
and they shall know that I am the Lord; not the Heathens, among whom this declaration would be made; but the Jews, brought under a conviction of their sin, and of the justice of God in his dealings with them.
(x) "viros numeri", Montanus, Vatablus; "homines numero", Starckius.
and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness; fearing want of it, or as apprehensive of danger of its being taken away; see Ezekiel 4:16.
thus saith the Lord God of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; or to them, or "concerning" them (y); whom the captives in Chaldea thought lived so happily, and would continue so:
and of the land of Israel; or, "upon the land of Israel" (z); inhabitants on it; to this sense the Targum and Septuagint Version interpret it, and also Kimchi:
they shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment; meaning at the siege of Jerusalem, when they could not eat and drink in peace; but, while they were eating and drinking, were disturbed and put into fear and surprise by the besiegers; and also, hearing that their provisions would not hold out, were careful how they ate and drank, and were frightened with the thoughts of being reduced to extreme want:
that her land may be desolate from all that is therein; or, "from its fulness" (a); men and cattle, cities, towns, houses, vineyards, fields, fruits, and plenty of all good things. Jarchi expounds it of riches:
because of the violence of all them that dwell therein; not the violence of the Chaldeans, making a prey of all they met with, plundering cities and towns, and making forage of the fruits of the earth, by which means the land was desolate; but the rapine, oppression, and injustice of the Jews, which were the cause of all these calamities which came upon their country.
(y) "habitatoribus Hierosolymorum", Montanus, Starckius; "de habitatoribus", Piscator; "de habitantibus Hierosolymam", Cocceius. (z) , Sept. "super terram Israel", Calvin; "in terram Israelis", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; so Ben Melech. (a) "a plenitudine sua", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Starckius.
and the land shall be desolate; the whole land of Judea be destitute of men and cattle, and lie uncultivated, and become barren and unfruitful:
and ye shall know that I am the Lord; who were then captives in Babylon, as well as those who should be dispersed among the nations would; see Ezekiel 12:15.
saying, the days are prolonged; the days of affliction and distress; the time of Jerusalem's destruction, and of the Babylonish captivity, these were not to be of a long time; and therefore they were ready to flatter themselves they would never be, at least in their days; and hence, because judgment was not immediately executed, their hearts were set in them to do evil; and thus they abused the patience and long suffering of God, and they used this and the following expression so often, and so long, that they became proverbial to them:
and every vision faileth? or "perishes" (b); every prophecy comes to nothing; no one is fulfilled; at least because not at, once, therefore they concluded it never would, or, however, hoped it never would; and so pleased themselves, and continued in their impenitence and unbelief, and contempt of prophecy.
(b) "peribit", Munster, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Piscator; "periit", Starckius.
thus saith the Lord God, I will make this proverb to cease; by quickly accomplishing the things which they, by this proverb, represented as at a great distance, and what would never be brought about:
and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; when the things predicted shall take place:
but say unto them, the days are at hand, and the effect of every vision; the time is hastening on, and will quickly come, when every prophecy shall be fulfilled: it was in the sixth year of Jehoiachin's captivity that these prophecies were delivered out; and in the ninth year Nebuchadnezzar came with his army, and besieged Jerusalem; so that the days were at hand; in three years' time there began an accomplishment of the above predictions, which were scoffed at in the proverb used.
nor flattering divination within the house of Israel; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "in the midst of the children of Israel"; and so the Targum; but Kimchi says, that copies that so read are wrong; and which is confirmed by the Masora, which observes, that the reading is so in all places but in this. The Syriac version renders it "doubtful prediction"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "ambiguous divination"; like the prophecies and answers of the Heathen oracles, which were delivered in terms of doubtful signification, and might be taken in more senses than one. The Septuagint version is, "he that divines for grace"; in order to ingratiate himself into the people, to gain their good will, or their money, or both; and therefore divines smooth things, and flatters them with that which is most agreeable to their inclination; but when they shall see the city taken, and themselves carried captive, they will no more regard such soothing diviners, who pretended from the stars to tell what shall come to pass, as the Arabic version suggests.
and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; the word of prophecy delivered out in his nature by the true prophets never fails, but is always accomplished; as that was which respected the siege or Jerusalem, and captivity of the Jews:
it shall be no more prolonged: the judgment threatened shall be inflicted, and that in a very short time:
for in your days, O rebellious house; while they were living; which they hoped would never be, at least not till after their death; whereas, within live or six years after this, all came to pass:
will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God of hosts; not only the prophecy of their ruin should be given out in their days, but accomplished in that time; which they might depend upon, since he who said it is the mighty God, the Lord of armies in heaven and in earth.
the vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are afar off; that is, according to them, the vision that Ezekiel the prophet saw concerning their ruin; and the prophecy which he delivered out relating to that was not to be fulfilled as yet; there were many days and years still to come; it was at a great distance, and so they put away this evil day far from them; they own that he had a vision and prophecy, but it respected future times, and distant ages; and therefore they did not trouble themselves with it; it gave them no great concern, because they considered it as afar off.