Ezekiel 2, 3 record the call of the prophet to his office and the instructions given him for his work. As far as Ezekiel 3:13, this seems to have been still in the presence of the vision of Ezekiel 1; then he was directed to go to another place, where he remains silent among the captives for seven days (Ezekiel 3:14-15). At the end of that time he receives fresh instructions (Ezekiel 3:16-21), and then he is told to go forth into the plain (Ezekiel 3:22), where the same vision reappears to him (Ezekiel 3:23), producing upon him again the same overpowering effect; he is again made to stand up, and further instructed.
The full time occupied by these things is not expressly mentioned, but it was apparently just eight days from the first to the second appearance of the vision—from the beginning to the completion of his prophetic consecration. This period, corresponding to the period of the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8:33 to Leviticus 9:4), must have been peculiarly impressive to the priestly Ezekiel, and have added its own power of association to the other solemnities of his call. Since the time of Moses there had been no other prophet whose call had been accompanied by such manifestations of the Divine glory, and perhaps no time in which the condition of the Church had made them so important.
A rebellious nation.—Literally, as in the margin, rebellious nations, the word being the same as that commonly used distinctively for the heathen, so that the children of Israel are here spoken of as “rebellious heathen.” There could be no epithet which would carry home more forcibly to the mind of an Israelite the state of antagonism in which he had placed himself against his God. (Comp. the “Lo-ammi” of Hosea 1:9, and also the discourse of our Lord in John 8:39.) Yet still, the God from whom they had turned aside was even now sending to them His prophet, and seeking to win them back to His love and obedience, in true correspondence to the vision of the bow in the cloud about the majesty on high.
The following verses enlarge, with a variety of epithets and repetitions, upon the hard-heartedness and perverseness of the people. This had always been the character of the Israelites from the time of Moses (see Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5, &c), and continued to be to the end (see Acts 7:51); so entirely without ground is the allegation that they were chosen as a people peculiarly inclined to the right. It is to such a people that Ezekiel is to be sent, and he needed to be prepared and encouraged for his work.
A rebellious house.—Literally, a house of rebellion. This phrase, used in Ezekiel about eleven times, seems to be more than a simple epithet; it is a significant substitute for the name in which they gloried. Instead of “house of Israel, the prince of God,” they had come to be the “house of rebellion.”
A roll of a book.—Books were anciently written upon skins sewed together, or upon papyrus in long strips, which were rolled up, one hand unrolling and the other rolling up from the other end as the contents were read. These were ordinarily written on one side only, as it would have been inconvenient to read the other; but in this case it was written on both sides,” within and without,” to denote the fullness of the message.