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§ 3. A Vision of Jerusalem’s Sin and Doom (Ezekiel 8-11)
Date, August-September, 591 b.c.
A year and two months after his call to be a prophet, Ezekiel was visited in his house by the elders of the Jewish colony at Tel-abib, and in their presence he fell into a trance, during which he was transported in spirit to Jerusalem, and witnessed, as in a dream, a remarkable drama being enacted there. The glory of God was present during this vision in the same symbolic form, and accompanied by the same living chariot, as in Ezekiel 1, but with this difference, that it sometimes left the chariot and took up its position elsewhere. Ezekiel witnessed first the idolatries practised in the Temple (Ezekiel 8), then the slaughter of all the idolaters in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 9), and next the destruction of the city by the fire of God’s holiness (Ezekiel 10). He then heard a parable of judgment pronounced against the leaders of Jerusalem’s wicked policy, and a message of comfort addressed to the exiles who were despised by their countrymen at home. Finally he saw the glory of God departing from the Temple, and having come back in spirit to Babylonia he awoke from his trance and recounted his vision to the exiles there (Ezekiel 11). There is no reason to doubt that Ezekiel here describes an actual experience. He was not, of course, literally transported to Jerusalem, but only seemed to be taken thither, as one might in a dream. The idolatries he saw were those which he knew to be carried on in Jerusalem, and the persons mentioned in the vision were doubtless also known to him as prominent leaders in the sin of the city. Yet in his trance these persons and practices, and the whole scene, stood out before his mind’s eye with a vividness and reality which enabled him to describe them as actually seen. The truths presented in the symbols, and expressed in the messages, of judgment were really communicated to him by God.
The Doom of the Leaders of Jerusalem’s wickedness. Comfort for the Exiles
The slaughter in Ezekiel 9 was only the visionary rehearsal of a judgment still in the future. The vision now takes another turn, and shows the wicked inhabitants still alive. Ezekiel is brought to the outer eastern gate of the Temple where he finds a group of the leaders of Jerusalem’s sinful policy, two of whom are mentioned by name (Ezekiel 11:1-2). A proverb by which they express their light-hearted security is turned into a parable of the doom that awaits them (Ezekiel 11:3-12). The warning is ratified by the sudden death of one of the leaders (Ezekiel 11:13), after which a comforting message is spoken to the exiles whom the people of Jerusalem despised (Ezekiel 11:14-21). The glorious symbol of God’s presence then forsakes Jerusalem (Ezekiel 11:22-23). The vision ends, and Ezekiel finds himself again in Babylonia, where he describes to the exiles all that he has seen (Ezekiel 11:24-25).
1. The east gate] the outer eastern gate, to which the chariot with the ’glory’ upon it had already moved. At the door of the gate] just outside the Temple precincts. Jaazaniah.. and Pelatiah] men of whom nothing further is known. Jaazaniah is not the same as the Jaazaniah of Ezekiel 8:11.
3. It is not near; let us build, etc.] or, as in RM, ’Is not the time near to build?’ etc: an expression of security. This city is the caldron, etc.] The ’wicked counsel’ of Ezekiel 11:2 is usually understood to mean proposals of revolt from Babylon, which would involve the prospect of war and siege. In that case the proverb about the caldron and the flesh would express the plotters’ trust in the strong fortifications of Jerusalem, which they hoped would save them from the ’fire’ of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. This would be a grimly humorous way of describing the desperate course they were meditating. They expected, as we might say, to be in the frying-pan, but thought that it would at least save them from the fire. Another explanation is that the saying is a boast over the exiles, who had been taken away from Jerusalem, as the useless ’broth’ is poured out of a pot when the cooking is over, leaving the valuable ’flesh’ behind. This is more in line with the latter part of the chapter.
6. The wicked counsellors, whatever their policy may have been, had already put many of their fellow citizens unjustly to death.
7. The proverb would prove true in quite a different sense from that in which it was first used. The only flesh in the caldron would be that of the wicked leaders’ victims. Those who thought they were the flesh would be taken out of the caldron and slain by strangers elsewhere.
10, 11. In the border of Israel] Instead of being safe in Jerusalem they would meet their fate far away from it, on the very outskirts of the land. Over seventy of those taken at the second captivity, including twelve prominent officials, were put to death by Nebuchadrezzar at Riblah, in the extreme N. of Palestine (2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 52:24-27).
13. The sudden death of Pelatiah may have been an actual occurrence, of which Ezekiel had heard, and which was reproduced in the vision. It may, however, have been an imaginary incident, symbolising the certainty and suddenness with which the prophecy of judgment on the wicked counsellors would be fulfilled. Then fell I down, etc.] As in Ezekiel 9:8; Ezekiel was dismayed at the speedy execution of God’s threatening, and besought God that the whole nation might not be destroyed. This time he received a comforting assurance that the exiles should be spared and restored, while the people of Jerusalem who despised them should perish.
15. Thy brethren.. all the house of Israel] The exiles of the first captivity are identified with the true Israel. Get you far from the Lord, etc.] The people of Jerusalem claimed that God was only among them, and that the exiles were banished from His presence. This was a different sentiment from that expressed in Ezekiel 8:12. Unprincipled men can change their theology to suit their circumstances.
16. As a little sanctuary] RV ’a sanctuary for a little while.’ God’s presence and the privileges of the Temple were not confined to Jerusalem.
17. People] RV ’peoples.’
19. A promise of an inward change, which Ezekiel afterwards repeats and expands (Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:25-27).
22, 23. The emblem of God’s presence now leaves the holy city, which is abandoned to its fate. What the idolaters had said in unbelief (Ezekiel 8:12) became a terrible truth.
23. The mountain.. on the east] the Mount of Olives. We cannot but think of Christ’s words of doom, spoken from the same mountain, to the Jerusalem of His day (Luke 19:37, Luke 19:41-44).
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13