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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 24

Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral EpistlesFairbairn's Commentaries

Verses 1-14

CHAPTER 24.

THE VISION OF THE BOILING CALDRON, AND OF THE DEATH OF EZEKIEL’S WIFE.

Ezekiel 24:1 . And the word of Jehovah came to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth of the month, saying,

Ezekiel 24:2 . Son of man, write thee the name of the day, this self-same day; it is the very day on which the king of Babylon lay against Jerusalem. (The usual meaning of סָמַך is to lay against, to lean upon. Michaelis, Gesenius, and others have here imposed a different meaning on the word, and taken it in the sense of drawing near to, approaching. But Hav., Hitzig, properly adhere to the more exact and only ascertained meaning of laying against, or throwing oneself upon.)

3. And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Set on a caldron, set it on, and also pour water into it.

Ezekiel 24:4 . Gather into it its pieces (i.e. those which properly belong to it, and are in a sense its own), every good piece, thigh and shoulder, of the choice of bones full (i.e. the pieces that not only are in themselves best, but also enclose the strongest and firmest bones for it means bones in the meat, not separate from it).

Ezekiel 24:5 . Of the choice of the flock take thou, and also pile the bones under it (the bony parts as distinguished from the fleshy); boil it thoroughly, and let them seethe the bones that are in the midst of it. (There is no need for any change in the clause דּוּר הָעֲצָמִים תַּחְתֶּיהָ , either by regarding תַּחְתֶּיהָ with Dathe, as superfluous, or with Newcome and many others substituting הָעֵצים , wood, for bones. What the prophet means is, that the best, the fleshiest parts, full of the strongest bones, representing the most exalted and powerful among the people, were to be put within the pot and boiled; but that the rest, the very poorest, were not to escape: these, the mere bones, as it were, were to be thrown as a pile beneath, suffering first, and, by increasing the fire, hastening on the destruction of the others. דּוּר is properly a noun, a pile; literally: And also let there be a pile of the bones underneath. The expression cannot signify, with Häv., a pile of wood for the bones; for דּוּר is simply a pile, not a pile of wood, and when coupled with bones, can only mean a heap of these.)

6. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the bloody city! the caldron whose poisonous scum (verdigris) is in it. And the poisonous scum has not gone forth from it; on its every piece let it go forth; let no lot fall on it. (This seems to me the preferable way of understanding the latter part of Ezekiel 24:6. Most commentators, including Hävernick and Hitzig, render: bring forth piece after piece. But why drop the it connected with the verb הוֹצִיאָהּ ? Bring it out then, what it? The only thing made prominent in the preceding context is the poisonous scum; but it does not make sense to speak of bringing it forth piece by piece. This poisonous scum would not go out, the prophet had said, by such dealings as had already been resorted to; let it go out, then, he adds, upon each of the pieces in the pot; let the pot and its contents become alike infected with the corrupting taint: there is to be no lot cast, as if some were to escape; all were to be in the same category of evil. The communication of the poisonous scum is only to prepare the way for the application of the same consuming judgment to the caldron and its contents. And so the prophet immediately goes on to declare how the heaven-daring guilt was within and throughout the city, just as the poisonous scum was all through the pot and its pieces; whence all alike must suffer the vengeance of God’s destroying judgment. The confusion here commonly fallen into has arisen chiefly from pressing too closely the reference to Ezekiel 11:7, where, certainly, the Lord speaks of fetching the people out of the caldron, and giving them up to strangers. But, in the passage before us, the idea throughout is of their being kept in the caldron till they were there utterly wasted and consumed.)

7. For her blood is in the midst of her; upon the parched rock she has put it; she did not pour it forth upon the earth, to cover it with dust.

Ezekiel 24:8 . In order that fury may come up, that vengeance may be executed, I have put her blood upon the parched rock, that it might not be covered. (Blood is here mentioned as the consummation of all wickedness; that, the existence of which presupposes every other form of guilt. It is also brought specially into notice with a view to Genesis 4:10, where, even though the ground did receive the blood of Abel, still it cried to Heaven for vengeance. Here the people are represented as, with shameless and hardened effrontery, setting the blood they had shed in the most exposed and prominent place, on the naked rock, where there was nothing to conceal it, or intercept its cry to Heaven. And the Lord says not only that they had spilt it there, but that he himself also had set it there; that is, he had ordered matters so as to make the blood appear thus prominent, that the connection be tween the guilt and the punishment might be more easily perceived. Hence the proposal of some, after the Septuagint, to change the text in Ezekiel 24:7, so as to read: upon the parched rock I have put it, etc., instead of she, proceeds upon a superficial view of the passage. It was the city herself that did so, yet not without the overruling providence of God outwardly turning things into that direction; so that in one respect it might be said, she had set it, and in another, God had set it on the rock.)

9. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the bloody city; also I will make the pile great:

Ezekiel 24:10 . Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and boil it into a compound, (The radical meaning of the verb רָקַח appears to be the artificial amalgamation of various substances into one, as in the case of the formation of sweet spices or ointments, usually done by pounding and boiling. Hence the meaning here of הַרְקַח הַמֵּרְקָחָה is, let it be sodden into a compound, or reduce it to a pulp. Vulgate: coquatur universa compositio.) and let the bones be burned.

Ezekiel 24:11 . And let it be set upon the coals empty, so that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that its filthiness may be dissolved in the midst of it, its poisonous scum consumed.

Ezekiel 24:12 . The toilsome labours it has wearied out (exhausted), (This is substantially the rendering of the Vulgate: multo labore sudatum est. It indicates the pains or toilsome labours God had taken with Jerusalem to get her purified, but without effect; she had wearied them out, or allowed them to exhaust themselves without parting with her sins. תְּאֻנִים nowhere else occurs in the sense here ascribed to it; but there is now a general agreement that it bears this sense here, derived from the root אוּן , which sometimes has the meaning of trouble or distress, and in Arab., of being fatigued.) and yet its great poisonous scum has not gone forth; in the fire be its poisonous scum!

Ezekiel 24:13 . In thy filthiness is infamy, because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged; thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more till I have caused my fury to rest on thee.

Ezekiel 24:14 . I Jehovah have spoken it; it comes, and I do. I will not relax, (The verb פָּרַע is used with considerable latitude. But the primary meaning seems to be that of uncovering, or making bare, in which sense it occurs in Numbers 5:18, and other parts of the Pentateuch. Hence the secondary meaning of loose, relax, or dissolve, in which sense, probably, it is used, Exodus 32:25, for the people were not properly naked, but in a relaxed and dissolute state. I take it in this sense also here. In Proverbs 1:25, and other places, it bears the still stronger sense of unbridled, lawless, or contemptuous treatment. It never means to go back.) I will not spare, and I will not repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord Jehovah.

THESE fourteen verses contain the first part of the message given to Ezekiel on this occasion. The occasion was a melancholy one, being marked by the actual investiture of Jerusalem by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. It was the ninth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, and the tenth day of the tenth month. This is noted in other passages (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1) as the day and time on which the siege properly commenced. And that this fact should have been communicated to Ezekiel among the Babylonian exiles, and announced by him immediately after, must have been to afford another proof of his true prophetical character. By such an announcement he put his Divine commission in pledge, as he did still further, and more remarkably, by the clear delineation of the disastrous results in which he declared the siege thus begun was sure to terminate.

The image which is chosen for the purpose of unfolding the message to be delivered on this painful subject, that of a caldron set upon the fire to boil, with the best pieces of the meat in it, and the bones piled underneath, was evidently suggested by the proverb formerly noticed as having been bandied about among the people: “The city is the caldron and we are the flesh” (Ezekiel 11:3). In a proud feeling of fancied security they had spoken thus; but they were now to find, in bitter experience, that there was a dreadful truth couched in the image, which was to rebuke their senseless folly. So far from the city proving to them a place of secure strength, like the iron ribs of a strong caldron, it was to be set as a seething-pot upon the fire; and the people, like so many pieces of meat destined to be devoured, were to be put into it and subjected to a boiling heat. None were to be spared; the mighty and the noble, as well as the comparatively poor and mean, were to suffer in the calamity; the only difference should be like that between consumption in the fire at once the punishment of the poorer sort and perishing by the somewhat slower and more lingering process of boiling, from which the rich could not escape.

After having briefly given the ground of the parabolical description, the prophet proceeds, in Ezekiel 24:6-14, to make special and pointed application of it. His leading object is to show that it was the excessive and inveterate wickedness of the people which provoked, and even rendered necessary, the severe dealing to which they were now subjected.

All measures of a less extreme kind had been tried in vain; those were now exhausted; and as the iniquity appeared to be entwined with the whole fabric and constitution of things, nothing remained but to subject all to the crucible of a severe and overwhelming catastrophe. This is represented by keeping the caldron on the fire till its contents were stewed away, and the very bones burnt. And as if even this were not enough, as if something more were necessary to avenge and purge out such scandalous wickedness, the caldron itself must be kept hot and burning till the pollution should be thoroughly consumed out of it. The wicked city must be laid in ruins. It is the very same thought which occurs in Isaiah 4:4, where the filth of the daughters of Zion is said to be washed away, and the blood of Jerusalem to be purged from the midst of it, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning; only, after the manner of our prophet, the image is extended to many minute and particular details. In plain terms, the Lord was no longer going to deal with them by half-measures; their condition called for the greatest degree of seventy compatible with their preservation as a distinct and separate people, and so the indignation of the Lord was to rest on them till a separation was effected between them and sin.

As to the principle of dealing, there is no essential difference between what God did then with Israel and what he still does with those who stand in a similar relation to him and pursue a similar course. Where there is the profession of a belief in God’s word and a regard to God’s authority, though intermingled with much that is false in sentiment or unrighteous in conduct, there must still be dealings of severity and rebuke, to bring the professor, if possible, to a sense of his sinfulness, and lead him to renounce it; but failing this, to vindicate concerning him the righteousness of God, and leave him without excuse if his iniquity should prove his ruin. In the case of sincere, God-fearing people, the severity exercised will always be attended with salutary results; for they have the root of the matter in them, and are sure to profit by the chastening of the Lord. But with those who have the profession only, without the principle of true godliness, the iniquity is clung to in spite of all the severity that is exercised, until the wrath falls on them to the uttermost. There is enough in New Testament Scripture, and the experience of men under the present dispensation, to warrant us to expect so far a similarity in God’s method of procedure to the representation here given of his conduct toward Israel. But, on the other hand, a difference may also be expected, in so far as his dealings now, in accordance with the genius of the new dispensation, respect men more as individuals, less as public communities, and bear more immediately upon their inward state and spiritual relations. He who would regard aright the operations of the Lord’s hand, and profit by the corrections of his rod of chastisement, must keep a watchful eye upon the things that concern his own experience and history. There may be signs of the Divine displeasure, sufficient to startle the tender conscience and call for deep humiliation of spirit, while nothing appears outwardly wrong, and all may even wear a smiling aspect, as far as regards social and public relations. Should there be a restraining of Divine grace within, an absence of spiritual refreshments, a felt discomfort of mind, or an obvious withdrawal of spiritual privileges, there is beyond doubt the commencement of a work of judgment; and if such marks of God’s displeasure are slighted, others of a more severe and alarming kind may assuredly be looked for. But as men’s tempers and circumstances in life are infinitely varied, so there is a corresponding variety in the methods employed by God to check the risings of sin and expel its poison from the heart. And it is the part of spiritual wisdom to seek for the wakeful ear and the discerning eye, which may enable one to catch even the earliest intimations of God’s displeasure, and so improve these as to render unnecessary the heavier visitations of wrath.

The second part of the vision which Ezekiel saw on this occasion bore respect more immediately to himself, although it was really a revelation to the people.

Verses 15-17

Ezekiel 24:15 . And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 24:16 . Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke; and thou shalt not mourn, nor weep, neither shall thy tears flow.

Ezekiel 24:17 . Forbear to cry, make not mourning for the dead, (The literal rendering here is: dead-persons’ mourning thou shalt not do or make. Storr, and after him Hävernick, render: the dead shalt thou not make for mourning, i.e. shalt not take for an occasion or object of mourning. A very artificial sort of construction, and liable, besides, to the objection of mentioning dead persons as those for whom the mourning should naturally have been made, while in reality there was only one. The expression is evidently, like all the rest, of a quite general kind, referring to what was wont to take place on such occasions; so that dead-persons mourning was mourning appropriate to such.) bind the tire of thy head upon thee, and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not the chin, nor eat the bread of men. (“Bread of men” can only mean such bread as men in circumstances of bereavement and distress usually eat; and hence, though it undoubtedly suggests the idea of poor or unsavoury food, yet we are not on that account to render with some: the bread of the mourning, or the wretched.)

Ezekiel 24:18 . And I spoke to the people in the morning; and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

Ezekiel 24:19 . And the people said to me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things import to us that thou doest?

Ezekiel 24:20 . And I said to them, The word of Jehovah came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 24:21 . Say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am going to profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitied; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.

Ezekiel 24:22 . And ye shall do as I have done; ye shall not cover the chin, nor shall ye eat the bread of men.

Ezekiel 24:23 . And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet; ye shall not mourn nor weep; and ye shall pine away in your iniquities, and bemoan yourselves one toward another.

Ezekiel 24:24 . And Ezekiel shall be to you for a portent; according to all that he has done shall ye do; when it comes ye shall then know that I am the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 24:25 . And thou, son of man, shall it not be in the day that I take from them their strength, the delight of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and the wish of their souls, their sons and their daughters?

Ezekiel 24:26 . In that day he that escapes shall come to thee, to make it heard in the ears.

Ezekiel 24:27 . In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him that is escaped, and thou shalt speak and be no more dumb; and thou shalt be to them for a portent; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.

The portion of these verses which relates to the personal experience and behaviour of the prophet was well fitted to strike both himself and others. In ordinary circumstances such a calamity as the sudden death of a beloved wife would naturally have called forth, and would also have justified, the most affecting demonstrations of grief, doleful cries and lamentations, mourning attire, the uncovering of the feet (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2); uncovering also the head in the case of one who, like Ezekiel, was a priest, and wore a peculiar head-dress (comp. Leviticus 10:7; Leviticus 21:10; Leviticus 21:12; Joshua 7:6; 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Esther 4:3; Isaiah 61:3, etc.), (The two first of the passages referred to show that it was a natural and becoming sign of grief in priests to take off their head-dress, at least in times of peculiar distress; while others, it would seem, rather veiled and covered their heads in times of mourning (2 Samuel 15:30, etc.). The reason, doubtless, was, that the priests had their head-dress given them for ornament, as an appropriate badge of office; and on this account, as well as from being made of fine twined linen, it was unsuitable for a time of mourning. Besides this and other ornaments peculiar to himself, the high priest also had on his head the holy anointing oil, and was therefore forbidden, as mentioned in the second of the above passages, to lay aside his head-dress in any case of mourning; since it would have been to dishonour that by which he was specially consecrated to his high office, to disrobe himself of his mitre, and, after the common custom, wrap his head in sackcloth and ashes. The priests generally, however, might do this, though only in the case of the death of their nearest relatives (Leviticus 21:1-3). It is of course to be understood that the putting off of the mitre or head-band in such cases was in order to the putting on of inferior attire, with the addition of dust or ashes.) putting a cloth on the chin (Leviticus 13:45; Micah 3:7), and eating the bread of sorrow. But not one of these things was the prophet to be permitted to do. He was neither to shed a tear nor to raise a cry, not to make dead-persons’ mourning the mourning which was wont to be made in honour of the dead nor throw aside his priestly head-dress, nor put off his shoes, nor cover his chin, nor eat the bread which it was customary for men to eat in seasons of calamity and distress.

No reason is given for these singular restrictions as regards the prophet’s own case. He simply hears the word of the Lord, telling him what was to happen, and how he was to conduct himself when it did happen. Then he relates that in the evening his wife died, and that in obedience to the Divine command, he abstained from all the usual expressions of grief and mourning. The people, he further relates, came next day to inquire what these things signified to them. Not really in the outward transactions of life; for what we have here is not a historical narrative in the ordinary sense, but the account of a Divine communication between God and the prophet’s own soul. The things all took place in the sense and feeling of the prophet, and are recorded as transactions that he personally witnessed and took part in; but, as in the case of all his other visions, the scene of the transactions lay in the ideal, not in the actual world, in that spiritual sphere in which as a prophet he communed with God. Hence, as showing that he still was in that region, and was there dealing directly with heaven, at Ezekiel 24:25, immediately after the explanation given to the people of the sign, he is addressed by God with what is but a continuation of the message: “And thou, son of man, shall it not be,” etc. The whole account, therefore, belongs to that spiritual sphere in which the prophets lived and acted when they received communications from above; and it stands upon the same footing as the narrative of the caldron in the earlier part of the chapter, the vision of the iniquity-bearing in the fourth, or indeed any of the preceding communications in this book. What was done and said in his case, as immediately transacting with God, was an acted lesson for the people, to give force and distinctness to the instructions to be delivered respecting themselves. So they are given to understand in the application of what took place. They were soon actually to lose what was pre-eminently clear to them the sanctuary of the Lord, which is called, first, “the pride of their strength,” because in connection with it, to a large extent, had grown up their feelings of false security (Jeremiah 7:4); then, “the desire of their eyes and that which their soul pitied,” or yearned over, because it was what they peculiarly delighted in and clung to with a kind of conjugal regard. But now it was to be profaned, which, in the circumstances, could only mean laid in the dust, like the prophet’s wife. And not only that, but also their sons and their daughters, whom they had left behind them in Judea, were to be given up to the sword. Yet with such singular occasions of grief, the usual signs of affliction were not to be found in them they were neither to mourn nor to weep, their accustomed dress was to be retained, and their ordinary fare partaken of; but not as if their spirits were unmoved by what should have taken place, and no feeling of gloom sat upon their bosoms; on the contrary, “they should pine away in their sins, and bemoan themselves one toward another” (Ezekiel 24:23).

It appears to us almost unaccountable how any person of ordinary discernment should understand the prophet here to mean, that those Jews were to receive the coming catastrophe in a callous and indifferent manner, sullenly yielding to their fate, but without any sensible movement of the springs of sorrow and regret. Yet such is the view taken of the passage by some leading commentators abroad (in particular, by Eichhorn, Ewald, Hitzig), although the express declaration at the close, and the whole character of the representation, plainly lead to an opposite conclusion. In the typical part of the delineation, it was not because the prophet was insensible to the loss he sustained by the death of his wife that he was to abstain from the habiliments and usages of mourning, but because there was another source of grief behind of which this was but the sign and presage, and in itself so much greater and more appalling that his spirit, instead of venting itself in expressions of sorrow at the immediate and ostensible calamity, was rather to brood in silent agony and concern over the more distressing evil it foreshadowed. And in like manner with the people, when all their fond hopes and visions were finally exploded, when the destruction of their beautiful temple and the slaughter of their sons and daughters came home to them as dreadful realities, they could only refrain from bewailing the loss of what had so deep a hold on their desires and affections, by having come to discern in this the sign of what was still greatly more dreadful and appalling. And what might that be but the blood-stained guilt of their iniquities, which had brought on the catastrophe? Had it been that portion of the people who dwelt at Jerusalem that the prophet here more immediately referred to, there might have been some room for supposing (with Pradus and others) that he pointed merely to the overawing terror of the enemy, and to the breathless horror and astonishment connected with the capture of the city, when he spake of such an arrest being laid on the common outgoings of grief. But it is the captives at Chebar of whom he more immediately speaks, who he well knew would be living in outward quiet, far removed from the scene of uproar and destruction. It could not, in their case, be the presence of a Babylonian host, or the turmoil and consternation caused by the success of the Babylonian arms, which should check the customary expressions of grief; it would be the overwhelming sense that should then break in upon them of the iniquities to which they had clung with such fatal perverseness, absorbing their spirits, and turning their meanings into a new and higher direction. The agonies of breavement would be in a manner lost under the self-inflicted pains of contrition and remorse (comp. Ezekiel 7:16).

Yet while this seems obviously the meaning of the prophet’s announcement of the not mourning in one way, and still pining away with distress and sorrow in another the description must be understood with certain qualifications, and, indeed, is to be viewed as the somewhat ideal delineation of a state of things that should be found, rather than the exact and literal description of what was actually to take place. The representation would otherwise stand in palpable contrariety, as well with undoubted facts, as with statements elsewhere made both by Ezekiel and by his great contemporary in Judea. That many on the fall of Jerusalem did really exhibit the usual signs of mourning, and give the fullest vent to their feelings of distress, may be inferred with the utmost certainty from what is written in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, where we read of all the common symptoms and appliances of grief, “elders sitting upon the ground, casting dust upon their heads, girding themselves with sackcloth,” and the prophet himself, though he had been told not to lament or bemoan (Ezekiel 16:5), weeping till “his eyes failed with tears, and his liver was poured on the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of his people.” Nay, while Ezekiel here speaks as if all the indications of mourning should be restrained at the destruction of Jerusalem, he had previously spoken of the people being so filled with distress on account of it that “they should gird themselves with sackcloth, and have baldness upon their heads” (Ezekiel 7:18), and had himself also been instructed to howl and cry in contemplation of the approaching troubles (Ezekiel 21:12). There can be no doubt, also, on the other side, that the conscience of sin, however powerfully it might work in some bosoms and absorb other feelings, would be very far from being universally felt as it ought to have been. The prophets were by no means disposed to cherish exaggerated views on the subject. Jeremiah had even spoken of the people carrying their iniquities with them into other lands, and there serving other gods day and night (Ezekiel 16:13). And Ezekiel himself, in Ezekiel 20:0, represents them as still needing, after they had been all scattered among the nations, to be brought as into the wilderness, that they might there be dealt with for iniquities not yet forsaken, and purged from still remaining abominations.

It is clear, therefore, that the description in the passage before us must not be understood in the absolute sense, as if it were intended to portray what was certainly to be realized among the people at large on the taking of Jerusalem. It is what should have been realized in all, but what, in point of fact, was to have its realization only in part. The people should, on the occurrence of such a fearful catastrophe, have sunk under an overpowering sense of their guilt and folly, and, like the prophet, turned the tide of their grief and mourning rather against the gigantic evil that lay behind, seen only in the chambers of imagery, than what outwardly appeared; they should have bewailed the enormous sins that had provoked the righteous displeasure of God, rather than the present troubles in which that displeasure had taken effect. Their sorrow should have chiefly flowed in this more inward and spiritual direction, for it was here pre-eminently that the evil stood. And such, undoubtedly, was the case with the better and more enlightened portion of the people; but many still cleaved to their idols, and would not receive the instruction given them, either by the prophet’s parabolical example or by the reality of God’s afflicting dispensations.

But if in respect to the people we see the ideal here exhibited of a suitable and appropriate behaviour still destined to be marred by the prevalence of sin, the light in which the prophet himself appears in this vision is every way befitting his character and calling. With solemn and affecting grandeur it closes the first period of his high ministry! He had entered on this ministry under the most appalling discouragements, in a time of peculiar depression, and with the clear understanding that, as to immediate results, it was to be at once a thankless and a hopeless task which was given him to do. But not the less did he imbibe the spirit of his office, and throw his energetic soul into the work of reformation. Message after message came forth from him, charged with the weightiest tidings and breathing throughout the lively feelings of an affectionate and earnest heart; but without the slightest effect in arresting the fatal current that was bearing Israel onwards to the gulf of ruin. And now, when all remonstrance had failed, when it was found that warnings had been uttered and counsels given only that they might be treated with cold indifference or insolent contempt, the man of God is made in spirit to anticipate the now inevitable doom, and undergoes in his communings with God the same affecting experience of evil which was soon to be the common lot of his countrymen; thus showing, that although he was not a partaker in their sins, he was yet a fellow-sufferer in their condition, and made their case in a manner his own.

But here, for the present, Ezekiel ceases from his labours for the good of Israel. He has exhausted his commission in respect to the disclosure of the people’s sins, and the revelation of the Lord’s judgments. He has done all that could be done to impress on men’s minds the necessity and the nearness of the Divine retribution, and laid open on every side the purposes of God in connection with it. He must now, therefore, cease from his activity in this direction, and wait in silence the mournful issue. And so the word spoken to him at the commencement of his labours passes into fulfilment: “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:26). But this was only to be for a season. When the calamity had actually come, and the escaped remnant of the people of Jerusalem had joined their brethren on the banks of the Chebar, “in that day his mouth (it was said) should be opened to him that is escaped, and he should speak, and be no more dumb.” A new series of communications, suited to the altered circumstances of his people, was then to be given him, and he would yet do for them the part of a faithful friend and comforter in the time of their greatest desolation.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 24". "Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral Epistles". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fbn/ezekiel-24.html.
 
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