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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ezekiel 7

The First Cycle—Chapters 1-7

THE first cycle of the predictions of the prophet embraces ch. Ezekiel 1:1 to Ezekiel 7:27. A sublime vision forms the introduction. To this prophetic discourses are appended which serve to explain the vision. At the close in ch. Ezekiel 7 a song.

Verses 1-4

Ezekiel 7. We have here the close of the whole cycle, which rises as such to a lyrical grandeur; as also the second cycle, in ch. Ezekiel 19, terminates in a song. This solemn close corresponds with the solemn introduction in ch. Ezekiel 1. The subject is here also the destruction which will come upon the sinful covenant people. Heavy blows are hero dealt against the hopes placed in the anti-Chaldaic coalition.

Ezekiel 7:1. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah of the land of Israel, An end, the end is come upon the four borders of the land. 3. Now is the end upon thee, and I will send my anger upon thee, and judge thee according to thy ways, and lay on thee all thine abominations. 4. And my eye shall not spare thee, nor will I pity: I will lay thy ways upon thee, and thy abominations shall be in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

“Thy abominations shall be In the midst of thee” ( Ezekiel 7:4),—namely, in their punishment. Sin has an active and a passive history. When the latter begins, that which was before the object of gratification becomes the object of terror.

Verses 5-11

Ezekiel 7:5. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, A grievous evil, behold, it comes. 6. An end is come, the end is come: it awakes against thee; behold, it is come. [37] 7. The lot is come unto thee, [38] who dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day is near, tumult, and not the shout [39] of the mountains. 8. Now shortly will I pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish my anger upon thee, and judge thee according to thy ways, and lay on thee all thy abominations. 9. And my eye shall not spare, nor will I pity: according to thy ways will I lay upon thee, and thy abominations shall be in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I, the LORD, do smite. 10. Behold the day, behold, it is come; the lot is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed; pride hath budded. 11. Violence is risen into a rod of wickedness: not of them, nor of their tumult, nor of them and them; nor is there wailing among them.

[37] באה refers to the grievous evil identical with the end in Ezekiel 7:5.

[38] Luther, “It rises already, and therefore breaks over thee.” צפירה , properly “ring,” then “crown,” here used of the lot as completed in itself, probably an expression which Ezekiel took from his Chaldaic circumstances, by which he denoted the ineluctabile fatum.

[39] הד הידד , “joyful cry,” as of the vintager or the conqueror

“An evil” ( Ezekiel 7:5), so bad that they have enough of it. The character of the terrible lies not in the unity, but in this, that the one evil is so bad. There is something sarcastic in the one. “Tumult, and not joyful shout of the mountains” ver. ( Ezekiel 7:7). The shout of joy is ascribed to the mountains, because it is mostly heard on them, and indeed not accidentally, but because it is called forth through them. It is said in Psalms 89:13, “Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name”—over it, over the deeds of thy glory that are done in them. This mute gladness of the mountains themselves comes to its expression in the acclaim of men. In the place of such joyful acclaim will come the tumult—the piercing cry of those who, struck by grievous misfortune, seek deliverance. The blossoming rod in Ezekiel 7:10 is that of the Chaldean supremacy. The figure is borrowed from Numbers 17:2-3, where the prosperity of the priestly office is indicated by the budding and blossoming rod of Aaron. Hence also is the budding. The pride belongs also to the Chaldeans. Its budding signifies that a favourable issue is secured to it. The rod of wickedness in Ezekiel 7:11 is the Chaldean despotism. “Not of them nor of their tumult or noise,” forms the counterpart to the political frenzy which had at present seized the Jews, and in which they expected to have the reins in their hands, and make some figure in the history of the world. The poor fools! In place of action, the suffering will come too soon. They will simply have to suffer whatever comes upon them, without being able to exercise any independent influence on the progress of events, however loudly they may now cry or strenuously endeavour. “Nor of them and them,” that is, of them, how much soever they may hold up their heads. [40] It throws contempt on the ice which they had continually in their mouths, and repeated with great emphasis: We, we shall do everything; I am a Jew. It is said, Jeremiah 30:21, “And their mighty (collective) shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from their midst.” And in Zechariah 10:4, “Out of him the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle-bow, out of him will go forth every governor together.” This is no doubt guaranteed to the people of God, and imparted to them in due time. But the rebellious generation of the present have lost the privilege of the people of God; they must leave the initiative to the world, and are reduced to mere passivity. The expansion of “nor is their wailing among them” [41] we have in ch. Ezekiel 24:15 f. The calamity will be so terrible, stroke will so come upon stroke, that lamentation will be forgotten in deep despair. It is the highest degree of pain, when the capacity to complain expires.

[40] Comp. הם הם , “they, and once more they,” Isaiah 57:6.

[41] Comp. Micah 2:4.

Verses 12-18

Ezekiel 7:12. The time is come, the day draweth nigh: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn; for wrath is upon all the tumult thereof. 13. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, and their life is still among the living: for the vision is touching the whole tumult thereof; it shall not return; and many a one in his iniquity will not preserve his life. 14. They blow the trumpet, and make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the tumult thereof, 15. The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and him that is in the city famine and pestilence shall devour. 16. And they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity. 17. All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall go into water. 18. And they shall gird on sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads.

The buyer gains nothing ( Ezekiel 7:12), and whosoever is compelled to sell loses nothing, for all comes into the enemy’s hand. “Their tumult,” their multitude, that makes so much noise for nothing; an allusion to Psalms 39:7, “Only in vain they make a noise; they gather, and know not who shall seize it.” Ezekiel 7:13 gives at once the reason of the words, “Wrath is upon all their tumult.” As the catastrophe is national, it is a matter of indifference to the seller that he has sold: he will in no case return to that which he has sold, so that he should regard it with pain, for the whole land is stripped of its inhabitants. It may, however, happen that he shall lose his life, and he has to count it good fortune if this does not take place, so that the thing sold cannot under any circumstances be a source of pain to him. [42] Instead of the wrath in the foregoing verse, stands here the vision in a like sense, for the vision has the wrath for its object. None goeth to the battle ( Ezekiel 7:14), because all are either already carried off, or seized with deadly fear; all hands weak, and all knees trembling ( Ezekiel 7:17), many powerless from famine and sickness ( Ezekiel 7:16). The mountains in Ezekiel 7:16 come into account as the place of refuge for the fugitive ( Psalms 11:1; Matthew 24:16); the doves only on account of their plaintive tones, their melancholy cooing; doves of the valleys, in whose cliffs they build their nests. The water is, in Ezekiel 7:17, a figure of dissolution going on everywhere; the knees are so relaxed that they are become as water. [43] On all their heads is baldness ( Ezekiel 7:18), because they have plucked off the hair in their deep grief ( Ezra 9:3).

[42] איש , not “every one;” this would not suit the foregoing—universal slaughter is also never announced by Ezekiel; but “one.” It implies that this case also occurs along with the other, that one remains in life.

[43] הלךְ? with the accusative of that which anything becomes, to become anything; comp. Joel 3:18, “The hills shall go into milk “for “they shall turn into milk.”

Verses 19-22

Ezekiel 7:19. They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be for uncleanness: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD; they shall not satisfy their souls, nor fill their bowels, because it is the stumbling-block of their iniquity. 20. And his glorious ornament he has set for pride; and they made the images of their abominations and detestable idols of it: therefore have I laid it on them for uncleanness. 21. And I will give it into the hand of strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute her. 22. And my face will I turn from them, and they shall pollute my secret; and the violent shall enter into her, and defile her.

“They shall cast their silver and gold on the streets” ( Ezekiel 7:19), to give to the rapacity of the enemy no point of attraction by which to endanger their persons; for rapacity goes hand in hand with bloodthirstiness. That this is the cause of their casting it away, is obvious from the following: “Their gold shall be for uncleanness,” detested as an unclean thing, because life is endangered by it. The gold and silver cannot deliver them, because the cruel foes whom the Lord sends against them, aim at their lives ( Isaiah 13:17); it cannot at all be the means of satisfying their hunger, because there is nothing to buy—the gold has lost all its value. The ground of this curse that rests on their gold and silver of this practical exhibition of their worthlessness, is found in the words, “because it is the stumbling-block of their iniquity.” Stumbling-block is occasion for stumbling. The addition “of their iniquity “(comp. Ezekiel 7:14) shows that a spiritual stumbling is here spoken of; that is, the possession of gold and silver gave them occasion for stumbling, or for sinning—tempted them to commit iniquity. How far, is shown in Ezekiel 7:20. Israel has perverted his glorious ornament, the gold and silver wherewith his God has furnished and adorned him, in the interest of his pride ( Ezekiel 7:20). From this proceeds, in fact, his tendency to idolatry, which in Isaiah 2:8-9, Isaiah 2:20-22, is regarded in the light of pride. Idolatry proceeds from the principle of independence in religious matters. Israel will have the initiative in matters of religion, make gods for himself, not submit himself in humility to the God of revelation, not serve Him as He is, and as He has made Himself known to him, and in the way prescribed by Him. All idolatry is at bottom egoism, the apotheosis of self, that sets up its god out of itself—first makes and then adores. They shall pollute her ( Ezekiel 7:21)—Zion or Jerusalem. Israel is profaned, secularized in his very centre, with all his shamefully abused possessions, because he has separated himself from his God, on whom his holiness depended. He is become profane in his conduct, and now is profaned also in his experience; he has spiritually rent asunder the partition between him and the strangers, and now in punishment this partition is also materially destroyed. “My secret” ( Ezekiel 7:22): according to the connection, this can refer only to his treasures. These are, so long as the people remain true to their God, placed under his protection and guarantee. All the means of Israel, as long as he is worthy of his name, are, as it were, the treasure of the Lord. Now that he has fallen from his God, this higher consecration of his means is taken away; it is secularized. [44]

[44] Even in reference to the glory of Tyre occurs, in Isaiah 23:9, the חלל , because, so long as its iniquity was not yet full, it was, as it were, a sanctuary. The suffix in מהם refers to the Israelites; the subject of חללו is the enemy; the suffixes in בה and חללוה refer to the city.

Verses 23-27

Ezekiel 7:23. Make the chain; for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. 24. And I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall seize their houses: and I will make the pride of the strong to cease; and they who consecrate them shall be defiled. 25. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and it shall not be. 26. Mischief shall come upon mischief, message shall be upon message; and they shall seek a vision from the prophet: and the law shall perish from the priest, and counsels from the elders. 27. The king shall mourn, and the prince shall clothe himself with astonishment, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto thorn according to their ways, and judge them according to their judgments; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

The chain which the prophet is to make ver. ( Ezekiel 7:23) (an undeniable example of a purely internal symbolic action; or will they make the prophet a smith, as they made him a cook in ch. Ezekiel 24?) points to this, that Israel the transgressor is to be instantly cast into chains and bands, and thus prefigures the misery of the future; comp. Ezekiel 7:10-16, like to which is Psalms 107, composed after the return from the exile, where Israel appears in his misery under the figure of a people fettered in dark prisons, of an incarcerated company. “I will make the pride of the strong to cease” ( Ezekiel 7:24): the fundamental passage is Leviticus 26:19, where, in the threatening against the rebellious people, it is said, “I will break the pride of your power.” “And they who consecrate them shall be defiled:” to be compared is Isaiah 43:26-27, “Thy first father (the high priest) hath sinned, and thy intercessors have transgressed against me. Therefore will I profane the princes of the sanctuary, and give Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproach.” With the approaching destruction of the sanctuary are the priests also, who can no longer officiate, desecrated, and thus the means of expiation are withdrawn from Israel. Jeremiah, in ch. Jeremiah 33, meets with the word of promise a deep trouble of the people, that which must have been called forth here by the threatening of the prophet: the temple, changed into a den of robbers by the guilt of the people, was to be destroyed. On the existence of the temple depended that of the Levitical priesthood; and if this went to the ground because an unsubstantial shadow, where would then be the forgiveness of sins, which in the law (for ex., Leviticus 16) was connected with the mediation of the Levitical priesthood? Ezekiel points only to the cloud; Jeremiah opens the view to the sun concealed behind the cloud. “Destruction cometh” ver. ( Ezekiel 7:25); properly contraction, in contrast with the expansion which is connected with all joyful prosperity. Such expansion is founded in the nature of the people of God: comp. Genesis 28:14; Isaiah 54:3, “Thou shalt break forth right and left, and thy seed shall inherit the heathen;” and where the expansion gives place to the contraction, the state of restriction and diminution, it is a mournful anomaly, which can have its ground only in this, that the people of God have degenerated, and become unfaithful to their call. “They shall seek a vision from the prophet” ver. ( Ezekiel 7:26): from their prophets, who hitherto have presented the future to them in rosy colours, and to whom the heavens have been full of music. Now they make a lamentable figure; they are stricken on the mouth by the event. “The law shall perish from the priest.” The law comes into consideration in this connection in a peculiar respect. The priests before the catastrophe had so explained the law, that the people were lulled into a false security. They had given a one-sided prominence to the election of the people, and the lofty promises made to them, without referring to the conditions on which the election depended, or the severe threatenings in case of infidelity. Now they no longer venture to come forth with such interpretations of the law that turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. Events compel them no further to do violence to the law, as Zephaniah reproaches the priests, ch. Zephaniah 3:4 (comp. Jeremiah 2:8; Ezekiel 22:26). “Judge them according to their judgments” ( Ezekiel 7:27)—corresponding to their deeds. “And they shall know that I am the Lord:” this knowledge, which they despised, is now forced upon them. In their downfall they must acknowledge it. With these words recurring in Ezekiel like a refrain, the first cycle of his prophecies closes.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 7". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/ezekiel-7.html.