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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 8

Verses 1-18

Ezekiel 8:1 . As I sat in my house the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. The time of this vision of Ezekiel is reckoned from the captivity of Jehoiachin or Jeconiah. It happened probably on the sabbath day, when the heads of houses came to hear him preach. The Messiah, or man, as the LXX read, is in all respects the same as seen in the first chapter.

Ezekiel 8:2 . Lo, a likeness, as the appearance of fire. The LXX, ομοιωμα ανδρος the likeness of a man. Christ, says Junius, by whom God represented himself; that is, the eternal Word or Wisdom of God, was always rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men. See Ezekiel 1:27.

Ezekiel 8:3 . He brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem. This distinguishes the manner in which Ezekiel received the divine communications, from all inferior modes of conveying the divine pleasure. It implies that he was not transported in body, but in mind; that his knowledge was plenary, and altogether superior to the organs of sense.

The image of jealousy, zeal, or emulation. Solomon’s altar was removed by Ahaz to the north side of the house, probably out of contempt. Here the wicked Manasseh set up the image of the grove, that is, the image of Baal: but the word grove, may be rendered Astarte or Venus. 2 Chronicles 23:3. It would seem also that Astarte was intended by the wicked Manasseh as a female divinity to accompany Baal. Here the women prostituted themselves in the open courts of the Lord; and thus by this image of jealousy the servants of Satan rivalled the worship of the Lord, and triumphed over the saints. The good Josiah had removed these abominations; but having again found their way into the temple after his death, no sacrifice could purge the crimes, less efficacious than the blood of the priests, and the deluded people whom the Babylonians slew around the profane altars. See on 2 Chronicles 15:16, Selden.

Ezekiel 8:8-10 . Dig now in the wall and behold the wicked abominations. The hieroglyphics of Egypt were seen on their temples, on their monuments, and on the mausoleums of their ancient kings. Happily, though known to Moses, they are illegible to us. Moses, knowing the abominations contained in those inscriptions, gives the Hebrews the strongest cautions against likening the divinity to birds, beasts, and creeping things. Deuteronomy 4:15. The apostate Israelites are here justly reproached for polluting the Lord’s house with the obscenities of the heathen temples. The like abominations are still found in the idolatrous temples of India.

Ezekiel 8:11 . Seventy men. The whole sanhedrim, with Jaazaniah, their chief corrupter in this kind of worship, all engaged in idolatry. They were carried away with a sort of mania for the idols of the heathen. Hence their chambers were adorned with images of every description, and with tablets of gentile mythology. These were in chambers, and preserved as gentile mysteries from the eye and knowledge of the vulgar.

Ezekiel 8:14 . Women weeping for Tammuz; the hidden one, or Adonis, according to Theodoret. Pagan fable says he was inconsciously begotten of incestuous connection between Cinyras king of Cyprus, and Myrrha his daughter. Being extremely handsome, he was feigned to be cherished of Venus as her minion. But venturing, contrary to her warning, to hunt the boar in the Idalian grove, he was gaunched by its tusks, and died in the bloom of youth, much lamented by the goddess, and changed into the flower of that name, which is of a bloody colour. Hence the superstitious women mimicked the tears of Venus, whose image then stood in the temple, by weeping on a certain day for Tammuz. The gentiles celebrated the Adonian festival in the month of July, when he was applauded in their songs as having returned from hell. Vide Hierom in loc.

Others contend that Tammuz is the same with Osiris, who taught the Egyptians to plant and sow, to revere the gods, and to form their government under the Pharaohs. He was killed privately by his brother who envied his fame. Isis his wife, at length found his body, and interred it in the isle of Abates. During the funeral solemnities an ox appeared to the people, which they took for Osiris. Hence he was adored by the names of Apis and Serapis, that is an ox. He is thought by historians to be Mizraim, grandson of Noah. Thus the gentiles walked in the imaginations of their own hearts, and worshipped dead men.

Rabbi Maimonides gives another account of the weeping for Tammuz, whom he calls a false prophet. He states from Sabian books, “that having called his sovereign to worship the seven planets, and the twelve signs of the zodiac, he was ignominiously put to death; and adds, that on the night in which he was slain, all the images from the ends of the earth assembled in the palace, which had been erected to the great golden image, the image of the sun, suspended in the air; that the image of the sun descended in the midst of them, weeping and lamenting, the death of Tammuz, and relating the tragic circumstances of his death. This caused a general weeping of all the rest of the images during the whole night; but that on the dawn of day, all the images flew away to their respective temples.” Dr. Townley: Morè Novochim, p. 164.

Ezekiel 8:15 . Thou shalt see greater abominations. The priests, turning their backs on the shekinah in the holy of holies, to scandalous acts of Sabianism, worshipped the rising sun.

Ezekiel 8:16 . About five and twenty men worshipped the sun. The highpriest, and one from each of the twenty four courses of the priests, turning their backs of the temple and the uncreated glory, to worship a created light! Thus both the princes and the priests were totally polluted. Job 1:15.

Ezekiel 8:17 . They put the branch to their nose. The extreme brevity of the Hebrew language occasions difficulties. The word morah signifies noise or snuffing, as well as branch. Hence it seems to mean, that when the rulers were rebuked for idolatry, they threw up the nose with disdain. Poole however gives a folio column of criticism on this text. But bishop Newton, and Origen, after Symmachus, confirm what is said above.

REFLECTIONS.

What a portrait is here of gentile superstition, as practised by the apostate jews. Satan, taking advantage of the veneration which the descendants of Noah entertained for the patriarchs, called the sons of the gods, mixed tradition with fiction; and as their fathers claimed kindred with heaven, he made them all the children of Jupiter. Thus a way was made to pay them divine honours after death. Idolatry comprised all that was venerable in antiquity, all that could strike the eye, or move the passions by visible objects, and all that could induce the mind to superstitious devotion by the hopes and fears of a future world. To give the more effect to the horrid forms of their idols, the imaginations of a whole priesthood played off in metamorphosing of human souls into beasts, birds, and creeping reptiles, that every class of men might find a divinity to their own mind, and a devotion adapted to their passions. But why should the Jews, who knew better, be so prone to idolatry? It is replied, partly because of their ignorance and degeneracy, and partly because idolatry was clothed with every, charm which could captivate the depraved passions of men. Hence the harlot had her Venus or Ashtaroth, the drunkard his Bacchus, and every other sinner had a model of his crime in the divinity he adored. This is what Mr. Gibbon calls “the elegant mythology of the Greeks!” Besides, the gentiles had the lead of the jews in the fine arts, which being all mixed with idolatry, powerfully operated on the Hebrews who were “uncircumcised in heart and ear,” just as our travels, novels and reviews, all spiced and larded with infidelity, tend to draw young people to the vices of the age, and to alienate their affections from the religion of their fathers.

The wickedness of man shrouds itself with the veil of ignorance. Hush, hush, said the elders, the Lord seeth not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth. They did not deny the being or providence of God, but alleged that he being happy in the chambers of light, had now left the earth to angels, or the souls of the dead, whom they must now honour, by imitating both their virtues and their crimes. This awful sentiment once fixed in the heart, is that strong delusion which God sends on men, that they all may be damned who obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.

God will make manifest the wickedness of the human heart. While the haughty elders said, the Lord hath forsaken the earth, he descended with eyes of flame, with his cherubim and his prophet, to behold the horrors of their idols, to decypher their mystic tablets, to reveal their mysteries, and to disclose their shame. What a mirror was this vision to reflect the latent wickedness of an apostate nation! And now, oh wicked man, the same Lord descends to disclose the thoughts of thy heart, by the steps of thy conduct, by the searching power of his word, and by the mirror of his glory which shall expose thy thoughts to public view. Oh make haste, and wash thy heart from wickedness, calling on the name of the Lord. Make haste to embrace the religion of Jesus, which has saved the christian world from gentile superstition, lest thou be consumed with a vengeance greater than that which fell on the jews.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ezekiel-8.html. 1835.