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Eze 20:1 And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth [month], the tenth [day] of the month, [that] certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
Ver. 1. And it came to pass. ] This chapter fitly followeth the former. There these malcontents had complained that the fathers had sinned and the children suffered. Here is evinced that there was never a better of them, that a viperous brood they had been from the first, that they were some of them naught all. a
In the seventh year, ] scil., Of Jeconiah’s captivity: and every year seemed seven, till the seventy were expired. The years of our misery we reckon; not so of our prosperity, which yet we should duly prize and improve.
That certain of the elders of Israel. ] Not Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, as the Jews fable: but worse men, rank hypocrites.
Came to inquire. ] But were resolved of their course, and had made their conclusion before they came. Eze 20:32 Either the prophet should chime in with the false prophets, who told them they should be sent home ere long, or else they would, for peace sake, worship idols and comport with the Babylonians; which yet, if they had done, it might have proved nothing better with them than it did with those renegade Christians in Turkey, who, falling down, many thousands of them, before Solyman II, and holding up the forefinger, as their manner is, in token of their conversion to Mohammedanism, he asked what moved them to turn? they replied, it was to be eased of their heavy taxations. He, disdaining that baseness, or not willing to lose in tribute for an unsound accession in religion, rejected their conversion, and doubled their taxations. b
a κακοι μεν θριπες, κακοι ηδε και ιπες . - Eras. Adag.
b Sir Henry Blunt’s Voy. into Levant p. 111.
Eze 20:2 Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
Ver. 2. Then came. ] See on Ezekiel 18:1 .
Eze 20:3 Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye come to enquire of me? [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.
Ver. 3. Are ye come to inquire of me? ] q.d., I scorn the motion, I loathe your false looks, be packing with your putrid hypocrisy. God will detect and shame gross hypocrites, as he did Jeroboam’s wife, the rotten hearted Pharisees, Ananias and Sapphira, that sorry couple, that consented to "tempt the Holy Ghost," as these elders also did - that is, to make trial whether he be omniscient, and able to detect and punish them.
I will not be inquired of by you. ] "The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination; how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?" as these did. Pro 21:27
Eze 20:4 Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge [them]? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:
Ver. 4. Wilt thou judge them? ] Or, Wilt thou excuse them? or, Wilt thou intercede for them? If thou hast never so good a mind to do so, yet do it not; rather reprove them for, and convince them of, their sins; spare thy charity, and exercise thine authority of "having in readiness to revenge their disobedience." 2Co 10:6 An causam ageres eorum? Abigendi sunt potius quam docendi. Ostendit Dominus ulcus profundum esse.
Cause them to know the abominations of their fathers. ] By themselves avowed, abetted, augmented; their fathers’ iniquity they have drawn together with cart ropes of vanity.
Eze 20:5 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I [am] the LORD your God;
Ver. 5. In the day when I chose Israel. ] Declared them to be my firstborn, and so higher than the kings of the earth. Psa 89:27
When I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the Lord your God. ] This sweet promise is not so easily, and, indeed, is never enough, believed, and is therefore here confirmed by God’s solemn oath thrice repeated, "that by two immutable things, wherein it was impossible for God to lie, his people might have strong consolation." Heb 6:18
Eze 20:6 In the day [that] I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which [is] the glory of all lands:
Ver. 6. Into a land that I had espied for them. ] Humanitus dictum. Finding it out, as it were, by diligent search. Num 10:33 Look how a father findeth out for his son a habitation fit for him, a help meet for him, other things necessary for his comfortable subsistence; so dealt God by his Israel. He brought them to a land which himself had carefully sought out; his eyes were always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. Deu 11:12
Flowing with milk and honey, ] i.e., Abounding with choice and cheap commodities.
Which is the glory of all lands. ] Or, Flower; decorem et desiderium. It was so then, it is not so now, since the Jews were disprivileged and dejected; but as in the earthly paradise, after man fallen, cecidit rosa, mansit spina, the rose fell off, the brier whereon it grew remained; so here. See on Daniel 8:9 ; Daniel 11:16 .
Eze 20:7 Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.
Ver. 7. Then said I unto them, ] viz., While yet in Egypt. This we find not in Exodus; it is enough that we find it here. See Job 5:9 . See Trapp on " Job 5:9 "
Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes. ] The idols to which your eyes are lifted up, Eze 18:6 and which are, or should be, to you, as Alexander called the Persian maids, dolores oculorum, eye griefs.
Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
Ver. 8. But they rebelled against me. ] I might say what I would, but they would do what they list. Good they were ever, if I may call it so, at resisting the Holy Ghost, obstinate idolaters from the very first; so that God had even as much ado to forbear killing them, as ever he had Moses in the same country for neglecting to circumcise his child. Exo 4:24
Neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt. ] This we read not of in Exodus either; it is enough that we have it here. The ingratitude of these Israelites was the greater, because God had done much for them, and was daily admonishing them of better things.
Then said I, I will pour out my fury. ] It was not therefore for nothing that Israel suffered so much in Egypt. Many now marvel at their own miseries, but think not of their sins, the cause.
Eze 20:9 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they [were], in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.
Ver. 9. But I wrought for my name’s sake.] Lest the heathens should say to my dishonour, Me non voluisse aut valuisse eos educere, that I either would not, or could not, bring them out of the house of bondage. Ergo quod nomen suum in nobis servandis asserat, sperandum est. It is also well to be hoped that God will deal favourably with the reformed churches, though ill deserving, for the dishonour that else would redound to himself. Fiat, fiat.
Eze 20:10 Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.
Ver. 10. Wherefore I caused them. ] With a strong hand and an outstretched arm I caused it, against all the force of Egypt. Exo 13:18 God hath also mightily brought England out of Egypt spiritually, and dealt with it, not according to his ordinary rule, but according to his prerogative.
And brought them into the wilderneas. ] Where I was not any "wilderness unto them, or land of darkness," Jer 2:31 but a God all-sufficient, raining bread from heaven upon them, and setting the flint abroach, rather than they should pine and perish.
Eze 20:11 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them.
Ver. 11. And I gave them my statutes. ] Which were far beyond the laws of the twelve tables in Rome, whereof yet Cicero affirmeth that they were far beyond all the libraries of philosophers.
And shewed them my judgments. ] Statutes and judgments are usually put in Scripture for one and the same, though the lawyers make a difference of them. Prosper’s conceit was, that this people were called Judaei. because they received ius Dei the law of God.
Which if a man do. ] But that he can never do exactly; evangelically he may, and that sufficeth to life eternal.
Eze 20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I [am] the LORD that sanctify them.
Ver. 12. Moreover also, I gave them my Sabbaths. ] A sweet mercy, without which the best would even grow wild. What a wretch then was that Egyptian in Phagius, who said that those Jews, and after them the Christians, had a loathsome disease upon them, and were therefore fain to rest the seventh day!
To be a sign between me and them. ] A distinctive sign of my distinguishing grace to Israel above others, who jeered them for sabbatising, as those that lost a seventh part of their precious time. To be also both a sign of a godly person - anciently, when the question was propounded, Servasti Dominicum? Hast thou kept the Lord’s-day? the answer was returned, I am a Christian, and can do no less - and a means of conveying more holiness into his heart.
Eze 20:13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
Ver. 13. But the house of Israel rebelled. ] They did little else; they made it their trade for forty years long. Psa 95:8-11
And my Sabbaths they greatly polluted. ] They vehemently violated; either they rested only thereon, or else they shamelessly troubled and disquieted that sanctified day of God’s rest. The world, saith one, a is now grown perfectly profane, and can play on the Lord’s-day without book.
Then I said, I would pour out my fury. ] God’s sayings are of two sorts; some are the sayings of his eternal counsel, and these are immutable; others of his threatening only, and these oft are conditional. God therefore threateneth that he may not punish, saith an ancient.
a Bishop King on Jonah.
Eze 20:14 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.
Ver. 14. But I wrought for my name’s sake.] Oh how oft are we beholden to this motive, and do escape fair by this means! See on Ezekiel 20:9 .
Eze 20:15 Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given [them], flowing with milk and honey, which [is] the glory of all lands;
Ver. 15. Yet also I lifted up mine hand. ] Here we have an epitome of Exodus and Numbers.
Flowing with milk and honey. ] See on Ezekiel 20:6 . If it be not so fertile and desirable now, it is for the Jews’ inexpiable guilt in crucifying the Lord of glory. The like befell Sodom - once as the garden of God, now a dead sea, where nothing can live.
Eze 20:16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.
Ver. 16. For their heart went after their idols. ] Heb., Their dungy deities; those dirty delights carried them sheer away from God and goodness. Any beloved sin will do so.
Eze 20:17 Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
Ver. 17. Nevertheless mine eye spared them. ] It was by a non obstante of God’s mercy, and by a prop of his extraordinary patience, that they subsisted.
Eze 20:18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
Ver. 18. Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers. ] With this text Frederick IV, prince palatine, answered another prince, who pressed him to be of his late noble father’s religion. Laban swore by the god of Nahor, or Abram, and of their idolatrous fathers; but Jacob sware by the "fear of his father Isaac," his immediate father more right in religion. Gen 31:53 Joshua would not follow the footsteps of his forefathers, Jos 24:15 but a better precedent. Christ saith, Ego sum veritas, non vetustas; I am the truth not antiquity, and contradicteth that which was said of old by those Kadmonim, who had corrupted the letter of the law by their false glosses. Mat 5:21 Antiquity must have no more authority than it can maintain.
Eze 20:19 I [am] the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them;
Ver. 19. Walk in my statutes. ] This is a surer and safer way. Lex, lux: "The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light." Pro 6:23 Come, therefore, to this light, that your deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. Joh 3:21
Eze 20:20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I [am] the LORD your God.
Ver. 20. And hallow my Sabbaths. ] By abandoning as well spiritual idleness as corporal labour.
And they shall be a sign. ] See on Ezekiel 20:11 .
Eze 20:21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
Ver. 21. See on Ezekiel 20:13 .
Eze 20:22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
Ver. 22. See on Ezekiel 20:14 .
Eze 20:23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
Ver. 23. See on Ezekiel 20:15 .
Eze 20:24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.
Ver. 24. See on Ezekiel 20:16 .
Eze 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes [that were] not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
Ver. 25. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good. ] i.e., I gave them up to their own inventions and hearts’ lusts (which was worse than to be delivered up to Satan), because they were ingrati gratiae Dei, as Ambrose hath it; they received the grace of God in vain. By "statutes not good," some understand the ceremonial laws, which commanded neither virtue nor vice in themselves. Others, such decrees and ordinances of God in the wilderness as were not good for them, but hurtful; as that for the execution of the calf worshippers, of the Baalpeorites, of Korah and his company, of the murmurers at Kibrothhattaavah, &c. Solon being asked whether he had given the best laws to the Athenians? answered, The best that they could bear.
Eze 20:26 And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through [the fire] all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I [am] the LORD.
Ver. 26. And I polluted them in their own gifts, ] i.e., I rejected both their persons and presents as unclean. So God would do our best performances (wherein there would not else be so much as truth and sincerity found), were they not wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, and perfumed with Christ’s sweet odours poured into them.
Eze 20:27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.
Ver. 27. Your fathers have blasphemed me. ] Because they trembled not at my judgments while they hung in the threatenings, but went on wilfully in their wickedness, putting it to the venture. This is a kind of blasphemy. Compare Numbers 15:30-31 . This is a sin scarce to be expiated with any sacrifice: such a sinner must be cut off.
Ezekiel 20:28 [For] when I had brought them into the land, [for] the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
Ver. 28. For when I had brought them into the land. ] It hath been already observed that good turns aggravate unkindnesses, and men’s sins are much increased by their obligations.
Eze 20:29 Then I said unto them, What [is] the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.
Ver. 29. And the name thereof is called Bamah, ] i.e., A high place; a name good enough in itself, but, as used by them, as odious to all good hearts as a brothel house is to a chaste matron. She is the worse to pass by it, and spitteth at it. So should we in like case. Exo 23:13 Psa 16:4 Hos 2:16-17 Zec 13:2 Deu 12:2
Eze 20:30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?
Ver. 30. Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? ] q.d., Are you good at that indeed? and have you yet a face to threadbare that paltry proverb of yours, The fathers have eaten sour grapes? &c. Give over, for shame.
Eze 20:31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.
Ver. 31. And shall I be inquired of by you? ] Is it ever likely to do well, think you? Of witches’ good prayers, as some call them, one saith well: Si magicae, Deus non vult tales: si piae, non per tales. See Jeremiah 7:9-10 . See Trapp on " Jer 7:9 " See Trapp on " Jer 7:10 "
Eze 20:32 And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
Ver. 32. And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all. ] You are laying a plot for an accommodation with the Babylonish idolaters, a compliance with them, and thereby you think to ingratiate, to get their favour and friendship. But please not yourselves in such a project; it will never be. So, no peace with Rome. The Moderater, Sancta Clara, and other such as sought to bring us together, made a pretty show, saith one, if there had been no Bible. Such carnal professors are not unlike these in the text, as seeing the wicked’s full cups, and their own harder condition, are ready to revolt, that "waters of a full cup may be wrung out to them" also. Psa 73:10
We will be as the heathen. ] And so help ourselves as we can, since God will not help us.
Ezekiel 20:33 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:
Ver. 33. Surely with a mighty hand. ] You are ready to say, as in Jeremiah 2:31 , We are lords; we will come no more unto thee; but I shall sure subdue you as so many perverse slaves or sturdy rebels. So unhappy is apostasy; so little is got by struggling, or by starting aside like a deceitful bow. God will rule over such with rigour; he will have the better of them to their small comfort.
Eze 20:34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.
Ver. 34. And I will bring you out from the people. ] The heathens with whom you have incorporated, hoping so to shun me, and to be out of the reach of my rod; but I shall sure find and ferret you out of all your starting holes; I shall be meet with you. So God was here with the English by the sweating sickness, which hunted and haunted also our countrymen in foreign parts, singling them out from others. It reigned, or rather God reigned by it, some forty years together. a
a Sennert. De Febrib., lib. iv. cap. 15.
Eze 20:35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
Ver. 35. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people. ] Into the most solitary and savage places of the world, for a fulness of misery without the benefit of any good society.
And there will I plead with you face to face, ] i.e., Solus cum solis et sine arbitris, Having you there alone, I will punish you to some purpose.
Eze 20:36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.
Ver. 36. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness. ] Where their carcases fell thick and threefold, till they were all consumed. "Behold we die, we perish, we all perish," said they once to Moses in a pet; "shall we be consumed with dying?" Num 17:12-13
Eze 20:37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
Ver. 37. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.] Why, then, Feri, Domine, feri, Smite, Lord, smite, so my sins may be pardoned, and my soul saved. Hic seca, hic ure, ut in aeternum serves, Here suffer, here burn that you may protect us in eternity, said an ancient: Do even whatsoever thou wilt with me, so I may come to heaven, though I come to it by weeping cross.
Eze 20:38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
Ver. 38. And I will purge out from among you the rebels. ] Making first a difference, and then a riddance of them from among my covenanters.
And they shall not enter into the land of Israel. ] But either die by the way, or, if they live to enter, they shall find it a strange land to what they or their fathers left it. See Jeremiah 44:14 . Lavater maketh the sense to be, They shall not enter into the heavenly Canaan. a See the like, Psalms 95:11 .
a Non eos perducam ad promissiones aeternas. - Oecol.
Eze 20:39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter [also], if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.
Ver. 39. Go ye, serve ye everyone his idols, ] q.d., You may for me; and I had rather you would, than dissemble, as you do, and play on both hands, to the scandal of the weak, and scorn of the wicked. For my part, I have done with you for ever; take your own course.
And with your idols. ] Away with these abominable mixtures. I will be served truly and totally, or not at all.
Eze 20:40 For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.
Ver. 40. For in mine holy mountain. ] In my Church, and among my faithful people, for to these he now speaketh comfort.
There will I accept them. ] Ibi occurram eis, scil., quasi in amplexum sponsoe; so some render and sense the text; i.e., there I will meet them, and accept them with much sweetness.
And there will require your offerings. ] Not forbid and refuse them, as I did theirs. Eze 20:39
Eze 20:41 I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.
Ver. 41. And I will be sanctified in you. ] I will get me great glory by you among the heathen, while you are non aliunde noscibiles quam de emendatione vitiorum pristinorum, as Tertullian saith of the primitive Christians, no otherwise to be known better from others than by an alteration in you for the better.
Eze 20:42 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country [for] the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.
Ver. 42. Into the land of Israel. ] A pledge of a better place.
Eze 20:43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
Ver. 43. Ye shall remember your ways. ] Recognition is the first thing in reformation. See Ezekiel 16:61 .
And ye shall loathe yourselves. ] Dissecabimini in faciebus vestris. a Ye shall be, as it were, slashed with a sword over your faces, like as those Act 2:37 were pricked at heart: they felt their sins as so many daggers at their hearts.
a Percutietis facies vestras. - Sept.
Eze 20:44 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
Ver. 44. And ye shall know that I am the Lord. ] A sin pardoning and heart sanctifying God; a rich rewarder of all that diligently seek me. Heb 11:6
Eze 20:45 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Ver. 45. Moreover, &c. ] See on Ezekiel 18:1 .
Eze 20:46 Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop [thy word] toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;
Ver. 46. Set thy face. ] Prophesy freely and boldly against Jerusalem, which is south from Chaldea.
Against the forest. ] Against Judea, which is mountainous and woody, having good and bad trees in it.
Eze 20:47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
Ver. 47. Every green tree. ] Good and bad shall to the fire together. Eze 21:3 Luk 23:31
Shall be burnt therein ] Or scorched, if they may escape so.
Eze 20:48 And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.
Ver. 48. That I the Lord. ] Who myself am a consuming fire. Heb 12:29
Eze 20:49 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?
Ver. 49. Doth he not speak parables? ] Nonne artifex est parabolarum iste? Qui erga non vult intelligi, vult negligi. a He is so high that we cannot take him, and shall therefore slight him as a madman, or not much better. A preacher shall have much ado to please a profane people. Neither maketh it much to the matter; but it is grievous, ah, Lord.
a Davus sum non Oedipus.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 20". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12