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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 8

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-18

Visions of the Prophet (8:1-11:25)

Abominations Seen in Jerusalem (8:1-18)

The setting is Tel-abib in the house of Ezekiel, where he is surrounded by the "elders of Judah," perhaps personal advisers to the prophet. God’s glorious presence, in a form like that of the vision in chapter 1, is sensed, and "the form of a hand" takes the prophet by a lock of his head, Lifting him up "between heaven and earth." This is patently a vision, not physical transport of the prophet, who himself explains that the hand "brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem."

Ezekiel is directed to lift up his eyes and look "in the direction of the north" where a pagan god named Baal-Hadad was traditionally thought to dwell. He sees the "image of jealousy," some kind of Baal image. God speaks to his prophet about "the great I abominations that the house of Israel are committing," which in effect drive God far from his sanctuary. Since such worship is carried on in the environs of God’s house, the Temple can no longer be the dwelling place of God. Once he has removed his presence from the Temple, there is no power to prevent its destruction. With tragic accent the prophet is told, "But you will see still greater abominations." An underground secret room is discovered by the prophet who, after digging through a wall, comes to a door. The prophet must not be required to be completely consistent or logical when he supplies details such as "a door" and "a hole." His meaning is quite clear, namely, that he uncovered the secret chamber where the elders were worshiping. The walls were covered with pictures of creeping things and unclean animals, reminiscent of magical paintings in Egypt and probably also representing Chaldean influence. This frescoed room was the setting for "all the idols of the house of Israel" (vs. 10). Seventy elders of the house of Israel, including Ja-azaniah, stood before these pictures and idols, each with a censer in his hand, burning incense to false deities.

Doubtless these elders were still publicly loyal to God but their actual worship was dedicated to images in this secret place. Every man was worshiping in his "room of pictures" because he felt "The Lord does not see . . . the Lord has forsaken the land." This is the key to spiritual decline within the city and is the problem with which most of Ezekiel’s early prophetic activity had to do. Men felt that God had forsaken them and that they were free to turn to other gods; yet there was the strange inconsistency of their playing both ends against the middle. Pretense of being true to a great heritage was a cover for their actual loyalty.

Not only were the seventy elders in the grip of a new idolatry, but also there were women weeping for Tammuz (vs. 14). This Babylonian god was the husband or lover of the goddess Ishtar and was himself the god of vegetation. When vegetation withered and died in summer heat, women would weep for their dead god. Along with this aspect of the fertility cult went other debasements and orgies. In this kind of atmosphere how could God continue to be present in the city?

At the inner court of the Temple, somewhere "between the porch and the altar," twenty-five men sat with their backs to the Temple "and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east." Ordinarily the Jew faced the Temple when he

worshiped, but these worshipers turned their backs to the Temple

and their faces toward the sun. In addition to the mention of his act of nature worship, another cryptic reference to some nature cult is made in the words, "Lo, they put the branch to their nose" (vs. 17). Because Jerusalem was thus saturated with worship of Baal images, Tammuz, and the sun, God would deal with the city in wrath and would not spare (vs. 18).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 8". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/ezekiel-8.html.
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