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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Ezekiel 2

Verses 1-10

2. The Divine Commission to the Prophet (Ezekiel 2:1 to Ezekiel 3:11)

Ezekiel 2:1 And He said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee. 2And the spirit entered into me as He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, and I heard Him that spake unto me. 3And He said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the sons of Israel, to heathens, the rebels, who rebelled against me. They and their fathers have been revolters from me down to this 4very day. And the sons! stiff of face and hard of heart are they, I do send thee unto them [Ezekiel 2:3]; and thou sayest unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah. 5And they, whether they hear or whether they forbear,—for they are a house of rebelliousness,—know then that a prophet was in their midst. 6And thou, son of man, thou art not to be afraid of them, neither of their words art thou to be afraid; for [although] prickles and thorns are with thee, and thou art dwelling among scorpions, of their words thou art not to be afraid, and at their face thou 7art not to be terrified, for they are a house of rebelliousness. And thou speakest my words unto them, whether they hear or whether they forbear; for they are 8rebelliousness. And thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee: Thou must not be rebelliousness, like the house of rebelliousness. Open thy mouth, and eat 9what I give unto thee. And I saw, and behold, an hand sent [stretched] unto me; and behold, in it a book-roll. 10And He spread it out before me; and it was written within and without, and on it were written lamentations, and groaning, and woe.

Ezekiel 3:1 And He said unto me, Son of man, that which thou shalt find eat; eat 2this roll, and go, speak unto the house of Israel. And I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat this roll. 3And He said unto me, Son of man, thy belly shalt thou cause to eat, and thy bowels shalt thou fill with this roll which I give thee. And I did eat; and it became in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 4And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and thou 5speakest in my words unto them. For not to a people obscure of lip and difficult of tongue art thou sent,—to the house of Israel. 6Not to many nations obscure of lip and difficult of tongue, whose words thou canst not hear [understandest not],—7although I have not sent thee to them, they would hearken unto thee. Yet the house of Israel, they will not be willing to hearken unto thee, for they are not willing to hearken unto me; for all the house of Israel, hard of forehead and stiff of heart are they. 8Behold, I have made thy face hard against their face, and thy forehead hard against their forehead. 9As an adamant harder than stone have I made thy forehead: thou shalt not fear them, and thou shalt not be terrified at 10their face, for they are a house of rebelliousness. And He said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee, receive in thine heart and hear in thine ears. 11And go, get thee to the captivity, to the children of thy people, and thou speakest unto them, and sayest unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, whether they hear or whether they forbear.

Ch. 2.Ezekiel 2:2. Sept.: ... ἐπʼ ἐμξ πνευμα κ. ἀνελαβεν με κ. ἐξηγειπεν με κ. ἐστησεν με

Ezekiel 2:3. ... τ. οἰκον τ. ̓Ισρ. τους παραπιχραινοντας με, οἱτινες

Ezekiel 2:5. ... ἠ πτωηθωσιν, διοτι

Ch. 2.Ezekiel 2:6. ... μηδε ἐκστης , διοτι παροιστρησουσιν κ. ἐπισυστησονται ἐπι σε κυκλοι

Ezekiel 2:7. Anoth. read.: בית מרי (Sept., Syr., Arab., Chald.: עם).

Ezekiel 2:10. γεγαμμενα ἠν τα ὀπισθεν κ. τα ἐμπροσθεν.

Ch. 3.Ezekiel 2:1. ... ἀνθρωπου, καταφαγε τ. κεφαλιδα...υἱοις ʼΙσρ. (Anoth. read.: בני, Vulg., Syr., Arab.)

Ezekiel 2:2. K. διηνοιξεν.

Ezekiel 2:3. ... το στομα σου φαγεαι κ. ἡ χοιλια...της δεδομενης εἰς σε...μελι γλυκαζον.

Ezekiel 2:5. βαθυχειλον χ....συ ἐξαποστελλη προς τ. οἰχ.

Ezekiel 2:6. ... ἀλλογλωσους οῦδε στιβαρους τη γλωσση ὀντας... κ. εἰ προς τοιοτους...οὑτοι .

Ezekiel 2:7. ... φιλονειχοι εἰσιν χ.—

Ezekiel 2:9. Κ. ἐσται, διαπαντος κραταιοτερον πετρας...μηδε πτοηθης

Ezekiel 2:10. ... οὑς λελαληκα μετα σου

Ezekiel 2:11. ... ἐαν .

EXEGETICAL REMARKS

In accordance with the character of the vision of Ezekiel 1:0 as discussed at p. 31, the installation of Ezekiel to his sphere of labour must now take place, the vision must he realised as a mission (first of all in words). But before the mission conies to be expressed in words (it is said, first of all, merely, Ezekiel 2:1, and I will speak with thee), the prophet is restored, so to speak, physically, i.e. as regards mind and body, to the status quo.

Ezekiel 2:1-2.—The Divine Raising up of Ezekiel in order to the Divine Commission

Ezekiel 2:1. And He spake. The “voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:28, comp. Ezekiel 2:25) must be that of Him who sits upon the throne (Ezekiel 2:26).—בן־אדם, man of men. By this expression Ezekiel is immediately contrasted with Him who is speaking to him; for of Him it is said at Ezekiel 1:26 : “the likeness as the appearance of a man.” Jehovah merely appeared “as a man,” Ezekiel is a son of man. (Cocc. certainly & mi frater, Psalms 22:22; Hebrews 2:11-12.) Hence the view that this form of address is meant to distinguish him from the angels—apart from such a conception of the chajoth in Ezekiel 1:0.—says too little. On the other hand, it would increase the distinction so as to produce a conflict with the raising up of the prophet which follows, if a humbling of him were meant to be signified by this expression (Raschi),—in order that he may not after such visions exalt himself as being only a man (2 Corinthians 12:7). It is perhaps meant to be said at the commencement,—but even more for those who have to hear him than for Ezekiel himself; and on this account it becomes a stereotyped (Häver.: more than 80 times) form of address to the prophet,—that he would not to be able to give such revelations from himself (comp. Introd. § 7). But this man of men is called: one whom God strengthens (comp. Introd. § 1). His legitimation for the Church lies as much in the one as in the other; in other words, in both together (1 Corinthians 15:10). The expression son of man is meant to say to Israel: “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah.”—As regards the divine raising up of Ezekiel which is intended, his falling down comes, first of all, to be considered: stand upon thy feet. This human element, which has come to be expressed, is established by the form of address on the part of Jehovah; yet without the design of humbling the prophet (e.g. as the Jews say, because driven out of Jerusalem, like Adam out of Eden!), rather with compassionate condescension (οb φιλανθρωπίαν—Polanus), a divine ecce homo. Then, farther, it corresponds with the stereotyping of this form of address to Ezekiel, and also with an exaltation of him, as respects his prophetic mission, when it is remembered in connection therewith that the vision of Ezekiel 1:0, with all its direct and special applicability to Israel of that time, had a general human character, and a horizon embracing the whole world: the likeness of a man predominated in the chajoth, the likeness as the appearance of a man was the description of Him who sat on the throne, the number four had the sway numerically over the whole. With this distinction from Ezekiel 9:10, the mission of Ezekiel takes place, who at the same time is addressed as “son of man,” as prophet not merely of Israel, but of mankind generally. [Rosenm.: pro simplici אָדָם homo. Hävern.: a standing humiliation, corresponding with the time of the exile, and the strong, powerful nature of Ezekiel, and at the same time, a lesson for his hearers to look quite away from man. Hengst.: the form of address admits what lies before the eyes in looking at the frivolous objections of the multitude. Hitzig: a self-reflection of the prophet as to the distance between God and him. Klief.: because God speaks with him as man to man, as a man talks with his friend. Keil: the weakness and frailty of man, in contrast with God, which appears the more prominent in the case of Ezekiel, through the preponderance of vision, for the people as for him a sign of the power of God in weakness, who can raise Israel even up again, miserable as she is among the heathen. Umbr.: “The call of grace out of the mouth of Him who by the sight of His glory has cast man to the ground in the consciousness of his sin.”]—Ezekiel is to rise to his feet (comp. Daniel 8:18; Matthew 17:7; Acts 26:16; Exodus 33:21), primarily, a corporeal lifting up of the prophet, in order, however, that God may talk with him. אֹתָךְ, the accusative particle ֹאוֹת for the prep. את (Ew., Lehrb. § 264; Ges. § 101). Comp. Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 3:24; Ezekiel 3:27.

Ezekiel 2:2. For the divine summons the divine preparation is not wanting, important for all coming time (Ezekiel 3:24; comp. Revelation 1:17). רוּחַ, coming in this way, by means of God’s word, is not “the consciousness, the thinking power” of the prophet, his “animal spirits” (Hitzig), comp. on Ezekiel 1:28; for the spirit comes into him, does not so much return to him (how would he have been able, Ezekiel 1:28, in a state of unconsciousness, to hear one speaking?); but also not the Holy Spirit for the purpose of inspiration, but: the spirit who was also in the chajoth and in the wheels, Ezekiel 1:0 (Hengstenberg); just as the context makes us think of that first. God gives him the spirit to set him on his feet, but also to catch His words; on account of the latter, this divine quickening is at the same time expressed as a coming of the “spirit” into him; it is a quickening of mind and body conjointly, which brings about the transition from the revelation in vision (מראה) to the revelation by word. (Hävern.: the Spirit of God, partly as power that overmasters, seizes him, partly as that victorious, divine power—in himself—of genuine courage and noble alacrity in his calling?) An interesting parallel in 1 Kings 10:5.—מִדַּבֵּר (Ezekiel 43:6) מִתְדַּבֵר= partic. Hithp.; in Ezekiel 1:28, מְדַבֵּר partic. Piel. Raschi: “The Shechinah talked within itself in its glory.” In that case, אלי = of me. אֵת with the participle = Him who (Ewald, Lehr. p. 569 sqq.).

Ezekiel 2:3 to Ezekiel 3:11.—The Divine Commission to the Prophet

Ezekiel 2:3-7. What Opposition he has to encounter from his Hearers, as well as the Divine Consolation thereanent

Ezekiel 2:3. And He spake unto me—is continually repeated anew, characteristically, indicating the momentary character of the divine communications.—The mission is portrayed after the manner of the address. בני, for which the LXX. have read בֵּית. The sons (children) of Israel in general are brought down to the level of גוים (which expression is not used for the tribes and families, nor does it, as Hitzig, Klief., mean merely isolated portions of the people),—גּוֹי (from גָּוָה), that which is brought together, like ἔθνος, that which hangs together by means of ἔθος, custom, in distinction from λαός—(comp. Hosea 1:9) which is farther explained by: the rebels, and may be illustrated by comparison with Psalms 2:1. The article emphasizes them as such in a decided way, and the clause: which rebelled against me, impressively repeats what is applicable to them. (Hengst.: They are described first according to what they ought to have been, sons of him who wrestled and prevailed in faith with God and man; then according to what they really are, a microcosm, as it were, of the whole heathen world, whose religion and morals were reflected in them; the plural goes even beyond Isaiah 1:4. Polanus refers it to Judah and Israel.) How general the statements are is shown by what follows: they and their fathers—(Jeremiah 3:25). The echo makes itself heard still in the speech of Stephen, Acts 7:51-53.—עצם, a Pentateuchal word.

Ezekiel 2:4. But since it is the sons to whom the divine mission directs the prophet, they are put forward, as it were pointed out with the finger, but by no means as “children of God,” as Hävern. will have it. Stiff is something thoroughly bad (Isaiah 48:4); it is otherwise with Lard (Hebrews 13:9), which may at all events be determined by cirstances (comp. Ezekiel 3:8-9). Here the face determines the character of the heart, and of its hardness as one that is evil. This evil hardness of the heart explains the before-mentioned faithlessness “down to this very day.” The stiffness of the face excludes alike the emotion of shame and the tears of repentance.—Thee (thus to those who are חזְקֵי־לֵב, one of the חִזְקֵי־אֵל), to the hardhearted one who is hard (firm) in God, comp. Ezekiel’s name, Introd. § 1 (Ezekiel 3:8-9).—Thus saith the Lord Jehovah. And here we are by no means, with J. H. Michaelis, to add in thought: etc. Just this short statement, without any addition, is of indescribable majesty as opposed to the rebels; in connection with it, Virgil’s quos ego may suggest itself to us. [Sept.: κύριος κύριος. Vulg.: Dominus deus. Philipps.: the Lord, the Eternal. Other Jewish translators: God the Lord.] It is a short form of Exodus 20:2.—Because אֲדֹנָי, according to which יְהוָֹה is usually punctuated, immediately precedes, יֱהוִֹה gets the points of אֱלֹהִים.

Ezekiel 2:5. And they strongly emphasizes those who have been mentioned. To supply out of Ezekiel 2:7 : and speak my words unto them, or the like (Hengst.), is not necessary, is even unsuitable, inasmuch as “thus saith the Lord Jehovah” precedes (comp. Ezekiel 3:11), and also confuses the meaning of the sentence, which finds its apodosis after the expressively resumed המה in וידאו: they know then, or: “they know, however,” etc. Nevertheless, היה preserves the meaning of was (not: is), although, as both cases are supposed: “hearing” and “forbearing,” i.e. neglecting to hear, המה וידעו׳ ought not to be so much as: they will then learn by experience, viz. by the fulfilment of the threatenings, which could certainly be applicable to the latter case only. Here the matter in hand is not yet so much hearing and being converted, or not, as is the case afterwards in Ezekiel 3:17 sqq., but only the mere giving ear in general, or the refusing even that; and thus, even whether the prophet finds hearers or not, his “thus saith the Lord Jehovah” is a fact; they know by means of this testimony, which sounded among them, although they may hear nothing farther, that a prophet has been among them. God has by this given sufficient testimony to Himself (John 15:22). Thus the אם־ואם makes the very least supposition which can be made, and gives the reason for this lowest supposition, hearing as well as forbearing to hear, by means of the clause: for a house, etc., and hence also יֶחְדָּלוּ with full accentuation.—For נביא, comp. Lange’s Comment, on Deuteronomy, Doct. Reflect, on Ezekiel 13:0.

Ezekiel 2:6. But whatever opposition the prophet may have to encounter as regards those to whom he is sent, in reference to his own person (hence the subjective negation אל)—so runs now the divine consolation—he has nothing to fear (Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:17; Matthew 10:26; Matthew 10:28), either from themselves or from their words, which with men usually look worse than themselves, and frequently also are worse, since one pulls down another by such means: slander behind backs creates prejudice, and renders abortive the labours of the preacher. “Thou art not to be afraid” impressively repeated, thus: no, not at all. סרבים, only here, is taken by some literally, as an adjective (Gesen.): rebellious; by some figuratively, as a substantive (Meier): straggling briars, or something hard, that injures: prickles, possibly also something for beating: a whip, scourge. Keil: stinging nettles, thorns. סַלּוֹן, here like םִלּוֹן, Ezekiel 28:24. Elsewhere also a figurative and non-figurative expression are combined (Psalms 27:1).—בי, according to Keil: if, but better: although. It gives the reason for the charge.—אוֹתָךְ is explained by what follows as being the with of association (Ezekiel 3:15; Deuteronomy 8:15; 1 Kings 12:11; 1 Kings 12:14). A gradation: briars, thorns, scorpions! חתת Niphal: to be broken, to pass away, to despair (Ezekiel 3:9).—Face, because it is stiff (Ezekiel 2:4).—House (Ezekiel 2:5), here again with special reference to his “dwelling.” Ezekiel 2:7 : Ezekiel 3:4; Ezekiel 2:5. מוי at the close, but with heightened meaning, as it were the incarnation of it. Ezekiel 44:6.

Ezekiel 2:8 to Ezekiel 3:11. What Opposition he might have to encounter in himself, and the Divine Strengthening against it.

Ezekiel 2:8. Hitherto it was the commission as such, viz. a divine one, now it is the same commission as respects what it will contain את אשר־. Inasmuch as Ezekiel belongs to that house, מרי (as hitherto always in pause-form) is attributed to him also. It has been understood as an adjective, or elliptically (supply אִישׁ, Ezekiel 2:7 : אַנְשֵׁי). Comp. Jonah; Exodus 4:13; Jeremiah 1:6. The divine commission is symbolized by means of the following demand, with which every objection is cut off. (Illustrating, at the same time, the form of expression in John 6:0.) With appetite, hunger, we have here nothing to do.

Ezekiel 2:9 : ואראה, comp, Ezekiel 1:1 : consequently in vision. בו, because יד is of the common gender; others make the suffix neuter, alleging that יד is always feminine.—מגלת־, written after the manner of the Pentateuch on the skin of an animal, Psalms 40:7; Hebrews 10:7 (Revelation 10:2). J. D. Michaelis makes the remark here: such a book rolled about a rounded piece of wood looks not unlike a baker’s roll (!).

Ezekiel 2:10. God spreads out this roll before him, so that he can ascertain what follows, the contents of the divine commission, can become acquainted with his mission. It was a so-called opisthograph (Lucian: Vit. Auct. ix.), Pliny, Ep. 49. Written over inside, and on the back (comp. Revelation 5:1), not merely, as usual, the inside alone; within and without, indicating a writing of great size, whose fulness of contents is also clear at once to every one, by which writing we are to understand the book of our prophet, whose character, as will immediately appear, is to be specified as קינה (wailing, mourning, lamentation, 19:1), הגה(from the low sound), and הי(according to Gesen., for נְהי; Ew.: a sound of wailing הוֹי). Comp. therewith, Exodus 31:18; Zechariah 5:1; Jeremiah 36:18; Daniel 5:25.

Ezekiel 3:1. What he finds before him (Ezekiel 2:8-9); he would certainly not seek it for himself. After the acceptance without objection (symbolized by the eating), the speaking to the house of Israel is to take place: ולך דבר, ἀσυνδέτως, without ו between them, one idea. Only what God imparts to him he is to preach, and that immediately: and therefore nothing of his own, and no delay in accordance with his own judgment (2 Timothy 4:2). The objectivity and sovereignty of the divine word are strongly emphasized. Comp. Deuteronomy 18:18; Jeremiah 1:9 (Matthew 10:20).

Ezekiel 3:2. A symbolical transaction, and also taking place in vision (Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalms 119:130-131).

Ezekiel 3:3. An intensification of the thought to the highest degree, so that the prophet is not merely to be willing to accept (to “eat”), but what he has accepted is to be his food, on which he lives, and that which fills his inner man, which determines his activity outwardly. Comp. Psalms 40:8; John 4:31-34 (1 Timothy 4:6; Luke 6:45). Double accusative—ואבלה, with emphasis (Gesen. Gramm. § 126), neut.: as respects sweetness, as sweet as honey. A frequent comparison as applied to the fear of God, His word and the like (comp. Jeremiah 15:16). The bitter element (Revelation 10:9-10) is perhaps presupposed in what he saw written on the roll (Ezekiel 2:10; comp. Romans 9:2). In this way the bitter element would come first, and so much the greater an act of obedience would the prophet’s eating appear. And so Klief. might legitimately emphasize the sweet after-taste, and also point to this, that Ezekiel, after and during all the misery which he has to announce, will have also something sweet in his mouth in saying it, or even in merely knowing it respecting Israel. Comp. Introd. § 5; comp. however, Ezekiel 3:14 also.

Ezekiel 3:4. לד־בא; comp. the imperative in Ezekiel 3:1; Ezekiel 3:11. A more expressive repetition of the command in the mission. Hence the sweet taste which the prophet experienced in Ezekiel 3:3 symbolizes, first of all, his alacrity; thus the divine preparation, the strengthening experienced in respect of that which would possibly otter resistance in himself; so that there may be a retrospective reference to the main hindrance, namely, that which lay with Israel (Ezekiel 2:3-7).

Ezekiel 3:5. It seems like a relief that Ezekiel is not sent to עמקי־, which certainly stands for those speaking a language foreign to a Jew (comp. Isaiah 33:19), as is also explained in so many words in Ezekiel 3:6, and which, in parallelism here with heavy tongue, will mean not so much “deep” of sound, as rather, in accordance with the cognate idea of deep, viz. obscure as regards the interpretation,—is there a reference to the widely-opened lips of the stammering tongue? The plural, because of the collective םע. So already Calvin.—אתה שלוח, standing in the middle, refers alike to the positive and to the negative part of the sentence; we may supply: but.—The house of Israel is the prophet’s own house (Ezekiel 3:11), in whose case, therefore, lip and tongue have not the stamp of strangeness for him.

Ezekiel 3:6. This more general thought in Ezekiel 3:5 receives in Ezekiel 3:6 a peculiar colouring, inasmuch as, on the one hand, the many nations are made prominent by the side of Israel,—Ezekiel’s sphere of labour is small and contracted in comparison,—and inasmuch as, on the other hand, stress is laid upon the circumstance: “whose words (if they had to speak to thee) thou wouldst not understand”—thus the hindrance as regards their lip and tongue would lie with the prophet. But in the latter respect, it is rather that he has to speak (“and speakest in my words,” Ezekiel 3:4; Ezekiel 3:11), and not so much to hear. The subject in hand is the power of comprehension which the prophet is to meet with. Now, this is a contrast which lies in thought between the lines. But another connected therewith (just as it is hinted by the contrast drawn between Israel and the heathen, to whom Israel was compared above in Ezekiel 2:3) is expressed in so many words: אם לא אליהם, where ובית יש־ Ezekiel 3:7 is to be understood as the principal clause, and המה־ as in parenthesis, so that the sense is: Ezekiel is sent not to those whom he ought to understand, and cannot understand, but to Israel, who ought to hear him, and will not hearken to him. Those to whom God does not send him would throw no hindrance in his way; although he might not be able to understand them, they would hearken unto himשמע with אל, contrasted indeed with the inability to understand on his part, as well as, of course, on their part also; but only the former reference comes to be considered when the question is as to the right accomplishment of his task, that of speaking God’s words; it does not indeed signify “assent” (Hengst.), but a giving heed, and therefore what presupposes interest at least, if not desire, and what might possibly lead to more, perhaps, as Kimchi remarks: they would seek after an interpreter of thy words. But although the prophet is sent not to such, but rather to Israel, yet (Ezekiel 3:7) the house of Israel does not manifest even the interest which heathens would show, for they will not even pay any attention to Ezekiel, not to speak of becoming obedient to his words. The relief is thus only seeming. Comp. Matthew 23:37. [Similar and different explanations: For the most part אם־לא is understood as a formula of swearing, or as an asseveration (verily), and the sentence hypothetically (if I sent thee): comp: on the other hand Hitzig, Keil. For אם־לא, Ew. reads אם־לאֻ instead of לוּ, just as a Lap. does, instead of לוּא! The old translations omit לא without hesitation, while the Masoretes, on the other hand, mark the verse because of its threefold לא. Hitzig, Keil: =אם־לא “but,” referring אליהם and המה to Israel, and =ישמעו אליך= they are able, ought to understand thee. The latter expression, however, does not mean the same thing as “to hearken to any one.” Cocc.: If I had not sent thee to them (Israel), those others (the heathen) would hearken to thee. The words have also been understood interrogatively: if I had not sent thee to them, would not those others hearken to thee?] The meaning we have given harmonizes with the history of Naaman the Syrian, of the book of Jonah, of the woman of Canaan, of the heathen centurion (Matthew 8:0). Comp. also Matthew 11:21 sqq., 12:41.—Not unto thee, because not unto me: what a strengthening of Ezekiel! That must have changed his wrath into the sorrow of love, Ezekiel 20:8; comp. Matthew 10:24-25; John 15:20.—בל־בית considered as a whole, so that the exceptions do not come into consideration. The wicked hardness of the heart (comp. on Ezekiel 2:4) is here attributed to the forehead, because it finds expression there; that the stiffness of the “heart” is here expressed, proves the correctness of the explanation given on Ezekiel 2:4 of the hardness as applied to the heart (Isaiah 48:4; Jeremiah 3:3; Exodus 32:9; Matthew 19:8).

Ezekiel 3:8. The divine strengthening of Ezekiel, now quite clearly expressed, while his labours have become more difficult, and not, as it appeared, more easy, offers itself as the explanation of his name (comp. on Ezekiel 2:4). It is also not without design that the word used in reference to him is not “stiff,” but hard, which we find repeatedly. A divine confronting. Comp. Jeremiah 1:18; Jeremiah 15:20.

Ezekiel 3:9. The thought is still further intensified by means of the comparison. שָׁמִיר (from שָׁמַר, to hold fast; hence: to keep) means something hard; hence a thorn; here the hardest of precious stones. Harder than stone, a proverbial expression of the diamond. Bochart, comparing the σμύρις, emery, understands a substance for grinding and polishing. Comp. also P. Cassel on “Schemir.” According to the Jewish Hagada and Turkish legend: a wonderful worm, whose blood is said to have cut through the stones without noise at the building of Solomon’s temple. לא־, the admonition sounds like a prohibition and promise in one. Comp. Ezekiel 2:6; Ezekiel 2:5.

Ezekiel 3:10. The conclusion and return to the prophet himself, in view of the possible resisting element in him (Ezekiel 2:8 sqq.). An allusion at the same time to the symbolic transaction in Ezekiel 3:1 sqq.—All the words, but those which God will first speak to him.—The heart first, because otherwise the ears are of little use (Acts 16:14).

Ezekiel 3:11 (Ezekiel 3:15). Comp. Ezekiel 3:4. The “house of Israel” there is the “golah” (captivity) here, as a community, a society, which lies nearer to the prophet, because of its being his own people. Thy, not: My (Exodus 32:7), Ezekiel 33:2; Ezekiel 33:12; Ezekiel 33:17. As often דִּבֶּר and אמר together, the words to be spoken following the latter (Ezekiel 2:4). At the same time, a setting forth clearly of the position that he has to speak. Comp. Ezekiel 2:5; Ezekiel 2:7; Ezekiel 3:27.

DOCTRINAL

1. “A deeper meaning lies in this awakening word. First, the creature falls down in silence before the infinitude of the Creator; this is humility, the basis and root of all religious conduct. But he whom the Creator has permitted to come but little short of being himself God, whom He has crowned with glory and honour (Psalms 8:5), is not to remain lying in half-conscious, silent adoration; he is to rise to his feet, that he may hear the word of God. But certainly he cannot set himself upon his feet; the Spirit must raise him up as a spirit, if he is to understand what God says. Lo, this is the holy psychology of Holy Scripture, this is the freedom of the highest thinking about God, which comes through God and from God” (Umbreit).

2. The overmastering divine factor in the prophets does not, however, suffer them to appear by any means unconscious. Ezekiel falling down upon the earth, becomes, even in the midst of the divine revelation, and under the impression of it, thoroughly conscious of what is earthly and human in his own self as contrasted with it [i.e. the revelation]. If this self of the prophet stands in a receptive attitude in that part of the revelation made to him which is pure vision, yet plastic fancy gives symbolic form to the expression, so as to be understood by men, in similitudes drawn from the earthly world, and memory is able to reproduce for us what has been seen. But still farther, where, as in Ezekiel 2:0, what has been inwardly received and experienced is expressed in words as idea and thought, Ezekiel must first rise to his feet, and become capable in spirit of understanding the divine commission. Besides, a vast elevation of the mere natural life is the unmistakable characteristic of our section; comp. Ezekiel 2:5-6; Ezekiel 3:8-9.

3. John also, although he had lain on the Lord’s breast, at sight of Him (Revelation 1:0) fell at His feet as one dead. And by this as a standard, that very great familiarity which proclaims itself in so many prayers of far lesser saints ought to learn to measure and to moderate itself. There is, however, in our prayers more fancy and sham feeling than real intercourse with the Lord.

4. “An image of the new birth. When God bids us rise from the death in which we are lying (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 5:14), He at the same time imparts to us His Spirit, who quickens us and raises us up. Similarly is it with our strengthening in all that is good. We are to do our duty; and He brings it about that we are able to do it, Philippians 2:13” (Cocc.).

5. “God does not cast down His own in order to leave them lying on the ground; but He lifts them up immediately afterwards. In believers, in other words, the haughtiness of the flesh is in this way corrected. If, therefore, we often see the ungodly terrified at the voice of God, yet they are not, like believers, after the humiliation, told to be of good courage,” etc. (Calv.)

6. “It was only when the Spirit was added that some effect was produced by the voice of God. God works, indeed, effectually by means of His word; but the effectiveness is not bound up with the sound, but proceeds from the secret impulse of the Spirit. The working of the Spirit is here connected with the word of God, yet in such a way, that we may see how the external word is of no consequence unless it is animated by the power of the Spirit. But when God speaks, He at the same time adds the effectual working of His Spirit” (Calv.).

7. “Signs without the word are in vain. What fruit would there have been if the prophet had merely seen the vision, but no word of God had followed it? And this may be applied to the sacraments also, if they were mere signs before our eyes; it is the word of God only that makes the sacraments in some measure living, just as is the case with the visions” (Calv.).

8. By means of the repeated וַיֹּאמֶר the divine revelation in word is identified with the revelation of glory in Ezekiel 1:0, which was to appear as the “Shechinah” in the Messiah, according to the Targums falling back upon the older tradition. One of the steps towards the Logos in John 1:0.

9. “In Jehovah and His covenant-relation to Israel lies the necessity of His revelation; His testimony, the tidings from Him, must be heard in the midst of Israel. Thus Jehovah Himself wills not merely the conversion, but also the hardening of the people (Isaiah 6:9 sqq.), in so far as, first of all, He merely wills the preaching of Himself. Hence, if on the one hand the prophetic preaching must be traced back strictly to the will of God, is to be looked upon as an out-come and transcript of it, not less is this the case as regards its effects; the hearing and not hearing of the same is likewise God’s will, since otherwise He would be under the necessity of withholding His word itself” (Häv.).

10. The symbolical procedure with the book-roll belongs manifestly to the vision, is of the nature of vision, however much, as narrated, it resembles an external occurrence. Bordering, according to Tholuck, on “the rhetorical domain of metaphor,” the representation teaches, at all events, how cautiously the exposition of Ezekiel will have to proceed in this respect.

11. Umbreit remarks on Ezekiel 3:1 sqq.: “Here we have the right expression for enabling us to form a judgment and estimate of true inspiration. The divine does not remain as a strange element in the man; it becomes his own feeling thoroughly, penetrates him entirely, just as food becomes a part of his bodily frame.” “And the written book of the seer,” he says in conclusion, “bears quite the stamp of something thoroughly pervaded alike by the divine and human.”

12. A parallel to the symbolical transaction in Ezekiel, of which Hävernick remarks that it “is the reality of an inner state, of the highest spiritual excitement, of the true and higher entering into the divine will,” is presented by the second book of Esdras 14:38 sqq. Comp. the difference of this “dead, apocryphal imitation,” by means of which the thought of pure, divine inspiration is meant to be expressed.

13. The unintelligibility of the language of the heathen world for the prophet is to be taken in a purely formal sense; for as respects the material element, the substance, the manner of the thinking, and not of the mere speaking, there is nothing at all said. For the prophet this inner side of the heathen languages would, it is true, present equal difficulty, if not even more, than that outer one. But emphasis is laid on the willingness of the heathen in spite of both, their pricking up their ears in order to understand, which was wanting in Israel. And therefore, what hinders the understanding lies in the case of the heathen merely in the language; in the case of Israel, on the other hand, in this very circumstance. That the language of Israel was the holy language in which God had spoken from the beginning to them, must as regards the import also have lightened the labours of Ezekiel, and consequently have produced a relief in this respect, where, in the case of the heathen, the language brought with it an additional difficulty. It is sometimes easier to exert an influence upon men of the world than upon men who are familiar with the “language of Canaan” (Isaiah 19:18) from childhood up. Just because Israel at once understood what the topic was in Ezekiel’s mouth (“he spake, of course, merely what Moses and the other prophets had spoken,” Coco.), their disgust and repugnance towards God’s word as soon as possible turned aside out of his way. The alleviation through the disposition of heart on the part of the heathen became in this case the reverse through the disposition of heart on the part of Israel.

14. “The distinction which Greeks and Romans made between their language and that of the barbarians, reduces itself to that of culture. It is otherwise with the distinction between the language of Israel and that of the heathen nations. Israel’s language is formed by means of God’s word, while the languages of the heathen nations were formed from purely human developments” (Klief.).

15. There is thus in Ezekiel the same hopeful (although, in reference to Israel, mournful) outlook into the heathen world, which in the Old Covenant already announces the days of the New. “It follows from the stress laid on the receptivity of the heathen, that salvation will yet at some future time be offered to them in an effectual way” (Häv.).

HOMILETIC HINTS

Ezekiel 2:1. The name Son of man belongs above all to Him who did not fall to the ground before the vision of the divine glory, but descended from the midst of the enjoyment of this glory to our earth.—Ezekiel and Christ, type and antitype.—Daniel also is so addressed (Ezekiel 8:17); and if Ezekiel saw God as a man, Daniel saw the Lord of an everlasting dominion as a son of man (Ezekiel 7:0). Thus they bore upon them the stamp of the future, of the fulness of the times.—“I know thy weakness, that thou art a man, and canst not bear the splendour of the divine majesty” (B. B.).—“Although preachers are compared to angels, yet they continue men, and ought to keep this always in mind” (Stck.).—“Even the most pious and most gifted teachers are subject to human infirmities, Galatians 2:11” (St.).—“Because teachers are men, hearers ought also to learn to bear patiently with their infirmities, 2 Corinthians 12:13” (St.).—“We ought not to remain lying on the ground, either in sin, or from laziness of the flesh, or with slavish fear, when God calls us” (Stck.).—“So long as man still lies on the ground, God cannot use him for His service” (St.).

Ezekiel 2:2. “Let visions be ever so great, yet they are not so useful as the word” (B. B.).—God’s glory is not meant to kill, but rather to make alive.—“It is the Lord Himself, who fills His children with dismay, that also comforts them again, Hosea 6:1” (O.).—“The world smiles, in order to rage; flatters, in order to deceive; allures, in order to kill; lifts up, in order to bring low” (Cyprian).—“A herald of God ought to stand high above the world, with his spirit in heaven” (a. L.).—“The man whom God sends, He also qualifies for it, and furnishes with the necessary powers, giving him also His Spirit, as is ever still the experience of the servants of God” (Stck.).—The real prophetic anointing: “the spirit came into me.”—To whomsoever God gives an office, He gives understanding also. The fact that so many void of understanding are in office, may easily arise from this circumstance, that they have their office from men. For it is the Spirit of God, and not the clerical band, that makes the prophet.—“If God’s Spirit does not uphold, teach, guide, rule, strengthen, keep us, we are nothing” (Stck.).—There is a difference between our setting ourselves on our feet, and God’s Spirit setting us on our feet. The feet indeed remain our own, but the way along which they run is, like the power by which they are able to do so, God’s, and the steps are also sure steps.—“O that we were at all times disposed to hear Him who speaks to us!” (Stck.)

Ezekiel 2:1-2. At the installation of a preacher in his office: (1) What the congregation ought to consider: that the preacher is only a man, but one whom God sets on his feet by His Spirit; (2) What the preacher ought to consider: all this, as well as in particular that God wishes to speak with him, and that he also ought to have been a hearer ere he comes before his hearers.

Ezekiel 2:3. “When God demands obedience from us, He does not always promise a happy issue of our labour; but we ought to allow ourselves to be satisfied with His command, even if our labour should appear ridiculous in the eyes of men: our labour is nevertheless well-pleasing before God” (Calvin).—“Hence the true prophet does not go of his own accord, just as he does not force himself upon the people, and does not come to seek honour and good days with them” (Stck.).—“So God stretches out His hand to sinners” (St.).—“Even at worldly courts ambassadors of princes are a token of friendship” (Stck.).—Every sinner is a rebel against God.—It is a noticeable feature of the Jews of the present day in general, that they make heathens of themselves, and also take part in revolution against Church and State.—The apple does not fall far from the tree.—There is also a hereditary sin of nations: e.g. French vanity, German cosmopolitanism (want of a fixed centre, Zerfahrenheit), English selfishness (egoism).

Ezekiel 2:4. “Through the habit of sinning the countenance becomes stiff, just as the heart becomes hard in sinning” (Stck.).—“And yet the countenance is the noblest, as the heart is the best part of man, Proverbs 23:26; Matthew 15:19” (Stck.).—“Judas Iscariot, e.g., had a stiff countenance: his question Matthew 26:25, his kiss” (L.).—“Thus saith the Lord” is the watchword of God against all opposition of men, the right war-cry.

Ezekiel 2:5. “Ezekiel may, of course, have thought with himself as Moses did, Exodus 4:1” (St.).—Preachers ought not to look to, to reckon upon hearers, but to listen to the Lord alone.—To preach God’s word compensates even in the case of empty churches.—A full church, therefore, is not always a testimony for the preacher, 2 Timothy 4:3.—“It serves, at all events, as a testimony, although no other result is attained by the preaching” (L.).

Ezekiel 2:6. Fear is a word which does not belong to any vocation of a preacher; but as little also does man-pleasing, which is often merely a form of fear.—“The comparison with thorns has reference in general to their unfruitfulness, in particular to their tendency to wound, to injure, their being interlaced together, their seeming bloom, their ultimate burning. As regards the expression scorpions, we are to think of the poison, the secret sting, the cunning. And what a wilderness must the house of Israel be! Ezekiel does not go to strayed sheep, but dwells with scorpions” (Stck.).—“In none of the prophetic books is the rigorous spirit of Moses more perceptible than in the case of Ezekiel” (Roos). Because God knows our fear, therefore He speaks so repeatedly against it.

Ezekiel 2:7. Rebelliousness may well grieve the servant of God, may even rouse him to anger, but ought never to degrade him to the level of a dumb dog.—Spiritual dignitaries are those who carry the word of God high above themselves, even when it meets with nothing but contradiction.—“And fathers of families also are to be like preachers” (L.).

Ezekiel 2:8. The enemies of a preacher are not what is worst for him; his friends are often worse than his worst enemies, and his worst enemy of all by far may be his own self. Therefore, know thyself.—“Preachers ought to be patterns, not imitators and followers of the flock” (St.).—“What an influence the surroundings of a preacher have upon him! And Ezekiel belonged to the same people” (L.).—Many a strange thing happens to one when he is with God. On the other hand, the demand: “Open thy mouth, and eat,” is what we should naturally expect; for what does not man eat, and how many useless books are devoured with the greatest eagerness!—“By the mere looking at food no one gets his hunger satisfied, but it must be taken and eaten: and so also the mere hearing and reading of the word of God does not save, but it must be appropriated, and afterwards lived upon” (St.).

Ezekiel 2:9. “The word of God is very tender and delicate,—a sweet and deep invitation” (B. B.).—“The hand which presents the Scripture, is the same which also presents to believers the crown, 2 Timothy 4:7-8” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 2:10. “Such unfolding takes place with prayer on the part of believers, Ephesians 1:0; Psalms 119:18 (with burning heart, Luke 24:32; just as in the future with praise and jubilant acclamation, Revelation 5:9), with searching (John 5:39; Matthew 7:8), and not without manifold temptations” (Fessel).—“This book-roll may also be applied to the bad conscience of the sinner, as well as to the condition of a soul under assault from outward oppression, likewise to the book of the law, to the misery of the damned, as well as used in the sense of a reward-book for the ungodly,” etc. (Stck.)—So man finds in his life first the lamentations over the vanity of all things, then there wakes up the sighing over himself, and the last is the woe of dying.

Ezekiel 2:8-3. The wonderful food of Ezekiel in general (Matthew 4:4) and in particular (John 4:34).—It served him: for protection, for instruction, for strengthening, for quickening.

Ezekiel 3:1. “Ezekiel is no prophet of his own heart. Instead of murmuring against the poor instrument who has received so weighty a commission, let them repent” (H.).—“Comede et pasce, saturare et eructa, accipe et sparge, confortare et labora” (Jer.).—“A teacher must have the word of God not merely on his lips and in his mouth, but in his heart, and converted into nourishment and strength” (St.).—“The maxim: ‘Eat what is set before you’ (Luke 10:8), applies also to the divine revelation. The position of a chooser, which, instead of the motto, ‘what I find,’ puts ‘what I like,’ belongs to what is evil” (H.).—“Without having eaten this roll, no one ought to go and preach” (B. B.).—As against resistance from without we are comforted; as against opposition from within, from ourselves, we are strengthened. In the first case there is suffering, in the second it may come to sin.

Ezekiel 3:2. “The word of God is the right food of souls” (St.).

Ezekiel 3:3. “By our taste our life is determined” (Plato).—“The sweet taste means Ezekiel’s approbation of God’s judgment and commands” (Calv.).—“It is infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Most High” (H.).—“In the case of those who eagerly hear the word of God, it goes into their heart, and as it were into their bowels; it becomes a treasure within them, out of which they bring forth, in overflowing abundance, necessary and wholesome instruction for others” (B. B., St.).—“Even a difficult office ought to be undertaken and discharged with joy; for God can sweeten even what is bitter in it” (St.).—“Even the most painful divine truths have for the spiritually-minded man a gladdening and quickening side” (H.).—“It is in general the quiet secret of all who suffer in true faith, that in their inmost being wormwood turns to honey” (Umbr.).

Ezekiel 3:4 sqq. “It was not yet the time of the heathen; it was still Israel’s time, to whom also the Lord Himself would come, whose forerunners the prophets were” (Cocc).

Ezekiel 3:7. Forehead and heart in their psychological correspondence.—Where there is the fear of God in the heart, shame still sits upon the forehead.

Ezekiel 3:8. “For hard people hard ministers also are suitable, Proverbs 20:30” (W.). For the rough block a rough wedge.—“God gives His prophet merely a firm countenance and forehead, but not a hard heart. In order to encounter a hard heart, a firm forehead indeed is necessary, but never a hard heart. The heart is to be full of love, and from love the firm forehead even is to be gained” (A L.).

Ezekiel 3:8-9. “He who has to contend with the popular spirit is lost, unless he has a firm hold of Omnipotence. He who has not God decidedly with him, must come to terms with the majority” (H.).—“Firm preachers of this stamp were Nathan against David, Elijah, John the Baptist, Stephen” (a L.). Comp. Matthew 16:18. Nevertheless, the diamond does not occur either in Exodus 28:17 sqq. or in Revelation 21:19 sqq. Christ will rather be a magnet, John 12:32.—“God imparts to such a strength which far surpasses the strength of the learned. For God never yields to man. Not that the spirit referred to is a stiff-necked spirit, but God gives them words so powerful and mighty, that no one can gainsay them, Luke 21:15” (B. B.).—“This is that ‘holy to the Lord’ which shone forth on the forehead of the high priest, just as it belongs to all the servants of God” (Stck.).—“Carnal men stumble thereat, all who wish to be flattered or spared; for what is to the one class a stone for building, is to the other a stone of offence” (B. B.).

Ezekiel 3:10. “Whoever is to hear, must have confidence in him who speaks, and longing to hear, in order that he may lend his ear to the word. The heart, above everything, must be present, else the man does not hear, Acts 16:14” (Cocc).

Ezekiel 3:11. “The fact, that it is his own people to whom he had to go, at the same time laid Ezekiel under a solemn obligation” (Stck.).—“We must first hear, then we are to speak” (Cocc).

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezekiel-2.html. 1857-84.