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EZEKIEL CHAPTER 13
False prophets reproved, and their daubing with untempered mortar, Ezekiel 13:1-16. The prophetesses also reproved with their impostures under the title of pillows and kerchiefs, Ezekiel 13:17-23.
This first verse is the commission, by virtue whereof Ezekiel acteth as a prophet, and it is in the usual style near forty times in Ezekiel.
Prophesy; declare aforehand what I will do.
Against the prophets; against prince and people first, next against prophets and prophetesses; against the former in the foregoing chapters, against the latter in this chapter.
Of Israel, because approved of Israel, encouraged by Israel, and followed; but not prophets of the Lord, he sent them not. Whether these were in Babylon, or in Jerusalem, some inquiry is made; probably these false prophets were in both places.
That prophesy; foretell what is pleasing to the Jews, a sudden return out of captivity, with the vessels of the Lord’s house, and prosperity in their own land.
Out of their own hearts; but all their promising words are of themselves, out of their own deceiving hearts, not from God, and so all will be lies.
Hear ye the word of the Lord; cease to deceive my people, and attend now to what God speaks of you.
They shall be doubly miserable, suffering with the deceived, and suffering by the enraged, when their lies are detected.
Foolish prophets; either in a moral sense, i. e. wicked; or in a literal sense, unwise. It is both foolishly wicked and imprudent to pretend revelations, and yet have none from God.
Their own spirit; in contradistinction to the Spirit of God, the true Spirit of prophecy, they strongly fancy what they would have, and then presumptuously prophesy that it shall come to pass.
Have seen nothing; God hath showed them no vision, nothing of all they pretend to is from God.
O Israel; a pathetical exclamation to awake Israel, both the dwellers at Jerusalem and those at Babylon.
Thy prophets, not mine, as Ezekiel 13:2.
Like the foxes; hungry and ravening, crafty and guileful, and living by their wits, but not one whit helpful to those they deceive. Such are false prophets. In the deserts, where want of prey makes them more eager of their prey, and where other devouring beasts endanger travellers, but no defence to them from foxes; these flee into their holes betimes, and leave the endangered ones. Or thus, O Israel, thou art like the desert, spoiled and robbed, and thy false prophets, like foxes hungry and hunting for some prey, live upon what they can catch, but will be no more profitable to thee than foxes are to the wilderness.
Ye, vulpine prophets. As in a besieged city whose wall is broken down and the enemy ready to enter, a valiant, faithful, and vigilant soldier would run up into the breach to repel the enemy; so true prophets do partly by prayer, and partly by doctrine, and partly by personal reformation, labour to preserve God’s people. But, fox-like, they have shifted out of harm’s way.
Neither made up the hedge: the house of Israel is the Lord’s vineyard, through the hedge whereof many breaches are made, through which wild and wasting beasts come in and devour the grapes, and spoil the vines; but you have not stopped those breaches, but, fox-like, come in and pulled off the tender grapes, and done the most mischief; you have increased sin and danger thereby. And when the Lord’s wrath shall give up the city, you will not stand to oppose the enemy breaking in; so useless will these be at last.
To stand; not with arms, but with fasting, prayers, repentance, laying hold on the arm of the Lord, and interceding for his people.
In the battle, which God will by the Chaldeans fight against the house of Israel. In that day of the Lord the weapons of war will not prevail against the Chaldeans, unless prayers, tears, and amendment prevail with the Lord to withdraw the battle, and be at peace with Israel.
They have seen; they pretend to have seen, but still they see nothing, as Ezekiel 13:2. The prophet speaks as if indeed they had seen, but the very censure of the things they said they saw clears it, that all was but pretence.
Vanity and lying divination; things that have no ground or foundation, and which will never be, and are therefore called vanity and lying divinations.
The Lord saith; foretelleth and promiseth.
Hath not sent them; never revealed any such thing to them, or bade them tell the Jews any such thing.
They have made others; by their pretences and arguments they have wheedled some into a belief of their word, and into a hope of that they promise; and so the credulous Jew is undone by his prophet, who tells him all is well, and needs no alteration, and all will be well, and they need fear no desolation.
Consider with your own consciences; do they not tell you that all is vain pretence which you make? Can you think Jerusalem can escape, or the first captives be returned, and all this so soon? Is not this vain to be imagined, and they vainer that imagine and believe it? If it should come to pass, which it never shall, yet herein you are convicted liars; you say the Lord saith, whereas he hath said no such thing, nay, the contrary hath God spoken to what you speak, and the event shall be as contrary to your expectation, which is of good; but behold evil cometh out of the north, and great destruction.
The whole verse speaks the dreadful anger of God against those false prophets. It is unspeakable wrath, and we are left to guess at it by the manner of speech here used, which is minatory, Ezekiel 21:3; Ezekiel 26:3, concealing the greater part intended; an aposiopesis.
I am against you: this is more particularly exemplified in the next verse.
Mine hand; my power striking them; so that it shall be evident they fall under Divine revenge, as Pelatiah, Ezekiel 11:13, and Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:15,Jeremiah 28:16. Or if they escape this stroke,
they shall not be in the assembly of my people; have no seat among the rulers, nor voice among the counsellors, nor credit among the judges of my people; but, as false fellows, teachers of lies, be branded with infamy after the return from captivity. Or, they shall not be among those that return, dead before, or rejected as dangerous seducers and blasphemous abusers of the name of God. It may also refer to the excluding them out of. the assembly of glorified ones in heaven.
Neither shall they be written; registered among those that return, of which registry Ezra 2:1,Ezra 2:2, but blotted out for their impiety; this literally: mystically, it may be an obliterating or blotting them out of the book of life; they shall not be written with such as shall escape spiritually, they shall not be found among the elect that shall live for ever.
Neither shall they ever more come into the land of Israel, not survive the captivity. Or, with disgrace cast off, shall die in strange lands. In brief, the approaching prosperity which they promise the people none shall see, Jeremiah 29:21,Jeremiah 29:32; but the prosperity after seventy years’ captivity, which I promise, my people shall see, but these false prophets never shall see, my hand shall be so against them. They shall not be written in the book of eternal life, which is written for the just ones of the house of Israel, saith the Chaldee paraphrast. See Ezekiel 12:15.
The verse is a transition to a new subject, or rather to a new manner of discovering and condemning the sin of the false prophets.
They have seduced my people; made my people to err, both in their apprehension of their sin and danger, and of my displeasure and threats, as if all were less than it was, and there needed no repentance, or submission to the Babylonish king.
Peace; all will be well; no war, or else victory; no more going into captivity, but a speedy return of those that are in captivity: when nothing of all this, but the contrary, was to be told them; universal calamity was at the door, and these varlets promise universal tranquillity and plenty.
One; some one or other chief among the false prophets, as Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:15, and Shemaiah, Jeremiah 29:31, or Ahab son of Kolaiah, Jeremiah 29:21,Jeremiah 29:22. When the state of the church was shattered and ready to fall, these chief false prophets would undertake to repair and build it, but indeed all was a mere contrived cheat, like as if a pretended architect should promise to build a wall substantial and sound, but a pack of deceitful builders in confederacy with this one set to laying the stones, and then with dirt instead of mortar, with melting and dissolving mire instead of holding and well-tempered cement, daub the wall. So the chief seducers cry, Peace, peace, and all the kennel of lesser cheats follow full cry, Peace, peace. Within two years shall the king of Babylon cease, saith one, Jeremiah 28:11, and all the inferior prophets applaud the conjecture, and persuade the people to believe it; but the end will evince them liars, as in the following verse.
Unto them; the meaner and less noted, who follow the arch false prophets, and are as under-workers in this wall.
It shall fall; most certainly its fall shall be the shame and loss of the builders, and those that hoped its duration.
An overflowing shower; abundant, violent, and continued showers shall soak into your wall and dissolve the cement; and this shower is the Babylonish invasion, which all your provision shall be no more able to withstand, than mire in a wall can keep the stones together when drenched with showers. I will summon in the storms of hail, which with mighty stones shall beat upon the ruinous wall.
A stormy wind; a whirlwind, to shake the tumbling stones, which without much shaking would ere long drop down; but, to hasten the downfall, soaking showers, storms of hail and violent winds, shall meet; so shall your crazy state, O deceived Jews, come down to ruin.
Will not men thenceforth laugh you to scorn? you that built, you that daubed, you that applauded the wall, will they not upbraid you with your folly?
This confirms what was said Ezekiel 13:11, where it is explained. This verse addeth that God will do this by his hand, and in anger and fury, taking vengeance on this scoffing, atheisticaI, and secure generation in his just displeasure; he will execute the fierceness of his anger upon prince, prophets, people, city, and all their confederates.
This verse with very little variation repeats the same dreadful procedure of God against this people, and these false prophets, and their false, ill-grounded confidences. And this repeating these things is to give us to know the certainty of the thing, the terror wherewith God will do it, and the stupidity of the Jews bewitched by the flatteries of their false prophets.
I will break down the wall; pull it down stone by stone; level it with the ground. The unsoundness of the foundation, whatever it may seem to be,
shall be discovered to every one that will look on it, and this to the utter shame of the builders.
And ye, who deceive and are deceived by it, shall perish in the midst thereof. So all that hearkened to these false prophets, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, fortified the city, and obstinately stood it out, fell with the ruins of the city, and perished, and then felt the stroke of God’s hand, and truth of his prophet.
Thus, in this dreadful manner, by my hand visible in doing it,
will I fulfil what my prophets foretold, and perform my word and theirs, and fully pour out my wrath, so that it shall be fully according to the just displeasure they have provoked in me.
Will say unto you; I will deride them in their ruin, as Psalms 2:4; Proverbs 1:26. God curseth confidences in an arm of flesh, and will destroy them, for they are set up in direct opposition to his justice and sovereignty, to his threats and truth of them.
The prophets of Israel: see Ezekiel 13:2,Ezekiel 13:4.
Which see visions: see Ezekiel 13:7.
Now turn thyself and discourse against the prophetesses, fear them not: see the phrase, Ezekiel 4:3. Some would have the prophet’s words to be intended against the effeminate men, who were of no value, and by contempt called the daughters of his people; but I see no cause why the prophet’s words should not be directed against the women who pretended to be prophetesses.
Of thy people, that were with him in Babylon. Or rather, because they were Jews, they are called daughters of his people. Or might they not be daughters of priests, and so more nearly of kin to Ezekiel?
Which prophesy; there were women who had the gift of prophecy, Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Joel 2:28, and brought messages from God, but these in the text pretend themselves to be prophetesses, and speak their own imaginations, and fasten their lies on the God of truth.
Woe; calamities of all sorts shall fall upon them.
That sew pillows; a figurative speech, expressing their flatteries and security, which the women promised to every one that came to them to know the fate of themselves and others; in token of which safety and ease, either these women did put them for these inquirers to sleep on; or else to lean on as they lay on their side at meat; or else these gypsies, fortune-tellers, did sleep or pretend to sleep on those pillows, and thereby signify the peace, safety, and ease which this people should have.
To all arm-holes; all comers had the same answer, these women made not any difference.
Kerchiefs; either veils, or triumphal hats or caps, which were made by these prophetesses, and these were put upon the head of every one who consulted them; and by these habits the deceived inquirer was either persuaded he was made fit to receive the oracle, or was to interpret the sign as promise of victory over the Babylonian, and a triumphant rest in Judea. Perhaps they might use both; the veils were put on to signify the shame with which their enemies’ faces should be covered, the triumphant caps to note the joys of the Jews; but the event showed which belonged to the one and other.
Of every stature, i.e. of every age, whether younger or elder, which usually is somewhat seen by their stature or growth.
To hunt: all this is a pretence, while really it is spreading a net, as hunters do, to catch the prey and devour it.
Souls; the persons, life, estate; and all to enrich or maintain themselves.
Will ye hunt the souls of my people? dare you promise they shall live when I do promise no such thing? Or can you preserve them alive whom you deceive by your promises? Are you no whit afraid thus to profane my name, and to insnare my people?
Will ye pollute me? profanely contradicting what is indeed spoken in my name, and pretending my name for that I never spake, nor will do.
Among my people; who are my peculiar, who have my word and true prophets, by which your lies are discovered, and further will be. What shameless impudence is this, to abuse my name, counterfeit my hand and seal, to them, that do or might know both!
For handfuls of barley; for a mean reward, tell fortunes for a penny! but there may be herein a provision made against the famine which was threatened and would come; this grain might be kept.
For pieces of bread; bread and morsels of bread. Mercenary sorceresses! that thus make sale of their predictions to feed their hungry bellies.
To slay the souls that should not die; you denounce evil to the best, perhaps threatened those in Babylon with death, whom God will keep alive there.
To save the souls alive that should not live; declaring safety, plenty, prosperity, peace, without war, or victory in the war, included in that they live.
By your lying; most falsely flattering those that come to you, and most maliciously threatening those that come not, because they know you speak your own lies. You save whom I will kill, and kill whom I will save.
I am against (the same phrase Ezekiel 13:8)
your pillows; the rite, and its signification too.
There hunt the souls; either at Jerusalem, or wherever you give out answers.
To make them fly: in this sense the word is no where else used, and thus used here renders the interpretation obscure. Elsewhere it is, to bud, as Numbers 17:8; Ezekiel 7:10; to blossom, Isaiah 27:6; to spring up as a flower or vine, Psalms 92:7; Song of Solomon 6:11; to grow, as Hosea 14:8. Thus the sense is obvious; by these lying ceremonies thus applied you promise a flourishing, growing state to all inquirers, and this is, the net with which you hunt souls. It is possible these prophetesses might bring their deceived ones into pleasant gardens, and (if well paid for it) entertain with all the pleasures of flowers and fruits; and might not these prophetesses be the priests of Flora, and seduce young, fair, wanton ones to the idolatry and brutish pleasures of the Floralia?
I will tear them, with some violence and suddenness, that may express an indignation; as, 2 Kings 5:7, when the king of Israel rent his clothes at the hearing the letter of Benhadad king of Syria, so in wrath will God suddenly tear your enchanting and divining habits.
From your arms; either from the arms of such as put them on when they consulted with these seducers; or may be the seducers might ordinarily wear them, to be known what they were.
Will let the souls go: you held the souls of those that heard you as captives, or as bewitched with your enchantments and pleasures; but I will set them free, some I will enlighten to discover your frauds, others I will undeceive by sending them into captivity.
Kerchiefs: see Ezekiel 13:18.
My people; God owns them, at least some among them; though all were not his, yet he had a people among them.
Your hand; power of their seductions.
With lies; diametrically opposing what my prophets told to my people in my name.
The heart; the soul, which in weak ones received some saddening impressions from your lies; in the strongest and wisest it was matter of grief, to see so many contradict the Lord to their own ruin.
The righteous; who keep my law, and have respect to all my precepts, though none can fulfil the law; the upright and just, against whom you do thunder out your woes; but I know better how to distribute my orders. I never commissioned, nor ever will commission, any prophet to sadden the heart of a just one, who needs and is fit for encouragement, or to threaten where they should promise.
By promising him life; your flatteries persuade the worst to think they are in a good way, need not repent and return, and so, their hearts hardened in wickedness, their hands do work it. God would convince and turn the wicked, but you confirm them that they return not from sin; you assure them, but it is with lying words, that they shall not die by pestilence, nor famine, nor sword, but live and prosper.
See Ezekiel 12:24. Either these prophetesses with the prophets of the same stamp shall perish in the day of calamity, and of the miseries that they persnaded others to slight and contemn. Or else, if they live, they shall live to see all their predictions of prosperity vanish, to see the righteous, whom they threatened, escape, and the wicked, whom they spake good of, fall under miseries; this shall so confound them, they shall cease for ever, and pretend no more visions. Your credit shall be gone, and you found false dreamers, you shall never more be able to keep up any power over or interest in my people. Not one just, righteous soul shall ever grieve, or apprehend cause of fear, from what you threaten, and the unrighteous shall no more joy in the expectation of these lying promises. All shall know that I am the Lord, who fulfil promises to the just and execute threats on the bad.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13