Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 3

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3409. B.C. 595.

In this chapter we have the farther preparation of the prophet for the work to which God called him.

(1,) His eating of the roll that was presented to him in the close of the foregoing chapter, Ezekiel 3:1-3 .

(2,) Further instructions and encouragements are given him, to the same purpose with those in the foregoing chapter, Ezekiel 3:4-11 .

(3,) Amidst great rushing and noise, and in much perplexity and anguish, he is carried by a mighty impulse of God’s Spirit to those that were to be his hearers, Ezekiel 3:12-15 .

(4,) A further explication of his office and business as a prophet is given him, under the similitude of a watchman, Ezekiel 3:16-21 .

(5,) In a new vision, similar to the former, he is ordered to go and shut himself up in his house, and is struck dumb, and informed that God would restrain or restore his speech as he pleased, Ezekiel 3:22-27 .

Verses 1-3

Ezekiel 3:1-3. Son of man, eat that which thou findest Chaldee, that which is given thee. Eat this roll Receive into thy mind and heart, as certain and important truth, what is written therein: see note on Ezekiel 2:8-9. So I opened my mouth, &c. In my vision I thought I readily complied with God’s command, and ate the roll which he ordered me to eat. This was a sort of symbolical introduction of Ezekiel to the prophetic office, whereby he was fitted for, and enabled to discharge it. Thus Isaiah was in a vision fitted for it, by having his mouth touched with a live coal, taken from the altar by one of the seraphim; and Jeremiah, by having his mouth touched seemingly by the hand of God. And he said, Cause thy belly to eat The mouth is the proper instrument for eating, but when food is digested, the belly is said to eat. As the belly often signifies in Scripture the mind, or secret thoughts, the expression here denotes the laying up this prophecy in his memory, and thoroughly considering and laying to heart its contents. And it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness I took delight in having God’s secret counsels communicated to me, and in delivering his commands to my brethren; and was pleased with the hopes of being an instrument of the conversion and amendment at least of some of them. But when he afterward understood of what heavy tidings he was to be the messenger, and what predictions and denunciations of divine judgments and wrath he was to deliver to the people, and that he would be hated and persecuted on this account, his mind was filled with grief and anguish. Thus when St. John took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up, (Revelation 10:10,) though at first it was sweet as honey in his mouth, as soon as he had eaten it his belly was bitter; on which Bishop Newton remarks, “The knowledge of future things at first was pleasant, but the sad contents of the little book afterward filled his soul with sorrow.”

Verses 5-8

Ezekiel 3:5-8. Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech It would be a great addition to the burden of thy office if thou wert sent, as Jonah was, as a prophet to a foreign nation, and to a people whose language thou couldest not understand, nor they thine. Not to many people of a strange speech, &c. God seems, as it were, to hint here that the time would come when he should order his messengers to go to many people of a strange speech, and should find those who would obey him in this. The apostles, evangelists, and other first preachers of the gospel, were sent to such a people, or rather to all nations, however difficult and strange their language was. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened, &c. And yet, in all appearance, even a strange nation, who could not understand thy words plainly, or without the greatest difficulty, would have hearkened to thy preaching sooner than the house of Israel, so corrupt are they become. Behold, I have made thy face strong, &c. Do but thou obey me in what I command thee, and I will give thee courage and firmness proportionable to the hardiness and insolence of those thou hast to deal with.

Verses 11-13

Ezekiel 3:11-13. Go to them of the captivity Namely, those made captives with thyself in the reign of King Jehoiachin. Then the spirit took me up Carried me from the place where I was before, when I saw the vision mentioned Ezekiel 1:3-4, to my countrymen and fellow-captives. And I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing Emblematical, probably, of the great commotions and troubles he was to foretel, and which were to ensue. Or he means a great sound, arising from many articulate voices joined together, and pronouncing the following words: Blessed be the glory of the Lord Praised be the gloriously holy and just God, or adored be the displays of his glory in all his dispensations. This sound seems to have been that of a chorus of angels, approving of and celebrating the judgments of God; from his place “Whatever place God honours with his especial presence is equivalent to his temple, and there the angels always attend upon his Divine Majesty to give him the honour due unto his name: see Genesis 28:13-19. The words imply, that though God should forsake his temple, and destroy the place that was called by his name, yet his presence would make a temple of every place, and multitudes of the heavenly host would always be ready to do him service.” Also the noise of the wings of the living creatures, and of the wheels over against them

To signify that both angels and all inferior instruments were busy at work to execute judgment according to their commission; and that the wheels of providence moved in concert with the wings of the living creatures, or the efforts of angels, to accomplish the divine purposes.

Verse 14

Ezekiel 3:14. So the spirit lifted me up and took me away Caught me up into the air, and carried me, (as Philip was carried away from the eunuch,) and brought me to the place where I was to deliver my message, the place where the captive Jews were settled in great numbers: compare 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Acts 8:39. I went in bitterness, &c. I went in grief and anguish of mind, on account of the grievous things I was to declare to them, and the offence I foresaw I should give, and the opposition and ill treatment I should meet with. But the hand of the Lord was strong upon me Urging and impelling, as well as empowering me to execute my commission.

Verse 15

Ezekiel 3:15. Then I came to them of the captivity To those of my countrymen who were captives, at Tel-abib. The prophet was before at some distance from this place, though on the same river, and these therefore must have been a distinct colony of captives from those mentioned Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 1:3: see Eze 3:23 of this chapter. And I sat where they sat This translation is according to the Vulgate, sedi, ubi illi sedebant. But Bishop Newcome renders the Hebrew, I dwelt where they dwelt; that is, I took up my residence among them; and remained there astonished seven days “Having my spirit wholly cast down and amazed, under the apprehension of these terrible judgments, which were to come upon my nation, and of which I was to be the messenger: see the margin. Seven days was the space of time appointed for mourning.” Lowth. But the Vulgate, instead of astonished, reads mærens, mourning; and some render the clause, I remained there among them solitary seven days: supposing the meaning to be, that the prophet stayed that time among them, without saying any thing particular to them, or acquainting them that he was appointed to the prophetic office, in order that he might observe their actions and manner of life, and so might the better know how to address them in the discharge of his office, and what reproofs it would be most proper to give them.

Verses 16-19

Ezekiel 3:16-19. And at the end of seven days During which time the prophet had sufficient opportunity to observe their manners and prevailing vices; the word of the Lord came to me Informing me more particularly what my office was, and what the duty of that office. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman, &c. Prophets have the title of watchmen given them; because, like watchmen placed on towers to discern and give notice of any dangers that may be approaching, they, by their prophetical spirit, were enabled to foresee the evils coming upon the ungodly, and were bound to give people timely notice, that they might avoid them by true repentance and reformation. When I say By the threatenings of my word, or by my spirit exciting thee to give seasonable and necessary reproofs and warnings; unto the wicked Any wicked person whatever, poor or rich, mean or mighty. Thou shalt surely die Both temporally and eternally, unless thy sincere repentance prevent this destruction; and thou givest him not warning As thy office indispensably requires thee to do; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity Shall depart this life in a state of sin and guilt, and be condemned to those punishments to which temporal death translates sinners; for his ignorance will not procure him impunity. But his blood will I require at thy hand “Thou shalt be accountable for the loss of his soul, Just as a man’s blood is laid to the charge of him who is any way accessory to his death.” Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not But still go on in his trespasses, unawakened and unreformed; he shall die, but thou hast delivered thy soul Thou shalt be clear from the guilt of being accessory to his destruction.

Verses 20-21

Ezekiel 3:20-21. Again, When a righteous man One truly righteous, and devoted to the love and service of God in heart and life; one whose person is justified, whose nature is renewed, and whose practice is conformed to God’s holy will; doth turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity Which the Scriptures show to be very possible, and experience and observation demonstrate to be a case not uncommon. And I lay a stumbling-block before him Such a temptation to sin as he might have resisted, but to which, nevertheless, he yielded, and by which he was overcome. The word מכשׁול , here rendered stumbling-block, sometimes signifies ruin, as Ezekiel 18:30. Therefore some render this clause, And I cause iniquity to become his ruin; he shall die Shall perish in his sin; and his righteousness shall not be remembered Shall be of no advantage to him; shall stand him in no stead for the preventing of punishment. But his blood will I require at thy hand See on Ezekiel 3:18. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man That he may not be drawn aside by bad examples, or any other temptation, to forsake the ways of piety and virtue. And he doth not sin But continues conscientiously to walk in God’s ordinances and commandments blameless. He shall surely live In the favour of God here, and in his kingdom hereafter. Also thou hast delivered thy soul Both the warner and the warned escape destruction.

Verses 22-27

Ezekiel 3:22-27. And the hand of the Lord was there upon me Namely, at Tel-abib. I felt a divine power acting upon me as before: see on Ezekiel 1:3. And he said, Arise, go forth into the plain Withdraw from the multitude, and retire to a place more private, and fit for contemplation, and the reception of divine communications. Then I arose As I was commanded; and the glory of the Lord stood there The same glorious vision and representation of God’s majesty, which I had seen before, (Ezekiel 1:28,) were manifested to me again. Then the spirit entered into me The spirit, power, or influence of God came upon me in an extraordinary manner; and set me upon my feet Raised me up after I had fallen on my face; and spake with me This should be rendered, And he spake with me: for the verb ידבר is in the masculine gender. The spirit or power, which now entered into him, is distinguished from the divine glory, or Shechinah, which the prophet saw, as it is also very plainly Ezekiel 2:2. And said, Go, shut thyself within thy house From public view, and to receive further instructions. Or, as some think, symbolically to represent the siege of Jerusalem. Behold, they shall put bands upon thee The LXX. read ιδου δεδονται επι σε δεσμοι , και δησουσι σε εν αυτοις , bands shall be put upon thee, and they shall bind thee with them. So also the Vulgate. Some think this was done by the captive Jews at Tel- abib, and that they bound him as a criminal, and disturber of the peace, in order to the punishing of him. Others suppose his domestics bound him, as thinking him out of his right mind. But it is more probable, comparing this passage with chap. Ezekiel 4:8, that the meaning is, as Bishop Newcome observes, that his friends or servants bound him by his order; namely, more fully to express the shutting up of the Jews in Jerusalem by the siege. And thou shalt not go out among them Thou shalt not go abroad among the people, but continue thus shut up. And thou shalt be dumb For some space of time I will withhold revelations from thee, and thou shalt say nothing to the people by way of admonition or reproof. For they are a rebellious house They are an obstinate, refractory people, who will give no heed to thy words. But when I speak with thee Or, when I have spoken to thee; that is, revealed to thee the knowledge of what is to come, or have communicated to thee what I intend to be declared to them; I will open thy mouth Give thee the power of speaking such things to them as it is my pleasure should be set before them. He that heareth, let him hear This is the last warning I shall give them, and they must take it as such, and either give heed to and obey what is said to them, and so avoid the impending evil; or neglect it at their peril, and take the consequence which shall follow. These words, it seems, were spoken to Ezekiel only, and are not any part of the message which he was to deliver to the people.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 3". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/ezekiel-3.html. 1857.
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