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The type of Ezekiel's removing sheweth the captivity of Zedekiah. Ezekiel's trembling sheweth the Jews' desolation. The Jews' presumptuous proverb is reproved. The speediness of the vision.
Before Christ 594.
Ezekiel 12:1. The word of the Lord also came, &c.— This happened in the sixth year of Zedekiah, and five years before the siege of Jerusalem. The prophesies in the following chapters to the 20th are of the same year. The prophet here applies himself to those of the captivity among whom he dwelt: they saw Jerusalem still inhabited, and under the government of its own king; so that they who were left in the land of Canaan, insulted the exiles, who repined at their own situation; thinking those who dwelt at Jerusalem in a much better condition than themselves. The following parables, therefore, are designed to shew, that they who were left behind to sustain the miseries of a siege and the insults of a conqueror, would be in a much worse situation, than those who were already settled in a foreign land. See Lowth and Calmet. Houbigant, however, is of a different opinion, and thinks that this prophesy was delivered while Ezekiel dwelt in Jerusalem, before he was carried captive to Babylon.
Ezekiel 12:3. Prepare thee stuff for removing— See the note on chap. Ezekiel 4:1. This command is merely an information by action, instead of words, foretelling the approaching captivity of Zedekiah. Dr. Waterland observes, that he sees no reason for thinking that the prophet might not really perform all here related, and more, without difficulty, or forfeiting either his discretion or gravity. The manner and circumstances of the whole narrative, as it stands in the prophet, being very different from what we meet with in several others, pleads strongly for the strict and literal interpretation. It is no less than seven times repeated, that the prophet was to do, or did this in the sight of the people; and he did it in the evening, in the twilight, and in the morning, after God came to ask him whether the house of Israel had taken notice of such his uncommon behaviour, and had inquired what it meant. These and other circumstances appear to be very cogent proofs of real facts, and that it is more than a narrative of a vision, or recital of a parable. And, therefore, I cannot but think that it is going much too far from strict rule, to reject the literal sense here, though I know that a very pious and learned writer has done it, and that he had some appearance of reason, besides the authority of some Jewish interpreters to countenance him in it. See his Script. Vind. part 3: p. 97 and Smith's Select Discourses, p. 228.
Stuff— Instruments, furniture, goods; whatever is fitting for a particular purpose; as here, for a long journey.
Ezekiel 12:6. I have set thee for a sign— That is, "as a man whose ways, words, and actions, shall be signs and figures to them of what is to happen: all in your person shall be significative and prophetical."
Ezekiel 12:9. Son of man, &c.— Son of man, the house of Israel, this rebellious house, hath thus inquired of thee, What is this that thou doest? Houbigant; who, instead of the prince in Jerusalem, in the next verse, reads, the prince, and Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 12:12. Shall bear upon his shoulder— Shall be carried upon shoulders, &c. They shall dig through the wall, and he shall go out thereby. Houbigant. Or rather, He shall dig. ο . Ar. Syr. For the fact, see Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7. 2 Kings 25:4. It is probable, that the king and his companions fled through a breach made by themselves in the wall. Or, as Michaelis suggests, the gate through which they fled may have been walled up during the siege.
Ezekiel 12:13. My net also— "Though Zedekiah flatters himself with escaping the Chaldean army, yet he shall find himself fatally mistaken; for I will bring his enemies upon him, who shall encompass him, and stop his flight, as when a wild beast is entangled in a net." See Jeremiah 37:0; Jeremiah 38:0; and Jeremiah 52:10-11.
Ezekiel 12:21-23. And the word, &c.— The latter part of the 22nd verse is spoken in the person of infidels, who turn the grace of God into wantonness, taking encouragement from his patience and long-suffering to despise his threatenings, as if they never would be fulfilled; and to deride his prophets, as if they had prophesied in vain. Both parts of this objection are obviated in the 23rd and 24th verses. See Waterland's Script. Vind. p. 98. Houbigant reads the clause in the 22nd verse in the future.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though many among the captives in Babylon profited under the visitation, yet multitudes were still hardened; flattered by their false prophets with hopes of a speedy return to Jerusalem; and deaf to the admonitions of God's messengers, warning them to repent of their sins, and patiently submit to his will in bearing their appointed seventy years' captivity. They were a rebellious house, and would not see nor hear; and who so blind as those? To affect them therefore, not only by warnings but by the most expressive signs of the certain and terrible destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet is enjoined,
1. To prepare his stuff for removing, his vessels of captivity, as if going into a far country; and this openly in the sight of the people, removing from place to place as one unsettled, and seeking an abode: in the twilight he must dig through the wall of his house, and carry out thereby his stuff, bearing it upon his own shoulders in a mournful habit, and with a dejected look, as one going into captivity; covering his face, and stealing off in the dark as one ashamed and afraid of discovery. Thus he must be a sign to that rebellious house. It may be they will consider, and, though not moved with what they heard, be affected with what they saw, though they be a rebellious house. God thus tries every method with sinners; and ministers must not despair of repeating their labours with the most hardened and obstinate: it may be they will repent: and the most distant hope should encourage our perseverance in our work.
2. The prophet instantly obeys, however laborious the work, or strange it might appear. They who have God's commands must never hesitate. We must be ready to do or suffer any thing for his glory and the good of men's souls; and count all our worldly stuff not worth a thought, if he call us at any time to remove, knowing that we have in heaven a better and more abiding substance.
3. The Lord the next morning gives the prophet the explication of what he had enjoined, which he is to communicate to the people, who would naturally be inquisitive what he meant by this conduct: or perhaps they ridiculed him at his work, and, bantering, cried, What doest thou? What is this strange fellow about? He must tell them, that this burden of the prophetic word respected the prince Zedekiah and all the house of Israel: Ezekiel is their sign herein; as he hath done, so shall they. Their king, in whom they trusted, and by whose influence they hoped to be set at liberty and restored to their own country, so far from helping them, should be enslaved himself, and follow them to Babylon. Pressed by the besiegers, and the city no longer tenable, he shall attempt to escape by night, breaking through the wall of the city for privacy, and carrying a bundle of his most valuable effects or provision with him; his face covered with shame at his miserable plight, or with a mask to prevent his being known; but vain the attempt; God's net, the Chaldean army, should be spread over him, and he taken as a bird in a snare, led captive into Babylon, and die there; yet doomed never to see the place, his eyes being put out by the conqueror, in just punishment of his perfidy, Jeremiah 39:7. His guards scattered, his forces fled, yet pursued by the sword, few shall be suffered to escape, and these dispersed in heathen lands; living monuments of divine vengeance; or perhaps there brought to repentance, acknowledging their abominations, and justifying God in his judgments. Thus, says he, they shall know that I am the Lord, omniscient, just, and almighty. Note; God will make himself known, either in the terrors of his wrath to the impenitent, or in the riches of his grace to the humble.
2nd, Ezekiel is again a sign unto them.
He must eat his bread with quaking, and drink his water with trembling and with carefulness; as if he was in danger of want, or expected that it would be snatched from him; intimating the distress to which the inhabitants of Jerusalem should be reduced during the siege, terrified by their enemies without, dreading the ravages of famine within, and expecting shortly that both their bread and water would fail, and they miserably perish for want; the land being doomed to desolation universal, the cities wasted, the country ravaged, uncultivated, and destitute of man and beast; and this because of the violence therein, the bloodshed, oppression, and injustice exercised among them. And these judgments would teach them that knowledge of God, or that consciousness of his glory and power, which in their prosperity they refused to learn. Note; (1.) They who abuse fulness of bread, are justly punished with pining want. (2.) Those afflictions, on ourselves or others, are singular blessings to us, which lead us to a deeper knowledge of and acquaintance with God.
3rdly, The awful warnings which the prophet gave, were too plain to be mistaken, and the signs too forcible not to make some impression. But we are told what methods they took to evade the conviction. They affirmed, that the time for threatened judgments was prolonged, and would not yet arrive; so that they might hope for peace in their days, and that the prophetic vision looked forward to some very distant season; so that they need not disturb themselves about the event: nay, some dared assert that the evil never would come, every vision faileth or perisheth; so apt are sinners to abuse God's patience, to harden their hearts because judgment is not speedily executed, and to flatter themselves that the terrors of God are mere bug-bears. Nor did the false prophets fail to encourage the delusion, so that the sayings were industriously propagated, and became proverbial: by frequent repetitions they began to believe their own lie. Against this deceit the prophet sets his face, and from God assures them, that their neglect of his judgments shall but hasten them.
1. God will silence their false hopes, by bringing on them the threatened punishment, when every vision should take effect, their lying prophets be abashed, and their delusive proverbs confounded. Note; They who will not believe the warnings of God, will too late be terribly convinced by the infliction of his judgments.
2. God will do this certainly and suddenly. I am the Lord, whose truth is inviolable, his power almighty, his justice most sacred; and who will execute all his threatenings. Since he hath spoken, it shall be done. No longer respite shall be granted, but wrath to the uttermost come on the rebellious house of Israel, and that quickly; the days are at hand, even in your days, their eyes shall see the destruction; within five or six years the whole should be accomplished. And the same assurance is repeated to cut off all doubt of the event, since heaven and earth shall sooner pass away than one jot or tittle fail of God's word. Note; It is the folly of sinners, when they hear of death and judgment, to put far from them the evil day, and defer the great work of preparing for eternity to a more convenient season: when, lo! their hour arrives; they bow, they fall, the grave receives them; a warning to others of the madness of procrastination, and a loud call to-day, while it is called to-day, to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany