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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 11

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 11:0


Temple Visions(Ezekiel 8:1-25)
Evil Rulers To Be JudgedJudgment On Wicked CounselorsJudgment and PromiseJerusalem CondemnedThe Sins of Jerusalem (con't.)
Ezekiel 11:1-4Ezekiel 11:1-4Ezekiel 11:1-4Ezekiel 11:1-4Ezekiel 11:1
Ezekiel 11:2-12
Ezekiel 11:5-12Ezekiel 11:5-12Ezekiel 11:5-12Ezekiel 11:5-6
Ezekiel 11:7-12
Ezekiel 11:13Ezekiel 11:13Ezekiel 11:13Ezekiel 11:13Ezekiel 11:13
Promise of RestorationGod Will Restore IsraelGod's Promise to the ExilesThe New Covenant Promised to the Exiles
Ezekiel 11:14-21Ezekiel 11:14-21Ezekiel 11:14-21Ezekiel 11:14-15Ezekiel 11:14-21
Ezekiel 11:16
Ezekiel 11:17-21
God's Glory Leaves JerusalemThe Glory of Yahweh Leaves Jerusalem
Ezekiel 11:22-25Ezekiel 11:22-23Ezekiel 11:22-25Ezekiel 11:22-25Ezekiel 11:22-23
Ezekiel 11:24-25Ezekiel 11:24-25

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 11:1-4 1Moreover, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the LORD'S house which faced eastward. And behold, there were twenty-five men at the entrance of the gate, and among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. 2He said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give evil advice in this city, 3who say, 'Is not the time near to build houses? This city is the pot and we are the flesh.' 4Therefore, prophesy against them, son of man, prophesy!”

Ezekiel 11:1 “the Spirit lifted me up” This was not the first or last time Ezekiel was impacted by the Spirit (cf. Ezekiel 2:2; Ezekiel 3:12, Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 11:24; Ezekiel 43:5). See note at Ezekiel 3:12.

“the east gate of the LORD'S house” We know from Jeremiah 26:10 that this was a place of public assembly (like the city gate in local settings). This gate is mentioned in Ezekiel 10:19. This is where the portable Throne Chariot lifted up and left the Temple area.

“Jaazaniah son Azzur” There are three others mentioned by this same name but who have different fathers (cf. Ezekiel 8:11; 2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 35:3). Be careful of confusion.

“Pelatiah” We know nothing of this man. It is obvious that these two men were leaders of the people. The nobility had been exiled with Ezekiel in 597 B.C. and, therefore, these were new leaders.

NASB, NJB, JPSOA“leaders of the people” NKJV“princes of the people” NRSV“officials of the people” TEV“leaders of the nation” REB“of high office”

The NKJV has the literal (BDB 978 construct BDB 766). This would imply they are high government leaders. The problem comes in how to identify them because most of these leaders were exiled with Ezekiel and the royal court (597 B.C.). These may have been

1. some who escaped capture and deportation

2. some of lesser stature who assumed the role of leadership in the vacuum caused by the exile

Ezekiel 11:2 “Son of man” See note at Ezekiel 2:1.

“who devise iniquity and give evil advice in the city” Their attitude is depicted in Ezekiel 11:3 and 15. They are false leaders (cf. Ezekiel 11:4), so common in Israel's religious and civic life!

Ezekiel 11:3 “Is it not time to build houses? This city is the pot and we are the flesh” What they were saying is

1. “We are the chosen ones. Those who were exiled were judged by God, but He is not going to judge us who remain in the chosen city! We are His choicest vessels” (cf. Ezekiel 28:26; Jeremiah 29:5, i.e., build houses in Jerusalem now! Also note Jeremiah 21:8-10, where the prophets were preaching “Peace, peace” and yet the destruction of Babylon is surely coming).

2. The phrase “to build houses” may be an idiom for starting a family (or family line, cf. Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11).

Not only is the first phrase in doubt, but also the second. It could be

a. a metaphor for protection

b. a metaphor for destruction

All being noted, I think it is a parallel to the false prophets' message of

a. peace is sure

b. the city will never fall

c. we who remain are the chosen ones

3. YHWH has already rejected us, why should we serve Him?

4. Let us prepare for war (i.e., build fortifications, not build houses)!

Ezekiel 11:4 “prophesy against them” Ezekiel had done this earlier in Ezekiel 3:4, Ezekiel 3:17.

The VERB “prophesy” (BDB 612, KB 659) is a Niphal IMPERATIVE. It is used twice for emphasis! YHWH, by His Spirit, directed the prophet (Ezekiel 11:5) what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to.

Verses 5-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 11:5-12 5Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and He said to me, “Say, 'Thus says the LORD, “So you think, house of Israel, for I know your thoughts. 6You have multiplied your slain in this city, filling its streets with them.” 7Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, “Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of the city are the flesh and this city is the pot; but I will bring you out of it. 8You have feared a sword; so I will bring a sword upon you,” the Lord GOD declares. 9”And I will bring you out of the midst of the city and deliver you into the hands of strangers and execute judgments against you. 10You will fall by the sword. I will judge you to the border of Israel; so you shall know that I am the LORD. 11This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be flesh in the midst of it, but I will judge you to the border of Israel. 12Thus you will know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor have you executed My ordinances, but have acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you.”'“

Ezekiel 11:5 “said. . .say. . .says” The Hebrew word “say” (BDB 55, KB 65) is found often in this chapter.

1. 2. 3.-6. 7. 8. 9. 10.11.-12. 13.-14Ezekiel 11:2; Ezekiel 11:3Ezekiel 11:5 Ezekiel 11:7; Ezekiel 11:13Ezekiel 11:14; Ezekiel 11:15Ezekiel 11:16 Ezekiel 11:17 Qal IMPERFECT Qal PARTICIPLE Qal IMPERFECT Qal IMPERATIVE Qal PERFECT (TWICE) Qal PERFECT Qal IMPERFECT Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT Qal PERFECT Qal IMPERATIVE Qal PERFECT Qal IMPERATIVE Qal PERFECT

See note at Ezekiel 11:4. Ezekiel is YHWH's mouthpiece!

“I know your thoughts” This same truth is expressed in several ways (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 7:9; Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27; Revelation 2:23). God knows the thoughts and motives of His human creatures! We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) and what we think!

The literal phrase is “what comes up in your spirit”( NASB margin). The Hebrew term “spirit,” “wind,” “breath” (BDB 924) is understood here as “mind” (cf. Ezekiel 20:32).

Ezekiel 11:6 The terrible judgment about to destroy Jerusalem and the temple (God's protected place, Jeremiah 7:26) is because of their evil, not a lack of YHWH's protection and care!

Ezekiel 11:7 This statement reverses the false leaders' statement of confidence in Ezekiel 11:3.

Ezekiel 11:9 “I shall deliver you into the hands of” This is an idiom of military defeat.

“of strangers” This is a fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:49, Deuteronomy 28:50. As Assyrians exiled the northern tribes, so Babylon will exile the southern tribes!

Ezekiel 11:10 “so you shall know that I am the LORD” See note at Ezekiel 6:13.

“to the borders of Israel” This could be “as far as the borders of Israel,” or it could refer to “at the borders of Israel” as fulfilled in 2 Kings 25:18-21, where Zechariah, when trying to fleeing, is captured and taken to Nebuchadnezzar II at Riblah.

Ezekiel 11:11 This is a clarification of Ezekiel 11:7.

Ezekiel 11:12 Israel sinned against two “laws.”

1. the statutes and ordinances of YHWH (see Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation; known as “special revelation,” cf. Psalms 19:7-12)

2. the society norms of the surrounding nations (cf. Ezekiel 5:7; known as “natural revelation,” cf. Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:19; Romans 2:14)

Israel “walked” (i.e., lifestyle actions, BDB 229, KB 246, Qal PERFECT) in ways more evil than their pagan neighbors. This demanded judgment (cf. Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 18:24-30).

Verse 13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 11:13 13Now it came about as I prophesied, that Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Will You bring the remnant of Israel to a complete end?”

Ezekiel 11:13 “it came about as I prophesied, that Pelatiah son of Benaiah died” This was a visible and immediate sign to the elders back in the exile of the validity of Ezekiel's message. The word of this man's death would not reach them for several weeks.

“Alas, Lord GOD! Will You bring the remnant of Israel to a complete end” This same question was asked by Ezekiel as the six angelic destroyers went through the city (Ezekiel 9:8).

It is uncertain why the death of an evil leader (Ezekiel 11:2) would illicit this response.

For the theological concept of “remnant” see Special Topic: The Remnant, Three Senses.

Verses 14-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 11:14-21 14Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 15”Son of man, your brothers, your relatives, your fellow exiles and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Go far from the LORD; this land has been given us as a possession.' 16Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Though I had removed them far away among the nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone.”' 17Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”' 18When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. 21But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I will bring their conduct down on their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 11:15

NASB, NRSV“your fellow exiles” NASB margin“the men of your redemption” NKJV“your kinsmen” NRSV footnote“people of your kindred” NJB, REB“to your kinfolk” LXX“the men of thy captivity”

The MT has “the men of your kindred” (BDB 35 construct BDB 145), which seems to refer to other exiles, possibly of the same tribe clan or family.

“Go far from the LORD; this land has been given us as a possession” “Go far” (BDB 934, KB 1221) can be a Qal IMPERATIVE or a Qal PERFECT. This is related to verse Ezekiel 11:3. The current residents of Jerusalem were saying they were the new chosen seed and the exiles (the royal family, the civil and religious leaders, and the artisans) had been rejected. But in reality just the opposite was true. This can be seen in Ezekiel 11:16, where God says, “I am going to dwell with the exiles” and Ezekiel 11:17, where He says He will restore them to the land. Both Ezekiel 11:16 and 17 start with an IMPERATIVE!

Although it is true that Ezekiel focuses on Judah's destruction and exile through chapter 24 (chapters 25-32 are oracles against the nations, except for Ezekiel 28:25-26), there are hints here and there in these early chapters of Ezekiel's message of restoration to the faithful remnant.

1. Ezekiel 5:3

2. Ezekiel 6:8-9

3. Ezekiel 11:14-21

4. Ezekiel 12:16

5. Ezekiel 16:60-63

6. Ezekiel 17:22-24

7. Ezekiel 20:39-44

8. Ezekiel 28:25-26

Ezekiel 11:16 “I was a sanctuary for them” YHWH is described as a place of sacredness and safety to the faithful exiles (cf. Isaiah 8:14, in Isaiah 25:4 He is a “refuge”). These are all powerful metaphors for care and protection! The physical sanctuary in Jerusalem will be destroyed, but the “true” sanctuary (i.e., YHWH) was with them in exile as the visions of Ezekiel would clearly reveal. YHWH had left Jerusalem and moved east (cf. Ezekiel 11:22-25), but He would return with the exiles.

This phrase may have been the OT background for Jesus' statement in John 2:19, quoted in Mark 14:58; Mark 15:29; and Acts 6:14. Jesus saw Himself as the new temple! He is our sanctuary!

The term “little” (BDB 589), depending on context, can mean “a little,” “a few.” It can denote numbers, kinds, or time. In this context “time” (i.e., the exile) fits best. YHWH Himself cannot be described as “a little sanctuary”!

Ezekiel 11:17 “the land of Israel” See note at Ezekiel 7:2. For the name Israel see Special Topic following.


Ezekiel 11:18 Notice that “they will remove” (BDB 693, KB 747, Hiphil PLURAL) follows Ezekiel 18:31-32. However, this has been the problem of fallen humanity, they cannot keep God's covenant! Therefore, YHWH will act on their behalf (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-38).

1. “I will give,” Ezekiel 11:19, BDB 678, KB 773, Qal PERFECT SINGULAR

2. “I shall put, Ezekiel 11:19, BDB 678, KB 773, Qal IMPERFECT SINGULAR

3. “I shall take out,” Ezekiel 11:19, BDB 693, KB 747, Hiphil PERFECT SINGULAR

4. “I will give,” Ezekiel 11:19, BDB 678, KB 773, Qal PERFECT

Notice that human response is still required (cf. Ezekiel 11:20).

1. “they will walk,” Ezekiel 11:20, BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERFECT PLURAL

2. “they will keep,” Ezekiel 11:20, BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal IMPERFECT PLURAL

3. “they will do,” Ezekiel 11:20, BDB 793, KB 889, Qal PERFECT PLURAL

The covenant will be restored (“they will be My people, and I shall be their God”), but it still required obedience (cf. Ezekiel 11:21; Deuteronomy 30:2, Deuteronomy 30:10).

The returning exiles were meant to remove all the idolatrous evil from the land. By reading Ezra and Nehemiah this hope was only partially fulfilled. Idolatry was forsaken, but other evils returned.

The terms”detestable” (BDB 1055) and “abominations” (BDB 1072) are used together in Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 7:20; Ezekiel 11:18, Ezekiel 11:21; and Jeremiah 16:18.

Ezekiel 11:19 “I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them” The MT has “one” heart, but note the following translations.

1. LXX - “another heart”

2. Peshitta - “a new heart”

3. REB - “singleness of heart”

4. NIV - “an undivided heart”

If “one,” then it denotes

1. loyalty to YHWH

2. unity of Jacob's children (cf. Ezekiel 37:15-23)

Because of (1) the parallelism within Ezekiel 11:19 and the textual parallel of Ezekiel 36:26-27, I think the concept of “new” fits best. This is the “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Not just restoration, but reorientation from an outward performance standard to an inner motivation based on divine performance (cf. Deuteronomy 30:3-9). It is not just a new day for the children of Jacob, but for the children of Adam!


SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance

SPECIAL TOPIC: Predestination (Calvinism) vs. Human Free Will (Arminianism)

Ezekiel 11:20 “that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them” Obedience is crucial! It is not optional. These are conditional covenants! Notice the repetition used for emphasis.

1. “walk,” BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 13:4-5; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:9; Deuteronomy 30:16

2. “keep,” BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 4:6, Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:15, Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 4:40

3. “do,” BDB 793, KB 889, Qal PERFECT, cf. Deuteronomy 4:1, Deuteronomy 4:3, Deuteronomy 4:6, Deuteronomy 4:13, Deuteronomy 4:14, Deuteronomy 4:16, Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 4:25

“Then they will be my people and I will be their God” These are covenant terms (cf. Exodus 6:7; Ezekiel 14:11; Ezekiel 34:30; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:27). This was so important for these exiled people to hear because they wondered if God would keep His covenant with Israel's descendants. They wondered if they had been rejected. They wondered if their sin had totally altered their relationship with YHWH.

Ezekiel 11:21 “I shall bring their conduct down on their heads” See note at Ezekiel 9:10.

Verses 22-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 11:22-25 22Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. 23The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city. 24And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me. 25Then I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.

Ezekiel 11:22 This is referring to the portable throne chariot of YHWH, first seen by Ezekiel in chapter 1 and seen again in chapter 8. In Ezekiel 11:23 it moves from the temple to the Mt. of Olives and then in Ezekiel 11:24 it moves to the exiles in Babylon.

Ezekiel 11:23 This shows the depth of the idolatry of the city of Jerusalem and particularly the priests that YHWH would have to leave the place where He had chosen to dwell (i.e., the temple), and go with the exiles.

Ezekiel 11:24 “I had seen” This VERB (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal PERFECT) is one of the terms used to describe a prophet (i.e., “seer.” See Introductory Article, “Prophecy”).

Ezekiel 11:25 “I told the exiles all the things God had shown me” This refers to the elders who were mentioned in Ezekiel 8:1. Therefore, chapters 8-11 form a literary unit.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did the elders come to Ezekiel?

2. What does the series of idolatry in chapter 8 mean?

3. Why is the description of the Cherubim and the portable throne chariot in chapter 10 slightly different from chapter 1?

4. Why is Ezekiel 11:16 and 23 so significant to the exiles?

5. Describe the significance of Ezekiel 11:19 in relationship to the New Covenant of Jeremiah and the NT emphasis on individual responsibility.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-11.html. 2021.
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