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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 14

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 14:0


Idolatrous Elders CondemnedIdolatry Will Be PunishedOf Prophets and People(Ezekiel 12:21-23)God Condemns IdolatryAgainst Idolatry
Ezekiel 14:1-5Ezekiel 14:1-5Ezekiel 14:1-5Ezekiel 14:1-3Ezekiel 14:1-5
Ezekiel 14:4-5
Ezekiel 14:6-11Ezekiel 14:6-11Ezekiel 14:6-8Ezekiel 14:6Ezekiel 14:6-11
Ezekiel 14:7-8
Ezekiel 14:9-11Ezekiel 14:9-11
The City Will Not Be SparedJudgment on Persistent UnfaithfulnessNoah, Daniel and JobIndividual Responsibility
Ezekiel 14:12-20Ezekiel 14:12-14Ezekiel 14:12-20Ezekiel 14:12-14Ezekiel 14:12-20
Ezekiel 14:15-16Ezekiel 14:15-16
Ezekiel 14:17-18Ezekiel 14:17-18
Ezekiel 14:19-20Ezekiel 14:19-20
Ezekiel 14:21-23Ezekiel 14:21-23Ezekiel 14:21-23Ezekiel 14:21-23Ezekiel 14:21-23

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 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 14:1-5 1Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. 2And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3”Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? 4Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, 5in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”'

Ezekiel 14:1 “elders of Israel” This must refer to tribal leaders already in exile in Babylon (cf. Ezekiel 8:1, where a group of faithful elders were called “elders of Judah”). These particular ones are idolaters (cf. Ezekiel 20:1). This is Judah's problem, her leaders are not faithful YHWHists!

1. kings, princes

2. priests

3. prophets

4. elders

Ezekiel 14:3 “these men have set up idols in their hearts” Apparently the idolatry of Jerusalem described in chapter 8 had already spread to the leaders in exile in Babylon (cf. Ezekiel 14:4, Ezekiel 14:6, Ezekiel 14:11; Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 20:7-8). These elders looked like YHWHists, but in the secret place of their hearts (God knows the heart), they were corrupted by pagan worship and theology.

For the term “idols” (BDB 165, NIDOTTE, vol. 1, pp. 864-865) see note at Ezekiel 6:4. The term is used almost exclusively in Ezekiel (39 times) and only once in Jeremiah (i.e., Jeremiah 50:2) and never in Isaiah. It originally occurred in the key covenant passages of Leviticus 26:30 and Deuteronomy 29:17.

“stumbling block” This term (BDB 506) is used often in Ezekiel (cf. Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 14:3, Ezekiel 14:4, Ezekiel 14:7; Ezekiel 18:30; Ezekiel 21:15; Ezekiel 44:12). Its basic meaning is “to stumble” or “the means by which one stumbles.” The origin of its idiomatic usage comes from

1. God's word or covenant was characterized as a clearly marked path

2. faith originally meant to be stable, walking easily in the path

3. therefore, to stumble is parallel to leaving the path, to stumbling in the path

This term came to have a Messianic aspect in Isaiah (cf. Ezekiel 8:14; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8). The Messiah (the Cornerstone, Genesis 49:24; Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16) will become a stumbling block to some.

“Should I be consulted by them at all” This is a grammatically emphatic sentence (an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and an IMPERFECT VERB of the same root [BDB 205, KB 233, Niphal, cf. Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:31]). The covenant leaders were consulting idols and false prophets, not YHWH (cf. Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:21). So why should YHWH now allow them to consult Him?

Ezekiel 14:4 “speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD'“ This is an emphatic construction.

1. a Piel IMPERATIVE, “speak,” BDB 180, KB 201

2-3. two Qal PERFECTS, “says,” BDB 55, KB 65

God's prophet must address this situation of “apparent” faith!

“I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer” See note at Ezekiel 14:7.

Ezekiel 14:5 “who are estranged from Me” The VERB “estranged” (BDB 266, KB 267, Niphal PERFECT) describes the alienation of YHWH's people from Him because of idolatry. YHWH's people are now strangers/foreigners (cf. Ezekiel 7:21; Ezekiel 11:9; Ezekiel 16:22; Ezekiel 28:7, Ezekiel 28:10; Ezekiel 30:12; Ezekiel 31:12) and thus enemies (cf. Isaiah 1:4; Psalms 69:8).

Verses 6-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 14:6-8 6”Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. 7For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person. 8I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 14:6 The phrase “Thus says the Lord GOD” is used in several senses in Ezekiel.

1. positive

a. a call to repentance, Ezekiel 14:6

b. forgiveness of the covenant people, Ezekiel 36:33

c. resurrection, Ezekiel 37:12

d. gathering exiles, Ezekiel 37:21

e. restoration of the fortunes of Jacob and having mercy on the whole house of Israel, Ezekiel 39:25

2. negative

a. YHWH gives Ezekiel a message that His people will not listen to, Ezekiel 2:4; Ezekiel 3:11

b. prophecies against the false prophets, Ezekiel 13:3, Ezekiel 13:8

c. prophecies against

(1) apostasy, Ezekiel 20:30

(2) social injustice, Ezekiel 45:9

d. prophecies against the surrounding nations

(1) Ammon, Ezekiel 25:3

(2) Tyre, Ezekiel 28:2

(3) Cush, Put, Lud, Arabia, Libya, Ezekiel 30:2-5

(4) Gog, Ezekiel 39:1

e. prophecies against Judah, Ezekiel 5:8; Ezekiel 6:3; Ezekiel 12:19

As Ezekiel 14:4 was emphatic, so too, Ezekiel 14:6.

1. “say” - BDB 55, KB 65, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. “say” - BDB 55, KB 65, Qal PERFECT

YHWH commands them to do three things (all using one VERBAL root, BDB 996, KB 1427).

1. “repent” (cf. Ezekiel 18:30, Ezekiel 18:32; Ezekiel 33:11; Isaiah 55:6-7)

2. “turn away from your idols”

3. “turn away from all your abominations” (see Special Topic at Ezekiel 5:11)


Ezekiel 14:7 “the immigrants” Non-Jews were to be treated as equals in the legal realm (cf. Leviticus 19:33-34, Leviticus 19:35). Israel was to deal with them graciously (cf. Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 10:19; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19). Israel had also been an alien in Egypt (cf. Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9) and knew how it felt!

“who separates himself from Me” This VERB (BDB 634, KB 684, Niphal IMPERFECT) means to dedicate oneself by separating oneself from ceremonial evil. The NOUN form is used of those in Numbers 6:0 who separate themselves by vow and restrictions to God (i.e., Nazirites, both male and female). There is a play on words here.

1. holy, means separated to God for His service

2. nzr, means those who separate themselves (men and women) to God by special vow (Numbers 6:0). See Special Topic: Nazarite Vow

3. these idolaters have separated themselves from God and to idols

“I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person” What an ominous phrase. YHWH comes personally, not for blessing, but for destruction (cf. Ezekiel 14:4; also note Hebrews 10:31).

Ezekiel 14:8 “I shall set My face against that man” As the idolater sets his idol “right before his face” (cf. Ezekiel 14:4), so now YHWH sets His face against him (cf. Ezekiel 15:7). The face (BDB 815) is an idiom of personal presence (cf. Ezekiel 14:4, Ezekiel 14:7).

Notice what YHWH threatens to do to the idolater.

1. make him a sign (BDB 16)

2. make him a proverb (BDB 605, possibly “byword,” cf. Deuteronomy 28:37; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalms 44:14; Jeremiah 24:9; Joel 2:17)

3. cut him off from the covenant people (BDB 503, KB 500, Hiphil PERFECT)

Verses 9-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 14:9-11 9”But if the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the LORD, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. 10They will bear the punishment of their iniquity; as the iniquity of the inquirer is, so the iniquity of the prophet will be, 11in order that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me and no longer defile themselves with all their transgressions. Thus they will be My people, and I shall be their God,”' declares the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 14:9 YHWH reveals Himself to true prophets, but hides His word from false prophets. He uses them for His own purposes (i.e., 1 Kings 22:22-23). These false prophets were prophesying “peace” and “security” (cf. Jeremiah 14:15), but they were lying! The refusal of Judah to repent caused YHWH's judgment to come!

YHWH uses even “evil” for His purposes and plans! One way the ancient Hebrew Scriptures demonstrated monotheism was by attributing all causality to God (i.e., Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 5:18; Job 12:13-25; Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 45:7; Hosea 6:1; Amos 3:6).

Ezekiel 14:11 The purpose of judgment is restoration (cf. Ezekiel 14:22-23)! However, for this to occur, some other things must happen first.

1. “Israel may no longer stray” (BDB 1073, KB 1766, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Ezekiel 44:10, Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 48:11)

2. Israel “no longer defile themselves” (BDB 379, KB 375, Hiphil IMPERFECT, cf. Ezekiel 37:23)

If these criteria are not met, then they will not be His covenant people (cf. Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 34:30; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:27; Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 11:45; Leviticus 22:33; Leviticus 25:38; Leviticus 26:12, Leviticus 26:44, Leviticus 26:45).

Verses 12-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 14:12-20 21For thus says the Lord GOD, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it! 22Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. 23Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 14:21 The four judgments mentioned were common in the ancient world (i.e., Leviticus 26:22, Leviticus 26:25-26; they are also mentioned in the Babylonian flood texts).

Ezekiel 14:22-23 The terrible judgments on Judah and Jerusalem were for the purpose of redemption! A new Israel will rise out of the ashes of the old rebellious one. There will be a believing remnant (cf. Ezekiel 6:7-9). There will be days of repentance (cf. Ezekiel 14:6)! There will be a new day of righteousness (cf. Isaiah 55-66).

Ezekiel 14:22 “you will see their conduct and actions” This phrase has been interpreted two contrasting ways.

1. the wicked receive their just judgment (“actions,” BDB 760 is always used in a negative sense)

2. the wicked are changed by God's judgment and repent (cf. Ezekiel 18:21-23)

The question is, does this refer to an illustration of God's justice or an example of a believing, faithful remnant?

It is possible that the message to the exiles was “the current generation does not have to bear the sins of their fathers” (or fellow Israelites). Each person's personal faith and action (cf. Ezekiel 18:0) will determine one's relationship with YHWH. This is a rare example of an individual emphasis in a corporate society. This will form a crucial aspect of “new” covenant theology (cf. John 1:12; John 3:16; Romans 10:9-13).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 14". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-14.html. 2021.
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