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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 22

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 22:0


The Sins of IsraelSins of JerusalemOracles of JudgmentThe Crimes of JerusalemThe Crimes of Jerusalem
Ezekiel 22:1-5Ezekiel 22:1-5Ezekiel 22:1-5Ezekiel 22:1-12Ezekiel 22:1-5
Ezekiel 22:6-12Ezekiel 22:6-12Ezekiel 22:6-12Ezekiel 22:6-12
Ezekiel 22:13-16Ezekiel 22:13-16Ezekiel 22:13-16Ezekiel 22:13-16Ezekiel 22:13-16
Israel In the FurnaceGod's Refining Furnace
Ezekiel 22:17-22Ezekiel 22:17-22Ezekiel 22:17-22Ezekiel 22:17-22Ezekiel 22:17-22
Israel's Wicked LeadersThe Sins of Israel's Leaders
Ezekiel 22:23-31Ezekiel 22:23-31Ezekiel 22:23-31Ezekiel 22:23-31Ezekiel 22:23-31

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 22:1-5 1Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2”And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then cause her to know all her abominations. 3You shall say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “A city shedding blood in her midst, so that her time will come, and that makes idols, contrary to her interest, for defilement! 4You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and defiled by your idols which you have made. Thus you have brought your day near and have come to your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations and a mocking to all the lands. 5Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you, you of ill repute, full of turmoil.”'“

Ezekiel 22:2 “Then the word of the LORD came to me saying” See note at Ezekiel 21:1.

“son of man” See note at Ezekiel 2:1.

“will you judge, will you judge” The repetition of the VERB (BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal IMPERFECT) is for emphasis. Ezekiel acted as both prosecutor and judge on YHWH's behalf. He lays out the charges and the consequences, then because of no intercessor or repentance (cf. Ezekiel 22:30-31), they are implemented (i.e., 586 B.C.)!

“bloody city” This is the key construct (BDB 746, 196) used throughout this chapter (cf. Ezekiel 22:2 [twice], 3,4,6,9,12,13). It is used of Nineveh in Nahum 3:1. Some think it is used of Jerusalem because of (1) the worship of Molech (cf. Ezekiel 16:21; Ezekiel 20:26, Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 23:37) or (2) the killing of the righteous (cf. Ezekiel 22:25).

It is historically possible that Nebuchadnezzar's initial raid in 588 B.C. caused the population of the area to seek refuge in the walled city of Jerusalem, but instead of refuge they found exploitation and death by their own countrymen!

In 586 B.C. the city and temple were destroyed by Babylon's army and the populace who escaped the sword were exiled to Babylon.

“cause her to know” See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: KNOW (using mostly Deuteronomy as a paradigm)

“abomination” See Special Topic: Abomination.

Ezekiel 22:3 “for defilement” This VERB (BDB 379, KB 375, Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) means to become unclean because of her creation of and association with foreign pagan idols (cf. Ezekiel 22:4).

This defilement (Qal PERFECT in Ezekiel 22:4, i.e., uncleanness) is also described in Ezekiel 22:4.

1. I have made you a reproach (BDB 357) to the nations, cf. Ezekiel 5:14, Ezekiel 5:15; Ezekiel 16:57

2. I have made you a mocking (BDB 887) to all lands, cf. VERB (Hithpael IMPERFECT) in Ezekiel 22:5 (Hithpael only 3 times in the OT, 2 Kings 2:23; Habakkuk 1:10; and Piel only once, Ezekiel 16:31).

3. you of ill repute, Ezekiel 22:5

There is a parallelism among

1. the nations, Ezekiel 22:4

2. all the lands, Ezekiel 22:4

3. those who are near. . .far, Ezekiel 22:5

All people will be affected by Judah's sin (cf. Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6)! Judah's actions affect the way the world understands YHWH. The same is true as to the way the church's sin confuses the world about Jesus!

“thus you have brought your day near” YHWH asserts that their sin has hastened the day of their judgment (e.g., 2 Peter 3:12)!

Ezekiel 22:5 “you of ill repute, full of turmoil” These are two characterizations of Judah.

1. “of ill repute” is literally a Hebrew construct (BDB 379, 1027) “polluted name.” They are considered ceremonially unclean and thereby cannot approach YHWH.

2. “full of turmoil” is literally a Hebrew construct (BDB 912, 223), “full of confusion,” which is a “Holy War” term (cf. Exodus 14:24; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 7:23). The tragedy is that now YHWH fights against His polluted people (cf. Deuteronomy 28:20)! Isaiah 22:5 describes an eschatological scene (cf. Ezekiel 7:5-9, esp. Ezekiel 22:7).

Verses 6-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 22:6-12 6”Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood. 7They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you. 8You have despised My holy things and profaned My sabbaths. 9Slanderous men have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood, and in you they have eaten at the mountain shrines. In your midst they have committed acts of lewdness. 10In you they have uncovered their fathers' nakedness; in you they have humbled her who was unclean in her menstrual impurity. 11One has committed abomination with his neighbor's wife and another has lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law. And another in you has humbled his sister, his father's daughter. 12In you they have taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest and profits, and you have injured your neighbors for gain by oppression, and you have forgotten Me,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 22:6-12 First Ezekiel lists (PERFECT TENSE) the continuing sins of Judah's political leaders, especially the kings.

1. shed blood, Ezekiel 22:6

2. treated fathers and mothers lightly, Ezekiel 22:7

3. oppressed the alien, fatherless, and widows, Ezekiel 22:7

Then he lists the sins of the nations (cf. Jeremiah 7:5-11).

1. despised YHWH's holy things, Ezekiel 22:8

2. profaned YHWH's sabbaths, cf. Ezekiel 20:13, Ezekiel 20:16, Ezekiel 20:21, Ezekiel 20:24; Ezekiel 23:38

3. lied (i.e., slandered, cf. Leviticus 19:16), Ezekiel 22:9

4. worshiped idols (i.e., shed blood and eaten at mountain shrines, fertility worship, cf. Ezekiel 18:6, Ezekiel 18:11), Ezekiel 22:9

a. committed acts of lewdness, Ezekiel 22:9

b. uncovered their father's nakedness (sexual contact with mother or another of his father's wives, cf. Leviticus 18:0), Ezekiel 22:10

c. sex with women during menstrual period (cf. Leviticus 18:19), Ezekiel 22:10

d. sex with neighbor's wife (cf. Leviticus 18:20; Leviticus 20:10), Ezekiel 22:11

e. lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law (cf. Leviticus 20:12), Ezekiel 22:11

f. humbled his sister (or half sister), his father's daughter (cf. Leviticus 20:17), Ezekiel 22:11

5. took money to commit murder (cf. Deuteronomy 27:25), Ezekiel 22:12

6. loaned money with interest (cf. Ezekiel 18:13; Leviticus 25:36, Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19, Deuteronomy 23:20; Proverbs 28:8), Ezekiel 22:12

7. took advantage of neighbors, Ezekiel 22:12

8. forgot YHWH (cf. Ezekiel 23:35; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11, Deuteronomy 8:14; Isaiah 17:10), Ezekiel 22:12

The Mosaic Covenant and common decency had been lost to Canaanite fertility worship. Ezekiel tries to embarrass Judah by using shocking language related to their fertility worship (cf. Ezekiel 16:27, Ezekiel 16:43, Ezekiel 16:58; Ezekiel 22:9, Ezekiel 22:11; Ezekiel 23:21, Ezekiel 23:27, Ezekiel 23:29, Ezekiel 23:35, Ezekiel 23:44, Ezekiel 23:48, Ezekiel 23:49; Ezekiel 24:13)!

Ezekiel 22:7 “treated their father and mother lightly” See Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; and Deuteronomy 27:16.

“the widow” See Exodus 22:22-24 and Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19.

Ezekiel 22:9 “slanderous men” See Leviticus 19:16.

Ezekiel 22:10 “uncover their fathers' nakedness” This seems to refer to sexual intercourse with a former wife, stepmother, or concubine (cf. Leviticus 18:7, Leviticus 18:8; Leviticus 20:11; Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20).

Verses 13-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 22:13-16 13”Behold, then, I smite My hand at your dishonest gain which you have acquired and at the bloodshed which is among you. 14Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the days that I will deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken and will Acts 1:0; Acts 1:05I will scatter you among the nations and I will disperse you through the lands, and I will consume your uncleanness from you. 16You will profane yourself in the sight of the nations, and you will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 22:13 “I strike my hand” See note at Ezekiel 21:14.

Ezekiel 22:14 This is an allusion to Ezekiel 21:7.

“I, the LORD, have spoken and will act” This is a recurrent theme of Ezekiel which emphasizes

1. YHWH's control of world events

2. the fact that YHWH's word can be trusted and depended on

3. the fact that judgment is coming, repentance (i.e., conditional covenant) is no longer possible

Ezekiel 22:15 The threat of removal from the Promised Land for covenant disobedience goes back to Leviticus 26:33 and Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:64; Deuteronomy 29:28. YHWH removed the Canaanites from Canaan because of their sins (cf. Genesis 15:12-21), now He will remove Israel. He is no respecter of persons, shows no favoritism!

The VERBS “scatter” (BDB 806, KB 918, cf. Ezekiel 12:15; Ezekiel 20:23, Ezekiel 20:24) and “disperse” (BDB 279, KB 280, cf. Ezekiel 5:10, Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 6:8; Ezekiel 12:15; Ezekiel 20:23; Ezekiel 36:19) are most often used of Israel's and Judah's exiles, but they are also used of YHWH's judgment on Egypt, Ezekiel 29:12, Ezekiel 29:13; Ezekiel 30:23, Ezekiel 30:26. Egypt was the source of Israel's idolatry (cf. Ezekiel 23:27, Ezekiel 23:48). YHWH must cleanse His people of this pollution.

The same VERBS are used to describe YHWH's fighting on Israel's behalf (i.e., Numbers 10:35), but now He fights against them because they have become abominations like the ten Canaanite tribes (see Special Topic at Ezekiel 16:3). They must be removed from YHWH's land, which they are polluting!

YHWH's purpose in the exiles was the purification of His people! YHWH wants a righteous people who reflect His character to a lost world so that they may know Him and come to Him!

Ezekiel 22:16

NASB, ASV“you will profane yourself” NKJV“you shall defile yourself” NRSV, RSV“I shall be profaned through you” NJB“through your own fault, you will be profaned” JB“I shall be dishonoured by you” LXX“I will take possession of thee” PESHITTA“I will chastise you” REB“I shall sift you” JPSOA“you shall be dishonored” NIV“when you have been defiled”

The MT has “you,” but several ancient versions (LXX, Peshitta, Vulgate) change this to “I.” The second part of the verse lends support for the MT, but Ezekiel 22:26 tends to support the versions. The UBS Hebrew OT Project gives “I” a “C” rating (considerable doubt).

Verses 17-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 22:17-22 17And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 18”Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver. 19Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you. 21I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you will be melted in the midst of it. 22As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, the LORD, have poured out My wrath on you.'“

Ezekiel 22:17-22 This is a metaphor from ancient metallurgy. YHWH calls Jerusalem a mixture of metals, which made them absolutely useless (cf. Jeremiah 6:27-30). The mixture was the Mosaic Covenant with Egyptian idolatry and Canaanite idolatry. YHWH would melt them so as to remove the useless metals (cf. Isaiah 1:22, Isaiah 1:25).

Ezekiel 22:21 As so often Ezekiel uses terms normally reserved for a positive connotation in a shockingly negative way. In this verse “gather” (BDB 488, KB 484, Piel PERFECT) is used in a judgment sense, but usually it refers to a gathering of Israelites from among the nations where they have been exiles (cf. Ezekiel 39:28; Psalms 147:2).

Verses 23-31

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 22:23-31 23And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 24”Son of man, say to her, 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.' 25There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her. 26Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest Galatians 2:0; Galatians 2:08Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD has not spoken. 29The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 22:24 “is not cleansed or rained on” This is a very difficult verse. Some think it refers to (1) no human tending and no divine rain or (2) no cleansing rain. For sure God's judgment has fallen and no moisture came (sign of judgment in Deuteronomy).

Ezekiel 22:25-28 “There is a conspiracy of the prophets” The Septuagint has “whose princes” (cf. NJB, REB) because the prophets are mentioned in Ezekiel 22:28. This paragraph is a condemnation of all of Judean society (cf. Zephaniah 3:3-4).

1. the political leaders, Ezekiel 22:25, repeated in Ezekiel 22:27

a. acted like ravenous lions (cf. Ezekiel 19:3, Ezekiel 19:6)

b. devoured lives

(1) took treasure and precious things

(2) killed many (i.e., made widows)

2. the priests, Ezekiel 22:26

a. have done violence to YHWH's law

b. profaned YHWH's holy things

(1) made no distinction between holy and profane, cf. Leviticus 10:10; Leviticus 11:47; Leviticus 20:25

(2) have not taught the difference between unclean and clean

c. hid their eyes from YHWH's sabbaths

3. the prophets, Ezekiel 22:28

a. have smeared whitewash, cf. Ezekiel 13:10, Ezekiel 13:11, Ezekiel 13:12, Ezekiel 13:14, Ezekiel 13:15 (twice)

b. saw false visions, cf. Ezekiel 13:6, Ezekiel 13:7, Ezekiel 13:9, Ezekiel 13:23; Ezekiel 21:29

c. divining lies

4. the people, Ezekiel 22:29 (cf. Ezekiel 18:7, Ezekiel 18:12, Ezekiel 18:16; Jeremiah 22:3)

a. practiced oppression

b. committed robbery

(1) wronged the poor and needy

(2) oppressed the alien/sojourner

Ezekiel 22:29 “The people of the land” This term originally (and here) meant “landed owners with full rights as citizens” (cf. Ezekiel 12:19; Ezekiel 45:16, Ezekiel 45:22; Ezekiel 46:3), but after the Exile it referred to the poorest people of the land (cf. the use in the NT).

Ezekiel 22:30 This is such a shocking verse, which mirrors Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5 and Jeremiah 5:1. There was no one! What was YHWH looking for? Someone to

1. build up the wall, cf. Ezekiel 13:5; Psalms 106:23

2. stand in the gap (intercede in prayer on behalf of Israel as Moses and Samuel had, cf. Jeremiah 15:1, which is similar to Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:20; Ezekiel 33:1-6)

It is surprising that Ezekiel himself did not fulfill this text, but remember the setting is Jerusalem, not the exiles in Babylon. But then Jeremiah was in Jerusalem, why did he not fulfill this search? The verse is a literary hyperbole. It is not meant to be taken literally. It is for shock value only! There were some righteous people in Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 20:47; Ezekiel 21:4).

The good news is that YHWH seeks intercessors! He wants to be convinced to withhold judgment. He wants to forgive, but no one interceded and people did not repent!

Ezekiel 22:31 See notes at Ezekiel 7:3, Ezekiel 7:8, Ezekiel 7:9; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 16:43. We reap what we sow (i.e., Galatians 6:7)!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 22". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-22.html. 2021.
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