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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 9

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 9:0


The Vision of SlaughterThe Wicked Are SlainTemple Visions(Ezekiel 8:1-25)Ezekiel's Second Vision(Ezekiel 8:1-22)The Punishment(Ezekiel 9:1-17)
The Punishment of the GuiltyJerusalem Is Punished
Ezekiel 9:1-2Ezekiel 9:1-2Ezekiel 9:1-2Ezekiel 9:1-2Ezekiel 9:1-7
Ezekiel 9:3-8Ezekiel 9:3-7Ezekiel 9:3-10Ezekiel 9:3-4
Ezekiel 9:5-6
Ezekiel 9:7
Ezekiel 9:8-11Ezekiel 9:8Ezekiel 9:8-11
Ezekiel 9:9-10Ezekiel 9:9-10
Ezekiel 9:11Ezekiel 9:11Ezekiel 9:11

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 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 9:1-2 1Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, “Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” 2Behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with his shattering weapon in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Ezekiel 9:1

NASB, NKJV, NRSV“Draw near” TEV“come here” NJB“are approaching” REB“here they come”

This is translated as an IMPERATIVE, but the VERB (BDB 897, KB 1132) is a Qal PERFECT, which denotes that they have drawn near and abide!

NASB“O executioners of the city” NKJV“those who have charge over the city” NRSV“you executioners of the city” TEV“you men who are going to punish” NJB“The scourges of the city” REB“those appointed to punish the city” JPSOA“you men in charge of the city”

Chapter 9 personifies the judgment that is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:18. These executioners (BDB 824, literally, “those who bring punishment”) are angelic beings (cf. The Death Angel of Egypt, Exodus 12:0 and Daniel 4:13, Daniel 4:17, Daniel 4:23). It is interesting that the “watchers” of Daniel may serve as temple guardians. If so, they would have been distressed at an idol guardian erected at the temple entrance!

It is also interesting that the basic meaning of this FEMININE NOUN (BDB 824) is “visitation.” It can mean for blessing, but usually it is for punishment (cf. Isaiah 10:3; Jeremiah 8:12; Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 49:8; Jeremiah 50:31; Hosea 9:7; Micah 7:4).

“destroying weapon” This (BDB 479 and 1008) is similar to “shattering weapon” (BDB 479 and 658) in Ezekiel 9:2.

Ezekiel 9:2 “the upper gate which faces the north” These angelic executioners came from the very place of the image in Ezekiel 8:3 and the women weeping in Ezekiel 8:14. It was also the direction from which the invading Babylonian army came.

“shattering weapon” This NOUN (BDB 658) is found only here in the OT. The VERB means “shatter.” The same root consonants are found in Jeremiah 51:20 and denote a war club.

“a certain man clothed in linen” This, too, was one of the angelic beings sent by YHWH. He is dressed as a priest (cf. Exodus 28:42; 1 Samuel 22:18; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6) and yet, is angelic and functions as a scribe. Recording angels are an aspect of apocalyptic literature (i.e., Enoch 89:59ff).

“a writing case” This (BDB 903 and 707, literally “ink horn for writing”) is an Egyptian loan word which speaks of the equipment of a scribe. It is found only in this chapter in the OT (cf. Ezekiel 9:2, Ezekiel 9:3, Ezekiel 9:11).

“the bronze altar” This was the altar of sacrifice (i.e., Exodus 27:1-8 describes the bronze altar of the tabernacle; 2 Chronicles 4:1 describes the bronze altar of Solomon's Temple). This sacrificial altar had been moved to the north side of the temple to accommodate Ahaz's new pagan altar, patterned after one in Damascus (cf. 2 Kings 16:10-16). This same altar of sacrifice is also described in Ezekiel's future temple (cf. Ezekiel 43:13-17).

Verses 3-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 9:3-8 3Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. 4The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” 5But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. 6Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple. 7And He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city. 8As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, “Alas, Lord GOD! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?”

Ezekiel 9:3 “went up from the cherub” This can refer either to God moving (1) from the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 25:10-22) or (2) from His throne chariot (cf. Ezekiel 8:4). This is part of the preparation for God leaving the Temple and moving east (cf. Ezekiel 10:18-19; Ezekiel 43:2-5).

For “cherub” see Special Topic: Cherubim.

“the threshold of the temple” The term “threshold” (BDB 837, cf. Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 10:18; Ezekiel 47:1) is uncertain. It has no cognates. Some think it is related to “asylum” or “protector.” It has something to do with the entrance. The same Hebrew consonants mean “cobra” or “serpent.”

Interestingly the JPSOA translation has “to the platform of the House.” The Jewish Study Bible's footnote says, “the raised platform on which the Temple stood, cf. Ezekiel 47:1,” p. 1058.

Ezekiel 9:4 “Go through the midst of the city” The VERB (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal IMPERATIVE) commands that those who “sigh” (BDB 58, KB 70, Niphal PARTICIPLE) and “groan” (BDB 60, KB 72, Niphal PARTICIPLE, literally, “be in mourning”) over Israel's idolatry be marked for protection. This shows YHWH's compassion and protection for those who seek Him even in the midst of judgment. This is related to the theological concept of a believing remnant (cf. Special Topic at Ezekiel 5:2-4).

“and put a mark on the forehead of the men” This is similar to the mark of protection placed on Cain's forehead in Genesis 4:15 and later in the NT on the saints in Revelation 7:1-3; Revelation 14:1.

The term “mark” (BDB 1063, KB 1696, Hiphil PERFECT, “set a mark”) and the shape of the mark is not known. The same consonants form the word for “wound” or “pain” (cf. Psalms 78:41). Whatever it was it was visible to the angelic beings who brought death.

There is speculation (often allegorical) that the Hebrew t (tau) was in the shape of a t or x, which symbolized Christ (cf. Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, p. 332). Be careful of allegory. It can make Scripture mean anything!

Ezekiel 9:5-6 The command is repeated from Ezekiel 9:4 with the added command, “strike” (BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil IMPERATIVE , cf, Ezekiel 7:9; Ezekiel 32:15).

The two commands, “go through” and “strike,” are grammatically related to three JUSSIVES:

1. do not let your eye have pity, BDB 299, KB 298, Qal JUSSIVE, YHWH states that He will have no pity in Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 7:4, Ezekiel 7:9; Ezekiel 8:18; Ezekiel 9:10

2. do not spare, BDB 328, KB 328, Qal IMPERFECT, but used in a JUSSIVE sense

3. do not touch any man on whom is the mark, BDB 620, KB 670, Qal IMPERFECT, literally, “drawn near,” used in a JUSSIVE sense, cf. Exodus 12:33; Revelation 9:4

Ezekiel 9:6 “utterly slay” This VERB (BDB 246, KB 255, Qal IMPERFECT) means “to kill” with an added NOUN (BDB 1008) “ruin,” “destruction,” cf. Exodus 12:13.

“old men, young men, maidens, little children and women” This list adds shocking vividness to the order “kill” (i.e., kill everyone, of any sex, of any age, of any social, economic standing)!

“and you shall start from My sanctuary” The VERB (BDB 320, KB 319, Hiphil IMPERFECT [twice]) is from a root which basically means “to pollute,” “to defile,” and “to profane.”

I think this is probably the OT source of Peter's statement in 1 Peter 4:17, “for it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.”

“so they started with the elders who were before the Temple” We must remember that privilege brings great responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required (cf. Luke 12:48; Galatians 6:7).

Ezekiel 9:7 YHWH's commands to the angelic destroyers are three-fold in this verse.

1. “defile the temple,” BDB 379, KB 375, Piel IMPERATIVE, cf. Ezekiel 6:4-5

2. “fill the courts with the slain,” BDB 569, KB 583, Piel IMPERATIVE

3. “go through,” BDB 422, KB 425, Qal IMPERATIVE, similar statement to Ezekiel 9:4

Ezekiel 9:8 “I alone was left” Ezekiel begins to plead for the remnant when he realizes the destroying angels were killing everyone (BDB 983, KB 1375, Niphal PARTICIPLE, cf. Genesis 7:23). Apparently there were none who grieved over the idolatry (i.e., no righteous remnant left in Jerusalem)!

Remember this is a theological vision (Ezekiel 8:1). This is a prediction of the Babylonian invasions (i.e., 605, 597, 586, 582 B.C.), culminating in the 586 B.C. destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Many died, but not all! The terrible vision is a result of YHWH's revulsion to idolatry! In the vision there were no survivors. In reality there were. The vision drives home the theological truth with vividness and power! YHWH hates idolatry, especially in His own covenant people!

Verses 9-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 9:9-10 9Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!' 10But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.”

Ezekiel 9:9 This decree of guilt (BDB 730) is expressed by three words in the Hebrew text.

1. “great,” BDB 152

2. “exceedingly,” BDB 547 (twice)

3. “is full,” BDB 569, KB 583, Niphal IMPERFECT and it is repeated in Qal PERFECT, “full of perversion” (BDB 642)

“perversion” This term (BDB 642) occurs only here in the OT. It may be from the root “bend” or “twist” (BDB 62, initial n instead of m). If so, the root concept of sin as a perversion of the standard would make sense.

“they say” This reflects the idolaters' statement of Ezekiel 8:12 (cf. Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 47:10).

Ezekiel 9:10 The Jerusalemite idolaters say YHWH does not see. In one sense, they are right. He will refuse to see (i.e., My eye) when calamity comes, cf. Ezekiel 8:18.

“I shall bring their conduct upon their heads” This phrase is used several times (cf. Ezekiel 7:3, Ezekiel 7:4, Ezekiel 7:8, Ezekiel 7:9; Ezekiel 9:11; Ezekiel 11:21; Ezekiel 16:43; Ezekiel 17:19; Ezekiel 22:31; 1 Kings 8:22). See note at Ezekiel 7:4.

Verse 11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 9:11 11Then behold, the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case reported, saying, “I have done just as You have commanded me.”

Ezekiel 9:11 This refers to the angelic messenger/scribe. Angels obey God, but not His creatures made in His image. What irony!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 9". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-9.html. 2021.
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