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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 33

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



The Book of Consolations.


Verses 1-6

1-6. This command came the evening before the messenger arrived announcing the fall of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21-22). For two years Ezekiel had been unable to speak to the people, and had spent his time in writing prophecies against foreign nations, but now he is commanded to speak, which must have been certain proof to him that information of the city’s fall was about to arrive. (See Ezekiel 24:26.) He seeks now to prepare the people for this awful news. He points out that it was not lack of patriotism and sympathy, but a grave and urgent sense of duty, which had led him to blow the trumpet of warning. (Compare Hosea 8:1; Habakkuk 2:1; Jeremiah 6:6; Jeremiah 4:5.) The spirit of the people (Ezekiel 33:10, compare Ezekiel 24:23) indicates that the rumor of this awful disaster had reached them even before the direct messenger to Ezekiel arrived. 7-9. Compare Ezekiel 3:17-21. The out-ward imagery vanishes in Ezekiel 33:7. It is of no Chaldean invader that the prophet had to give warning, but of each man’s own special sin, which was bringing ruin upon himself and on his country (Plumptre).

Verses 10-20

10-20. Compare notes Ezekiel 18:23-32. The people have ceased to excuse themselves, and now “pine away” in utter despair because of their sins. Whereupon the prophet reaffirms for their comfort the principles of God’s moral government, which he had previously announced in order to convict them of sin (Ezekiel 18:23-32). They have indeed sinned, but the way of life is still open. God does not punish arbitrarily. He wishes all men to repent and live, and they have power to do this. It is sin that brings death, and each man’s destiny is determined by himself. Here is a splendid announcement of God’s justice and of man’s moral agency. Davidson has said that “this emancipation of the individual soul, whether from a doom inherited from a former generation or from one entailed on it by its own evil past, was perhaps the greatest contribution made by Ezekiel to the religious life and thought of his time.” The chief thought, which is intended to bring relief to the now hopeless people, is that the past is not irrevocable. There need be no doubt that Ezekiel intended these principles to awaken a national as well as an individual hope. The life of the nation, like that of the individual, is dependent upon its attitude toward righteousness. “Life,” according to the prophet, did not mean mere existence; but contained a spiritual element. (See Ezekiel 20:11, etc.) No nation or individual could really live who was not doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Yet ye say (Ezekiel 33:17; Ezekiel 33:20) Not in the same spirit as Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 18:29. They then said that their heredity and their connection with the nation, not their personal transgressions, were to blame for their captivity and other calamities, but now (Ezekiel 33:10) they acknowledge: “Our transgressions and our sins are upon us” (R.V.). The prophet seeks to show that in their despair they are now making the same evil charge against Jehovah, by denying his power to lift them out of their sin and trouble, which they had previously made by denying that their trouble was the consequence of their sins.

Verse 21

21. In the twelfth year The fall of the city took place in the fourth month of the eleventh year (Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6). It seems incredible that Ezekiel should not hear of this for eighteen months. It is probable that the manuscripts are right that read “eleventh year.” The two numbers are very similar in Hebrew.

One that had escaped… came Who was the fugitive? Plumptre suggests that Baruch may have been sent by Jeremiah to bear these sad tidings to his brother prophet (compare Jeremiah 45:5), and Skinner thinks perhaps it was a captive “who had trudged the weary road to Babylon in chains under the escort of Nebuzaradan” (Jeremiah 39:9).

Verse 22

22. Was upon me R.V., “had been upon me.” (Compare Ezekiel 33:2.)

Verses 23-29

23-29. The captives were utterly paralyzed by the confirmed account of the destruction of the holy city (Ezekiel 24:23), and Ezekiel with redoubled influence, because of the fulfillment of his former prophecy, lifts up his voice once more in another word of warning and comfort. He recites the boast of the miserable lawless remnant of the population which had been left in the ruined cities of the land that they would take possession of the property of the captives (Ezekiel 33:24). He recounts their many sins, showing how they depended upon their swords, not upon law or justice, in their treatment of each other, and how they worked abominations and violated the most sacred family relations (Ezekiel 33:25-26; compare Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:11; Ezekiel 18:15; Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 22:6; Ezekiel 22:9; and Jeremiah 40-44), and he declares that a dishonored death shall come to them for their sins (Ezekiel 33:27; compare Ezekiel 27:29-31), and the land shall be left uninhabited (Ezekiel 33:28) until the exiles go back again to possess it (Ezekiel 34:13).

Verses 30-33

30-33. The startling fulfillment of Ezekiel’s last prophecy had aroused special interest in his every word. Everybody was now talking about him, but not against him (Ezekiel 33:30). They come in crowds “according to the coming of a people,” and sit with seeming reverence (compare Ezekiel 20:1-4) and speak words of love and appreciation, but “their heart goeth after their gain.” (Compare Ezekiel 33:31 and 2 Timothy 4:10.) They listen to the music of his words as he speaks of the new Israel, explains the principles of God’s government and calls them to repent and cast out all idols from their hearts, that they may once again enjoy a true spiritual and national life and not everlastingly perish; but they listen as if it were merely a sweet song (compare Psalms 137:3) without any appreciation of its profound truth and personal application to themselves (Ezekiel 33:32). Some day, when these judgments shall fall upon them, they shall know! (Ezekiel 33:33.) Adam Clarke says of the congregation who gathered to hear this now popular preacher, “They admired the fine voice and correct delivery of the prophet; this was their religion; and this is the whole of the religion of thousands to the present day; for never were itching ears so multiplied as now.” (Compare Expositor’s Bible, pp. 293-303, and Whittier’s poem, “Ezekiel.”)

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/ezekiel-33.html. 1874-1909.
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