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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Ezekiel 12

 

 

Verse 1-2

The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,

A rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not ... ears to hear, and hear not - fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 29:4, "Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day," here quoted by Ezekiel (cf. Isaiah 6:9; Jeremiah 5:21). Ezekiel needed often to be reminded of the people's perversity, lest he should be discouraged by the little effect produced by his prophecies. Their "not seeing" is the result of perversity, not incapacity. They are willfully blind. The persons most interested in this prophecy were those dwelling at Jerusalem; and it is among them that Ezekiel was transported in spirit, and performed in vision, not outwardly, the typical acts. At the same time, the symbolical prophecy was designed to warn the exiles at Chebar against cherishing hopes, as many did, in opposition to God's revealed word, of returning to Jerusalem, as if that city was to stand: externally living afar off, their hearts dwelt in that corrupt and doomed capital.


Verse 3

Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.

Prepare thee stuff for removing - rather, 'an exile's outfit;' the articles proper to a person going as an exile, a staff and knapsack, with a supply of food and clothing; so in Jeremiah 46:19, margin, 'instruments of captivity' -

i.e., the needful equipments for it. His simple announcements having failed, he is symbolically to give them an ocular demonstration, conveyed by a word-painting of actions performed in vision.

It may be they will consider - (Deuteronomy 32:29).


Verse 4

Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.

Bring forth thy stuff by day - in broad daylight, when all can see thee.

Thou shalt go forth at even - not contradicting the words "by day." The baggage was to be sent before by day, and Ezekiel was to follow at night-fall (Grotius). Or, the preparations were to be made by day; the actual departure was to be effected at night (Henderson).

As they that go forth into captivity - literally, as the goings forth of the captivity, i:e., of the captive band of exiles, namely, amid the silent darkness; typifying Zedekiah's flight by night on the taking of the city (Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7).


Verse 5

Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.

Dig thou through the wall in their sight. As Zedekiah was to escape like one digging through a wall, furtively to effect an escape (Ezekiel 12:12).

Carry out - namely, "thy stuff" (Ezekiel 12:4).

Thereby - by the opening in the wall. Zedekiah escaped "by the gate between the two walls" (Jeremiah 39:4).


Verse 6

In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.

Carry it forth in the twilight - rather, 'in the dark.' So the English version rightly in Genesis 15:17 [ baa`


Verse 7-8

And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 9

Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?

Hath not the house of Israel ... said unto thee, What doest thou? They ask not in a docile spirit, but making a jest of his proceedings.


Verse 10

Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.

This burden - i:e., weighty oracle [ masaa' (Hebrew #4853)].

Concerneth the prince. The very man Zedekiah in whom they trust for safety is to be the chief sufferer Concerneth the prince. The very man Zedekiah, in whom they trust for safety, is to be the chief sufferer. Josephus ('Antiquities,' 10: 7) reports that Ezekiel sent a copy of this prophecy to Zedekiah. As Jeremiah had sent a letter to the captives at the Chebar, which was the means of calling forth at first the agency of Ezekiel, so it was natural for Ezekiel to send a message to Jerusalem confirming the warnings of Jeremiah. The prince, however-fancying a contradiction between Ezekiel 12:13, "I will bring him to Babylon," and "yet shall he not see Babylon" (cf. also Jeremiah 24:8-9, declaring he should be carried to Babylon) - believed neither. Seeming discrepancies in Scripture on deeper search prove to be hidden harmonies.


Verse 11

Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.

Sign - portent of evil to come (Ezekiel 24:27; Zechariah 3:8, margin, 'men of wonder,' or "sign"). Fulfilled (2 Kings 25:1-7; Jeremiah 52:1-11).


Verse 12

And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.

The prince that is among them - literally, that is in the midst of them, i:e., standing pre-eminent, on whom the eyes of all are cast, and "under whose shadow" they hope to live (Lamentations 4:20).

Shall bear upon his shoulder - namely, his "stuff for removing;" his equipments for his journey.

He shall cover his face, that he see not the grounds - (note, Ezekiel 12:6; the symbol in Ezekiel 12:6 is explained in this verse). He shall muffle face so as not to be recognized; a humiliation for a king.


Verse 13

My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.

My net also will I spread upon him - the Chaldean army. He shall be inextricably entangled in it, as in the meshes of a net. It is God's net (Job 19:6). Babylon was God's instrument (Isaiah 10:5). Called "a net," Habakkuk 1:14-16.

I will bring him to Babylon ... yet shall he not see it - because he should be deprived of sight before he arrived there (Jeremiah 52:11).


Verse 14

And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.

I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him - his satellites; his body-guard.

All his bands - literally, the wings of an army (Isaiah 8:8).

I will draw out the sword after them - (note, Ezekiel 5:2; Ezekiel 5:12).


Verse 15

And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

I will leave a few men of them ... that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen.

God's purpose in scattering a remnant of Jews among the Gentiles was, not only that they themselves should be weaned from idolatry, and know that God is Yahweh the Lord (see Ezekiel 12:15) but that by their own word, as also by their whole state as exiles, they should make God's righteousness manifest among the Gentiles, as vindicated in their punishment for their sins (cf. Isaiah 43:10, "Ye are my witnesses;" Zechariah 8:13).


Verse 17

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 18

Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;

Eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling. Symbolical representation of the famine and fear with which they should eat their scanty morsel in their exile, and especially at the siege.


Verse 19

And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.

Say unto the people of the land - the Jews in "the land" of Chaldea, who thought themselves miserable as being exiles, and envied the Jews left in Jerusalem as fortunate.

Thus saith the Lord God ... of the land of Israel - contrasted with "the people in the land" of Chaldea. So far from being fortunate as the exiles in Chaldea regarded them, the Jews in Jerusalem are truly miserable, for the worst is before them, whereas the exiles have escaped the miseries of the coming siege.

That her land may be desolate from all that is therein - literally, 'that the land (namely, Judea) may be despoiled of the fullness thereof;' emptied of the inhabitants and abundance of flocks and grain with which it was filled.

Because of the violence - (Psalms 107:34).


Verse 20

And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

The cities that are inhabited - left in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem.


Verse 21

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 22

Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?

What is that proverb? The infidel scoff, that the threatened judgment was so long in coming it would not come at all had, by frequent repetition, come to be a "proverb" with them. This sceptical habit contemporary prophets testify to (Jeremiah 17:15; Jeremiah 20:7; Zephaniah 1:12). Ezekiel, at the Chebar, sympathizes with Jeremiah, and strengthens his testimony at Jerusalem. The tendency to the same scoff showed itself in earlier times, but not then developed into a settled "proverb" (Isaiah 5:19; Amos 5:18). It shall again be the characteristic of the last times, when "faith" shall be regarded as an antiquated thing (Luke 18:8), seeing that it remains stationary; whereas worldly arts and sciences progress, and when the "continuance of all things from the creation" will be the argument against the possibility of their being suddenly brought to a stand still by the coming of the Lord (Isaiah 66:5; 2 Peter 3:3-4). The very long-suffering of God, which ought to lead men to repentance, is made an argument against His word (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Amos 6:3).

The days are prolonged, and every vision falleth. Their two-fold argument:

(1) The predictions shall not come to pass until long after our time;

(2) They shall fail, and prove vain shadows. God answers both in Ezekiel 12:23; Ezekiel 12:25.


Verse 23

Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.

The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision - "the effect," literally, the word, namely, fulfilled;

i.e., the effective fulfillment of whatever the prophets have spoken is at hand.


Verse 24

For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.

There shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination - all those false prophets (Lamentations 2:14) who 'flattered' the people with promises of peace and safety shall be detected and confounded by the event itself.


Verse 25

For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.

The word that I shall speak shall come to pass - in opposition to their scoff, "The vision faileth" (Ezekiel 12:22). The repetition, "I will speak, and the word that I shall speak," etc. (or as Fairbairn, 'For I, Yahweh, will speak, whatever word I shall speak, and it shall be done'), implies, that whenever God speaks the effect must follow; for God, who speaks, is not divided in Himself (Ezekiel 12:28; Isaiah 55:11; Daniel 9:12; Luke 21:33).

It shall be no more prolonged - in opposition to the scoff (Ezekiel 12:22). "The days are prolonged."

In your days - while you are living (cf. Matthew 24:34).


Verse 26

Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 27

Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.

The house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Not a mere repetition of the scoff Ezekiel 12:22 : there the scoffers asserted that the evil was so often threatened and postponed, it must have no reality, it will fail altogether; here formalists do not go so far as to deny that a day of evil is coming, but assert it is far off yet (Amos 6:3). The transition is easy from this carnal security to the gross infidelity of the former class.

Remarks:

(1) It is truly said, none are so blind as those who will not see (Ezekiel 12:2). Natural men are blind and deaf to spiritual truth, not from want of eyes and ears, but from disinclination to use them right. It needs no less a power than that of the Spirit of God to new-create the heart, and work in men to will dud to do aright.

(2) When the simple announcement of the coming doom of Jerusalem, its king, and its people, failed to awaken the Jews, Ezekiel is directed to present before their eyes a vivid picture, in symbolical action, of their approaching overthrow, if haply even yet the rebellious people will "consider" and repent (Ezekiel 12:3-8). When one mode of appeal fails to arrest the serious attention of hearers, the minister must adopt another; and the more vivid and life-like his style is, so that the truth is as it were set before the very eyes of the people the more likely are they to be impressed. This was the object of the symbolical actions of the prophets; and so Paul describes his own preaching to the Galatians - "O ... Galatians ... before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you" (Galatians 3:1).

(3) Instead of drawing from the significant act of the prophet the spiritual lesson that was designed, the Jews cavilled at his action, affecting not to understand what he meant by doing so; as in a subsequent chapter (Ezekiel 24:19) they are represented as asking, "Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?" The king also, unwilling to believe what he did not wish to be true, persuaded himself that there was a discrepancy in the statements of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, that God would "bring him to Babylon," and that yet he should "not see" it (Ezekiel 12:13). None are so keen in finding difficulties in Scripture as those who have no desire that it should be found true. There is left in the Bible a sufficiency of stumblingblocks whereon, in righteous retribution, all such as lack child-like docility and humility are allowed to stumble. To all those who sincerely and humbly desire to do God's will, seeming discrepances prove no stumblingblock. For many such, they have already found, on deeper search, prove to be hidden harmonies, as is the case in what seemed to Zedekiah a discrepancy; and as to those difficulties which they cannot solve, they believe that if they had more light they would find the difficulties disappear, so that they are content to trust God, and to wait His time for making all that is now dark clear.

(4) What a humiliation to the Jews to hear that their king, Zedekiah, in whom they so trusted, should not only not be able to help them, but should, with muffled face, and with his equipments on his own shoulders, stealthily flee away by night! Inextricably entangled in the meshes of God's net "spread upon him" (Ezekiel 12:13), he was doomed to be deprived of sight, and so to be carried to Babylon, and yet not see it, though he should die there. His "bands" and all from whom he could look for "help," should be scattered (Ezekiel 12:14), and a sword drawn after them. How vain it is to "put trust in princes, or in the son of man, in whom there is no help"! (Psalms 146:9.) Let us see that we have the God of Ezekiel for our help and our hope shall not be disappointed.

(5) God was about to "leave a few," whom He should preserve from the judgments which were to destroy all the others (Ezekiel 12:16). His design was that this spared remnant should be his witnesses among the pagan where they should come, "declaring" by their words, as well as by their visible condition as exiles, God's righteousness in having punished "the abominations" of Israel. When God has delivered us from the perishing multitude around us, it is in order that He may make us the instruments of glorifying Him before the world. Let us see that, having been ourselves by chastisements brought to know the Lord, we try to bring others also to the saving knowledge of Him.

(6) Ezekiel, by eating his own food "with trembling and carefulness" (Ezekiel 12:18), was to represent the scarcity of provisions, and the fear which should prevail among the Jews at the siege of their city, and in their subsequent exile. So ministers, and all others who warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, should speak as those who themselves realize vividly the awful truths which they announce. Their manner, tone, and whole bearing should accord with their message.

(7) The exiles at the Chebar envied their seemingly more fortunate brethren still at Jerusalem. But what bad judges we are of what is really good or evil for us! So far from being fortunate as the exiles regarded them, the Jews at Jerusalem had the worst before them (Ezekiel 12:19); whereas the prospects of the exiles were daily brightening as the end of their captivity drew nearer. We often murmur at our own condition, and envy that of others, when, if we knew the whole case, we should pity them, and bless God for His goodness to ourselves. Let us leave our circumstances in the hands of the all-wise God to order, as He alone knows what is truly good for us.

(8) Two classes of unbelievers are presented before us in the ungodly Jews of Ezekiel's time-namely, those who deny wholly the reality of prophecy, saying that "every vision falleth" (Ezekiel 12:22); and those who persuade themselves that its fulfillment is indefinitely far off from our times (Ezekiel 12:27-28). The commonness of such views, so that they pass into the form of a "proverb" (Ezekiel 12:22-23), is no proof that they are true, nor will it justify the asserters of them for having set up the opinions of the world in opposition to the express word of the God of truth. The event will awfully confute them, and show that God must be true, though thereby every man should be proved a liar (Ezekiel 12:25; Ezekiel 12:28). Let us believe God's sure word, and continually look for the coming of the Son of man to judgment. Since there is but a step between us and eternity, let us not put far from us the question how we shall be best prepared for it, but be always ready, seeing that in such a day and hour as men think not the Son of man cometh.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezekiel-12.html. 1871-8.

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