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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Ezekiel 13

 

 

Verse 1

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

As Ezekiel 12:1-28 denounced the false expectations of the people, so this denounces the false leaders who fed those expectations. As an independent witness, Ezekiel confirms at the Chebar the testimony of Jeremiah (Ezek. 29:21,31 ) in his letter from Jerusalem to the captive exiles against the false prophets, wherein he foretells the slaughter by Nebuchadnezzar of the false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah, who should be roasted in the fire, and the punishment of Shemaiah and his seed for having "caused the people to trust in a lie." Of these some were conscious knaves, others fanatical dupes of their own frauds; e.g., Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah. Hananiah must have believed his own lie, else he would not have specified so circumstantial details (Jeremiah 28:2-4): the conscious knaves gave only general assurance of "peace" (Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13). The language of Ezekiel has plain references to the similar language of Jeremiah (e.g., Jeremiah 23:9-38), the bane of false prophecy, which had its stronghold in Jerusalem, having in some degree extended to the Chebar: this chapter, therefore, is primarily intended as a message to those still in the Jewish metropolis, and secondarily for the good of the exiles at the Chebar.


Verse 2

Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD

Say ... unto them that prophesy - namely, a speedy return to Jerusalem.

Out of their own hearts - alluding to the words of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:16; Jeremiah 23:26); i:e., what they prophesied was what they and the people wished: the wish was father to the thought. The people wished to be deceived, and so were deceived. They were inexcusable, because they had among them true prophets (who "spake" not their own thoughts, but "as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," 2 Peter 1:21), whom they might have known to be such, but they did not wish to know (John 3:19).


Verse 3

Thus saith the Lord GOD Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

Woe unto the foolish prophets - through vaunting as though exclusively possessing "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:19-21); the "fear of God" being the only "beginning of wisdom" (Psalms 111:10).

That follow their own spirit - instead of the Spirit of God. A three-fold distinction lay between the false and the true prophets:

(1) The source of their messages respectively: of the false, their own hearts;" of the true, an object presented to the spiritual sense

(named from the noblest of the senses a seeing) by the Spirit of God as from without, not produced by their own natural powers of reflection. The word, the body of the thought, presented itself not audible to the natural sense, but directly to the spirit of the prophet; and so the perception of it as properly called a seeing, he perceiving that which thereafter forms itself in his sour as the cover of the external word (Delitzche); hence, the special expression, seeing the word of God (Isaiah 2:1; Isaiah 13:1; Amos 1:1; Micah 1:1).

(2) The point aimed at: the false "walking after their own spirit;" the true, after the Spirit of God.

(3) The result: the false saw nothing, but spake as if they had seen; the true had a vision, not subjective, but objectively real (Fairbairn).

A refutation of those who set the inward word above the objective, and represent the Bible as flowing subjectively from the inner light of its writers, not from the revelation of the Holy Spirit from without. 'They are impatient to get possession of the kernel without its fostering shell-they would have Christ without the Bible' (Bengel).


Verse 4

O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes - which cunningly "spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15), Israel being the vineyard (Psalms 80:8-15; Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 27:2; Jeremiah 2:21): their duty was to have guarded it from being spoiled, whereas they themselves spoiled it by corruptions.

In the deserts - where there is nothing to eat; whence the foxes become so ravenous and crafty in their devices to get food. So the prophets wander in Israel, a moral desert, unrestrained, greedy of gain, which they get by craft.


Verse 5

Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.

Ye have not gone up into the gaps. Metaphor from breaches made in a wall, to which the defenders ought to betake themselves, in order to repel the entrance of the foe. The breach is that made in the theocracy, through the nation's sin; and, unless it be made up, the vengeance of God will break in through it. Those who would advise the people to repentance are the restorers of the breach (Ezekiel 22:30; Psalms 106:23; Psalms 106:30). Neither made up the hedge - the law of God (Psalms 80:12; Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 5:5): by violating it the people stripped themselves of the fence of God's protection, and lay exposed to the foe. The false prophets did not try to repair the evil by bringing back the people to the law with good counsels, or by checking the bad with reproofs. These two duties answer to the double office of defenders in case of a breach made in a wall:

(1) To repair the breach from within;

(2) To oppose the foe from without.

For the house of Israel to stand - i:e., that their city may "stand."

In the battle in the day of the Lord - in the day of the battle which God wages against Israel for their sins ye do not try to stay God's vengeance by prayers, and by leading the nation to repentance.


Verse 6

They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

They have made others to hope ... - rather, 'they hoped' to confirm (i:e. make good) 'their word' by the event corresponding to their prophecy. The Hebrew [ yich


Verse 7

Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.

Behold, I am against you - rather, understand, 'I come against you,' to punish your wicked profanation of my name (cf. Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16).


Verse 9

And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Mine hand shall be upon the prophets - "mine hand," my power in vengeance.

They shall not be in the assembly of my people - rather, the council: 'They shall not occupy the honourable office of councillors in the senate of elders after the return from Babylon' (Ezra 2:1-2).

Neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel - they shall not even have a place in the register kept of all citizens' names; they shall be erased from it, just as the names of those who died in the year, or had been deprived of citizenship for their crimes, were at the annual revision erased. Compare Jeremiah 17:13; Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5, as to these spiritually Israelites; John 1:47, and those not so. Literally fulfilled Ezra 2:59; Ezra 2:62 (cf. Nehemiah 7:5; Psalms 69:28).

Neither shall they enter into the land of Israel - they shall not so much as be allowed to come back at all to their country.


Verse 10

Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:

Because, even because. The repetition heightens the emphasis.

They have seduced my people, saying, Peace - safety to the nation. Ezekiel confirms Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11.

One - literally, this one; said contemptuously, as in 2 Chronicles 28:22.

Built up a wall - rather, a loose wall, (see margin) Ezekiel had said that the false prophets did not 'go up into Built up a wall - rather, a loose wall, (see margin) Ezekiel had said that the false prophets did not 'go up into the gaps, or make up the breaches' (Ezekiel 13:5), as good architects do; now he adds that they make a bustling show of anxiety about repairing the wall; but it is without right mortar, and therefore of no use.

One ... and, lo, others. Besides individual effort, they jointly cooperated to delude the people.

Daubed it with untempered mortar - as sand without lime, mud without straw (Grotius). Fairbairn translates, 'plaster it with white-wash.' But besides the hypocrisy of merely outwardly "daubing," to make the wall look fair (Matthew 23:27; Matthew 23:29; Acts 23:3, "thou whited wall"), there is implied the unsoundness of the wall from the absence of true uniting cement; the 'untempered cement' answering to the lie of the prophets who say, in support of their prophecies, "Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken" (Ezekiel 22:28).


Verse 11

Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

There shall be an overflowing shower - "overflowing," inundating; such as will at once wash away the mere clay mortar. The three most destructive agents shall cooperate against the wall-wind, rain, and hailstones. These last in the East are more out of the regular course of nature, and are therefore often particularly specified as the instruments of God's displeasure against His foes (Exodus 9:18; Joshua 10:11; Job 38:22; Psalms 18:12-13; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 30:30; Revelation 16:21). The Hebrew here is literally, stones of ice. They fall in Palestine, at times an inch thick, with a destructive velocity. The personification heightens the vivid effect, 'O ye hailstones.' The Chaldeans will be the violent agency whereby God will unmask and refute them, overthrowing their edition of lies.


Verse 12

Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?

When the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you. Your vanity and folly shall be so manifested that it shall pass into a proverb, "Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?" etc.


Verse 13

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

Thus saith the Lord God; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower. God repeats, in His own name, as the Source of the coming calamity, what had been expressed generally in Ezekiel 13:11.


Verse 14

So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed. The repetition of the same threat is to awaken the people out of their dream of safety by the certainty of the event.

So that the foundation thereof shall be discovered. As the "wall" represents the security of the nation, so the "foundation" is Jerusalem, on the fortifications of which they rested their confidence. Grotius makes the "foundation" refer to the false principles on which the rested; Ezekiel 13:16 supports the former view.


Verse 15

Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.

The prophets ... which prophesy concerning Jerusalem and ... see visions of peace for her, and there is The prophets ... which prophesy concerning Jerusalem and ... see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace. With all their seeing, "visions of peace for her," they cannot ensure "peace" or safety to themselves.


Verse 17

Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,

Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people - put on a bold countenance, fearlessly to denounce them (Ezekiel 3:8-9; Isaiah 50:7).

The daughters of thy people - the false prophetesses; alluded to only here; elsewhere the guilt specified in the women is the active share they took in maintaining idolatry (Ezekiel 8:14). It was only in extraordinary emergencies that God bestowed prophecy on women-e.g., on Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, whom Josiah consulted (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14); so in the last days to come (Joel 2:28, "Afterward ... I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy:" an earnest of which is given in Philip's four daughters prophesying, Acts 21:8-9). The rareness of such instances enhanced their guilt in pretending inspiration.


Verse 18

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

Woe to the women that sew pillows to all arm-holes - rather, 'to all elbows and wrists,' for which the false prophetesses made cushions to lean on, as a symbolical act, typifying the perfect tranquility which they foretold to those consulting them. Perhaps they made their dupes rest on these cushions in a fancied state of ecstasy, after they made them at first stand (whence the expression, "every stature," is used for, 'men of every age'). As the men are said to have "built a wall" (Ezekiel 13:10), so the women are said to "sew pillows," etc., both alike typifying the "peace" they promised the impenitent.

Make kerchiefs - magical vails, which they put over the heads of those consulting them, as if to fit them for receiving a response, that they might be rapt in spiritual trance above the world.

Upon the head of every stature - men of every age, old and young, great and small, if only these had pay to offer them.

To hunt souls - eagerly trying to allure them to the love of yourselves (Proverbs 6:26; 2 Peter 2:14, "beguiling unstable souls"), so as unwarily to become your prey.

Will ye save the souls alive that come unto you? - will ye hunt after souls, and when they are yours ("come unto you"), will ye promise them life? "Save" is explained (Ezekiel 13:22), 'promising him life' (Grotius). Calvin explains, 'Will ye hunt my people's souls, and yet will ye save your own souls?' I the Lord God, will not allow it. But "save" is used (Ezekiel 13:19) of the false prophetesses promising life to the impenitent, so that the English version and Grotius explain it best.


Verse 19

And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barely and for pieces of bread - expressing the paltry gain for which they barter immortal souls (cf. Micah 3:5; Micah 3:11; Hebrews 12:16). They "polluted" God, by making His name the cloak under which they uttered falsehoods.

Among my people - an aggravation of their sin, that they committed it "among the people" whom God had chosen as peculiarly His own, and among whom He had His temple. It would have been a sin to have done so even among the Gentiles, who knew not God, much more so among the people of God (cf. Proverbs 28:21, "To have respect of persons is not good: because, for a piece of bread that man will transgress").

To slay the souls that should not die ... - to predict the slaying or perdition of the godly whom I will save. As true ministers are said to save and slay their hearers, according to the spirit respectively in which these receive their message (2 Corinthians 2:15-16), so false ministers imitate them; but promise safety to those on the broad way to ruin and predict ruin to those on the narrow way of God.

By your lying to my people that hear your lies? - who are therefore willfully deceived, so that their guilt lies at their own door (John 3:19).


Verse 20

Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.

Behold, I am against your pillows - i:e., against your lying ceremonial tricks, by which ye cheat the people.

Ye ... hunt the souls to make them fly - namely, into their snares, as fowlers disturb birds so as to be suddenly caught in the net spread for them. "Fly" is peculiarly appropriate as to those lofty spiritual flights to which they pretended to raise their dupes, when they veiled their heads with kerchiefs, and made them rest on luxurious arm-cushions (Ezekiel 13:18).

I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.

'Ye make them fly' in order to destroy them; 'I will let them fly' in order to destroy them; 'I will let them go' in order to save them (Psalms 91:3; Proverbs 6:5; Hosea 9:8).


Verse 21

Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

They shall be no more in your hand - in your power. "My people" are the elect remnant of Israel to be saved.

Ye shall know that I am the Lord - by the judgments which ye shall suffer.


Verse 22

Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad - by lying predictions of calamities impending over the godly.

Whom I have not made sad - against whom I have pronounced no sentence of calamity.

Strengthened the hands of the wicked - (Jeremiah 23:14. "They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers, that none cloth return from his wickedness").

Ye have made the heart of ... righteous ... hands of ... wicked. Heart is applied to the righteous, because the terrors foretold penetrated to their in-most heart and feelings; hands, to the wicked, because they were so hardened as not only to despise God in their minds, but also to manifest it in their whole acts, the works of their hands, as if avowedly waging war with Him.


Verse 23

Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Ye shall see no more vanity. The event shall confute your lies, involving yourselves in destruction (Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 14:8; Ezekiel 15:7; Micah 3:6).

Remarks:

(1) The leading characteristic of the false prophets, who are denounced in this chapter, is, they prophesied "out of their own hearts," and "followed their own spirit" (Ezekiel 13:2-3). The communications which they affected to give as if from God were what they and the people wished, not What the Spirit of God suggested. The minister who frames his preaching merely to please men is not a true minister of God; as Paul saith (Galatians 1:10), " If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." The faithful servant of God speaks only as the Spirit and the Word of God direct him. Hence, let us beware of the error of many in our day, who, boasting themselves of their rationalistic wisdom, while in the sight of God they are "fools" (Ezekiel 13:3; Romans 1:22), set up their own inward light above the outward light of God's Word and receive as true only so much of objective Revelation as they subjectively choose and approve.

(2) Self-seeking is at the root of much of the false teaching that is in the world. The teachers of error in Israel are compared to "foxes in the deserts" (Ezekiel 13:4), where, from the want of food, the voracity and the cunning of that wily animal are stimulated in a more than ordinary degree. So where there is a moral desert, the Vineyard of the Lord, the Church, having been spoiled (Song of Solomon 2:15) alike by foes without and traitors within, self-seeking preceptors are sure to abound, whose aim is, not the glory of God and the good of His Church, but to win for themselves either gain or fame.

(3) The true defense of a people is righteousness: and every national breach of the law of God is a breach in the wall wherewith God protects His people from their enemies outside (cf. Zechariah 2:5; Isaiah 26:1). The righteous vengeance of God breaks in upon a people through "the gaps" (Ezekiel 13:5) which their transgression makes in their heavenly defenses. Those are the truest defenders of their country who would lead their countrymen to repentance, and by faithful reproof check those who, in doctrine or practice, or in both, set the Word of God at naught.

(4) Prayer and intercession is another way whereby the believing minister or layman can "make up the hedge for" his church and his country "to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord" (Ezekiel 13:5). God has a controversy with the Church and with the nation for their sins: as, then, "Moses stood before God in the breach to turn away His wrath" (Psalms 106:22; Psalms 106:30), so our duty as praying Christians, if we are indeed so, is to plead with God for our country and our church, in the all-prevailing name of Him who, as our great Intercessor, hath made up the hedge, and stood in the gap before God for ourselves (cf. Psalms 22:30).

(5) Such is the infatuation of men, that many false teachers believe their own lie, and presumptuously "hope" that the event will make good their word (Ezekiel 13:6). This proves that we ought to reject all teachings, however in earnest the teachers may be, which are at variance with the infallible Word of God.

(6) The Lord is coming to punish with His heavy hand all propagators of vanity and lies (Ezekiel 13:8-9). The thought of His coming should make us very jealous for the truth as it is revealed in His Word, lest we, like them, should not be numbered in "the general assembly (Ezekiel 13:9) and church of the firstborn which are them, should not be numbered in "the general assembly (Ezekiel 13:9) and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven"

(7) Woe be to those who promise peace to the sinner without repentance, flattering him with delusive hopes of "life" (Ezekiel 13:22), and so strengthening his hands that he should not return from his wicked way. The false prophets of Israel, indeed, made a bustling show of anxiety to repair the moral breaches in the wall of the nation's defenses (Ezekiel 13:5): for one of them built a wall, but it was not the wall which God requires; it was a loose wall (note, Ezekiel 13:10), which others of them daubed with untempered mortar. Instead of the true and uniting cement of God's Word, the false teachers substituted their own lie, claiming the inspiration of the Lord (Ezekiel 13:7), to give seeming consistency and firmness to the loose wall of their prophecy of peace to the city and nation. But they and their dupes shall awfully undeceived, saith Ezekiel, when God, with the stormy wind, rain, and hail (Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 13:13) of His fury, shall break down the wall, lay bare its foundation, and bury the lying builders in its ruins (Ezekiel 13:14-16): so that they who made into a proverb (Ezekiel 12:22-23) the delay in the rudiment of God's word of prophecy, shall have their own false prophecies turned into a proverb, "Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?" (Ezekiel 13:12) Such shall be the doom of all who rear spiritually a wall well-daubed but ill-built-that is, who, as teachers set forth, or as hearers depend, for salvation upon pleasing lies rather than unpleasant truths.

(8) How sad it is when women also, whose powerful influence over the stronger sex was designed to be exercised on the side of good, employ all their arts and fascinations to decoy souls into sin, and then lull the victim into a state of fancied security, as Delilah lulled Samson to his ruin! (Ezekiel 13:17-19. ) Vanity, love of admiration, and selfishness are the commonly-prompting motives of women who throw their whole influence on the side of errors of doctrine and practice. Such was Jezebel in her evil-influence over Ahab; and her antitypes have exercised a similar influence for evil, not only in the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-22), but in all places and ages of the Church. The Lord, however, will not allow them to succeed in their efforts to seduce to their ruin His elect people: He will tear His children from their arms, and let the souls go free which they had almost entangled in their snares (Ezekiel 13:20). Let us beware of being seduced by any teacher to entertain hopes which are not warranted by God's Word: and, on the other hand, let not the righteous suffer their heart to be made sad (Ezekiel 13:22) by the discouragements which professors who make high pretensions throw in their way; but let them ever rejoice and shout for joy because the Lord defends them (Psalms 5:11).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezekiel-13.html. 1871-8.

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