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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Ezekiel 14

 

 

Verse 1

THE IDOLATROUS ELDERS INQUIRE IN VAIN OF JEHOVAH CONCERNING THE FUTURE, Ezekiel 14:1-5.

1. Then came certain of the elders of Israel — Ezekiel’s sermons have at last aroused deep interest, and the chief men among the exiles, notwithstanding his fearful arraignment of the most popular prophets, come to him to inquire of the future. Ezekiel’s word to them is very different from the soft, smooth messages which he has been condemning (chap. 13). He openly exposes the iniquity of their hearts, and declares that Jehovah will have no speech with such as they (Ezekiel 14:3).


Verse 4

4. According to the multitude — The severity of the Lord’s answer will be proportionate to the heinousness of the transgression.


Verse 5

5. That I may take… in their own heart — “The sinner’s sin is like a snare in which he is captured and destroyed; sin carries its own retribution in itself (Job 8:4). Their ‘heart’ is the idolatrous direction of their thoughts and affections; in this they shall be taken (Ezekiel 14:3-4; Ezekiel 14:7).” — Davidson.


Verse 6

STATEMENT OF THE DIVINE LAW WHICH CONTROLS EVEN FALSE PROPHECY, Ezekiel 14:6-11.

6. Repent — The Lord will give to these idolaters no view of the future until they pluck their idols out of their hearts and turn away from sin.


Verse 7

7. I the Lord will answer him by myself — In matters of judgment the Lord will not speak by proxy. If they do not repent, they will hear from him in person. The future, of which they are so anxious to learn, will come all too soon, and the answer which they seek will be their total destruction.


Verse 8

8. Will make him a sign — How different from the sense in which Ezekiel was made a sign. (See Ezekiel 12:11.) This unrepentant idolater shall be set as a public sign of warning to men not to travel in his steps. (See Numbers 26:10; Deuteronomy 28:37.)


Verse 9

9. When he hath spoken a thing — Literally, and speaketh a thing.

I the Lord have deceived that prophet — The prophecy was false and did not come from God (Ezekiel 13:4; Ezekiel 13:6); but the prophet who willfully follows a lie will soon lose the power to know the truth. This is God’s punishment for sin: that a man’s own “ways” and “abominations” fall upon him (Ezekiel 7:3; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21), and is the rod by which he is chastised (Ezekiel 7:11; Ezekiel 7:20; note Ezekiel 14:5). These liars (Ezekiel 13:7-8) at first hope that the prophecy which comes from their own hearts may be true (Ezekiel 13:6); at last by the action of this well-known mental law they are made to believe the lies they tell. It is one of God’s laws that rebellion against the truth blinds a man’s eyes so that he cannot see the truth (Ezekiel 12:1). He who speaks seeing “nothing” (xiii, 3) shall presently see a false vision and be himself deceived; but this will not do away with his guilt. No teaching of Scripture was more emphasized by Jesus than this (Matthew 13:14; John 12:40; see also Acts 28:26; Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 3:14). They who call evil good and good evil in order to deceive others will in the end be themselves deceived. The Hebrews, who took no interest in “second causes” and knew nothing of psychological laws, naturally and properly referred to God directly that which is now seen to be the inevitable result of willful falsehood according to the eternal laws of mind established by the Creator from the beginning.

The above explanation is given because of the ordinary supposition that the “deception” spoken of refers to the substance of the prophecy; but the connection indicates very clearly that it has reference particularly to the outcome of such prophesying. The Lord has blinded the prophet’s eyes not to his own wickedness, nor even necessarily to the sequence of historical events, but to the results which shall come to him personally through these falsehoods. He expects praise and reward, and does not see his own destruction which shall surely come because of it.


Verse 10

10. The punishment of the prophet shall be, etc. — This penalty has been described in detail previously (Ezekiel 13:9; chaps. 5-7, etc.).


Verse 11

11. That the house of Israel may go no more astray — This penalty, which shall fall upon both prophet and people, is not because of God’s vengeance, but because of his mercy. God’s punishments are reformatory, and true prophecy and true religion prosper by the destruction of the false.


Verse 13

THE CERTAINTY OF PUNISHMENT PROPHESIED AND A STATEMENT OF THE DIVINE LAW GOVERNING IT, Ezekiel 14:12-21.

13. Then will… and will — Literally, and.

Trespassing grievously — Literally, committing unfaithfulness.


Verse 14

14. Daniel — The criticism which always finds a blunder in Scripture whenever it is possible to force one in, suggests that Ezekiel could not have mentioned Daniel here — as there was no such man known to the Jews at this time — but that he was probably referring to Zoroaster (Zurathustra), of whom he had somewhere heard, and made a mistake in his attempt to Hebraize the name. Not knowing just when he lived, he made another mistake in locating him between Noah and Job (Cheyne, Bampton Lectures, 1889, p. 107). Is this criticism? Halevy and others would correct the text, reading Enoch instead of Daniel. This is not necessary, and is not favored by existing texts. It is not far from the banks of the Chebar to Babylon, and at the date when Ezekiel wrote, if the biblical narrative can be trusted, Daniel was a man in middle life, already famous as a statesman and an interpreter of secrets. (Compare Ezekiel 28:3.) Delitzsch thinks the prophet here intends to mention together a pious Hebrew of the ancient times (Noah), another of modern times (Daniel), and the ideal righteous man outside of the Hebrew people (Job). Job was ever regarded by the Hebrew people as marking the apex of faith (Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 10:36; James 5:11). When he lived is not known. He also may have been a contemporary.

Though… Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it — The most righteous men that ever lived, either in past or present times, could not save this apostate land. Noah saved seven relatives by his righteousness (Genesis 7:13); Job saved his false friends from punishment (Job 42:8; compare Ezekiel 1:5); Daniel even saved the Chaldean Magi by his intercession (Daniel 2:18). “There is no shadow of evidence for the view of some commentators that an older Daniel is referred to. Had there been such a person, eminent enough to be grouped with Noah and Job, there would surely have been some mention of him in the Old Testament.” — Plumptre. “The references to the hero of the book of Daniel are by no means impossible, as, according to Daniel 1, at the time when this was written he was already celebrated.” — Orelli.


Verse 15

15. Noisome beasts — Remembering that serpents, according to Scripture language, were included among these “hurtful beasts” (Genesis 3:14), it is a suggestive circumstance that over twenty thousand people die in India every year of snake bite, notwithstanding the excessive population and the carefulness of British officials, and notwithstanding the fact that the government kills five hundred thousand of these reptiles every year (Victoria Institute, 26:89, 111). In Syria, where the serpent was reverenced as possessing superhuman powers, its ability to “bereave” the land would be great.


Verse 16

16. Neither sons nor daughters — Noah was granted this answer to prayer, and Daniel saved his fellow-exiles, and Job his three friends (compare James 5:16; Matthew 18:20); but the wickedness of the holy land is so great, because of God’s special favors, that even the united prayer of all three would not be granted in behalf of these hardened impenitents.


Verses 17-19

17-19. See Ezekiel 5:12-17; Ezekiel 21:3; Ezekiel 38:21-22; Leviticus 26:22-26.


Verse 20

20. By their righteousness — This is the strength of all intercessory prayer; but no prayer, however fervent, coming from any heart, however righteous, can put away this punishment so justly due to willful and persistent transgression and guilt. (See chap. 33.)


Verse 21

21. How much more — If a transgression which has brought upon itself one of these penalties cannot be forgiven, even upon the petition of these great saints, how much more is this impossible when the wickedness has been so outbreaking that God has sent all four of his severest judgments upon the land (Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 33:27). Remembering that Ezekiel wrote in Babylon it is a curious fact that wild beasts, famine, and pestilence were united as a trinity of death in Chaldean legend. For example, in the story of Dibbara (Hebrews, Debar, “Plague”), Kutha, the Babylonian necropolis, was the seat of the worship of Laz, the goddess of famine, while Nergal, the god of war, was also the god of death. (See Babylonian and Oriental Record, Ezekiel 1:1-16, and Jastrow, Religion of the Babylonians, p. 505.)


Verse 22

THE JUSTICE AND BENEFICENCE OF THE PUNISHMENT PROVED BY ITS EFFECTS, Ezekiel 14:22-23.

22. Yet behold, therein shall be left a remnant — The “remnant” of righteous persons who remain will be worth more than the vast mixed multitude that called themselves Israelites. (See Isaiah 10:20-22.) They shall “bring forth sons and daughters” whose purity of life shall prove to all observers that the judgments were wise that had cut off the offending multitudes and left only a pure and zealous remainder. Dr. Davidson and others believe that the “remnant” referred to here is a remnant of the wicked which in after years, by their extreme wickedness, shall prove the justice of the punishments which fell upon their fathers; but the reference to the saved remnant in other places in Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 14:11, etc.), as also in Isaiah and Jeremiah, taken in connection with the actual historic results of the punishment of Israel, discountenances this interpretation. (See notes Ezekiel 6:8-10.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 14:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezekiel-14.html. 1874-1909.

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Monday, December 9th, 2019
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