And, behold, six men
Either angels the form of men; or the generals of Nebuchadnezzar's army, as Kimchi interprets it; whose names are, Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, ( Jeremiah 39:3 ) ; these six executioners of God's vengeance are, in the Talmud F14, called
``wrath, anger, fury, destruction, breach, and consumption:''came from the way of the higher gate,
Kimchi observes, from the Rabbins, that this is the eastern gate called the higher or upper gate, because it was above the court of the Israelites. Maimonides F15 says, the upper gate is the gate Nicanor; and why is it called the upper gate? because it was above the court of the women; see ( 2 Kings 15:35 ) ; which lieth toward the north:
where were the image of jealousy, and the women weeping for Tammuz, and other idolatrous practices were committed; which were the cause of the coming of these destroyers: moreover, the Chaldean army with its generals came out of the north; for Babylon lay north or northeast of Jerusalem; and so this gate, as Kimchi says, was northeast; and he adds, and Babylon was northeast of the land of Israel; see ( Jeremiah 1:13 Jeremiah 1:14 ) ( Jeremiah 4:6 Jeremiah 4:7 ) ; and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand;
as ordered, ( Ezekiel 9:1 ) , a different word is here used; it signifies a hammer, with which rocks are broken in pieces, as the above mentioned Jewish writer observes. The Septuagint render it an axe or hatchet: and one man among them;
not one of the six, but who made a seventh. The Jews say this was Gabriel F16; but this was not a created angel, as they; nor the Holy Spirit as Cocceius; but the Son of God, in a human form; he was among the six, at the head of them, as their leader and commander; he was but one, they six; one Saviour, and six destroyers: [was] clothed with linen;
not in the habit of a warrior, but of a priest; who, as such, had made atonement for the sins of his people, and intercession for them; and this may also denote the purity of his human nature, and his unspotted righteousness, the fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints: and with a writer's inkhorn by his side;
or "at his loins" F17; nor a slaughter weapon, as the rest; but a writer's inkhorn; hence Kimchi takes him to be the king of Babylon's scribe; but a greater is here meant; even he who took down the names of God's elect in the book of life; and who takes an account, and keeps a book of the words, and even thoughts, of his people and also of their sighs, groans, and tears; see ( Malachi 3:16 ) ( Psalms 56:8 ) ; but now his business was to mark his people, and distinguish them from others, in a providential way; and keep and preserve them from the general ruin and destruction that was coming upon Jerusalem: or, "a girdle on his lions", as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it; and so was prepared and fit for business; which sense of the word is approved of by Castel F18; and he asks, what has an inkhorn to do at a man's loins? but it should be observed, that it was the custom of the eastern people to carry inkhorns at their sides, and particularly in their girdles, as the Turks do now; who not only fix their knives and poniards in them, as Dr. Shaw F19 relates; but the "hojias", that is, the writers and secretaries, hang their inkhorns in them; and by whom it is observed, that that part of these inkhorns which passes between the girdle and the tunic, and holds their pens, is long and flat; but the vessel for the ink, which rests upon the girdle, is square, with a lid to clasp over it: and they went in;
to the temple, all seven: and stood beside the brasen altar;
the altar of burnt offering, so called to distinguish it from the altar of incense, which was of gold; here they stood not to offer sacrifice, but waiting for their orders, to take vengeance for the sins committed in the temple, and at this altar; near to which stood the image of jealousy, ( Ezekiel 8:5 ) .
F14 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 55. 1.
F15 Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 7. sect. 6.
F16 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 1. & Gloss. in ib.
F17 (wyntmb) "in lumbis suis", Pagninus, Montanus
F18 Lexic. Polyglott. col. 3393.
F19 Travels, p. 227. Ed. 2.