The sins of Jerusalem. (1-16) Israel is condemned as dross. (17-22) As the corruption is general, so shall be the punishment. (23-31)
Verses 1-16 The prophet is to judge the bloody city; the city of bloods. Jerusalem is so called, because of her crimes. The sins which Jerusalem stands charged with, are exceeding sinful. Murder, idolatry, disobedience to parents, oppression and extortion, profanation of the sabbath and holy things, seventh commandment sins, lewdness and adultery. Unmindfulness of God was at the bottom of all this wickedness. Sinners provoke God because they forget him. Jerusalem has filled the measure of her sins. Those who give up themselves to be ruled by their lusts, will justly be given up to be portioned by them. Those who resolve to be their own masters, let them expect no other happiness than their own hands can furnish; and a miserable portion it will prove.
Verses 17-22 Israel, compared with other nations, had been as the gold and silver compared with baser metals. But they were now as the refuse that is consumed in the furnace, or thrown away when the silver is refined. Sinners, especially backsliding professors, are, in God's account, useless and fit for nothing. When God brings his own people into the furnace, he sits by them as the refiner by his gold, to see that they are not continued there any longer than is fitting and needful. The dross shall be wholly separated, and the good metal purified. Let those who suffer pains, or lingering sickness, and find that their hearts can scarcely bear these light and momentary afflictions, take warning to flee from the wrath to come; for if these trials are not sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the cleansing their hearts and hands from sin, far worse things will come upon them.
Verses 23-31 All orders and degrees of men had helped to fill the measure of the nation's guilt. The people that had any power abused it, and even the buyers and sellers find some way to oppress one another. It bodes ill to a people when judgments are breaking in upon them, and the spirit of prayer is restrained. Let all who fear God, unite to promote his truth and righteousness; as wicked men of every rank and profession plot together to run them down.
Ezekiel 22:1-31 . GOD'S JUDGMENT ON THE SINFULNESS OF JERUSALEM.
Repetition of the charges in the twentieth chapter only that there they were stated in an historical review of the past and present; here the present sins of the nation exclusively are brought forward.
2. See Ezekiel 20:4 ; that is, "Wilt thou not judge?" &c. (compare Ezekiel 23:36 ).
the bloody city--literally, "the city of bloods"; so called on account of murders perpetrated in her, and sacrifices of children to Molech ( Ezekiel 22:3 Ezekiel 22:4 Ezekiel 22:6 Ezekiel 22:9 , Ezekiel 24:6 Ezekiel 24:9 ).
3. sheddeth blood . . . that her time may come--Instead of deriving advantage from her bloody sacrifices to idols, she only thereby brought on herself "the time" of her punishment.
against herself--( Proverbs 8:36 ).
4. thy days--the shorter period, namely, that of the siege.
thy years--the longer period of the captivity. The "days" and "years" express that she is ripe for punishment.
5. infamous--They mockingly call thee, "Thou polluted one in name (Margin), and full of confusion" [FAIRBAIRN], (referring to the tumultuous violence prevalent in it). Thus the nations "far and near" mocked her as at once sullied in character and in actual fact lawless. What a sad contrast to the Jerusalem once designated "'the holy city!"
6. Rather, "The princes . . . each according to his power, were in thee, to shed blood" (as if this was the only object of their existence). "Power," literally, "arm"; they, who ought to have been patterns of justice, made their own arm of might their only law.
7. set light by--Children have made light of, disrespected, father . . . ( Deuteronomy 27:16 ). At Ezekiel 22:7-12 are enumerated the sins committed in violation of Moses' law.
9. men that carry tales--informers, who by misrepresentations cause innocent blood to be shed ( Leviticus 19:16 ). Literally, "one who goes to and fro as a merchant."
10. set apart for pollution--that is, set apart as unclean ( Leviticus 18:19 ).
12. forgotten me--( Deuteronomy 32:18 , Jeremiah 2:32 , 3:21 ).
13. smitten mine hand--in token of the indignant vengeance which I will
14. ( Ezekiel 21:7 ).
15. consume thy filthiness out of thee--the object of God in scattering the Jews.
16. take thine inheritance in thyself--Formerly thou wast Mine inheritance; but now, full of guilt, thou art no longer Mine, but thine own inheritance to thyself; "in the sight of the heathen," that is, even they shall see that, now that thou hast become a captive, thou art no longer owned as Mine [VATABLUS]. FAIRBAIRN and others needlessly take the Hebrew from a different root, "thou shalt be polluted by ('in,' [HENDERSON]) thyself," &c.; the heathen shall regard thee as a polluted thing, who hast brought thine own reproach on thyself.
18. dross . . . brass--Israel has become a worthless compound of the dross of silver (implying not merely corruption, but degeneracy from good to bad, Isaiah 1:22 , especially offensive) and of the baser metals. Hence the people must be thrown into the furnace of judgment, that the bad may be consumed, and the good separated ( Jeremiah 6:29 Jeremiah 6:30 ).
23. From this verse to the end he shows the general corruption of all ranks.
24. land . . . not cleansed--not cleared or cultivated; all a scene of desolation; a fit emblem of the moral wilderness state of the people.
nor rained upon--a mark of divine "indignation"; as the early and latter rain, on which the productiveness of the land depended, was one of the great covenant blessings. Joel ( Joel 2:23 ) promises the return of the former and latter rain, with the restoration of God's favor.
25. conspiracy--The false prophets have conspired both to propagate error and to oppose the messages of God's servants. They are mentioned first, as their bad influence extended the widest.
prey--Their aim was greed of gain, "treasure, and precious things" ( Hosea 6:9 , Zephaniah 3:3 Zephaniah 3:4 , Matthew 23:14 ).
made . . . many widows--by occasioning, through false prophecies, the war with the Chaldeans in which the husbands fell.
26. Her priests--whose "lips should have kept knowledge" ( Malachi 2:7 ).
violated--not simply transgressed; but, have done violence to the law, by wresting it to wrong ends, and putting wrong constructions on it.
put no difference between the holy and profane, &c.--made no distinction between the clean and unclean ( Leviticus 10:10 ), the Sabbath and other days, sanctioning violations of that holy day. "Holy" means, what is dedicated to God; "profane," what is in common use; "unclean," what is forbidden to be eaten; "clean," what is lawful to be eaten.
I am profaned among them--They abuse My name to false or unjust purposes.
27. princes--who should have employed the influence of their position for the people's welfare, made "gain" their sole aim.
wolves--notorious for fierce and ravening cruelty ( Micah 3:2 Micah 3:3 Micah 3:9-11 , John 10:12 ).
28. Referring to the false assurances of peace with which the prophets flattered the people, that they should not submit to the king of Babylon Ezekiel 21:29 , Jeremiah 6:14 , Jeremiah 23:16 Jeremiah 23:17 , Jeremiah 27:9 Jeremiah 27:10 ).
29. The people--put last, after the mention of those in office. Corruption had spread downwards through the whole community.
wrongfully--that is, "without cause," gratuitously, without the stranger proselyte giving any just provocation; nay, he of all others being one who ought to have been won to the worship of Jehovah by kindness, instead of being alienated by oppression; especially as the Israelites were commanded to remember that they themselves had been "strangers in Egypt" ( Exodus 22:21 , 23:9 ).
30. the hedge--the wall leading the people to repentance.
the gap--the breach ( Psalms 106:23 ); image for interceding between the people and God ( Genesis 20:7 , Exodus 32:11 , Numbers 16:48 ).
I found none--( Jeremiah 5:1 )--not that literally there was not a righteous man in the city. For Jeremiah, Baruch, &c., were still there; but Jeremiah had been forbidden to pray for the people ( Jeremiah 11:14 ), as being doomed to wrath. None now, of the godly, knowing the desperate state of the people, and God's purpose as to them, was willing longer to interpose between God's wrath and them. And none "among them," that is, among those just enumerated as guilty of such sins ( Ezekiel 22:25-29 ), was morally able for such an office.
31. their own way . . . recompensed upon their heads--( Ezekiel 9:10 , 11:21 , 16:43 , Proverbs 1:31 , Isaiah 3:11 , Jeremiah 6:19 ).