The desolation of the land. (1-15) The distress of the few who should escape. (16-22) The captivity. (23-27)
Verses 1-15 The abruptness of this prophecy, and the many repetitions, show that the prophet was deeply affected by the prospect of these calamities. Such will the destruction of sinners be; for none can avoid it. Oh that the wickedness of the wicked might end before it bring them to an end! Trouble is to the impenitent only an evil, it hardens their hearts, and stirs up their corruptions; but there are those to whom it is sanctified by the grace of God, and made a means of much good. The day of real trouble is near, not a mere echo or rumour of troubles. Whatever are the fruits of God's judgments, our sin is the root of them. These judgments shall be universal. And God will be glorified in all. Now is the day of the Lord's patience and mercy, but the time of the sinner's trouble is at hand.
Verses 16-22 Sooner or later, sin will cause sorrow; and those who will not repent of their sin, may justly be left to pine away in it. There are many whose wealth is their snare and ruin; and the gaining the world is the losing of their souls. Riches profit not in the day of wrath. The wealth of this world has not that in it which will answer the desires of the soul, or be any satisfaction to it in a day of distress. God's temple shall stand them in no stead. Those are unworthy to be honoured with the form of godliness, who will not be governed by its power.
Verses 23-27 Whoever break the bands of God's law, will find themselves bound and held by the chains of his judgments. Since they encouraged one another to sin, God would dishearten them. All must needs be in trouble, when God comes to judge them according to their deserts. May the Lord enable us to seek that good part which shall not be taken away.
Ezekiel 7:1-27 . LAMENTATION OVER THE COMING RUIN OF ISRAEL; THE PENITENT REFORMATION OF A REMNANT; THE CHAIN SYMBOLIZING THE CAPTIVITY.
2. An end, the end--The indefinite "an" expresses the general fact of God bringing His long-suffering towards the whole of Judea to an end; "the," following, marks it as more definitely fixed ( Amos 8:2 ).
4. thine abominations--the punishment of thine abominations.
shall be in the midst of thee--shall be manifest to all. They and thou shall recognize the fact of thine abominations by thy punishment which shall everywhere befall thee, and that manifestly.
5. An evil, an only evil--a peculiar calamity such as was never before; unparalleled. The abruptness of the style and the repetitions express the agitation of the prophet's mind in foreseeing these calamities.
6. watcheth for thee--rather, "waketh for thee." It awakes up from its past slumber against thee ( Psalms 78:65 Psalms 78:66 ).
7. The morning--so Chaldean and Syriac versions (compare Joel 2:2 ). Ezekiel wishes to awaken them from their lethargy, whereby they were promising to themselves an uninterrupted night ( 1 Thessalonians 5:5-7 ), as if they were never to be called to account [CALVIN]. The expression, "morning," refers to the fact that this was the usual time for magistrates giving sentence against offenders (compare Ezekiel 7:10 , below; Psalms 101:8 , Jeremiah 21:12 ). GESENIUS, less probably, translates, "the order of fate"; thy turn to be punished.
not the sounding again--not an empty echo, such as is produced by the reverberation of sounds in "the mountains," but a real cry of tumult is coming [CALVIN]. Perhaps it alludes to the joyous cries of the grape-gatherers at vintage on the hills [GROTIUS], or of the idolaters in their dances on their festivals in honor of their false gods [TIRINUS]. HAVERNICK translates, "no brightness."
8, 9. Repetition of Ezekiel 7:3 Ezekiel 7:4 ; sadly expressive of accumulated woes by the monotonous sameness.
10. rod . . . blossomed, pride . . . budded--The "rod" is the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar, the instrument of God's vengeance ( Isaiah 10:5 , Jeremiah 51:20 ). The rod sprouting (as the word ought to be translated), &c., implies that God does not move precipitately, but in successive steps. He as it were has planted the ministers of His vengeance, and leaves them to grow till all is ripe for executing His purpose. "Pride" refers to the insolence of the Babylonian conqueror ( Jeremiah 50:31 Jeremiah 50:32 ). The parallelism ("pride" answering to "rod") opposes JEROME'S view, that "pride" refers to the Jews who despised God's threats; (also CALVIN'S, "though the rod grew in Chaldea, the root was with the Jews"). The "rod" cannot refer, as GROTIUS thought, to the tribe of Judah, for it evidently refers to the "smiteth" ( Ezekiel 7:9 ) as the instrument of smiting.
11. Violence (that is, the violent foe) is risen up as a rod of (that is, to punish the Jews') wickedness ( Zechariah 5:8 ).
theirs--their possessions, or all that belongs to them, whether children or goods. GROTIUS translates from a different Hebrew root, "their nobles," literally, "their tumultuous trains" (Margin) which usually escorted the nobles. Thus "nobles" will form a contrast to the general "multitude."
neither . . . wailing--( Jeremiah 16:4-7 , 25:33 ). GESENIUS translates, "nor shall there be left any beauty among them." English Version is supported by the old Jewish interpreters. So general shall be the slaughter, none shall be left to mourn the dead.
12. let not . . . buyer rejoice--because he has bought an estate at a bargain price.
nor . . . seller mourn--because he has had to sell his land at a sacrifice through poverty. The Chaldeans will be masters of the land, so that neither shall the buyer have any good of his purchase, nor the seller any loss; nor shall the latter ( Ezekiel 7:13 ) return to his inheritance at the jubilee year (see Leviticus 25:13 ). Spiritually this holds good now, seeing that "the time is short"; "they that rejoice should be as though they rejoiced not, and they that buy as though they possessed not": Paul ( 1 Corinthians 7:30 ) seems to allude to Ezekiel here. Jeremiah 32:15 Jeremiah 32:37 Jeremiah 32:43 , seems to contradict Ezekiel here. But Ezekiel is speaking of the parents, and of the present; Jeremiah, of the children, and of the future. Jeremiah is addressing believers, that they should hope for a restoration; Ezekiel, the reprobate, who were excluded from hope of deliverance.
13. although they were yet alive--although they should live to the year of jubilee.
multitude thereof--namely, of the Jews.
which shall not return--answering to "the seller shall not return"; not only he, but the whole multitude, shall not return. CALVIN omits "is" and "which": "the vision touching the whole multitude shall not return" void ( Isaiah 55:11 ).
neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life--No hardening of one's self in iniquity will avail against God's threat of punishment. FAIRBAIRN translates, "no one by his iniquity shall invigorate his life"; referring to the jubilee, which was regarded as a revivification of the whole commonwealth, when, its disorders being rectified, the body politic sprang up again into renewed life. That for which God thus provided by the institution of the jubilee and which is now to cease through the nation's iniquity, let none think to bring about by his iniquity.
14. They have blown the trumpet--rather, "Blow the trumpet," or, "Let them blow the trumpet" to collect soldiers as they will, "to make all ready" for encountering the foe, it will be of no avail; none will have the courage to go to the battle (compare Jeremiah 6:1 ), [CALVIN].
15. No security should anywhere be found ( Deuteronomy 32:25 ). Fulfilled ( Lamentations 1:20 ); also at the Roman invasion ( Matthew 24:16-18 ).
16. ( Ezekiel 6:6 ).
like doves--which, though usually frequenting the valleys, mount up to the mountains when fearing the bird-catcher ( Psalms 11:1 ). So Israel, once dwelling in its peaceful valleys, shall flee from the foe to the mountains, which, as being the scene of its idolatries, were justly to be made the scene of its flight and shame. The plaintive note of the dove ( Isaiah 59:11 ) represents the mournful repentance of Israel hereafter ( Zechariah 12:10-12 ).
17. shall be weak as water--literally, "shall go (as) waters"; incapable of resistance ( Joshua 7:5 , Psalms 22:14 , Isaiah 13:7 ).
18. cover them--as a garment.
baldness--a sign of mourning ( Isaiah 3:24 , Jeremiah 48:37 , Micah 1:16 ).
19. cast . . . silver in . . . streets--just retribution; they had abused their silver and gold by converting them into idols, "the stumbling-block of their iniquity" ( Ezekiel 14:3 Ezekiel 14:4 , that is, an occasion of sinning); so these silver and gold idols, so far from "being able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath" (see Proverbs 11:4 ), shall, in despair, be cast by them into the streets as a prey to the foe, by whom they shall be "removed" (GROTIUS translates as the Margin, "shall be despised as an unclean thing"); or rather, as suits the parallelism, "shall be put away from them" by the Jews [CALVIN]. "They (the silver and gold) shall not satisfy their souls," that is, their cravings of appetite and other needs.
20. beauty of his ornament--the temple of Jehovah, the especial glory of the Jews, as a bride glories in her ornaments (the very imagery used by God as to the temple, Ezekiel 16:10 Ezekiel 16:11 ). Compare Ezekiel 24:21 : "My sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes."
images . . . therein--namely, in the temple ( Ezekiel 8:3-17 ).
set it far from them--God had "set" the temple (their "beauty of ornament") "for His majesty"; but they had set up "abominations therein"; therefore God, in just retribution, "set it far from them," (that is, removed them far from it, or took it away from them [VATABLUS]). The Margin translates, "Made it unto them an unclean thing" (compare Margin on Ezekiel 7:19 , "removed"); what I designed for their glory they turned to their shame, therefore I will make it turn to their ignominy and ruin.
21. strangers--barbarous and savage nations.
22. pollute my secret place--just retribution for the Jews' pollution of the temple. "Robbers shall enter and defile" the holy of holies, the place of God's manifested presence, entrance into which was denied even to the Levites and priests and was permitted to the high priest only once a year on the great day of atonement.
23. chain--symbol of the captivity (compare Jeremiah 27:2 ). As they enchained the land with violence, so shall they be chained themselves. It was customary to lead away captives in a row with a chain passed from the neck of one to the other. Therefore translate as the Hebrew requires, "the chain," namely, that usually employed on such occasions. CALVIN explains it, that the Jews should be dragged, whether they would or no, before God's tribunal to be tried as culprits in chains. The next words favor this: "bloody crimes," rather, "judgment of bloods," that is, with blood sheddings deserving the extreme judicial penalty. Compare Jeremiah 51:9 : "Her judgment reacheth unto heaven."
24. worst of the heathen--literally, "wicked of the nations"; the giving up of Israel to their power will convince the Jews that this is a final overthrow.
pomp of . . . strong--the pride wherewith men "stiff of forehead" despise the prophet.
holy places--the sacred compartments of the temple ( Psalms 68:35 , Jeremiah 51:51 ) [CALVIN]. God calls it "their holy places," because they had so defiled it that He regarded it no longer as His. However, as the defilement of the temple has already been mentioned ( Ezekiel 7:20 Ezekiel 7:22 ), and "their sacred places" are introduced as a new subject, it seems better to understand this of the places dedicated to their idols. As they defiled God's sanctuary, He will defile their self-constituted "sacred places."
25. peace, and . . . none--( 1 Thessalonians 5:3 ).
26. Mischief . . . upon . . . mischief--( Deuteronomy 32:23 , Jeremiah 4:20 ). This is said because the Jews were apt to fancy, at every abatement of suffering, that their calamities were about to cease; but God will accumulate woe on woe.
rumour--of the advance of the foe, and of his cruelty ( Matthew 24:6 ).
seek a vision--to find some way of escape from their difficulties ( Isaiah 26:9 ). So Zedekiah consulted Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 37:17 , 38:14 ).
law shall perish--fulfilled ( Ezekiel 20:1 Ezekiel 20:3 , Psalms 74:9 , Lamentations 2:9 ; compare Amos 8:11 ); God will thus set aside the idle boast, "The law shall not perish from the priest" ( Jeremiah 18:18 ).
ancients--the ecclesiastical rulers of the people.
27. people of the land--the general multitude, as distinguished from the "king" and the "prince." The consternation shall pervade all ranks. The king, whose duty it was to animate others and find a remedy for existing evils, shall himself be in the utmost anxiety; a mark of the desperate state of affairs.
clothed with desolation--Clothing is designed to keep off shame; but in this case shame shall be the clothing.
after their way--because of their wicked ways.
deserts--literally, "judgments," that is, what just judgment awards to them; used to imply the exact correspondence of God's judgment with the judicial penalties they had incurred: they oppressed the poor and deprived them of liberty; therefore they shall be oppressed and lose their own liberty.