Ezekiel 8

Idolatry in the Temple

1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign LORD came on me there.
2 I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man.[a] From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal.
3 He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.
4 And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.
5 Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy.
6 And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.”
7 Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall.
8 He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.
9 And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.”
10 So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel.
11 In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.
12 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.’ ”
13 Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.”
14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz.
15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”
16 He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.
17 He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose!
18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”

Ezekiel 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

The idolatries committed by the Jewish rulers. (1-6) The superstitions to which the Jews were then devoted, the Egyptian. (7-12) The Phoenician. (13,14) The Persian. (15,16) The heinousness of their sin. (17,18)

Verses 1-6 The glorious personage Ezekiel beheld in vision, seemed to take hold upon him, and he was conveyed in spirit to Jerusalem. There, in the inner court of the temple, was prepared a place for some base idol. The whole was presented in vision to the prophet. If it should please God to give any man a clear view of his glory and majesty, and of all the abominations committing in any one city, he would then admit the justice of the severest punishments God should inflict thereon.

Verses 7-12 A secret place was, as it were, opened, where the prophet saw creatures painted on the walls, and a number of the elders of Israel worshipped before them. No superiority in worldly matters will preserve men from lust, or idolatries, when they are left to their own deceitful hearts; and those who are soon wearied in the service of God, often grudge no toil nor expense when following their superstitions. When hypocrites screen themselves behind the wall of an outward profession, there is some hole or other left in the wall, something that betrays them to those who look diligently. There is a great deal of secret wickedness in the world. They think themselves out of God's sight. But those are ripe indeed for ruin, who lay the blame of their sins upon the Lord.

Verses 13-18 The yearly lamenting for Tammuz was attended with infamous practices; and the worshippers of the sun here described, are supposed to have been priests. The Lord appeals to the prophet concerning the heinousness of the crime; "and lo, they put the branch to their nose," denoting some custom used by idolaters in honour of the idols they served. The more we examine human nature and our own hearts, the more abominations we shall discover; and the longer the believer searches himself, the more he will humble himself before God, and the more will he value the fountain open for sin, and seek to wash therein.

Cross References 34

  • 1. S 2 Kings 6:32; Ezekiel 14:1
  • 2. Ezekiel 33:31
  • 3. Ezekiel 1:1-3; Ezekiel 24:1; Ezekiel 40:1
  • 4. Eze 1:4,26-27
  • 5. S Ezekiel 2:9
  • 6. S Ezekiel 3:12; Ezekiel 11:1
  • 7. S Exodus 24:10
  • 8. ver 16
  • 9. ver 5; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 32:16
  • 10. S Exodus 24:16; Ezekiel 1:28
  • 11. Ezekiel 3:22
  • 12. Psalms 78:58; S Jeremiah 4:1; Jeremiah 32:34
  • 13. Psalms 78:60; S Ezekiel 5:11
  • 14. Hosea 5:6
  • 15. S Judges 17:4-5; Ezekiel 23:14
  • 16. Jeremiah 44:4
  • 17. Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:15-18; S Jeremiah 16:18; Ezekiel 11:12
  • 18. S Exodus 3:16
  • 19. S Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 16:17
  • 20. Numbers 16:35; S Jeremiah 44:5
  • 21. Ezekiel 11:1-2
  • 22. S Job 22:13
  • 23. S 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 10:11; S Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 9:9; Zephaniah 1:12
  • 24. Ezekiel 11:12
  • 25. ver 3
  • 26. Joel 2:17
  • 27. S Genesis 1:16
  • 28. Deuteronomy 4:19; S Deuteronomy 17:3; S Job 31:28; S Jeremiah 2:27; Ezekiel 9:6; Ezekiel 11:1,12; Ezekiel 40:6; Ezekiel 43:1
  • 29. Ezekiel 16:2
  • 30. S Genesis 6:11; Ezekiel 9:9
  • 31. S Numbers 11:33; S 1 Kings 14:9; Ezekiel 16:26
  • 32. S Jeremiah 44:6
  • 33. S Jeremiah 13:14; S Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 24:14
  • 34. S 1 Samuel 8:18; S Isaiah 58:4; Isaiah 1:15; S Jeremiah 11:11; Micah 3:4; Zechariah 7:13

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "saw a fiery figure"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a vision the prophet had of the idolatry of the Jews, which was the cause of their destruction. The time when, place, where, and persons with whom he was, when the hand of the Lord came upon him, are mentioned, Eze 8:1; then follows a description of the divine Person that appeared to him, Eze 8:2; and an account is given how he was in a visionary way brought to Jerusalem, and to the temple, where he saw the glory of the God of Israel, and the idolatry of the people, Eze 8:3,4; which latter was gradually represented to him; first the image of jealousy in the entry at the gate of the altar northward, Eze 8:5; then greater abominations through a hole in the wall, by which he saw their idols, in the form of reptiles and four footed beasts, portrayed on the wall, Eze 8:6-10; next seventy of the ancients of Israel, among whom were one mentioned by name, offering incense to these idols, Eze 8:11,12; after this, greater abominations still are showed him, at the north of the temple, women weeping for Tammuz, Eze 8:13,14; and then again far greater ones, twenty five men, between the porch and the altar, with their backs to the temple, and their face to the east, worshipping the sun, and putting the branch to the nose, Eze 8:15-17; wherefore it is reasoned to deal with them in fury, without any mercy, pity, and compassion, Eze 8:18.

Ezekiel 8 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.