|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-14 It is a mercy to have the word of God brought to us, and a duty to attend to it diligently, when we are in affliction. The voice of God came in the fulness of light and power, by the Holy Spirit. These visions seem to have been sent to possess the prophet's mind with great and high thoughts of God. To strike terror upon sinners. To speak comfort to those that feared God, and humbled themselves. In ver. 4-14, is the first part of the vision, which represents God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. This vision would impress the mind with solemn awe and fear of the Divine displeasure, yet raise expectations of blessings. The fire is surrounded with a glory. Though we cannot by searching find out God to perfection, yet we see the brightness round about it. The likeness of the living creatures came out of the midst of the fire; angels derive their being and power from God. They have the understanding of a man, and far more. A lion excels in strength and boldness. An ox excels in diligence and patience, and unwearied discharge of the work he has to do. An eagle excels in quickness and piercing sight, and in soaring high; and the angels, who excel man in all these respects, put on these appearances. The angels have wings; and whatever business God sends them upon, they lose no time. They stood straight, and firm, and steady. They had not only wings for motion, but hands for action. Many persons are quick, who are not active; they hurry about, but do nothing to purpose; they have wings, but no hands. But wherever the angels' wings carried them, they carried hands with them, to be doing what duty required. Whatever service they went about, they went every one straight forward. When we go straight, we go forward; when we serve God with one heart, we perform work. They turned not when they went. They made no mistakes; and their work needed not to be gone over again. They turned not from their business to trifle with any thing. They went whithersoever the Spirit of God would have them go. The prophet saw these living creatures by their own light, for their appearance was like burning coals of fire; they are seraphim, or burners; denoting the ardour of their love to God, and fervent zeal in his service. We may learn profitable lessons from subjects we cannot fully enter into or understand. But let us attend to the things which relate to our peace and duty, and leave secret things to the Lord, to whom alone they belong.
Verse 2. - The fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity. The date of this deportation stands as B.C. 599 (2 Kings 24:8-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9, 10), and thus brings us to B.C. 595/4 as the time of Ezekiel's first vision. It was for him and for his fellow exiles a natural starting point to reckon from. It would have been, in one sense, as natural to reckon from the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, as Jeremiah does (Jeremiah 39:1, 2), but Ezekiel does not recognize that prince - who was, as it were, a mere satrap under Nebuchadnezzar - as a true king, and throughout his book systematically adheres to this era (Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 20:1; Ezekiel 24:1, et al.). About this time, but a year before, the false prophets of Judah were prophesying the overthrow of Babylon and the return of Jeconiah within two years (Jeremiah 28:3), and the expectations thus raised were probably shared by many of Ezekiel's companions in exile, while he himself adhered to the counsels of the leter which Jeremiah had sent (Jeremiah 29:1-23) to the Jews of the Captivity. To one who felt himself thus apart from his brethren, musing over many things, and perhaps perplexed with the conflict of prophetic voices, there was given, in the "visions of God" which he relates, the guidance that he needed. They did not break in, we may well believe, suddenly and without preparation on the normal order of his life. Like other prophets, he felt, even before his call, the burdens of his time. and vexed his soul with the ungodly deeds of these among whom he lived.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the fifth day of the month,.... The month Tammuz, as before:
(which was the fifth year of Jehoiachin's captivity); the same with Jeconiah and Coniah, as he is sometimes called; he was taken by the king of Babylon, when he had reigned but three months, and his captivity held seven and thirty years, 2 Kings 24:8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. Jehoiachin's captivity—In the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim, father of Jehoiachin, the first carrying away of Jewish captives to Babylon took place, and among them was Daniel. The second was under Jehoiachin, when Ezekiel was carried away. The third and final one was at the taking of Jerusalem under Zedekiah.
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