|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:7-12 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.
Verse 11. - Seventy men, etc. The number was probably chosen with reference to the "elders" who had seen the Divine glory in Exodus 24:9, 10. The Sanhedrin, or council of seventy, did not exist till after the Captivity. The number can scarcely have been accidental, and may imply that the elders were formally representative. Another Jaazaniah, the son of Jeremiah, appears in Jeremiah 35:3; yet another, the son of Azur, in Ezekiel 11:1. If the Shaphan mentioned is the scribe, the son of Azaliah, under Josiah (2 Kings 22:3), the father of Ahikam (2 Kings 22:12), of Elasah (Jeremiah 29:3), and of Gemariah (Jeremiah 36:10, 11, 12), and the grandfather of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 39:14, et al.), all of whom were prominent in the reform movement under Josiah, or as friends of Jeremiah, and no other Shaphan appears in history, the fact that one of his sons is the leader of the idolatrous company must have had for Ezekiel a specially painful significance. He could scarcely have forgotten the meaning of his name, "The Lord is listening," and probably refers to it in ver. 12. As the climax of this chamber of horrors, the seventy elders were all acting as priests, and were offering to their pictured idols the incense which none but the sons of Aaron had a right to use, and which they offered to Jehovah only.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And there stood before them,.... Before the pictures, as the Vulgate Latin version expresses it, praying, sacrificing, and offering incense unto them:
seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel; the whole sanhedrim, or great court of judicature among the Jews, as Kimchi; or at least there is an allusion to that number, which were appointed in Moses' time to be officers over the people, and govern and direct them, Numbers 11:16; which shows how sadly depraved and corrupted the state was, that not the common people only, but the civil magistrates, the chief rulers and governors, were given to idolatry; and those that should have taught the people the right way led them wrong; and it is still a further aggravation of their crime that they should do this in the chambers of the priests and Levites, where they ought not to have been:
and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan; who was either the prince of the sanhedrim, or at least a person of great note and esteem; and shows the corruption to be general, from the least to the greatest: Shaphan was a scribe in Josiah's time, who had a son named Ahikam, perhaps the father of this, 2 Kings 22:3; in Ezekiel 11:2; he is said to be the son of Azur, and one of the princes of the people:
with every man his censer in his hand; to offer incense to the idols portrayed on the wall; and which they did, for it follows:
and a thick cloud of incense went up; there were many that offered; and perhaps they offered a large quantity, being very liberal and profuse in this kind of devotion to their idols.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. seventy men—the seventy members composing the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, the origination of which we find in the seventy elders, representatives of the congregation, who went up with Moses to the mount to behold the glory of Jehovah, and to witness the secret transactions relating to the establishment of the covenant; also, in the seventy elders appointed to share the burden of the people with Moses. How awfully it aggravates the national sin, that the seventy, once admitted to the Lord's secret council (Ps 25:14), should now, "in the dark," enter "the secret" of the wicked (Ge 49:6), those judicially bound to suppress idolatry being the ringleaders of it!
Jaazaniah—perhaps chief of the seventy: son of Shaphan, the scribe who read to Josiah the book of the law; the spiritual privileges of the son (2Ki 22:10-14) increased his guilt. The very name means, "Jehovah hears," giving the lie to the unbelief which virtually said (Eze 9:9), "The Lord seeth us not," &c. (compare Ps 10:11, 14; 50:21; 94:7, 9). The offering of incense belonged not to the elders, but to the priests; this usurpation added to the guilt of the former.
cloud of incense—They spared no expense for their idols. Oh, that there were the same liberality toward the cause of God!
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