|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-6 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.
Verse 3. - The form of an hand (comp. Ezekiel 2:9; Daniel 5:5). For the mode of transit, see Bel and the Dragon, ver. 36. as probably a direct imitation. The touch of the "hand" was followed by the action of the Spirit, in visions which he knew to be more than dreams, visions that came from God (comp. Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 40:2). The word is not the same as that commonly used by Daniel (chazon), and often by Ezekiel himself (Ezekiel 7:13; Ezekiel 12:22, 23, et al.), but mareh, which implies a more direct act of intuition. The word appears again in Ezekiel 11:24; Ezekiel 43:3, and in Daniel 8:26, 27, et al. To the door of the gate, etc. From the first we trace the priest's familiarity with the structure of the temple. He is brought, as it were, after his journey in the spirit, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looketh towards the north (Revised Version). This is identified in ver. 5 with the "gate of the altar." It may probably also be identified with the "upper gate" of Ezekiel 9:2; the "high gate" of Jeremiah 20:2; the "higher gate" of 2 Kings 15:35, built by Jotham; the "new gate" of Jeremiah 36:10. Obviously it was one of the most conspicuous portions of the temple, where the people gathered in large numbers. And here the prophet sees what he calls the image of jealousy. The words that follow probably give his explanation of the strange phrase, not found elsewhere, though it might naturally be suggested by Deuteronomy 32:16, 21; Psalm 78:58. What this image was we can only conjecture. The word for "image" is a rare one, and is found only here and in Deuteronomy 4:16; 2 Chronicles 33:7, 15. It may have been the Asherah (the "grove" of the Authorized Version), or conical stone, such as Manasseh had made and placed, with an altar dedicated to it, in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3), or one of Baal, or of Ashtaroth, or even of Tammuz (see ver. 14). As the word "grove" does not occur in Ezekiel, it may be sufficient to state that the Ashera was a pillar symbolical either of a goddess of the same name, or, as some think, of the Phoenician Astarte. The worship seems to have first become popular under Jezebel (1 Kings 18:19), and took deep root both in Israel and Judah. The cultus, as in 2 Kings 23:7, seems to have been connected with the foulest licence, like that of the Babylonian Mylitta (Herod., 1:199; Baruch 6:43). The work of Josiah had clearly had but a temporary success, and the people had gone back to the confluent polytheism of the reign of Manasseh. In such a state of things the worst was possible. For recent discussions on the Ashera, see Kuenen. 'Relig. Isr.' (Eng. transl.), 1:88; Schrader; Robertson Smith, 'Relig. of Semites,' p. 172; and T.K. Cheyne, in the Academy of December 14, 1889.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he put forth the form of an hand,.... That is, he that appeared in the likeness of a man, and with so much glory and splendour, out of the midst of the fire and brightness which were about him, put forth the form of a hand, that looked like a man's hand; for this appearance was not real, only visionary; and this seems to design the Spirit of God sent forth by Christ, sometimes called the finger of God, Luke 11:20; as appears by what follows:
and took me by a lock of mine head; without hurting him, showing his power over him; and by this means raising him from his seat, as it seemed to the prophet:
and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and heaven; took him off of his seat, and out of his house, lifted him up in the air, and carried him through it, as he thought; for this was not real and local; in like manner as the spirit caught away Philip, Acts 8:39; but in vision, as follows:
and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem; so it was represented to him in a true vision, which was of God, and not of Satan, that he was carried from Chaldea to Jerusalem; not that he really was, for he was still in Chaldea; and here in vision was he brought again, and found himself to be when that vision was over, Ezekiel 11:24; but things so appeared to him, as if he was actually brought to Jerusalem by the power of the Spirit of God:
to the door of the inner gate: not of Jerusalem, but the temple, or rather the court, the inner court; see Ezekiel 10:3; and so it should be rendered "to the door of the gate of the inner court" (s); and thus it is explained by Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech:
that looketh toward the north; for there were gates on every side:
where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy; some graven image, perhaps the image of Baal; so called, because it provoked the Lord to jealousy, Deuteronomy 32:21. Gussetius (t) suggests, that "Semel", here may be the same with Semele; who, in the opinion of the Heathens, made Juno jealous.
(s) "ad ostium portae interioris, sub. atrii", Pagninus, Vatablus, Piscator. (t) Ebr. Comment. p. 903.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Instead of prompting him to address directly the elders before him, the Spirit carried him away in vision (not in person bodily) to the temple at Jerusalem; he proceeds to report to them what he witnessed: his message thus falls into two parts: (1) The abominations reported in Eze 8:1-18. (2) The dealings of judgment and mercy to be adopted towards the impenitent and penitent Israelites respectively (Eze 9:1-11:25). The exiles looked hopefully towards Jerusalem and, so far from believing things there to be on the verge of ruin, expected a return in peace; while those left in Jerusalem eyed the exiles with contempt, as if cast away from the Lord, whereas they themselves were near God and ensured in the possessions of the land (Eze 11:15). Hence the vision here of what affected those in Jerusalem immediately was a seasonable communication to the exiles away from it.
door of the inner gate—facing the north, the direction in which he came from Chebar, called the "altar-gate" (Eze 8:5); it opened into the inner court, wherein stood the altar of burnt offering; the inner court (1Ki 6:36) was that of the priests; the outer court (Eze 10:5), that of the people, where they assembled.
seat—the pedestal of the image.
image of jealousy—Astarte, or Asheera (as the Hebrew for "grove" ought to be translated, 2Ki 21:3, 7; 23:4, 7), set up by Manasseh as a rival to Jehovah in His temple, and arresting the attention of all worshippers as they entered; it was the Syrian Venus, worshipped with licentious rites; the "queen of heaven," wife of Phonician Baal. Havernick thinks all the scenes of idolatry in the chapter are successive portions of the festival held in honor of Tammuz or Adonis (Eze 8:14). Probably, however, the scenes are separate proofs of Jewish idolatry, rather than restricted to one idol.
provoketh to jealousy—calleth for a visitation in wrath of the "jealous God," who will not give His honor to another (compare the second commandment, Ex 20:5). Jerome refers this verse to a statue of Baal, which Josiah had overthrown and his successors had replaced.
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