Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 7. Dirge over the downfall of the kingdom of Judah
The passage is probably in some confusion; Ezekiel 7:8-9 are virtually a repetition of Ezekiel 7:3-4. In LXX. Ezekiel 7:3-4 stand immediately after Ezekiel 7:8-9, and have the appearance of being a duplicate. In other respects the text is very difficult, and in several places no longer presents the original reading. The chapter appears to have two divisions:—
First, Ezekiel 7:1-13, announcement that the end of the state is come, in a series of interjectional sentences, and
Secondly, Ezekiel 7:14-27, a picture of its dissolution, in language some what calmer and more connected.
First, announcement of the end, in three short strophes:
(1) Ezekiel 7:1-4. The end is come upon the four corners of the land.
(2) Ezekiel 7:5-9. The end is come upon the inhabitants of the land.
(3) Ezekiel 7:10-13. The ruin is common and universal. Persons and possessions alike perish.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,1–4. The end is come upon the whole land, unsparing destruction from the Lord
This destruction is the fruit of the abominations of the people, their idolatries and crimes (Ezekiel 7:23). They shall know when it overtakes them that he who inflicts it is Jehovah, God alone.
Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land.2. Ezekiel 7:2 might read: unto the land of Israel an end! the end is come upon, &c. Cf. Amos 8:2.
Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.3. send mine anger] Is an unusual form of expression.
will recompense] Bring or put. Chastisement is but sin assuming another form, a form which it inevitably takes.
And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.4. mine eye shall not spare] So Ezekiel 7:9, ch. Ezekiel 5:11, Ezekiel 8:18, Ezekiel 9:10. From their calamities the people shall learn not only that he that inflicts them is their God, whom they called Jehovah (a thing which they were slow to learn, Amos 3:2; Amos 5:18), but also what the nature of that God is—that he is Jehovah, the true and righteous God (a thing which they were even slower to learn), cf. Ezekiel 7:27, ch. Ezekiel 6:7, Ezekiel 12:20, &c.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come.5. an only evil] Lit. one evil, scarcely a “unique” evil, to which there is nothing like, but an evil which is “one” and final, 1 Samuel 26:8; Haggai 2:6, “Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth” (Hebrews 12:26).
5–7. The dirge takes a fresh turn, announcing in nearly the same words that the end is come upon the inhabitants of the land
An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come.6. it watcheth] Rather: it awaketh for thee. The word forms an alliteration with “end” (Ḳêç, heḳîç), and suggests that the vengeance slumbering long is now ready to fall on them. A similar paronomasia in Amos 8:2, between “end” and “summer fruit,” and in Jeremiah 1:11, between “almond tree” and “be wakeful.”
The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains.7. The morning is come] The sense “morning” is that which a similar word has in Aramaic; but the dawn or morning is always used of the breaking in of felicity not of calamity (cf. Isaiah 8:20). The term occurs in Isaiah 28:5 in the sense of crown or chaplet, probably from the idea of encircling, going a round or circuit (Jdg 7:3, R.V. marg.), and it has been conjectured that the word may have the sense of “turn” (vicem), naturally with the meaning “calamitous turn,” misfortune or fate (as da’irah in Arab.). So Abulwalid followed by most moderns (R.V. doom). Dukes quotes a Chaldee proverb of Sirach in which another form of the word has the sense of times (a hundred times, Blumenlese, p. 80). LXX. does not recognise the word either here or in Ezekiel 7:10.
the day of trouble] Rather: the day is near, even tumult, and not joyful shouting Upon the mountains, as R.V. This rendering assumes that the word translated “joyful shouting” is another form of the term rendered “shouting” (vintage shouting) Isaiah 16:9-10; Jeremiah 48:33—“the shouting is no vintage shouting” but tumult of invasion (Lamentations 2:22).
Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.8, 9. Ezekiel 7:8-9 are virtually Ezekiel 7:3-4 repeated, except that Ezekiel 7:9 ends with the words: that I am Jehovah that smiteth. The order of Ezekiel 7:1-9 in LXX. differs from the Heb. thus: Ezekiel 7:1-2; Ezekiel 7:6 the end is come, 7 unto thee O inhabitant of the land, &c., 8, 9, 3, 4. This order is certainly not original, because Ezekiel 7:3-4, being virtually the same as 8, 9 cannot have followed these verses immediately. It is probable that 3, 4 and 8, 9 are duplicates and that they should stand only once. On the other hand they might be regarded as a kind of refrain, first to the judgment on the land (Ezekiel 7:3-4) and then to the judgment on the inhabitants (Ezekiel 7:8-9); if so the pronouns in 8, 9 should possibly be read in the masculine.
And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.
Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded.10–13. The ruin is universal, overtaking all classes
10. morning is gone forth] Rather: is come forth,—the figure of a plant springing up; Job 14:2, “man cometh forth like a flower.” On “morning” see Ezekiel 7:7; R.V. doom as there.
rod hath blossomed] i.e. sprouted and grown so as to become a rod. The general scope of the passage seems to imply that the “rod” here is that by which Israel shall be chastised. In Jeremiah 50:31 Babylon is named “pride” (R.V. marg.), and the words “pride has budded” may serve to explain “the rod has blossomed.” If the pride were that which the rod was to humble the words would better be attached to the next verse.
Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.11. “Violence” must be that in Israel, not that of the enemy. This violence has risen up so as to be, or to bring down a rod of wickedness, i.e. a rod due to wickedness or in chastisement of it (Ezekiel 7:23). All this, however, is language very unnatural.
The rest of Ezekiel 7:11 is very obscure, and the text certainly corrupt. The general sense conveyed when the words shall remain (A.V.) are inserted is that Israel and her multitude and her possessions shall be wholly swept away.
nor of any of theirs] Ges. conjectured: nor of their wealth, so R.V.
wailing for them] Ges. conjectured: magnificence, so R.V. neither shall there be eminency among them. Both words rendered “wealth” and “eminency” are entirely unknown; the former is probably no word at all but a false repetition of the previous expression “none of them;” if it be a word the natural rendering is that of Ew., moaning or sighing (Ezekiel 7:16 of doves), or unquietness. For the word “eminency” recourse is had to the Arab., generally a precarious proceeding. LXX. renders no account of either of the words. In his reconstruction of the text Corn. follows LXX. generally to the end of Ezekiel 7:9; Ezekiel 7:10-11 he emends thus: “Behold the crown (as Isaiah 28:5) is come forth, the sceptre blossoms; but the crown shall wither 11 and the sceptre fade; what are they, and what their multitude?” The crown and sceptre are those of Israel. The emendation may be left to itself.
The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.12. The inhabitants shall be overwhelmed in a common ruin, in which all social relations shall be forgotten—the buyer shall not rejoice nor the seller sorrow. A universal “wrath” shall be on all classes, involving them in a common destruction. Cf. Isaiah 24:2, “It shall be as with the buyer so with the seller, as with the lender so with the borrower,” &c.
For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life.13. return to that which is sold] Sales, particularly of real property, were usually temporary, the subjects sold being redeemable. When they were redeemed the seller would “return to that which was sold.” By the Law real property returned to the original owner at the year of freedom. This hope is vain: the coming calamity shall obliterate all titles. Others conjecture that the prophet has before his mind the case of the captives carried away with Jehoiachin, who were compelled to make forced sales of their property before going into exile, and who longed to return to claim what was theirs.
although they were yet alive] Or, while they are; i.e. never, so long as they live.
for the vision] Instead of “vision” wrath should be read: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof,” as Ezekiel 7:12; Ezekiel 7:14. Probably the clause: “for the vision (wrath) … not return” should be omitted as accidental repetition of previous words.
strengthen himself … his life] Perhaps: neither shall any one keep hold of his life (maintain his life) in his iniquity. Those driven out shall not return, and those remaining shall die in their sins. Or if there be no reference to those two classes the statements are general: none shall return to his possessions, and none shall live in his iniquity.
They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.14–18. Fruitlessness of the defence
14. Preparations for the defence are made but there is no courage to face the enemy, for the wrath of God upon them predetermines their defeat.
even to make all ready] Rather: and have made (inf. abs.).
14–27. Picture of the dissolution of the state
(1) Ezekiel 7:14-18. The trumpet shall sound the alarm, but none shall prepare himself for the battle. The sword shall devour without and famine consume within. A paralysing terror shall seize upon all.
(2) Ezekiel 7:19-22. They shall cast their gold and silver into the streets, for it cannot buy wherewith to appease their hunger. Their wealth which was their pride and which they used to further their abominations shall become the prey of the invader.
(3) Ezekiel 7:23-27. The city is full of violence therefore it shall be given over to the worst of the heathen. Perplexity and stupefaction shall seize king and people, priest and prophet alike. They shall know Jehovah when his judgments overtake them.
The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him.15. Comp. Lamentations 1:20.
But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.16. Read: and when (if) they that escape of them shall escape, they shall be upon the mountains.
mourning] This refers to the doves: the fugitives shall be on the mountains (seeking refuge) like doves of the valleys, all of which mourn. Isaiah 59:11, We moan all like bears, and mourn sore like doves; Ezekiel 38:14, Like a swallow so did I chatter, I did mourn as a dove. The Arabic poets often refer to the mourning of the dove or ring-dove (Ḳumrî) as being like their own. See the citations of Ahlwardt, Chalef el Aḥmar p. 102 seq. Similarly in the Babylonian Penitential Psalms (Zimmern), Ps. 1:10, Like doves do I mourn; on sighs I feed myself; Psalm 6:4; Psalm 7:10.
for his iniquity] Or, in; in the consciousness of it and its consequences.
All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water.17. The description returns from the condition of the fugitives to that of the besieged. Prostration and despair seizes them. The figures of the hands “hanging down,” and the knees becoming “water” are expressive of complete paralysis of strength. LXX. Hitz. interpret the latter phrase literally. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 21:7; Isaiah 13:7; Jeremiah 6:24.
They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads.18. horror shall cover them] Or, trembling, terror, Job 21:6. It shall take such hold of them that it shall be all over them, like a garment covering them. Cf. Isaiah 59:17, he was clad with zeal as a cloke; Psalm 55:6.
baldness] A sign of mourning: Isaiah 15:2, On all heads shall be baldness; Mic: Micah 1:16, Enlarge thy baldness like the vulture. This tonsure in token of mourning, common among many nations of antiquity, was confined among the Hebrews to shaving the front part of the head (Deuteronomy 14:1), and was forbidden by the Law in the case of priests (Leviticus 21:5, cf. Ezekiel 44:20), and of the whole people (Deuteronomy 14:1), cf. Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 16:6; Leviticus 19:27.
They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.19. Amidst the famine they cast their silver and gold away in the streets, it cannot procure them food. On the horrors of famine during the siege of Jerusalem, comp. Lamentations 4:4; Lamentations 4:8-10; Lamentations 2:11-12; Lamentations 2:19-20; Lamentations 1:11.
gold shall be removed] Rather: shall be a thing unclean, lit. uncleanness. The term refers properly to female impurity, and is the strongest expression for “object of abhorrence;” cf. ch. Ezekiel 36:17, where the people’s idolatries are in Jehovah’s eyes as a woman’s impurity. Leviticus 20:21.
is the stumblingblock] hath been. Their gold and silver has been to them something on which they have stumbled and fallen, i.e. a cause of their sinning; cf. ch. Ezekiel 14:3, Ezekiel 44:12.
As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them.20. Read: and the beauty of their ornament they turned into pride, and they made the images … thereof; therefore will I make it unto them a thing unclean. The thing spoken of is still their silver and gold; this they not only turned into pride, but made also images of it. Hosea 2:8, I multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal; Ezekiel 8:4, Of their silver and gold have they made them idols, that they might be cut off. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 16:11; 2 Samuel 1:24; Jeremiah 4:30.
And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it.21. Because of this abuse of their silver and gold in making it into idols it shall become the prey of the Chaldeans, who shall profane it, turning it from a sacred to a common use. In a certain sense all that was in Israel was sacred, and the mere fact of the heathen taking possession of it profaned it. Hosea 10:6, It (the calf) shall be carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb; cf. Isaiah 46:1-2; Micah 1:7.
My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.22. The enemy shall penetrate into the temple and profane it.
turn … from them] This most naturally refers to Israel, from whom the Lord will turn his face in anger, cf. Ezekiel 7:11. It might refer to the invader, whom the Lord will not behold but permit to work his will, cf. Lamentations 2:3.
secret place] Is probably the temple (Lamentations 2:1); less natural would be the city. The word “secret,” however, is not to be referred to the arcanum of the Most Holy place; the meaning is “my precious thing.”
for the robbers] and robbers; the Chaldean pillagers. The words “pollute” and “defile” are the same; better, profane.
Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.23. Make a chain] the chain. The chain could only be for binding the captives to carry them into exile. In Isaiah 40:19 a similar word is used for the silver chains with which the idols were fastened to the wall lest they should totter or fall; and in Nahum 3:10 the verb is rendered “were bound” with chains (another word, Jeremiah 40:1). If the reading be correct the sense is not doubtful. It must be confessed, however, that nothing in the text suggests any reference to chains. LXX. connects with the preceding (so Syr.) and reads: and they shall work disorder (defilement). Corn. suggests two inf. abs. (after Ezekiel 23:46), viz. raze and empty out! (cf. Psalm 137:7; Isaiah 24:1). Curiously neither of the words is used by Ezekiel. The present reading is scarcely original.
Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled.24. worst of the heathen] Cf. Ezekiel 28:7, Ezekiel 30:11 the terrible of the nations. Jeremiah 6:23; Habakkuk 1:7.
the pomp of the strong] Or, pride. In Ezekiel 24:21 the pride of their strength, and so LXX. here. Cf. Ezekiel 33:28; Leviticus 26:19. The spelling of “sanctuaries” is an Aramaism.
Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none.25. Destruction cometh] Or, anguish.
Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.26. Mischief … upon mischief] i.e. calamity upon calamity; and “rumour” of misfortune upon rumour. Jeremiah 4:20; Isaiah 28:19.
but the law] and the law. It is implied in seeking a vision from the prophet that no vision is granted; and the law, i.e. decision or judgment, sought from the priest, ceases; neither can the elders give any counsel. The same three classes of advisers, viz. prophets, priests, and elders or wise men are spoken of Jeremiah 18:18. All sources of revelation are dumb. Cf. Lamentations 2:9, The law is no more, her prophets also find no vision from the Lord. Psalm 74:9; Micah 3:6.
The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.27. king shall mourn] 2 Samuel 19. The “prince” is Ezekiel’s usual term for the chief civil ruler, and princes for those of the royal house. The clause “the king shall mourn” is wanting in LXX. On “clothed with desolation,” i.e. utterly appalled, cf. Ezekiel 7:18, Ezekiel 26:16.
according to their deserts] lit. judgments, i.e. practices and deeds, as ch. Ezekiel 5:7, Ezekiel 11:12 (manners). All that should defend and save the state, from the king to the people of the land, shall be paralysed and helpless. The Lord will judge them according to their doings and they shall know that he is Jehovah.