The prophet proceeds, by a variety of types and parables, to convince those of the captivity that their brethren who were left behind to sustain the miseries of a siege and the insults of a conqueror, would be in a much worse condition than they who were already settled in a foreign land. In the beginning of this chapter he foretells the approaching captivity of Judah by action instead of words, Ezekiel 12:1-7. He predicts particularly the flight, capture, captivity, and sufferings of Zedekiah and his followers, Ezekiel 12:8-16, compared with Jeremiah 52:11. He is to eat his food with trembling and signs of terror, as an emblem of the consternation of the Jews when surrounded by their enemies, Ezekiel 12:17-20; and then he answers the objections and bywords of scoffers and infidels, who either disbelieved his threatening or supposed the accomplishment of them very distant, Ezekiel 12:21-28. Josephus (Antiq. 11:10) tells us that Zedekiah thought the prophecy of Ezekiel in the thirteenth verse inconsistent with that of Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 34:3), and resolved to believe neither. Both, however, were literary fulfilled; and the event convinced him that they were not irreconcilable. Thus, blinded by infidelity, sinners rush on to that destruction against which they are sufficiently warned.
The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.Which have eyes to see, and see not - It is not want of grace that brings them to destruction. They have eyes to see, but they will not use them. No man is lost because he had not sufficient grace to save him, but because he abused that grace.
Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.Prepare thee stuff for removing - Get carriages to transport thy goods to another place; signifying by this the captivity that was at hand.
Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.
Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.Dig thou through the wall - This refers to the manner in which Zedekiah and his family would escape from the city. They escaped by night through a breach in the wall. See Jeremiah 39:2-4; and 2 Kings 25:4.
In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.Thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground - Referring to the blinding of Zedekiah: even the covering of the face might be intended to signify that in this way Zedekiah should be carried to Babylon on men's shoulders in some sort of palanquin, with a cloth tied over his eyes, because of the recent wounds made by extracting them. All the prophecies from this to the twentieth chapter are supposed to have been delivered in the sixth year of Zedekiah, five years before the taking of Jerusalem. How accurate the prediction! and how exactly fulfilled!
And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.
And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?
Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.This burden - This prediction concerning the prince. By this I point out the capture, misery, and ruin of Zedekiah.
Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.
And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.
My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.I will bring - him to Babylon - yet shall he not see it - Because Nebuchadnezzar caused him to have his eyes put out at Riblah. To Babylon he was carried in his blind state, and there he died. In saying, My net also will I spread upon him, there is probably a reference to an ancient manner of fighting. One, who was called the retiarius, had a small casting net, which if he could throw over his antagonist's head, he then dispatched him with his sword; if he missed his throw, he was obliged to run in order to get his net once more adjusted for another throw. In the mean time the other pursued him with all his speed to prevent this, and to dispatch him; hence he was called secutor: the first the netman, the second the pursuer.
And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.
And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.
But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;Eat thy bread with quaking - Assume the manner of a person who is every moment afraid of his life, who has nothing but a morsel of bread to eat, and a little water to drink. Thus signifying the siege, and the straits to which they should be reduced. See this explained, Ezekiel 12:19 (note).
And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.
And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? - These are the words of the infidels and scoffers, who, because vengeance was not speedily executed on an evil work, set their heart to do iniquity. "These predictions either will not come in our days, or will wholly fail; why then should we disquiet ourselves about them?" Strange, that the very means used by the most gracious God to bring sinners to repentance, should be made by them the very instruments of their own destruction! See 2 Peter 3:4.
Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.The days are at hand - Far from failing or being prolonged, time is posting on, and the destruction threatened is at the door.
For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.
For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,In your days - will I say the word, and will perform it - Even these mockers shall live to see and feel this desolation. This is more particularly intimated in the following verses.
Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.
Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.There shall none of my words be prolonged any more - He had waited to be gracious; they abused his mercy; and at last the protracted wrath rushed upon them with irresistible force.