Ezekiel 1:3
The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there on him.
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(3) Came expressly.—Or, came certainly, with the fullest proof of reality. In the original there is simply the ordinary form of the repetition of the verb for the sake of emphasis. The prophet mentions his own name only here and in Ezekiel 24:24.

The hand of the Lord was there upon him.—A form of expression to indicate that special power and influence which the Spirit exercised over the prophets at times when they were called to become the means of the Divine communications. (Comp. 1Kings 18:46, and Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 37:1; see also Daniel 8:18; Daniel 10:10; Revelation 1:17.) It is noticeable that Ezekiel here speaks of himself in the third person, while in Ezekiel 1:1, and always after this, he uses the first person. It had been suggested that this, together with the mention of his own name, may indicate the insertion of these two verses on a revision of his work by the prophet.

In entering upon the vision of the glory of the Lord, which fills the rest of this chapter, it is to be remembered that Ezekiel is struggling to portray that which necessarily exceeds the power of human language; it is not therefore surprising that there should be something of repetition and of obscurity in the detail. All similar descriptions of Divine manifestations are marked more or less strongly by the same characteristics. (See Exodus 24:9-10; Isaiah 6:1-4; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 1:12-20; Revelation 4:2-6, &c.) It is also to be borne in mind that what the prophet saw was not the eternal Father in His own absolute essence, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom “no man hath seen, nor can see” (1Timothy 6:16); and had it been possible that Ezekiel should have been so transported out of the body as to behold this, it would then have been impossible for him to describe it. But what he saw in vision was such manifestation as man could bear, in which God hides His face, and allows to be seen only His uttermost parts (Exodus 33:22-23). In the description that follows may be recognised a mingling of the symbols of the Divine manifestation at Sinai with the “patterns of heavenly things” in the most holy place of the Temple, the whole modified to suit the present occasion, and possibly somewhat coloured by the now familiar symbolic art of Babylonia.

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.Came expressly - The phrase marks that it was in truth a heaven-sent vision.

The hand of the Lord - A phrase in all prophecy implying a "constraining" power, because the spirit "constrains" the prophet independently of his own will.

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. What was

visions, Ezekiel 1:1, is here

the word, both as signifying and declaring the mind of God, what he would do, and as containing his commands to Ezekiel and to the people, to whom these visions spake by signs.

The word of the Lord: lest the prophet should want his warrant, or the Jews except to his advice, it is plainly told them that Jehovah the sovereign Lord and eternal God, by Ezekiel, counsels, warns, commands, and threatens.

Came expressly unto; emphatically translated as it is emphatically expressed in the Hebrew,

being with him,

it was with him; so long he might discern, so clear he might understand, so near he could not be deceived, or easily forget what he was to tell them.

Ezekiel signifies either, the strength of God, or, strengthened by God, and in a few syllables contains what is more largely set forth, Ezekiel 3:8,9. He speaks of himself in the third person.

The priest; who therefore should be regarded as one whose interest among the priests at Jerusalem would be best promoted if better things might be hoped and shortly expected than he must now tell them; it was likely he dealt truly with them, when he must share so much in the sad things foretold. He was of the priests originally, he was a prophet by extraordinary call.

The son of Buzi; of a contemned man, so the etymology of the Hebrew, which gave the rabbins occasion to apply it to Jeremiah, and to account the prophet either son or servant to Jeremiah; but it is a proper name.

In the land of the Chaldeans, enemies to, and now masters of, poor captive Jews, the church of God: there God makes him a prophet, who was an ordinary priest in the land of Israel.

The river Chebar, though a river of Mesopotamia, yet here seems placed in Chaldea, because Mesopotamia was part of the kingdom of the Chaldeans; so Chebar or Chobar was in the land, i.e. within the kingdom, of Chaldea, but particularly in Mesopotamia, a province of that kingdom.

The hand of the Lord; the Divine impulse moving with power and efficacy on Ezekiel for the work, and clearly confirming and demonstrating to the captive Jews that he was the prophet of the Lord, and spake to them in his name; the Spirit of prophecy, as the Chaldee Paraphrase.

Was upon him there: God is not confined; though most prophets were in the land of Israel, yet here in Chaldea also appears a great prophet, and should be hearkened unto. The word of the Lord came expressly,.... Or, "in being was" (d); which phrase denotes the reality, certainty, substantiality and evidence of the word of the Lord to him:

unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi; which Buzi, some say, was Jeremiah. Kimchi observes, that, in the Jerusalem Targum, the Prophet Ezekiel is called the son of Jeremiah the prophet: and Jeremiah was called Buzi because they despised him; this is rejected by Abarbinel; nor is there any reason to believe it, any more than what Nazianzen (e) says, that Ezekiel was a servant of Jeremiah:

in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chebar; See Gill on Ezekiel 1:1. The Chaldee paraphrase makes the word of the Lord to come to him at two distinct times and places;

"the word of prophecy from before the Lord was with Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest in the land of Israel: it returned a second time, and spoke with him in the province, the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chebar:''

and the hand of the Lord was there upon him; by which is meant the gift and word of prophecy, which came with power and efficacy, clearness and evidence; so the Targum, and the

"spirit of prophecy from before the Lord there abode by him;''

by which he saw all later visions, and delivered out the following prophecies; see 2 Peter 1:21.

(d) "essendo fuit", Pagninus, Montanus. Heb. ; "existendo exstitit", Polanus. (e) Orat. 47. vol. 1. p. 724.

The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the {d} hand of the LORD was there upon him.

(d) That is, the spirit of prophecy, as in Eze 3:22,37:1.

3. came expressly] Omit expressly. The name Ezekiel probably means “God is strong.” Nothing further is known of Ezekiel or of his father Buzi. The designation “priest” appears to apply to Ezekiel, not to his father. As the prophet excludes all Levites from priestly office except the “sons of Zadok” (Ezekiel 40:46, Ezekiel 43:19, Ezekiel 44:15-16), it may be inferred that he belonged himself to this family. It appears from Jeremiah 29:1 seq. that among the captives carried away with Jehoiachin were both priests and prophets.

hand of the Lord] the prophetic ecstasy.Verse 3. - The word of the Lord came expressly, etc.; literally, coming, there come the word of the Lord; the iteration having (as commonly in this combination in Hebrew) the force of emphasis. The phrase stands, as elsewhere, for the conscious inspiration which made men feel that Jehovah had indeed spoken unto them, and that they had a message from him to deliver. To give parallel passages would be to copy several pages from a concordance, but it may not be without interest to note its first (Genesis 15:1) and last (Malachi 1:1) occurrences in the Old Testament, and its reappearance in the New Testament (Luke 3:2). Unto Ezekiel. We note the transition from the first person to the third; but it does not give sufficient ground for rejecting either ver. 1 or ver. 2, 3 as an interpolation. (For the prophet's name, which appears only here and in Ezekiel 24:24, see Introduction; and for "land of Chaldeans," note on ver. 1.) The hand of the Lord. Here again we haw a phrase of frequent occurrence, used of Elijah (1 Kings 18:46), of Elisha (2 Kings 3:15), of Daniel (Daniel 8:18; Daniel 10:10), of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:11), of St. John (Revelation 1:17). The "hand" of the Lord is the natural symbol of his power, and the phrase seems to be used to add to the consciousness of inspiration, that of a constraining, irresistible power. Ezekiel continually uses it (Ezekiel 3:14, 22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 37:1; Ezekiel 40:1). The glory of Zion, the earthly habitation of the Lord, is at an end, but the throne of the Lord endures eternally. Through this thought, the lamentation rises to the prayer that the Lord may not forsake His people for ever, but re-establish His kingdom on the earth. "Thou, O Jahveh, art enthroned eternally." This thought is expressed as the ground of hope, in nearly the same words as are found in Psalm 102:13. Jahveh is the God of salvation. Since His throne endures eternally in heaven, He cannot let His kingdom perish on the earth. On this is founded the request, "Why wilt Thou forget us for ever, forsake us for a length of days (i.e., through life, always, Psalm 23:6)?" This the Lord cannot do, because of His grace. From this is developed the further request (Lamentations 5:21), "Lead us back to Thyself, that we may return." We must not restrict השׁיב and שׁוּב to conversion to the Lord (Kalkschmidt, Ewald, Vaihinger, Gerlach); they signify the re-establishment of the gracious relation, which is, of course, impossible without repentance and conversion on the part of Israel. It is wrong to refer the words to the restoration of the people to their native land, or to the re-establishment of the theocracy (Dathe, Thenius), because it is not the exiles who address this petition to the Lord. The mode in which we are to understand the "bringing back to Jahveh" is shown in the second hemistich, "renew our days, as they were in former times," i.e., vouchsafe to us again the life (or state of grace) which we enjoyed in former times. In Lamentations 5:22 this request is based on an argument introduced in a negative form. כּי אם, after a negative clause, signifies nisi, but (Ger. sondern). This meaning developed into that of a strong limitation (cf. Ewald, 356), unless equals provided that. Thus literally here: "unless Thou hast utterly rejected us, - art very wroth against us." This case, however, is merely stated as a possibility, the actual occurrence of which is out of the question. The idea is the same as that expressed by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:19) in the form of a question, in order to give greater emphasis to his intercession for his nation. The Lord cannot have utterly rejected His people Israel, because He would thereby make His name to be despised in the eyes of the nations (Jeremiah 14:21). Thus terminates this lamentation, with a request for whose fulfilment faith can hope with confidence.
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