Ezekiel 11:1
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD'S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house.—This is the same place, the main outer entrance to the whole Temple enclosure, to which the prophet had seen the cherubim go (Ezekiel 10:19). It is not expressly said where he was brought from; but the last place mentioned was the court of the priests (Ezekiel 8:16), and so far the vision appears to be consecutive. Standing in that innermost court, he had seen the Divine presence go forth to the outer entrance; and he also is now transported thither.

Here he sees twenty-five men, the same number whom he had seen worshipping the sun in the inner court. They appear, however, to have been priests, while these seem to be secular leaders. Hence they are generally supposed to be a different set of men. It is nevertheless by no means impossible that they may be the same idolatrous priests, who, by prostituting their holy office to idolatry, gained an ascendancy over a sinful people. Otherwise, the number twenty-five may represent the king, with two princes from each of the twelve tribes; or is possibly a number without any other especial significance than as representing a considerable array of the most prominent people of the nation. Two of these are mentioned by name. If the Jaazaniah here is the same with the Jaazaniah of Ezekiel 8:11, it settles the point that the men here are not to be understood of the priests, since he there represented a different class (see Note on Ezekiel 8:11). The names are significant: Jaazaniah = Jehovah hears, son of Azur = the helper; Pelatiah = God rescues, son of Benaiah =Jehovah builds. Names of this sort were common enough among the Jews, but they seem here intended to bring out the false hopes with which the people beguiled themselves; and in view of this, the sudden death of Pelatiah (verse. 13) was particularly impressive. These princes were active in misleading the people to their destruction.

Ezekiel 11:1-3. Moreover the spirit lifted me up — It seems it should rather have been rendered, And the spirit had lifted me up, for here he appears to go back to speak about those twenty-five men of whom he made mention Ezekiel 7:16, but had broken off from speaking of them to speak of things of greater importance; but he now returns to them again. And brought me unto the east gate — Caused me to see those parts in my vision just as if I had been there. And behold at the door five and twenty men — The same who are represented in Ezekiel 8:16, as worshipping the sun. They were princes of the people — That is, most probably, members of the great sanhedrim: compare Jeremiah 26:10. Among whom I saw Pelatiah, &c. — Named here for that dreadful, sudden death, whereby he became a warning to others. Then said he unto me — Namely, the divine appearance which was before my eyes. These are the men that give wicked counsel — They probably advised and encouraged the people to use the Chaldean rites of worship, in order to please and gain the favour of that nation. Or, they persuaded the Jews that they had no reason to fear future trouble or mischief from the Chaldeans, and therefore rendered them secure in their sins. Which say, It is not near — The threatened danger and ruin by the Chaldeans. These were such as put the evil day far from them, as is said Amos 6:3, and so went on securely in building houses, and making such like improvements. This city is the caldron, and we be the flesh — Jeremiah had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem under the figure of a seething-pot, or caldron, Jeremiah 1:13. And Ezekiel himself uses the same metaphor, Ezekiel 24:3-4, &c. So these scoffers made use of the same expression on purpose to deride the menaces of the prophets; as if they had said, If this city be a caldron, we are well content to be the flesh that is boiled in it. “We will share all fates with her, we will either be preserved or perish with her.” So Michaelis, who thinks the words are a proverb.

11:1-13 Where Satan cannot persuade men to look upon the judgment to come as uncertain, he gains his point by persuading them to look upon it as at a distance. These wretched rulers dare to say, We are as safe in this city as flesh in a boiling pot; the walls of the city shall be to us as walls of brass, we shall receive no more damage from the besiegers than the caldron does from the fire. When sinners flatter themselves to their own ruin, it is time to tell them they shall have no peace if they go on. None shall remain in possession of the city but those who are buried in it. Those are least safe who are most secure. God is often pleased to single out some sinners for warning to others. Whether Pelatiah died at that time in Jerusalem, or when the fulfilment of the prophecy drew near, is uncertain. Like Ezekiel, we ought to be much affected with the sudden death of others, and we should still plead with the Lord to have mercy on those who remain.The gate - The gate of the templecourt. The gate was the place of judgment.

Five and twenty men - Not the same men as in Ezekiel 8:16. There they were representatives of the "priests," here of the "princes." The number is, no doubt, symbolic, made up, probably, of 24 men and the king. The number 24 points to the tribes of undivided Israel.

Jaazaniah ... Pelatiah - We know nothing more of these men. The former name was probably common at that time Ezekiel 8:11. In these two names there is an allusion to the false hopes which they upheld. "Jaazaniah" (Yah (weh) listeneth) "son of Azur" (the Helper); "Pelatiah" (Yah (weh) rescues) "son of Benaiah" (Yah (weh) builds). In the latter case, death Ezekiel 11:13 turned the allusion into bitter irony.

CHAPTER 11

Eze 11:1-25. Prophecy of the Destruction of the Corrupt "Princes of the People;" Pelatiah Dies; Promise of Grace to the Believing Remnant; Departure of the Glory of God from the City; Ezekiel's Return to the Captives.

1. east gate—to which the glory of God had moved itself (Eze 10:19), the chief entrance of the sanctuary; the portico or porch of Solomon. The Spirit moves the prophet thither, to witness, in the presence of the divine glory, a new scene of destruction.

five and twenty men—The same as the twenty-five (that is, twenty-four heads of courses, and the high priest) sun-worshippers seen in Eze 8:16. The leading priests were usually called "princes of the sanctuary" (Isa 43:28) and "chiefs of the priests" (2Ch 36:14); but here two of them are called "princes of the people," with irony, as using their priestly influence to be ringleaders of the people in sin (Eze 11:2). Already the wrath of God had visited the people represented by the elders (Eze 9:6); also the glory of the Lord had left its place in the holy of holies, and, like the cherubim and flaming sword in Eden, had occupied the gate into the deserted sanctuary. The judgment on the representatives of the priesthood naturally follows here, just as the sin of the priests had followed in the description (Eze 8:12, 16) after the sin of the elders.

Jaazaniah—signifying "God hears."

son of Azur—different from Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan (Eze 8:11). Azur means "help." He and Pelatiah ("God delivers"), son of Benaiah ("God builds"), are singled out as Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, in the case of the seventy elders (Eze 8:11, 12), because their names ought to have reminded them that "God" would have "heard" had they sought His "help" to "deliver" and "build" them up. But, neglecting this, they incurred the heavier judgment by the very relation in which they stood to God [Fairbairn].Ezekiel is showed the presumption of the princes of Judah, Ezekiel 11:1-3. He declareth their sin, and the manner of their punishment, Ezekiel 11:4-12. He is terrified at the sudden death of Pelatiah, Ezekiel 11:13. God showeth him his purpose of restoring the captives with favour, and of punishing the idolaters, Ezekiel 11:14-21. The glory of God leaveth the city, Ezekiel 11:22,23. Ezekiel, carried back by the Spirit, prophesieth to them of the captivity, Ezekiel 11:24,25.

The spirit; the Spirit of God, as Ezekiel 2 2.

Lifted me up; as at first, so still it supports him, and removes him from place to place.

The east gate: either of the east gates, whether that which leads into the first court, or into the second court, or into the house of the Lord, may be here understood, though probably this last. For this number you find, Ezekiel 8:16. If you will suppose the prophet was brought to the east gate, where the glory of the Lord, now departing, was gone up from the temple, it is much the same.

Which looketh eastward: a pleonasm, or redundance of expression.

Five and twenty men: some inquire whether these were the same with those twenty-five Ezekiel 8:16. To me it is most likely they were, for in that same place we find them, and likely about the same work, worshipping eastward. Nor are the two arguments urged by some conclusive against it, nay, one of the two is plain for it, viz. that quoted from Ezekiel 8:16.

Among whom; as forward ringleaders and chief among them.

Jaazaniah: this man by his father’s name added appears to be another, not he that is mentioned Ezekiel 8:11.

Pelatiah, named here for no good quality, but for that dreadful sudden death whereby he became a warning to others.

Princes of the people; either as public officers, or as heads of their families.

Moreover, the spirit lifted me up,.... From the inner court of the temple, where the prophet was, according to the last account of him, Ezekiel 8:16; it was the same Spirit that took him by the lock of his head, and lifted him up, as in Ezekiel 8:3; and perhaps in the same manner:

and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord's house, which looketh eastward; where were the cherubim, and the wheels, and the glory of God above them, Ezekiel 10:19;

and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; not the same as in Ezekiel 8:16; for they were in a different place, between the porch and the altar; and about different service, they were worshipping there; and seem to be men of a different order, priests; whereas these were at the door of the eastern gate, sitting as a court of judicature, and were civil magistrates; though Jarchi and Kimchi take them to be the same. Some say Jerusalem was divided into twenty four parishes, districts, or wards, and everyone had its own head, ruler, and governor; and that there was one who was the president over them all, like the mayor and aldermen of a city;

among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur; not the same that is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:11; he was the son of Shaphan, this of Azur; he was one of the seventy of the ancients of Israel, this one of the twenty five heads or rulers of the people; he seems to have been a prince; by having a censer in his hand, this was a priest: the Septuagint and Arabic versions call him Jechoniah:

and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah; these two are mentioned by name, as being principal men, and well known by the prophet; and the latter is observed more especially for what befell him, hereafter related:

princes of the people; men who were entrusted with power and authority to exercise the laws of the nation; and who should have been reformers of the people, and ought to have given them good advice, and set them good examples; whereas they were the reverse, as follows:

Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD's house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–12. The men that plot evil

1. The gate referred to is the outer eastern gate; the position taken up by the cherubim and glory was outside the temple precincts wholly. Jaazaniah and Pelatiah are named “princes of the people.” Possibly they were more prominent members of the ruling party. It is the manner of the prophet to introduce elements of reality into his symbolical pictures (cf. ch. Ezekiel 24:16 seq.), and it is unnecessary to regard these two personages as fictitious or seek for some symbolical meaning in their names. A different Jaazaniah was mentioned in ch. Ezekiel 8:11. The twenty-five men here are not to be identified with those in ch. Ezekiel 8:16; they are rulers and leaders of the people (Ezekiel 11:2).

Verse 1. - Moreover the Spirit lifted me up, etc. It is noticeable that the position to which Ezekiel was thus transported in his vision from his place in the inner court (Ezekiel 8:14), was identical with that which he had just seen occupied by the cherub chariot before its departure (Ezekiel 10:19). What he is about to see will throw light on the significance of their departure. The gate is probably, here as there, that of the court of the temple. Five and twenty men. The number at first reminds us of the worshippers of the sun, in Ezekiel 8:16; but that, as we saw, was probably a company of priests. On the other hand, the two who are named are styled princes of the people, which suggests a lay rather than a priestly status, and they are seen in a different locality. Conjectures as to the significance of the number vary.

(1) Two from each tribe of Israel, with the king at their head.

(2) Two from each of the twelve divisions of the army, each containing twenty-four thousand men (1 Chronicles 27:1-15).

(3) Representatives of twelve regions of the city - a kind of municipal council, with their president. Possibly, after all, the number was used more or less vaguely - a "round" number, as we say (Smend). It is probably safe, however, to think of them as representing the lay element of authority. Nothing is known further as to the persons named. Jaazaniah is distinguished by his parentage from his namesake of Ezekiel 8:11 and Jeremiah 35:3. Both were probably familiar to those for whom Ezekiel wrote, as leaders of the party that was "always devising mischief," in opposition, i.e., to Jeremiah and the true prophets. Possibly the meanings of the names Jaazaniah (equivalent to "God hearkens") the son of Azur (equivalent to "The Helper"), Pelatiah (equivalent to "God rescues") the son of Benaiah (equivalent to "God builds"), are chosen as with a grim irony. The name of Azur meets us in Jeremiah 28:1 as that of the father of the false prophet Hananiah. The death of Pelatiah was probably an historical event to which the prophet pointed as a warning to those who, either at Jerusalem or among the exiles, were speaking as he spoke. Ezekiel 11:1Judgment upon the rulers of the nation. - Ezekiel 11:1. And a wind lifted me up, and took me to the eastern gate of the house of Jehovah, which faces towards the east; and behold, at the entrance of the gate were five and twenty men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, the chiefs of the nation. Ezekiel 11:2. And he said to me: Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity, and counsel evil counsel in this city; Ezekiel 11:3. Who say, It is not near to build houses; it is the pot, and we are the flesh. Ezekiel 11:4. Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man. - Ezekiel is once more transported from the inner court (Ezekiel 8:16) to the outer entrance of the eastern gate of the temple (תּשּׂא רוּח, as in Ezekiel 8:3), to which, according to Ezekiel 10:19, the vision of God had removed. There he sees twenty-five men, and among them two of the princes of the nation, whose names are given. These twenty-five men are not identical with the twenty-five priests mentioned in Ezekiel 8:16, as Hvernick supposes. This is evident, not only from the difference in the locality, the priests standing between the porch and the altar, whereas the men referred to here stood at the outer eastern entrance to the court of the temple, but from the fact that the two who are mentioned by name are called שׂרי העם (princes of the people), so that we may probably infer from this that all the twenty-five were secular chiefs. Hvernick's opinion, that שׂרי העם is a term that may also be applied to princes among the priests, is as erroneous as his assertion that the priest-princes are called "princes" in Ezra 8:20; Nehemiah 10:1, and Jeremiah 35:4, whereas it is only to national princes that these passages refer. Hvernick is equally incorrect in supposing that these twenty-five men take the place of the seventy mentioned in Ezekiel 8:11; for those seventy represented the whole of the nation, whereas these twenty-five (according to Ezekiel 11:2) were simply the counsellors of the city - not, however, the twenty-four duces of twenty-four divisions of the city, with a prince of the house of Judah, as Prado maintains, on the strength of certain Rabbinical assertions; or twenty-four members of a Sanhedrim, with their president (Rosenmller); but the twelve tribe-princes (princes of the nation) and the twelve royal officers, or military commanders (1 Chronicles 27), with the king himself, or possibly with the commander-in-chief of the army; so that these twenty-five men represent the civil government of Israel, just as the twenty-four priest-princes, together with the high priest, represent the spiritual authorities of the covenant nation. The reason why two are specially mentioned by name is involved in obscurity, as nothing further is known of either of these persons. The words of God to the prophet in Ezekiel 11:2 concerning them are perfectly applicable to representatives of the civil authorities or temporal rulers, namely, that they devise and give unwholesome and evil counsel. This counsel is described in Ezekiel 11:3 by the words placed in their mouths: "house-building is not near; it (the city) is the caldron, we are the flesh."

These words are difficult, and different interpretations have consequently been given. The rendering, "it (the judgment) is not near, let us build houses," is incorrect; for the infinitive construct בּנות cannot stand for the imperative or the infinitive absolute, but must be the subject of the sentence. It is inadmissible also to take the sentence as a question, "Is not house-building near?" in the sense of "it is certainly near," as Ewald does, after some of the ancient versions. For even if an interrogation is sometimes indicated simply by the tone in an energetic address, as, for example, in 2 Samuel 23:5, this cannot be extended to cases in which the words of another are quoted. Still less can לא בקרוב mean non est tempus, it is not yet time, as Maurer supposes. The only way in which the words can be made to yield a sense in harmony with the context, is by taking them as a tacit allusion to Jeremiah 29:5. Jeremiah had called upon those in exile to build themselves houses in their banishment, and prepare for a lengthened stay in Babylon, and not to allow themselves to be deceived by the words of false prophets, who predicted a speedy return; for severe judgments had yet to fall upon those who had remained behind in the land. This word of Jeremiah the authorities in Jerusalem ridiculed, saying "house-building is not near," i.e., the house-building in exile is still a long way off; it will not come to this, that Jerusalem should fall either permanently or entirely into the hands of the king of Babylon. On the contrary, Jerusalem is the pot, and we, its inhabitants, are the flesh. The point of comparison is this: as the pot protects the flesh from burning, so does the city of Jerusalem protect us from destruction.

(Note: "This city is a pot, our receptacle and defence, and we are the flesh enclosed therein; as flesh is preserved in its caldron till it is perfectly boiled, so shall we continue here till an extreme old age." - Hlsemann in CaloV. Bibl. Illustr.)

On the other hand, there is no foundation for the assumption that the words also contain an allusion to other sayings of Jeremiah, namely, to Jeremiah 1:13, where the judgment about to burst in from the north is represented under the figure of a smoking pot; or to Jeremiah 19:1-15, where Jerusalem is depicted as a pot about to be broken in pieces by God; for the reference in Jeremiah 19:1-15 is simply to an earthen pitcher, not to a meat-caldron; and the words in the verse before us have nothing at all in common with the figure in Jeremiah 1:13. The correctness of our explanation is evident both from Ezekiel 24:3, Ezekiel 24:6, where the figure of pot and flesh is met with again, though differently applied, and from the reply which Ezekiel makes to the saying of these men in the verses that follow (Ezekiel 11:7-11). This saying expresses not only false confidence in the strength of Jerusalem, but also contempt and scorn of the predictions of the prophets sent by God. Ezekiel is therefore to prophesy, as he does in Ezekiel 11:5-12, against this pernicious counsel, which is confirming the people in their sins.

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