Therefore say, Thus said the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will give you the land of Israel.—Again in contrast to the people of Jerusalem, who claimed the land as their own exclusive possession. They shall be cast out; the exiles whom they despised shall be gathered again and possess the land. (Comp. Numbers 14:3; Numbers 14:31-32, where when the people refused the Divine command to take possession of the land, and feared that their little ones should be a prey, the doom came that they should all themselves perish in the wilderness, but their little ones should inherit the land.)Ezekiel 11:17-20. I will even gather you from the people — This might be, in some degree, fulfilled in those that returned from captivity, but the perfect completion of this promise must be referred to the time of the expected general restoration of the Jewish nation. And they shall come thither — They who assemble upon Cyrus’s proclamation first, and they who afterward assemble upon Darius’s, shall overcome all difficulties, perform their journey, and come safely to their own land. And they shall take away all the detestable things thereof — Shall abolish superstition and idolatry from the temple, the city, and the country, and shall live pure from all the pollutions with which the land had been formerly defiled. But this promise also ultimately respects the future conversion of the Jews, as do those contained in the next two verses. And I will give them one heart — A heart entire for me, the living and true God, and not divided, as their hearts were formerly, among many gods; a heart firmly fixed and resolved for my worship and service, and not wavering; steady and uniform, and not inconstant, and inconsistent with itself. And hence they shall serve me with one consent, Zephaniah 3:9. And I will put a new spirit within them — A disposition of mind agreeable to the new circumstances into which, in the course of my providence, I will bring them. Observe, reader, all that are regenerated have a new spirit: a spirit entirely changed from what it was before: they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, a new profession, new opinions, or new modes of worship will not serve without a new spirit. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: see the margin. And I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh — Out of their corrupt nature. Their hearts shall no longer be dead and dry, hard and unfeeling, but tender and apt to receive good impressions, and deeply sensible of, and affected with, things spiritual and divine. These are the same evangelical promises as we read in the other prophets, particularly Jeremiah 32:39. “The insensibility of men, with regard to religious matters, is often ascribed to the hardness of their hearts. God promises here to give them teachable dispositions, and to take away the veil from their hearts, as St. Paul expresses it, 2 Corinthians 3:16; the same temper being indifferently expressed either by blindness or hardness of heart.” — Lowth. That they may walk in my statutes — In their whole conversation; and keep my ordinances — In all acts of religious worship. These two particulars must go together, and not be separated; and those to whom God has given a new heart, and a new spirit, will make conscience of both, and then the following promise shall be fulfilled, They shall be my people, and I will be their God: the ancient covenant, which seemed to have been broken and forgotten, shall be renewed. By their idolatry and other sins, they appeared to have cast God off; and by their being sent into captivity, and divers other punishments, God seemed to have cast them off; but when they are cured of their idolatry and various vices, and delivered from their captivity and other calamities, God and Israel own one another again: God, by his good work in them, makes them his people; and then, by the tokens of his good-will toward them, shows them that he is their God. Ezekiel 40-48, the picture of the kingdom of God in its new form. Say; add to the former apology this promise.
The Lord God; the faithful and eternal God, the supreme and sovereign Lord.
I will gather; by my advice and hand they were scattered, and by my hand they shall be gathered.
Assemble you; and to confirm them, it is added in different words, and the promise is repeated, and thus it was punctually performed, Ezra 1:1-4, with Ezekiel 8:15.
I will give you the land of Israel; though your brethren do say you are not to dwell at Jerusalem, nor inherit the land, yet my purpose is otherwise, and I do promise you, that you who followed my counsel, and now are in Babylon, you, or your seed, shall return and inherit Canaan. All this was so worded, that some have thought it no groundless inquiry whether any of those that went with Zedekiah into captivity, or only such as went with Jeconiah, did return out of captivity; and though it is most probable some did, yet of the returners the far greater part were of those that with Jeconiah were gone into captivity.
and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered; that is, out of Chaldea and Media, out of which they should come in a body, and not singly, or in small numbers, as they did when Cyrus issued out his proclamation:
and I will give you the land of Israel; not only the Jews of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but many of the ten tribes came out of Babylon with Zerubbabel, and settled in the land of Israel; and hither they came also in later times, even those that settled in other countries; at their several festivals, and about such time more especially that the Messiah was expected, and continued there; and this will have a fuller completion at the restoration of the Jews in the latter days.Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17–20. But this time of privation for the exiles shall come to an end. They shall be gathered out of the countries, and the land of Israel given to them; from which they shall remove all its abominations. They shall receive a new heart to walk in the Lord’s commandments; and he shall be their God and they his people.
give you the land of Israel] Those left in the country said: The land is given unto us. They shall be cast out and the land again given to those now in exile. The flower of the nation had been carried away in the captivity of Jehoiachin. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel regard the exiles as the hope of the nation and speak bitterly against the population remaining at home; comp. the former’s parable of the very naughty figs (ch. 24), and the latter’s scornful questions, ch. Ezekiel 33:24-26. Cp. ch. Ezekiel 28:25, Ezekiel 34:13, Ezekiel 36:24.Verse 17. - I will give you the land of Israel. The marginal references in the Authorized Version show how entirely Ezekiel was following in the footsteps of his master Jeremiah, as he had done in those of Isaiah, in their prophecies of restoration. Here also the law of" springing and germinant accomplishments" finds its application. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:13-48:35) has his ideal of a new geographical Israel, as of a new local temple, a land from which idolatrous shrines and high places have disappeared. St. Paul (Romans 9-11.) clings to the thought of a restoration of the literal Israel, even while he strips it of Ezekiel's geographical limitations. 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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