Ezekiel 13:20
Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezekiel 13:20-23. Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye hunt the souls, &c. — To make them run into those snares and seductions that you have laid for them, Ezekiel 13:18. The metaphor is continued from the manner of hunting and pursuing living creatures, thereby to drive them into the toils prepared for them. I will tear them from your arms — “I will make your cheats and impostures appear so evidently that nobody shall be in danger of being seduced by you any more:” see Ezekiel 13:23. Your kerchiefs also will I tear — I will lay quite open and render useless all your arts; they shall no longer serve your purpose. Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad — As you have deluded and comforted the wicked with vain hopes, so you have disheartened the righteous with groundless fears, or made them sad with the lies and calumnies you have invented against them. Therefore ye shall see no more vanity nor divine divinations, &c. — An entire end shall be put to all your false predictions and divinations; for ye shall all perish, namely, in the siege of Jerusalem, either by the famine, disease, or the weapons of the Chaldeans.

13:17-23 It is ill with those who had rather hear pleasing lies than unpleasing truths. The false prophetesses tried to make people secure, signified by laying them at ease, and to make them proud, signified by the finery laid on their heads. They shall be confounded in their attempts, and God's people shall be delivered out of their hands. It behoves Christians to keep close to the word of God, and in every thing to seek the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Let us so trust the promises of God as to keep his commandments.To make them fly - If the marginal reading "into gardens" be adopted, it must mean, Ye entice men to the gardens or groves, where magical arts are practiced. That groves were used for this purpose and for idolatrous rites is notorious. 20. I am against your pillows—that is, against your lying ceremonial tricks by which ye cheat the people.

to make them fly—namely, into their snares, as fowlers disturb birds so as to be suddenly caught in the net spread for them. "Fly" is peculiarly appropriate as to those lofty spiritual flights to which they pretended to raise their dupes when they veiled their heads with kerchiefs and made them rest on luxurious arm-cushions (Eze 13:18).

let … souls go—"Ye make them fly" in order to destroy them; "I will let them go" in order to save them (Ps 91:3; Pr 6:5; Ho 9:8).

I am against (the same phrase Ezekiel 13:8)

your pillows; the rite, and its signification too.

There hunt the souls; either at Jerusalem, or wherever you give out answers.

To make them fly: in this sense the word is no where else used, and thus used here renders the interpretation obscure. Elsewhere it is, to bud, as Numbers 17:8 Ezekiel 7:10; to blossom, Isaiah 27:6; to spring up as a flower or vine, Psalm 92:7 Song of Solomon 6:11; to grow, as Hosea 14:8. Thus the sense is obvious; by these lying ceremonies thus applied you promise a flourishing, growing state to all inquirers, and this is, the net with which you hunt souls. It is possible these prophetesses might bring their deceived ones into pleasant gardens, and (if well paid for it) entertain with all the pleasures of flowers and fruits; and might not these prophetesses be the priests of Flora, and seduce young, fair, wanton ones to the idolatry and brutish pleasures of the Floralia?

I will tear them, with some violence and suddenness, that may express an indignation; as, 2 Kings 5:7, when the king of Israel rent his clothes at the hearing the letter of Benhadad king of Syria, so in wrath will God suddenly tear your enchanting and divining habits.

From your arms; either from the arms of such as put them on when they consulted with these seducers; or may be the seducers might ordinarily wear them, to be known what they were.

Will let the souls go: you held the souls of those that heard you as captives, or as bewitched with your enchantments and pleasures; but I will set them free, some I will enlighten to discover your frauds, others I will undeceive by sending them into captivity.

Wherefore thus saith the Lord God, behold, I am against your pillows,.... Not only had an abhorrence of them, but was determined to destroy them, detect their fallacies, and expose the folly of such actions, and them to shame and contempt:

wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly; to the places where they prophesied; into the toils and nets they spread for them, in order to catch them with their divinations and prophecies, and make a gain of them: or, "into the gardens", or "groves" (o); there to commit idolatry, Isaiah 65:3;

and I will tear them from your arms; by which it seems that those pillows were not only put under the arms of those that came to inquire of these female prophets or fortune tellers; but they put them under their own arms, and lay upon them as if they were asleep, and in a trance or ecstasy; and so the kerchiefs or veils were upon their heads, which covered their faces, to show that they were quite retired from the world, and wholly attentive to the visions and revelations they pretended were made them by the Lord; and which they gave out, in this superstitious way, to the credulous people that flocked about them:

and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly; which were captivated with their superstitions; drawn into their nets and snares; decoyed into the gardens, where they were prevailed upon to sacrifice to idols, and were taken with their soothsaying and lying divinations; these the Lord promises to break the snare for them, and set them at liberty, and preserve them from that ruin and destruction they were ready to come into; see Psalm 124:7.

(o) "in floralia", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Starckius; "in floridis hortis", Piscator.

Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your magic charms, with which ye there hunt the {m} souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.

(m) That is, to cause them to perish, and that they should depart from the body.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20 - To make them fly, etc.; rather, with the Revised Version and Ewald, as if they were birds, carrying out the thought that the amulets on the arms of the prophetesses, and the veil cast over the heads of the votaries, were like the snare of the fowler. So the threat that follows, that the amulets should be torn off and the veil rent, is practically equivalent to the promise that the victims should be "delivered out of the snare of the fowler" (Psalm 91:3; Psalm 124:7). They should no longer he in the power of those who traded on their credulity. They too shall know that he who speaks is indeed Jehovah. Ezekiel 13:20Punishment of the False Prophetesses

Ezekiel 13:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with your coverings with which ye catch, I will let the souls fly; and I will tear them away from your arms, and set the souls free, which ye catch, the souls to fly. Ezekiel 13:21. And I will tear your caps in pieces, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall no more become a prey in your hands; and ye shall learn that I am Jehovah. Ezekiel 13:22. Because ye grieve the heart of the righteous with lying, when I have not pained him; and strengthen the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his evil way, to preserve his life. Ezekiel 13:23. Therefore ye shall no more see vanity, and no longer practise soothsaying: and I will deliver my people out of your hand; and ye shall learn that I am Jehovah. - The threat of judgment is closely connected with the reproof of their sins. Ezekiel 13:20 and Ezekiel 13:21 correspond to the reproof in Ezekiel 13:18, and Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23 to that in Ezekiel 13:19. In the first place, the Lord will tear in pieces the coverings and caps, i.e., the tissue of lies woven by the false prophetesses, and rescue the people from their snares (Ezekiel 13:20 and Ezekiel 13:21); and, secondly, He will entirely put an end to the pernicious conduct of the persons addressed (Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23). The words from אשׁר אתּנּה to לפרחות (Ezekiel 13:20), when taken as one clause, as they generally are, offer insuperable difficulties, since it is impossible to get any satisfactory meaning from שׁם, and לפרחות will not fit in. Whether we understand by kesâthōth coverings or cushions, the connection of שׁם with אשׁר (where ye catch the souls), which the majority of commentators prefer, is untenable; for coverings and cushions were not the places where the souls were caught, but could only be the means employed for catching them. Instead of שׁם we should expect בּם or בּהם; and Hitzig proposes to amend it in this way. Still less admissible is the proposal to take שׁם as referring to Jerusalem ("wherewith ye catch souls there"); as שׁם would not only contain a perfectly superfluous definition of locality, but would introduce a limitation altogether at variance with the context. It is not affirmed either of the prophets or of the prophetesses that they lived and prophesied in Jerusalem alone. In Ezekiel 13:2 and Ezekiel 13:17 reference is made in the most general terms to the prophets of Israel and the daughters of thy people; and in Ezekiel 13:16 it is simply stated that the false prophets prophesied peace to Jerusalem when there was no peace at all. Consequently we must regard the attempt to find in שׁם an allusion to Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 13:16) as a mere loophole, which betrays an utter inability to get any satisfactory sense for the word. Moreover, if we construe the words in this manner, לפרחות is also incomprehensible. Commentators have for the most part admitted that פּרח taht is used here in the Aramaean sense of volare, to fly. In the second half of the verse there is no doubt about its having this meaning. For שׁלּח is used in Deuteronomy 22:7 for liberating a bird, or letting it fly; and the combination שׁלּח is supported by the expression שׁלּח לחפשׁי in Exodus 21:26, while the comparison of souls to birds is sustained by Psalm 11:1 and Psalm 124:7. Hence the true meaning of the whole passage לפרחות... שׁלּחתּי את־הנּפשׁות is, I send away (set free) the souls, which ye have caught, as flying ones, i.e., so that they shall be able to fly away at liberty. And in the first half also we must not adopt a different rendering for לפרחות, since את־הנּפשׁות is also connected with it there.

But if the words in question are combined into one clause in the first hemistich, they will give us a sense which is obviously wrong, viz., "wherewith ye catch the souls to let them fly." As the impossibility of adopting this rendering has been clearly seen, the attempt has been made to cloak over the difficulty by means of paraphrases. Ewald, for example, renders לפרחות in both cases "as if they were birds of passage;" but in the first instance he applies it to birds of passage, for which nets are spread for the purpose of catching them; and in the second, to birds of passage which are set at liberty. Thus, strictly speaking, he understands the first לפרחות as signifying the catching of birds; and the second, letting them fly: an explanation which refutes itself, as pârach, to fly, cannot mean "to catch" as well. The rendering adopted by Kimchi, Rosenmller, and others, who translate לפרחות ut advolent ad vos in the first hemistich, and ut avolent in the second, is no better. And the difficulty is not removed by resorting to the dialects, as Hvernick, for the purpose of forcing upon פּרחות the meaning dissoluteness of licentiousness, for which there is no authority in the Hebrew language itself. If, therefore, it is impossible to obtain any satisfactory meaning from the existing text, it cannot be correct; and no other course is open to us than to alter the unsuitable שׁם into שׂם, and divide the words from אשׁר אתּנּה to לפרחות into two clauses, as we have done in our translation above. There is no necessity to supply anything to the relative אשׁר, as צוּד is construed with a double accusative (e.g., Micah 7:2, צוּד חרם, to catch with a net), and the object to מצדדות, viz., the souls, can easily be supplied from the next clause. שׂם, as a participle, can either be connected with הנני, "behold, I make," or taken as introducing an explanatory clause: "making the souls into flying ones," i.e., so that they are able to fly (שׁוּם ל, Genesis 12:2, etc.). The two clauses of the first hemistich would then exactly correspond to the two clauses of the second half of the verse. וקרעתּי אתם is explanatory of הנני אל כסת, I will tear off the coverings from their arms. These words do not require the assumption that the prophetesses wore the לסתות on their arms, but may be fully explained from the supposition that the persons in question prepared them with their own hands. 'ושׁלּחתּי וגו corresponds to 'שׂם את־הנּפשׁות וגו; and לפרחות is governed by שׁלּחתּי. The insertion of את־הנּפשׁים is to be accounted for from the copious nature of Ezekiel's style; at the same time, it is not merely a repetition of את־הנּפשׁות, which is separated from לפרחות by the relative clause 'אשׁר אתּם מח, but as the unusual plural form נפשׁים shows, is intended as a practical explanation of the fact, that the souls, while compared to birds, are regarded as living beings, which is the meaning borne by נפשׁ in other passages. The omission of the article after את may be explained, however, from the fact that the souls had been more precisely defined just before; just as, for example, in 1 Samuel 24:6; 2 Samuel 18:18, where the more precise definition follows immediately afterwards (cf. Ewald, 277a, p. 683). - The same thing is said in Ezekiel 13:21, with regard to the caps, as has already been said of the coverings in Ezekiel 13:20. God will tear these in pieces also, to deliver His people from the power of the lying prophetesses. In what way God will do this is explained in Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23, namely, not only by putting their lying prophecies to shame through His judgment, but by putting an end to soothsaying altogether, and exterminating the false prophetesses by making them an object of ridicule and shame. The reason for this threat is given in Ezekiel 13:22, where a further description is given of the disgraceful conduct of these persons; and here the disgracefulness of their conduct is exhibited in literal terms and without any figure. They do harm to the righteous and good, and strengthen the hands of the wicked. הכאות, Hiphil of כּאה, in Syriac, to use harshly or depress; so here in the Hiphil, connected with לב, to afflict the heart. שׁקר is used adverbially: with lying, or in a lying manner; namely, by predicting misfortune and divine punishments, with which they threatened the godly, who would not acquiesce in their conduct; whereas, on the contrary, they predicted prosperity and peace to the ungodly, who were willing to be ensnared by them, and thus strengthened them in their evil ways. For this God would put them to shame through His judgments, which would make their deceptions manifest, and their soothsaying loathsome.

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