Ezekiel 14:14
Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
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(14) Noah, Daniel, and Job.—These three are selected, doubtless, not only as examples of eminent holiness themselves, but as men who had been allowed to be the means of saving others. For Noah’s sake his whole family had been spared (Genesis 6:18); Daniel was the means of saving his companions (Daniel 2:17-18); and Job’s friends had been spared in consequence of his intercession (Job 42:7-8). Moses and Samuel might seem still more remarkable instances of the value of intercessory prayer; but these had already been cited by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:1). The mention of Daniel, a contemporary of Ezekiel, with the ancient patriarchs, Noah and Job, need occasion no surprise. The distance in time between Noah and Job was greater than between Job and Daniel, and it has been well said that there was need of the mention of a contemporary to bring out the thought—were there in Jerusalem the most holy men of either past or present times it would avail nothing. It is also to be remembered that Daniel was separated from Ezekiel by circumstances which created a distance between them corresponding to that which separated him in time from the patriarchs. Ezekiel was a captive among the captives; Daniel had now been for about twelve years in important office at the royal court, and possessed of the very highest rank. There is, therefore, no occasion for the strange supposition that the reference is to some older Daniel, of such eminence as to be spoken of in the way he is here and in Ezekiel 28:3, and yet whose name has otherwise completely faded out from history. But besides all this, there was an especial propriety, and even necessity for the purpose in hand, that Daniel should be mentioned. He was not only in high office, but was the trusted counsellor of Nebuchadnezzar by whom Jerusalem was to be destroyed. He was also a very holy man, and a most patriotic Israelite. The Jews, therefore, might well have thought that his influence would avail to avert the threatened calamity, and by placing his name in the list. their last hope was to be dashed as it could be by nothing else.

14:12-23 National sins bring national judgments. Though sinners escape one judgment, another is waiting for them. When God's professing people rebel against him, they may justly expect all his judgments. The faith, obedience, and prayers of Noah prevailed to the saving of his house, but not of the old world. Job's sacrifice and prayer in behalf of his friends were accepted, and Daniel had prevailed for the saving his companions and the wise men of Babylon. But a people that had filled the measure of their sins, was not to expect to escape for the sake of any righteous men living among them; not even of the most eminent saints, who could be accepted in their own case only through the sufferings and righteousness of Christ. Yet even when God makes the greatest desolations by his judgments, he saves some to be monuments of his mercy. In firm belief that we shall approve the whole of God's dealings with ourselves, and with all mankind, let us silence all rebellious murmurs and objections.Noah, Daniel, and Job - Three striking instances of men who, for their integrity, were delivered from the ruin which fell upon others. Some have thought it strange that Daniel, a contemporary, and still young, should have been classed with the two ancient worthies. But the account of him Daniel 2 shows, that by this time Daniel was a very remarkable man (compare Ezekiel 28:3), and the introduction of the name of a contemporary gives force and life to the illustration. There is in the order in which the names occur a kind of climax. Noah did not rescue the guilty world, but did carry forth with him his wife, sons, and sons' wives. Daniel raised only a few, but he did raise three of his countrymen with him to honor. To Job was spared neither son nor daughter.14. Noah, Daniel … Job—specified in particular as having been saved from overwhelming calamities for their personal righteousness. Noah had the members of his family alone given to him, amidst the general wreck. Daniel saved from the fury of the king of Babylon the three youths (Da 2:17, 18, 48, 49). Though his prophecies mostly were later than those of Ezekiel, his fame for piety and wisdom was already established, and the events recorded in Da 1:1-2:49 had transpired. The Jews would naturally, in their fallen condition, pride themselves on one who reflected such glory on his nation at the heathen capital, and would build vain hopes (here set aside) on his influence in averting ruin from them. Thus the objection to the authenticity of Daniel from this passage vanishes. "Job" forms the climax (and is therefore put out of chronological order), having not even been left a son or a daughter, and having had himself to pass through an ordeal of suffering before his final deliverance, and therefore forming the most simple instance of the righteousness of God, which would save the righteous themselves alone in the nation, and that after an ordeal of suffering, but not spare even a son or daughter for their sake (Eze 14:16, 18, 20; compare Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

deliver … souls by … righteousness—(Pr 11:4); not the righteousness of works, but that of grace, a truth less clearly understood under the law (Ro 4:3).

These three men; most eminent for holy and upright walking with God, very dear to God, exceedingly desirous of the welfare of others, powerful in prayer.

Noah, who it is probable prevailed with God to spare the world for some years, and saved his near relations when the flood came;

Daniel, who prevailed for the life of the wise men of Chaldea; and

Job, who daily offered sacrifice for his children, and at last reconciled God to those that had offended. These should not prevail for any one of this wicked generation; it should suffice them that their righteousness sayeth themselves, this contumacious generation of sinners I would not be entreated for.

Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it,.... In the sinning land, and made intercession for it, that the famine might be removed, and the inhabitants of it be saved alive, this would not be granted; though they were men that found favour in the sight of God, and were eminent for prayer, and successful in it, and the means of saving many; as Noah his family, by preparing an ark according to the will of God; and Daniel was an instrument of saving the lives of his companions, and of the wise men of Chaldea; and Job, by his prayer for his friends, prevented the wrath of God, that was kindled against them, coming upon them; and yet, if they had been upon the spot at this time, their intercession for this people would have been of no avail; the decree was gone forth, and was not to be called in; it was unalterable, and God was inexorable: nor could it have been depended upon, if this declaration had not been made, that their prayers would have been effectual, had they been upon the spot, and put them up for this nation; since it might be observed, that the old world was not saved from a deluge in Noah's time, only he and his family; nor were the people of the Jews preserved from captivity in Daniel's time, nor even he himself; nor were Job's children saved, though he was greatly concerned for them: it may be observed from hence, that there was such a man as Job, as well as Noah and Daniel; and that the latter, though a young man, not above thirty years of age, at this time, yet was become very famous, not only for his dignity and grandeur in Babylon, but for his religion and piety; and is placed between those two great men, Noah and Job; and being a person now living, precludes any argument being formed by the Papists, in favour of the intercession of departed saints; and which would not be conclusive from such a supposition as here made, had they been all such as had departed this life; see Jeremiah 15:1; the design of the whole is only to show that the prayers of the best of men would not have prevailed with the Lord to avert his judgments from a people that had so grievously sinned against him:

they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord; as Noah was saved at the time of the flood; Daniel in the captivity; and Job midst his great afflictions: this is to be understood not of the eternal salvation of the souls of these men, which is not, nor can it be, by works of righteousness done by the best of men; by these men cannot be justified in the sight of God, and so not saved; but of temporal salvation, of the salvation of their souls or lives from temporal calamities. Besides, these men had knowledge of another and better righteousness than their own, and believed in it, and trusted to it, even the righteousness of faith, the righteousness of Christ received by faith Noah was both an heir and a preacher of the righteousness which is by faith; and Daniel knew that it was one branch of the Messiah's work to bring in everlasting righteousness; and Job was fully persuaded that his Redeemer lived, by whom he should be justified, Hebrews 11:7.

Though these three men, {i} Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver their own souls only by their {k} righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

(i) Though Noah and Job were now alive, which in their time were most godly men (for at this time Daniel was in captivity with Ezekiel) and so these three together would pray for this wicked people, yet I would not hear them, read Jer 15:1.

(k) Meaning, that a very few (which he calls the remnant, Eze 14:22) would escape these plagues, whom God has sanctified and made righteous, so that this righteousness is a sign that they are the Church of God, whom he would preserve for his own sake.

14. these three men] By Jeremiah the Lord had already said: “though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people” (Jeremiah 15:1). The history of Noah had been written, and was well known long before the time of Ezekiel. He is referred to by other prophets, e.g. Isaiah 54:9, “This is as the waters of Noah unto me.” It is scarcely probable, however, that the prophet owed his knowledge of Daniel and Job to the books which now exist under their names. They are more likely great traditional names, familiar to the prophet and his people, which the authors of our present books appropriated and used for their own purposes of edification. It is scarcely natural that the prophet should name Daniel if he was a contemporary of his own living at the court of Babylon. He refers here to his piety, and in ch. Ezekiel 28:3 to his wisdom. These references are quite suitable to the Daniel known to us from the book of that name, but of course the picture of Daniel drawn in the book may contain traits taken from tradition, or even from Ezekiel. In all probability the Book of Job is posterior to the time of Ezekiel. On “staff of bread,” cf. ch. Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16; Leviticus 26:26.

Ezekiel 14:15-16. Noisome, i.e. hurtful, beasts. Leviticus 26:22.

Ezekiel 14:14The Righteousness of the Godly will not Avert the Judgment

The threat contained in the preceding word of God, that if the idolaters did not repent, God would not answer them in any other way than with an exterminating judgment, left the possibility still open, that He would avert the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem for the sake of the righteous therein, as He had promised the patriarch Abraham that He would do in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23.). This hope, which might be cherished by the people and by the elders who had come to the prophet, is now to be taken from the people by the word of God which follows, containing as it does the announcement, that if any land should sin so grievously against God by its apostasy, He would be driven to inflict upon it the punishments threatened by Moses against apostate Israel (Leviticus 26:22, Leviticus 26:25-26, and elsewhere), namely, to destroy both man and beast, and make the land a desert; it would be of no advantage to such a land to have certain righteous men, such as Noah, Daniel, and Job, living therein. For although these righteous men would be saved themselves, their righteousness could not possibly secure salvation for the sinners. The manner in which this thought is carried out in Ezekiel 14:13-20 is, that four exterminating punishments are successively supposed to come upon the land and lay it waste; and in the case of every one, the words are repeated, that even righteous men, such as Noah, Daniel, and Job, would only save their own souls, and not one of the sinners. And thus, according to Ezekiel 14:21-23, will the Lord act when He sends His judgments against Jerusalem; and He will execute them in such a manner that the necessity and righteousness of His acts shall be made manifest therein. - This word of God forms a supplementary side-piece to Jeremiah 15:1 -43, where the Lord replies to the intercession of the prophet, that even the intercession of a Moses and a Samuel on behalf of the people would not avert the judgments which were suspended over them.

Ezekiel 14:12-20

Ezekiel 14:12. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 14:13. Son of man, if a land sin against me to act treacherously, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break in pieces for it the support of bread, and send famine into it, and cut off from it man and beast: Ezekiel 14:14. And there should be these three men therein, Noah, Daniel, and Job, they would through their righteousness deliver their soul, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 14:15. If I bring evil beasts into the land, so that they make it childless, and it become a desert, so that no one passeth through it because of the beasts: Ezekiel 14:16. These three men therein, as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, would not deliver sons and daughters; they only would be delivered, but the land would become a desert. Ezekiel 14:17. Or I bring the sword into that land, and say, Let the sword go through the land; and I cut off from it man and beast: Ezekiel 14:18. These three men therein, as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, would not deliver sons and daughters, but they only would be delivered. Ezekiel 14:19. Or I send pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: Ezekiel 14:20. Verily, Noah, Daniel, and Job, in the midst of it, as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would only deliver their own soul through their righteousness. - ארץ in Ezekiel 14:13 is intentionally left indefinite, that the thought may be expressed in the most general manner. On the other hand, the sin is very plainly defined as למעל־מעל. מעל, literally, to cover, signifies to act in a secret or treacherous manner, especially towards Jehovah, either by apostasy from Him, in other words, by idolatry, or by withholding what is due to Him (see comm. on Leviticus 5:15). In the passage before us it is the treachery of apostasy from Him by idolatry that is intended. As the epithet used to denote the sin is taken from Leviticus 26:40 and Deuteronomy 32:51, so the four punishments mentioned in the following verses, as well as in Ezekiel 5:17, are also taken from Leviticus 26, - viz. the breaking up of the staff of bread, from v. 26; the evil beasts, from Ezekiel 14:22; and the sword and pestilence, from v. 25. The three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, are named as examples of true righteousness of life, or צדקה (Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:20); i.e., according to Calvin's correct explanation, quicquid pertinet ad regulam sancte et juste vivendi. Noah is so described in Genesis 6:9; and Job, in the Book of Job 1:1; Job 12:4, etc.; and Daniel, in like manner, is mentioned in Daniel 1:8., Ezekiel 6:11., as faithfully confessing his faith in his life. The fact that Daniel is named before Job does not warrant the conjecture that some other older Daniel is meant, of whom nothing is said in the history, and whose existence is merely postulated. For the enumeration is not intended to be chronological, but is arranged according to the subject-matter; the order being determined by the nature of the deliverance experienced by these men for their righteousness in the midst of great judgments. Consequently, as Hvernick and Kliefoth have shown, we have a climax here: Noah saved his family along with himself; Daniel was able to save his friends (Daniel 2:17-18); but Job, with his righteousness, was not even able to save his children. - The second judgment (Ezekiel 14:15) is introduced with לוּ, which, as a rule, supposes a case that is not expected to occur, or even regarded as possible; here, however, לוּ is used as perfectly synonymous with אם. שׁכּלתה has no Mappik, because the tone is drawn back upon the penultima (see comm. on Amos 1:11). In Ezekiel 14:19, the expression "to pour out my wrath in blood" is a pregnant one, for to pour out my wrath in such a manner that it is manifested in the shedding of blood or the destruction of life, for the life is in the blood. In this sense pestilence and blood were also associated in Ezekiel 5:17.

If we look closely at the four cases enumerated, we find the following difference in the statements concerning the deliverance of the righteous: that, in the first instance, it is simply stated that Noah, Daniel, and Job would save their soul, i.e., their life, by their righteousness; whereas, in the three others, it is declared that as truly as the Lord liveth they would not save either sons or daughters, but they alone would be delivered. The difference is not merely a rhetorical climax or progress in the address by means of asseveration and antithesis, but indicates a distinction in the thought. The first case is only intended to teach that in the approaching judgment the righteous would save their lives, i.e., that God would not sweep away the righteous with the ungodly. The three cases which follow are intended, on the other hand, to exemplify the truth that the righteousness of the righteous will be of no avail to the idolaters and apostates; since even such patterns of righteousness as Noah, Daniel, and Job would only save their own lives, and would not be able to save the lives of others also. This tallies with the omission of the asseveration in Ezekiel 14:14. The first declaration, that God would deliver the righteous in the coming judgments, needed no asseveration, inasmuch as this truth was not called in question; but it was required in the case of the declaration that the righteousness of the righteous would bring no deliverance to the sinful nation, since this was the hope which the ungodly cherished, and it was this hope which was to be taken from them. The other differences which we find in the description given of the several cases are merely formal in their nature, and do not in any way affect the sense; e.g., the use of לא, in Ezekiel 14:18, instead of the particle אם, which is commonly employed in oaths, and which we find in Ezekiel 14:16 and Ezekiel 14:20; the choice of the singular been בּן and בּת, in Ezekiel 14:20, in the place of the plural בּנים וּבנות, used in Ezekiel 14:16 and Ezekiel 14:18; and the variation in the expressions, ינצּלוּ נפשׁם (Ezekiel 14:14), יצּילוּ נפשׁם (Ezekiel 14:20), and המּה לבדּם ינּצלוּ (Ezekiel 14:16 and Ezekiel 14:18), which Hitzig proposes to remove by altering the first two forms into the third, though without the slightest reason. For although the Piel occurs in Exodus 12:36 in the sense of taking away or spoiling, and is not met with anywhere else in the sense of delivering, it may just as well be used in this sense, as the Hiphil has both significations.

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