Ezekiel 14:16
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.15-21. The argument is cumulative. He first puts the case of the land sinning so as to fall under the judgment of a famine (Eze 14:13); then (Eze 14:15) "noisome beasts" (Le 26:22); then "the sword"; then, worst of all, "pestilence." The three most righteous of men should deliver only themselves in these several four cases. In Eze 14:21 he concentrates the whole in one mass of condemnation. If Noah, Daniel, Job, could not deliver the land, when deserving only one judgment, "how much more" when all four judgments combined are justly to visit the land for sin, shall these three righteous men not deliver it. As I live; a form of speech in which God by oath confirms what he speaketh, and it is such an oath as becomes him only, who is life, and cannot die.

Neither sons nor daughters; neither sons that should perpetuate their families, and are the support of houses, nor daughters, the tenderness of whose sex and age does make and keep parents’ affections fervent towards them. No near relation should escape on their account.

Desolate, i.e. most desolate, as the Hebrew use by an abstract to express the superlative degree, Isaiah 1:7 64:10.

Though these three men were in it,.... Above named, Noah, Daniel, and Job; as they were not, two of them not being in the land of the living, and the other in Babylon; but if all three had been in a land so threatened, and used all the interest they had with God, by fervent prayer and supplication, to have called in the wild beasts, and chained them up, and to preserve the people from being destroyed by them, it would have been all in vain; the Lord was determined upon the destruction of them, and by means of these, as one of his sore judgments:

as I live, saith the Lord God; or by my life; for it is an oath with which God swears by himself, who has life in himself, and is the author and giver of life to others, and can take it away when, and in what manner, he pleases; and this oath is used, to show the unalterableness of the judgment threatened, it being decreed and sworn to: God's word or decree, and his oath, are two immutable things, in which he cannot lie, and from which he never departs:

they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; meaning not adult persons, but little ones, infant sons and daughters; such as had not been guilty of the actual sins and transgressions their parents were charged with; even these they should not deliver by their prayers and supplications from being destroyed by noisome beasts, God punishing the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; and much less should they deliver those that were adult, and had committed the same idolatries and other sins their parents had; no, not even their own sons and daughters; for no exception is made but of themselves, as follows:

they only shall be delivered: as Noah with his family was in the ark, when amidst wild beasts; and Daniel in the lions den; and Job, with whom the beasts of the field were at peace, Job 5:23;

but the land shall be desolate; see Ezekiel 12:20.

Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. neither sons nor daughters] There is no support in the words for the idea of Hävernick that the three names, Noah, Daniel and Job form a climax, inasmuch as Noah saved his children, Daniel only his three fellow-exiles, while Job could deliver neither son nor daughter, though every week he interceded and made atonement for them. This idea is false to the sense of the Book of Job, for Job’s children are nowhere represented by the author of the book as having been cut off for their sins, though naturally Job’s “friends” put this construction upon their death (ch. Ezekiel 8:4). The prophet does not appear to have in view any historical details in the lives of these three men; he refers to the men themselves as great saints famous in the traditions of his people.

Ezekiel 14:17-18. Sword and war. Leviticus 26:25.

Ezekiel 14:16The 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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