Ezekiel 14:3
Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Have set up their idols in their heart.—It was not the open idolatry of Judæa which is reproved among these elders of the captivity; that had already passed away, but still their heart was not right. Like Lot’s wife, they longed for that which they dared not do. With such a disposition, they were in the greatest danger, putting “the stumbling-block of their iniquity,” the temptation to sin, directly before them. And not only so, but they kept themselves in a state of alienation from God, so that it was idle to imagine He would allow Himself to be enquired of by them. The question implies the negative answer which is fully expressed in the following verses.

14:1-11 No outward form or reformation can be acceptable to God, so long as any idol possesses the heart; yet how many prefer their own devices and their own righteousness, to the way of salvation! Men's corruptions are idols in their hearts, and are of their own setting up; God will let them take their course. Sin renders the sinner odious in the eyes of the pure and holy God; and in his own eyes also, whenever conscience is awakened. Let us seek to be cleansed from the guilt and pollution of sins, in that fountain which the Lord has opened.Elders of Israel - Some of the fellow-exiles of Ezekiel, among whom he ministered. 3. heart … face—The heart is first corrupted, and then the outward manifestation of idol-worship follows; they set their idols before their eyes. With all their pretense of consulting God now, they have not even put away their idols outwardly; implying gross contempt of God. "Set up," literally, "aloft"; implying that their idols had gained the supreme ascendancy over them.

stumbling-block of … iniquity—See Pr 3:21, 23, "Let not them (God's laws) depart from thine eyes, then … thy foot shall not stumble." Instead of God's law, which (by being kept before their eyes) would have saved them from stumbling, they set up their idols before their eyes, which proved a stumbling-block, causing them to stumble (Eze 7:19).

inquired of at all—literally, "should I with inquiry be inquired of" by such hypocrites as they are? (Ps 66:18; Pr 15:29; 28:9).

These men; who probably were come from Jerusalem, sent by Zedekiah, and mentioned by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 51:59; some of the courtiers, who, more out of curiosity than religion, give a visit to this famous prophet.

Have set up their idols in their heart; resolved idolaters, their heart was totally addicted to their idolatrous worship and ceremonies, immersed in it.

The stumbling-block of their iniquity; their idols, so expressed, because they were both the object of their sin, and occasion of their ruin. They account these idols to be gods, and worship, fear, trust in, and plead for them; this is their sin, and ere long this shall bring ruin on them. Can these men seriously consult me? Is it fit I should give counsel to obstinate, resolved sinners, who come to inquire, but will not hearken? Should I help them in their distress, who depend on idols which I hate?

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart,.... Though they look so grave and demure, seem so devout and religious, and hear with so much attention and reverence, and express such a desire of consulting me by thee, they are no other than idolaters; and though they are at such a distance from their native place, and have not their idols with them, yet they have them in their fancy and imagination, and their hearts are after them, and are set upon them; these engross their affections, they are near and dear unto them, notwithstanding all their pretensions: or, they "have caused their idols to ascend upon their heart" (p); their hearts are the altars on which they worship them, and the throne on which they have placed them; they are held in the highest esteem by them, and have the greatest honours done them, and have the ascendant over them; even their "dunghill" gods, as the word (q) signifies; though they are but dung, filthy and abominable, these they lay upon their hearts; and what else is man's righteousness, when made an idol of, trusted to, and depended on? it is no other, as the apostle says, than "loss" and "dung", Philippians 3:8; and so every carnal lust that is gratified and indulged is no other than an idol, or a dunghill god, set up in the heart:

and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face; whenever they had an opportunity of so doing; for their hearts were not only inwardly affected to idols, but they outwardly worshipped them; set them before them, and bowed the knee to them, and prayed: and these idols are called "the stumbling block of their iniquity", because by worshipping these they fell into sin, and so into ruin; they were the occasion of their sin, and of their punishment; they stumbled at them, and fell, even though they were before their eyes; nay, they set them themselves before their face, which shows their obstinacy and resolution to continue in idolatry, though it would be their ruin:

should I be inquired of at all by them? suffer them to come near me, and put a question to me, or be consulted by them through thee? no, I will not: or, "am I seriously inquired of by them?" so some (r) render the words; no, I am not; or, "being asked, shall I answer them?" so the Targum and Vulgate Latin version: or, "answering shall I answer them" (s)? no, I wilt not, they deserve no answer from me; they shall have none other of me than such an one as follows.

(p) "ascendere fecerunt idola sua in, vel super cor suum", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin. (q) "stercoreos deos suos", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "stercora sua", Cocceius; "stercora ipsorum", Starckius. (r) "an igitur serio interrogor ab eis?" Piscator. (s) "An respondeudo respondebo illis?" Starckius. So Sept. Ar.

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their {b} heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

(b) They are not only idolaters in heart, but also worship their filthy idols openly which lead them in blindness, and cause them to stumble, so that he will not hear them when they call to him. See Geneva Isa 1:15

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. set up their idols in] Lit. have laid their idols upon their heart, which appears to mean, laid them on their minds, busied their thoughts and filled their affections with them.

stumblingblock of their iniquity] The reference is still to the idols. Stumblingblock of iniquity is that over which one falls and commits iniquity, see on ch. Ezekiel 7:19.

before their face] i.e. have placed them in their view, or, so as to follow them; cf. Ezekiel 14:6 “turn away your faces from all your abominations;” Psalm 16:8; Psalm 101:3. The language is figurative, and does not imply literal setting-up of idols.

should I be inquired of] Or, shall I let myself be inquired of? that is, shall I give an answer (through the prophet)? cf. Isaiah 65:1, where “inquired of” is parallel to “was found.”

Verse 3. - These men, etc. The prophet, taught by the word of the Lord, reads the hearts of those who came to him. The words do not imply, rather they exclude, the open practice of idolatry. The sin of the inquirers was that they had set up idols (gillulim, Ezekiel's favourite word; see note on Ezekiel 6:4) in their hearts. The LXX. gives διανοήματα,"thoughts of their hearts," as if to express this. They were hankering after the old false worships in which they had once, taken part. The stumbling block (see Ezekiel 3:20) of their iniquity was set up there. That divided heart, the "double mind" of James 1:8, made true inquiry, as it made true prayer for guidance, impossible. Shall I be inquired of at all, etc.? The "at all" represents the emphatic iteration of the verb in the Hebrew. The Vulgate, Numquid interrogatus respondebo eis? gives a fair paraphrase. Ezekiel 14:3And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 14:3. Son of man, these men have let their idols rise up in their heart, and have set the stumbling-block to guilt before their face: shall I allow myself to be inquired of by them? Ezekiel 14:4. Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Every man of the house of Israel who lifteth up his idols in his heart, and setteth the stumbling-block to his sin before his face, and cometh to the prophet, to him do I, Jehovah, show myself, answering according thereto, according to the multitude of his idols; Ezekiel 14:5. To grasp the house of Israel by their heart, because they have turned away from me, all of them through their idols. - We have not to picture these elders to ourselves as given up to gross idolatry. העלה על לב means, to allow anything to come into the mind, to permit it to rise up in the heart, to be mentally busy therewith. "To set before one's face" is also to be understood, in a spiritual sense, as relating to a thing which a man will not put out of his mind. מכשׁול , stumbling-block to sin and guilt (cf. Ezekiel 7:19), i.e., the idols. Thus the two phrases simply denote the leaning of the heart and spirit towards false gods. God does not suffer those whose heart is attached to idols to seek and find Him. The interrogative clause 'האדּרשׁ וגו contains a strong negation. The emphasis lies in the infinitive absolute אדּרשׁ et placed before the verb, in which the ה is softened into א, to avoid writing ה twice. נדרשׁ, to allow oneself to be sought, involves the finding of God; hence in Isaiah 65:1 we have נדרשׁ as parallel to נמצא. In Ezekiel 14:4, Ezekiel 14:5, there follows a positive declaration of the attitude of God towards those who are devoted to idolatry in their heart. Every such Israelite will be answered by God according to the measure of the multitude of his idols. The Niphal נענה has not the signification of the Kal, and does not mean "to be answerable," as Ewald supposes, or to converse; but is generally used in a passive sense, "to be answered," i.e., to find or obtain a hearing (Job 11:2; Job 19:7). It is employed here in a reflective sense, to hold or show oneself answering. בה, according to the Chetib בהּ, for which the Keri suggests the softer gloss בא, refers to 'בּרב גל which follows; the nominative being anticipated, according to an idiom very common in Aramaean, by a previous pronoun. It is written here for the sake of emphasis, to bring the following object into more striking prominence. ב is used here in the sense of secundum, according to, not because, since this meaning is quite unsuitable for the ב in Ezekiel 14:7, where it occurs in the same connection (בּי). The manner in which God will show Himself answering the idolatry according to their idols, is reserved till Ezekiel 14:8. Here, in Ezekiel 14:5, the design of this procedure on the part of God is given: viz., to grasp Israel by the heart; i.e., not merely to touch and to improve them, but to bring down their heart by judgments (cf. Leviticus 26:41), and thus move them to give up idolatry and return to the living God. נזרוּ, as in Isaiah 1:4, to recede, to draw away from God. כּלּם is an emphatic repetition of the subject belonging to נזרוּ.
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