Ezekiel 14:4
Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;
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(4) Will answer him that cometh.—The words that cometh, not being in the original, should be omitted. The verb answer in the original is in the passive, and has a reflexive sense=“I will show myself answering,” a softer form than the English. The principle that when man persists in going counter to God’s known will He will allow him to misunderstand that will, is abundantly established by such instances as that of Balaam (Numbers 22:20) and of Micaiah (1Kings 22:15). No man can hope to know what God would have him to do unless his own heart is truly submissive to the Divine will. The threat here is, that the man coming to inquire of God with a heart full of idolatry, shall receive no true answer from that Omniscience which he does not respect; but will rather find himself deceived by the illusions of his own heart. This idea is more fully developed in the following verse. (Comp. Isaiah 44:20.)

Ezekiel 14:4-5. Say unto them — Declare my will clearly and faithfully; Every man of the house of Israel — Whoever he be, rich or poor, mighty or mean; that setteth up his idols in his heart — That is attached in his heart to any species of idolatry; and cometh to the prophet — As if he were desirous to know what is best to be done, that he might do it; or what is the will of God, that he might comply with it: and what will be the issue of these times and affairs; I the Lord will answer him that cometh — And that in a way but little to his satisfaction; according to the multitude of his idols — According to his real iniquity, not according to his pretended piety: I will declare the greatness of his sin by the greatness of his punishment; he has multiplied his idols, and I will multiply his sorrows. That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart — That I may lay open what is in their hearts, and discover their hypocrisy and impiety; or, that I may reprove and convince them, from their own words and behaviour, what a base part they act, and that their inward and secret wickedness is perfectly known to me. Because they are estranged from me through their idols — It is always through some idol or other that the hearts of men are estranged from God. Some creature has gained that place in the heart which belongs to none but God.

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.Omit "that cometh."

According to the multitiude of his idols - i. e., I will give him an answer as delusive as the idols which he serves. Compare Micaiah's answer to Ahab 1 Kings 22:15.

4. and cometh—and yet cometh, reigning himself to be a true worshipper of Jehovah.

him that cometh—so the Hebrew Margin reads. But the Hebrew text reading is, "according to it, according to the multitude of his idols"; the anticipative clause with the pronoun not being pleonastic, but increasing the emphasis of the following clause with the noun. "I will answer," literally, reflexively, "I will Myself (or for Myself) answer him."

according to … idols—thus, "answering a fool according to his folly"; making the sinner's sin his punishment; retributive justice (Pr 1:31; 26:5).

Mince not the matter, lessen not, neither vary, what I say unto thee, but declare fully and undauntedly

unto them, though great men, and who will compliment with thee.

Every man, without exception, whoever be the man among the Israelites, that hath his heart riveted to idols, and yet comes to the prophet, as if it were to know what were best to be done, and what will be the issue of these times and things, I will answer him but little to his satisfaction or safety; such answer shall such receive, as in seeing they shall not see, &c. I will declare the greatness of their sin and punishment; they multiplied idols, this their sin, I will multiply their sorrows; they first run into darkness of idolatry, I will leave them to the darkness of misery. I will give answer, but in just judgment, and with severe reproofs, and menaces, and commands.

Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them,.... That is, speak unto them as a prophet, and as from the Lord, and say what follows; so the Targum,

"prophesy unto them and say unto them;''

thus saith the Lord God, every man of the house of Israel, that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face; let him be who he will, one in public office, an elder of Israel, or a private person; no respect will be had, no distinction made, nor favour shown; being an idolater in heart and practice, secretly and openly, he shall bear the punishment of his sin:

and cometh to the prophet: the Prophet Ezekiel, as the elders of Israel now did, or any other prophet of the Lord: the Vulgate Latin version adds, "inquiring of me by him"; expecting to have an answer, and one according to their wishes:

I the Lord will answer him that cometh; that cometh to the prophet; or, as the Targum,

"that cometh to ask instruction of me:''

here is a various reading, a "Keri" and a "Cetib"; we follow the Keri, or marginal reading, "that cometh"; and so does the Targum; but the "Cetib", or written text, is "in it", thus; "I the Lord will answer him in it" (t); in the question he puts to the prophet, or to the Lord by him; or in that time, immediately; but not with smooth things, as he expects, but with terrible things in righteousness; not in a way of grace and mercy, but in a way of judgment; not as he desires, but as he deserves:

according to the multitude of his idols; in proportion to the number of his gods, and his idolatrous actions, shall the answer or punishment be: or these words may be connected with the word cometh, and be read thus, "that cometh with the multitude of his idols" (u); with his heart full of idols, set up there; which is an instance of his hypocrisy, seen and detected by the Lord; and of his impudence, in daring to come unto him in such a manner; and of his folly, to expect a gracious answer from the Lord, this being his case. The Targum understands it quite otherwise, as if the answer the Lord would give would be a kind and agreeable one, paraphrasing this clause thus,

"although he is mixed (implicated or entangled) in the multitude of the worship of his idols.''

(t) "Eodem (tempore)", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; "in illo tempore", Piscator; "in ea re", Cocceius, Starckius. (u) "ipsi venienti in multitudine idolorum suorum", Pagninus, Montanus.

Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the {c} prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude {d} of his idols;

(c) To inquire of things which the Lord has appointed to come to pass.

(d) As his abomination has deserved: that is, he will be led with lies according as he delighted in it, 2Th 2:10.

4. The Lord will answer such men directly through himself, by involving them in the consequences of their own idolatries and destroying them.

setteth up his idols] Cf. Ezekiel 14:3.

will answer him that cometh] If this reading be adopted, the rendering must be, I the Lord will answer him; he cometh in the multitude—a meaning which has no probability. The present text reads, I will answer him according to it, (i.e. the iniquity, or the stumbling-block) (even) according to the multitude, &c. In Ezekiel 14:7, where the same expression occurs, the reading is, “I will answer him by myself;” and the present passage had better be assimilated to Ezekiel 14:7. What is meant by the Lord’s answering “through himself” is stated Ezekiel 14:8, “I will set my face against that man.” The answer will be given in acts of judgment.

according to the multitude] The divine chastisement will be heavy, proportionate to the gross idolatry.

Verse 4. - I will answer him that cometh, etc. The two last words represent the K'ri, or marginal reading of the Hebrew; the "therein" of the Revised Version, the Kh'-tib, or written text. Probably we should read, as in ver. 7, "I will answer him by myself" (Hitzig). Ezekiel 14:4And 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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