For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojournes in Israel, which separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Or of the stranger.—Under the Mosaic legislation, “the stranger” living among the Israelites was bound to observe a certain outward deference to the law of the land, just as a foreigner in any country now is bound to respect in certain things the law of the country in which he lives. Israel being a theocracy, its fundamental law against idol-worship could not be violated with impunity by those who sought the protection of its government (Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:1-2, &c.). In this case, however, outward idolatry is not alleged, as the accusations of this verse and Ezekiel 14:4 refer only to the secret idolatry of the heart; and the point insisted upon is not so much the idol-worship in itself, as the hypocrisy of attempting to join with this the enquiring of the Lord. God declares that He will answer such hypocrisy, in whomsoever it may be found, not by the prophet through whom the enquiry is made, but by Himself interposing to punish the enquirer, and to make him an example to deter others from a like course.Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:2.
By myself - Or, as in Ezekiel 14:4, "according to" Myself. He who comes to inquire with a heart full of idolatry shall have his answer,
(1) "according to the multitude of his idols" - in delusion,
(2) "according to the holiness of God" - in punishment.
inquire of him concerning me—that is, concerning My will.
by myself—not by word, but by deed, that is, by judgments, marking My hand and direct agency; instead of answering him through the prophet he consults. Fairbairn translates, as it is the same Hebrew as in the previous clause, "concerning Me," it is natural that God should use the same expression in His reply as was used in the consultation of Him. But the sense, I think, is the same. The hypocrite inquires of the prophet concerning God; and God, instead of replying through the prophet, replies for Himself concerning Himself.For every Jew of the seed of Abraham, and every proselyte, who withdraws himself from me, and worships idols, keeps them in his heart to the increase of their own sin and my displeasure, yet forsooth comes to the prophet to inquire how his God resenteth what they do, and what God will do with them, what they should do, what they may expect, yet all this while dote on idols, and resolutely hold on in unjust practices, they shall find by the answer it was not the prophet, but the God of the prophet, that answered them, so dreadful, searching, and astonishing shall my answer be.
or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel; the proselytes; whether of righteousness, such as were circumcised, and embraced the Jewish religion; or of the gate, who were only inhabitants with them; one as another were obliged to worship the God of Israel, and abstain from idolatry; there was but one law to the Israelite and to the stranger, respecting this matter:
which separateth himself from me; from the worship of God, and so from communion with him; turns his back on him, and becomes an apostate from him, by joining himself with idols:
and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face; these things are repeated, partly to observe the heinousness of the sin they were guilty of; and partly to show the stupidity of this people, which required things to be said over and over, before they could take them in, and be convinced of their evil:
and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; this explains what such persons would come to a prophet for, Ezekiel 14:4; and exposes their hypocrisy:
I the Lord will answer him by myself; not by the prophet to whom he comes, but by himself: or, "in my word", as the Targum; yet not by words, but by blows; not in mercy, but in wrath; and in such manner, that it shall appear to come from the Lord, and to be according to truth and justice.For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. every one … sojourneth in Israel] Comp. Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 17:13; Leviticus 20:2, and remark on Ezekiel 14:1 above. On “setteth up” cf. Ezekiel 14:3.
answer him by myself] Or, through myself, directly in deeds.Verse 7. - The stranger that sojourneth among you. It is noticeable that Ezekiel uses here and elsewhere (Ezekiel 47:22, 23) the familiar phrase of the books which most influenced his teaching (Leviticus 16-25; Numbers 9, 15; Deuteronomy passim). It is probable that some such proselytes were found among the exiles of Tel Abib. I the Lord will answer him by myself, etc. This, as has been seen, was probably the right reading in ver. 4. What it means is that, instead of a spoken answer by the mouth of the prophet, there should be an answer in the discipline of life, in the immediate utterance through the conscience, which was the voice of God. The inquirer who came with unconfessed and unrepented hankerings after the worship of other gods deserved and would receive no other answer.
As the Lord had not endowed men only with the gifts of prophecy, but sometimes women also, e.g., Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah; so women also rose up along with the false prophets, and prophesied out of their own hearts without being impelled by the Spirit of God. Ezekiel 13:17-19. Their conduct. - Ezekiel 13:17. And thou, son of man, direct thy face towards the daughters of thy people, who prophesy out of their heart and prophesy against them, Ezekiel 13:18. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to those who sew coverings together over all the joints of my hands, and make caps for the head of every size, to catch souls! Ye catch the souls of my people, and keep your souls alive. Ezekiel 13:19. And ye profane me with my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay souls which should not die, and to keep alive which should not live, by your lying to my people who hearken to lying. - Like the prophets in Ezekiel 13:2, the prophetesses are here described as prophesying out of their own heart (Ezekiel 13:17); and in Ezekiel 13:18 and Ezekiel 13:19 their offences are more particularly described. The meaning of these verses is entirely dependent upon the view to be taken of ידי, which the majority of expositors, following the lead of the lxx, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, have regarded as identical with ידים or יד, and understood as referring to the hands of the women or prophetesses. But there is nothing to justify the assumption that ידי is an unusual form for ידים, which even Ewald takes it to be (Lehrbuch, 177a). Still less can it stand for the singular יד. And we have not sufficient ground for altering the text, as the expression זרועתיכם in Ezekiel 13:20 (I will tear the כּסתות from your arms) does not require the assumption that the prophetesses had hidden their arms in כסתות; and such a supposition is by no means obviously in harmony with the facts.
The word כּסתות, from כּסת, with ת fem. treated as a radical letter (cf. Ewald, 186e), means a covering or concealment equals כּסוּת. The meaning "cushion" or "pillow" (lxx προσκεφάλαια, Vulg. pulvilli) is merely an inference drawn from this passage, and is decidedly erroneous; for the word תּפר (to sew together) is inapplicable to cushions, as well as the phrase על כּל־אצּילי ידי, inasmuch as cushions are not placed upon the joints of the hands, and still less are they sewed together upon them. The latter is also a decisive reason for rejecting the explanation given by Hvernick, namely, that the kesâthōth were carpets, which were used as couches, and upon which these voluptuous women are represented as reclining. For cushions or couches are not placed upon, but under, the arm-joints (or elbows) and the shoulders, which Hvernick understands by אצּילי יד. This also overthrows another explanation given of the words, namely, that they refer to carpets, which the prophetesses had sewed together for all their arm-joints, so as to form comfortable beds upon splendid carpets, that they may indulge in licentiousness thereon. The explanation given by Ephraem Syrus, and adopted by Hitzig, namely, that the kesâthōth were amulets or straps, which they would round their arm-joints when they received or delivered their oracles, is equally untenable. For, as Kliefoth has observed, "it is evident that there is not a word in the text about adultery, or amulets, or straps used in prayer." And again, when we proceed to the next clause, the traditional rendering of מספּחות, as signifying either pillows (ὑπαυχένια, Symm.; cervicalia, Vulg.) or broad cloaks equals מטפּחות (Hitzig, Hvernick, etc.), is neither supported by the usage of the language, nor in harmony with על ראשׁ. Mispâchōth, from sâphach, to join, cannot have any other meaning in the present context than a cap fitting close to the head; and על must denote the pattern which was followed, as in Psalm 110:4; Esther 9:26 : they make the caps after (answering to) the head of every stature. The words of both clauses are figurative, and have been correctly explained by Kliefoth as follows: "A double charge is brought against the prophetesses. In the first place, they sew coverings together to wrap round all the joints of the hand of God, so that He cannot touch them; i.e., they cover up and conceal the word of God by their prophesying, more especially its rebuking and threatening force, so that the threatening and judicial arm of God, which ought above all to become both manifest and effective through His prophetic word, does not become either one or the other. In the second place, they make coverings upon the heads of men, and construct them in such a form that they exactly fit the stature or size or every individual, so that the men neither hear nor see; i.e., by means of their flattering lies, which adapt themselves to the subjective inclinations of their hearers at the time, they cover up the senses of the men, so that they retain neither ear nor eye for the truth." They do both of these to catch souls. The inevitable consequence of their act is represented as having been intended by them; and this intention is then still further defined as being to catch the souls of the people of God; i.e., to allure them to destruction, and take care of their own souls. The clause הנּפשׁות תּצודדנה is not to be taken as a question, "Will ye catch the souls?" implying a doubt whether they really thought that they could carry on such conduct as theirs with perfect impunity (Hvernick). It contains a simple statement of what really took place in their catching of souls, namely, "they catch the souls of the people of God, and preserve their own souls;" i.e., they rob the people of God of their lives, and take care of their own (Kliefoth). לעמּי is used instead of the genitive (stat. constr.) to show that the accent rests upon עמּי. And in the same way we have לכנה instead of the suffix. The construction is the same as in 1 Samuel 14:16. Ezekiel 13:19 shows how great their sin had been. They profane God among His people; namely, by delivering the suggestions of their own heart to the people as divine revelations, for the purpose of getting their daily bread thereby (cf. Micah 3:5); by hurling into destruction, through their lies, those who are only too glad to listen to lying; by slaying the souls of the people which ought to live, and by preserving those which ought not to live, i.e., their own souls (Deuteronomy 18:20). The punishment for this will not fail to come.
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