Ezekiel 2:5
And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
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(5) Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.—Comp. Ezekiel 3:11. God’s word remains the same whatever reception man may accord to it; it cannot return unto Him void, but must accomplish that which He pleases (Isaiah 55:11); just as the Apostles remained “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” alike “in them that are saved and in them that perish” (2Corinthians 2:15-16). But while the mighty power of the Divine word must thus produce its effect, the character of the effect depends upon those to whom it comes; “to the one we are a savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life.” So it would be among the captives by the Chebar: some would be brought back to their allegiance to their God, and would constitute the remnant through whom He would bless His people and the world; and some, resisting the offered grace, would be thus made more obdurate than ever. In either case, they could not remain as before. Whether for gain or for loss, they should “know that there hath been a prophet among them,” by the change his ministrations should produce among them. The offer of grace, imposing the responsibility of accepting or rejecting it, ever becomes thus “a great and terrible day of the Lord.” (See Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5, compared with Matthew 17:12; Acts 2:16-22.)

A rebellious house.—Literally, a house of rebellion. This phrase, used in Ezekiel about eleven times, seems to be more than a simple epithet; it is a significant substitute for the name in which they gloried. Instead of “house of Israel, the prince of God,” they had come to be the “house of rebellion.”

2:1-5 Lest Ezekiel should be lifted up with the abundance of the revelations, he is put in mind that still he is a son of man, a weak, mortal creature. As Christ usually called himself the Son of man, it was also an honourable distinction. Ezekiel's posture showed reverence, but his standing up would be a posture of greater readiness and fitness for business. God will speak to us, when we stand ready to do what he commands us. As Ezekiel had not strength of his own, the Spirit entered into him. God is graciously pleased to work in us whatever he requires of us. The Holy Spirit sets us upon our feet, by inclining our wills to our duty. Thus, when the Lord calls upon the sinner to awake, and attend to the concerns of his soul, the Spirit of life and grace comes with the call. Ezekiel is sent with a message to the children of Israel. Many might treat his message with contempt, yet they should know by the event that a prophet had been sent to them. God will be glorified, and his word made honourable, whether it be a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.A rebellious house - A phrase employed continually by Ezekiel in bitter irony, in the place of house of Israel, as much as to say, "House no longer of Israel, but of rebellion." Compare Isaiah 30:9. 5. forbear—namely, to hear.

yet shall know—Even if they will not hear, at least they will not have ignorance to plead as the cause of their perversity (Eze 33:33).

Though the omniscient God knows which they will do, yet he lets not the prophet know, but enjoins him his duty, affords these sinners the mercy of warnings and calls, and expects that they act like men, hear and obey.

Hear; they only hear that comply with God’s counsel, and as for others, they hearing hear not.

Forbear; either forbear their ways of sinning, and cease to do evil, or forbear to hear thee: be not too much dejected about it: some perhaps may hear and forbear to sin, others will forbear to hear thee but not forbear to sin, the greatest part will show themselves a rebellious house.

For they are a rebellious house; family, house put for the whole nation; yet wait the event, do thy duty.

Shall know that there hath been a prophet among them; all of them shall know; they that hear and obey shall know by the good that I will do to them, I will bless them and bring them back; those that will neither hear what they should do, nor forbear doing what they should not do, shall know by the evil which I will bring upon them. Thy truth and name will I vindicate, and prove thee a prophet, to the comfort of thyself and others who are obedient, but to the shame and confusion of the evil and wicked.

And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear,.... Or "cease" (y); that is, from hearing, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; or from sinning, as the Targum. The sense is, whether they would hear the word of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet, attend unto it, receive it, and obey it; or whether they would reject it, turn their backs on it, and discontinue hearing it; or whether they would so hear as to leave their sinful course of life, or not: this the prophet could not know beforehand, nor should he be concerned about it, or be discouraged if his ministry should be fruitless; since he could not expect much from them:

(for they are a rebellious house); or, "a house of rebellion" (z); a most rebellious one; hard of heart, face, and neck:

yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them; so that they were left without excuse, which was the end of the prophet's being sent unto them; there was little or no hope of reclaiming them; but, however, by such a step taken, they could not say that they had no prophet sent to reprove them for their sins, and warn them of their danger; had they, they would have listened to him, and so have escaped the evils that came upon them,

(y) "cessaverint", Pagninas, Montanus, Starckius; "desistent", Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (z) "domus rebellionis", Montanus, Calvin, Piscator, Junius & Tremellius, Starckius.

And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that {d} there hath been a prophet among them.

(d) This declares on the one part God's great affection toward his people, that despite their rebellion, yet he will send his prophets among them, and admonishes his ministers on the other part that they cease not to do their duty, though the people are never so obstinate: for the word of God will be either to their salvation or greater condemnation.

5. for they are a rebellious house] Whether they hear or whether they forbear—and they will forbear, for they are a rebellious house—yet shall they know that a prophet has been among them. The future shall bring this home to them. They shall see the prophet’s words come to pass, and shall know that a true messenger from the Lord spoke to them. The true prophet, the man who has anything to announce from God, may assure himself that, however he be received when he speaks, in the long run he shall receive his due and be recognized for what he was.

Verse 5. - Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, etc. The latter word is used in the sense of "cease" or "desist," as in 1 Corinthians 9:6 and Ephesians 6:9. The same formula meets us in ver. 7; Ezekiel 3:11, 27. The prophet is warned beforehand of the (at least) probable failure of his mission, wholly or in part. We note the parallelism of thought, though not language, in 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16. Such, at all times, has been the condition of the prophet's work. The expectation is grounded upon the antecedent fact of their being a "rebellious people." There is the consolation that in the end, partly through the fulfilment of his words, partly, it may be, through the witness of their own conscience, they shall know that there has been a prophet among them (comp. Ezekiel 33:33; Jeremiah 28:9). We note that it is the first time that Ezekiel claims that name for himself. Ezekiel 2:5The calling of the prophet begins with the Lord describing to Ezekiel the people to whom He is sending him, in order to make him acquainted with the difficulties of his vocation, and to encourage him for the discharge of the same. Ezekiel 2:3. And He said to me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to the rebels who have rebelled against me: they and their fathers have fallen away from me, even until this very day. Ezekiel 2:4. And the children are of hard face, and hardened heart. To them I send thee; and to them shalt thou speak: Thus says the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 2:5. And they - they may hear thee or fail (to do so); for they are a stiff-necked race - they shall experience that a prophet has been in their midst. Ezekiel 2:6. But thou, son of man, fear not before them, and be not afraid of their words, if thistles and thorns are found about thee, and thou sittest upon scorpions; fear not before their words, and tremble not before their face; for they are a stiff-necked race. Ezekiel 2:7. And speak my words to them, whether they may hear or fail (to do so); for they are stiff-necked.

The children of Israel have become heathen, no longer a people of God, not even a heathen nation (גּוי, Isaiah 1:4), but גּוים, "heathens," that is, as being rebels against God. המּורדים (with the article) is not to be joined as an adjective to גּוים, which is without the article, but is employed substantively in the form of an apposition. They have rebelled against God in this, that they, like their fathers, have separated themselves from Jehovah down to this day (as regards פּשׁע בּ, see on Isaiah 1:2; and עצם היּום הזּה, as in the Pentateuch; cf. Leviticus 23:14; Genesis 7:13; Genesis 17:23, etc.). Like their fathers, the sons are rebellious, and, in addition, they are קשׁי פנים, of hard countenance" equals חזקי, "of hard brow" (Ezekiel 3:7), i.e., impudent, without hiding the face, or lowering the look for shame. This shamelessness springs from hardness of heart. To these hardened sinners Ezekiel is to announce the word of the Lord. Whether they hear it or not (אם־ואם, sive-sive, as in Joshua 24:15; Ecclesiastes 11:3; Ecclesiastes 12:14), they shall in any case experience that a prophet has been amongst them. That they will neglect to hear is very probable, because they are a stiff-necked race (בּית, "house" equals family). The Vau before ידעוּ (Ezekiel 2:5) introduces the apodosis. היה is perfect, not present. This is demanded by the usus loquendi and the connection of the thought. The meaning is not: they shall now from his testimony that a prophet is there; but they shall experience from the result, viz., when the word announced by him will have been fulfilled, that a prophet has been amongst them. Ezekiel, therefore, is not to be prevented by fear of them and their words from delivering a testimony against their sins. The ἁπάξ λεγόμενα, סרבים and סלּונים, are not, with the older expositors, to be explained adjectively: "rebelles et renuentes," but are substantives. As regards סלּון, the signification "thorn" is placed beyond doubt by סלּון in Ezekiel 28:24, and סרב in Aramaic does indeed denote "refractarius;" but this signification is a derived one, and inappropriate here. סרב is related to צרב, "to burn, to singe," and means "urtica," "stinging-nettle, thistle," as Donasch in Raschi has already explained it. אותך is, according to the later usage, for אתּך, expressing the "by and with of association," and occurs frequently in Ezekiel. Thistles and thorns are emblems of dangerous, hostile men. The thought is strengthened by the words "to sit on (אל for על) scorpions," as these animals inflict a painful and dangerous wound. For the similitude of dangerous men to scorpions, cf. Sir. 26:10, and other proof passages in Bochart, Hierozoic. III. p. 551f., ed. Rosenmll.

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