Ezekiel 20:28
For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
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20:27-32 The Jews persisted in rebellion after they settled in the land of Canaan. And these elders seem to have thought of uniting with the heathen. We make nothing by our profession if it be but a profession. There is nothing got by sinful compliances; and the carnal projects of hypocrites will stand them in no stead.The probation in the land of Canaan from their entry to the day of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 20:27

Yet in this - It was an aggravation of their guilt that they defiled with idolatry the land given them for their glory.

28. provocation of their offering—an offering as it were purposely made to provoke God.

sweet savour—What ought to have been sweet became offensive by their corruptions. He specifies the various kinds of offerings, to show that in all alike they violated the law.

When; so soon as settled in the land promised to Abraham and his seed.

Lifted up mine hand: see Ezekiel 20:5,23.

Saw; lookest after them, and, when seen, liked and prepared after the manner of the heathen; though this was forbidden, yet this thou didst, buildedst thy high places, and thou settest up thy groves every where.

There; not where God appointed, but where they listed.

Their sacrifices; either to God, as sometimes some did, or to their own idols, as the most did, which is here called the presenting the provocation of their offering.

Their offering; which being presented to their idol, was a provocation unto God.

Sweet savour; burnt sweet odours to their idols, which did stink in the nostrils of God.

Their drink-offerings; wine was a part of the offering that sacrificers offered, and so did these idolatrous Jews here, they violated the whole law of sacrifice, and did all that to idols they should have done only to God.

For when I had brought them into the land,.... Brought them out of Egypt through the wilderness into the land of Canaan, through so many difficulties, by such displays of power, goodness, and truth:

for the which I lifted up mine band to give it to them; which he swore he would give unto them, and which he did, and so fulfilled his word and oath; and which was an instance of his bounty and goodness; and not owing to any merits of theirs; which he did, and so fulfilled his word and oath; and which was an instance of his bounty and goodness, and not owing to any merits of theirs:

then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees; as soon as they had got into the land, and took a view of it, they at once fixed their eyes upon the high hills and groves, as proper places to set up their idols on, and perform idolatrous worship in; in the one place more openly, and in the other more secretly, as they might judge proper and necessary; in which they imitated the Heathens, who had their temples, idols, altars, and sacrifices, amidst groves and thick trees. So Herodotus (n) relates of the temple of Diana at Bubastis in Egypt, that at the entrance of it there were rivulets from the Nile, which flowed about it here and there, shaded with trees; and within were a vast grove of the largest trees, planted about the temple; and which he afterwards calls trees reaching to heaven:

and they offered there their sacrifices; either to the God of Israel, as some of them sometimes did, and which was sinful; for though they might offer sacrifices, as were commanded, to a right object, yet not in the proper place: or rather to their idols; and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions,

to their own gods; which they had made to themselves, and had chose and approved of:

and there they presented the provocation of their offering; or their offering which provoked the wrath of God against them; being such as either he had not appointed, or was offered in a wrong place, or the wrong object; than which nothing could be more provoking to him; it was giving his glory to another, and his praise to graven images:

there also they made their sweet saviour; incense to their deities. The Targum is the worship of their sacrifices:

and poured out there their drink offerings; libations of wine: all kind of sacrifices were offered up here by them; which shows to what lengths in idolatry they ran, and how dreadfully guilty they were.

(n) Euterpe: sive l. 2. c. 138.

{n} For when I had brought them into the land, for which I lifted up my hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.

(n) Not only in the wilderness, when I brought them out of Egypt, but since I placed them in this land: which declares how prompt man's heart is to idolatry seeing that by no admonitions can he be drawn back.

28. The prophet regards the worship on the high-places and under the evergreen trees as a Canaanitish usage adopted by Israel, as Deuteronomy 12. At the same time Israel usually employed the altars or chapels which they found for the service of Jehovah; but naturally many corruptions would creep into such service, and it might become little different from a service of Baal. In the oldest prophets, Amos and Hosea, it is the kind of worship at the high-places that is condemned, the revelry and heathenish merrymaking (Hosea 9:1) the sensuousness (Hosea 8:13; Amos 5:21), and the false conception Of deity implied in it (Hosea 6:6). The mere localities or multitude of altars do not seem assailed, except that the more there were of them the more sin was committed, because the whole worship was sinful (Hosea 8:11; Amos 4:4). Later this impure worship was perceived to be inseparable from the high-places and these themselves came under condemnation. Ezekiel does not go further in his condemnation of the high hills and green trees than his predecessor Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6).

all the thick trees] Evergreen and umbrageous trees appear to have been regarded as abodes of deity.

offered … their sacrifices] Four words are employed: offerings of flesh, particularly the peace or thank-offerings; what is called their “offering” or oblation, a general word used of bloodless sacrifices as well as of others, possibly first-fruits and the like; their “sweet savour,” usually said of the odour of the flesh or fat burnt upon the altar, but also of the odour of meal-offerings (ch. Ezekiel 16:19); and finally, drink-offerings. The clause “and there … provocation of their offering” is wanting in LXX. The term “offering” (Korban), found only in Lev., Numb., again in Ezekiel 40:43 (see there).

Verse 28. - It was a special aggravation of the sin that it was committed in the very land into which they had been brought by the oath (the "hand lifted up") of Jehovah, that it might be a holy land, a witness of the Divine righteousness to the nations round about. The forms of worship include that of the high places, and the thick trees (Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6) width witnessed the cultus of the Asherah or of Ashtaroth. Ezekiel 20:28Israel committed these sins in Canaan also, and to this day has not given them up; therefore God will not allow the idolatrous generation to inquire of Him. - Ezekiel 20:27. Therefore speak to the house of Israel, O son of man, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Still further have your fathers blasphemed me in this, with the faithlessness which they have shown toward me. Ezekiel 20:28. When I had brought them into the land, which I had lifted my hand to give them, then they looked out every high hill and every thickly covered tree, and offered their sacrifices there, and gave their irritating gifts there, and presented the fragrance of their pleasant odour there, and poured out their drink-offerings there. Ezekiel 20:29. And I said to them, What height is that to which ye go? And its name is called Height to this day. Ezekiel 20:30. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, What? Do ye defile yourselves in the way of your fathers; and go whoring after their abominations; Ezekiel 20:31. And defile yourselves in all your idols to this day, by lifting up your gifts, and causing your sons to pass through the fire; and should I let myself be inquired of by you? As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will not let myself be inquired of by you. - The לכן in Ezekiel 20:27 is resumed in Ezekiel 20:30; and there the answer given by God to the elders, who had come to inquire of Him, is first communicated, after an express declaration of the fact that Israel had continued its idolatry in the most daring manner, even after its entrance into Canaan. But the form in which this is done - עוד זאת, "still further in this" - is to be understood as intimating that the conduct of the fathers of the existing generation, and therefore not merely of those who grew up in the wilderness, but also of those who had lived in Canaan, has already been described in general terms in the preceding verses, and that what follows simply adds another novel feature. But this can only be the case if Ezekiel 20:23-26 are taken in the sense given above. זאת is an accusative; and גּדּף is construed with the accusative both of the person and thing. The more precise definition of זאת is not given in בּמעלם בּי ni nev at the end of the verse, but in the idolatry depicted in Ezekiel 20:28. מעל refers to the faithlessness involved in the breach of the covenant and in idolatry. This is the general description; whilst the idolatry mentioned in Ezekiel 20:28 constituted one particular feature, in which the faithlessness appeared in the form of blasphemy. For the fact itself, namely, the worship on high places, which was practised on every hand, see Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 16:24-25; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10.

In the enumeration of the offerings, there is something striking in the position in which כּעס קרבּנם stands, namely, between the slaughtered sacrifices (זבחים) and the increase- and drink-offerings; and this is no doubt the reason why the clause 'ויּתּנוּ שׁם וגו is omitted from the Cod. Vat. and Alex. of the lxx; and even Hitzig proposes to strike it out. But Theodoret found this reading in the Alex. Version; and Hitzig is wrong in affirming that קרבּן is used in connection with sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings. The meat-offerings are not expressly named, for ריה ניחוח does not signify meat-offerings, but is used in the law for the odour of all the offerings, both slaughtered sacrifices and meat-offerings, even though in Ezekiel 16:19 it is applied to the odour of the bloodless offerings alone. And in the same way does קרבּן embrace all the offerings, even the slain offerings, in Ezekiel 40:43, in harmony with Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 2:1, and other passages. That it is used in this general signification here, is evident from the introduction of the word כּעס, irritation or provocation of their gifts, i.e., their gifts which provoked irritation on the part of God, because they were offered to idols. As this sentence applies to all the sacrifices (bloody and bloodless), so also does the clause which follows, 'ויּשׂימוּ שׁם וגו, refer to all the offerings which were burned upon the altar, without regard to the material employed. Consequently Ezekiel mentions only slain offerings and drink-offerings, and, by the two clauses inserted between, describes the offering of the slaughtered sacrifices as a gift of irritation to God, and of pleasant fragrance to the idolatrous worshippers who presented them. He does not mention the meat-offerings separately, because they generally formed an accompaniment to the slain offerings, and therefore were included in these. But although God had called the people to account for this worship on high places, they had not relinquished it even "to this day." This is no doubt the meaning of. Ezekiel 20:29, which has been interpreted in very different ways. The context shows, in the most conclusive manner, that הבּמה is to be taken collectively, and that the use of the singular is to be explained from the antithesis to the one divinely appointed Holy Place in the temple, and not, as Kimchi and Hvernick suppose, from any allusion to one particular bâmâh of peculiar distinction, viz., "the great high place at Gibeon." The question מה is not expressive of contempt (Hitzig), but "is founded upon the assumption that they would have to give an account of their doings; and merely asks, What kind of heights are those to which you are going? Who has directed you to go thither with your worship?" (Kliefoth). There is no need to refute the trivial fancy of J. D. Michaelis, which has been repeated by Hitzig, namely, that Ezekiel has taken בּמה as a derivative from בא and מה. Again, the question does not presuppose a word addressed by God to Israel, which Ezekiel only has handed down to us; but is simply a rhetorical mode of presenting the condemnation by God of the worship of the high places, to which both the law and the earlier prophets had given utterance. The next clause, "and their name was called Height" (high place), is not to be regarded as containing merely a historical notice of the name given to these idolatrous places of worship; but the giving of the name is a proof of the continued existence of the thing; so that the words affirm, that notwithstanding the condemnation on the part of God, Israel had retained these high places, - had not abolished them to this day. - Ezekiel 20:30 and Ezekiel 20:31 facilitate the transition from the first part of this word of God to the second. What has already been said in vv. 5-29 concerning the idolatry of the people, from the time of its election onwards, is here expressly applied to the existing generation, and carries with it the declaration to them, that inasmuch as they are defiling themselves by idolatry, as their fathers did, Jehovah cannot permit Himself to be inquired of by them. The thought is couched in the form of a question, to express astonishment that those who denied the Lord, and dishonoured Him by their idolatry, should nevertheless imagine that they could obtain revelations from Him. The lifting up (שׂאת, from נשׂא) of gifts signifies the offering of sacrifices upon the altars of the high places. For Ezekiel 20:31, compare Ezekiel 20:3. - With this declaration God assigns the reason for the refusal to listen to idolaters, which had already been given in Ezekiel 20:3. But it does not rest with this refusal. God now proceeds to disclose to them the thoughts of their own hearts, and announces to them that He will refine them by severe judgments, and bring them thereby to repentance of their sins, that He may then gather them out of the dispersion, and make them partakers of the promised salvation as a people willingly serving Him. - In this way do Ezekiel 20:32-44 cast a prophetic glance over the whole of the future history of Israel.

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