Ezekiel 20:4
Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Wilt thou judge them?—The form of the repeated question is equivalent to an imperative—judge them. Instead of allowing their enquiry and entreaty for the averting of judgment, the prophet is directed to set before them their long series of apostasies and provocations. “Judge” is used in the sense of “bring to trial,” “prefer charges.”

Ezekiel 20:4. Wilt thou judge them — Or, rather, Wilt thou not judge them? Wilt thou not reprove, or condemn them? Wilt thou not denounce my judgments against them? Cause them to know the abominations of their fathers — The abominable crimes of which their fathers have been guilty, and which they themselves, and the present generation of Jews, have also committed with fresh aggravations: and hereby let them know what they have to expect. This whole chapter is a kind of decree, in which the prophet, after having set forth the crimes of the Jews, pronounces against them their reprobation, and foretels what blessings God would bestow on a faithful people who should serve him truly on his holy mountain.

20:1-9. Those hearts are wretchedly hardened which ask God leave to go on in sin, and that even when suffering for it; see ver.Wilt thou judge them? - We should rather say, Wilt thou not judge them? i. e., wilt thou not pronounce sentence upon them? Compare Ezekiel 22:2. 4. Wilt thou judge? … judge—The emphatical repetition expresses, "Wilt thou not judge? yes, judge them. There is a loud call for immediate judgment." The Hebrew interrogative here is a command, not a prohibition [Maurer]. Instead of spending time in teaching them, tell them of the abomination of their fathers, of which their own are the complement and counterpart, and which call for judgment. Wilt thou judge them? either, Wilt thou judge charitably, and, supposing they are upright and teachable, wilt thou plead with me for them? as Ezekiel 14:3, or as Jeremiah 14:9. Or else thus, Wilt thou argue with them, convince them, and reprove them? This is fittest to be done, and do this, handle them severely as they deserve. It is repeated, to whet the prophet, and quicken him to this work, and to intimate to us the great contumacy of the people.

Cause them to know the abominations of their fathers: tell them somewhat that they may go away wiser than they came. They expect to know what will be their fate, tell them what hath been their fathers’ carriage towards me, which they imitate, nay exceed. Their curiosity and perplexity would be informed what is to come, but their consciences need more to be informed: what their fathers have done they approved, and have outdone; by that let them know what to do, what to expect.

Wilt thou judge them, son of man?.... Excuse them, patronise them, defend their cause, and plead for them? surely thou wilt not; or rather, wilt thou not reprove and correct them, judge and condemn them, for their sins and wickedness? this thou oughtest to do:

wilt thou judge them? this is repeated, to show the vehemency of the speaker, and the duty of the prophet:

cause them to know the abominations of their fathers: the sins they committed, which were abominable in themselves, and rendered them abominable unto God, and what came upon them for them; by which they would be led to see the abominable evils which they also had been guilty of, in which they had imitated their fathers, and what they had reason to expect in consequence of them.

Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause {b} them to know the abominations of their fathers:

(b) This declares the great leniency and patience of God who calls sinners to repentance before he condemns them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. wilt thou judge] The interr. seems to have the sense of an impatient imperative, and the repetition gives stronger expression to the imperative, cf. ch. Ezekiel 22:2, Ezekiel 23:36. “Judge” is explained by “cause them to know the abominations of their fathers.” To rehearse the history of the fathers is to hold the mirror up to themselves.

Verse 4 - Wilt thou judge them, etc.? The doubled question has the force of a strong imperative. The prophet is directed, as it were, to assume the office of a judge, and as such to press home upon his hearers, and through them upon others, their own sins and those of their fathers. He is led, in doing so, to yet another survey of the nation's history; not now, as in Ezekiel 16, in figurative language, but directly. Ezekiel 20:4The date given in Ezekiel 20:1 applies not only to Ezekiel 20, but also to Ezekiel 20-23 (compare Ezekiel 24:1); the prophetic utterances in these four chapters being bound together into a group of connected words of God, both by their contents and by the threefold repetition of the expression, "wilt thou judge?" (vid., Ezekiel 20:4; Ezekiel 22:2, and Ezekiel 23:36). The formula התשׁפּוט, which is only omitted from the threat of punishment contained in Ezekiel 21, indicates at the same time both the nature and design of these words of God. The prophet is to judge, i.e., to hold up before the people once more their sinful abominations, and to predict the consequent punishment. The circumstance which occasioned this is narrated in Ezekiel 20:1-3. Men of the elders of Israel came to the prophet to inquire of the Lord. The occasion is therefore a similar one to that described in the previous group; for we have already been informed, in Ezekiel 14:1, that elders had come to the prophet to hear God's word from him; but they had not gone so far as to inquire. Here, however (Ezekiel 20), they evidently address a question to the prophet, and through him to the Lord; though the nature of their inquiry is not given, and can only be gathered from the answer, which was given to them by the Lord through the prophet. The ground for the following words of God is therefore essentially the same as for those contained in Ezekiel 14-19; and this serves to explain the relation in which the two groups stand to each other, namely, that Ezekiel 20-24 simply contain a further expansion of the reproachful and threatening addresses of Ezekiel 14-19.

In Ezekiel 20 the prophet points out to the elders, in the form of a historical survey, how rebellious Israel had been towards the Lord from the very first, even in Egypt (Ezekiel 20:5-9) and the desert (Ezekiel 20:10-17 and Ezekiel 20:18-26), both the older and the later generations, how they had sinned against the Lord their God through their idolatry, and how it was only for His own name's sake that the Lord had not destroyed them in His anger (Ezekiel 20:27-31). And as Israel hath not given up idolatry even in Canaan, the Lord would not suffer Himself to be inquired of by the idolatrous generation, but would refine it by severe judgments among the nations (Ezekiel 20:32-38), and sanctify it thereby into a people well-pleasing to Him, and would then gather it again out of the dispersion, and bring it into the land promised to the fathers, where it would serve Him with sacrifices and gifts upon His holy mountain (Ezekiel 20:39-44). This word of God is therefore a more literal repetition of the allegorical description contained in Ezekiel 16.

Date, occasion, and theme of the discourse which follows. - Ezekiel 20:1. And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth (moon), on the tenth of the moon, there came men of the elders of Israel, to inquire of Jehovah, and sat down before me. Ezekiel 20:2. Then the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 20:3. Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Have ye come to inquire of me? As I live, if I suffer myself to be inquired of by you, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 20:4. Wilt thou judge them? Wilt thou judge, O son of man? Make known the abominations of their fathers to them. - If we compare the date given in Ezekiel 20:1 with Ezekiel 8:1, we shall find that this word of God was uttered only eleven months and five days after the one in Ezekiel 8; two years, one month, and five days after the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:2); and two years and five months before the blockading of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Ezekiel 24:1). Consequently it falls almost in the middle of the first section of Ezekiel's prophetic work. דּרשׁ את , to seek Jehovah, i.e., to ask a revelation from Him. The Lord's answer in Ezekiel 20:3 is similar to that in Ezekiel 14:3. Instead of giving a revelation concerning the future, especially with regard to the speedy termination of the penal sufferings, which the elders had, no doubt, come to solicit, the prophet is to judge them, i.e., as the following clause explains, not only in the passage before us, but also in Ezekiel 22:3 and Ezekiel 23:36, to hold up before them the sins and abominations of Israel. It is in anticipation of the following picture of the apostasy of the nation from time immemorial that the sins of the fathers are mentioned here. "No reply is given to the sinners, but chiding for their sins; and He adds the oath, 'as I live,' that the sentence of refusal may be all the stronger" (Jerome). The question התשׁפּוט, which is repeated with emotion, "gives expression to an impatient wish, that the thing could have been done already" (Hitzig). The interrogative form of address is therefore adopted simply as a more earnest mode of giving expression to the command to go and do the thing. Hence the literal explanation of the word התשׁפּוט is also appended in the form of an imperative (הודיעם). - The prophet is to revert to the sins of the fathers, not merely for the purpose of exhibiting the magnitude of the people's guilt, but also to hold up before the sinners themselves, the patience and long-suffering which have hitherto been displayed by the Lord.

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