Ezekiel 20:7
Then said I to them, Cast you away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezekiel 20:7-9. Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes — The idols to which your eyes are lifted up. One of the chief allurements to the worship of images is, that by way of indulgence to men’s imagination, they exhibit a visible object of adoration. This was what the Israelites were so fond of, when they said to Aaron, Make us gods to go before us, Exodus 32:1. And defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt — It is generally supposed that the Israelites, while they dwelt in Egypt, learned the idolatry of that country: the fact indeed is not recorded in the books of Moses; but it may be collected from their proneness to that sin in the wilderness. But they rebelled against me — The history of the rebellions of the children of Israel begins as early as their beginning. So does the history of man’s apostacy from his Maker. No sooner have we read the story of his creation than we meet with that of his rebellion. So we see here it was with Israel; a people designed to represent the body of mankind, both in their dealings with God, and in God’s dealings with them. Then I said, I threatened, I will pour out my fury upon them — Such a threatening as this is nowhere recorded in the Scriptures no more than that which follows Ezekiel 20:23 of this chapter. Without question God might have justly cut them off in Egypt for their idolatries and other sins which they had committed, and never exerted his power for their deliverance. But I wrought for my name’s sake — For the glory of my mercy and faithfulness. That it should not be polluted before the heathen — Reproached and blasphemed. This is elsewhere assigned as the reason why God did not punish the Israelites according to their deserts, namely, because it would have turned to God’s dishonour in the judgment of the heathen world, as if he had not been able to make good those promises which he had given them. This was a proper consideration to check the vain presumption of the Jews, who imagined that God’s gracious dealings with them were owing to their own merits.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.The children of Israel in Egypt were warned to abstain from the idolatry of the pagan. This purpose they lost sight of, yet God spared them and brought them into another state of probation.

Ezekiel 20:5

Lifted up mine hand - i. e., sware, because the hand was lifted up in adjuration.

7. Moses gives no formal statement of idolatries practised by Israel in Egypt. But it is implied in their readiness to worship the golden calf (resembling the Egyptian ox, Apis) (Ex 32:4), which makes it likely they had worshipped such idols in Egypt. Also, in Le 17:7, "They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils (literally, seirim, 'he-goats,' the symbol of the false god, Pan), after whom they have gone awhoring." The call of God by Moses was as much to them to separate from idols and follow Jehovah, as it was to Pharaoh to let them go forth. Ex 6:6, 7 and Jos 24:14, expressly mention their idolatry "in Egypt." Hence the need of their being removed out of the contagion of Egyptian idolatries by the exodus.

every man—so universal was the evil.

of his eyes—It was not fear of their Egyptian masters, but their own lust of the eye that drew them to idols (Eze 6:9; 18:6).

Then, Heb. And, which connects the words; and though we read it then, this doth not point out the time when God spake this, though it is certain, when he had brought them out of Egypt he gave them his ordinances and laws of worship; nay, it is sufficiently included, in that they were to go out that they might serve the Lord.

Cast ye away every man; let every one of you, man by man, and family by family, cast away with abhorrence and indignation; the word is used Ezekiel 18:31.

The abominations of his eyes; which your eyes should have abhorred, but you rather lifted up your eyes to them, and looked for help from them; and it includes their own voluntary act in this idolatry.

Defile not yourselves with the idols: this explains the former passage.

Of Egypt; which were in veneration among the Egyptians, and with whose worship too many of them had been insnared and polluted while they were in Egypt.

I am the Lord your God; the only true God, and therefore you should worship none other. See Ezekiel 20:6. You are my covenant people, and therefore ought to have no other God as Exodus 20:3. Thus God prepared them, by his mercies and by his law, for himself. Then I said unto them,.... Having promised and swore to do such great and good things for them; which must lay them under an obligation to regard what he should command them: promises and blessings of goodness are great incentives to duty, and lay under great obligation to it:

cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes; which should be so, meaning idols; but which his eyes were taken with, and were lifted up unto, as his gods; though they ought to have been rejected with the utmost abhorrence, as abominable:

and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt; their "dunghill gods", as the word (f) signifies; which to worship, as it was an abomination to God, was defiling to themselves; yet these they were fond of, and prone to worship them; their eyes and their hearts were after them; and they needed such cautions and instructions as these, backed with the following strong reason against such idolatry:

I am the Lord your God; their Creator and Benefactor, their covenant God; the only Lord God, and whom only they ought to serve and worship; to whom they were under ten thousand obligations; and who was infinitely above all the idols of Egypt.

(f) "stercoreis diis", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; "stercoribus", Piscator, Cocceius.

Then said I to them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, {d} and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

(d) God had forbidden them to make mention of the idols, Ex 23:13, Ps 16:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. abominations of his eyes] Those to which his eyes and desires were directed, the idols, cf. Ezekiel 18:6; Numbers 15:39. The prophet charges Israel with idolatry in Egypt (ch. Ezekiel 23:3). Though history as we have it says little of such a thing, it may be assumed as certain, considering the people’s receptivity to the worship of their neighbours throughout their history. The same view, Joshua 24:14; cf. Leviticus 18:3.

The question how far Jehovah was known and worshipped in Egypt is an obscure one. The name could not have been altogether unknown or the people could not have been rallied by Moses to his service nor induced to put themselves under his protection. That his worship, however, was mixed with impurities may be assumed. How far the people partook in the worship of Egyptian deities cannot be ascertained.Verses 7-10. - No special mention of the idols of Egypt occurs in the Pentateuch, but it lies, in the nature of the case, that this was the form of idolatry implied in the second commandment, and the history of the "golden calf" (Exodus 32:4) shows that they had caught the infection of the Mnevis or Apis worship while they sojourned in Egypt. Here apparently the prophet speaks of that sojourn prior to the mission of Moses. In bold anthropomorphic speech he represents Jehovah as half purposing to make an end of the people there and then, and afterwards repenting. He wrought for his Name's sake, that the deliverance of the Exodus might manifest his righteousness and might, the attributes specially implied in that Name, to Egypt and the surrounding nations. They should not have it in their power to say that he had abandoned the people whom he had chosen. Capture and Exile of the Princes

Ezekiel 19:1. And do thou raise a lamentation for the princes of Israel, Ezekiel 19:2. And say, Why did thy mother, a lioness, lie down among lionesses; bring up her whelps among young lions? Ezekiel 19:3. And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and he learned to take prey; he devoured man. Ezekiel 19:4. And nations heard of him; he was caught in their pit, and they brought him with nose-rings into the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 19:5. And when she saw that her hope was exhausted, overthrown, she took one of her whelps, made it a young lion. Ezekiel 19:6. And he walked among lionesses, he became a young lion, and learned to take prey. He devoured man. Ezekiel 19:7. He knew its widows, and laid waste their cities; and the land and its fulness became waste, at the voice of his roaring. Ezekiel 19:8. Then nations round about from the provinces set up against him, and spread over him their net: he was caught in their pit. Ezekiel 19:9. And they put him in the cage with nose-rings, and brought him to the king of Babylon: brought him into a fortress, that his voice might not be heard any more on the mountains of Israel.

The princes of Israel, to whom the lamentation applies, are the king (נשׂיא, as in Ezekiel 12:10), two of whom are so clearly pointed out in Ezekiel 19:4 and Ezekiel 19:9, that there is no mistaking Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin. This fact alone is sufficient to protect the plural נשׂיאי against the arbitrary alteration into the singular נשׂיא, proposed by Houbigant and Hitzig, after the reading of the lxx. The lamentation is not addressed to one particular prince, either Zedekiah (Hitzig) or Jehoiachin (Ros., Maurer), but to Israel as a nation; and the mother (Ezekiel 19:2) is the national community, the theocracy, out of which the kings were born, as is indisputably evident from Ezekiel 19:10. The words from מה to רבצה form one sentence. It yields no good sense to separate מה אמּך from רבצה, whether we adopt the rendering, "what is thy mother?" or take מה with לביּא and render it, "how is thy mother a lioness?" unless, indeed, we supply the arbitrary clause "now, in comparison with what she was before," or change the interrogative into a preterite: "how has thy mother become a lioness?" The lionesses, among which Israel lay down, are the other kingdoms, the Gentile nations. The words have no connection with Genesis 49:9, where Judah is depicted as a warlike lion. The figure is a different one here. It is not so much the strength and courage of the lion as its wildness and ferocity that are the points of resemblance in the passage before us. The mother brings up her young ones among young lions, so that they learn to take prey and devour men. גּוּר is the lion's whelp, catulus; כּפיר, the young lion, which is old enough to go out in search of prey. ותּעל is a Hiphil, in the tropical sense, to cause to spring up, or grow up, i.e., to bring up. The thought is the following: Why has Israel entered into fellowship with the heathen nations? Why, then, has it put itself upon a level with the heathen nations, and adopted the rapacious and tyrannical nature of the powers of the world? The question "why then?" when taken with what follows, involves the reproof that Israel has struck out a course opposed to its divine calling, and will now have to taste the bitter fruits of this assumption of heathen ways. The heathen nations have taken captive its king, and led him away into heathen lands. ישׁמעוּ אליו, they heard of him (אליו for עליו). The fate of Jehoahaz, to which Ezekiel 19:4 refers, is related in 2 Kings 23:31. - Ezekiel 19:5-7 refer to Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, and not to Zedekiah, as Hitzig imagines. For the fact that Jehoiachin went out of his own accord to the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:12), is not at variance with the figure contained in Ezekiel 19:8, according to which he was taken (as a lion) in a net. He simply gave himself up to the king of Babylon because he was unable to escape from the besieged city. Moreover, Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are simply mentioned as examples, because they both fell into the hands of the world-powers, and their fate showed clearly enough "what the end must inevitably be, when Israelitish kings became ambitious of being lions, like the kings of the nations of the world" (Kliefoth). Jehoiakim was not so suitable an example as the others, because he died in Jerusalem. נוחלה, which has been explained in different ways, we agree with Ewald in regarding as the Niphal of יחל equals חוּל, in the sense of feeling vexed, being exhausted or deceived, like the Syriac ̀ewaḥel, viribus defecit, desperavit. For even in Genesis 8:12, נוחל simply means to wait; and this is inapplicable here, as waiting is not equivalent to waiting in vain. The change from חוּל to יחל is established by Judges 3:25, where חוּל or חיל occurs in the sense of יחל. In Judges 3:7, the figurative language passes into a literal description of the ungodly course pursued by the king. He knew, i.e., dishonoured, its (Israel's, the nation's) widows. The Targum reads וירע here instead of וידע, and renders it accordingly, "he destroyed its palaces;" and Ewald has adopted the same rendering. But רעע, to break, or smash in pieces, e.g., a vessel (Psalm 2:9), is never used for the destruction of buildings; and אלמנות does not mean palaces (ארמנות), but windows. There is nothing in the use of the word in Isaiah 13:22 to support the meaning "palaces," because the palaces are simply called ̀almânōth (widows) there, with a sarcastic side glance at their desolate and widowed condition. Other conjectures are still more inadmissible. The thought is as follows: Jehoiachin went much further than Jehoahaz. He not only devoured men, but laid hands on defenceless widows, and laid the cities waste to such an extent that the land with its inhabitants became perfectly desolate through his rapacity. The description is no doubt equally applicable to his father Jehoiakim, in whose footsteps Jehoiachin walked, since Jehoiakim is described in Jeremiah 22:13. as a grievous despot and tyrant. In Ezekiel 19:8 the object רשׁתּם also belongs to יתּנוּ: they set up and spread out their net. The plural מצדות is used in a general and indefinite manner: in lofty castles, mountain-fortresses, i.e., in one of them (cf. Judges 12:7).

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