Ezekiel 22:18
Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the middle of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.
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(18) Become dross.—The second prophecy (Ezekiel 22:17-22) is occupied with a figure taken from the refining of silver, which is a favourite one with the prophets (see Isaiah 1:25; Jeremiah 6:29; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3). The peculiar appropriateness of this figure has been often noted in the fact that the completion of the process of refining silver in the furnace was determined by the parting of the floating dross and the reflection of the image of the refiner from its molten surface. This figure, while setting forth the punishment of Israel, shows clearly that this punishment was for the purpose of purification.

Ezekiel 22:18-22. The house of Israel is to me become dross — “Their filthiness may be fitly compared to the mixture of dross and baser metals with the pure silver: and as that is purified by being melted in a furnace or crucible, so Jerusalem, when it is set on fire, shall be the furnace into which I will cast them and their wickedness to be consumed: compare Jeremiah 6:28-30. God’s severe judgments are expressed by the furnace of affliction, (Isaiah 48:10,) and compared to a refiner’s fire, (Malachi 3:2; Isaiah 1:25,) because they are designed to purge men from that dross and corruption which are too often the effect of ease and prosperity.” — Lowth. As they gather silver, so will I gather you — From all parts. I will, by a secret, overruling providence, bring you into Jerusalem, as into a furnace where you may be consumed. And I will blow upon you in the fire of my wrath — I will stir or blow up the fire of my wrath against you. God’s vengeance is often compared to fire, but here it was so in a literal sense, when both city and temple were consumed by fire, 2 Kings 25:9.22:17-22 Israel, compared with other nations, had been as the gold and silver compared with baser metals. But they were now as the refuse that is consumed in the furnace, or thrown away when the silver is refined. Sinners, especially backsliding professors, are, in God's account, useless and fit for nothing. When God brings his own people into the furnace, he sits by them as the refiner by his gold, to see that they are not continued there any longer than is fitting and needful. The dross shall be wholly separated, and the good metal purified. Let those who suffer pains, or lingering sickness, and find that their hearts can scarcely bear these light and momentary afflictions, take warning to flee from the wrath to come; for if these trials are not sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the cleansing their hearts and hands from sin, far worse things will come upon them.Dross - A frequent metaphor which denotes not only the corruption of the people, who have become like base metal, but also a future purification whereby, the "dross" being burned away, the remnant of good may appear. 18. dross … brass—Israel has become a worthless compound of the dross of silver (implying not merely corruption, but degeneracy from good to bad, Isa 1:22, especially offensive) and of the baser metals. Hence the people must be thrown into the furnace of judgment, that the bad may be consumed, and the good separated (Jer 6:29, 30). Not a few among many, but universally the whole house of Israel, the seed of him that was a prince with God, the covenant people of God, are strangely degenerate and corrupted, as if purer and richer metals should by worse and worse turn to dross.

All they, from the king to the peasant, the priests, and prophets, and people, are brass; impudent in sin;

and tin; hypocrites, and mixed as tin; and iron; hard, cruel, and oppressive as iron; and lead; stupid and senseless as lead. Though I rather think this particular accommodating these metals somewhat too curious, I judge the prophet chargeth them with a continued degeneracy from bad to worse, by this gradation.

In the midst of the furnace; the afflictions I have laid upon them have not bettered them, they retain their corruptions and vices. While they kept covenant, adhered to my law, kept my worship pure, and loved mercy, did justly, walked humbly with their God, they were as silver; now they are degenerated, and are but the

dross of silver, vile of price, and of little use. Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross,.... Vile, despicable, useless, and unprofitable; to which the wicked of the earth are compared, Psalm 119:119 and here the Lord's professing people, they differing nothing from them, being sadly degenerated; formerly they were as silver, and so they might be reckoned among themselves; but to God, who is omniscient, the searcher of the hearts and reins, who saw all their actions, and knew the spring of them, in his sight they were as dross:

all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace: or "crucible" (f); where they are put together, in order to be set in the furnace, and melted down. It is not usual to put so many different metals together for melting, but separately; but here it seems to intend a mixture of them all together; and so the Targum and Septuagint render it,

"all they as brass, &c. are mixed;''

several metals of the baser sort are here mentioned, by a gradation from the better to the worse; tin being not so good as brass, and iron of less value than either, and lead than any of them. Some think the different characters of the people are here described; impudent persons by "brass"; hypocrites by "tin"; cruel and savage ones by "iron"; and such as were sottish and stupid by "lead"; or, as others, covetous ones:

they are even the dross of silver; once they were like silver, precious and valuable, while they retained the true religion, and the worship of God, and behaved agreeably to their character in the performance of all good works, and were in outward flourishing circumstances; but now degenerated from the pure worship of God, and sunk into idolatry and wickedness, and become poor and miserable.

(f) "catinus", Junius and Tremellius, Polanus, Grotius, Cocceius, Starckius.

Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become {k} dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.

(k) Which before was most precious.

18. dross of silver] In construction “silver” is in apposition with dross. For the figure cf. Isaiah 1:22; Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 6:28-30; Malachi 3:2-3.Verse 18. - The house of Israel is to me become dross, etc. A new parable, based upon Isaiah 1:22, 23 and Jeremiah 6:80, begins, and is carried out with considerable fullness. In Malachi 3:2, 3 we have the same imagery. Baser metals have been mingled with the silver, and must be burnt out, but there is hope, as well as terror, in the parable. Men throw the mixed metals into the smelting-pot in order that the silver may be separated from the dross and come out pure (comp. 1 Peter 1:7). And this was to be the issue of the "fiery trial" through which Jerusalem and its inhabitants were to pass. Blood-guiltiness of Jerusalem and the burden of its sins. Ezekiel 22:1-5 contain the principal accusation relating to bloodshed and idolatry; and Ezekiel 22:6-16 a further account of the sins of the people and their rulers, with a brief threatening of punishment. - Ezekiel 22:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 22:2. And thou, son of man, wilt thou judge? wilt thou judge the city of blood-guiltiness? then show it all its abominations, Ezekiel 22:3. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, City, which sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols within itself for defilement. Ezekiel 22:4. Through thy blood which thou hast shed hast thou made thyself guilty, and through thine idols which thou hast made hast thou defiled thyself, and hast drawn thy days near, and hast come to thy years; therefore I make thee a scorn to the nations, and ridicule to all lands. Ezekiel 22:5. Those near and those far off from thee shall ridicule thee as defiled in name, rich in confusion. - The expression 'התשׁפּט וגו proves this address to be a continuation of the reproof of Israel's sins, which commenced in Ezekiel 20:4. The epithet city of blood-guiltiness, as in Ezekiel EZechariah 24:6, Ezekiel 24:9 (compare Nahum 3:1), is explained in Ezekiel 22:3. The apodosis commences with והודעתּהּ, and is continued in Ezekiel 22:3 (ואמרתּ). לבוא עתּהּ, that her time, i.e., her time of punishment, may come: עתּהּ, like יומו in Ezekiel 21:30. ועשׂתּה is not a continuation of the infinitive לבוא, but of the participle שׁפכת. עליה, of which different renderings have been given, does not mean "over itself," i.e., as a burden with which it has laden itself (Hvernick); still less "for itself" (Hitzig), a meaning which על never has, but literally "upon," i.e., in itself, covering the city with it, as it were. ותּקריבי, thou hast brought near, brought on thy days, that is to say, the days of judgment, and hast come to, arrived at thy years, sc. the years of visitation and punishment (cf. Jeremiah 11:23). This meaning is readily supplied by the context. טמאת ה, defiled, unclean with regard to the name, i.e., having forfeited the name of a holy city through capital crimes and other sinful abominations. מהוּמה is internal confusion, both moral and religious, as in Amos 3:9 (cf. Psalm 55:10-12).

In Ezekiel 22:6-12 there follows an enumeration of a multitude of sins which had been committed in Jerusalem. - Ezekiel 22:6. Behold, the princes of Israel are every one, according to his arm, in thee to shed blood. Ezekiel 22:7. Father and mother they despise in thee; toward the foreigner they act violently in the midst of thee; orphans and widows they oppress in thee. Ezekiel 22:8. Thou despisest my holy things, and desecratest my Sabbaths. Ezekiel 22:9. Slanderers are in thee to shed blood, and they eat upon the mountains in thee; they practise lewdness in thee. Ezekiel 22:10. They uncover the father's nakedness in thee; they ravish the defiled in her uncleanness in thee. Ezekiel 22:11. They take gifts in thee to shed blood; interest and usury thou takest, and overreachest thy neighbours with violence, and thou forgettest me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - By the repetition of the refrain, to shed blood (Ezekiel 22:6, Ezekiel 22:9, and Ezekiel 22:12), the enumeration is divided into three groups of sins, which are placed in the category of blood-guiltiness by the fact that they are preceded by this sentence and the repetition of it after the form of a refrain. the first group (Ezekiel 22:6-8) embraces sins which are committed in daring opposition to all the laws of morality. By the princes of Israel we are to understand primarily the profligate kings, who caused innocent persons to be put to death, such, for example, as Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:4), Manasseh (2 Kings 21:16), and others. The words אישׁ are rendered by Hitzig and Kliefoth, they were ready to help one another; and in support of the rendering they appeal to Psalm 83:9. But in that case אישׁ לזרעו would stand for לזרע אישׁ rof dnat, or rather for אישׁ זרוע לאישׁ, - a substitution which cannot be sustained. Nor can they be taken in the sense proposed by Hvernick, every one relying upon his arm, i.e., looking to physical force alone, but simply every one according to his arm, i.e., according to his strength or violence, are they in thee. In this case היוּ does not require anything to be supplied, any more than in the similar combination in Ezekiel 22:9. Followed by למען with an infinitive, it means to be there with the intention of doing anything, or making an attempt, i.e., to direct his efforts to a certain end. In Ezekiel 22:7 it is not the princes who are the subject, but the ungodly in general. הקלּוּ is the opposite of כּבּד (Exodus 20:12). In the reproofs which follow, compare Exodus 22:20.; Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14. With insolence and violence toward men there is associated contempt of all that is holy. For Ezekiel 22:8, see Ezekiel 20:13. - In the second group, Ezekiel 22:9-11, in addition to slander and idolatry, the crimes of lewdness and incest are the principal sins for which the people are reproved; and here the allusion to Leviticus 18 and 19 is very obvious. The reproof of slander also points back to the prohibition in Leviticus 19:16. Slander to shed blood, refers to malicious charges and false testimony in a court of justice (vid., 1 Kings 21:10-11). For eating upon the mountains, see Ezekiel 18:6. The practice of zimmâh is more specifically described in Ezekiel 22:10 and Ezekiel 22:11. For the thing itself, compare Leviticus 18:7-8; Leviticus 19:15 and Leviticus 19:9. The threefold אישׁ in Ezekiel 22:11 does not mean every one, but one, another, and the third, as the correlative רעהוּ shows. - The third group, Ezekiel 22:12, is composed of sins of covetousness. For the first clause, compare the prohibition in Exodus 23:2; for the second, Ezekiel 18:8, Ezekiel 18:13. The reproof finishes with forgetfulness of God, which is closely allied to covetousness.

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