Ezekiel 22:25
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) A conspiracy of her prophets.—The opposition of false prophets to the Divine measures for the reformation of the people is continually spoken of (comp. Ezekiel 13, Zephaniah 3:4, and many passages in Jeremiah) as among the most serious obstacles to the work of the true prophets: there is also frequent mention of them in history (1 Kings 22, &c), as they had been foretold from of old in prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Nothing, it may be observed, could have afforded more plausible excuse to the people for not obeying the Divine admonitions than an opposing “Thus saith the Lord.” The greed of the false prophets and the disastrous effects of their counsel are spoken of here in stronger terms than in any other passage.

22:23-31 All orders and degrees of men had helped to fill the measure of the nation's guilt. The people that had any power abused it, and even the buyers and sellers find some way to oppress one another. It bodes ill to a people when judgments are breaking in upon them, and the spirit of prayer is restrained. Let all who fear God, unite to promote his truth and righteousness; as wicked men of every rank and profession plot together to run them down.The sixth word of judgment. The special sins of princes, priests, and people.25. conspiracy—The false prophets have conspired both to propagate error and to oppose the messages of God's servants. They are mentioned first, as their bad influence extended the widest.

prey—Their aim was greed of gain, "treasure, and precious things" (Ho 6:9; Zep 3:3, 4; Mt 23:14).

made … many widows—by occasioning, through false prophecies, the war with the Chaldeans in which the husbands fell.

A conspiracy; a contrivance, or framing among themselves a design, to speak all alike flattering, smooth words, and give out promises of peace and safety, when there was no peace; they would have the Jews believe in little time the vessels of the Lord’s house, and the Lord’s people in Babylon, should be brought back, as Jeremiah 28:1-4: and whereas Jeremiah faithfully told them that it would be no such thing, but that the rest of the vessels, and Zedekiah, and the people should be carried away into Babylon, they conspire against him, and such as he was, Jeremiah 20:2 26:8 29:25,26, and persecute them with one consent and mind.

Of her prophets; hers, not God’s prophets, the false prophets, such as Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:1,2.

In the midst thereof; of the land, but principally in Jerusalem, the metropolis, and residence of the court, where were such as loved to be flattered, and of whom flatterers might make gain.

Like a roaring lion, whom hunger enrageth, and maketh roar in most dreadful manner, as some observe of them, when they hunt their prey, and when they have seized and are tearing it; so did these false prophets with cruelty and fierceness pursue the true prophets, and such as believed their word, feared the judgments, and mourned for the sins of a self-ruining people.

They have devoured souls; have eat up, impoverished, and sucked dry, men that relieved and maintained them, the guise of all false prophets; or they have taken, in their complotting, and swallowed down whole the persons that disbelieved and opposed their lies.

Taken the treasure; they did not without reward tell their lies, nor would prophesy without a reward out of the treasures of those that advised with them; so they drained the people of their riches.

And precious things; either it is a further explication of what he had said, or possibly it may tell us, that where money was not to be had, these false prophets would demand something of value; and, if it were money’s worth, they were then for bartering the prophecies: so they gulled these sots.

Made her many widows; one while by raising persecutions, and cutting off husbands from their wives; another while, and which most agrees with the place, persuading, encouraging, and bewitching Zedekiah, and the princes, and people to hold out the war, and run all hazards and extremities of that siege, which filled Jerusalem with dead husbands and forlorn widows.

There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof,.... Not of the prophets of the Lord, but of her prophets; such as were agreeable to her, the false prophets. The Targum renders it,

"a company of scribes;''

the interpreters of the law; these entered into a confederacy together against the true prophets, and agreed to prophesy the same things, to flatter the people with peace and prosperity, when sudden destruction was at hand:

like a roaring lion ravening the prey; that roars when hungry, and while it is tearing the prey in pieces; so these false prophets thundered out their menaces against the true prophets, and those that adhered to them; clamouring against them as enemies to the state; and threatening them with accusations to it; and carrying on a judicial process against them:

they have devoured souls; persecuted men to death, that would not give credit to their prophecies; and destroyed the souls of those that did, with their false doctrines and prophecies:

they have taken the treasure and precious things; of those they destroyed; or of others, for prophesying smooth things to them; filthy lucre being the principal thing they had in view:

they have made her many widows in the midst thereof; by persecuting their husbands to death for not believing their prophecies; or by persuading to hold out the siege, under a notion of deliverance; whereby the lives of many were lost by the sword, famine, and pestilence, to whose death they might be said to be accessary.

There is a conspiracy {n} of her prophets in the midst of her, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst of her.

(n) The false prophets have conspired together to make their doctrine more probable.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. conspiracy of her prophets] More probably with LXX., whose princes in the midst of her are like … The prophets are spoken of Ezekiel 22:28. The “princes” are those of the royal house, ch. Ezekiel 19:1, Ezekiel 21:12, Ezekiel 22:6, Ezekiel 45:8-9; those called “princes” in Ezekiel 22:27 are the chiefs or heads of the people.

have taken the treasure] i.e. by violence from others, Jeremiah 20:5.

her many widows] her widows many. Corn, their palaces, cf. ch. Ezekiel 19:7, Jeremiah 22:13-17. The change is unnecessary, Jeremiah 15:8.

Verse 25. - A conspiracy of prophets. The prophet's thoughts go back to Ezekiel 13:1-16, from which, in Ver. 28, he actually quotes It is probable that, in the interval, fresh tidings had reached him of the evil work which they were doing at Jerusalem. The LXX. ἀφηγούμενοι (equivalent to "princes") suggests that they followed a different text, and this is adopted by Keil and Hitzig. Like a roaring lion (comp. Ezekiel 19:2, 3; 1 Peter 5:8). The word probably points to the loud declamations of the false prophets (compare, as a striking parallel, Zephaniah 3:3, 4). Ezekiel 22:25The corrupt state of all classes in the kingdom is the immediate cause of its destruction. - Ezekiel 22:23. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 22:24. Son of man, say to it, Thou art a land which is not shined upon, nor rained upon in the day of anger. Ezekiel 22:25. Conspiracy of its prophets is within it; like a roaring lion, which rends in pieces the prey, they devour souls, take possessions and money; they multiply its widows within it. Ezekiel 22:26. Its priests violate my law and profane my holy things; they make no distinction between holy and unholy, and do not teach the difference between clean and unclean, and they hide their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Ezekiel 22:27. Its princes in the midst of it are like wolves, which rend prey in pieces, that they may shed blood, destroy souls, to acquire gain. Ezekiel 22:28. And its prophets plaster it with cement, seeing what is worthless, and diving lies for them, saying, "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah," when Jehovah hath not spoken. Ezekiel 22:29. The common people offer violence and commit theft; they crush the wretched and the poor, and oppress the foreigner against right. Ezekiel 22:30. I seek among them for a man who might build a wall and step into the breach before me on behalf of the land, that I might not destroy it, but I find none. Ezekiel 22:31. Therefore I pour out my anger upon them; I destroy them in the fire of my wrath, I give their way upon their head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show the necessity for the predicted judgment still more clearly, in the third word of God contained in this chapter a description is given of the spread of deep corruption among all classes of the people, and the impossibility of saving the kingdom is plainly shown. The words אמר־להּ, "say unto her," are taken by most of the commentators as referring to Jerusalem, the abominations of which the prophet is commanded to declare. But although the clause, "thou art a land," etc. (Ezekiel 22:24), could unquestionably be made to harmonize with this, yet the words of Ezekiel 22:30, "I sought for a man who might stand in the gap before Jehovah for the land," indicate most unquestionably that this word of God is directed against the land of Judah, and consequently להּ must be taken as referring to ארץ which follows, the pronoun is this case being placed before the noun to which it refers, as in Numbers 24:17. Any allusion to the city of Jerusalem would therefore be somewhat out of place, inasmuch as in the preceding word of God the object referred to was not the city, but the house of Israel, or the nation generally, from which a transition is here made to the land, or the kingdom of Judah. The meaning of Ezekiel 22:24 is a disputed question. לא מטהרה היא, which is rendered ἡ οὐ βρεχομένηin the Sept., is taken by most of the expositors to mean, "it is not cleansed," the form מטהרה being correctly rendered as a participle Pual of טהר. But this rendering does not furnish any appropriate sense, unless the following words לא גּשׁמהּ are taken as a threat: there shall not be rain, or it shall not be rained upon in the day of wrath. But this view is hardly reconcilable with the form of the word. גּשׁמהּ, according to the Masoretic pointing with Mappik in the ה, is evidently meant to be taken as a noun גּשׁם equals גּשׁם. In that case, if the words were intended to contain a threat, יהיה ought not to be omitted. But without a verb the words contain a statement in harmony with what precedes. We regard the Chetib גשׁמה as the perfect Pual גּשׁמהּ. And let it not be objected to this that the Pual of this verb is not met with elsewhere, for the form of the noun גּשׁם with the u sound does not occur anywhere else. As a perfect Pual, לא גּשׁמהּ is a simple continuation of the participial clause לא מטהרה היא, containing like this an affirmation, and cannot possibly be taken as a threat or prediction. But "not cleansed" and "not rained upon" do not agree together, as rain is not a means of purification according to the Hebrew idea. It is true that in the law the withdrawal or suspension of rain is threatened as a punishment from God, and the pouring out of rain is promised as a theocratical blessing. But even if the words are taken in a tropical sense, as denoting a withdrawal of the blessings of divine grace, they will not harmonize with the other clause, "not cleansed." We therefore take מטהרה in the sense of "shined upon by the light," or provided with brightness; a meaning which is sustained by Exodus 24:10, where tohar occurs in the sense of splendour, and by the kindred word tzohar, light. In this way we obtain the suitable thought, land which has neither sunlight nor rain in the day of wrath, i.e., does not enjoy a single trace of the divine blessing, but is given up to the curse of barrenness.

The reason for this threat is given in Ezekiel 22:25., where a picture is drawn of the moral corruption of all ranks; viz., of the prophets (Ezekiel 22:25), the priests (Ezekiel 22:26), the princes (Ezekiel 22:27), and the common people (Ezekiel 22:29). There is something very striking in the allusion to the prophets in Ezekiel 22:25, not so much because they are mentioned again in Ezekiel 22:28, - for this may be accounted for on the ground that in the latter passage they are simply introduced as false advisers of the princes, - as on account of the statement made concerning them in Ezekiel 22:25, namely, that, like lions tearing their prey, they devour souls, etc.; a description which is not given either in Ezekiel 13 or elsewhere. Hitzig therefore proposes to alter נביאיה into נשׂיאיה, after the rendering ἀφηγούμενοι given by the lxx. This alteration of the text, which confines itself to a single letter, is rendered very plausible by the fact that almost the same is affirmed of the persons mentioned in Ezekiel 22:25 as of the princes in Ezekiel 22:27, and that in the passage in Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:3-4), which is so similar to the one before us, that Ezekiel appears to have had it in his mind, the princes (שׂריה) and the judges (שׁפטיה) are called the prophets and the priests. The נשׂיאים here would correspond to the שׂרים of Zephaniah, and the שׂרים to the שׁפטים. According to Ezekiel 22:6, the נשׂיאים would indicate primarily the members of the royal family, possibly including the chief officers of the crown; and the שׂרים eht dna ;n (Ezekiel 22:27) would be the heads of tribes, of families, and of fathers' houses, in whose hands the national administration of justice principally lay (cf. Exodus 18:19.; Deuteronomy 1:13-18; and my Bibl. Archol. ii. 149). I therefore prefer this conjecture, or correction, to the Masoretic reading, although the latter is supported by ancient witnesses, such as the Chaldee with its rendering ספרהא, scribes, and the version of Jerome. For the statement which the verse contains is not applicable to prophets, and the best explanation given of the Masoretic text - namely, that by Michaelis, "they have made a compact with one another as to what kind of teaching they would or would not give; and in order that their authority may continue undisturbed, they persecute even to blood those who do not act with them, or obey them, but rather contradict" - does not do justice to the words, but weakens their sense. קשׁר is not a predicate to 'נב, "they are (i.e., form) a conspiracy;" but 'נב is a genitive. At the same time, there is no necessity to take קשׁר in the sense of "company," a rendering which cannot be sustained. The fact that in what follows, where the comparison to lions is introduced, the נביאים (נשׂיאים) are the subject, simply proves that in the first clause also these men actually form the prominent idea. There is no ground for supplying המּה to 'כּארי (they are like, etc.); but the simile is to be linked on to the following clause. נפשׁ אכלוּ is to be explained from the comparison to a lion, which devours the prey that it has captured in its blood, in which is the soul, or nephesh (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11.). The thought is this: in their insatiable greed for riches they sacrifice men and put them to death, and thereby multiply the number of victims (for the fact, see Ezekiel 19:5, Ezekiel 19:7). What is stated in Ezekiel 22:26 concerning the priests is simply a further expansion of Zephaniah 3:4, where the first two clauses occur word for word; for קדשׁ in Zephaniah is really equivalent to קדשׁי, holy things and deeds. The desecration of the holy things consisted in the fact that they made no distinction between sacred and profane, clean and unclean. For the fact, compare Leviticus 10:10-11. Their covering their eyes from the Sabbaths showed itself in their permitting the Sabbaths to be desecrated by the people, without offering any opposition (cf. Jeremiah 17:27).

The comparison of the rulers (sārim) to ravening wolves is taken from Zephaniah 3:3. Destroying souls to acquire gain is perfectly applicable to unjust judges, inasmuch as, according to Exodus 18:21, the judges were to hate בּצע. All that is affirmed in Ezekiel 22:28 of the conduct of the false prophets is repeated for the most part verbatim from Ezekiel 13:10,Ezekiel 13:9, and Ezekiel 13:7. By להם, which points back to the three classes of men already mentioned, and not merely to the sārim, the prophets are represented as helpers of those who support the ungodly in their wicked ways, by oracles which assured them of prosperity. עם (Ezekiel 22:29), as distinguished from the spiritual and secular rulers of the nation, signifies the common people. With reference to their sins and wickednesses, see Ezekiel 18:7, Ezekiel 18:12, Ezekiel 18:18; and for the command against oppressing the poor and foreigners, compare Exodus 22:20-21; Deuteronomy 24:17. - The corruption is so universal, that not a man is to be found who could enter into the gap as a righteous man, or avert the judgment of destruction by his intercession. מהם refers not merely to the prophets, who did not enter into the gap according to Ezekiel 13:5, but to all the classes previously mentioned. At the same time, it does not follow from this, that entering into the gap by means of intercession cannot be the thing intended, as Hitzig supposes. The expression לפני בּעד הארץ clearly refers to intercession. This is apparent from the simple fact that, as Hitzig himself observes, the intercession of Abraham for Sodom (Genesis 18:13.) was floating before the mind of Ezekiel, since the concluding words of the verse contain an obvious allusion to Genesis 18:28. Because the Lord does not find a single righteous man, who might intercede for the land, He pours out His anger upon it, to destroy the inhabitants thereof. With reference to the fact and the separate words employed, compare Ezekiel 21:36; Ezekiel 7:4; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21, and Ezekiel 16:43. It does not follow from the word ואשׁפּך, that Ezekiel "is speaking after the catastrophe" (Hitzig). For although ואשׁפּך expresses the consequence of Jehovah's seeking a righteous man and not finding one, it by no means follows from the occurrence of the preterite ולא מצאתי that ואשׁפּך is also a preterite. ואשׁפּך is simply connected with ואבקּשׁ as a consequence; and in both verbs the Vav consec. expresses the sequence of thought, and not of time. The seeking, therefore, with the result of not having found, cannot be understood in a chronological sense, i.e., as an event belonging to the past, for the simple reason that the preceding words do not record the chronological order of events. It merely depicts the existing moral condition of the people, and Ezekiel 22:30 sums up the result of the description in the thought that there was no one to be found who could enter in the gap before God. Consequently we cannot determine from the imperfect with Vav consec. either the time of the seeking and not finding, or that of the pouring out of the wrath.

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