Ezekiel 22:25
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the middle 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 middle thereof.
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(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.

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). 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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