Ezekiel 24:21
Speak to the house of Israel, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pities; and your sons and your daughters whom you have left shall fall by the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Profane my sanctuary.—Not merely by its destruction, but by the manner of its destruction, the Gentiles being allowed to enter its most sacred precincts, and carry off in triumph its sacred vessels and treasures. It was in the confidence that God would protect this that the last hope of the Jews lay; He tells them that He will Himself profane it.

24:15-27 Though mourning for the dead is a duty, yet it must be kept under by religion and right reason: we must not sorrow as men that have no hope. Believers must not copy the language and expressions of those who know not God. The people asked the meaning of the sign. God takes from them all that was dearest to them. And as Ezekiel wept not for his affliction, so neither should they weep for theirs. Blessed be God, we need not pine away under our afflictions; for should all comforts fail, and all sorrows be united, yet the broken heart and the mourner's prayer are always acceptable before God.The priest in general was to mourn for his dead (Leviticus 21:1 ff); but Ezekiel was to be an exception to the rule. The "tire" was the priest's mitre.

Eat not the bread of men - Food supplied for the comfort of the mourners.

21. excellency of your strength—(compare Am 6:8). The object of your pride and confidence (Jer 7:4, 10, 14).

desire of … eyes—(Ps 27:4). The antitype to Ezekiel's wife (Eze 24:16).

pitieth—loveth, as pity is akin to love: "yearned over."

Profane—an appropriate word. They had profaned the temple with idolatry; God, in just retribution, will profane it with the Chaldean sword, that is, lay it in the dust, as Ezekiel's wife.

sons … daughters … left—the children left behind in Judea, when the parents were carried away.

Now he is commissioned to declare the meaning of that he did.

Speak unto the house of Israel; to them at Babylon by word of mouth, but to them at Jerusalem by letter, or messenger.

Profane my sanctuary; cast off, and put into the hands of heathens, who will regard it no more than any other common building, though it is and hath been long my sanctuary; but you, O Jews, first profaned it with your sins, and now, in my just displeasure against you, I will suffer it to be profaned by the Chaldeans.

The excellency of your strength; so it was whilst God’s presence was there, and whilst the Jews kept it undefiled; it was their confidence, and they trusted in it, though they were fallen from God, Jeremiah 7.

The desire of your eyes; as much your desire as my wife was mine, saith the prophet, most dear to you, as she to me, but this shall be burnt.

Your sons and your daughters; the children which survive to you after these grievous calamities, and in whom you hoped for comfort and posterity, shall die by the conqueror’s sword too, Ezekiel 23:47. Speak unto the house of Israel,.... By word of mouth, to those who were upon the spot with him in Chaldea: and by a messenger, or a letter, to them that were in Judea:

thus saith the Lord of hosts, behold, I will profane my sanctuary; the temple, built for him, and where he dwelt, and was worshipped; where duties performed and holy sacrifices offered up formerly; this he now says he would profane, that is, would bring the Chaldeans against Jerusalem, who should take it, and enter into the temple, and so profane it, and make it common, yea, utterly destroy it:

the excellency of your strength, desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; all which is said of the temple; it was the pride and glory of the Jews, what they boasted of, and put their confidence in, and reckoned their strength and security; it was as dear and as desirable to them as Ezekiel's wife was to him, the emblem of it; the destruction and desolation of which would be pitied by them, and would sensibly affect them upon hearing of it, even in prophecy:

and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword; whom they had left behind them in Judea, when they were carried captive with Jehoiakim, and to whom they hoped to return, as their false prophets had assured them; but so it should not be, for these should die by the sword of the Chaldeans, when the city of Jerusalem should be taken, and the temple profaned; and this should be the case of the sons and daughters of those who then should be carried captive, that should be left in the land; as was the case of Gedaliah, and those that were with him.

Speak to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will {s} profane my sanctuary, the {t} excellence of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.

(s) By sending the Chaldeans to destroy it, as in Geneva Eze 7:22.

(t) In which you boast and delight.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. excellency of your strength] i.e. your proud boast, or, your boasted stronghold (Ezekiel 24:25). The temple is referred to.

that which … pitieth] Or, spareth, i.e. holds dear, Ezekiel 36:21; Job 20:13.Verse 21. - The desire of your eyes. There is something exquisitely pathetic in the iteration of the phrase of Ver. 17. To the priest Ezekiel himself, to the people whom he addressed, the temple was as dear as the wife to the husband. It was also "the pride of their power" (Revised Version), the "pity of their soul" (margin). The former phrase comes from Leviticus 26:19. When that temple should be profaned, when sons and daughters should fall by the sword, then they would do as the prophet had done. They would learn that there is a sorrow which is too deep for tears, something that passeth show. The state which the prophet describes is not one of callousness, or impenitence, or despair. The people shall mourn for their iniquities;" this will be the beginning of repentance. Leviticus 26:39, 40 was obviously in the prophet's thoughts. We note that Ver. 24 is the one solitary passage since Ezekiel 1:3 in which Ezekiel names himself. As single acts and gestures had before (Ezekiel 4:1-12) been a sign of what was coming, so now the man himself was to be in that hour of bereavement. Parable of the Pot with the Boiling Pieces

Ezekiel 24:3. And relate a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Set on the pot, set on and also pour water into it. Ezekiel 24:4. Gather its pieces of flesh into it, all the good pieces, haunch and shoulder, fill it with choice bones. Ezekiel 24:5. Take the choice of the flock, and also a pile of wood underneath for the bones; make it boil well, also cook its bones therein. Ezekiel 24:6. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe! O city of murders! O pot in which is rust, and whose rust doth not depart from it; piece by piece fetch it out, the lot hath not fallen upon it. Ezekiel 24:7. For her blood is in the midst of her; she hath placed it upon the naked rock; she hath not poured it upon the ground, that they might cover it with dust. Ezekiel 24:8. To bring up fury, to take vengeance, I have made her blood come upon the naked rock, that it might not be covered. Ezekiel 24:9. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the city of murders! I also will make the pile of wood great. Ezekiel 24:10. Heap up the wood, stir the fire, do the flesh thoroughly, make the broth boil, that the bones may also be cooked away. Ezekiel 24:11. And set it empty upon the coals thereof, that its brass may become hot and glowing, that the uncleanness thereof may melt within it, its rust pass away. Ezekiel 24:12. He hath exhausted the pains, and her great rust doth not go from her; into the fire with her rust! Ezekiel 24:13. In thine uncleanness is abomination; because I have cleansed thee, and thou hast not become clean, thou wilt no more become clean from thy uncleanness, till I quiet my fury upon thee. Ezekiel 24:14. I Jehovah have spoken it; it cometh, and I will do it; I will not cease, nor spare, nor let it repent me. According to thy ways, and according to thy deeds, shall they judge thee, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah.

The contents of these verses are called משׁל, a proverb or parable; and Ezekiel is to communicate them to the refractory generation. It follows from this that the ensuing act, which the prophet is commanded to perform, is not to be regarded as a symbolical act which he really carried out, but that the act forms the substance of the mâshâl, in other words, belongs to the parable itself. Consequently the interpretation of the parable in vv. 10ff. is clothed in the form of a thing actually done. The pot with the pieces of flesh and the bones, which are to be boiled in it and boiled away, represents Jerusalem with its inhabitants. The fire, with which they are boiled, is the fire of war, and the setting of the pot upon the fire is the commencement of the siege, by which the population of the city is to be boiled away like the flesh and bones in a pot. שׁפת is used, as in 2 Kings 4:38, to signify the setting of a pot by or upon the fire. 'אסף וגו: put in its pieces all together. נתחיה, its pieces of flesh, i.e., the pieces belonging to the cooking-pot. These are defined still more minutely as the best of the pieces of flesh, and of these the thigh (haunch) and shoulder are mentioned as the most important pieces, to which the choicest of the bones are to be added. This is rendered still more emphatic by the further instruction to take the choice of the flock in addition to these. The choicest pieces of flesh and the pieces of bone denote the strongest and ablest portion of the population of the city. To boil these pieces away, more especially the bones, a large fire is requisite. This is indicated by the words, "and also a pile of wood underneath for the bones." דּוּר in Ezekiel 24:5, for which מדוּרה is substituted in Ezekiel 24:9, signifies a pile of wood, and occurs in this sense in Isaiah 30:33, from דּוּר, to lay round, to arrange, pile up. דּוּר cannot mean a heap of bones, on account of the article, but simply a pile of wood for the (previously mentioned) bones, namely, for the purpose of boiling them away. If we pay attention to the article, we shall see that the supposition that Ezekiel was to place a heap of bones under the pot, and the alteration proposed by Bצttcher, Ewald, and Hitzig of העצמים into `eeעצים צים, are alike untenable. Even if דּוּר in itself does not mean a pile of wood, but simply strues, an irregular heap, the fact that it is wood which is piled up is apparent enough from the context. If העצמים had grown out of עצים through a corruption of the text, under the influence of the preceding עצמים, it would not have had an article prefixed. Hitzig also proposes to alter רתחיה into נתחיה, though without any necessity. The fact that רתחים does not occur again proves nothing at all. The noun is added to the verb to intensify its force, and is plurale tant. in the sense of boiling. גּם־בּשׁלוּ וגו' is dependent upon the previous clause גּם taking the place of the copulative ו. בּשׁל, to be cooked, thoroughly done, see the comm. on Exodus 12:9.

In Ezekiel 24:6-8 the interpretation of the parable is given, and that in two trains of thought introduced by לכן (Ezekiel 24:6 and Ezekiel 24:9). The reason for commencing with לכן, therefore, may be found in the fact that in the parable contained in Ezekiel 24:3., or more correctly in the blockade of Jerusalem, which furnished the occasion for the parable, the judgment about to burst upon Jerusalem is plainly indicated. The train of thought is the following: - Because the judgment upon Jerusalem is now about to commence, therefore woe to her, for her blood-guiltiness is so great that she must be destroyed. But the punishment answering to the magnitude of the guilt is so distributed in the two strophes, Ezekiel 24:6-8 and Ezekiel 24:9-13, that the first strophe treats of the punishment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the second, of the punishment of the city itself. To account for the latter feature, there is a circumstance introduced which is not mentioned in the parable itself, namely, the rust upon the pot, and the figure of the pot is thereby appropriately extended. Moreover, in the explanation of the parable the figure and the fact pass repeatedly the one into the other. Because Jerusalem is a city of murders, it resembles a pot on which there are spots of rust that cannot be removed. Ezekiel 24:6 is difficult, and has been expounded in various ways. The ל before the twofold נתחיה is, no doubt, to be taken distributively: according to its several pieces, i.e., piece by piece, bring it out. But the suffix attached to הוציאהּ cannot be taken as referring to סיר, as Kliefoth proposes, for this does not yield a suitable meaning. One would not say: bring out the pot by its pieces of flesh, when nothing more is meant than the bringing of the pieces of flesh out of the pot. And this difficulty is not removed by giving to הוציא the meaning to reach hither. For, apart from the fact that there is nothing in the usage of the language to sustain the meaning, reach it hither for the purpose of setting it upon the fire, one would not say: reach hither the pot according to its several pieces of flesh, piece by piece, when all that was meant was, bring hither the pot filled with pieces of flesh. The suffix to הוציאהּ refers to the city (עיר), i.e., to its population, "to which the blood-guiltiness really adhered, and not to its collection of houses" (Hitzig). It is only in appearance also that the suffix to נתחיה refers to the pot; actually it refers to the city, i.e., to the whole of its population, the different individuals in which are the separate pieces of flesh. The meaning of the instructions therefore is by no means doubtful: the whole of the population to be found in Jerusalem is to be brought out, and that without any exception, inasmuch as the lot, which would fall upon one and not upon another, will not be cast upon her. There is no necessity to seek for any causal connection between the reference to the rust upon the pot and the bringing out of the pieces of flesh that are cooking within it, and to take the words as signifying that all the pieces, which had been rendered useless by the rust upon the pot, were to be taken out and thrown away (Hvernick); but through the allusion to the rust the interpretation already passes beyond the limits of the figure. The pieces of the flesh are to be brought out, after they have been thoroughly boiled, to empty the pot, that it may then be set upon the fire again, to burn out the rust adhering to it (Ezekiel 24:11). There is no force in Kliefoth's objection, that this exposition does not agree with the context, inasmuch as, "according to the last clause of Ezekiel 24:5 and Ezekiel 24:10 and Ezekiel 24:11, the pieces of flesh and even the bones are not to be taken out, but to be boiled away by a strong fire; and the pot is to become empty not by the fact that the pieces of flesh are taken out and thrown away, but by the pieces being thoroughly boiled away, first to broth and then to nothing." For "boiling away to nothing" is not found in the text, but simply that even the bones are to be thoroughly done, so as to turn into the softness of jelly. - So far as the fact is concerned, we cannot follow the majority of commentators, who suppose that the reference is simply to the carrying away of the inhabitants into exile. Bringing the pieces of flesh out of the pot, denotes the sweeping away of the inhabitants from the city, whether by death (vid., Ezekiel 11:7) or by their being carried away captive. The city is to be emptied of men in consequence of its being blockaded by the king of Babylon. The reason of this is given in Ezekiel 24:7 and Ezekiel 24:8, where the guilt of Jerusalem is depicted. The city has shed blood, which is not covered with earth, but has been left uncovered, like blood poured out upon a hard rock, which the stone cannot absorb, and which cries to God for vengeance, because it is uncovered (cf. Genesis 4:10; Job 16:18; and Isaiah 26:21). The thought is this: she has sinned in an insolent and shameless manner, and has done nothing to cover her sin, has shown no sign of repentance or atonement, by which she might have got rid of her sin. This has all been ordered by God. He has caused the blood that was shed to fall upon a bare rock, that it might lie uncovered, and He might be able to execute vengeance for the crime.

The second turn in the address (Ezekiel 24:9) commences in just the same manner as the first in Ezekiel 24:6, and proceeds with a further picture of the execution of punishment. To avenge the guilt, God will make the pile of wood large, and stir up a fierce fire. The development of this thought is given in Ezekiel 24:10 in the form of a command addressed to the prophet, to put much wood underneath, and to kindle a fire, so that both flesh and bones may boil away. התם, from תּמם, to finish, complete; with בּשׂר, to cook thoroughly. There are differences of opinion as to the true meaning of הרקח ; but the rendering sometimes given to רקח, namely, to spice, is at all events unsuitable, and cannot be sustained by the usage of the language. It is true that in Exodus 30:25. the verb רקח is used for the preparation of the anointing oil, but it is not the mixing of the different ingredients that is referred to, but in all probability the thorough boiling of the spices, for the purpose of extracting their essence, so that "thorough boiling" is no doubt the true meaning of the word. In Job 41:23 (31), מרקחה is the boiling unguent-pot. יחרוּ is a cohortative Hiphil, from חרר, to become red-hot, to be consumed. - Ezekiel 24:11. When the flesh and bones have thus been thoroughly boiled, the pot is to be placed upon the coals empty, that the rust upon it may be burned away by the heat. The emptying of the pot or kettle by pouring out the flesh, which has been boiled to broth, is passed over as self-evident. The uncleanness of the pot is the rust upon it. תּתּם is an Aramaean form for תּתּם equals תּתּם. Michaelis has given the true explanation of the words: "civibus caesis etiam urbs consumetur" (when the inhabitants are slain, the city itself will be destroyed).

(Note: Hitzig discovers a Hysteronproteron in this description, because the cleaning of the pot ought to have preceded the cooking of the flesh in it, and not to have come afterwards, and also because, so far as the actual fact is concerned, the rust of sin adhered to the people of the city, and not to the city itself as a collection of houses. But neither of these objections is sufficient to prove what Hitzig wants to establish, namely, that the untenable character of the description shows that it is not really a prophecy; nor is there any force in them. It is true that if one intended to boil flesh in a pot for the purpose if eating, the first thing to be done would be to clean the pot itself. But this is not the object in the present instance. The flesh was simply to be thoroughly boiled, that it might be destroyed and thrown away, and there was no necessity to clean the pot for this purpose. And so far as the second objection is concerned, the defilement of sin does no doubt adhere to man, though not, as Hitzig assumes, to man alone. According to the Old Testament view, it extends to things as well (vid., Leviticus 18:25; Leviticus 27:28). Thus leprosy, for example, did not pollute men only, but clothes and houses also. And for the same reason judgments were not restricted to men, but also fell upon cities and lands.)

In Ezekiel 24:12. the reason is given, which rendered it necessary to inflict this exterminating judgment. In Ezekiel 24:12 the address still keeps to the figure, but in Ezekiel 24:13 it passes over to the actual fact. It (the pot) has exhausted the pains (תּאנים, ἁπ λεγ.., namely, as Ezekiel 24:13 clearly shows, the pains, or wearisome exertions, to make it clean by milder means, and not (as Hitzig erroneously infers from the following clause) to eat away the rust by such extreme heat. הלאת, third pers. Hiphil of לאה fo lih, is the earlier form, which fell into almost entire disuse in later times (vid., Ges. 75, Anm. 1). The last words of Ezekiel 24:11, I agree with Hitzig, Hvernick, and others, in taking as an exclamation. Because the pot has exhausted all the efforts made to cleanse it, its rust is to go into the fire. In Ezekiel 24:13 Jerusalem is addressed, and זמּה is not a genitive belonging to בּטמאתך, "on account of thy licentious uncleanness" (Ewald and Hitzig), but a predicate, "in thine uncleanness is (there lies) זמּה, i.e., an abomination deserving of death" (see Leviticus 18:17 and Leviticus 20:14, where the fleshly sins, which are designated as zimmâh, are ordered to be punished with death). The cleansings which God had attempted, but without Jerusalem becoming clean, consisted in the endeavour, which preceded the Chaldean judgment of destruction, to convert the people from their sinful ways, partly by threats and promises communicated through the prophets (vid., 2 Chronicles 36:15), and partly by means of chastisements. For הניח חמה, see Ezekiel 5:13. In Ezekiel 24:14 there is a summary of the whole, which brings the threat to a close.

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