Ezekiel 3:15
Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
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(15) I came to them of the captivity at Telabib.—Ezekiel now leaves the place where he had been, and comes to Tel-abib, which is described as still by the same “river of Chebar,” and which signifies the “mound of ears (of grain),” and was probably a place of especial fruitfulness, but which cannot be further identified. It appears to have been the central place of the captivity.

I sat where they sat is an expression of so much difficulty in the Hebrew, that it has given rise to various readings in the manuscripts, and to a marginal correction which has been followed by the English. Probably the vowel-pointing of the first word should be changed, and it will then read, “and I saw where they sat.”

Remained there astonished among them seven days.—Comp. Daniel 4:19; Ezra 9:3-4. The word implies a fixed and determined silence. “To be silent was the characteristic of mourners (Lamentations 3:28); to sit, their proper attitude (Isaiah 3:26; Lamentations 1:1); seven days, the set time of mourning (Job 2:13).” By this act the prophet shows his deep sympathy with his people in their affliction. This week of silent meditation among those to whom he was commissioned to speak corresponds, as already said, to the week of the consecration of his fathers to their priestly office (Leviticus 8). Such a season of retirement and thought has been given to other great religious leaders—to Moses, in his forty years of exile; to Elijah, in his forty days in Mount Horeb (1Kings 19:4-8); to St. Paul, in his journey to Arabia (Galatians 1:17); and to our Lord Himself, when He went into the wilderness after His baptism.

Ezekiel 3:15. Then I came to them of the captivity — To those of my countrymen who were captives, at Tel-abib. The prophet was before at some distance from this place, though on the same river, and these therefore must have been a distinct colony of captives from those mentioned Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 1:3 : see Ezekiel 3:23 of this chapter. And I sat where they sat — This translation is according to the Vulgate, sedi, ubi illi sedebant. But Bishop Newcome renders the Hebrew, I dwelt where they dwelt; that is, I took up my residence among them; and remained there astonished seven days — “Having my spirit wholly cast down and amazed, under the apprehension of these terrible judgments, which were to come upon my nation, and of which I was to be the messenger: see the margin. Seven days was the space of time appointed for mourning.” — Lowth. But the Vulgate, instead of astonished, reads mærens, mourning; and some render the clause, I remained there among them solitary seven days: supposing the meaning to be, that the prophet stayed that time among them, without saying any thing particular to them, or acquainting them that he was appointed to the prophetic office, in order that he might observe their actions and manner of life, and so might the better know how to address them in the discharge of his office, and what reproofs it would be most proper to give them.

3:12-21 This mission made the holy angels rejoice. All this was to convince Ezekiel, that the God who sent him had power to bear him out in his work. He was overwhelmed with grief for the sins and miseries of his people, and overpowered by the glory of the vision he had seen. And however retirement, meditation, and communion with God may be sweet, the servant of the Lord must prepare to serve his generation. The Lord told the prophet he had appointed him a watchman to the house of Israel. If we warn the wicked, we are not chargeable with their ruin. Though such passages refer to the national covenant made with Israel, they are equally to be applied to the final state of all men under every dispensation. We are not only to encourage and comfort those who appear to be righteous, but they are to be warned, for many have grown high-minded and secure, have fallen, and even died in their sins. Surely then the hearers of the gospel should desire warnings, and even reproofs.Tel-abib - , on the river Chebar was the chief seat of the Jewish exiles in Babylonia. The name "Tel-abib" ("mount of ears of corn") was probably given on account of its fertility.

I sat where they sat - Rather, "And I saw them sitting there and I sat there."

Astonished - Rather, silent, with fixed and determined silence (compare Ezra 9:3-4). "To be silent" was characteristic of mourners Lamentations 3:28; "to sit" their proper attitude Isaiah 3:26; Lamentations 1:1; "seven days" the set time of mourning Job 2:13.

15. Tel-Abib—Tel means an "elevation." It is identified by Michaelis with Thallaba on the Chabor. Perhaps the name expressed the Jews' hopes of restoration, or else the fertility of the region. Abib means the green ears of corn which appeared in the month Nisan, the pledge of the harvest.

I sat, &c.—This is the Hebrew Margin reading. The text is rather, "I beheld them sitting there" [Gesenius]; or, "And those that were settled there," namely, the older settlers, as distinguished from the more recent ones alluded to in the previous clause. The ten tribes had been long since settled on the Chabor or Habor (2Ki 17:6) [Havernick].

See Ezekiel 3:11.

Tel-abib; the name of a place in that part of Mesopotamia, which was shut up within Chebar westward, and Saocora eastward. This was divided into superior, called Gozan, and inferior, called here Tel-abib, a low country, and unprofitable, because spoiled by waters, and secure to keep captives in, and so it afforded matter of labour and toil to the captive Jews, and was as a prison to them lest they should escape, and in both pleased the Babylonians.

By the river; on or near to that part of the river Chebar which runs westward of this Tel-abib. Here then is no more contradiction than is in this, if I should name a place between two rivers, and say the place is near one of those rivers.

I sat where they sat; sat sad and astonished, where I found and saw them sitting astonished; for sitting sometimes is a posture of mourning and sadness, as in Lamentations 1:1, and Job’s friends, and Psalm 137:1.

Remained there astonished; either at the sight of that woeful change of the Jews from freedom and honour to servitude and shame; or astonished at foresight of that which the roll contained, or at the Jews’ impenitence and unreformed manner of living under all these afflictions.

Seven days; mourning no doubt all that while, and waiting till the Spirit of prophecy should open his mouth, and till he might know persons, their inclinations, vices, and temper in them, and till he might speak somewhat of personal knowledge against their wickednesses.

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib,.... For it seems the captive Jews were disposed of at different places, and there were some at this place; for this was the name of a place, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe; as were Telmelah, and Telharsa, Ezra 2:59; it signifies "a heap of new fruit", and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it: not that there were such at this time here; and the captives were beating out the ripe ears of corn, as "abib" signifies; whence the month Abib has its name, and which was the first month with the Jews; whereas it was in the fourth month when Ezekiel was here, and there could no ears of new corn, Ezekiel 1:1; according to Junius, this Telabib was a tract in Mesopotamia, reaching from Mount Masius to the river Euphrates, and lay between two rivers, Chebar and Saocoras; and he thinks the captive Jews were placed here, partly that they might be secured safe from getting away, or returning from their captivity; and partly that they might secure and defend the place from enemies, it being through inundations uninhabited, and so exposed unto them:

that dwelt by the river of Chebar; See Gill on Ezekiel 1:1;

and I sat where they sat; there is a double reading here; the "Cetib" or writing is which Junius takes to be the name of a river the prophet calls Haesher, the same with Saocoras, connecting it with the preceding clause, "that dwelt by the river of Chebar and Haesher"; the "Keri" or marginal reading is "and I sat" or "dwelt"; but both signify the same thing, Since is from which in Chaldee signifies to dwell (s); and the "Keri" is confirmed by the Targum, which we follow. The sense is, that he placed himself among the captives,

and remained there astonished among them seven days: at the change of place and company; at the sad condition his people were in; and, above all, at the dreadful things he had to deliver to them. The Targum renders it, "silent"; through grief and trouble. So many days Job's friends kept silence, when they came to visit him, and saw his distress, Job 2:13. Or he might be waiting all this time for orders and instructions to prophesy; or to prepare the people to attend with more reverence and earnestness, to hear what he had to say when he should break silence. The Septuagint render it the reverse, "conversing in the midst of them".

(s) Vid. Hillerum de Arcano Kethib & Keri, l. 2. p. 329.

Then I came to them of the captivity at {f} Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there overwhelmed among them {g} seven days.

(f) Which was a place by Euphrates where the Jews were prisoners.

(g) Declaring here that God's ministers must with advisement and deliberation utter his judgments.

15. The name Tel-abib means possibly, Hill of corn-ears, or shortly, Cornhill; but see against this Frd. Del. Heb. Lang. p. 16. Names compounded with the word Tel, hill, are very common. The place is not otherwise known.

and I sat where they sat] This is the Heb. marg. (Ḳri); the text is as R.V., “and to where they dwelt.” The passage is almost certainly corrupt. Most probably the words: “that dwelt by the river Chebar, and” should be omitted: then I came to them of the captivity to Tel-abib where they dwelt; and I sat there astonied among them seven days.

astonished among them] R. V. astonied, i.e. dumb and motionless. Ezra 9:3-4, “And when I heard this word I rent my garment and my mantle, and sat down astonied,” Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31. There was enough in the prophet’s circumstances to produce a conflict of feelings in his mind—the sin of Israel, who were yet his own people; the task before which he stood, and his close and awful communications with heaven. The simple feeling of bitterness and indignation which filled his mind when he newly left the presence of God became broken into a tumult of feelings when he saw the face of men. Zeal for God becomes tempered and humanized in actual service. Ezekiel felt himself a prophet a moment ago, now he feels himself a watchman (Ezekiel 3:17 seq.). Comp. the pathetic story of Samuel and Saul, 1 Samuel 15:25-31.

seven days] Job’s friends “sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights; and none spake a word unto him; for they saw that the affliction was very great.” The week was the first large division of time, and the long period of motionless silence expresses the strength of the prophet’s emotions. Ezra sat in stupor only until the evening.

Verse 15. - At Tel-Abib, etc., We now enter on the first scene of the prophet's ministry. The LXX. leaves the proper name. The Vulgate rightly translates it as acervus novarum frugum, the "mound of ears of corn" (the meaning appears in the name of the Passover month, Abib). Luther gives, strangely enough, "where the almond trees stood, in the mouth Abib"). Jerome's suggestion, that here also there was a nomen et omen. and that those who shared Ezekiel's exile were regarded as the "firstfruits" of the future, is at least ingenious, and finds some support in Psalm 126:5, 6. The place has not been identified, and its position depends on that of the river with which it is connected (see note on Ezekiel 1:1). The word "Tel" is commonly applied to the mounds formed out of masses of ruins, which are common all over the plains of Mesopotamia. The name in this case may suggest that the earth had gathered over it, and that it was cultivated. I sat where they sat, etc. The ministry begins not with speech, but silence. Our Western habits hardly enable us to enter into the impressiveness of such a procedure. The conduct of Job's friends (Job 2:13) presents a parallel, and as Ezekiel seems to have known that book (Ezekiel 14:14, 20), he may have been influenced by it. Like actions meet us in Ezra 9:3-5; Daniel 4:19. Ezekiel 3:15After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Ezekiel 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Ezekiel 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Ezekiel 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Ezekiel 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Ezekiel 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Revelation 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not equals אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Ezekiel 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Ezekiel 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Revelation 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.
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