Ezekiel 33:31
And they come to you as the people comes, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) As the people cometh.—In the original, according to the coming of a peoplei.e., in crowds. In the following clause, “as my people,” there is an emphasis on the pronoun, as the true people of God. Such was their outward bearing, while their inward disposition was far different.

33:30-33 Unworthy and corrupt motives often lead men to the places where the word of God is faithfully preached. Many come to find somewhat to oppose: far more come of curiosity or mere habit. Men may have their hearts changed. But whether men hear or forbear, they will know by the event that a servant of God has been among them. All who will not know the worth of mercies by the improvement of them, will justly be made to know their worth by the want of them.As the people cometh - literally, as in the margin, i. e., in crowds. Render it: they shall come "unto thee" like the coming of a people," and" shall "sit before thee as My people" etc., i. e., they assume the attitude of God's people listening to His prophet. Compare Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1.31. as the people cometh—that is, in crowds, as disciples flock to their teacher.

sit before thee—on lower seats at thy feet, according to the Jewish custom of pupils (De 33:3; 2Ki 4:38; Lu 10:39; Ac 22:3).

as my people—though they are not.

hear … not do—(Mt 13:20, 21; Jas 1:23, 24).

they show much love—literally, "make love," that is, act the part of lovers. Profess love to the Lord (Mt 7:21). Gesenius translates, according to Arabic idiom, "They do the delights of God," that is, all that is agreeable to God. Vulgate translates, "They turn thy words into a song of their mouths."

heart goeth after … covetousness—the grand rival to the love of God; therefore called "idolatry," and therefore associated with impure carnal love, as both alike transfer the heart's affection from the Creator to the creature (Mt 13:22; Eph 5:5; 1Ti 6:10).

Flocking to the school of some famous doctor, or as men and women flock to hear some famous preacher, or as they were wont to the synagogues to hear their learned scribes. So we find the elders of Judah, Ezekiel 8:1, which see; so the disciples of the great rabbies sat at their feet; so is Saul said to be brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. By their outward deportments, you might judge them to be my people, and hear seemingly very attentive. They do only hear what thou sayest, but they will not do it. All their love is but from teeth outward, either to me, my word, or my prophet, saith God.

Their heart goeth after their covetousness; their desire, love, and care is about their gain, how to make thriving bargains, how to place out and secure their money with excessive and intolerable usury and increase. And they come unto thee as the people cometh,.... As the people of God, who came to the prophets's house to hear him preach the word, and explain it for their spiritual profit and edification these came when they did, and as early and constantly, and with seeming pleasure:

and they sit before thee as my people; with great decency and reverence, and very gravely and demurely, and with seeming devotion, and stay the time out till the whole service is over; as scholars sit at the feet of their masters, to hear and learn their doctrines. So the Targum,

"and they come unto thee as the men the disciples come:''

and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; they gave him the hearing, and seemed attentive, but did not understand what they heard, at least did not put it in practice; they were only hearers, and not doers of the word, and like to the foolish man in Matthew 7:26,

for with their mouth they show much love: by the motions of their lips while hearing, and other gestures, as well as by what they said afterwards, they seemed pleased and delighted with what they heard; made huge encomiums upon it, and spoke much in the praise of the preacher. The Targum is the reverse,

"they made game with their mouth.''

But their heart goeth after their covetousness;

"after the money they had taken away by force,''

as the Targum; after the world, and the things of it; after their secular affairs, so that they wished the sermon over, that they might be at them; or, however, did not so diligently attend to what was said, but the cares of the world choked the word, and made it unfruitful to them; these were like the seed that fell among thorns, the thorny ground hearers, Matthew 13:22.

And they come to thee as the people come, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they {q} show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

(q) This declares that we ought to hear God's word with such zeal and affection that we should in all points obey it, else we abuse the word to our own condemnation and make of its ministers as though they were jesters to serve men's foolish fantasies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. On “come unto thee” cf. Ezekiel 8:1, Ezekiel 14:1, Ezekiel 20:1.

as my people] The construction is very hard. LXX. omits.

with their mouth … love] The language is peculiar, but can hardly have any other sense. LXX. Syr. read: for falsehood is in their mouth and their heart &c. The term “covetousness” or gain has, especially in later books, the general sense of advantage, self-advancement, Isaiah 56:11.Fourth strophe. - Ezekiel 32:26. There is Meshech-Tubal and all its multitude, its graves round about it; all of them uncircumcised, slain in with the sword, because they spread terror before them in the land of the living. Ezekiel 32:27. They lie not with the fallen heroes of uncircumcised men, who went down into hell with their weapons of war, whose swords they laid under their heads; their iniquities have come upon their bones, because they were a terror of the heroes in the land of the living. Ezekiel 32:28. Thou also wilt be dashed to pieces among uncircumcised men, and lie with those slain with the sword. - משׁך and תּבל, the Moschi and Tibareni of the Greeks (see the comm. on Ezekiel 27:13), are joined together ἀσυνδετῶς here as one people or heathen power; and Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose that the reference is to the Scythians, who invaded the land in the time of Josiah, and the majority of whom had miserably perished not very long before (Herod. i. 106). But apart from the fact that the prophets of the Old Testament make no allusion to any invasion of Palestine by the Scythians (see Minor Prophets, vol. ii. p. 124, Eng. transl.), this view is founded entirely upon the erroneous supposition that in this funeral-dirge Ezekiel mentions only such peoples as had sustained great defeats a longer or shorter time before. Meshech-Tubal comes into consideration here, as in Ezekiel 38, as a northern power, which is overcome in its conflict with the kingdom of God, and is prophetically exhibited by the prophet as having already fallen under the judgment of death. In Ezekiel 32:26 Ezekiel makes the same announcement as he has already made concerning Asshur in Ezekiel 32:22, Ezekiel 32:23, and with regard to Elam in Ezekiel 32:24, Ezekiel 32:25. But the announcement in Ezekiel 32:27 is obscure. Rosenmller, Ewald, Hvernick, and others, regard this verse as a question (ולא in the sense of הלא): "and should they not lie with (rest with) other fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who...?" i.e., they do lie with them, and could not possibly expect a better fate. But although the interrogation is merely indicated by the tone where the language is excited, and therefore ולא might stand for הלא, as in Exodus 8:22, there is not the slightest indication of such excitement in the description given here as could render this assumption a probable one. On the contrary, ולא at the commencement of the sentence suggests the supposition that an antithesis is intended to the preceding verse. And the probability of this conjecture is heightened by the allusion made to heroes, who have descended into the nether world with their weapons of war; inasmuch as, at all events, something is therein affirmed which does not apply to all the heroes who have gone down into hell. The custom of placing the weapons of fallen heroes along with them in the grave is attested by Diod. Sic. xviii. 26; Arrian, i. 5; Virgil, Ane. vi. 233 (cf. Dougtaei Analectt. ss. i. pp. 281, 282); and, according to the ideas prevailing in ancient times, it was a mark of great respect to the dead. But the last place in which we should expect to meet with any allusion to the payment of such honour to the dead would be in connection with Meshech and Tubal, those wild hordes of the north, who were only known to Israel by hearsay. We therefore follow the Vulgate, the Rabbins, and many of the earlier commentators, and regard the verse before us as containing a declaration that the slain of Meshech-Tubal would not receive the honour of resting in the nether world along with those fallen heroes whose weapons were buried with them in the grave, because they fell with honour.

(Note: C. a Lapide has already given the true meaning: "He compares them, therefore, not with the righteous, but with the heathen, who, although uncircumcised, had met with a glorious death, i.e., they will be more wretched than these; for the latter went down to the shades with glory, but they with ignominy, as if conquered and slain.")

כּלי מלחמה, instruments of war, weapons, as in Deuteronomy 1:41. The text leaves it uncertain who they were who had been buried with such honours. The Seventy have confounded מערלים with מעולם, and rendered ,נפלים τῶν πεπτωκότων ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος possibly thinking of the gibborim of Genesis 6:4. Dathe and Hitzig propose to alter the text to this; and even Hvernick imagines that the prophet may possibly have had such passages as Genesis 6:4 and Genesis 10:9. floating before his mind. But there is not sufficient ground to warrant an alteration of the text; and if Ezekiel had had Genesis 6:4 in his mind, he would no doubt have written הגבּורים. The clause ותּהי עונותם is regarded by the more recent commentators as a continuation of the preceding 'ויּתּנוּ וגו, which is a very natural conclusion, if we simply take notice of the construction. But if we consider the sense of the words, this combination can hardly be sustained. The words, "and so were their iniquities upon their bones" (or they came upon them), can well be understood as an explanation of the reason for their descending into Sheol with their weapons, and lying upon their swords. We must therefore regard ותּהי עונותם as a continuation of ישׁכּבוּ, so that their not resting with those who were buried with their weapons of war furnishes the proof that their guilt lay upon their bones. The words, therefore, have no other meaning than the phrase ישׂאוּ כלמּתם in Ezekiel 32:24 and Ezekiel 32:30. Sin comes upon the bones when the punishment consequent upon it falls upon the bones of the sinner. In the last clause we connect גבּורים with חתּית, terror of the heroes, i.e., terrible even to heroes on account of their savage and cruel nature. In Ezekiel 32:28 we cannot take אתּה as referring to Meshech-Tubal, as many of the commentators propose. A direct address to that people would be at variance with the whole plan of the ode. Moreover, the declaration contained in the verse would contradict what precedes. As Meshech-Tubal is already lying in Sheol among the slain, according to Ezekiel 32:26, the announcement cannot be made to it for the first time here, that it is to be dashed in pieces and laid with those who are slain with the sword. It is the Egyptian who is addressed, and he is told that this fate will also fall upon him. And through this announcement, occurring in the midst of the list of peoples that have already gone down to Sheol, the design of that list is once more called to mind.

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