Ezekiel 8:1
And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) The elders of Judah sat before me.—It is plain from this that Ezekiel, as a priest, and now already known as a prophet, was held in consideration among the captives. It also appears that he lived in his own house. Judah is not used in contradistinction to Israel; but as the captives were chiefly of the tribe of Judah, so their elders were known as “the elders of Judah.”

Ezekiel 8:1. And it came to pass in the sixth year — Namely, of Jehoiachin’s captivity. In the sixth month — The LXX. read, in the fifth month. As I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah — Men of note for their age or authority, or the chief of those who had been made captives with Jehoiachin, sat before me — Having come, probably, to inquire of the Lord concerning their present state of affairs, what the issue would be; or what would become of their brethren who remained in Judea and Jerusalem. It must be observed, “that in Ezekiel 4:4-6, the prophet is commanded to lie on his left side three hundred and ninety days, and on his right side forty days; to which must be added the seven days mentioned Ezekiel 3:15. But the interval between this vision, and Ezekiel 1:1, is only one year and two months, or four hundred and twenty days, reckoning thirty days in a month. It would seem, therefore, that this revelation was made to the prophet during his typical siege. ‘But Vignoles, 5. 2:447, thinks, that the year was a lunar one, with an intercalation of thirty days.’ — Secker. And, according to Michaelis, the Jews, and in general the people of Asia, were used to lunar years of three hundred and fifty-four days. Add to them two months, or fifty-nine days, and you have four hundred and thirteen days. A whole month was intercalated from time to time into the lunar year, to make it agree with the harvest year. Add twenty-nine days, and you have four hundred and forty-two days.” — Newcome.

8:1-6 The glorious personage Ezekiel beheld in vision, seemed to take hold upon him, and he was conveyed in spirit to Jerusalem. There, in the inner court of the temple, was prepared a place for some base idol. The whole was presented in vision to the prophet. If it should please God to give any man a clear view of his glory and majesty, and of all the abominations committing in any one city, he would then admit the justice of the severest punishments God should inflict thereon.The elders of Judah - The prophet's fellow-exiles are no longer unwilling to hear him Ezekiel 2:1-10. They sat as mourners. The message here is not as in Ezekiel 6:2, but distinctly to Judah, that portion of the people whose exile Ezekiel shared. CHAPTER 8

Eze 8:1-18.

This eighth chapter begins a new stage of Ezekiel's prophecies and continues to the end of the eleventh chapter. The connected visions at Eze 3:12-7:27 comprehended Judah and Israel; but the visions (Eze 8:1-11:25) refer immediately to Jerusalem and the remnant of Judah under Zedekiah, as distinguished from the Babylonian exiles.

1. sixth year—namely, of the captivity of Jehoiachin, as in Eze 1:2, the "fifth year" is specified. The lying on his sides three hundred ninety and forty days (Eze 4:5, 6) had by this time been completed, at least in vision. That event was naturally a memorable epoch to the exiles; and the computation of years from it was to humble the Jews, as well as to show their perversity in not having repented, though so long and severely chastised.

elders—namely, those carried away with Jehoiachin, and now at the Chebar.

sat before me—to hear the word of God from me, in the absence of the temple and other public places of Sabbath worship, during the exile (Eze 33:30, 31). It was so ordered that they were present at the giving of the prophecy, and so left without excuse.

hand of … Lord God fell … upon me—God's mighty operation fell, like a thunderbolt, upon me (in Eze 1:3, it is less forcible, "was upon him"); whatever, therefore, he is to utter is not his own, for he has put off the mere man, while the power of God reigns in him [Calvin].Ezekiel is brought in a vision of God to Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:1-4, and showed the image of jealousy set up in the temple, Ezekiel 8:5,6, the worship of the ancients in their chambers of imagery, Ezekiel 8:7-12, the mourners for Tammuz, Ezekiel 8:13,14, and the worshippers of the sun, Ezekiel 8:15,16. God’s wrath for their idolatry, Ezekiel 8:17,18.

In the sixth year of Jeconiah’s captivity. In the sixth month; they had been almost seven years in captivity, it was Elul, or our August.

In the fifth day of the month; the sabbath day, as Ezekiel 1:2.

As I sat in my house; abode in my house, probably he lay on his side, the three hundred and ninety days not yet expired.

The elders of Judah, the chief of those that were now in captivity, sat before me; they were come either to spend the sabbath in religious exercises, such as the present state of affairs permitted, to hear somewhat from the prophet’s mouth, expounding the law or declaring their duty, or to inquire what would become of their brethren in Jerusalem, whether they should be subdued and captivated, or whether there were any good news for them from heaven, and how they should behave themselves in these sad times.

The hand of the Lord; the Spirit of prophecy exerted itself with a mighty Divine power, which enlightened me at that very time, and in that very place: see Ezekiel 1:8.

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month,.... This was the sixth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin; the sixth month was the month Elul, which answers to part of August, and part of September. The Septuagint and Arabic versions wrongly render it, the fifth month. The fifth day of the month is thought to have been the sabbath day, which seems probable by what follows; this was just a year and two months from the first vision, Ezekiel 1:1;

as I sat in mine house; in Chaldea, by the river Chebar; he was now sitting, the time of lying on his side, both right and left, being now up, even four hundred and thirty days. It was in the fifth year, and on the fifth of Tammuz, that the first vision was; seven days the prophet sat with them of the captivity at Telabib; at the end of which he was ordered to lie on his side; first on his left side three hundred ninety days, and then on his right side forty days: now reckoning from the middle of Tammuz, to the fifth of Elul in the sixth year, were but, as Kimchi observes, four hundred days; but this being, as another Jewish writer says (r), an intercalated year, by the intercalation of a month, which consisted of thirty days, the whole number was completed, and the prophet was now sitting: or it may be this position is observed, because he was now teaching and instructing the people, which was frequently done sitting; See Gill on Matthew 5:1; and this in his own private house, being now in captivity, and having neither temple nor synagogue to teach in;

and the elders of Judah sat before me; to hear the word of the Lord from his mouth, the law explained, or any fresh prophecy delivered by him; or to have his advice and counsel in their present circumstances. These were the elders of Judah that were carried captive along with Jehoiachin; though some think they were those that were at Jerusalem, and that all this was only in a visionary way; but the former sense seems most agreeable; seeing this was previous to the vision, and with what goes before describes the time, place, and witnesses of the vision;

that the hand of the Lord fell there upon me; which the Targum interprets of the spirit of prophecy, which came with power upon him: it denotes the energy and efficacy of the Spirit of God in throwing him into an ecstasy, and acting upon him, and revealing to him the things he did; which are related in the following verses.

(r) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26. p. 73. Vid. Kimchi in loc.

And it came to pass in the {a} sixth year, in the {b} sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.

(a) Of the captivity of Jeconiah.

(b) Which contained part of August and part of September.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. the sixth month] The first vision of the prophet was in the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity and in the fourth month (Ezekiel 1:1); the present one a year and two months later. LXX. reads fifth month, and many modern scholars accept this reading, arguing that the Heb. date is due to some copyist or reader who wished to leave room for the number of days during which the prophet had to lie on his side (ch. Ezekiel 4:5; Ezekiel 4:9). The copyist must have been an indifferent arithmetician, for 7 (Ezekiel 3:15) + 390 + 40 (ch. Ezekiel 4:5-6) = 437, while a lunar year and two months, 354 + 59 = 413 days. The discrepancies between the Heb. and LXX. dates are not easy to explain.

elders of Judah] Ch. Ezekiel 14:1. “Certain of the elders of Israel.” The meaning appears from ch. Ezekiel 11:25, “So I spake to them of the captivity all the things which the Lord had shewed me.” The community at Tel Abib were probably permitted to have a certain internal government of their own. In the “elders” before him the prophet sees represented not so much the captivity as the whole “house of Israel.” On “hand of the Lord,” cf. ch. Ezekiel 1:3.

1–3. The trance in presence of the elders. The prophet, abiding in his house (ch. Ezekiel 3:25), was visited by the elders of the captivity among whom he dwelt. They probably came to consult him regarding the affairs at home and the prospects of the city. Thrown into a state of excitation by their words or by their presence he fell into a trance. The vision of the God of Israel again appeared to him, for this thought of Jehovah chiefly occupied his mind and led to all his other thoughts, and he was carried away in the spirit to Jerusalem; and there the manifold idolatries of the people were shewn him. Two chief thoughts appear expressed by the symbolism; first, by making the “glory” of Jehovah appear in Jerusalem the prophet points the contrast between the glorious God whom the people had abandoned and the debased forms of worship to which they had addicted themselves, and also implies that this worship was done in the face of Jehovah, “to provoke the eyes of his glory” (Isaiah 3:8); and secondly, when Jehovah himself shews the idolatrous practices of the people, we see, what is characteristic of the prophet, the effort to throw himself into the consciousness, so to speak, of Jehovah, and look out at things from his mind, he being who he is. It would be a mistake to regard the details here given as due entirely to literary artifice; there is no doubt a foundation of reality under them, though when in after years the prophet reflected on the facts and recorded them he gave them great expansion and embellishment.

Verse 1. - And it came to pass, etc. We begin with a fresh date. One year and one month had passed since the vision of Chebar, and had been occupied partly by the acted, partly by the spoken, prophecies of the preceding chapters. In the mean time, things had gone from bad to worse in Jerusalem. In the absence of the higher priests, idolatry was more rampant, and had found its way even into the temple. It is probable that tidings of this had reached Ezekiel, as we know that frequent communications passed between the exiles and those they had left behind (Jeremiah 29:1-3, 9, 25). Directly or indirectly, Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Genesisariah the son of Hilkiah. may have conveyed a message, orally or written, from Jeremiah himself. Some such report may have led to the visit from the elders of Judah, if we understand by that term the exiles of Tel-Abib. I venture, however, on the conjecture that possibly those who came to the prophet were actually visitors who had come from Judah. Elsewhere, as in Ezekiel 14:1 and Ezekiel 20:1, those who thus came are described as "elders of Israel," or the captives (Ezekiel 1:1), "they of the Captivity" (Ezekiel 3:15). In either case, the visions that follow gain a special significance. The prophet becomes the seer. It is given to him to know, in a manner which finds a spurious analogue in the alleged mental travelling of the clairvoyant of modern psychology, what is passing in the city from which the messengers had come - and to show that he knows it. With such facts before his eyes, what other answer can there be than that evil must meet its doom? And so we pass into the second series of prophecies which ends with Ezekiel 13:23. It would seem as if the enquirers had kept silent as well as the prophet. We are not told that they asked anything. His look and manner, perhaps also attitude and gesture, forbade utterance. The hand of the Lord - the trance state - was in the act to fall on him (see notes on Ezekiel 3:14, 22). When the trance state was over, we may think of him as reporting and recording what he had thus seen in vision.. Ezekiel 8:1Abominations of the Idolatry of the House of Israel

Time and place of the divine revelation. - Ezekiel 8:1. And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth (month), on the fifth (day) of the month, I was sitting in my house, and the elders of Judah were sitting before me; there fell upon me the hand of the Lord Jehovah there. Ezekiel 8:2. And I saw, and behold a figure like the look of fire, from the look of its loins downwards fire, and from its loins upwards like a look of brilliance, like the sight of red-hot brass. Ezekiel 8:3. And he stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by the locks of my head, and wind carried me away between earth and heaven, and brought me to Jerusalem in visions of God, to the entrance of the gate of the inner court, which faces towards the north, where the image of jealousy exciting jealousy had its stand. Ezekiel 8:4. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision which I have seen in the valley. - The place where Ezekiel received this new theophany agrees with the statements in Ezekiel 3:24 and Ezekiel 4:4, Ezekiel 4:6, that he was to shut himself up in his house, and lie 390 days upon the left side, and 40 days upon the right side - in all, 430 days. The use of the word יושׁב, "I sat," is not at variance with this, as ישׁב does not of necessity signify sitting as contrasted with lying, but may also be used in the more general sense of staying, or living, in the house. Nor is the presence of the elders of Judah opposed to the command, in Ezekiel 3:24, to shut himself up in the house, as we have already observed in the notes on that passage. The new revelation is made to him in the presence of these elders, because it is of the greatest importance to them. They are to be witnesses of his ecstasy; and after this has left the prophet, are to hear from his lips the substance of the divine revelation (Ezekiel 11:25). It is otherwise with the time of the revelation. If we compare the date given in Ezekiel 8:1 with those mentioned before, this new vision apparently falls within the period required for carrying out the symbolical actions of the previous vision. Between Ezekiel 1:1-2 (the fifth day of the fourth month in the fifth year) and Ezekiel 8:1 (the fifth day of the sixth month in the sixth year) we have one year and two months, that is to say (reckoning the year as a lunar year at 354 days, and the two months at 59 days), 413 days; whereas the two events recorded in Ezekiel 1-7 require at least 437 days, namely 7 days for Ezekiel 3:15, and 390 + 40 equals 430 days for Ezekiel 4:5-6. Consequently the new theophany would fall within the 40 days, during which Ezekiel was to lie upon the right side for Judah. To get rid of this difficulty, Hitzig conjectures that the fifth year of Jehoiachin (Ezekiel 1:2) was a leap year of 13 months or 385 days, by which he obtains an interval of 444 days after adding 59 for the two months, - a period sufficient not only to include the 7 days (Ezekiel 3:15) and 390 + 40 days (Ezekiel 4:5-6), but to leave 7 days for the time that elapsed between Ezekiel 7 and 8. But however attractive this reckoning may appear, the assumption that the fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin was a leap year is purely conjectural; and there is nothing whatever to give it probability. Consequently the only thing that could lead us to adopt such a solution, would be the impossibility of reconciling the conclusion to be drawn from the chronological data, as to the time of the two theophanies, with the substance of these divine revelations.

If we assume that Ezekiel carried out the symbolical acts mentioned in Ezekiel 4 and 5 in all their entirety, we can hardly imagine that the vision described in the chapters before us, by which he was transported in spirit to Jerusalem, occurred within the period of forty days, during which he was to typify the siege of Jerusalem by lying upon his right side. Nevertheless, Kliefoth has decided in favour of this view, and argues in support of it, that the vision described in Ezekiel 8:1. took place in the prophet's own house, that it is identical in substance with what is contained in Ezekiel 3:22-7:27, and that there is no discrepancy, because all that occurred here was purely internal, and the prophet himself was to address the words contained in Ezekiel 11:4-12 and Ezekiel 11:14-21 to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in his state of ecstasy. Moreover, when it is stated in Ezekiel 11:25 that Ezekiel related to the exiles all that he had seen in the vision, it is perfectly open to us to assume that this took place at the same time as his report to them of the words of God in Ezekiel 6:1-14 and 7, and those which follow in Ezekiel 12. But. on the other hand, it may be replied that the impression produced by Ezekiel 11:25 is not that the prophet waited several weeks after his visionary transport to Jerusalem before communicating to the elders what he saw in the vision. And even if the possibility of this cannot be disputed, we cannot imagine any reason why the vision should be shown to the prophet four weeks before it was to be related to the exiles. Again, there is not sufficient identity between the substance of the vision in Ezekiel 8-11 and the revelation in Ezekiel 4-7, to suggest any motive for the two to coincide. It is true that the burning of Jerusalem, which Ezekiel sees in Ezekiel 8-11, is consequent upon the siege and conquest of that city, which he has already predicted in Ezekiel 4-7 both in figure and word; but they are not so closely connected, that it was necessary on account of this connection for it to be shown to him before the completion of the symbolical siege of Jerusalem. And, lastly, although the ecstasy as a purely internal process is so far reconcilable with the prophet's lying upon his right side, that this posture did not preclude a state of ecstasy or render it impossible, yet this collision would ensue, that while the prophet was engaged in carrying out the former word of God, a new theophany would be received by him, which must necessarily abstract his mind from the execution of the previous command of God, and place him in a condition in which it would be impossible for him to set his face firmly upon the siege of Jerusalem, as he had been commanded to do in Ezekiel 4:7. On account of this collision, we cannot subscribe to the assumption, that it was during the time that Ezekiel was lying bound by God upon his right side to bear the sin of Jerusalem, that he was transported in spirit to the temple at Jerusalem. On the contrary, the fact that this transport occurred, according to Ezekiel 8:1, at a time when he could not have ended the symbolical acts of Ezekiel 4, if he had been required to carry them out in all their external reality, furnishes us with conclusive evidence of the correctness of the view we have already expressed, that the symbolical acts of Ezekiel 4 and 5 did not lie within the sphere of outward reality (see comm. on Ezekiel 5:4). - And if Ezekiel did not really lie for 430 days, there was nothing to hinder his having a fresh vision 14 months after the theophany in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 3:22. For 'תּפּל עלי יד , see at Ezekiel 3:22 and Ezekiel 1:3.

The figure which Ezekiel sees in the vision is described in Ezekiel 8:2 in precisely the same terms as the appearance of God in Ezekiel 1:27. The sameness of the two passages is a sufficient defence of the reading כּמראה־אשׁ against the arbitrary emendation אישׁ 'כם, after the Sept. rendering ὁμοίωμα ἀνδρός, in support of which Ewald and Hitzig appeal to Ezekiel 1:26, though without any reason, as the reading there is not אישׁ, but אדם. It is not expressly stated here that the apparition was in human form - the fiery appearance is all that is mentioned; but this is taken for granted in the allusion to the מתנים (the loins), either as self-evident, or as well known from Ezekiel 1. זהר is synonymous with נגהּ in Ezekiel 1:4, Ezekiel 1:27. What is new in the present theophany is the stretching out of the hand, which grasps the prophet by the front hair of his head, whereupon he is carried by wind between heaven and earth, i.e., through the air, to Jerusalem, not in the body, but in visions of God (cf. Ezekiel 1:1), that is to say, in spiritual ecstasy, and deposited at the entrance of the inner northern door of the temple. הפּנימית is not an adjective belonging to שׁער, for this is not a feminine noun, but is used as a substantive, as in Ezekiel 43:5 ( equals החצר הפּנימית: cf. Ezekiel 40:40): gate of the inner court, i.e., the gate on the north side of the inner court which led into the outer court. We are not informed whether Ezekiel was placed on the inner or outer side of this gate, i.e., in the inner or outer court; but it is evident from Ezekiel 8:5 that he was placed in the inner court, as his position commanded a view of the image which stood at the entrance of the gate towards the north. The further statement, "where the standing place of the image of jealousy was," anticipates what follows, and points out the reason why the prophet was placed just there. The expression "image of jealousy" is explained by המּקנה, which excites the jealousy of Jehovah (see the comm. on Exodus 20:5). Consequently, we have not to think of any image of Jehovah, but of an image of a heathen idol (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21); probably of Baal or Asherah, whose image had already been placed in the temple by Manasseh (2 Kings 21:7); certainly not the image of the corpse of Adonis moulded in wax or clay. This opinion, which Hvernick advances, is connected with the erroneous assumption that all the idolatrous abominations mentioned in this chapter relate to the celebration of an Adonis-festival in the temple. There (Ezekiel 8:4) in the court of the temple Ezekiel saw once more the glory of the God of Israel, as he had seen it in the valley (Ezekiel 3:22) by the Chaboras, i.e., the appearance of God upon the throne with the cherubim and wheels; whereas the divine figure, whose hand grasped him in his house, and transported him to the temple (Ezekiel 8:2), showed neither throne nor cherubim. The expression "God of Israel," instead of Jehovah (Ezekiel 3:23), is chosen as an antithesis to the strange god, the heathen idol, whose image stood in the temple. As the God of Israel, Jehovah cannot tolerate the image and worship of another god in His temple. To set up such an image in the temple of Jehovah was a practical renunciation of the covenant, a rejection of Jehovah on the part of Israel as its covenant God.

Here, in the temple, Jehovah shows to the prophet the various kinds of idolatry which Israel is practising both publicly and privately, not merely in the temple, but throughout the whole land. The arrangement of these different forms of idolatry in four groups of abomination scenes (Ezekiel 8:5, Ezekiel 8:6, Ezekiel 8:7-12, Ezekiel 8:13-15, and Ezekiel 8:16-18), which the prophet sees both in and from the court of the temple, belong to the visionary drapery of this divine revelation. It is altogether erroneous to interpret the vision as signifying that all these forms of idolatry were practised in the temple itself; an assumption which cannot be carried out without doing violence to the description, more especially of the second abomination in Ezekiel 8:7-12. Still more untenable is Hvernick's view, that the four pictures of idolatrous practices shown to the prophet are only intended to represent different scenes of a festival of Adonis held in the temple. The selection of the courts of the temple for depicting the idolatrous worship, arises from the fact that the temple was the place where Israel was called to worship the Lord its God. Consequently the apostasy of Israel from the Lord could not be depicted more clearly and strikingly than by the following series of pictures of idolatrous abominations practised in the temple under the eyes of God.

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