Ezekiel 8:10
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
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(10) Every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts.—The description of the idolatrous rites here practised clearly indicates their Egyptian origin. Creature worship was indeed practised among other nations, and the painting of idolatrous objects upon walls is expressly mentioned in Ezekiel 23:14-16, as introduced by the Jews from Chaldæa; yet the combination is so thoroughly Egyptian, and the political relations of the time also point so strongly in the same direction, that the origin seems settled. It was during this period that Jeremiah was obliged to contend strenuously against the desire of a considerable part of the court to enter into an alliance with Egypt against Chaldæa. The party among the Jews who sought an Egyptian alliance, as abundantly appears from Jeremiah, was also the party most unwilling to submit to the Divine commandments. They were the persons who engaged in this creature-worship; and they are here represented as constituting the leaders of the nation. As if this were not enough, “all the idols of the house of Israel,” gathered from every quarter, were also portrayed upon the walls.

8:7-12 A secret place was, as it were, opened, where the prophet saw creatures painted on the walls, and a number of the elders of Israel worshipped before them. No superiority in worldly matters will preserve men from lust, or idolatries, when they are left to their own deceitful hearts; and those who are soon wearied in the service of God, often grudge no toil nor expense when following their superstitions. When hypocrites screen themselves behind the wall of an outward profession, there is some hole or other left in the wall, something that betrays them to those who look diligently. There is a great deal of secret wickedness in the world. They think themselves out of God's sight. But those are ripe indeed for ruin, who lay the blame of their sins upon the Lord.There is clearly a reference to the idolatry of Egypt. Many subterranean chambers in rocks upon the shores of the Nile exhibit ornamentation and hieroglyphical characters, some of which are representative of the objects of idolatrous worship. Such chambers fitted them for the scene of the ideal picture by which Ezekiel represented Egyptian idolatry. The Egyptian worship of animals is well known. 10. creeping things … beasts—worshipped in Egypt; still found portrayed on their chamber walls; so among the Troglodytæ.

round about—On every side they surrounded themselves with incentives to superstition.

So I went in, according to the vision.

Of creeping things; of such creatures as the Egyptians, or any others with whom the Jews had acquaintance, did worship.

Abominable beasts; the beasts are here called abominable, because idolaters had abused them to unlawful uses, making idols of them.

The idols of the house of Israel; the Jews had multiplied to themselves idols of their own, besides those borrowed from their neighbours. Or they are called

the idols of the house of Israel, because they had adopted them, and because Israel’s idolatry was so much more brutish and provoking than that of the other nations, who had not the law of God given to them as to the Jews.

Portrayed upon the wall: possibly they did thus picture their idols on the wall, vainly thinking. this was not a breach of the law, which forbade graven images, and molten images; but every likeness of any thing made for to worship is forbidden, and such pictures are to be destroyed, Numbers 33:52. Possibly they had the same set of idols, by different givers, and by different painters, drawn on the walls of the chamber or house of idols.

So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things,.... As beetles and others, worshipped for gods:

and abominable beasts; unclean ones; not only oxen, but dogs and cats, and other impure creatures; for such were the gods of the Egyptians, from whom the Jews took their deities:

and all the idols of the house of Israel; which were many, even as numerous as their cities:

portrayed upon the wall round about; the pictures of them were drawn and placed around the wall of the room or chamber; and where they were worshipped by the priests and Levites, and members of the sanhedrim; and this was not in one chamber only, but in many, as appears from Ezekiel 8:12.

So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping animals, and {k} abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed around upon the wall.

(k) Which were forbidden in the law, Le 11:4.

10. The construction is difficult: lit. “and behold every likeness (Ezekiel 8:3; Deuteronomy 4:17-18) of creeping things and beasts (cattle), abomination, and all,” &c., the term “abomination” being descriptive both of creeping things and beasts. The term “beasts” is employed of the larger domestic animals, though also of the beasts of prey; it seems nowhere used of the smaller vermin. On the other hand the word “abomination” is chiefly used in regard to the smaller creatures that swarm, whether in the waters or on the land, in the latter case winged and creeping things being included (Leviticus 11), and nowhere of the animals called “beasts.” LXX. omits “likeness of creeping things and beasts,” and it is possible that these words are a marginal gloss explanatory of “abomination.” It has usually been supposed that the reference is to the debased forms of Egyptian superstition. This is possible, for the other practices mentioned, the lamentation for Tammuz and the sun-worship came from abroad. Israel appears to have fallen into the idolatries of the nations about her when she came under their influence, particularly when they became paramount over her, and their gods were thought to be stronger than her own God. The Egyptian influence had been powerful from the days of Isaiah downwards, and even after the battle of Carchemish (b.c. 604) the hope of Egyptian support induced Jehoiakim in his last years and Zedekiah toward the close of his reign to renounce their allegiance to Babylon. On the other hand the practices here mentioned may be rather a revival of ancient superstitions which, during the prosperity of the kingdom and amidst the vigour of the national religion, had fallen into disuse or maintained themselves only as a secret cult, but which, amidst the disasters of the time, when Jehovah appeared to have forsaken the land and men looked to every quarter for aid, again became prevalent (see W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 338). If the LXX. reading be followed the passage may have less significance than has been attributed to it.

and all the idols] the block-gods, see ch. Ezekiel 6:4. The fact that the “idols,” which according to ch. 6 (Ezekiel 8:4; Ezekiel 8:6; Ezekiel 8:9; Ezekiel 8:13) are to be found over all the mountains of Israel, are represented as portrayed upon the wall is peculiar, and suggests that the whole is symbolical. In ch. Ezekiel 23:14 Jerusalem sees images of the Chaldeans portrayed upon the wall and falls in love with them, but such portraits can hardly have been a reality.

Verse 10. - Every form of creeping things. The words obviously paint the theriomorphic worship of Egypt, the scarabseus probably being prominent. The alliance between Jehoiakim and Pharaoh (2 Kings 24:33-35), and which Zedekiah was endeavouring to renew, would naturally bring about a revival of that cultus. Small chambers in rock or tomb filled with such pictured symbols were specially characteristic of it (Gosse, 'Monuments of Egypt,' p. 6; 'Ammian. Marcellin.,' 22:15). Ezekiel 8:10Second Abomination: Worship of Beasts

Ezekiel 8:7. And He brought me to the entrance of the court, and I saw, and behold there was a hole in the wall. Ezekiel 8:8. And He said to me, Son of man, break through the wall: and I broke through the wall, and behold there was a door. Ezekiel 8:9. And He said to me, Come and see the wicked abominations which they are doing here. Ezekiel 8:10. And I came and saw, and behold there were all kinds of figures of reptiles, and beasts, abominations, and all kinds of idols of the house of Israel, drawn on the wall round about. Ezekiel 8:11. And seventy men of the leaders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, stood in front, every man with his censer in his hand; and the smell of a cloud of incense arose. Ezekiel 8:12. And He said to me, Seest thou, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every one in his image-chambers? For they say: Jehovah doth not see us; Jehovah hath forsaken the land. - The entrance of the court to which Ezekiel was now transported cannot be the principal entrance to the outer court towards the east (Ewald). This would be at variance with the context, as we not only find the prophet at the northern entrance in Ezekiel 8:3 and Ezekiel 8:5, but at Ezekiel 8:14 we find him there still. If he had been taken to the eastern gate in the meantime, this would certainly have been mentioned. As that is not the case, the reference must be to that entrance to the court which lay between the entrance-gate of the inner court (Ezekiel 8:3) and the northern entrance-gate to the house of Jehovah (Ezekiel 8:14), or northern gate of the outer court, in other words, the northern entrance into the outer court. Thus the prophet was conducted out of the inner court through its northern gate into the outer court, and placed in front of the northern gate, which led out into the open air. There he saw a hole in the wall, and on breaking through the wall, by the command of God, he saw a door, and having entered it, he saw all kinds of figures of animals engraved on the wall round about, in front of which seventy of the elders of Israel were standing and paying reverence to the images of beasts with burning incense. According to Ezekiel 8:12, the prophet was thereby shown what the elders of Israel did in the dark, every one in his image-chamber. From this explanation on the part of God concerning the picture shown to the prophet, it is very evident that it had no reference to any idolatrous worship practised by the elders in one or more of the cells of the outer court of the temple. For even though the objection raised by Kliefoth to this view, namely, that it cannot be proved that there were halls with recesses in the outer court, is neither valid nor correct, since the existence of such halls is placed beyond the reach of doubt by Jeremiah 35:4; 2 Kings 23:11, and 1 Chronicles 28:12; such a supposition is decidedly precluded by the fact, that the cells and recesses at the gates cannot have been large enough to allow of seventy-one men taking part in a festive idolatrous service. The supposition that the seventy-one men were distributed in different chambers is at variance with the distinct words of the text. The prophet not only sees the seventy elders standing along with Jaazaniah, but he could not look through one door into a number of chambers at once, and see the pictures draw all round upon their walls. The assembling of the seventy elders in a secret cell by the northern gate of the outer temple to worship the idolatrous images engraved on the walls of the cell, is one feature in the visionary form given to the revelation of what the elders of the people were doing secretly throughout the whole land. To bring out more strikingly the secrecy of this idolatrous worship, the cell is so completely hidden in the wall, that the prophet is obliged to enlarge the hole by breaking through the wall before he can see the door which leads to the cell and gain a view of them and of the things it contains, and the things that are done therein.

(Note: "Because the whole is exhibited pictorially and figuratively, he says that he saw one hole in a wall, and was directed to dig through and make it larger, that he might enter as if through an open door, and see the things which he could not possibly have seen while stationed outside." - Jerome.)

And the number of the persons assembled there suggests the idea of a symbolical representation, as well as the secrecy of the cell. The seventy elders represent the whole nation; and the number is taken from Exodus 24:1. and Numbers 11:16; Numbers 24:25, where Moses, by the command of God, chooses seventy of the elders to represent the whole congregation at the making of the covenant, and afterwards to support his authority. This representation of the congregation was not a permanent institution, as we may see from the fact that in Numbers 11 seventy other men are said to have been chosen for the purpose named. The high council, consisting of seventy members, the so-called Sanhedrim, was formed after the captivity on the basis of these Mosaic types. In the midst of the seventy was Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, a different man therefore from the Jaazaniah mentioned in Ezekiel 11:1. Shaphan is probably the person mentioned as a man of distinction in 2 Kings 22:3.; Jeremiah 29:3; Jeremiah 36:10; Jeremiah 39:14. It is impossible to decide on what ground Jaazaniah is specially mentioned by name; but it can hardly be on account of the meaning of the name he bore, "Jehovah heard," as Hvernick supposes. It is probable that he held a prominent position among the elders of the nation, so that he is mentioned here by name as the leader of this national representation.

On the wall of the chamber round about there were drawn all kinds of figures of רמשׂ וּבהמה, reptiles and quadrupeds (see Genesis 1:24). שׁקץ is in apposition not only to בּהמה, but also to רמשׂ, and therefore, as belonging to both, is not to be connected with בּהמה in the construct state. The drawing of reptiles and quadrupeds became a sheqetz, or abomination, from the fact that the pictures had been drawn for the purpose of religious worship. The following clause, "and all the idols of the house of Israel," is co-ordinate with 'כּל־תּבנית וגו. Besides the animals drawn on the walls, there were idols of other kinds in the chamber. The drawing of reptiles and quadrupeds naturally suggests the thought of the animal-worship of Egypt. We must not limit the words to this, however, since the worship of animals is met with in the nature-worship of other heathen nations, and the expression כּל־תּבנית, "all kinds of figures," as well as the clause, "all kinds of idols of the house of Israel," points to every possible form of idol-worship as spread abroad in Israel. עתר, according to the Aramaean usage, signifies suffimentum, perfume, בּחשׁך, in the dark, i.e., in secret, like בּסּתר in 2 Samuel 12:12; not in the sacred darkness of the cloud of incense (Hvernick). חדרי משׂכּית, image-chambers, is the term applied to the rooms or closets in the dwelling-houses of the people in which idolatrous images were set up and secretly worshipped. משׂכּית signifies idolatrous figures, as in Leviticus 26:1 and Numbers 33:52. This idolatry was justified by the elders, under the delusion that "Jehovah seeth us not;" that is to say, not: "He does not trouble Himself about us," but He does not see what we do, because He is not omniscient (cf. Isaiah 29:15); and He has forsaken the land, withdrawn His presence and His help. Thus they deny both the omniscience and omnipresence of God (cf. Ezekiel 9:9).

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