Then said he to me, Have you seen this, O son of man? turn you yet again, and you shall see greater abominations than these.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezekiel 8:15-16. Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations — These latter wickednesses may be accounted greater, because they were acted in a more sacred place. And he brought me into the inner court — The court next the temple, namely, that of the priests. And, behold, at the door of the temple — At that door through which there was an entrance into the porch of the temple, from the altar of burnt- sacrifices. Before, he saw the abominations committed in the gates of the courts, now he is come to the very house itself. Were about five and twenty men with their backs toward the temple, &c. — In contempt of God and his worship they turned their backs toward his sanctuary, and their faces toward the sun; according to the custom of the Chaldeans, Persians, and other eastern nations who worshipped the sun. Lowth thinks Hezekiah might allude to some idolatrous practice of this kind, in that confession of his, recorded 2 Chronicles 29:6, Our fathers have forsaken him, and turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. They turned their back to God, and not the face, as Jeremiah expresses their contempt toward him, Jeremiah 2:27. To prevent even the appearance of this, the people were commanded to come into the courts of the temple at the north or southern gates when they came to worship, that they might not, at their return, turn their backs upon God: see Ezekiel 46:9. God ordered the holy of holies, in his temple, to be placed toward the west, in opposition to this species of heathen idolatry, which consisted in worshipping the rising sun. And the pious Jews always turned their faces toward the temple when they worshipped.Ezekiel 8:3.
It is not certain that this verse refers to any special act of Tammuz-worship. The month in which the vision was seen, the sixth month (September), was not the month of the Tammuz-rites. But that such rites had been performed in Jerusalem there can be little doubt. Women are mentioned as employed in the service of idols in Jeremiah 7:18. There is some reason for believing that the weeping of women for Tammuz passed into Syria and Palestine from Babylonia, Tammuz being identified with Duv-zi, whose loss was lamented by the goddess Istar. The festival was identical with the Greek "Adoniacs." The worship of Adonis had its headquarters at Byblos, where at certain periods of the year the stream, becoming stained by mountain floods, was popularly said to be red with the blood of Adonis. From Byblos it spread widely over the east and was thence carried to Greece. The contact of Zedekiah with pagan nations Jeremiah 32:3 may very well have led to the introduction of an idolatry which at this time was especially popular among the eastern nations.
This solemnity was of a twofold character, first, that of mourning, in which the death of Adonis was bewailed with extravagant sorrow; and then, after a few days, the mourning gave place to wild rejoicings for his restoration to life. This was a revival of nature-worship under another form - the death of Adonis symbolized the suspension of the productive powers of nature, which were in due time revived. Accordingly, the time of this festival was the summer solstice, when in the east nature seems to wither and die under the scorching heat of the sun, to burst forth again into life at the due season. At the same time there was a connection between this and the sun-worship, in that the decline of the sun and the decline of nature might be alike represented by the death of Adonis. The excitement attendant upon these extravagances of alternate wailing and exultation were in complete accordance with the character of nature-worship, which for this reason was so popular in the east, especially with women, and led by inevitable consequence to unbridled license and excess. Such was in Ezekiel's day one of the most detestable forms of idolatry.
turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these; or, "great abominations besides these" (f).Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. turn thee yet again] See Ezekiel 8:6 end.
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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