Ezekiel 8:3
And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looks toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy.
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(3) Took me by a lock of mine head.—Not, of course, literally, in the body, but in vision. Ezekiel did not actually leave Chaldæa at all, as is shown by Ezekiel 11:24.

The door of the inner gate.—This is one of the gates which led from the court of the people to the court of the priests which was on a higher level. In the account of the building of the temple there is no mention of gates leading from the one to the other, but they would naturally have been placed there, as we know they were in the later temple of Herod. The particular gate was the one “which looketh toward the north,” as the one by which the priests went directly to the great altar.

The image of jealousy is explained in the following clause, “which provoketh to jealousy.” It is not necessary to consider “jealousy” as a proper name—the name of any particular heathen divinity—but rather as a descriptive name, an image which aroused the Divine indignation. It has even been thought that it is not meant to indicate any particular idol, but is only a picture to set forth the prevailing idolatry. It is, however, altogether probable that at this time there actually were heathen idols set up in the temple, and nothing could give a more vivid picture of the corruption of priests and people alike than the mention of their presence. Idolatry had been growing more general and more bold from the time of Solomon. He built places of worship for the various idols of his wives in the hill that is before Jerusalem” (1Kings 11:7); but Ahaz, under the influence of the Assyrian king, had placed an idolatrous altar in the temple itself, removing the brazen altar to make room (2Kings 16:10-16), and Manasseh afterwards did the same (2Kings 21:4). All the subsequent kings of Judah, except Josiah, were wicked men, and although this particular sin is not distinctly recorded of Zedekiah, yet it seems altogether likely that he too made use of the temple for idolatrous worship, and that Ezekiel in vision now saw his idols standing in the court.

Ezekiel 8:3-6. And he put forth the form of a hand — He appeared so to do. This, and all that follows, to the end of Ezekiel 8:16, was done in vision only, as appears from the expression here used: and brought me in the visions of God, &c. — In a similar manner, it was represented to the Prophet Elisha’s mind, (2 Kings 5:26,) what Gehazi was doing when he took the presents from Naaman, which the prophet there calls being present with Gehazi. To Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate — To the entrance that goes into the inner court, called the court of the priests, where the altar of burnt-offerings stood; where was the seat of the image of jealousy — “An image set up within the precincts of the temple, to provoke God to jealousy, by setting up a rival against him in the place dedicated to his own worship.” This was most probably an image of Baal, for that, we find, was the idol they chiefly worshipped. As it was exceedingly provoking to God to set up another object of worship besides him; so it was still more so to do this in the place which had been built for, and was dedicated to, his worship only. To speak in the figurative sense in which God is spoken of, with regard to the Jewish nation, namely, as being a husband to it, it was just the same as if the adulterer were brought into the house of the husband whom he had injured, in his very sight; therefore it is very properly called here, the image of jealousy, or that exciteth jealousy. That I should go far off from my sanctuary — Which are provocations sufficient to cause me to forsake my sanctuary, and deliver it up to be profaned by the heathen, Ezekiel 7:21-22. This is significantly represented by the departing of the divine glory from the threshold of the temple, Ezekiel 10:18.8:1-6 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.In the visions of God - Ezekiel was not transported "in the body," but rapt "in spirit," while he still sat amidst the elders of Judah.

The inner gate - Or, the gate of the inner court. This gate, leading from the outer to the inner court (the court of the priests), is called Ezekiel 8:5 "the gate of the altar," because it was from this side that the priests approached the brass altar. The prophet is on the "outside" of this gate, so that the "image of jealousy" was set up in the outer or people's court over against the northern entrance to the priest's court. This image was the image of a false god provoking Yahweh to "jealousy" Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 14:22. It may be doubted whether the scenes described in this chapter are intended to represent what actually occurred. They may be ideal pictures to indicate the idolatrous corruption of priests and people. And this is in accordance with the symbolic character of the number "four;" the four idolatries representing the idolatries in all the four quarters of the world. The false gods of pagandom are brought into the temple in order that they may be detected and exposed by being brought face to face with the God of revelation. Still history proves that the ideal picture was supported by actual facts which had occurred and were occurring.

3. Instead of prompting him to address directly the elders before him, the Spirit carried him away in vision (not in person bodily) to the temple at Jerusalem; he proceeds to report to them what he witnessed: his message thus falls into two parts: (1) The abominations reported in Eze 8:1-18. (2) The dealings of judgment and mercy to be adopted towards the impenitent and penitent Israelites respectively (Eze 9:1-11:25). The exiles looked hopefully towards Jerusalem and, so far from believing things there to be on the verge of ruin, expected a return in peace; while those left in Jerusalem eyed the exiles with contempt, as if cast away from the Lord, whereas they themselves were near God and ensured in the possessions of the land (Eze 11:15). Hence the vision here of what affected those in Jerusalem immediately was a seasonable communication to the exiles away from it.

door of the inner gate—facing the north, the direction in which he came from Chebar, called the "altar-gate" (Eze 8:5); it opened into the inner court, wherein stood the altar of burnt offering; the inner court (1Ki 6:36) was that of the priests; the outer court (Eze 10:5), that of the people, where they assembled.

seat—the pedestal of the image.

image of jealousy—Astarte, or Asheera (as the Hebrew for "grove" ought to be translated, 2Ki 21:3, 7; 23:4, 7), set up by Manasseh as a rival to Jehovah in His temple, and arresting the attention of all worshippers as they entered; it was the Syrian Venus, worshipped with licentious rites; the "queen of heaven," wife of Phœnician Baal. Havernick thinks all the scenes of idolatry in the chapter are successive portions of the festival held in honor of Tammuz or Adonis (Eze 8:14). Probably, however, the scenes are separate proofs of Jewish idolatry, rather than restricted to one idol.

provoketh to jealousy—calleth for a visitation in wrath of the "jealous God," who will not give His honor to another (compare the second commandment, Ex 20:5). Jerome refers this verse to a statue of Baal, which Josiah had overthrown and his successors had replaced.

He put forth a hand; Christ. This was acted visionally, not corporally or actually, and so all that is here spoken of to the end of the 16th verse.

The spirit; which indeed is the hand which took him by the head, gently, but with mighty strength.

Lifted me up; very probably in the sight of the elders who were with him.

Between the earth and the heaven; he seemed to fly as a swift bird through the air.

Brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem; carried me to see Jerusalem, where in visions strange and glorious I beheld what was done there. This was no delusion, but a revelation from heaven; though all was done in an ecstasy, yet he was fully assured of every particular he saw done in the temple, whither he was carried in his spirit, not body, by the hand or Spirit of Christ.

To the door of the inner gate; to the door of the gate of the inner court, or court of the priests, 2 Chronicles 4:9. The temple courts had four gates towards the four quarters of the world, and this was the north gate, which opened into the great court, where Ahaz had set up his Damascene altar, 2 Kings 16:11, and where the idols were set up too.

The image, Baal, which Manasseh had set up, 2 Kings 21:7, and Josiah had destroyed, and succeeding kings had again set up.

Of jealousy; because it was so notorious an affront to God, who had married Israel to himself, that above all other it provoked him to anger against this people. And he put forth the form of an hand,.... That is, he that appeared in the likeness of a man, and with so much glory and splendour, out of the midst of the fire and brightness which were about him, put forth the form of a hand, that looked like a man's hand; for this appearance was not real, only visionary; and this seems to design the Spirit of God sent forth by Christ, sometimes called the finger of God, Luke 11:20; as appears by what follows:

and took me by a lock of mine head; without hurting him, showing his power over him; and by this means raising him from his seat, as it seemed to the prophet:

and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and heaven; took him off of his seat, and out of his house, lifted him up in the air, and carried him through it, as he thought; for this was not real and local; in like manner as the spirit caught away Philip, Acts 8:39; but in vision, as follows:

and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem; so it was represented to him in a true vision, which was of God, and not of Satan, that he was carried from Chaldea to Jerusalem; not that he really was, for he was still in Chaldea; and here in vision was he brought again, and found himself to be when that vision was over, Ezekiel 11:24; but things so appeared to him, as if he was actually brought to Jerusalem by the power of the Spirit of God:

to the door of the inner gate: not of Jerusalem, but the temple, or rather the court, the inner court; see Ezekiel 10:3; and so it should be rendered "to the door of the gate of the inner court" (s); and thus it is explained by Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech:

that looketh toward the north; for there were gates on every side:

where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy; some graven image, perhaps the image of Baal; so called, because it provoked the Lord to jealousy, Deuteronomy 32:21. Gussetius (t) suggests, that "Semel", here may be the same with Semele; who, in the opinion of the Heathens, made Juno jealous.

(s) "ad ostium portae interioris, sub. atrii", Pagninus, Vatablus, Piscator. (t) Ebr. Comment. p. 903.

And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the {d} visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner {e} gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of {f} jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.

(d) Meaning that he was thus carried in spirit, and not in body.

(e) Which was the porch or the court where the people assembled.

(f) So called, because it provoked God's indignation, which was the idol of Baal.

3. He does not even say that it was the divine hand that carried him; spirit carried him, the form of the divine hand was merely symbolical.

the visions of God] i.e. shewn him by God, ch. Ezekiel 1:1.

door of the inner gate] Rather: door of the gate of the inner court looking toward the north, i.e. the northern gate of the inner court. The word “inner” is wanting in LXX. The general opinion has been that the prophet was set down in the inner court, at the inner door of the northern gateway into that court. The term “door,” however, seems in usage to mean the outside entrance; and if the prophet had stood in the inner court he would have had to look northward through the gateway in order to see the image of jealousy, which was certainly not in the inner court. It is more natural to suppose him set down in the outer court, in front of the gateway leading into the inner court. In front of this gateway, in the outer court, stood the image of jealousy, near the entrance. Having seen this the prophet is next brought into the gateway (Ezekiel 8:7), where he enters the chamber of imagery, some one of the cells in the gateway building. From there he is carried outside the sacred enclosure altogether to the north door of the outer court (Ezekiel 8:14), where he finds the women bewailing Tammuz. And finally he is transported into the inner court where he beholds the sun-worship practised in front of the temple-house itself. Previous to this he had not been in the inner court, for when being shewn the idolatries he is always taken to the precise place where they are practised.

image of jealousy] Not an image of “jealousy” itself, considered as a deity, but an image which because it provoked to jealousy was named image of jealousy. The “jealousy” of God is a violent emotion or resentment arising from the feeling of being injured (Deuteronomy 32:21). It is uncertain what this image was. The word occurs again, Deuteronomy 4:16, in the sense of similitude or “figure,” and in Phenician with the meaning of “statue,” e.g. in an inscription from Idalion (Corp. Ins. Sem., vol. i. 88, 3, 7, &c.). According to 2 Kings 21:7 Manasseh put a graven image of Ashera in the house of the Lord, which Josiah brought out and burnt (2 Kings 23:6; 2 Chronicles 33:7; 2 Chronicles 33:15). In earlier times the Ashera (A.V. grove) was a tree or pole planted beside an altar. It is not quite certain whether the pole or stock was a substitute for the evergreen tree, when this could not be had, or whether like the sun-image it was the symbol of a goddess. In later times the term seems used as the name of a goddess. The expression “in the house of the Lord” is hardly to be pressed so far as to imply that Manasseh placed the Ashera in the temple proper, “house” is used of the whole temple buildings, including the courts. The image here may be this Ashera, whether we are to suppose it replaced after Josiah had burnt it, or whether the prophet be here taking a comprehensive view of the idolatries of Israel, including the time of Manasseh. In 2 Kings 23:11 reference is made to the horses of the sun placed “at the entering in of the house of the Lord,” but these would scarcely be called an “image.”Verse 3. - The form of an hand (comp. Ezekiel 2:9; Daniel 5:5). For the mode of transit, see Bel and the Dragon, ver. 36. as probably a direct imitation. The touch of the "hand" was followed by the action of the Spirit, in visions which he knew to be more than dreams, visions that came from God (comp. Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 40:2). The word is not the same as that commonly used by Daniel (chazon), and often by Ezekiel himself (Ezekiel 7:13; Ezekiel 12:22, 23, et al.), but mareh, which implies a more direct act of intuition. The word appears again in Ezekiel 11:24; Ezekiel 43:3, and in Daniel 8:26, 27, et al. To the door of the gate, etc. From the first we trace the priest's familiarity with the structure of the temple. He is brought, as it were, after his journey in the spirit, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looketh towards the north (Revised Version). This is identified in ver. 5 with the "gate of the altar." It may probably also be identified with the "upper gate" of Ezekiel 9:2; the "high gate" of Jeremiah 20:2; the "higher gate" of 2 Kings 15:35, built by Jotham; the "new gate" of Jeremiah 36:10. Obviously it was one of the most conspicuous portions of the temple, where the people gathered in large numbers. And here the prophet sees what he calls the image of jealousy. The words that follow probably give his explanation of the strange phrase, not found elsewhere, though it might naturally be suggested by Deuteronomy 32:16, 21; Psalm 78:58. What this image was we can only conjecture. The word for "image" is a rare one, and is found only here and in Deuteronomy 4:16; 2 Chronicles 33:7, 15. It may have been the Asherah (the "grove" of the Authorized Version), or conical stone, such as Manasseh had made and placed, with an altar dedicated to it, in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3), or one of Baal, or of Ashtaroth, or even of Tammuz (see ver. 14). As the word "grove" does not occur in Ezekiel, it may be sufficient to state that the Ashera was a pillar symbolical either of a goddess of the same name, or, as some think, of the Phoenician Astarte. The worship seems to have first become popular under Jezebel (1 Kings 18:19), and took deep root both in Israel and Judah. The cultus, as in 2 Kings 23:7, seems to have been connected with the foulest licence, like that of the Babylonian Mylitta (Herod., 1:199; Baruch 6:43). The work of Josiah had clearly had but a temporary success, and the people had gone back to the confluent polytheism of the reign of Manasseh. In such a state of things the worst was possible. For recent discussions on the Ashera, see Kuenen. 'Relig. Isr.' (Eng. transl.), 1:88; Schrader; Robertson Smith, 'Relig. of Semites,' p. 172; and T.K. Cheyne, in the Academy of December 14, 1889. Third strophe

Thus will they fall into irresistible destruction; even their silver and gold they will not rescue, but will cast it away as useless, and leave it for the enemy. - Ezekiel 7:15. The sword without, and pestilence and famine within: he who is in the field will die by the sword; and famine and pestilence will devour him that is in the city. Ezekiel 7:16. And if their escaped ones escape, they will be upon the mountains like the doves of the valleys, all moaning, every one for his iniquity. Ezekiel 7:17. All hands will become feeble, and all knees flow with water. Ezekiel 7:18. They will gird themselves with sackcloth, and terrors will cover them; on all faces there will be shame, and baldness on all their heads. Ezekiel 7:19. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be as filth to them. Their silver and their gold will not be able to rescue them in the day of Jehovah's wrath; they will not satisfy their souls therewith, nor fill their stomachs thereby, for it was to them a stumbling-block to guilt. Ezekiel 7:20. And His beautiful ornament, they used it for pride; and their abominable images, their abominations they made thereof: therefore I make it filth to them. Ezekiel 7:21. And I shall give it into the hand of foreigners for prey, and to the wicked of the earth for spoil, that they may defile it. Ezekiel 7:22. I shall turn my face from them, that they defile my treasure; and oppressors shall come upon it and defile it. - The chastisement of God penetrates everywhere (Ezekiel 7:15 compare with Ezekiel 5:12); even flight to the mountains, that are inaccessible to the foe (compare 1 Macc. 2:28; Matthew 24:16), will only bring misery. Those who have fled to the mountains will coo - i.e., mourn, moan - like the doves of the valleys, which (as Bochart has correctly interpreted the simile in his Hieroz. II. p. 546, ed. Ros.), "when alarmed by the bird-catcher or the hawk, are obliged to forsake their natural abode, and fly elsewhere to save their lives. The mountain doves are contrasted with those of the valleys, as wild with tame." In כּלּם המות the figure and the fact are fused together. The words actually relate to the men who have fled; whereas the gender of המות is made to agree with that of כּיוני. The cooing of doves was regarded by the ancients as a moan (hâgâh), a mournful note (for proofs, see Gesen. on Isaiah 38:14); for which Ezekiel uses the still stronger expression hâmâh fremere, to howl or growl (cf. Isaiah 59:11). The low moaning has reference to their iniquity, the punishment of which they are enduring. When the judgment bursts upon them, they will all (not merely those who have escaped, but the whole nation) be overwhelmed with terror, shame, and suffering. The words, "all knees flow with water" (for hâlak in this sense, compare Joel 4:18), are a hyperbolical expression used to denote the entire loss of the strength of the knees (here, Ezekiel 7:17 and Ezekiel 21:12), like the heart melting and turning to water in Joshua 7:5. With this utter despair there are associated grief and horror at the calamity that has fallen upon them, and shame and pain at the thought of the sins that have plunged them into such distress. For כּסּתה פלּצוּת, compare Psalm 55:6; for אל־כּל־פנים בּוּשׁה, Micah 7:10; Jeremiah 51:51; and for קרחה 'בּכל־ראשׁ, Isaiah 15:2; Amos 8:10. On the custom of shaving the head bald on account of great suffering or deep sorrow, see the comm. on Micah 1:16.

In this state of anguish they will throw all their treasures away as sinful trash (Ezekiel 7:19.). By the silver and gold which they will throw away (Ezekiel 7:19), we are not to understand idolatrous images particularly - these are first spoken of in Ezekiel 7:20 - but the treasures of precious metals on which they had hitherto set their hearts. They will not merely throw these away as worthless, but look upon them as niddâh, filth, an object of disgust, inasmuch as they have been the servants of their evil lust. The next clause, "silver and gold cannot rescue them," are a reminiscence from Zephaniah 1:18. But Ezekiel gives greater force to the thought by adding, "they will not appease their hunger therewith," - that is to say, they will not be able to protect their lives thereby, either from the sword of the enemy (see the comm. on Zephaniah 1:18) or from death by starvation, because there will be no more food to purchase within the besieged city. The clause 'כּי assigns the reason for that which forms the leading thought of the verse, namely, the throwing away of the silver and gold as filth; מכשׁול עונם, a stumbling-block through which one falls into guilt and punishment; צבי עדיו, the beauty of his ornament, i.e., his beautiful ornament. The allusion is to the silver and gold; and the singular suffix is to be explained from the fact that the prophet fixed his mind upon the people as a whole, and used the singular in a general and indefinite sense. The words are written absolutely at the commencement of the sentence; hence the suffix attached to שׂמהוּ, Jerome has given the true meaning of the words: "what I((God) gave for an ornament of the possessors and for their wealth, they turned into pride." And not merely to ostentatious show (in the manner depicted in Isaiah 3:16.), but to abominable images, i.e., idols, did they apply the costly gifts of God (cf. Hosea 8:4; Hosea 13:2). עשׂה, to make of (gold and silver); ב denoting the material with which one works and of which anything is made (as in Exodus 31:4; Exodus 38:8). God punishes this abuse by making it (gold and silver) into niddâh to them, i.e., according to v. 19, by placing them in such circumstances that they cast it away as filth, and (v. 21) by giving it as booty to the foe. The enemy is described as "the wicked of the earth" (cf. Psalm 75:9), i.e., godless men, who not only seize upon the possession of Israel, but in the most wicked manner lay hands upon all that is holy, and defile it. The Chetib חלּלוּה is to be retained, notwithstanding the fact that it was preceded by a masculine suffix. What is threatened will take place, because the Lord will turn away His face from His people (מהם, from the Israelites), i.e., will withdraw His gracious protection from them, so that the enemy will be able to defile His treasure. Tsâphuun, that which is hidden, the treasure (Job 20:26; Obadiah 1:6). Tsephuunii is generally supposed to refer to the temple, or the Most Holy Place in the temple. Jerome renders it arcanum meum, and gives this explanation: "signifying the Holy of Holies, which no one except the priests and the high priest dared to enter." This interpretation was so commonly adopted by the Fathers, that even Theodoret explains the rendering given in the Septuagint, τὴν ἐπισκοπήν μου, as signifying the Most Holy Place in the temple. On the other hand, the Chaldee has ארעא בּית שׁכינתי, "the land of the house of my majesty;" and Calvin understands it as signifying "the land which was safe under His (i.e., God's) protection." But it is difficult to reconcile either explanation with the use of the word tsâphuun. The verb tsâphan signifies to hide, shelter, lay up in safety. These meanings do not befit either the Holy of Holies in the temple or the land of Israel. It is true that the Holy of Holies was unapproachable by the laity, and even by the ordinary priests, but it was not a secret, a hidden place; and still less was this the case with the land of Canaan.We therefore adhere to the meaning, which is so thoroughly sustained by Job 20:26 and Obadiah 1:6 - namely, "treasure," by which, no doubt, the temple-treasure is primarily intended. This rendering suits the context, as only treasures have been referred to before; and it may be made to harmonize with בּאוּ בהּ which follows. בּוא ב signifies not merely intrare in locum, but also venire in (e.g., 2 Kings 6:23; possibly Ezekiel 30:4), and may therefore be very properly rendered, "to get possession of," since it is only possible to obtain possession of a treasure by penetrating into the place where it is laid up or concealed. There is nothing at variance with this in the word חלּל, profanare, since it has already occurred in Ezekiel 7:21 in connection with the defiling of treasures and jewels. Moreover, as Calvin has correctly observed, the word is employed here to denote "an indiscriminate abuse, when, instead of considering to what purpose things have been entrusted to us, we squander them rashly and without selection, in contempt and even in scorn."

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