Ezekiel 9:1
He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) He cried also . . . with a loud voice.—The pronoun refers to the same Being as throughout the previous chapter. His nature is sufficiently shown by the prophet’s address to Him in Ezekiel 9:8 : “Ah, Lord God!” The “loud voice” was to give emphasis to what is said; it is the natural expression of the fierceness of the Divine indignation and wrath.

Them that have charge over the city.—Not earthly officers, but those to whom God has especially entrusted the execution of His will concerning Jerusalem. The word is, no doubt, used often enough of human officers, but such sense is necessarily excluded here by the whole circumstances of the vision. Nor does the phrase “every man” at all indicate that they were human beings, the same expression being constantly used of angels (as in Genesis 18:1-2; Joshua 5:13; Judges 13:11; Daniel 8:16, &c), and the representation here being plainly that of angelic executioners of God’s wrath. They appear only in the light of the administrators of vengeance, the description of them being that each had “his destroying weapon in his hand.” This is repeated in the following verse.

Ezekiel 9:1-2. He cried also in mine ears — Namely, the man whom he had seen upon the throne; with a loud voice — This denoted the terribleness of the judgments which were going to be inflicted. Cause them that have charge, &c. — That is, says Lowth, “the angels who had the charge of executing God’s judgments upon the city.” Or it may be intended of the Chaldean army, or of its principal leaders, who had a charge or commission against Jerusalem, to avenge the divine justice of it, because of its heinous provocations. The passage is prophetical of the slaughter which should be made of its inhabitants. And behold, &c. — No sooner was the command given, than these ministers of God’s displeasure appear ready to execute it. Six men — In the vision they appeared as men, and the prophet terms them according to their appearance. From the way of the higher gate — See note on Ezekiel 8:14. Which lieth toward the north — The Babylonians made their inroads into Palestine, as has been more than once observed, from the north, and by this gate it seems, the Chaldeans first entered into the city. And every man a slaughter-weapon in his hand — Prepared for the work to which they were called. And one among them was clothed with linen — A garment proper to the priesthood; and the habit in which the angels often appeared, Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6-7. This person, at least, seems to have been an angel, who had the charge given him of preserving those that were to be saved amidst the general destruction; with a writer’s inkhorn by his side — That he might set a mark on those who were to be preserved amidst the general slaughter. Thus, Revelation 7:2, St. John in a vision saw an angel with the seal of the living God, and therewith the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads; “in allusion,” says Bishop Newton, “to the ancient custom of marking servants in their foreheads, to distinguish what they were, and to whom they belonged.” The position of the inkhorn, by the side of this writer, may appear strange to a European reader, but according to Olearius, Dr. Shaw, and others, the custom of placing it by the side continues in the East to this day. And they went in and stood beside the brazen altar — To denote that the men ordained to destruction were offered up as so many sacrifices to God’s justice. The destruction of the wicked is elsewhere expressed by the name of a sacrifice: see Ezekiel 39:17; Isaiah 29:2; Isaiah 34:6.

9:1-4 It is a great comfort to believers, that in the midst of destroyers and destructions, there is a Mediator, a great High Priest, who has an interest in heaven, and in whom saints on earth have an interest. The representation of the Divine glory from above the ark, removed to the threshold, denoted that the Lord was about to leave his mercy-seat, and to pronounce judgment on the people. The distinguishing character of this remnant that is to be saved, is such as sigh and cry to God in prayer, because of the abominations in Jerusalem. Those who keep pure in times of general wickedness, God will keep safe in times of general trouble and distress.Them that have charge - The angels who have charge to execute God's sentence.

Every man - "angels," not "men."

CHAPTER 9

Eze 9:1-11. Continuation of the Preceding Vision: The Sealing of the Faithful.

1. cried—contrasted with their "cry" for mercy (Eze 8:18) is the "cry" here for vengeance, showing how vain was the former.

them that have charge—literally, officers; so "officers" (Isa 60:17), having the city in charge, not to guard, but to punish it. The angels who as "watchers" fulfil God's judgments (Da 4:13, 17, 23; 10:20, 21); the "princes" (Jer 39:3) of Nebuchadnezzar's army were under their guidance.

draw near—in the Hebrew intensive, "to draw near quickly."The prophet in the vision seeth a mark set upon some, Ezekiel 9:1-4, and the destruction of all the rest, Ezekiel 9:5-7. God rejecteth his intercession, Ezekiel 9:8-11.

He cried; the man whom he had seen upon the throne, Christ, who is Lord and Sovereign. Or, the glory of God, or the God of glory, or an angel by order from God.

In mine ears; either a Hebraism, he cried so that I distinctly heard; or rather to intimate that Ezekiel only heard what was spoken; the elders who were now with him hearing nothing of what was spoken.

Cause them to draw near; Approach, ye visitations, i.e. ye sore, wasting, unparalleled judgments; so the concrete in the superlative degree is sometimes expressed in the abstract, as it is here: or, these judgments are already near at hand. It may point, at the chief commanders in the Babylonish army,

them that have charge; not those that were now officers under Zedekiah, and commissioned by him, but those whom God hath appointed to destroy the city; angels, say some; the Chaldean commanders, think others.

With his destroying weapon; each of these had a weapon proper for that kind of destruction which he was to effect; and so, some to slay with sword, another with the pestilence, another with famine; each had his proper work herein, and it is called his destruction. In his hand, denoting both readiness unto, expedition in, and strength for the work.

He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice,.... That is, the glory of the Lord God of Israel, whom the prophet saw in the temple, and who directed him from place to place, and showed him all the abominations committed there: this loud voice of the Lord was not so much to excite the attention of the prophet, as to call together the ministers of his vengeance; and to show the greatness of his indignation, and the vehemence of his wrath, which was stirred up by the sins of the people:

saying, cause them that have the charge over the city to draw near; or,

"who were appointed over the city,''

as the Targum; that is, the city of Jerusalem; by whom are meant either the ministering angels, who had been the guardians of it, but now were to be employed another way; or the princes of the Chaldean army, who had a charge against the city to destroy it; see Isaiah 10:6. The Syriac version is, "draw near, ye avengers of the city"; and the Septuagint and Arabic versions are "the vengeance of the city draws nigh":

even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand; weapons of war, as bows and arrows, sword and spear; see Jeremiah 6:22.

He cried also in my ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over {a} the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.

(a) The time to take vengeance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. that have charge over the city] Lit. either the “oversights” (overseers), or the “visitations” (visitants) of the city. The latter is most natural, “visitations” being said for “those who visit,” that is, the executioners (Jeremiah 52:11). Cf. Isaiah 60:17 (officers). The verb may be rendered as A.V. Bring near, or Draw near (ch. Ezekiel 36:8; Job 31:37). The perf., the executioners are at hand, is less suitable to the loud cry, and the immediate appearance of the seven men seems in response to the summons.

Verse 1. - He cried, etc. The voice comes, as before, from the human form, seen as a theophany, in the midst of the Divine glory. Cause them that have charge over the city. The noun is an abstract plural, commonly rendered "visitation" (Isaiah 10:3; Jeremiah 11:23, and elsewhere). Here, however, it clearly stands for persons (just as we use "the watch" for "the watchmen"), and is so used in Isaiah 60:17; 2 Kings 11:18 (comp. Ezekiel 44:11). The persons addressed are called "men," but they are clearly thought of as superhuman; like the angels who came to Sodom (Genesis 19:1); like the angel with the drawn sword in 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:16. His destroying weapon. The word clearly implies something different from a sword, but corresponds in its vagueness to the Hebrew. In ver. 2 the Hebrew for "slaughter weapon" implies an instrument for crashing into fragments, probably an axe or mace. A cognate word in Jeremiah 51:20 is translated "battle axe," and the LXX. gives that meaning here, as also does the margin of the Revised Version. Ezekiel 9:1The Angels which Smite Jerusalem

At the call of Jehovah, His servants appear to execute the judgment. - Ezekiel 9:1. And He called in my ears with a loud voice, saying, Come hither, ye watchmen of the city, and every one his instrument of destruction in his hand. Ezekiel 9:2. And behold six men came by the way of the upper gage, which is directed toward the north, every one with his smashing-tool in his hand; and a man in the midst of them, clothed in white linen, and writing materials by his hip; and they came and stood near the brazen altar. Ezekiel 9:3. And the glory of the God of Israel rose up from the cherub, upon which it was, to the threshold of the house, and called to the man clothed in white linen, by whose hip the writing materials were. - פּקדּות העיר does not mean the punishments of the city. This rendering does not suit the context, since it is not the punishments that are introduced, but the men who execute them; and it is not established by the usage of the language. פּקדּה is frequently used, no doubt, in the sense of visitation or chastisement (e.g., Isaiah 10:3; Hosea 9:7); but it is not met with in the plural in this sense. In the plural it only occurs in the sense of supervision or protectorate, in which sense it occurs not only in Jeremiah 52:11 and Ezekiel 44:11, but also (in the singular) in Isaiah 60:17, and as early as Numbers 3:38, where it relates to the presidency of the priests, and very frequently in the Chronicles. Consequently פּקדּות are those whom God has appointed to watch over the city, the city-guard (2 Kings 11:18), - not earthly, but heavenly watchmen, - who are now to inflict punishment upon the ungodly, as the authorities appointed by God. קרבוּ is an imperative Piel, as in Isaiah 41:21, and must not be altered into קרבוּ (Kal), as Hitzig proposes. The Piel is used in an intransitive sense, festinanter appropinquavit, as in Ezekiel 36:8. The persons called come by the way of the upper northern gate of the temple, to take their stand before Jehovah, whose glory had appeared in the inner court. The upper gate is the gate leading from the outer court to the inner, or upper court, which stood on higher ground, - the gate mentioned in Ezekiel 8:3 and Ezekiel 8:5. In the midst of the six men furnished with smashing-tools there was one clothed in white byssus, with writing materials at his side. The dress and equipment, as well as the instructions which he afterwards receives and executes, show him to be the prince or leader of the others.

Kliefoth calls in question the opinion that these seven men are angels; but without any reason. Angels appearing in human form are frequently called אנשׁים or אישׁ, according to their external habitus. But the number seven neither presupposes the dogma of the seven archangels, nor is copied from the seven Parsic amschaspands. The dress worn by the high priest, when presenting the sin-offering on the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16:4, Leviticus 16:23), was made of בּד, i.e., of white material woven from byssus thread (see the comm. on Exodus 28:42). It has been inferred from this, that the figure clothed in white linen was the angel of Jehovah, who appears as the heavenly high priest, to protect and care for his own. In support of this, the circumstance may be also adduced, that the man whom Daniel saw above the water of the Tigris, and whose appearance is described, in Daniel 10:5-6, in the same manner as that of Jehovah in Ezekiel 1:4, Ezekiel 1:26-27, and that of the risen Christ in Revelation 1:13-15, appears clothed in בּדּים (Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6-7).

(Note: לבוּשׁ בּדּים is rendered by the lxx, in the passage before us, ἐνδεδυκώς ποδήρῃ. It is in accordance with this that Christ is described in Revelation 1:13 as clothed with a ποδήρης, and not after Daniel 10:5, as Hengstenberg supposes. In Daniel 10:5, the Septuagint has ἐνδεδυμένος βαδδίν or τὰ βαδδίν. In other places, the Sept. rendering of בּד is λίνον (thus Leviticus 16:4, Leviticus 16:23; Leviticus 6:3; Exodus 28:42, etc.); and hence the λίνον λαμπρόν of Revelation 15:6 answers to the בּד made of שׁשׁ, βύσσος, and is really the same as the βύσσινον λαμπρόν of Revelation 19:8.)

Nevertheless, we cannot regard this view as established. The shining white talar, which is evidently meant by the plural בּדּים, occurring only here and in Daniel (ut. sup.), is not a dress peculiar to the angel of Jehovah or to Christ. The seven angels, with the vials of wrath, also appear in garments of shining white linen (ἐνδεδυμένοι λίνον καθαρὸν λαμπρόν, Revelation 15:6); and the shining white colour, as a symbolical representation of divine holiness and glory (see comm. on Leviticus 16:4 and Revelation 19:8), is the colour generally chosen for the clothing both of the heavenly spirits and of "just men made perfect" (Revelation 19:8). Moreover, the angel with the writing materials here is described in a totally different manner from the appearance of Jehovah in Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 10, or that of Christ in Revelation 1; and there is nothing whatever to indicate a being equal with God. Again, the distinction between him and the other six men leads to no other conclusion, than that he stood in the same relation to them as the high priest to the Levites, or the chancellor to the other officials. This position is indicated by the writing materials on his hips, i.e., in the girdle on his hips, in which scribes in the East are accustomed to carry their writing materials (vid., Rosenmller, A. u. N. Morgenland, IV. p. 323). He is provided with these for the execution of the commission given to him in Ezekiel 9:4. In this way the description can be very simply explained, without the slightest necessity for our resorting to Babylonian representations of the god Nebo, i.e., Mercury, as the scribe of heaven. The seven men take their station by the altar of burnt-offering, because the glory of God, whose commands they were about to receive, had taken up its position there for the moment (Kliefoth); not because the apostate priesthood was stationed there (Hvernick). The glory of Jehovah, however, rose up from the cherub to the threshold of the house. The meaning of this is not that it removed from the interior of the sanctuary to the outer threshold of the temple-building (Hvernick), for it was already stationed, according to Ezekiel 8:16, above the cherub, between the porch and the altar. It went back from thence to the threshold of the temple-porch, through which one entered the Holy Place, to give its orders there. The reason for leaving its place above the cherubim (the singular כּרוּב is used collectively) to do this, was not that "God would have had to turn round in order to address the seven from the throne, since, according to Ezekiel 8:4 and Ezekiel 8:16, He had gone from the north gate of the outer court into the inner court, and His servants had followed Him" (Hitzig); for the cherubim moved in all four directions, and therefore God, even from the throne, could turn without difficulty to every side. God left His throne, that He might issue His command for the judgment upon Israel from the threshold of the temple, and show Himself to be the judge who would forsake the throne which He had assumed in Israel. This command He issues from the temple court, because the temple was the place whence God attested Himself to His people, both by mercy and judgment.

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