Ezekiel 9:3
And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
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(3) The glory . . . to the threshold.—In Ezekiel 8:4 the prophet had seen the same vision as he has described in Ezekiel 1 standing at the entrance of the court of the priests, and there it still remained. The word cherub is here used collectively. Now that special glory above the cherubim, which represented the Divine Being Himself, was gone from its place to the threshold of the house, but is returned again in Ezekiel 10:1. At the same time, there is also suggested the idea that the ordinary presence of God between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies within the Temple has left its place, and come out to the door of the house. The two ideas are indeed distinct, and yet by no means incapable of being blended in the imagery of a vision. The significance of the former is that the command for judgment proceeds from the very Temple itself to which the Pharisaic Jews looked as the pledge of their safety; while the other would mean that the Lord had already begun to forsake His Temple. Both thoughts are true, and both are emphasised in the course of the vision.

Ezekiel 9:3-4. And the glory of God was gone to the threshold of the house — Namely, that glorious symbol of the divine presence which had been wont to appear between the cherubim upon the mercy-seat, was departed out of that inner sanctuary to the threshold or door of the temple, to show that God would shortly forsake his house, and withdraw himself from the Jews, because of their idolatries and other sins. The word cherub here stands for cherubim, as Ezekiel 10:2. We must distinguish this apparition of the divine glory, which had its usual residence in the temple, from that which was shown particularly to Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 3:23. And he called to the man clothed with linen — He who sat on the throne, Ezekiel 1:26, namely, the Son of God, gave his commands to the angel; and the Lord (Hebrew, Jehovah) said unto him, Go through the midst of the city — From the one end to the other, or rather through all parts of it; and set a mark, &c. — To signify that distinction which God, by his providence, makes in times of common calamity between some and others, Isaiah 26:20; Jeremiah 39:16; Malachi 3:18. For God in his greatest wrath against his enemies has a reserve of mercies for his people. Upon the foreheads of the men that sigh — Namely, out of grief, or who mourn for the sins and miseries of others; and cry for all the abominations, &c. — Who dare openly bewail the abominations of this wicked city, and so bear their testimony against it. The Vulgate renders the clause, Et signa Thau super frontes virorum gementium, &c.; that is, “mark with the letter Thau the foreheads of the men who grieve, &c.” And it has been a long and prevailing opinion in the Christian Church, that the letter Thau was the mark here intended, namely, in the Samaritan character, supposed to have been used at that time by the Jews, and that the letter was written in the form of a cross, as St. Jerome attests in his commentary on the place. The prevalence of this opinion shows, at least, how early this use of the form of the cross prevailed in the Christian Church, which made way for the superstition and idolatry of the Papists in that particular. It is of more consequence to observe, that whatever this mark was, it was set upon the persons here described to signify that God owned them as his, and would spare and preserve them in the time of this general destruction. Observe, reader, a work of grace in the soul is to God a mark upon the forehead, which he will acknowledge as his mark, and by which he knows them that are his; and those who keep themselves pure in times of common iniquity, God will keep safe in times of common calamity. They that distinguish themselves shall be distinguished; they that cry for other men’s sins, shall not need to cry for their own afflictions; for they shall either be delivered from them, or comforted under them. Observe again: God is more careful of his people than vindictive against his enemies; for he orders the sealing of the mourners before the destruction of the rebels.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.Cherub - The singular is put collectively for the "cherubim," which were upon the mercy-seat of the ark in the holy of holies, the proper seat of the glory of the Lord in the midst of Israel. God is represented as "arising" from between the cherubim to scatter His enemies Numbers 10:35. 3. glory of … God—which had heretofore, as a bright cloud, rested on the mercy seat between the cherubim in the holy of holies (2Sa 6:2; Ps 80:1); its departure was the presage of the temple being given up to ruin; its going from the inner sanctuary to the threshold without, towards the officers standing at the altar outside, was in order to give them the commission of vengeance. The glory; either a glorious brightness, such as some times appeared above the cherubims in the most, holy place, or the glorious God of Israel, who is the Lord that speaks, Ezekiel 9:4, or that glory which the prophet saw, Ezekiel 1:28 3:23 8:4, which see, and which brought him into the temple.

Gone up; withdrawn in part, departing from the place he had so long dwelt in. The cherub, or cherubims; for it is here singular instead of plural.

Whereupon he was either wont to sit and appear, or else on which he was when he appeared unto Ezekiel, as Ezekiel 8:4.

The threshold of the house; of the holy of holies, or of the temple, towards the brazen altar; in token either of his sudden departure from the Jews because of their sins; or that he might come nearer to those seven, to give them orders about wasting the city.

He called with a plain and loud voice, declaring his purpose to proceed to judge and execute his righteous judgment; but yet first providing for the safety of the good. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub,

whereupon he was,.... That is, the glorious God of Israel; or the glorious Shechinah, and divine Majesty, which dwelt between the cherubim over the mercy seat in the most holy place, removed from thence, as a token of his being about to depart from the temple, which in a short time would be destroyed. The Targum is,

"the glory of the God of Israel departed in the cherub on which he dwelt, in the house of the holy of holies;''

the cherubim removed with him, and were his chariot in which he rode; see Ezekiel 10:18;

to the threshold of the house; of the holy of holies, as Jarchi interprets it; and so was nearer to the brasen altar, where the seven men stood, to give them their orders; of which an account follows:

and he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; he, being the principal person, is called first; and his business being to preserve the Lord's people shows that this was the first care of God.

And the glory of the God of Israel had {e} gone up from the cherub, on which he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn by his side;

(e) Which declared that he was not bound to it, neither would remain any longer than there was hope that they would return from their wickedness and worship him correctly.

3. from the cherub] See at the end of ch. 10.Verse 3. - Was gone up; better, went up. The prophet saw the process as well as the result. The "glory of the Lord" which he bad seen (Ezekiel 8:4) by the northern gate rose from its cherub throne (we note the use of the singular to express the unity of the fourfold form), as if to direct the action of his ministers, to the threshold of the "house." This may be connected also with the thought that the normal abiding place of the presence of the Lord had been "between the cherubim" (Psalm 80:1) of the mercy seat, but that thought seems in the present instance to be in the background, and I adopt the former interpretation as preferable. Second 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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