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. Ezekiel 9:3The 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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