And to the others he said in my hearing, Go you after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have you pity:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Go ye after him.—No interval is allowed. Here, as in the corresponding visions in Revelation referred to above, judgment waits only until those whom mercy will spare have been protected. (Comp. the deliverance of Lot, Genesis 19:22-25.) The destruction was to be utter and complete, and was to begin at the sanctuary, where the gross sin of the people had culminated. This is one of those many important passages in Scripture (comp. Matthew 25:41; Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16, &c.) in which God reveals Himself as one who will ultimately take vengeance without pity upon those who have rejected and insulted His mercy and long-suffering kindness. The revelation of future wrath is no less clear and distinct than that of love to those who trust in Him.Ezekiel 9:5-7. To the others he said, Go ye after him and smite — That is, cut off and destroy all that are either guilty of, or accessory to the abominations of Jerusalem, and even all that do not sigh and cry for them, or that are not affected with grief and sorrow on account of them. Let not your eyes spare — You must not save any whom God has doomed to destruction. None needs to be more merciful than God is, and he had said, Ezekiel 8:18, My eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity. Take notice, reader, those that live in sin, and hate to be reformed, shall perish in sin, and deserve not to be pitied; for they might easily have prevented their ruin, but would not. Slay utterly old and young, &c. — Make no distinction of age or sex. This was awfully fulfilled, partly by the sword of the Chaldeans, 2 Chronicles 36:17, and partly by famine and pestilence, each of which calamities swept away multitudes. And begin at my sanctuary — That sanctuary, the horrid profanation of which Ezekiel had seen, as is described in the former chapter; they must begin there, because there the wickedness began which provoked God to send these judgments: the debaucheries of the priests were the poisoning of the springs from which all the corruption of the streams flowed. The wickedness of the sanctuary was of all other the most offensive to God, and therefore there the slaughter must begin. Begin there to try if the people will take warning by the judgments of God upon their priests, and will repent and reform: begin there, that all the world may see and know that the Lord, whose name is Jehovah, is a jealous God, and hates sin most in those that are nearest to him. Indeed when judgments are abroad in the earth, they commonly begin at the house of God, 1 Peter 4:17, because such persons sin against greater light and clearer convictions, and abuse greater privileges than others. You only have I known, and therefore will I punish you, Amos 3:2. God’s temple is a sanctuary, a place of refuge and protection for penitent sinners, but not for any that go on still in their trespasses; neither the sacredness of the place, nor the eminence of any one’s office or station in it, will be their security. But come not near any man upon whom is the mark — Do not harm, nay, do not so much as threaten, or put in fear, any one of these. The sense is, I will so order it by my providence, that none whom I have designed for preservation shall be destroyed. This prediction was remarkably fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar gave particular orders that Jeremiah should be protected, Baruch and Ebed- melech were secured, and it is likely others of Jeremiah’s friends for his sake; God had promised that it should go well with his remnant, and that they should be well treated, Jeremiah 15:11; and we have reason to think that none of the mourning, praying remnant fell by the sword of the Chaldeans, but God found out some way or other to secure them all; as in the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the Christians were all secured in a city on the mountains, called Pella, and none of them perished with the unbelieving Jews. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house — Namely, those who committed idolatry in the several courts and apartments belonging to the temple; that is, they strictly observed the orders given them, and began at God’s sanctuary, as they were commanded. And he said, Defile the house, and fill the courts with slain — God, abhorring the temple, as having been polluted with idolatry, here not only declares that he will no longer own it for his place of residence, but delivers up both the inner and outward courts belonging to it to be polluted with blood and slaughter. Let us observe well, that if the servants of God’s house defile it with their sins, God will justly suffer its enemies to defile it with their acts of violence. If the ministers and members of God’s church pollute it with their errors and impieties, God will take away its wall of defence, and expose it to the ravages of persecutors. And they went forth and slew in the city — So it was represented to the prophet in his vision, which was still continued, as a prediction of what should shortly be done in reality. Genesis 19, and in the last day Luke 21:18, Luke 21:28; Revelation 7:1. This accords with the eschatological character of the predictions in this chapter (see the introduction of Ezekiel).
A mark - literally, "Tau," the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The old form of the letter was that of a cross. The Jews have interpreted this sign variously, some considering that "Tau," being the last of the Hebrew letters, and so closing the alphabet, denoted completeness, and thus the mark indicated the completeness of the sorrow for sin in those upon whom it was placed. Others again observed that "Tau" was the first letter of Torah ("the Law") and that the foreheads were marked as of men obedient to the Law. Christians, noting the resemblance of this letter in its most ancient form to a cross, have seen herein a reference to the cross with which Christians were signed. The custom for pagan gods and their votaries to bear certain marks furnishes instances, in which God was pleased to employ symbolism, generally in use, to express higher and more divine truth. The sign of the cross in baptism is an outward sign of the designation of God's elect, who at the last day shall be exempted from the destruction of the ungodly Matthew 24:22, Matthew 24:31.The others; the six slaughtermen.
He said; the God of glory, or Christ, who appeared in great glory.
In my hearing; a note of certainty of the thing.
Go ye after him; linger not ere you set forward against the wicked, yet still go after, that you destroy none that are to be sealed; so also Revelation 7:3.
Through the city; this order must be observed through the whole city, and through the whole execution. Smite; strike each with his weapon of perdition, so let every one fall by the sword, or famine, &c.
Let not your eye spare; do all with severity, act the Chaldeans’ part indeed, and without remorse execute my just displeasure by your cruelty.
go ye after him through the city; that is, after the man clothed with linen; for he was sent out first to take care of the righteous, and preserve them; and the rest were not suffered to stir till he was gone; and then they are bid to go after him. The Syriac version is,
"to them that were with him he said to them before me, go through the city after me;''
as if these were the words of the man clothed with linen to the other six; and so the Arabic version; of it the other is the true reading, and gives the right sense, as the following words show:
and smite; the inhabitants of the city:
let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; not that the Chaldeans were inclined to mercy and pity, for they were a cruel and barbarous people; but this is said to show the resentment of God against the sins of the Jews; and that it was his will they should act the severe part they did.And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. The other executioners were to follow the footsteps of the seventh man, and slay without discrimination all not marked by him.
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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