Ezekiel 9:7
And he said to them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go you forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Defile the house.—The utmost possible pollution under the Mosaic economy was the touch of a dead body. (See Numbers 19:11; 1Kings 13:2; 2Kings 23:16.) It might be thought that the Temple would be spared this defilement; but not only must the execution of justice override all technicalities, as at the execution of Joab (1Kings 2:28-31), but in this case the very defilement itself was a part of the judgment, since God was about to forsake His sanctuary, and give over even this to the desolations of the heathen. From the Temple the destroying angels passed out into the city.

9:5-11 The slaughter must begin at the sanctuary, that all may see and know that the Lord hates sin most in those nearest to him. He who was appointed to protect, reported the matter. Christ is faithful to the trust reposed in him. Is he commanded by his Father to secure eternal life to the chosen remnant? He says, Of all that thou hast given me, I have lost none. If others perish, and we are saved, we must ascribe the difference wholly to the mercy of our God, for we too have deserved wrath. Let us still continue to plead in behalf of others. But where the Lord shows no mercy he does no injustice; he only recompenses men's ways.Defile the house - By filling the temple and its courts with the bodies of the slain. See Numbers 19:11. 6. come not near any … upon whom … mark—(Re 9:4). It may be objected that Daniel, Jeremiah, and others were carried away, whereas many of the vilest were left in the land. But God does not promise believers exemption from all suffering, but only from what will prove really and lastingly hurtful to them. His sparing the ungodly turns to their destruction and leaves them without excuse [Calvin]. However, the prophecy waits a fuller and final fulfilment, for Re 7:3-8, in ages long after Babylon, foretells, as still future, the same sealing of a remnant (one hundred forty-four thousand) of Israel previous to the final outpouring of wrath on the rest of the nation; the correspondence is exact; the same pouring of fire from the altar follows the marking of the remnant in both (compare Re 8:5, with Eze 10:2). So Zec 13:9; 14:2, distinguish the remnant from the rest of Israel.

begin at … sanctuary—For in it the greatest abominations had been committed; it had lost the reality of consecration by the blood of victims sacrificed to idols; it must, therefore, lose its semblance by the dead bodies of the slain idolaters (Eze 9:7). God's heaviest wrath falls on those who have sinned against the highest privileges; these are made to feel it first (1Pe 4:17, 18). He hates sin most in those nearest to Him; for example, the priests, &c.

ancient men—the seventy elders.

Defile the house; regard not the holiness of the temple: idolaters, whom you are to slay, have defiled it with the blood of idols, sacrifices, do you defile it with the blood of the idolatrous sacrificers; slay them where you find them, for there they sinned against me.

Fill the courts with the slain; make a great slaughter, let every place be stained with their blood. There were the priests’, the Levites’, and the women’s courts, and there will be found persons of a different character; but unless my mark be upon them, forbear none of them.

Go ye forth; make haste, do not ye, for I do not, delay, nor will I.

They went forth: here, as before, they show their ready obedience.

Slew in the city: this slaughter was visional in the eye of the prophet, and a preface to the saddest butcheries Israel ever bled and groaned under. And he said unto them, defile the house,.... The temple; do not be afraid of slaying any person in it, for fear of defiling it; they have defiled it with their abominations, and now do you defile it with their blood:

and fill the courts with the slain; the court of the priests, and the court of the Israelites, and the court of the women, and all the chambers where the priests and Levites were, and had their images portrayed:

go ye forth; from the brasen altar by which they stood, and out of the temple, after they had done their business there, and had slain all they should:

and they went forth, and slew in the city; they went out of the temple, and slew in the city all but those that had the mark.

And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Defile the house] The “house” embraces the temple house and its precincts, including the courts. The presence of dead in the courts defiled the whole.Verse 7. - Defile the house, etc. What Ezekiel saw in vision was, we may well believe, fulfilled literally when the city was taken by the Chaldeans. The pollution of the temple by the bleeding corpses of the idolatrous worshippers was a fitting retribution for the worship with which they had polluted it (comp. Ezekiel 6:13). 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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