Ezekiel 9:9
Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
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Ezekiel 9:9-10. Then said he, The iniquity of the house of Israel, &c., is exceeding great — Here we have God’s denial of the prophet’s request for a mitigation of the judgment, and the justification of himself in that denial. 1st, Nothing could be said in extenuation of their guilt. God was as willing to show mercy as the prophet could desire, but here the case would not admit of it: it was such that mercy could not be granted without injuring justice; and it was not fit that one attribute of God should be glorified at the expense of another. Their crimes were so flagrant, that to grant them a reprieve would be a connivance at their sins. The land is full of blood —

Blood unjustly shed, which always cries for vengeance. And the city full of perverseness — All judgment was perverted; in judges, to injustice; in priests, to idolatry; in all, to skepticism, or atheism. For they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth — And hath left us to do what we will in it, and whatever wrong we do, he either knows it not, or will not take cognizance of it. Now how can those expect benefit from the mercy of God who thus bid defiance to his justice? Therefore, 2d, Nothing can be done to mitigate the sentence. Mine eye shall not spare, &c. — I have borne with them as long as it was fit such impudent sinners should be borne with, and therefore I will now recompense their way on their head.

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.Left - The prophet was left alone, all who had been around him were slain. 9. exceeding—literally, "very, very"; doubled.

perverseness—"apostasy" [Grotius]; or, "wresting aside of justice."

Lord … forsaken … earth … seeth not—The order is reversed from Eze 8:12. There they speak of His neglect of His people in their misery; here they go farther and deny His providence (Ps 10:11), so that they may sin fearlessly. God, in answer to Ezekiel's question (Eze 9:8), leaves the difficulty unsolved; He merely vindicates His justice by showing it did not exceed their sin: He would have us humbly acquiesce in His judgments, and wait and trust.

Then said he; God gives him a speedy answer.

Of the house of Israel; of those who either joined themselves to the house of David when the ten tribes fell off, or those that escaped when Shalmaneser carried them captive.

Judah; the two tribes; though only one is expressed the other is included.

Exceeding great; grown beyond all measure, that my justice cannot, and my mercy must not, longer forbear. Full of blood; very much innocent blood is spilt, or there are many bloodshedders among them.

Full of perverseness; all judgment is perverted; in judges, to injustice; in priests, to idolatry; in all, to scepticism, or atheism.

They say; they argue and dispute against my concerning myself in the government of the world and the church.

The Lord hath cast off the care of his people, and so they spoil him of his dominion, deny his omniscience, and make him as idols for ignorance, just as Psalm 10:11 94:7.

Then he said unto me,.... In order to satisfy the prophet, and make him easy, and show the equity and justice of the divine proceedings:

the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great; it cannot be well conceived or expressed how great it is; it abounded and superabounded: this is the answer in general, but in particular it follows:

and the land is full of blood; of murders, as the Targum interprets it; of shedding of innocent blood; and even of all atrocious and capital crimes:

and the city full of perverseness; or of perversion of judgment, as the Targum; the city of Jerusalem, where was the highest court of judicature, where the sanhedrim of seventy one sat to do justice and judgment, have nothing but perversion and injustice:

for they say, the Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not; does not concern himself with human affairs, and takes no notice of what is done below; and, having imbibed such atheistical principles, were hardened in sin, and gave themselves over to all iniquity; having no restraints upon them from the consideration of the providence of God, and his government of the world: or else the sense is, that the Lord had withheld his mercy and favours from them; and therefore they showed no regard to him, and looked upon all their evils and calamities as fortuitous events, and not as ordered by him as punishments for their sins.

Then said he to me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of {k} blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.

(k) That is, with all kinds of wickedness. See Geneva Isa 1:15

9. full of perverseness] As marg., wresting of judgment, or turning the innocent out of the way (Amos 2:7). The Divine answer is inexorable. Two evils are stated, and the deeper cause of them: violence unto bloodshed, and the perversion of justice, the cause of both being the feeling that Jehovah had forsaken the land. The language shews the strange length to which the hard fate of Israel had brought men—Jehovah had abandoned his land. Possibly these persons concluded that he had retired, being overcome by deities stronger than himself; even the godly were driven to conclude that he had ceased to interest himself in his people (Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 49:14). And with the departure of Jehovah, the righteous God, all moral restraints were relaxed. The persons who here speak had probably been obstinate opponents of the prophets, but the passage shews that the prophetic preaching of Jehovah’s righteousness, even when to appearance unheeded, had lodged itself in the consciences of men.

Verse 9. - Then said he unto me. The answer holds out but little comfort. The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah (we note the coupling of the names though Judah only was the immediate subject of the vision, as if his prayer had gone up for the whole body of the twelve tribes) was immeasurably great. Not idolatry only, but its natural fruits, bloodshed and oppression, had eaten into the life of the nation (comp. Ezekiel 7:11, 12; Ezekiel 8:17; Ezekiel 22:25). And these evils had their root in the practical atheism of the denials which had been already uttered in Ezekiel 8:12. and which are here reproduced. The unpitying aspect of God's judgments is, for the present, dominant, and the work must be thorough. One notes how the despair of the prophet leads him to forget those who were to have the mark upon their foreheads, who were indeed the true "remnant." Like Elijah, he does not know of any such (1 Kings 19:10); like Jeremiah, he searches through the streets of Jerusalem, and cannot find one righteous man (Jeremiah 5:1). Ezekiel 9:9Intercession of the Prophet, and the Answer of the Lord

Ezekiel 9:8. And it came to pass when they smote and I remained, I fell upon my face, and carried, and said: Alas! Lord Jehovah, wilt Thou destroy all the remnant of Israel, by pouring out Thy wrath upon Jerusalem? Ezekiel 9:9. And He said to me: The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is immeasurably great, and the land is full of blood-guiltiness, and the city full of perversion; for they say Jehovah hath forsaken the land, and Jehovah seeth not. Ezekiel 9:10. So also shall my eye not look with pity, and I will not spare; I will give their way upon their head. Ezekiel 9:11. And, behold, the man clothed in white linen, who had the writing materials on his hip, brought answer, and said: I have done as thou hast commanded me. - The Chetib נאשׁאר is an incongruous form, composed of participle and imperfect fused into one, and is evidently a copyist's error. It is not to be altered into אשּׁאר, however (the 1st pers. imperf. Niph.), but to be read as a participle נשׁאר, and taken with כּהכּותם as a continuation of the circumstantial clause. For the words do not mean that Ezekiel alone was left, but that when the angels smote and he was left, i.e., was spared, was not smitten with the rest, he fell on his face, to entreat the Lord for mercy. These words and the prophet's intercession both apparently presuppose that among the inhabitants of Jerusalem there was no one found who was marked with the sign of the cross, and therefore could be spared. But this is by no means to be regarded as established. For, in the first place, it is not stated that all had been smitten by the angels; and, secondly, the intercession of the prophet simply assumes that, in comparison with the multitude of the slain, the number of those who were marked with the sign of the cross and spared was so small that it escaped the prophet's eye, and he was afraid that they might all be slain without exception, and the whole of the remnant of the covenant nation be destroyed. The שׁארית of Israel and Judah is the covenant nation in its existing state, when it had been so reduced by the previous judgments of God, that out of the whole of what was once so numerous a people, only a small portion remained in the land. Although God has previously promised that a remnant shall be preserved (Ezekiel 5:3-4), He does not renew this promise to the prophet, but begins by holding up the greatness of the iniquity of Israel, which admits of no sparing, but calls for the most merciless punishment, to show him that, according to the strict demand of justice, the whole nation has deserved destruction. מטּה (Ezekiel 9:9) is not equivalent to מוהט, oppression (Isaiah 58:9), but signifies perversion of justice; although משׁפּט is not mentioned, since this is also omitted in Exodus 23:2, where הטּה occurs in the same sense. For Ezekiel 9:9, vid., Ezekiel 8:12. For נתתּי 'דּרכּם בר (Ezekiel 9:10 and Ezekiel 11:21-22, 31), vid., 1 Kings 8:32. While God is conversing with the prophet, the seven angels have performed their work; and in Ezekiel 9:11 their leader returns to Jehovah with the announcement that His orders have been executed. He does this, not in his own name only, but in that of all the rest. The first act of the judgment is thus shown to the prophet in a figurative representation. The second act follows in the next chapter.

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