Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
Eze 20:1-49. Rejection of the Elders' Application to the Prophet: Exposure of Israel's Protracted Rebellions, notwithstanding God's Long-suffering Goodness: Yet Will God Restore His People at Last.
1. seventh year, &c.—namely, from the carrying away of Jeconiah (Eze 1:2; 8:1). This computation was calculated to make them cherish the more ardently the hope of the restoration promised them in seventy years; for, when prospects are hopeless, years are not computed [Calvin].
elders … came to inquire—The object of their inquiry, as in Eze 14:1, is not stated; probably it was to ascertain the cause of the national calamities and the time of their termination, as their false prophets assured them of a speedy restoration.
Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.
3. The chapter falls into two great parts: Eze 20:1-32, the recital of the people's rebellions during five distinct periods: in Egypt, the wilderness, on the borders of Canaan when a new generation arose, in Canaan, and in the time of the prophet.
I will not be inquired of by you—because their moral state precluded them from capability of knowing the will of God (Ps 66:18; Pr 28:9; Joh 7:17).
Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:
4. Wilt thou judge? … judge—The emphatical repetition expresses, "Wilt thou not judge? yes, judge them. There is a loud call for immediate judgment." The Hebrew interrogative here is a command, not a prohibition [Maurer]. Instead of spending time in teaching them, tell them of the abomination of their fathers, of which their own are the complement and counterpart, and which call for judgment.
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God;
5, 6. The thrice lifting up of God's hand (the sign of His oath, Re 10:5, 6; Ex 6:8, Margin; Nu 14:30; to which passages the form of words here alludes) implies the solemn earnestness of God's purpose of grace to them.
made myself known unto them—proving Myself faithful and true by the actual fulfilment of My promises (Ex 4:31; 6:3); revealing Myself as "Jehovah," that is, not that the name was unknown before, but that then first the force of that name was manifested in the promises of God then being realized in performances.
In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands:
6. espied for them—as though God had spied out all other lands, and chose Canaan as the best of all lands (De 8:7, 8). See Da 8:9; 11:16, 41, "the glorious land"; see Margin, "land of delight," or, ornament"; "the pleasant land," or "land of desire," Zec 7:14, Margin.
glory of all lands—that is, Canaan was "the beauty of all lands"; the most lovely and delightful land; "milk and honey" are not the antecedents to "which."
Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
7. Moses gives no formal statement of idolatries practised by Israel in Egypt. But it is implied in their readiness to worship the golden calf (resembling the Egyptian ox, Apis) (Ex 32:4), which makes it likely they had worshipped such idols in Egypt. Also, in Le 17:7, "They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils (literally, seirim, 'he-goats,' the symbol of the false god, Pan), after whom they have gone awhoring." The call of God by Moses was as much to them to separate from idols and follow Jehovah, as it was to Pharaoh to let them go forth. Ex 6:6, 7 and Jos 24:14, expressly mention their idolatry "in Egypt." Hence the need of their being removed out of the contagion of Egyptian idolatries by the exodus.
every man—so universal was the evil.
of his eyes—It was not fear of their Egyptian masters, but their own lust of the eye that drew them to idols (Eze 6:9; 18:6).
But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
8, 9. then I said, I will … But, &c.—that is, (God speaking in condescension to human modes of conception) their spiritual degradation deserved I should destroy them, "but I wrought (namely, the deliverance 'out of … Egypt') for My name's sake"; not for their merits (a rebuke to their national pride). God's "name" means the sum-total of His perfections. To manifest these, His gratuitous mercy abounding above their sins, yet without wrong to His justice, and so to set forth His glory, was and is the ultimate end of His dealings (Eze 20:14, 22; 2Sa 7:23; Isa 63:12; Ro 9:17).
But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.
Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.
And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
11. which if a man do, he shall … five in them—not "by them," as though they could justify a man, seeing that man cannot render the faultless obedience required (Le 18:5; Ga 3:12). "By them" is the expression indeed in Ro 10:5; but there the design is to show that, if man could obey all God's laws, he would be justified "by them" (Ga 3:21); but he cannot; he therefore needs to have justification by "the Lord our righteousness" (Jer 23:6); then, having thus received life, he "lives," that is, maintains, enjoys, and exercises this life only in so far as he walks "in" the laws of God. So De 30:15, 16. The Israelites, as a nation, had life already freely given to them by God's covenant of promise; the laws of God were designed to be the means of the outward expression of their spiritual life. As the natural life has its healthy manifestation in the full exercise of its powers, so their spiritual being as a nation was to be developed in vigor, or else decay, according as they did, or did not, walk in God's laws.
Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
12. sabbaths, … a sign between me and them—a kind of sacramental pledge of the covenant of adoption between God and His people. The Sabbath is specified as a sample of the whole law, to show that the law is not merely precepts, but privileges, of which the Sabbath is one of the highest. Not that the Sabbath was first instituted at Sinai, as if it were an exclusively Jewish ordinance (Ge 2:2, 3), but it was then more formally enacted, when, owing to the apostasy of the world from the original revelation, one people was called out (De 5:15) to be the covenant-people of God.
sanctify them—The observance of the Sabbath contemplated by God was not a mere outward rest, but a spiritual dedication of the day to the glory of God and the good of man. Otherwise it would not be, as it is made, the pledge of universal sanctification (Ex 31:13-17; Isa 58:13, 14). Virtually it is said, all sanctity will flourish or decay, according as this ordinance is observed in its full spirituality or not.
But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
13. in the wilderness—They "rebelled" in the very place where death and terror were on every side and where they depended on My miraculous bounty every moment!
But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.
Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands;
15. I swore against them (Ps 95:11; 106:26) that I would not permit the generation that came out of Egypt to enter Canaan.
Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.
16. The special reason is stated by Moses (Nu 13:32, 33; 14:4) to be that they, through fear arising from the false report of the spies, wished to return to Egypt; the general reasons are stated here which lay at the root of their rejection of God's grace; namely, contempt of God and His laws, and love of idols.
their heart—The fault lay in it (Ps 78:37).
Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
17. Nevertheless—How marvellous that God should spare such sinners! His everlasting covenant explains it, His long-suffering standing out in striking contrast to their rebellions (Ps 78:38; Jer 30:11).
But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
18. I said unto their children—being unwilling to speak any more to the fathers as being incorrigible.
Walk ye not in … statutes of … fathers—The traditions of the fathers are to be carefully weighed, not indiscriminately followed. He forbids the imitation of not only their gross sins, but even their plausible statutes [Calvin].
I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them;
19. It is an indirect denial of God, and a robbing Him of His due, to add man's inventions to His precepts.
And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.
20. (Jer 17:22).
Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
21. Though warned by the judgment on their fathers, the next generation also rebelled against God. The "kindness of Israel's youth and love of her espousals in the wilderness" (Jer 2:2, 3) were only comparative (the corruption in later times being more general), and confined to the minority; as a whole, Israel at no time fully served God. The "children" it was that fell into the fearful apostasy on the plains of Moab at the close of the wilderness sojourn (Nu 25:1, 2; De 31:27).
Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
23. It was to that generation the threat of dispersion was proclaimed (De 28:64; compare Eze 29:4).
Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
25. I gave them … statutes … not good—Since they would not follow My statutes that were good, "I gave them" their own (Eze 20:18) and their fathers' "which were not good"; statutes spiritually corrupting, and, finally, as the consequence, destroying them. Righteous retribution (Ps 81:12; Ho 8:11; Ro 1:24; 2Th 2:11). Eze 20:39 proves this view to be correct (compare Isa 63:17). Thus on the plains of Moab (Nu 25:1-18), in chastisement for the secret unfaithfulness to God in their hearts, He permitted Baal's worshippers to tempt them to idolatry (the ready success of the tempters, moreover, proving the inward unsoundness of the tempted); and this again ended necessarily in punitive judgments.
And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD.
26. I polluted them—not directly; "but I judicially gave them up to pollute themselves." A just retribution for their "polluting My sabbaths" (Eze 20:24). This Eze 20:26 is explanatory of Eze 20:25. Their own sin I made their punishment.
caused to pass through the fire—Fairbairn translates, "In their presenting (literally, 'the causing to pass over') all their first-born," namely, to the Lord; referring to the command (Ex 13:12, Margin, where the very same expression is used). The lustration of children by passing through the fire was a later abomination (Eze 20:31). The evil here spoken of was the admixture of heathenish practices with Jehovah's worship, which made Him regard all as "polluted." Here, "to the Lord" is omitted purposely, to imply, "They kept up the outward service indeed, but I did not own it as done unto Me, since it was mingled with such pollutions." But English Version is supported by the similar phraseology in Eze 20:31, see on Eze 20:31. They made all their children pass through the fire; but he names the first-born, in aggravation of their guilt; that is, "I had willed that the first-born should be redeemed as being Mine, but they imposed on themselves the cruel rites of offering them to Molech" (De 18:10).
might know … the Lord—that they may be compelled to know Me as a powerful Judge, since they were unwilling to know Me as a gracious Father.
Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.
27-29. The next period, namely, that which followed the settlement in Canaan: the fathers of the generation existing in Ezekiel's time walked in the same steps of apostasy as the generation in the wilderness.
Yet in this—Not content with past rebellions, and not moved with gratitude for God's goodness, "yet in this," still further they rebelled.
blasphemed—"have insulted me" [Calvin]. Even those who did not sacrifice to heathen gods have offered "their sacrifices" (Eze 20:28) in forbidden places.
For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
28. provocation of their offering—an offering as it were purposely made to provoke God.
sweet savour—What ought to have been sweet became offensive by their corruptions. He specifies the various kinds of offerings, to show that in all alike they violated the law.
Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.
29. What is the high place whereunto ye go?—What is the meaning of this name? For My altar is not so called. What excellence do ye see in it, that ye go there, rather than to My temple, the only lawful place of sacrificing? The very name, "high place," convicts you of sinning, not from ignorance but perverse rebellion.
is called … unto this day—whereas this name ought to have been long since laid aside, along with the custom of sacrificing on high places which it represents, being borrowed from the heathen, who so called their places of sacrifice (the Greeks, for instance, called them by a cognate term, Bomoi), whereas I call mine Mizbeaach, "altar." The very name implies the place is not that sanctioned by Me, and therefore your sacrifices even to ME there (much more those you offer to idols) are only a "provocation" to Me (Eze 20:28; De 12:1-5). David and others, it is true, sacrificed to God on high places, but it was under exceptional circumstances, and before the altar was set up on Mount Moriah.
Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?
30. The interrogation implies a strong affirmation, as in Eze 20:4, "Are ye not polluted … ? Do ye not commit?" &c. Or, connecting this verse with Eze 20:31, "Are ye thus polluted … and yet (do ye expect that) I shall be inquired of by you?"
For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.
31. through the fire—As "the fire" is omitted in Eze 20:26, Fairbairn represents the generation here referred to (namely, that of Ezekiel's day) as attaining the climax of guilt (see on Eze 20:26), in making their children pass through the fire, which that former generation did not. The reason, however, for the omission of "the fire" in Eze 20:26 is, perhaps, that there it is implied the children only "passed through the fire" for purification, whereas here they are actually burnt to death before the idol; and therefore "the fire" is specified in the latter, not in the former case (compare 2Ki 3:27).
And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
32. We will be as the heathen—and so escape the odium to which we are exposed, of having a peculiar God and law of our own. "We shall live on better terms with them by having a similar worship. Besides, we get from God nothing but threats and calamities, whereas the heathen, Chaldeans, &c., get riches and power from their idols." How literally God's words here ("that … shall not be at all") are fulfilled in the modern Jews! Though the Jews seemed so likely (had Ezekiel spoken as an uninspired man) to have blended with the rest of mankind and laid aside their distinctive peculiarities, as was their wish at that time, yet they have remained for eighteen centuries dispersed among all nations and without a home, but still distinct: a standing witness for the truth of the prophecy given so long ago.
As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:
33. Here begins the second division of the prophecy. Lest the covenant people should abandon their distinctive hopes and amalgamate with the surrounding heathen, He tells them that, as the wilderness journey from Egypt was made subservient to discipline and also to the taking from among them the rebellious, so a severe discipline (such as the Jews are now for long actually undergoing) should be administered to them during the next exodus for the same purpose (Eze 20:38), and so to prepare them for the restored possession of their land (Ho 2:14, 15). This was only partially fulfilled before, and at the return from Babylon: its full and final accomplishment is future.
with a mighty hand, … will I rule over you—I will assert My right over you in spite of your resistance (Eze 20:32), as a master would in the case of his slave, and I will not let you be wrested from Me, because of My regard to My covenant.
And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.
34. The Jews in exile might think themselves set free from the "rule" of God (Eze 20:33); therefore, He intimates, He will reassert His right over them by chastening judgments, and these, with an ultimate view, not to destroy, but to restore them.
And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
35. wilderness of the people—rather, "peoples," the various peoples among whom they were to be scattered, and about whom God saith (Eze 20:34), "I will bring you out." In contrast to the literal "wilderness of Egypt" (Eze 20:36), "the wilderness of the peoples" is their spiritual wilderness period of trial, discipline, and purification while exiled among the nations. As the state when they are "brought into the wilderness of the peoples" and that when they were among the peoples "from" which God was to "bring them out" (Eze 20:34) are distinguished, the wilderness state probably answers partially to the transition period of discipline from the first decree for their restoration by Cyrus to the time of their complete settlement in their land, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. But the full and final fulfilment is future; the wilderness state will comprise not only the transition period of their restoration, but the beginning of their occupancy of Palestine, a time in which they shall endure the sorest of all their chastisements, to "purge out the rebels" (Eze 20:38; Da 12:1); and then the remnant (Zec 13:8, 9; 14:2, 3) shall "all serve God in the land" (Eze 20:40). Thus the wilderness period does not denote locality, but their state intervening between their rejection and future restoration.
plead—bring the matter in debate between us to an issue. Image is from a plaintiff in a law court meeting the defendant "face to face." Appropriate, as God in His dealings acts not arbitrarily, but in most righteous justice (Jer 2:9; Mic 6:2).
Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.
36. (Nu 14:21-29). Though God saved them out of Egypt, He afterwards destroyed in the wilderness them that believed not (Jude 5); so, though He brought the exiles out of Babylon, yet their wilderness state of chastening discipline continued even after they were again in Canaan.
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
37. pass under the rod—metaphor from a shepherd who makes his sheep pass under his rod in counting them (Le 27:32; Jer 33:13). Whether you will or not, ye shall be counted as Mine, and so shall be subjected to My chastening discipline (Mic 7:14), with a view to My ultimate saving of the chosen remnant (compare Joh 10:27-29).
bond of … covenant—I will constrain you by sore chastisements to submit yourselves to the covenant to which ye are lastingly bound, though now you have cast away God's bond from you. Fulfilled in part, Ne 9:8, 26, 32-38; 10:1-39; fully hereafter (Isa 54:10-13; 52:1, 2).
And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
38. (Zec 13:9; 14:2).
purge out—or, "separate." Hebrew, barothi, forming a designed alliteration with "berith," the covenant; not a promise of grace, but a threat against those Jews who thought they could in exile escape the observation and "rule" of God.
land of Israel—Though brought out of the country of their sojourn or exile (Babylon formerly, and the various lands of their exile hereafter) into the literal land of Palestine, even it shall be to them an exile state, "they shall not enter into the land of Israel," that is, the spiritual state of restored favor of God to His covenant people, which shall only be given to the remnant to be saved (Zec 13:8, 9).
As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.
39. Equivalent to, "I would rather have you open idolaters than hypocrites, fancying you can worship Me and yet at the same time serve idols" (Am 5:21, 22, 25, 26; compare 1Ki 18:21; 2Ki 17:41; Mt 6:24; Re 3:15, 16).
Go ye, serve—This is not a command to serve idols, but a judicial declaration of God's giving up of the half-idol, half-Jehovah worshippers to utter idolatry, if they will not serve Jehovah alone (Ps 81:12; Re 22:11).
hereafter also—God anticipates the same apostasy afterwards, as now.
For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.
40. For—Though ye, the rebellious portion, withdraw from My worship, others, even the believing remnant, will succeed after you perish, and will serve Me purely.
in mine holy mountain—(Isa 2:2, 3). Zion, or Moriah, "the height of Israel" (pre-eminent above all mountains because of the manifested presence of God there with Israel), as opposed to their "high places," the worship on which was an abomination to God.
all—not merely individuals, such as constitute the elect Church now; but the whole nation, to be followed by the conversion of the Gentile nations (Isa 2:2, "all nations;" Ro 11:26; Re 11:15).
with—rather, "in all your holy things" [Maurer].
I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.
41. with—that is, in respect to your sweet savor (literally, "savor of rest," see on Eze 16:19). Or, I will accept you (your worship) "as a sweet savor" [Maurer], (Eph 5:2; Php 4:18). God first accepts the person in Messiah, then the offering (Eze 20:40; Ge 4:4).
bring … out from … people, &c.—the same words as in Eze 20:34; but there applied to the bringing forth of the hypocrites, as well as the elect; here restricted to the saved remnant, who alone shall be at last restored literally and spiritually in the fullest sense.
sanctified in you before … heathen—(Jer 33:9). All the nations will acknowledge My power displayed in restoring you, and so shall be led to seek Me (Isa 66:18; Zec 14:16-19).
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.
And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
43. there—not merely in exile when suffering punishment which makes even reprobates sorry for sin, but when received into favor in your own land.
remember—(Eze 16:61, 63). The humiliation of Judah (Ne 9:1-38) is a type of the future penitence of the whole nation (Ho 5:15; 6:1; Zec 12:10-14). God's goodness realized by the sinner is the only thing that leads to true repentance (Ho 3:5; Lu 7:37, 38).
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
44. The English Version chapter ought to have ended here, and the twenty-first chapter begun with "Moreover," &c., as in the Hebrew Bible.
for my name's sake—(Eze 36:22). Gratuitously; according to My compassion, not your merits. After having commented on this verse, Calvin was laid on his death bed, and his commentary ended.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
45-49. An introductory brief description in enigma of the destruction by fire and sword, detailed more explicitly in Eze 21:1-32.
Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;
46. south … south … south—three different Hebrew words, to express the certainty of the divine displeasure resting on the region specified. The third term is from a root meaning "dry," referring to the sun's heat in the south; representing the burning judgments of God on the southern parts of Judea, of which Jerusalem was the capital.
set thy face—determinately. The prophets used to turn themselves towards those who were to be the subjects of their prophecies.
drop—as the rain, which flows in a continuous stream, sometimes gently (De 32:2), sometimes violently (Am 7:16; Mic 2:6, Margin), as here.
forest—the densely populated country of Judea; trees representing people.
And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
47. fire—every kind of judgment (Eze 19:12; 21:3, "my sword"; Jer 21:14).
green tree … dry—fit and unfit materials for fuel alike; "the righteous and the wicked," as explained in Eze 21:3, 4; Lu 23:31. Unsparing universality of the judgment!
flaming flame—one continued and unextinguished flame. "The glowing flame" [Fairbairn].
faces—persons; here the metaphor is merged in the reality.
And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.
Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?
49. Ezekiel complains that by this parabolic form of prophecy he only makes himself and it a jest to his countrymen. God therefore in Eze 21:1-32 permits him to express the same prophecy more plainly.