Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
3. The Testimony against the Idolatrous Seekers after Oracles (CH. 14.)
1And there came unto me men from the elders of Israel, and sat before me. 2And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 3Son of man, these men have caused their filthy idols to go up upon their heart, and the stumbling-block of their iniquity have they given before their face; shall I indeed 4allow Myself to be inquired at by them? Therefore speak with them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Every man of the house of Israel that shall cause his filthy idols to go up to his heart, and shall put the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet, I 5Jehovah, do I answer him in that,—in the multitude of his filthy idols? In order to take the house of Israel in their own heart, who have departed from Me in all their filthy idols: 6Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Repent, and turn from your filthy idols, and from all your abominations turn away your face. 7For every one of the house of Israel, and of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, if he shall separate himself from Me, and shall cause his filthy idols to go up to his heart, and shall put the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet 8to inquire in Me, I Jehovah answer him in Myself, And set My face against this man, and make him desolate, for a sign, and for proverbs, and cut him off from the midst of My people; and ye know that I am Jehovah. 9And the prophet, if he shall let himself be enticed, and speaks a word, I Jehovah have enticed that prophet, and stretch out My hand upon him, and 10destroy him from the midst of My people Israel. And they bear their iniquity; as the iniquity of him that inquires, so shall the iniquity of theprophet be; 11That the house of Israel may go no more astray from Me, and may no more be polluted [defile themselves] in all their transgressions; and that they may be to Me a people, and I may be to them a God,—sentence of 12the Lord Jehovah. And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 13Son of man, if a land shall sin against Me, so that it acts very treacherously, and I stretch out mine hand upon it, and break for it the staff of bread, and 14send upon it famine, and cut off from it man and beast; And there are in the midst of it these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job,—they shall deliver their own soul [life] by their righteousness,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. 15If I shall cause evil beasts to pass through the land, and they bereave it, and it becomes a desolation, because no one passes through because of the beasts; 16These three men in the midst of it—as I live, sentence of the Lord Jehovah—they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they alone shall be delivered, and the land shall be a desolation. 17Or if I shall bring a sword upon this land, and I say, A sword shall go through the land, and I cut off from it man 18and beast; And these three men are in the midst of it—as I live, sentence of the Lord Jehovah—they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; for they alone shall be delivered. 19Or if I shall send a pestilence on that land, and 20pour out My fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast; And Noah, Daniel, and Job are in the midst of it—as I live, sentence of the Lord Jehovah—they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they shall deliver their own soul [life] by their righteousness. 21For thus saith the Lord Jehovah; How much more when I send My four sore judgments—sword, and famine, and evil beasts, and pestilence—upon Jerusalem, to out off from it man and 22beast! And [yet], behold, therein is left an escaped portion, who are brought forth, sons and daughters; behold, they come forth unto you, and ye see their way and their doings, and ye are comforted concerning the evil that I 23have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it. And they comfort you, when ye shall see their way and their doings; and ye know that not without cause have I done all that I have done in [upon] it,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah.
Ezekiel 14:1. Another read.: ויבאו.
Ezekiel 14:3. Sept.: ... ἑθεντο τα διανοηατα αν̓τ. ἐπι τ. καρδιας αν̓τ. κ. την κολασιν τ. ἀδικιων αν̓τ. ἐθησαν προ—
Ezekiel 14:4. Other read.: בי , בא? Sept.: ... ἀποχριθησομαι αν̓τω ἐν οἱς ἐνεχεται ἡ διανοια αν̓τον,
Ezekiel 14:5. ὁπως μη διαστρεψωσιν τον οἰκον τ. ̓Ισρ. κατα τ. καρδιας αν̓τ. τας ἀπηλλοτριωμεν̀ας ἀπʼ ἐμον—
Ezekiel 14:7. … και ἐκ των προσηλντων—ἀποκριθησομαι αν̓τω ἐν ὡ ἐνεχεται ἐν αν̓τω,
Ezekiel 14:15. Sept. read.: ושכלתיה, et orbavero illam.
Ezekiel 14:21. Sept.: Ἐαν δε χαι—Vulg.: quod et si.
Ezekiel 14:22. … ν̔πολελειμμενοι ἐν αν̓τη οἰ ἀνασεσωσμενο; ἐξ κγονσιν νἱονς—
Ezekiel 14:23. Some add: אל; there is a reading: אלת נם.
Ezekiel 14:1–3. The Occasion. The outward occasion for the divine testimony in this chapter is first mentioned, and then the inward occasion is Bet forth plainly.
Ezekiel 14:1. The outward occasion is furnished by a deputation—in this way we explain the singular of the verb (וַיָּבוֹא), which surprised the old commentators. More certainly is meant than il vient des hommes. Grotius supposes ambassadors from Palestine, on occasion of the embassy of Zedekiah to Babylon (Jer. 51). They were certainly from the exiles (KEIL); to be distinguished, however, from those of Ezekiel 8:1. Those latter are already with the prophet; the former first come to him. It is not, however, merely because of the different expressions used,—“elders of Judah,” in Ezekiel 8:1, while here we have: men from the elders of Israel,—but rather because of the keeping apart as well as putting together which follows in Ezekiel 16, that we shall have to think of ambassadors from the exiles of the kingdom of the ten tribes (comp. Introd. pp. 7, 8); whether they were themselves elders is not exactly said, but simply that they came from the elders of Israel, out of their midst. Comp. Ezekiel 20.—That they sat down before the prophet, seems to show that they were waiting to see whether they might not hear something from him, of course concerning Judah, concerning Jerusalem, for in this direction was the interest of all who were in exile turned (Introd. pp. 8, 9).
[“For what purpose they came—whether to ask counsel from the prophet regarding some point of difficulty that had occurred to themselves, or to hear what he might be prompted by the Spirit to communicate of seasonable instruction—we are not expressly told. But that they came in the character of inquirers may be almost certainly inferred from Ezekiel 14:3, where the Lord at once proceeds, through His servant, to repudiate the idea of His being inquired at by persons of such a character—persons who had ‘set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face.’ After this it is scarcely possible to doubt that they came in the character of inquirers: though what might be the precise object of their inquiry is nowhere indicated in what follows, unless we can suppose (what is in the highest degree probable) that the message of the prophet was so framed as in some part to meet the proposed subject of inquiry, and thus incidentally to discover what the subject itself really was. This supposition is confirmed by the fact, which strikes us the moment we glance over the contents of the chapter, that it falls into two parts,—the first (Ezekiel 14:3–11) referring to the preliminary point respecting the character of the inquirers, and the remaining portion addressing itself to a subject entirely distinct—God’s method of dealing with a land and people when they have reached a state of hopeless corruption and depravity. It is more than probable, therefore, that while God refused to give any formal answer to such inquirers as those who now sat before the prophet, He yet, in this latter portion of the message, gave a substantial deliverance on the question about which their anxiety had been raised.”—FAIRBAIRN’S Ezekiel, pp. 143, 144.—W. F.]
He was able certainly to anticipate their question—as is actually done in Ezekiel 14:2 sq.—inasmuch as, by means of divine revelation, the still unexpressed design of their coming is made known to him, and in this way they are made manifest before him. They wish, according to Hengst., “to make an experiment, whether they cannot obtain a more favourable answer through the prophet, whose fearfully threatening announcement they have heard not without shuddering” (grace without repentance); but from the text we can only learn that the older portion of the exiles put themselves in an exactly similar position toward Ezekiel as that which, alike in the exile and at Jerusalem, the people assumed toward the false prophets. Hence, Ezekiel treated like the false prophets,—that is the immediate connection, the connection with what precedes. The meaning is not (as Häv., and also Cocc.), that the guilt of the people in general, who so willingly hearken to the lie (Ezekiel 13:19), is to be brought out in detail, by way of supplement to the guilt of the false prophets already handled; nor does Ezekiel intend by his own example to make clear and prominent the contrast between true and false prophets. But by the example of these men from Israel, while he speaks to their conscience, he predicts the impending divine judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. The internal necessity of it, from the connection of sin and punishment, is justified to their consciousness. This is the more remote connection, the connection with what follows. Hence Ezekiel 14:3, giving what forms the inner reason for the divine testimony.—On גִלּוּלֵיהֶם, see at Ezekiel 6:4.—The statement: these men have caused their filthy gods to go up, etc., as bearing on the object of the discourse we have just indicated, is expressed more exactly by what follows: and the stumbling-block of their iniquity, etc. (see on Ezekiel 7:19); inasmuch as their idols are up upon their heart (Ezekiel 11:5), the occasion taken therefrom (to fall into sin) is given or put before their face (Ezekiel 14:4). [“Anything which, in consequence of the inward disposition of mind and will, is conceived of also as an object of attention outwardly, and as the immediate occasion of corresponding actions, is spoken of as coming up or put upon the heart, Isa. 65:17; Jer. 3:16, 51:50; 1 Cor. 2:9; Jer. 7:31, 19:5, 32:35; 2 Kings 12:5 ; 2 Chron. 7:11; Acts 7:23.—Dan. 1:8; 2 Sam. 7:3; 1 Chron. 17:2; Acts 5:3.”—BECK.] They are portrayed accordingly as persons whose spirit cleaves to the old idolatrous memories; they are sinners against Jehovah, they have already even been punished by Him, but in heart, just as before, they are not freed from their idols. This, of course, is the explanation of the strongly negative character of the question. הַאדָּרשׁ, inf. abs. Niphal, for ה, הדָּרשׁ being changed into א, according to Kimchi, because of the doubling of the ה. In דָּרַשׁ there lies an element of urgency or zeal, with which one seeks in order to find—in the case before us, asks in order to get an answer.
Ezekiel 14:4–11. A further Disclosure of the Divine Mind, with a more, general reference, and in Ezekiel 14:9 sq. a special application to the prophet.
Idolatrous oracle-seekers, as Ezekiel 14:4 a second time portrays them, generalizing the case before us (אֶל־לִבּוֹ, although merely to the heart; אִישׁ אִישׁ, without exception), have therefore (לָכֵן, see Ezekiel 14:4 at the end) to expect what corresponds to their state. For אוֹתָם, comp. on Ezekiel 2:1. I Jehovah, in emphatic antithesis to the filthy idols. Hence, as well as because of Ezekiel 14:3, where an answer is absolutely refused, נַצֲנֵיתִי is a question without any particle of interrogation, which after Ezekiel 14:3 is unnecessary (HENGST.). The Niphal of צָנָה means: to be inclined, to show oneself willing to answer. [EWALD: “I am become bound to answer him in Myself, for,” etc., i.e. I can no longer remain in a mere state of indifference toward him, but must treat him at the right time as he deserves (!). Castel also, without the form of a ‘question: I answer him, as is becoming in the case of such idols. Cocc. refers to this category such an answer on the part of the prophet, that the inquirer remains fixed in the multitude of his idols, does not repent, 1 Kings 22:23.] בָּהּ (Qeri, בָּא), because of the antithesis to Jehovah, a pregnant announcement beforehand of what follows: בְּדֹב֜, indicates the condition in which the inquirer is. [Others: according to it. The fem. instead of the plural; while others have taken it as בֹּה, referring to רֹב, or as a neuter: for it, for this coming to the seer, or (like Hitz.) read בִּי (Jehovah will answer in actual fact).]
Ezekiel 14:5 is understood by most of a good intention on the part of God in such answering, which is to correspond to their idolatry, and is to be given first in Ezekiel 14:8. KEIL:—not merely to move and to benefit them, but to bend their heart by means of judgments, etc. Hitz. on the other hand: in order to take them in their state of mind, as their acting is perhaps legal. According to Hengst., giving the reason for refusing an answer: in order that they may attain to a knowledge of sin, to touch their conscience. Rather does לְמַעַן place in the foreground the ruling purpose in the call which follows. It is their heart God means to reach, just as it is there their idols live (Ezekiel 14:3, 4). אֲשֶׁר, a pronoun, not a conjunction.—בָזֹרוּ, as in Isa. 1:4, Niph. reflexive of זוּר, expressing deliberation; where we have in that case אָחוֹר for מֵאָחוֹרָיו, here we have מֵצָלַי, corresponding to what follows: בֻּלָּם—.וְהָשִׁיבוּ קֵצַל is t.hers as a repetition of the subject: all of them together.
Ezekiel 14:6. וְהָשִׁיבוּ, namely: פְּנֵיהֶם; not: your heart, as Hengst., Rashi. (Others: your wives, children, etc.)
Ezekiel 14:7. Comp. Lev. 17:8, 10, 13, 18:26, 20:2. If it is the rule for the stranger, much more for every one of Israel.—לִדְרָשׁ־לוֹ בִי, HÄV.: to apply to the prophet (as organ) for counsel from Me (so that at bottom he inquires of Me). Similarly HENGST.: to inquire of him in Me = to inquire of Me through him. ROSENM.: inasmuch as he pretends faith in Me. KEIL: to seek Me for himself (לוֹ reflexively, or dat. commodi of him who inquires). בִּי forms the antithesis to בָּהּ בְּרֹב׳ (Ezekiel 14:4) or בְּנִלּוּלֵיהֶם (Ezekiel 14:5). The case is—after the demand being made by the prophet (Ezekiel 14:6), as is presupposed—one of aggravated hypocrisy, that is, no longer mere coming to the prophet with idolatrous hearts (Ezekiel 14:3, 4), but an express appeal to the Lord in spite of inward cleaving to idolatry; hence, a putting of trust in Him, although one is away from Him (Ezekiel 14:7). Hence אְַנִי׳ is no longer (as Hengst.) a question, a refusing to answer, but in this case Jehovah reveals Himself as giving an answer. But how?
Ezekiel 14:8. The divine answer demanded turns out to be one in actual fact; the word of God is God’s judgment. Comp. Lev. 17:10, 20:3, 5, 6; Deut. 28:37. In the face we have the revelation of wrath. In the individual the land is already personified (Ezekiel 14:13 sq.). וַהְַשִׁמוֹתִיהוּ from שָׁמֵם, “to be desolate” (Ezekiel 20:26); according to others in the meaning: to put in a state of dumb terror. EW.: from שׂוּם, as also the ancient translators [and Eng. Vers.] (Ps. 44:15 ). לְאוֹת׳, so that he becomes a sign, etc.—Comp. on Ezekiel 12:22.
With a special application to the prophet, Ezekiel 14:9 sets forth the case of one to whom one has come to inquire in the name of the Lord (Ezekiel 14:7). That a prophet like Ezekiel was thought of, is not to be inferred from the occasion (Ezekiel 14:1); at most we may say with Hengst.: “Let not one make demands on the true prophets which they are not able to fulfil, appealing to the utterances of the false prophets.” Hitzig certainly maintains that the case of a prophet is supposed in the future who really has, or in good faith imagines that he has, a word of God. But that the prophet supposed is a false prophet is shown by the result. First of all, פִּתָּה itself means: to talk over a credulous person; and hence the person meant here is one who, from his own want of true faith, is not himself acting rightly in a religious point of view, and therefore cannot judge rightly what such acting is, and what is not. Of a desire for gain, honour, or such like, nothing is said; we are not o think of Balaam. Then, farther, there is the expression: וְרבֶּר דָּבָר, being talked over he gives himself to talk, speaks where he ought to have been silent (Ezekiel 3:27), or was at least bound to demand repentance (Ezekiel 14:6), or else to announce judgment—consequently, speaks in a way to flatter the sinner. The case is made quite evident by the explanatory apodosis; what has already happened is God’s judgment on the prophet, punishment, since Jehovah rather speaks to His prophets, gives them His word; and the result which follows in the case of this prophet is therefore merely the completion of the divine judgment. Comp. Ezekiel 6:14. (1 Kings 22, where we have demoniac elements, does not properly belong to the category before us). From fear of man, or from desire to please man, the prophet suffers himself to be persuaded to speak. Because he so depends on men, men get the mastery over him, but in these men the hand of God shows itself against him. His leaning to men is his divine judgment; the conjuncture brought about by God, the prophet in this conjuncture left to himself and to men. According to J. H. Michaelis, Hengst., it is intended in this way to obviate the objection drawn from the solitary position of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 14:10 combines Ezekiel 14:8 and 9. By the equality of punishment, the equality of the offence is proved. The oracle-seeker and the oracle-giver thus, by means of their punishment, expiate their guilt, with which they have burdened themselves in consequence of their sin; and as the punishment of the one offence corresponds to that of the other, it is thus clear that the guilt in both cases is alike in God’s sight. The divine intention therein
Ezekiel 14:11—is, in respect to all Israel, to prevent their going astray, their defilement or polluting of themselves, on such devious paths (in all sorts of transgressions); for Israel’s destination continues to be the holy one of being Jehovah’s people, even as Jehovah’s promise continues to be the glorious one of being their God. Comp. Ezekiel 11:20. With this reference, so general in its character, the special case of the prophet comes to an end.
Ezekiel 14:12–23. The Application to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 14:21), and the Justification thereof (Ezekiel 14:22, 23).—In accordance with what, from the outset, has formed the expectation of those who had come to Ezekiel, viz.: that they should know the fate of Judah (of Jerusalem), and in accordance farther with what has been expressed, in a general way, by the divine discourse of the prophet in the shape of judgment on false oracle-seeking and false oracle-giving,—in accordance therewith the section (Ezekiel 14:12 sq.) closes, inasmuch as there is an application of the judgment pronounced, first to an unfaithful land, and then to Jerusalem expressly; an application which is seen to be the more justifiable, as the going astray and the pollution, which God designs to put away for the future by means of the judgment, still characterize the miserable remnant (Ezekiel 14:22, 23).
Ezekiel 14:13. A land, indefinitely; not, however, for the purpose of giving utterance to a general proposition as a rule (KEIL), but because the nearer definition is expressed by means of the character of the land, and that as a character attaching to it as a whole. The “sinning” in general is specialized as: לִמְעָל־מַעַל, which is to be understood therefore in the strict sense which it everywhere has when it is a special expression. Comp. Lev. 5:21 [6:2]; Num. 5:12; Deut. 32:51; Josh. 22:20; 1 Chron. 10:13. There cleaves to the word a contrast between the inward and the outward; it speaks of secret unfaithfulness, of concealed acting, and the like. And so it stands here also, quite in accordance with Ezekiel 14:3 sq., where the subject in hand was the duplicity of oracle-seekers, false prophets, and at the same time paving the way for Ezekiel 15:8. (Ewald sees in מַעַל the treachery of Zedekiah, as a vassal bound by oath to his liege-lord of Babylon, by his leaning toward Egypt.) After such definiteness in the description of the sin of the land, the indefiniteness of the land itself can occasion no difficulty. What is thus kept indefinite rouses the hearers the more to think for themselves what land it will be. The indefinite expression presupposes, in particular, that those “men” (Ezekiel 14:1), from their own conscience, might easily supply what was wanting. There is also an element of retribution—a certain measure of secrecy on the part of God, in return for their secret state of heart. Would that they would only ask! We find ourselves in the act of applying what has gone before to that land for which Jerusalem is the title (Ezekiel 14:21). Hence the expression: and I stretch out, etc., literally the same as in Ezekiel 14:9. As to the rest, there is a retrospective reference to Ezekiel 4:16, 5:16, 17. Cut off, as in Ezekiel 14:8.
Ezekiel 14:14. As the description up to this point is an appeal ad hominem, to reflect and to determine the land for themselves, so this number: three, might perhaps draw attention to the difference at Gen. 18:32. There it is promised that there will be no destruction if there are ten righteous. Here it is only three that are supposed, belonging to quite different periods, nay, not even mentioned in chronological order. The case supposed is therefore, after all, an inconceivable one, to show at once the impossibility of the land being delivered; or, if the thought were admitted that three men like these were in it, yet the deliverance of the land is meant to be denied, since the three would save their own life merely. The judgment on the land, and that as a judgment that is all-embracing, corresponding with the character belonging to each and all, is to be set forth in all four directions (comp. Ezekiel 5:17) in which it is pronounced, as one that is unalterable, that stands fast for that land. That is the thought. That the elders who had come to the prophet, as well as the people, had cherished the hope (KEIL) that God will, for the sake of the righteous, avert the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, is certainly nowhere even hinted. [True, indeed, there is no express statement to that effect. But why is the prophet’s message thrown into this particular form? Why should he so emphatically declare—once and again, and again, and even a fourth time—that the presence of these three righteous men in the land could not avert its destruction, if no such thought was lurking in the minds of the elders and of the people generally? Keil’s view, which is also that of Fairbairn, is of course a conjecture, but a conjecture that has not a little probability.—W.F.] As the diminution in number from ten in the fall of Sodom to three here is noticeable, so as regards Noah, Daniel, and Job personally, a lowering in the thing itself is to be observed. For these parties come into consideration here neither as regards their righteousness, as being patterns of it, nor even as examples of those who had been themselves spared, as is commonly supposed. בְּצִדְקָתָם (also in Ezekiel 14:20) gives the reason for their deliverance merely, and לְבַדָּם׳, in Ezekiel 14:16 and 18, isolates them merely for the case in hand. According to their history, which is related to us along with their names, all three, in fact, not merely saved their own lives, but exercised influence in the direction of saving others along with themselves. In addition to Noah himself (Gen. 7:13 sq.), his family was saved in the ark, and even a selection of the creatures. Daniel not only saved himself and his companions, but also arrested the execution of the wise men of Babylon (Ezekiel 2:18). The representation of Hävernick, and of those who follow him, is in this matter as incorrect as in respect to Job, to whose intercession for his friends Jehovah certainly has respect (Ezekiel 42:8 sq.). The climax, also, which Klief. and Keil still concede to Hävernick, has therefore no existence. In the parallel passage in Jer. 15:1, Moses and Samuel are not supposed to be inhabitants of the land, like those here named; who are also not so specially Israelitish personages, but of a more general historical character, in harmony with the indefinite mode of conceiving the land. (But comp. also for the connection with what precedes, Jer. 14.) Daniel figures between Noah and Job, not certainly in order to his being canonized by means of the two primeval personages (HENGST.), but—if this lifting into prominence of a still youthful contemporary by the insertion of his name between theirs is not to be reckoned mere flattery—because of his universally (and especially by the exiles) recognised real and high importance for the faith of Israel at the royal court. Comp. also Ezekiel 28:3. According to Ezekiel 8:1 (comp. with Ezekiel 20:1), we are in the sixth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. Thirteen or fourteen years earlier, in the reign of Jehoiakim, Daniel was carried into exile in his youth. The divine discourse, therefore, makes rhetorical use of them as three personages universally known for preservation against destruction, in order to represent the state of affairs here in question as the more hopeless; for Noah, Daniel, and Job will save nothing but their own life, i.e. as the repeated assurance in the three following cases expresses it with pathetic emphasis, neither son nor daughter, not to speak of others, or even friends; whereas Noah was able to save beasts even, Daniel Chaldean magi, Job such as were actually outside the community of Israel. The apodosis begins with הֵמָּה׳.
[FAIRBAIRN: “The two most powerful and honoured intercessors, Moses and Samuel, could not prevent or rectify the evil by their intercession, Jeremiah had said. No, responds Ezekiel from the banks of the Chebar; nor could three of the most righteous men that have ever lived, either in past or present times, do it by their righteousness. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were all at this moment in the land, they could not stay the judgment of God from proceeding.”—W. F.]
Ezekiel 14:15. לוּ, with the imperf., used of things not now actually existing, but perhaps possible.—The wild beasts of prey conceivable in connection with every kind of devastation (comp. Ezekiel 14:21), here placed between famine and war. (HENGST.: “In the usual sense or in human form.”) Comp. Ezekiel 5:17; Lev. 26:22; 2 Kings 17:25.—Ezekiel 12:20.—מִבְּלִי׳, because of the want of, because there is not, or: so that there is not = Ezekiel 14:16: אִם־וְאִם, they shall not do so, quite certainly.
Ezekiel 14:17. Ezekiel 6:3, 11:8.
Ezekiel 14:19. Ezekiel 5:17, 9:8. בְּדָם, not: because of blood shed, blood-guiltiness, but: so that the outpouring of divine wrath manifests itself in the shedding of human blood, i.e. either generally: through dying, or more specially: through violent death, hence: as in war, or that (HENGST.) the epidemic is represented as an execution as it were with the sword, or (HITZ.) that a peculiar epidemic, which should make itself known by a vomiting of blood or the like, would be meant.
Ezekiel 14:20. A winding up, and therefore a repetition of the three in the form of Ezekiel 14:14.
Ezekiel 14:21. בִּי does not introduce the application, for all that precedes was already that; but gives the reason why for the whole deliverance is not to be thought of, only destruction, Jerusalem being now named, as we shall see, in order to justify such procedure with it. אַף כִּי, a climax, inasmuch as the separate judgments given above as examples are now all four together, and with definite certainty (שִׁלַּחְתִּי, perf.) pronounced upon Jerusalem. (HENGST.: How much more must it manifest itself in the servant who knew his master’s will, and did it not!) The number four may possibly symbolize the completeness of the judgment, as one on all sides (KLIEF.). Formerly famine was first; here it is the sword, because the calamity of war lay immediately before them. In consequence of it the other three judgments came after one another, and side by side with one another. War brings famine into the cities, corpses outside, which attract the beasts; and from all there follows the pestilence. It is superfluous in Hengst. to point to Ezekiel 19:2 for figurative beasts. Jerusalem is thus the “land” formerly spoken of, represents it.
Ezekiel 14:22. It is exceedingly striking (וְהִנֵּה), that after all a number escape the judgment, who are carried captive to Babylon (to you); but they are not those who save their life by their righteousness, but those who are to justify Jehovah’s righteousness ad oculos (הִנָּם), and that by means of their way; not in the sense of lot, or what happens to them, but in the connection here, where עֲלִילוֹתָם gives the more exact explanation, as designating their walk, just as עֲלִילוֹתָם itself indicates their habitual actings, and, indeed, their bad way of acting. Ye shall convince yourself with your own eyes that these escaped ones might rather be regarded as an irony, a caricature of these three men. אֵת כָּל׳: “as respects all that.” Still more clear is it in Ezekiel 14:23 that it will be a comfort through the persons themselves, and that it will consist in the knowledge that such corruption had deserved such destruction. לא̇ חִנָּם, comp. Ezekiel 6:10. There of speaking, here of acting. Hence, as it is there said in reference to the consequence, the result, so here in reference to the cause—not without being deserved. Chap. 6 of the remnant themselves; in our passage of those to whom they are added as exiles. We see that there is not much hope of conversion for the former as a whole. That, even in the case of a relentless extermination of the bad, “there should yet be left a remnant of good” (NETELER), is certain, but is not said here. It is thus opposed to the context when Hitzig, appealing in a singular way to Num. 14:31, understands by הַמּוּצָאים the younger race who had not grown old in sin, who shall conduct themselves in an irreproachable way, just as they have by their blamelessness saved themselves merely, not their parents also; whereby, however, compassion will be only the more stirred; they will be a pleasing spectacle in their inoffensive and God-pleasing life. The right knowledge is therefore to be this, that God has exterminated the wicked, has saved the innocent, consequently has judged righteously (with good cause). Just as little have we here an asseveration (really, truly), as Hävernick understands אַף כִּי, announcing a new, unusual judgment besides the four.
1. Not merely in view of the dangerous position of Israel in the midst of the heathen nations, but as flowing from the peculiar relation of Jehovah to His people as chosen from mankind, there is a prophecy under the Old Covenant mediating that covenant. For the Holy Ghost was not yet present, John 7:39. God speaks and manifests Himself in demonstration of the Spirit and of power by the mouth of His holy prophets. Extraordinary gifts of the Spirit assert a place for themselves; things perceived in vision, disclosures by means of the dream, profoundly significant utterances and signs occur even in the service of individual needs. But prophecy becomes a prophetic office and formally an order of prophets, and that especially the more the priesthood sinks, and the commonwealth of Israel is secularized by means of the kingdom. Ever stedfast to Jehovah, and regulating itself by His law, this prophecy preserved its genuine character and proved its genuineness; just as it continued to uphold, with the force of constitutional law and with a reformer’s energy, the sovereignty of Jehovah against every power which rose up against it. As, however, in spite of this, the national life sank to the verge of dissolution, there appeared, in opposition to the divine ordinance of true prophecy, an order of false prophets, devoted to idols and to the court, which enjoyed the sympathies of high and low. It cultivated the rhetoric of a phraseology at once yielding and heroic, in other respects having manifold affinities with the journalism of the present day as it is exhibited by the French press. In itself thoroughly ungodly, it affects outwardly the appearance of a species of religiosity, which certainly desires to know nothing of sin, and consequently also nothing of punishment. It brands with the suspicion of fanaticism and hypocrisy the zealous prophecy of the law, which, in opposition to the ridicule as well as blandishments of the spirit of the age, has to proclaim the reformer’s call to repentance, and along with that, in ever louder tones, the prophecy of judgment.
2. As Jer. 29:13 explains the zealous seeking (דָּרַשׁ) with the whole heart, the seeking (בָּקַשׁ) which finds, it is a standing requirement from all who would draw nigh to God that they believe that He is (Heb. 11:6). The idolatrous practical atheism corresponds neither to the one nor the other. Thus there can be no talk of finding or letting oneself be found. The answer of God, which is therefore no answer, as the parties in question also have not yet inquired, is consequently a declinature; and that of a special kind, to allow of its being got by inquiry. But it is the nature of idols to be able neither to hear nor to answer. Accordingly, if Jehovah is not to wear the semblance of an idol, He must not only show Himself as one that hears, but as one who tries the heart and reins, and understands the thoughts afar off; and His silence will have to be regarded as speaking, in the same way as His speaking as it passes over into the virtual answer of punishment, of judgment.
3. In the heart the stream of our life is gathered up, alike in its outflow and inflow. To it the Bible assigns the central place, both in a corporeal and spiritual point of view. Comp. BECK, Umriss der bibl. Seelenlehre, 3 Aufl. p. 74 sq. Its hidden depths are known to God alone, who at the same time takes hold of man in his conscience, when He takes him in his heart. In this way He makes the unanswerable witness speak of guilt and punishableness; and alike for faith and for love, the whole heart, the full activity of man’s reason and emotional nature, as it has its sphere in the moral self-determination of the personal consciousness, is claimed. In accordance with such a meaning of the heart must the call to turn from their idols be understood as a taking hold on God’s part of the heart of Israel.
4. The case of the prophet who allows himself to be persuaded, to be enticed, illustrates to us the course of punishment. It is not merely that God permits the temptation, the misleading,—although it proceeds originally from the indwelling sin (Jas. 1:14),—for every following sin is at the same time a punishment of that which goes before. “In virtue of a divine law, the man is compelled either to take back the sin with regret, repentance, conversion, to its commencement and its principle, or to continue in its path towards his punishment” (NITZSCH). “God has no inactive part in the development of sin; He knows how to guide the matter throughout, so that sin attains its full maturity, and brings on punishment. He takes care that there can be no standing still, no halting at an intermediate stage; He makes the occasions and removes the hindrances” (HENGST.). Thus God gives up the sinner to his sin, but reveals Himself at the same time in His power, whereby there is always given along with the sin corruption, and that as punishment; and in this way He causes the righteous reward to come upon him.
5. As the false prophets appear in connection with national corruption as a definite stage in the development, so likewise they are put in relation to Jehovah, and in this relation are recognised as a dispensation of God, as a divine judgment, although at the same time meant for separation and decision in Israel. To this we must refer the “testing,” for which provision is made in Deut. 13. “The fact that false prophecy sprang up with quite peculiar energy about the period of the exile, appears accordingly not to be accidental and devoid of significance. The process of separation between the pious and the ungodly was thereby accelerated. But that period is only the bringing to light of a truth which retains its import onwards to the end of the world, 2 Thess. 2:9 sq.” (Häv.) [“The point chiefly to be noticed in this deliverance of the mind of God is the connection between the self-deceived people and the deceiving prophet; regarding whom it is said, in peculiarly strong language, ‘I the Lord have enticed (or deceived) that prophet.’ It is an example in the highest sphere of the lex talionis. If the people were sincere in their desire to know the mind of God, for the purpose of obeying His will, the path was plain. They had but to forsake their idolatries, and the Lord was ready to meet them with direction and blessing. But if, on the other hand, they were bent on playing the hypocrite, professing to inquire concerning Him, while their hearts in reality were cleaving to corruption, punishment was sure to overtake them, and that, too, in the first instance, after the form of their own iniquity. God would chastise their sin with a corresponding sin; and as they had rejected the safe direction of the true light, he would send the pernicious delusion of a false one. Prophets would be given them, who should reecho the deceitfulness that already wrought in their own bosom, so that their iniquity should prove their ruin.”—FAIRBAIRN’S Ezekiel, p. 147.—W. F.]
6. “In the juxtaposition of Daniel with the exalted figures of Noah and Job, we have a solid support for the historical character of the book of Daniel. Besides, the connection with eminent wisdom in Ezekiel 28. is exactly the characteristic feature in the personality of Daniel, as it is represented in his book” (HENGST.).
Ezekiel 14:1 sq.: “Hypocrites may indeed deceive men, but not God, Ps. 12:2, 3” (CR.). Acts 5.—“So also the scribes and Pharisees came to Christ in the gospel: not that they wished to learn of Him, but for the purpose of tempting Him” (LUTHER).—As the prophet is here warned of God, set right through the Spirit, so Jesus knew what was in man (John 2:24, 25).—“We learn from this how false men are; for who could have supposed this of old men, who were near the grave?” (LUTHER.)—To listen to God is to get clear insight as to men.—“It is not wrong for one to ask counsel of teachers in doubtful cases; but those teachers are to give it not according to the imaginations of their own heart, but according to the leading of God’s word” (STARKE).—“Those parties do not judge rightly who do not wish to put the images out of the temples until the idols are away out of men’s hearts. We ought rather to give testimony against both, because God in His word rejects images and idols alike. For if the former are not removed from the eyes of men, there remains the danger that one may again worship them. From the adulterous woman, the clothes, rings, letters of her paramours must be taken away, that she may not again be reminded of her lovers. This holds good also of the spiritual adultery of superstition” (LUTHER).—“Such a filthy idol is one’s own righteousness, the high opinion which a man has of his own works, Phil. 3:7, 8” (COCC).—“Most men have something on which their heart’s dependence is placed, and in this way are chargeable with a refined species of idolatry. Hence it is no wonder if God does not hear their prayer, John 9:31” (STARKE).—“From the despisers of the truth the word of God is taken away, Acts 13:46” (O.).—The speaking and silence of God here, as in the case of Jesus before the Sanhedrim and before Pilate.—“Answering as well as greeting is a sign of good-will and friendliness; and so God shows His indignation when He does not answer, or does not answer as one desires. As e. g. happened to Saul” (LUTHER).
Ezekiel 14:4. “God leaves sinners without answer and help, in order that they may come to the knowledge of their sin” (HENGST.).
Ezekiel 14:5. God aims at the heart of man.
Ezekiel 14:6. Conversion is a step backward, but one which is also a step forward, and that from idols to the living God.
Ezekiel 14:7, 8. As with respect to whole lands, so with respect to the individual man, visitation ends at last in utter destruction. He that wooed to repentance adjudges to perdition. The heart which has become stone is rejected.—Lot’s wife, for example, is a sign; proverbs are such as Sodom and Gomorrha, Dathan and Abiram, Judas, etc.—The cutting off from Israel often takes place inwardly, so that only the individual himself knows about it.—“Although God does not always cause hypocrites to be publicly put to shame, yet the testimony of their own conscience is often punishment enough” (CR.).—“Because God sees, hears, knows all, He will one day also give an answer as respects all, not only to pious hearts, but also to the ungodly, although such an answer is long delayed” (W.).
Ezekiel 14:9, 10. “When the men of the world do not hear from the true prophets what they would like to hear, they are wont to seek out the false prophets. In this way they have already fallen into the judgment of God, for there are no false prophets without God’s will. But now they are expressly said to share also the judgment on the false prophets” (LUTHER).—“Such miserable men, who themselves lie under the destiny of God, are led by Him whither they will not, and are hastening to meet the judgment, cannot possibly furnish a staff for others” (HENGST.).—He who does not wish the truth—and truth for man consists first of all in the knowledge of sin—is brought to ruin at last by the lie, notwithstanding all his asking after truth and speaking of truth.—God manifests Himself therefore to hypocrites also, but as righteousness.—“God plants the pious, but roots out the ungodly, hearers and teachers alike” (STARCK).
Ezekiel 14:11. And yet all at last turns out for the good of His children.—“If the flourishing of the false prophets serves to test the faith of the pious, their fidelity in confession, their stedfastness, the judgment on them and on those who follow them confirms the pious in their piety” (LUTHER).—Even the burning houses of the wicked are a light on the way of the pious.—The universal approbation which apostasy from God enjoys in the world would lead, if it were possible, to the very elect being seduced in such days as ours. And therefore not only must the world pass away with the lust thereof daily before the eyes of those who, blessed be God, can see, but striking judgments of God as well must confirm to those that hear God’s word the fact that it alone abideth for ever.—“How merciful is God, who reclaims the wanderers, and cleanses the polluted, and in His judgments still fulfils His promises!” (LUTHER.)
Ezekiel 14:13. Land and people,—the former suffering for the sake of the latter, the latter through the former.—Sin the destruction of the people.—“Although public calamities have their natural causes, they stand under God’s government” (STARKE).
Ezekiel 14:14. “The Jews in all likelihood placed much reliance on the commandments and the intercession of the saints, and supposed that on this account they need not be afraid of the threatenings of the prophets. But such empty hope Ezekiel dismisses” (LUTHER).
Ezekiel 14:15 sq. “If the godly in such judgment cannot be heard when they pray for the ungodly, how much less will the latter find audience for their own persons!” (LUTHER.)—Godliness has the promise of this life also.—“The cause of wars is sin, which God means to punish; but He means to test the godly also in their patience, and to visit them” (LUTHER).
Ezekiel 14:21–23. “In a similar relation with the people of the Old Covenant stand the Christian nations, only that in their case the responsibility appears enhanced” (HENGST.).—God’s righteousness is clearly manifested in those that perish, as well as by means of those that escape.—“The ungodly man, so long as he remains unconverted, at most keeps in check, but never changes, his disposition” (LUTHER).—“Comfort lies in the justification of the ways of God. Knowledge of the greatness and depth of sin—this is in all cases the chief foundation of the theodicy” (HENGST.).—Even these miserable ones may be an apologetic.—“So long as we do not understand that God on just grounds acts sternly, so long are our souls distressed and tormented” (CALV.).
Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.