Matthew Poole's Commentary
The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,Under the type of Ezekiel’s removing of his household stuff is showed the captivity of Zedekiah and his people, Ezekiel 12:1-16. Under another type of his eating and drinking with trembling and anxiety is signified the consternation of the people and desolation of the land, Ezekiel 12:17-20. The prophet reproveth the presumptuous proverb of the Jews, Ezekiel 12:21-25. He repeateth the reproof, Ezekiel 12:26-28.
A Divine prediction of what was both sure and near to come to pass.
Came unto me, in the sixth and seventh years of Jeconiah’s captivity, and of Zedekiah’s reign; in the latter end of the three hundred and eighty-seven of Ezekiel’s lying on his side, three years before the fatal siege began.
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.Thou dwellest; the prophet knowing the captivity would be long, had settled his habitation, and probably found some favour with the enemy, that he might be accommodated for his abode. The Jews who gave up to the Chaldeans found that kindness mentioned Jeremiah 29:4-7, with Ezekiel 24:5,6, and so were indifferently well placed together, and the prophet dwells among them, in the land of Chaldea.
A rebellious house; in their captivity too many of them retained their stubborn murmuring and rebellious humour, and blamed, quarrelled, and condemned them who gave them counsel to yield, and themselves for yielding, and it is likely stirred up them at Jerusalem to hold out, and save themselves, and rescue their brethren. These will ridicule thy words, yet speak them; for they are mine, and shall be accomplished.
Eyes to see; they have wit enough, they are of a capacity well enough fitted, if they would, to understand and consider what thou speakest; expressed by a double phrase, which signifies one and the same thing; eyes and ears.
See not; they contemptuously refuse to see and hear, they will not consider, lay to heart, repent, and reform. They are a rebellious house; they have conspired together, and all they will resolve or design is to do whatever is good in their own eyes, and whatever their wild imaginations, raised by false prophets, suggest.
Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.Therefore; and.
Prepare thee; make ready in the sight of some of those which live about thee, that they may tell others.
Stuff for removing; vessels or instruments, wherein thou mayst put what is portable, and you, with leave from the conqueror, may carry for your conveniencies; pack up what thou canst that may be of use in thy captivity.
Remove; go thy way, leave that place wherein thou now art, and go to another, with thy pack upon thy back, not on horses or asses.
By day; at noon-tide, when the most may see what thou doest, and be instructed.
It may be; it is not impossible that some may inquire what is the import and meaning of all this uncouth and obscure matter.
Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.Having made all ready, as Ezekiel 12:3, thou shalt proceed to bear it away; not employ servants and laboureth to do it. but thou thyself shalt do it.
By day: see Ezekiel 12:3.
As stuff for removing: see Ezekiel 12:3.
At even: this circumstance, added to what was Ezekiel 12:3, speaks the secrecy and shame, with the danger of their coming out; in the evening, in the dark, when night may soon conceal them, and they gain a night’s journey before the enemy hath notice to pursue. In their sight; before it is quite night, that they, who should learn by this sign, may see it and consider it.
Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.Come not through the door, but, as one who knows there is a watch and guard upon the door, get to some back part of thy house, and dig there, Ezekiel 12:7, thyself, either to make the greater haste, or to keep all secret; for all will be little enough for them that must act what thou dost represent.
Thereby; through the hole thou hast dug.
In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.Upon thy shoulders; in testimony of the servitude they shall be reduced to, who then must do what servants or beasts were wont to be employed in.
Carry it forth; either the stuff or thyself; thou shalt go forth in the twilight, when there is a little light to guide thy way, but more darkness to conceal thy person and thy flight.
Cover thy face; as full of shame, and exceeding unwilling to be seen or known.
For I have set thee: there is good reason why thou shouldst do this, how strange, unmanly, or ridiculous soever this may seem; the moral concerns the house of Israel and its king; I have set thee for a sign to them, and thou shalt tell them the meaning of these hieroglyphics in due time.
And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.Forth; either out of the house into some court or yard, through the wall whereof he digged; or else here is a transposing of his actions, and rehearsal of that in the first place which was acted in the second place.
Digged through the wall: see Ezekiel 12:5.
And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,In the evening he packed, digged through the wall, and removed in the sight of the people; next morning inquiry is made how the people resent it.
Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?What! are none come to thee, are they all so stupid, and regardless of my word and judgments? Do none inquire that they may know and do what is necessary in their circumstances? Do not thy fellow captives think these actions are significative? Do they not ask whether they in Babylon, or their fellow citizens at Jerusalem, are concerned in what thou doest?
Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.Though they regard not to inquire, yet give them to know what I mean hereby.
Thus saith the Lord God: this to add weight and authority to the word.
This burden; this dreadful prognostic; this prophecy is a burden which the kingdom shall groan under, and your king and the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him.
The prince; Zedekiah.
All the house; none may be excepted.
Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.My person is the emblem of yours, and my actions in these cases are signs of that you shall do; and where you do not actively the like, yet the like shall be done to you, O inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Remove; change their habitations, and carry away their goods, such as the clemency of a conqueror will permit.
Go into captivity; you to whom I tell these things shall see them come from Jerusalem unto Babylon, as dejected, spoiled, and naked captives.
And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.The prince; Zedekiah.
Among them; in Jerusalem.
Shall bear upon his shoulder; disguised no doubt as a common ordinary servant, in hope so to escape; but to conceal himself he flees in a disguise, and chooseth the twilight as the time that would best favour his design; so 2 Kings 25:4.
They shall dig through the wall; fulfilled when they broke down the wall to flee, as Jeremiah 39:4: probably they had built up some slight wall to blind the enemy, which now they break to flee through.
He shall cover his face; partly out of grief, partly out of shame, partly prefiguring Zedekiah’s future loss of his eyes, and his blindness which the insolency of Nebuchadnezzar afflicted him with; but Zedekiah did by this chiefly aim at concealing himself in disguise and covering his face.
My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.In the disguise this fugitive might possibly escape from the net of Nebuchadnezzar, and of his captains. But, poor Zedekiah, dost thou not at last see that the Babylonians are employed of God, and that God will bring thee into his own and into Nebuchadnezzar’s net.
Will I spread upon him; in allusion to those that take birds or fish in nets, they spread it to its full extent, so will God spread his net that it shall cover Zedekiah and his followers.
He shall be taken; mentioned as the principal, though he was not taken alone, many were taken with him.
I will bring him; the Chaldeans carried him, and God brought him to Babylon, so second causes co-work with the first.
To Babylon; which was the metropolis of the kingdom.
The land of the Chaldeans; that strange land where they were captives whom God sent before, and whither obstinate Jerusalemites must now go.
Yet shall he not see it; neither the land nor the city, though he shall spend the rest of his days there, and there die, but the Babylonish tyrant will put out his eyes at Riblah, 2 Kings 25:6 Jeremiah 39:5.
And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.All that are about him; either the Egyptians who came to help him; or rather, those that did flee with him, as the choice and flower of his valiant and trusty servants, who would guard him through all dangers in the flight, till he might rest some where in safety. This was verified, 2 Kings 25:4,5 Jer 39:5.
All his bands; whether auxiliaries or his own trained soldiers.
Draw out the sword after them; send the enemy after them with drawn swords, wherewith they shall be slain, Jeremiah 42:22 43:10,11.
And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.They shall know; they shall see, confess, and be sensible of my power, justice, and truth, who make good my threats against obdurate sinners as well as my promises to believers.
Scatter and distress; two expressions of the same thing, which is frequent in Scripture; and as it usually magnifieth the good or evil, so insures either.
But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.But I will restrain the rage of the Chaldeans, and move them to some compassion towards some of the Jews, so that some, yet but few, shall remain; the sword shall not slay them, for 1 commission it, and it will not exceed its commission. I send the famine, but some I will feed; and the pestilence is my arrow, and hits but where I direct it.
A few men; including the women also.
That they may declare; either by relating those sins which were committed among them in Jerusalem, for which God was justly angry, and for which he punished them, though they were his own people. Or else, that though they should be silent, yet the very thing should speak itself, and their miseries should proclaim the wickednesses they had acted against God in their own land. Or, by their wicked practices which in captivity, and under the eye of the heathen, they commit, they will manifestly show to the heathen that God was just in all his severity.
They shall know; either the Jews, or rather here the Chaldean heathens.
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,He was a sign to them in digging and bearing his stuff, now he must be a sign to them in another manner.
Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;With quaking; with commotion or shakings, as one whose apprehension of danger brings as it were an earthquake upon him; and this trembling is the same thing, but in other words. Thy water: here is no mention of delicious and generous wines, but water; so low should they be reduced, and yet not enjoy this very little, because of the great inward fears that shake them.
And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.Explain the meaning of this unusual and uncomfortable manner of eating and drinking
unto the people; the common sort of people, distinguished from rulers, of the land of Chaldea, in which the Jews were captives. Tell thy fellow captives who grudge and repent their coming hither, where they have much sorrow, yet some safety, plenty, and rest.
Of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who are not yet captivated; their sorrows are coming, and their state will be worse than yours.
Of the land of Israel; nor will it be better with, those that dwell in the countries round about Jerusalem, they will flee for refuge into Jerusalem, and there perish. Eat their bread with carefulness; their very comforts shall be uncomfortable to them.
Her land; Jerusalem’s land, so called because it was the head city thereof.
May be desolate; because that it is already, or shortly shall be, waste, emptied, though it was full of inhabitants, wealth, and plenty.
Violence; injustice, oppression, and tyranny of the Jews toward one another, Jeremiah 6:7 20:8 Ezekiel 7:23; and this grown an epidemical sin, Ezekiel 22:9,12, from highest to lowest.
And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.The cities, the lesser cities up and down the land, which now are and will be inhabited when Jerusalem is destroyed,
shall be wasted with the sword, as the word seems to imply. Then shall you, who are now in Chaldea, know how the goodness of God brought you hither, that you had no real cause to complain that your condition was worse than your brethren’s in Judea. You shall know the truth and severity of God against sinners.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?After the manner of man God speaks with man,
What is? or it is a comely transition to a new subject of discourse.
That proverb; that short saying taken up as undoubted truth, and in a very common manner used by all.
That ye have: he seems to include the prophet, as being one of the body of the people, though he used it not, nay, showed the falsehood and impiety of it.
In the land of Israel; in, so the prophet and those with him are reckoned as if they were in the land of Israel, for that is their country. Or rather, concerning, as the Hebrew lu here used.
The days of severe punishments, of wrath and vengeance, are to come a great while hence; let them fear who are like to feel them, these prophecies cannot be imagined to look to our times: thus atheists, and contemners of the prophets, hardened one another into sin and security.
Every vision, threatening vision, which Jeremiah at Jerusalem, and Ezekiel here in Chaldea, do dream of and would fright us with, comes to nothing, it is perished or dead in the nest.
Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.Tell them; either who use the proverb, or are stumbled at it; tell the one to convince, the other to instruct them.
I will make this proverb to cease: thus they abuse my patience, and affront my truth, and deride my justice; but when my patience at its period calls in my justice to vindicate it, and when calamities felt prove my truth and the presence of these sorrows, there can be no more place for such a proverb, the groundlessness of it being discovered to all.
Say unto them; assure them.
The days are at hand: see Ezekiel 12:22: they draw near indeed, when within some three years Jerusalem shall see the enemy besieging it, and feel his sword cutting down her chosen men. All that which the vision contained shall, ere few years are over, clearly appear accomplished, according to what my prophets foretold.
For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.These proverbializing scoffers compared the true prophets with the false. These predict prosperity and return of the captives from Babylon within few years, and before Jerusalem be destroyed; so they flattered the people. The true prophets foretell long captivity, bloody slaughters, strait siege, a burnt city and temple. Now these scoffers bear up themselves on these flatteries, and argue against the Divine menaces, and are ready to inquire, Why may not Ezekiel’s vision be as vain as he saith theirs is? and if one, why not both? Well, these fools are capable of no better answer than that which will destroy at once their doubts and their hopes. Judgment executed shall convince the false prophets of their lying divination, and these atheists of their illogical inferences.
No more; for this many years, for seventy years to come, and till wickedness shall again take root with the prosperity of the returned captivity.
For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.I can discover the vanity of flattering prophets, and will do it, by making good what my true prophets have foretold. No length of time shall make me forget it, no pretences of self-flattering prophets or people shall divert it, no power can hinder me, nor counsel defeat me. What Jeremiah and Ezekiel have foretold, I will now accomplish in these days, and defer no longer. I will not preach to you by my prophets the fatal sorrows of your children’s children, who should cry out of calamities when you are past feeling them, but the same age that hears the threat shall feel the execution; the enemy I raise against you shall burn your city and temple, spoil your goods, famish you in the siege, and lead you captives after the siege, and all this and a thousand times more shall come upon you in your days, O rebellious house! When all this comes to pass, your proverb will be sure to cease indeed. Hitherto he answers the ungodly users and abettors of this proverb.
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,Again; for instructing some that were seduced by those scoffers forementioned.
Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.Some of the less judicious and the more credulous are abused by these sort of men.
Say; think, and hope, and so discourse it, that the prophet is a good man and true prophet, but surely his visions look to after-times; we do not think his visions vain, but we hope they are not to come on us, and in our days. Now these God will have his prophet to instruct in this matter, which he doth in the next verse.
Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.Since it is an erroneous opinion they are brought into, it is not from contempt of my truth, but from weakness, warn them mildly, tell them the days are very near indeed, and there will be no adjournment. Now it will be done as soon as spoken almost, and God will make a short work with them in righteousness, and a very few days will bring his judgments to light.