Matthew Poole's Commentary
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,The judgement of Israel for their idolatry, Ezekiel 6:1-7. A remnant shall be saved, Ezekiel 6:8-10. The prophet is directed to lament their abominations and calamities, Ezekiel 6:11-14.
The word of the Lord, this revelation or prophecy, came in the sixth year of Jeconiah’s captivity, on the twenty-first day (being the sabbath day) of the fifth month, a twelvemonth and fortnight after the first vision, Ezekiel 1:2, and probably it came so soon as three hundred and ninety days were ended.
Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,Song of Solomon of man; see Ezekiel 2:1; put thyself towards the mountains, in a posture of one who is going to speak, look toward them; hereby (as Isaiah did, Isaiah 12) upbraiding the deafness of the Jews, whom he now left to speak to mountains. Or rather, to the inhabitants of the mountains, who were secure in their fastnesses; and great idolaters, who chose the high hills, &c. for places of idolatrous worship. Israel; the common name to all that now remained since the ten tribes were captivated by Shalmaneser.
Prophesy against them; declare my judgments against them.
And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.Ye mountains; ye that dwell in the mountains, ye secure, fearless, and rude mountaineers, hear and consider what God speaks against you, for thus saith the Lord God to you, on mountains and hills of Israel ye dwell and commit idolatry.
To the rivers; to those who either by rivers’ sides worshipped idols, or who accounted rivers among their gods.
To the valleys; to those that worshipped their idols in low and shadowy valleys. In all these places the Jews had either their several gods, or performed a several kind of worship, or, contrary to command, worshipped their God and set up altars to him there.
A sword upon you; that shall slay you inhabitants, waste your mountains and valleys, destroy your altars, and abolish your worship.
I, by the enemy, will destroy your high places; places of your idolatrous or superstitious worship; by the sword of those that serve idols your idols shall be destroyed, and you with them, unless ye repent.
And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.Your altars; God’s altar was only at Jerusalem, these were their altars.
Desolate; no priest to attend, no sacrifice offered, nor a votary come to them.
Images; statues, and perhaps the particular images made to the sun, as the Hebrew word including heat may signify. Or the open places on the tops of your houses, where you worshipped the sun, 2 Kings 23:5; and Isaiah 27:9, mentions this piece of idolatry.
Broken; either torn down from their places to be carried captives, which was a part of heathen conquerors’ insolence, or torn in pieces in contempt, and to be destroyed.
I will cast down; my hand shall guide the pursuing enemy, who shall slay your men before the altars of those idols they worshipped formerly, and to whom, as senseless as the idols, they flee for refuge, as perhaps Sennacherib did, Isaiah 37:38.
And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.Lay before their idols; expose to open shame, while the carcasses of idolaters recall to mind their shameful folly and sin.
Carcasses; either of such as are newly slain, or such as the Chaldeans did dig out of their graves, in spite, contempt, or covetousness, hoping to find some costly ornaments buried with them. So God fulfills that of Leviticus 26:30.
I will scatter your bones, as unworthy to be laid up in earth, who had so highly provoked the God of heaven; they are made dung who served dunghill gods. You shall thus be a defilement to your supposed sacred altars and worship, and an abhorrence to beholders.
In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.Mountains and hills with their altars were doomed, now the cities that were of less note than Jerusalem seem particularly to be threatened, because they were idolatrous; according to the number of cities were there gods, Jeremiah 11:13. High places and altars set up to the honour of those idols shall be laid waste, and the idols of those lesser cities shall be utterly destroyed. The images or statues that were usually fastened on some pedestal, somewhat high, shall be cut down; and all your costly works for idols, and your pompous preparation for them, shall, with your cities, be abolished for ever, as your sins and abominations deserve.
And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.When the slain shall fall thus in your sight, you shall know two things you would not regard before.
1. That idols are vanity and snares.
2. That I am the Lord, who do avenge the quarrel of my covenant. Or, may it not be turned, And the profane shall fall, i.e. the idols, and altars; and other implements of idol-worship, made holy by unholy men, shall be profaned and east down, defiled and trod under foot in the sight of the Jews, as God threatens; then they shall know God is the only Lord and God. I conjecture at this by Ezekiel’s being among the Chaldeans some years, who had gotten somewhat of their tongue; and the word here used, which is rendered slain, and I render profane, doth in the Chaldee signify profane, and is so rendered, Ezekiel 21:25. If so rendered here, it will better suit with the foregoing verse, and more fitly sum up that discourse and close it. See Ezekiel 6:10,12.
Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.It is the Lord that preserves a remnant, the enemies’ rage would destroy all; and it is an act of deliberate and voluntary resolution, not by chance, but by choice.
A remnant; some few in comparison with the great multitudes that are cut off. Though he promiseth a handful shall remain, yet it shall be in that condition that they are little more than escaped, a poor and small remnant left, as Zephaniah 3:12.
Ye shall be scattered; either by your own choice, shifting from country to country; or else, dissipated by the order of the proud oppressing conqueror, who will scatter families, lest they should be a little comfort to one another, and great jealousy to him; he will scatter to prevent conspiracies.
And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.They that escape; some of them, not every one of them, for several of the escaped did not bethink themselves, as appears, Jeremiah 47$ 48$ 49$.
Shall remember me; my precepts which they violated, my mercies which they abused, my threats which they despised, my promises which they refused, my prophets whom they persecuted, my judgments which have executed; and shall consider and return, and seek me in their affliction.
Among the nations: in their own land they forgot and sinned, in a strange land they shall remember and weep; so the remnant is bettered by afflictions. At liberty they were captives to sin and idols; when in captivity they shall shake off that bondage, and become my servants.
Because I am broken, & c. Here we meet very different reading. The Chaldee paraphrase and Syriac version read it actively, so does the Latin Vulgate, because, or when, I have broken, &c.; and if this vary from the grammatical construction, yet it carrieth very good sense, and agreeable to the foregoing words. Their whorish hearts would still have forgotten God, if he had not broken their hearts with judgments; but they remembered when broken, and this breaking was the occasion or cause of their remembering God. Others read this passively, as our version, and as the Hebrew form most usually beareth, I am broken. It is an allusion to a misused husband whom a treacherous wife hath broken; either,
1. His peace and content.
2. His love and tenderness.
3. His patience and forbearance.
4. His purposes.
5. His offers and promises. So that, as overcome with grief and anger, he doth, contrary to his natural disposition, lay aside his courting her love, and in his jealousy takes revenge, and then she bethinks herself. So here.
Their whorish heart; their heart of whoredom, i.e. idolatrous heart, which was full of that sin, addicted to it, delighted in it, and wedded to it.
Hath departed from me: idolatrous hearts do actually depart from God, as an adulterous wife actually departs from her husband.
With their eyes: as it vexeth a husband to see his wife fixing her eyes with delight on the adulterer, and turning them with scorn from him, as this breaks the husband’s patience; so in this case, Israel’s eyes were to idols, and delighted in them, expected help from them, were ready to serve them; all which broke their Husband’s, i.e. God’s, patience, and provoked his severe revenges.
Loathe themselves; with a mixture of grief towards God offended, of indignation against themselves offending, of abhorrence of the offence, and shame before all for it, shall they show their repentance.
For the evils; wickednesses, or, as Psalm 32:5,
iniquities of sin; the deepest and darkest part of sin, the complicated evils that were in each act.
In all their abominations: it is a hypocrite’s repentance which is but for some; this of the reserved remnant shall be sound, it is for all abominations, for all kinds of their abominations.
And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.They shall know; see, acknowledge, and believe it too.
The Lord; the only one whom they should worship or depend on, who can claim their hearts, their fear, love, and trust, as rightfully due; just in my ways, true both to threats and promises.
In vain; either,
1. Without cause; the sufferers gave him just cause to pronounce all that evil. Or,
2. Without effect, and to no purpose; I told them that the evils I would bring should make them know that I am the Lord, and these sufferers at last find this effect wrought in them. Their sins were the cause, and their instruction is the effects of their sufferings.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.Here are two actions commanded, and both signify a mixture of affection in the person, as wonder and amazement, indignation and displeasure, grief and sorrow, pity and commiseration, all which are required in the prophet, to show both the evil of sin he did see, and the evil of sufferings which he did foresee, on Israel.
Say, Alas; tell them what thou meanest by such unusual gestures, speak with grief; Alas!
Evil abominations; sins in full growth, ripe to the harvest, make him cry out.
By the sword, & c.; grievous miseries coming on his people and on his kindred. The house of Israel must fall, be ruined, laid desolate, and carried captive.
He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.Far off; either by his early and voluntary flight from his own country; or, he that is carried away captive, and sent by the enemy into a far country.
Pestilence; the arrow I will shoot after them.
He that is near; who stays in his own country, or dwells near to Jerusalem, or would retire to it when the Babylonians approach, but is taken before he can get thither.
He that remaineth; that surviveth those slain, but is shut up and besieged where he sought safety.
I will accomplish my fury; I will satisfy my just displeasure, and give them full measures of punishment; I will fulfil my threats.
Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.Then shall ye know: see Ezekiel 6:3-7,10.
Upon every high hill, & c.; each of which was accounted a fit place for such superstitions rites, and in all which some or other of you did commit idolatry, and, shame to speak it, burnt sweets, rich spices, which God had given them, to dunghill gods, stinking idols, which the devil had commended to them, Deu 32:17.
So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD.Stretch out my hand: this noteth the greatness of the blow, God striketh hard when he stretcheth out his hand, and therefore you find a mighty hand joined with outstretched arm.
Desolate; a desolation, (a Hebraism,) for most desolate.
Yea, more desolate; and a desolation greater or above the desolation of that most horrid wilderness of Moab, which is here called
Diblah, mentioned in a dual form, Numbers 33:46 Jeremiah 48:22, as some think; and described by Moses, Deu 8:15. It was that wherein the fiery serpents so much annoyed Israel. Or, I will lay their habitations waste and desolate, from Jerusalem unto Diblath, the borders of Moab, and the land all along shall be as desolate as that very wilderness. So the Lord will turn a most fruitful land into barrenness for the sins of the people.
They shall have; some instructed and bettered shall own me and fear me, the rest convinced and astonished shall confess that God hath done this great thing against them.