Commentaries on the Prophet Ezekiel (Complete) (With Active Table of Contents)
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It was little more than thirty years after the close of his labors when the decree of the Jews' restoration was issued. His leading characteristic is realizing, determined energy; this admirably adapted him for opposing the "rebellious house" "of stubborn front and hard heart," and for maintaining the cause of God's Church among his countrymen in a foreign land, when the external framework had fallen to pieces.
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His style is plain and simple. His conceptions are definite, and the details even of the symbolical and enigmatical parts are given with lifelike minuteness. The obscurity lies in the substance, not in the form, of his communications. The priestly element predominates in his prophecies, arising from his previous training as a priest. He delights to linger about the temple and to find in its symbolical forms the imagery for conveying his instructions.
Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible
This was divinely ordered to satisfy the spiritual want felt by the people in the absence of the outward temple and its sacrifices. In his images he is magnificent, though austere and somewhat harsh. He abounds in repetitions, not for ornament, but for force and weight. Poetical parallelism is not found except in a few portions, as in the seventh, twenty-first, twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth through thirty-first chapters. His great aim was to stimulate the dormant minds of the Jews.
For this end nothing was better suited than the use of mysterious symbols expressed in the plainest words. Inattention to this divine purpose has led the modern Jews so to magnify this obscurity as to ordain that no one shall read this book till he has passed his thirtieth year. The oneness of tone throughout and the repetition of favorite expressions exclude the suspicion that separate portions are not genuine.
The earlier portion, the first through the thirty-second chapters, which mainly treats of sin and judgment, is a key to interpret the latter portion, which is more hopeful and joyous, but remote in date. Thus a unity and an orderly progressive character are imparted to the whole. The destruction of Jerusalem is the central point. Previous to this he calls to repentance and warns against blind confidence in Egypt Eze ; compare Jer or other human stay.
After it he consoles the captives by promising them future deliverance and restoration. His prophecies against foreign nations stand between these two great divisions, and were uttered in the interval between the intimation that Nebuchadnezzar was besieging Jerusalem and the arrival of the news that he had taken it Eze Some of these were uttered much later than others, but they all began to be given after the fall of Jerusalem.
The particularity of details as to the temple and its offerings rather discountenances the view of this vision being only symbolical, and not at all literal. The event alone can clear it up. At all events it has not yet been fulfilled; it must be future. Ezekiel was the only prophet in the strict sense among the Jews at Babylon. Daniel was rather a seer than a prophet, for the spirit of prophecy was given him to qualify him, not for a spiritual office, but for disclosing future events. His position in a heathen king's palace fitted him for revelations of the outward relations of God's kingdom to the kingdoms of the world, so that his book is ranked by the Jews among the Hagiographa or "Sacred Writings," not among the prophetical Scriptures.
On the other hand, Ezekiel was distinctively a prophet, and one who had to do with the inward concerns of the divine kingdom. As a priest, when sent into exile, his service was but transferred from the visible temple at Jerusalem to the spiritual temple in Chaldea. Eze As this formula in Jos has reference to the written history of previous times, so here and in , and Es , it refers to the unwritten history which was before the mind of the writer.
The prophet by it, as it were, continues the history of the preceding times.
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In the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign Jer , Jeremiah sent by Seraiah a message to the captives Jer to submit themselves to God and lay aside their flattering hopes of a speedy restoration. This communication was in the next year, the fifth, and the fourth month of the same king for Jehoiachin's captivity and Zedekiah's accession coincide in time , followed up by a prophet raised up among the captives themselves, the energetic Ezekiel. As the Lord was about to be a "little sanctuary" Eze to the exiles on the Chebar, so Ezekiel was to be the ministering priest; therefore he marks his priestly relation to God and the people at the outset; the close, which describes the future temple, thus answering to the beginning.
By designating himself expressly as "the priest" Eze , and as having reached his thirtieth year the regular year of priests commencing their office , he marks his office as the priest among the prophets. Chebar --the same as Chabor or Habor, whither the ten tribes had been transported by Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser 2Ki ; 1Ch It flows into the Euphrates near Carchemish or Circesium, two hundred miles north of Babylon. Jehoiachin's captivity --In the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim, father of Jehoiachin, the first carrying away of Jewish captives to Babylon took place, and among them was Daniel.
The second was under Jehoiachin, when Ezekiel was carried away. The third and final one was at the taking of Jerusalem under Zedekiah.
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The prophet conceives himself in the temple. The same Hebrew occurs in Ex , as to the "fire mingled with the hail. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate it, " electrum "; a brilliant metal compounded of gold and silver. The point of comparison between him and them is the erect posture of their bodies, though doubtless including also the general mien.
Also the hands Eze Not only were there four distinct living creatures, but each of the four had four faces, making sixteen in all. The four living creatures of the cherubim answer by contrast to the four world monarchies represented by four beasts, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome Da Two cherubim only stood over the ark in the temple; two more are now added, to imply that, while the law is retained as the basis, a new form is needed to be added to impart new life to it. The number four may have respect to the four quarters of the world, to imply that God's angels execute His commands everywhere.
Each head in front had the face of a man as the primary and prominent one: on the right the face of a lion, on the left the face of an ox, above from behind the face of an eagle. The Mosaic cherubim were similar, only that the human faces were put looking towards each other, and towards the mercy seat between, being formed out of the same mass of pure gold as the latter Ex , In Isa two wings are added to cover their countenances; because there they stand by the throne, here under the throne; there God deigns to consult them, and His condescension calls forth their humility, so that they veil their faces before Him; here they execute His commands.
The face expresses their intelligence; the wings, their rapidity in fulfilling God's will. The Shekinah or flame, that signified God's presence, and the written name, J EHOVAH , occupied the intervening space between the cherubim Ge ,16 Gen "placed"; properly, "to place in a tabernacle " , imply that the cherubim were appointed at the fall as symbols of God's presence in a consecrated place, and that man was to worship there. In the patriarchal dispensation when the flood had caused the removal of the cherubim from Eden, seraphim or teraphim Chaldean dialect were made as models of them for domestic use Ge , Margin; Ge The silence of the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth chapters of Exodus to their configuration, whereas everything else is minutely described, is because their form was so well-known already to Bezaleel and all Israel by tradition as to need no detailed description.
Hence Ezekiel Eze at once knows them, for he had seen them repeatedly in the carved work of the outer sanctuary of Solomon's temple 1Ki He therefore consoles the exiles with the hope of having the same cherubim in the renovated temple which should be reared; and he assures them that the same God who dwelt between the cherubim of the temple would be still with His people by the Chebar. But they were not in Zerubbabel's temple; therefore Ezekiel's foretold temple, if literal, is yet future. The ox is selected as chief of the tame animals, the lion among the wild, the eagle among birds, and man the head of all, in his ideal, realized by the Lord Jesus, combining all the excellencies of the animal kingdom.
The cherubim probably represent the ruling powers by which God acts in the natural and moral world. Hence they sometimes answer to the ministering angels; elsewhere, to the redeemed saints the elect Church through whom, as by the angels, God shall hereafter rule the world and proclaim the manifold wisdom of God Mt ; 1Co ; Eph ; Rev ; Rev The "lions" and "oxen," amidst "palms" and "open flowers" carved in the temple, were the four-faced cherubim which, being traced on a flat surface, presented only one aspect of the four.
The human-headed winged bulls and eagle-headed gods found in Nineveh, sculptured amidst palms and tulip-shaped flowers, were borrowed by corrupted tradition from the cherubim placed in Eden near its fruits and flowers. So the Aaronic calf Ex ,5 and Jeroboam's calves at Dan and Beth-el, a schismatic imitation of the sacred symbols in the temple at Jerusalem. So the ox figures of Apis on the sacred arks of Egypt. Or, like solid pillars; not bending, as man's, at the knee. They glided along, rather than walked. The solid firmness of the round foot of a calf seems to be the point of comparison.
The hands of each were the hands of a man. The hand is the symbol of active power, guided by skilfulness Ps They moved wherever they would, not by active energy merely, but also by knowledge expressed by their faces and divine guidance expressed by their "wings". They made no mistakes; and their work needed not be gone over again. Their wings were joined above in pairs see Eze The human face was the primary and prominent one and the fundamental part of the composite whole. On its right was the lion's face; on the left, the ox's called "cherub," Eze ; at the back from above was the eagle's.
The tips of the two outstretched wings reached to one another, while the other two, in token of humble awe, formed a veil for the lower parts of the body. The joining together of their wings above implies that, though the movements of Providence on earth may seem conflicting and confused, yet if one lift up his eyes to heaven, he will see that they admirably conspire towards the one end at last. The same idea as in Eze The repetition is because we men are so hard to be brought to acknowledge the wisdom of God's doings; they seem tortuous and confused to us, but they are all tending steadily to one aim.
2. Ezekiel the *prophet
They do not turn back or aside till they have fulfilled the office assigned them. So in Isa ,6 , instead of cherubim, the name "seraphim," the burning ones, is applied, indicating God's consuming righteousness; whence their cry to Him is, "Holy! The fire emitted sparks and flashes of light, as torches do. One wheel appeared traversely within another, so that the movement might be without turning, whithersoever the living creatures might advance Eze Thus each wheel was composed of two circles cutting one another at right angles, "one" only of which appeared to touch the ground "upon the earth" , according to the direction the cherubim desired to move in.
The four sides or semicircles of each composite wheel pointed, as the four faces of each of the living creatures, to the four quarters of heaven. The cherubim and their wings and wheels stood in contrast to the symbolical figures, somewhat similar, then existing in Chaldea, and found in the remains of Assyria. The latter, though derived from the original revelation by tradition, came by corruption to symbolize the astronomical zodiac, or the sun and celestial sphere, by a circle with wings or irradiations.
But Ezekiel's cherubim rise above natural objects, the gods of the heathen, to the representation of the one true God, who made and continually upholds them. It was one of the gems in the breastplate of the high priest Ex ; So ; Da As the wheels signify the providence of God, so the eyes imply that He sees all the circumstances of each case, and does nothing by blind impulse.
Having first viewed them separately, he next views them in the aggregate as the composite living creature in which the Spirit resided. The life intended is that connected with God, holy, spiritual life, in the plenitude of its active power. The two wings expanded upwards, though chiefly used for flying, yet up to the summit of the figure where they were parted from each other, covered the upper part of the body, while the other two wings covered the lower parts. Almighty --the thunder Ps ,4. From an Arabic root, meaning the "impetuous rush of heavy rain.
The Godhead appears in the likeness of enthroned humanity, as in Ex Besides the "paved work of a sapphire stone, as it were the body of heaven in clearness," there, we have here the "throne," and God "as a man," with the "appearance of fire round about. The azure sapphire answers to the color of the sky. As others are called "sons of God," but He "the Son of God," so others are called "sons of man" Eze ,3 , but He "the Son of man" Mt , being the embodied representative of humanity and the whole human race; as, on the other hand, He is the representative of "the fulness of the Godhead" Col While the cherubim are movable, the throne above, and Jehovah who moves them, are firmly fixed.
It is good news to man, that the throne above is filled by One who even there appears as "a man. Messiah is described here as in Da ,6; Re , Even if the divine work should require a deluge of wrath, still the faithfulness of God would only shine forth the more brightly at last to the children of promise, in consequence of the tribulations needed to prepare for the ultimate good" [F AIRBAIRN ].
Commentaries on the Prophet Ezekiel (Complete) (With Active
Isa I fell upon. In this first chapter God gathered into one vision the substance of all that was to occupy the prophetic agency of Ezekiel; as was done afterwards in the opening vision of the Revelation of Saint John. Son of man --often applied to Ezekiel; once only to Daniel Da , and not to any other prophet.
The phrase was no doubt taken from Chaldean usage during the sojourn of Daniel and Ezekiel in Chaldea. But the spirit who sanctioned the words of the prophet implied by it the lowliness and frailty of the prophet as man "lower than the angels," though now admitted to the vision of angels and of God Himself, "lest he should be exalted through the abundance of the revelations" 2Co He is appropriately so called as being type of the divine "Son of man" here revealed as "man" see on Eze That title, as applied to Messiah, implies at once His lowliness and His exaltation, in His manifestations as the Representative man, at His first and second comings respectively Ps ; Mt ; Mt ; and on the other hand, Da ,14 ; Mt ; Joh Humiliation on our part is followed by exaltation on God's part Eze ,24 ; Job ; Jas ; 1Pe ;.
So in Isa , they are named "Sodom" and "Gomorrah. Duties are ours; events are God's. Thus saith the Lord God --God opposes His name to the obstinacy of the people.