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§ 4. Further Prophecies of Israel’s Guilt and approaching Punishment (Ezekiel 12-19)
This is a somewhat miscellaneous group of prophecies intermediate in date between the preceding (August-September, 591 b.c.) and succeeding (July-August, 590 b.c.) sections. It includes fresh symbols of exile, flight, and famine (Ezekiel 12:1-20), a doctrine of prophecy, true and false (Ezekiel 12:21 to Ezekiel 14:11), an explanation of God’s exceptional treatment of Jerusalem in sparing a remnant (Ezekiel 14:12-23), Ezekiel’s parable of the Vine (Ezekiel 15), the parable of the Foundling Child (Ezekiel 16), a parable of Zedekiah’s perfidy and its punishment (Ezekiel 17), a vindication of God’s equity (Ezekiel 18), and a lament over the royal house of Judah (Ezekiel 19).
Symbols of Exile, Flight, and Famine
Ezekiel’s audience being blind to the meaning of the vision he has just described, he is commanded to give them, in new symbolic actions, a further representation of the coming fate of Jerusalem and its king and people. He is told to gather together such things as one leaving home would take with him, and to carry these out of his house by day. At night he is to dig a hole in a wall, and pass through it with his face covered and his baggage on his shoulder. When the people ask hun next morning what these proceedings mean he is directed to tell them that the action of the daytime is a symbol of the captivity awaiting Jerusalem, and that the action of the evening foreshadows the secret flight which Zedekiah will attempt, and the punishment of blindness which will prevent him from seeing the land of his exile (Ezekiel 12:1-16). Another symbolic action, resembling that of Ezekiel 4:9., is also commanded. Ezekiel is to eat and drink sparingly and with trembling, in token of the famine which the coming siege will cause in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 12:17-20).
2. The story of the vision seems to have produced no impression.
5. The wall] Some understand the town-wall of Tel-abib, or the wall of the courtyard of Ezekiel’s house, but we cannot be sure that these walls existed, The house-wall itself may be meant, but in j that case Ezekiel would have to carry his luggage indoors again.
6. Twilight] RV ’dark,’ and so in Ezekiel 12:7,
12. Cover thy face] A natural emblem for disguise and secrecy, but with a special reference, as Ezekiel 12:13 shows, to Zedekiah’s blindness.
7. Captivity] RV ’removing,’ as in Ezekiel 12:4.
10. The prince] Zedekiah, the last king of Judah: see Intro. That are among them] Changing one letter we may render, ’that are in it.’ The prince.. shall go forth] Zedekiah attempted to escape from Jerusalem towards the end of the siege, but was captured and brought to Nebuchadrezzar at Riblah. There his eyes were put out, and he was then taken to 1 Babylon (2 Kings 25:4-7; Jeremiah 39:4-7; Jeremiah 52:7-11).
12. That he see not] RV ’because he shall not see.’
16. I will leave a few] This is really an explanation of the symbol in Ezekiel 5:3.
On Prophecy, True and False
After rebuking certain prevalent forms of contempt for prophecy (Ezekiel 12:21-28), Ezekiel reproves the false prophets (Ezekiel 13:1-16) and false prophetesses (Ezekiel 13:17-23) of Israel. A visit from the elders next supplies the occasion for an announcement of the principles on which God deals both with false enquirers and with the prophets who answer them (Ezekiel 14:1-11).
(a) Contempt of Prophecy Rebuked (Ezekiel 12:21-28)
This contempt took two forms. On the one hand it had become a common saying that prophecy was no longer fulfilled at all (Ezekiel 12:22), and on the other hand it was supposed by many that Ezekiel’s prophecies, though true, referred to a very distant future (Ezekiel 12:27). In answer to both of these false views God said that His word would be fulfilled, and that without delay.
22. Ezekiel’s message frequently takes the shape of a criticism of current proverbs, as in Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 12:25; Ezekiel 18:2; Ezekiel 20:32.
24. Vain vision.. flattering divination] Forms of false prophecy, more fully exposed in Ezekiel 13. These had been unfulfilled, and this had led to contempt for all prophecy. But God’s true word would no longer be confounded with such things.
25. Prolonged] RV ’deferred,’ and so in Ezekiel 12:28.
(b) False Prophets Reproved (Ezekiel 13:1-16)
False prophecy accompanied true prophecy in Israel like its shadow. While the true prophets spoke in God’s name a message which they had really received from Him, the false prophets used God’s name to sanction messages which He had not given them (Ezekiel 12:6-7), which were merely the product of their own heart and spirit, and not the result of inspired insight (Ezekiel 12:2-3). These messages were smooth and agreeable (Ezekiel 12:10, Ezekiel 12:17), but they were also vain, false, and seductive (Ezekiel 12:6-10). They did not deserve the name of prophecy, but were on the same level as heathen divination (Ezekiel 12:6-7, Ezekiel 12:9). Ezekiel compares the false prophets first to foxes that burrow in ruins and make them more ruinous (Ezekiel 12:4-5), and next to men who daub with untempered mortar (or whitewash) a slim and tottering wall; the wall symbolising the vain attempts of the people to defend Jerusalem, and the mortar or whitewash the futile encouragement which the false prophets lent to these efforts. Such prophets would be blotted out of Israel (Ezekiel 12:9). The wall would be destroyed by the storm of God’s wrath, and the daubers would perish along with it (Ezekiel 12:11-15).
4. Deserts] RV ’waste places,’ ruins.
5. Gaps] RM ’breaches.’ Hedge] RV ’fence.’ The false prophets did nothing to repair or strengthen Israel’s defences.
6. That they would confirm the word] RV ’that the word should be confirmed.’
9. The false prophets would have no share in the restoration of Israel which Ezekiel foretold.
10. A wall] RM ’a slight wall,’ the vain defences of Jerusalem. And one built, etc.] RV ’and when one’ (the people) ’buildeth up a wall, behold they ’(the false prophets) ’daub it,’ etc. Untempered morter] or whitewash. The. false prophets could only give the wall a specious appearance of strength.
(c) False Prophetesses Denounced (Ezekiel 13:17-23)
True prophecy was represented by women like Deborah, Huldah, and Noadiah, as well as by men, and false prophecy was also practised by women in Ezekiel’s day. In their hands it was accompanied by various superstitious rites and ceremonies (Ezekiel 12:18), and seems to have been a species of fortune-telling. As such it might be popular and seem harmless, but it was mercenary, ensnaring, and fatal to souls (Ezekiel 12:18-19). It discouraged the righteous and encouraged the wicked (Ezekiel 12:22). These women would find their occupation gone(Ezekiel 12:20-21, Ezekiel 12:23).
18. Pillows] probably ’amulets,’ supposed to have magical virtues. They were worn by the false prophetesses themselves (Ezekiel 12:20).
Armholes] RV ’elbows,’ RM ’joints of the hands.’ The amulets were worn in some way on the arms or wrists. Kerchiefs] or ’fillets.’ These were apparently veils put over the heads of those consulting the false prophetesses, and were of different sizes to suit persons of different stature.
19. Will ye pollute] RV ’ye have profaned.’ Handfuls of barley, etc.] The fees received by the false prophetesses. Die and live] see on Ezekiel 3:18. This whole passage should be read in the light of the description of the true prophet’s duty in Ezekiel 3:16-21;
20. To make them fly] RM ’as birds.’
22. The truth of prophecy may be judged by its moral tendency. Whatever encourages sin betrays itself as false: see Jeremiah 23:22. By promising him life] RV ’and be saved alive.’
(d) On Insincere Enquirers and those who answer them (Ezekiel 14:1-11)
The Jewish elders of Tel-abib again came to consult Ezekiel, evidently with idolatrous leanings in their hearts. God commanded him to speak a warning to all such enquirers, calling them to forsake idolatry, and threatening that God Himself would answer them by destroying them if they persisted in their sin. The prophet who should answer such people according to their desire would share their fate.
3. The stumblingblock, etc.] idolatry: see Ezekiel 7:19. Should I be enquired of?] Such enquiry was a mockery of God.
4. That I may take, etc.] Sin hardens the heart and so leads on to destruction. This is a self-acting law of divine retribution, and so in a sense the result is God’s doing. But God does not seek to ensnare men. On the contrary, He pleads with them to forsake their evil way (Ezekiel 12:6).
9. When he hath spoken a tiling’] RV ’and speaketh a word.’ A true prophet will not answer insincere enquirers at all, but will leave it to God to answer them by destruction (Ezekiel 12:7-8). To give any answer is to be a false prophet, deceived if not consciously deceiving. I.. have deceived that prophet] the same idea as that of the ’lying spirit’ from the Lord by which Ahab’s false prophets were inspired (1 Kings 22:19-23; 2 Chronicles 18:18-22). The meaning can only be that the deception is the penalty of previous disloyalty to truth. No man becomes a false prophet without blame on his own part. To lend oneself to the purposes of insincere enquirers reveals a certain share of their spirit, which leads naturally to increasing blindness. As this law is of God’s appointment the deception is in a certain sense His work. The OT. writers emphasised God’s supreme control of all events, and were not troubled by the questions which may be raised as to the bearing of the events on the moral character of God. Hence they were not eareful to avoid exprèssions which appear startling to us.
10. The punishment of their iniquity] RV ’their iniquity.’
Punishment.. punishment] RV ’iniquity.. iniquity.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
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