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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 14

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.’

Verses 12-23

A Divine Principle and an apparent Exception

As a rule when God punishes a land for its wickedness by such judgments as famine, wild beasts, sword, or pestilence, the presence in it of the most eminently righteous men will not save the wicked, not even the members of their own families. They will only escape themselves. Jerusalem will be a seeming exception to this principle, since a remnant of its wicked sons and daughters will be spared when the city is taken, and will escape into exile. But this is in order that the earlier exiles, seeing the abandoned conduct of the later, may realise how thoroughly Jerusalem has deserved its punishment, and may cease to regret its fate.

13. The land] RV ’a land.’ Ezekiel 14:13-21 suppose a series of general cases. Then will I stretch, etc.] RV ’and I stretch.. and break.. and send.. and cut off.’ All this is part of the supposition.

14, 20. Noah, Daniel, and Job] Typical righteous men, like Moses and Samuel in Jeremiah 15:1.

21, 22. It might be expected that none of the wicked in Jerusalem would be spared, yet, in apparent violation of the law just described, some of them would escape and go into exile.

22. Ye shall see.. and be comforted] The exiles of the first captivity would be distressed at the fate of Jerusalem, but the conduct of the survivors would convince them that it had been well deserved, and was not to be regretted.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 14". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.