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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 2

Verses 1-27

Ezekiel’s Commission to be a Prophet

Ezekiel’s commission came to him by three stages, and on three distinct occasions. The first and principal occasion was the immediate sequel of the vision described in Ezekiel 1. The account of it occupies the whole of Ezekiel 2, and Ezekiel 3:1-13. The second was seven days later, among the exiles at Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:14-21). The third was connected with a repetition of the vision, apparently in the neighbourhood of Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:22-27).

The First Commission (Ezekiel 2:1 to Ezekiel 3:13)

This consisted of two series of instructions (Ezekiel 2:1-7 and Ezekiel 3:4-11) separated by a visionary symbol of prophetic inspiration (Ezekiel 2:8 to Ezekiel 3:3), and was followed by the withdrawal of the vision for a time (Ezekiel 3:12-13). As Ezekiel’s opening vision recalls that of Isaiah, so his first commission has much in common with that of Jeremiah, and indeed the contents of the two are closely parallel in order as well as in substance.

(a) First Instructions (Ezekiel 2:1-7)

The voice which addresses Ezekiel bids him stand on his feet, and when he has been raised from the ground by an unseen force he is told that God has given him a mission as a prophet to the children of Israel. He is warned of their rebelliousness and hardness of heart, and encouraged to deliver his message fearlessly no matter how they receive it. This exhortation corresponds to that in Jeremiah 1:8.

1. Son of man] a term reminding Ezekiel of his human weakness, like the word ’mortal.’ It occurs nearly 100 times in the book.

Stand, etc.] God’s call does not suppress human powers, but reinforces them and, makes use of them at their best.

3. Nation] RV ’nations,’ the whole Hebrew people, both Judah and Israel. Rebellious] a frequently recurring description of Israel’s character found very often in the phrase a ’rebellious house,’ as in Ezekiel 2:5.

5. Hear, or.. forbear] The latter is chiefly expected. They.. yet shall know, etc.] the result which will keep the prophet’s work from being in vain. His warnings may be fruitless at the time, but they will be fulfilled, and he will be recognised in the end as God’s messenger. This will be very far from utter failure. The result thus indicated is the first of an ascending series which runs through the whole book. They are all introduced by the phrase ’they shall know,’ and they describe the production in Israel’s mind of convictions which increase in depth, and solemnity, and blessedness. The final conviction, which itself has various stages of growing significance, is ’they shall know that I am the Lord.’

6. Briers.. thorns.. scorpions] figures for the opposition of the Israelites to Ezekiel and his divine message.

(b) A Symbol of Inspiration (Ezekiel 2:8 to Ezekiel 3:3)

In Jeremiah’s commission God says to him, ’Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth’ (Jeremiah 1:9), and Jeremiah himself says afterwards, ’Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and thy words were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of mine heart’ (Jeremiah 15:16 RV). The experience thus described metaphorically came to Ezekiel in his trance in a concrete, material way. God’s words seemed to be set before him in the form of a book, which he ate at God’s command, and found to be as sweet as honey. The truth underlying this visionary symbol was that Ezekiel was divinely inspired, in other words, that God had communicated to him a message which he was called to proclaim to men. This passage is the basis of Revelation 10:9, Revelation 10:10.

9. A hand] This hand is not said to be that of the Figure on the throne. The vague expression is another instance of Ezekiel’s reverent reserve. A roll] the usual form of Eastern books: see Jeremiah 36:2.

10. Spread it before me] Ezekiel had a view from the first of the whole nature of his message. Within and without] indicating the abundance of calamity which Ezekiel had to proclaim. Book rolls were usually written on the inner side alone: see Revelation 5:1. Lamentations, etc.] the character of EzeMel’s message.

Ezekiel 3:3. As honey for sweetness] The privilege of being God’s messenger brought a great joy, though the message itself was of the saddest.

(c) Further Instructions (Ezekiel 3:4-11)

Having thus received his message Ezekiel is again told to speak it to his countrymen. He is warned in fresh terms of their indifference and obstinacy, and encouraged further by the assurance that he will be strengthened to withstand their utmost opposition. These vv. should be compared with Jeremiah 1:17-19.

4. With my words] an advance upon the general instruction of Ezekiel 2:7, following the symbolical act just described.

6. People] RV ’peoples.’ Israel will be less responsive to Ezekiel’s words than a foreign nation to whom his speech would be unintelligible.

7. Impudent] RV ’of a stiff forehead.’ This rendering gives greater point to ’thy forehead’ in Ezekiel 3:8, Ezekiel 3:9.

9. Adamant] diamond: see Jeremiah 17:1.

11. Them of the captivity] a closer definition than in Ezekiel 2:3 of Ezekiel’s immediate audience: see Intro.

(d) The Vision withdrawn (Ezekiel 3:12-13)

The voice that has been speaking to Ezekiel has proceeded from the Figure enthroned above the living chariot of Ezekiel 1, which has therefore been present during all these instructions. Ezekiel now hears the sound of its movement as it departs.

12. Behind me] Ezekiel’s face is now turned away from the visionary chariot. As it appeared from the N. he is probably looking S., and Tel-abib may have lain in the latter direction from the Chebar. Blessed be the glory, etc.] A change of one letter in the Hebrew gives the much better sense, ’When the glory of the Lord went up from its place,’ i.e. when the vision was withdrawn.

13. Noise of the wheels] in addition to the noise of the wings of the living creatures. The latter sound alone is mentioned in Ezekiel 1:24.

The Second Commission (Ezekiel 3:14-21)

Ezekiel, still under a strong, divinely produced excitement, came to the community of exiles at Tel-abib, near the Chebar, and after seven days of stupefaction he received a further commission from God. It was unaccompanied by any vision, and the manner in which he received it is undescribed, as is so often the case with the prophets. The new element in this second commission was the thought of Ezekiel’s responsibility for the fate of his people, and it was set forth in the title of ’watchman,’ now given to him for the first time. This responsibility was exhausted when he had warned them of their danger and duty. Only if he failed to do so would he be held accountable for their sin and doom.

14. The spirit lifted me] to be taken along with I went. Ezekiel was not miraculously transported to Tel-abib, but in his movement thither he was under the influence of God’s Spirit, like Elijah in 1 Kings 18:46.

15. Tel-abib] a place near the Chebar, where a colony of Jewish exiles lived. The exact site is unknown. The name is usually explained to mean ’Hill of cornears’ or ’Corn-hill,’ but some recent editors suggest that it is rather the same as til-abûbi, ’Hill of the deluge,’ the Assyrian name for the numerous heaps of sand and débris formed by floods in Babylonia. Astonished] RV ’astonied,’ in a stupor of reaction after the vision.

18. Die.. 21. Live] not to be understood in the highest NT. sense. To die was to be cut off from the restored kingdom of God, foretold in the latter part of this book. To live was to survive and enjoy its blessedness.

20. I lay a stumblingblock before him] This difficult phrase does not mean that God seelrs to make the righteous fall, but that the temptations of the righteous are under God’s providential control. Where there is a temptation He also sends a warning, and the two constitute a discipline by which the righteous man is tested, and under which he has an opportunity of moral growth. The case of a righteous man sinning and perishing in spite of warning is not contemplated at all.

The Third Commission (Ezekiel 3:22-27)

In a plain or valley near Tel-abib the great vision of God’s glory formerly seen by the Chebar again appeared to Ezekiel. The divine voice further explained the nature of his commission. His prophetic activity would be subject to a double limitation. He would be restrained from public speech by the opposition of the people, and God would impose silence upon him except when a divine message should be given him from time to time. This intermittent silence became permanent from Ezekiel 24:27 (January, 587 b.c.) onward, till the restraint on his speech was removed altogether three years later (Ezekiel 33:21-22).

22. Plain] RM ’valley.’

25. They] Ezekiel’s fellow exiles. Bands] not literal but figurative.

26. Dumb] as far as prophetic speech is concerned, as the following words not.. a reprover show.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.