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The Prophet and the Individual
This passage combines an expanded repetition of Ezekiel 3:17-21 with a condensed repetition of Ezekiel 18:5-29. The prophet is a watchman, responsible for warning his people of the consequences of sin. God deals with individual souls in strict justice, and desires that all should turn from their evil ways and live. These principles, already announced, became of special importance, and found their real application, after the fall of Jerusalem. As Ezekiel had foretold (Ezekiel 24:23), that disaster stunned the exiles by its shock. They were overwhelmed by the judgment that had overtaken the nation for its sin. They pined away under it and felt that recovery was hopeless (Ezekiel 33:10). The nation being thus destroyed there was only a company of individuals left, and the religion of the individual came to have a new significance which has never passed away.
2. Thesword] usually a symbol of impending calamity (see Ezekiel 14:17, Ezekiel 21), but here it is simply a detail in the figure of the watchman. The destruction of Jerusalem was past, and no further judgment was specially in view. Of their coasts] RV ’from among them.’ The prophet’s position is represented as due to the people’s choice as well as to the call of God. This indicates that Ezekiel had now more recognition from the exiles than before.
5. But.. deliver] RV ’whereas if he had taken warning he should have delivered.’
10. If our transgressions.. be] RV ’our transgressions.. are.’
13. For] RV ’in.’ For it] RV ’therein.’
16. Mentioned unto] RV ’remembered against.’
18. Thereby] RV ’therein.’
§ 1. The Restoration (Ezekiel 33-39)
After an introductory passage (Ezekiel 33:1-20), and two short prophecies against the wicked survivors of Jerusalem and the careless exiles (Ezekiel 33:21-33), this section describes the restoration in connexion with the Ruler, the Land and the People successively. As to the Ruler, God is pictured as the Shepherd of Israel (Ezekiel 34). As to the Land, a prophecy against Edom (Ezekiel 35) introduces a new address to the mountain land of Israel (Ezekiel 36). As to the People, the revival of the dead nation, and the reunion of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah are allegorically set forth (Ezekiel 37). Finally, we have a description of the invasion and overthrow of Gog, the last enemy of God’s people (Ezekiel 38, 39). The beginning of the section is dated in December-January, 585-4 (or 586-5) b.c. See on Ezekiel 33:21.
The New Israel (Ezekiel 33-48)
So long as the Jewish kingdom remained in existence Ezekiel’s prophecies (those in Ezekiel 1-24) dealt almost exclusively with the nation’s sin, and with the certainty of its overthrow. But when these prophecies were fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem his message assumed a new and hopeful character. God’s punishment of Israel’s sin was not the end of His dealings with His people. The destruction of the old sinful Israel would be followed by the establishment of a perfect kingdom of God. The humiliation of the foreign nations (described in Ezekiel 25-32) would prepare the way for this, and would be succeeded by the restoration of the exiles. The new kingdom would be set up under new conditions of worship and fellowship with God. This concluding part of the book falls into two sections, the first dealing with the restoration from captivity (Ezekiel 33-39), and the second with the new arrangements and laws of the future kingdom (Ezekiel 40-48).
The Prophet, the Survivors, and the Exiles
In Ezekiel 24:27 it was announced to Ezekiel that the silence which began with his wife’s death and the siege of Jerusalem would be ended when fugitives from the captured cities should arrive in Babylonia. This took place a year and five months (but see on Ezekiel 33:21) after Jerusalem fell, and Ezekiel began once more to receive and proclaim messages from God. This passage contains two of these. The first was directed against the wicked survivors who remained in the land of Israel and boasted that it would still be theirs. They were destined to perish, and the land to be utterly desolated, in order that God’s wrath against their sin might be shown to the uttermost (Ezekiel 33:23-29). The second describes the changed attitude of the exiles towards Ezekiel. They were now interested in his words, discussing them in their gatherings, and listening eagerly to what he had to say. Yet their interest had more of curiosity than of earnestness. Not till the final punishment of the wicked survivors took place would they recognise Ezekiel as a prophet indeed (Ezekiel 33:30-33).
21. The twelfth year, the tenth month] December 585-January 584 b.c. The Syriac Bible reads ’the eleventh year.’ Five months seem more likely than a year and five months as the time to be allowed for a journey from Palestine to Babylonia.
22. Was] RV ’had been.’ Ezekiel had come under the power of divine inspiration the previous evening, when the truths in Ezekiel 33:1-20 had shaped themselves in his mind. The prophecy against the wicked survivors (Ezekiel 33:23-29) was probably called forth by information which the fugitives brought as to their attitude.
24. They that in habit, etc.] the surviving wicked remnant in the land of Israel. Their wickedness is described in Ezekiel 33:25, Ezekiel 33:26. For an historical account of the events in Palestine after the fall of Jerusalem see Jeremiah 40-43. The survivors to whom Ezekiel refera are probably the anti-Babylonian party, led by Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, who were responsible for the murder of Gedaliah: see Intro.
Abraham was one, etc.] These survivors reasoned—’If Abraham, who was only one man, obtained this land for his descendants, much more may we, who are many, hope to do so in spite of all that has happened.’ For a sounder use of the same argument see Isaiah 51:2.
28. From Jeremiah 52:30 we learn that there was a further deportation of 745 Jews to Babylonia five years after the fall of Jerusalem.
30. The children of thy people] the exiles of the first captivity. Still are talking against thee] RV ’talk of thee.’
32. The exiles listened to Ezekiel’s words as they would to music, which was entertaining but had no practical influence on their lives.
33. When this Cometh to pass] the utter desolation of Palestine foretold in Ezekiel 33:27, Ezekiel 33:28.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany