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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ezekiel 6

The First Cycle—Chapters 1-7

THE first cycle of the predictions of the prophet embraces ch. Ezekiel 1:1 to Ezekiel 7:27. A sublime vision forms the introduction. To this prophetic discourses are appended which serve to explain the vision. At the close in ch. Ezekiel 7 a song.

Verses 1-10

Ezekiel 6. We have here the continuation of ch. Ezekiel 5, the further elucidation of the two symbolic actions in ch. Ezekiel 4 and ch. Ezekiel 5:1-4. The chapter falls into two sections. First, Ezekiel 6:1-10:—

Ezekiel 6:1. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, set thy face towards the mountains of Israel, and prophesy to them, 3. And say. Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah; Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys, Behold, I, even I, bring a sword upon you, and destroy your high places. 4. And your altars shall be wasted, and your sun-pillars broken; and I will cast down your slain men before your abominations. 5. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their abominations, and scatter your bones around your altars. 6. In all your dwelling-places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places desolated; that your altars may be laid waste and become guilty, and your abominations broken and laid aside, and your sun-pillars cut down, and your works abolished. 7. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 8. And I will leave you a remnant, so that ye shall have some that have escaped from the sword among the heathen, when ye are scattered in the countries. 9. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the heathen whither they are carried captive, when I have broken their whorish heart, which has departed from me, and their eyes, which go a whoring after their detestable things: and they shall loathe themselves in their own eyes, for the evils which they have done in all their abominations. 10. And they shall know that I am the LORD; not in vain have I said that I would do this evil unto them.

The mountains of Israel ( Ezekiel 6:2) denote the whole land, the characteristic of which is to be mountainous ( Deuteronomy 11:12). The mountains, generally the prominent points, in the highland of Canaan, come necessarily into the foreground. The valleys appear as an appendage to these. The prophet before had a special view to Jerusalem, now to the whole land. On Ezekiel 6:3 compare Leviticus 26:30, “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your sun-pillars, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols.” “Before your abominations” ( Ezekiel 6:4), your idols, properly your filthy things, your idols that are as worthless as the filth, your dirt-gods. “The cities and the high places” ( Ezekiel 6:6) are in themselves innocent. That which takes place in them is only intended to destroy the offences that exist in these regions, the idol altars, and so on. The altars are guilty, because, by the destruction to which they are doomed, they are convicted of the false pretension to be true places of divine worship. “Your works” include that which is narrated in detail. In the idols and so on are the products of the sinful action of God’s people destroyed, which they have erected in scorn of Him. Ezekiel 6:7 reverts to Ezekiel 6:4-5, to connect therewith the thought that the event will serve to prove the sole Godhead of Jehovah, against whom the idols are not able to protect their worshippers. The slain embraces the multitude of the slain in one ideal person. Ezekiel 6:8-10 are not intended to mitigate the judgment, which in this connection would be unsuitable. They serve rather to place in a clear light the heavy guilt of the people. When, the intoxication over the punishment has come on, the remnant will themselves, with deep shame and bitter pain, confess the sins of the people, and the sole deity of Him who announced to them by the prophets their downfall on account of these sins. The words “And I will leave a remnant” ( Ezekiel 6:8; comp. Romans 9:27, Romans 11:5) have no independent meaning, but lead on to what follows—to the thought that the eyes of the people themselves will hereafter be opened to their own heavy evils. When once, in the course of events, the bandage falls off with which their eyes are now covered, they will perceive with astonishment whither they have been going. [35] To loathe their face ( Ezekiel 6:9) is to be a loathing to themselves. The face stands often for the person which it represents. “Not in vain” ( Ezekiel 6:10): the Lord would have spoken in vain, or to no purpose, if the event had not corresponded with the utterance. By the correspondence of utterance and event, they know that He who has spoken by the son of man is Jehovah—is God in the fullest sense.

[35] נשברתי in Ezekiel 6:9 means properly, “I was broken.” This stands for “I have broken for myself.” The passivity goes over from those whose heart is broken, as it were, to him by whom and in whose interest it has been broken. Allusion is made to the broken heart of David after his adultery with Bathsheba ( Psalms 51:12), the rather because here also mention is made of the whorish heart and eyes ( 2 Samuel 11:2). Analogous are נשאל , properly “be entreated,” then “obtain by prayer,” such an entreaty as attains its object ( 1 Samuel 20:6); נענה , properly “receive answer,” then “give answer” (ch. 14:4, 7).

Verses 11-14

Ezekiel 6:11. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Smite with thy hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! which will fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12. He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remains and is preserved shall die by the famine: and I will accomplish my fury upon them. 13. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain are among their detestable things round about their altars, upon every high hill, on all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, there where they offered sweet savour to all their detestable idols. 14. And I will stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land a waste and a desert more than the wilderness of Diblathah, in all their dwelling-places; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

“Smite with thy hand” ( Ezekiel 6:11): to be compared is Numbers 24:10, “And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together.” The clapping of hands, in general a gesture of highly excited emotion, which may be of various kinds, is there, according to the existing circumstances, a symbolic “Away with you.” “Flee thee” gives the real import in Ezekiel 6:11. Jeremiah 15:1 serves for elucidation: “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, I could have no heart to this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” “Stamp with thy foot,” a gesture of the impatience that cannot wait for the time when it will be otherwise, when the sinful action will be followed by the suffering that is inseparably connected with it. To be compared is ch. Ezekiel 25:6, where, as here, the smiting with the hand and the stamping with the foot are connected. “He that is far off” from the foe, separated from him by the walls of the city. “He that remains” from the pestilence, and is “preserved” from the sword, which cannot reach him on account of the protecting walls. “More than the wilderness of Diblathah” ( Ezekiel 6:14). Diblathah, or Diblathaim, the Moabitish city, whose desolation is announced by Jeremiah (ch. Jeremiah 48:22), lay on the border of the great wilderness of Arabia Deserta, which is here named after it. [36]

[36] Compare Graf on Jeremiah at the place quoted.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 6". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/ezekiel-6.html.