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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Ezekiel 11

Verse 1

Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD's house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.

The spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate - to which the glory of God had moved itself (Ezekiel 10:19); the chief entrance of the sanctuary-the portico or porch of Solomon. The spirit moves the prophet there, to witness, in the presence of the divine glory, a new scene of destruction.

Behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men. The same as the 25 (i:e., 24 heads of courses and the high priest) sun-worshippers seen in Ezekiel 8:16. The leading priests were usually called "princes of the sanctuary" (Isaiah 43:28), and "chiefs of the priests" (2 Chronicles 36:14); but here two of them are called "princes of the people" with irony, as using their priestly influence to be ringleaders of the people in sin (Ezekiel 11:2). Already the wrath of God had visited the people, represented by the "ancients," elders (Ezekiel 9:6, with which cf. Ezekiel 7:11); also the glory of the Lord had left its place in the holy of holies, and, like the cherubim and flaming sword in Eden, had occupied the gate into the deserted sanctuary. The judgment on the representatives of the priesthood naturally follows here, just as the sin of the 25 priests had followed in the description (Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 8:16) after the sin of the 70 ancients or elders.

Jaazaniah - signifying, 'God hears.'

Son of Azur - a leader among the 25 priests, different from Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, who was a leader among the 70 elders (Ezekiel 8:11). Azur means 'help.' He and Pelatiah ('God delivers'), son of Benaiah ('God builds'), are singled out-as Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, in the case of the 70 elders (Ezekiel 8:11-12) - because their names ought to have reminded them that 'God' would have 'heard,' had they sought His 'help' to 'deliver' and 'build' them up. But, neglecting this, they incurred the heavier judgment by the very relation in which they stood to God (Fairbairn).

Verse 2

Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:

Then said he - the Lord sitting on the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:2).

These are the men that ... give wicked counsel - in opposition to the prophets of God (Ezekiel 11:3).

Verse 3

Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.

It is not near - namely, the destruction of the city; therefore "let us build houses," as if there was no fear. But the Hebrew [ bªnowt (H1129) baatiym (H1004)] opposes the English version, which would require the infinitive absolute. Rather, 'Not at hand is the building of houses.' They sneer at Jeremiah's letter to the captives, among whom Ezekiel lived (Jeremiah 29:5), wherein he said, "Build ye houses, and dwell in them," - i:e., do not fancy, as many persuade you, that your sojourn in Babylon is to be short; it will be for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10); therefore build houses and settle quietly there. The scorners in Jerusalem reply, Those far off in exile may build if they please, but it is too remote a concern for us to trouble ourselves about (Fairbairn). (Compare Ezekiel 12:22; Ezekiel 12:27; 2 Peter 3:4.)

This city is the caldron, and we be the flesh - sneering at Jeremiah 1:13 ("I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north"), where he compared the city to a caldron with its mouth toward the north: 'Let Jerusalem be so if you will, and we the flesh, exposed to the raging foe from the North; still its fortifications will secure us from the flame of war outside; the city must stand for our sakes, just as the pot exists for the safety of the flesh in it.' In opposition to this God saith (Ezekiel 11:11), "This city shall not be your caldron," to defend you in it from the foe outside: nay, ye shall be driven out of your imaginary sanctuary, and slain in the border of the land. "But," saith God in Ezekiel 11:7, "your slain (whose death ye have been the cause of) are the flesh, and this city the caldron; but (not as you fancy shall ye be kept safe inside) I will bring you forth out of the midst of it;" and again, in Ezekiel 24:3. 'Though not a caldron in your sense, Jerusalem shall be so in the sense of its being exposed to a consuming foe, and yourselves in it and with it.'

Verse 4

Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.

Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy. The repetition marks emphatic earnestness.

Verse 5

And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

The Spirit of the Lord fell upon me - stronger than "entered into me" (Ezekiel 2:2; Ezekiel 3:24), implying the zeal of the Spirit of God roused to immediate indignation at the contempt of God shown by the scorners.

Thus have ye said ... for I know the things that come into your mind - (Psalms 139:1-4). Your scornful jests at my word escape not my notice.

Verse 6

Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.

Ye have multiplied your slain - those on whom you have brought ruin by your wicked counsels. Bloody crimes within the city brought on it a bloody foe from without (Ezekiel 7:23-24). They had made it a caldron in which to boil the flesh of God's people, and eat it by unrighteous oppression (Micah 3:1-3); therefore God will make it a caldron in a different sense-one not wherein they may be safe in their guilt, but "out of the midst of" which they shall be "brought forth," See, for the fulfillment of the prophecy, Jeremiah 39:4-5.

Verse 7

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.

This city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it. The city is a caldron to them, but it shall not be so to you. Ye shall meet your doom on the frontier.

Your slain, whom ye have laid - (note, Ezekiel 11:6).

Verse 8

Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.

Ye have feared the sword. The Chaldean sword, to escape which ye abandoned your God, shall be brought on you by God because of that very abandonment of Him.

Verse 9

And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.

I will bring you out of the midst thereof - i:e., of the city, as captives led into the open plain for judgment.

Verse 10

Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

I will judge you in the border of Israel - on the frontier: at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, where the King of Babylon executed judgment on Zedekiah, his sons, and the chief officers and priests, and 60 men of the city (Jeremiah 52:9-11; Jeremiah 52:24-27; cf. 2 Kings 25:19-21 with 1 Kings 8:65, "the entering in of Hamath").

Ye shall know that I am the Lord - by the judgments which I execute (Psalms 9:16).

Verse 11

This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:

(Note Ezekiel 11:3).

Verse 12

And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.

Ye ... have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you - (Deuteronomy 12:30-31, "Take heed ... that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise").

Verse 13

And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?

Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died - probably the ringleader of the scorners (Ezekiel 11:1); his being stricken dead (like Ananias, Acts 5:5) was an earnest of the destruction of the rest of the 25, as Ezekiel had foretold; as also of the general ruin.

Fell I down upon my face - (note, Ezekiel 9:8).

Wilt thou make a full end of the remnant? - Is Pelatiah's destruction to be the token of the destruction of all, even of the remnant? The people regarded Pelatiah as a mainstay of the city. His name, derived from a Hebrew root, a "remnant" [pªliyTiym, survivors, from paalaT (H6403), to escape, or else Yaah (H3050) pileeT (H6403),] 'God delivers,' suggested hope. Is that hope, asks Ezekiel, to be disappointed?

Verse 14

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.

Thy brethren, even thy brethren. The repetition implies, 'Thy real brethren' are no longer the priests at Jerusalem, with whom thou art connected by the natural ties of blood and common temple-service; but thy fellow-exiles on the Chebar, and the house of Israel, whosoever of them belong to the remnant to be spared.

Men of thy kindred - literally, of thy redemption [ gª'ulaatekaa (H1353)]; i:e., the nearest relatives, whose duty it was to do the part of Go'el (H1352), or vindicator and redeemer of a relative's forfeited inheritance (Leviticus 25:25). Ezekiel, seeing the priesthood doomed to destruction, as a priest, felt anxious to vindicate their cause, as if they were his nearest kinsmen and he their Goel. But he is told to look for his true kinsmen in those his fellow-exiles whom his natural kinsmen at Jerusalem despised, and to be their vindicator. Spiritual ties, as in the case of Levi (Deuteronomy 33:9), the type of Messiah (Matthew 12:47-50), are to supersede natural ones where the two clash. The hope of better days was to rise from the despised exiles. The Gospel principle is shadowed forth here, that the despised of men are often the chosen of God, and the highly esteemed among men are an abomination before Him (Luke 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28). 'No door of hope but in the valley of Achor' ('trouble,' Hosea 2:15). (Fairbairn.)

Get you far from the Lord; unto us is this land given in possession - the contemptuous words of those left still in the city at the carrying away of Jeconiah to the exiles, 'However far ye be outcasts from the Lord and His temple, we are secure in our possession of the land.'

Verse 16

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

Although I have cast them far off among the heathen ... yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary - anticipating the objection of the priests at Jerusalem, that the exiles were 'cast far off.' Though this be so, and they are far from the outer temple at Jerusalem, I will be their asylum or sanctuary instead (Psalms 90:1; Psalms 91:9; Isaiah 8:14). My shrine is the humble heart: a preparation for Gospel catholicity, when the local and material temple should give place to the spiritual (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:1; Malachi 1:11; John 4:21-24; Acts 7:48-49). The trying discipline of the exile was to chasten the outcasts so as to be meet recipients of God's grace, which the carnal confidence of the priests disqualified them for. The dispersion served the end of spiritualizing and enlarging the views even of the better Jews, so as to be able to worship God everywhere, without a material temple; and, at the same time, it diffused some knowledge of God among the greatest Gentile nations, thus providing materials for the gathering in of the Christian Church among the Gentiles; so marvelously did God overrule a present evil for an ultimate good. Still more does all this hold good in the present much-longer dispersion of the Jews, which is preparing for their more perfect and universal restoration (Isaiah 2:2-4; Jeremiah 3:16-18). Their long privation of the temple will prepare them for appreciating the more, but without Jewish narrowness, the temple that is to be, (Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27; Ezekiel 44:1-31.)

A little [ mª`at (H4592)] - rather, 'for a little season,' for the comparatively short period of the Babylonian captivity: how long soever the captivity be, yet the 70 years will be but as a little season compared with their long subsequent settlement in their land. This holds true only partially in the case of the first, restoration; because as in a few centuries they were dispersed again, the full and permanent restoration is yet future (Jer because as in a few centuries they were dispersed again, the full and permanent restoration is yet future (Jeremiah 24:6).

Verse 17

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

I will even gather you from the people - (Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 36:24).

Verse 18

And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.

They shall take away all the detestable things ... and all the abominations thereof from them. They have eschewed every vestige of idolatry ever since their return from Babylon. But still the Shechinah glory had departed, the ark was not restored, nor was the second temple strictly inhabited by God until He came who made it more glorious than the first temple (Haggai 2:9); even then His stay was short, and ended His being rejected; so that the full realization of the promise must still be future.

Verse 19

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

I will give them one heart. Lest they should claim to themselves the praise given them in Ezekiel 11:18, God declares it is to be the free gift of His Spirit.

One heart. Not singleness - i:e., uprightness-but oneness of heart in all unanimously seeking Him, in contrast to their state at that time when only single scattered individuals sought God (Jeremiah 32:39; Zephaniah 3:9). (Hengstenberg.) Or, 'content with one God,' not distracted with 'the many detestable things' (Ezekiel 11:18; 1 Kings 18:21; Hosea 10:2). (Calvin.)

New spirit - (Psalms 51:10; Jeremiah 31:33). Realized fully in the "new creature" of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 5:17); having new motives, new rules, new aims. I will take the stony heart out of their flesh. "Stony heart," like "adamant" (Zechariah 7:12); the natural heart of every man.

And will give them an heart of flesh - impressible to what is good, tender.

Verse 20

That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

That they may walk in my statutes. Regeneration shows itself by its fruit (Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:25).

They shall be my people, and I will be their God - (Ezekiel 14:11; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:27; Jeremiah 24:7). In its fullest sense still future, after Jerusalem has passed through its last coming fiery ordeal: "I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God" (Zechariah 13:9).

Verse 21

But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.

As for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things. The repetition of "heart" is emphatic, signifying that the heart of those who so obstinately clung to idols impelled itself to fresh superstitions in one continuous tenor (Calvin). Perhaps it is implied that they and their idols are much alike in character. The heart of themselves and the heart of their detestable things is alike (Psalms 115:8). The heart walks astray first, the feet follow.

I will recompense their way upon their own heads. They have abandoned me, so will I abandon them: they profaned my temple, so will I profane it by the Chaldeans (Ezekiel 9:10).

Verse 22

Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 23

And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.

The glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city. The Shechinah glory now moves from the east gate, where it had previously moved (Ezekiel 10:4; Ezekiel 10:19), to the mount of Olives, altogether abandoning the temple. That mount was chosen as being the height whence the missiles of the foe were about to descend on the city. So it was from it that Jesus ascended to heaven, when about to send His judgments on the Jews; and from it He predicted its overthrow before His crucifixion (Matthew 24:3). It is also to he the scene of His return in person to deliver His people (Zechariah 14:4), when He shall come by the same way as He went, "from the way of the east" (Ezekiel 43:2).

Verse 24

Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.

The spirit ... brought me in a vision - not in actual fact, but in ecstatic vision. He had been as to the outward world all the time before the elders (Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 8:3) in Chaldea: he now reports what he had witnessed with the inner eye.

Verse 25

Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.

Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the Lord had showed me - literally, 'all the words?' an appropriate expression; because the word communicated to him was not simply a word, but one clothed with outward symbols 'shown' to him as in the sacrament, which Augustine terms 'the visible word' (Calvin).

Remarks: Remarks:

(1) It is a common thing for men to put away from them, as Jaazaniah and Pelatiah did (Ezekiel 11:1-3), serious thoughts of the judgment to come, by persuading themselves that "it is not near." There is no need, they think, of our making immediate preparation for eternity, or of our seeking the "house not made with hands, the buildings of God, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). It is too remote a contingency for us to trouble ourselves about now. Thus, Satan cheats men out of all their time, by cheating them out of the present time, and robs them of salvation by inducing them to put off seeking it.

(2) God knows accurately each one of the self-deceits 'that come into men's minds' (Ezekiel 11:5). He knew the scornful jests which the ungodly in Ezekiel's day uttered against His prophets and their prophecies. They had sneered at Jeremiah's comparison of Jerusalem to a caldron, saying, If it be so, it will secure us within its walls, even as the caldron preserves the flesh in it from being burnt by the fire outside. But sinners deceive themselves, not God, by such calculations. No defenses, no hiding-place can shield sinners from being brought forth by God to judgment (Ezekiel 11:7).

(3) Sin in the midst of a people is sure to bring upon them foes from without (Ezekiel 11:6-7). The hostile sword, through fear of which they have compromised religious principle, shall fall upon them as it did upon the Jews, just because of that compromise (Ezekiel 11:8; Ezekiel 11:10; Ezekiel 11:12). Since men will not recognize God in His dealings of mercy, they shall be forced to "know God by the judgments which He executeth" (Ezekiel 11:10; Psalms 9:16).

(4) God sometimes singles out individual sinners for judgment as a warning to others. The sudden death of Pelatiah, the ring-leader of the scorners, is a sample of the awful, end of all who "sit in the seat of the scornful." Such cases are calculated to strike terror into sinners; yet, though we read of the prophet being so deeply affected that he fell down upon his face (Ezekiel 11:13), we do not read of a similar effect being worked upon Pelatiah's companions in guilt. How sad it is that the godly should be concerned for the coming doom of transgressors, and yet the transgressors themselves remain unmoved! Let believers imitate Ezekiel, and when judgments descend on some, "lift up their prayer for the remnant that is left" (Isaiah 37:4).

(5) There should be, however, a limit to the believer's intercessions for the ungodly. Though the ties of connection, as being of the same order, might seem to require Ezekiel to intercede for his fellow-priests, yet there is a tie more obligatory than that of order and relationship-namely, the bond of union which subsists between all the godly. This tie, God tells him, ought to constrain him to regard as his brethren, and vindicate the cause of the despised Jewish exiles at the Chebar, rather than that of their proud and self-satisfied fellow-countrymen still remaining in Jerusalem. Similarly we ought to cherish greater sympathy for the children of God, however afflicted and despised, than for the people of the world, however high and exalted. No tie of kindred is so strong as that which binds together believers in union with the same God and Saviour, and with one another.

(6) However much believers be treated as outcasts by the world (1 Corinthians 4:13), God will not cast them off. They may be even shut out from church ordinances, as the exiles at the Chebar were debarred from temple-worship, but God's promise always holds good to His people (Ezekiel 11:16): I will be to them as a sanctuary in all places where they shall come; and their time of chastizement shall be but a "little" time (note, Ezekiel 11:16), as compared with the everlasting joys that are before them. Even as God promises to Israel, "In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer" (Isaiah 65:8).

(7) The full and final restoration of Israel out of all the countries of their long-continued dispersion is to be accompanied by their spiritual restoration to the favour of God through a true repentance and living faith. These graces are not men's work in themselves, but God's free gift to them - "I will give them one heart" (Ezekiel 11:19) - a heart no longer halting between two opinions-a heart wholly delivered from its past craving after "abominations and detestable things" (Ezekiel 11:18) - the hearts of all as the heart of one man devoted singly to the Lord. Instead of the "heart of stone," God by His Holy Spirit puts within His people a "heart of flesh" and a "new spirit," so that "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The outward fruit corresponds to this inward new principle of life: Walking in God's statutes, and keeping and doing His ordinances, they show that they are indeed "His people," and that "He is their God" (Ezekiel 11:20). Mere outward change of position and circumstances would be no real blessing without the inward change unto holiness, which is the spring of all happiness.

(8) As there is a future of hope to the elect remnant, so there is a future of punishment to the impenitent. Assimilated in heart to the detestable objects to which they give their hearts (Ezekiel 11:21), they have appointed to them, as their just sentence from God, "I will recompense their way upon their own heads" (Ezekiel 11:21). The visible symbol of the glory of the Lord departed from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, and it is on the same mount the Lord's glory will be manifested in His return to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4). Let us pray for His speedy visible return, and let us meanwhile see that we do not, by a careless and inconsistent walk, provoke Him to withdraw His invisible and spiritual presence from us!

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.