Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 13

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3411. B.C. 593.

Nothing had a greater influence in hardening the Jews in their sins than the pretended predictions and flatteries of their false prophets. Here,

(1,) The sin of these prophets is set forth at large, and the judgments of God are denounced against them, Ezekiel 13:1-16 .

(2,) The prophet shows also the sin and punishment of the false prophetesses, Ezekiel 13:17-23 . Both agreed to sooth men up in their sins, and, under pretence of comforting God’s people, to flatter them with hopes that they should yet have peace; but Ezekiel here foretels that they should be proved liars, their prophecies mere fictions, and the expectations which the people built upon them nothing but illusions.

Verses 2-4

Ezekiel 13:2-4. Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel So they called themselves, as if none but they had been worthy of the name of Israel’s prophets, who were indeed Israel’s deceivers. Say unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts According to their own fancy, without having received any revelation from God. The true prophets often denounced God’s judgments against the false ones: laying to their charge many misdemeanours in their private life and conversation, and upbraiding them for their unfaithfulness in the office they undertook of declaring God’s will to his people. Wo unto the foolish prophets Ignorant and wicked, and who, while they wilfully deceived the people, unthinkingly brought destruction upon themselves. Observe, reader, foolish prophets are not of God’s sending: those whom he sends, he either finds or makes fit for his work. Where he gives warrant, he gives wisdom. That follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing Who utter their own imaginations for true prophecies, and pretend to have visions when they never had any. O Israel, thy prophets, not mine, are like the foxes in the deserts Hungry and ravening, crafty and guileful: “deceitful workers, (as the apostle styles such persons, 2 Corinthians 11:13,) who craftily insinuate false doctrines into weak and unstable minds, and greedily catch at any appearance of advantage to themselves.” Lowth.

Verse 5

Ezekiel 13:5. Ye have not gone up into the gaps Or stood in the gap, or breach, as it is expressed Ezekiel 22:30; Psalms 106:23. Ye have not exercised your prophetical office, and framed your own conduct, so as to stop the wrath of Jehovah, by admonitions and exhortations to the people, and by personal piety and prayer to God. The place alludes to the intercession which Moses made for the Israelites, whereby he withheld God’s hand, as it were, when it was just stretched out to take vengeance upon the people for their heinous sin in making the golden calf, Exodus 32:10-11. The phrase is taken from those who put a stop to the enemy, when he is just entering in at a breach. In like manner it was the office and duty of those prophets, if they had truly been what they pretended to be, by their endeavours to reform the people, and their intercessions with God, to avert his displeasure, and prevent the vengeance which was just ready to be poured out on a sinful people. Neither made up the hedge The Vulgate renders it, neque opposuistis murum pro domo Israel, nor made up a wall for the house of Israel; another expression taken from people besieged in a city, who, if a breach be made in the wall, presently make it up, or build up a new one within it, to prevent the enemy from entering and becoming masters of the place. To stand in the battle in the day of the Lord When God shall come, like a general at the head of his army, to execute his judgment upon his enemies.

Verses 6-9

Ezekiel 13:6-9. They have seen vanity and lying divinations They have uttered false prophecies concerning peace and prosperity, pretending to have seen that which they did not see, and producing that as a divine truth which they knew to be a detestable lie. They have made others Who were so simple as to believe them; to hope that they would confirm the word Or rather, that the word would be confirmed. Their speaking with so much assurance made others confidently expect that the event would answer their predictions, and that the judgments which the true prophets had threatened in the name of God would never come, whereby they hardened those in sin whom they ought to have endeavoured to bring to repentance. Therefore, because ye have spoken vanity Have uttered mere fictions and lies, with a view to your own advantage. Behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God And who can be for you when I am against you? And my hand shall be upon the prophets My power striking them so, that it shall be evident they fall under my displeasure; as Pelatiah, Ezekiel 11:13, and Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:15. They shall not be in the assembly of my people Of those who shall hereafter worship me in Jerusalem; or, in the secret council of those who shall consult on public affairs. They shall not be members of my church here, nor partake of the communion of saints hereafter. The Hebrew word סוד , here rendered assembly, properly signifies a secret assembly, or privy council; such as are acquainted with the secret intents and purposes of their prince. Hence it is applied to God’s chosen people, those that are acquainted with the whole counsel of God, and whom he instructs and directs by his Holy Spirit: see notes on Psalms 25:14; Jeremiah 23:18. The prophet, therefore, here tells these men who pretended to know so much of the secrets of the Almighty that they should never be of the number of those favourites of heaven to whom God would reveal himself and his counsels. Neither shall they be written, &c. The sense of this clause is nearly the same with that of the preceding; the words containing an allusion to the registers usually kept of the members of cities or corporations, to the privileges of which societies none are admitted but they whose names are entered into such registers. The false prophets, it seems, promised a speedy return to the exiles; God, therefore, tells them that they should never live to see it, nor should their names be entered into the register of those that should return home. Neither shall they enter into the land of Israel

They shall never see their own country again, nor shall they have a share in the blessings peculiar to true Israelites: see Lowth.

Verses 10-15

Ezekiel 13:10-15. They have seduced my people, &c. Have made my people to err, both with respect to the greatness of their own guilt, and my displeasure on account of it, as if both were less than they really are, and no great danger was to be apprehended. They deceived them, by assuring them that none of those judgments should overtake them which Jeremiah and the other true prophets threatened them with, and they spoke peace to men’s consciences upon false grounds and principles. Thus they obstructed and drew them out of the way of that repentance and reformation into which the other prophets were endeavouring to bring them. And, observe, reader, those are the most dangerous seducers who suggest to sinners that which tends to lessen their dread of sin, or their fear of God. These are compared to men who build a slight tottering wall, which others daub with untempered mortar; sorry stuff which will not bind nor hold the bricks together; doctrines not grounded on, nor according with, the word of God. Say unto them that it shall fall When they have the greatest need of defence, and when they least apprehend such an event. There shall be an overflowing shower, &c. Terrible judgments from God, often compared in Scripture to storms and tempests, the artillery of heaven, especially when he executes his judgments by a victorious army. Shall it not be said, Where is the daubing? &c. Then it will be asked, by way of taunt and reproach, where are the remedies you had provided, and in which you persuaded all to put confidence? I will even rent it with a stormy wind in my fury Rather, in my indignation. Under these metaphors is foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish state by the Chaldean army. Thus the Chaldee paraphrase expounds it: “I will bring a mighty king with the force of a whirlwind, and a destroying people, as it were an overflowing storm, and powerful princes like great hailstones.” So will I break down the wall, &c. Thus will I overthrow all your false confidences, and all the remedies which ye have provided against the ruin of the state; and ye yourselves that were so confident of safety shall be consumed. The Chaldee paraphrase reads, I will destroy the city wherein ye have uttered these false prophecies, which exposition accords with the next words, And ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof; that is, shall be destroyed in the same common calamity. And ye shall know, &c. Those that deceived others will in the end be found to have deceived themselves. And no doom will be more fearful than that of unfaithful ministers. Thus will I accomplish my wrath, &c. Fulfil what my prophets foretold; and will say unto you Will show by the awful event; The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it The city is no more, nor the false prophets.

Verses 17-19

Ezekiel 13:17-19. Likewise, set thy face against the daughters of thy people Direct thy discourse against the female pretenders to prophecy. God sometimes bestowed the gift of prophecy upon women, Exodus 15:20; Jdg 9:4 ; 2 Kings 22:14. This encouraged others of that sex to pretend to the same gift: compare Revelation 2:20. Wo to the women that sew pillows, &c. As the prophet compares the deceitful practices of the false prophets to the daubing of a wall, so he represents the artifices of these female seducers by sewing pillows under the hearers’ arms, that they might rest securely in their evil ways. “The eastern mode of sitting,” says Harmer, chap. 6. observ. 35, “supported by pillows, explains this representation of Ezekiel. Dr. Russel has given us a print representing a fine eastern lady reposing herself on one of these bolsters, or pillows, by leaning with one of her arms on one of them, while she is smoking.” In Barbary and the Levant they “always cover the floors of their houses with carpets; and along the sides of the wall, or floor, a range of narrow beds, or mattresses, is often placed upon these carpets; and, for their further ease and convenience, several velvet or damask bolsters are placed upon these carpets or mattresses: indulgences that seem to be alluded to by the stretching of themselves upon couches, and by the sewing of pillows to arm-holes.” Shaw’s Travels, p. 209, second edition. Sir John Chardin also mentions “a mattress, with large cushions, placed at the back and sides” of the person who uses it as a bed, Harm., vol. 2., chap. 6. observ. 46. See also, to the same purpose, Lady M. W. Montague’s description of a Turkish lady’s apartment, let. 32, vol. 2. p. 55. And make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature Rather, Upon every head, כל ראשׁ , of every stature, the false prophetess doing this without distinction of stature or age. “This,” says Bishop Newcome, “may be a strong, eastern manner of expressing that these women hoodwinked their votaries, and kept them in spiritual darkness.” In the same light the passage is considered by Lowth and many others. “Or the covering of the head may have been of the ornamental kind, to denote prosperity or victory, as pillows denoted tranquillity and plenty; and both may have been significantly applied to the heads and arms of those who consulted the prophetesses.” Thus we are told by Dr. Shaw, p. 221, and Lady M. W. Montague, vol. 2. p. 30, that the eastern women bind on their other ornaments for the head with a handkerchief, which the latter calls “a rich embroidered handkerchief.” These prophetesses, therefore, Harmer thinks, “did the same thing by their flattering words, as would have been best expressed, if they had thought fit to signify the same thing by actions only, (as the prophets sometimes did,) by making bolsters for the arms, and presenting them to the Israelitish women, whom they wanted to assure of the continuance of their prosperity; and embroidering handkerchiefs, proper to bind over the ornaments of females in a state of honour, and afterward putting them on their heads. Whereas, the true prophets of God gave them to understand, in direct contradiction to all this, that if the Jews would not yield up themselves to the Chaldeans, great numbers of their men should perish, and their women should be brought down from those elevated places in which they sat supported by rich bolsters, and should be forced to sit on the ground; and, instead of a rich attire for their heads, should have their hair miserably dishevelled, strongly marking out grief in a despairing neglect of their persons. Such is the description Isaiah gives of the state of captives, (Ezekiel 47:1-2,) which every one must see is just the reverse of what these prophetesses are represented as doing: Come down and sit in the dust, &c.” Harmer, chap. 6., observ. 35.

To hunt souls To allure, draw, or drive men into those nets and snares that they have laid for them, and thereby to make them their prey. Or to destroy men, to expose them to the divine vengeance, by lulling them into security, and enticing them to commit sin in following their directions. Will ye hunt the souls of my people? Will ye make a prey of men’s souls by deluding them with fair promises and vain hopes? Will ye draw my people into destruction, by promising them safety and happiness, while they continue in sin? “This verse,” says Secker, “should seem to mean, that these women made every body easy to their ruin, for their own profit.” Will ye pollute me among my people? Will ye profane my name, by making use of it to give credit to your own dreams and lies? Or, Will ye dishonour it by employing it to the vilest use, the encouraging of wickedness, and the discouraging of piety and virtue? For handfuls of barley, &c. For the sake of gain to yourselves, even for the meanest presents? It is well known how customary gifts were, and still are, in the East. These false prophets and prophetesses being chiefly, if not solely, consulted by the corrupt and wicked part of the Jews, who made them presents for their answers; and those presents being generally the larger the more agreeable the answers were, therefore these prophets and prophetesses always uttered what was pleasing, and gave encouragement to the wicked, and what tended to disgrace and discourage the truly good. To slay the souls that should not die To denounce or prophesy death and destruction to those that shall be preserved. Thus they denounced death to those who yielded themselves to the Chaldeans in Jeconiah’s captivity, whom God had determined to preserve alive, Jeremiah 29:5-6. And they encouraged those who remained at Jerusalem, with promises of peace and safety, who, God had foretold, should perish: see Ezekiel 5:12. Or the words may be understood, in a more general sense, of discouraging the godly, and confirming the wicked in their evil ways: see Ezekiel 13:22; and Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 23:17. To slay, and make alive, signify here, to promise men life, or threaten them with death. So the prophet says he came to destroy the city, (Ezekiel 43:3,) when he came to pronounce the sentence of destruction upon it. Lowth.

Verses 20-23

Ezekiel 13:20-23. Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye hunt the souls, &c. To make them run into those snares and seductions that you have laid for them, Ezekiel 13:18. The metaphor is continued from the manner of hunting and pursuing living creatures, thereby to drive them into the toils prepared for them. I will tear them from your arms “I will make your cheats and impostures appear so evidently that nobody shall be in danger of being seduced by you any more:” see Ezekiel 13:23. Your kerchiefs also will I tear I will lay quite open and render useless all your arts; they shall no longer serve your purpose. Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad As you have deluded and comforted the wicked with vain hopes, so you have disheartened the righteous with groundless fears, or made them sad with the lies and calumnies you have invented against them. Therefore ye shall see no more vanity nor divine divinations, &c. An entire end shall be put to all your false predictions and divinations; for ye shall all perish, namely, in the siege of Jerusalem, either by the famine, disease, or the weapons of the Chaldeans.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 13". Benson's Commentary. 1857.