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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 24


Under the parable of a boiling pot is shewed the irrecoverable destruction of Jerusalem. By the sign of Ezekiel not mourning for the death of his wife is shewed the calamity of the Jews to be beyond all sorrow.

Before Christ 590.

Verse 3

Ezekiel 24:3. Set on a pot The pot signifies Jerusalem, the flesh and pieces the citizens, and the fire and water the calamities which they were to suffer. When the subject required secrecy, the apologue was gradually changed by faint and far-fetched allusions into a parable, on set purpose to throw obscurity over the information. We find innumerable instances of this mode of speech in scripture, and this of the pot was one. In this manner was the parable employed both among the Orientals and Greeks; and thus the Jews understood it, as appears by the complaint of this prophet, chap. Eze 20:49 and by the denunciation of our Lord himself, Luk 8:9 and thus that great master of Grecian eloquence, Demetrius Phalereus, explains it. "The word is used, says he, as a covering and disguise to the discourse." Should it be objected, that the image employed by our prophet is low, we should recollect that he was likewise a priest; that he borrowed it from the sacred rites, by no means suspecting that what had a relation to the holy usages of the temple could ever be esteemed disgraceful or low. See Div. Leg. vol. 3: and Bishop Lowth's tenth Prelection.

Verse 4

Ezekiel 24:4. Fill it with the choice bones And every choice part which cleaveth to the bones. Houbigant. The bones, says Calmet, signify the princes or chief citizens, and the flesh the common people.

Verse 6

Ezekiel 24:6. Whose scum Whose rust; and so Ezekiel 24:11-12. Schult. and Houbigant. Instead of, Bring it out piece by piece, Houbigant reads, Throw it in piece by piece.

Verse 7

Ezekiel 24:7. She poured it not upon the ground The words allude to the command of the law, that they should cover the blood of any beast or other living creature with dust: a precept intended not only to prevent their eating blood, but also to give them a kind of horror at seeing it shed. See Lowth.

Verse 10

Ezekiel 24:10. And spice it well, &c.— Dissolve its pieces. Houbigant. The Chaldee, explaining the metaphor, renders it thus: Multiply kings, gather together an army, join auxiliaries, and prepare against her the soldiers; and her brave men shall grow mad.

Verse 12

Ezekiel 24:12. She hath wearied herself, &c.— The LXX omit this clause. Houbigant renders it, Her rust sticks close to her, and will not leave her. Her rust is great: it is offensive.

Verse 13

Ezekiel 24:13. In thy filthiness, &c.— I had determined to cleanse thee, because thou wast unclean: but thou art not cleansed from thy filth, nor wilt thou be cleansed therefrom, till I, &c. Houbigant.

Verse 17

Ezekiel 24:17. Forbear, &c.— Groan silently; make no funeral mourning. This translation is agreeable to the famous saying of the poet,

Curae leves loquuntur, graviores silent.*

* Light cares are talkative; heavier cares are silent.

Instead of the bread of men, Houbigant, in agreement with several of the versions, and many commentators, reads the bread of mourners. See Jeremiah 16:7.

Verse 23

Ezekiel 24:23. Ye shall not mourn, &c.— That is, "These terrible judgments upon your city and sanctuary shall strike you with such astonishment, and fill you with such poignant grief, as is too great to be expressed with tears or words." See on Ezekiel 24:17.

Verse 25

Ezekiel 24:25. And that whereupon, &c.— And the ambition of their souls. This is called in the 21st verse, that which your soul pitieth, or, "that which you would have pitied and spared."

Verse 27

Ezekiel 24:27. In that day, &c.— "From this time, till the time the news arrives of the city's being taken, thou shalt not prophesy any more to thine own people. But then I will give thee a new commission, and thou shalt speak with freedom and plainness, not by signs and emblems, as thou dost at present; and they shall know that I am the Lord. Comparing the prediction with the event will convince the most obstinate, that the judgments inflicted come immediately from the Almighty." See Lowth.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The king of Babylon was now gone forth with his army, his designs a secret, probably, to all; but God knew whither his course was bent, and what he was doing; and, the very day that Jerusalem was invested, reveals it to the prophet, and bids him write it down, probably in some public register, that when the intelligence arrived, they might be confirmed in the divine authority by which he spake; since at so vast a distance none could have conveyed the tidings, had they not come immediately from God: and hereby they might be assured of the fulfilment of all his other predictions, particularly the destruction of Jerusalem, which they still flattered themselves should not be taken. To undeceive them, though a rebellious house, God gives them,

1. A sign: a boiling pot: see Jer 1:13 filled with the best pieces of meat, with the choicest bones from the prime of the flock, and a fire continually fed, till the whole was thoroughly boiled together.

2. The explication of the sign or parable. The pot is Jerusalem, the bloody city, on which God denounces woe; the fire is God's wrath burning fierce and constant; the choice pieces are the great men of Jerusalem with their king; the bones, their strong warriors. These together must boil till their scum rises, intimating the wrath due to their provocations; and it is not gone out, they continuing impenitent under all their sufferings. Therefore God commands, Bring it out piece by piece: none of any age, sex, or station, must be spared: let no lot fall upon it, to save any from the general destruction. Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh; thoroughly boil it down, denoting the intenseness and continuance of the miseries which the besieged would undergo: Spice it well, or make it savoury, that the Chaldeans may greedily devour the prey; and let the bones be burnt, the men of war destroyed: then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot and burn; the city, after the siege, being by Nebuchadrezzar's order burnt to the ground.

3. The justice of God in this destruction of Jerusalem is manifested: it is the just reward of her crimes, so black and enormous; because she hath shed openly and lavishly the blood of innocents; and, far from desiring to conceal her guilt, on the top of the rock it stood proclaimed, as if daring divine vengeance. Probably on these eminences they sacrificed their children; therefore God heard the cry, and awaked to judgment, and in righteous retaliation will pour out their blood on the top of a rock, executing them publicly as malefactors. Their scum, their filthy ways shall be consumed, since, instead of being led to repentance by what they had suffered, and the warnings God had given them, they hardened their hearts: like a pot which boils over, their scum running over into the fire, shall add fierceness to the flames, in which they will miserably perish. With lies, with idol vanities, or the false hopes which the prophets of Judah suggested, or the alliances that she had formed, she had wearied herself, disappointed of all her expectations, yet unhumbled still, and obstinately persisting in her sins. In thy filthiness is lewdness, a fixed and rooted delight in sin, and daring avowal of it; so that all the means used were ineffectual to reclaim her. I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged; therefore since the case was desperate, she is abandoned to ruin: she shall not be purged from her filthiness any more; no methods shall be used for her recovery, but God's fury shall rest upon her, without pity, and without repentance; according to her deeds he will recompense her in judgment, and his decree gone forth is irreversible; it shall surely come to pass. Note; (1.) Blood will cry for vengeance, and daring sinners shall one day be made a spectacle to angels and to men. (2.) They who harden their hearts against the means that God uses for their conversion, must perish without remedy. (3.) It is most just to abandon those to their own lusts, who say unto the Almighty, Depart from us. (4.) The truth of God is engaged for the punishment of sinners: unless he prove a liar, they must lie down in everlasting burnings.

2nd, By another sign, which most nearly affected the prophet, the certain ruin of Jerusalem is foretold.
1. God will suddenly take from him the wife on whom he placed his fond affections, the desire of his eyes, with a stroke. Note; (1.) Those who are joined in marriage-bonds, should delight in each other, and study mutually to render themselves every day more amiable and desirable in each other's eyes. (2.) Death spares not the dearest relatives, and the suddenness of the stroke often renders the separation more grievous; but God's hand seen in the visitation, should reconcile us to his will: he gave, and, when he pleases, may justly resume his own gifts.

2. Ezekiel is forbidden to shew any symptom of grief and mourning, such as were natural and usual on these melancholy occasions. His tears must neither flow, however bitter his inward anguish; nor must he make any change, as was usual in such a case, in his attire; nor eat the bread of men, such as was sent to mourners by their friends during their first pangs of sorrow, when they were supposed inattentive to the calls of nature.

3. The prophet is all obedience. He spake to the people in the morning concerning this melancholy event, and at even his prediction was verified, his wife died suddenly. The next morning he appeared as usual, without expressing one symptom of his bitter sorrow, since so the Lord had commanded him. Note; (1.) Submission to God's will, however bitter the affliction, is not only our duty, but should be our delight. (2.) They who are put in trust with the Gospel, must shew a deadness to the world; not only to its inordinate cares, but they must also moderate their sorrows, as examples to others of humble resignation.

4. Such a behaviour in the prophet naturally excited the people's inquiries into the cause; and, suspecting it was with a view to them, they desired to be informed of the meaning of his conduct, and he is ordered fully to explain it to them; Ezekiel is a sign unto them: as God had done to him, so would he shortly deal with them, and cause them to act in like manner. Their sanctuary, once their glory and boast, the desire of their eyes, (for though they had lost the power of godliness, they prided themselves in the temple,) the excellency of their strength, on which they placed their chief confidence, and that which their soul pitied; they could not think of its desolations without being deeply affected; it shall be profaned, given into the hands of the heathen, and utterly demolished by them; and their sons and daughters, the joy of their hearts, who were left from the pestilence and famine, shall fall by the Chaldean sword. And as Ezekiel had done, so should they do, shewing no token of grief, because so great, it would overwhelm them, and be too big for utterance: or not daring to complain, for fear of provoking their conquerors: or when all were involved in the common calamity, none would remain exempted to send the bread of mourners to their neighbours: nor could they make bare their feet, when forced to travel into a miserable captivity. Thus in silent anguish they should pine away for their iniquities, hardened in impenitence, and shut up in despair, and mourn one toward another, when they could privately meet together; not to bewail in penitence their sins, but to murmur and complain against God, and aggravate their miseries by their impatience under them. Note; (1.) Great griefs often stupify, and, finding no vent in tears, pent up they overwhelm the soul. (2.) They who mourn only for their sufferings, but not for their sins, shew their hearts to be yet hardened.

5. The event would shortly verify the prophetic word. The tidings of the dreadful catastrophe of the Jews would reach Babylon; some miserable fugitive would report how terribly Jerusalem fell; her strength broken; her armies destroyed; her riches plundered; the temple, the joy of their glory, in which they placed especial confidence, destroyed; and their sons and daughters, on whom they had set their fond affections, the desire of their eyes, massacred by the Chaldean sword. Then should the prophet's lips be opened, to converse with the messenger of these grievous tidings, and inquire into the particulars; and though from the time of this prophesy he was dumb, spoke no more to the Jews, but turned himself to other nations; then his tongue shall be loosed again, to address them, and urge the punishments inflicted on the rebellious, according to the sign given them, as arguments for the repentance of the captives, who must know and own the truth and righteousness of God, manifested in the destruction of Jerusalem. Note; (1.) They who will not believe God's warnings, will at last be convinced of their truth by his judgments. (2.) When men set their minds on creature-comforts, God often punishes them in destroying their idols.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 24". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.