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 gate - The gate of the templecourt. The gate was the place of judgment.
Five and twenty men - Not the same men as in Ezekiel 8:16. There they were representatives of the "priests," here of the "princes." The number is, no doubt, symbolic, made up, probably, of 24 men and the king. The number 24 points to the tribes of undivided Israel.
Jaazaniah ... Pelatiah - We know nothing more of these men. The former name was probably common at that time Ezekiel 8:11. In these two names there is an allusion to the false hopes which they upheld. "Jaazaniah" (Yah (weh) listeneth) "son of Azur" (the Helper); "Pelatiah" (Yah (weh) rescues) "son of Benaiah" (Yah (weh) builds). In the latter case, death Ezekiel 11:13 turned the allusion into bitter irony.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:
Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.It is not near - In contradiction to Ezekiel 7:2.
Let us build houses - "To build houses" implies a sense of security. Jeremiah bade the exiles "build houses" in a foreign land because they would not soon quit it Jeremiah 29:5; Jeremiah 35:7. These false counselors promised to their countrymen a sure and permanent abode in the city which God had doomed to destruction. No need, they said, to go far for safety; you are perfectly safe at home. The Hebrew, however, is, difficult: literally it means, "It is not near to build houses," which may be explained as spoken in mockery of such counsel as that of Jeremiah: matters have not gone so far as to necessitate "house-building" in a foreign land. The same idea is expressed by the image of the "caldron:" whatever devastation may rage around the city, we are safe within its walls, as flesh within a caldron is unburned by the surrounding fire (compare Ezekiel 24:6).
Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
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.
Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.
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.All that shall remain in the city are the buried dead. Bloodshed and murder were at this time rife in Jerusalem, and these were among the chief crimes that were bringing down judgment upon the city. All the inhabitants that should yet survive were destined to be carried away into exile.
Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.
And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.In the border of Israel - Hamath was the northern border of Israel (margin reference). At Riblah in Hamath the king of Babylon judged and condemned Zedekiah and the princes of Judah Jeremiah 52:9-10.
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:
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.
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?The death of Pelatiah was communicated in this vision, which represented ideally the idolatry in which Pelatiah had actually been foremost.
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
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 kindred - The original word is derived from a root, suggesting the ideas of "redeeming" and "avenging" as connected with the bond of "kindred." The word, therefore, conveys here a special reproach to the proud Jews, who have been so ready to cast off the claims of blood-relationship, and at the same time a hope of restoration to those who have been rudely thrown aside.
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.As a little sanctuary - Rather, I will be to them for a little while a sanctuary. The blessing was provisional, they were to look forward to a blessing more complete. For a little while they were to be satisfied with God's special presence in a foreign land, but they were to look forward to a renewal of His presence in the restored temple of Jerusalem. "sanctuary" means here strictly the holy place, the tabernacle of the Most High: Yahweh will Himself be to the exiles in the place of the local sanctuary, in which the Jews of Jerusalem so much prided themselves (compare the margin reference). Here is the germ from which is developed Ezekiel 40-48, the picture of the kingdom of God in its new form.
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.
And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
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:Compare Revelation 21. The identity of thought and language in Ezekiel, predicting the new kingdom of Israel, and in John, foretelling the kingdom of heaven, forces upon us the conclusion that the prophecy of Ezekiel has an ultimate reference to that climax which John plainly indicates.
One heart - So long as the Israelites were distracted by the service of many gods, such unity was impossible; but now, when they shall have taken away the "abominations" from the land, they shall be united in heart to serve the true God.
Stony heart ... heart of flesh - The heart unnaturally hardened, and the heart reawakened to feelings proper to man.
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.
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.
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.
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 mountain which is on the east side of the city - The Mount of Olives. The rabbis commenting on this passage said the Shechinah retired to this Mount, and there for three years called in vain to the people with human voice that they should repent. On that mountain, Christ stood, when He wept over the fair city so soon to be utterly destroyed. From that mountain he descended, amid loud Hosannas, to enter the city and temple as a Judge.
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.
Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.