The punishment of the dwellers in Jerusalem.
He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.Them that have charge - The angels who have charge to execute God's sentence.
Every man - "angels," not "men."
And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.Six men - angels of wrath - figurative of destruction. They come from the north, the quarter from which invading armies entered the holy land. These "six" angels, with the "one among them," a superior over the six, make up the number "seven," a number symbolic of God's covenant with His people.
The higher gate - The north gate of the court of the priests. The temple rose by platforms; as there was a north gate to the outer and also to the inner court, the latter was probably distinguished as the "higher gate." It was built by Jotham 2 Kings 15:35.
Clothed with linen - The priestly garment Exodus 28:6, Exodus 28:8; Leviticus 16:4. This "One Man" (Compare Daniel 10:5; Revelation 1:13) was the "angel of the covenant," the great high priest, superior to those by whom He was surrounded, receiving direct communication from the Lord, taking the coals of vengeance from between the cherubim Ezekiel 10:2, but coming with mercy to the contrite as well as with vengeance to the impenitent; these are attributes of Jesus Christ John 5:30; Luke 2:34; Matthew 9:13; John 6:39.
A writer's inkhorn - Usually a flat case about nine inches long, by an inch and a quarter broad, and half an inch thick, the hollow of which serves to contain the reed pens and penknife. At one end is the ink-vessel which is twice as heavy as the shaft. The latter is passed through the girdle and prevented from slipping through by the projecting ink-vessel. The whole is usually of polished metal, brass, copper or silver. The man with the inkhorn has to write in the Book of Life the names of those who shall be marked. The metaphor is from the custom of registering the names of the Israelites in public rolls. Compare Exodus 32:33; Psalm 69:28; Isaiah 4:3; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5.
And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;Cherub - The singular is put collectively for the "cherubim," which were upon the mercy-seat of the ark in the holy of holies, the proper seat of the glory of the Lord in the midst of Israel. God is represented as "arising" from between the cherubim to scatter His enemies Numbers 10:35.
And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.mercy precedes judgment. So in the case of Sodom Genesis 19, and in the last day Luke 21:18, Luke 21:28; Revelation 7:1. This accords with the eschatological character of the predictions in this chapter (see the introduction of Ezekiel).
A mark - literally, "Tau," the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The old form of the letter was that of a cross. The Jews have interpreted this sign variously, some considering that "Tau," being the last of the Hebrew letters, and so closing the alphabet, denoted completeness, and thus the mark indicated the completeness of the sorrow for sin in those upon whom it was placed. Others again observed that "Tau" was the first letter of Torah ("the Law") and that the foreheads were marked as of men obedient to the Law. Christians, noting the resemblance of this letter in its most ancient form to a cross, have seen herein a reference to the cross with which Christians were signed. The custom for pagan gods and their votaries to bear certain marks furnishes instances, in which God was pleased to employ symbolism, generally in use, to express higher and more divine truth. The sign of the cross in baptism is an outward sign of the designation of God's elect, who at the last day shall be exempted from the destruction of the ungodly Matthew 24:22, Matthew 24:31.
And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.Begin at my sanctuary - The first to be punished were those who had brought idolatry nearest to the holy place. The "ancient men," i. e., the 25 men who had stood with their backs to the altar Ezekiel 8:16 were the first to be slain.
And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.Defile the house - By filling the temple and its courts with the bodies of the slain. See Numbers 19:11.
And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?Left - The prophet was left alone, all who had been around him were slain.
Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.