Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 22 New indictment of Jerusalem
The passage has three divisions:
First, Ezekiel 22:1-12. The sins of Jerusalem, especially her two crying ones, idolatry and bloodshed (Ezekiel 22:1-5); along with the dark catalogue of other offences (Ezekiel 22:6-12).
Secondly, Ezekiel 22:13-22. Necessity and certainty of her judgment, which is stated first directly (Ezekiel 22:13-16), and secondly under the figure of a smelting furnace (Ezekiel 22:17-22).
Thirdly, Ezekiel 22:23-31. Renewal of the indictment against all classes of the nation, from the prince to the people of the land.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.2. wilt thou judge] See on ch. Ezekiel 20:4, cf. Ezekiel 23:36.
yea, thou shalt shew] Rather: then thou shalt cause her to know … Ezekiel 22:3 and thou shalt say.
Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself.3. the city sheddeth] Rather as address: city that sheddeth! ch. Ezekiel 24:6; Ezekiel 24:9. Her “time” is that of her chastisement, cf. Ezekiel 30:3 “the time of the heathen,” Jeremiah 27:7. So Ezekiel 22:4, “days” and “years,” i.e. full number of thy years.
against herself] Rather: unto herself, parallel to “in the midst of it.”
Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries.4. The “blood” is not only that of her children sacrificed to the idols, but judicial and other murders, cf. Ezekiel 22:6; Ezekiel 22:9. Cf. Ezekiel 23:37, Ezekiel 24:6; Ezekiel 24:9.
therefore have I made] prophetic perf., cf. “shall mock” Ezekiel 22:5.
Those that be near, and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed.5. much vexed] full of tumults, Amos 3:9, and on ch. Ezekiel 5:7.
Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.6–12. Particular enumeration of Jerusalem’s sins
6. The “princes” are those of the royal house.
were … to their power] have been high-handed in thee, to shed. The meaning is not that they shed blood to the utmost of their power, but that they were arbitrary; their power, lit. arm, was the only law.
In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.7. “They” no more refers to the princes, but is said generally. On “father and mother” Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 27:16. On “stranger” ch. Ezekiel 18:18; Exodus 22:21. On “fatherless,” Exodus 22:22.
Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.8. Thou hast despised] Jerusalem or the community is addressed, cf. Ezekiel 22:26, ch. Ezekiel 20:13; Ezekiel 20:16, &c.
In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.9. Informers and false witnesses, Jeremiah 9:3; Exodus 23:1; Leviticus 19:16. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:11.
commit lewdness] This clause should probably introduce the vices in Ezekiel 22:10. Idolatry is metaphorically “lewdness,” but here it is not the community but individuals who are spoken of, cf. Ezekiel 22:11.
In thee have they discovered their fathers' nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.10. Leviticus 18:7; Leviticus 20:11,—defiled their father’s wife, i.e. their stepmother, or some of their father’s concubines; cf. 2 Samuel 16:22.
set apart for pollution] unclean from her impurity, ch. Ezekiel 18:6; Leviticus 18:19; Leviticus 20:18.
And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.11. Leviticus 18:20; Leviticus 20:10. Leviticus 18:15; Leviticus 20:12. Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:17.
In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.12. taken gifts] i.e. bribes, said of judges, Exodus 23:8; Isaiah 1:23; Micah 3:11—Cf. ch. Ezekiel 18:13, Ezekiel 23:35.
by extortion] oppression, or violence, as Ezekiel 22:7. The vices here enumerated follow one another without any strict connexion. 1. The despotic conduct of the princes, whose power is their god (Habakkuk 1:11), Ezekiel 22:6. 2. Irreverence to parents, and want of compassion for the unprotected and helpless, Ezekiel 22:7. 3. Irreligion, Ezekiel 22:8; Ezekiel 9:4. Immoralities and incest, Ezekiel 22:10-11. And finally, greed of gain that overreaches and oppresses, Ezekiel 22:12. The picture is dark enough, and is unmistakeably that of a people whose decline is incurable, and its time at hand (Ezekiel 22:3), cf. Jeremiah 5:7; Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 7:5-6; Jeremiah 22:3; Hosea 7:7; Micah 6:10.
Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.13–22. The judgment on these vices
13. smitten mine hand] clapped my hands, cf. Ezekiel 21:14; Ezekiel 21:17, Ezekiel 6:11. The gesture is expressive of violent agitation, though the agitation may be due to different emotions—here disdain and dislike.
Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it.14. Cf. Ezekiel 21:7, “every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble.”
And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.15. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 23:27-28, Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 36:29.
And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.16. take thine inheritance] According to the points: and thou shalt be profaned in (through) thyself. The idea that Jehovah “profanes” his people by casting them out of their land is not uncommon, Isaiah 43:28; Isaiah 47:6, cf. Ezekiel 24:21 (Ezekiel 28:16). It is doubtful if it be anywhere said that this casting out of the people is a profanation of them “in the sight of the heathen.” On the other hand that phrase is often used when Jehovah himself, or his name, is spoken of as being profaned, ch. Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22. Particularly it is said that Israel’s dispersion among the nations profaned Jehovah’s name, ch. Ezekiel 36:20-23, and in Ezekiel 39:7 Jehovah says, I will not pollute (let be polluted) my name any more (by the humiliation of his people). A slight change of reading gives: and I will be profaned in thee in the sight.… The whole passage speaks of the chastisement of Israel, not of the purging away their uncleanness (Ezekiel 22:15), which is mentioned incidentally (cf. Ezekiel 22:22). This chastisement is dispersion among the nations, by which Jehovah is profaned and by which Israel learns to know that he who disperses them is the Lord. Corn. suggests: by which (uncleanness) I have been profaned in thee. Does the idea appear in the prophet that Jehovah was profaned in the eyes of the nations by Israel’s idolatries?
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,17–22. Judgment on Israel under the figure of a smelting furnace. Israel is dross and base metal, which must be flung into the furnace.
Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.18. dross of silver] In construction “silver” is in apposition with dross. For the figure cf. Isaiah 1:22; Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 6:28-30; Malachi 3:2-3.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.19. midst of Jerusalem] Cf. ch. 24.
As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.22. The figure of the furnace expresses mainly the idea of the terrible trials approaching; it is not intimated that pure silver was obtained from the process. In a prophet toward the end of the exile Jehovah complains that his casting Israel into the furnace had been barren of result, Isaiah 48:10.
Ezekiel 22:23-31. New indictment of all classes of the nation: the royal house, Ezekiel 22:25; the priests, Ezekiel 22:26; the princes, Ezekiel 22:27; the prophets, Ezekiel 22:28, and the people of the land, Ezekiel 22:29. Among all the people not one is found to stand in the breach, therefore his wrath must be poured out upon them to the uttermost.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.24. the land … not cleansed] A land. The words “not cleansed” are parallel to “not rained upon.” In the east, however, raining upon is not a figure for cleansing, but for removing the curse and judgment, and blessing with fertility (Jeremiah 3:3). LXX. has “not wetted by rain” here, which most moderns accept, cf. ch. Ezekiel 34:26; Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:14; 1 Kings 8:35-36.
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.25. conspiracy of her prophets] More probably with LXX., whose princes in the midst of her are like … The prophets are spoken of Ezekiel 22:28. The “princes” are those of the royal house, ch. Ezekiel 19:1, Ezekiel 21:12, Ezekiel 22:6, Ezekiel 45:8-9; those called “princes” in Ezekiel 22:27 are the chiefs or heads of the people.
have taken the treasure] i.e. by violence from others, Jeremiah 20:5.
her many widows] her widows many. Corn, their palaces, cf. ch. Ezekiel 19:7, Jeremiah 22:13-17. The change is unnecessary, Jeremiah 15:8.
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.26. The great influence possessed by the priests in this age appears from the place they occupy next the royal house. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 4:9; Jeremiah 8:1; Jeremiah 13:13; Jeremiah 26:11.
between the holy and profane] ch. Ezekiel 44:23; Jeremiah 15:19; Leviticus 10:10.
Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.27. Her princes] The “princes” here are the chiefs or leaders of the people, cf. Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 36:12.
get dishonest gain] Cf. Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10. The term is used pretty generally, of selfish advantage.
And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.28. have daubed them] daubed for them, seconding them. The persons called “princes” may be referred to, but not exclusively. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 13:10, and Ezekiel 13:6-7.
The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.29. people of the land] The phrase for the common people already, Jeremiah 37:2, and common in Ezekiel 7:27; Ezekiel 12:19, &c. The “people of the land” is certainly subject here, cf. Ezekiel 22:7, ch. Ezekiel 18:12; Jeremiah 23:34; Jeremiah 26:7.
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.30. All classes (Ezekiel 22:25-29) are alike corrupt; a man to stand in the breach in behalf of the people is looked for in vain, cf. Jeremiah 5:1.
For “hedge” better fence, cf. on Ezekiel 13:5. A “man” here is not a man to intercede, but a man to interpose, to stem the tide of ruin and turn the fortunes of the people. The moral energies of the nation were wholly exhausted; it could no more put forth out of itself a saviour to retrieve its fortunes. Cf. Isaiah 59:16, “and he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was none to interpose” (Isaiah 63:5).
Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.31. have I poured] Prophetic perfect; the end is as good as come, Ezekiel 22:3-4. The result of this moral paralysis of the people must be its destruction. In the passages cited from Isaiah, written later and at a different juncture, the Lord himself interposes as saviour, there being none else.