Ezekiel 7
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The prophecy of this chapter is occupied with the nearness and the completeness of the judgment already foretold. It takes the form, to some extent, of a song of lamentation; and is more thoroughly poetic in its structure than anything which has gone before.

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land.
(2) The four corners.—A frequent Scriptural phrase for every part. (Comp. Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1.) The origin of the expression is to be sought, not in any supposed popular belief that the earth was square, but in the fact that so many common things had just four sides or four corners (see Exodus 25:12; Exodus 27:2; Job 1:19; Acts 10:11, &c), that the phrase came naturally to be a common expression of universality. “An end, the end,” is a repetition for the sake of emphasis. It occurs again in Ezekiel 7:6, and, in varied words, also in Ezekiel 7:10; Ezekiel 7:12; Ezekiel 7:26.

Ezekiel 7:3-4 are repeated almost exactly in Ezekiel 7:8-9. The frequent repetitions of this chapter are designed, and give great force to the denunciation of woe. “Thine abominations are in the midst of thee,” in the sense of calling down punishment upon them, as appears from the parallel in Ezekiel 7:9.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come.
(5) An only evil.—That is, an evil so all-embracing as to be complete in itself, and need no repetition. Compare the same thought in Nahum 1:9, “affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Some MSS., and the Chaldee, by the alteration of one letter, read “evil after evil,” as in Ezekiel 7:26.

The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains.
(7) The morning is come unto thee.—The word here used is not the usual one for morning. This word occurs elsewhere only in Ezekiel 7:10 and Isaiah 28:5, where it is translated crown. There is much difference of opinion both as to its derivation and its meaning. The most probable sense is circuit—“the circuit of thy sins is finished, and the end is come upon thee.”

The sounding again of the mountains.—This is again a peculiar word, occurring only here; but it is nearly like and probably has the same meaning as the word in Isaiah 16:10, Jeremiah 25:10, denoting the joyous sounds of the people, especially at harvest-time, filling the land and echoing back from the mountains. Instead of this shall be the tumult (rather the trouble) of the day of war. (See the opposite contrast in Exodus 32:17-18.)

And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.
(9) The Lord that smiteth.—In Ezekiel 7:4 it is only said, “Ye shall know that I am the LORD,” without saying in what respect; here this is specified—they shall know that God is a God of judgment, and that these calamities are from Him.

Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded.
(10) The morning is gone forth.—The same word as in Ezekiel 7:7, and in the same sense—the circle is complete, the end is reached, sin hath brought forth death. “The rod” is commonly understood of the Chaldæan conqueror; but as the word is the same for rod and for tribe, and is very often used in the latter sense, it will be more in accordance with the connection to understand here a play upon the word. There will be then an allusion to the rods of the tribes in Numbers 17:8. There the rod of Aaron was made to bud and blossom by Divine power in evidence of his having been chosen of God; here the rod representing the tribe at Jerusalem in its self-will and pride has budded and blossomed to its destruction. So the description continues in the next verse, “Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness.” Not a rod for the punishment of wickedness; but into a wicked people.

Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.
(11) Neither shall there be wailing for them.—The word for wailing is another of those words occurring only in this passage which have been variously understood. It is now generally taken for that which is glorious or beautiful. Israel has run its circle; prosperity has developed pride, and pride has culminated in all wickedness; now the end has come, they and their tumult (marg., for multitude) disappear together, and of their glory there shall be nothing left.

For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life.
(13) The seller shall not return.—The previous verse described the general cessation of all the business of life in the utter desolation of the land. Among the Israelites the most important buying and selling was that of land, and it was provided in the law (Leviticus 25:14-16) that this should in no case extend beyond the year of jubilee, when all land must revert to its possessor by inheritance. The seller in that year should return to his possession. Now it is foretold that the desolation shall continue so long that, even if the seller lived, he should be unable to avail himself of the jubilee year. “It is a natural thing to rejoice in the purchase of property, and to mourn over its sale, but when slavery and captivity stare you in the face, rejoicing and mourning are equally absurd” (S. Jerome). The idea of the latter part of the verse is, that no one shall grow strong since his life is passed in iniquity.

They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.
(14) None goeth to the battle.—The last thought is followed up here. The people are so enfeebled by their sins as to have no power against the enemy. Consequently (Ezekiel 7:15) they shall all perish, directly or indirectly, at the hands of their foes.

But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.
(16) Like doves of the valleys.—To this general destruction there will be exceptions, as generally in war there are fugitives and captives; but these, like doves whose home is in the valleys driven by fear to the mountains, shall mourn in their exile. In the mourning “every one for his iniquity,” iniquity is to be understood in the sense of the punishment for iniquity; the thought of repentance is not here brought forward. Their utter discouragement and feebleness and grief are further described in Ezekiel 7:17-18.

They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.
(19) Cast their silver in the streets.—As in the rout of an army the soldier throws away everything, even his most valuable things, as impediments to his flight and temptations to the pursuing enemy, so the Israelites in their terror should abandon everything. Their riches will be utterly unavailing. The expression in the original is even stronger: their gold shall be to them “an unclean thing,” “filth,” because they shall perceive that it has been to them an occasion of sin.

As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them.
(20) In majesty.—Rather, for pride. That which had been given them “for the beauty of ornament,” viz., their silver and gold (Ezekiel 7:19), they had perverted to purposes of pride. Nay, further, they had even made their idols of it; therefore God “set it far from them.” The same strong word is used here as in Ezekiel 7:19 = made it filth unto them. The singular and plural pronouns, “he,” “his,” “they,” “their,” “them,” all alike refer to the people.

My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.
(22) My secret place.—The holy of holies, sacredly guarded from all intrusion, and representing the very culmination both of the religion and of the national life of Israel, shall be polluted. If the pronoun “they” represents any one in particular, it must be the Chaldæans; but it is better to take the verb, as often in the third person plural, impersonally, i.e., “shall be polluted.” The agents in this pollution are immediately mentioned as “the robbers,” i.e., the Chaldæan armies.

Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.
(23) Make a chain.—In the midst of this plain prophecy the strong tendency of the prophet’s mind still runs to the symbolic act; but this can be thought of here only as done in word. The chain is to bind captive the guilty people.

Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled.
(24) Worst of the heathen.Worst refers to the power and thoroughness of their work against the Israelites. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:49-50; also Leviticus 26:19, where the word here rendered “pomp of the strong” is translated “pride of power.”) Both passages are the warnings, long ages ago, of the judgments now declared to be close at hand. “Their holy places;” no longer God’s, since He has abandoned them for the sin of the people. (See Ezekiel 11:23.)

Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none.
(25) Destruction cometh.—This is another of the peculiar words occurring only in this chapter. It is generally explained of the dismay and horror accompanying great judgments, and vividly described by our Lord as “men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Luke 21:26).

Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.
(26) Then shall they seek a vision.—Comp. Ezekiel 20:1-3. The three chief sources of counsel, the prophets, the priests, and the elders, are all represented as applied to in vain. God had forsaken the people who had rejected Him. (Comp. Proverbs 1:28, and the story of Saul’s despair at his abandonment by God, 1Samuel 28:15.) In the following verse the trouble is described as affecting all classes alike, the king, the prince, and the people of the land, and, further, as being the fitting consequence and retribution of their own chosen way.

Here closes the first series of Ezekiel’s prophecies, extending from the beginning of the fourth to the end of the seventh chapter. They were all uttered within the period of a year and two months. Like the following series (Ezekiel 8-19), they begin with a remarkable series of symbolic acts, or rather of descriptions of such acts, and are continued by plain prophecies. Ezekiel and his fellow-captives had now been between five and six years in exile, and they still looked to Jerusalem and the Temple as their pride and the strength of their nation, and doubtless many of them hoped to be able to return there to lead again their former lives. There could be no hope of affecting a thorough and lasting reformation among the people except by utterly dashing these hopes to the ground, and showing that the people must be led to repentance through a thorough humiliation and heavy punishment. Such is the purpose of these prophecies, and it is carried out with extraordinary vigour and power of language.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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