Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me to the east gate of the LORD's house, which looks 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house.—This is the same place, the main outer entrance to the whole Temple enclosure, to which the prophet had seen the cherubim go (Ezekiel 10:19). It is not expressly said where he was brought from; but the last place mentioned was the court of the priests (Ezekiel 8:16), and so far the vision appears to be consecutive. Standing in that innermost court, he had seen the Divine presence go forth to the outer entrance; and he also is now transported thither.
Here he sees twenty-five men, the same number whom he had seen worshipping the sun in the inner court. They appear, however, to have been priests, while these seem to be secular leaders. Hence they are generally supposed to be a different set of men. It is nevertheless by no means impossible that they may be the same idolatrous priests, who, by prostituting their holy office to idolatry, gained an ascendancy over a sinful people. Otherwise, the number twenty-five may represent the king, with two princes from each of the twelve tribes; or is possibly a number without any other especial significance than as representing a considerable array of the most prominent people of the nation. Two of these are mentioned by name. If the Jaazaniah here is the same with the Jaazaniah of Ezekiel 8:11, it settles the point that the men here are not to be understood of the priests, since he there represented a different class (see Note on Ezekiel 8:11). The names are significant: Jaazaniah = Jehovah hears, son of Azur = the helper; Pelatiah = God rescues, son of Benaiah =Jehovah builds. Names of this sort were common enough among the Jews, but they seem here intended to bring out the false hopes with which the people beguiled themselves; and in view of this, the sudden death of Pelatiah (verse. 13) was particularly impressive. These princes were active in misleading the people to their destruction.Ezekiel 11:1-3. Moreover the spirit lifted me up — It seems it should rather have been rendered, And the spirit had lifted me up, for here he appears to go back to speak about those twenty-five men of whom he made mention Ezekiel 7:16, but had broken off from speaking of them to speak of things of greater importance; but he now returns to them again. And brought me unto the east gate — Caused me to see those parts in my vision just as if I had been there. And behold at the door five and twenty men — The same who are represented in Ezekiel 8:16, as worshipping the sun. They were princes of the people — That is, most probably, members of the great sanhedrim: compare Jeremiah 26:10. Among whom I saw Pelatiah, &c. — Named here for that dreadful, sudden death, whereby he became a warning to others. Then said he unto me — Namely, the divine appearance which was before my eyes. These are the men that give wicked counsel — They probably advised and encouraged the people to use the Chaldean rites of worship, in order to please and gain the favour of that nation. Or, they persuaded the Jews that they had no reason to fear future trouble or mischief from the Chaldeans, and therefore rendered them secure in their sins. Which say, It is not near — The threatened danger and ruin by the Chaldeans. These were such as put the evil day far from them, as is said Amos 6:3, and so went on securely in building houses, and making such like improvements. This city is the caldron, and we be the flesh — Jeremiah had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem under the figure of a seething-pot, or caldron, Jeremiah 1:13. And Ezekiel himself uses the same metaphor, Ezekiel 24:3-4, &c. So these scoffers made use of the same expression on purpose to deride the menaces of the prophets; as if they had said, If this city be a caldron, we are well content to be the flesh that is boiled in it. “We will share all fates with her, we will either be preserved or perish with her.” So Michaelis, who thinks the words are a proverb.
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.
Eze 11:1-25. Prophecy of the Destruction of the Corrupt "Princes of the People;" Pelatiah Dies; Promise of Grace to the Believing Remnant; Departure of the Glory of God from the City; Ezekiel's Return to the Captives.
1. east gate—to which the glory of God had moved itself (Eze 10:19), the chief entrance of the sanctuary; the portico or porch of Solomon. The Spirit moves the prophet thither, to witness, in the presence of the divine glory, a new scene of destruction.
five and twenty men—The same as the twenty-five (that is, twenty-four heads of courses, and the high priest) sun-worshippers seen in Eze 8:16. The leading priests were usually called "princes of the sanctuary" (Isa 43:28) and "chiefs of the priests" (2Ch 36:14); but here two of them are called "princes of the people," with irony, as using their priestly influence to be ringleaders of the people in sin (Eze 11:2). Already the wrath of God had visited the people represented by the elders (Eze 9:6); also the glory of the Lord had left its place in the holy of holies, and, like the cherubim and flaming sword in Eden, had occupied the gate into the deserted sanctuary. The judgment on the representatives of the priesthood naturally follows here, just as the sin of the priests had followed in the description (Eze 8:12, 16) after the sin of the elders.
Jaazaniah—signifying "God hears."
son of Azur—different from Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan (Eze 8:11). Azur means "help." He and Pelatiah ("God delivers"), son of Benaiah ("God builds"), are singled out as Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, in the case of the seventy elders (Eze 8:11, 12), because their names ought to have reminded them that "God" would have "heard" had they sought His "help" to "deliver" and "build" them up. But, neglecting this, they incurred the heavier judgment by the very relation in which they stood to God [Fairbairn].Ezekiel is showed the presumption of the princes of Judah, Ezekiel 11:1-3. He declareth their sin, and the manner of their punishment, Ezekiel 11:4-12. He is terrified at the sudden death of Pelatiah, Ezekiel 11:13. God showeth him his purpose of restoring the captives with favour, and of punishing the idolaters, Ezekiel 11:14-21. The glory of God leaveth the city, Ezekiel 11:22,23. Ezekiel, carried back by the Spirit, prophesieth to them of the captivity, Ezekiel 11:24,25.
and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord's house, which looketh eastward; where were the cherubim, and the wheels, and the glory of God above them, Ezekiel 10:19;
and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; not the same as in Ezekiel 8:16; for they were in a different place, between the porch and the altar; and about different service, they were worshipping there; and seem to be men of a different order, priests; whereas these were at the door of the eastern gate, sitting as a court of judicature, and were civil magistrates; though Jarchi and Kimchi take them to be the same. Some say Jerusalem was divided into twenty four parishes, districts, or wards, and everyone had its own head, ruler, and governor; and that there was one who was the president over them all, like the mayor and aldermen of a city;
among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur; not the same that is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:11; he was the son of Shaphan, this of Azur; he was one of the seventy of the ancients of Israel, this one of the twenty five heads or rulers of the people; he seems to have been a prince; by having a censer in his hand, this was a priest: the Septuagint and Arabic versions call him Jechoniah:
and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah; these two are mentioned by name, as being principal men, and well known by the prophet; and the latter is observed more especially for what befell him, hereafter related:
princes of the people; men who were entrusted with power and authority to exercise the laws of the nation; and who should have been reformers of the people, and ought to have given them good advice, and set them good examples; whereas they were the reverse, as follows: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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1–12. The men that plot evil
1. The gate referred to is the outer eastern gate; the position taken up by the cherubim and glory was outside the temple precincts wholly. Jaazaniah and Pelatiah are named “princes of the people.” Possibly they were more prominent members of the ruling party. It is the manner of the prophet to introduce elements of reality into his symbolical pictures (cf. ch. Ezekiel 24:16 seq.), and it is unnecessary to regard these two personages as fictitious or seek for some symbolical meaning in their names. A different Jaazaniah was mentioned in ch. Ezekiel 8:11. The twenty-five men here are not to be identified with those in ch. Ezekiel 8:16; they are rulers and leaders of the people (Ezekiel 11:2).Verse 1. - Moreover the Spirit lifted me up, etc. It is noticeable that the position to which Ezekiel was thus transported in his vision from his place in the inner court (Ezekiel 8:14), was identical with that which he had just seen occupied by the cherub chariot before its departure (Ezekiel 10:19). What he is about to see will throw light on the significance of their departure. The gate is probably, here as there, that of the court of the temple. Five and twenty men. The number at first reminds us of the worshippers of the sun, in Ezekiel 8:16; but that, as we saw, was probably a company of priests. On the other hand, the two who are named are styled princes of the people, which suggests a lay rather than a priestly status, and they are seen in a different locality. Conjectures as to the significance of the number vary.
(1) Two from each tribe of Israel, with the king at their head.
(2) Two from each of the twelve divisions of the army, each containing twenty-four thousand men (1 Chronicles 27:1-15).
(3) Representatives of twelve regions of the city - a kind of municipal council, with their president. Possibly, after all, the number was used more or less vaguely - a "round" number, as we say (Smend). It is probably safe, however, to think of them as representing the lay element of authority. Nothing is known further as to the persons named. Jaazaniah is distinguished by his parentage from his namesake of Ezekiel 8:11 and Jeremiah 35:3. Both were probably familiar to those for whom Ezekiel wrote, as leaders of the party that was "always devising mischief," in opposition, i.e., to Jeremiah and the true prophets. Possibly the meanings of the names Jaazaniah (equivalent to "God hearkens") the son of Azur (equivalent to "The Helper"), Pelatiah (equivalent to "God rescues") the son of Benaiah (equivalent to "God builds"), are chosen as with a grim irony. The name of Azur meets us in Jeremiah 28:1 as that of the father of the false prophet Hananiah. The death of Pelatiah was probably an historical event to which the prophet pointed as a warning to those who, either at Jerusalem or among the exiles, were speaking as he spoke.
Ezekiel 10:9. And I saw, and behold four wheels by the side of the cherubim, one wheel by the side of every cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like the look of a chrysolith stone. Ezekiel 10:10. And as for their appearance, they had all four one form, as if one wheel were in the midst of the other. Ezekiel 10:11. When they went, they went to their four sides; they did not turn in going; for to the place to which the head was directed, to that they went; they did not turn in their going. Ezekiel 10:12. And their whole body, and their back, and their hands, and their wings, and wheels, were full of eyes round about: by all four their wheels. Ezekiel 10:13. To the wheels, to them was called, "whirl!" in my hearing. Ezekiel 10:14. And every one had four faces; the face of the first was the face of the cherub, the face of the second a man's face, and the third a lion's face, and the fourth an eagle's face. Ezekiel 10:15. And the cherubim ascended. This was the being which I saw by the river Chebar. Ezekiel 10:16. And when the cherubim went, the wheels went by them; and when the cherubim raised their wings to ascend from the earth, the wheels also did not turn from their side. Ezekiel 10:17. When those stood, they stood; and when those ascended, they ascended with them; for the spirit of the being was in them. Ezekiel 10:18.; And the glory of Jehovah went out from the threshold of the house, and stood above the cherubim. Ezekiel 10:19. And the cherubim raised their wings, and ascended from the earth before my eyes on their going out, and the wheels beside them; and they stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the house of Jehovah; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. Ezekiel 10:20. This was the being which I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar, and I perceived that they were cherubim. Ezekiel 10:21. Every one had four faces, each and every one four wings, and something like a man's hands under their wings. Ezekiel 10:22. And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the faces which I had seen by the river Chebar, their appearance and they themselves. They went every one according to its face. - With the words "I saw, and behold," a new feature in the vision is introduced. The description of the appearance of the cherubim in these verses coincides for the most part verbatim with the account of the theophany in Ezekiel 1. It differs from this, however, not only in the altered arrangement of the several features, and in the introduction of certain points which serve to complete the former account; but still more in the insertion of a number of narrative sentence, which show that we have not merely a repetition of the first chapter here. On the contrary, Ezekiel is now describing the moving of the appearance of the glory of Jehovah from the inner court or porch of the temple to the outer entrance of the eastern gate of the outer court; in other words, the departure of the gracious presence of the Lord from the temple: and in order to point out more distinctly the importance and meaning of this event, he depicts once more the leading features of the theophany itself. The narrative sentences are found in Ezekiel 10:13, Ezekiel 10:15, Ezekiel 10:18, and Ezekiel 10:19. In Ezekiel 10:13 we have the exclamation addressed to the wheels by the side of the cherubim to set themselves in motion; in Ezekiel 10:15, the statement that the cherubim ascended; and in Ezekiel 10:18 and Ezekiel 10:19, the account of the departure of the glory of the Lord from the inner portion of the temple. To this we may add the repeated remark, that the appearance was the same as that which the prophet had seen by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 10:15, Ezekiel 10:20, Ezekiel 10:22). To bring clearly out to view both the independence of these divine manifestations and their significance to Israel, Ezekiel repeats the leading features of the former description; but while doing this, he either makes them subordinate to the thoughts expressed in the narrative sentences, or places them first as introductory to these, or lets them follow as explanatory. Thus, for example, the description of the wheels, and of the manner in which they moved (Ezekiel 10:9-12), serves both to introduce and explain the call to the wheels to set themselves in motion. The description of the wheels in Ezekiel 10:9-11 harmonizes with Ezekiel 1:16 and Ezekiel 1:17, with this exception, however, that certain points are given with greater exactness here; such, for example, as the statement that the movements of the wheels were so regulated, that in whichever direction the front one turned, the other did the same. הראשׁ, the head, is not the head-wheel, or the wheel which was always the first to move, but the front one, which originated the motion, drawing the others after it and determining their direction. For Ezekiel 10:12 and the fact that the wheels were covered with eyes, see Ezekiel 1:18. In Ezekiel 10:12 we have the important addition, that the whole of the body and back, as well as the hands and wings, of the cherubim were full of eyes. There is all the less reason to question this addition, or remove it (as Hitzig does) by an arbitrary erasure, inasmuch as the statement itself is apparently in perfect harmony with the whole procedure; and the significance possessed by the eyes in relation to the wheels was not only appropriate in the case of the cherubim, but necessarily to be assumed in such a connection. The fact that the suffixes in בּשׂרם, גּבּהם, etc., refer to the cherubim, is obvious enough, if we consider that the wheels to which immediate reference is made were by the side of the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:9), and that the cherubim formed the principal feature in the whole of the vision.
Ezekiel 10:13 does not point back to Ezekiel 10:2, and bring the description of the wheel-work to a close, as Hitzig supposes. This assumption, by which the meaning of the whole description has been obscured, is based upon the untenable rendering, "and the wheels they named before my ears whirl" (J. D. Mich., Ros., etc.). Hvernick has already pointed out the objection to this, namely, that with such a rendering בּאזני forms an unmeaning addition; whereas it is precisely this addition which shows that קרא is used here in the sense of addressing, calling, and not of naming. One called to the wheels הגּלגּל, whirl; i.e., they were to verify their name galgal, viz., to revolve or whirl, to set themselves in motion by revolving. This is the explanation given by Theodoret: ἀνακυκλεῖσθαι καὶ ἀνακινεῖσθαι προσετάχθησαν. These words therefore gave the signal for their departure, and accordingly the rising up of the cherubim is related in Ezekiel 10:15. Ezekiel 10:14 prepares the way for their ascent by mentioning the four faces of each cherub; and this is still further expanded in Ezekiel 10:16 and Ezekiel 10:17, by the statement that the wheels moved according to the movements of the cherubim. לאחד without an article is used distributively (every one), as in Ezekiel 1:6 and Ezekiel 1:10. The fact that in the description which follows only one face of each of the four cherubs is given, is not at variance with Ezekiel 1:10, according to which every one of the cherubs had the four faces named. It was not Ezekiel's intention to mention all the faces of each cherub here, as he had done before; but he regarded it as sufficient in the case of each cherub to mention simply the one face, which was turned toward him. The only striking feature which still remains is the statement that the face of the one, i.e., of the first, was the face of the cherub instead of the face of an ox (cf. Ezekiel 1:10), since the faces of the man, the lion, and the eagle were also cherubs' faces. We may, no doubt, get rid of the difficulty by altering the text, but this will not solve it; for it would still remain inexplicable how הכּרוּב could have grown out of שׁור by a copyist's error; and still more, how such an error, which might have been so easily seen and corrected, could have been not only perpetuated, but generally adopted. Moreover, we have the article in הכּרוּב, which would also be inexplicable if the word had originated in an oversight, and which gives us precisely the index required to the correct solution of the difficulty, showing as it does that it was not merely a cherub's face, but the face of the cherub, so that the allusion is to one particular cherub, who was either well known from what had gone before, or occupied a more prominent position than the rest. Such a cherub is the one mentioned in Ezekiel 10:7, who had taken the coals from the fire between the wheels, and stood nearest to Ezekiel. There did not appear to be any necessity to describe his face more exactly, as it could be easily seen from a comparison with Ezekiel 1:10. - In Ezekiel 10:15, the fact that the cherubim arose to depart from their place is followed by the remark that the cherubic figure was the being (החיּה, singular, as in Ezekiel 1:22) which Ezekiel saw by the Chaboras, because it was a matter of importance that the identity of the two theophanies should be established as a help to the correct understanding of their real signification. But before the departure of the theophany from the temple is related, there follows in Ezekiel 10:16 and Ezekiel 10:17 a repetition of the circumstantial description of the harmonious movements of the wheels and the cherubim (cf. Ezekiel 1:19-21); and then, in Ezekiel 10:18, the statement which had such practical significance, that the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple, and resumed the throne above the cherubim; and lastly, the account in Ezekiel 10:19, that the glory of the God of Israel, seated upon this throne, took up its position at the entrance of the eastern gate of the temple. The entrance of this gate is not the gate of the temple, but the outer side of the eastern gate of the outer court, which formed the principal entrance to the whole of the temple-space. The expression "God of Israel" instead of "Jehovah" is significant, and is used to intimate that God, as the covenant God, withdrew His gracious presence from the people of Israel by this departure from the temple; not, indeed, from the whole of the covenant nation, but from the rebellious Israel which dwelt in Jerusalem and Judah; for the same glory of God which left the temple in the vision before the eyes of Ezekiel had appeared to the prophet by the river Chebar, and by calling him to be the prophet for Israel, had shown Himself to be the God who kept His covenant, and proved that, by the judgment upon the corrupt generation, He simply desired to exterminate its ungodly nature, and create for Himself a new and holy people. This is the meaning of the remark which is repeated in Ezekiel 10:20-22, that the apparition which left the temple was the same being as Ezekiel had seen by the Chaboras, and that he recognised the beings under the throne as cherubim.
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