Ezekiel 11:15
Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, the men of your kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: to us is this land given in possession.
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(15) Thy brethren—i.e., those who were with Ezekiel in the Captivity. The expression is made emphatic by repetition, and by the addition, “men of thy kindred.” The people remaining in Jerusalem, with arrogant confidence in themselves, and without sympathy for the exiles, had said to them, by words and by deeds, “We are holier than you; we dwell in the chosen city, we have the Temple, the appointed priesthood and sacrifices, and we have in possession the land of the Church of God; you are outcasts.” The prophet is taught that these despised exiles, deprived of so many privileges, are yet his true brethren, and that he is to regard these as his true kindred rather than the corrupt priests at Jerusalem. In this word there is an allusion to the office of Göel, the next of kin, whose duty it was in every way to assist his impoverished or unfortunate kinsman. Still further, these exiles are called “all the house of Israel wholly; “the others, not these, are cast out, and God will make His people from those who are now undergoing His purifying chastisement. This contrast is carried out in the following verses.

11:14-21 The pious captives in Babylon were insulted by the Jews who continued in Jerusalem; but God made gracious promises to them. It is promised, that God will give them one heart; a heart firmly fixed for God, and not wavering. All who are made holy have a new spirit, a new temper and dispositions; they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, or a new face, will not serve without a new spirit. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The carnal heart, like a stone, cannot be made to feel. Men live among the dead and dying, and are neither concerned nor humbled. He will make their hearts tender and fit to receive impressions: this is God's work, it is his gift by promise; and a wonderful and happy change is wrought by it, from death to life. Their practices shall be agreeable to those principles. These two must and will go together. When the sinner feels his need of these blessings, let him present the promises as prayers in the name of Christ, they will be performed.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. 15. thy brethren … brethren—The repetition implies, "Thy real brethren" are no longer the priests at Jerusalem with whom thou art connected by the natural ties of blood and common temple service, but thy fellow exiles on the Chebar, and the house of Israel whosoever of them belong to the remnant to be spared.

men of thy kindred—literally, "of thy redemption," that is, the nearest relatives, whose duty it was to do the part of Goel, or vindicator and redeemer of a forfeited inheritance (Le 25:25). Ezekiel, seeing the priesthood doomed to destruction, as a priest, felt anxious to vindicate their cause, as if they were his nearest kinsmen and he their Goel. But he is told to look for his true kinsmen in those, his fellow exiles, whom his natural kinsmen at Jerusalem despised, and he is to be their vindicator. Spiritual ties, as in the case of Levi (De 33:9), the type of Messiah (Mt 12:47-50) are to supersede natural ones where the two clash. The hope of better days was to rise from the despised exiles. The gospel principle is shadowed forth here, that the despised of men are often the chosen of God and the highly esteemed among men are often an abomination before Him (Lu 16:15; 1Co 1:26-28). "No door of hope but in the valley of Achor" ("trouble," Ho 2:15), [Fairbairn].

Get you far … unto us is this land—the contemptuous words of those left still in the city at the carrying away of Jeconiah to the exiles, "However far ye be outcasts from the Lord and His temple, we are secure in our possession of the land."

Song of Solomon of man: see Ezekiel 2:1.

Thy brethren; thy nearest kindred, which it seems were left in Jerusalem, and were grown as bad as the rest, though theirs were of a priestly lineage. Their degeneracy and unjust censure is more noted in the repetition of the word brethren.

Of thy kindred; of the same parentage, to whom thou hadst right of redemption, if either their person or estate was to be sold; men who should have been as tender in affection as they were near in blood.

All the house of Israel; all that are now in captivity, be they more or less, of whatsoever condition and rank, these are the men of whom the Jerusalemites speak.

Have said; that is, censure and condemn as greatest sinners, and unworthy longer to dwell in the holy land, and tacitly infer that they were better, and should be safer now they were rid of them.

Get you far from the Lord; ye, or they, are gone far from the Lord; you are apostates, or irreligious, a company of backsliders: much as the heathens accused the Christians of atheism.

Unto us; who keep to the temple and holy city, and have not yielded to the Babylonish tyranny, who stand for our ancient privileges, are not, as you, betrayers of our country: thus you may suppose they boast.

This land; promised, holy, blest land, Canaan, where our fathers dwelt. This land is ours.

Given in possession; we shall never be put out of possession, but still it shall be our inheritance. Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred,.... Or, "of thy redemption" (l); to whom the right of redemption of his lands and possessions belonged, as it did to those that were next akin. The Septuagint, by a mistake of the word, render it, "the men of thy captivity"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions, following them. It is true those were his fellow captives who are here meant; some of them that were carried captive were his brethren by blood, and all by nation and religion; and these phrases, and the repetition, of them, are designed not only to excite the prophet's attention to, and to assure them of what is after declared; but to take off his concern for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who had used his brethren ill, and to turn his thoughts and affections towards his friends in Chaldea. Kimchi thinks that these three expressions refer to three captivities; the captivity of the children of Gad and Reuben; the captivity of Samaria, or the ten tribes; and the captivity of Jehoiachin. It follows,

and all the house of Israel wholly are they; or,

"all the house of Israel, all of them,''

as the Targum; that is, all the whole house of Israel. The Septuagint render it, "all the house of Israel is made an end of"; the Syriac version, "shall be blotted out"; and the Arabic version, "shall be cut off"; all wrong; since these words are not a threatening to the ten tribes, or those of the Jews in captivity, for all that follows is in favour of them; but only point at the persons the prophet is turned unto, and who are the subject of the following discourse. A colon, or at least a semicolon, should be here put; since the accent "athnach" is upon the last word;

unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, get ye far from the Lord; Kimchi interprets it, from the land of the Lord, the holy land; they being carried captive into a foreign country. The Targum is,

"from the fear of the Lord;''

the worship of the Lord; they being at a distance from the temple, and the service of it. These words are an insult of the inhabitants of Jerusalem upon the captives, suggesting that they were great sinners, and for their sins were taken away from their own land, and carried to Babylon; and that they deserved to be excommunicated from the house and people of God, and were so; and indeed this is a kind of a form of excommunication of them:

unto us is this land given in possession; you have forfeited your right to it, and are disinherited; we are sole heirs, and in the possession of it, and shall ever continue in it. The Syriac version reads this and the preceding clause as if they were the word of the Israelites to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, thus;

"because they said to them, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, depart from the Lord, for unto us is given this land for an inheritance.''

The Arabic version indeed makes them to be the words of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but render the last clause thus; "to you" (that is, "the Israelites") "is given the land for an inheritance".

(l) "viri redemptionis tua", Montanus, Heb. "viri redempturae tuae", Piscator.

Son of man, thy {g} brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Retire far from the LORD: to us is this land given in possession.

(g) They that remained at Jerusalem thus reproached them that were gone into captivity as though they were cast off and forsaken by God.

15. the men of thy kindred] Lit. the men of thy redemption. This could only mean, the men to be redeemed, or delivered, by thy intercession—the men for whom thou shouldst pray. Such a sense is difficult to draw from the words. In usage the term has not the meaning of “kindred.” Probably the word should be so read as to mean “exile”—the men of thy exile, i.e. thy fellow captives.

are they unto whom] It is better to regard the first words in the verse down to “wholly” as exclamations: “thy brethren, thy brethren, thy fellow exiles, and all the house of Israel, all of it! they unto whom …” The sentence is not strictly grammatical, but the exclamations give an answer to the prophet’s anxious question, “wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (Ezekiel 11:13). The destruction of them of Jerusalem is no full end; the fellow-exiles of the prophet and all the house of Israel scattered abroad (ch. Ezekiel 4:4, Ezekiel 36:16) remain. The second half of the verse is loosely attached to the first—they to whom, &c.

Get ye far from the Lord] A slight alteration in a point would give the sense: of whom … have said (say), They are far from the Lord. The change is hardly necessary. Those left were in possession of the temple, the abode of Jehovah, and had the assurance of his presence, in which those gone forth had no part, for to go into a foreign land was to come under the dominion of other gods, according to the words of David, “For they have driven me out this day from having part in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go serve other gods” (1 Samuel 26:19, cf. Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 28:36; Deuteronomy 28:64; Jeremiah 16:13; Hosea 9:3). See ch. Ezekiel 8:12, Ezekiel 9:9, for the expression of a different mood of feeling.

is this land given] is the land. Comp. the expression of similar pretensions, ch. Ezekiel 33:24.

16 seq. Answer of Jehovah. It is true he has scattered the exiles among the nations; but he will again gather them.Verse 15. - The men of thy kindred, etc. The full force of the phrase can hardly be understood without remembering that the word for "kindred" implies the function and office of a goel, the redeemer and avenger of those among his relations who had suffered wrong (Leviticus 25:25, 48; Numbers 5:8), and the point of the revelation is that Ezekiel is to find those who have this claim on him, his true "brethren," not only or chiefly in his natural relations in the priesthood, but in the companions of his exile (the LXX., following a different reading, gives, "the men of the Captivity"), and the whole house of Israel, who were in a like position, who were condemned by those who had been left in Jerusalem. As in Jeremiah's vision (Jeremiah 24:1), they were the "good figs;" those in the city, the vile and worthless. They were the remnant, the residue, for whom there was a hope of better things. They were despised as far off from the Lord. They were really nearer to his presence than those who worshipped in the temple from which Jehovah had departed. Ewald and Smend take the words as indicative: "Ye are far," etc. Judgment upon the rulers of the nation. - Ezekiel 11:1. And a wind lifted me up, and took me to the eastern gate of the house of Jehovah, which faces towards the east; and behold, at the entrance of the gate were five and twenty men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, the chiefs of the nation. Ezekiel 11:2. And he said to me: Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity, and counsel evil counsel in this city; Ezekiel 11:3. Who say, It is not near to build houses; it is the pot, and we are the flesh. Ezekiel 11:4. Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man. - Ezekiel is once more transported from the inner court (Ezekiel 8:16) to the outer entrance of the eastern gate of the temple (תּשּׂא רוּח, as in Ezekiel 8:3), to which, according to Ezekiel 10:19, the vision of God had removed. There he sees twenty-five men, and among them two of the princes of the nation, whose names are given. These twenty-five men are not identical with the twenty-five priests mentioned in Ezekiel 8:16, as Hvernick supposes. This is evident, not only from the difference in the locality, the priests standing between the porch and the altar, whereas the men referred to here stood at the outer eastern entrance to the court of the temple, but from the fact that the two who are mentioned by name are called שׂרי העם (princes of the people), so that we may probably infer from this that all the twenty-five were secular chiefs. Hvernick's opinion, that שׂרי העם is a term that may also be applied to princes among the priests, is as erroneous as his assertion that the priest-princes are called "princes" in Ezra 8:20; Nehemiah 10:1, and Jeremiah 35:4, whereas it is only to national princes that these passages refer. Hvernick is equally incorrect in supposing that these twenty-five men take the place of the seventy mentioned in Ezekiel 8:11; for those seventy represented the whole of the nation, whereas these twenty-five (according to Ezekiel 11:2) were simply the counsellors of the city - not, however, the twenty-four duces of twenty-four divisions of the city, with a prince of the house of Judah, as Prado maintains, on the strength of certain Rabbinical assertions; or twenty-four members of a Sanhedrim, with their president (Rosenmller); but the twelve tribe-princes (princes of the nation) and the twelve royal officers, or military commanders (1 Chronicles 27), with the king himself, or possibly with the commander-in-chief of the army; so that these twenty-five men represent the civil government of Israel, just as the twenty-four priest-princes, together with the high priest, represent the spiritual authorities of the covenant nation. The reason why two are specially mentioned by name is involved in obscurity, as nothing further is known of either of these persons. The words of God to the prophet in Ezekiel 11:2 concerning them are perfectly applicable to representatives of the civil authorities or temporal rulers, namely, that they devise and give unwholesome and evil counsel. This counsel is described in Ezekiel 11:3 by the words placed in their mouths: "house-building is not near; it (the city) is the caldron, we are the flesh."

These words are difficult, and different interpretations have consequently been given. The rendering, "it (the judgment) is not near, let us build houses," is incorrect; for the infinitive construct בּנות cannot stand for the imperative or the infinitive absolute, but must be the subject of the sentence. It is inadmissible also to take the sentence as a question, "Is not house-building near?" in the sense of "it is certainly near," as Ewald does, after some of the ancient versions. For even if an interrogation is sometimes indicated simply by the tone in an energetic address, as, for example, in 2 Samuel 23:5, this cannot be extended to cases in which the words of another are quoted. Still less can לא בקרוב mean non est tempus, it is not yet time, as Maurer supposes. The only way in which the words can be made to yield a sense in harmony with the context, is by taking them as a tacit allusion to Jeremiah 29:5. Jeremiah had called upon those in exile to build themselves houses in their banishment, and prepare for a lengthened stay in Babylon, and not to allow themselves to be deceived by the words of false prophets, who predicted a speedy return; for severe judgments had yet to fall upon those who had remained behind in the land. This word of Jeremiah the authorities in Jerusalem ridiculed, saying "house-building is not near," i.e., the house-building in exile is still a long way off; it will not come to this, that Jerusalem should fall either permanently or entirely into the hands of the king of Babylon. On the contrary, Jerusalem is the pot, and we, its inhabitants, are the flesh. The point of comparison is this: as the pot protects the flesh from burning, so does the city of Jerusalem protect us from destruction.

(Note: "This city is a pot, our receptacle and defence, and we are the flesh enclosed therein; as flesh is preserved in its caldron till it is perfectly boiled, so shall we continue here till an extreme old age." - Hlsemann in CaloV. Bibl. Illustr.)

On the other hand, there is no foundation for the assumption that the words also contain an allusion to other sayings of Jeremiah, namely, to Jeremiah 1:13, where the judgment about to burst in from the north is represented under the figure of a smoking pot; or to Jeremiah 19:1-15, where Jerusalem is depicted as a pot about to be broken in pieces by God; for the reference in Jeremiah 19:1-15 is simply to an earthen pitcher, not to a meat-caldron; and the words in the verse before us have nothing at all in common with the figure in Jeremiah 1:13. The correctness of our explanation is evident both from Ezekiel 24:3, Ezekiel 24:6, where the figure of pot and flesh is met with again, though differently applied, and from the reply which Ezekiel makes to the saying of these men in the verses that follow (Ezekiel 11:7-11). This saying expresses not only false confidence in the strength of Jerusalem, but also contempt and scorn of the predictions of the prophets sent by God. Ezekiel is therefore to prophesy, as he does in Ezekiel 11:5-12, against this pernicious counsel, which is confirming the people in their sins.

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