Ezekiel 11:3
Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) It is not near; let us build houses. -Neither the text nor the marginal reading of the Authorised Version quite accurately represent the original. The expression is literally not near to build houses; and it is to be explained by the prophecy and narrative of Jeremiah 29. After the 10,000 (among whom was Ezekiel) had been carried captive—and apparently shortly after—Jeremiah had sent word to the captives to build houses and make themselves comfortable. because the captivity would be long (Ezekiel 11:5-10). This greatly offended the captives; and Shemaiah, a false prophet among them, had consequently sent letters to Jerusalem asking that Jeremiah might be punished for thus prophesying (Ezekiel 11:24-25). The princes of the people now appear in Ezekiel’s vision as taking up this prophecy of Jeremiah’s and contradicting it: “this need of building houses for a long captivity is not near!” In Ezekiel 7:2-3; Ezekiel 7:12; Ezekiel 12:23, Ezekiel expressly declares that it is very near. The princes further confirmed the people in their fancied security by comparing the city to a caldron, the strong walls of which should protect the flesh within it, i.e., the people, from the fire of all hostile attack. In the prophecy of Ezekiel 24:6 this figure is taken up, and a very different application given to it; it is also turned against them immediately in Ezekiel 11:7. In consequence of this attitude and these sayings of the princes, the prophecy of Ezekiel 11:5-12 is now directed against them.

11:1-13 Where Satan cannot persuade men to look upon the judgment to come as uncertain, he gains his point by persuading them to look upon it as at a distance. These wretched rulers dare to say, We are as safe in this city as flesh in a boiling pot; the walls of the city shall be to us as walls of brass, we shall receive no more damage from the besiegers than the caldron does from the fire. When sinners flatter themselves to their own ruin, it is time to tell them they shall have no peace if they go on. None shall remain in possession of the city but those who are buried in it. Those are least safe who are most secure. God is often pleased to single out some sinners for warning to others. Whether Pelatiah died at that time in Jerusalem, or when the fulfilment of the prophecy drew near, is uncertain. Like Ezekiel, we ought to be much affected with the sudden death of others, and we should still plead with the Lord to have mercy on those who remain.It is not near - In contradiction to Ezekiel 7:2.

Let us build houses - "To build houses" implies a sense of security. Jeremiah bade the exiles "build houses" in a foreign land because they would not soon quit it Jeremiah 29:5; Jeremiah 35:7. These false counselors promised to their countrymen a sure and permanent abode in the city which God had doomed to destruction. No need, they said, to go far for safety; you are perfectly safe at home. The Hebrew, however, is, difficult: literally it means, "It is not near to build houses," which may be explained as spoken in mockery of such counsel as that of Jeremiah: matters have not gone so far as to necessitate "house-building" in a foreign land. The same idea is expressed by the image of the "caldron:" whatever devastation may rage around the city, we are safe within its walls, as flesh within a caldron is unburned by the surrounding fire (compare Ezekiel 24:6).

3. It is not near—namely, the destruction of the city; therefore "let us build houses," as if there was no fear. But the Hebrew opposes English Version, which would require the infinitive absolute. Rather, "Not at hand is the building of houses." They sneer at Jeremiah's letter to the captives, among whom Ezekiel lived (Jer 29:5). "Build ye houses, and dwell in them," that is, do not fancy, as many persuade you, that your sojourn in Babylon is to be short; it will be for seventy years (Jer 25:11, 12; 29:10); therefore build houses and settle quietly there. The scorners in Jerusalem reply, Those far off in exile may build if they please, but it is too remote a concern for us to trouble ourselves about [Fairbairn], (Compare Eze 12:22, 27; 2Pe 3:4).

this city … caldron … we … flesh—sneering at Jer 1:13, when he compared the city to a caldron with its mouth towards the north. "Let Jerusalem be so if you will, and we the flesh, exposed to the raging foe from the north, still its fortifications will secure us from the flame of war outside; the city must stand for our sakes, just as the pot exists for the safety of the flesh in it." In opposition to this God says (Eze 11:11), "This city shall not be your caldron, to defend you in it from the foe outside: nay, ye shall be driven out of your imaginary sanctuary and slain in the border of the land." "But," says God, in Eze 11:7, "your slain are the flesh, and this city the caldron; but (not as you fancy, shall ye be kept safe inside) I will bring you forth out of the midst of it"; and again, in Eze 24:3, "Though not a caldron in your sense, Jerusalem shall be so in the sense of its being exposed to a consuming foe, and you yourselves in it and with it."

What counsel was by these men given appears by their words.

It is not near; either the threatened danger and ruin by the Chaldeans; or else, build, but not in the suburbs, not near, but in the city, that your houses may not shelter the enemy.

This city is the caldron: this is an impious scoff, yet mixed with some fear, of the prophets, Jeremiah 1:13 Ezekiel 24:6. They deride the prophets, yet secretly dread the thing. Jerusalem is the pot, we the flesh that are to be boiled therein; but this will take up some time however, we were better be so destroyed than to fall by the hands of the Chaldeans, who perhaps may roast what is not boiled here. Which say it is not near, let us build houses,.... Meaning that the destruction of the city was not near, as the prophet had foretold, Ezekiel 7:3; and therefore encourage the people to build houses, and rest themselves secure, as being safe from all danger, and having nothing to fear from the Chaldean army; and so putting away the evil day far from them, which was just at hand: though the words may be rendered, "it is not proper to build houses near" (e); near the city of Jerusalem, in the suburbs of it, since they would be liable to be destroyed by the enemy; but this would not be condemned as wicked counsel, but must be judged very prudent and advisable: and the same may be objected to another rendering of the word, which might be offered, "not in the midst to build houses"; or it is not proper to build houses in the midst of the city, in order to receive the multitude that flock out of the country, through fear of the enemy, to Jerusalem for safety; since by this means, as the number of the inhabitants would be increased, so provisions in time would become scarce, and a famine must ensue, which would oblige to deliver up the city into the hands of the besiegers; wherefore the first sense seems best. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render them, "are not the houses lately built?" and so not easily demolished, and are like to continue long, and we in them;

this city is the cauldron, and we be the flesh; referring to, and laughing at, what one of the prophets, namely Jeremiah, had said of them, comparing them to a boiling pot, Jeremiah 1:13; and it is as if they should say, be it so, that this city is as a cauldron or boiling pot, then we are the flesh in it; and as flesh is not taken out of a pot until it is boiled, no more shall we be removed from hence till we die; we shall live and die in this city; and as it is difficult and dangerous to take hot boiling meat out of a cauldron, so it, is unlikely we should be taken out of this city, and carried captive; what a cauldron or brasen pot is to the flesh, it holds and keeps it from falling into the fire; that the walls of Jerusalem are to us, our safety and preservation; nor need we fear captivity.

(e) "non in propinque aedificandae domus", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius, Polanus; "non in propinquo aedificare domos", Montanus, Piscator, Starckius.

Who say, {a} It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the {b} caldron, and we are the flesh.

(a) Thus the wicked derided the prophets as though they preached only errors, and therefore gave themselves still to their pleasures.

(b) We will not be pulled out of Jerusalem, till the hour of our death comes, as the flesh is not taken out of the caldron until it is boiled.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. It is not near; let us build] Rather as R.V. The time to build houses is not near, lit. the building of houses is not near. The phrase “to build houses” is to be taken as in ch. Ezekiel 28:26, “And they shall dwell with confidence therein, and shall build houses and plant vineyards and shall dwell with confidence.” To build houses is a sign and a consequence of a time of peace and security (Isaiah 65:21; Jeremiah 29:5; Jeremiah 29:28). These agitators desire to turn men’s minds away from peaceful occupations, and make them contemplate other measures, assuring them that when war comes the strong city will be their salvation—it is the pot which will protect the flesh from the fire around it. Others, e.g. Ew., take the phrase interrogatively: Is not the building of houses near? This, however, hardly corresponds to the situation, which is not one of war which it is hoped will speedily pass over, but one of contemplated rebellion. LXX. renders: Have not the houses been recently built? it is the pot &c.; so Corn. This gives a closer connexion to the two halves of the verse, but “houses” could hardly have the sense of fortifications, nor does the phrase naturally express the meaning that the damage done to the city when last captured (under Jehoiachin) had been fully repaired.

this city is the caldron] lit. it is the caldron or pot. The phrase implies two things, the danger of fire around, and that the strong city will prove a protection to those within it. These revolutionary spirits are aware of the risks they run, but with a certain grimness of humour they make light of them. The figure here is somewhat different from that of the boiling pot for war common in the Arabic poets.Verse 3. - It is not near, etc. The words take their place among the popular, half-proverbial sayings of which we have other examples in Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:9; and Ezekiel 18:2. As in most proverbs of this kind, the thought is condensed to the very verge of obscurity, and the words have received very different interpretations.

(1) That suggested by the Authorized Version. "It (the judgment of which the true prophets spoke) is not near. Let us build houses, not, as Jeremiah bids (Jeremiah 39:5), in the land of exile, but here in Jerusalem, where we shall remain in safety. Are we threatened with the imagery of the 'seething pot' (Jeremiah 1:13)? Let us remember that the caldron protects the meat in it from the fire. The walls of the city will protect us from the army of the Chaldeans." The temper which clothed itself in this language was that of the self-confident boastful security of Jeremiah 28:3; and the death of Hananiah, the son of Azur, in that history presents a parallel to that of Pelatiah in this.

(2) Grammatically, however, the rendering of the Revised Version is preferable: The time is not near for building houses; probably, as before, with a reference to Jeremiah's advice. "We," they seem to say, "are not come to that plaint yet. We will trust, as in (1), in our interpretation of the caldron."

(3) On the whole, I incline, while adopting the Revised Version rendering, to interpret the words, as Smend takes them, as the defiant utterance of despair: "It is no time for building houses, here or elsewhere. We are doomed. We are destined (I borrow the nearest analogue of modern proverbial speech) 'to stew in our own juice.' Well, let us meet it as we best may." I find what suggests this view

(1) in the improbability that the thought of the caldron could ever have been received as a message of safety (comp. Ezekiel 24:3, 6); and

(2) in the despairing tone of most of the sayings that Ezekiel records (Ezekiel 18:2; Ezekiel 37:11). Probably there were, as in other like crises in the history of nations (say, e.g., in those of the Franco-German War) rapid alternations between the two moods of boastful security and defiant despair - the galgenhumor, the courage of the gallows, as Smend calls it; and the same words might be uttered now in this temper, and now in that. In either case, there was the root element of the absence of repentance and submission. The Glory of the Lord Forsakes the Temple

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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