Ezekiel 11:4
Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
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Ezekiel 11:4-5. Therefore prophesy against them — Declare to them how different things shall happen to them from what they expect. And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me — See note on Ezekiel 3:24. And said unto me, Speak; Thus have ye said — Ye have advanced the assertion, mentioned Ezekiel 11:3. “You have rightly said what you say: the city is the caldron, and we are the flesh, shall be fulfilled, but not as you understand it. Many of you will perish in the city. For those it will be the caldron, and they will be flesh boiled in it. But yourselves shall not be the flesh in the caldron: but you shall be taken out and elsewhere cut in pieces.” — Michaelis in Newcome. For I know the things that come into your mind —

Here God declares that, however much these men thought, and said in their hearts, The Lord seeth us not, yet still he not only saw them, but knew the things that came into their mind, every one of them, and took particular notice of that vain confidence with which they supported themselves, and endeavoured to put a good face upon a matter which they could not but know to be bad. Remember, reader, God perfectly knows not only the things that come out of our mouths, but the things that come into our minds; not only all we say, but all we think; even those thoughts which are most suddenly darted into our minds, and as suddenly slip out of them again, are perfectly known and narrowly observed by God: he knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves; he understands us afar off: the consideration whereof should oblige us to keep our hearts with all diligence, that no vain thoughts may come into them, or lodge within 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).

4. prophesy … prophesy—The repetition marks emphatic earnestness. For this their atheistical temper and words, tell them beforehand what they shall suffer. The charge and command is doubled, both to engage the prophet, and to intimate a doubled misery coming upon them, a misery they shall not have courage to laugh under, though they now dare contemptuously laugh at.

Therefore prophesy against them,.... Evil things against them, things that are disagreeable to them; since they flatter themselves with good things, and cry peace and safety, let them know that destruction is coming upon them: or, "concerning them" (f); what will befall them, and that it will be otherwise with them than they imagine:

prophesy, O son of man; this is repeated, not only to stir up the prophet to the performance of his work and office, not fearing the faces, and revilings, and mockings of men; but to show the indignation of the Lord at their scoffs and jeers, and the certain accomplishment of what should be predicted.

(f) "de eis", V. L. "super eos", Pagninus, Montanus.

Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
4. The prophet felt called to prophesy against these men—and all this is part of the vision. See on ch. Ezekiel 3:21.

Verses 4, 5. - The prophet still, we must remember, in his vision, is bidden to do his work as a true prophet, and to rebuke the defiant speech which he had heard. As in Ezekiel 2:2, the Spirit of Jehovah comes upon him, and throws him into the prophetic ecstasy. It is noticeable that here, as in Ezekiel 2:3, his message is not to Judah only, but to the whole house of Israel as represented by those to whom he spoke. I know the things. This, as ever, was one of the notes of a true prophet, that he shared, as was needed for his work, in the knowledge of him from whom no secrets are hid (John 2:24, 25; Matthew 9:4; 1 Corinthians 14:25). Thoughts, as well as words, were laid bare before him, as they were to his Lord (Hebrews 4:12). Ezekiel 11:4Judgment 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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