Ezekiel 12:16
But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen where they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
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(16) May declare all their abominations.—This they were to do, that the false impression that God was unable to protect His people might be removed from the minds of the heathen, and the truth that He was punishing them for their sins be made known. They should do it both by word of mouth (as in Jeremiah 22:8-9), and also by their conduct (as in Ezekiel 14:22-23). The word “few” is literally, as shown in the margin, men of number, i.e., men who can easily be numbered or counted; and in the very similar expression in the original for “declare,” there is a play upon the word, something like our “count” and “recount.”

They shall know, may grammatically refer either to the heathen, or to the Israelites in their dispersion; but the latter is so constantly the refrain of these prophecies (see Ezekiel 12:20, e.g.), that it is also to be understood here.

12:1-16 By the preparation for removal, and his breaking through the wall of his house at evening, as one desirous to escape from the enemy, the prophet signified the conduct and fate of Zedekiah. When God has delivered us, we must glorify him and edify others, by acknowledging our sins. Those who by afflictions are brought to this, are made to know that God is the Lord, and may help to bring others to know him.Few - literally, as in the margin; so few, that they can easily be counted Isaiah 10:19. The few who should escape destruction should make known to all among whom they should dwell how great had been the wickedness of the people, how just their punishment. 16. I will leave a few … that they may declare … abominations—God's purpose in scattering a remnant of Jews among the Gentiles; namely, not only that they themselves should be weaned from idolatry (see Eze 12:15), but that by their own word, as also by their whole state as exiles, they should make God's righteousness manifest among the Gentiles, as vindicated in their punishment for their sins (compare Isa 43:10; Zec 8:13). But I will restrain the rage of the Chaldeans, and move them to some compassion towards some of the Jews, so that some, yet but few, shall remain; the sword shall not slay them, for 1 commission it, and it will not exceed its commission. I send the famine, but some I will feed; and the pestilence is my arrow, and hits but where I direct it.

A few men; including the women also.

That they may declare; either by relating those sins which were committed among them in Jerusalem, for which God was justly angry, and for which he punished them, though they were his own people. Or else, that though they should be silent, yet the very thing should speak itself, and their miseries should proclaim the wickednesses they had acted against God in their own land. Or, by their wicked practices which in captivity, and under the eye of the heathen, they commit, they will manifestly show to the heathen that God was just in all his severity.

They shall know; either the Jews, or rather here the Chaldean heathens. But I will leave a few men of them,.... Or, "men of number" (x); of a small number, such as are easily reckoned up; which will require no great skill in numbers, nor trouble to count them:

from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; during the siege of Jerusalem, and at the breaking of it up; but then they should be carried captive into other countries:

that they may declare all their abominations among the Heathen whither they come; who, observing their calamities, and distresses, would read their sin in their punishment; and conclude they must have been guilty of great enormities, who were punished in such a manner; so that their punishment was a visible and standing declaration to the Heathens of the abominable sins they had been guilty of: or else the end of reserving a few of them from the above capital judgments was, that they being brought to a sense of their sins by their afflictions, might freely confess them, express their repentance for them, and justify God in his proceedings towards them:

and they shall know that I am the Lord; not the Heathens, among whom this declaration would be made; but the Jews, brought under a conviction of their sin, and of the justice of God in his dealings with them.

(x) "viros numeri", Montanus, Vatablus; "homines numero", Starckius.

But I will leave a {e} few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

(e) Who would bear his Name, and would be his Church.

Symbol of the Emigration

Ezekiel 12:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 12:2. Son of man, thou dwellest amidst the refractory generation, who have eyes to see, and see not; and have ears to hear, and hear not; for they are a refractory generation. Ezekiel 12:3. And thou, son of man, make thyself an outfit for exile, and depart by day before their eyes; and depart from thy place to another place before their eyes: perhaps they might see, for they are a refractory generation. Ezekiel 12:4. And carry out thy things like an outfit for exile by day before their eyes; but do thou go out in the evening before their eyes, as when going out to exile. Ezekiel 12:5. Before their eyes break through the wall, and carry it out there. Ezekiel 12:6. Before their eyes take it upon thy shoulder, carry it out in the darkness; cover thy face, and look not upon the land; for I have set thee as a sign to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 12:7. And I did so as I was commanded: I carried out my things like an outfit for exile by day, and in the evening I broke through the wall with my hand; I carried it out in the darkness; I took it upon my shoulder before their eyes. - In Ezekiel 12:2 the reason is assigned for the command to perform the symbolical action, namely, the hard-heartedness of the people. Because the generation in the midst of which Ezekiel dwelt was blind, with seeing eyes, and deaf, with hearing ears, the prophet was to depict before its eyes, by means of the sign that followed, the judgment which was approaching; in the hope, as is added in Ezekiel 12:3, that they might possibly observe and lay the sign to heart. The refractoriness (בּית מרי, as in Ezekiel 2:5-6; Ezekiel 3:26, etc.) is described as obduracy, viz., having eyes, and not seeing; having ears, and not hearing, after Deuteronomy 29:3 (cf. Jeremiah 5:21; Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:14-15). The root of this mental blindness and deafness was to be found in obstinacy, i.e., in not willing; "in that presumptuous insolence," as Michaelis says, "through which divine light can obtain no admission." כּלי גולה, the goods (or outfit) of exile, were a pilgrim's staff and traveller's wallet, with the provisions and utensils necessary for a journey. Ezekiel was to carry these out of the house into the street in the day-time, that the people might see them and have their attention called to them. Then in the evening, after dark, he was to go out himself, not by the door of the house, but through a hole which he had broken in the wall. He was also to take the travelling outfit upon his shoulder and carry it through the hole and out of the place, covering his face all the while, that he might not see the land to which he was going. "Thy place" is thy dwelling-place. כּמוצאי : as the departures of exiles generally take place, i.e., as exiles are accustomed to depart, not "at the usual time of departure into exile," as Hהvernick proposes. For מוחא, see the comm. on Micah 5:1. בּעלטה differs from בּערב, and signifies the darkness of the depth of night (cf. Genesis 15:17); not, however, "darkness artificially produced, equivalent to, with the eyes shut, or the face covered; so that the words which follow are simply explanatory of בּעלטה," as Schmieder imagines. Such an assumption would be at variance not only with Ezekiel 12:7, but also with Ezekiel 12:12, where the covering or concealing of the face is expressly distinguished from the carrying out "in the dark." The order was to be as follows: In the day-time Ezekiel was to take the travelling outfit and carry it out into the road; then in the evening he was to go out himself, having first of all broken a hole through the wall as evening was coming on; and in the darkness of night he was to place upon his shoulders whatever he was about to carry with him, and take his departure. This he was to do, because God had made him a mōphēth for Israel: in other words, by doing this he was to show himself to be a marvellous sign to Israel. For mōphēth, see the comm. on Exodus 4:21. In Ezekiel 12:7, the execution of the command, which evidently took place in the strictness of the letter, is fully described. There was nothing impracticable in the action, for breaking through the wall did not preclude the use of a hammer or some other tool.

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