Ezekiel 14:12
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
14:12-23 National sins bring national judgments. Though sinners escape one judgment, another is waiting for them. When God's professing people rebel against him, they may justly expect all his judgments. The faith, obedience, and prayers of Noah prevailed to the saving of his house, but not of the old world. Job's sacrifice and prayer in behalf of his friends were accepted, and Daniel had prevailed for the saving his companions and the wise men of Babylon. But a people that had filled the measure of their sins, was not to expect to escape for the sake of any righteous men living among them; not even of the most eminent saints, who could be accepted in their own case only through the sufferings and righteousness of Christ. Yet even when God makes the greatest desolations by his judgments, he saves some to be monuments of his mercy. In firm belief that we shall approve the whole of God's dealings with ourselves, and with all mankind, let us silence all rebellious murmurs and objections.Jeremiah 14; 15 is a remarkable parallel to this prophecy. Here, as elsewhere, Ezekiel is commissioned to deliver to the exiles the same message which Jeremiah conveys to the inhabitants of Judaea. The answer discovers the nature of the questions which had been expressed or implied.

(1) Can God cast out a people who are holy unto Himself?

(2) Is it just to punish them with utter desolation?

The prophet answers:

(1) That when a people is so corrupt as to call down national judgment, individual piety shall save none but the individuals themselves.

(2) The corrupt condition of the people shall be made so manifest, that none will question the justice of God in dealing thus severely with them.

Ezekiel 14:12

Or, "When a land" - the case is first put in a general form, and then ism brought with increased force home to Jerusalem - "sinneth against me by trespassing grievously," and I stretch out "mine hand upon it," and break the staff of bread "thereof," and send famine "upon it and" cut off "man and beast: though these three men" etc.

12. The second part of the chapter: the effect which the presence of a few righteous persons was to have on the purposes of God (compare Ge 18:24-32). God had told Jeremiah that the guilt of Judah was too great to be pardoned even for the intercession of Moses and Samuel (Ps 99:6; Jer 14:2; 15:1), which had prevailed formerly (Ex 32:11-14; Nu 14:13-20; 1Sa 7:8-12), implying the extraordinary heinousness of their guilt, since in ordinary cases "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (for others) availeth much" (Jas 5:16). Ezekiel supplements Jeremiah by adding that not only those two once successful intercessors, but not even the three pre-eminently righteous men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, could stay God's judgments by their righteousness. No text from Poole on this verse. The word of the Lord came again unto saying. At the same time as before, continuing the prophecy, and a denunciation of judgments; for it does not seem to begin a new prophecy. The Targum renders it, the word of prophecy from the Lord. The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12–23. The presence of righteous men among a sinful people will not save the sinners

The passage may be in answer to thoughts which the prophet felt might rise in the minds of those to whom he spoke. He threatened destruction to people and prophets alike, a destruction indiscriminate and universal. Were not these threats exaggeration? Were they in harmony with God’s former ways of dealing with his people? Would he slay the righteous with the wicked? would he not rather spare the wicked on the intercession of the righteous and for their sake, as often in former times? (Genesis 18:23; Numbers 14:15). To this the prophet replies after Jeremiah 15 that righteous men among the people shall not avert God’s judgment, they shall only save their own souls.

(1) Ezekiel 14:12-20. A supposition is put that God brings any one of his four great judgments, famine, evil beasts, sword or pestilence, upon a land to destroy it. Though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in that land, they should by their righteousness save neither sons nor daughters, only their own souls.

(2) Ezekiel 14:21-23. Application to Jerusalem. Much less shall the righteous save the wicked when the Lord shall bring all his four sore judgments together upon Jerusalem. And if a remnant be spared and carried into all lands, this apparent exception will only confirm and impress the principle by shewing to all how inevitable the utter destruction of Jerusalem was on account of its wickedness, and that God in his righteousness could deal in no other way with it. And thus the exiles when they see the way and doings of those that escape from Jerusalem will be comforted for its fall, and their minds will be lifted up into a higher sympathy with God in his acts of righteousness.

On the prophet’s own sympathy, cf. ch. Ezekiel 3:14.

Ezekiel 14:12-14. Famine.Verses 12-14. - A new section begins, implying as before an interval of silence. What follows presents a striking parallelism to Jeremiah 15:l, 2. There also we have the "four sore judgments," the declaration that not even the presence of Moses and Samuel would avail to save the people. They were obviously selected by Jeremiah as examples of the power of intercession (Exodus 32:11, 12; 1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 12:23). Ezekiel's selection of names proceeds on a different footing. He chooses exceptional instances of saintliness that had been powerless to save the generation in which they lived; perhaps, also, such as were well known, not only in the records of Israel, but among other nations. Noah had not saved the evil race before the Flood; Job had not saved his sons (Job 1:18); Daniel, though high in the king's favour, had not been able to influence Nebuchadnezzar to spare the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The mention of this last name is significant, as showing the reputation which even then Daniel had acquired. There is no shadow of evidence for the view of some commentators that an older Daniel is referred to. Had there been such a person, eminent enough to be grouped with Noah and Job, there would surely have been some mention of him in the Old Testament. In ver. 13, for the land, read "a land." For staff of bread, see Ezekiel 4:16. The phrase comes from Leviticus 26:26. Punishment of the False Prophetesses

Ezekiel 13:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with your coverings with which ye catch, I will let the souls fly; and I will tear them away from your arms, and set the souls free, which ye catch, the souls to fly. Ezekiel 13:21. And I will tear your caps in pieces, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall no more become a prey in your hands; and ye shall learn that I am Jehovah. Ezekiel 13:22. Because ye grieve the heart of the righteous with lying, when I have not pained him; and strengthen the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his evil way, to preserve his life. Ezekiel 13:23. Therefore ye shall no more see vanity, and no longer practise soothsaying: and I will deliver my people out of your hand; and ye shall learn that I am Jehovah. - The threat of judgment is closely connected with the reproof of their sins. Ezekiel 13:20 and Ezekiel 13:21 correspond to the reproof in Ezekiel 13:18, and Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23 to that in Ezekiel 13:19. In the first place, the Lord will tear in pieces the coverings and caps, i.e., the tissue of lies woven by the false prophetesses, and rescue the people from their snares (Ezekiel 13:20 and Ezekiel 13:21); and, secondly, He will entirely put an end to the pernicious conduct of the persons addressed (Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23). The words from אשׁר אתּנּה to לפרחות (Ezekiel 13:20), when taken as one clause, as they generally are, offer insuperable difficulties, since it is impossible to get any satisfactory meaning from שׁם, and לפרחות will not fit in. Whether we understand by kesâthōth coverings or cushions, the connection of שׁם with אשׁר (where ye catch the souls), which the majority of commentators prefer, is untenable; for coverings and cushions were not the places where the souls were caught, but could only be the means employed for catching them. Instead of שׁם we should expect בּם or בּהם; and Hitzig proposes to amend it in this way. Still less admissible is the proposal to take שׁם as referring to Jerusalem ("wherewith ye catch souls there"); as שׁם would not only contain a perfectly superfluous definition of locality, but would introduce a limitation altogether at variance with the context. It is not affirmed either of the prophets or of the prophetesses that they lived and prophesied in Jerusalem alone. In Ezekiel 13:2 and Ezekiel 13:17 reference is made in the most general terms to the prophets of Israel and the daughters of thy people; and in Ezekiel 13:16 it is simply stated that the false prophets prophesied peace to Jerusalem when there was no peace at all. Consequently we must regard the attempt to find in שׁם an allusion to Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 13:16) as a mere loophole, which betrays an utter inability to get any satisfactory sense for the word. Moreover, if we construe the words in this manner, לפרחות is also incomprehensible. Commentators have for the most part admitted that פּרח taht is used here in the Aramaean sense of volare, to fly. In the second half of the verse there is no doubt about its having this meaning. For שׁלּח is used in Deuteronomy 22:7 for liberating a bird, or letting it fly; and the combination שׁלּח is supported by the expression שׁלּח לחפשׁי in Exodus 21:26, while the comparison of souls to birds is sustained by Psalm 11:1 and Psalm 124:7. Hence the true meaning of the whole passage לפרחות... שׁלּחתּי את־הנּפשׁות is, I send away (set free) the souls, which ye have caught, as flying ones, i.e., so that they shall be able to fly away at liberty. And in the first half also we must not adopt a different rendering for לפרחות, since את־הנּפשׁות is also connected with it there.

But if the words in question are combined into one clause in the first hemistich, they will give us a sense which is obviously wrong, viz., "wherewith ye catch the souls to let them fly." As the impossibility of adopting this rendering has been clearly seen, the attempt has been made to cloak over the difficulty by means of paraphrases. Ewald, for example, renders לפרחות in both cases "as if they were birds of passage;" but in the first instance he applies it to birds of passage, for which nets are spread for the purpose of catching them; and in the second, to birds of passage which are set at liberty. Thus, strictly speaking, he understands the first לפרחות as signifying the catching of birds; and the second, letting them fly: an explanation which refutes itself, as pârach, to fly, cannot mean "to catch" as well. The rendering adopted by Kimchi, Rosenmller, and others, who translate לפרחות ut advolent ad vos in the first hemistich, and ut avolent in the second, is no better. And the difficulty is not removed by resorting to the dialects, as Hvernick, for the purpose of forcing upon פּרחות the meaning dissoluteness of licentiousness, for which there is no authority in the Hebrew language itself. If, therefore, it is impossible to obtain any satisfactory meaning from the existing text, it cannot be correct; and no other course is open to us than to alter the unsuitable שׁם into שׂם, and divide the words from אשׁר אתּנּה to לפרחות into two clauses, as we have done in our translation above. There is no necessity to supply anything to the relative אשׁר, as צוּד is construed with a double accusative (e.g., Micah 7:2, צוּד חרם, to catch with a net), and the object to מצדדות, viz., the souls, can easily be supplied from the next clause. שׂם, as a participle, can either be connected with הנני, "behold, I make," or taken as introducing an explanatory clause: "making the souls into flying ones," i.e., so that they are able to fly (שׁוּם ל, Genesis 12:2, etc.). The two clauses of the first hemistich would then exactly correspond to the two clauses of the second half of the verse. וקרעתּי אתם is explanatory of הנני אל כסת, I will tear off the coverings from their arms. These words do not require the assumption that the prophetesses wore the לסתות on their arms, but may be fully explained from the supposition that the persons in question prepared them with their own hands. 'ושׁלּחתּי וגו corresponds to 'שׂם את־הנּפשׁות וגו; and לפרחות is governed by שׁלּחתּי. The insertion of את־הנּפשׁים is to be accounted for from the copious nature of Ezekiel's style; at the same time, it is not merely a repetition of את־הנּפשׁות, which is separated from לפרחות by the relative clause 'אשׁר אתּם מח, but as the unusual plural form נפשׁים shows, is intended as a practical explanation of the fact, that the souls, while compared to birds, are regarded as living beings, which is the meaning borne by נפשׁ in other passages. The omission of the article after את may be explained, however, from the fact that the souls had been more precisely defined just before; just as, for example, in 1 Samuel 24:6; 2 Samuel 18:18, where the more precise definition follows immediately afterwards (cf. Ewald, 277a, p. 683). - The same thing is said in Ezekiel 13:21, with regard to the caps, as has already been said of the coverings in Ezekiel 13:20. God will tear these in pieces also, to deliver His people from the power of the lying prophetesses. In what way God will do this is explained in Ezekiel 13:22 and Ezekiel 13:23, namely, not only by putting their lying prophecies to shame through His judgment, but by putting an end to soothsaying altogether, and exterminating the false prophetesses by making them an object of ridicule and shame. The reason for this threat is given in Ezekiel 13:22, where a further description is given of the disgraceful conduct of these persons; and here the disgracefulness of their conduct is exhibited in literal terms and without any figure. They do harm to the righteous and good, and strengthen the hands of the wicked. הכאות, Hiphil of כּאה, in Syriac, to use harshly or depress; so here in the Hiphil, connected with לב, to afflict the heart. שׁקר is used adverbially: with lying, or in a lying manner; namely, by predicting misfortune and divine punishments, with which they threatened the godly, who would not acquiesce in their conduct; whereas, on the contrary, they predicted prosperity and peace to the ungodly, who were willing to be ensnared by them, and thus strengthened them in their evil ways. For this God would put them to shame through His judgments, which would make their deceptions manifest, and their soothsaying loathsome.

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