Ezekiel 33:31
And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) As the people cometh.—In the original, according to the coming of a peoplei.e., in crowds. In the following clause, “as my people,” there is an emphasis on the pronoun, as the true people of God. Such was their outward bearing, while their inward disposition was far different.

33:30-33 Unworthy and corrupt motives often lead men to the places where the word of God is faithfully preached. Many come to find somewhat to oppose: far more come of curiosity or mere habit. Men may have their hearts changed. But whether men hear or forbear, they will know by the event that a servant of God has been among them. All who will not know the worth of mercies by the improvement of them, will justly be made to know their worth by the want of them.As the people cometh - literally, as in the margin, i. e., in crowds. Render it: they shall come "unto thee" like the coming of a people," and" shall "sit before thee as My people" etc., i. e., they assume the attitude of God's people listening to His prophet. Compare Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1.31. as the people cometh—that is, in crowds, as disciples flock to their teacher.

sit before thee—on lower seats at thy feet, according to the Jewish custom of pupils (De 33:3; 2Ki 4:38; Lu 10:39; Ac 22:3).

as my people—though they are not.

hear … not do—(Mt 13:20, 21; Jas 1:23, 24).

they show much love—literally, "make love," that is, act the part of lovers. Profess love to the Lord (Mt 7:21). Gesenius translates, according to Arabic idiom, "They do the delights of God," that is, all that is agreeable to God. Vulgate translates, "They turn thy words into a song of their mouths."

heart goeth after … covetousness—the grand rival to the love of God; therefore called "idolatry," and therefore associated with impure carnal love, as both alike transfer the heart's affection from the Creator to the creature (Mt 13:22; Eph 5:5; 1Ti 6:10).

Flocking to the school of some famous doctor, or as men and women flock to hear some famous preacher, or as they were wont to the synagogues to hear their learned scribes. So we find the elders of Judah, Ezekiel 8:1, which see; so the disciples of the great rabbies sat at their feet; so is Saul said to be brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. By their outward deportments, you might judge them to be my people, and hear seemingly very attentive. They do only hear what thou sayest, but they will not do it. All their love is but from teeth outward, either to me, my word, or my prophet, saith God.

Their heart goeth after their covetousness; their desire, love, and care is about their gain, how to make thriving bargains, how to place out and secure their money with excessive and intolerable usury and increase.

And they come unto thee as the people cometh,.... As the people of God, who came to the prophets's house to hear him preach the word, and explain it for their spiritual profit and edification these came when they did, and as early and constantly, and with seeming pleasure:

and they sit before thee as my people; with great decency and reverence, and very gravely and demurely, and with seeming devotion, and stay the time out till the whole service is over; as scholars sit at the feet of their masters, to hear and learn their doctrines. So the Targum,

"and they come unto thee as the men the disciples come:''

and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; they gave him the hearing, and seemed attentive, but did not understand what they heard, at least did not put it in practice; they were only hearers, and not doers of the word, and like to the foolish man in Matthew 7:26,

for with their mouth they show much love: by the motions of their lips while hearing, and other gestures, as well as by what they said afterwards, they seemed pleased and delighted with what they heard; made huge encomiums upon it, and spoke much in the praise of the preacher. The Targum is the reverse,

"they made game with their mouth.''

But their heart goeth after their covetousness;

"after the money they had taken away by force,''

as the Targum; after the world, and the things of it; after their secular affairs, so that they wished the sermon over, that they might be at them; or, however, did not so diligently attend to what was said, but the cares of the world choked the word, and made it unfruitful to them; these were like the seed that fell among thorns, the thorny ground hearers, Matthew 13:22.

And they come to thee as the people come, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they {q} show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

(q) This declares that we ought to hear God's word with such zeal and affection that we should in all points obey it, else we abuse the word to our own condemnation and make of its ministers as though they were jesters to serve men's foolish fantasies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. On “come unto thee” cf. Ezekiel 8:1, Ezekiel 14:1, Ezekiel 20:1.

as my people] The construction is very hard. LXX. omits.

with their mouth … love] The language is peculiar, but can hardly have any other sense. LXX. Syr. read: for falsehood is in their mouth and their heart &c. The term “covetousness” or gain has, especially in later books, the general sense of advantage, self-advancement, Isaiah 56:11.

Ezekiel 33:31Behaviour of the People Towards the prophet

Ezekiel 33:30. And thou, son of man, the sons of thy people converse about thee by the walls and in the house-doors; one talketh to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come and let us hear what kind of word goeth out from Jehovah. Ezekiel 33:31. And they will come to thee, like an assembly of the people, and sit before thee as my people, and will hear thy words, but not do them; but that which is pleasant in their mouth they do; their heart goeth after their gain. Ezekiel 33:32. And, behold, thou art unto them like a pleasant singer, beautiful in voice and playing well; they will hear thy words, but they will not do them. Ezekiel 33:33. But when it cometh - behold, it cometh - they will know that a prophet was in the midst of them. - This addition to the preceding word of God, which is addressed to Ezekiel personally, applies to the whole of the second half of his ministry, and stands in obvious connection with the instructions given to the prophet on the occasion of his first call (Ezekiel 3:16.), and repeated, so far as their substance is concerned, in Ezekiel 33:7-9, as Kliefoth himself acknowledges, in opposition to his assumption that vv. 1-20 of this chapter belong to the prophecies directed against the foreign nations. As God had directed the prophet's attention, on the occasion of his call, to the difficulties connected with the discharge of the duties of a watchman with which he was entrusted, by setting before him the object and the responsibility of his vocation, and had warned him not to allow himself to be turned aside by the opposition of the people; so here in Ezekiel 33:30-33, at the commencement of the second section of his ministry, another word is addressed to him personally, in order that he may not be influenced in the further prosecution of his calling by either the pleasure or displeasure of men.

His former utterances had already induced the elders of the people to come to him to hear the word of God (cf. Ezekiel 14:1 and Ezekiel 20:1). But now that his prophecies concerning Jerusalem had been fulfilled, the exiles could not fail to be still more attentive to his words, so that they talked of him both secretly and openly, and encouraged one another to come and listen to his discourses. God foretells this to him, but announces to him at the same time that this disposition on the part of his countrymen to listen to him is even now no sign of genuine conversion to the word of God, in order that he may not be mistaken in his expectations concerning the people. Kliefoth has thus correctly explained the contents, design, and connection of these verses as a whole. In Ezekiel 33:30 the article before the participle נדבּרים takes the place of the relative אשׁר, and the words are in apposition to בּני עמך, the sons of thy people who converse about thee. נדבּר is reciprocal, as in Malachi 3:13, Malachi 3:16, and Psalm 119:12. But ב is to be understood, not in a hostile sense, as in the passage cited from the Psalms, but in the sense of concerning, like דּבּר ב in 1 Samuel 19:3 as contrasted with דּבּר ב in Numbers 21:7, to speak against a person. The participle is continued by the finite ודּבּר, and the verb belonging to בּני follows, in the ויבאוּ of Ezekiel 33:31, in the form of an apodosis. There is something monstrous in Hitzig's assumption, that the whole passage from Ezekiel 33:30 to Ezekiel 33:33 forms but one clause, and that the predicate to בּני עמך does not occur till the וידעוּ of Ezekiel 33:33. - אצל , by the side of the walls, i.e., sitting against the walls, equivalent to secretly; and in the doors of the houses, in other words publicly, one neighbour conversing with another. חד, Aramean for אחד, and אישׁ by the side of אחד, every one; not merely one here or there, but every man to his neighbour. כּמבוא־עם, lit., as the coming of a people, i.e., as when a crowd of men flock together in crowds or troops. עמּי is a predicate, as my people, i.e., as if they wished, like my people, to hear my word from thee. But they do not think of doing thy words, i.e., what thou dost announce to them as my word. עגבים are things for which one cherishes an eager desire, pleasant things in their mouth, i.e., according to their taste (cf. Genesis 25:28). Hvernick is wrong in taking עגבים to mean illicit love. The word בּפיהם is quite inapplicable to such a meaning. The rendering, they do it with their mouth, is opposed both to the construction and the sense. בּצעם .esnes , their gain, the source from which they promise themselves advantage or gain. In Ezekiel 33:32 a clearer explanation is given of the reason why they come to the prophet, notwithstanding the fact that they do not wish to do his words. "Thou art to them כּשיּר עגבים;" this cannot mean like a pleasant song, but, as מטב נגּן (one who can play well) clearly shows, like a singer of pleasant songs. The abstract שׁיּר stands for the concrete שׁר, a singer, a man of song (Hitzig). In Ezekiel 33:32, "they hear thy words, but do them not," is repeated with emphasis, for the purpose of attaching the threat in Ezekiel 33:33. But when it cometh - namely, what thou sayest, or prophesiest - behold, it cometh, i.e., it will come as surely as thy prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; then will they know that a prophet was among them (cf. Ezekiel 2:5), that is to say, that he proclaimed God's word to them. Therefore Ezekiel is not to be prevented, by the misuse which will be made of his words, from preaching the truth. - This conclusion of the word of God, which points back to Ezekiel 2:5, also shows that it forms the introduction to the prophecies which follow.

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