James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,Ezekiel 19:1-24:27
CLOSE OF PART ONE
Lack of space makes it necessary to crowd the remainder of Part 1 into a single lesson, but nothing vital to its general understanding will be lost, as the chapters are, to a certain extent, repetitions of the foregoing.
LAMENTATIONS FOR THE PRINCES (Ezekiel 19)
The theme of this chapter is found in the first and last verses. The “princes” are the kings of Judah Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, whose histories were made familiar in the closing chapters of 2 Kings , 1 Chronicles. Judah is the lioness (Ezekiel 19:2). Jehoahaz is the first of her young lions (Ezekiel 19:3), and Jehoiachin the second (Ezekiel 19:4-9). Zedekiah is probably in mind in Ezekiel 19:14.
REJECTION OF THE ELDERS (Ezekiel 20)
Ezekiel 20:1 gives the occasion for this message, which falls into two great parts. Ezekiel 20:1-32 recite the peoples’ rebellions against God during five distinct periods, i.e., in Egypt (Ezekiel 19:2-9), in the wilderness (Ezekiel 20:10-17), on the borders of Canaan (Ezekiel 20:18-26), when a new generation arose in Canaan (Ezekiel 20:27-29), and finally in the prophet’s own time (Ezekiel 20:30-32). The explanation of Ezekiel 20:25-26 seems to be that God chastised them, as in Numbers 25, by permitting Baal’s worshippers to tempt them to idolatry, ending in judgment upon them. The easy success of the tempter’s arts, showed how ready they were to be led astray (compare Ezekiel 20:39).
Ezekiel 20:32 should not lightly be passed over. It was in the heart of these Jews to live like the heathen round about them, and so escape the odium of having a peculiar God and law of their own. Moreover, they seemed to be getting nothing for it but threats and calamities, whereas the heathen seemed to be prospering. But God said it “shall not be at all,” and how literally this has been fulfilled is seen in the later history of the Jews down to our day. Though the Jews seem so likely to have blended with the rest of mankind and laid aside their distinctive peculiarities, yet they remained for centuries dispersed among all nations and without a home, but still distinct.
Ezekiel 20:33 begins the second division of the prophecy. Lest the covenant people should abandon their distinctive hopes, and amalgamate with the surrounding heathen, God tells them that, as the wilderness journey from Egypt was made subservient to discipline, and also to the taking from among them the rebellious, so a severe discipline (such as the Jews for long have been actually undergoing) would be administered to them during the next exodus for the same purpose (Ezekiel 20:38), and to prepare them for the restored possession of their land (Hosea 2:14-15). This was only partially fulfilled at the return from Babylon; its full accomplishment is future.
THREE MESSAGES OF JUDGMENT (Ezekiel 21)
The three messages of this chapter explain themselves to those who have followed the lessons thus far. The first might be designated the parable of the sighing prophet (Ezekiel 21:1-7), the second, that of the sword of God (Ezekiel 21:8-17), while the third is notable for the prophecy that thereafter there should be no true king of Israel till the Messiah came (Ezekiel 21:26-27; Acts 15:14-17).
JERUSALEM’S PRESENT SINS (Ezekiel 22)
The repetition of Jerusalem’s sins as given here suggests chapter 20; but there they were stated in a historical review, emphasis resting on the past, while here it is on the present.
AHOLAH AND AHOLIBAH (Ezekiel 23)
Here we have a parabolic portrayal similar to the adulterous wife in chapter 16; only that in this case it is not idolatries which are emphasized as violating the marriage covenant, but their worldly spirit, their alliances with the heathen for safety rather than confiding in God.
THE PERIOD OF SILENCE BEGINS (Ezekiel 24)
Ezekiel proves his divine mission by announcing, though three hundred miles away, the very day of the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 24:1-2). “The ninth year” means that of Jehoiachin’s captivity, which was also that of Ezekiel.
There was a self-confident proverb among the people (Ezekiel 11:3) expressed in the sentence: “This city is the caldron and we be the flesh.” They meant that Jerusalem would prove “an iron caldron-like defense from the fire” of the Babylonian hosts around about them in the siege; but God tells them that their proverb would fit the case in a different way (Ezekiel 24:3-14). Jerusalem should be a caldron set upon the fire, but the people, so many pieces of flesh subjected to boiling water within.
At Ezekiel 24:15 a period of silence begins for the prophet, covering the three years of the siege (compare v. 1 and 27 of the chapter, with Ezekiel 33:21-22). The opening of the period is marked by a personal calamity the death of the prophet’s wife (Ezekiel 24:16-18). Ezekiel is not forbidden sorrow, but only the loud expression of it after the oriental manner, that his countrymen might be moved to ask the question (Ezekiel 24:19) whose answer constitutes the remainder of the chapter. When Jerusalem would be destroyed, the calamity would be so felt that the ordinary usages of mourning would be suspended, or perhaps it signified that they could not in their exile manifest their sorrow, but only “mourn one toward another.” Thus the prophet was a sign unto them (Ezekiel 24:24).
1. What is the title of chapter 19, and to whom does it refer?
2. What gives occasion for the rejection of the elders (v. 20)?
3. Analyze the first part of this chapter.
4. Explain verses 25-26 and verse 32.
5. What Messianic promise is found in Ezekiel 21:27?
6. How would you explain chapter 33?
7. How does Ezekiel prove his inspiration in chapter 24?
8. How is the proverb about the caldron understood?
9. How long a period of silence is enjoined on the prophet?