Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,
Eze 12:1-28. Ezekiel's Typical Moving to Exile: Prophecy of Zedekiah's Captivity and Privation of Sight: the Jews' Unbelieving Surmise as to the Distance of the Event Reproved.
1, 2. eyes to see, and see not, … ears to hear, and hear not—fulfilling the prophecy of De 29:4, here quoted by Ezekiel (compare Isa 6:9; Jer 5:21). Ezekiel needed often to be reminded of the people's perversity, lest he should be discouraged by the little effect produced by his prophecies. Their "not seeing" is the result of perversity, not incapacity. They are wilfully blind. The persons most interested in this prophecy were those dwelling at Jerusalem; and it is among them that Ezekiel was transported in spirit, and performed in vision, not outwardly, the typical acts. At the same time, the symbolical prophecy was designed to warn the exiles at Chebar against cherishing hopes, as many did in opposition to God's revealed word, of returning to Jerusalem, as if that city was to stand; externally living afar off, their hearts dwelt in that corrupt and doomed capital.
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.
3. stuff for removing—rather, "an exile's outfit," the articles proper to a person going as an exile, a staff and knapsack, with a supply of food and clothing; so "instruments of captivity," Jer 46:19, Margin, that is, the needful equipments for it. His simple announcements having failed, he is symbolically to give them an ocular demonstration conveyed by a word-painting of actions performed in vision.
Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.
4. by day—in broad daylight, when all can see thee.
at even—not contradicting the words "by day." The baggage was to be sent before by day, and Ezekiel was to follow at nightfall [Grotius]; or, the preparations were to be made by day, the actual departure was to be effected at night [Henderson].
as they that go forth into captivity—literally, "as the goings forth of the captivity," that is, of the captive band of exiles, namely, amid the silent darkness: typifying Zedekiah's flight by night on the taking of the city (Jer 39:4; 52:7).
Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.
5. Dig—as Zedekiah was to escape like one digging through a wall, furtively to effect an escape (Eze 12:12).
carry out—namely, "thy stuff" (Eze 12:4).
thereby—by the opening in the wall. Zedekiah escaped "by the gate betwixt the two walls" (Jer 39:4).
In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.
6. in … twilight—rather, "in the dark." So in Ge 15:17, "it" refers to "thy stuff."
cover thy face—as one who muffles his face, afraid of being recognized by anyone meeting him. So the Jews and Zedekiah should make their exit stealthily and afraid to look around, so hurried should be their fight [Calvin].
sign—rather, "a portent," namely, for evil.
And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.
And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?
9. What doest thou?—They ask not in a docile spirit, but making a jest of his proceedings.
Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.
10. burden—that is, weighty oracle.
the prince—The very man Zedekiah, in whom they trust for safety, is to be the chief sufferer. Josephus [Antiquities, 10.7] reports that Ezekiel sent a copy of this prophecy to Zedekiah. As Jeremiah had sent a letter to the captives at the Chebar, which was the means of calling forth at first the agency of Ezekiel, so it was natural for Ezekiel to send a message to Jerusalem confirming the warnings of Jeremiah. The prince, however, fancying a contradiction between Eze 12:13; "he shall not see Babylon," and Jer 24:8, 9, declaring he should be carried to Babylon, believed neither. Seeming discrepancies in Scripture on deeper search prove to be hidden harmonies.
Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.
11. sign—portent of evil to come (Eze 24:27; Zec 3:8, Margin). Fulfilled (2Ki 25:1-7; Jer 52:1-11).
And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.
12. prince … among them—literally, "that is in the midst of them," that is, on whom the eyes of all are cast, and "under whose shadow" they hope to live (La 4:20).
shall bear—namely, his "stuff for removing"; his equipments for his journey.
cover his face, that he see not the ground—See on Eze 12:6; the symbol in Eze 12:6 is explained in this verse. He shall muffle his face so as not to be recognized: a humiliation for a king!
My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.
13. My net—the Chaldean army. He shall be inextricably entangled in it, as in the meshes of a net. It is God's net (Job 19:6). Babylon was God's instrument (Isa 10:5). Called "a net" (Hab 1:14-16).
bring him to Babylon … ; yet shall he not see it—because he should be deprived of sight before he arrived there (Jer 52:11).
And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.
14. all … about him—his satellites: his bodyguard.
bands—literally, "the wings" of an army (Isa 8:8).
draw out … sword after them—(See on Eze 5:2; Eze 5:12).
And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.
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 whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
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).
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;
18. Symbolical representation of the famine and fear with which they should eat their scanty morsel, in their exile, and especially at the siege.
And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.
19. people of the land—the Jews "in the land" of Chaldea who thought themselves miserable as being exiles and envied the Jews left in Jerusalem as fortunate.
land of Israel—contrasted with "the people in the land" of Chaldea. So far from being fortunate as the exiles in Chaldea regarded them, the Jews in Jerusalem are truly miserable, for the worst is before them, whereas the exiles have escaped the miseries of the coming siege.
land … desolate from all that is therein—literally, "that the land (namely, Judea) may be despoiled of the fulness thereof"; emptied of the inhabitants and abundance of flocks and corn with which it was filled.
because of … violence—(Ps 107:34).
And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
20. the cities—left in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?
22. proverb—The infidel scoff, that the threatened judgment was so long in coming, it would not come at all, had by frequent repetition come to be a "proverb" with them. This skeptical habit contemporary prophets testify to (Jer 17:15; 20:7; Zep 1:12). Ezekiel, at the Chebar, thus sympathizes with Jeremiah and strengthens his testimony at Jerusalem. The tendency to the same scoff showed itself in earlier times, but had not then developed into a settled "proverb" (Isa 5:19; Am 5:18). It shall again be the characteristic of the last times, when "faith" shall be regarded as an antiquated thing (Lu 18:8), seeing that it remains stationary, whereas worldly arts and sciences progress, and when the "continuance of all things from creation" will be the argument against the possibility of their being suddenly brought to a standstill by the coming of the Lord (Isa 66:5; 2Pe 3:3, 4). The very long-suffering of God, which ought to lead men to repentance, is made an argument against His word (Ec 8:11; Am 6:3).
days … prolonged … vision faileth—their twofold argument: (1) The predictions shall not come to pass till long after our time. (2) They shall fail and prove vain shadows. God answers both in Eze 12:23, 25.
Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.
23. effect—literally, "the word," namely, fulfilled; that is, the effective fulfilment of whatever the prophets have spoken is at hand.
For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.
24. no more … vain vision … flattering divination—All those false prophets (La 2:14), who "flattered" the people with promises of peace and safety, shall be detected and confounded by the event itself.
For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.
25. word … shall come to pass—in opposition to their scoff "the vision faileth" (Eze 12:22). The repetition, "I will speak … speak," &c. (or as Fairbairn, "For I, Jehovah, will speak whatever word I shall speak, and it shall be done") implies that whenever God speaks, the effect must follow; for God, who speaks, is not divided in Himself (Eze 12:28; Isa 55:11; Da 9:12; Lu 21:33).
no more prolonged—in opposition to the scoff (Eze 12:22), "The days are prolonged."
in your days—while you are living (compare Mt 24:34).
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.
27. Not a mere repetition of the scoff (Eze 12:22); there the scoffers asserted that the evil was so often threatened and postponed, it must have no reality; here formalists do not go so far as to deny that a day of evil is coming, but assert it is still far off (Am 6:3). The transition is easy from this carnal security to the gross infidelity of the former class.
Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.