Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Eze 13:1-23. Denunciation of False Prophets and Prophetesses; Their False Teachings, and God's Consequent Judgments.
1. As the twelfth chapter denounced the false expectations of the people, so this denounces the false leaders who fed those expectations. As an independent witness, Ezekiel confirms at the Chebar the testimony of Jeremiah (Jer 29:21, 31) in his letter from Jerusalem to the captive exiles, against the false prophets; of these some were conscious knaves, others fanatical dupes of their own frauds; for example, Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah. Hananiah must have believed his own lie, else he would not have specified so circumstantial details (Jer 28:2-4). The conscious knaves gave only general assurances of peace (Jer 5:31; 6:14; 14:13). The language of Ezekiel has plain references to the similar language of Jeremiah (for example, Jer 23:9-38); the bane of false prophecy, which had its stronghold in Jerusalem, having in some degree extended to the Chebar; this chapter, therefore, is primarily intended as a message to those still in the Jewish metropolis; and, secondarily, for the good of the exiles at the Chebar.
Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
2. that prophesy—namely, a speedy return to Jerusalem.
out of … own hearts—alluding to the words of Jeremiah (Jer 23:16, 26); that is, what they prophesied was what they and the people wished; the wish was father to the thought. The people wished to be deceived, and so were deceived. They were inexcusable, for they had among them true prophets (who spoke not their own thoughts, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2Pe 1:21), whom they might have known to be such, but they did not wish to know (Joh 3:19).
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
3. foolish—though vaunting as though exclusively possessing "wisdom" (1Co 1:19-21); the fear of God being the only beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10).
their own spirit—instead of the Spirit of God. A threefold distinction lay between the false and the true prophets: (1) The source of their messages respectively; of the false, "their own hearts"; of the true, an object presented to the spiritual sense (named from the noblest of the senses, a seeing) by the Spirit of God as from without, not produced by their own natural powers of reflection. The word, the body of the thought, presented itself not audibly to the natural sense, but directly to the spirit of the prophet; and so the perception of it is properly called a seeing, he perceiving that which thereafter forms itself in his soul as the cover of the external word [Delitzsch]; hence the peculiar expression, "seeing the word of God" (Isa 2:1; 13:1; Am 1:1; Mic 1:1). (2) The point aimed at; the false "walking after their own spirit"; the true, after the Spirit of God. (3) The result; the false saw nothing, but spake as if they had seen; the true had a vision, not subjective, but objectively real [Fairbairn]. A refutation of those who set the inward word above the objective, and represent the Bible as flowing subjectively from the inner light of its writers, not from the revelation of the Holy Ghost from without. "They are impatient to get possession of the kernel without its fostering shell—they would have Christ without the Bible" [Bengel].
O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
4. foxes—which cunningly "spoil the vines" (So 2:15), Israel being the vineyard (Ps 80:8-15; Isa 5:1-7; 27:2; Jer 2:21); their duty was to have guarded it from being spoiled, whereas they themselves spoiled it by corruptions.
in … deserts—where there is nothing to eat; whence the foxes become so ravenous and crafty in their devices to get food. So the prophets wander in Israel, a moral desert, unrestrained, greedy of gain which they get by craft.
Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.
5. not gone up into … gaps—metaphor from breaches made in a wall, to which the defenders ought to betake themselves in order to repel the entrance of the foe. The breach is that made in the theocracy through the nation's sin; and, unless it be made up, the vengeance of God will break in through it. Those who would advise the people to repentance are the restorers of the breach (Eze 22:30; Ps 106:23, 30).
hedge—the law of God (Ps 80:12; Isa 5:2, 5); by violating it, the people stripped themselves of the fence of God's protection and lay exposed to the foe. The false prophets did not try to repair the evil by bringing back the people to the law with good counsels, or by checking the bad with reproofs. These two duties answer to the double office of defenders in case of a breach made in a wall: (1) To repair the breach from within; (2) To oppose the foe from without.
to stand—that is, that the city may "stand."
in … day of … Lord—In the day of the battle which God wages against Israel for their sins, ye do not try to stay God's vengeance by prayers, and by leading the nation to repentance.
They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
6. made others to hope, &c.—rather, "they hoped" to confirm (that is, 'make good') their word, by the event corresponding to their prophecy. The Hebrew requires this [Havernick]. Also the parallel clause, "they have seen vanity," implies that they believed their own lie (2Th 2:11). Subjective revelation is false unless it rests on the objective.
Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.
8. I am against you—rather understand, "I come against you," to punish your wicked profanation of My name (compare Re 2:5, 16).
And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
9. mine hand—My power in vengeance.
not … in … assembly—rather, the "council"; "They shall not occupy the honorable office of councillors in the senate of elders after the return from Babylon" (Ezr 2:1, 2).
neither … written in … Israel—They shall not even have a place in the register kept of all citizens' names; they shall be erased from it, just as the names of those who died in the year, or had been deprived of citizenship for their crimes, were at the annual revisal erased. Compare Jer 17:13; Lu 10:20; Re 3:5, as to those spiritually Israelites; Joh 1:47, and those not so. Literally fulfilled (Ezr 2:59, 62; compare Ne 7:5; Ps 69:28).
neither … enter … land—They shall not so much as be allowed to come back at all to their country.
Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
10. Because, even because—The repetition heightens the emphasis.
Peace—safety to the nation. Ezekiel confirms Jer 6:14; 8:11.
one—literally, "this one"; said contemptuously, as in 2Ch 28:22.
a wall—rather, "a loose wall." Ezekiel had said that the false prophets did not "go up into the gaps, or make up the breaches" (Eze 13:5), as good architects do; now he adds that they make a bustling show of anxiety about repairing the wall; but it is without right mortar, and therefore of no use.
one … others—besides individual effort, they jointly co-operated to delude the people.
daubed … with untempered mortar—as sand without lime, mud without straw [Grotius]. Fairbairn translates, "plaster it with whitewash." But besides the hypocrisy of merely outwardly "daubing" to make the wall look fair (Mt 23:27, 29; Ac 23:3), there is implied the unsoundness of the wall from the absence of true uniting cement; the "untempered cement" answering to the lie of the prophets, who say, in support of their prophecies, "Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken" (Eze 22:28).
Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.
11. overflowing—inundating; such as will at once wash away the mere clay mortar. The three most destructive agents shall co-operate against the wall—wind, rain, and hailstones. These last in the East are more out of the regular course of nature and are therefore often particularly specified as the instruments of God's displeasure against His foes (Ex 9:18; Jos 10:11; Job 38:22; Ps 18:12, 13; Isa 28:2; 30:30; Re 16:21). The Hebrew here is, literally, "stones of ice." They fall in Palestine at times an inch thick with a destructive velocity. The personification heightens the vivid effect, "O ye hail stones." The Chaldeans will be the violent agency whereby God will unmask and refute them, overthrowing their edifice of lies.
Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?
12. shall it not be said—Your vanity and folly shall be so manifested that it shall pass into a proverb, "Where is the daubing?"
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.
13. God repeats, in His own name, as the Source of the coming calamity, what had been expressed generally in Eze 13:11.
So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
14. The repetition of the same threat (see on Eze 13:11) is to awaken the people out of their dream of safety by the certainty of the event.
foundation—As the "wall" represents the security of the nation, so the "foundation" is Jerusalem, on the fortifications of which they rested their confidence. Grotius makes the "foundation" refer to the false principles on which they rested; Eze 13:16 supports the former view.
Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;
To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.
16. prophesy concerning Jerusalem—With all their "seeing visions of peace for her," they cannot ensure peace or safety to themselves.
Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
17. set thy face—put on a bold countenance, fearlessly to denounce them (Eze 3:8, 9; Isa 50:7).
daughters—the false prophetesses; alluded to only here; elsewhere the guilt specified in the women is the active share they took in maintaining idolatry (Eze 8:14). It was only in extraordinary emergencies that God bestowed prophecy on women, for example on Miriam, Deborah, Huldah (Ex 15:20; Jud 4:4; 2Ki 22:14); so in the last days to come (Joe 2:28). The rareness of such instances enhanced their guilt in pretending inspiration.
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
18. sew pillows to … armholes—rather, elbows and wrists, for which the false prophetesses made cushions to lean on, as a symbolical act, typifying the perfect tranquility which they foretold to those consulting them. Perhaps they made their dupes rest on these cushions in a fancied state of ecstasy after they had made them at first stand (whence the expression, "every stature," is used for "men of every age"). As the men are said to have built a wall (Eze 13:10), so the women are said to sew pillows, &c., both alike typifying the "peace" they promised the impenitent.
make kerchiefs—magical veils, which they put over the heads of those consulting them, as if to fit them for receiving a response, that they might be rapt in spiritual trance above the world.
head of every stature—"men of every age," old and young, great and small, if only these had pay to offer them.
hunt souls—eagerly trying to allure them to the love of yourselves (Pr 6:26; 2Pe 2:14), so as unwarily to become your prey.
will ye save … souls … that come unto you—Will ye haul after souls, and when they are yours ("come unto you"), will ye promise them life? "Save" is explained (Eze 13:22), "promising life" [Grotius]. Calvin explains, "Will ye hunt My people's souls and yet will ye save your own souls"; I, the Lord God, will not allow it. But "save" is used (Eze 13:19) of the false prophetesses promising life to the impenitent, so that English Version and Grotius explain it best.
And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
19. handfuls—expressing the paltry gain for which they bartered immortal souls (compare Mic 3:5, 11; Heb 12:16). They "polluted" God by making His name the cloak under which they uttered falsehoods.
among my people—an aggravation of their sin, that they committed it "among the people" whom God had chosen as peculiarly His own, and among whom He had His temple. It would have been a sin to have done so even among the Gentiles, who knew not God; much more so among the people of God (compare Pr 28:21).
slay … souls that should not die, &c.—to predict the slaying or perdition of the godly whom I will save. As true ministers are said to save and slay their hearers, according to the spirit respectively in which these receive their message (2Co 2:15, 16), so false ministers imitate them; but they promise safety to those on the broad way to ruin and predict ruin to those on the narrow way of God.
my people that hear your lies—who are therefore wilfully deceived, so that their guilt lies at their own door (Joh 3:19).
Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
20. I am against your pillows—that is, against your lying ceremonial tricks by which ye cheat the people.
to make them fly—namely, into their snares, as fowlers disturb birds so as to be suddenly caught in the net spread for them. "Fly" is peculiarly appropriate as to those lofty spiritual flights to which they pretended to raise their dupes when they veiled their heads with kerchiefs and made them rest on luxurious arm-cushions (Eze 13:18).
let … souls go—"Ye make them fly" in order to destroy them; "I will let them go" in order to save them (Ps 91:3; Pr 6:5; Ho 9:8).
Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
21. in your hand—in your power. "My people" are the elect remnant of Israel to be saved.
ye shall know—by the judgments which ye shall suffer.
Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
22. ye have made … the righteous sad—by lying predictions of calamities impending ever the godly.
strengthened … wicked—(Jer 23:14).
heart of … righteous … hands of … wicked—Heart is applied to the righteous because the terrors foretold penetrated to their inmost feelings; hands, to the wicked because they were so hardened as not only to despise God in their minds, but also to manifest it in their whole acts, as if avowedly waging war with Him.
Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
23. ye shall see no more vanity—The event shall confute your lies, involving yourselves in destruction (Eze 13:9; Eze 14:8; 15:7; Mic 3:6).