Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
2. The Discourses against the False Prophets and Prophetesses (Ezekiel 13.)
1And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, prophesy unto the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say unto the prophets out of their own heart, Hear ye the word of Jehovah; 3Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Woe unto the foolish prophets, who walk after their own spirit, and that they 4have not seen! Like foxes in the ruins have thy prophets become, O Israel. 5Ye have not gone up into the gaps [breaches], nor built a wall round the house of 6Israel, to make a stand in the war in the day of Jehovah. They beheld deceit and lying divination who say, Sentence of Jehovah,—and Jehovah sent them 7not,—and expect confirmation of a word. Saw ye not a deceitful vision, and spake ye not a lying divination, and [that while] saying, Sentence of Jehovah, and I have not spoken? 8Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because ye speak deceit, and see a lie, therefore, behold, I am upon you: sentence of the Lord Jehovah. 9And Mine hand is [comes] upon the prophets that see deceit, and that divine a lie: in the assembly of My people shall they not be, and in the register of the house of Israel they shall not be registered, and into the land of Israel shall they not come; and ye know that I am the Lord Jehovah. 10Because, even because they seduced My people, saying, Peace [salvation], and there is no peace; and they [i.e. the people] build a wall, and, lo, they [i.e. the false prophets] daub it with a coating. 11Say unto them which daub with a coating: And it shall fall: there comes a pouring rain; and ye, O hailstones, shall fall, and stormy wind shall 12[thou, O stormy wind, shalt] break forth. And, lo, the wall falls; shall not one say unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye daubed? 13Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: And I cause stormy wind to break forth in My fury, and pouring rain shall fall in Mine anger, and hailstones in My fury, unto utter destruction. 14And I break down the wall that ye daubed with a coating, and cast it to the ground, and its foundation is uncovered, and it [Jerusalem] falls, and ye perish 15in its [Jerusalem’s] midst; and ye know that I am Jehovah. And I accomplish My wrath upon the wall, and upon them that daubed it with a coating, and I will 16say unto you, The wall is not, neither are they that daubed it; The prophets of Israel who prophesied upon Jerusalem, and who saw for it a vision of peace, 17and there is no peace: sentence of the Lord Jehovah. And thou, son of man, set thy face toward the daughters of thy people, who prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou concerning them, 18And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Woe to those who sew together for themselves coverings upon all joints of My hands, and who make the veils upon the head of every stature to hunt [catch] souls! Ye will hunt the souls among My people, and ye will save souls 19alive among you! And ye will profane Me in face of My people for handfuls of barley and for bits of bread, to slay souls that should not die, and to save souls 20alive that should not live, by your lying to My people that hear lies! Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against your coverings, wherewith ye there [where ye hunt] hunt the souls when flying, and I tear them out of 21your arms, and let the souls go that ye hunt,—souls in their flying. And I tear in pieces your veils, and deliver My people, and they shall be no more in your 22hand as prey; and ye know that I am Jehovah. Because of troubling the heart of the righteous falsely, and [when] I did not make him sad, and that ye strengthen the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, to remain alive: 23Therefore ye shall no more see deceit, nor divine divinations; and I deliver My people out of your hand; and ye know that I am Jehovah.
Ezekiel 13:3. Sept.: ... προφητευουσιν ἀπο καρδιας αὐτων, τ. πορευομενοις ἀπο τ. πνευματος αὐτ.—
Ezekiel 13:5. ... κ. συνηγαγον ποιμνια, κ. ἐπι τ. οἰχον τ. Ἰσρ. οὐκ ἀνεστησαν οἰ λεγοντες ἐν ἡμερα κυριου,—Vulg.: Non ascendistis ex adverso neque opposuistis murum pro domo—
Ezekiel 13:6. ... κ. ἠρξαντο του ἀναστησαι λογον. Vulg.: et perseveraverunt confirmare sermonem.
Ezekiel 13:9. …ἐν παιδεια τ. λαου μου οὐκ—
Ezekiel 13:10. Vulg.: … liniebant eum luto absque paleis.
Ezekiel 13:11. Sept.: ... κ. δωσω λιθους πετροβολους εἰς τ. ἐνδεσμους αὐτων, κ. πεσουνται, κ. πνευμα ἐξαιρον, κ. ῥαγησεται.
Ezekiel 13:14. ... ὁν ἠλειψατε, κ. πεσειται... κ. συντελεσθησεσθε μετ̓ ἐλεγχων,—Vulg.: … linistis absque temperamento … et cadet it consumetur in medio ejus—
Ezekiel 13:15. … κ. πεσειται, κ. εἰπα προς ὐμας—
Ezekiel 13:18. ... ἐπι παντα ἀγκωνα χειρος... Κ. αἱ ψυχαι διεστραφησαν τ. λαου μου, κ. ψυχας περιεποιουντο, Vulg.: … Et cum caperent animas … vivificabant animas eorum,
Ezekiel 13:19. Another read.: שמע—דברי כזב, audienti mendacium.
Ezekiel 13:20. ... τ. ψυχας αὐτ. εἰς διασκορπισμον, Vulg.: animas ad volandum; (Sept., Syr., Hexapl., the Targum read: נפשם.)
Ezekiel 13:21. ... ἐν χερσιν ὑμ. εἰς συστροφην. Vulg.: … ad prædandum; (Other readings: יהיה—בידכם, מידכם erit, וידעתם.)
Ezekiel 13:22. …το καθολου μη ἀποστρεψαι—
Now that the text has been given in Ezekiel 12:24, there follows in two parts (Ezekiel 13:1–16, and 17–23)—in each case first the characteristics with which they are reproached (Ezekiel 13:1–7, Ezekiel 13:17–19), and then the penal sentence (Ezekiel 13:8–16, Ezekiel 13:20–23)—the sermon upon the text, a detailed treatment of the theme, viz. false prophecy in Israel, as the same was in vogue both at home and in the exile (comp. Jer. 29.), and cannot be overlooked as an element in the interchange of false hopes and expectations in either case, and of mutual intercourse (Introd. p. 9). While the second part is usually understood of false prophetesses, Hengst. makes the false prophets the subject here also, merely “on account of their feeble nature, like Women” (!). He brings forward as an argument for this Oriental and poetic exegesis the “designedly interspersed masculine pronouns (Ezekiel 13:19, 20),” whereby the prophet “all but expressly says that he has to do with women in men’s clothes;” and farther, that in the whole of the Old Testament “a false prophetess is nowhere mentioned,” “so that so serious a punishment as we have here would have been out of place.” Comp. as against both statements, the exposition of the section in question below. Neteler sees in the prophetesses “striking representatives of the synagogues,” with their interpretations, sayings, commentaries.
Ezekiel 13:2. אֶל indicates the destination of the prophetic discourse which follows, which, as regards its tendency and contents, is directed against the prophets of Israel. Who are meant, הַנִּבָּאִים tells us, viz. those who prophesy—who, from the fact of their prophesying, and consequently being in authority, are (alas!) the prophets of Israel. “Jeremiah in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel among the exiles, stood as oddities there, and had the government and the spirit of the age and of the people absolutely against them” (HENGST.). A more exact definition follows as regards the source whence their prophecy flows or is drawn: out of their own heart; and thus out of what is their own (Neh. 6:8), in contrast with the true prophet, who utters God’s word from God. And in this way their pretended office, their dignity in Israel, is already gone, and an ironical light falls upon the title, prophets of Israel. It fits into the contrast indicated with the true prophet, that they are to hear the word of Jehovah.
Ezekiel 13:3. Woe, already announcing the due punishment inevitably awaiting them, an exclamation of grief; telling at the same time with mingled pain and anger (as in Isa. 1:4; Matt. 23:13 sq.) what ought not to be, but is the case with prophets of what is their own. חַנְּבָלִים, a paronomasia with הַנְּבִיאִים. Why they are called fools is clear from Ps. 14:1, 53:1. To exhibit themselves as prophets, and not to be so from God, was a practical denial of God, especially of His avenging justice; was ungodliness, and at the same time stupidity in the highest degree. Where wisdom is wanting in this way, and where God is not the source, man “walks after his own spirit.” The “heart” with its lusts is the source, the spirit the guide, i.e. instead of the Spirit of God, the thoughts, which take shape as they come out of the heart, make themselves master of the man; the man goes after his imaginations, fancies, himself at last believing in them. According to Hävern., therefore, the two necessary conditions are wanting, the right starting-point and goal. רָאוּ וּלְבִלְתִּי, usually taken as a relative clause: “and after that which they have not seen” (?). For the woe, at all events, a positive as well as negative reason is given. Comp. Doct. Reflect., p. 54.
They are compared to the foxes in Ezekiel 13:4, as destroyers in a general sense, because the foxes are hurtful creatures; and there is no need for us to think specially of the undermining of the ground, hence of the “sapping of the moral foundations of the state” (KEIL), or of depasturing the vineyard (of Israel, Isa. 5.; Jer. 12:10), Cant. 2:15 (ROSENM.), or of injuring the game (HENGST.); and, least of all, have we to think of what is proverbial with us, the cunning of the fox. Comp. besides, Luke 13:31, 32; Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29. The ruins, on the one hand, indicate the favourite haunt of foxes and similar animals, and on the other, point to the ruin of Israel. [KLIEF.: “The ruins of the theocracy are undermined by the false prophets besides, inasmuch as they take up their abode in them.” HENGST.: “At no time were the false prophets rifer than in the last days of the Jewish state.” KIMCHI: “Thy prophets,” which are not Jehovah’s.]—Their conviction, however, in the form of an energetic address in reference to Israel’s welfare, turns in Ezekiel 13:5 not so much on what they have done, as on what they have neglected to do as regards the “ruins.” As prophets, as men of God, they had to place themselves in the gap, or to build a wall, etc. Both images are chosen with reference to the siege of Jerusalem. (According to Hävernick, the thing meant is the watching of the vineyard against thieves and wild beasts!) To make a stand in the war has reference both to what is required of the person and to what the state of affairs requires. The day of Jehovah is the time fixed by Him with reference to the reckoning to be given in to Him. Although the case is only as yet impending, yet it is spoken of as if it were an accomplished fact. It cannot happen otherwise with them, considering what they are (Ezekiel 13:5), and how they are acting (Ezekiel 13:6). [EWALD: “But what follows from such internal perversity has already taken place long before, while they, when wrath breaks forth as in the divine assault, and the helpless people are panting all the more after prophetic help, withdraw from cowardice, speaking flatteringly where it causes them no danger,” etc.] Comp. Ezekiel 22:30 (Ps. 106:23; Isa. 58:12; 1 Sam. 25:16); Amos 5:18, 20; Mal. 3:23 [4:5]. For the meaning of the figurative language in Ezekiel 13:5, we must think with the older expositors of intercessory mediation, of the awakening of Israel to repentance, the putting a stop to their wickedness, the building of them up in newness of spirit, etc. In the day, etc., and in the war, throw light on each other, so that he who wages war against Israel is Jehovah in the day of His wrath (Ezekiel 7:19; Isa. 63:10; Job 38:22, 23). The “breach” is the sinful condition of the people. (HITZ., HENGST.) [HÄV., like COCC., understands לְַעַמֹד of the house of Israel (others: of the wall). The day of the Lord means, according to COCC., the day of Christ’s appearing!]
Ezekiel 13:6. Jer. 23. וְיִחְַלוּ, according to others, is dependent on שְׁלָחָם: that they might hope, etc. Inasmuch as they believe their own lie, they wait (in vain) for its becoming true by being realized, that I would confirm it. Instead of this, in Ezekiel 13:7, just as in Ezekiel 13:5, guilt is brought home in a direct address on God s part. HENGST.: a question of conscience.
Ezekiel 13:8. The retributive punishment. אְַלֵיכֶם הִנְנִי is the explanation of the אֶל in Ezekiel 13:2. After the purpose has been expressed generally, there follows in Ezekiel 13:9 a carrying out of it in detail. סוֹד, abbreviated from יְסוֹד (יָםַד), “a taking together,” is: an assembly, a council, and also a confidential circle; here the former.—כְּחָב, the roll of citizens, and that the new one that is to be drawn up.—The exclusion from the people, just as their assembling, taking note of their condition, and afterwards returning home,—implying, of course, an advance,—refer to the (Ezekiel 11:17 sq.) promised restoration. Comp. Ps. 1:5, 87:6; Ezra 2:62.—יַעַן וּבְיַעַן, in Ezekiel 13:10, formally and solemnly, in the style of judgment (Lev. 26:43). In this way an additional and special retribution is introduced; the unauthorized announcement of salvation (Jer. 6:14, 8:11; Isa. 48:22), which is expressively compared to the daubing of a wall, beneath which the slim and worthless building material, as well as any gaps that may exist, disappear from the eye, is to be punished with the manifestation in actual fact of the misleading activity of the false prophets. And they build, viz. the people, not the false prophets. Compared with Ezekiel 13:5, instead of the wall which the prophets were to build, the people left to themselves in their self-help are reduced to a clay wall (חַיִץ) merely, which they erect for themselves with their wishes and hopes. (HENGST.: the political effort made by the coalition, to which the false prophets gave the appearance of a higher sanction.) The daubing which masks the unstable handiwork is provided by those prophets with their announcement of salvation. תָּפֵל, not טִיחַ, as in Ezekiel 13:12, because the sense, the meaning, breaks forth from the figure. EWALD: “elsewhere what is absurd intellectually, what is inconsistent with itself; here the mortar that does not hold together, clay without straw, or dry clay.” They spread their dull, stupid coating of words of salvation over it. HENGST.: absurdity (Jer. 23:13; Lam. 2:14). Comp. also Acts 23:3; Matt. 23:27.—The fall of the wall in Ezekiel 13:11 is in fact the special sentence on the daubers, יִפֹּל having a resemblance in sound to יִפֹּל.—הָיָה, as it were beginning a narrative, after the manner of a parable (EWALD).—A lively address (and ye) to the powers of nature. The circumstance that the description proceeds in this physical strain is perhaps intended to suggest the thought, how much as a matter of course it lies in the very nature of such a wall that it should fall, in spite of all the art of the daubing and coating.—אֶלְגָּבִישׁ, peculiar to Ezekiel, is hail, an expansion of גָּבִישׁ, “something stiffened” (ice), with א prosthetic and dagesh forte following אֶלְגָּבִישׁ = אַגָּבִישׁ, a Chaldee form. EWALD: probably from אֵל נָּבִישׁ, “a mist of hail,” i.e. thickest hail frozen together. Gesenius summons to his help unnecessarily the Arabic article; Hävernick regards the whole word as Arabia, as the crystal came to the Hebrews from Arabia. Comp. Ex. 9:18; Josh. 10:10 sq.; Isa. 30:30; Ps. 18:13, 14 [12, 13]; Job 38:22; Matt. 7:25, 27; Rev. 16:21. Hail, though rare in Palestine, is a thing well known in its devastating effects.—םְעָדוֹת, because of the violent rushings. תְּבַקֵּעַ may also be the second person, but can hardly as an address apply to God: a stormy wind thou shalt rend (!), as Hengstenberg. Expositors have also thought of a breaking through the wall. [So the Eng. Vers.: “a stormy wind shall rend it.”]—In Ezekiel 13:12 now הַקִּיר, which it ought to be, the wall, instead of חַיִץ in Ezekiel 13:10. The daubing was meant to give it the appearance of a solid wall.
Ezekiel 13:13. Ezekiel 8:18, 11:13.
Ezekiel 13:14. Breaking down to the foundation. בְּתוֹבָהּ, the feminine suffix pointing from the figure to the thing itself, the city to be destroyed, viz. Jerusalem, as נָפְלָה already does.
Ezekiel 13:15. The discourse plays upon the כָּלָה; comp. Ezekiel 13:13, 14. There is a bringing to an end (Ezekiel 5:13, 6:12, 7:8), and hence an application in Ezekiel 13:16 to the false prophets, against whom this first part of the discourse is directed. In Ezekiel 13:15 we need not read with Ewald: וְאָמַד, “that it is said of you.” What is impending will be a sermo realis.
Ezekiel 13:16. An apposition which brings the reference to the false prophets to an end.
Ezekiel 13:17. The False Prophetesses.—Peculiar to Ezekiel, and so much the more interesting, and none the less accordant with the actual condition of those last days of a life ever more and more mixed up with heathenisms. The prophetess Huldah appears, however, in 2 Kings 22:14, as a divinely inspired woman on the side of the living God. In caricature of her, in connection with idolatries like Ezekiel 8:14, the class of false prophetesses, against whom Ezekiel is to bear testimony, may have been formed. Hävernick mentions the old Arabian legendary history.—Set thy face toward, etc., Ezekiel 6:2.—עַמְּךָ, as it were: to this has it come with them! Comp. on Ezekiel 13:2. The Hithpael perhaps more sharply emphasizes their betaking themselves thereto, their conducting themselves as such, their female vanity, עַל indicates therefore the correspondingly superior prophetic commission of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 13:18. Comp. Ezekiel 13:3. Like the false prophets, the false prophetesses also prophesy out of their own hearts, but quite in womanly fashion “sewing together for themselves (EW. Gr. § 120b, with bad assiduity) kĕsathoth, and making mispachoth.” (1) The literal interpretation of these words: Ewald makes both things be placed on the body of these divineresses as ornament, so that while thus employed they were wont to look as upon a magic mirror upon the “knobs” which were sewed firmly on the wrist or arm, and with their mantles hanging over their heads they imitated the mantles of the prophets. Farfetched; especially “the children’s heads,” which Ewald brings forward in addition to the sorceries.—According to Calvin, a kind of sleepy condition was aimed at in this way, whereby they carried themselves and others away in transport from the earth.—[Old expositors explained the expressions in question of armlets for the purpose of divination; more modern ones, like J. D. Michaelis, explained them of magic fillets on the hands and head, which preserve the life of the wearer, but which bring death to the enemy.] Hävernick notices, first of all, the contrast of the luxurious, wanton life (Isa. 3:16 sq., 32:9 sq.) with the pretence of being prophetesses, and then compares for the catching of souls, Prov. 6:26; Ezekiel 7:21 sq. The unusual form בְּםָתוֹת is, according to him, a technical term for a definite kind of coverlets, rugs, which are sewed together for cushions, sofas. יָדַי he takes as an abbreviated dual form, and understands by אַצִּילֵי the joints of the hand in the wider sense (Jer. 38:12), so that every joint of the arm has its rug. Thus they lie on a comfortable couch (Prov. 7:16), in luxurious clothing besides—instar omnium מִםְפָּחוֹת, a word which (Isa. 3:22; Ruth 3:15), as a designation of the upper garments, the large shawls of the women, is put by Ezekiel for מִטְפָחוֹת, with an allusion to מִםְפַּחַת (scab, Isa. 3:17); taken in connection with עַל־רֹאשׁ, hence coquettish wearing of veils over the head for every stature. That rugs were not laid over or upon (עַל) the joints, elbows, shoulders, cannot certainly be maintained by Keil as against Hävernick, since עַל may here as well as afterwards be rendered by “for” of the standard.—Hitzig thinks of the analogy of the תְּפִלִּין, which one fastened during prayer on his left hand, and of the טַלִּית, a long and broad piece of cloth with which the suppliant covered his head. (2) The figurative interpretation: According as יָדַי is referred indirectly or directly to God; in the former case, so that: “upon all joints of My hands” = those of My people, hence that Jehovah regards Himself as injured in His people;—they impede the free movement, cover the eyes of every one (UMBREIT) by their lies and flatteries (usually: they lay the people in a bed of deceitful rest, cover them with all sorts of excuses, high and low alike); in the other case, as Klief. has it: it is brought as a charge against the prophetesses, that they cover by their false divination the word of God and the threatening hand of the Judge therein, and that they veil, exactly according to the stature of the individual, men’s hearing and seeing.—There is a correspondence between the analogy of the preceding discourse to the false prophets, which is certainly to be held fast, and the figurative interpretation, to which Hengstenberg and Keil also have given in their adhesion. What in the former case is daubing with a coating, is here covering and veiling. [בָּםָה is: “to cover;” םָפַח, to draw together, to envelope closely. עַל־רֹאשׁ, however, is not meant of the standard by which one is regulated, but is simply “over,” inasmuch as they know how to counsel every קוֹמָה (height, stature) of those who trust them.]—Jewish expositors have unnecessarily taken הַנְּפָשׁוֹת as a question. The contrast with חָיָה shows what צוּד has in view. Hence what tends to destruction in the one case, is meant to turn out for preservation in the other. Such a result cannot possibly occur where the living God and these women confront each other (among My people and among you), and where He would be profaned. [Häv.: לְ = those belonging to the people—those belonging to you, i.e. your own souls. Others draw the distinction between members of the people and adherents of the false prophetesses, to the former of whom they threaten destruction; to the latter, on the other hand, they promise prosperity. EWALD: souls of honest men they render gloomy and sickly, and thus they bring them down to death; souls of sinners they strengthen in their sins, in order that they themselves also through their gratitude may be the better able to live along with them. LUTHER: when ye have caught them among My people, ye promise them life. KLIEF.: they steal from the people of God their life, and take care of their own.]
Ezekiel 13:19. In contrast with the intended profanation of Jehovah, specially of His name by their lying (in face of My people, as afterwards: to My people), the price is emphasized sharply, the wretched life of the body (Mic. 3:5; Tit. 1:11; Rom. 16:18). Those that should not die are the souls of the people of Jehovah (Ezekiel 3:17 sq.); those contrasted with them are the souls of the prophetesses themselves (Deut. 18:20). According to others: the former are the pious, the latter the wicked. Comp. Ezekiel 13:18. בְּכַזֶּבְכֶם, the masc. suffix, embracing at the same time the false prophets along with them, or an inaccuracy of Ezekiel’s (Häv.). Comp. on Ezekiel 13:20. Comp. besides, Mic. 2:11.
Thereafter, in Ezekiel 13:20, the judgment, as in the case of the false prophets (Ezekiel 13:8 sq.). There—the coverings are, as it were, the ground on which the hunt takes place, according to Hengstenberg. According to others: there, at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 13:16).—לְפֹרְחוֹת (from פָּרַח, to break through (בָּרַך), like בָּרַח, to flee) is rendered by Häv.: “to rejoicings (excesses).” Prov. 7:18. NETELER: “in their bloom.” Others: “to blooming pleasure-gardens”; others still: “in order that they may blossom,” according to your prophecy. PHILIPPSON: “to flutter in the net.” HENGST.: “like birds.” EWALD: “as if they were birds of passage.” פֹּדְתוֹת, Aramaic, means “flying ones”; so it is acknowledged by most in what follows, and so it is here likewise, only that the connection makes the difference,—that here they are hunted, caught, as such, but instead of this, in what follows, with piquant repetition, they are let fly. The very sameness of the expression, amid opposite surroundings, is the point. Because the false prophetesses are conceived of here (Ps. 11) as fowlers, who are usually men, the masc. suffix preceding the comparison is easily understood. The souls are torn out of the arms in question; according to the usual interpretation: the coverings are torn away from the arms of the false prophetesses.—וְשִׁלַּחתִּי, as in Deut. 22:7 (Ex. 21:26).
Ezekiel 13:21. With the feminine suffix the address returns again to the women. While hitherto Ezekiel 13:18 was kept in view, with Ezekiel 13:22, 23 the reference is to Ezekiel 13:19. While they threw suspicion on the pious among the exiles, and made them sad, etc., they strengthened those in Jerusalem in their pride of expectation. They did evil to the good, and to the bad they did no good. And so shall all their doings come to an end. By the events shall they be put to shame, and they shall perish in them.
1. Cocceius gives the name of false prophecy to the doctrine which is contrary to God’s word, to the false exposition of Scripture, as well as to prophesying without having seen and heard God’s word, as well as, above all, to the imagination of, or the laying claim to, possessing such divine revelation.
[2. “Here, then, lay the grand characteristic of the true prophet, as distinguished from the false. There was exhibited objectively to his soul, through the operation of the Spirit of God, a thought, or succession of thoughts,—an action, perhaps, revealing the mind and will of God; and then taking up this in the apprehension of his mind, he went forth to declare it to others, as from his own inward consciousness, clothed in such words as fitly expressed what had been seen within. With the false prophet, on the other hand, even supposing him to be perfectly sincere in what he uttered, all proceeded from the impulse of his own inflated imagination or excited feelings; the whole was from within merely, nothing from without, from above. Yet, with this distinction so clearly traced, and traced for the express purpose of drawing the line of demarcation between the true and the false in prophetic utterances, we are still presented with views and theories of inspiration, which, in the case of inspired men generally, prophets as well as evangelists and apostles, if they do not altogether discard the objective, render the subjective alone prominent,—make so much account of the internal consciousness or intuitional sense of the subject of inspiration, as necessarily to throw into the background the divine communication made to him from above. But in the two classes of prophets here presented to our notice, the one could lay claim, as well as the other, to the internal consciousness of some spiritual thought or idea; the only question was, whence came the idea? Did it spring up from within, as of itself? or was it presented there by the Spirit of God? Was the mind’s consciousness of the thoughts and feelings it experienced of its own awakening, or was it awakened by a divine and formal communication from above? If we lose sight of this important distinction, we virtually make no account of what constitutes the fundamental element of a divine revelation, and leave ourselves without a fixed landmark between the movements of God’s Spirit and the capricious workings of human fancy. And confounding thus things that essentially differ in regard to the origin of a revelation, we lay ourselves open to the farther error of disparaging the value of a revelation, when made; we totally change it, indeed, and lower its character, and assign it only a kind of higher room among the views and cogitations of men’s own imagining.”—FAIRBAIRN’S Ezekiel, pp. 133, 134.—W. F.]
3. “False prophecy does not believe in any day of judgment of Jehovah’s” (HÄVERNICK).
4. “Because God will never be separated from His word, while He is in Himself invisible, He manifests Himself only in His word. Hence in the case of false prophecy, making constant use as it did of the expression: ‘The Lord hath said,’ all the attributes of the divine nature necessarily ran the risk of being denied or profaned” (CALVIN).
5. Prophecy in Israel was a gift of the Spirit, and already, as being so, had no restriction as to sex. But when it came to be upheld by the Spirit of Christ, in whom there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28), this overlooking of all sexual distinctions of necessity still more characterized it.
6. It is a symptom of dissolution of all social bonds when women are in power in such fashion as we find them here in Ezekiel. The French Revolution and the most recent so-called emancipation question [emancipation of women] are proofs of this.
7. On the other hand, in the sister of Moses, in Deborah, in the mother of Samuel, during the time of the Old Covenant even, we have illustrations of what was to be set forth in the highest degree by the blessed among women, viz. the religious capabilities of the female sex. The caricatures of the holy are also its foil.
8. Inspiration is essentially a thing belonging to women. If the apostle (1 Tim. 2; 1 Cor. 14) prohibits the female sex from teaching, yet he shows, even in the former of these passages (comp. 2 Cor. 11:3), how receptive woman is for the spirit-world, for all that is transcendental in word and deed, in form and substance; and not less must we take into account the influence of the female sex, and the art (so easy to them) of deception, of seduction.
Ezekiel 13:2. “Prophecy against prophecy, the prophecy from above against the prophecy from beneath: this is the everlasting ordinance in the kingdom of God” (HENGST.).—“But when he says that God is coming against the false prophets, he by no means intends to excuse the people. For the people had the law and likewise true prophets. In Deut. 13. the distinguishing marks of the true and false prophets were given. Theirs was blindness in clear day. And therefore God suffered the arrogance and disobedience of the people to be punished” (CALV.).—“Satan’s power is especially very great in the case of teachers and preachers, 1 Kings 22.” (LANGE.)—“Thus prophet came into collision with prophet. And now-a-days still God will in this way test the faith of His own, and disclose the hypocrisy of many (1 Cor. 11:19). It is not in vain that He permits the servants of Satan to rise up against sound doctrine, and that the Church is torn in pieces by divergent opinions, and that vain conceits are able to attain such strength that the truth must have the worst of it. For in this way the stedfastness of the pious comes to light, and equally the lightmindedness of the hypocrites, who suffer themselves to be carried away by every wind” (CALV.).—The presence of false prophets a sign of dissolution, as well as of the judgment of God.—The false prophets involve the people in guilt; the people are to blame for the false prophets, 2 Thess. 2:11.—The word of God, that which is to be heard by all, in all things, and at all times.
Ezekiel 13:3. Self-deception and the deception of others go together.—“From this we see how it stands with man’s spirit, for God presupposes here a standing controversy between man’s spirit and the revelation of His Spirit” (CALV.).—And yet, for the most part, it is just the wise people that are found among these fools.—The wisdom of the world and folly before God.—“Whoever will open the eyes of others, let him see to it beforehand whether he himself has an eye open Godwards” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 13:4. “The spiritual foxes flourish the better, the more degraded the condition of the people” (HENGST.).—“The people in the wilderness of the exile were very much exposed to the false prophets” (LUTH.).
Ezekiel 13:5. False prophets cannot pray.—The intercession of the prophets steps into the breach.—“Right doctrine is the right wall, just as it also teaches right living” (CALV.).—“There is no better wall than reformation of life” (BERL. BIB.).
Ezekiel 13:6, 7. Without being sent by God, no one ought to enter a teacher’s office.
Ezekiel 13:8, 9. We have to give an account of our words even.—God convicts sinners sometimes out of their own mouth.
Ezekiel 13:9. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God; a king’s hands we may escape, but not God’s” (STCK.).—“Because the Jews have refused to become Christians, they have not been enrolled in the register of Israel” (COCC.).—“It is not enough that men should reckon us members of the Church. We must know in our own hearts whether we have the inward marks whereby the children of God are distinguished from those who do not belong to His family” (CALV.).
Ezekiel 13:10. “Ungodly teachers preach to their hearers of good days merely, and comfort them into hell, Jer. 8:11” (STARKE).—“The wall is the mere external service of God; and yet all the while the false prophets flatter them, treat them as pious persons, all without exception saints in Christ” (BERL. BIB.).—The world, too, wishes peace, but not the peace of God through Jesus Christ.—“God proclaims peace to us, it is true. But we must wage war with ourselves and with our vices” (CALV.).—There are among preachers those who build without a foundation, and, alas! also mere outside-daubers.—[SCOTT: “Some teach men to expect safety from a comparative decency of moral character; some on account of formal or superstitious observances; some because they belong to an orthodox part of the Church, and have got some notions of certain important doctrines; some because of their impressions and enthusiastic reveries; and others even by a direct abuse of the gospel, and making Christ the minister of sin. Men of learning and ingenuity employ themselves in daubing these tottering walls with untempered mortar, to prevent their weakness from being discovered. But they are all alike distant from Christ, the true foundation: they build not on Him by a penitent faith, that worketh by love, and produceth obedience; they either leave out His merits and atonement, or the work of His new-creating Spirit, or the substantial fruits of righteousness; and in different ways endeavour to varnish, paint, and repair the old building, instead of erecting a new one on a new foundation, for ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit.’ ”—W. F.]—“We believe much more readily those who preach to us of glory, riches, and peace, than those who promise us nothing but the cross. And yet the words of glory are deceitful words, and the devil can very easily mix himself up with prophecies of that sort, and does it too; but the cross abides and remains” (BERL. BIB.).—False hope of life is a sign of approaching death.
Ezekiel 13:11 sq.: “Every building of which faith has not laid the foundation helplessly gives way when God’s storms come” (UMBREIT).—“No doctrine of mere human reason can stand in the time of trouble and temptation; but he who is built upon the doctrine of the holy apostles and prophets has built his house firm and sure, Eph. 2:20” (CR.).—Man’s work, slim work; God’s storms, bad storms.—Vain conceits, hypocrisy, and deceit do not stand in the divine judgment.
Ezekiel 13:14. “The foundation is the important thing in building, and even when the wall falls. For one may (1 Cor. 3:12, 15) build on the true foundation all sorts of things, which are consumed in the fire, yet so that the builder himself is saved. Here, on the other hand, the foundation is false, and therefore building and builder alike disappear” (COCC.).—“It is besides a peculiarity of the judgments of God, that they are a revelation, and make manifest to all the world what was deceit and falsehood” (LUTHER).
Ezekiel 13:17 sq. “False prophets for the most part rear for themselves false prophetesses” (COCC).—“The woman Jezebel speaks (Rev. 2:20), alleging that she is a prophetess, by false interpretation, application, and perversion of Scripture, whereof each one chooses for his own use what suits him best. Of such cushions there are enough in the present day still, and God’s mercy itself is so perverted. But whenever one would hunt and would fain catch something, it is commonly the destruction and death of the object that he has in view. And so here one seeks his gain and advantage with and from the destruction of other people” (BERL. BIB.).—“What Satan cannot accomplish by means of the male sex, he attempts by means of the female, Acts 16:16” (STARKE).—“Effeminate is all accommodation theology. It is its nature to set aside, as in general all that is uncomfortable for the old Adam and gives him pain, so especially the energy of the requiring and punishing divine righteousness—the severity of God, Rom. 11:22. Where Ezekiel puts the cushions, there we put perhaps the icy glove. Besides the cushions for the hands of the Lord, which touch [men in their natural state] very ungently, they make coverings for the heads of their penitents, that the hand of God may not touch them ungently, and indeed for heads or people of every stature, always according to the greatness of the reward to be expected—the greatest for the king. The higher any one is placed, the more zealously do they endeavour to clear his conscience, as Jesuits before the Jesuits, differing from their successors in this, that the latter had in view the interest and power of the Church, while the former serve merely their own belly” (HENGST.).
Ezekiel 13:18. “It is a striking, awful word, that a lie has the power to catch and to kill souls” (UMBREIT).—A heart, indeed, for every head, for the wrong-headed even, the servant of God ought to have, but not pious caps for all heads.—“Satan keeps a large richly furnished store of rugs and pillows, such as cherished habits, the example of others, the way of all the world, church-going even, partaking of the Lord’s Supper,” etc. (STCK.)—“God is angry with them, for they prop up souls, hinder them, lay under their deeds a pillow of reward, teach them to place their reliance in their own thoughts and imaginings, instead of in the truth. But they become still worse through a certain emotional power, which flatters them with a semblance of life in the midst of death. The prophets who know how to produce this feeling of life with their promises are more readily accepted as true prophets than those who cut off all supports, and bring about death. A true prophet announces nothing but destruction—war, famine, and death (1 Kings 22:8). And the reason is this, that the prophesying of death must precede the prophesying of life” (BERL. BIB.).
Ezekiel 13:19. The prophetic spirit of lying, a spirit of murder, and also of blasphemy, putting an end alike to men’s fellowship with one another and to their fellowship with God.—“God is the truth; with it He too vanishes, becomes the ghost of one that is dead. But it was a special pledge of His love that God gave them prophets, that He had promised the gift of prophets to Israel. With the prostitution of the name of prophet God’s own gracious name must of necessity in a special way nave been put to shame, and that among His own people, as distinguished above all other nations” (CALV.).—“They profane God among His people, by making Him take up a friendly position toward sin” (HENGST.).—To cast away the living God for the means of sustaining this earthly life, what self-murder!—“Mark it, ye brethren of Gehazi, what hateful leprosy, 2 Kings 5.” (STARKE.)—“The true and faithful servants of God also kill souls and make them alive; for the word of God is life, and brings salvation to lost men; and not less does it become a savour of death unto death to those who are lost, 2 Cor. 2.” (CALV.)—“Whoever wishes to live, let him betake himself to the living God, to whom the word of life of all true prophets points us. Every soul must die that does not tread this way of life” (CALV.).—“Those who have no pleasure in the truth, must, in accordance with the righteous judgment of God, believe a lie” (O.).—“They would so fain have it, that the false might turn out truth” (COCC).
Ezekiel 13:20 sq. That they do not remain unpunished is no special act of judgment on God’s part, but nothing else save the revelation of judgment contained in the third commandment.—The ten commandments are full of judgment-seats for God.—“It is the everlasting comfort of the poor human race, exposed as it is to that spirit who is a liar and a murderer, that the almighty God of truth rules as a defender and protector of souls. The Lord will also save and set free captive souls from the hands of their deceiver and seducer; for in truth they are not irrational birds, destined for fluttering and flying, but images of their Divine Creator” (UMBREIT).—“Pious hearts are filled with fear of God’s name, and hence they are easily vexed and taken captive with false doctrine, delivered to them in God’s name” (RANDGL.).
Ezekiel 13:22. “It is nevertheless sin not to comfort or to trouble still more those who are troubled, as well as to strengthen the stiffnecked in their wickedness, Isa. 5:20” (CR.).—The unlawful “trouble” caused by certain preachers of repentance.—Rightly to divide the word of God, a gift and distinguishing mark of a true teacher.—False doctrine makes wounded hearts, but also hard hands.
Ezekiel 13:23. False prophecy also was to cease until the appearance of the Great Prophet, the Son of God.—“Thus God was resolved to save His people under the New Testament; so that brother should no more need to teach brother, because the fulfilment would be in their midst. The Word Himself would in very deed become flesh” (COCC.).
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,