Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
11. The Conviction of Ripeness for Judgment: (a) Of Jerusalem’s in particular (Ezekiel 22); (b) and of Judah’s and Israel’s as a whole (Ezekiel 23).
(a) Jerusalem ripe for Judgment (Ezekiel 22.)
1, 2And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, And thou, son of man, wilt thou judge? Wilt thou judge the city of blood [blood-shedding]? Then make 3her to know all her abominations. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, A city that sheds blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and has 4made idols for [over] herself that she may be defiled! In thy blood which thou hast shed thou hast become guilty, and in thine idols which thou hast made thou art defiled; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come to thy years: therefore have I given thee for a reproach to the heathen, 5and for a mocking to all lands. Those that are near, and those that are far from thee, shall mock at thee as one polluted in name, and full of confusion. 6Behold, the princes of Israel, every one according to his arm, were in thee in 7order to shed blood! Father and mother they lightly esteemed in thee; with [in relation to] the stranger they have acted unjustly in the midst of thee; 8the widow and the orphan they have oppressed in thee. My holy things 9thou hast despised, and hast profaned My sabbaths. Men of slander have been in thee to shed blood, and in thee they have eaten upon the mountains; 10they have committed lewdness in the midst of thee. In thee, one has uncovered a father’s nakedness; in thee they have humbled her that is unclean in 11her separation. And one has committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another has lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law; and another has 12humbled [ravished] his sister, his father’s daughter, in thee. They have taken bribes in thee to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and hast overreached thy neighbour by extortion, and thou hast forgotten Me: sentence 13of the Lord Jehovah. And, behold, I have smitten My hand at thy gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood-shedding which was in thy 14midst. Will thy heart endure [be stedfast]? or will thy hands be strong for the days when I shall deal with thee? I, Jehovah, have spoken, and will do 15[have done]. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume [make to cease] thy filthiness out of thee. 16And thou shalt be profaned in thee [through thee] before the eyes of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah. 17And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 18Son of man, the house of Israel has become to Me dross; the whole of them are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the 19furnace; they have become the dross of silver. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because ye have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather 20you into the midst of Jerusalem, [AS] a gathering together of silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it that it may be melted, so will I gather you in My anger and in 21My fury, and I will leave you and melt you. And I will collect you, and will blow upon you in the fire of My wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. 22As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst of it; and ye shall know that I, Jehovah, have poured out My 23fury upon you. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 24Son of man, say to her, Thou art a land that is not cleansed, that has no rain in the day 25of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets [is] in her midst; like a roaring lion ravening the prey they have devoured souls, taken treasure [property] and precious things [jewels]; her widows they have multiplied in the midst of her. 26Her priests have done violence to My law, and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between holy and unholy, nor discerned between clean and unclean; and they have hidden their eyes from My sabbaths, and I 27am profaned among them. Her rulers [princes] in the midst of her were like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, to destroy souls, and to make gain. 28And her prophets have daubed for them with whitewash, seeing vanity and divining lies for them, saying, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, when Jehovah hath not spoken. 29The people of the land have practised oppression, and committed robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy, and oppressed the stranger against the right. 30And I sought for a man among them that might build up a wall, and might stand in the breach [step into the gap] before Me for 31the land, that I might not destroy it; and I found none. So I poured [pour] out upon them My indignation, in the fire of My wrath I consumed [consume] them; I have recompensed [recompense] their way upon their head: sentence of the Lord Jehovah.
Ezekiel 22:3. Sept.: ... κατ̓ αὐτης—Vulg.: … contra semetipsam.
Ezekiel 22:4. ... κ. ἠγαγες καιρον ἐτων σου. (The Oriental Jews, etc. read: עת שנותיך.) Many codices: בגוים.
Ezekiel 22:5. ... πολλη ἐν ταις ἀνομιαις—Vulg.: … sordida, nobilis, grandis interitu.
Ezekiel 22:6. ... ἑκαστος προς τους συγγενεις αὐτου συνανεφυροντο ἐν σοι—
Ezekiel 22:9. ... Ἀνδρες λησται—
Ezekiel 22:11. ... την νυμφην αὐτου—
Ezekiel 22:12. ... κ. συνετελεσω συντελειαν κακιας σου την ἐν καταδυναστιια σου, ὁτι ἐμου ἐπελαθου—
Ezekiel 22:16. κ. κατακληρονομησω ἑν σοι—Vulg.: possidebo te.
Ezekiel 22:18. ... ἀναμεμιγμενος χαλκω … ἐν μεσω ἀργυριου ἀναμεμιγμενος ἐστιν.
Ezekiel 22:19. ... … παντες εἰς συγκρασι μιαν—
Ezekiel 22:24. ... γη οὐ βρεχομενη, οὐδε ὑετος καταβησιται σοι—Vulg.: immunda et non compluta—
Ezekiel 22:25. Οἱ ἀφηγουμενοι αὐτης … ὡς λεοντες ἐρευγομενοι … ἐδυναστευσαν ἐν δυναστεια, δωρα ἐλαμβανον ἐν ἀδικια—Sept. and Arab. read: אלמנותיך.
Ezekiel 22:27. Sept.: Οἱ ἀρχοντες … αἱμα, ὁπως—
Ezekiel 22:28. ... πεσουνται—
Ezekiel 22:29. Τον λαον … ἐκπιεξουντες—
Ezekiel 22:30. ... ἀνδρα ἀναστρεφομενον ὀρθως κ. ἑστωτα … το ὀλοσχερες ἐν καιρω της ὀργης μου, του μη εἰς τελος ἐξαλειψαι αὐτην.—
[“This chapter stands closely related to the last chapter, and may fitly be regarded as supplementary to it; the former having presented a striking delineation of the Lord’s purpose to execute the severity of His displeasure upon the people of Jerusalem, while this returns to lay open the fearful mass of corruption on account of which such severity was to be inflicted. In what is written here there is nothing properly new; in its general purport, it is a repetition of the charges which were urged in Ezekiel 20; and so the chapter begins much in the same way,—with a call upon the prophet to judge the people, and set before them their iniquities. There, however, the charge took the form of a historical review for the purpose of connecting the present state of wickedness with the past, and showing how continuously the stream of corruption had flowed through all periods of their national existence. Here, on the other hand, the prophet looks exclusively to the present, and brings out in fearful array the many heinous and rampant sins which were crying in heaven’s ear for vengeance.”—FAIRBAIRN’S Ezekiel, p. 249.—W. F.]
Jerusalem becomes especially prominent at the very beginning of the chapter; and to the close, the fundamental reference of the divine discourse is to Jerusalem, in its significance for Judah and the land.—The oft-repeated: “in the midst of,” points significantly to Jerusalem as the place where sin had been, and in which punishment would be, concentrated. Jerusalem was the Paris of the land of Judah.—The chapter comprises three sections.
Ezekiel 22:1–16. Jerusalem’s Abominations, which had made it ripe for Judgment
Ezekiel 22:2. Comp. at Ezekiel 20:4.—The plural, דָּמִים comp. at Ezekiel 7:23), points to bloody acts, and tells of blood-guiltiness (Ezekiel 22:4). The explanation of this title of Jerusalem follows in Ezekiel 22:3 (Ezekiel 9:9). To such a pitch of violence have the abominations reached. (Comp. at Ezekiel 22:3.) Comp. Ezekiel 5:11, 16:2. A summary statement of her abominations is a judging of Jerusalem. Ch. 20 speaks especially of the abominations of their ancestors, this of the abominations of the existing generation, as facts visible to every one,—proving their ripeness for judgment.
Ezekiel 22:3 speaks of shedding blood, as Ezekiel 22:22, on the other hand, of shedding (pouring out) fury. It may refer to murderous deeds generally; specially to judicial murders, consequently to the shedding of the innocent blood of righteous, God-fearing men, prophets, etc. Comp. Matt. 23:37. The city which had its name from “peace” has become a city of death to those who require true peace.—לְ, de eventu; it is the inevitable result; while it so acts, it also brings its time,—the final day of judgment (Ezekiel 21:30, 34). The making of idols (comp. at Ezekiel 6:4) explains the “abominations” of Ezekiel 22:2.—עָלֶיהָ simply means the lifting up of the idols over those who worship them. [KEIL: as it were, covering the city therewith. HÄV.: Jerusalem, as it were, laden with idols, as of an intolerable burden and debt. HENGST.: so that it heaps upon itself defilement with its consequences. HITZ.: “For itself,” in order to make the idols gracious. Others: “Against itself,” i.e. to its hurt, or: “beside itself.”]
Ezekiel 22:4. The deeds of blood are Jerusalem’s blood-guiltiness; the abominations of the idols which have been made are its defilement. The one is rooted (בְּ) in the other. But therewith and thereby the sinful city has herself brought near her days (comp. Ezekiel 22:14 and 3), thus wantonly shortening the respite of grace; she is the more quickly ripened for judgment (Ezekiel 9:1, 12:23). PHILLIPS.: “As the punishment is first introduced by the therefore, it is intimated that Jerusalem has squandered all her days and years in bloodshed,” etc. (?) According to Hengst., the days and years are those of decision, of the crisis which she brings on by her violent dealing. And art come to thy years, is evidently parallel to the previous sentence; at least the “years” cannot be those of chastisement and judgment (KEIL); and Hitzig rightly opposes the idea that there is any parallelism with Jer. 11:23 (Ezekiel 23:12). The figure of a person ripe for death (not exactly aged) underlies the expression, as Hitzig puts it: that has arrived at (עַד) their full measure.—Reproach; comp. Ezekiel 21:33; so that what Ammon is there to be punished for, appears here as deserved. (Ezekiel 5:14, 15.)
Ezekiel 22:5. Fuller explanation of “mocking to all lands,” which are more precisely described as the near and the far. The mock, since Jerusalem must seem to them sullied, so far as its name is concerned; which is not to be understood morally,—of the sins of the “holy” city, but of its fate, which dooms the city of God to fall into the hands of the heathen. What they themselves have done by sin (Ezekiel 22:3 sq.) is requited to them in a corresponding punishment. The confusion may be internal (through fear) and external overthrow and ruin (Deut. 7:23, 28:20); also tumult, like Ezekiel 7:7. [HITZ.: Inward moral and religious confusion.]
Ezekiel 22:6. Instances are now stated; and since violence was first of all referred to, the finger is, as it were, pointed to the example of the princes, as a something patent to the eyes of all. The arm alone was taken into account by them: not right, but might; neither equity nor duty—not even the responsibility of their position. Israel’s princes were princes “according to the arm,”—each according to his own power, not ex gratia Dei. This connects “princes” with “were.” It has also been by some coupled with what follows: “to be there with the intention,” etc. Each, according to his power, strove; and then follows the שְׁפָךְ דָּם, which is constantly repeated in relation to the “city of blood-shedding” (comp. Ezekiel 19).—[HÄV.: Directed towards his arm. EWALD: Each according to his own authority, i.e. arbitrarily. HITZ.: Were helpful the one to the other (Ps. 83:8).]
Ezekiel 22:7. To the disorder in the higher circles corresponded the complete dissolution of those bonds of subordination between children and their parents (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 27:16), which must underlie the obedience of subjects to their princes. At all events, as the princes carried it towards the people, so the people carried it towards those who were entitled rather to demand consideration and protection,—as the stranger, the widow, and the orphan, Ezekiel 18:18, 7. Comp. Ex. 22:20 sq.; Deut. 24:14 sq.
Ezekiel 22:8. And, finally, Jerusalem became towards God what it was towards men. Comp. farther, Ezekiel 16:59, 20:12, 24.
Ezekiel 22:9. A second group of sins. A comparison with Lev. 19:16, to which it is parallel, leads one to think of false witnesses like those mentioned in 1 Kings 21:10 sq., who acted as informers in subserviency to the princes. רָכִיל, properly: the slanderer, which fits in admirably with the foregoing. HENGST.: “the slanderer as an ideal person.” A clique of this nature had formed itself into a corporation in Jerusalem. Comp. also Ezekiel 22:6.—Ezekiel 18:6. The relation to God is coupled therewith,—the falsity of the worship of false gods, with lying against one’s neighbour (in thee, to be understood of the inhabitants of Jerusalem), with which worship, “lewdness” (Ezekiel 16:27) of every kind was naturally bound up.
Ezekiel 22:10. Mother or step-mother; comp. Lev. 18:7, 8, 20:11 (1 Cor. 5:1). An אִישׁ is to be supplied as the subject of the verb.—Ezekiel 18:6. In consequence of child-bearing, as well as during the monthly period. Comp. at Lev. 18:19, 20:18.
Ezekiel 22:11. אִישׁ—אִישׁ—וְאִישׁ. There were such cases! Impurity in every form. A specimen of the moral atmosphere as a whole.—Ezekiel 18:6.—Lev. 18:15, 20:12.—Lev. 18:12 (2 Sam. 13:12). TACITUS, Hist. 5:5.
Ezekiel 22:12. Third group of sins. As false witnesses (Ezekiel 22:9), so also unrighteous judges, served the “princes.” The corruption of the higher classes is emphasized,—it proceeded from above downwards,—so that the prominence of the rulers of Israel for the judgment of God (Ezekiel 21:17) is justified; while in a sense so very different, all good should have come to Israel from those in authority, and especially through God’s representatives. Comp. Ex. 23:8 (1 Sam. 8:3).—Ezekiel 18:8; Lev. 25:36. The discourse now gathers itself for the direct form of address; hence the brevity and the energetic close. Self-seeking, which makes one ignore one’s “neighbour,” finally abolishes the remembrance of God, which is the soul of all moral relations.
Ezekiel 22:13 passes over to the subject of punishment for such conduct. As the guilt is apparent (“Behold,” Ezekiel 22:6), so also is the judgment (Behold), when there is such ripeness for it.—I have smitten My hand, is usually regarded (like Ezekiel 21:22, 19) as an indignant gesture at (on account of) thy gain, etc. (EWALD: as a signal that the last hour should come); which neither the words nor the connection can recommend. Hitzig, far more appropriately: Jehovah is in dignantly occupied with the matter of their gain; as being unrighteous, it is brittle, and He shall smite it with the hand, etc. בָּצַע means: to cut off, to plunder, also: to break; so that in the “lightly come,” there may already lie the “lightly go.”—The avenging hand of retributive righteousness strikes the gain first, because this was mentioned first in Ezekiel 22:12; but at once a return is made to the (collective) “shed blood,” עַל very appropriately alternating with אֶל. [HENGST.: הָיוּ, a pluralis multitudinis: “of which there is much in thy midst.”]
Ezekiel 22:14. The judgment is not yet come, hence the future; but the result is absolutely sure, therefore the interrogative forms, which are equivalent to negatives. Comp. therewith Ezekiel 21:12, 20, 7:27, 6:5–9, 17:24.
Ezekiel 22:15. Ezekiel 12:15, 20:23.—The complete extinction of Jerusalem’s uncleanness can only be understood as the extinction of its polluted inhabitants, Ezekiel 22:3 sq. Others compare it with Isa. 4:4, and think of a purification of the people during the exile.
Ezekiel 22:16. וְנִחַלְתְּ בָּךְ, if from נָתַל, either=“thou possessest thyself,”—while formerly thou wert My inheritance, the heathen shall see that thou art so no more (!); or=“thou art possessed,” either by the heathen who rule over thee; or = I inherit thee, take thee in possession, as all the heathen shall perceive. Altogether forced. Therefore the more recent interpreters derive it from חָלַל; comp. Ezekiel 7:24.—In thee. HENGST.: So that thou must experience in thyself the desecration as punishment for Ezekiel 22:8. HÄV.: “Then Jerusalem stands out as an unholy city, which has profaned itself by its own conduct, and as such has received its recompense before the eyes of all peoples, Ezekiel 22:4, 5.” [HITZ.: Through all those who belong to her, who through her mournful fate shall tend to her dishonour; thus is she her own spot, Deut. 32:5.] Comp. at Ezekiel 22:18.
Ezekiel 22:17–22. The Judgment in Jerusalem a Melting in the Furnace
Ezekiel 22:18. The figure (as to which see Introd. p. 18) in which the discourse clothes itself, in order to rouse and occupy the attention of the hearers all the more, takes its theme from the immediately preceding verses, 15 and 16. According to Ezekiel 22:15, annihilation shall accomplish the cleansing of Jerusalem. Things have come to such a pass with the holy city, that there is for it no other purification. Those who think of any other purification, from what is spoken of in Ezekiel 22:15, must regard it as taking place outside Jerusalem, to wit, in the exile. The house of Israel, as far as it comes into account, has become dross (םוּג here only, elsewhere םִיג, refuse of metals). םִנִּים כֶּםֶף (the reverse order: כֶּםֶף םִנִּים, in Prov. 26:23—silver dross which is not yet purified) is not even ore containing silver, but means (Prov. 25:4) dross which has been separated from the silver. The figure indeed employs a noble metal, but nothing of it save the ignoble (comp. at Ezekiel 22:20, 22) dross—of which a clearer idea is presently given by: the whole of them are brass and tin and iron—continues to exist in Jerusalem (Isa. 1:22; Jer. 6:27 sq.). Thus—would God say—thus has Jerusalem, anticipating the impending judgment, shown itself as a smelting furnace. Light is hereby thrown on the peculiar phrase of Ezekiel 22:16, וְנִחַלְתְּ בָּךְ: That which Jerusalem shall completely become, through divine punishment, it has already become in itself through its sins; it is already profaned in itself,—according to the figure, it has become the ignoble dross of noble silver. It appears as nothing else to Jehovah (הָיוּ־לִי); it only remains that the fact of its guilt should become evident as a fact, to the eyes of the heathen, through the judgments of God. For this purpose Jerusalem, which had ministered to sin, now becomes the furnace which is employed for its punishment, and the ignoble dross-community is completely consumed; in other words, annihilated. If the text be viewed in this way, no objection can be made to the figure, and all the earlier and later misunderstandings of it may be corrected.
Ezekiel 22:19 clearly expresses the thought underlying the figure employed. As the individual persons are to be thought of as scattered here and there, and as seeking protection in the fortified city on the approach of the enemy, the gathering together of all into Jerusalem by Jehovah is not to be understood in a merely figurative sense—even though in Ezekiel 22:20 the expression is again employed in accordance with the figure of the furnace. The כְּ of comparison (קְבֻצַת) is dropped for the sake of euphony. That silver is still spoken of in regard to the impending judicial process partly arises from the necessities of the figure, as Ezekiel 22:22 shows still more plainly (“as silver is melted”), and partly from the fact that the word contains a significant and painful reminiscence of that which Israel had been, and of that which it could become in the crucible of God-sent tribulation! In the brass, etc. there is still some silver, interpreters say; but this idea is entirely excluded by the “dross” of Ezekiel 22:18. The meaning of the comparison is rather this, that while in other cases there is also silver along with the brass, etc., or that which is cast into the furnace is only silver ore, from which art and skill then extract a noble metal (Mal. 3:3, so here a similar process takes place in anger and fury, resulting no more in purification (Umbr. finds the purifying judgment of God prefigured in the complete melting)—at least neither the text nor context points to such an issue—but in complete annihilation. Keil, like Hitzig, is obliged to admit that the “melting” is here regarded as punishment only, and the separation of the ignoble portions is not taken into consideration.
Ezekiel 22:21. Ezekiel 21:36.
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON Ezekiel 22:17–22
[“In modern metallurgy lead is employed for the purpose of purifying silver from other mineral products. The alloy is mixed with lead exposed to fusion upon an earthen vessel, and submitted to a blast of air. By this means the dross is consumed. This process is called the cupelling operation, with which the description in Ezek. 22:18–22, in the opinion of Mr. Napier (Met. of Bible, pp. 20–24), accurately coincides: ‘The vessel containing the alloy is surrounded by the fire, or placed in the midst of it, and the blowing is not applied to the fire, but to the fused metals. … And when this is done, nothing but the perfect metals, gold and silver, can resist the scorifying influence.’ And in support of his conclusion he quotes Jer. 6:28–30, adding, ‘This description is perfect. If we take silver having the impurities in it described in the text, namely, iron, copper, and tin, and mix it with lead, and place it in the fire upon a cupell, it soon melts; the lead will oxidize and form a thick, coarse crust upon the surface, and thus consume away, but effecting no purifying influence. The alloy remains, if anything, worse than before. … The silver is not refined because “the bellows were burned,” there existed nothing to blow upon it,’ ” etc. (SMITH, Dict. of the Bible, art. “Lead.”)—W. F.]
Ezekiel 22:23–31. Jerusalem’s Ripeness for Judgment extending to all Classes
This third section runs parallel with the first, Ezekiel 22:1–16. Thus the end returns to the beginning, and the whole is rounded off. There the character of the prevailing corruption is described, here its extent, as one which has penetrated to all classes in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 22:24. Many interpreters unnecessarily refer לָהּ to אֶרֶץ; HÄV.: The pronoun is placed before the noun to which it refers for the sake of emphasis. The whole land is named because the far-reaching extent of their sin is borne in mind. It will be quite sufficient if לָהּ (as is the case throughout the chapter) be referred to Jerusalem. For Jerusalem is constantly taken for the whole land and people, so that this relation scarcely requires, at least here, to be made specially prominent. In that case אַתְּ אֶרֶץ is evidently a figurative form of address; Jerusalem=Judah, is likened to a land in the manner then following. Finally, it can be all the more regarded as a “land” from the fact that everything which is in the land is to be collected into Jerusalem. The land is called not cleansed, namely, from the weeds, briars, and thorns with which it is overgrown; comp. Heb. 6:8. [Not, as Hävernick puts it: “unclean, stained with sin,” which lies outside the figure.] לאֹ נֻשְׁמָהּ must contain a corresponding statement. That which best harmonizes with the context is: whose rain is not, i.e. appears not in the day of judgment—namely, the rain belonging to it, and which should have made it fruitful (Heb. 6:7). In the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: found good for nothing, it is nigh unto cursing, and its end is to be burned. [Other interpretations:—HÄV.: “Its rain shall not descend on the day of indignation,” namely, that which, as a gracious pledge (Lev. 26:4; Deut. 11:14, 28:12), was promised to the people. Comp. Joel 2:23; Hos. 6:3; Jer. 5:24; Zech. 10:1; Ezek. 34:26; Rev. 11:6, etc. Thus no trace of grace will appear in the judgment. HENGST.: “that has no rain,” etc., that finds no grace, because impurity is not removed. The rain could extinguish the flame of divine indignation. Or, with Kimchi, גֻשְׁמָהּ is taken as the 3 fem. pret. Pual: that “is not rained upon.” This reading Keil adopts, and (because rain is not a purifying medium according to Hebrew ideas) he makes מְטֹהָרָה = “that is not shone on by light;” so that, enjoying neither sunshine nor shower in the day of wrath, the land falls under the curse of barrenness. Ewald, again, thus gives the sense: While in other case’s fire can be mitigated and extinguished, on the day when the land is overtaken, Ezekiel 22:22 (31), by the fire of God’s indignation, it shall not be freed from its glowing heat nor made fruitful by rain from heaven.]
Ezekiel 22:25. The conspiracy (Isa. 8:12; Jer. 11:9) of her (false, comp. at Ezekiel 13) prophets, indicates that they acted not merely as separate individuals, but as a corporation, made strong by combination and unity, so that they were careful not to contradict each other’s lies. They appear as a sort of inquisition, everywhere prepared to denounce the servants of God to the animosity of the great, and to hand them over to the sword of the princes. [HITZ.: As the prophets appear again in Ezekiel 22:28 (but comp. there!), as Ezekiel 22:27 says almost the same thing (as Ezekiel 22:25) of civil dignitaries (which, however, is no reason for supposing the same class to be referred to!), while what is said of prophets and priests, Ezekiel 22:26 and 28, is totally dissimilar (which, however, proves nothing),—on these grounds Hitzig reads נִשִׂאֶיהָ, conjecturing that Zeph. 3:3 is the original of our passage. He also lays stress on the fact that Ezekiel 22:6 began with the princes, so that instead of the prophets he understands in our verse the royal family, together with the great officers of the crown.] The first section of the chapter, with which the last runs parallel, made prominent, violence on the one hand, and godlessness on the other. To this twofold division there corresponds a twofold class-personification—in Ezekiel 22:25, 26, prophets and priests; in Ezekiel 22:27, 28, civil officers and prophets. The significance of false prophecy (comp. at Ezekiel 13) is indicated by the fact that it is here referred to at the beginning and at the end. All which is swept away by Hitzig’s unnecessary alteration of the text, to which even Keil assents, in opposition to old authorities. The portraiture of the prophets in regard to their violent dealing, as soul-devourers, is founded on the figure (Ezekiel 19:7) of the “roaring lion” (collective, or each of them). With this compare 1 Pet. 5:8, and also Ezekiel 13:18, 19, which is not very foreign to the subject, and to which the ravening the prey (Ezekiel 19:3) may also contain an allusion. They enrich themselves with the possessions of the pious, whom they surrender to death, thereby increasing the number of the widows of Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 22:26. Her priests. The reference is to godlessness; the transition is made by the word violence. The law of God is violated by the priests in regard to those very things from which it was the duty of the priesthood to debar the people. Laxity in doctrine, as well as laxity in life, was a violation of God’s authority in Israel. (Zeph. 3:4; comp. also Mark 7:9.) HITZ.: “Not content with making the law a sham, they went in the very teeth of it.”—The very comprehensive expression: holy things (Ezekiel 22:8), is unfolded (a) with a retrospective reference to Lev. 10:10, 11; (b) with reference to the Sabbaths (Ezekiel 20:12). In regard to the former, they should have watched lest the holy should become profane, as it was also their duty to teach how the unclean could be cleansed; with which latter the mention of the Sabbath is suggestively coupled. The two sets of opposites are not simply placed in contrast, and בֵּין־לְ is not chosen without design; for, besides the matter of their differences, the change of the one into the other is in question, הוֹדִיעוּ (discern) is to a certain extent a judicial expression, since, in relation to the “clean and unclean,” it points to their official determinations (Luke 17:14).—From My Sabbaths, etc., not only means that they saw them desecrated by the people without offering any opposition, but that they did not wish to do so, since they themselves had forsworn, and lived in neglect of, the Sabbath law.
Ezekiel 22:27. שָׂרֶיהָ can also be: her princes, but in Ezekiel 22:6 the word is the precise נְשִׂיאֵי. Comp. at Ezekiel 11:2. It means properly the heads of tribes, families, etc., on whom lay the obligation of administering the laws. [HENGST.: “the political authorities and officials.”] They are described in relation to their “violence.” Comp. Zeph. 3:3. As to the rest, comp. with Ezekiel 22:12. The authorities of Jerusalem, the judges of the people (this follows from the similar conduct, Ezekiel 22:25), act on the same principle as the false prophets. This is again expressly confirmed in Ezekiel 22:28, where לָהֶם must be referred to what goes immediately before. The false prophets are here mentioned in relation to their godlessness. [BUNSEN: “They are depicted in Ezekiel 22:25 principally on the side of their selfishness, and here as the responsible watchmen of the people (Ezekiel 3:17 sq.), appointed by God to prevent them being lulled to sleep.”] Comp. at Ezekiel 13:10, 9, 7.
Ezekiel 22:29. The common people resemble the dignitaries and authorities at Jerusalem. Comp. Ezekiel 18:18, 16:49. (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 24:17.)
Ezekiel 22:30. According to the significance of false prophecy (comp. at Ezekiel 22:25), among them is to be referred to the false prophets; Ezekiel 13:5 makes this certain. [HITZ.; Not by intercession, but as a righteous man. But where, then, was Jeremiah! And how is this consistent with Ezekiel 14:12 sq.?] As Jerusalem stands for the land, so one of its prophets ought to have been found, who would intercede for the land, and thus avert its destruction by Jehovah.
Ezekiel 22:31. Ezekiel 7:8, 4, 9:10, etc.
1. Here, as in Ezekiel 18, Ezekiel shows an understanding of the law according to the spirit of the Messiah, who is in him, i.e. in Christ’s manner. See. the Sermon on the Mount. The connection between God’s obligations and human duty is treated quite according to Christ’s spirit and manner of apprehending it.
2. “The distinction between religion and morality is a fiction opposed to experience” (HENGST.).
3. The loosening of the bonds of filial obedience, disrespect to the rites of religious worship, a disordered condition of the relations between the sexes, open licentiousness, adultery, a social opinion which tolerates or recognises it, bribery, extortion, the arrogance of wealth, oppression of inferiors, and such like, are in all times the cloud-streaks presaging the gathering storm which will burst on a people.
4. False prophecy leans on civil authority, and therefore flatters and serves it. In God and His law, in human conscience and personal faith, it has neither root nor support. That is always the civil position of false theology, as of every court clergy, however orthodox it may otherwise be.
5. The dissolution of a nation’s life takes place when false doctrine comes into vogue. Going hand in hand with the passions, it banishes conscientiousness from official life. Priests become worldly courtiers, who aim at making a career for themselves; judges become dependent and open to influences, and take their cue from the reigning power and from public opinion. When the Church and the bench take their tone from party spirit, then, along with sound teaching and civil rights, the religious and moral foundations of national life are swept away. The ruling principle becomes mere caprice, which undermines the penal code with frivolous distinctions, shallow conceptions of law, alleviation of penalties, lax views as to responsibility, etc.
Ezekiel 22:1 sq. “Thus God’s complaint against His people is ever renewed; and our times are not unlike those. But one should not be weary of administering reproof” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 22:2. Comp. at Ezekiel 20:4.—“The prophets are judges through God’s word, the apostles through the Spirit, who convinces the world of sin, John 16:9. The saints judge the whole world, 1 Cor. 6:2 sq. The spiritual man judgeth all things, 1 Cor. 2:15. This judgment-seat is better than a worldly one. This is the employment of the keys in binding and—loosing—the ‘power of the keys’ ” (H. H.).—“A Jerusalem may become a Sodom, a holy city a den of murderers. Let no one think himself so secure as to be in no danger of falling, Rom. 11:20, 21” (W.).
Ezekiel 22:3. “God has meted out to sinners the time of forbearance, the day of grace” (COCC.).—The sinner imagines that he can go on without end, and so hastens on all the faster to the end.
Ezekiel 22:4. He who wantonly wages war makes himself blood-guilty.—“They made idols for themselves, which is even worse than cherishing the ordinary superstition of the idolatry which has been handed down to us” (L.).—Whoever mocks God, is mocked by God in His own time, through men.
Ezekiel 22:5. “We bear the name of evangelical, we believe that we possess the pure doctrine; therefore we should be the more careful to keep the gospel before our eyes, and to remain far from pollution and false doctrine” (L.).—“Every one shrinks from a polluted name, but not from a polluted life, which makes one dishonourable before God” (B. B.).—Sin brings the best order into confusion.
Ezekiel 22:6. “See how it is laid on the conscience of teachers and preachers to condemn the sins even of those who are high in station” (TÜB. BIB.).—Since their example is so much taken notice of, princes should look more intently to God’s word and law than to their own authority.—Civil power-should be for a terror to evil-doers, but should not minister to the gratification of the flesh.—Blood-stains may be seen even upon the purple.—Might goes before right—even an Old Testament experience.
Ezekiel 22:7. Parents are themselves to blame for the disobedience of their children, but at last a whole people is required to bear the blame.—God is assailed in the persons of the stranger, widow, and fatherless; they are God’s wards.—A man should be most on his guard against, and especially sensitive to, that which most easily leads him astray.
Ezekiel 22:8. Jehovah’s holy, things were places, things, persons, times, etc.—“The idea of the sanctuary is as wide as that of the Jewish religion” (HENGST.).—Comp. at Ezekiel 20:12.—He profanes the Sabbath who does not celebrate it, who celebrates it ill or who consecrates it to the service of sin.
Ezekiel 22:9. “The slanderer is a thief” (STCK.).—Where the ruler is wicked, false tongues are plentiful.—Where there are wicked judges, false witnesses are not wanting.—False speech is base coin. Compare at Ezekiel 18:16, 16:16.—Impurity and idolatry in their combination.
Ezekiel 22:10 sq. Custom and morals go together.—Impurity ruins the individual, the family, and the state, in body and soul.—God sees when we suppose ourselves unseen.—Though the ruler be still, God is not silent.—There are sins which sink man, who was made in the image of God, lower than the beasts. Parents, watch over the members of your families from earliest years.
Ezekiel 22:12. Every man has his price, for which he can be bought.—“Men in authority, counsellors of kings, take heed of covetousness, of gifts, of violence and misuse of your office, otherwise God’s vengeance will surely smite you and your houses!” (TÜB. BIB.)—Jewish tradition ascribes the destruction of Jerusalem to covetousness, because it is the root of all evil.—“Not only he who demands more than is just, but he also who shows no forbearance, oppresses his neighbour, Matt 18:28 sq.” (STCK.)—“Avarice spares neither friend nor foe, its rule is self-interest” (STCK.).—He who loves not his neighbour as himself has forgotten God.—“Forgetfulness of God opens the window to every wicked action” (H. H.).
Ezekiel 22:13. How God’s hand in the end strikes upon all the hands of men!
Ezekiel 22:14. In sin and in the time of God’s judgment how different is the bearing of men !—When God is against us, heart and hand, courage and power, fail.—“God speaks not in vain, and will do more than terrify” (B. B.).
Ezekiel 22:15. Awful cleansing—the extirpation of the ungodly!—When we make no end, God makes it.
Ezekiel 22:16. God hides His own from men, but here sinners are given up to the heathen.
Ezekiel 22:17 sq. Threefold smelting furnace: Of sin, in which one can become dross;—of trial, where the silver is tested;—of judgment, where even the dross is consumed.—The dross-communities.—“Oh that a salt may still continue among us, that we may be preserved from utter corruption!” (TÜB. BIB.)
Ezekiel 22:18. The dross does not typify hypocrites; but where what one had, has been taken away, there the past may have been very noble.
Ezekiel 22:19. The heaping up of sins, and the gathering of sinners for judgment.
Ezekiel 22:20 sq. God’s anger and fury—sad smelters! Unsavoury salt is trodden under foot, Matt. 5:13.
Ezekiel 22:23 sq. The judgment-day considers whether cleansing has taken place and fruit been brought forth.—Not merely the soil, but much more the heart of man, yields all manner of weeds. God has denied rain to no soul, His word has been richly bestowed on us.
Ezekiel 22:25. It should not impose on godly men that false prophets keep together; falsity must be aided by falsity.—Satan the great conspirator to the end of time.—The avarice and worldliness of false theology.—“A hireling is never a soul-seeker” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 22:26. Not only by direct transgression, but also by false explanation and interpretation of the law of God, is violence done to it.—The sacred boundary-guard between Christ and Belial.—“The teacher who does not make a marked difference between the godly and ungodly in applying saving truth, profanes the name of the Lord in the sanctuary” (ST.).
Ezekiel 22:27. No one is placed so high as to be beyond the reach of divine punishment. The loss of a single soul over against the gaining of the whole world.
Ezekiel 22:28. Comp. at Ezekiel 13.
Ezekiel 22:29. Where prophecy does no good, a people must become a waste.
Ezekiel 22:30 sq. The pious are the lightning-conductors of God’s judgments.—“The want of pious people is a terrible want, the premonition of judgment” (COCC.).
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,