Matthew Poole's Commentary
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD'S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.Ezekiel is showed the presumption of the princes of Judah, Ezekiel 11:1-3. He declareth their sin, and the manner of their punishment, Ezekiel 11:4-12. He is terrified at the sudden death of Pelatiah, Ezekiel 11:13. God showeth him his purpose of restoring the captives with favour, and of punishing the idolaters, Ezekiel 11:14-21. The glory of God leaveth the city, Ezekiel 11:22,23. Ezekiel, carried back by the Spirit, prophesieth to them of the captivity, Ezekiel 11:24,25.
The spirit; the Spirit of God, as Ezekiel 2 2.
Lifted me up; as at first, so still it supports him, and removes him from place to place.
The east gate: either of the east gates, whether that which leads into the first court, or into the second court, or into the house of the Lord, may be here understood, though probably this last. For this number you find, Ezekiel 8:16. If you will suppose the prophet was brought to the east gate, where the glory of the Lord, now departing, was gone up from the temple, it is much the same.
Which looketh eastward: a pleonasm, or redundance of expression.
Five and twenty men: some inquire whether these were the same with those twenty-five Ezekiel 8:16. To me it is most likely they were, for in that same place we find them, and likely about the same work, worshipping eastward. Nor are the two arguments urged by some conclusive against it, nay, one of the two is plain for it, viz. that quoted from Ezekiel 8:16.
Among whom; as forward ringleaders and chief among them.
Jaazaniah: this man by his father’s name added appears to be another, not he that is mentioned Ezekiel 8:11.
Pelatiah, named here for no good quality, but for that dreadful sudden death whereby he became a warning to others.
Princes of the people; either as public officers, or as heads of their families.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:So soon as the prophet had seen and observed how many and who they were, the Lord, sitting on the cherub, spoke unto him, Ezekiel 10:4.
The men; not the only men, but indeed the most notorious.
Devise; frame and contrive with craft and false reasonings.
Mischief; vanity; so the thing was, and mischief the fruit of it. They persuade the people that the city shall not be burnt, but that they may safely build, and long dwell in their houses; this vain hope exhausts that money with which they might have provided for themselves, and this proves a mischief.
Give wicked counsel: this may be an explication of that he last spake. Or possibly it may note their activity and diligence, going about the city and counselling their acquaintance to put off the evil day. Or perhaps they teach a compliance and coalition with the Chaldean superstitions to save themselves; it is not impossible they might give counsel to unhappy Zedekiah. The Chaldee paraphrast here useth a word whose first notation is to reign or be a king, the second sense to give counsel: whose counsellors soever they were, their counsel tended to shame and loss.
Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.What counsel was by these men given appears by their words.
It is not near; either the threatened danger and ruin by the Chaldeans; or else, build, but not in the suburbs, not near, but in the city, that your houses may not shelter the enemy.
This city is the caldron: this is an impious scoff, yet mixed with some fear, of the prophets, Jeremiah 1:13 Ezekiel 24:6. They deride the prophets, yet secretly dread the thing. Jerusalem is the pot, we the flesh that are to be boiled therein; but this will take up some time however, we were better be so destroyed than to fall by the hands of the Chaldeans, who perhaps may roast what is not boiled here.
Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.For this their atheistical temper and words, tell them beforehand what they shall suffer. The charge and command is doubled, both to engage the prophet, and to intimate a doubled misery coming upon them, a misery they shall not have courage to laugh under, though they now dare contemptuously laugh at.
And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.The Spirit of prophecy again moved him, which is here called the Spirit of the Lord, or, the Spirit the Lord, as the Hebrew will bear.
Fell upon me; descended, by its own act powerfully, sweetly, and prevailingly entered the man.
Said unto me; inclined me, that I could not but speak.
Thus saith the Lord; as thou goest by my appointment, so be sure to use my name and authority.
Thus have ye said; profanely, with scoffs, as hath been reported, Ezekiel 11:3.
I know the things that come into your mind; ye may be assured all that ariseth up in your mind is known to me. I see each one of the imaginations of your mind so soon as ever they peep up in your heart. Your thoughts I know afar off, Psalm 139:2.
Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.Many murders, and great ones, (for the Hebrew includeth both,) have you committed, either with frauds or violence, and sometimes with colour and pretence of law.
Your slain; so called because they were such as God had not commanded to be cut off, but the Jews did it without warrant from God.
Filled the streets; either left them murdered in the streets; or rather, by an hyperbole, the streets are full, every where some or other in every street you have condemned and killed. It is an expression the Scripture much useth to set forth the bloody effects of the Jewish rage, and of others.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.Therefore; your murders are the cause of my severity, and such sins first or last are surely punished.
Your slain: see Ezekiel 11:6. Or, your slain, because when they might and would have saved their life by a seasonable submission, you persuaded them to an obstinate opposition against the Chaldeans to their destruction.
Whom ye have laid, or placed (as the word bears); it is not unlike that they who persuaded all to stay did provide, or at least help, as many as did stay, to habitations, and placed them in houses or lodgings.
The flesh; the pieces which are to be east into the caldron, and here be punished.
But I, that is, the mighty, eternal, and just God, will bring you forth, not in mercy, but in wrath, by the conquering hand of Babylon; I will draw you out to greater torment.
Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.Sinfully, and forgetting God, you would have escaped the sword of the Babylonians, and attempted it by an idolatrous compliance: for this very cause will I send that sword upon you, and it shall slay your wives, children, and fellow citizens.
And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.Though the Chaldeans are the means or instruments by which it is done, yet I will so appear against you that it shall be confessed that I did it rather than the Chaldeans.
And deliver you; defeating all your projects for escape; so was Zedekiah when he secretly fled, and his company with him, delivered unto enemies and strangers.
Into the hands; it denoteth a full power over them.
Strangers; Babylonians and others who assisted in this war.
Will execute judgments among you; strangers will use you hardly; but the most severe part of the judgment will be from a provoked God, who would have pardoned, but impenitence refused the pardon.
Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.The enemies’ sword shall slay you; my just judgments shall pursue you whithersoever you flee, and overtake some of you; and ye shall know, Zedekiah and others who were judged at Riblah, 2 Kings 25:20,
that I am the Lord.
This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:This city, Jerusalem, though it suffered unparalleled hardships,
shall not be your caldron; shall not be the place of your sufferings; greater are reserved for you, you shall be tortured in a strange land.
I will judge you; do more against you, as at Riblah, 2 Kings 25:6,7, where the captive king had his children and others with them first murdered before his eyes, and then his own eyes put out; and Riblah is called here the
border of Israel, for that Syria was adjoining to Israel on the north, and Riblah or Antioch was a pleasant city towards the frontiers of Syria, upon the river Orontes, which arising in Antilibanus runs through part of Syria, and for the delicacy of the seats it had many cities built on it. And here Nebuchadnezzar in his royal state, and amidst the pleasures of the place, expects the issue of the siege.
And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.Ye shall know; though you would not believe my threats, nor fear them, you shall feel them, and then you shall know: thus the wicked learn.
I am the Lord, whom you should have obeyed, feared, and returned to, and who now convinceth you of his and his prophet’s truth in all that was foretold you.
Walked; a Scripture phrase expressive of the course of man’s life.
My statutes; the rules for religious observances.
My judgments refer to the political and civil state, where equity and justice should have been ministered.
After the manners of the heathen; in matters of religion you have turned downright idolaters, and with the, greatest contempt of your God, the only true God, you have changed him for gods of the heathen round about, and taken in their modes and abominations. And as to civil matters, you have been as unjust, oppressive, and perfidious as these nations that know not my law.
And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?Either this refers to some’ particular prediction of the death of this man; as Jeremiah did of Hananiah’s death, Jeremiah 28:17; though I do not remember that Ezekiel had spoken of it before, and therefore I take the words for a usual transition. If you suppose the first guess at the meaning of,
it came to pass, then this will be best interpreted by
according to, or
even as; if you adhere to the latter, then this when is
as, I was prophesying.
Died; and so was a pledge or presage of the following death of the other twenty-four.
Then; immediately, in the most humble manner, as that people were used to do, Joshua 7:10 2 Chronicles 20:18. He fell down upon his face, in order to pray.
Cried; with intense and earnest mind he prayed, as well as with a loud voice: see Ezekiel 9:8. Much like phrase is that in Esther 4:1.
Ah Lord God! an expression of his tender compassions for them.
Wilt thou make, & c.? a very usual way of interceding, and so common in Scripture, that it is a wonder any should find fault with it who know the Scripture.
Make a full end, by slaying all as this man is cut off. This man’s name implieth one that escaped, or was delivered by God’s good hand; and perhaps the prophet alludes to it; however, he is very solicitous, as others were, for the remnant, which was ever least, 2 Kings 19:30,31 Isa 10:21,22 Jer 23:3 31:7; and in this manner does Ezekiel 9:8, intercede for the Jews.
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,It was a seasonable word to stop the mouths of the insulting Jerusalemites, and to encourage the captives at Babylon.
Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.Song of Solomon of man: see Ezekiel 2:1.
Thy brethren; thy nearest kindred, which it seems were left in Jerusalem, and were grown as bad as the rest, though theirs were of a priestly lineage. Their degeneracy and unjust censure is more noted in the repetition of the word brethren.
Of thy kindred; of the same parentage, to whom thou hadst right of redemption, if either their person or estate was to be sold; men who should have been as tender in affection as they were near in blood.
All the house of Israel; all that are now in captivity, be they more or less, of whatsoever condition and rank, these are the men of whom the Jerusalemites speak.
Have said; that is, censure and condemn as greatest sinners, and unworthy longer to dwell in the holy land, and tacitly infer that they were better, and should be safer now they were rid of them.
Get you far from the Lord; ye, or they, are gone far from the Lord; you are apostates, or irreligious, a company of backsliders: much as the heathens accused the Christians of atheism.
Unto us; who keep to the temple and holy city, and have not yielded to the Babylonish tyranny, who stand for our ancient privileges, are not, as you, betrayers of our country: thus you may suppose they boast.
This land; promised, holy, blest land, Canaan, where our fathers dwelt. This land is ours.
Given in possession; we shall never be put out of possession, but still it shall be our inheritance.
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.Therefore; in apology and vindication of them, backed with excellent promises in the following verses.
Say; say to them, and of them in Babylon.
Although I have cast them far off: the obstinate Jews at Jerusalem will call them apostates and renegades; but let such false accusers know that they were sent thither, and that I the Lord sent them thither, and will own them there too.
Far off; not from myself, but from you, your polluted land, and dreadful approaching judgments.
Among the heathen; the Chaldeans, or such as the Chaldeans placed them among.
Scattered them; dispersed and separated them from one another in many countries which were under the king of Babylon. Yet they are dear to me, and my purposes are for them more gracious than yours are for them, or than mine are for you.
As a little sanctuary; for a little while, i.e. during the seventy years’ captivity; or for a few of them, the remnant was ever little: or, as it refers to the sanctuary, a little one in opposition to that great, rich, splendid, and admired temple at Jerusalem, which when they need most, shall help least; but I, saith God, will be really to my captives what the proud self-deceiving Jews promise their temple shall be to them, both for glory, defence, and for worship, which shall with heart and love be given by these I have sent away; and wherever they are, their prayers, synagogue worship, and obedience shall be to me as well-pleasing as they shall desire. They at a distance weep on Chebar banks; you, O rebellious! pollute the temple by your idolatries. I will comfort the mourners; I will punish you polluters of my temple and worship.
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.Say; add to the former apology this promise.
The Lord God; the faithful and eternal God, the supreme and sovereign Lord.
I will gather; by my advice and hand they were scattered, and by my hand they shall be gathered.
Assemble you; and to confirm them, it is added in different words, and the promise is repeated, and thus it was punctually performed, Ezra 1:1-4, with Ezekiel 8:15.
I will give you the land of Israel; though your brethren do say you are not to dwell at Jerusalem, nor inherit the land, yet my purpose is otherwise, and I do promise you, that you who followed my counsel, and now are in Babylon, you, or your seed, shall return and inherit Canaan. All this was so worded, that some have thought it no groundless inquiry whether any of those that went with Zedekiah into captivity, or only such as went with Jeconiah, did return out of captivity; and though it is most probable some did, yet of the returners the far greater part were of those that with Jeconiah were gone into captivity.
And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.They; the gathered, who assembled upon Cyrus’s proclamation first, and then again upon Darius’s proclamation; of which Ezra 1 and Ezra 8: they met together some where in the land of their captivity, and had a long journey to Jerusalem. Shall come thither; they shall overcome all difficulties, and escape dangers, and despatch the long journey, and come safely to their own land.
They shall take away; abolish superstition and idolatry from the temple, Jerusalem, and from the priests.
The detestable things: see Ezekiel 11:18.
Thereof; of the land and city; and who reads Ezra, Nehemiah, and the prophets Zechariah and Haggai, will see this reformation carried on with SUCCESS.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:And: this may be understood causally, and so gives an account how the reformation, mentioned Ezekiel 11:18, should be effected.
I; the Lord himself, and he assumeth it to himself thrice in this verse.
Will give: of free grace it is that this renewed heart is in any one; length, soreness, and multiplicity of troubles will not, cannot work it, unless God frame and renew it.
Will give them one heart: they were scattered abroad through the Babylonish kingdoms, were under various circumstances which might divide them, and keep them from each other, and from centering in a return; but I will stir up their heart, and with one heart they shall gather together, when the return shall be proclaimed. Cyrus shall first give them leave, and I will next give them a heart to return; and on their way shall there be great unity; and when come to Jerusalem, they shall own me, and my laws, &c.; they shall with one consent build Jerusalem, the temple, and restore true religion; as Jeremiah 32:39 Ezekiel 36:26.
One heart; that is, judgment and understanding, mind and will, affections and conscience; all fixed only on God, and their obedience to him, as Ezekiel 11:20. This one heart is called a new spirit. A new spirit; an excellent, regenerate, holy, and sincere soul; they were of a base, corrupt, and hypocritical spirit, dividing between God and idols; but when God brings them back, they shall be of another frame, quite changed, and made new.
The stony heart; that hard, inflexible, undutiful, incorrigible disposition which was in their fathers, who refused to be amended; I will take that away.
Out of their flesh: flesh in Scripture sometimes speaks an unrenewed, carnal, sinful state, as Romans 7:18, sometimes for the body, as Psalm 38:3, sometimes for the whole man; so Luke 3:6 Romans 3:20; and thus in this place speaks the persons and whole man.
An heart of flesh; not like the old, hard and stony, but counsellable, tractable, that will hear, consider, obey, do commanded good, and forbear forbidden evils, submit to my law, and reform on admonitions. All which in part, and so far as concerned those times, was fulfilled in the Jews that did return from Babylon, and is more fully made good to us in these gospel days.
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.This is the end grace aimeth at, converting us to God, that we may walk with God.
Walk: see Ezekiel 11:12.
My statutes; the rule of religious worship. Mine ordinances; standards in civil affairs and matters of right and wrong with men.
They shall be my people; they shall give themselves up to me for to be my people, to love me, trust me, and to worship and. obey me, and I will take them to be mine; I will approve, encourage, bless, guide, and protect them, that it shall be seen they are my peculiar people. This contains all duty and privilege, as including both, and is again inculcated in the other part of the promise.
I will be their God, to pardon sin, give grace, supply wants, guide their ways, accept their duties, defend their persons, and lead them to glory. See Ezekiel 36:25-28 Jeremiah 31:33, where Jeremiah, contemporary to Ezekiel, proposeth the same promise to this people.
But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.For all those promises, and in the best times, some there will be who will refuse to own God and obey him, whose state shall as much differ as their practices did from the people of God.
As for them, whoever they be.
Heart, soul and affections, whose choice and love,
walketh after; either secretly adhereth to or provideth for the service of idols, called here detestable things, as Ezekiel 11:18, Ezekiel 5:11; and to express the obstinacy of this idolatry, it is called a
heart walking after a heart: idolatry is a bewitching sin, and steals away the heart and the promoters of idolatry propose the plausiblest arguments, as if idols had hearts and affections toward their worshippers to do them good; the expression in the Hebrew is somewhat unusual and harsh to our ear, but this I take to be the meaning.
Their abominations; their idols, and idol worship, and dependencies.
Recompense; pay them in their own coin: they forsake me, I will forsake them; they profane my name and temple, I will give them up as common to be profaned by the Chaldeans. Their way tends to this, and shall end in this, and nothing more just.
Upon their heads, i.e. on each man, and in such manner as shall destroy the contumacious. Or, on those that are as heads of the people and ringleaders in obstinacy of sinning, such as the twenty-five, Ezekiel 11:1, and who shall be examples of my speedy and irresistible vengeance, as Pelatiah was.
Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.The whole 22nd verse is in almost the same words you have in Ezekiel 10:19, which see.
And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.See Ezekiel 3:23 8:4 9:3 10:18,19. The glory of the Lord removes now out of the city, over which it had stood some space of time waiting for their repentance; but no fruits of this, and God now departed from them.
Upon the mountain; above it. It was Mount Olivet, as the description of it in this place and elsewhere doth clearly show.
Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.After all this, the same Spirit of God which carried him to Jerusalem, and to the temple, now brings him back in like manner to his captive brethren in Chaldea; not corporally, but in an ecstasy or rapture of his spirit, by the power of the Spirit of God. It was a vision from heaven, all that was represented to the prophet was as it were let down from heaven, and he having fully viewed it, it is taken up again to heaven.
Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.When the ecstasy was past,
I spake unto them; either the elders who came to him, Ezekiel 8:1, or to the body of the people, who were in those parts where Ezekiel was; for many were scattered into other parts of Chaldea.
All the things that the Lord had showed me: here is his faithfulness, both to God and the people, who were concerned to know, for God had showed them to the prophet that he might show them to the people, and, that this might surely be done, God had commanded him to speak to them plainly and fully.