Matthew Poole's Commentary
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,According to the duty of a watchman in warning the people, Ezekiel is admoished of his duty in warning sinners, Ezekiel 33:1-9. God showeth the manner of his dealings with the righteous that revolteth, and with the returning sinner, Ezekiel 33:10-16. He mataineth the equity of his proceeding, Ezekiel 33:17-20. Upon the news of the taking of Jerusalem, Ezekiel prophesieth the desolation of the land, Ezekiel 33:21-29. The hypocrisy of the captive Jews reproved. Ezekiel 33:30-33.
No text from Poole on this verse.
Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:The prophet, after three years’ silence enjoined him now hath his mouth opened by new commission.
To the chidldren of thy people; to the Jews in general, to who he had not spoken since what he spake in the 24th chapter,
Say unto them; propound a parable unto then
When; if at any time.
The sword; war, or any sore judgment.
Take a man; choose out a man who live on the borders, and knows the avenues and the ways the enemy will most likely come to assault them. Set him for their watchman; appoint him to watch the coasts, that they may not be surprised.
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;The sword of the enemy, or any other danger which he may foresee in any of the causes or forerunners of it.
Come, i.e. coming, approaching to the land.
Blow the trumpet; sound the alarm: the sound of the trumpet is a warning, yet to this sometimes it is necessary to add a warning by word of month, and tell the people brought together by the trumpet what he seeth.
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.Whosoever considers not and minds not what he hears, who hears and does not consider, he turns a deaf ear to the meaning, though not to the sound of the trumpet.
Taketh not warning; apprehends not, nor will be made apprehensive of, the danger, to provide for resisting or fleeing the sword.
Take him away; destroy him.
His blood; the guilt and blame of his blood, of his death. Shall be upon his own head; shall never be charged on any but himself.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.He heard, as well as others who escaped, and he might have delivered himself, as they did who took warning. He is the only cause of his own death.
Shall deliver his soul; shall save his life, preserve his own person.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.Blow not the trumpet; neglect his charge, which is to give the alarm.
Be not warned; but, unwarned, are surprised by the enemy.
Taken away in his iniquity; punished by the Lord for his sins and trespasses formerly done, and he is destroyed under the present fault of not watching, which is a fault in every one that is so secure in time of war.
His blood; the guilt of that blood.
Require at the watchman’s hand; charge upon and for it punish the watchman, who sinned in not giving warning.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.No text from Poole on this verse.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.No text from Poole on this verse.
Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.These three verses are the same with the 17th, 18th, 19th verses of the third chapter, where see them explained.
Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?Speak, declare from me,
unto the house of Israel; the residue of the two tribes, which are brought to Babylon; or else to those already there, and here their brethren are on the way thitherward, since Jerusalem was taken.
Thus ye speak; thus ye discourse among themselves, object against God, and his prophet, and your own duty, some of you out of infirmity, others out of perverseness.
If our transgressions and our sins be upon us; the unpardoned guilt and the unsupportable punishment of our sins, who were warned and took not warning, do thus, as in the wasting our country, burning our city, abolishing the public worship of God, come upon us, we shall pine away, consume; it is too late to hope it will be better with us now, we should have heard and followed the counsel earlier, if we would have delivered our own souls. If the prophet spake true at first, there is no hope, say the weaker; if there be hope now after so peremptory menaces and so great execution, the prophet did not speak truth, say the perverse, and so concluded they would as they were run the hazard.
How should we then live? how can it be better with us? if the threats be true and sure, it will be worse; if not true, how are his promises to be rested on, that it will be better.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?As I live, saith the Lord God: see Ezekiel 5:11 16:48 17:16.
I have no pleasure: see Ezekiel 18:23,32.
But that the wicked: here is an ellipsis; but I have pleasure in the seasonable return the sinner makes from sin to holiness, and from death to life.
Turn ye; O leave sin, cease to do evil, be persuaded to repent; it will please me to pardon your faults, and to throw away the rod, and to save your persons.
Why will ye die? death is your choice, not mine, so long as you go on in the way that is not good; whoso sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul, and love to sin is interpretatively a love and choosing of death. It is your culpable will, not my severe resolution, that you die.
Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.As for the wickedness of the wicked, & c.: see Ezekiel 3:20 18:20-22,24, where the same things are explained.
When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.The righteous; who hath in his life that is past kept the law and forborne evil, hath done what is right and good, and not done what is evil, both which parts of this righteousness are described in Eze. xviii, 5-9.
He shall surely live; make him promise of doing him good, and giving him life, peace, every blessing, and happiness. If he trust to his own righteousness; if he conclude former righteousness is sufficient, and therefore turn to ways of sin, pleasing to an evil heart.
Commit iniquity; give himself to doing evil, as it were his work.
Shall not be remembered; no regard shall be had to what he had done, he doth himself practically renounce it, and interpretatively recant his doing it.
His iniquity that he hath committed; in his apostacy and backslidden state.
He shall die; shall be punished, his comforts shall be taken away or die in his hand, he shall live and die miserably.
For it; his iniquity and punishment of it, and this is emphatically repeated, as Ezekiel 18:26.
Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;See Ezekiel 18:21.
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.See Ezekiel 18:7,9.
Without committing iniquity: it is not a sinless life here required or supposed, but a life in which a man doth not habitually and wilfully work iniquity.
None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.As the threat against a righteous man that proves a presumptuous apostate was stated in the former part of the 12th, and in the whole 13th verse, so in these three verses the case of a repenting and reforming sinner is stated and determined to his encouragement and comfort, and they are the same with Ezekiel 18:21,22,27,28, which see.
Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.These impious, obstinate quarrellers will accuse and do condemn the just and holy God, that they may acquit themselves. See this verse explained, See Poole "Ezekiel 18:25", See Poole "Ezekiel 18:29".
When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.No text from Poole on this verse.
But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.In these two verses the cases are so clearly stated, that it is as clear as the sun the ways of God are very just, and that none but ignorant atheists would think or surmise otherwise.
Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.Still blinded prejudice quarrels.
Judge; call you to account, plead with you, and pass sentence.
Every one: this is added to rouse every one up to repent of all sins, and of this particularly.
After his ways; a terrible threat, and I know not how a greater could be denounced against sinners than this. God, infinitely holy and perfectly just, will judge them according to their unequal, unrighteous, sinful ways, and according to his inflexible justice. And if God enter thus into judgment, who can stand in his sight?
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten.In the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month; that is one year and five months after the thing was done, and temple burnt, and the city sacked.
One that had escaped; one whose own care, but God’s wonderful providence had much more, befriended him; perhaps it might be one of those that yielded to the Babylonians before, but was resolved to see the upshot of all.
Saying; likely giving a particular account of the whole.
The city; Jerusalem. Smitten; taken and plundered, the inhabitants slain or captives, and the city sacked, razed, and burnt.
Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb.The hand of the Lord was upon me; the powerful influence of the prophetic Spirit inspired me, and prepared me for what followed.
Had opened my mouth; not that the prophet was dumb through impotence and inability to speak, for he had prophesied against many nations, but he was forbidden to say any thing of the Jews, to threaten, warn, counsel, or command, Ezekiel 24:25-27 29:21; but now the Spirit moved me to speak, and continued his motion till the messenger came, and ever after, for God did not command him silence any more.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.They that inhabit; who were left behind, having either hid themselves, but now come out of their holes, or returned from neighbour countries, whither they fled, or permitted by the conqueror to stay and plant vineyards.
Wastes; places once very fruitful and abounding with people, but now by the spoil of the soldiers emptied of inhabitants. and made as a desolate wilderness.
Speak, saying; thus think and speak; thus with vain reasonings they deceive them. selves.
He inherited the land; our father had hereditary right to all this land when but one, and he multiplied to a great company, and so they possessed the land; we children of Abraham, though diminished, are many, and the Divine goodness will surely appear then, and continue to us both right and possession, and we shall fill the land, and recover our former state and privileges.
Is given us; it was given by promise to us the seed, as well as to our progenitor; nay more, it is given us in possession, we dwell in it, when Abraham had not one foot of it in his possession.
For inheritance; the perpetual inheritance is ours. Thus with vain, fallacious arguments they cheat one another.
Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?Say unto them; remove them from this dangerous carnal confidence, and show them what they do, and by that what they are, how far from Abraham’s seed, his genuine seed.
Ye eat with the blood: whatever might be the reason why, it is most certain this was forbidden, Genesis 9:4 Leviticus 17:14 19:26: they sinned by violating this law.
Lift up your eyes; honouring, praying, depending on, and committing yourselves to the protection and guidance of those dumb idols: see Ezekiel 18:6. Shed blood, innocent blood, ye are murderers.
Shall ye possess the land, polluted with such and many other heinous sins? and what colour of hope can you have, that you shall possess the land? The question includes a peremptory denial.
Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour's wife: and shall ye possess the land?Ye stand upon your sword; you trust to your sword, and stand with it as it were drawn ready to kill and slay, you do all with violence and force, not regarding what is right and equal, and fear no restraints or punishments.
Abomination; idolatry, or other wickedness not to be named.
Ye defile every one his neighbour’s wife: adultery is so common among you, that it is no bold hyperbole to say every one defiles his neighbour’s wife.
Shall ye possess the land? Can such sinners flatter themselves that they shall inherit the land promised to a holy and good father, and to the like seed? Will not the land spew Jewish sinners out, as it did spew out such Canaanitish sinners?
Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.The wastes; the ruinous heaps of cities or towns, in which some sorry habitations might possibly be found by them.
Shall fall; the Chaldean soldier ransacking all places, and either expecting or by chance finding them there, shall kill in revenge of Gedaliah’s death and Ishmael with others shall destroy some of them.
That is in the open field; that wanders in the fields, shall be a prey to lions, or other ravenous beasts, that will multiply in that ruined country.
In the forts; out of the reach of men and beasts my hand shall reach, I will send the pestilence, that shall sweep them away.
For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through.I will lay the land; I do purpose to destroy utterly all in this land; and what can escape, when savage beasts, cruel men, and a pestilential air all concur to ruin the land? The pomp of her strength; the stately and pompous shows of her strength, and her former riches and power.
The mountains of Israel, on which were vineyards and oliveyards, where the joyful sounds of the vintage and harvests did glad the heart, there shall be utter desolation.
None shall pass through; no man daring to venture for fear of wild beasts, or pestilential air, or famine in those wasted mountains.
Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.I would have had them acknowledge me to be the Lord by my blessings which beautified the land, by my holy precepts which directed to piety and justice, by my mercy and kindness towards them; but they despised my mercy, broke my law, abused my bounty; and now by the punishment of their sins, as I threatened, and by laying the land most waste, they shall be constrained to own and submit to me as the Lord.
Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.The children; captives in Babylon.
Thy people; thy, not my people; God doth debase, degrade, and disown them.
By the walls; as men now do in cities or towns, so then they stood up to the wall, when, meeting in the streets, they would talk together.
In the doors of the houses; others got into the porches or doors of their houses, this they did to tell each other what news of their country.
Speak one to another: and all ends in this at last: Come, I pray, let us go up to the prophet, the true prophet, and inquire what God hath revealed to him, and what he may reveal unto us, whether any, or when will that end of our sorrows be.
And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.Flocking to the school of some famous doctor, or as men and women flock to hear some famous preacher, or as they were wont to the synagogues to hear their learned scribes. So we find the elders of Judah, Ezekiel 8:1, which see; so the disciples of the great rabbies sat at their feet; so is Saul said to be brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. By their outward deportments, you might judge them to be my people, and hear seemingly very attentive. They do only hear what thou sayest, but they will not do it. All their love is but from teeth outward, either to me, my word, or my prophet, saith God.
Their heart goeth after their covetousness; their desire, love, and care is about their gain, how to make thriving bargains, how to place out and secure their money with excessive and intolerable usury and increase.
And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.These Jews esteem and regard thee and what thou sayest, as men regard a skilful musician, who to a well-tuned instrument hath sung the praises of virtue or of virtuous men; it pleaseth their ear, but it doth not frame their hearts and life to virtue. They loved him for his eloquent lamentation, and reproof of their enemies, and for foretelling that they should fall, and saying nothing against them and their sins for these three years past; but when he exhorts them to duty, or dissuades from sin, they will hear, not do.
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.When all thou hast prophesied against the Jews shall, as that thou prophesiedst against the nations, come to pass to their ruin, they shall know thou wast no musician, but a prophet sent of God, to forewarn them to flee from wrath; not employed by men, to please their wanton ear and fancy.