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THE BOOK OF THE
EZEKIEL, who was the third of the great Prophets, was, like his contemporary Jeremiah, of the sacerdotal race.
He was carried away captive to Babylon with Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in the year of the world 3406, before Christ 598; and was placed with many others of his countrymen upon the banks of the river Chebar in Mesopotamia, where he was favoured with the Divine revelations contained in this Book. He began to prophesy in the fifth year of his captivity, and is supposed to have prophesied about twenty-one years. The boldness, with which he censured the idolatry and wickedness of his countrymen, is said to have cost him his life : but his memory was greatly revered, not only by the Jews, but also by the Medes and Persians.
The Divine instructions were first revealed to him in a glorious vision, in which he beheld a representation, or,
as he reverently expresses it, “ the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord,” attended by His cherubim symbolically pourtrayed. “The word of the Lord came expressly » unto him, and he received his commission by a voice, which was followed by a forcible influence of the Spirit, and by awful directions for his conduct. He appears to have executed his high trust with great fidelity. The author of Ecclesiasticus says of him, that “he directed them who went right," chap. xlix. 9: which may be considered as a merited encomium on the industry, with which he endeavoured to guide and instruct his countrymen in righteousness.
Ezekiel represents himself as the author of this Book, in the beginning and other parts of it: and justly assumes
the character and pretensions of a Prophet: as such he has been universally considered.
This Book may be considered under the five following divisions. The first three chapters contain the glorious
appearance of God to the Prophet, and his solemn appointment to his office, with instructions and encouragements for the discharge of it. From the 4th to the 24th chapter inclusive, he describes, under a variety of visions and similitudes, the calamities impending over Judea, and the total destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, occasionally predicting another period of yet greater desolation, and more general dispersion. From the beginning of the 25th to the end of the 32d chapter, the Prophet turns his attention to those nations, who had unfeelingly triumphed over the Jews in their affliction : predicting that destruction of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines, which was effected by Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty instrument of God's wrath against the wickedness of man; and particularly he foretells the ruin and desolation of Tyre and Sidon, the fall of Egypt, and the base degeneracy of its future people, in a manner so forcible, in terms so accurately and minutely descriptive of their several fates and present condition, that nothing can be more interesting than to trace the accomplishment of these prophecies in the accounts of historians and travellers. From the 32d to the 40th chapter, he inveighs against the accumulated sins of the Jews collectively, and the murmuring spirit of his captive brethren ; exhorts them earnestly to repent of their hypocrisy and wickedness, upon the assurance that God will accept sincere repentance; and encourages them to resignation by promises of deliverance, and by intimations of spiritual redemption. In the two last chapters of this division, under the promised victories to be obtained over Gog and Magog, he predicts the final return of the Jews from their dispersion in the latter days; with an obscurity however that can be dispelled only by the event. The last nine chapters contain a remarkable vision of the structure of a new temple and a new polity, applicable in the first instance to the return from the Babylonian captivity, but in its ultimate sense referring to the glory and prosperity of the universal Church of Christ.
St. Jerome observes, that the visions of Ezekiel are among the things in Scripture “hard to be understood."
This obscurity arises, in part at least, from the nature and design of the prophecies themselves : they were delivered amidst the gloom of captivity ; and though calculated to cheer the drooping spirits of the Jews, and to keep alive a watchful and submissive confidence in the mercy of God, yet they were intended to communi. cate only such a degree of encouragement, as was consistent with a state of punishment, and to excite an indistinct expectation of future blessings upon the condition of repentance and amendment. But, though mysterious in themselves, the predictions are related by the Prophet in a plain and historical manner. He seems to have been desirous of conveying the strong impressions, which he received, as accurately as they were capable of being described. It ought to be observed, that the last twelve chapters of this book bear a very striking resemblance to the concluding chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The style of this Prophet may be characterized as bold, vehement, and tragical; as often worked up to a kind of
tremendous dignity. His book is highly parabolical, and abounds with figures and metaphorical expressions. He is employed rather in exciting our terrour than in moving our pity. He displays a rough but majestick dignity; an unpolished, though noble simplicity: excelled perhaps in other respects by most of the Prophets; but none in the whole compass of writers has ever equalled him in the manner of writing, for which he seems
of four cherubims. singularly qualified by nature, in force, impetuosity, weight, and grandeur. He sometimes emphatically and indignantly repeats his sentiments; fully dilates his pictures; and describes the adulterous manners of his countrymen under the strongest and most exaggerated representations, that the licence of the Eastern style would admit. His genius led him to amplification : and the Divine Spirit did not overrule the natural bent of his mind. This diffuseness of manner in mild and affectionate exhortation, this vehement enlarging on the guilt and consequent sufferings of his countrymen, seems wisely adapted to their capacities and circumstances ; and must have had a forcible tendency to awaken them from their lethargy. Dr. Gray, Bps. Tomline and Lowth, Abp. Newcome.
Before CHRIST about 595.
4 9 And I looked, and, behold, a Before CHAP. I.
whirlwind came out of the north, a about 595. 1 The time of Ezekiel's prophecy at Chebar. great cloud, and a fire + infolding. 4 His vision of four cherubims, 15 of the litself, and a brightness was about it, catching four wheels, 26 and of the glory of God.
and out of the midst thereof as the
I thirtieth year, in the fourth month, the fire.
2 In the fifth day of the month, 6 And every one had four faces,
1 7 And their feet were + straight + hleb. a 3 The word of the Lord came feet; the sole of their feet was like expressly unto + Ezekiel the priest, the sole of a calf's foot: and they the son of Buzi, in the land of the sparkled like the colour of burnished Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and brass. the hand of the LORD was there upon 8 And they had the hands of a man him.
under their wings on their four sides;
Chap. I. ver. 1.-in the thirtieth year, 7 Usher, Prideaux, Zedekiah in Jerusalem, and the sixth before the deLowth, and others, reckon the thirty years here spoken struction of the city and the temple. Ezekiel was made of, as well as the forty days or years mentioned in chap. a captive with Jehoiachin, and he computes the suciv. 6, from the covenant made by Josiah in the eight-ceeding parts of his prophecy from that event. W. eenth year of his reign. See 2 Kings xxiii. 3. Accord | Lowth. ing to which computation this thirtieth year corresponds 3. — and the hand of the Lord &c.] The efficacy of with the year of the world 3410, and the fifth year of God's Spirit did shew itself in and upon him in His Jehoiachin's captivity; or about 595 before Christ, as holy revelations. Bp. Hall. The “ hand of the Lord” in the margin. Other chronologers conceive it to be marks the action, ihe force, the energy of the Holy the thirtieth year of Ezekiel's age; or the thirtieth of Spirit. Abp. Newcome. Nabopolasser's reign ; and others the thirtieth year | 4. — out of the north,] This is supposed to denote the from the jubilee. Ezekiel usually dates his prophecies calamities which were to burst on Jerusalem from her from the era of his appointment to the prophetical office. northern enemies the Chaldeans. Abp. Newcome. See Dr. Gray.
the notes on Jer. i. 13; iv. 6. fourth month,] Thammuz, which nearly corre - a fire infolding itself,l Appearing in folds like sponds to our July. Abp. Newcome. The sacred year is one wreath within another. W. Lowth. Embracing here understood, which began with the month Nisan. itself, not spreading. Moses uses the same expression See the note on Exod. xii. 2.
when he speaks of the storm excited by him in Egypt, - among the captives] The margin of our Bible, | Exod. ix. 24. Abp. Newcome. and the Septuagint, express“ in the midst of the can- ! - amber,] By “amber" the ancients often meant tivity." It is not therefore to be imagined that Ezekiel a mixed metal of gold and silver, which was much was surrounded by a group of captives, when these celebrated for its beautiful lustre, and which, when visions occurred to him, but that he was in the place of exposed to the fire, becomes more bright and shining. his exile with the other captives who dwelt around him. Parkhurst. Calmet.
5. -- four living creatures.] Compare Rev. iv. 6. Chebar,] A river in Mesopotamia, which falls
likeness of a man.) They had the human stature. into the Euphrates near Carchemish. It is mentioned | Houbigant. The likeness might consist partly in their by Ptolemy under the name of Chaboras. Abp. New-moving erect upon two legs, and partly in their having come.
several members of the human form. Calmet. - the heavens were opened,] The eyes of the Pro- 7. - straight feet ;1 Their legs were straight up like phet were strengthened with celestial light. St. Jerome those of a man, without any power of bending but at says, that the heavens were opened, not by a division of the knee. Bp. Hall, Abp. Newcome. the sky, but by the faith of the believer. Calmet.
- like the sole of a calf's foot:7 And their feet 2. — the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,] This were round as the circumference of a calf's foot, for the was the thirteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; for greater fitness of that turning motion which they should Jehoiachin was carried captive in the eighth, 2 Kings | be put unto. Bp. Hall. xxiv. 12. It was also the fifth year of the reign of 8. - hands ;-- wings Wings and hands are instru
CHRIST about 595.
they/un 17 Whene of a wheel were a whee
Pen thos stood, lifted lifted up and when thosewheels for the sp the
of four wheels, Before and they four had their faces and their | and their work was as it were a wheel Before CHRIST
in the middle of a wheel.
18 As for their rings, they were so
when the living creatures were lifted 11 Thus were their faces : and their up from the earth, the wheels were 11 Or, divided wings were || stretched upward; two lifted up.
wings of every one were joined one 20 Whithersoever the spirit was to
to go; and the wheels were lifted up
and when those stood, these stood ; 13 As for the likeness of the living and when those were lifted up from creatures, their appearance was like the earth, the wheels were lifted up burning coals of fire, and like the ap- over against them: for the spirit pearance of lamps: it went up and || of the living creature was in the lor, of life. down among the living creatures; and wheels. the fire was bright, and out of the fire | 22 And the likeness of the firmawent forth lightning.
ment upon the heads of the living
covered on this side, and every one
one likeness: and their appearance the noise of their wings, like the noise ments, and natural signs, of swiftness and power. Abp. its fine gold yellow colour, called by modern jewellers Newcome.
“the topaz.” Parkhurst. 9. Their wings were joined] Of the two in front, and 18. – their rings,] Tires or circumferences of the of the two behind, the right wing of one reached to the wheels ; they were so vast as to cause a terrour in the left wing of the other : the extremities of the expanded Prophet who beheld them. W. Lowth. inner wings forming an arch. Abp. Newcome.
- full of eyes] The eyes denote God's all-seeing - they turned not] This signifies that nothing providence. That the cherubim also were full of eyes, ever diverted them from fulfilling God's command. W. see chap. x. 12. Abp. Newcome. Lowth.
19–21. And when the living creatures went, the wheels 10. — had the face of a man, &c.] See note at Exod. went by them : &c.] The living creatures and the wheels xxv. 18.
were animated by the same principle of understanding 11.- were joined one to another,] They touched one and motion, to signify with what readiness and alacrity another as the wings of the cherubim did over the mercy all the instruments of Providence concur in carrying seat. See 1 Kings vi. 27. W. Lowth.
on its great designs and purposes, chap. x. 16, 17. W. 12. — the spirit] That power, which was the principle Lowth. of all their motions. See ver. 20. W. Lowth.
20. — over against them :1 Or, “beside them.” W. 13. — it went up and down) That is, the fire moved Lowth. Or,“ near to them.” Parkhurst. Chap. X. 19: itself up and down. Abp. Newcome.
xi. 22. 15. — upon the earth] Not lifted up. See ver. 19. 22. — the likeness of the firmament] And the colour
by the living creatures, with his four faces.] That of the firmament, which was spread over their heads, is, one wheel stood before every one of the living crea- was as the colour of a glorious crystal, which had in it tures on each face of the square figure or chariot. Dr. a kind of majestical brightness. Bp. Hall. Lightfoot, W. Lowth.
24. — like the noise of great waters,] To denote the 16. - beryl :] Rather a “ chrysolite," so named from 1 terribleness of the judgments which they were to execute
and of the glory of God.
CHAP. I, II.
Ezekiel's commission. Befores of great waters, as the voice of the
CHRIST about 595. Almighty, the voice of speech, as the
about 595. noise of an host: when they stood,
| 1 Ezekiel's commission. 6 His instruction.
9 The roll of his heavy prophecy.
25 And there was a voice from the AND he said unto me, Son of
2 And the spirit entered into me
nations. 27 And I saw as the colour of hath rebelled against me: they and ** amber, as the appearance of fire round their fathers have transgressed against about within it, from the appearance me, even unto this very day. of his loins even upward, and from 1 4 For they are timpudent children Heb. hard the appearance of his loins even down- and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto ward, I saw as it were the appearance them; and thou shalt say unto them, of fire, and it had brightness round Thus saith the Lord God. about.
15 And they, whether they will 28 As the appearance of the bow hear, or whether they will forbear, that is in the cloud in the day of (for they are a rebellious house,) yet rain, so was the appearance of the shall know that there hath been a brightness round about. This was the prophet among them. appearance of the likeness of the glory 6 And thou, son of man, be not of the LORD. And when I saw it, I afraid of them, neither be afraid of fell upon my face, and I heard a voice their words, though || briers and thorns i Or, rebels. of one that spake.
be with thee, and thou dost dwell upon Jerusalem, and upon the whole Jewish nation. and as it was by His will that Jerusalem was destroyed, Compare chap. xliii. 2; Dan. x. 6. W. Lowth.
so He would change its condition, and bring the Jews 26. — the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a again from their captivity by means known only to sapphire stone :) God is described in Scripture as Himself. Ostervald. “dwelling in light, and clothing Himself with it,” Exod. xxiv. 10; Rev. iv. 2, 3; Ps. civ. 2. So the Chap. II. ver. 1.- Son of man,] This expression is throne of God here described was made up of light, generally understood as applied to the Prophet, to put resembling the colours and brightness of a sapphire. him in mind of his frailty and mortality, and of the inW. Lowth.
| finite distance between God and man. In which sense - of a man] The Representative of the invisible it is supposed to be taken, when spoken of Christ in the God, His ever blessed and only begotten Son, who at New Testament; implying His great humility in aslength assumed human nature. Bp. Hall, Abp. New- suming our nature, and appearing no otherwise than come. When Moses and the elders saw the God of as an ordinary man. W. Lowth, Calmet. See the note Israel, Exod. xxiv. 9–11, or the glory of God, they saw on Dan. viii. 17. nothing but an inconceivably resplendent brightness, - stand upon thy feet,] It appears from the last that they might not imagine the Deity represented by verse in the first chapter, that the Prophet had fallen any image. Here the form of a man seems to pré- prostrate in the Eastern manner at the manifestation of figure the incarnation. W. Lowth. See the note on the glory of God. Abp. Newcome. Jer. i. 4.
2.- the spirit] The Spirit of God. Bp. Hall. W. 27. — within it,1 Within the colour of amber. The Lowth. The power of the Highest, Luke i. 35 ; see upper part of this appearance was of an amber colour chap. ij. 12, 14, 24 ; 1 Kings xviii. 12; 2 Kings ii. outwardly, but more flaming inwardly. W. Lowth. | 16. Abp. Newcome. See Abp. Secker's note on Ne
28. As the appearance of the bowl As this vision was hem. ix. 30. an evident representation of the Word, that was to be 5. And they, whether they will hear, &c.] Whether made flesh, whose incarnation is the foundation of God's they will hear, or will not hear, (as is more probable, covenant and mercy with mankind ; a rainbow, the for they are a stubborn people,) yet shall they feel and symbol and token of mercy, was a very fit attendant find by the event answering thy predictions, that they upon that glorious vision, Rev. x. ). W. Lowth. have had a Prophet amongst them; on which account,
- the glory of the Lord.] See Isai. vi. 1, 2: where if their sins are not reformed, they shall be more deeply this glory assumed a different appearance.
punished. Bp. Hall. This august vision was a representation of God's 6. —though briers and thorns be with thee,] Though glory, which tended to convince the Prophet of the Dithou art likely to be torn by briers and thorns, and to vine appearance. It signified likewise, that God is every be stung by scorpions ; that is, though thou exposest where present ; that His knowledge and power are in thyself to injurious and malignant treatment. Abp. finite ; that He governs all things by His providence ; | Newcome. The Prophets and messengers of God are VOL. II.
+ Heb. rebellion.
are te mostren will Fomcy will % words
The roll of Ezekiel's heavy prophecy. EZEKIEL.
God encourageth him. Befores, among scorpions : be not afraid of thee. Then did I a eat it; and it was Before about 595, their words, nor be dismayed at their in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 595. looks, though they be a rebellious 4 | And he said unto me, Son of
a Rev. 10.9. house.
man, go, get thee unto the house of
tof a strange speech and of an hard + Heb. deep
lious like that rebellious house : open speech and of an hard language, whose th a Rev. 10.9. thy mouth, and à eat that I give words thou canst not understand. heavy of lanthee.
|| Surely, had I sent thee to them, 10r, if I had 9 9 And when I looked, behold, they would have hearkened unto thee. sentike mens an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a 7 But the house of Israel will not not hare roll of a book was therein;
hearken unto thee; for they will not unto thee? 10 And he spread it before me; hearken unto me: for all the house and it was written within and with of Israel are + impudent and hard-Heb. stift of out: and there was written therein hearted. lamentations, and mourning, and woe. 8 Behold, I have made thy face
strong against their faces, and thy CHAP. III.
forehead strong against their fore1 Ezekiel eateth the roll. 4 God encourageth heads. him. 15 God sheweth him the rule of pro- ' 9 As an adamant harder than flint phecy. 22 God shutteth and openeth the I have I made thy forehead: b fear b Jer. 1. 8. prophet's mouth.
them not, neither be dismayed at their
1 Son of man, eat that thou find- house.
of man, all my words that I shall speak
hear with thine ears.
forehead and hard of heart.
often exhorted to take courage, and are promised a pro- prophecies contained therein consisted of God's judgportionable assistance in the discharge of their office, ments and mournful events, without any mixture of without fearing any man's person, or standing in awe of mercy, at least with respect to the Jews of the present any man's greatness. See chap. iii. 8, 9; Jer. i. 8, 18. age." W. Louth. Such a presence of mind is expressed by “ boldness" in the New Testament, and is spoken of as a peculiar Chap. III. ver. 1. - that thou findest ;l That which gift bestowed upon the first preachers of the Gospel, is given to you. Houbigant. Acts iv. 13, 29; Eph. vi. 19. And they had need of 2.- he caused me to eat that roll.] See the note on great presence of mind, who were to reprove men chap. iv. 1. This circumstance of Ezekiel's eating the hardened in sin, who are always impatient of reproof, roll plainly belongs to his first vision : during which he and become the enemies of those who tell them such ate the roll ; and therefore his eating was visionary, not truths as they have no mind to hear. W. Lowth. real. Dr. Waterland.
Concerning scorpions, see the note on Deut. viii. 15. 3. — as honey for sweetness.] Perhaps it was sweet
8. — eat] See chap. iii. 1, 3, 10. God's words were from the pleasure of being so honourably employed. to sink into him, that he might faithfully deliver them Abp. Secker. So pleasing a contentment there is in a to others. Abp. Newcome. “Take in, retain, digest.” holy obedience to the commands of God. Bp. Hall. Abp. Secker.
16. — they would have hearkened unto thee.] And yet The knowledge of Divine truths is often expressed by in all appearance these strangers would have hearkened the metaphors of bodily food and nourishment : and to thy preaching, sooner than the house of Israel will, therefore to “eat" the words of this prophecy, signifies as the Ninevites did to Jonah's. Compare Matt. xii. to commit them to memory, to meditate upon them, and 41; xi. 21. W. Lowth. digest them. W. Lowth.
9. As an adamant] It is not ascertained what is 10. — within and without :) The ancient books were properly meant by this word. Scheuchzer thinks it does rolled on cylinders of wood and ivory; and usually the not mean the adamant or diamond, but a very hard writing was only on the inside. Grotius, Abp. Newcome. stone, called smiris, (a name nearly similar to the He
The writing on both sides shewed that the prophecy brew word here translated,) which was used for engrarwould be long. Calmet.
| ing, polishing, and cutting other hard stones. Parklamentations, and mourning, and woe.] All the hurst.