corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Ezekiel 12

 

 

Verse 1-2

The Lord came to Ezekiel with another message. Because it is not dated, and because the book follows a chronological sequence of events, most commentators believed that this word from the Lord came to Ezekiel shortly after he received the vision in chapters8-11. God told His servant that the people among whom he lived, the house of Israel, were rebellious against Him (cf. Ezekiel 2:3-8). Their blindness to the things that they saw and their deafness to His words, after over a year of Ezekiel"s ministry, were the result of their rebellious condition (cf. Deuteronomy 29:1-4; Isaiah 6:9-10; Jeremiah 5:21; Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 8:18; John 12:39-40; Acts 28:26-27).

"Sin blinds the heart and mind. Like Samson, who could not see that his chosen path was leading to the loss of his ministry, the sinner does not see the ultimate consequences of sin that produces death and destruction ( Judges 13-16; cf.... Isaiah 6:9-13; Romans 6:23)." [Note: Cooper, p148.]


Verses 1-7

The sign of the departing deportee12:1-7

"It is characteristic of the book to follow a vision report, in this case chaps8-11 , with an account of sign-acts and their interpretation within an oracular setting." [Note: Allen, p183.]


Verses 1-20

1. The dramatic tragedy of exile12:1-20

This section contains three messages from the Lord all of which deal with the inevitability of another deportation of Jews from Jerusalem and Judah ( Ezekiel 12:1-20). Jerusalem would be overthrown and the Jews still there would be taken to Babylon in the very near future. The prophet"s perspective now broadened from the temple (chs8-11) to the city (ch12).


Verse 3-4

The Lord instructed Ezekiel to perform another symbolic act. He was to pack his bags during the daylight hours as though he were going into exile. Thus he would probably have packed only the barest necessities. [Note: Greenberg, p209.] He was then to leave his present home and depart for another place in the evening, when the other exiles could observe what he was doing. Perhaps this would teach them how rebellious they were. [Note: For ancient pictures of deportees going into exile, see James B. Pritchard, ed, The Ancient Near East in Pictures, plates10 , 311 , 363-64 , 366 , and373.]

""Perhaps" is God"s sigh, rather than a threat." [Note: Allen, p178.]


Verse 5-6

He was to dig a hole in the sun-dried mud brick wall of his house (Heb. qir), perhaps the wall around the courtyard of his house, as the people watched, and pass through it. This unusual method of departure pictured desperation and secrecy. He should load his baggage on his shoulder and carry it away as night set in. He was also to cover his face so he could not see the land. This may represent the inability of the exiles to see their land any more or his shame at having to depart or his attempt to conceal himself from the enemy. He was to do all this because God was using him as a lesson to the Jews.


Verse 7

Ezekiel did all that the Lord had commanded him. During the day he assembled the few things that a person would take into exile and bound them up for carrying. That evening he dug a hole through his wall with his hands. As night fell, he went out through the hole in the wall as the people watched. Zedekiah and many other Jerusalemites tried to escape from the city at night ( Jeremiah 52:7). The fact that Ezekiel went out at night may also represent the dark conditions that would exist for Israel when the final exiles departed from Jerusalem (cf. John 13:30).


Verse 8-9

The morning after Ezekiel had performed this little drama the Lord spoke to him again. He reminded His servant that the Jews had asked him to interpret his symbolic acts.


Verses 8-16

The explanation of the sign of the departing deportee12:8-16


Verse 10

Ezekiel was to explain to them that the oracle that he had delivered by his acted parable concerned King Zedekiah and the Jews who were in Jerusalem. Ezekiel regarded King Jehoiachin as the legitimate king of Judah, and he referred to Zedekiah as only a prince (Heb. nasi", leader) because Nebuchadnezzar had set him on the throne. "Prince," however, was one of Ezekiel"s titles for Judah"s kings. Many of the Jews and the Babylonians also continued to view Jehoiachin as the true king of Judah.


Verse 11-12

Ezekiel was to explain to his audience that he was a sign to them of others who would go into captivity. He was not representing his fellow exiles who would leave Babylon and return to Judea. He represented what Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem would do. Zedekiah would try to escape under cover of darkness through a hole in a wall with his face covered to make himself unrecognizable (cf. 2 Kings 25:4-6; Jeremiah 39:4-5; Jeremiah 52:7-8).


Verse 13

Nevertheless the Lord would snare Zedekiah like a bird in a net and would bring him to Babylon. Ancient art pictured deities as hunting and snaring their enemies. [Note: See Pritchard, plate298.] Yet Zedekiah would not see the land of Babylon even though he would die there (cf. 2 Kings 25:5; 2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:6-7; Jeremiah 52:8; Jeremiah 52:10-11).

Josephus wrote that Zedekiah heard about this prophecy by Ezekiel but did not believe it because it seemed to contradict Jeremiah"s prophecy about what would happen to him. [Note: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10:7:2.] This apparent contradiction was the reason Zedekiah gave for rejecting both prophecies. Both prophecies proved true: the Chaldeans took Zedekiah to Babylon, but he never saw the country because Nebuchadnezzar blinded him at Riblah.


Verse 14-15

The Lord would also scatter the Jews who accompanied, assisted, and tried to defend Zedekiah in his escape and would pursue them with a sword as they fled to other nations.


Verse 16

Yahweh would allow a few of them to escape so they could tell what had happened, including their sinfulness and God"s dealings with them as a nation.

"The deportations were designed to show the deportees that the Lord was the faithful, loving, and powerful God over Israel they should return to. Lest the foreign nations misunderstand Judah"s dispersion, God had the exiles testify that their abominations precipitated the deportations. In this way the nations would realize that the Lord was holy, righteous, and cared for his people, Israel. He was not one who allowed them to be conquered because he did not care. This latter notion was very common in the ancient Near East. Each nation was uniquely related to its patron deity. If a nation was defeated in battle or decimated by famine and disease, this meant its god was weak and incapable of protecting and caring for its people. To prevent such a misconception, the Lord would send a remnant of Jews among the nations to witness that they were in exile only because of their own iniquity, not because of the Lord"s failure." [Note: Alexander, " Ezekiel ," p797.]

"What men fail to appreciate in prosperity, they will occasionally learn through adversity." [Note: Taylor, p116.]


Verse 17-18

The Lord also instructed Ezekiel to eat his bread and drink his water while trembling and visibly anxious. The prophet appears to have been eating still the symbolic rations that God had prescribed for him earlier ( Ezekiel 4:9-17).


Verses 17-20

The sign of the anxious eater12:17-20


Verse 19-20

He was then to explain to his audience that the Jews in Jerusalem would eat and drink like he had done. The Lord would strip their land of its abundance because the people had committed so much violence contrary to His law. He would also desolate the inhabited cities and the countryside of Judah. Then His people would know that He was the Lord. He loved them enough to discipline them (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11).


Verse 21-22

The Lord asked Ezekiel about a proverb that the Jews were reciting among themselves. They were saying that the days were long and that every vision failed. They meant that the captivity that the true prophets (including Isaiah ,, Micah ,, Jeremiah , and Ezekiel) had predicted was a long way off and that the visions they claimed to have would turn out to be unreliable.


Verses 21-25

The validity of prophecies about Jerusalem"s destruction12:21-25


Verses 21-28

2. The present judgment as evidence of divine faithfulness12:21-28

This section contains two prophecies ( Ezekiel 12:21-28). The first one deals with the objection of some of the exiles that the prophecies of Jerusalem"s overthrow would never come to pass. The second addresses the view of some that destruction would come but not for a very long time.


Verse 23-24

The Lord promised that the people would no longer say such things because He would prove them wrong. Ezekiel was to contradict this proverb and give the people another one that the days of the coming captivity were not far off and that the prophets" visions would come to pass. The Lord would frustrate the false prophecies and predictions of the future that only flattered the people.


Verse 25

Yahweh promised to bring to pass what He had spoken without delay. What He had said He would do in the days of Ezekiel"s hearers. His word of judgment would go forth, and judgment would follow immediately.


Verse 26-27

Some of the people were saying that the prophecies about coming judgment were true, but they would not come to pass for a long time.

"Rebelliousness ( Ezekiel 12:25) can take many forms, some of them even quite pious ("How do I know which preacher to believe, which church is right?"). In Ezekiel"s day it was "How do I know which prophet is correct ( Ezekiel 12:24), which prophecy applies to me ( Ezekiel 12:27)?"" [Note: Stuart, p116.]


Verses 26-28

The imminent fulfillment of prophecies of Jerusalem"s destruction12:26-28


Verse 28

Nevertheless the Lord promised not to delay His promises of coming judgment any longer. He would perform all that He had promised (cf. 2 Peter 3:2-13).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ezekiel-12.html. 2012.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology