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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 11

 

 

Verses 1-3

Ezekiel 11:1-3. Moreover the spirit lifted me up — It seems it should rather have been rendered, And the spirit had lifted me up, for here he appears to go back to speak about those twenty-five men of whom he made mention Ezekiel 7:16, but had broken off from speaking of them to speak of things of greater importance; but he now returns to them again. And brought me unto the east gate — Caused me to see those parts in my vision just as if I had been there. And behold at the door five and twenty men — The same who are represented in Ezekiel 8:16, as worshipping the sun. They were princes of the people — That is, most probably, members of the great sanhedrim: compare Jeremiah 26:10. Among whom I saw Pelatiah, &c. — Named here for that dreadful, sudden death, whereby he became a warning to others. Then said he unto me — Namely, the divine appearance which was before my eyes. These are the men that give wicked counsel — They probably advised and encouraged the people to use the Chaldean rites of worship, in order to please and gain the favour of that nation. Or, they persuaded the Jews that they had no reason to fear future trouble or mischief from the Chaldeans, and therefore rendered them secure in their sins. Which say, It is not near — The threatened danger and ruin by the Chaldeans. These were such as put the evil day far from them, as is said Amos 6:3, and so went on securely in building houses, and making such like improvements. This city is the caldron, and we be the flesh — Jeremiah had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem under the figure of a seething-pot, or caldron, Jeremiah 1:13. And Ezekiel himself uses the same metaphor, Ezekiel 24:3-4, &c. So these scoffers made use of the same expression on purpose to deride the menaces of the prophets; as if they had said, If this city be a caldron, we are well content to be the flesh that is boiled in it. “We will share all fates with her, we will either be preserved or perish with her.” So Michaelis, who thinks the words are a proverb.


Verse 4-5

Ezekiel 11:4-5. Therefore prophesy against them — Declare to them how different things shall happen to them from what they expect. And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me — See note on Ezekiel 3:24. And said unto me, Speak; Thus have ye said — Ye have advanced the assertion, mentioned Ezekiel 11:3. “You have rightly said what you say: the city is the caldron, and we are the flesh, shall be fulfilled, but not as you understand it. Many of you will perish in the city. For those it will be the caldron, and they will be flesh boiled in it. But yourselves shall not be the flesh in the caldron: but you shall be taken out and elsewhere cut in pieces.” — Michaelis in Newcome. For I know the things that come into your mind —

Here God declares that, however much these men thought, and said in their hearts, The Lord seeth us not, yet still he not only saw them, but knew the things that came into their mind, every one of them, and took particular notice of that vain confidence with which they supported themselves, and endeavoured to put a good face upon a matter which they could not but know to be bad. Remember, reader, God perfectly knows not only the things that come out of our mouths, but the things that come into our minds; not only all we say, but all we think; even those thoughts which are most suddenly darted into our minds, and as suddenly slip out of them again, are perfectly known and narrowly observed by God: he knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves; he understands us afar off: the consideration whereof should oblige us to keep our hearts with all diligence, that no vain thoughts may come into them, or lodge within them.


Verse 6-7

Ezekiel 11:6-7. Ye have multiplied your slain in this city — Ye have, without law or justice, shed the blood of many in your streets. From this, and many other expressions in the Scripture, we may conclude that not only private murders were extremely frequent among them, but that they also frequently put to death, under colour of justice, those who were innocent of every crime deserving of death, but whom, for some wicked purposes, they wanted to be removed out of the way. And ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain — You have not only committed many murders yourselves, but you are accountable to God for all those whom the Chaldeans have slain, seeing you persuaded your people thus obstinately to stand out. Your slain, they are the flesh, &c. — You yourselves, therefore, have made your city, as it were, a caldron, by the murdered bodies with which you have filled the streets of it; many of them cut in pieces, so that they seem like flesh cut for the caldron. And this city may properly be called the caldron, into which their flesh has been thrown. But I will bring you forth out of the midst of it — Not in mercy, but in wrath, by the conquering hand of the king of Babylon. You shall not die there, but I will reserve you for another punishment: see Ezekiel 11:9; Ezekiel 11:11.


Verses 8-11

Ezekiel 11:8-11. Ye have feared the sword — Of the Chaldeans; and have, to avoid it, courted them, and left my worship to follow their idolatrous rites: but this very sword will I bring upon you. And I will deliver you into the hands of strangers — Defeating all your projects for escape; and I will execute judgments among you — By the hands of the Chaldeans, whom I will make the instruments of my just vengeance. I will judge you in the border of Israel — Namely, in Riblah, just upon the borders of Judea. In this place the king of Babylon, who is here spoken of as God’s representative, sat in judgment on all the princes of Judah, and slew them: see the margin. This city shall not be your caldron — The place of your sufferings; greater are reserved for you elsewhere.


Verse 13

Ezekiel 11:13. And when I prophesied, Pelatiah died — Mentioned Ezekiel 11:1, a principal man among the twenty-five princes, who made all the mischief in Jerusalem: see note on Ezekiel 11:2. It seems this was done only in vision now, (as the slaying of the ancient men, Ezekiel 9:6,) but it was an assurance, that when this prophecy was published it would be done in fact. And the death of Pelatiah was a pledge of the complete accomplishment of the prophecy. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried — The prophet thought this an earnest of the common destruction which was coming upon all the inhabitants of the city, and thereupon he earnestly deprecated so severe a judgment. See chap. Ezekiel 9:8.


Verse 14-15

Ezekiel 11:14-15. Again the word of the Lord came unto me — A seasonable word, to stop the mouths of the insulting Jerusalemites, and to encourage the captives at Babylon. Son of man, thy brethren — The men of thy kindred, or, of thy redemption, as גאלתן may be rendered: that is, thy fellow-captives, as Bishop Newcome reads it; unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get ye far from the Lord, &c. — The Jews who were left in Judea thought themselves more the favourites of God than those who had been carried away captives, looking upon the latter as outcasts, and such as had no right, either to the privileges of Jews or to the land of Judea. The words, רחקו מעל יהוה, rendered, Get you far from the Lord, may be translated, They have departed far from the Lord, that is, they have more grievously sinned and offended God than we. So thought and so said the inhabitants of Jerusalem, concerning those who had been carried into captivity. Unto us is this land given in possession — This promised, holy land, where our fathers dwelt, is exclusively ours, and we shall never be put out of possession of it, but it shall always be our inheritance.


Verse 16

Ezekiel 11:16. Therefore say — In vindication of the captives; Although I have cast them far off — Not from myself, but from you and your polluted land, and out of the way of the dreadful judgments which are approaching; among the heathen — The Chaldeans, or those among whom the Chaldeans have placed them; and have scattered them among the countries Have separated them from each other, and dispersed them in many countries; yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary — A sanctuary, or a refuge and protection “for a short time,” (so Bishop Newcome,) that is, during the seventy years’ captivity; or a little one in opposition to the great temple at Jerusalem; which, when its inhabitants were in the greatest need, should afford them the least help. But I, says God, will really be to my captives what the proud, self-deceiving Jews promise themselves from their temple, namely, their defence, support, and comfort. To me shall they flee, and in me shall they be safe, as he was that took hold on the horns of the altar. Or rather, they shall have such communion with me in the land of their captivity, as it was thought could be had nowhere but in the temple. They shall have the tokens of my presence with them, and my grace in their hearts shall sanctify their prayers and praises, as truly as ever the altar at the temple sanctified the gift. Observe, reader, they that are deprived of the benefit of public ordinances, if it be not their own fault, may have the want of them abundantly supplied in the immediate communications of divine grace and comforts.


Verses 17-20

Ezekiel 11:17-20. I will even gather you from the people — This might be, in some degree, fulfilled in those that returned from captivity, but the perfect completion of this promise must be referred to the time of the expected general restoration of the Jewish nation. And they shall come thither — They who assemble upon Cyrus’s proclamation first, and they who afterward assemble upon Darius’s, shall overcome all difficulties, perform their journey, and come safely to their own land. And they shall take away all the detestable things thereof — Shall abolish superstition and idolatry from the temple, the city, and the country, and shall live pure from all the pollutions with which the land had been formerly defiled. But this promise also ultimately respects the future conversion of the Jews, as do those contained in the next two verses. And I will give them one heart — A heart entire for me, the living and true God, and not divided, as their hearts were formerly, among many gods; a heart firmly fixed and resolved for my worship and service, and not wavering; steady and uniform, and not inconstant, and inconsistent with itself. And hence they shall serve me with one consent, Zephaniah 3:9. And I will put a new spirit within them — A disposition of mind agreeable to the new circumstances into which, in the course of my providence, I will bring them. Observe, reader, all that are regenerated have a new spirit: a spirit entirely changed from what it was before: they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, a new profession, new opinions, or new modes of worship will not serve without a new spirit. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: see the margin. And I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh — Out of their corrupt nature. Their hearts shall no longer be dead and dry, hard and unfeeling, but tender and apt to receive good impressions, and deeply sensible of, and affected with, things spiritual and divine. These are the same evangelical promises as we read in the other prophets, particularly Jeremiah 32:39. “The insensibility of men, with regard to religious matters, is often ascribed to the hardness of their hearts. God promises here to give them teachable dispositions, and to take away the veil from their hearts, as St. Paul expresses it, 2 Corinthians 3:16; the same temper being indifferently expressed either by blindness or hardness of heart.” — Lowth. That they may walk in my statutes — In their whole conversation; and keep my ordinances — In all acts of religious worship. These two particulars must go together, and not be separated; and those to whom God has given a new heart, and a new spirit, will make conscience of both, and then the following promise shall be fulfilled, They shall be my people, and I will be their God: the ancient covenant, which seemed to have been broken and forgotten, shall be renewed. By their idolatry and other sins, they appeared to have cast God off; and by their being sent into captivity, and divers other punishments, God seemed to have cast them off; but when they are cured of their idolatry and various vices, and delivered from their captivity and other calamities, God and Israel own one another again: God, by his good work in them, makes them his people; and then, by the tokens of his good-will toward them, shows them that he is their God.


Verse 21

Ezekiel 11:21. But as for them — Whoever they be, and some there will be in the best times, who will refuse to own God for their God, and truly to love and obey him. Whose heart walketh after their detestable things — Whose judgment and choice, or whose will and affections, go after their idols and iniquities, their lusts and vices. I will recompense their way upon their own heads — Their state shall differ as much as their practice does, from that of the people of God: I will treat them according to their ways.


Verse 23

Ezekiel 11:23. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city — The symbol of God’s presence, which had before departed from the temple, (Ezekiel 10:18,) now quite left the city, to signify that he would acknowledge no longer his relation to either, but deliver them up to be profaned by the heathen. It deserves to be observed here, that God did not quit the temple and city all at once, but by little and little. The cloud of his presence was first withdrawn from the mercy-seat in the holy of holies, the usual place of its residence, and removed to the threshold of the house, (Ezekiel 9:1,) where it remained some time waiting for their repentance. Its second remove was from this threshold, leaving the house altogether, to settle upon the cherubim, which were hovering over the court, and upon the wing to depart, Ezekiel 10:18. It then, with these angelic ministers of the divine will, and the accompanying wheels of providence, withdrew to the east gate of the inner court, Ezekiel 10:19. And now at last it quits Jerusalem altogether, and fixes itself upon the mountain on the east side of the city. By withdrawing himself from his people by slow degrees, God gave them time for consideration and repentance, to which each remove of the Shechinah was a fresh and solemn call, and he thus also manifested with what reluctance he entirely abandoned the seed of Abraham his friend. And even his causing the symbol of his presence, before his final departure, to take its station on the mount of Olives, where it was, as it were, within call, and ready to return, if now at length in this their day they would have understood the things that made for their peace, was a further manifestation of grace as well as of justice; for while the cloud of glory lingered there, it gave fresh encouragement to them to repent, and a final warning so to do, at the same time that it was emblematical of the judgment which, if their repentance did not prevent, should begin to be executed upon them from that mount, from whence the city would be annoyed by the darts of the Chaldeans. Nor was this only a figure of the calamities which were to be brought on the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar, but it was also an emblem of the evils which were to befall them in consequence of their rejecting and crucifying their own Messiah, the Lord of glory. This Divine Saviour, after exhausting his patience in instructing, correcting, and threatening Jerusalem, at length forsook it, and ascended to heaven from this same mount of Olives, in the presence of his apostles and disciples, that he might exercise his kingly office, and inflict a just and exemplary vengeance on this obstinately wicked and irreclaimable people.


Verse 24-25

Ezekiel 11:24-25. The spirit took me, and brought me in vision into Chaldea That is, took away from before my eyes the image of Jerusalem and the temple, &c., and presented nothing to my mind but what was the real matter of fact, namely, that I was a captive with many others of my countrymen in the land of Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen went up from me — Was at an end. In other words, he recovered from his trance or ecstasy. Then I spake unto them of the captivity — He related unto them all that had passed in his vision, namely, all that is contained in the last four chapters.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezekiel-11.html. 1857.

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