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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 12



Verse 2

2. Which have eyes to see, and see not — This rebellious nation (Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 2:8; Ezekiel 3:26-27) have had their eyes blinded and their ears deafened by their rebellion (Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 42:20; Jeremiah 5:21; Matthew 13:14-15). They have seared their consciences and deadened their moral perception until even the prophecies just uttered have not moved them to faith and reformation. This is true not only of the hopeless Israelites in Jerusalem now, forsaken by Jehovah, but of many even of the true Israel who are in exile. (See notes Ezekiel 11:16-21.) They need simpler and more impressive picture-sermons to bring them to a conscious recognition of their spiritual condition and the fate which awaits impenitence — even the destruction of the holy city.

Verse 3

3. Stuff for removing — Literally, traveling baggage for exile.

Remove by day — Literally, remove as into captivity. Ezekiel is to represent himself as among the besieged in Jerusalem getting ready for flight; attempting thus to make the people consider (literally, see) what lies in the immediate future.

Though they be — Literally, for they be.

Verse 4

4. And thou shalt go forth at even — Literally, but thou thyself shalt, etc. The few necessary things for flight can be prepared in the daytime behind the city walls, but the escape from the city can only be attempted at night.

Verse 5-6

5, 6. Dig thou through the wall… and carry it [LXX., go] forth in the twilight — Or, darkness (Genesis 15:17). They dare not attempt to leave the city by one of the gates, because of the watchfulness of the besieging army, but must attempt to break a way through the wall at a point less carefully guarded.

Thou shalt cover thy face… for I have set thee for a sign — Or, portent. (See Ezekiel 12:11.) Representing the people, he carries out with him the provisions and other articles necessary for a hasty flight, and representing Prince Zedekiah, he goes forth with his face covered in shame and sorrow (Ezekiel 12:12; Ezekiel 24:17; 2 Samuel 15:30). There may also be a veiled prophecy that Zedekiah’s eyes are to be put out in the strange statement that he shall not see the ground (literally, land).

Verse 7

7. I did so as I was commanded — Whether Ezekiel actually dug through the walls of Tel-abib or through the walls which surrounded the mimic city prepared within his own house (Ezekiel 4:1) is not said, but the latter is far more probable. It was the tile, and not Tel-abib, which the exiles had learned to think of as the besieged city.

Verses 8-12

8-12. In reply to the question of the exiles, who have finally been roused to interest, “What doest thou?” (Ezekiel 12:9,) Ezekiel on the following morning is permitted to explain the meaning of his acted parable.

Verse 10

10. This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem — This is a very difficult phrase. Jeremiah had already used the word “burden” for a heavy and fear-inciting utterance of Jehovah (Jeremiah 23:33), and this may be the meaning here. Or does it mean that this bearing, or leading, has reference to the prince (Ezekiel 12:12), David’s son? This reference to the prince must have been very dangerous to the popularity of the prophet.

Reverence for the king, “the son of David,” the “anointed of Jehovah,” was highly developed in Israel. The religion and Messianic hope of everlasting dominion seemed bound up with the Davidic dynasty. But Ezekiel, except in one doubtful passage, never calls Zedekiah king. He considered the glory of the state as well as of the temple to have departed. This so-called king is but a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, and deserves no kingly dignity or allegiance (Skinner). He, as well as the priests and the captains, is involved in the universal guilt and must meet the penalty.

And all the house of Israel that are among them — R.V., “all the house of Israel, among whom they are,” or, all the house of Israel which is in the midst of it (Kautzsch, Davidson).

Verse 11

11. I am your sign — It is no light thing to be set as a sign by the Lord. It is only the brave and consecrated man that God can so use. Few men have been great enough to be honored thus. Jehovah never takes the man clothed in fine linen, but the one clothed in sackcloth, when he would set a man as a sign before the world.

Verse 12

12. The prince… shall bear upon his shoulder, etc. — The king of Israel is represented as carrying upon his own shoulder all the load which his people carries — and is there not also upon him the heavier “burden” of fulfilled prophecy? (See note Ezekiel 12:6; Ezekiel 12:10.)

Verse 13

13. My net also will I spread upon him — The attempt to escape shall be a failure. The Babylonian king shall capture the fugitives and carry them to Chaldea, but the net in which they are taken is not Nebuchadnezzar’s, but Jehovah’s. These shrewd “captains” might have outwitted Nebuzaradan, but they could not evade the Almighty (Jeremiah 39:4-7; Hosea 7:12; Ezekiel 17:20; Ezekiel 32:3).

Yet shall he not see it — This explicit prophecy, that his eyes should be put out, was literally fulfilled — though Ezekiel himself does not record its fulfillment (2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7; Jeremiah 52:11). “Ezekiel had no solicitude to make out the truth of his own predictions.” — Cowles.

Verse 14-15

14, 15. See notes Ezekiel 5:1-13. To Ezekiel Jehovah (Lord) was the equivalent of justice and holiness; and when he said, “They shall know Jehovah,” he meant that the divine justice and holiness would then be demonstrated.

Verse 16

16. I will leave a few — This is the “remnant” which represents the true Israel, and which shall show to the heathen the beauty of monotheism as compared with the “abominations” of idolatry and thus carry even into Chaldea the recognition of the true God (Ezekiel 6:8-10; Ezekiel 14:22-23; Ezekiel 20:9, etc.).

Verses 17-19

17-19. Eat thy bread with quaking, etc. — This is the same symbolic act, indicating the famished condition of the population of Jerusalem together with their fear and shuddering, which Ezekiel had previously performed during his long and toilsome siege of the mimic city (Ezekiel 4:9-12; Ezekiel 4:16). Recent events may have made the repetition of this picture-sermon more impressive than it had been previously. Desolate from all that is therein [literally, from its fullness], because, etc. — That is, the land now so full of people and of riches shall become desolate, and the reason for this is not agricultural or political, but moral. It is the wickedness and violence of the people that have brought upon them their calamity (Ezekiel 7:11).

Verse 21-22

21, 22. Those who are skeptical regarding the literal fulfillment of prophecy, and comfort themselves with the thought that they have often heard such threats of judgment but time passes (“the days are prolonged”) and every vision has failed thus far, are told that the crisis is at hand.

Verses 23-25

23-25. I will make this proverb to cease — The execution of the prophetic threat has so often been withheld, because of the repentance of a few righteous men or the long-suffering of Jehovah (33; Jeremiah 18:7-8; Jeremiah 26:17-19), that the failure of the prophetic judgment had become a proverb. The mercy of God in postponing chastisement is used as a proof that God did not and could not rule in the affairs of men. (It is the same spirit which says that God is always on the side of the heaviest guns. But did not that general die in exile?) Besides this there were many, who claimed to be seers, who prophesied according to the wishes of the people, and painted Israel’s future as bright and prosperous (Ezekiel 12:24). This made the work of the true prophet more difficult. But now “the effect” (literally, word) of every vision “is at hand” and will not again be delayed. Soon everyone will be able to discriminate between the false divination and the true prophecy (Ezekiel 21:21; Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 28:3; Isaiah 30:10).

Verses 26-28

26-28. Some who still retained their faith in prophecy, and were even inclined to accept Jeremiah and Ezekiel as true prophets, yet comforted themselves in their disobedience by saying that the times of trouble and judgment of which the prophet spoke were far in the future (Isaiah 39:8). Perhaps, as in other cases, the people would repent and the prophecy be averted (Jonah; Jeremiah 18:8; Joel 2:14). But against this Ezekiel replies that Jehovah has explicitly declared that the fulfillment of his threatening shall not be postponed longer, “but the word which I shall speak [Ezekiel 12:25] shall be done, saith Jehovah Elohim.”


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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