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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 13



Verse 2

2. Prophets of Israel that prophesy — Dr. Davidson sees a kind of sarcasm in this phrase. The false prophets were indeed prophets of Israel, though not prophets of Jehovah. The people eagerly grasped their smooth sayings as true and repudiated Jeremiah and Ezekiel as the false prophets (Jeremiah 18:18; Jeremiah 43:2).

Prophesy out of their own hearts — Their own wish to be popular and please the people (Ezekiel 13:19; Jeremiah 23:16) colors their message. They are the mouthpiece of the people, Ezekiel speaks the word which is opposed to his natural desire. These men speak the smooth things which their own selfish hope suggests and their own human judgment seeks to sustain (Micah 3:8; compare Jeremiah 28:8-9).

Verse 3

3. Foolish prophets — The “fool,” in Scripture language, is the impious man. Many of these false prophets were grossly immoral (Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 29:23), and none of them had the appreciation of the heinousness of sin and the certainty of God’s wrath falling upon an unrepentant people, which is so characteristic of the writings of the true prophets. Lacking the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, the policy which they advocated was almost invariably wrong. They posed as patriots, and friends of Jerusalem and the temple, advocating war and such political alliances as they believed to be for the temporal interests of the nation; not having the foresight to perceive that the laxity of morals and impurity of worship were being increased by such affiliations and that the real danger to the nation lay not in its lack of military power, but in its lack of spirituality and faith in God.

Follow their own spirit — The true prophet is the “man of the spirit” (Hosea 9:7), who receives his message from God (Jeremiah 23:16); but the spirit which controls the false prophet is from within, and not from above.

And have seen nothing — Literally, that which they have not seen. They saw no vision of God, though they pretended to see and may even have imagined that they saw.

Verse 4

4. Like the foxes in the deserts — Foxes do not build walls, but undermine them (Nehemiah 4:3; Lamentations 5:18). Having seized their prey with great subtlety they run to the desert and hide themselves and it (Adam Clarke). Those who pretend falsely to speak in the name of Jehovah are worse than open enemies — they are sly and dangerous as the greatest pest of the Orient (Song of Solomon 2:15; Isaiah 5:7).

Verse 5

5. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for — These false prophets, whom Ezekiel now addresses, do not protect or construct; they only succeed in tearing down. They cannot repair the gap (breach) nor build such a hedge for (before) the house of Israel as will save them in the day of battle (Isaiah 5:5; Isaiah 58:12). They never have done this, notwithstanding their patriotic pretensions; they never can do it. (See Ezekiel 22:30.)

Verse 6

6. Have made others to hope — Rather, they hoped for the word to be confirmed. They have seen vanity (literally, nothingness, falsehood), and yet they have deceived themselves with the hope that the lies which they have prophesied will come true. There is no suggestion here that these false prophets really believed themselves to have received a message from God (vs. Davidson), though in other places it is made plain that a prophet who willfully persists in prophesying lies may at last be unable to discriminate between the true and the false.

Verse 7

7. Ye say, The Lord saith it — They boldly lay claim for themselves to the only true source of prophetic inspiration; but the Lord himself repudiates them as liars and deceivers of the people.

Verse 8

8. I am against you — How clearly this is an echo of Jeremiah 23:31 : “Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.”

Verse 9

9. Mine hand shall be upon the prophets — Ezekiel knew what it was to feel the weight of Jehovah’s hand (Ezekiel 3:14). The controlling hand which forces the obedient prophet to do hard tasks will fall still heavier upon the disobedient. He who will not wear the gentle yoke of constraint must drag “as with a cart rope” his load of responsibility and sorrow. These false prophets, now praised for their patriotic citizenship, upon the return from the captivity shall not sit in the “council” as they do now, nor shall their names appear in the national register (Ezra 2:62). They boast of their special patriotism, but events shall prove that they are not even true Israelites. They will go into captivity, but they will never return again into the land of Israel. (See Ezekiel 27:21.)

Verse 10

10. One built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar — Literally, it [the people] buildeth up a little wall, and they [the prophets] daub it with whited plaster. The people, believing that no danger is ahead, build their defenses carelessly and the false prophets approve the policy. They whitewash the actions of the godless government officials and declare that the city is perfectly safe. But in vain do they seek with their whited plaster to hide the imperfections of the city wall and fill in with mortar what should have been laid with solid stone.

Verse 11

11. It shall fall — They make a great show, but their whitewashed bulwarks shall be beaten down by the hail, and holes shall be blown through them by the wind (Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 13:13; Matthew 7:25; Matthew 7:27).

Verse 12

12. Where is the daubing — Without God and holiness the defenses of the city are rotten, and the prophet’s work is but the veneer which shall make the wreck more conspicuous. Many a weak place may be hidden from men’s eyes by the prophet’s brush, but when God blows against it with his mighty wind there is no daubing of cracks that can save it.

Verse 13

13. I will even rend it with a stormy wind — Literally, I will cause a stormy wind to break forth. (See Ezekiel 13:11.) The invasion of foreign troops is often compared in Scripture to a storm.

Verse 14

14. So will I break down the wall — Although it was the Chaldeans who swept like a flood or a windstorm over Judea, and whose blows fell like hailstones, yet these were but the agents of Jehovah. It was not because the walls of the city were fragile, but because the God of the city did not protect it, that it fell before its enemies.

Verse 15

15. The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it — The sin of the false prophets seems to be greater than that of the people, for some of the people live through this catastrophe, but the false prophets perish in the ruins (Ezekiel 13:14; Amos 9:1).

Verse 16

16. There is no peace, saith the Lord God — The song which the angels most love to sing is that of “Peace, good will;” but woe to the prophet who cries peace to the man with whom God is at war. To ease the conscience and quiet the fears of the wicked is a fearful sin.

Verse 17

17. Set thy face against the daughters of thy people — For good or for evil the influence of woman was powerful in Hebrew history. We know the names of several true prophetesses, like Miriam and Huldah, but the name of but one false prophetess has come down to us (Nehemiah 6:14). When women turn politicians, and attempt to prophesy out of their own hearts concerning the future, look out for trouble (Jeremiah 44:15). When women become false prophetesses they drop to the lowest level of superstitious fortune tellers.

Verse 18

18. Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes — Rather, who sew coverings [fillets, or bandages] upon all joints of the hand. The exact meaning of this expression is not known. It could hardly refer merely to the luxurious voluptuousness of these women, as so many of the early commentators believed. Garlands, fillets, and amulets of various kinds are mentioned as being used on the hand, not only in the Greek mysteries, but in the ancient Babylonian incantations; but whether these “cushions” were used on knuckles or wrist or elbow, or what was the method of their use, is not yet discovered. Bertholet thinks these were amulets which possessed some natural magnetic power.

Make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature — These kerchiefs or veils seem to have been thrown over the heads of those who came to consult the soothsayers concerning the future, in order to blindfold them and draw them into the magic circle. These coverings differed in length according to the stature of the inquirer. “We may perhaps read between the lines the thought that their utterances, like their veils, were adapted to suit every age and every taste.… Ezekiel points out, we may believe, what he had seen. And in those veils he had seen a net cast over the victims of the false prophetesses, a snare from which they could not escape.” — Plumptre.

Will ye save the souls alive that come unto you — Literally, and save souls alive for yourselves? These hunters of souls killed without mercy, but saved some alive — the very ones that deserved to die (Ezekiel 13:19). The meaning is that their prophecies brought comfort to the wicked and sadness to the righteous (Ezekiel 13:22). “To keep alive is to predict life and good fortune and to slay is to predict death.” — Toy.

Verse 19

19. Will ye pollute me… for handfuls of barley — Literally, ye have. These sorceresses were telling their lies in the name of Jehovah for the sake of the pay. And they were willing to commit this sacrilege for the slightest recompense, like that bestowed on the harlot or beggar (1 Samuel 2:36; Hosea 3:2). “Do you keep alive, for a few handfuls of barley as your reward, the souls of the wicked?” — Mosheh Ben Shesheth.

Verse 20

20. To make them fly — Rather, as birds (Gesenius, Smend). The figure of the net is still being carried out.

That ye hunt to make them fly — This passage is very corrupt, but by a slight change the text may read, “that ye hunt go free” (Cornill, Driver).

Verse 21

21. Your kerchiefs also will I tear — These victims should be delivered from the snare of the fowler (Psalms 91:3) and the charm of the net should be destroyed. It is suggestive that after the Babylonish captivity we find very little of these divinations in Jerusalem. (See Ezekiel 12:24.)

Verse 22

22. By promising him life — Rather, he should live. (Compare Ezekiel 18:9; Ezekiel 18:17; Ezekiel 33.)


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 13:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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