corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 2

 

 

Verse 1

1. Son of man — This was a form of address which was very common in Chaldea, especially when the gods were supposed to speak. (Compare Lightfoot.) It vividly calls attention to the contrast between human mortality and weakness and divine eternity and majesty. Yet let it be noticed that when Jehovah — in the likeness of a man upon a throne (Ezekiel 1:26) — wants a messenger to speak to mankind he searches for one who is pre-eminently human. The whole prophecy shows how powerfully Jehovah can use a man to display his glory when he speaks and acts not according to his own will, but Jehovah’s.

I will speak unto thee — “The Hebrew here indicates confidential conversation with the prophets although he may only take part as a listener.” — Orelli.

Stand upon thy feet — The man of flint (Ezekiel 3:9) must rise up and receive his commission standing (Ezekiel 1:28). He must at once be taught obedience and courage, and stand ready to run at the conclusion of the message.


Verses 1-8

EZEKIEL RECEIVES HIS COMMISSION FROM JEHOVAH, Ezekiel 2:1-8.

The circumstances are the most solemn possible. The man whom Jehovah honors thus with a private interview must be about to receive no ordinary commission. Beyond any other in Scripture this might be called the preacher’s chapter.


Verse 2

2. And the spirit — Literally, a spirit. This was probably the spirit that controlled the living creatures (Ezekiel 1:20), though Ezekiel does not yet seem to recognize this.

Set me upon my feet — God’s majesty may smite the beholder with weakness, but when one is weakest he finds working within him a “spirit” making him strongest. This spirit only comes to the humble soul. It is only after one has fallen upon his face before God that he becomes able to stand before him and hear him speak. The inner strength comes to the man who does not dare even to lift up his face to heaven.


Verse 3

3. I send thee — Only a man can speak to men. Only one who is a child of man can sympathize enough with the woes of humanity to act as God’s messenger to them.

To a rebellious nation — Literally, nations; LXX., rebellious ones. Here each tribe or division of the people seems to be counted as a nation, for evidently the expression refers to the children of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel did have a message for the heathen, but this is not referred to here.

They and their fathers have transgressed — Disobedience is inbred and has been long continued. There must be a taint in the blood. This heredity is not an excuse, but an explanation of the faithlessness and guilty conduct of the present generation. (Compare Ezekiel 16:23.)


Verse 4

4. For they are impudent children — Literally, And the children are stiff-faced and stiff-hearted. “The children of Israel are first described as rebellious heathen (Ezekiel 2:3), then as heartless children.” — Curry. Centuries of disobedience had made them bold and stubborn, their brows like brass and their necks like iron sinews (Isaiah 48:4; Exodus 33:3). When the heart is frozen the face soon shows it.

Thus saith the Lord God — Literally, Lord Jehovah. Jehovah — pronounced by the Hebrews yah-we and by the Babylonians ja’ava — was the national covenant-keeping name of the “merciful and gracious One, long-suffering and abundant in loving-kindness and truth,” whose nature is so beautifully described at the beginning of Hebrew history (Exodus xxxiv). It is in this most loving name, which is intertwined with the most glorious and patriotic memories of the nation, that the prophet is commanded to utter his warning and reproof. It has not been proved that Yah-we was worshiped outside the borders of the Israelite kingdom. (Journal of Biblical Literature, 13:101, etc.)


Verse 5

5. Whether they will hear — Heredity may have determined the form of their guilt, but it does not relieve them from responsibility. They are still able to hear and obey — yet these words breathe a sad suspicion that they will still remain persistently impenitent. Yet shall know, etc. — To speak as a herald, not originating the message or arguing about it, or tampering with it, but simply crying, “Thus saith the Lord,” is the best way to convince a sharp-tongued and impudent people that there is a prophet in their midst. Even such hearers will soon begin to acknowledge that there is something in religion, and “if there is a prophet on earth, Ezekiel is one.”


Verse 6

6. Briers… thorns… scorpions — The work of a true prophet is not easy, and will necessarily arouse the most bitter opposition. To suffer the grief of exile is bad enough (Psalms 137), but extra torments are in reserve for the faithful preacher. Ezekiel must be prepared for “thorns in the flesh” and scorpion stings. (Compare Matthew 10:16-23.) The constant irritation of the brier is as bad for the temper as the sting of the scorpion. Many who could go into the lion’s jaws without shrinking are beaten back from the path of daily duty by the briers in the path.

Though they be a rebellious house — Literally, for they be a house of rebelliousness. They always have been and are yet rebellious, and therefore they could not do otherwise than dislike and persecute one who tells them the truth.


Verse 7

7. Thou shalt speak my words — In spite of all the irritation naturally aroused by these piercing briers Ezekiel must not add one personal word to the message; nor must he keep back one syllable of it. It will seem to have no good effect; it will arouse such antagonisms that he will seem to be standing in a bed of scorpions. Let him still speak. It is the duty of the preacher to preach, not to convert.


Verse 8

8. Be not thou rebellious — God sees the inward hesitation of the prophet to accept this hard and thankless task to which he was called. From what we know of the prophet (see Introduction, IV) it is plain that his whole nature revolted against it. His extreme sensitiveness, so easily lacerated by a pricking word; his meditative and lonely life as a priest, his peculiar and tender love for his home (Ezekiel 24:15-21), his patriotism and special regard for his suffering comrades in exile — all seemed to unfit him for the stern and thorny work of a reformer. It almost seems as if he put his fingers in his ears, protesting against even listening to these stern criticisms and rebukes of those whom even in their sins he loved so well. But Jehovah cries, Thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee, and reaches him through his conscience. To disobey will be to become like those whose flagrant disobedience he recognizes and laments. Israel is in captivity, and the temple falling into ruins, because it refused its commission and fled from duty. “Be not rebellious like that rebellious house.” (See note Ezekiel 3:14.)

Eat that I give thee — This is a symbolism most common in the Orient and well understood everywhere. Orientals still speak of “eating” blows, grief, wounds, etc. (Compare Jeremiah 1:7-9; Revelation 10:9.) The prophet must receive the truth and feel it; it must become a part of his very life before he can speak it. No one can give until he has received. But what a message!


Verse 9-10

IN SYMBOL AND BY DIRECT INSTRUCTION THE PREACHER IS TAUGHT THAT HE MUST NOT SPEAK HIS OWN WORDS, BUT JEHOVAH’S, Ezekiel 2:9 to Ezekiel 3:11.

9, 10. The roll which represented the prophecy Jehovah expected him to deliver was full and running over with lamentations, and mourning, and woe, written on both sides — a thing unusual in ancient papyri — and Ezekiel knew its contents, for it was spread out before him. God never deceives his messengers. He never coaxes them into his service by promises of an easy task. (Compare Matthew 10:34-38.)

 


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

Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezekiel-2.html. 1874-1909.

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