Ezekiel Chapter 8:3-4, 10-12; 14:1-6 Antique Commentary Quotes

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 8:3

3. He does not even say that it was the divine hand that carried him; spirit carried him, the form of the divine hand was merely symbolical.

the visions of God] i.e. shewn him by God, ch. Eze_1:1.

door of the inner gate] Rather: door of the gate of the inner court looking toward the north, i.e. the northern gate of the inner court. The word “inner” is wanting in LXX. The general opinion has been that the prophet was set down in the inner court, at the inner door of the northern gateway into that court. The term “door,” however, seems in usage to mean the outside entrance; and if the prophet had stood in the inner court he would have had to look northward through the gateway in order to see the image of jealousy, which was certainly not in the inner court. It is more natural to suppose him set down in the outer court, in front of the gateway leading into the inner court. In front of this gateway, in the outer court, stood the image of jealousy, near the entrance. Having seen this the prophet is next brought into the gateway (Eze_8:7), where he enters the chamber of imagery, some one of the cells in the gateway building. From there he is carried outside the sacred enclosure altogether to the north door of the outer court (Eze_8:14), where he finds the women bewailing Tammuz. And finally he is transported into the inner court where he beholds the sun-worship practised in front of the temple-house itself. Previous to this he had not been in the inner court, for when being shewn the idolatries he is always taken to the precise place where they are practised.

image of jealousy] Not an image of “jealousy” itself, considered as a deity, but an image which because it provoked to jealousy was named image of jealousy. The “jealousy” of God is a violent emotion or resentment arising from the feeling of being injured (Deu_32:21). It is uncertain what this image was. The word occurs again, Deu_4:16, in the sense of similitude or “figure,” and in Phenician with the meaning of “statue,” e.g. in an inscription from Idalion (Corp. Ins. Sem., vol. i. 88, 3, 7, &c.). According to 2Ki_21:7 Manasseh put a graven image of Ashera in the house of the Lord, which Josiah brought out and burnt (2Ki_23:6; 2Ch_33:7; 2Ch_33:15). In earlier times the Ashera (A.V. grove) was a tree or pole planted beside an altar. It is not quite certain whether the pole or stock was a substitute for the evergreen tree, when this could not be had, or whether like the sun-image it was the symbol of a goddess. In later times the term seems used as the name of a goddess. The expression “in the house of the Lord” is hardly to be pressed so far as to imply that Manasseh placed the Ashera in the temple proper, “house” is used of the whole temple buildings, including the courts. The image here may be this Ashera, whether we are to suppose it replaced after Josiah had burnt it, or whether the prophet be here taking a comprehensive view of the idolatries of Israel, including the time of Manasseh. In 2Ki_23:11 reference is made to the horses of the sun placed “at the entering in of the house of the Lord,” but these would scarcely be called an “image.”

Pulpit Commentary

Eze_8:3

The form of an hand (comp. Eze_2:9; Dan_5:5). For the mode of transit, see Bel and the Dragon, verse 36. as probably a direct imitation. The touch of the “hand” was followed by the action of the Spirit, in visions which he knew to be more than dreams, visions that came from God (comp. Eze_1:1; Eze_40:2). The word is not the same as that commonly used by Daniel (chazon), and often by Ezekiel himself (Eze_7:13; Eze_12:22, Eze_12:23, et al.), but mareh, which implies a more direct act of intuition. The word appears again in Eze_11:24; Eze_43:3, and in Dan_8:26, Dan_8:27, et al. To the door of the gate, etc. From the first we trace the priest’s familiarity with the structure of the temple. He is brought, as it were, after his journey in the spirit, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looketh towards the north (Revised Version). This is identified in Dan_8:5 with the “gate of the altar.” It may probably also be identified with the “upper gate” of Eze_9:2; the “high gate” of Jer_20:2; the “higher gate” of 2Ki_15:35, built by Jotham; the “new gate” of Jer_36:10. Obviously it was one of the most conspicuous portions of the temple, where the people gathered in large numbers. And here the prophet sees what he calls the image of jealousy. The words that follow probably give his explanation of the strange phrase, not found elsewhere, though it might naturally be suggested by Deu_32:16, Deu_32:21; Psa_78:58. What this image was we can only conjecture. The word for “image” is a rare one, and is found only here and in Deu_4:16; 2Ch_33:7, 2Ch_33:15. It may have been the Asherah (the “grove” of the Authorized Version), or conical stone, such as Manasseh had made and placed, with an altar dedicated to it, in the house of the Lord (2Ki_21:3; 2Ch_33:3), or one of Baal, or of Ashtaroth, or even of Tammuz (see verse 14). As the word “grove” does not occur in Ezekiel, it may be sufficient to state that the Ashera was a pillar symbolical either of a goddess of the same name, or, as some think, of the Phoenician Astarte. The worship seems to have first become popular under Jezebel (1Ki_18:19), and took deep root both in Israel and Judah. The cultus, as in 2Ki_23:7, seems to have been connected with the foulest licence, like that of the Babylonian Mylitta (Herod; 1.199; Baruch 6:43). The work of Josiah had clearly had but a temporary success, and the people had gone back to the confluent polytheism of the reign of Manasseh. In such a state of things the worst was possible. For recent discussions on the Ashera, see Kuenen. ‘Relig. Isr.’ (Eng. transl.), 1.88; Schrader; Robertson Smith, ‘Relig. of Semites,’ p. 172; and T.K. Cheyne, in the Academy of December 14, 1889.

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 8:10

10. The construction is difficult: lit. “and behold every likeness (Eze_8:3; Deu_4:17-18) of creeping things and beasts (cattle), abomination, and all,” &c., the term “abomination” being descriptive both of creeping things and beasts. The term “beasts” is employed of the larger domestic animals, though also of the beasts of prey; it seems nowhere used of the smaller vermin. On the other hand the word “abomination” is chiefly used in regard to the smaller creatures that swarm, whether in the waters or on the land, in the latter case winged and creeping things being included (Leviticus 11), and nowhere of the animals called “beasts.” LXX. omits “likeness of creeping things and beasts,” and it is possible that these words are a marginal gloss explanatory of “abomination.” It has usually been supposed that the reference is to the debased forms of Egyptian superstition. This is possible, for the other practices mentioned, the lamentation for Tammuz and the sun-worship came from abroad. Israel appears to have fallen into the idolatries of the nations about her when she came under their influence, particularly when they became paramount over her, and their gods were thought to be stronger than her own God. The Egyptian influence had been powerful from the days of Isaiah downwards, and even after the battle of Carchemish (b.c. 604) the hope of Egyptian support induced Jehoiakim in his last years and Zedekiah toward the close of his reign to renounce their allegiance to Babylon. On the other hand the practices here mentioned may be rather a revival of ancient superstitions which, during the prosperity of the kingdom and amidst the vigour of the national religion, had fallen into disuse or maintained themselves only as a secret cult, but which, amidst the disasters of the time, when Jehovah appeared to have forsaken the land and men looked to every quarter for aid, again became prevalent (see W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 338). If the LXX. reading be followed the passage may have less significance than has been attributed to it.

and all the idols] the block-gods, see ch. Eze_6:4. The fact that the “idols,” which according to ch. 6 (Eze_8:4; Eze_8:6; Eze_8:9; Eze_8:13) are to be found over all the mountains of Israel, are represented as portrayed upon the wall is peculiar, and suggests that the whole is symbolical. In ch. Eze_23:14 Jerusalem sees images of the Chaldeans portrayed upon the wall and falls in love with them, but such portraits can hardly have been a reality.

Pulpit Commentary

Eze_8:11

Seventy men, etc. The number was probably chosen with reference to the “elders” who had seen the Divine glory in Exo_24:9, Exo_24:10. The Sanhedrin, or council of seventy, did not exist till after the Captivity. The number can scarcely have been accidental, and may imply that the elders were formally representative. Another Jaazaniah, the son of Jeremiah, appears in Jer_35:3; yet another, the son of Azur, in Eze_11:1. If the Shaphan mentioned is the scribe, the son of Azaliah, under Josiah (2Ki_22:3), the father of Ahikam (2Ki_22:12), of Elasah (Jer_29:3), and of Gemariah (Jer_36:10, Jer_36:11, Jer_36:12), and the grandfather of Gedaliah (Jer_39:14, et al.), all of whom were prominent in the reform movement under Josiah, or as friends of Jeremiah, and no other Shaphan appears in history, the fact that one of his sons is the leader of the idolatrous company must have had for Ezekiel a specially painful significance. He could scarcely have forgotten the meaning of his name, “The Lord is listening,” and probably refers to it in verse 12. As the climax of this chamber of horrors, the seventy elders were all acting as priests, and were offering to their pictured idols the incense which none but the sons of Aaron had a right to use, and which they offered to Jehovah only.

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 8:11

11. seventy men of the ancients] i.e. of the elders. The seventy were not any court such as the later Sanhedrim, but merely seventy men representing the elders of Israel (Exo_24:1; Num_11:16; Num_11:24-25). The elders were the leaders of the people, and probably here represent them. Prominent among these elders was Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. There is no reason to suppose the name fictitious. Shaphan the scribe was the person who read the Book of the Law found in the temple to king Josiah (2Ki_22:10). A son of his son Ahikam acted along with him and was a protector of Jeremiah (Jer_39:14), and another son is mentioned (Jer_36:10) as having a chamber in the upper court where Baruch read Jeremiah’s roll in the ears of the people. If Jaazaniah was a son of this Shaphan he pursued a different course from his father and brothers.

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 8:12

12. the chambers of his imagery] Or, his chambers of imagery. The language implies that there were many chambers of imagery, and again suggests that the scene was symbolical. For “ancients” elders. On “imagery” Lev_26:1; Num_33:52.

forsaken the earth] Rather: the land. The multiplied calamities of later years suggested that Jehovah no more protected the country (ch. Eze_9:9). This was possibly the feeling of the elders and people in some moods, but in other moods they spoke differently. In ch. Eze_11:15 they say to those already in exile, “Get you far from the Lord! unto us is this land given in possession.”

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 14:1

1–9. Answer to idolaters who inquire of the Lord

1. elders of Israel] That is, in point of fact, elders of the exiles; but in them the prophet sees representatives of the house of Israel both at home and abroad (Eze_14:4; Eze_14:7), and when addressing them he feels himself speaking to his people in all places. Cf. ch. Eze_8:1, Eze_20:1. These elders came and sat before him. It is scarcely probable that their presence was due to the prophet’s words in ch. 13, denouncing their false prophets. It might no doubt be supposed that they were perplexed by these denunciations, and, not knowing whom to believe, waited on the prophet for some further enlightenment. It is more likely that their thoughts were occupied about Jerusalem and the future of their country, and that they hoped to hear something more from Ezekiel on these subjects.

Pulpit Commentary

Eze_14:3

These men, etc. The prophet, taught by the word of the Lord, reads the hearts of those who came to him. The words do not imply, rather they exclude, the open practice of idolatry. The sin of the inquirers was that they had set up idols (gillulim, Ezekiel’s favourite word; see note on Eze_6:4) in their hearts. The LXX. gives διανοήματα,”thoughts of their hearts,” as if to express this. They were hankering after the old false worships in which they had once, taken part. The stumbling block (see Eze_3:20) of their iniquity was set up there. That divided heart, the “double mind” of Jas_1:8, made true inquiry, as it made true prayer for guidance, impossible. Shall I be inquired of at all, etc.? The “at all” represents the emphatic iteration of the verb in the Hebrew. The Vulgate, Numquid interrogatus respondebo eis? gives a fair paraphrase.

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 14:3

3. set up their idols in] Lit. have laid their idols upon their heart, which appears to mean, laid them on their minds, busied their thoughts and filled their affections with them.

stumblingblock of their iniquity] The reference is still to the idols. Stumblingblock of iniquity is that over which one falls and commits iniquity, see on ch. Eze_7:19.

before their face] i.e. have placed them in their view, or, so as to follow them; cf. Eze_14:6 “turn away your faces from all your abominations;” Psa_16:8; Psa_101:3. The language is figurative, and does not imply literal setting-up of idols.

should I be inquired of] Or, shall I let myself be inquired of? that is, shall I give an answer (through the prophet)? cf. Isa_65:1, where “inquired of” is parallel to “was found.”

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 14:4

4. The Lord will answer such men directly through himself, by involving them in the consequences of their own idolatries and destroying them.

setteth up his idols] Cf. Eze_14:3.

will answer him that cometh] If this reading be adopted, the rendering must be, I the Lord will answer him; he cometh in the multitude—a meaning which has no probability. The present text reads, I will answer him according to it, (i.e. the iniquity, or the stumbling-block) (even) according to the multitude, &c. In Eze_14:7, where the same expression occurs, the reading is, “I will answer him by myself;” and the present passage had better be assimilated to Eze_14:7. What is meant by the Lord’s answering “through himself” is stated Eze_14:8, “I will set my face against that man.” The answer will be given in acts of judgment.

according to the multitude] The divine chastisement will be heavy, proportionate to the gross idolatry.

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 14:5

5. take … in their own heart] The sinner’s sin is like a snare in which he is captured and destroyed; sin carries its own retribution in itself (Job_8:4). The phrase “take them in their own heart” is explained by the words that follow, “because they are all estranged from me through their idols.” Their “heart” is the idolatrous direction of their thoughts and affections; in this they shall be taken (Eze_14:3-4; Eze_14:7).

Cambridge Bible Davidson

Ezekiel 14:6

6. The prophet is not permitted to give an answer to any inquiries of such men. Jehovah will answer them through himself (Eze_14:7); the message which the prophet has to deliver is, repentance or destruction!

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