And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month
, the tenth day
of the month, that
certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD
, and sat before me.
A deputation of the elders of Israel, as usual, in their
distress, came to request Ezekiel to ask counsel of God, 1.
In reply to this, God commands the prophet to put them in mind
of their rebellion and idolatry: In Egypt, 2-9,
in the wilderness, 10-27,
and in Canaan, 28-32.
Notwithstanding which the Lord most graciously promises to
restore them to their own land, after they should be purged
from their dross, 33-44.
The five last verses of this chapter ought to begin the next,
as they are connected with the subject of that chapter, being a
prophecy against Jerusalem, which lay to the south of Chaldea,
where the prophet then was, and which here and elsewhere is
represented under the emblem of a forest doomed to be destroyed
by fire, 45-49.
NOTES ON CHAP. XX
Verse 1. In the seventh year
] Of the captivity of Jeconiah, (see Eze 8:1
,) and the seventh of the reign
of Zedekiah. The fifth
month, the tenth day
] That is, according to Abp. Usher, Monday
, August 27, A.M. 3411. Certain of the elders of Israel
] What these came to inquire
about is not known. They were doubtless hypocrites and deceivers,
from the manner in which God commands the prophet to treat them.
It seems to have been such a deputation of elders as those
mentioned Eze 8:1; 14:1
Then came the word of the LORD
unto me, saying,
Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD
; Are ye come to enquire of me? As
I live, saith the Lord GOD
, I will not be enquired of by you.
Verse 3. I will not be inquired of by you.
] I will not hear you.
I will have nothing to do with you.
Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them
? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:a
Verse 4. Wilt thou judge them
] If thou wilt enter into any discussion with them
, show them the abomination of their fathers
The whole chapter is a consecutive history of the unfaithfulness ingratitude, rebellion
, and idolatry
of the Jews, from the
earliest times to that day; and vindicates the sentence which God
had pronounced against them, and which he was about to execute
more fully in delivering them and the city into the hands of the
¶ And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD
; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am
Verse 5. I chose Israel
] They did not choose me
for their God
till I had chosen them
to be my people
. I lifted up mine hand
] I bound myself In a covenant to them to
continue to be their God, if they should be faithful, and continue
to be my people. Among the Jews the juror
lifted up his right hand
to heaven; which explains Ps 144:8
: "Their right hand is a right
hand of falsehood." This is a form used in England, Scotland, and
In the day that
I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is
the glory of all lands:
Verse 6. To bring them forth of the land of Egypt
] When they had
been long in a very disgraceful and oppressive bondage. A land that I had espied for them
] God represents himself as
having gone over different countries
in order to find
comfortable residence for these people, whom he considered as his
children. Flowing with milk and honey
] These were the characteristics of a happy
and fruitful country
, producing without intense labour all
of life. Of the happiest state and
happiest place, a fine poet gives the following description:-
Ver erat aeternum, placidique tepentibus auris
Mulcebant Zephyri natos sine semine flores.
Mox etiam fruges tellus inarata ferebat:
Nec renovatus ager gravidis canebat aristis.
Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina nectaris ibant:
Flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella.
OVID'S Metam. lib. i., 107.
On flowers unsown soft Zephyr spreads his wing,
And time itself was one eternal spring;
Ensuing years the yellow harvest crowned,
The bearded blade sprang from the untilled ground,
And laden, unrenewed, the fields were found.
Floods were with milk, and floods with nectar filled,
And honey from the sweating oaks distilled.
In the flourishing state of Judea every mountain was cultivated
as well as the valleys. Among the very rocks the vines grew
Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am
Verse 7. Cast ye away-the abominations
] Put away all your idols;
those incentives to idolatry that ye have looked on with delight.
But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
Verse 8. They did not-cast away
] They continued attached to the idolatry
of Egypt; so that, had I consulted my justice
should have consumed them even in Egypt
itself. This is a
circumstance that Moses has not mentioned, namely, their provoking
God by their idolatry, after
he had sent Moses and Aaron to them
But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were
, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.
Verse 9. But I wrought for my name's sake
] I bare with them and
did not punish them, lest the heathen, who had known my promises
made to them, might suppose that I had either broken them through
some caprice, or was not able to fulfil them.
¶ Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.
Verse 10. I caused them to go forth
] Though greatly oppressed
and degraded, they were not willing
to leave their house of bondage
. I was obliged to force them away
And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if
a man do, he shall even live in them.c
Verse 11. I gave them my statutes
] I showed them what they
should do in order to be safe, comfortable, wise, and happy; and
what they should avoid in order to be uninjured in body, mind, and
possessions. Had they attended to these things, they should have lived by them
. They would have been holy, healthy, and happy.
Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am
that sanctify them.
Verse 12. I gave them my Sabbaths
] The religious observance of
the Sabbath was the first statute
of God to men. This
institution was a sign between God and them
, to keep them in
remembrance of the creation of the world, of the rest
designed them in Canaan, and of the eternal inheritance among the
saints in light. Of these things the Sabbath was a type
But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if
a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
Verse 13. But the house of Israel rebelled
] They acted in the wilderness
just as they had done in Egypt
; and he spared them
there for the same reason. See Eze 20:9
But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.
Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them
, flowing with milk and honey, which is
the glory of all lands;
Verse 15. I lifted up my hand
] Their provocations in the
wilderness were so great, that I vowed never to bring them into
the promised land. I did not consume
them, but I disinherited
them. See Clarke on Eze 20:5
Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.
Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
Verse 18. But I said unto their children
] These I chose in their
fathers' stead; and to them I purposed to give the inheritance
which their fathers by disobedience lost.
your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them;
And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am
Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if
a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
Verse 22. I withdrew mine hand
] I had just lifted it up to crush
them as in a moment; for they also were idolatrous, and walked in
the steps of their fathers.
I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were
not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
Verse 25. I gave them also statutes
that were not good
] What a
foolish noise has been made about this verse by critics
and infidels! How is it that God can be said "to give a people
statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they could not
live?" I answer, in their sense
of the words, God never gave any
such, at any time, to any people. Let any man produce an example
of this kind if he can; or show even the fragment
of such a law,
sanctioned by the Most High! The simple meaning of this place and
all such places is, that when they had rebelled against the Lord,
despised his statutes, and polluted his Sabbaths-in effect cast
him off, and given themselves wholly to their idols, then he abandoned
them, and they abandoned themselves to the customs and
ordinances of the heathen. That this is the meaning of the words,
requires no proof to them who are the least acquainted with the genius
of the Hebrew language, in which God is a
thousand times said to do
, what in the course of his providence
he only permits
to be done.
And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire
all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am
Verse 26. I polluted them in their own gifts
] I permitted
to pollute themselves by the offerings which they made to their
idols. Causing their children to pass through the fire was one of
; but, did God ever give them a statute
of this kind
? No. He ever inveighs against such things,
and they incur his heaviest displeasure and curse. See on Eze 20:31
¶ Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD
; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.d
when I had brought them into the land, for
the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
Then I said unto them, What is
the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.e
Verse 29. What
is the high place
] mah habbamah
"what is the high place?" What is it good for? Its being a high place
shows it to be a place of idolatry
. I called it bamah
, to mark it with infamy
; but ye continue to frequent it,
even while it is called bamah
, to the present day!
Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD
; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?
For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As
I live, saith the Lord GOD
, I will not be enquired of by you.
Verse 31. Ye pollute yourselves
] This shows the sense in which
God says, Eze 20:26
, "I polluted them in their own gifts." They chose
to pollute themselves, and I permitted
them to do so. See
on Eze 20:25, 26
And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
Verse 32. And that which cometh into your mind
] Ye wish to be
naturalized among idolaters
, and make a part of such nations. But
this shall not be at all
; you shall be preserved as a distinct people
. Ye shall not be permitted to mingle yourselves with the
people of those countries: even they
, idolaters as they are, will despise
you. Besides, I will change your place,
restore your captivity; yet not in mercy
, but in fury poured out
and reserve you for sorer evils, Eze 20:34
I live, saith the Lord GOD
, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:
And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.
And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
Verse 35. I will bring you into the wilderness of the people
will bring you out of your captivity, and bring you into your own land
, which you will find to be a wilderness
, the consequence of
your crimes. There will I plead with you
] There I will be your king, and rule
you with a sovereign rule; and the dispensations of my justice and
mercy shall either end you
or mend you
Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:f
Verse 37. I will cause you to pass under the rod
] This alludes
to the custom of tithing
. I take it from the rabbins.
The sheep were all penned; and the shepherd stood at the door of
the fold, where only one sheep could come out at once
. He had in
his hand a rod
dipped in vermillion
; and as they came out, he
counted one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine; and
as the tenth
came out, he marked it with the rod, and said, "This
is the tenth
;" and that was set apart for the Lord. I will bring you into the bond of the covenant
] You shall be
placed under the same obligations
as before, and acknowledge your
selves bound; ye shall feel your obligation, and live according to
And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am
Verse 38. I will purge out from among you the rebels
incorrigibly wicked I will destroy; those who will not
whom I have appointed for this purpose as the Saviour of Israel.
And I will gather you who believe
out of all the countries where
you sojourn, and bring you into your own land; but those of you
who will not believe
-will not receive the Son of David to reign
over you, shall never enter into the land of Israel, but die in
your dispersions. This is what the contradicting and blaspheming
Jews of the present day have to expect. And thus, both of you shall know that he is Jehovah
, fulfilling his threatenings
against the one, and his promises
to the other.
As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD
; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also
, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.
Verse 39. Go ye, serve ye every one his idols
] Thus, God gave
them statutes that were not good
, and judgments whereby they could not live
, by thus permitting
them to take their own way, serve
their gods, and follow the maxims
of that abominable
For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD
, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.g
Verse 40. For in mine holy mountain
] The days shall come in
which all true
ISRAELITES shall receive HIM whom I have sent
the true sacrifice
for the life of the world; and shall bring to
Jerusalem-the pure Christian Church
, their offerings, which I will
there accept, for they will give me thanks for my unspeakable
I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.h
And ye shall know that I am
, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for
the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.
Verse 42. And ye shall know
] Shall acknowledge that I am Jehovah
And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
Verse 43. And there shall ye remember your ways
] Ye shall be
ashamed of your past conduct, and of your long opposition to the
Gospel of your salvation.
These promises may, in a certain limited sense, be applied to
the restoration from the Babylonish captivity; but they must have
their proper fulfilment when the Jews shall accept Jesus as their
Saviour, and in consequence be brought back from all their
dispersions to their own land.
And ye shall know that I am
, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD
¶ Moreover the word of the LORD
came unto me, saying,
Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word
toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;
Verse 46. Set thy face toward the south
] Towards Judea
lay south from Babylon, or Mesopotamia, where the prophet then
dwelt. The forest of the south field
] The city of Jerusalem
, as full of
inhabitants as the forest is of trees.
And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD
; Thus saith the Lord GOD
; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
Verse 47. I will kindle a fire
] I will send war, "and it shall
devour every green tree," the most eminent and substantial of the
inhabitants; and every dry tree
, the lowest and meanest also. The flaming flame shall not be quenched
] The fierce ravages of
Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans shall not be stopped till the
whole land is ruined. All faces from the south to the north shalt be burned
] From the
one end of the land to the other there shall be nothing but fear,
dismay, terror, and confusion, occasioned by the wide-wasting
violence of the Chaldeans. Judea lay in length from north to
And all flesh shall see that I the LORD
have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.
Verse 48. All flesh
] All the people shall see that this war is a
judgment of the Lord. It shall not be quenched.
] Till the whole land shall be utterly
Then said I, Ah Lord GOD
! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?
Verse 49. Ah Lord God
] O my God, consider my situation; who will
believe what I shall say? They put the evil day far from them. Doth he not speak parables?
] halo memashshel meshalim hu
, "Is not he a maker of parables?" Is it not his custom
to deal in enigmas
? His figures are not to be understood; we
should not trouble ourselves with them. We are not obliged to
fathom his meaning; and perhaps after all it does not refer to us,
or will not be accomplished in our time
, if it even respect the
land. Thus they turned aside what might have done them good, and
rejected the counsel of God against themselves.
By dividing the word with our neighbour we often lose the
benefit both of threatenings and promises. They voluntarily shut
their own eyes; and then God, in judgment, sealed them up in