The prophet, after having addressed several other nations, returns now to his own; previously to which he is told, as on a former occasion, the duty of a watchman, the salvation or ruin of whose soul depends on the manner in which he discharges it. An awful passage indeed; full of important instruction both to such as speak, and to such as hear, the word of God, 1-9. The prophet is then directed what answer to make to the cavils of infidelity and impiety; and to vindicate the equity of the Divine government by declaring the general terms of acceptance with God to be (as told before, &c.,) without respect of persons; so that the ruin of the finally impenitent must be entirely owing to themselves, 10-20. The prophet receives the news of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, about a year and four months after it happened, according to the opinion of some, who have been led to this conjecture by the date given to this prophecy in the twenty-first verse, as it stands in our common Version: but some of the manuscripts of this prophet consulted by Dr. Kennicott have in this place the ELEVENTH year, which is probably the genuine reading. To check the vain confidence of those who expected to hold out by possessing themselves of its other fastnesses, the utter desolation of all Judea is foretold, 21-29. Ezekiel is informed that among those that attended his instructions were a great number of hypocrites, against whom he delivers a most awful message. When the Lord is destroying these hypocrites, then shall they know that there hath been a prophet among them, 30-33.
2Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:a
2 Verse 2. Son of man-if the people of the land take a man] The first ten verses of this chapter are the same with ; and to what is said there on this most important and awful subject I must refer the reader. Here the PEOPLE choose the watchman; there, the Lord appoints him. When God chooses, the people should approve.
6But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
11Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
11 Verse 11. As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked] From this to the twentieth verse inclusive is nearly the same with &c., on which I wish the reader to consult the notes. .
12Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
13When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
13 Verse 13. If he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity] If he trust in his acting according to the statutes and ordinances of religion, and according to the laws relative to rights and wrongs among men, and in other respects commit iniquity, he shall die for it.
21 ¶ And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten.
21 Verse 21. In the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month] Instead of the twelfth year, the eleventh is the reading of seven of Kennicott's MSS., one of De Rossi's, and the Syriac. My own, mentioned in the preceding chapter, reads with the present text. This was on Wednesday, Jan. 25, A.M. 3416 or 3417.
One that had escaped out of Jerusalem] After it had been taken by the Chaldeans.
Came unto me, saying, THE CITY IS SMITTEN.] This very message God had promised to the prophet, .
24Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.
24 Verse 24. Abraham was one] If he was called to inherit the land when he was alone, and had the whole to himself, why may we not expect to be established here, who are his posterity, and are many? They wished to remain in the land and be happy after the Chaldeans had carried the rest away captives.
25Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?
25 Verse 25. Ye eat with the blood] Abraham was righteous, ye are unrighteous. Eating of blood, in any way dressed, or of flesh from which the blood had not been extracted, was and is in the sight of God abominable. All such practices he has absolutely and for ever forbidden. Let the vile blood-eaters hear and tremble. , and the passages in the margin.
27Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.d
27 Verse 27. They that are in the wastes] He seems to speak of those Jews who had fled to rocks, caves, and fortresses, in the mountains; whose death he predicts, partly by the sword, partly by wild beasts, and partly by famine.
30 ¶ Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.f
30 Verse 30. The people still are talking against thee] bach should be rather translated, "concerning thee," than "against thee;" for the following verses show that the prophet was much respected. The Vulgate translates, de te; the Septuagint, περι σου, "concerning thee," both right.
Talking by the walls and in the doors of the houses is not a custom peculiar to the Copts, mentioned by Bp. Pococke, it is a practice among idle people, and among those who are resting from their work, in every country, when the weather permits. Gossiping in the inside of the house is not less frequent, and much more blamable.
31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.g, h, i
31 Verse 31. As the people cometh] As they are accustomed to come on public days, Sabbaths, &c.
With their mouth they show much love] They respected the prophet, but would not bend themselves to follow his precepts. They loved earthly things, and did not relish those of heaven.
32And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.j
32 Verse 32. As a very lovely song] They admired the fine voice and correct delivery of the prophet; this was their religion, and this is the whole of the religion of thousands to the present day; for never were itching ears so multiplied as now.
33And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
33 Verse 33. When this cometh to pass-then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.] What I have predicted, (and it is even now at the doors,) then they will be convinced that there was a prophet among them, by whose ministry they did not profit as they ought.