Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. As the twelfth chapter denounced the false expectations of the
people, so this denounces the false leaders who fed those expectations.
As an independent witness, Ezekiel confirms at the Chebar the testimony
(Jer 29:21, 31)
in his letter from Jerusalem to the captive exiles, against the false
prophets; of these some were conscious knaves, others fanatical dupes
of their own frauds; for example, Ahab, Zedekiah, and Shemaiah.
Hananiah must have believed his own lie, else he would not have
specified so circumstantial details
The conscious knaves gave only general assurances of peace
(Jer 5:31; 6:14; 14:13).
The language of Ezekiel has plain references to the similar language of
Jeremiah (for example,
the bane of false prophecy, which had its stronghold in Jerusalem,
having in some degree extended to the Chebar; this chapter, therefore,
is primarily intended as a message to those still in the Jewish
metropolis; and, secondarily, for the good of the exiles at the
2. that prophesy--namely, a speedy return to Jerusalem.
out of . . . own hearts--alluding to the words of Jeremiah
(Jer 23:16, 26);
that is, what they prophesied was what they and the people
wished; the wish was father to the thought. The people
wished to be deceived, and so were deceived. They were
inexcusable, for they had among them true prophets (who spoke not
their own thoughts, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,
whom they might have known to be such, but they did not wish to know
3. foolish--though vaunting as though exclusively possessing "wisdom"
the fear of God being the only beginning of wisdom
their own spirit--instead of the Spirit of God. A threefold
distinction lay between the false and the true prophets: (1) The source
of their messages respectively; of the false, "their own hearts"; of the
true, an object presented to the spiritual sense (named from the noblest
of the senses, a seeing) by the Spirit of God as from without, not
produced by their own natural powers of reflection. The word, the body
of the thought, presented itself not audibly to the natural sense, but
directly to the spirit of the prophet; and so the perception of it is
properly called a seeing, he perceiving that which thereafter forms
itself in his soul as the cover of the external word
the peculiar expression, "seeing the word of God"
(Isa 2:1; 13:1;
(2) The point aimed at; the false "walking after their own spirit"; the
true, after the Spirit of God. (3) The result; the false saw nothing,
but spake as if they had seen; the true had a vision, not subjective,
but objectively real [FAIRBAIRN]. A refutation of
those who set the inward word above the objective, and
represent the Bible as flowing subjectively from the inner light of its
writers, not from the revelation of the Holy Ghost from without. "They
are impatient to get possession of the kernel without its fostering
shell--they would have Christ without the Bible" [BENGEL].
4. foxes--which cunningly "spoil the vines"
Israel being the vineyard
Isa 5:1-7; 27:2;
their duty was to have guarded it from being spoiled, whereas they
themselves spoiled it by corruptions.
in . . . deserts--where there is nothing to eat;
whence the foxes become so ravenous and crafty in their devices to get
food. So the prophets wander in Israel, a moral desert, unrestrained,
greedy of gain which they get by craft.
5. not gone up into . . . gaps--metaphor from breaches made in a
wall, to which the defenders ought to betake themselves in order to
repel the entrance of the foe. The breach is that made in the theocracy
through the nation's sin; and, unless it be made up, the vengeance of
God will break in through it. Those who would advise the people to
repentance are the restorers of the breach
Ps 106:23, 30).
hedge--the law of God
Isa 5:2, 5);
by violating it, the people stripped themselves of the fence of
God's protection and lay exposed to the foe. The false prophets did not
try to repair the evil by bringing back the people to the law with good
counsels, or by checking the bad with reproofs. These two duties answer
to the double office of defenders in case of a breach made in a wall:
(1) To repair the breach from within; (2) To oppose the foe from
to stand--that is, that the city may "stand."
in . . . day of . . . Lord--In the day of the battle which God wages
against Israel for their sins, ye do not try to stay God's vengeance by
prayers, and by leading the nation to repentance.
6. made others to hope, &c.--rather, "they hoped" to
confirm (that is, 'make good') their word, by the event corresponding
to their prophecy. The Hebrew requires this [HAVERNICK]. Also the parallel clause, "they have
seen vanity," implies that they believed their own lie
Subjective revelation is false unless it rests on the objective.
8. I am against you--rather understand, "I come against you," to
punish your wicked profanation of My name (compare
Re 2:5, 16).
9. mine hand--My power in vengeance.
not . . . in . . . assembly--rather, the "council"; "They shall not
occupy the honorable office of councillors in the senate of elders
after the return from Babylon"
(Ezr 2:1, 2).
neither . . . written in . . . Israel--They shall not even have a place
in the register kept of all citizens' names; they shall be
erased from it, just as the names of those who died in the year, or had
been deprived of citizenship for their crimes, were at the annual
revisal erased. Compare
as to those spiritually Israelites;
and those not so. Literally fulfilled
(Ezr 2:59, 62;
neither . . . enter . . . land--They shall not so much as be allowed
to come back at all to their country.
10. Because, even because--The repetition heightens the emphasis.
Peace--safety to the nation. Ezekiel confirms
Jer 6:14; 8:11.
one--literally, "this one"; said contemptuously, as in
a wall--rather, "a loose wall." Ezekiel had said that the false
prophets did not "go up into the gaps, or make up the breaches"
as good architects do; now he adds that they make a bustling show of
anxiety about repairing the wall; but it is without right mortar, and
therefore of no use.
one . . . others--besides individual effort, they
jointly co-operated to delude the people.
daubed . . . with untempered mortar--as sand without lime, mud without
FAIRBAIRN translates, "plaster it with whitewash." But
besides the hypocrisy of merely outwardly "daubing" to make the wall
(Mt 23:27, 29;
there is implied the unsoundness of the wall from the absence of
true uniting cement; the "untempered cement" answering to the
lie of the prophets, who say, in support of their
prophecies, "Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken"
11. overflowing--inundating; such as will at once wash away the
mere clay mortar. The three most destructive agents shall co-operate
against the wall--wind, rain, and hailstones. These last in the East are
more out of the regular course of nature and are therefore often
particularly specified as the instruments of God's displeasure against
Ps 18:12, 13;
Isa 28:2; 30:30;
The Hebrew here is, literally, "stones of ice." They fall in
Palestine at times an inch thick with a destructive velocity. The
personification heightens the vivid effect, "O ye hail stones." The
Chaldeans will be the violent agency whereby God will unmask and refute
them, overthrowing their edifice of lies.
12. shall it not be said--Your vanity and folly shall be so manifested
that it shall pass into a proverb, "Where is the daubing?"
13. God repeats, in His own name, as the Source of the coming
calamity, what had been expressed generally in
14. The repetition of the same threat
is to awaken the people out of their dream of safety by the
certainty of the event.
foundation--As the "wall" represents the security of the nation, so
the "foundation" is Jerusalem, on the fortifications of which they
rested their confidence. GROTIUS
makes the "foundation" refer to
the false principles on which they rested;
supports the former view.
16. prophesy concerning Jerusalem--With all their "seeing visions of
peace for her," they cannot ensure peace or safety to themselves.
17. set thy face--put on a bold countenance, fearlessly to denounce
(Eze 3:8, 9;
daughters--the false prophetesses; alluded to only here; elsewhere
the guilt specified in the women is the active share they took in
It was only in extraordinary emergencies that God bestowed prophecy on
women, for example on Miriam, Deborah, Huldah
so in the last days to come
The rareness of such instances enhanced their guilt in pretending
18. sew pillows to . . . armholes--rather, elbows and wrists, for
which the false prophetesses made cushions to lean on, as a symbolical
act, typifying the perfect tranquility which they foretold to those
consulting them. Perhaps they made their dupes rest on these cushions in
a fancied state of ecstasy after they had made them at first
stand (whence the expression, "every stature," is used
for "men of every age"). As the men are said to have built a
so the women are said to sew pillows, &c., both alike typifying the
"peace" they promised the impenitent.
make kerchiefs--magical veils, which they put over the heads of
those consulting them, as if to fit them for receiving a response, that
they might be rapt in spiritual trance above the world.
head of every stature--"men of every age," old and young, great and
small, if only these had pay to offer them.
hunt souls--eagerly trying to allure them to the love of yourselves
so as unwarily to become your prey.
will ye save . . . souls . . . that come unto you--Will ye haul after
souls, and when they are yours ("come unto you"), will ye
promise them life? "Save" is explained
"promising life" [GROTIUS]. CALVIN explains, "Will ye hunt My people's souls and yet
will ye save your own souls"; I, the Lord God, will not allow
it. But "save" is used
of the false prophetesses promising life to the impenitent, so
that English Version and GROTIUS explain it
19. handfuls--expressing the paltry gain for which they bartered
immortal souls (compare
Mic 3:5, 11;
They "polluted" God by making His name the cloak under which they
among my people--an aggravation of their sin, that they committed it
"among the people" whom God had chosen as peculiarly His own, and
among whom He had His temple. It would have been a sin to have done so
even among the Gentiles, who knew not God; much more so among the people
of God (compare
slay . . . souls that should not die, &c.--to
predict the slaying or perdition of the godly whom I will save.
As true ministers are said to save and slay their hearers, according to
the spirit respectively in which these receive their message
(2Co 2:15, 16),
so false ministers imitate them; but they promise safety to those on
the broad way to ruin and predict ruin to those on the narrow way of
my people that hear your lies--who are therefore wilfully deceived,
so that their guilt lies at their own door
20. I am against your pillows--that is, against your lying ceremonial
tricks by which ye cheat the people.
to make them fly--namely, into their snares, as fowlers disturb birds
so as to be suddenly caught in the net spread for them. "Fly" is
peculiarly appropriate as to those lofty spiritual flights to which
they pretended to raise their dupes when they veiled their heads with
kerchiefs and made them rest on luxurious arm-cushions
let . . . souls go--"Ye make them fly" in order to destroy them; "I
will let them go" in order to save them
21. in your hand--in your power. "My people" are the elect remnant of
Israel to be saved.
ye shall know--by the judgments which ye shall suffer.
22. ye have made . . . the righteous sad--by lying predictions of
calamities impending ever the godly.
strengthened . . . wicked--
heart of . . . righteous . . . hands of . . . wicked--Heart is
applied to the righteous because the terrors foretold penetrated to
their inmost feelings; hands, to the wicked because they were so
hardened as not only to despise God in their minds, but also to manifest
it in their whole acts, as if avowedly waging war with Him.
23. ye shall see no more vanity--The event shall confute your lies,
involving yourselves in destruction
Eze 14:8; 15:7;