Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
THEM OF THE
TEL-ABIB BY THE
1. eat . . . and . . . speak--God's
messenger must first inwardly appropriate God's truth himself, before
he "speaks" it to others (see on
Symbolic actions were, when possible and proper, performed outwardly;
otherwise, internally and in spiritual vision, the action so narrated
making the naked statement more intuitive and impressive by presenting
the subject in a concentrated, embodied form.
3. honey for sweetness--Compare
Ps 19:10; 119:103;
where, as here in
the "sweetness" is followed by "bitterness." The former being due to
the painful nature of the message; the latter because it was the Lord's
service which he was engaged in; and his eating the roll and finding it
sweet, implied that, divesting himself of carnal feeling, he made God's
will his will, however painful the message that God might require him
to announce. The fact that God would be glorified was his greatest
5. See Margin, Hebrew, "deep of lip, and heavy of tongue," that
is, men speaking an obscure and unintelligible tongue. Even they would
have listened to the prophet; but the Jews, though addressed in their
own tongue, will not hear him.
6. many people--It would have increased the difficulty had he been
sent, not merely to one, but to "many people" differing in tongues, so
that the missionary would have needed to acquire a new tongue for
addressing each. The after mission of the apostles to many peoples, and
the gift of tongues for that end, are foreshadowed (compare
with Isa 28:11).
had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened--
(Mt 11:21, 23).
7. will not hearken unto thee: for . . . not
. . . me--
Take patiently their rejection of thee, for I thy Lord
bear it along with thee.
8. Ezekiel means one "strengthened by God." Such he was in godly
firmness, in spite of his people's opposition, according to the divine
command to the priest tribe to which he belonged
9. As . . . flint--so Messiah the antitype
Jer 1:8, 17).
10. receive in . . . heart . . . ears--The transposition from the
natural order, namely, first receiving with the ears, then in the
heart, is designed. The preparation of the heart for God's message
should precede the reception of it with the ears (compare
11. thy people--who ought to be better disposed to hearken to thee,
their fellow countryman, than hadst thou been a foreigner
(Eze 3:5, 6).
Ezekiel's abode heretofore had not been the most suitable for his work.
He, therefore, is guided by the Spirit to Tel-Abib, the chief town of
the Jewish colony of captives: there he sat on the ground, "the throne
of the miserable"
seven days, the usual period for manifesting deep grief
thus winning their confidence by sympathy in their sorrow. He is
accompanied by the cherubim which had been manifested at Chebar
(Eze 1:3, 4),
after their departure from Jerusalem. They now are heard moving with
the "voice of a great rushing (compare
saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place," that
is, moving from the place in which it had been at Chebar, to
accompany Ezekiel to his new destination
or, "from His place" may rather mean, in His place and manifested
"from" it. Though God may seem to have forsaken His temple, He is
still in it and will restore His people to it. His glory is "blessed,"
in opposition to those Jews who spoke evil of Him, as if He had been
unjustly rigorous towards their nation [CALVIN].
13. touched--literally, "kissed," that is, closely embraced.
noise of a great rushing--typical of great disasters impending over
14. bitterness--sadness on account of the impending calamities of
which I was required to be the unwelcome messenger. But the "hand," or
powerful impulse of Jehovah, urged me forward.
15. Tel-Abib--Tel means an "elevation." It is identified by
MICHAELIS with Thallaba on the Chabor. Perhaps the name expressed
the Jews' hopes of restoration, or else the fertility of the region.
Abib means the green ears of corn which appeared in the month
Nisan, the pledge of the harvest.
I sat, &c.--This is the Hebrew Margin reading. The text is
rather, "I beheld them sitting there"
[GESENIUS]; or, "And those
that were settled there," namely, the older settlers, as distinguished
from the more recent ones alluded to in the previous clause. The ten
tribes had been long since settled on the Chabor or Habor
17. watchman--Ezekiel alone, among the prophets, is called a
"watchman," not merely to sympathize, but to give timely warning of
danger to his people where none was suspected. Habakkuk
speaks of standing upon his "watch," but it was only in order to be on
the lookout for the manifestation of God's power (so
Isa 52:8; 62:6);
not as Ezekiel, to act as a watchman to others.
18. warning . . . speakest to warn--The repetition implies that it
is not enough to warn once in passing, but that the warning is to be
"in season, out of season";
"night and day with tears").
had seemingly taken away all hope of salvation; but the reference there
was to the mass of the people whose case was hopeless; a few
individuals, however, were reclaimable.
die in . . . iniquity--
(Joh 8:21, 24).
Men are not to flatter themselves that their ignorance, owing to the
negligence of their teachers, will save them
"As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without
19. wickedness . . . wicked way--internal wickedness of heart, and external of the life, respectively.
delivered thy soul--
(Isa 49:4, 5;
20. righteous . . . turn from . . . righteousness--not one "righteous"
as to the root and spirit of regeneration
(Ps 89:33; 138:8;
Isa 26:12; 27:3;
but as to its outward appearance and performances. So the
the minister is required to lead the wicked to good, so in
he is to confirm the well-disposed in their duty.
commit iniquity--that is, give himself up wholly to it
(1Jo 3:8, 9),
for even the best often fall, but not wilfully and
I lay a stumbling-block--not that God tempts to sin
(Jas 1:13, 14),
but God gives men over to judicial blindness, and to their own
(Ps 9:16, 17; 94:23)
when they "like not to retain God in their knowledge"
(Ro 1:24, 26);
just as, on the contrary, God makes "the way of the righteous plain"
(Pr 4:11, 12; 15:19),
so that they do "not stumble." CALVIN refers
"stumbling-block" not to the guilt, but to its
punishment; "I bring ruin on him." The former is best.
Ahab, after a kind of righteousness
relapsed and consulted lying spirits in false prophets; so God
permitted one of these to be his "stumbling-block," both to sin and its
his blood will I require--
22. hand of the Lord--
go . . . into the plain--in order that he might there, in a place
secluded from unbelieving men, receive a fresh manifestation of the
divine glory, to inspirit him for his trying work.
23. glory of the Lord--
24. set me upon my feet--having been previously prostrate and unable
to rise until raised by the divine power.
shut thyself within . . . house--implying that in the work he had to
do, he must look for no sympathy from man but must be often alone with
God and draw his strength from Him
[FAIRBAIRN]. "Do not go out of thy
house till I reveal the future to thee by signs and words," which God
does in the following chapters, down to the eleventh. Thus a
representation was given of the city shut up by siege
God proved the obedience of His servant, and Ezekiel showed the reality
of His call by proceeding, not through rash impulse, but by the
directions of God [CALVIN].
25. put bands upon thee--not literally, but spiritually, the binding,
depressing influence which their rebellious conduct would exert on his
spirit. Their perversity, like bands, would repress his freedom in
preaching; as in
Paul calls himself "straitened" because his teaching did not find easy
access to them. Or else, it is said to console the prophet for being
shut up; if thou wert now at once to announce God's message, they
would rush on thee and bind them with "bands" [CALVIN].
26. I will make my tongue . . . dumb--Israel had rejected the prophets;
therefore God deprives Israel of the prophets and of His word--God's
Am 8:11, 12).
27. when I speak . . . I will open thy mouth--opposed to the silence
imposed on the prophet, to punish the people
After the interval of silence has awakened their attention to the cause
of it, namely, their sins, they may then hearken to the prophecies
which they would not do before.
He that heareth, let him hear . . . forbear--that is, thou hast done
thy part, whether they hear or forbear. He who shall forbear to hear, it
shall be at his own peril; he who hears, it shall be to his own eternal