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THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
"WE have now come to the prophecies of Ezekiel, which were addressed to the captives at Babylon, before aud after the captivity of Zedekiah, and the destruction of the temple. They must therefore be delivered at the same time, and against the same crimes against which Jeremiah was denouncing the judgments of Gud at Jerusalem. Both prophets predicted the same events, promised to the faithful the same consolations, and threatened the disobedient and idolatrous among their countrymen with the same punishments. Buth prophets united in denunciation against the false prophets, and in anticipations of the ultimate restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity."*
Ezekiel, as himself tells us, (chap. i. 3.) was a priest, as well as Jeremiah, though of a different family, he was carried captive from Jerusalem at the same time with Jehoiachin, and stationed on the borders of the river Chebar, where he continued statedly to reside.
In the fifth year of this captivity, the era from which he dates his prophecies, Ezekiel began his office, which he exercised about 25 years. The commencement of this period falls on the year before Christ 595, and 34 years after Jeremiah had begun his office; so that the last eight years of Jeremiah coincide with the first eight of Ezekiel. The design of this prophet seeins to be, chiefly, to convince his fellow captives in Babylon, that they were mistaken in supposing that their brethren, who still remained in Judea, were in happier circumstances than themselves : for this end, he describes the awful judgments impending over that country, with the complete destruction of Jerusalem, both city and temple; and inveighs against those heinous sins which were the cause of such calamities. , As to the style of the prophet Ezekiel, Bishop Lowth, the most unquestionable judge of Hebrew composition, thus describes it: " Ezekiel is much iuferior to Jeremiah in elegance; in sublimity, he is not even excelled by Isaiah : but his sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep, vehement, tragical; the only sensation he affects to excite, is the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, fervid, full of fire, indignant,” &c. He is generally charged with being obscure; but his obscurity is that necessary to the sublime ; and the great critic just quoted remarks, “ His diction is sufficiently perspicuous; all his obscurity consists in the nature of the subject.”+ : In our Introduction to Isaiah we have remarked, that the prophets frequently made use of actions as well as words, in the delivery of their predictions; and this was particularly the case with Ezekiel, “ who delineates the siege of Jerusalem on a tileweighs the hair of his beard in balances-carries out his household stuff--and joins together the two sticks of Judah and Israel. By these actions, the prophets instructed the people in the will of God, and conversed with them in sigos: but where God teaches the prophet, and in compliance with the custom of that time, condescends to the same mode of instruction, then the signification is generally changed into a vision, either natural or extraordinary, as (in the prophet Ezekiel) the ideal scene of the resurrection of dry bones." I
• Townsend's 0. Test, arranged, vol. ii, p. 529. + Loretk's Lect. xxi. : See Bp. Warburton's Divine Legat. vol. iji. bk. 4. &. 1. quoted Tonnsend': 0, T. arran, yo). ii, p. 237, EZEKIEL. In our humble Exposition of this sublime prophet, beside the general commentators referred to on preceding books, we have constantly consulted, and frequently referred to, Archbishop Newcome's scarce and valuable work on this propbet. That learned prelate fully justifies the character given of him by Bp. Lowth, and vindicat es the sublimity of his style, in reply to some eminent foreign critics. CHRONOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENT of Ezekiel's prophecies, according to
Archbishop NEWCOME. CHAP. I. to VII. inclusive
Year 5 of Jehoiachin's captivity.-B. C. 395. VIII. to XIX.
6 - Ditto. XX. to XXIII.
7 - Ditto, XXIV.
9 - Ditto, when the siege began.
After the destruction of Jerusalem.
Between 10 and 12 of Jehoiachiu's captivity.
After the destruction of Jerusalem.
Year 25 of Jehoiachin's captivity.
27 - Ditto.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a CHAP. I.
whirlwind came out of the north, a NOW it came to pass in the
thirti- great cloud, and a fire infolding itself , eth year, in the fourth month, in and a brightness was about it, and the fifth day of the month, as I was out of the midst thereof as the colour among the captives by the river of of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Chebar, that the heavens were opened, 5 Also out of the midst thereof and I saw visions of God.
came the likeness of four living 2 In the fifth day of the month, tures. And this was their appearwhich was the fifth year of king Je- ance; they had the likeness of a man, hoiachin's captivity,
6 And every one had four faces, 3 The word of the Lord came ex- and every one had four wings. pressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son 7 And their feet were straight feet; of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans the sole of their feet was like the sole by the river Chebar; and the hand of of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the Lord was there upon him.
the colour of burnished brass.
NOTES. ' CHAP. I. Ver. 1. In the thirtieth year,that is, prophet says he knew them to be the cherubim; of the prophet's life, as it is generally understood but gives no further information. The Editor is but Calmet thinks these years must rather be dated perfectly aware of the different systems of interpre: from the revival of religion, and the covenant made tation advanced on this subject, and pnrticularly iba with God in the time of king Josiab. --The river of the ingenious Mr. Huichinson, who supposed of Chebar.-The station here referred to, is sup- them intended to represent the several offices and posed to have been about 200 miles north of Baby- relations of the persons of the Trinity. But to this lon. See ch, iii. 15.
he has two most decided objections: 1. The Jers Ibid. Among the captives - Heb." In the midst were utterly forbidden to make any representaties of the captivity."
of the Deity. See Exod. xx. 4; Deut. it, 12, 16, &r. Ver. 2. The fifth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, 2. These living creatures are represented as of was also the 5th of Zedekiah's reign, who immedi- shipping the great Being he supposes Wein to reately succeeried him, 2 Kings xxiv. 17. and as the present. Isa. vi. 3 ; Rev. v.8, 14. city and temple were destroyed in the 18th year of Ver. 6. Every one four wings. The seraphim in Zedekiah, 2 Kings xxv. 2, the prophet, of course, Isaiah had ench six wings, and so the living credo had this vision six years before that event took tures in Rev. iv. 8. But in both places it may be place.
recollected they are described as in the act of *** Ver. 3. The hand of the Lord was there upon sbip. Comp. Isa. vi. 2. him--that is, he was under prophetic influence. See Ver. 7. straight feet-Heh, " A straight fort." 1 kings xviii. 46 ; 2 Kings iii. 15, &c.
This description supposes the body of each corets Feri 4. A fire infolding-lleb. “ Catching itself.” by its two lower wings, and terminating in one 1.5. Four liting creatures - Chop, *. 20, the straight and round foot, like a call's, 8c Parkki
Ezekiel's vision of ]
CHAP. I. (wheels and cherubim. 8 And they had the hands of a creatures, their appearance was like man under their wings on their four burning coals of fire, and like the apsides; and they four had their faces pearance of lamps: it went up and and their wings.
down among the living creatures ; and 9 Their wings were joined one to the fire was bright, and out of the fire another; they turned not when they went forth lightning. Ewent; they went every one straight 14 And the living creatures ran and forward.
returned as the appearance of a flash 10 As for the likeness of their faces, of lightning. (A) they four had the face of a man, and 15 Now as I beheld the living creathe face of a lion, on the right side: tures, behold one wheel upon the earth and they four had the face of an ox on by the living creatures, with his four the left side; they four also had the faces. face of an eagle.
16 The appearance of the wheels 11 Thus were their faces : and and their work was like unto the their wings were stretched upward; colour of a beryl: and they four had two wings of every one were joined one likeness : and their appearance one to another, and two covered their and their work was as it were a wheel bodies.
in the middle of a wheel. . 12 And they went every one straight 17 When they went, they went forward : whither the spirit was to go, upon their four sides : and they turned they went; and they turned not when not when they went. they went.
- 18 As for their rings, they were so 13 As for the likeness of the living high that they were dreadful; and
of the centre of all this splendour, comes (A) Ver. 1-14. Ezekiel's prophetic call, forth the stupendous figures there exhiand introductory vision. It is difficult to bited. (Comp. also 1 Kings, xix. 12.) conceive any thing more magnificent or With respect to the living creatures, there sublime than the scene Dow before us. can be no doubt that they were the seraIt has been considered as the chariot of phim which Isaiah saw when he receivedl the Deity; and the living creatures, or his prophetic mission. (Is. vi. 2, &c.) From cherubic figures as the agents employed to the readiness also with which Ezekiel convey it through the universe. Two knew them to be the Cherubim, as well as objects here particularly demand the similitude of description, there is as attention, the vehicle itself, and the ani- little doubt that they strongly resembled mals attached to it. The former we con- the Mosaic emblems in the teniple. Di. sider as emblematic of the immense ma- vives, however, are much divided as to the chine of Providence (so to speak ;) and the class of intelligences they are intended to latter of the various agency by which that represent. The strength and courage of Providence is administered.
the lion, the patient laboriousness of the The introduction to this scene may re- ox, and the soaring eye of the eagle, are miod us of the first cherubic exhibition all proverbial, and is the human face recorded in the Bible. When God drove
seems the proper emblem of phiAdam without the boundaries of Paradise, lanthropy. That these attributes are be placed there Cherubim and a flaming applicable to angels will hardly be denied, sword : that is, a terrific revolving flame, or that these angels are ministering spirits in which the Deity is supposed to have to the heirs of salvation. (See Heh. i. 14.) resided. (See Gen. iii. 24, with our exposi. That they are also ministers of justice is tion.) Here we have " a whirlwind from no less evident from the sacred scriptures the north, a great cloud, a fire ivfolding of both the Old and New Testaments: but itself," surrouuded with a glory, and out. our limits will not admit of amplification.
NOTES. Ver. 1. Stretched upward that is, the upper Ver. 15. With his four faces-that is, as Abp. pair of wings belonging to each figure being spread N wcome explains it, "One wheel intersected anopen, were, as the margin " presses it, " divided," ot lier at right angles, like the two colures; and the or opened * above;" and joined to, or touched those fo ur spherical portions thus formed, seem to he of the other figure,
called the four faces, or sides;"ver, 17. Ser ch, x, 13, of the invisible God, his erer blessed and only be - 25. And had let down their wings. These
Vision of wheels)
[and cherubim. their rings were full of eyes round the noise of their wings, like the noise about them four..
of great waters, as the voice of the 19 And when the living creatures Almighty, the voice of speech, as the went, the wheels went by them: and noise of an host: when they stood, when the living creatures were lifted they let down their wings. up from the earth, the wheels were 25 And there was a voice from the
firmament that was over their heads, 20 Whithersoever the spirit was to when they stood, and had let down go, they went, thither was their spirit their wings. to go; and the wheels were lifted up 26 And above the firmament that over against them : for the spirit of was over their heads was the likeness the living creature was in the wheels. of a throne, as the appearance of a
21. When those went, these went; sapphire stone: and upon the likeness and when those stood, these stood; of the throne was the likeness as the and when those were lifted up from appearance of a man above upon it. the earth, the wheels were lifted up 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, over against them : for the spirit of as the appearance of fire round about the living creature
in the within it, from the appearance of his wheels.
loins even upward, and from the ap22 And the likeness of the firma- pearance of his loins even downward, ment upon the heads of the living crea- I saw as it were the
of fire, ture was as the colour of the terrible and it had brightness round about. crystal, stretched forth over their 28 As the appearance of the box heads above.
that is in the cloud in the day of rain, 23 And under the firmament were so was the appearance of the brightness their wings straight, the one toward round about. This was the appearthe other: every one had two, which ance of the likeness of the glory of the covered on this side, and every one Lord. And when I saw it, I fell had two, which covered on that side, upon my face, and I heard a voice of their bodies.
one that spake. (B) 24 And when they went, I heard.
EXPOSITION-Chap. I. Continued. (B) Ver. 13—28. The rision of the im- -2. Here was a display of infinite wisdom mense wheels and the celestial throne.-The and intelligence. Not only had one of whole vision being now before us, we shall these living creatures the eyes of an cagle, offer a few remarks on its general import, commanding the whole horizon, but the considering it designed to represent, as wheels themselves were full of eyes. All alrearly hinted, the doctrine of divine the plans of the Almighty are full of intelagency and a universal providence.
ligence, and all his agents are under divine 1. We are called upon to admire the guidance.-3. We see the absolute irresisimmensity and magnificence of God's pro- tibility of God's providence. The wheels vidence. These wheels (like Jacob's lad- went straight forward, and no impediments der) reached from earth to heaven, extend- could make them change their course. -4. ing to all the works and ways of God. The We may remark the unity and harmony of magnitude and the splendour of their divine providence. Not only was there a appearance, gave them also a high degree perfect consistency between all the parts of of sublimity : they were dreadful to behold. this machine, but they were animated with
NOTES-Chap. I. Con. Ver. 16, Colour of a beryl-that is, pale sea-green. and supposed to be here repeated by mistake frosu Ver. 18. Their rings-that is, the outer circles. the verse preceding. Ver.22. Firmament upon-rather." expanse over," Ver. 26. Sapphire stone. - See Note on Exod. &c.-See Note on Gen. i. 8.--As the terrible--or xxiv. 10. "sparkling ” crystal; perhaps so called from its Ver. 27. And it had brightness round abestreneinblance to icicles in the sun : for the word re. Newcome,
" And a brightness was round aboat le rx primarily to ice, and is here so rendered by New. him:" I. é. the man in glory: “ the representative me and others.
gotten Son." Compare Rev. iv. 3. are omitted by the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic,
6 And thou, son of man, be not CHAP. II.
afraid of them, neither be afraid of AND he said unto me, Son of man; their words, though briers and thorns
stand upon thy feet, and I will be with thee, and thou dost dwell speak unto thee.
among scorpions: be not afraid of 2 And the spirit entered into me their words, nor be dismayed at their when he spake unto me, and set me looks, though they be a rebellious upon my feet, that I heard him that house. spake unto me.
7 And thou shalt speak my words 3. And he said unto me, Son of man, unto them, whether they will hear, or I send thee to the children of Israel, whether they will forbear: for they are to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled most rebellious. against me: they and their fathers 8 But thou, son of man, hear what have transgressed against me, even I
say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious unto this very day.
like that rebellious house : open thy 4 For they are impudent children mouth, and eat that I give thee. and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto 9 And when I looked, behold, an them; and thou shalt say unto them, hand was sent unto me; and lo, a roll Thus saith the Lord God.
of a book was therein; 5 And they, whether they will hear, 10 And he spread it before me: and or whether they will forbear, (for they it was written within and without: and are a rebellious house,) yet shall know there was written therein lamentations, that there hath been a prophet among and mourning, and woe. (C) them.
EXPOSITION. the same spirit.—The spirit which directed The Prophet, having been overwhelmed these mysterious animals was also in the with the glorious vision in the preceding wheels. '5. We should notice the intricate chapter, is here strengthened and comcomplication of this machinery, which was, forted : and then commissioned to his as it were," a wheel within a wheel :"that office, and encouraged to be resolute and is, as Archbishop Newcome and others ex- faithful in the discharge of it, although he plain it, consisting of rings crossing within must expect to be ill received and uncoureach other, as in an armillary "sphere, teously treated. He is addressed by the whereby they could move with equal ease title “ Son of Man," a title applied only to and celerity in any direction.-6. The divine hiinself and to Daniel, among the prophets, operation which guided them—they had for which, we can assign no reason, un“the bands of a man under their wings on less it were to remind them, that notwiththe four sides
standing the extraordinary prophetic via The hand unseen,
sions with which they were favoured, they * Which moves and guides the vast machine." were still but mortal. Above all this mysterio!is and sublime
In the close of this chapter, a hand apniachinery we have a crystal firmament, pears to the prophet, as it should seein in and above that firmament a sapphire throne
a vision, holding the roll of a book written —and on that throne the appearance of a
on both sides ; and when spread out, beman in glory, who could be no other than hold it is covered with "lamentatious and the Son of God, in an anticipated human mourning and woe,” alluding doubtless to furin, surrounded with a radiant flame, the nature of these prophecies. This book and with a brilliant rainbow, as he ap
he is commanded to eat, a figurative action, peared to the apostle John in the book of meauing, according to Archbishop Secker, Revelations. (Rev, iv. 2, 3.; X. 1.)
“ to take in, retain, and digest:" from wbich
we may draw this practical reflection, that CHAP. II.
it is the duty of minister's themselves, to (C) Ezekiel receives his commission, with study and digest whatever they deliver to the roll of prophecies he was to deliver.- their people. (Comp. ch. iii. 10.)
NOTES. CHAP. JI. Ver. 2. The spirit entered into me. Ver. 8. Eat that I give thee-that is, the book, By this it should seem, that the prophet had been ver. 9, 10. Compare Rev. x. 9. overpuwered with the vision, and had fainted.
Ver. 10. It was written within and without-that Ver. 4. Impudent children-Heb. "Children hard is, on both sides, which was pot usna), except from or face."
the abundance of matter.