Eze 13:1-23. Denunciation of
False Prophets and Prophetesses; Their False Teachings, and God's
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 of Jeremiah (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 (Jer 28:2-4). 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,
23:9-38); 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 Chebar.
2. that prophesy—namely, a speedy return
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,
1:21), whom they might have
known to be such, but they did not wish to know (Joh 3:19).
3. foolish—though vaunting as though
exclusively possessing "wisdom" (1Co 1:19-21); the fear of God being the only
beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10).
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 [Delitzsch]; hence the peculiar expression, "seeing
the word of God" (Isa 2:1; 13:1; Am 1:1; Mic 1:1). (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
2:15), Israel being the
vineyard (Ps 80:8-15; Isa 5:1-7; 27:2; Jer
2:21); their duty was to have
guarded it from being spoiled, whereas they themselves spoiled it by
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 (Eze 22:30; Ps 106:23,
hedge—the law of God (Ps 80:12; 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 without.
to stand—that is, that the city may
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
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 (2Th 2:11).
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 Jer 17:13; Lu 10:20; Re 3:5, as to those spiritually
Israelites; Joh 1:47, and
those not so. Literally fulfilled (Ezr 2:59, 62; compare Ne 7:5; Ps 69:28).
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 2Ch 28:22.
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" (Eze 13:5), 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
daubed … with untempered
mortar—as sand without lime, mud without straw [Grotius]. Fairbairn
translates, "plaster it with whitewash." But besides the hypocrisy of
merely outwardly "daubing" to make the wall look fair (Mt
23:27, 29; Ac 23:3), 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" (Eze 22:28).
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 His foes (Ex 9:18; Jos 10:11; Job 38:22; Ps 18:12,
13; Isa 28:2; 30:30; Re 16:21). 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
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 (see on
Eze 13:11) 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; Eze 13:16 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 them (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 maintaining idolatry (Eze 8:14). It was only in extraordinary
emergencies that God bestowed prophecy on women, for example on Miriam,
Deborah, Huldah (Ex 15:20; Jud 4:4; 2Ki 22:14); so in the last days to come (Joe 2:28). The rareness of such instances
enhanced their guilt in pretending inspiration.
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
13:10), so the women are said
to sew pillows, &c., both alike typifying the "peace" they promised
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
hunt souls—eagerly trying to allure
them to the love of yourselves (Pr 6:26; 2Pe 2:14), so as unwarily to become your
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 (Eze 13:22),
"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 (Eze 13:19) of the false prophetesses promising
life to the impenitent, so that English Version and Grotius explain it best.
19. handfuls—expressing the paltry gain
for which they bartered immortal souls (compare Mic 3:5,
11; Heb 12:16). They
"polluted" God by making His name the cloak under which they uttered
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 Pr 28:21).
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 God.
my people that hear your lies—who are
therefore wilfully deceived, so that their guilt lies at their
own door (Joh 3:19).
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 (Eze 13:18).
let … souls go—"Ye make them
fly" in order to destroy them; "I will let them go" in order to save
them (Ps 91:3; Pr 6:5; Ho 9:8).
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
strengthened … wicked—(Jer 23:14).
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 13:9; Eze 14:8; 15:7; Mic 3:6).