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Judah’s Captivity Portrayed
The word of the Lord came to me: 2Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear; 3for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, mortal, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight; you shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. 4You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile; and you shall go out yourself at evening in their sight, as those do who go into exile. 5Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry the baggage through it. 6In their sight you shall lift the baggage on your shoulder, and carry it out in the dark; you shall cover your face, so that you may not see the land; for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.
7 I did just as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands; I brought it out in the dark, carrying it on my shoulder in their sight.
8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9Mortal, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, “What are you doing?” 10Say to them, “Thus says the Lord God: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel in it.” 11Say, “I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall go into exile, into captivity.” 12And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage on his shoulder in the dark, and shall go out; he shall dig through the wall and carry it through; he shall cover his face, so that he may not see the land with his eyes. 13I will spread my net over him, and he shall be caught in my snare; and I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it; and he shall die there. 14I will scatter to every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will unsheathe the sword behind them. 15And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 16But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, so that they may tell of all their abominations among the nations where they go; then they shall know that I am the Lord.
Judgment Not Postponed
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18Mortal, eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and with fearfulness; 19and say to the people of the land, Thus says the Lord God concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They shall eat their bread with fearfulness, and drink their water in dismay, because their land shall be stripped of all it contains, on account of the violence of all those who live in it. 20The inhabited cities shall be laid waste, and the land shall become a desolation; and you shall know that I am the Lord.
21 The word of the Lord came to me: 22Mortal, what is this proverb of yours about the land of Israel, which says, “The days are prolonged, and every vision comes to nothing”? 23Tell them therefore, “Thus says the Lord God: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall use it no more as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24For there shall no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25But I the Lord will speak the word that I speak, and it will be fulfilled. It will no longer be delayed; but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and fulfill it, says the Lord God.
26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27Mortal, the house of Israel is saying, “The vision that he sees is for many years ahead; he prophesies for distant times.” 28Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be fulfilled, says the Lord God.
Eze 12:1-28. Ezekiel's Typical Moving to Exile: Prophecy of Zedekiah's Captivity and Privation of Sight: the Jews' Unbelieving Surmise as to the Distance of the Event Reproved.
1, 2. eyes to see, and see not, … ears to hear, and hear not—fulfilling the prophecy of De 29:4, here quoted by Ezekiel (compare Isa 6:9; Jer 5:21). Ezekiel needed often to be reminded of the people's perversity, lest he should be discouraged by the little effect produced by his prophecies. Their "not seeing" is the result of perversity, not incapacity. They are wilfully blind. The persons most interested in this prophecy were those dwelling at Jerusalem; and it is among them that Ezekiel was transported in spirit, and performed in vision, not outwardly, the typical acts. At the same time, the symbolical prophecy was designed to warn the exiles at Chebar against cherishing hopes, as many did in opposition to God's revealed word, of returning to Jerusalem, as if that city was to stand; externally living afar off, their hearts dwelt in that corrupt and doomed capital.
3. stuff for removing—rather, "an exile's outfit," the articles proper to a person going as an exile, a staff and knapsack, with a supply of food and clothing; so "instruments of captivity," Jer 46:19, Margin, that is, the needful equipments for it. His simple announcements having failed, he is symbolically to give them an ocular demonstration conveyed by a word-painting of actions performed in vision.
4. by day—in broad daylight, when all can see thee.
at even—not contradicting the words "by day." The baggage was to be sent before by day, and Ezekiel was to follow at nightfall [Grotius]; or, the preparations were to be made by day, the actual departure was to be effected at night [Henderson].
as they that go forth into captivity—literally, "as the goings forth of the captivity," that is, of the captive band of exiles, namely, amid the silent darkness: typifying Zedekiah's flight by night on the taking of the city (Jer 39:4; 52:7).
5. Dig—as Zedekiah was to escape like one digging through a wall, furtively to effect an escape (Eze 12:12).
carry out—namely, "thy stuff" (Eze 12:4).
thereby—by the opening in the wall. Zedekiah escaped "by the gate betwixt the two walls" (Jer 39:4).
6. in … twilight—rather, "in the dark." So in Ge 15:17, "it" refers to "thy stuff."
cover thy face—as one who muffles his face, afraid of being recognized by anyone meeting him. So the Jews and Zedekiah should make their exit stealthily and afraid to look around, so hurried should be their fight [Calvin].
sign—rather, "a portent," namely, for evil.
9. What doest thou?—They ask not in a docile spirit, but making a jest of his proceedings.
10. burden—that is, weighty oracle.
the prince—The very man Zedekiah, in whom they trust for safety, is to be the chief sufferer. Josephus [Antiquities, 10.7] reports that Ezekiel sent a copy of this prophecy to Zedekiah. As Jeremiah had sent a letter to the captives at the Chebar, which was the means of calling forth at first the agency of Ezekiel, so it was natural for Ezekiel to send a message to Jerusalem confirming the warnings of Jeremiah. The prince, however, fancying a contradiction between Eze 12:13; "he shall not see Babylon," and Jer 24:8, 9, declaring he should be carried to Babylon, believed neither. Seeming discrepancies in Scripture on deeper search prove to be hidden harmonies.
12. prince … among them—literally, "that is in the midst of them," that is, on whom the eyes of all are cast, and "under whose shadow" they hope to live (La 4:20).
shall bear—namely, his "stuff for removing"; his equipments for his journey.
bring him to Babylon … ; yet shall he not see it—because he should be deprived of sight before he arrived there (Jer 52:11).
14. all … about him—his satellites: his bodyguard.
bands—literally, "the wings" of an army (Isa 8:8).
16. I will leave a few … that they may declare … abominations—God's purpose in scattering a remnant of Jews among the Gentiles; namely, not only that they themselves should be weaned from idolatry (see Eze 12:15), but that by their own word, as also by their whole state as exiles, they should make God's righteousness manifest among the Gentiles, as vindicated in their punishment for their sins (compare Isa 43:10; Zec 8:13).
18. Symbolical representation of the famine and fear with which they should eat their scanty morsel, in their exile, and especially at the siege.
19. people of the land—the Jews "in the land" of Chaldea who thought themselves miserable as being exiles and envied the Jews left in Jerusalem as fortunate.
land of Israel—contrasted with "the people in the land" of Chaldea. So far from being fortunate as the exiles in Chaldea regarded them, the Jews in Jerusalem are truly miserable, for the worst is before them, whereas the exiles have escaped the miseries of the coming siege.
land … desolate from all that is therein—literally, "that the land (namely, Judea) may be despoiled of the fulness thereof"; emptied of the inhabitants and abundance of flocks and corn with which it was filled.
because of … violence—(Ps 107:34).
20. the cities—left in Judea after the destruction of Jerusalem.
22. proverb—The infidel scoff, that the threatened judgment was so long in coming, it would not come at all, had by frequent repetition come to be a "proverb" with them. This skeptical habit contemporary prophets testify to (Jer 17:15; 20:7; Zep 1:12). Ezekiel, at the Chebar, thus sympathizes with Jeremiah and strengthens his testimony at Jerusalem. The tendency to the same scoff showed itself in earlier times, but had not then developed into a settled "proverb" (Isa 5:19; Am 5:18). It shall again be the characteristic of the last times, when "faith" shall be regarded as an antiquated thing (Lu 18:8), seeing that it remains stationary, whereas worldly arts and sciences progress, and when the "continuance of all things from creation" will be the argument against the possibility of their being suddenly brought to a standstill by the coming of the Lord (Isa 66:5; 2Pe 3:3, 4). The very long-suffering of God, which ought to lead men to repentance, is made an argument against His word (Ec 8:11; Am 6:3).
days … prolonged … vision faileth—their twofold argument: (1) The predictions shall not come to pass till long after our time. (2) They shall fail and prove vain shadows. God answers both in Eze 12:23, 25.
23. effect—literally, "the word," namely, fulfilled; that is, the effective fulfilment of whatever the prophets have spoken is at hand.
24. no more … vain vision … flattering divination—All those false prophets (La 2:14), who "flattered" the people with promises of peace and safety, shall be detected and confounded by the event itself.
25. word … shall come to pass—in opposition to their scoff "the vision faileth" (Eze 12:22). The repetition, "I will speak … speak," &c. (or as Fairbairn, "For I, Jehovah, will speak whatever word I shall speak, and it shall be done") implies that whenever God speaks, the effect must follow; for God, who speaks, is not divided in Himself (Eze 12:28; Isa 55:11; Da 9:12; Lu 21:33).
no more prolonged—in opposition to the scoff (Eze 12:22), "The days are prolonged."
in your days—while you are living (compare Mt 24:34).
27. Not a mere repetition of the scoff (Eze 12:22); there the scoffers asserted that the evil was so often threatened and postponed, it must have no reality; here formalists do not go so far as to deny that a day of evil is coming, but assert it is still far off (Am 6:3). The transition is easy from this carnal security to the gross infidelity of the former class.