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4 He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them.
Now at greater length God explains why he wished his servant to eat the volume which he held forth in his hand, namely, that when instructed by it he might approach the children of Israel; for he ought not to come empty, and we know that man of himself can bring forward nothing solid: hence Ezekiel must receive from God’s hand what he delivers to the Israelites. Let us then preserve this order, as the volume is first given to the Prophet, and then transferred to the people. God orders him, to offer or speak his own words, which is worthy of remark, as having the same meaning. But if Ezekiel ought to bring forward nothing but what he had received from God, this rule ought to prevail among all God’s servants, that they should not heap up their own comments, but pronounce what God teaches them as if from his mouth: lastly, that passage of Peter (1 Peter 4:11) ought to guide us, he who speaks in the Church ought to speak the words of God. Now he adds, I do not send thee to a people strange in speech and hard in language, but to the house of Israel Stone think that the prophet is here animated to his duty, because God demanded nothing from him which was too difficult. For if he had been sent to remote nations with whom there was no interchange of speech, he might object that a greater burden than he could bear was imposed upon him. The difficulty would then have been a complete obstacle. They think that remote and foreign nations are here compared with the people of Israel, that he may discharge his duty with alacrity, as if it had been said, “I do not send thee to strangers. For neither could they understand thee, and they also would be barbarians to thee, but because thou art familiarly acquainted with thine own people, thou canst not turn thy back when I send thee unto them.” But this opinion does not approve itself to me, because I read these three verses in the same context, as they are united. It is by no means doubtful, that, by this comparison, God aggravates the impiety of the people. For this sentence is first in order, that the Israelites would be deaf, although the Prophet should use among them the common and vernacular language: this is the first point: now he shows the reason, because they were a bitter people Here God signifies, that nothing prevented the Israelites from obeying the doctrine of the Prophet but their malice and impiety. For this reason he says, I do not send thee to a people profound in speech I know not how some have conjectured that this epithet means learned or clever; for it is the same thing for a people to be of a strange speech and of a hard language. For what is a “hard” but a barbarous language? Now we perceive the genuine sense, that the Prophet is not sent to men of an unknown language because he would have been a barbarian to them and they to him. I do not send thee to them, therefore, but to the house of Israel.