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Ezekiel 12:8-11

8. And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,

8. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me mane, dicendo,

9. Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?

9. Fili hominis, an non dixerunt tibi, domus Israel, domus rebellis, 249249     Or, as we have elsewhere said, “exasperating,” or “bitter.” — Calvin. Quid tu facis?

10. Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.

10. Dic illis, sic dicit Dominator Iehova, Principis onus hoc 250250     “This sorrowful prophecy.” — Calvin. in Ierusalem, et totius domus Israel quae in medio ipsorum.

11. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove, and go into captivity.

11. Dic els, Ego portentum vestrum sicuti feci ita fiet illis, in transmigrationem, in caprivitatem ibunt.


We gather from these words of the Prophet, that he was himself derided when he began to migrate: then that he dug through the wall by night secretly, and thus carried away his baggage. For those who think that the Israelites enquired about this, as if it were unknown to them, do not sufficiently consider the Prophet’s words. For the repetition of the epithet rebellious house is not in vain; for if this question had proceeded from mere folly, God would not have called them rebellious. This epithet, then, refers to the present passage, and thus we may determine that the Israelites asked the Prophet deridingly, what does this mean? For he seemed to them to be trifling, and thus they jeered at him; for we know the audacity of the nation in despising their Prophets. It is not, then, to be wondered at, when they obtained a plausible ground for it, if they commented rather freely upon what the Prophet was doing. We said yesterday ‘that this seemed a childish spectacle. Hence the Israelites seemed, not without reason, to reject what the Prophet was doing as a thing of nought. But God does not suffer his servants to be reviled in this way. He now signified to the Prophet that his calling ought to be deservedly held sacred. Since therefore Ezekiel bore certain marks of the prophetic office, although at first sight his conduct could not appear serious, yet the people ought to have enquired modestly. For whatever we know to flow from God should be reverently received without controversy. But if there is any obscurity we may wonder and enquire into it; but as I have said, docility and modesty ought always to precede. But what did the Israelites do? they enquired, indeed, the meaning of the Prophet’s conduct, but only to reject it with ridicule. For this reason God is angry, and announces himself a severe avenger of that audacity, because they persecuted the sacred Prophet. Hence this must be read emphatically — what doest thou? as if they said that the Prophet was foolish, and carried and prepared his goods, and dug through the wall, in vain, since all these things were of no moment. But the answer, when it shows that God is greatly offended with such trifling, sufficiently demonstrates that they did not ask the question through ignorance, or want of thought, but through mere wantonness.

He now says, this prophecy relates to the prince, and the whole house of Israel which is in the midst of them. Without doubt he understands the king, as we shall soon see: nor does he speak of any king indefinitely, but points out Zedekiah, as will be immediately evident from circumstances. He says, therefore, this burden, or this sorrowful prophecy, looks towards the prince, and to the house of Israel, which dwell at Jerusalem. But it is probable that some had fled that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy, since Jerusalem was a safe receptacle for them. The captives thought themselves bad managers, because they had not followed those leaders, since Jerusalem was a safe refuge for them, and hence the greater sorrow at their captivity. Hence God pronounces that the Israelites were comprehended with their king in this prophecy. It is indeed true that this was a common name to all the posterity of Abraham; for the twelve tribes sprung from the patriarch Jacob, but it was then becoming customary for the ten tribes to retain the name of Israel, and for that of Judah to have their own proper and peculiar name. Afterwards he confirms his teaching, that he was as a sign to them. We explained this expression yesterday, showing how the Prophet was placed before them as a sign, so that God represented what was as yet unknown to them; for signs divinely sent are called portents, when they foretell what no one would expect to happen. God, indeed, often shows what he is going’ to do by many, yet ordinary signs; but an extraordinary one, which cannot be considered natural, is called a portent. So therefore the Prophet is ordered to say to the Israelites that he was to them for a wonder, namely, to reprove their obstinacy, which, as we have said, was the cause of their impious contempt. For it was no part of their religion for a Prophet to deride them, so that they should suppose him to be trifling with them, as if frightening children about nothing. God, therefore, that the Israelites might at length be roused up at his own time, pronounces his servant to be a wonder to them. And we gather from the reason which is added, what the name portent meant in yesterday’s lecture. For he says, as I have done, so shall it be done to you; that is, what you now think to be child’s play, shall be seriously fulfilled in yourselves. For the Prophet seemed to act a part, like a player, and on this account was derided. He now declares that it should not be fabulous, since the Israelites, who were left in Judea among the Jews, and the king himself, should not act a part; for God would compel them to collect their baggage, and to take flight by stealth in the darkness of the night, which he follows up through the whole verse. Into banishment and exile, says he, shall they go. When therefore the Prophet was commanded to collect and prepare his goods, he was a sign of the exile of which he now speaks. But the explanation of the second part is added.

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