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3. Warning to Israel

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

4And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. 5For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. 7But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. 8Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. 9As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. 10Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. 11And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 12Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. 13 I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. 14So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.

15Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. 16And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 17Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

22And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. 23Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. 24Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. 25But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: 26And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. 27But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

Now he says, that he had returned to his own people, not that he had ever removed from them, but had been drawn by the vision from the intercourse with men. For God revealed himself to him on the bank of the river Chebar, but he was solitary: and that this was done by vision, is by no means doubtful, since he was always among his own people. How then does he say, that he is now returned? Why, because the vision had vanished, and so he was entirely occupied with the other captives. What some affirm with subtlety, that he was like a monk, is frivolous: for they say, that he abhorred the wickedness of the people, and, that he might not contract any stain of impurity, had sought solitude: but this is not probable. Without doubt., the Prophet means that he returned to his former mode of life from the time when he heard God speaking and saw the vision. He then says — I sat seven days in some way absorbed in either admiration or sorrow, for שמם, shemew, signifies “to be desolate,” “to be astonished,” “to wonder.” But as to the Prophet sitting quiet and silent for seven days, there is little doubt but that in this way God prepared him for beginning to speak afterwards to the greater surprise of the whole people. Nor ought it to seem absurd that he was dumb although sent by God:: for this did not occur through any negligence or delay which can be accounted a fault, but the office of teaching had been so imposed that he was not yet instructed by any fixed commands; as if any one were chosen ambassador either by a king or a senate, and were afterwards furnished with his instructions, so the Prophet was called to the prophetic office., but knew not yet what he was to say. He had indeed eaten the roll, but God had not yet suggested whence he ought to begin, nor how he ought to temper his doctrine. Hence Ezekiel had not yet been drawn forth: therefore he says, that he sat with either great stupor or great desolation, as they say. For his very appearance would rouse the attention of men, that they should enquire the meaning of this unusual sorrow. Whatever it was, we see that this silence was a preparation for the discharge of his duty with greater fruit and efficacy, since his speech ought afterwards to be received with greater reverence when he had been silent for seven days

Then he says, I came to the exiles who sat in Thelabib I willingly accord with the opinion of those who take this for the name of a place, and ancient interpreters even have left these two words. Their Septuagint version has μετέωρον, as if it meant “lofty.” תלל, thelel, signifies to elevate, but it ought to be תלול, thelol, if the Prophet meant that he was exalted, but this is not suitable, since he rather asserts that he was like the rest of mankind after the vision was withdrawn. Some render it “skillful,” but I am not aware of their reason: but as I have already said, their opinion is probable, who suppose it the proper name of a place. Jerome translates, “a heap of fruit,” and not badly; for this was probably the origin of the place’s name, as cities and villages and mountains often receive their name from their situation and other circumstances; so also this place was called Thelabib. For תל, thel, signifies “a heap,” and אביב, abib, means a “stalk,” or “straw of corn,” and it may, therefore, be that the place was called Thelabib on account of its fertility, since the harvest there is very plentiful. But this is of no great moment. What we have mentioned must be especially remembered, that the Prophet was beheld in that sad and sorrowful countenance, and was silent for seven days


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