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Ezekiel: Chapter 11

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1The spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the LORD, which faces east. There, at the entrance of the gateway, were twenty‐five men; among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur, and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, officials of the people. 2He said to me, “Mortal, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel in this city; 3they say, ‘The time is not near to build houses; this city is the pot, and we are the meat.’ 4Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, O mortal.”

5Then the spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the LORD: This is what you think, O house of Israel; I know the things that come into your mind. 6You have killed many in this city, and have filled its streets with the slain. 7Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: The slain whom you have placed within it are the meat, and this city is the pot; but you shall be taken out of it. 8You have feared the sword; and I will bring the sword upon you, says the Lord GOD. 9I will take you out of it and give you over to the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. 10You shall fall by the sword; I will judge you at the border of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD. 11This city shall not be your pot, and you shall not be the meat inside it; I will judge you at the border of Israel. 12Then you shall know that I am the LORD, whose statutes you have not followed, and whose ordinances you have not kept, but you have acted according to the ordinances of the nations that are around you.”

13Now, while I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face, cried with a loud voice, and said, “Ah Lord GOD! will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”

14Then the word of the LORD came to me: 15Mortal, your kinsfolk, your own kin, your fellow exiles, a Or lapis lazuli the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, “They have gone far from the LORD; to us this land is given for a possession.” 16Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far away among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a little while b Traditional rendering of Heb El Shaddai in the countries where they have gone. 17Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18When they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19I will give them one c Gk Syr: Heb people of your kindred heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, d Or to some extent I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord GOD.

22Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23And the glory of the LORD ascended from the middle of the city, and stopped on the mountain east of the city. 24The spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen left me. 25And I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.

Notes:

a Or lapis lazuli

b Traditional rendering of Heb El Shaddai

a Gk Syr: Heb people of your kindred

b Or to some extent

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

8.1–11.25 : The Temple visions.

8.1–18 : The vision of idolatry

(September 17, 592 BCE). In his vision of wickedness in Jerusalem's Temple, Ezekiel saw beyond the observable offenses of his time into the ingrained, polluted essence of the shrine.

1 :

Elders, in exile with the prophet, also his audience in 14.1;20.1 . The hand of the LORD, see 1.3n.

2 :

The figure is described in terms similar to those in 1.26–27 .

3 :

By a lock of my head, cf. Bel 36 . The gateway led north from the palace complex into the Temple precincts. The image of jealousy is probably the carved image of the goddess Asherah that King Manasseh set up in the Temple (2 Kings 21.7 ). Though removed in Josiah's reform (2 Kings 23.6 ), it stood out starkly in Ezekiel's transhistorical perception.

4 :

See 3.22–23 . On the glory of the God of Israel, see 10.1–22n.

7–13 :

The elders of Judah with censers inside the secret gatehouse chamber perform the same sort of improper act as that described in the story of the rebellion in the wilderness in Num 16.2,17,35 . Ezekiel views this scriptural story about ritual rebellion as prototypical, and it informs his assessment of the preexilic Temple's wickedness (see also 44.6–14n. ).

10 :

Cf. 23.14; Deut 4.17–18 .

11 :

The seventy elders here are in Jerusalem, and are not the same as those in v. 1 . Jaazaniah's father Shaphan was active in King Josiah's reform movement (2 Kings 22 ), and other members of the family protected Jeremiah against his enemies (Jer 26.24; 39.14 ).

14–15 :

Tammuz, the Mesopotamian vegetation god; the weeping was for his descent into the underworld, coinciding with the annual decline of vegetation. Transtemporal perception is again suggested here, since Ezekiel sees the weeping rite in the sixth month (v. 1 ) and not in the fourth month (June–July), when it was normally practiced.

16–18 :

The climactic abomination seen by Ezekiel was sun worship. Its practice in Israel is evidenced by texts such as 2 Kings 23.5,11 and by artifacts. The branch gesture may be an obscene expression.

18 :

The judgment is irrevocable (see 14.12–23n. ).

10.1–22 and 11.22–25 : The departure of the LORD's glory from the Temple is

repeatedly described in each of three versions of Jerusalem's abandonment ( 9.3; 10.4; 11.22 ). The glory of the LORD is the objective overpowering majesty of God, not so much an attribute as an expression of God's presence (Lev 9.23; Num 20.6 ). The pattern of movement of the glory of the LORD is a major literary device structuring the book of Ezekiel. The glory has been present in Jerusalem, even when the city's inhabitants felt forsaken by it ( 8.4,12b ). Because of their wickedness it departs, however, first to the doorway of the Temple (also 9.3 ), and then to the east gate of the Temple's outer court ( 10.18–19 ). The departure continues in 11.22–25 , where the glory heads east over the Mount of Olives toward Babylon. It was in Babylonia that Ezekiel first saw the glory of the LORD ( 1.28; 3.22–23; cf. 8.4; 11.16 ). Eventually, the prophet envisions it returning to the restored Temple ( 43.2–5; 44.4 ).

10.1 :

Cherubim, see 1.5–14n.

2 :

Burning coals, cf. Isa 31.9; Ps 18.10–13; Rev 8.5 .

3–4 :

The throne‐chariot comes to collect the glory of the LORD from the cherub statues (see 9.3n. ). The cloud filling the Temple recalls Ex 16.10; 40.34–35 . It both conceals and reveals the divine presence.

12 :

Cf. 1.18; Zech 4.2,5,10b .

14 :

That of the cherub, the bull face of 1.10 (some ancient cherubim were bovine).

15 :

Chebar, 1.1–3n.

11.1–25 : Judgment and promise.

11.1–13 : A disputation over the city.

Jaazaniah and Pelatiah are otherwise unknown officials of the people (a postexilic title). Wicked counsel perhaps refers to the plot between Egypt and Zedekiah's pro‐Egyptian counselors against the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar (Jer 27.1–3; 37.5,7,11 ).

3 :

Having a false confidence in Zion's ironclad invulnerability (the pot), they assure the populace of the city's security. They put off domestic construction, perhaps because they have now appropriated the houses of the slain (v. 6 ) and of the deportees (v. 15 ). Alternatively, they are urging that all construction be concentrated on fortifying Jerusalem for their planned rebellion.

5–13 :

Ezekiel has formulated a far more sophisticated theology of Zion than their rather denuded conception (see 1.15–21n., 26–28n. ). Accusing the leaders of gross violence ( 7.23; ch 22 ), he tells them that a morally complacent trust in Zion will not protect them (cf. 24.1–14 ), but that they will be judged at the border of Israel (perhaps Riblah; see 2 Kings 25.7,18–21 ).

13 :

Pelatiah's death is a prediction within the prophetic vision, not an actual event. Ezekiel's desperate question at the end of this verse receives a reassuring negative answer in vv. 14–21 , an authentically early (pre‐586 BCE, see v. 15 ) oracle of promise in Ezekiel.

11.14–21 : The future lies with the exiles.

This passage disputes the claim of those who remained in the land that the exiles were bearing God's punishment, and that their property thus now belonged to those who remained. Ezekiel warns them that God is with his exiled people and will restore them. It is the exile group that constitutes the true Israel (cf. 20.41–42 ).

15 :

Your fellow exiles, see textual note a; the rare Heb noun translated “kindred” denotes people who, according to Lev 25.25–28 , should be defended against the permanent alienation of their land. The Jerusalemites are violating “Holiness” traditions.

16 :

A sanctuary, the Hebrew indicates that the glory of the LORD is now tabernacling with the exiles in Babylonia rather than with those who remained (v. 23 ).

17–21 :

Promise of restoration to the exiles.

19 :

New heart, see 36.26n.

20 :

The new covenant, cf. 16.60; 36.27–28; 37.23,27 .

24 :

Chaldea, Babylonia.

11.22–25 : Two reports

conclude the Temple visions.

22–23 :

See 10.1–22n. The mountain east of the city is the Mount of Olives.

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