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The prophet, after having addressed several other nations, returns now to his own; previously to which he is told, as on a former occasion, the duty of a watchman, the salvation or ruin of whose soul depends on the manner in which he discharges it. An awful passage indeed; full of important instruction both to such as speak, and to such as hear, the word of God, Ezekiel 33:1-9. The prophet is then directed what answer to make to the cavils of infidelity and impiety; and to vindicate the equity of the Divine government by declaring the general terms of acceptance with God to be (as told before, chap. 18) without respect of persons; so that the ruin of the finally impenitent must be entirely owing to themselves, Ezekiel 33:10-20. The prophet receives the news of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, about a year and four months after it happened, according to the opinion of some, who have been led to this conjecture by the date given to this prophecy in the twenty-first verse, as it stands in our common Version: but some of the manuscripts of this prophet consulted by Dr. Kennicott have in this place the Eleventh year, which is probably the genuine reading. To check the vain confidence of those who expected to hold out by possessing themselves of its other fastnesses, the utter desolation of all Judea is foretold, Ezekiel 33:21-29. Ezekiel is informed that among those that attended his instructions were a great number of hypocrites, against whom he delivers a most awful message. When the Lord is destroying these hypocrites, then shall they know that there hath been a prophet among them, Ezekiel 33:30-33.
Son of man - if the people of the land take a man - The first ten verses of this chapter are the same with Ezekiel 3:17-22; and to what is said there on this most important and awful subject I must refer the reader. Here the People choose the watchman; there, the Lord appoints him. When God chooses, the people should approve.
If our transgressions and our sins be upon us - They are upon us, as a grievous burden, too weighty for us to bear: how then can we live under such a load?
We pine away in them - In such circumstances how consoling is that word: “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”
As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked - From this to the twentieth verse inclusive is nearly the same with Ezekiel 18, on which I wish the reader to consult the notes.
If he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity - If he trust in his acting according to the statutes and ordinances of religion, and according to the laws relative to rights and wrongs among men, and in other respects commit iniquity, he shall die for it.
He shall live thereby - “The wages of sin is death;” the “gift of God is eternal life.” It is a miserable trade by which a man cannot live; such a trade is sin.
In the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month - Instead of the twelfth year, the eleventh is the reading of seven of Kennicott‘s MSS., one of De Rossi‘s, and the Syriac. My own, mentioned in the preceding chapter, reads with the present text. This was on Wednesday, Jan. 25, A.M. 3416 or 3417.
One that had escaped out of Jerusalem - After it had been taken by the Chaldeans.
Came unto me, saying, The City Is Smitten - This very message God had promised to the prophet, Ezekiel 24:26.
My mouth was opened - They had now the fullest evidence that I had spoken from the Lord. I therefore spoke freely and fully what Good delivered to me, Ezekiel 24:27.
Abraham was one - If he was called to inherit the land when he was alone, and had the whole to himself, why may we not expect to be established here, who are his posterity, and are many? They wished to remain in the land and be happy after the Chaldeans had carried the rest away captives.
Ye eat with the blood - Abraham was righteous, ye are unrighteous. Eating of blood, in any way dressed, or of flesh from which the blood had not been extracted, was and is in the sight of God abominable. All such practices he has absolutely and for ever forbidden. Let the vile blood-eaters hear and tremble. See the note on Acts 15:20, and the passages in the margin.
Ye stand upon your sword - Ye live by plunder, rapine, and murder. Ye are every way impure; and shall ye possess the land? No.
They that are in the wastes - He seems to speak of those Jews who had fled to rocks, caves, and fortresses, in the mountains; whose death he predicts, partly by the sword, partly by wild beasts, and partly by famine.
The people still are talking against thee - בך (bach) should be rather translated, “concerning thee,” than “against thee;” for the following verses show that the prophet was much respected. The Vulgate translates, de te; the Septuagint, περι σου , “concerning thee,” both right.
Talking by the walls and in the doors of the houses is not a custom peculiar to the Copts, mentioned by Bp. Pococke, it is a practice among idle people, and among those who are resting from their work, in every country, when the weather permits. Gossiping in the inside of the house is not less frequent, and much more blamable.
As the people cometh - As they are accustomed to come on public days, Sabbaths, etc.
With their mouth they show much love - They respected the prophet, but would not bend themselves to follow his precepts. They loved earthly things, and did not relish those of heaven.
As a very lovely song - They admired the fine voice and correct delivery of the prophet; this was their religion, and this is the whole of the religion of thousands to the present day; for never were itching ears so multiplied as now.
When this cometh to pass - then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them - What I have predicted, (and it is even now at the doors), then they will be convinced that there was a prophet among them, by whose ministry they did not profit as they ought.