EZEKIEL CHAPTER 8.
Israelís Abomination of Idolatry.
THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE VISION. ó V. 1. And it came to pass in the sixth year, the year after the captivity of King Jehoiachin, in the sixth month, In the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, where Ezekiel had shut himself up in agreement with the Lordís command, chap. 3, 24, and the elders of Judah sat before me, those of the captivity having come to consult with him on some question, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me, transmitting an unusual measure of power to him for the purpose of a special manifestation. V. 2. Then I beheld, while in the state of peculiar ecstasy brought on by the Lordís influence upon him, and, lo! a likeness as the appearance of fire, the form of a person shining with fire or emitting a fiery glow; from the appearance of His loins even downward, fire, as though kindled or burning; and from His loins even upward as the appearance of brightness, of a wonderful splendor, as the color of amber, the glitter of polished brass. This shining person has been identified, and probably correctly, with the Angel of Jehovah, with the Son of God, as he revealed Himself in the Old Testament. V. 3. And He put forth the form of an hand, which may have represented the Spirit of the Lord, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, in ecstasy, not in an actual physical removal, and brought me in the visions of God, in the state brought about by the Lordís direct influence, to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate, that leading from the court of the priests, that looketh toward the north, the prophet thus occupying a position as one summoning the avenging hosts from the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, some sort of idol-image, which provoketh to jealousy, challenging the jealous wrath of Jehovah. The image may have been one of Baal or of Astarte, such as Mannaseh had erected in the Sanctuary; cp. 2 Kings 21, 7. V. 4. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel, so called on account of the contrast inferred over against the idols of the heathen, was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain, chap 3, 22. 23. where He appeared on his throne accompanied by cherubs and wheels, an awe-inspiring spectacle. The Lord purposely revealed Himself in all his glory, in order to make the idolatrous practices of the apostate Jews appear all the more repulsive by way of contrast.
VARIOUS ABOMINATIONS. ó V. 5. Then said He unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north, to the left of the direction in which the Temple faced. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north and behold northward, at the Gate of the Altar, probably just outside the entrance, this image of jealousy in the entry, the idol which filled the Lord with such deep resentment and anger. V. 6. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? namely, the members of the house of Israel in erecting and worshiping a picture devoted to idolatry. Even the great abominations that the house of Israel, the members of the covenant nation, committeth here, that I should go far off from My Sanctuary? being obliged to forsake His own seat of worship on account of the fact that it was now entirely devoted to idolatrous practices. The north gate of the Temple was called the Gate of the Altar probably because the sacrificial animals were brought in there, to be slaughtered near this entrance. But turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. V. 7. And He brought me to the door of the court, very likely the northern entrance to the outer court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall, in that portion of the wall which divided the courts. V. 8. Then said He unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall, enlarging the hole which he saw before him; and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. Some commentators think that the text speaks of an opening which had been made contrary to the Law to admit such people to the inner court as had no right to enter, and that this opening had been blocked up during Josiahís reformation. V. 9. And He said unto me, Go in and behold the wicked abominations that they do here, the idolatrous customs which they practiced. V. 10. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, of reptiles, worms, and similar animals, Lev. 11, 29-32. and abominable beasts, such as were regarded as Leviticallv unclean, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about, after the manner of decorative painting indulged in by heathen, especially by Egyptians. V. 11. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, a number which is found also elsewhere for representative bodies among time people of the covenant, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up, as all these men were deeply engrossed with their idolatrous worship. The picture was a representation of what was done throughout the nation, in the form of secret idolatry, in various abominable cults which had gained a foothold in the country. V. 12. Then said He unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, in the secrecy of these hidden cells, every man in the chambers of his imagery? where idolatrous pictures were painted on the walls and other evidences of idolatrous abominations were freely exposed. For they say, The Lord seeth us not, not being aware of their transgression; the Lord hath forsaken the earth, having withdrawn His merciful presence from His people. Thus they denied both the omniscience and the omnipresence of God. V. 13. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. V. 14. Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the Lordís house which was toward the north, where the outer court of the Temple opened toward the outside, and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz, an idol identified with the Adonis of the Greeks, whose festival, celebrated in June, was celebrated with immoral excesses. This public weeping for a heathen idol of this kind characterizes the state of affairs among the women of Israel at that time. V. 15. Then said He unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? being duly impressed with the heinousness of the abominations practiced by people who would be regarded the nation of the Lord. Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these, some which challenged the Lordís punishment in a still greater degree. V. 16. And He brought me into the inner court of the Lordís house, to the Court of the Priests, immediately before the sanctuary of the Temple, and, behold, at the door of the Temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, the most sacred part of the inner court, forbidden to all but the priests, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the Temple of the Lord, as though ignoring or despising the Sanctuary altogether, and their faces toward the east, away from the Holy Place and from the altar of burnt offerings; and they worship the sun toward the east, in the idolatrous worship practiced by many heathen, as they gave divine honor to the lights of the heavens. V. 17. Then He said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? this open denial of the one true God. Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, in thus heaping guilt upon guilt by utterly disregarding the rights of their neighbors, and have returned to provoke Me to anger; and, lo, they put the branch to their nose, apparently in a gesture or act expressing their utter contempt for the true worship of Jehovah, and that in the very Temple dedicated to Him. V. 18. Therefore will I also deal in fury; Mine eye shall not spare, in showing them any measure of mercy, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice, in an attempt to influence the Lord to show them a favor, yet will I not hear them. Open and vicious sinners will finally place themselves in a position where they are outside the pale of Godís mercy, when even repentance conies too late.