In the sixth year (of the first exile), on the fifth day of the sixth month, Ezekiel had another encounter with the “Glory” of the Lord
Most of the interval since the first encounter had been spent in his dumb-show prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem.
He is now sitting at home while the Jewish elders sit in front of him, hopefully waiting for another spoken prophecy.
Then he sees a form “that had the appearance of a man”, covered with fire up to the loins, and brightness above. This form puts forth “the
likeness of a hand”, seizing the prophet by a lock of his hair, and the Spirit takes him all the way to Jerusalem.
There he sees again the symbolic “chariot” of his first vision.
I think we can assume that this journey was a spiritual experience, not one which would have been physically visible (which implies the same
conclusion for the experience of the first chapter).
He is then given a guided tour of the idolatry of Jerusalem.
The first landmark is the “image of jealousy” [i.e. provoking the jealousy of God], in the north gate of the inner court of the Temple.
No other name is given. My money is on Molech, on the grounds that Molech is currently in fashion, demanding the sacrifice of children. This would
surely provoke the anger and “jealousy” of God more fiercely than any other form of idolatry.
The next landmark is found inside the inner court. He is allowed to “dig in the wall” and discover a secret chamber which has many beasts and
idols painted on the walls.
“Seventy men of the house of Israel” are standing there worshipping these images, each carrying a censer.
This is not a literal meeting taking place in a real chamber.
Ezekiel is getting a view into the hearts of these leaders, discovering the secret “in the dark” worship of “each man in his room of
pictures”, believing that “the Lord does not see us”.
The significance of the number “seventy” is that seventy elders were taken to meet the Lord when the covenant was made with Moses (Exodus ch24
Those elders were representing Israel as a whole; so this notional meeting of “seventy” indicates that Israel as a whole is furtively abandoning
the covenant and returning to idolatry, partly motivated by the conviction that “the Lord has forsaken the land”.
Going back to the north gate, he sees a group of women sitting “weeping for Tammuz”, a ritual presumably imported from Syria.
Then at the very porch of the temple he finds a group of men conducting their worship in the wrong direction, turning their backs on the altar of the
Lord and directing their attention to the eastern sun. This was a well-established form of idolatry. Josiah had already removed the “horses
dedicated to the sun” which previous kings of Judah had placed at the Temple entrance (2 Kings ch23 v11).
These discoveries illustrate the point that the house of Judah is guilty of “great abominations”- that is, acts of idolatry.
In addition to that, they are filling the land with violence and provoking him further to anger.
In short, they are “putting the branch to the nose”. This remark appears to apply to both sides of the Lord’s complaint, the idolatry and the
violence. So it may be, as one commentator suggests, a proverbial expression meaning that someone is being defiant. Almost a case of “They are
thumbing their noses at me” (v17)
Therefore the Lord, shows Ezekiel, in symbolism, what he is going to do about it (ch9).
Seven servants of the Lord are seen coming from the direction of the north gate.
One of them, “a man dressed in linen”, has the function of going through the city and marking on the forehead all those who “sigh and groan over
all the abominations that are being committed in it”. These are going to be protected.
The other six are to go through the city and kill everyone who does not have the mark, beginning with the sun-worshippers in front of the Temple.
In the process, they will be filling the house of the Lord with dead bodies and therefore defiling it, making it unfit for spiritual use.
The protective marking deliberately echoes the events of the Passover, when the Israelites were marked out as God’s property and protected from the
power that was killing the Egyptians.
The implication is that idolatrous Jerusalem is to be equated with Pharaoh’s Egypt.
(Both events, of course, are later echoed by the “sealing” of God’s people in Revelation ch7).
Ezekiel questions his intentions;
“I fell upon my face and cried ‘Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all that remains of Israel in the outpouring of thy wrath upon Jerusalem?”
In reply, the Lord repeats that “the land is full of blood and the city full of injustice”. The perpetrators think the Lord has forsaken the land
and does not see them. He will prove them wrong and “requite their deeds upon their heads”.
Ezekiel now pays closer attention to the “chariot” structure which he saw first in the first chapter. It is described again, though the four
living creatures are now labelled as “cherubim” (identifying them with the attendants on the ark). The “Glory” of the Lord lifts itself from
them and moves to the threshold of the Temple- thus demonstrating, incidentally, that it does not really depend on them as a vehicle (another blow to
the “space-craft” theory).
Then the man dressed in linen is instructed to collect some of the fire between the cherubim, which he may now do without having to approach the
This fire is to be scattered across the city, indicating that it is destined for destruction.
Then the Glory and the cherubim come back together and move to the east gate of the house.
At the east gate, Ezekiel is shown a group of “princes”, the secular leaders of the city.
They feel smug about the exiles leaving plenty of room- “no need to build houses”
They believe themselves to be “the flesh in the pot”- that is, the city walls will be able to protect them from “the fire of war”.
The Lord observes that these men have already been killing their fellow-citizens- “You have multiplied your slain in this city”. Their victims,
therefore, will be the true “flesh in the cauldron”. They themselves will be taken out of its protection, and he will judge them within the
borders of Israel.
Then “You shall know that I am the Lord”.
Even as Ezekiel passes on this message (in his vision), their leader, Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, dies on the spot. We have no way of knowing if
this refers to any real event in Jerusalem.
These people despise the victims of the first exile (like Ezekiel himself); “THEY have gone far from the Lord; to US this land is given for a
On the contrary, the God who scattered them is also preserving them in their place of exile.
He will gather them together and return them to the land.
Once returned, they will remove the “detestable” idols, and the Lord’s relationship with his people will be renewed;
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them… that they will walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances… and they shall be
my people and I will be their God”.
Then the Glory and the cherubim leave the midst of the city and take their stand on the mountain to the east- prefiguring, perhaps, the removal of
God’s presence and protection from the Temple.
Ezekiel himself is “returned” to Chaldea. “The vision went up from me”. He becomes conscious again that he is sitting among the curious
“And I told the exiles all the things which the Lord had shown me”.
edit on 2-2-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)