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Go to Bible: Ezekiel 11
“the spirit.” This is Yahweh, who appeared to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 8:2, and now continues taking Ezekiel around the Temple in Jerusalem.(top)
|Eze 11:2||- (top)|
“The time is not near to build houses. This city is the caldron, and we are the meat.” The meaning of these phrases in Ezekiel 11:3 is debated. The idea in the text as espoused by the REV seems to be that these new “leaders,” who were left in Jerusalem after the former leaders and citizens such as Daniel and Ezekiel were carried away to Babylon, did not need to build houses. This could be because they needed to fortify the walls of Jerusalem, or more likely, because they had taken over the estates of those people who had been carried away already, and they did not need to build places for themselves to live in. Actually, if the text is worded as a question, “Is not the time near to build houses?” (NASB), then the idea would be that these new leaders had taken over the estates of the people who had been carried away captive to Babylon and so could build themselves nice new houses. In either case the new leaders who had taken over Jerusalem had only their own interests in mind.
The phrase, “This city is the caldron and we are the meat” has to be understood from the context, which is that these new leaders were thinking of themselves and relishing in the fact that, with the king and former leaders led away captive, they had risen to rulership in Jerusalem. These men were plotting evil and giving wicked advice (Ezekiel 11:2). Therefore, this verse does not mean that Jerusalem was a vulnerable pot and the men were “just meat,” that is, somehow in deep trouble. Rather, the meat in the caldron was the best part, certainly much better than the vegetables, and the caldron, which usually had a lid, protected the food from things getting into it and spoiling the taste. Thus, these men were saying that Jerusalem would protect them and they were the meat, the “best part,” or the most privileged part, and they certainly were taking advantage of their new power and taking advantage of the common people who were their prey.
“this city.” The Hebrew is “she,” but that would be very unclear in English; the leaders are referring to the city of Jerusalem, a “she” (or an “it”) to them.(top)
|Eze 11:4||- (top)|
“fell on me.” This was a revelation that came suddenly, powerfully, and clearly to Ezekiel. Verses like this show that when God wants a prophet to speak something, He can make it very clear, and the experienced prophet understands what God is doing and cooperates by prophesying boldly and saying what God wants said.
“and he said to me.” That is, and Yahweh said to me. “Spirit” is feminine, while Yahweh takes the masculine pronoun. Yahweh puts His gift of spirit upon people such as the prophets and then speaks most directly to them via His gift of spirit. The direct communication that the gift of holy spirit allows a person to have with Yahweh is why He put His spirit upon the prophets (cp. Num. 11:17, 25). The verb “fell” is feminine singular and refers to “spirit,” while the verb “said” is masculine singular and refers to Yahweh. The spirit of God is not a person but is the gift of God’s nature that He puts upon people to empower them spiritually (see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit”).
“thinking.” The Hebrew verb is more literally “saying,” but it is used of “saying to yourself,” or thinking, which is apparently what is going on in this verse since the last phrase is about things that come into people’s mind.(top)
|Eze 11:6||- (top)|
|Eze 11:7||- (top)|
|Eze 11:8||- (top)|
“the city.” The Hebrew is “she” but the REV and other English versions nuance the text to “the city” for clarity.(top)
“in the territory of Israel.” The word most versions translate “border” also means “territory,” and in this case, the meaning of the Hebrew phrase refers to the territory of Israel. It is misleading to translate it “at the border of Israel” as if it was right at the border that God’s judgment would take place. The phrase “in the borders” (Darby, Douay Rheims) gets the sense somewhat (although “within the borders” would be clearer). The NASB has “to the border” which also gets the sense. Daniel Block (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament) has “On Israelite territory,” which gets the meaning also. The people sinned against God and would be judged on God’s holy territory.(top)
|Eze 11:11||- (top)|
|Eze 11:12||- (top)|
|Eze 11:13||- (top)|
|Eze 11:14||- (top)|
“They are far away from Yahweh.” This translation of Ezekiel 11:15 is more consistent with the context than, “Go far from Yahweh,” which most versions have. The vowels in the Masoretic text, which were added centuries after the Old Testament was written, make more sense if added such that the verb is a perfect (“They are far”) instead of an imperative (“Go far”), and some versions and commentaries adopt this reading, as does the REV (cp. NAB; NET; NIV; NLT; NRSV; RSV; The New International Commentary on the Old Testament).
The sentiment of the people in Jerusalem reveals the coldness of their hearts, as well as their arrogance, for they themselves had certainly gone far away from Yahweh when they turned to idols. And now, instead of doing what they can to support those people who had been carried away from the land of Israel and taken as captives to Babylon, they coldly announced that the captives were, after all, far away from Yahweh and so the land belonged to the Jews who were still there. In fact, it may have in part been due to a “land grab” situation that they did not want to try to help their fellow Judeans in captivity. The phrase “this land has been given to us” indicates that they thought that because they were still in the land, the ancient promise of the gift of the land to Abraham and his seed was somehow meant for them but not for the people who had been taken captive, and that, of course, is a complete misrepresentation of the truth.
In Ezekiel 11:16, Yahweh corrects the arrogant Jews who still lived in Israel and who were thinking that the captives in Babylon were far away from Yahweh. God says that even though the captives had been carried to far off countries, He has still been a sanctuary for them. Furthermore, in Ezekiel 11:17, God says He will bring the captives back to Israel and give the land to them. We know historically that many Jews died in captivity and never returned to the land in their first life, but those who lived lives faithful to God will inherit the land once the First Resurrection occurs, and the land of Israel will be distributed as is laid out in Ezekiel 48. [For more on the Promised Land being given to the resurrected Jews, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)
|Eze 11:16||- (top)|
“I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you.” Ezekiel 11:17 says Israel would come back to the land, which was part of the promise of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:8-33), and the gathering would in large part be due to the first resurrection, the Resurrection of the Righteous (cp. Ezek. 37:12-28). [For more on Israel and Judah being brought back to the Promised Land, see commentary on Jer. 32:37. For more on the two future resurrections, the Resurrection of the Righteous and the Resurrection of the Unrighteous, see commentary on Acts 24:15].
“the soil of Israel.” The Hebrew word usually translated “land” is not the more normal eretz, but adamah (#0127 אֲדָמָה) ground, soil, land. Although often translated “land,” it seemed appropriate in this context to catch the contrast in the Hebrew text and render the word as “soil.” The Israelites said the land (eretz) was theirs (Ezek. 11:15), but God said no, He would give the “soil” to the returning captives.(top)
“its detestable things and all its abominations.” Sadly, the “detestable things and abominations” were not due to pagans, but due to the Israelites themselves who had turned away from God.(top)
“I will give them one heart.” Ezekiel 11:19 is very similar to Ezekiel 36:26. Also, it has some things in common with Jeremiah 32:39, see commentary on Jeremiah 32:39.
“I will put a new spirit inside you.” Ezekiel 11:19 has a couple important meanings, based on the word “spirit.” The word “spirit” can mean one’s thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, and it means that here, as we can tell from the whole verse. In the future, when the New Covenant is fully realized, people will have new thoughts and attitudes. This same truth is express in Ezekiel 36:26.
Also, however, “spirit” refers to the holy spirit of God, which in the Old Testament God placed “upon” people but which in the New Covenant will be “in” people. Jesus Christ understood this and taught it to his apostles at the Last Supper (see commentary on John 14:17).(top)
|Eze 11:20||- (top)|
“are devoted to.” The Hebrew text seems to have been miscopied, but as it is, it basically says, “whose heart walks after the heart of their detestable things.” The meaning of the verse as is generally admitted, refers to the people who hearts are committed to their idols.
“I will bring their way on their own heads.” It is a consistent theme through Scripture that evil people bring evil upon themselves (see commentary on Prov. 1:18). The Hebrew “their way” is literally “their road.” The Bible uses “road” for “way of life.”(top)
|Eze 11:22||- (top)|
“and stopped.” God had moved to the threshold of the Temple and gave the command to destroy Jerusalem (Ezek. 9:3-7). Then He got back on His chariot-throne and moved to the east gate of the Temple (Ezek. 10:18-19). From over the east gate, He moved to over the Mount of Olives (Ezek. 11:22-23). God and His glory will not return to a Temple in Jerusalem until the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 43:1-4). So the continual sin of Judah, and their hardheartedness, drove God away. God, surrounded by His glory, left Judah and Jerusalem, which were then destroyed by the Babylonians. In Ezekiel’s vision this mountain east of Jerusalem, which would have been the Mount of Olives, is as far east as the glory of Yahweh traveled, although it seems clear from Ezekiel 43:2 that it had eventually left Judah and traveled east. [For more on Ezekiel 8-11 and what happened, see commentary on Ezek. 8:4].
“the mountain that is on the east side.” That mountain is the Mount of Olives.(top)
“The Spirit.” This is Yahweh, who appeared to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 8:2 and 11:1, and now takes Ezekiel back to Chaldea and the exiles there, and at that point the vision Ezekiel was having stopped (see commentary on Ezek. 8:2).
“by the spirit of God.” This is most likely the spirit that God puts on prophets to best communicate with them, often called “holy spirit” (cp. Num. 11:17, 25). It could, however, also just be a reference to God like in Gen. 1:3. [For more on the spirit of God, see Appendix 11, “What is the ‘Holy Spirit’”].
“the vision that I had seen went up from me.” This was the end of Ezekiel’s second vision, which began in Ezekiel 8:1 (see commentary on Ezekiel 8:1).(top)
|Eze 11:25||- (top)|