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5 Our necks are under persecution; we labour, and have no rest.
6 We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their band.
9 We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.
10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
11 They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.
12 Princes are hanged up by their hand the faces of elders were not honoured.
13 They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
17 For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.
18 Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.
19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
22 But thou hast utterly rejected us: thou art very wroth against us.(Q)
(Q) Zion's complaint and prayer to God. "In the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate versions this chapter is entitled The Prayer of Jeremiah; but no such title appears, either in the Hebrew or the Septuagint: it is rather a memorial, representing, in the name of
the whole body of Jewish exiles, the many and grievous hardships they groaned under, and humbly entreating God to commiserate their wretchedness, and to restore them once more to his favour, and to their ancient prosperity. The whole may be considered as an epilogue or conclusion, well adapted to the contents of the preceding chapters.
CHAP. V. Ver. 4. Is sold unto us-Heb. "Cometh for price" i. e. they were obliged to purchase, not only wood, but water also.
Ver. 5. Our necks are under persecution-Heb. "On our necks are we persecuted!" i. e. we are under the yoke of foreigners.
Ver. 6. We have given the hand-i. e. submitted. See Jer. 1. 15.
Ver. 9. The sword of the wilderness-that is, the Arabian free-booters, to which they were probably exposed, in seeking for wood, &c.
Ver. 10. Our skin was black-that is, scorched, or
burnt, by the heat of the climate, with the want of drink and food. See Job xxx. 30; Jer. iv. 8; viii.l.
Ver. 12. Princes are hanged by their hand-i.e tied up by one hand and left to perish: a cruel mode of execution, sometimes practised.
Ver. 13. Under the wood-that is, under the bar dens of wood they were compelled to carry.
Ver. 16. The crown is fallen from our head-Heb. "The crown of our head is fallen."
Ver. 20. So long time-Heb. "For length of days." Ver. 22. But thou hast, &c.-Marg. "Wilt thou utterly reject us?"
END OF THE LAMENTATIONS OF JEREMIAH.
THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
"WE have now come to the prophecies of Ezekiel, which were addressed to the captives at Babylon, before and after the captivity of Zedekiah, and the destruction of the temple. They must therefore be delivered at the same time, and against the same crimes against which Jeremiah was denouncing the judgments of God at Jerusalem. Both prophets predicted the same events, promised to the faithful the same consolations, and threatened the disobedient and idolatrous among their countrymen with the same punishments. Both prophets united in denunciation against the false prophets, and in anticipations of the ultimate restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity." Ezekiel, as himself tells us, (chap. i. 3.) was a priest, as well as Jeremiah, though of a different family, he was carried captive from Jerusalem at the same time with Jehoiachin, and stationed on the borders of the river Chebar, where he continued statedly to reside.
In the fifth year of this captivity, the era from which he dates his prophecies, Ezekiel began his office, which he exercised about 25 years. The commencement of this period falls on the year before Christ 595, and 34 years after Jeremiah had begun his office; so that the last eight years of Jeremiah coincide with the first eight of Ezekiel. The design of this prophet seems to be, chiefly, to convince his fellow captives in Babylon, that they were mistaken in supposing that their brethren, who still remained in Judea, were in happier circumstances than themselves: for this end, he describes the awful judgments impending over that country, with the complete destruction of Jerusalem, both city and temple; and inveighs against those heinous sins which were the cause of such calamities.
As to the style of the prophet Ezekiel, Bishop Lowth, the most unquestionable judge of Hebrew composition, thus describes it: "Ezekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance; in sublimity, he is not even excelled by Isaiah: but his sublimity is of a totally different kind.-He is deep, vehement, tragical; the only sensation he affects to excite, is the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, fervid, full of fire, indignant," &c. He is generally charged with being obscure; but his obscurity is that necessary to the sublime; and the great critic just quoted remarks, "His diction is sufficiently perspicuous; all his obscurity consists in the nature of the subject."+
In our Introduction to Isaiah we have remarked, that the prophets frequently made use of actions as well as words, in the delivery of their predictions; and this was particularly the case with Ezekiel, "who delineates the siege of Jerusalem on a tileweighs the hair of his beard in balances-carries out his household stuff-and joins together the two sticks of Judah and Israel. By these actions, the prophets instructed the people in the will of God, and conversed with them in signs: but where God teaches the prophet, and in compliance with the custom of that time, condescends to the same mode of instruction, then the signification is generally changed into a vision, either natural or extraordinary, as (in the prophet Ezekiel) the ideal scene of the resurrection of dry bones." ‡
Townsend's 0. Test. arranged, vol. ii, p. 529.
+ Lowth's Lect. xxi.
: See Bp. Warburton's Divine Legat, vol. iii. bk. 4. §. 4. quoted Townsend's O, T. arran, vol. ii, p. 497.
In our humble Exposition of this sublime prophet, beside the general commentators referred to on preceding books, we have constantly consulted, and frequently referred to, Archbishop Newcome's scarce and valuable work on this prophet. That learned prelate fully justifies the character given of him by Bp. Lowth, and vindicat es the sublimity of his style, in reply to some eminent foreign eritics.
CHRONOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENT of Ezekiel's prophecies, according to Archbishop NEWCOME.
NOW it came to pass in the thirti
eth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,
3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a
great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appear ance; they had the likeness of a man.
6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
7 And their feet were straight feet; the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
CHAP. I. Ver. 1. In the thirtieth year-that is, of the prophet's life, as it is generally understood; but Calmet thinks these years must rather be dated from the revival of religion, and the covenant made with God in the time of king Josiab.-The river of Chebar-The station here referred to, is supposed to have been about 200 miles north of Babylon. See ch. iii. 15.
Ibid. Among the captives-Heb. "In the midst of the captivity."
Ver. 2. The fifth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, was also the 5th of Zedekiah's reign, who immediately succeeded him, 2 Kings xxiv. 17. and as the city and temple were destroyed in the 11th year of Zedekiah, 2 Kings xxv. 2. the prophet, of course, had this vision six years before that event took place.
Ver. 3. The hand of the Lord was there upon him-that is, he was under prophetic influence. See 1 Kings xviii. 46; 2 Kings iii. 15, &c. Ver. 4. A fire infolding-Heb. "Catching itself." Ver. 5. Four living creatures Chap. x, 20, the
prophet says he knew them to be the cherubim; but gives no farther information. The Editor is perfectly aware of the different systems of interpre tation advanced on this subject, and particularly that of the ingenious Mr. Hutchinson, who supposed them intended to represent the several offices and relations of the persons of the Trinity. But to this he has two most decided objections: 1. The Jews were utterly forbidden to make any representations of the Deity. See Exod. xx. 4; Deut. iv. 12, 16, &c. 2. These living creatures are represented as wor shipping the great Being he supposes them to represent. Isa. vi. 3; Rev. v. 8, 14.
Ver. 6. Every one four wings. The seraphim in Isaiah had each six wings, and so the living cre tures in Rev. iv. 8. But in both places it may be recollected they are described as in the act of wor ship. Comp. Isa. vi. 2.
Ver. 7. Straight feet-Heb. "A straight foot." This description supposes the body of each covered by its two lower wings, and terminating in one straight and round foot, like a calf's. See Parkh.
Ezekiel's vision of]
8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they =went; they went every one straight forward.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
13 As for the likeness of the living
[wheels and cherubim.
creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. (A)
15 ¶Now as I beheld the living crea tures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.
18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and
(A) Ver. 1-14. Ezekiel's prophetic call, and introductory vision.-It is difficult to conceive any thing more magnificent or sublime than the scene now before us. It has been considered as the chariot of the Deity; and the living creatures, or cherubic figures as the agents employed to convey it through the universe. Two objects here particularly demand our attention, the vehicle itself, and the animals attached to it. The former we consider as emblematic of the immense machine of Providence (so to speak ;) and the latter of the various agency by which that Providence is administered.
The introduction to this scene may remind us of the first cherubic exhibition recorded in the Bible. When God drove Adam without the boundaries of Paradise, he placed there Cherubim and a flaming sword: that is, a terrific revolving flame, in which the Deity is supposed to have resided. (See Gen. iii. 24, with our exposi tion.) Here we have "a whirlwind from the north, a great cloud, a fire infolding Etself," surrounded with a glory, and out
Ver. 11. Stretched upward- that is, the upper Pair of wings belonging to each figure being spread pen, were, as the margin expresses it, "divided," or opened above;" and joined to, or touched those of the other figure.
of the centre of all this splendour, comes forth the stupendous figures there exhibited. (Comp. also 1 Kings, xix. 12.)
With respect to the living creatures, there can be no doubt that they were the seraphim which Isaiah saw when he received his prophetic mission. (Is. vi. 2, &c.) From the readiness also with which Ezekiel knew them to be the Cherubim, as well as the similitude of description, there is as little doubt that they strongly resembled the Mosaic emblems in the temple. Divines, however, are much divided as to the class of intelligences they are intended to represent. The strength and courage of the lion, the patient laboriousness of the ox, and the soaring eye of the eagle, are all proverbial, and "the human face divine" seems the proper emblem of philanthropy. That these attributes are applicable to angels will hardly be denied, or that these angels are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. (See Heb. i. 14.) That they are also ministers of justice is no less evident from the sacred scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments: but our limits will not admit of amplification.
Ver. 15. With his four faces-that is, as Abp. N wcome explains it," One wheel intersected anot her at right angles, like the two colures; and the fo ur spherical portions thus formed, seem to he called the four faces, or sides ;” ver, 17. See ch, x, 13,
Vision of wheels]
their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the
22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
24 And when they went, I heard.
[and cherubim. the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (B)
EXPOSITION-Chap. I. Continued.
(B) Ver. 15-28. The vision of the immense wheels and the celestial throne.-The whole vision being now before us, we shall offer a few remarks on its general import, considering it designed to represent, as already hinted, the doctrine of divine agency and a universal providence.
1. We are called upon to admire the immensity and magnificence of God's providence. These wheels (like Jacob's ladder) reached from earth to heaven, extending to all the works and ways of God. The magnitude and the splendour of their appearance, gave them also a high degree of sublimity they were dreadful to behold.
-2. Here was a display of infinite wisdom and intelligence. Not only had one of these living creatures the eyes of an eagle, commanding the whole horizon, but the wheels themselves were full of eyes. All the plans of the Almighty are full of intelligence, and all his agents are under divine guidance.-3. We see the absolute irresistibility of God's providence. The wheels went straight forward, and no impediments could make them change their course.-4. We may remark the unity and harmony of divine providence. Not only was there a perfect consistency between all the parts of this machine, but they were animated with
NOTES-Chap. I. Con.
Ver. 16. Colour of a beryl-that is, pale sea-green. Ver. 18. Their rings-that is, the outer circles. Ver.22. Firmament upon-rather," expanse over," &c.-See Note on Gen. i. 8.As the terrible-or "sparkling" crystal; perhaps so called from its resemblance to icicles in the sun for the word refers primarily to ice, and is here so rendered by New. come and others.
Ver. 25. And had let down their wings.-These words are omitted by the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic,
and supposed to be here repeated by mistake from the verse preceding.
Ver. 26. Sapphire stone. See Note on Exod. xxiv. 10.
Ver. 27. And it had brightness round about— Newcome," And a brightness was round about him" i. e. the man in glory: "the representative of the invisible God, his ever blessed and only be gotten Son." Compare Rev. iv. 3.