Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
EZEKIEL CHAPTER 8
Ezekiel is brought in a vision of God to Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:1-4, and showed the image of jealousy set up in the temple, Ezekiel 8:5,6, the worship of the ancients in their chambers of imagery, Ezekiel 8:7-12, the mourners for Tammuz, Ezekiel 8:13,14, and the worshippers of the sun, Ezekiel 8:15,16. God’s wrath for their idolatry, Ezekiel 8:17,18.
In the sixth year of Jeconiah’s captivity. In the sixth month; they had been almost seven years in captivity, it was Elul, or our August.
In the fifth day of the month; the sabbath day, as Ezekiel 1:2.
As I sat in my house; abode in my house, probably he lay on his side, the three hundred and ninety days not yet expired.
The elders of Judah, the chief of those that were now in captivity, sat before me; they were come either to spend the sabbath in religious exercises, such as the present state of affairs permitted, to hear somewhat from the prophet’s mouth, expounding the law or declaring their duty, or to inquire what would become of their brethren in Jerusalem, whether they should be subdued and captivated, or whether there were any good news for them from heaven, and how they should behave themselves in these sad times.
The hand of the Lord; the Spirit of prophecy exerted itself with a mighty Divine power, which enlightened me at that very time, and in that very place: see Ezekiel 1:8.
A likeness of a man; that man whom he had seen upon the throne, i.e. of Christ.
The appearance of fire: see Ezekiel 1:26-28. This fire denotes the wrath of God against Jerusalem, and it is observed it was fire downward, wrath already coming down upon the Jews.
The appearance of brightness, to signify the majesty and glory of Christ. See more Ezekiel 1:27.
He put forth a hand; Christ. This was acted visionally, not corporally or actually, and so all that is here spoken of to the end of the 16th verse.
The spirit; which indeed is the hand which took him by the head, gently, but with mighty strength.
Lifted me up; very probably in the sight of the elders who were with him.
Between the earth and the heaven; he seemed to fly as a swift bird through the air.
Brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem; carried me to see Jerusalem, where in visions strange and glorious I beheld what was done there. This was no delusion, but a revelation from heaven; though all was done in an ecstasy, yet he was fully assured of every particular he saw done in the temple, whither he was carried in his spirit, not body, by the hand or Spirit of Christ.
To the door of the inner gate; to the door of the gate of the inner court, or court of the priests, 2 Chronicles 4:9. The temple courts had four gates towards the four quarters of the world, and this was the north gate, which opened into the great court, where Ahaz had set up his Damascene altar, 2 Kings 16:11, and where the idols were set up too.
The image, Baal, which Manasseh had set up, 2 Kings 21:7, and Josiah had destroyed, and succeeding kings had again set up.
Of jealousy; because it was so notorious an affront to God, who had married Israel to himself, that above all other it provoked him to anger against this people.
The glory of God: see Ezekiel 1:28 3:23.
Was there; whither he carried me, and there it showed me what I saw.
According to the vision that I saw; like that; which gave further confirmation to the prophet, and encouraged him in his work and call.
Then; when he had in vision brought me hither.
Lift up thine eyes; observe diligently and exactly every thing which thou mayst see northward first.
The gate of the altar; so called, because Ahaz had removed it from the middle of the court, where by God’s command it was placed by Solomon; but now Ahaz setting it near this north gate, it gave name to the gate or possibly because of an altar erected there to some idol by Manasseh.
Image of jealousy: see Ezekiel 8:3, &c.
In the entry; in the very midst of the court, in the very passage to the temple, to affront the worship of God.
Seest thou? dost thou observe?
What they do; the inhabitants, the generality of the Jews.
The great abominations; the notorious idolatries.
Here; in this court, in view of my temple, and where all that come, as most did, this way to worship me see it, so shameless is it!
That I should go; not that they designed this, but eventually it was so, and in all reason could be no otherwise expected.
From my sanctuary; that I chose, but am not confined to. That I shall leave not by local distance, but by rejecting and casting it off, and laying it desolate.
The door; the second door, for there were two in the north side.
The court; Ezekiel 8:3. Some say it was the court into which the Levites only, not the people, might enter, and round about which were the chambers of the priests.
When I looked; probably being at the door of the court, he might espy such a hole in the opposite wall that was toward the temple, whereon were built the treasury chamber, and chambers for tithes, and for other necessaries about the temple worship, and for the priests’ lodgings, in which these abominations were acted.
A hole in the wall, or little blind window, through which he might see somewhat, though not much, of what was done within.
The hole he saw in the wall was not quite through, it was not great enough for him to go through, therefore he is commanded to dig one large enough to come at the door mentioned in this verse.
A door; some very private door by which the idolatrous priests entered into the chamber of their imagery, to perform idolatrous worship to their images; the door of the treasury.
Go in: this was to secure him; he need fear neither the violence which idolaters usually show against those that discover them, nor yet any legal impurity by coming so near these abominable things.
Behold; look diligently, that thou mayst particularly reprove these, and denounce my just judgments against them.
The wicked abominations; the most abominable wickednesses; these are loathsome in their nature, and multiplied in number before me.
Do here, Heb. are doing here: before the evil day appeared so near, they did, and under the approach of judgments they are still doing at this day, in this very place, under the walls of my temple.
So I went in, according to the vision.
Of creeping things; of such creatures as the Egyptians, or any others with whom the Jews had acquaintance, did worship.
Abominable beasts; the beasts are here called abominable, because idolaters had abused them to unlawful uses, making idols of them.
The idols of the house of Israel; the Jews had multiplied to themselves idols of their own, besides those borrowed from their neighbours. Or they are called
the idols of the house of Israel, because they had adopted them, and because Israel’s idolatry was so much more brutish and provoking than that of the other nations, who had not the law of God given to them as to the Jews.
Portrayed upon the wall: possibly they did thus picture their idols on the wall, vainly thinking. this was not a breach of the law, which forbade graven images, and molten images; but every likeness of any thing made for to worship is forbidden, and such pictures are to be destroyed, Numbers 33:52. Possibly they had the same set of idols, by different givers, and by different painters, drawn on the walls of the chamber or house of idols.
There stood, offering incense before the idols.
Seventy men; either the sanhedrim, or council of seventy, who should have preserved religion pure and untainted, to which their office bound them; or else seventy of the more aged heads of the tribes or families, who should have been examples by their pure and constant affection to true religion; but these are ringleaders in this idolatry.
Ancients, by age or office, or both.
In the midst of them; either accompanying them in their idolatry, or rather as chief of the council or sanhedrim; in the chair, the seat of the chief, prefect, or principal next to the high priest.
Shaphan, mentioned 2 Kings 22:9, as most likely; a person that seems forward in reforming under Josiah, and his son as forward now in corrupting the worship of God.
Every man; all were actors in this idolatry, and either priests to these idols, or very bigots in the service.
A thick cloud; or abundance of a cloud, or rich (as the word among rabbinical senses) cloud; or, since the word whence this comes signifies to pray or supplicate, a cloud of incense offered with the prayers of these deluded idolaters, who were used to put both together.
Incense; whether simple and uncompounded, or compound, it was always of sweets, and very costly too; indeed idolatry, as adultery, will be lavish.
Hast thou seen? observed and thoroughly considered.
The ancients: see Ezekiel 8:11.
Do in the dark; whether ashamed to act openly what was most absurd, or whether out of blindness doting in secret on what heathens secretly derided, though for interest they acted it openly; owning that religion which awed the people among them, and deriding it at home. But idolatrous Jews blush in public, and retire into corners to be idolaters, as thou seest in this chamber.
Every man; every one of those ancients, for still God had his remnant that kept close to God.
In the chambers; secret closet, or bed-chamber.
They say; the most shameless would give a reason for their unreasonable practices.
The Lord, Jehovah, the everlasting and almighty God,
seeth us not: either they deny his providence, and act what they durst not if they thought the Lord knew and noted it, as if they accounted Jehovah no better than idols, that have eyes but see not; or else they deny God’s care of them and their affairs, traduce him, as if he minded them not, and therefore they must choose some or other god for patron who would better help them than he had done.
The Lord hath forsaken the earth: this seems to explain the meaning of that,
he seeth us not; and so with atheism more than ordinary they would cast the blame of choosing other gods on God himself.
Thou shalt see, represented in this vision,
greater abominations; either because added to all the rest, or because some circumstances in these make them more abominable than what before was represented. Or it may be taken for very great, as when the word is applied to cities, Deuteronomy 1:28 6 10 9:1; to stones, Joshua 10:11,27 1 Kings 7:10; David’s wars, 1 Chronicles 22:8; kingdoms, Jeremiah 28:8; and to the marvellous works of God, Job 5:9 9:10 Psalms 136:4; and generally our version keeps to the positive degree, though here they render it by the comparative, and in the 6th verse of this chapter the very selfsame expression is rendered great (not greater) abominations. We need not then perplex our reader with a long discourse, to show wherein these latter sins are greater than the former mentioned; they are all very great.
They do; now they are doing these things; instead of worshipping the true God on the sabbath, as he required all his people, the leaders of the people are on the sabbath of the Lord offering incense to their detestable idols.
He brought me, not by real and corporal change of place, but in vision and by representation.
Of the gate of the outer court, or court of the women, so called because they were allowed to come into it, as were all the laity of the Jews: but it is more likely the gate of the inner court, the court of the priests, next to the house of God, whither none save priests might come; but in this very great corruption of the state others were admitted into it, which makes this sin the greater.
Towards the north; he enters at first by the north gate, and so passeth on to what places were next to the temple on that side.
There sat women: contrary to the law were they come thither, led by their blindest, because the vilest and most impudent, superstition, and waiting (expressed by
sitting) ready to commit most lewd wickednesses, as part of their obscene and beastly rites. Weeping: this is the only part which is specified of their irreligious religion, commemorating with tears an infamously lustful and unclean whoremonger, or votary of Venus, snatched from her by an unhappy wound of a boar, say some; this weeping implieth all the beastly rites of that idol.
Tammuz; a magician, say some; a handsome young man, but notorious for love of women, say others; an adulterer (say some) slain by his brother, king of Egypt, and mangled in pieces, whose torn members were thrown into the river, but gathered up by the fond adulteresses, and rites of worship fitted to so lewd an idol; whose adulteries, lascivious practices, and immodest gestures these she priests acted over before the idol with men of like lewdness, of whom what they received, as rewards of their prostituting themselves, was offered to Venus. By this means God’s temple was turned into a lewd stews.
Besides these thou hast seen, thou shalt again see great abominations. Or if the expression be strictly comparative, then these latter wickednesses may be accounted greater, because acted in a more sacred place.
The inner court; the inmost, that which was next to the temple, called here the Lord’s house.
At the door of the temple: before he saw abominations in the gates of the courts, now he is come to the very house itself.
The porch; that stately, large porch, beautified with the high, curious, and mighty brass pillars, Jachin and Boaz, of which see 1 Kings 6:3 7:15,21.
The altar; the brazen altar for burnt-offerings, which was placed in the court before the front of the temple, and is here represented in its proper place, 2 Kings 16:14. This is not contradictory to Ezekiel 8:5, which speaks of the place where Ahaz had wickedly placed the altar, but this, Ezekiel 8:16, speaks of the same altar, as supposing it to be where it ought, as God commanded it should be, and Solomon placed it, 2 Chronicles 8:12.
About five and twenty; an indefinite and undetermined number.
Five and twenty men; either some principal men, or else some priests. If these, the greater sin in them to turn idolaters; if the other, the idolatry committed by them in a place they should not have entered appears presumptuous and greatly wicked.
With their backs toward the temple; in contempt of God, with an open and designed abrenunciation of God and his worship.
Worshipped the sun: though God had prohibited this, Deuteronomy 17:3, with Deuteronomy 4:17-19; yet, in imitation of’ the Chaldees, Persians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and the Eastern idolaters, these Jews turn their back on God, who created the sun, and worship the creature in contempt of the Creator.
Then; after the prophet had seen all, and had time to consider all he saw.
He said unto me; God appeals to the prophet. Doth the house of Judah think these no sins, or but little sins, or that I account not those provocations to anger? Do they so sottishly undervalue me and my law and ordinances, &c.? These idolaters, as others of the same stamp, are great oppressors; every where their oppressions may be found in great and high degrees.
Violence; all injustice is here meant towards all sorts of men, whom they first despise, and next destroy.
Have returned; from injustice against man, they return to impiety against God.
They put the branch to their nose; consecrate first these branches in the sun, and then next prize them, as what had touched the idol, and was bettered by it. Or, perhaps, took some branches out of the garland, wherewith they decked the idol, the altar, the victim, or themselves; and as the Orgyasts, i.e. worshippers of Bacchus, did wave their Thyrsus, the stalk or stem wreathed with ivy about it, carrying it in their hands whilst they danced, bowed their bodies, and often kissed the branches, so did these idolatrous Jews.
What I will do is greater than to be expressed; they with a furious heat for their idols provoked me, and I will with a just indignation provoke them, nay, destroy them.
Mine eye shall not spare: see Ezekiel 7:4,8,9.
Though they cry: the prophet doth not give it the name of praying, but it is a cry, a loud cry, after the manner of other idolaters, who think to be heard for the noise they make.
I will not hear them; yet doth not this at all prejudice the truth or the mercy of God to those that pray, nor may it discourage from the duty, but it should awaken us that we pray with heart, and not only cry loud with voice.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25