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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
This chapter denounces heavy judgments against the lying prophets who flattered the people, in the midst of their sin and danger, with false hopes of peace and security, Ezekiel 13:1-9. The work of these deceivers is beautifully compared to a frail and insolent piece of building, which can never stand against the battering elements of heaven, (the Chaldean forces), which God will commission against it, Ezekiel 13:10-16. In the remaining part of the chapter woes are denounced against false prophetesses who practiced vain rites and divinations, with the view of promoting their own gain by deceiving the people, Ezekiel 13:17-23.
1And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
That prophesy out of their own hearts - Who are neither inspired nor sent by Me. They are prophets out of their own hearts. They have their mission from their own assumption, and proceed in it from their own presumption. Such either go of themselves, or are sent by man. Such prophets, ministers, preachers, and clergy have been a curse to the Church and to the world for some thousands of years.
3Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
4O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
Thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts - The cunning of the fox in obtaining his prey has been long proverbial. These false prophets are represented as the foxes who, having got their prey by great subtlety, run to the desert to hide both themselves and it. So the false prophets, when the event did not answer to their prediction, got out of the way, that they might not be overwhelmed with the reproaches and indignation of the people.
5Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.
Ye have not gone up into the gaps - Far from opposing sinners, who are bringing down the wrath of God upon the place, you prevent their repentance by your flattering promises and false predictions. Ye have neither by prayers, example, nor advice, contributed any thing for the preservation of the place, or the salvation of the people's souls.
6They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
7Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?
8Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.
9And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
They shall not be in the assembly of my people - They shall not be reputed members of my Church. They shall not be reckoned in the genealogy of true Israelites that return from captivity; and they shall never have a possession in the land; they shall be exhereditated and expatriated. They shall all perish in the siege, by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence.
10Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
One built up a wall - A true prophet is as a wall of defense to the people. These false prophets pretend to be a wall of defense; but their wall is bad, and their mortar is worse. One gives a lying vision, another pledges himself that it is true; and the people believe what they say, and trust not in God, nor turn from their sins. The city is about to be besieged; it needs stronger fortifications than what it possesses. The prophet should be as a brazen wall for its defense; and such my prophets would have been had the people received the word from my mouth. But ye have prevented this by your lying vanities; and when you have perverted the people, you pretend to raise up a rampart of specious prophecy, full of fine promises, for their defense. What one false prophet says, another confirms; and this is like daubing over a bad wall with bad mortar, which prevents its blemishes and weaknesses being discovered, though it has no tendency to strengthen the building.
11Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.
There shall be an overflowing shower - That shall wash off this bad mortar; sweep away the ground on which the wall stands, and level it with the earth. In the eastern countries, where the walls are built with unbaked bricks, desolations of this kind are often occasioned by tempestuous rains. Of this sort of materials were the walls of ancient cities made, and hence the reason why no vestige of them remains. Witness Babylon, which was thus built. See the note on Ezekiel 4:1.
12Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?
13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.
14So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
15Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;
16To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.
17Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
Set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy - From this it appears that there were prophetesses in the land of Israel, that were really inspired by the Lord: for as a false religion necessarily implies a true one, of which it is the ape; so false prophetesses necessarily imply true ones, whom they endeavored to imitate.
That there were true prophetesses among the Jews is evident enough from such being mentioned in the sacred writings. Miriam, the sister of Moses Exodus 15:20; Numbers 12:2; Deborah, Judges 4:4; Huldah, 2 Kings 22:14; Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, Luke 2:36; the four daughters of Philip the deacon, Acts 21:9.
Calmet observes that there was scarcely a heresy in the primitive Church that was not supported and fomented by seducing women.
18And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
That sew pillows to all arm holes - I believe this refers to those cushions which are so copiously provided in the eastern countries for the apartments of women; on which they sit, lean, rest their heads, and prop up their arms. I have several drawings of eastern ladies, who are represented on sofas; and often with their arm thrown over a pillow, which is thereby pressed close to their side, and against which they thus recline. The prophet's discourse seems to point out that state of softness and effeminacy to which the predictions of those false prophetesses allured the inhabitants of Jerusalem. A careless voluptuous life is that which is here particularly reprehended.
And make kerchiefs - The word kerchief is French, couvre chef, that which covers the head; hence handkerchief and neck handkerchief, and pocket handkerchief are pitifully improper; because none of them is used to cover the head, from which alone that article of dress has its name. But what are we to understand by kerchiefs here? Probably some kind of ornamental dress which rendered women more enticing, so that they could the more successfully hunt or inveigle souls (men) into the worship of their false gods. These they put on heads of every stature - women of all ages, קומה komah, of every woman that rose up to inveigle men to idolatry.
The word מספחות mispachoth, translated here kerchiefs, and by the Vulgate cervicalia, bolsters, Calmet contends, means a sort of nets used in hunting, and in every place where it occurs it will bear this meaning; and hence the use to which it is here said to be applied, to hunt souls.
19And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
20Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
The souls that ye hunt to make them fly - לפרחות lephorechoth, into the flower gardens, says Parkhurst. These false prophetesses decoyed men into these gardens, where probably some impure rites of worship were performed, as in that of אשרה Asherah or Venus. See Parkhurst under פרח.
21Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Your kerchiefs - Nets, or amulets, as some think.
22Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad - Here is the ministry of these false prophetesses, and its effects. They told lies: they would speak, and they had no truth to tell; and therefore spoke falsities. They "saddened the souls of the righteous, and strengthened the hands of the wicked." They promised them life, and prevented them from repenting and turning from their sins.
23Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Ye shall see no more vanity - They pretended visions; but they were empty of reality.
Nor divine divinations - As God would not speak to them, they employed demons. Where God is not, because of the iniquity of the people, the devil is, to strengthen and support that iniquity. And if he cannot have his priests, he will have his priestesses; and these will have a Church like themselves, full of lying doctrines, and bad works.