Ezekiel 9


The vision in this chapter seems intended to denote the general

destruction of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, excepting a few

pious individuals that were distressed at the abominations that

were committed in the land; who, in order to be delivered from

the general calamity, were MARKED, in allusion, perhaps, to the

custom of eastern princes, who marked their servants in the

forehead, or rather to the custom very frequent among the Pagan

worshippers, of indelibly imprinting on different parts of

their body the marks of their idols. To indicate, likewise,

that God was soon to forsake the temple, the shechinah, or

glorious symbol of his presence, is seen to remove from the

inner sanctuary to the threshold or door of the temple, 1-7.

The prophet intercedes for his people; but God, on account of

the greatness of their sins, will not be entreated, 8-11.


Verse 1. Cause them that have charge over the city] By those six

men with destroying weapons the Chaldeans are represented, who had

received commission to destroy the city; and when the north is

mentioned in such cases, Chaldea and the Chaldean armies are

generally intended. There appears to have been six men with a sort

of slaughter-bills, and one man with an inkhorn. These may

represent the seven counsellors of the eastern monarchs, who

always saw the king's face, and knew all the secrets of the

government. One of them was that minister who had the office of

reporting concerning criminals, who carried the book of death

and the book of life into the presence of the king, where the

names were entered of criminals who were destined to suffer, and

of those who were either considered as innocent or recommended to

mercy; those of the former in the book of death, those of the

latter in the book of life. This person with the inkhorn might

be termed, in our phrase, the recorder.

Verse 2. Stood beside the brazen altar.] To signify that the

people against whom they had their commission were, for their

crimes, to be sacrificed to the demands of Divine justice.

Verse 3. And he called to the man] The person here who called

was that who sat on the chariot of the Divine glory. See

Eze 1:26.

Verse 4. Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh]

This is in allusion to the ancient every-where-used custom of

setting marks on servants and slaves, to distinguish them from

others. It was also common for the worshippers of particular idols

to have their idol's mark upon their foreheads, arms, &c. These

are called sectarian marks to the present day among the Hindoos

and others in India. Hence by this mark we can easily know who is

a follower of Vishnoo, who of Siva, who of Bramah, &c. The

original words, vehithvitha tau, have been translated by

the Vulgate, et signa thau, "and mark thou tau on the foreheads,"

&c. St. Jerome and many others have thought that the letter tau

was that which was ordered to be placed on the foreheads of those

mourners; and Jerome says, that this Hebrew letter tau was

formerly written like a cross. So then the people were to be

signed with the sign of the cross! It is certain that on the

ancient Samaritan coins, which are yet extant, the letter tau is

in the form +, which is what we term St. Andrew's cross. The sense

derived from this by many commentators is, that God, having

ordered those penitents to be marked with this figure, which is

the sign of the cross, intimated that there is no redemption nor

saving of life but by the cross of Christ, and that this will

avail none but the real penitent. All this is true in itself, but

it is not true in respect to this place. The Hebrew words signify

literally, thou shalt make a mark, or sign a sign, but give no

intimation what that mark or sign was. It was intended here to be

what the sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb on the

lintels and door-posts of the Israelites was, namely, a notice to

the destroying angel what house he should spare. As the whole of

this matter only passed in vision we are bound to neither letter,

nor any other kind of figure. The symbolical action teaches us

that God, in general judgments, will make a distinction between

the innocent and the guilty, between the penitent and the

hardened sinner.

Verse 6. Begin at my sanctuary.] Let those who have sinned

against most mercy, and most privileges, be the first victims of

justice. Those who know their Lord's will, and do it not, shall be

beaten with many stripes. The unfaithful members of Christ's

church will be first visited and most punished. But let not those

who belong to the synagogue of Satan exult in this, for if

judgment begin at the house of God, what will the end be of them

who obey not the Gospel! However, the truly penitent of all

descriptions in such cases shall be safe. The command of God is,

"Set a mark on all them that sigh and cry;" and his command to the

destroyers is, "Come not near any man on whom is the mark."

Verse 7. Defile the house] A dreadful sentence, Let it be

polluted, I will no more dwell in it; I now utterly forsake it.

Verse 8. Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel, On thy

pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?] These destroyers had

slain the seventy elders, the twenty-five adorers of the sun, and

the women that mourned for Tammuz; and on seeing this slaughter

the prophet fell on his face, and began to make intercession.

Verse 9. For they say, The Lords hath forsaken the earth]

eth haarets, "this land." He has no more place in Israel;

he has quite abandoned it; he neither sees nor cares, and he can

be no longer the object of worship to any man in Israel. This

seems to be the meaning; and God highly resents it, because it was

bringing him on a level with idols and provincial deities, who

had, according to supposition, regency only in some one place.

Verse 10. Mine eye shall not spare] They say, the Lord seeth

not: this is false; I have seen all their iniquities, and do see

all their abominations; and I will bring deserved judgment upon

them, and then that eye which now sees will neither pity nor


Verse 11. I have done as thou hast commanded me.] Angels and men

must all give account of their conduct to God; for although he is

every where, and his eye sees all things, yet they must personally

account for all that they have done. I have done as thou hast

commanded me. The penitents are all signed; the penitents are all

safe. This is good news for them that mourn.

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