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Ezekiel 11:1 Moreover the Spirit lifted me up- As the cherubim lifted up at the end of Ez. 10, so did Ezekiel. He as a mere tiny man was part of this amazing vision of Heavenly glory and activity. Just as we can be.

And brought me to the east gate of Yahweh’s house which looks eastward- From here the cherubim of glory departed, and to here the glory would return (Ez. 43:4) if Israel returned repentant from captivity and rebuilt the temple.

At the door of the gate were twenty-five men- The same 25 sun worshippers of Ez. 8:16. The glory of the east gate is emphasized in the visions of the restored temple (Ez. 40:6,22,23 etc., in all a total of 12 references to it in Ez. 40-48). The idea was that in the restored temple, this kind of desecration was not to occur.

And I saw in their midst Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people- There is an irony in the meaning of these names. Jaazaniah ("God hearkens") the son of Azzur ("The Helper"), Pelatiah ("God rescues") the son of Benaiah ("God builds"). Azzur was the father of the false prophet Hananiah (Jer. 28:1). God was willing and eager to hear and save His people and to help them rebuild the temple. But instead they advised the people to build their own houses (:3) because the promised destruction would not come.

Ezekiel 11:2 He said to me, Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked advice in this city- They were teaching directly against Ezekiel's prophecies (:3). But this began with 'devising iniquity', and the phrase is only elsewhere used of devising iniquity privately "on your beds" (Ps. 36:4; Mic. 2:1). Typical of the prophets, the root of false teaching and sin is seen as the human heart.

Ezekiel 11:3 Who say, The time is not near to build houses- The idea may be that destruction would not come, so they should instead focus upon their own houses. But the Hebrew can also mean 'Not at hand is the building of houses'. This would then be an allusion to Jeremiah's recent letter to the captives in Babylon where he had urged them to build houses because a return from captivity was not going to happen soon, contrary to the message of the false prophets (Jer. 29:5).

 This is the cauldron, and we are the meat- This would have been a sneering at Jeremiah's prophecy that Jerusalem would be boiled in the fire of Babylonian judgment- Jer. 1:13 "I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north". Their idea was that the holy city was as a cauldron which would defend them from the fire of judgment. But this is deconstructed by Ezekiel in Ez. 24:3. The cauldron would refuse to respond to the purging of the fire and they would all in fact be destroyed. Their concept of sacred space would not save them. And in reality, the walls of Jerusalem were so weak they could be dug through by hand; seeon Ez. 12:7.

Ezekiel 11:4 Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, son of man- As noted on :13, Ezekiel seems to have needed encouragement in his ministry as he may not have perceived the depth of Israel's sin.

Ezekiel 11:5 The Spirit of Yahweh fell on me- As if to say that this was a very heavy level of inspiration, God really wanted to say this.

And He said to me, Speak, Thus says Yahweh: ‘Thus you have said, house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind- The words of Israel are paralleled with their inner thoughts. The Lord emphasizes this in His teaching too. God knew, and knows, the inner thoughts and mental words of every person, especially those of His people.

Ezekiel 11:6 You have multiplied your slain in this city, and you have filled its streets with the slain- The slain bodies of those to be killed by the Babylonians were their fault; they had slain them. But as noted on :5, the prophets have the same attitude to human behaviour as the Lord later did. To hate your brother and abuse him was to murder him. The slain bodies were what they had in essence already done. But the same language is used of what was to happen to Babylon (Jer. 51:4). What Babylon did to Judah was to be done to them, and that is the reason for the structure of the book of Revelation. The seals describe what is to be done to Israel in the last days, and the vials what is to then be done in return to her abusers.

Ezekiel 11:7 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Your slain whom you have laid in its midst, they are indeed the meat, and this is the cauldron; but you shall be brought out of its midst- Again the blame for the deaths is placed upon the Jews themselves. The cauldron of Jerusalem was not going to save them, God was going to end all concept of sacred space, and instead dwell in the hearts of repentant people. "You shall be brought out..." is amazing grace. A remnant would be preserved in order to give them the chance of repentance.

Ezekiel 11:8 You have feared the sword; and I will bring the sword on you, says the Lord Yahweh- Part of Divine judgment is to bring upon men their worst fears. And He did so with Job, not because he had sinned, but to teach him further (Job 3:25). Job is indeed set up as a representative of Judah at this time, but he personally hadn't sinned. This isn't God being cruel; it is to force us to psychologically discard all clever plans to somehow thwart the worst, all insurance policies are voided by God. In order to bring us to totally cast ourselves upon His grace.

Ezekiel 11:9 I will bring you out of its midst- They had reasoned that Jerusalem would be the cauldron which would protect them from the fire of Babylonian judgment. But they were to be brought out from that apparent position of safety.


And deliver you into the hands of foreigners, and will execute judgments among you- "Deliver you" also carries the hint of salvation. It was a deliverance to the sword in many cases, but also with the hint of fuller deliverance, at least nationally, and also individually if they would heed the message of Jeremiah and Ezekiel and repent. 

Ezekiel 11:10 You shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and you shall know that I am Yahweh- Perhaps God had in view some kind of extermination camp on the border between Israel and Babylon. It was at Riblah in Hamath, on the border, where the King of Babylon executed judgment on Zedekiah, his sons, and the chief officers and priests, and 60 men of the city (Jer. 52:9-11, 24-27; and 2 Kings 25:19-21 cp. 1 Kings 8:65, where "the entering in of Hamath" implies Hamath, where Riblah was situated, was the entering or border of the land). But note that Ezekiel defines the border of Israel as including Damascus (Ez. 47:18). Mal. 1:5 says that Yahweh would be glorified at "the border of Israel". Perhaps in their final moments they repented and glorified God; they 'knew that I am Yahweh' (:12). Or maybe the idea is that the condemnation of the wicked was still a glorification of Yahweh.

Ezekiel 11:11 This shall not be your cauldron, neither shall you be the meat in its midst; I will judge you in the border of Israel- See on :10 and :3. The city of Jerusalem and the temple "in its midst" was not going to be the cauldron which would preserve them from the fire of Babylonian judgment.

Ezekiel 11:12 And you shall know that I am Yahweh- The idea may not have to be that they personally would know Yahweh through the condemnation process (see on :10). "Yahweh is known by the judgments He executes" (Ps. 9:16). The 'making known' would therefore have been through advertisement to the world of His ways and essential character.


For you have not walked in My statutes, neither have you executed My ordinances, but have behaved like the nations that are around you’- They had specifically disobeyed Dt. 12:30,31. God saw the tendency to be like those around us and warned them specifically against it.

Ezekiel 11:13 It happened, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord Yahweh! will you make a full end of those remaining of Israel?- Ezekiel seems shocked at the severity of God's judgments, just as the disciples still felt that the Pharisees were more righteous than they were. Ezekiel's falling on his face was in intercession for Israel, and as explained on Ez. 9:8, it seems that God did respond. "Pelatiah" means either 'God's remnant' or 'Whom Yah delivers'. Ezekiel therefore saw in his death the destruction of the remnant which he had assumed God would preserve. But the remnant were not going to be righteous. We too can assume that there is more spirituality in the community we know than there actually is.

Ezekiel 11:14 The word of Yahweh came to me saying- Ezekiel's overly high impression of Pelatiah (:13) was now going to be further challenged by news that there was far more unspirituality in his people than he had assumed.

Ezekiel 11:15 Son of man, the people who live in Jerusalem are talking about you and those of your nation who are with you in exile. They say, The exiles are too far away to worship Yahweh. He has given us possession of the land- The poor masses left in the land had to pay taxes and render service to the new administration (Lam. 5:12-14), typical of Babylonian policy in conquered lands; see on Ez. 5:10. The land taken from the exiled ruling classes was then redistributed to the rural poor who remained in the subjected states. This policy has been described as giving the land of the previously wealthy to "the sub-proletariat of the city and the country" (A. J. Soggin, A History of Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984) p. 252). This is what was done by the Babylonians in Judah (Jer. 39:10; 2 Kings 25:12; Jer.  52:16 cp. Ez. 33:21-27). These poor peasant farmer masses, who were likely 90% of the population, were rejoicing at their new prosperity [relative to what they had before] and considered that God had justified them against their abusive masters, whom the Babylonians had stripped of their land and taken into captivity. The Babylonian policy regarding deportation and management of conquered lands is described in N.P. Lemche, Ancient Israel: A New History of Israelite Society (Sheffield: JSOT, 1988) and D.L. Smith, The Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile (Bloomington, IN: Meyer Stone, 1989). So those who remained were arrogantly assuming that those formerly wealthy Jews in captivity could not acceptably worship Yahweh outside of the land, but they could; and they were claiming that God "has given us possession of the land". They didn't want the wealthy exiles to return and reclaim the land. But in fact it was through the repentance of the humbled wealthy and powerful that God intended to rebuild His Kingdom; and that may be a lesson for many today.

Ezekiel 11:16 Therefore say, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Whereas I have removed them far off among the nations, and whereas I have scattered them among the countries- Judah had removed their heart far from God (s.w. Is. 29:13; Jer. 2:5). Their scattering far off was but a reflection of what they in their hearts had chosen. And this is what condemnation will be- giving people that which is where their heart really is. See on :21.


Yet will I be to them a sanctuary for a little while in the countries where they have come- God promised to "be to them [the Jews in captivity] a sanctuary for a little while in the countries [the 127 provinces of Babylon] where they are come". His intention was that they should be there, preserved by Him even in their punishment, for the "little while" of 70 years. Then they would return, and their sanctuary there in exile would become the new sanctuary which would come to the restored Zion (Ez. 37:26,28). And yet they preferred to remain there in Babylon. As noted on Ez. 1:1, Ezekiel was the priest of this "little sanctuary" in exile, a sanctuary that didn't require a temple. This was God's answer to the sneering of those who remained in the land that outside of the land, the exiles couldn't worship Yahweh as well as they could (:15). As explained on :15 and Ez. 5:10, it was the rich leadership who were taken into exile. It may seem that God has no place much for the wealthier parts of society. But His plan was to humble those wealthy exiles, having stripped them of their land and dignity, and to use them as the basis for a returned, repentant Israel who would rebuild the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 11:17 Therefore say, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel- Consider the use of the word pus, 'scatter'. It was God's intention that mankind should scatter abroad in the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28); but it required the judgment of the tower of Babel to actually make them 'scatter' (Gen. 11:4). Thus even in judgment, God worked out His positive ultimate intentions with humanity. And this word pus is the same word used with reference to Judah's 'scattering' from the land into Babylonian captivity (Ez. 20:34,41; 28:25). The intention, surely, was to show the captives that they had been scattered as the people had at the judgment of Babel / Babylon, but even in this, God was working out His purpose with His people and giving them the opportunity to fulfil His original intentions for them.

Ezekiel 11:18 They shall return, and they shall take away all the detestable things of it and all its abominations- The exiles returned, but as Zechariah 5 and Malachi make clear, they continued in idolatry. Jer. 41:5 suggests that there was still some kind of sanctuary operating on the site of the temple even during the exile; but this too became full of idolatry which the returned exiles would need to purge.

Ezekiel 11:19 I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh- Israel were to return from captivity, destroy all the Gentile abominations and idols from their land, and then receive a new heart and a new covenant (Ezekiel 36 develops this more). Sitting there in captivity, God offered His people a new covenant (Ez. 11:19,20,25 cp. Heb. 10:16); they could have one mind between each other, and a heart of flesh. But Israel would not, and it was only accepted by those who turned to Jesus Christ. Their being of “one heart” after baptism (Acts 4:32) was a direct result of their acceptance of this same new covenant which Judah had rejected. In the hearing of offer of the new covenant, we are essentially in the position of those of the captivity, hearing Ezekiel’s words, and deciding whether or not to remain in cushy Babylon, or make a painful and humanly uncertain aliyah to Zion.  

The promise here is that of the new covenant, to be repeated in Ez. 20 and Jer. 31. We now are in that covenant, and it has promise of psychological transformation, a new spirit, a new worldview; a heart of flesh, open and soft toward God rather than hardened towards spiritual things. If we are intended to achieve spirituality solely by Bible reading and study, then there would be no place for such promises of a new heart and spirit.

Ezekiel 11:20 That they may walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God- The new spirit given in the new covenant of :19 involved an inclination and proclivity towards obedience to God's ways. God doesn't simply leave man with His laws and waits for our obedience. He is eager to grant a spirit which desires to be obedient. This is why repentance as well as forgiveness is a gift of the Spirit (Acts 3:25,26; 11:18).

Ezekiel 11:21 But as for those whose heart walks after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their way on their own heads, says the Lord Yahweh- As noted on :16, Divine condemnation is a giving people that which is where their heart really is. The walk of their heart is here paralleled with their 'way' in practical life. We walk as our heart walks. Thee is a huge emphasis in the prophets upon being spiritually minded, and the parallel between thoughts and words / actions.

Ezekiel 11:22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, and the wheels were beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above- As the cherubim lifted up their wings, so Ezekiel was lifted up (:24); he was at one with the huge, awesome system of Divine working, as Israel could also have been.

Ezekiel 11:23 The glory of Yahweh went up from the midst of the city, and stood on the mountain which is on the east side of the city- The mount of Olives, from where the glory was intended to return to the city in Ez. 43:2. It never did, but it will do when the Lord Jesus returns to that mount (Acts 1:9-11) and it cleaves in half as Zech. 14:4 envisages.

Ezekiel 11:24 The Spirit lifted me up, and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me- Note how when the cherubim lifted up, so was Ezekiel lifted up (:22). Judah should have left Jerusalem when the Spirit told them to; and they should have upped and left Babylon when the Spirit told them to. But they were out of step with the Spirit, despite Ezekiel’s acted parable of literally being lifted up and going where the Cherubim went. The equivalent of this for us is surely our sense of doing all for God’s glory, of having this as the final deciding factor in all our decisions.  See on Ez. 1:1,20; 10:8. We note in this context that it was an Angel who described to Ezekiel the nature of the temple which the exiles were intended to build; and we even read in Ezekiel 40:14 that “He made…” [e.g. the posts of the temple]. The Angels had potentially built that temple; it was for Israel to build according to the pattern of it.

Ezekiel 11:25 Then I repeated to those of the captivity all the things that Yahweh had shown me- Probably Ezekiel was still under house arrest amongst the captives. He was imploring them to repent and see the possibilities there were for them. It would have required a lot of humility to release him and respond.