Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Sixth of the prophet’s captivity, (Calmet) in August, the year of the world 3411. (Usher) — He had rested on his left or right side, whenever he slept during 430 days, and on the following had this vision. (Worthington) — He was stationed in spirit at the northern gate leading to the court of the priests, and beheld the glory of God and the idol of jealousy. He saw the people, men and women, adoring idols, and priests worshipping the sun, chap. ix. God rests on the gate of the temple, and orders a man to sign those who were to live, and six others to destroy the rest. The prophet prays, chap. x. God orders the man clothed in linen to take coals from the cherubim, and sprinkle them through the city. The throne goes to receive the Lord, chap. xi. Ezechiel prophesies against many, at the eastern gate; and God informs him that the former captives shall return, but that the wicked at Jerusalem shall perish. His chariot then rests on the mountain to the east of the city. Thus his reasons for punishing the people become evident.
Ver. 2. Likeness. Septuagint add, “of a man,” as it had appeared [in] chap. i. 27.
Ver. 3. Lock, like Habacuc; (Daniel xiv. 35.) or by a bandage, on which parts of the law were written. (Hebrew) (Calmet) — Of jealousy; Baal, (St. Jerome) or any other idol, (Haydock) particularly Adonis, ver. 14. He fell a victim to the jealousy of Mars.
Ver. 10. About. This was the council chamber, Jeremias xxvi. 10. They durst not publicly adore the Egyptian, &c., idols. (Calmet) — They denied Providence, ver. 12. (Haydock) — The wicked do not regard it, and hence fall into idolatry. (Worthington)
Ver. 11. Jezonias. He probably was over the temple, as his father had been, 4 Kings xxii. 3. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Adonis, the favourite of Venus, slain by a wild boar, as feigned by the heathen poets, and which being here represented by an idol, is lamented by the female worshippers of that goddess. In Hebrew the name is Tammuz, (Challoner) which means “concealed,” as Adonis signifies “my lord.” This idol, which the Egyptians called Osiris, was placed in a coffin, and bewailed till it was pretended he was come to life, when rejoicings took place. Obscene pictures were carried about; and the more honest pagans were ashamed of these practices, which began in Egypt, and became almost general. Moses alludes to them, Leviticus xix. 27., and Deuteronomy xiv. 1. (Calmet) — David and Solomon say that the image was made of brass, with eyes of lead, which seemed to weep, melting when it was hot. (Worthington) — But this is destitute of proof.
Ver. 16. Men. Twelve priests and as many Levites officiated daily. The high priest made the twenty-fifth, 1 Paralipomenon xxiv. — Sun. They prayed to God, turning their faces to the west: but here they despised him, and adored the sun, Job xxxi. 26. (Calmet) — This posture was common. Illi ad surgentem conversi lumina solum. (Virgil, Æneid xii.) (Serv.) — Christians did the like, though the reason is not ascertained. (Calmet) — It might be because Christ is the orient, and not to resemble the Jews. There was no danger of their being taken for idolaters. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Nose, to hide their faces respectfully, (Calmet) when they look at the sun rising. (Haydock) — A thyrsus was used in honour of Bacchus, who is often confounded with the sun. Various improbable versions of this text are given. It may signify Hebrew, “they threw their instruments down before their faces,” like the twenty-four elders, Apocalypse v. 8. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet sees, in a vision, the abominations committed in Jerusalem, which determine the Lord to spare them no longer.
1 And *it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the ancients of Juda sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
2 And I saw, and behold a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins, and downward, fire: and from his loins, and upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the appearance of amber.
3 *And the likeness of a hand was put forth, and took me by a lock of my head: and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the vision of God into Jerusalem, near the inner gate, that looked towards the north, where was set the idol of jealousy to provoke to jealousy.
4 And behold the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision which I had seen in the plain.
5 And he said to me: Son of man, lift up thy eyes towards the way of the north. And I lifted up my eyes towards the way of the north: and behold on the north side of the gate of the altar the idol of jealousy in the very entry.
6 And he said to me: Son of man, dost thou see, thinkest thou, what these are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should depart far off from my sanctuary? and turn thee yet again and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7 And he brought me in to the door of the court: and I saw, and behold a hole in the wall.
8 And he said to me: Son of man, dig in the wall. And when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said to me: Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they commit here.
10 And I went in and saw, and behold every form of creeping things, and of living creatures, the abomination, and all the idols of the house of Israel were painted on the wall all round about.
11 And seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and Jezonias, the son of Saphan, stood in the midst of them, that stood before the pictures: and every one had a censer in his hand: and a cloud of smoke went up from the incense.
12 And he said to me: Surely thou seest, O son of man, what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every one in private in his chamber: for they say: The Lord seeth us not, the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
13 And he said to me: If thou turn thee again, thou shalt see greater abominations which these commit.
14 And he brought me in by the door of the gate of the Lord’s house, which looked to the north: and behold women sat there mourning for Adonis.
15 And he said to me: Surely thou hast seen, O son of man: but turn thee again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord: and behold at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, having their backs towards the temple of the Lord, and their faces to the east: and they adored towards the rising of the sun.
17 And he said to me: Surely thou hast seen, O son of man: Is this a light thing to the house of Juda, that they should commit these abominations which they have committed here: because they have filled the land with iniquity, and have turned to provoke me to anger? and behold they put a branch to their nose.
18 Therefore I also will deal with them in my wrath: my eye shall not spare them, neither will I shew mercy: and when they shall cry to my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.
1: Year of the World 3410.
3: Daniel xiv. 35.