King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ezekiel 20

The elders of Israel are reminded of the idolatry in Egypt. (1-9) In the wilderness. (10-26) In Canaan. (27-32) God promises to pardon and restore them. (33-44) Prophecy against Jerusalem. (45-49)

Ezekiel 20 Audio:

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The elders of Israel are reminded of the idolatry in Egypt

1 And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.

2 Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,

3 Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye come to enquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

4 Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:

5 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God;

6 In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands:

7 Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

8 But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.

9 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.

In the wilderness

10 Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.

11 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.

12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.

14 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.

15 Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands;

16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.

17 Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.

18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:

19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them;

20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.

21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.

22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.

23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;

24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.

25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;

26 And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD.

In Canaan

27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.

28 For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.

29 Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name whereof is called Bamah unto this day.

30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?

31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

32 And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.

God promises to pardon and restore them

33 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:

34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.

35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.

36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.

37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:

38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.

40 For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.

41 I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.

42 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.

43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.

44 And ye shall know that I am the LORD when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

Prophecy against Jerusalem

45 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

46 Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;

47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

48 And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.

49 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Month: A. 3411, Aug. 27. Usher. — Ezechiel had prophesied in the fourth year; they was silent a year and two months, or 430 days. He opened his mouth again in the sixth year, (C. viii. 1.) and now in the seventh year he is ordered not to answer. W. — We know not what the ancients wanted to know; but their design was evil. C.

Ver. 4. Judgest them; or, if thou wilt enter into the cause, and plead against them. Ch. — Lay before them the iniquities of their fathers, and their own, which bring on the reprobation of the greatest part. God will form his Church out of a few of them and of the Gentiles. The return of a small number from captivity is also insinuated.

Ver. 6. Excelleth. Heb. “is beauty or a desire.” Sept. “honeycomb.” C.

Ver. 7. Scandals, &c. (offensiones) that is, the abominations or idols, to the worship of which they were allured by their eyes. Ch. — Moses found them in this condition in Egypt, and he could not entirely reclaim them. C. — Many still secreted their idols. C. xxiii. 1. Acts vii. 42. H.

Ver. 8. Egypt. Their disorders called for such severity. But God was restrained by the dangers (C.) of blasphemy, &c. to which the faithful and idolaters would thus have been exposed. H. — He saved them as he had promised, though they did not deserve it. W.

Ver. 10. Brought. Lit. “cast,” (H.) as if they had been reluctant.

Ver. 11. Live, and enjoy temporal felicity, which was chief promised, though the faithful observers of the law would obtain an eternal reward.

Ver. 12. Sign, as also to promote piety and instruction.

Ver. 13. Sabbaths. We only read of one man gathering sticks, and the people manna once on those days. Ex. xv. and xvi. But Moses does not mention all. C. — Sabbath often denotes the whole law, which they transgressed; and as long as they retained an affection for idols, they could not observe the sabbaths so as to please God.

Ver. 14. But. Lit. “And I did for,” &c. This motive caused me to spare them. H. — I punished only the most guilty adorers of the calf, and murmurers, &c. Num. xiv. 28. C. — Some were always preserved for a succession. v. 9, 22. W.

Ver. 23. Again, or also. H. — Four times are specified v. 13, 15, 21. which may allude to the adoration of the calf, the graves of concupiscence, the murmuring, and commerce with the women and idols of Moab. Ex. xxiii. Num. x. and xiv. and xxv. C.

Ver. 25. Not good. The laws and ordinances of their enemies: or those imposed upon them by that cruel tyrant the devil, to whose power they were delivered up for their sins; (Ch.) which may be styled the statutes of your fathers, &c. v. 18. H. — God is often said to do what he only permits. C. — He abandoned them to their own perversity. S. Jer. Deut. xxxii. 21. 37. — If God had spoken of the Decalogue, &c. would he say such laws were not good, after he had testified that the observers shall live in them? v. 11. He established the ceremonial law, at the same time. See Kimchi. M. &c. Chal. “I have given them up to their foolish desires. They have established bad statutes and laws which will not give them life.” This seems the best explanation. C. — Heb. “Have I given…(26) and have I polluted them?” &c. Manasse Ben. Israel. The precepts had also a bad effect, and were given in condescension to the weakness of the people, (Orig.) particularly the ceremonial part. S. Just. S. Chrys. S. Jer. &c. — They did not justify, (S. Aug.) and were not good, compared with those of the new law. S. Greg. mor. xxviii. 9. — Thus Solon gave the Athenians “the best laws that they would receive,” (Plut.) though others more perfect might have been devised. C.

Ver. 26. I polluted them, &c. That is, I gave them up to such blindness, in punishment of their offences, as to pollute themselves with the blood of all their first-born, whom they offered up to their idols in compliance with their wicked devices. Ch. M. Lev. xviii. 21. and 4 Kin. iii. ultr. and xxi. 6. C. — Offered. Prot. “caused to pass through the fire all,” &c. C. xvi. 21. — For their. Prot. “that I might make them desolate to the end, that,” &c.

Ver. 29. Called high. Heb. “Bamah,” (H.) out of contempt. C. — The Jews were so much attached to the high places, that they called the altar of the Lord by the same name. Thus heretics are convicted by the very names they use, calling sacrifice service, &c. W.

Ver. 32. Stones. This was the secret intention of the ancients, (v. 1. H.) and of many in captivity, who were only praise-worthy compared with those at Jerusalem. C. xi. 15.

Ver. 33. Out. I will not allow you to follow idols with impunity. C.

Ver. 35. Of people. That is, a desert, in which there are no people; (Ch.) meaning Judea, to which they should return.

Ver. 37. Covenant of the gospel, by the powerful attractions of grace. Lu. xiv. 24. Jo. vi. 69. and vii. 46. and 2 Cor. x. 4.

Ver. 38. Israel. They shall continue in exile; or the rebel Jews who will not believe in Christ, shall be cast off. C.

Ver. 39. Walk, &c. It is not an allowance, much less a commandment to serve idols; but a figure of speech, by which God would have them to understand, that if they would walk after their idols, they must not pretend to serve him at the same time: for that he would by no means suffer such a mixture of worship. Ch. S. Jer. — Continue, if you dare, to serve idols. I will still bring you back. C. — Sept. “take away each your devices; and then if you hear me, (Grabe’s copy adds, not) and defile not my,” &c. H. — God would rather have idolaters leave him wholly, than halt between two, (3 K. xviii.) neither hot nor cold; (Apoc. iii.) for such dishonour God’s name the most. Rom. ii. 24. W.

Ver. 40. Mountain. The foregoing verse, to make the sense complete, must be understood so as to condemn and reject that mixture of worship which the Jews then followed. In this verse God promises to the true Israelites, especially to those of the Christian Church, that they should serve him in another manner in his holy mountain, the spiritual Sion, and shall be accepted of by him. Ch.

Ver. 43. Committed. This is a picture of the converts to Christianity. C.

Ver. 46. Of the south. Jerusalem lay towards the south of Babylon, where the prophet then was, and is here called the forest of the south field, and is threatened with utter desolation. Ch. See C. xxi. C. — In Jerusalem there were good and bad. W.

Ver. 47. Burned, with war and famine. Jer. xxi. 14. C. — North, from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Theod. — Nabuchodonosor invaded those parts. H.

Ver. 49. Parables. They were easy enough to understand, but the Jews would not comprehend them no more than our Saviour’s words. Jo. x. 24. C.