William Lowth.

A commentary upon the prophet Ezekiel online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryWilliam LowthA commentary upon the prophet Ezekiel → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



f ■■■■■1 ^



~ A


Upon the

Prophet EZEKIEL.

By William Lowth, B. D.

Prebendary of WINCH ESTER.


L N Z> N:

Printed for W. Mears at the Lamb without
TcmflfBar. j MDCCXXIII.


Moft Reverend Father in G O D,


By Divine Providence

Lord -Archbishop



Primate of All England, and
Metropolitan ; and One of his
Majesty's moft Honourable
Privy Council.

May it pleafeyour Grace,

[|N purfuance of my De-
fign to Explain the
Prophetical Writings,
I humbly offer to your
Grace the following Conimen-
A 2 tary



tary upon the Prophet JEzekiel;
the Depth of whofe Thoughts
and Expreffions might juftly de-
ter me from undertaking a Work
of fo much Difficulty : But beg-
ging your Grace's and my Rea-
der's Pardon if I have been guilty
of leffer Miftakes, Ihope at leaft
that I have avoided committing
any dangerous Errors, by carefully
following thofe Directions, which
the Text itfelf, and the Labours
of feveral judicious Commenta-
tors upon it, have fuggefted to
me ; having had likewife the Af-
fiftance of fome very Learned
Friends, who have been pleafed
to communicate their Thoughts
to me upon the moll difficult

Paflages of it.



The moft remarkable Difficul-
ties of this Prophecy relate to the
Defcription of the Temple, repre-
fented to the Prophet in an Hea-
venly Vilion. By the general Con-
fent of Interpreters, this Vilion
in its Myftical Senfe, fets forth
a Model or Pattern of the Catho-
lick Church ofChrift, viewed in its
State of Perfection ; of its Large-
nefs and Extent, its Strength and
Compa6tnefs, its Beauty and Or-
der, and all thofe other Qualifi-
cations which are proper to Edi-
fy and Adorn this Spiritual Houfe
of the Living God, the Pillar and
Bafis of Truth.

Our Church, in Conformity
with that of the Firft and Pureft



Ages, hath always been careful to
maintain thofe Principles of Gz-
tholick Unity and Charity \ which,
if they w r ere generally embraced
and received, would render the
Chriftian Church like that Je~
rufalem which was a Figure of it,
a City at Unity in it/elf. And lince
it hath pleafed the Divine Pro-
vidence to appoint your Grace
as a wife Mafter-Builder to pre-
iide over it, we may hope that
under his MAJESTY'S moft
Gracious Protection \ and your
Grace's Aufpicious Conduct, it
may receive New Acceflions of
Strength and Edification, and ac-
cording to the obliging Words of
the late R O Y A L Promife, be not
only in a Safe, but like wife in a
Flourifhing Condition.



That becoming Zeal which
your Grace expreffed againft
thofe dangerous Opinions which e-
very where fpread and abound, in
your excellent Speech at the Open-
ing of the Convocation^ as it gave
great Satisfaction to all thofe who
had the Honour to hear it ; fo it
may juftly be looked upon as a
certain Indication of your con-
tinual Care and Concern for the
Advancement of true Piety and
Religion among us.

That GOD who hath advan-
ced your Grace to this high Sta-
tion, may long continue you in
it, and may profper all your pious
Defigns for the promoting his
Glory , and the Good of his Church,



as it is the united Prayer of that
Great Body of the Clergy
placed under your Grace's Ju-
rifdi6tion ? fo it is of none more
earneftly than of Him who begs
Leave to fubfcribe himfelf,


Tour G r a c e \r

Mojl Dutiful and
Obedient Servant,

William Lowth.





Z E K I E L was a Trophet of the
c Prieflly Order, carried away into Ba-
bylon with federal other Jews in]z-
hoiachin.r Captivity, and therefore
dates his Prophecies by the Tears of
that Captivity. Clemens Alexandrinus tells us,
fome thought him contemporary with Pythagoras,
and that they had converfed together in Babylon,
Strom, lib. i. n. 15. This Opinion he rejecJs as
inconfiftent with the Age of Pythagoras, whom he
fuppofes to have flourished about the 6 2d Olym-
piad, ibid. n. 21. which was near 60 Tears after
Ezckiel was carried into Babylon. The late learn-
ed Bishop of Worcefter, in his Chronological Ac-

a count

The P R E F A C E.

count of Pythagoras % Life, fuppofes him born a-
bont nine Tears after EzekicrV corning to Babylon,
and that Pythagoras himfelf came to Babylon at
eighteen Tears of Age -, but there is no Proof that
ever he comer fed with Ezekiel. Though it ap-
pears by the Teftimony tf/Hcrmippus, in Jofcphus,
jib. i. cont. Appion. n. 22. that he had Conver-
f at ion withfo?ne]zv/s ; and learned Men have ob-
ferved, that there is great Refemblance between
fever al of his Symbols, and fome of the precepts
of the J ewifh Law.

But whatever became of Pythagoras, the Ac-
counts of whofe Life are very uncertain : It is
certain that Ezckiel, being at Babylon, directed
many of his Prophecies to his Fellow Exiles there,
whoj as St. Jerom obferves in his Preface to Eze-
kiel, repined at their Ill-Fortune, and thought
their Countrymen, who remained in Judea, in a
?nuch better Condition than themj elves. The 'Pro-
phet with Regard to thofe Circumftances fets be-
fore their Eyes that terrible Scene of Calamities
which God would bring upon Judea and Jem fa-
lem, which fhould end in the utter T^eftrutlion of
the City and Temple. He recounts the heinous Pro-
vocations of the Jews, which brought down thefe
heavy Judgments upon them, in ftrong and live-
ly Colours ; his Stile exactly anfwering the Cha-


racier the Greek Rhetoricians give of that Tart
of Oratory they call Aelvwais, which Qiiintilian
defines to be Oratio quse rebus afperis, indignis &
invidiofo vim addit, lib. vi. cap. 3 . its Troperty
being to aggravate Things in them/elves monftrous
and odious, and reprefent them with great Force
and Efficacy of Expreffion. For the fame Reafon
Rapin, in his Treatife of Eloquence, calls Eze-
kicl's Style Je Terrible, as having fomething in it
that fir ikes the Reader with an Holy Thread and
Aft oni foment. j^

Jofephus lib. x. Antiq. cap. 6. divides this Tro-
phecy into two Books ; but it is generally fuppo fed >
that he took that Tart of the Trophecy which
contains a ^Defcription of the Temple, beginning
at the XLth Chapter, for a diftint~l Book from
the reft, as treating altogether of a different Sub"

St. Jerom hath more than once obferved } ( a )
that the Beginning and latter Tart of this Tro-
phecy is more than ordinary difficult and obfeure,
and may juftly be reckoned among the AwrvoWTa,
or Things in Scripture which are Hard to be un-
derftood. To contribute what I could to the clear-

(a) Pratfat. in Ezek. & in Prolog. Galeato,


xii The P R E F A C E.

big of thefe 'Difficulties, I have took the Liberty
of transferring into the following Commentary
whatever I thought ufeful for that Turpofe in the
elaborate Work of Villalpandus, a Book which is
in very few Hands ; and in the later Obferva-
tions of Bcrnardus L'Amy, in his learned Book
de Tabernaculo Foederis.

But I muft not conceal the kind AJfiftance I
have received upon this and former Occafions,
from that Great Majler of 'Divine and Human
Learning, the Right Reverend Father in GOD;
E T> IV A R T), Lord Bifhop of Coventry and
Lichfield ; and I gladly embrace the Opportu-
nity of making my grateful Acknowledgments to
his Lordship in this Tublick Manner, for his-
many and conflant Favours.

A Com-

( • )




Prophecy of EZEKIEL



The firfi Chapter contains a Defcription of God's
Appearing in a Glorious manner to Ezekiel, in .
order to the giving him a Commijjion to execute
the Prophetical Office.

Ver. ic ffiSSSl O ^ ** came t0 P a f s ~] The ^ e - Verfe r.
brew Text reads, And it came
to pafs, but it is ufual in that
Language to begin a Difcourfe

or Book with the Particle Vauox and\ Seejotiab

B Lit

z ^Commentary

Chapter i. i. and the beginning of molt of the Hiflorical
J. Books of the Old Teftament ^ which Particle is ve-
V>^V>w/ ry properly tranflated in thofe places, Sow it
came to pafs : So that there is no ground for the
Fancy of Spinoza, who would conclude from
hence that this Book of E&ekiel is but a Fragment
of a larger Book, and contained feveral Prophecies,
now loft, which were in order of time before thofe
fet down in thefe and the following Chapters.

Ibid. In the Thirtieth Tear"] It is a great Queftion
from whence this Computation of Time commences
The molt probable Anfwers are ^ firlt that of Scalu
per, who fuppofes this Thirtieth Year to be meant
of the Years of Nabupola/fars Reign : who, as he
tells us from Berofus, quoted by Jofephus, l.i. Contr,
App, reigned 29 Years compleat : So the Thirti-
eth Year, here mentioned, was the lad Year of his
Reign and Life: And is likewifethe 13th Year cur-
rent of his Son Nabuchadne&zars Reign, who
reigned fo many Years together with his Father.
See Scaligers Canon I/agog. p. 281. 294. his Pro-
legom, ad Lib, de emend, Temporum j and his Notes
on the Greek Fragments, at the end of thofe Books.

But there is one confiderable Objeclion againft
this Opinion of Scaliger, that according to Berofus's
Account, as his words are quoted in another place
of Jofephus, Antiq, 1. x. c. ii. Nabupolaffar reigned
only 21 Years, the Greek Text reading by a little
Variation, tutcai i? for luyoi twice. Which is the fame
number of Years affigned to Nabupolaffar in the
uEra Nabonaffari, and agrees better with Berofus's
own ftory, viz, that when he had committed the
command of the Army to his Son, and fent him on


upon E Z EKIEL ^

an Expedition to Syria and Phoenicia, he died in a Chapter
Ihort time after. . j #

Villalpandus in like manner makes this Computa-
tion to commence from the beginning of Nabupo-
laffars Reign : See his Commentary upon Ezek. xl.
i. He allows 19 Years for his Reign diftin&from
that of his Son, and fuppofes Nebuchadnezzar to
reign two Years with his Father ^ which indeed a-
grees with the Scripture Computation. See the
Note on Jer. xxv. 1. But according to that very
Account, the 5th Year of Jehoiakhis Captivity will
be coincident with the 13th Year of Nebuchad?iez-
zars Reign. For the 19th Year of the fame Reign
is affigned for the Deftru&ion of Jerufalem^ Jer.
lii. 12. which was about fix Years afterwards. So
this Computation will make Jehoiakinis Captivity
to have happened not in the 30th, but in the 32d.
Year, reckoning fromthe beginning of Nabu/o-
lajfar's Reign.

A more probable Anfwer to this difficulty is
that which the Chaldee Paraphrajl, Arch-Bifhop
Ufber A. M. 3409. Dr. VrideauxzA an. A. C. 594.
and other Learned Men follow, viz, that thefe
Thirty Years are to be reckoned from the time
when Jofiah and all the People of Judah entred
into that folemn Covenant mentioned^ 2 Kings xxii.
3. which was in the 18th Year of Jofiah, Ibid,
from which time the fame Learned Writers com-
pute the 40 Years of Judah's Tranfgrellion, men-
tioned Chap. iv. 6.

Ibid. As I was among the Captives by the River
Chebai] Thofe which were carried away with Je-
hoiakin, King of Judah ^ fee the next Verfe. Thefe
were placed in Towns or Villages that lay upon
the River Chebar in Mefopctamia^ called by Ptolemy
B 2 and

4- ^Commentary

Chapter and Strabo 7 Chaboras or Aboras y and by Pliny Lib.

I. I. c. xxvi. Cobaris.
o**v>0 Ver. 2. Which was in the Fifth Tear of Jehoia-
Verfe 2, £zVs Captivity] This was coincident with the Thir-
teenth Year of Nebuchadnezzar's Reign : For Je-
hoiakin was carried Captive in the Eighth Year of
his Reign :, fee 2 Kings xxiv. 12. the Hebrew Wri-
ters ufe feveral Computations of the beginning of the
Babylonifl Captivity: fee the Note upon J-erem. xxv.
1 1 .That under Jehoiakin^ wherein Ezekiel was made
a Captive, is the Computation he always follows in
the fucceeding parts of his Prophecy - ? fee Chap.
viii. 1.. xx. f. xxix 1, 17. xxxi. 1. xxxiii. 1. xl. 1.
Verfe 3. Ver. 3. The word of the Lord came exprejly
cxc] The word of the Lord fignifies any fort of
Revelation, whether by Vifion, fuch as is related
in the following Verfes, or by a Voice, as Chap.
ii. 3.

Ibid. And the hand of the Lord was there up-
on him~\ He feltfenfible Impreflions of God's pow-
er and Spirit. Compare Chap. iii. 14, 22. viii. 1.
xxviii. 1. xl. 1. i Kings xviii. 46.2 Kings iii. 15.
Verfe 4. Ver. 4. And I looked, and behold a Whirlwind
came out of the North] God's Anger and Judgments
are often compared to a Whirlwind ^ fee If a. xx ; . j.
Jerem. xxiii. 19. xxv. 32. Pfal. Iviii. 9. it isdefcri-
bed here as coming out of the North, becaufe of the
Northerly Situation of Babylon with refpect toju-
dea. Compare Jer. i. 13. iv. 6. vi. 1. and Chap.
xliii. 3. of this Prophecy.

Ibid. A great Cloud, and a Fire infoldi?ig itfelf
and a brightnefs was about it] The divine Pre fence
is ufually defcribed in Scripture, as a bright Light
or flaming Fire breaking out of a thick Cloud j fee


upon EZ BK I E L.

Pfah xviii. 2. 1. 3. xcviii. 2, 3. God alfo is defcribed Chapter
as & con fuming Fire, when he comes to execute his I.
judgment upon Sinners, Deut. iv. 24. Compare
ver. 13. of this C/?#/>, Fire infolding it felf, is the
fame as appearing in folds, like one wreath within

Ibid. And out of the midft thereof as the colour
of Amber] Compare Chap. viii. 2. Fire rekmbles the
colour of Amber, efpecially the lower Parts of it :
So in that Vifion of Chrift, defcribed Rev. i. 13.
&C. 'tis faid ver. 1 5. that his Feet, or lower parts,
were like unto fine Brafs, or rather unto Amber, as
Dr. Hammond rightly explains the Word ^AxoA/-

/3a vQ-»

-Ver. 5* Alfo out of the midfl thereof came the like-Vzxfe 5.
nefs of four living creatures'] Compare Rev. iv. 6.
where our Engliih Tranflation improperly renders
the word Zwa Beafts, whereas it mould be rendred
living Creatures, the better to diftinguifh them from
the Antic hriflian Be aft always expreffed in that
Book by Bw^'or. Thefe living Creatures were four
Cherubims that carried or fupported God's Throne
in the following Vifion : It may be in allufion to
the Triumphal Chariots of the Eailern Kings, which
were drawn by feveral forts of Beads ^ the Cheru-
bims as they were placed in the Temple being called
God's Chariot, 1 ChroniXXviu. 18.

Ibid. They had the likenefs of a Man"] Their
fhape was erect like the form of a Man.

Ver. 6. And every one had four Faces'] Of a Man, Verfe 6+
of a Lion, of an Cxe, and of an Eagle, ver. ic. each
of .them refembled the Cherubims, which oversha-
dowed the mercy feat in the Temple^ fee Chap. x.
20. The Jewilh Tabernacle was a pattern of Hea-

6 ^ Commentary

Chapter venly things, Heb. viii. 5. Wifd. ix. 8. and the In-
I. campment of the 12 Tribes about the Tabernacle

Lx"V^s^ in the Wildernefs, was a reprefentation of the An-
gelical Miniftry about the Throne of God in Hea-
ven. So there is an Analogy between the Cheru-
bims, as they attended the Divine Prefence in the
Holieft of all, and as here defcribed, in a Figure of
their Heavenly Miniftry, and the body of the
Jetvifh Nation placed round about the Taberna-
cle, and divided into four Standards, and a feve-
ral Enfign allotted to each Standard, as you may
read AW. xi.2, 3, 10. 18. 25. What thofe Enfigns
were, that Text does not exprefs j but the Jewiih
Writers unanimoufly maintain that they were a
Lion for the Tribe of Judah , An Oxe for the Tribe
of Ephraim } a Man for the Tribe of Reuben, and
an Eagle for the Tribe of Dan, under which variety
each of thefe four Cherubims is here reprefented.
Compare Rev. iv. 7. Here likewife may be an Allu-
fion to the four Cherubims in Solomons Temple :
For re placed two others of larger Dimenfions ^
one on each fide of the Ark and of the two Che-
rubims, which Mofes had placed in the Taberna-
cle. Compare 1 Kings vi. 24. with Exod, xxv. 17,


ibid. And every one had four Wings'] See ver. ti.

y r Ver. 7. And their Feet were Jlreight Feet~] Like

a Man's, without fuch a middle joint as Beafts

have, the ufe of which is to fecure them againfi

rinefs j to denote their fteadinefs and refoiuti-

on in executing all God's Commands.

\. The fole of their Feet was like the Sole of

a ( ' // ' s i' r of) A Creature remarkable for its tread-

: and lure. Thefe living Creatures are a


upon EZ EK^IE L. 1

fort of Hicroglyphicks made up of feveral fhapes, Chapter
but yet they referabled mod that of an Oxe or a I.
Calf j and therefore were called Cherubims^ that ^-^v^o
word fignifyingan Oxe ^ in which fenfe it is taken,
Chap, x. 14. of this Prophecy, where the Face of
a Cherub is equivalent to the Face of an Oxe; at
the 10. ver. ot this Chapter*

Ibid. And they fparkled like the colour of humi-
fied Br afs~] Compare Da?i,x. 6, ReveL i. 15. The
appearance of their Feet was bright and flaming j
fee ver, 13. and Pfal, civ. 4. The Seraphims
have that name from their bright and flaming Co-

Ver. 8. And they had the hands of a Man under Verfe 8*
their Wings'] Compare Chap, x. 8. If a, vi. 6. This
denotes the prudence and dexterity of their ma-
nagement : The Hand being peculiar to Mankind
among all living Creatures, and the chief Inftru-
ment of a 1 Artificial Operations.

Ibid, They four had their Faces and their Win gs~\
They had all the fame Appearances and Proporti-
ons : or, had Wings equal to their Faces.

Ibid. Their Wings were joyned one to another"]
See ver, 11.

Ibid. They turned not when they went] They
needed not to turn their Bodies, that their Faces
might fland th^ way they were to go-, for go which
way they would, they had a Face that looked that
way. This fignifies that nothing ever diverted
them from fulfilling God's Commands ^ fee the
Note on Chap, x. 11. where thefe living Creatures
are reprefetited as coming near to a fquare Figure,
which is equal on all (ides, the Emblem of Firmnefs
and Conftancy.

• Ver. 10.

8 ^Commentary

Chapter Ver. 10. They four had the Face of a Man, and
1. of a Lion on the right fide, dcc.~] See the Note on

c^~vr\_j ver. 6. Grotius and Villalpandus by the word Face

Verfe 10. underftand the fhape cr appearance, and explain the
words to this fenfe : That thefe living Creatures
were like a Man with refped: to their vifage, or
their upper parts ^ they refembled a Lion with re-
fpect to their back parts } their Wings were like
the Wings of an Eagle, and their Feet like thofe
of an Ox. But this Exposition does not well agree
with what is faid here, that the Face of the Lion
was on the right fide, and that of the Ox on the
left : Or as Caflellio translates it, and I think to
a better and clearer fenfe, that the face of the Man
and the Lion were on the right fide, and the Face of
the Ox and Eagle on the left. And by comparing
the feveral parrs of this Defcription, their Figure
may be rather concluded to be Quadruple j and as
the Wheels were made to turn every way, fo the
living Creatures could move toward any point
without turning about. To fignifie, as I obferved
before, the fteadfaftnefs of their motions and pur-
pofe.9. Compare ver, 15,19, 20, of this Chapter,
with Chap. x. 1 1,

Online LibraryWilliam LowthA commentary upon the prophet Ezekiel → online text (page 1 of 27)