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Ezekiel 17:20

20. And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me.

20. Et extendam 187187     Or, “I will spread.” — Calvin. super ipsum rete meum, et capietur in plagis meis, 188188     Some translate “drag-net,” but erroneously, for the word is derived from hunting. — Calvin. et venire faciam ipsum Babylonem, et judicabo 189189     Or, “plead in a trial.” — Calvin. cum eo illic de transgressione 190190     Or, “prevarication.” — Calvin. qua praevaricatus est contra me.


Here he points out the kind of punishment which he was about to inflict on King Zedekiah. He had said generally that his perfidy should fall upon his own head, but he now proceeds further, namely, that Zedekiah should be a captive. For God might chastise him by other means, but the prophecy was thereby confirmed, since the Prophet had clearly threatened Zedekiah as we see. But he speaks in the person of God that his language may have more weight. I will spread my net, says God, and he shall be taken in my snares. The passage is metaphorical, but it best explains what often occurs in Scripture, namely, that while the impious take first one course and then another, they are agents of God who governs them by his own secret virtue, and directs them wherever he wishes. As, therefore, men false up all things confusedly, and are, as we see, driven about hither and thither by their lusts, and disturb heaven and earth; yet God moderates their attacks by his secret providence. We gather this from the Prophet’s words when he calls the army of the king of Babylon, and his plans, and the apparatus of war, God’s net and snares. Although Nebuchadnezzar was impelled by his own ambition and avarice, and did not suppose himself under the divine sway, yet we see what the Spirit pronounces. And we must diligently observe this doctrine, because, if we repose on the paternal solicitude of God, although armies surround us on all sides, yet we may confide securely, and await the end with quiet and tranquil minds, since men can do nothing without God. But when we provoke God’s wrath against us, we must bear in mind, that while men have their reasons for being hostile to us, yet God governs them, or that they are his nets or snares, as the Prophet here says.

I will bring him, says he, to Babylon, and there will I dispute with him in judgment, according to the prevarication by which he has prevaricated. Not only did God dispute with Zedekiah there, but he inflicted a heavy and formidable judgment upon him in Riblah, when he saw his own sons put to death first, and then his own eyes were put out, and then he was bound by chains. But he almost pined away in his captivity, and was treated shamefully even unto death; for this reason God says that he would judge him at Babylon: and yet there will be nothing out of place if we comprehend Riblah also. For although Zedekiah had been partially punished before he entered Babylon, yet God there inflicted his own sentence, after he was dragged from his country and led into exile. He was buried indeed not without honor, as we saw in Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 34:5,) for they bewailed him at his burial — Alas, my brother! alas, O master! as the Prophet says: yet till his death he was like the vilest prisoner, for he pined away in his chains, and was meanly clothed, when the king treated Coniah nobly and splendidly: hence Zedekiah’s captivity was the seal of this prophecy for Ezekiel could not have pronounced this sentence, unless he had been the organ of the Holy Spirit. It follows —

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