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Dissertation Eighth.


Ezekiel 8:1-14

THE singularity of the Vision of this chapter renders it worthy of special notice. It illustrates very strikingly the difference between the worship of Judaism and of the Gospel. The contrast is so remarkable, that every inference from it respecting Christian obligation must be most indirect. These “visions of God” occurred to the Prophet in the place of his captivity. Jerusalem and its temple, and its chambers of imagery, are all brought rapidly before his mind. Theodoret and Jerome maintain that the Prophet was not removed to Jerusalem, but that the scene was presented to his mind in a trance. Newcome continues the trance to the twenty-fourth verse of chapter 11, Ezekiel 11:24. The appearance of fire in the second verse (Ezekiel 8:2) is supposed by some to be better changed to “man,” by reading איש, aish, for אש, eesh, with various codexes of the Septuagint, the Complutensian edition of the Arabic version; but, in the second clause, זהר, zohar, signifies the brightness of a star, just as zoharat, in Arabic and Amharic, means the planet Venus. In the Complutensian and Aldine editions of the Septuagint it is translated “breeze,” or “light air,” according to the view of Theodotion. The best translation seems to be, to take the first clause as “the appearance of a man,” and the second as “the appearance of brightness.”

This remarkable vision is a singular instance of the manner in which the Almighty instructed his prophets. The sixth year of (Ezekiel 8:1) is to be understood of the reign of Jeconiah. “The appearance of fire” thought most probably to be “of a man;” (Ezekiel 8:2) for אש, ash, “fire,” may have been substituted for, אוש, aish, “a man.” The Septuagint, Theodoret, the Complutensian and Arabic versions, all take it so; but the De Rossi does not find it in any of the codexes; and only one of Kennicott’s (No. 89) has אוש, aish. Still the best, modern critics prefer it. Ezekiel 8:3. When the Prophet is taken by a lock of his hair, Kimchi supposes it to signify the violence by which the exiles of Judea would be treated; but all modern writers suppose that this was only a vision: οὐ τοίνυν σωματικὴ ἦν μετάθεσις οὐδὲ τῶν τὢς σαρκὸς ὀφθαλμῶν ἡ Θεωρία “there was no bodily change of place, nor any real view by the eyes of the flesh,” says Theodoret. The first object presented to the visionary eye of the Prophet was an idolatrous image, metaphorically denominated “jealousy,” from the provocation which the idolatries of the people occasioned. The derivation of the word “Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14) is obscure. It is supposed to refer to Adonis, as worshipped by the Syrians. Lucian de Dea, Syria, volume 3, and Maerobii Saturnalia, chapter 21., illustrate this point; but what “The Image of Jealousy,” which rivaled Jehovah and provoked his anger, really was, cannot be determined; most probably it was a statue of Moloch or Baal. Selden “on the Syrian Deities” enters at large on the subject. 366366     Synt. 2 cap. 1 page 195. The whole of this scenery Bishop Warburton pronounces to be Egyptian, and versed as he was in Egyptian antiquities, his judgment is deserving of notice. “They contain.” says he, “a very lively and circumstantial description of the so celebrated mysteries of His and Osiris.” 367367     Div. Leg., lib. 4 section 6. The rites were celebrated in a subterraneous place by the Sanhedrim or elders of Israel, and the paintings on the wall correspond with the descriptions of the mystic cells of Egypt. The woman “weeping for Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:13) he treats as a Phoenician superstition, while the worship of “the sun towards the east” (Ezekiel 8:15) is a Persian custom. “When the Prophet is bid to turn from the Egyptian to the Phoenician rites, he is then said to look towards the north, which was the situation of Phoenicia witch regard to Jerusalem consequently, he before stood southward, the situation of Egypt with regard to the same place. And when from thence he is bid to turn into the inner court of the Lord’s house, to see the Persian rites, this was east, the situation of Persia. With such exactness is the representation of the whole vision conducted.” He sees “these three capital superstitions” portrayed again in Ezekiel 16, when the Egyptians are described as “great of flesh.” This phrase Warburton considers to apply to Egypt, because it was “the grand origin and invention of idolatry.” The “mark upon the forehead,” in Ezekiel 9:4, he treats as an expression of God’s special and particular providence. Jehovah was their Tutelary Deity, and their sin was immeasurably heightened by the theocratic privileges which they preeminently enjoyed. Hence this learned writer is enabled to press into his service Ezekiel 14:13, and Ezekiel 25:8, while he forcibly illustrates both the language and the idea of the Prophet. His view is confirmed by a passage in Diodorus Sieulus, who, in lib. 1 p. 59, edit. Wess., records: “Round the room in Thebes where the body of King Osymanduas seemed to be buried, a multitude of chambers were built, which had elegant paintings of all the beasts sacred in Egypt.” Notices of the worship of the Persians will be found in Perronius’s Itinerary, p. 665, and D’Auquetil’s Voyages, tab. 3. n. 3, 4. Hebenstreit has written a dissertation on the rites of Bacchus to illustrate this chapter; and Hyde’s Religion of the Ancient Persians, lib. 1 chap. 27 edit. Oxon., 1760, may be consulted with advantage.

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