The prophet proceeds, by a variety of types and parables, to convince those of the captivity that their brethren who were left behind to sustain the miseries of a seige and the insults of a conqueror, would be in a much worse condition than they who were already settled in a foreignland. In the beginning of this chapter he foretells the approaching captivity of Judah by action instead of words, 1-7. He predicts particularly the flight, capture, captivity, and sufferings of Zedekiah and his followers, 8-16, compared with Jer. lii. 11. He is to eat his food with trembling and signs of terror, as an emblem of the consternation of the Jews when surrounded by their enemies, 17-20; and then he answers the objections and bywords of scoffers and infidels, who either disbelieved his threatening or supposed the accomplishment of them very distant, 21-28. Josephus (Antiq. xi. 10) tells us that Zedekiah thought the prophecy of Ezekiel in the thirteenth verse inconsistent with that of Jeremiah, (chap. xxxiv. 3,) and resolved to believe neither. Both, however, were literary fulfilled; and the event convinced him that they were not irreconcilable. Thus, blinded by infidelity, sinners rush on to that detruction against which they are sufficiently warned.
NOTES ON CHAP. XII
Verse 2. "Which have eyes to see, and see not" - It is not want of grace that brings them to destruction. They have eyes to see, but they will not use them. No man is lost because he had not sufficient grace to save him, but because he abused that grace.
Verse 3. "Prepare thee stuff for removing" - Get carriages to transport thy goods to another place; signifying by this the captivity that was at hand.
Verse 6. "Thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground" - Referring to the blinding of Zedekiah: even the covering of the face might be intended to signify that in this way Zedekiah should be carried to Babylon on men's shoulders in some sort of palanquin, with a cloth tied over his eyes, because of the recent wounds made by extracting them. All the prophecies from this to the twentieth chapter are supposed to have been delivered in the sixth year of Zedekiah, five years before the taking of Jerusalem. How accurate the prediction! and how exactly fulfilled!
Verse 10. "This burden" - This prediction concerning the prince. By this I point out the capture, misery, and ruin of Zedekiah.
Verse 13. "I will bring-him to Babylon-yet shall he not see it" - Because Nebuchadnezzar caused him to have his eyes put out at Riblah. To Babylon he was carried in his blind state, and there he died. In saying, My net also will I spread upon him, there is probably a reference to an ancient manner of fighting. One, who was called the retiarius, had a small casting net, which if he could throwover his antagonist's head, he then despatched him with his sword; if he missed his throw, he was obliged to run in order to get his net once more adjusted for another throw. In the mean time the other pursued him with all his speed to prevent this, and to despatch him; hence he was called secutor: the first the netman, the second the pursuer.
Verse 18. "Eat thy bread with quaking" - Assume the manner of a person who is every moment afraid of his life, who has nothing but a morsel of bread to eat, and a little water to drink. Thus signifying the siege, and the straits to which they should be reduced. See this explained, ver. 19.
Verse 22. "The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?" - These are the words of the infidels and scoffers, who, because vengeance was not speedily executed on an evil work, set their heart to do iniquity. "These predictions either will not come in our days, or will wholly fail; why then should we disquiet ourselves about them?" Strange, that the very means used by the most gracious God to bring sinners to repentance, should be made by them the very instruments of their own destruction! See 2 Peter iii. 4.
Verse 23. "The days are at hand" - Far from failing or being prolonged, time is posting on, and the destruction threatened is at the door.
Verse 26. "In your days-will I say the word, and will perform it" - Even these mockers shall live to see and feel this desolation. This is more particularly intimated in the following verses.
Verse 28. "There shall none of my words be prolonged any more" - He had waited to be gracious; they abused his mercy; and at last the protracted wrath rushed upon them with irresistible force.