Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Call of Ezekiel to the Prophetic Office - Eze 2:1 and Eze 2:2. Upon the manifestation of the Lord follows the word of vocation. Having, in the feeling of his weakness and sinfulness, fallen to the ground before the terrible revelation of Jehovah's glory, Ezekiel is first of all raised up again by the voice of God, to hear the word which calls him to the prophetic function. - Eze 2:1. And He said to me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, I will speak with thee. Eze 2:2. Then came spirit unto me as He spake unto me, and it placed me on my feet, and I heard Him speaking unto me. - The address בּן־אדם occurs so frequently in Ezekiel, that it must be regarded as one of the peculiarities of his prophecies. Elsewhere it occurs only once, Dan 8:17. That it is significant, is generally recognised, although its meaning is variously given. Most expositors take it as a reminder of the weakness and frailness of human nature; Coccejus and Kliefoth, on the contrary, connect it with the circumstance that God appears to Ezekiel in human form, and find in it a τεκμήριον amicitiae, that God speaks in him as man to man, converses with him as a man with his friend. This last interpretation, however, has against it the usus loquendi. As בּן־אדם denotes man according to his natural condition, it is used throughout as a synonym with אנושׁ, denoting the weakness and fragility of man in opposition to God; cf. Psa 8:5; Job 25:6; Isa 51:12; Isa 56:2; and Num 23:19. This is the meaning also of בּן־אדם in the address, as may be distinctly seen from the various addresses in Daniel. Daniel is addressed, where comfort is to be imparted to him, as אישׁׁ חמדות, "man greatly beloved," Dan 10:11, Dan 10:19, cf. Dan 9:23; but, on the contrary, in Eze 8:17, where he has fallen on his face in terror before the appearance of Gabriel, with the words, "Understand, O son of man," in order to remind him of his human weakness. This is also the case in our verse, where Ezekiel, too, had fallen upon his face, and by God's word spoken to him, is again raised to his feet. It is only in Ezekiel that this address is constantly employed to mark the distance between the human weakness of his nature and the divine power which gives him the capacity and the impulse to speak. Not, however, with the design, mentioned by Jerome on Dan 8:17, "that he may not be elated on account of his high calling," because, as Hvernick subjoins, Ezekiel's extremely powerful and forcible nature may have needed to be perpetually reminded of what it is in reality before God. If this were the meaning and object of this address, it would also probably occur in the writings of several of the other prophets, as the supposition that the nature of Ezekiel was more powerful and forcible than that of the other prophets is altogether without foundation. The constant use of this form of address in Ezekiel is connected rather with the manner and fashion in which most of the revelations were imparted to him, that is, with the prevalence of "vision," in which the distinction between God and man comes out more prominently than in ordinary inspiration or revelation, effected by means of an impression upon the inner faculties of man. The bringing prominently forward, however, of the distance between God and men is to remind the prophet, as well as the people to whom he communicated his revelations, not merely of the weakness of humanity, but to show them, at the same time, how powerfully the word of God operates in feeble man, and also that God, who has selected the prophet as the organ of His will, possesses also the power to redeem the people, that were lying powerless under the oppression of the heathen, from their misery, and to raise them up again. - At the word of the Lord, "Stand upon thy feet," came רוּח into the prophet, which raised him to his feet. רוּח here is not "life consciousness" (Hitzig), but the spirit-power which proceeds from God, and which is conveyed through the word which imparted to him the strength to stand before the face of God, and to undertake His command. מדּבּר, partic. Hithpa., properly "collocutor," occurs here and in Eze 43:6, and in Num 7:89; elsewhere, only in Sa2 14:13.
The calling of the prophet begins with the Lord describing to Ezekiel the people to whom He is sending him, in order to make him acquainted with the difficulties of his vocation, and to encourage him for the discharge of the same. Eze 2:3. And He said to me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to the rebels who have rebelled against me: they and their fathers have fallen away from me, even until this very day. Eze 2:4. And the children are of hard face, and hardened heart. To them I send thee; and to them shalt thou speak: Thus says the Lord Jehovah. Eze 2:5. And they - they may hear thee or fail (to do so); for they are a stiff-necked race - they shall experience that a prophet has been in their midst. Eze 2:6. But thou, son of man, fear not before them, and be not afraid of their words, if thistles and thorns are found about thee, and thou sittest upon scorpions; fear not before their words, and tremble not before their face; for they are a stiff-necked race. Eze 2:7. And speak my words to them, whether they may hear or fail (to do so); for they are stiff-necked.
The children of Israel have become heathen, no longer a people of God, not even a heathen nation (גּוי, Isa 1:4), but גּוים, "heathens," that is, as being rebels against God. המּורדים (with the article) is not to be joined as an adjective to גּוים, which is without the article, but is employed substantively in the form of an apposition. They have rebelled against God in this, that they, like their fathers, have separated themselves from Jehovah down to this day (as regards פּשׁע בּ, see on Isa 1:2; and עצם היּום הזּה, as in the Pentateuch; cf. Lev 23:14; Gen 7:13; Gen 17:23, etc.). Like their fathers, the sons are rebellious, and, in addition, they are קשׁי פנים, of hard countenance" = חזקי, "of hard brow" (Eze 3:7), i.e., impudent, without hiding the face, or lowering the look for shame. This shamelessness springs from hardness of heart. To these hardened sinners Ezekiel is to announce the word of the Lord. Whether they hear it or not (אם־ואם, sive-sive, as in Jos 24:15; Ecc 11:3; Ecc 12:14), they shall in any case experience that a prophet has been amongst them. That they will neglect to hear is very probable, because they are a stiff-necked race (בּית, "house" = family). The Vau before ידעוּ (Eze 2:5) introduces the apodosis. היה is perfect, not present. This is demanded by the usus loquendi and the connection of the thought. The meaning is not: they shall now from his testimony that a prophet is there; but they shall experience from the result, viz., when the word announced by him will have been fulfilled, that a prophet has been amongst them. Ezekiel, therefore, is not to be prevented by fear of them and their words from delivering a testimony against their sins. The ἁπάξ λεγόμενα, סרבים and סלּונים, are not, with the older expositors, to be explained adjectively: "rebelles et renuentes," but are substantives. As regards סלּון, the signification "thorn" is placed beyond doubt by סלּון in Eze 28:24, and סרב in Aramaic does indeed denote "refractarius;" but this signification is a derived one, and inappropriate here. סרב is related to צרב, "to burn, to singe," and means "urtica," "stinging-nettle, thistle," as Donasch in Raschi has already explained it. אותך is, according to the later usage, for אתּך, expressing the "by and with of association," and occurs frequently in Ezekiel. Thistles and thorns are emblems of dangerous, hostile men. The thought is strengthened by the words "to sit on (אל for על) scorpions," as these animals inflict a painful and dangerous wound. For the similitude of dangerous men to scorpions, cf. Sir. 26:10, and other proof passages in Bochart, Hierozoic. III. p. 551f., ed. Rosenmll.
After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Eze 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Eze 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Eze 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Eze 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Eze 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Eze 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Rev 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not = אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Eze 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Eze 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jer 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Rev 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.