3. The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chebar, and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.
3. Fuit sermo Iehovae ad Ezechielem filium Buzi sacerdotem, in terra Chaldaeorum, super fluvium Chebar: et fuit super eum illic manus Iehovae.
He does not repeat the copula which was placed at the beginning of the first verse, and we may perhaps wonder why the book should begin with a copula: for when he says, "and it came to pass," it seems to denote something going before it, and it seems out of place when nothing precedes it. But probably an oblique antithesis or comparison is intended between those prophecies which had flourished for a long period at Jerusalem, which was their peculiar and genuine scat, and that which was arising in Chaldea; as if he would say, "even among Chaldaeans," for the particle w, vau, is often used in the sense of Mg, gam, "even." The sense therefore is, after God had exercised his servants even to weariness, since many prophets had discharged their duties at Jerusalem, now at length he speaks in Chaldea. He says, therefore, "the word of the Lord came unto him." I know not why some dream that Jeremiah is here called "Buzi," unless because it was a foolish persuasion of the Jews, that the father of a prophet is never mentioned unless he were a prophet himself. Their ignorance is proved on other occasions, and here surely their curiosity is shameful, since they decide this Buzi to be a prophet, and because they know of no one else, they fix on Jeremiah: as if it were probable, that when the father was left at Jerusalem, the son was an exile, which is entirely conjectural. But because he was a priest;, so he says, "the son of Buzi." Our Prophet ought to have some reputation, for if he had been of plebeian obscurity, he would scarcely have been listened to. The priestly dignity, then, availed something towards securing attention. Now he expresses what I have previously mentioned, in the land of Chaldea, as if he had said: although God has not been accustomed to raise up prophets in lands so distant and polluted, yet now his rule is changed, for even among the Chaldeans is one endued with the prophetic spirit. And the particle Ms, illic, "there," is emphatically added;. "was there upon him," says he. For otherwise the Jews would have dreaded Ezekiel, as if he were a monster, when they found that the word of God had proceeded from Chaldea. "What," say they, "will God pollute and contaminate his doctrine, by its springing up from such a place as that? Who are the Chaldeans, that God should erect his seat there? Mount Zion is his dwelling-place: here he is worshipped and invoked. Here must his lamp burn of necessity, as he has often witnessed by his prophets." To such taunts the Prophet; replies: God has begun to speak in Chaldea -- there his power is conspicuous: "The word of the Lord is come unto me; for we know that God alone is to be heard, and that prophets are only to be attended to, as far as they utter what proceeds from him." Hence it is required that all teachers of the Church should first have been learners, so that God alone may retain his own rights, and be the only Lord and Master. As then supreme authority resides in God alone, when prophets desire to be heard, they profess not to offer their own comments, but faithfully to deliver a message from God. Thus also our Prophet. I touch these points rather lightly now, as I have treated them more at length elsewhere. At length he adds, the hand of the Lord was upon him. Some explain the word "hand" by "prophecy," but this seems to me weak and poor: I take "hand" to mean divine power, as if Ezekiel had said that he was endued with divine power, so that it should be quite clear that he was chosen a Prophet. The hand of God, then, was a proof of new favor, so that Ezekiel might subject; to his own sway all the captives, since he carried with him the authority of God. This may also be referred to the efficacy of his doctrine. For the Lord not only suggests words to his servants, but also works by the secret influence of his Spirit, and suffers not their labors to be in vain. The passage then may be received in this sense. But since the Prophet only assumes to himself what was necessary, and so claims for himself the position and standing of a Prophet, so when he uses the word "hand," [do not doubt his meaning to be an inward operation. There is, it is admitted, an inward efficacy of the Holy Spirit when he sheds forth his power upon hearers, that they may embrace a discourse by faith, so also if all hearers were deaf, and God's word should evaporate as smoke, yet there is an intrinsic virtue in the prophecies themselves: Ezekiel points out this as given to him by God. Here I shall finish, because I should be compelled to break off directly, and we shall be coming to the vision, which is the most difficult of all.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou didst bless thy people with the continued grace of thy Spirit when it was cast out of its inheritance, and didst raise up a Prophet even from the lowest depths, who should recall it to life when it was all but despaired of -- O grant, that although the Church in these days is miserably afflicted by thy hand, we may not be destitute of thy consolation, but show us, through thy pity, that life may be looked for even in the midst of death; so that we may bear all thy chastise-. merits patiently, until thou shalt show thyself' our reconciled Father, and thus at length we may be gathered into that happy kingdom, where we shall enjoy our full felicity, in Jesus Christ cur Lord. -- Amen.
A Vision is now to occupy our attention, whose obscurity so deterred the Jews that they forbade every attempt to explain it,. But God appeared to his Prophet either in vain or not in vain: it is most absurd to suppose the former -- then if the vision is useful, it is necessary for us to attain at least a partial understanding of it. If any one object that the vision was exclusively intended for the Prophet -- the objection is easily answered, for what the Prophet wrote was clearly for the use of the whole Church. Now, if any one asks whether the vision is lucid, I confess its obscurity, and that I can scarcely understand it: but yet into what God has set before us, it is not only lawful and useful but necessary to enquire. Base indeed would be our sloth should we willingly close our eyes and not attend to the vision. We shall perhaps but skim the surface of what God wills: yet this is of no small moment, and not only a moderate but a slight degree of understanding may suffice for this. Thus briefly do I finish my preface, and come to the words of the Prophet: --