Ezekiel 13:20

20. Wherefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith you there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that you hunt to make them fly.

20. Propterea sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Ecce, ego ad vestros pulvillos quibus vos venamini illic animas ad volandum; et lacerabo eos desuper brachiis vestris, et eruam animas quas vos venamini, animas ad volandum.


Here Ezekiel begins to threaten those women with what would shortly happen, namely, that God would not only render them contemptible, but also ridiculous, before the whole people, that their delusions and impostures might sufficiently appear. This is the Prophet's intention, as we shall afterwards see; but the Prophet is verbose in this denunciation. God therefore says, that he is an enemy to those cushions, that is, to those false ceremonies which were like cloaks to deceive miserable men: hence he says, that those souls were a prey. He uses the comparison from hunting: ye have hunted, says he, the souls of my people. And this is the meaning of the word used immediately afterwards for flying. This word xrp, pherech, signifies also "to flourish;" but I here willingly subscribe to the opinion of all who interpret it to fly: unless the paraphrast is right in translating it "to perish;" for he thought the Prophet was speaking metaphorically, as if he meant that those souls were ensnared, and so vanished away. But I do not think this quite suitable, since it is more probable that the Prophet is speaking of their lofty speculations. For we know that false prophets boasted in this artifice, when they either raise, or pretend they raise, men's minds aloft, and curious men desire this only; and hence it happens that the doctrines of the Law and the Gospel are insipid to them, because subtleties alone delight them. And we see at this day how many embrace the follies of Dionysius1 about the celestial hierarchy, who treat all the prophets, and even Christ himself, as of no value. Hence the Prophet says, that these women hunted the souls of the people, because they had snares prepared in which they entangled all who were subject to their impostures and fallacies. Yet, in my opinion, he also alludes to birds. When, therefore, he has said that all impostures were Satan's method of hunting souls, he now adds obliquely another simile, that all false prophecies are so many allurements to catch birds. The sense of the passage now appears clear. Behold, therefore, says he, God will arise against your cushions, by which you have hunted birds to make them fly; that is, when you promised wonderful revelations those wretched dupes whom their own curiosity urged on were deceived by such enticements. Afterwards he adds, I will free them from your arms, and I will let go the souls which you have hunted to make them fly, says he. He repeats again what we have already said about deep speculations, by the sweetness of which false prophets are accustomed to entice all fools who cannot be content with true doctrine, nor be wise with sobriety. Meanwhile it is by no means doubtful that God here speaks peculiarly of his elect, who were left among the people. For although they were but few, God was unwilling for them to perish: and for this reason he announces that he would be their avenger, and undeceive them, whether they had been already entrapped, or were just surrounded by these allurements. Since, then, he uses the same word, we gather from this that the phrase cannot be used indiscriminately. For God suffers many to perish, as he says by the Prophet Zechariah, "Let what perishes perish," (Zechariah 9:9); but meanwhile he rescued a small number as the remnant of his choice, as Paul says. (Romans 11:5.)


Grant, Almighty God, since you show us that our salvation is so precious in thy sight, that through our ingratitude we may not cast away this testimony of thy favor, but be anxious to listen to thy instructions: Grant also, that being gifted by thee with the spirit of discretion, we may not be exposed to capture as a prey; but may we be so ruled by the light of thy word that we may hold on in the right way, till after our allotted time is finished we may arrive at that happy repose which is laid up for us in heaven through Christ our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture Thirty-Seventh.

1 Dionysius was a Carthusian, a philosopher imbued with the mystic doctrines of Plato, on whose 'writings he wrote an elaborate comment. Calvin refers to his attempt to combine the scholastic theology of his day with the mystical fancies of Platonism. He was commonly called a Ryckel, and wrote A.D. 1471. See Gieseler's Eccl. Hist., edited in English by Francis Cuningham, volume 3


Back to

These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.