Chapter 11:1-12 (ESV) - The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the Lord, which faces east. And behold, at the entrance of the gateway there were twenty-five men. And I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And he said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel in this city; who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses. This city is the cauldron, and we are the meat.’ Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, O son of man.”
And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”
Question to consider: What do you think was the wicked counsel given by these princes?
This is a continuation of the vision given to Ezekiel when he met with the exiled elders and was taken by the Spirit from the Chebar canal into Jerusalem. At first Ezekiel was shown the abominations that took place all over Israel, and there were 25 elders worshiping the sun near the Bronze altar with their backs toward the temple and facing east. This could very well be the same group of men, but it is worth noting that the East Gate was across the courtyard and through the colonnades to the outer wall of the temple mount. I think this is a different Jaazaniah than is mentioned in the courtyard of the Israelites in chapter eight because that Jaazaniah was the son of Shaphan who was a priest, and this one is the son of Azzur and a ruler of the people.
Jaazaniah and Pelatiah are mentioned by name among the twenty-five who devised iniquity and gave wicked counsel in the city which means they were probably chief among the 25 elders or maybe personally known by Ezekiel. The statements about not being the time to build houses and the city being the cauldron sound rather cryptic, but I think they were giving counsel that directly went against the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:4-9)
So God had proclaimed through Jeremiah that people were to go from Jerusalem to Babylon where they were to build houses and make a life since their exile would be 70 years, and yet these men advised the privileged to remain in the city for protection by its walls like a cauldron that would contain choice cuts of meat. They had no regard for the fate of those outside of the city walls they considered less important and were thus called out for devising iniquity. God’s word against these men was that by this wicked counsel, they would be responsible for multiplying the number of people who would be slain in the city. God mentioned that since they were afraid to face the sword of Babylon outside of the city walls, that is exactly how they would die.
Because they had ignored God’s statutes and taught others to do the same, they would be cast outside of the city and killed by the very nations whose practices they instead chose to follow.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving us Your unchanging word which counsels us on Your ways. Help us to be surrounded by those who rightly proclaim Your word and are willing to hold us accountable to it. May we delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.