Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me to the east gate of the LORD's house, which looks eastward…
The spirit told Ezekiel that the princes were the men that devised mischief and gave wicked counsels to the city. How often have we seen this prostitution of great mental power and great official authority through the service of evil! Imagine the picture of five-and-twenty men, the princes of Israel, all given over to the conception of evil policies and the execution of selfish designs! We shall miss the whole purpose of Divine revelation if we suppose that evil is local, or that it is confined to the ignorant and the poor. Evil is universal: it is in the thrones of the nations, as well as in the hovels and huts of poverty; the king has wandered as far from the standard of righteousness as has the meanest subject of his crown. Education when not sanctified is simply an instrument of evil. Great social station, when it is divorced from the action of a healthy conscience, only gives a man leverage, by the working of which he can do infinite social mischief. Moral security, therefore, is not in circumstances, but in character. When princes are right and just, wise and patriotic, it does not follow that the people will follow their example, or reproduce their excellences; but when the princes are of a contrary mind it is easy to imagine how their great influence may contribute vastly to the spread of wrong thinking and mischievous action. Religious apostasy means social anarchy. When the princes ceased to pray they ceased to regard human nature as of any value: slaughter became a pastime; heaps of slain men were passed by as mere commonplaces, and the whole city became as but a cauldron in which the flesh of men might be boiled. But God Himself says He will make this use of the city; He will make it a cauldron, and they who supposed it was a place of security shall find what uses providence can make of human arrangements. The Lord says that He is proceeding on account of the sins of the people, saying, "I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them." The empire of the mind is supposed to be the exclusive property of the individual: what brother can take out of his brother's heart all the thoughts that live there? What man can read the mind of his dearest friend, and be as familiar with that friend's motives as he is with that friend's conduct? The mind can shut out the closest observer, yet the one observer that it cannot exclude is the living God. The things that come into the mind determine the real character of the mind of man, Conduct is but a short measure by which to estimate a man's character.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD'S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
WEB: Moreover the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me to the east gate of Yahweh's house, which looks eastward: and see, at the door of the gate twenty-five men; and I saw in the midst of them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.