So that he might speak to him, YHWH addressed Ezekiel as “son of man” and told him to “stand upon [his] feet.” The directive for him to stand called upon Ezekiel to be alert and attentive to everything he would hear. (2:1; see the Notes section.)
When YHWH spoke to him, Ezekiel sensed that the “spirit” (God’s spirit) came into him. Impelled by the spirit, he stood up “upon [his] feet,” ready to hear the words of YHWH. The Septuagint says regarding the effect the spirit had on Ezekiel, “The spirit came upon me and raised me up and set me upon my feet.” (2:2)
YHWH commissioned Ezekiel to go to the “sons of Israel,” his own people. Their being designated as “rebellious nations” may refer to the people of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and the people of the kingdom of Judah. All of them had rebelled against YHWH. They and their “fathers” or ancestors had transgressed against him, disregarding his commands, and this had continued to that “day” or the very time in which Ezekiel lived. (2:3; see the Notes section.)
The “sons” or people of Israel were “hard” or obstinate of “face.” Their countenance reflected a stubborn and unresponsive attitude. They were “stout of heart” or unyielding and defiant in their inmost selves. When being sent to them, Ezekiel had a difficult assignment as the prophet who would be proclaiming an unpopular message. He was to identify the source of his words, saying to the people, “Thus says the Lord YHWH.” (2:4; see the Notes section.)
Whether the people, having proved to be a “rebellious house,” listened to or refused to hear the message proclaimed to them, they would still know that a prophet had been in their midst. The Septuagint says regarding the people and Ezekiel, “They will know that you are a prophet in their midst.” (2:5; see the Notes section.)
Again addressing Ezekiel as “son of man,” YHWH told him not to be afraid of the people and their words, indicating that he should be bold and fearless in proclaiming the message despite their stubborn resistance and hostility. The Targum says that he should not fear them or their words even if they rebel and contend against him. In their response to Ezekiel, the first Hebrew word used to describe them is the plural form of saráv. There is uncertainty about the meaning of this verb. The word saráv could identify the people as obstinate or rebellious persons. Another possible significance is that the people were hurtful like nettles. They were also likened to “thorns” and “scorpions.” The Targum indicates that their works were like scorpions. Ezekiel was sitting among “scorpions,” suggesting that he found himself in an environment that could cause him harm. The Septuagint says regarding the people, “They will rage and rise up against you round about, and you are dwelling in the midst of scorpions.” Nevertheless, Ezekiel was told not to be afraid of their words and not to be dismayed or terrified at their faces, “for they are a house of rebellion” or a rebellious people. The implication was that he should not be afraid because YHWH would be with him as he faithfully served as his prophet. (2:6; see the Notes section.)
Ezekiel was to speak YHWH’s “words” to the people regardless of whether the rebellious ones would listen to or refuse (be terrified [LXX]) to hear these words. According to the Targum, the objective was that the people might obey the instruction and stop sinning. (2:7)
YHWH again addressed Ezekiel as “son of man” and said to him, “Hear [or listen to] what I am saying to you. Do not be rebellious like the rebellious house [of Israel]. Open your mouth, and eat what I am giving to you.” As the text that follows reveals (3:1), the item intended for Ezekiel to eat was not customary food, but he was to eat it without protesting. (2:8; see the Notes section.) He saw a hand reaching out to him (probably the hand of one of the living beings or cherubs [10:20]), and this hand held a scroll. (2:9) When the scroll was unrolled before Ezekiel, he saw that it had writing on both front and back. The wording consisted of “laments [or dirges] and moaning [expressions prompting sorrow] and woe [pronouncements of calamity or doom].” (2:10; see the Notes section.)
In this chapter (verses 1, 3, 6, and 8), as is the case throughout the entire book of Ezekiel, the prophet is addressed as “son of man.” This designation would have reminded him of his being an earthling or a mortal with a commission from the eternal Sovereign upon whom cherubs are in attendance.
In verse 3, the Septuagint does not include the reference to “nations.”
The wording of verse 4 in the Septuagint is shorter than that of the Hebrew text. “And you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord.”
In verse 5, the Septuagint opens with the words, “Whether they hear or be terrified …”
The Targum interprets the words in verse 10 differently. It indicates that the nations would exercise dominion over the people of the house of Israel if they transgressed against the Torah. If they heeded the Torah, God would remove lamentation, groaning, and mourning from them.