In the Good News translation of Ezekiel 9 there are six men who will punish the city and a man in linen who will mark the heads of those in the city who are distressed at its abominable behaviour. These people will be unharmed by the six, who will kill everyone else.

I was wondering who or what these people are? Is the word for "man" the same as elsewhere in the Bible. Are they Babylonians or angels? Is this a metaphor?


1 Answer 1


Context is the Key

In order to establish a proper understanding of Ezek. 9, we must establish the context of the verses, which is established in Ezek. 8:3,

And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.

Since the "Chapters" were separated much later in time, we must read from Ezek. 8-9 without any interruption, which is normally the case when an author 'assigns' a chapter to a particular train of thought. Ezekiel is "caught up in the spirit", meaning he is seeing what God is seeing in the realm of the spirit world, so angels, spirit beings, God or manifestations of God are readily seen, and concrete, opaque structures(such as the Temple) are seen right through, just as God sees through everything physical and temporal.

Keil and Delitzsch offer this commentary in regard to the 'men' of Ezek. 9:1,

Consequently פּקדּות are those whom God has appointed to watch over the city, the city-guard (2 Kings 11:18), - not earthly, but heavenly watchmen, - who are now to inflict punishment upon the ungodly, as the authorities appointed by God.

Furthermore, they add,

In the midst of the six men furnished with smashing-tools there was one clothed in white byssus, with writing materials at his side. The dress and equipment, as well as the instructions which he afterwards receives and executes, show him to be the prince or leader of the others. Kliefoth calls in question the opinion that these seven men are angels; but without any reason. Angels appearing in human form are frequently called אנשׁים or אישׁ, according to their external habitus

The "Watchmen" are those angels assigned territorially by God, to protect or to execute His Judgements. What is interesting in this passage is that those who "escape these judgements" are those who "sigh and cry for all the abominations done in them", and what is more, is they are "marked"; some versions say "with a 'tau'".

This is very significant, as God had Israel "mark" their doorposts and lintels in Egypt to escape destruction, and we see this passage as a precursor to the "mark" or "sign" that God gives to His servants,(Rev. 7:3)

"Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."

We can therefore conclude a "biblical pattern" of God "marking" or identifying out those who will escape judgement from the rest who do, and it is the "watchmen" or angels who are assigned to carry out those judgements.

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