Against the Prophetesses, Ezek 13:17-23

Against the Prophetesses

In Ezek 13:17-23, the Lord told Ezekiel to set his face against the prophetesses.  God gave him a prophecy against the prophetesses, because they had been lying to his people.  Their prophecies had come out of their own heart; they were not from the Lord.

Ezekiel Prophesied Against the Prophetesses

They Had a Peculiar Attire

The women sewed pillows to all armholes, v.18.  An armhole is an armpit.  A good reference for this is found in Jer 38:12.  When Ebedmelech lifted Jeremiah out of the dungeon, he gave Jeremiah clouts and rotten rags to put under his armholes so that the cords wouldn’t cut into him.  Thus, the prophetesses’ garments had pillows sewn into them under their arms.

Furthermore, they wore kerchiefs on their heads.  A kerchief is a head covering or vail bound to the head.  They were on the head of every stature.  Here stature is status gained by achievement, as in Is 10:33, and Ezek 19:11.  Thus, no matter the status of the prophetess, she wore the same kerchief as all the other prophetesses.  They were like a uniform.  They all looked the same.

The pillows and kerchiefs were identifying characteristics of these false prophetesses.  You could tell them by their dress, like nuns.  That’s all.  This way Ezekiel would know to which women he should prophesy.  Any other comments about their attire are speculative and pure conjecture.  This was a historical thing.

They Hunted the Souls of God’s People

In v. 18, the Lord asked, “Will ye hunt the souls of my people”?   These prophetesses were hunting souls to deceive with their lies.  They were like the adulteress in Prov 6:26, who hunts for the precious life.  The prophets of God were prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction and captivity of the inhabitants thereof.  These false prophetesses were telling them that they wouldn’t die, and that they didn’t have to repent and change their ways.  

Therefore, the Lord asked “Can you save the souls alive that come unto you”?  Of course, they couldn’t.  Instead, they were causing their doom.  And these women were just doing this to feed themselves with the handfuls of barley and pieces of bread, v.19.  This is what the people they deceived were giving them.  Prov 28:21 says, “for a piece of bread that man will transgress”.

They Polluted God’s Name

In v.19, the Lord asked, “Will ye pollute me among my people”?  To pollute is to defile, or profane.  They polluted him by using the name of the Lord in their false prophecies.  You can see an example of this in Acts 16:16-18.  The damsel possessed with a spirit of divination was invoking the name “the most high God”.  Though what she said was true, unlike these prophetesses, the spirit speaking in her was unclean, like these prophetesses.

They Lied and Caused God’s People To Die

In v.19, the Lord asked, “Will ye… slay the souls that should not die”?  They were lying to people who should have followed God’s prophets instead of the prophetesses’ lies.  They would have repented and God would have spared them.  Notice what happened in Jer 14:13-16 when the people believed the prophets lies.  Look at the warning in Lev 20:6. “The soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people”.  In Jer 27:6-15 the Lord said he would spare them if they would put their necks under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.

The Lord also asked, “will ye save the souls alive that should not live”?  According to v.18 they could not.  They were promising them life by lying.  As v.22 says, “with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad.”  And they strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way by promising him life, v.22.  

So, God Delivered His People Out of Their Hand

The Lord said, “I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly”, v.20.  By their prophecies, the women were making the people take flight; to flee from danger of the Chaldeans.  However, their salvation was in going into captivity; not in running away.  Zedekiah ran and all the people with him were killed.  In Jer 42-43 Johanan convinced the people to run to Egypt and they all died there.

So, the Lord said, “I… will let the souls go”.  “Also will I… deliver my people out of your hand”.  The prophetesses had bewitched and subverted them under their control.  Even worse is what the prophets did in Ezek 22:25.  They were like lions ravening the prey.  God had to deliver them to save them alive.

In v.23, the Lord said, “ye shall see no more vanity nor divine divinations”.  He cut off their ability to divine, like Paul did to the damsel in Acts 16:16-18.  He shut them down.

Conclusion to Against the Prophetesses

What we have seen in Ezek 13 is like what we see in Acts 8:9-11, where Simon for a longtime had bewitched the people.  They thought he was the great power of God.  He wasn’t.  Instead, he used sorcery.  In Acts 13:6-11, Barjesus the sorcerer withstood Paul and Barnabas and tried to turn the deputy away from the truth.  This is what false prophets do.  They turn away the people from the truth.  As Paul asked the Galatians, “Who hath bewitched you the ye should not obey the truth”, Gal 3:1.