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Ezekiel 4:1--5:17

Context
Ominous Object Lessons

4:1 “And you, son of man, take a brick 1  and set it in front of you. Inscribe 2  a city on it – Jerusalem. 4:2 Lay siege to it! Build siege works against it. Erect a siege ramp 3  against it! Post soldiers outside it 4  and station battering rams around it. 4:3 Then for your part take an iron frying pan 5  and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face toward it. It is to be under siege; you are to besiege it. This is a sign 6  for the house of Israel.

4:4 “Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity 7  of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 4:5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days 8  for you – 390 days. 9  So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 10 

4:6 “When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days 11  – I have assigned one day for each year. 4:7 You must turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it. 4:8 Look here, I will tie you up with ropes, so you cannot turn from one side to the other until you complete the days of your siege. 12 

4:9 “As for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, 13  put them in a single container, and make food 14  from them for yourself. For the same number of days that you lie on your side – 390 days 15  – you will eat it. 4:10 The food you eat will be eight ounces 16  a day by weight; you must eat it at fixed 17  times. 4:11 And you must drink water by measure, a pint and a half; 18  you must drink it at fixed times. 4:12 And you must eat the food like you would a barley cake. You must bake it in front of them over a fire made with dried human excrement.” 19  4:13 And the Lord said, “This is how the people of Israel will eat their unclean food among the nations 20  where I will banish them.”

4:14 And I said, “Ah, sovereign Lord, I have never been ceremonially defiled before. I have never eaten a carcass or an animal torn by wild beasts; from my youth up, unclean meat 21  has never entered my mouth.”

4:15 So he said to me, “All right then, I will substitute cow’s manure instead of human excrement. You will cook your food over it.”

4:16 Then he said to me, “Son of man, I am about to remove the bread supply 22  in Jerusalem. 23  They will eat their bread ration anxiously, and they will drink their water ration in terror 4:17 because they will lack bread and water. Each one will be terrified, and they will rot for their iniquity. 24 

5:1 “As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor. 25  Shave off some of the hair from your head and your beard. 26  Then take scales and divide up the hair you cut off. 5:2 Burn a third of it in the fire inside the city when the days of your siege are completed. Take a third and slash it with a sword all around the city. Scatter a third to the wind, and I will unleash a sword behind them. 5:3 But take a few strands of hair 27  from those and tie them in the ends of your garment. 28  5:4 Again, take more of them and throw them into the fire, 29  and burn them up. From there a fire will spread to all the house of Israel.

5:5 “This is what the sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem; I placed her in the center of the nations with countries all around her. 5:6 Then she defied my regulations and my statutes, becoming more wicked than the nations 30  and the countries around her. 31  Indeed, they 32  have rejected my regulations, and they do not follow my statutes.

5:7 “Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: Because you are more arrogant 33  than the nations around you, 34  you have not followed my statutes and have not carried out my regulations. You have not even 35  carried out the regulations of the nations around you!

5:8 “Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: I – even I – am against you, 36  and I will execute judgment 37  among you while the nations watch. 38  5:9 I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again because of all your abominable practices. 39  5:10 Therefore fathers will eat their sons within you, Jerusalem, 40  and sons will eat their fathers. I will execute judgments on you, and I will scatter any survivors 41  to the winds. 42 

5:11 “Therefore, as surely as I live, says the sovereign Lord, because you defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominable practices, I will withdraw; my eye will not pity you, nor will I spare 43  you. 5:12 A third of your people will die of plague or be overcome by the famine within you. 44  A third of your people will fall by the sword surrounding you, 45  and a third I will scatter to the winds. I will unleash a sword behind them. 5:13 Then my anger will be fully vented; I will exhaust my rage on them, and I will be appeased. 46  Then they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in my jealousy 47  when I have fully vented my rage against them.

5:14 “I will make you desolate and an object of scorn among the nations around you, in the sight of everyone who passes by. 5:15 You will be 48  an object of scorn and taunting, 49  a prime example of destruction 50  among the nations around you when I execute judgments against you in anger and raging fury. 51  I, the Lord, have spoken! 5:16 I will shoot against them deadly, 52  destructive 53  arrows of famine, 54  which I will shoot to destroy you. 55  I will prolong a famine on you and will remove the bread supply. 56  5:17 I will send famine and wild beasts against you and they will take your children from you. 57  Plague and bloodshed will overwhelm you, 58  and I will bring a sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

1 sn Ancient Near Eastern bricks were 10 to 24 inches long and 6 to 13 1/2 inches wide.

2 tn Or perhaps “draw.”

3 tn Or “a barricade.”

4 tn Heb “set camps against it.”

5 tn Or “a griddle,” that is, some sort of plate for cooking.

6 tn That is, a symbolic object lesson.

7 tn Or “punishment” (also in vv. 5, 6).

8 tn Heb “I have assigned for you that the years of their iniquity be the number of days.” Num 14:33-34 is an example of the reverse, where the days were converted into years, the number of days spying out the land becoming the number of years of the wilderness wanderings.

9 tc The LXX reads “190 days.”

sn The significance of the number 390 is not clear. The best explanation is that “days” are used figuratively for years and the number refers to the years of the sinfulness of Israel during the period of the First Temple. Some understand the number to refer to the length of the division of the northern and southern kingdoms down to the fall of Jerusalem (931-586 b.c.), but this adds up to only 345 years.

10 tn Or “When you have carried the iniquity of the house of Israel,” and continuing on to the next verse.

11 sn The number 40 may refer in general to the period of Judah’s exile using the number of years Israel was punished in the wilderness. In this case, however, one would need to translate, “you will bear the punishment of the house of Judah.”

12 sn The action surely refers to a series of daily acts rather than to a continuous period.

13 sn Wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. All these foods were common in Mesopotamia where Ezekiel was exiled.

14 tn Heb “bread.”

15 tc The LXX reads “190 days.”

16 sn Eight ounces (Heb “twenty shekels”). The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of grain about 230 grams here (8 ounces).

17 tn Heb “from time to time.”

18 sn A pint and a half [Heb “one-sixth of a hin”]. One-sixth of a hin was a quantity of liquid equal to about 1.3 pints or 0.6 liters.

19 sn Human waste was to remain outside the camp of the Israelites according to Deut 23:15.

20 sn Unclean food among the nations. Lands outside of Israel were considered unclean (Josh 22:19; Amos 7:17).

21 tn The Hebrew term refers to sacrificial meat not eaten by the appropriate time (Lev 7:18; 19:7).

22 tn Heb, “break the staff of bread.” The bread supply is compared to a staff that one uses for support.

23 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

24 tn Or “in their punishment.” Ezek 4:16-17 alludes to Lev 26:26, 39. The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here, 3:18, 19; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”

25 tn The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT.

26 tn Heb, “pass (it) over your head and your beard.”

27 tn Heb “from there a few in number.” The word “strands” has been supplied in the translation for clarification.

28 sn Objects could be carried in the end of a garment (Hag 2:12).

29 tn Heb “into the midst of” (so KJV, ASV). This phrase has been left untranslated for stylistic reasons.

30 sn The nations are subject to a natural law according to Gen 9; see also Amos 1:3-2:3; Jonah 1:2.

31 tn Heb “she defied my laws, becoming wicked more than the nations, and [she defied] my statutes [becoming wicked] more than the countries around her.”

32 sn One might conclude that the subject of the plural verbs is the nations/countries, but the context (vv. 5-6a) indicates that the people of Jerusalem are in view. The text shifts from using the feminine singular (referring to personified Jerusalem) to the plural (referring to Jerusalem’s residents). See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:73.

33 tn Traditionally this difficult form has been derived from a hypothetical root הָמוֹן (hamon), supposedly meaning “be in tumult/uproar,” but such a verb occurs nowhere else. It is more likely that it is to be derived from a root מָנוֹן (manon), meaning “disdain” (see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:52). A derivative from this root is used in Prov 29:21 of a rebellious servant. See HALOT 600 s.v. מָנוֹן.

34 sn You are more arrogant than the nations around you. Israel is accused of being worse than the nations in Ezek 16:27; 2 Kgs 21:11; Jer 2:11.

35 tc Some Hebrew mss and the Syriac omit the words “not even.” In this case they are being accused of following the practices of the surrounding nations. See Ezek 11:12.

36 tn Or “I challenge you.” The phrase “I am against you” may be a formula for challenging someone to combat or a duel. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:201-2, and P. Humbert, “Die Herausforderungsformel ‘h!nn#n' ?l?K>,’” ZAW 45 (1933): 101-8. The Hebrew text switches to a second feminine singular form here, indicating that personified Jerusalem is addressed (see vv. 5-6a). The address to Jerusalem continues through v. 15. In vv. 16-17 the second masculine plural is used, as the people are addressed.

37 tn The Hebrew text uses wordplay here to bring out the appropriate nature of God’s judgment. “Execute” translates the same Hebrew verb translated “carried out” (literally meaning “do”) in v. 7, while “judgment” in v. 8 and “regulations” in v. 7 translate the same Hebrew noun (meaning “regulations” or in some cases “judgments” executed on those who break laws). The point seems to be this: God would “carry out judgments” against those who refused to “carry out” his “laws.”

38 tn Heb “in the sight of the nations.”

sn This is one of the ironies of the passage. The Lord set Israel among the nations for honor and praise as they would be holy and obey God’s law as told in Ezek 5:5 and Deut 26:16-19. The practice of these laws and statutes would make the peoples consider Israel wise. (See Deut 4:5-8, where the words for laws and statutes are the same as those used here). Since Israel did not obey, they are made a different kind of object lesson to the nations, not by their obedience but in their punishment as told in Ezek 5:8 and Deut 29:24-29. Yet Deut 30 goes on to say that when they remember the cursings and blessings of the covenant and repent, God will restore them from the nations to which they have been scattered.

39 tn Or “abominable idols.”

40 tn In context “you” refers to the city of Jerusalem. To make this clear for the modern reader, “Jerusalem” has been supplied in the translation in apposition to “you.”

sn This cannibalism would occur as a result of starvation due to the city being besieged. It is one of the judgments threatened for a covenant law violation (Lev 26:29; see also Deut 28:53; Jer 19:9; Lam 2:20; Zech 11:9).

41 tn Heb “all of your survivors.”

42 tn Heb “to every wind.”

43 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term is primarily emotional: “to pity,” which in context implies an action, as in being moved by pity in order to spare them from the horror of their punishment.

44 sn The judgment of plague and famine comes from the covenant curse (Lev 26:25-26). As in v. 10, the city of Jerusalem is figuratively addressed here.

45 sn Judgment by plague, famine, and sword occurs in Jer 21:9; 27:13; Ezek 6:11, 12; 7:15.

46 tn Or “calm myself.”

47 tn The Hebrew noun translated “jealousy” is used in the human realm to describe suspicion of adultery (Num 5:14ff.; Prov 6:34). Since Israel’s relationship with God was often compared to a marriage this term is appropriate here. The term occurs elsewhere in Ezekiel in 8:3, 5; 16:38, 42; 23:25.

48 tc This reading is supported by the versions and by the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QEzek). Most Masoretic Hebrew mss read “it will be,” but if the final he (ה) is read as a mater lectionis, as it can be with the second masculine singular perfect, then they are in agreement. In either case the subject refers to Jerusalem.

49 tn The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT. A related verb means “revile, taunt” (see Ps 44:16).

50 tn Heb “discipline and devastation.” These words are omitted in the Old Greek. The first term pictures Jerusalem as a recipient or example of divine discipline; the second depicts her as a desolate ruin (see Ezek 6:14).

51 tn Heb “in anger and in fury and in rebukes of fury.” The heaping up of synonyms emphasizes the degree of God’s anger.

52 tn The Hebrew word carries the basic idea of “bad, displeasing, injurious,” but when used of weapons has the nuance “deadly” (see Ps 144:10).

53 tn Heb “which are/were to destroy.”

54 tn The language of this verse may have been influenced by Deut 32:23.

55 tn Or “which were to destroy those whom I will send to destroy you” (cf. NASB).

56 tn Heb, “break the staff of bread.” The bread supply is compared to a staff that one uses for support. See 4:16, as well as the covenant curse in Lev 26:26.

57 tn Heb “will bereave you.”

58 tn Heb “will pass through you.” This threat recalls the warning of Lev 26:22, 25 and Deut 32:24-25.



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