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Ezekiel;- Acting out the siege

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posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:03 PM
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Ezekiel is the prophet of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
In the first chapters of the book, he was given the task of explaining this event to his people.

At the beginning of his mission, Ezekiel was committed to a period of housebound silence.
In keeping with this commitment, he presents his first message to the people as a drama in mime.
This drama has three scenes.

He shows a siege (ch4 vv1-3)

He is told to take a brick (presumably a tile which has not yet been baked), and use it to portray the shape of a city. It should resemble Jerusalem as far as can be managed.
He is to “put siegeworks against it”, and erect a mound against the wall. These could have been part of the portrait, but I think the meaning is that he is to dig them in the sand in the sight of the fascinated observers. Any British child could have lent him a bucket and spade for the purpose.
He is to set up an iron plate between himself and the portrayed city and “set his face toward it” (with the angriest-looking scowl that he can manage?). This represents the aggressive spirit with which the attack will be conducted.
In short, “let it be in a state of siege”.

He shows a period of punishment (ch4 vv4-8)

He is told to lie on his left side, “and I will lay the punishment [ or “iniquity”] of the house of Israel upon you”.
For a further period, he is to lie upon his right side, to bear the punishment of the house of Judah.
“Left and right” in Hebrew also mean “north and south”, which seems to confirm that God is talking about the two kingdoms..
Meanwhile, he is to continue setting his face towards the city, with his arm bared, and he is to “prophesy against the city”. If he is still in silence, then the “prophesying” can be done in dumb show, with the help of the accusing arm.
He will be still “in cords”, so that he cannot move from one side to another, as long as the siege lasts. However, this can’t be as absolute as it sounds, as the very terms of the description oblige him to turn from his left side to his right side at least once.
This undermines the modern suggestion that Ezekiel is suffering from a disability of “natural” origin.

The first period is 390 days, and the second 40 days, each representing a number of years.
They can’t be consecutive, though, because then the full siege period (even without the week of “sitting there overwhelmed”) would not fit between the two dates given in the text; the fifth day of the fourth month of the fifth year (ch1 vv1-2) and the same day in the sixth month of the sixth year (ch8 v1). Evidently these sentences “are to be served concurrently”, as the judge would say.

The “forty years” is a symbolic number, suggesting a time of exile equating with the time which the Israelites spent in the wilderness. Jeremiah prefers to talk about “seventy years”, which has a different kind of symbolic meaning.
The actual interval between the fall of Jerusalem and the fall of Babylon was forty-eight years, which ought to be a warning to anyone trying to impose literal meanings on these things.

The longer period is more puzzling.
As a symbolic number, might it be forty days added on to a roughly-estimated lunar year?
If it represents a time of exile for the northern kingdom, it might end at the same time as the forty years for Judah.
The problem is that a starting date three hundred and fifty years before the fall of Jerusalem would be much too early. Though I’ve seen the suggestion that the figure “390” should be read as “190”, which would be about right.
Or does their exile continue after Judah returns (which is what happens in history)?

Another proposition is that the 390 days do not relate to the other kingdom, nor to a time of punishment.
They are for the nation of Israel as a whole, which is what “house of Israel” means in the previous chapter.
And they represent the period of the sin and the idolatry of Israel, going all the way back to the building of Solomon’s Temple.

He shows a famine (ch4 vv9-17)

For the whole period that Ezekiel spends lying on his side, the whole of the 390 days, his food supply is to be restricted.
On a daily basis, he is to measure out his grain, twenty shekels by weight (about eight ounces?), and a couple of pints of water, and that is to be his ration.
This represents the shortages that will be felt by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as the siege progresses- “I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem”.
The grain is to be made into a cake and cooked over dung, premising that this is the only available fuel. God specifies human dung, in the first instance, but allows Ezekiel to substitute animal dung when the prophet protests.
This last detail is also representing what will happen when the inhabitants are being taken into exile, perhaps even after they arrive- “Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations whither I will drive them”.
Even if they have cooking utensils for the food (as they might not, on the outward march), they will still be contaminated by their fuel, ritually isolated from their God. That will be part of the punishment.

These three scenes, between them, constitute Ezekiel’s “siege”.
But when the scenes are taken in combination, there is an obvious difficulty.
The immobility imposed in the second scene is quite incompatible with the activity demanded by the other two scenes, the siege works and the food measuring. Are we, then, to take it as purely notional?

I’m going to suggest that Ezekiel’s “siege” prophecy was acted out in this way;
On a daily basis, for the whole term of 390 days, each of these three scenes was enacted, in turn, during a portion of the day.
First, Ezekiel tinkered for a while with the “siege works”, making further progress from the point where he had left them the day before.
Then there was a period when he was lying on his left, making dumb show “prophecy against the city”. On forty of those days, he was turned round and spent another period lying on his right.
Then he got up, measured out his food and cooked it, and drank his water.

All this was happening at least three years before the historical siege began, long before the rebellion which provoked the siege.
In other words, Ezekiel was demonstrating to observers what would happen in the future.







edit on 19-1-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:04 PM
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The old ICC commentary is prone to suggest that Ezekiel did not really act out his prophecies here and in later chapters, but only talked about acting them out. Jeremiah did something similar at least once, when he took the notional cup of the wine of wrath from God’s hand and “made all the nations drink it” (Jeremiah ch25 vv15-26).
However, this would not have worked effectively in the case of Ezekiel’s mission. These episodes of “acting out” were a necessary visual aid. Merely hearing Ezekiel describe an action, as a metaphor, would not be half as impressive as watching him do it, in complete silence, and trying to understand what it meant.



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:37 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI




These could have been part of the portrait, but I think the meaning is that





This represents the aggressive spirit with which the attack will be conducted.





which seems to confirm





Evidently these sentences “are to be served concurrently”,




This undermines the modern suggestion





The “forty years” is a symbolic number, suggesting a time of exile equating with the time which the Israelites spent in the wilderness. Jeremiah prefers to talk about “seventy years”, which has a different kind of symbolic meaning.





As a symbolic number, might it be forty days added on to a roughly-estimated lunar year?





Though I’ve seen the suggestion that the figure “390” should be read as “190”, which would be about right.





Are we, then, to take it as purely notional?





I’m going to suggest that


Just a few of these to put your work into perspective.

We could argue this for a very long time. This would be quite normal for bible studies.

Frankly, you can make any part of the bible say whatever you want it to say.

I am not disparaging your well presented thoughts OP, you have done well and are within the dictates of your beliefs and I am happy that you have such a great staff to lean upon.

I would say, give up your staff and follow me.

P



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:43 PM
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a reply to: pheonix358
What you're highlighting is the fact that I don't claim absolute certainty where the interpretation is uncertain. I believe this is the correct scholarly approach.
You would prefer uncompromising dogmatism?



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:46 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: pheonix358
What you're highlighting is the fact that I don't claim absolute certainty where the interpretation is uncertain. I believe this is the correct scholarly approach.
You would prefer uncompromising dogmatism?




No I would not. Uncompromising dogmatism is what lead to the burnings at the stake, much of which was based on lies.

Question if I may ....

Why is there not a Commandment against lying?

P



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 05:48 PM
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originally posted by: pheonix358
Why is there not a Commandment against lying?

Not related to the topic of the thread.



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 06:13 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Oh, but it is if you would but look into the depths of knowledge.

But .... your thread so .... OK

P



posted on Jan, 19 2018 @ 07:09 PM
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a reply to: pheonix358


"Lying lips are abominable to The Lord, those that deal truly are His delight..." The math always gets Me, so I don't know which number or chapter...



posted on Jan, 20 2018 @ 02:48 AM
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a reply to: JimNasium
Proverbs ch12 v22
I wasn't going to answer the question directly, because it was attempting to take the discussion off-topic.



posted on Jan, 20 2018 @ 05:35 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Shalom.
He is the Lily of the Valley, the bright and Morning star, the Fairest of ten thousand... the Alpha & Omega.... the Gate.... the Door... The Shephered.. a baby in a King sized bed... King of kings Lord of lords.. my sword isn't sheathed...is yours?



posted on Jan, 20 2018 @ 05:38 PM
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a reply to: JimNasium

Thank God....we are loved...



posted on Jan, 20 2018 @ 05:41 PM
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a reply to: thepianopractice
Welcome to ATS. I hope you can keep up that enthusiasm.



posted on Jan, 20 2018 @ 06:08 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Thank you.
Liylah tov.

(p.s) I'm more English than anyone else in the world.
Where does the word..'Good'.. come from?
Lets go to the One who said....Why do you call me good"
Thank God for Yeshua.
Shalom.



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