posted on Jan, 26 2018 @ 05:03 PM
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.
He began his mission by spending three hundred and ninety days acting out, in dumb show, various aspects of the future siege of Jerusalem.
There is now one further piece of acting business, illustrating what happens at the end of the siege (ch5).
Ezekiel is instructed to take a sword and use it as a razor to shave off all the hairs on his head (including his beard). A short sword, I hope,
because a long sword would make it a tricky operation.
These hairs are to be understood as representing individuals, the population of Jerusalem. It is “the sword” (of Nebuchadnezzar) that will be
deciding their fate.
One third of these hairs are to be burned in the fire. As he explains a little later, this means that “a third part of you shall die of pestilence
and be consumed by famine in the midst of you”. “You”, of course, addressing the distant city of Jerusalem rather than his immediate
Another third “you shall take and strike with the sword round about the city”, presumably those who are caught in flight.
The final third “you shall scatter to the wind, and I shall unsheathe the sword after them”. They represent the refugees.
A small remnant will be saved from these fates, kept in Ezekiel’s robe, but even some of these will be given to the fire after all.
This is followed by a verbal explanation which covers two themes.
What Jerusalem has done wrong;
The Lord God set Jerusalem in the middle of the nations (with the intention that she should serve as an example).
Yet Jerusalem has, in fact, rejected against his laws to a greater extent, even, than the others. Her people are “more turbulent than the nations
that are round about you”.
They have “defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and all your abominations” (that is, idolatrous images).
What God will do about it;
He will execute judgement (in the form of a Babylonian siege). “I will do with you what I have never done before and the like of which I will never
He will send upon them pestilence, famine, wild beasts, and the sword. The famine in the city will be so great that the inhabitants will even be
eating each their own relatives, fathers and sons.
The city will be made “a desolation”, an object of reproach and taunt among the surrounding nations.
The “mountains of Israel” are included in this judgement (ch6). God’s eyes are upon them because they have been home to many different altars,
the “high places”. Some were the furtive altars of other local gods, and some were altars of YHWH which happened to be outside the control of
Jerusalem. The distinction between the two kinds may not have been carefully observed on the spot, so religious reformers regarded both with
suspicion. All the altars outside Jerusalem were supposed to have been cleared away in the time of Josiah- though they may have come back, like the
idols in Jerusalem itself.
Therefore the Lord God says to these mountains and valleys “I will bring a sword upon you and I will destroy your high places”.
The altars and incense altars themselves would be broken and made desolate.
Just to make sure, ”I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones round about your
This would have the effect of desecrating them, making them unfit for spiritual use.
“And you shall know that I am the Lord”.
This last line (alternating with “They shall know…) becomes a refrain for several paragraphs and keeps reappearing in the rest of the book. The
moral is that their failure to recognise him as Lord has been key to the problem.
So God addresses the remnants who will survive as captive exiles; he will have “broken their wanton heart which has departed from me…
They will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations…
And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said to them in vain that I would do this evil to them”.
Because they did not believe in him, they did not believe his prophetic warnings.
Again, Ezekiel is told to “Clap your hands and stamp your feet”, accompanying his repetition of the previous warnings. “Then you [people] will
know that I am the Lord”.
The Lord will stretch out his hand and make the land desolate; “Then they will know that I am the Lord”.
Twice more, in ch7, the Lord warns that the end has come upon the four corners of the land. His eye will not spare them or pity them, but he will
punish them for their abominations.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord”.
The rest of that chapter is filled with a declamation about the fall of the kingdom;
“Behold the day!”-that is, the “day of the Lord”, his exercise of judgement and justice.
Therefore “your doom has come!”.
The Lord now adds another set of reasons for what he is doing.
This judgement is also about their behaviour to one another, their pride and injustice and violence, which have all “blossomed” to produce this
Their silver and gold cannot save them because it has been “the stumbling-block of their iniquity”- it provided the fabric for their images.
The land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence, and THAT is the reason why “I will bring the worst of nations to take possession
of their houses”.
The connection with the previous explanation is that all this violence and injustice would not have been happening if they had really “known the
Lord” for what he is.
Therefore the kingdom will fail.
“They have blown the trumpet and made all ready; but none goes to battle, for my wrath is upon all their multitude”.
“They seek a vision from the prophet, but the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders”.
“The king mourns, the prince is wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people are palsied with terror”.
“All hands are feeble, and all knees as weak as water”.
The buyer and the seller have no more time to rejoice over their trade; even their lives will not be maintained.
They will be cast out, wandering, and “moaning over their iniquity”.
“When anguish comes, they will seek peace, and there will be none”.
The removal of their peace means that the Lord has judged them by their own judgements and by their behaviour;
“And they shall know that I am the Lord”.