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Ezekiel Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Ezekiel 4:1 Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it the city, even Jerusalem:

Ezekiel 4:2 And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

lay siege. Ezekiel had been carried captive to Babylon after the first siege of Jerusalem in 597 b.c. (2 Kings 24:10-16), but he was writing these prophecies before the second siege eleven years later (2 Kings 25:1-11).

Ezekiel 4:3 Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.

Ezekiel 4:4 Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.

Ezekiel 4:5 For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

Ezekiel 4:6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

forty days. Ezekiel was to lie on his left side 390 days and his right side 40 days, representing the 390-year iniquity of Israel (Ezekiel 4:5) and the 40-year iniquity of Judah. Biblical chronology is not yet an exact science, but the 390-year period is at least close to the time since Jeroboam had led Israel into idolatry (1 Kings 12:25-33), and the 40-year period would be close to the time since God had said He would “remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel” (2 Kings 23:27). Thus Ezekiel was to lie on his side a total of 430 days, which was also a significant number, since Israel had previously spent 430 years in exile in Egypt prior to the exodus (Galatians 3:17). Note also that these 430 days were literal days, even though they represented 430 years. There is no warrant here for the so-called “year-day” theory, whose advocates often arbitrarily take “days” to mean “years” without any warrant in the context.

Ezekiel 4:7 Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.

Ezekiel 4:8 And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.

Ezekiel 4:9 Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Ezekiel 4:10 And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.

twenty shekels. The inhabitants of the besieged city would each have a daily ration of a half-pound (that is, twenty shekels weight) of food (the connotation of “meat” here) to eat each day and about two-thirds of a quart of water (Ezekiel 4:11).

Ezekiel 4:11 Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.

Ezekiel 4:12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.

Ezekiel 4:13 And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.

Ezekiel 4:14 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.

Ezekiel 4:15 Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.

cow's dung. In the ancient Middle East, cow dung was (and is still today) often used for fuel. To bake bread using human waste for fuel, however, would “defile” the bread (Ezekiel 4:12-13), and God respected Ezekiel's objection. In symbol, of course, the lesson was the warning that Israel would be forced to many ritualistic defilements when they were living among the Gentiles.

Ezekiel 4:16 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:

Ezekiel 4:17 That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.