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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The prophet now informs those of the captivity of the very day on which Nebuchadnezzar was to lay siege to Jerusalem, (compare Jeremiah 52:4), and describes the fate of that city and its inhabitants by a very apt similitude, Ezekiel 24:1-14. As another sign of the greatness of those calamities the prophet is forbidden to mourn for his wife, of whom he is to be deprived; intimating thereby that the sufferings of the Jews should be so astonishing as to surpass all expressions of grief; and that private sorrow however affectionate and tender the object, ought to be absorbed in the public calamities, Ezekiel 24:15-18. The prophet, having farther expressed his prediction in plain terms, intimates that he was to speak to them no more till they should have the news of these prophecies having been fulfilled, Ezekiel 24:19-27.
1Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The ninth year - This prophecy was given in the ninth year of Zedekiah, about Thursday, the thirtieth of January, A.M. 3414; the very day in which the king of Babylon commenced the siege of Jerusalem.
2Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.
3And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it:
Set on a pot - The pot was Jerusalem; the flesh, the inhabitants in general; every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder, King Zedekiah and his family; the bones, the soldiers; and the setting on the pot, the commencement of the siege. The prophet was then in Mesopotamia; and he was told particularly to mark the day, etc., that it might be seen how precisely the spirit of prophecy had shown the very day in which the siege took place. Under the same image of a boiling pot, Jeremiah had represented the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 1:13. Ezekiel was a priest; the action of boiling pots was familiar to him, as these things were much in use in the temple service.
4Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.
5Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein.
Make it boil well - Let it boil over, that its own scum may augment the fire, that the bones - the soldiers, may be seethed therein. Let its contentions, divided counsels, and disunion be the means of increasing its miseries, רתח רתחיה rattach rethacheyha, let it bubble its bubbling; something like that of the poet: -
"Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble:
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."
Very like the noise made by ebullition, when a pot of thick broth, "sleek and slab," is set over a fierce fire. Such was that here represented in which all the flesh, the fat and the bones were to be boiled, and generally dissolved together.
6Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it.
Let no lot fall upon it - Pull out the flesh indiscriminately; let no piece be chosen for king or priest; thus showing that all should be involved in one indiscriminate ruin.
7For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust;
For her blood is in the midst of her - She gloried in her idol sacrifices; she offered them upon a rock, where the blood should remain evident; and she poured none upon the ground to cover it with dust, in horror of that moral evil that required the blood of an innocent creature to be shed, in order to the atonement of the offender's guilt. To "cover the blood of the victim," was a command of the law, Leviticus 17:13; Deuteronomy 12:24.
8That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered.
That it might cause fury - This very blood shall be against them, as the blood of Abel was against Cain.
9Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great.
10Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned.
Heap or wood - Let the siege be severe, the carnage great, and the ruin and catastrophe complete.
11Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed.
12She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire.
13In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.
In thy filthiness is lewdness - זמה zimmah, a word that denominates the worst kinds of impurity; adultery, incest, etc., and the purpose, wish, design, and ardent desire to do these things. Hers were not accidental sins, they were abominations by design, and they were the worse in her, because God had cleansed her, had separated the Israelites from idolatry and idolatrous nations, and by his institutions removed from them all idolatrous incentives. But they formed alliances with the heathen, and adopted all their abominations; therefore God would not spare them. See Ezekiel 24:14.
14I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.
15Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
16Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.
Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes - Here is an intimation that the stroke he was to suffer was to be above all grief; that it would be so great as to prevent the relief of tears.
Curae leves loquuntur, graviores silent,
is a well-accredited maxim in such cases. Superficial griefs affect the more easily moved passions; great ones affect the soul itself, in its powers of reasoning, reflecting, comparing, recollecting, etc., when the sufferer feels all the weight of wo.
Neither shall thy tears run down - Τουτο γαρ ιδιον των οφθαλμων εν τοις μεγαλοις κακοις· εν μεν γαρ ταις μετριαις συμφοραις αφθονως τα δακρυα καταρῥει, - εν δε τοις ὑπερβαλλουσι δεινοις φευγει και τα δακρυα και προδιδωσι και τους αφθαλμους· Achill. Tat. lib. 3. c. 11. For this is the case with the eyes in great calamities: in light misfortunes tears flow freely, but in heavy afflictions tears fly away, and betray the eyes.
17Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.
Make no mourning - As a priest, he could make no public mourning, Leviticus 21:1, etc.
Bind the tire of thine head - This seems to refer to the high priest's bonnet; or perhaps, one worn by the ordinary priests: it might have been a black veil to cover the head.
Put on thy shoes upon thy feet - Walking barefoot was a sign of grief.
Cover not thy lips - Mourners covered the under part of the face, from the nose to the bottom of the chin.
Eat not the bread of men - לחם אנשים lechem anashim, "the bread of miserable men," i.e., mourners; probably, the funeral banquet.
18So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.
At even my wife died - The prophet's wife was a type of the city, which was to him exceedingly dear. The death of his wife represented the destruction of the city by the Chaldeans; see Ezekiel 24:21, where the temple is represented to be the desire of his eyes, as his wife was, Ezekiel 24:16.
19And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?
Wilt thou not tell us - In the following verses he explains and applies the whole of what he had done and said.
20Then I answered them, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
21Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.
22And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.
23And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another.
24Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
25Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters,
26That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears?
27In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
In that day shall thy mouth be opened - What is, When some one who shall have escaped from Jerusalem, having arrived among the captives, shall inform them of the destruction of the city, the temple, the royal family, and the people at large; till then he might suppress his tears and lamentations. And we find from Ezekiel 33:21, that one did actually escape from the city, and informed the prophet and his brethren in captivity that the city was smitten.
Thus he was not only a prophet to foretell such things, but he was also a sign or portent, shadowing them out by circumstances in his own person and family; and thus the prediction, agreeing so perfectly with the event, proved that the previous information was from the Lord.