The fate of Jerusalem. (1-14) The extent of the sufferings of the Jews. (15-27)
Verses 1-14 The pot on the fire represented Jerusalem besieged by the Chaldeans: all orders and ranks were within the walls, prepared as a prey for the enemy. They ought to have put away their transgressions, as the scum, which rises by the heat of the fire, is taken from the top of the pot. But they grew worse, and their miseries increased. Jerusalem was to be levelled with the ground. The time appointed for the punishment of wicked men may seem to come slowly, but it will come surely. It is sad to think how many there are, on whom ordinances and providences are all lost.
Verses 15-27 Though mourning for the dead is a duty, yet it must be kept under by religion and right reason: we must not sorrow as men that have no hope. Believers must not copy the language and expressions of those who know not God. The people asked the meaning of the sign. God takes from them all that was dearest to them. And as Ezekiel wept not for his affliction, so neither should they weep for theirs. Blessed be God, we need not pine away under our afflictions; for should all comforts fail, and all sorrows be united, yet the broken heart and the mourner's prayer are always acceptable before God.
Ezekiel 24:1-27 . VISION OF THE BOILING CALDRON, AND OF THE DEATH OF EZEKIEL'S WIFE.
1, 2. Ezekiel proves his divine mission by announcing the very day, ("this same day") of the beginning of the investment of the city by Nebuchadnezzar; "the ninth year," namely, of Jehoiachin's captivity, "the tenth day of the tenth month"; though he was three hundred miles away from Jerusalem among the captives at the Chebar ( 2 Kings 25:1 , Jeremiah 39:1 ).
2. set himself--laid siege; "lay against."
3. pot--caldron. Alluding to the self-confident proverb used among the people, Ezekiel 11:3 flesh"; your proverb shall prove awfully true, but in a different sense from what you intend. So far from the city proving an iron, caldron-like defense from the fire, it shall be as a caldron set on the fire, and the people as so many pieces of meat subjected to boiling heat. See Jeremiah 1:13 .
4. pieces thereof--those which properly belong to it, as its own.
every good piece . . . choice bones--that is the most distinguished of the people. The "choice bones" in the pot have flesh adhering to them. The bones under the pot ( Ezekiel 24:5 ) are those having no flesh and used as fuel, answering to the poorest who suffer first, and are put out of pain sooner than the rich who endure what answers to the slower process of boiling.
5. burn . . . bones--rather, "pile the bones." Literally, "Let there be a round pile of the bones."
therein--literally, "in the midst of it."
6. scum--not ordinary, but poisonous scum, that is, the people's all-pervading wickedness.
bring it out piece by piece--"it," the contents of the pot; its flesh, that is, "I will destroy the people of the city, not all at the same time, but by a series of successive attacks." Not as FAIRBAIRN, "on its every piece let it (the poisonous scum) go forth."
let no lot fall upon it--that is, no lot, such as is sometimes cast, to decide who are to be destroyed and who saved ( 2 Samuel 8:2 , Joel 3:3 , Obadiah 1:11 , Nahum 3:10 ). In former carryings away of captives, lots were cast to settle who were to go, and who to stay, but now all alike are to be cast out without distinction of rank, age, or sex.
7. upon the top of a rock--or, "the dry, bare, exposed rock," so as to be conspicuous to all. Blood poured on a rock is not so soon absorbed as blood poured on the earth. The law ordered the blood even of a beast or fowl to be "covered with the dust" ( Leviticus 17:13 ); but Jerusalem was so shameless as to be at no pains to cover up the blood of innocent men slain in her. Blood, as the consummation of all sin, presupposes every other form of guilt.
8. That it might cause--God purposely let her so shamelessly pour the blood on the bare rock, "that it might" the more loudly and openly cry for vengeance from on high; and that the connection between the guilt and the punishment might be the more palpable. The blood of Abel, though the ground received it, still cries to heaven for vengeance ( Genesis 4:10 Genesis 4:11 ); much more blood shamelessly exposed on the bare rock.
set her blood--She shall be paid back in kind ( Matthew 7:2 ). She openly shed blood, and her blood shall openly be shed.
9. the pile for fire--the hostile materials for the city's destruction.
10. spice it well--that the meat may be the more palatable, that is, I will make the foe delight in its destruction as much as one delights in well-seasoned, savory meat. GROTIUS, needlessly departing from the obvious sense, translates, "Let it be boiled down to a compound."
11. set it empty . . . that . . . brass . . . may burn, . . . that . . . scum . . . may be consumed--Even the consumption of the contents is not enough; the caldron itself which is infected by the poisonous scum must be destroyed, that is, the city itself must be destroyed, not merely the inhabitants, just as the very house infected with leprosy was to be destroyed ( Leviticus 14:34-45 ).
12. herself--rather, "she hath wearied Me out with lies"; or rather, "with vain labors" on My part to purify her without being obliged to have recourse to judgments (compare Isaiah 43:24 , Malachi 2:17 ) [MAURER]. However, English Version gives a good sense (compare Isaiah 47:13 , 57:10 ).
13. lewdness--determined, deliberate wickedness; from a Hebrew root, "to purpose."
I have purged thee--that is, I have left nothing untried which would tend towards purging thee, by sending prophets to invite thee to repentance, by giving thee the law with all its promises, privileges, and threats.
thou shalt not be purged . . . any more--that is, by My gracious interpositions; thou shalt be left to thine own course to take its fatal consequences.
14. go back--desist; relax [FAIRBAIRN].
15. Second part of the vision; announcement of the death of Ezekiel's wife, and prohibition of the usual signs of mourning.
16. desire of . . . eyes--his wife: representing the sanctuary ( Ezekiel 24:21 ) in which the Jews so much gloried. The energy and subordination of Ezekiel's whole life to his prophetic office is strikingly displayed in this narrative of his wife's death. It is the only memorable event of his personal history which he records, and this only in reference to his soul-absorbing work. His natural tenderness is shown by that graphic touch, "the desire of thine eyes." What amazing subjection, then, of his individual feeling to his prophetic duty is manifested in the simple statement ( Ezekiel 24:18 ), "So I spake . . . in the morning; and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded."
stroke--a sudden visitation. The suddenness of it enhances the self-control of Ezekiel in so entirely merging individual feeling, which must have been especially acute under such trying circumstances, in the higher claims of duty to God.
17. Forbear to cry--or, "Lament in silence"; not forbidding sorrow, but the loud expression of it [GROTIUS].
no mourning--typical of the universality of the ruin of Jerusalem, which would preclude mourning, such as is usual where calamity is but partial. "The dead" is purposely put in the plural, as referring ultimately to the dead who should perish at the taking of Jerusalem; though the singular might have been expected, as Ezekiel's wife was the immediate subject referred to: "make no mourning," such as is usual, "for the dead, and such as shall be hereafter in Jerusalem" ( Jeremiah 16:5-7 ).
tire of thine head--thy headdress [FAIRBAIRN]. JEROME explains, "Thou shalt retain the hair which is usually cut in mourning." The fillet, binding the hair about the temples like a chaplet, was laid aside at such times. Uncovering the head was an ordinary sign of mourning in priests; whereas others covered their heads in mourning ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ). The reason was, the priests had their headdress of fine twined linen given them for ornament, and as a badge of office. The high priest, as having on his head the holy anointing oil, was forbidden in any case to lay aside his headdress. But the priests might do so in the case of the death of the nearest relatives ( Leviticus 21:2 Leviticus 21:3 Leviticus 21:10 ). They then put on inferior attire, sprinkling also on their heads dust and ashes (compare Leviticus 10:6 Leviticus 10:7 ).
shoes upon thy feet--whereas mourners went "barefoot" ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ).
cover not . . . lips--rather, the "upper lip," with the moustache ( Leviticus 13:45 , Micah 3:7 ).
bread of men--the bread usually brought to mourners by friends in token of sympathy. So the "cup of consolation" brought ( Jeremiah 16:7 ). "Of men" means such as is usually furnished by men. So Isaiah 8:1 , "a man's pen"; Revelation 21:17 , "the measure of a man."
19. what these things are to us--The people perceive that Ezekiel's strange conduct has a symbolical meaning as to themselves; they ask, "What is that meaning?"
21. excellency of your strength--(compare Amos 6:8 ). The object of your pride and confidence ( Jeremiah 7:4 Jeremiah 7:10 Jeremiah 7:14 ).
desire of . . . eyes--( Psalms 27:4 ). The antitype to Ezekiel's wife ( Ezekiel 24:16 ).
pitieth--loveth, as pity is akin to love: "yearned over."
Profane--an appropriate word. They had profaned the temple with idolatry; God, in just retribution, will profane it with the Chaldean sword, that is, lay it in the dust, as Ezekiel's wife.
sons . . . daughters . . . left--the children left behind in Judea, when the parents were carried away.
22. ( Jeremiah 16:6 Jeremiah 16:7 ). So general shall be the calamity, that all ordinary usages of mourning shall be suspended.
23. ye shall not mourn . . . but . . . pine away for your iniquities--The Jews' not mourning was to be not the result of insensibility, any more than Ezekiel's not mourning for his wife was not from want of feeling. They could not in their exile manifest publicly their lamentation, but they would privately "mourn one to another." Their "iniquities" would then be their chief sorrow ("pining away"), as feeling that these were the cause of their sufferings (compare Leviticus 26:39 , Lamentations 3:39 ). The fullest fulfilment is still future ( Zechariah 12:10-14 ).
24. sign--a typical representative in his own person of what was to befall them ( Isaiah 20:3 ).
when this cometh--alluding probably to their taunt, as if God's word spoken by His prophets would never come to pass. "Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come now" ( Jeremiah 17:15 ). When the prophecy is fulfilled, "ye shall know (to your cost) that I am the Lord," who thereby show My power and fulfil My word spoken by My prophet ( John 13:19 , 14:29 ).
25, 26. "The day" referred to in these verses is the day of the overthrow of the temple, when the fugitive "escapes." But "that day," in Ezekiel 24:27 , is the day on which the fugitive brings the sad news to Ezekiel, at the Chebar. In the interval the prophet suspended his prophecies as to the Jews, as was foretold. Afterwards his mouth was "opened," and no more "dumb" ( Ezekiel 3:26 Ezekiel 3:27 ; compare Ezekiel 24:27 , Ezekiel 33:21 Ezekiel 33:22 ).