Ezekiel 4

Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized

1 “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it.
2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it.
3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.
4 “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself.[a] You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side.
5 I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.
6 “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.
7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her.
8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.
9 “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side.
10 Weigh out twenty shekels[b] of food to eat each day and eat it at set times.
11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin[c] of water and drink it at set times.
12 Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.”
13 The LORD said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”
14 Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign LORD! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.”
15 “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
16 He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair,
17 for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of[d] their sin.

Ezekiel 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The siege of Jerusalem. (1-8) The famine the inhabitants would suffer. (9-17)

Verses 1-8 The prophet was to represent the siege of Jerusalem by signs. He was to lie on his left side for a number of days, supposed to be equal to the years from the establishment of idolatry. All that the prophet sets before the children of his people, about the destruction of Jerusalem, is to show that sin is the provoking cause of the ruin of that once flourishing city.

Verses 9-17 The bread which was Ezekiel's support, was to be made of coarse grain and pulse mixed together, seldom used except in times of urgent scarcity, and of this he was only to take a small quantity. Thus was figured the extremity to which the Jews were to be reduced during the siege and captivity. Ezekiel does not plead, Lord, from my youth I have been brought up delicately, and never used to any thing like this; but that he had been brought up conscientiously, and never had eaten any thing forbidden by the law. It will be comfortable when we are brought to suffer hardships, if our hearts can witness that we have always been careful to keep even from the appearance of evil. See what woful work sin makes, and acknowledge the righteousness of God herein. Their plenty having been abused to luxury and excess, they were justly punished by famine. When men serve not God with cheerfulness in the abundance of all things, God will make them serve their enemies in the want of all things.

Cross References 22

  • 1. S Jeremiah 6:6; Ezekiel 17:17; Daniel 11:15
  • 2. S Jeremiah 33:4; Ezekiel 21:22
  • 3. S Leviticus 2:5
  • 4. ver 7; Ezekiel 20:46; Ezekiel 21:2
  • 5. S Isaiah 8:18; S Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 13:1-7; Jeremiah 18:1-4; Jeremiah 19:1-2; Ezekiel 5:1-4; Ezekiel 12:3-6; Ezekiel 24:24,27
  • 6. S Jeremiah 39:1
  • 7. S Exodus 28:38
  • 8. Numbers 14:34; Daniel 9:24-26; Daniel 12:11-12
  • 9. S ver 3; Ezekiel 6:2; S Ezekiel 13:17
  • 10. Ezekiel 3:25
  • 11. S Isaiah 28:25
  • 12. S Exodus 30:13
  • 13. ver 16
  • 14. S Isaiah 36:12
  • 15. Hosea 9:3; Amos 7:17
  • 16. Jeremiah 1:6; Ezekiel 9:8; Ezekiel 20:49
  • 17. S Leviticus 11:39
  • 18. S Exodus 22:31; Deuteronomy 14:3; Deuteronomy 32:37-38; Daniel 1:8; Hosea 9:3-4; Acts 10:14
  • 19. S Psalms 105:16; Ezekiel 5:16
  • 20. ver 10-11; S Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah 3:1; Ezekiel 12:19
  • 21. Lamentations 5:4; Ezekiel 5:16; Ezekiel 12:18-19; Amos 4:8
  • 22. S Leviticus 26:39; Ezekiel 24:23; Ezekiel 33:10

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or "upon your side"
  • [b]. That is, about 8 ounces or about 230 grams
  • [c]. That is, about 2/3 quart or about 0.6 liter
  • [d]. Or "away in"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the famine that attended it. The siege is described by a portrait of the city of Jerusalem on a tile, laid before the prophet, Eze 4:1; by each of the actions, representing a siege of it, as building a fort, casting a mount, and setting a camp and battering rams against it, and an iron pan for a wall, between the prophet, the besieger, and the city, Eze 4:2,3; by his gesture, lying first on his left side for the space of three hundred ninety days, and then on his right side for the space of forty days, pointing at the time when the city should be taken, Eze 4:4-6; and by setting his face to the siege, and uncovering his arm, and prophesying, Eze 4:7; and by bands being laid on him, so that he could not turn from one side to the other, till the siege was ended, Eze 4:8; the famine is signified by bread the prophet was to make of various sorts of grain and seeds, baked with men's dung, and eaten by weight, with water drank by measure, which is applied unto the people; it is suggested that this would be fulfilled by the children of Israel's eating defiled bread among the Gentiles, Eze 4:9-13; but upon the prophet's concern about eating anything forbidden by the law, which he had never done, cow's dung is allowed instead of men's, to prepare the bread with, Eze 4:14,15; and the chapter is concluded with a resolution to bring a severe famine on them, to their great astonishment, and with which they should be consumed for their iniquity, Eze 4:16,17.

Ezekiel 4 Commentaries

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