Ezekiel 5:1-17

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2017-10-20 11:59.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

YHWH instructed Ezekiel to take a sharp sword and to use it like a barber’s razor to cut the hair of his head and his beard. After weighing the hair, he was to divide it (5:1) into three parts (four parts [LXX]). (See the Notes section.) Upon the completion of the mock siege of the city of Jerusalem that he had engraved earlier on a brick, Ezekiel was to burn one third of the hair in the midst of the engraved city. In the Septuagint, the reference is to burning a quarter of the hair in the midst of the city and then an additional quarter in its midst. Another third (quarter [LXX]) of the hair was to be struck with the sword all around the engraved city, and the last third (quarter [LXX]) was to be scattered to the wind. Regarding what this third part represented, YHWH declared, “I will unsheathe a sword after them” (after the people who had been scattered among the nations as exiles). According to the Targum, God would incite those who would do the slaying with the sword. (5:2)

From the portion of the hair designated for scattering, Ezekiel was to take a few hairs and wrap them up in his “skirts” (“garment” [LXX]) or the loose ends of his garment, indicating that there would be some who would survive the impending calamity. (5:3) Other hairs he was to toss into the midst of the fire and burn them up. This action revealed that a fire would go forth or spread to “all the house [or people] of Israel.” (5:4; see the Notes section.)

Concerning Jerusalem, the Lord YHWH declared, “This [is] Jerusalem. In the midst of the nations I have set her, with lands round about her.” As the words that follow suggest, the implication is that Jerusalem was surrounded by the lands of other nations and ended up learning from them and adopting their practices. (5:5) In her conduct (as engaged in by the people), Jerusalem proved to be more wicked than the surrounding nations. Jerusalem (as representing the people) rebelled against God’s commands and his statutes more than the people in the lands round about. His professed people rejected his “judgments” or ordinances and did not “walk” or conduct themselves according to his statutes. (5:6) They were more “tumultuous,” wilder, or acted with far less restraint than the nations round about them. The people refused to walk or to conduct themselves according to YHWH’s statutes and to act in harmony with his “judgments” or ordinances. So corrupt were the people that they did not even act according to the “judgments” or ordinances of the nations round about them. Therefore, the Lord YHWH expressed his decision against his people, focusing on Jerusalem as the place that represented them. (5:7)

The Lord YHWH is quoted as saying that he was against Jerusalem (literally, “you” [singular and feminine gender]) and would execute his judgments in her midst “in the eyes of the nations,” or for the people of other nations to see. (5:8) YHWH determined to do to Jerusalem (representing the rebellious people) what he had never done before and the like of which he would never do again “because of all [her] abominations,” or the detestable things his disobedient people had committed. These abominations included idolatrous practices, oppression, and injustices, and the punishment for these abominations would be very severe. (5:9) During the extreme conditions of famine that would come to exist in besieged Jerusalem, fathers would eat sons, and sons would eat fathers. In Jerusalem, YHWH would execute punitive judgments and scatter any survivors to every “wind” or in all directions. (5:10)

YHWH is quoted as solemnly declaring, “Therefore, as I live, … my eye will not pity, and I will not be compassionate.” He would not look upon the suffering people with any sense of sorrow or feel any compassion for them. This was because they had defiled his sanctuary with their abominable and loathsome things, engaging in practices that were disgusting to him. He would “diminish” them or, according to the Targum, “cut off the strength of [their] arms.” The Septuagint indicates that he would reject them. (5:11)

One third of the people would die from pestilence or from infectious disease that would spread among the famished persons living in the unsanitary conditions of Jerusalem under siege. Another third would perish from the sword of warfare. The remaining third would be scattered to “every wind” or in all directions. The scattered survivors of the siege and conquest would not be secure, for YHWH would permit the sword of warfare to follow them. Therefore, he is quoted as declaring that he would “unsheathe the sword after them.” As in verse 2, the Septuagint refers to a quarter of the people, with a specific calamity being designated to affect each quarter. A quarter of the people would perish by “death” or pestilence, and the other three quarters respectively would die from famine, be scattered, and perish by the sword. (5:12)

In the punishment to come upon the rebellious people, the anger of YHWH would come to its end. He would cause his fury to “rest” upon them and “console” himself. This could mean that the unmitigated wrath of YHWH would be directed against the people, and he would be satisfied in having executed the punishment that justice required. The Septuagint says that his wrath and his fury would be brought to an end upon them. At the time YHWH would bring his rage to finish upon the people, they would know that he himself had spoken in his “jealousy” or in his right to undivided devotion from them. (5:13)

The singular feminine suffixes in the Hebrew text indicate that the reference is to Jerusalem. YHWH decreed, “I will make you a desolation [or a desolated place] and [an object of] reproach among the nations round about you before the eyes [or in the sight] of all [persons] passing by.” According to the Septuagint, God would make Jerusalem and “her daughters” (probably designating nearby towns) into a wilderness. (5:14) Jerusalem would become an object of “reproach” and of “taunt” or of words of insult, a “warning” regarding the fate of those who rebel against YHWH, and a “horror,” something terrifying, to the nations round about the city. This would occur at the time YHWH would execute his judgments upon Jerusalem in expression of his anger and rage and with furious reproofs or chastisements. There would be no change in the severe judgment, for YHWH had spoken, and his word would be carried out without fail. (5:15)

As if shooting a bow, YHWH would send “deadly arrows of famine” against the people. These arrows would bring about destruction when they would be sent against them. YHWH’s adding famine could refer to his permitting famine conditions to intensify, breaking the “staff of bread” or allowing the food supply to be completely cut off from the people. (5:16; also see the comments on 4:16.) YHWH declared that he would send famine and wild beasts against the people, and the beasts of prey would bereave them of children. The devastation of the land would force predators out of their usual habitat, leading to the death of children that might encounter them. The singular feminine suffixes in the concluding phrases indicate that Jerusalem is the focus of the words. “Pestilence” would pass through Jerusalem or infectious disease would spread within the besieged city, and also “blood” would pass through, for the conquering warriors would slay many. YHWH would permit this to happen. Therefore, he is represented as bringing the sword upon Jerusalem. (5:17)


In verse 1, the prophet is addressed as “son of man.” This designation would have reminded him of his being an earthling or a mortal with a commission from the eternal Sovereign upon whom cherubs are in attendance.

In verse 4 of the Septuagint, the expression the “house of Israel” is part of the wording that introduces the words in verse 5. “And you shall say to all the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord …”