|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:9-17 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.
Verse 12. - Thou shall bake it with dung, etc. The process of baking in ashes was as old as the time of Abraham (Genesis 18:6), and continues in Arabia and Syria to the present day. The kneaded dough was rolled into thin flat cakes, and they were placed upon, or hung over, the hot wood embers of the hearth or oven. But in a besieged city the supply of wood for fuel soon fails. The first resource is found, as still often happens in the East, in using the dried dung of camels or of cattle. Before Ezekiel's mind there came the vision of a yet more terrible necessity. That supply also might tail, and then men would be forced to use the dried contents of the "draught houses" or cesspools of Jerusalem. They would be compelled almost literally to fulfil the taunt of Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:12). That thought, as bringing with it the ceremonial pollution of Leviticus 5:3: 7:21, was as revolting to Ezekiel as it is to us; but like Dante, in a like revolting symbolism ('Inf.,' 18:114), he does not shrink from naming it. It came to him, as with the authority of a Divine command, that he was even to do this, to represent the extreme horrors of the siege. And all this was to be done visibly, before the eyes of his neighbours at Tel-Abib.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes,.... That is, the bread made of wheat, barley, beans, lentiles, millet, and fitches, was to be made in the form of barley cakes, and to be baked as they; not in an oven, but under ashes; and these ashes not of wood, or straw, or turf, but as follows:
and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of men, in their sight: the prophet was to take human dung, and dry it, and then cover the cakes or loaves of his mixed bread with it, and burn it over them, and with it bake it; which must be a very disagreeable task to him, and make the food very nauseous, both to himself and to the Jews, in whose sight it was done; and this shows scarcity of fuel, and the severity of the famine; that they had not fuel to bake with, or could not stay till it was baked in an oven, and therefore took this method; as well as points at what they were to eat when carried captive, as follows:
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. dung—as fuel; so the Arabs use beasts' dung, wood fuel being scarce. But to use human dung so implies the most cruel necessity. It was in violation of the law (De 14:3; 23:12-14); it must therefore have been done only in vision.
Ezekiel 4:12 Parallel Commentaries
Ezekiel 4:12 NIV
Ezekiel 4:12 NLT
Ezekiel 4:12 ESV
Ezekiel 4:12 NASB
Ezekiel 4:12 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible