|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-8 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.
Verse 2. - Lay siege against it, etc. The wonder would increase as the spectators looked on what followed. Either tracing the scene on the tablet, or, more probably, as ver. 3 seems to indicate, constructing a model of the scene, the prophet brings before their eyes all the familiar details of a siege, such as we see on numerous Assyrian bas-reliefs: such also as the narratives of the Old Testament bring before us. There are
(1) the forts (as in 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:8), or, perhaps, the wall of circumvallation, which the besiegers erected that they might carry on their operations in safety;
(2) then the mount, or mound (the English of the Authorized Version does not distinguish between the two) of earth from which they plied the bows or catapults (Jeremiah 6:6; Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 33:4; Ezekiel, ut supra);
(3) the camps (plural in the Hebrew and Revised Version), or encampments, in which they were stationed in various positions found the city;
(4) the battering rams. Here the history both of the word and the thing has a special interest. The primary meaning of the Hebrew word is "lamb" (so in Deuteronomy 32:14; 1 Samuel 15:9, et al., Revised Version), or, better, "full grown wethers or rams" (Furst). Like the Greek κρίος (Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 7:4. 1; 2 Macc. 12:15), and the Latin aries (Livy, 21:12; 31:32, et al.), it was transferred to the engine which was used to "butt," like a ram, against the walls of a besieged city, and which, in Roman warfare, commonly terminated in a ram's head in bronze or iron. Ezekiel is the only Old Testament writer who, here and in Ezekiel 21:22, uses the word, for which the LXX. gives βελοστάσεις, and the Vulgate arietes. The margin of the Authorized Version in both places gives "chief leaders," taking "rams" in another figurative sense; but, in the face of the LXX. and Vulgate, there is no reason for accepting this. Battering rams frequently appear in Assyrian bas-reliefs of a much earlier date than Ezekiel's time, at Nimroud (Vaux, 'Nineveh and Persepolis,' p. 456), Konyunyik (Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 14:0, and elsewhere. They were hung by chains near the bottom of the besiegers' towers, and were propelled against the walls.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And lay siege against it,.... In his own person, as in Ezekiel 4:3; or draw the form of a siege, or figure of an army besieging a city; or rather of the instruments and means used in a siege, as follows:
and build a fort against it: Kimchi interprets it a wooden tower, built over against the city, to subdue it; Jarchi takes it to be an instrument by which stones were cast into the city; and so the Arabic version renders it, "machines to cast stones"; the Targum, a fortress; so Nebuchadnezzar in reality did what was here only done in type, 2 Kings 25:1; where the same word is used as here:
and cast a mount about it; a heap of earth cast up, in order to look into the city, cast in darts, and mount the walls; what the French call "bastion", as Jarchi observes:
set the camp also against it; place the army in their tents about it:
and set battering rams against it round about; a warlike instrument, that had an iron head, and horns like a ram, with which in a siege the walls of a city were battered and beaten down. Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the word of princes and generals of the army, who watched at the several corners of the city, that none might go in and out; so the Targum seems to understand it (b). The Arabic version is, "mounts to cast darts"; See Gill on Ezekiel 21:22.
(b) So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 50. 9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. fort—rather, "watch-tower" (Jer 52:4) wherein the besiegers could watch the movements of the besieged [Gesenius]. A wall of circumvallation [Septuagint and Rosenmuller]. A kind of battering-ram [Maurer]. The first view is best.
a mount—wherewith the Chaldeans could be defended from missiles.
battering-rams—literally, "through-borers." In Eze 21:22 the same Hebrew is translated "captains."
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