Ezekiel 24:17
Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.
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(17) The tire of thine head.—This might be either the covering for the head usually worn by the people (see Ezekiel 24:23), or the special “mitre of fine linen” (Exodus 39:28) provided for the priests; but as the peculiar priestly garments were worn only when the priests were on duty within the tabernacle (Leviticus 6:10-11), it is not likely that Ezekiel used them in his captivity. The priests were expressly allowed to mourn for their nearest relations (Leviticus 21:2-3), and Ezekiel is therefore here made an exception. Among the ordinary signs of mourning was the covering of the head (2Samuel 15:30; Jeremiah 14:3), the sprinkling of dust upon it (Ezekiel 27:30; 1Samuel 4:12; 2Samuel 15:32), going barefoot (1Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2), and covering the lips, or lower part of the face (Micah 3:7). All these things are now forbidden to the prophet in his sorrow.

Eat not the bread of meni.e., the bread furnished by other men. It was customary for friends and neighbours to send food to the house of mourning, a custom which seems to be alluded to in Deuteronomy 26:14; Jeremiah 16:7; Hosea 9:4; and out of this custom the habit of funeral feasts appears to have grown in later times.

24:15-27 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.The priest in general was to mourn for his dead (Leviticus 21:1 ff); but Ezekiel was to be an exception to the rule. The "tire" was the priest's mitre.

Eat not the bread of men - Food supplied for the comfort of the mourners.

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" (Jer 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 (2Sa 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 (Le 21:2, 3, 10). They then put on inferior attire, sprinkling also on their heads dust and ashes (compare Le 10:6, 7).

shoes upon thy feet—whereas mourners went "barefoot" (2Sa 15:30).

cover not … lips—rather, the "upper lip," with the moustache (Le 13:45; Mic 3:7).

bread of men—the bread usually brought to mourners by friends in token of sympathy. So the "cup of consolation" brought (Jer 16:7). "Of men" means such as is usually furnished by men. So Isa 8:1, "a man's pen"; Re 21:17, "the measure of a man."

Forbear to cry; restrain and curb thy sorrows, neither sigh nor lament.

Make no mourning for the dead; when thou carriest her out to burial, make no mourning for her.

Bind the tire of thine head; adorn and trim up thy head, as thou wast used to do; go not bare-headed, as Leviticus 10:6 21:10, a mourner.

Put on thy shoes upon thy feet: in great mournings the Jews went bare-looted, 2 Samuel 15:30 Isaiah 47:2, but do not thou so, put on thy shoes.

Cover not thy lips: it was a custom among them to cover either the upper lip, or mustaches, as the leper did, Leviticus 13:45, and as Micah 3:7; and this also is forbidden the prophet.

Eat not the bread of men; either of mourners, or rather of thy neighbours and friends, who were wont to visit and feast their mourning friends, and sent in both choice and abundance of provision to their houses, Jeremiah 16:7; and this was a custom with Scythians, Grecians, Athenians, and Romans. Eat thou thine own, as if no mourning occasion in thy family.

Forbear to cry,.... Groan or howl, or make any doleful noise: or, "be silent" (x): which the Talmudists (y) interpret of not greeting any person:

make no mourning for the dead; use none of those rites and ceremonies commonly observed for deceased relations and friends, particularly and especially for a wife; who is one of the seven persons for whom mourning is to be made, according to the Jewish canons (z); and which the ties of nature, nearness of relation, and especially mutual and cordial affection, where that has taken place, require; and though a wife is not expressly mentioned among those, for whom a priest might defile himself by attending their funerals, yet must be included among those akin to him, if not solely designed, as Jarchi thinks; whose note on Leviticus 21:2, is, there are none his kin but his wife; so that Ezekiel, though a priest, was not exempted from the observation of funeral rites, but obliged to them, had he not been forbid by a special order from the Lord: the particulars of which follow:

bind the tire of thine head upon thee; cap or turban, wore on the head, as a covering of it, and ornament to it, as the word used signifies; and the priests' bonnets were for glory and beauty, Exodus 28:40, and such was the tire about the prophet's head, since he was a priest; and which, in time of mourning, was taken off, and it was customary for mourners to be bare headed; and though the high priest might not uncover his head and rend his clothes for the dead, Leviticus 21:10, yet other priests might, unless they had a particular and special prohibition, as Ezekiel here; see Leviticus 10:6 and yet it seems, by some instances, particularly that of David's mourning for Absalom, that the head was covered at such a time, 2 Samuel 19:5 and Kimchi on the place expressly says, that it was the way and custom of mourners to cover themselves; and certain it is, that in later times, however, it has been the usage of the Jews to cover their heads in mourning; for this is one of the things expressly forbid in the Jewish canons, as Maimonides (a) says, to be used in mourning for the dead, namely, making bare the head; and covering the head is what mourners are obliged to (b); this Gejerus (c) reconciles, by observing, that at the first of the mourning they used to take off of their heads what they wore for the sake of ornament, such as the tire, or bonnet here; but after a while covered themselves with veils when they went abroad, or others came to them. Jarchi interprets this of the "tephillim", or phylacteries the Jews wore about their heads; and so the Talmud (d); and the Targum is,

"let thy "totaphot" or frontlets be upon thee;''

of which interpretation Jerom makes mention; but these things do not appear to be in use in Ezekiel's time:

and put on thy shoes upon thy feet: which used to be taken off, and persons walked barefoot in times of mourning, 2 Samuel 15:30, and this custom continues with the Jews to this day; and which they say is confirmed by this passage. One of their canons (e) runs thus,

"they do not rend garments, nor pluck off the shoe for any, until he is dead;''

which supposes they do, and should do, when he is dead: and this is one of the things, their writers (f) say, is forbidden a mourner for the dead, namely, to put on his shoes; and they ask, from whence it appears that a mourner is forbid to put on his shoes? the answer is, from what is said to Ezekiel, "put on thy shoes upon thy feet": which shows that in common it was not right nor usual to do it; and it is their custom now for mourners, when they return from the grave, to sit seven days on the ground with their feet naked (g):

and cover not thy lips; as the leper did in the time of his separation and distress, who put a covering upon his upper lip, Leviticus 13:45 and as mourners did, who put a veil upon their faces:

and eat not the bread of men: of other men; or "of mourners" (h), as the Targum; such as used to be sent to mourners by their friends, in order to refresh and revive their spirits; and who, they supposed, through their great grief, were not careful to provide food for themselves; and this they did to comfort them, and let them know that, though they had lost a relation, there were others left, who had a cordial respect for them, and heartily sympathized with them: and, according to the traditions of the Jews (i), a mourner might not eat of his own bread; but was obliged to eat the bread of others, at least his first meal, and on the first day of his mourning; though he might on the second, and on the following days; and this they endeavour to establish from this place of Scripture. What their friends used to send them at such a time were usually hard eggs and wine. Eggs, because round and spherical, and so a proper emblem of death, and might serve to put in mind of it, which goes round, is with one today, and with another tomorrow; and wine, to cheer their spirits, that they might forget their sorrow (k). They also used to eat at such times a sort of pulse, called lentiles, to show by what sort of food they lost their birthright, or firstborn (l) And such like things were used by the Romans in their funeral feasts, as beans, parsley, lettuce, lentiles, eggs, &c. (m), and as the Romans had their "parentalia", and the Greeks their so the Jews had also very sumptuous feasts on such occasions: not only great personages, as kings and nobles, made them; so Archelaus, made a magnificent one for the people, on the death of his father Herod (n), after the custom of the country; but even the common people were very profuse and lavish in them; and which, as Josephus (o) observes, was the cause of great poverty among them; for so prevalent was the custom, that there was a necessity of doing it, or otherwise a man would not have been reckoned a holy man; see Jeremiah 16:7.

(x) "tace", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. (y) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1.((z) Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 2. sect. 1. Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 708. (a) Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 5. sect. 1.((b) Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 380. sect. 1. c. 386. sect. 1, 2.((c) De luctu Ebr. c. 11. sect. 5. p. 250. (d) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 11. 1. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1. Succa, fol. 25. 2.((e) Messech, Semachot, c. 1. sect. 5. (f) Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 5. sect. 1. Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 380. sect. 1. 382. sect. 1, 2.((g) Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 706. (h) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 11. 1. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1. Succa, fol. 25. 2.((i) T. Bab. Moed Katan, fol. 27. 2. Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 4. sect. 9. Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 378. sect. 1.((k) Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 708. (l) Hieron. ad Paulam super obitu Blesillae, tom. 1. operam, fol. 54. L. (m) Vid. Kirchman. de Funer. Rom. l. 4. c. 7. p. 591. (n) Joesph Antiqu. l. 17. c. 8. sect. 4. (o) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 1. sect. 1.

Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind thy turban upon thee, {p} and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat {q} not the bread of men.

(p) For in mourning they went bare headed and barefooted and also covered their lips.

(q) That is, which the neighbours sent to them that mourned.

17. Forbear to cry] sigh in silence; lit. sigh, be silent.

mourning for the dead] Another order was to be expected; two accus. must be assumed.

the tire of thine head] The “tire” is not necessarily the priestly tiara, but the ordinary headdress (Ezekiel 24:23), which would probably be white. Putting off the shoes was a sign of calamity, 2 Samuel 15:31, and also covering the lower part of the face up to the upper lip. Micah 3:7; Leviticus 13:45.

the bread of men] Jeremiah 16:7, “Neither shall men break bread for them to comfort them for the dead, neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.”

Ezekiel 24:17The Sign of Silent Sorrow Concerning the Destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel 24:14. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 24:16. Son of man, behold, I take from thee thine eyes' delight by a stroke, and thou shalt not mourn nor weep, and no tear shall come from thee. Ezekiel 24:17. Sigh in silence; lamentation for the dead thou shalt not make; bind thy head-attire upon thee, and put thy shoes upon thy feet, and do not cover thy beard, and eat not the bread of men. Ezekiel 24:18. And I spake to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died, and I did in the morning as I was commanded. Ezekiel 24:19. Then the people said to me, Wilt thou not show us what this signifies to us that thou doest so? Ezekiel 24:20. And I said to them, The word of Jehovah has come to me, saying, Ezekiel 24:21. Say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, and the desire of your soul; and your sons and your daughters, whom ye have left, will fall by the sword. Ezekiel 24:22. Then will ye do as I have done, ye will not cover the beard, nor eat the bread of men; Ezekiel 24:23. And ye will have your head-attired upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet; ye will not mourn nor weep, but will pine away in your iniquity, and sigh one towards another. Ezekiel 24:24. Thus will Ezekiel be a sign to you; as he hath done will ye do; when it cometh, ye will know that I the Lord am Jehovah. - From the statements in Ezekiel 24:18, to the effect that the prophet spoke to the people in the morning, and then in the evening his wife died, and then again in the (following) morning, according to the command of God, he manifested no grief, and in answer to the inquiry of the people explained to them the meaning of what he did, it is evident that the word of God contained in this section came to him on the same day as the preceding one, namely, on the day of the blockade of Jerusalem; for what he said to the people on the morning of this day (Ezekiel 24:18) is the prophecy contained in Ezekiel 24:3-14. Immediately after He had made this revelation to him, God also announced to him the approaching death of his wife, together with the significance which this event would have to the people generally. The delight of the eyes (Ezekiel 24:16) is his wife (Ezekiel 24:18) בּמגּפה by a stroke, i.e., by a sudden death inflicted by God (vid., Numbers 14:37; Numbers 17:13). On the occurrence of her death, he is neither to allow of any loud lamentings, nor to manifest any sign of grief, but simply to sigh in silence. מתים אבל does not stand for אבל מתים, but the words are both accusatives. The literal rendering would be: the dead shalt thou not make an object of mourning, i.e., thou shalt not have any mourning for the dead, as Storr (observv. p. 19) has correctly explained the words. On occasions of mourning it was customary to uncover the head and strew ashes upon it (Isaiah 61:3), to go barefoot (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2), and to cover the beard, that is to say, the lower part of the face as far as the nose (Micah 3:7). Ezekiel is not to do any of these things, but to arrange his head-attire (פּאר, the head-attire generally, or turban, vid., Ezekiel 24:23 and Isaiah 61:3, and not specially that of the priests, which is called פּארי in Exodus 39:28), and to put on his shoes, and also to eat no mourning bread. לחם אנשׁים does not mean panis miseroroum, cibus lugentium, in which case אנשׁים would be equivalent to אנשׁים, but bread of men, i.e., of the people, that is to say, according to the context, bread which the people were accustomed to send to the house of mourning in cases of death, to manifest their sympathy and to console and refresh the mourners - a custom which gave rise in the course of time to that of formal funeral meals. These are not mentioned in the Old Testament; but the sending of bread or food to the house of mourning is clearly referred to in Deuteronomy 26:14; Hosea 9:4, and Jeremiah 16:7 (see also 2 Samuel 3:35). - When Ezekiel thus abstained from all lamentation and outward sign of mourning on the death of his dearest one, the people conjectured that such striking conduct must have some significance, and asked him what it was that he intended to show thereby. He then announced to them the word of God (Ezekiel 24:20-24). As his dearest one, his wife, had been taken from him, so should it dearest object, the holy temple, be taken from the nation by destruction, and their children by the sword. When this occurred, then would they act as he was doing now; they would not mourn and weep, but simply in their gloomy sorrow sigh in silence on account of their sins, and groan one toward another.

The profanation (חלּל) of the sanctuary is effected through its destruction (cf. Ezekiel 7:24). To show the magnitude of the loss, the worth of the temple in the eyes of the nation is dwelt upon in the following clauses. גּאון עזּכם is taken from Leviticus 26:19. The temple is called the pride of your strength, because Israel based its might and strength upon it as the scene of the gracious presence of God, living in the hope that the Lord would not give up His sanctuary to the heathen to be destroyed, but would defend the temple, and therewith Jerusalem and its inhabitants also (cf. Jeremiah 7:4). מהמל נפשׁכם , the desire or longing of the soul (from המל, in Arabic, desiderio ferri ad aliquam rem). The sons and daughters of the people are the relatives and countrymen whom the exiles had been obliged to leave behind in Canaan. - The explanation of this lamentation and mourning on account of the destruction of the sanctuary and death of their relations, is to be found in the antithesis: 'וּנמקּתם בעו, ye will pine or languish away in your iniquities (compare Ezekiel 4:17 and Leviticus 26:39). Consequently we have not to imagine either "stolid indifference" (Eichhorn and Hitzig), or "stolid impenitence" (Ewald), but overwhelming grief, for which there were no tears, no lamentation, but only deep inward sighing on account of the sins which had occasioned so terrible a calamity. נהם, lit., to utter a deep growl, like the bears (Isaiah 59:11); here to sigh or utter a deep groan. "One toward another," i.e., manifesting the grief to one another by deep sighs; not "full of murmuring and seeking the sin which occasioned the calamity in others rather than in themselves," as Hitzig supposes. The latter exposition is entirely at variance with the context. This grief, which consumes the bodily strength, leads to a clear perception of the sin, and also to true repentance, and through penitence and atonement to regeneration and newness of life. And thus will they attain to a knowledge of the Lord through the catastrophe which bursts upon them (cf. Leviticus 26:40.). For מופת, a sign, see the comm. on Exodus 4:21.

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