Ezekiel 24:18
So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) In the morning: and at even.—What the prophet “spake unto the people in the morning” was what he has recorded (Ezekiel 24:3-14). Shortly after this the warning of Ezekiel 24:15-17 must have come to him, and then his Wife died in the evening of the same day. Accordingly, on the following morning the strange conduct which had been commanded him was observed by the people; their curiosity is awakened, and, rightly surmising that there must be some especial significance in the strange doings of their prophet, they come to inquire the meaning of his actions. In reply (Ezekiel 24:20-24), he announces again the destruction of the Temple, and that in the depth of sorrow and trouble at its fall there shall be no outward show of mourning.

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."

I spake unto the people; told them what God had told me, and which I expected would be.

In the morning; it is likely he had this revelation in the night, or evening before, and he tells them betimes in the morning, what God would do in taking away his wife, and what he must not do when she is dead, and to be buried. The next morning after her death he observed God’s command, and without any sign of sorrow or mourning for his great loss.

So I spake unto the people in the morning,.... Did the duty of his office as a prophet; exhorted and instructed the people, particularly informed them of what had been said to him by the Lord, the evening or night before, concerning the death of his wife, and how he was to behave under such a providence; which he told them of before hand, that, when it came to pass, they might have a further proof of his being a true prophet of the Lord:

and at even my wife died; suddenly, as it was said she should; this shows who is meant by the desire of his eyes, and what by the taking it away;

and I did in the morning as I was commanded; neither moaned, nor sighed, nor wept, nor shed a tear, nor used any of the common ceremonies of mourning, but dressed and ate as at other times, as he was ordered to do; this was the next morning after his wife died. So the Syriac version,

"in the morning of the other day;''

and the Arabic version,

"in the morning of the following day.''

Thus whatever the Lord commands is to be done, though ever so contrary to the customs of men, or to natural inclinations and affections.

So I spoke to the people in the morning: and at evening my wife died; and I did {r} in the morning as I was commanded.

(r) Meaning the morning following.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. The death of the prophet’s wife was no doubt an actual occurrence. And there is nothing improbable in his demeanour after it, with the view of attracting the attention of his fellow-captives. At the same time his tendency to idealize occurrences precludes absolute certainty.

Verse 18. - So I spake unto the people in the morning, etc. In yet another way the calling of the prophet superseded the natural impulses of the man. He knew that his wife's hours were numbered, yet the day was spent, not in ministering at her deathbed, but in one last effort to impress the teachings of the time upon the seared consciences and hardened hearts of his countrymen and neighbors. I cannot help referring to the poem 'Ezekiel,' by B.M., published in 1871, as expressing the meaning of the history better than any commentary. Ezekiel 24:18The 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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