Ezekiel 4:10
And your meat which you shall eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shall you eat it.
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(10) By weight, twenty shekels a day.—The weight of the shekel is somewhat differently estimated by different authorities. The best computations fix it at about 220 grains, and this would make the allowance of twenty shekels equal to something less than eleven ounces, scarcely enough to sustain life. “Meat” is here used, as often in Scripture, of any kind of food. The extreme scarcity of food is also denoted by its being weighed rather than measured. “From time to time” means at set intervals of time (see 1Chronicles 9:25), here doubtless once a day. Only the longer period of 390 days is here mentioned, but the same command doubtless applied to both periods.

Ezekiel 4:10-12. And thy meat shall be by weight twenty shekels, &c. — In sieges it is common to stint every one to a certain allowance, by which means they can guess how long their provisions will last: twenty shekels is but ten ounces; a short allowance for a day’s sustenance. From time to time shalt thou eat of it — This shall be thy daily allowance during the whole three hundred and ninety days. Thou shalt drink also water by measure — In sieges it is usual for the enemy to cut off the water from coming into the cities which they besiege, as much as they can, which produces a scarcity of it; the sixth part of a hin — Which is about a pint and a half of our measure. Thou shalt eat it as barley cakes — Such as people make in haste, when they have not time for preparing a set meal: see Exodus 12:39. This represents the hurry and disorder which would be occasioned by the siege. And thou shalt bake it with dung — To signify the scarcity of all kinds of fuel. Sir J. Chardin, in his MS. quoted by Harmer, tells us, “the eastern people always used cow-dung for baking, boiling a pot, and dressing all kinds of victuals that are easily cooked; especially in countries that had but little wood.” And D’Arvieux,

“complaining that one sort of Arab bread smells of smoke, and tastes of the cow-dung used in baking it, informs us, that the peasants often make use of the same fuel, and that all who live in villages where there is not plenty of wood, are very careful to stock themselves with it; the children,” he says, “gather up the dung, and clap it against a wall to dry, from whence the quantity that is necessary for baking, or warming themselves, is taken from time to time.” — Harmer, chap. 4. observ. 20, vol. 1. According to Dathius, quoted by Bishop Newcome, the dung of camels, as well as that of cows or oxen, was also “often used by the easterns as fuel for preparing their food.” But the command here given to the prophet, to use human dung, expressed the greatest necessity, and was terribly significant of the extremities which the inhabitants of Jerusalem should undergo during the siege, no nation making use of that offensive kind of fuel.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.meat - A general term for food, which in this case consists of grain. Instead of measuring, it was necessary in extreme scarcity to weigh it Leviticus 26:26; Revelation 6:6.

Twenty shekels a day - The shekel contained about 220 grains, so that 20 shekels would be about 56 of a pound.

From time to time - Thou shalt receive and eat it at the appointed interval of a day.

10. twenty shekels—that is, little more than ten ounces; a scant measure to sustain life (Jer 52:6). But it applies not only to the siege, but to their whole subsequent state. Thy meat; the mean and coarse bread which thou must eat and be content with.

By weight; not full, as once; not as much as you will, but a small pittance delivered by weight to all; which bespeaks the extreme penury the city should be brought to.

Twenty shekels; some say five ounces, others say ten ounces, the greater of the two scarce enough to maintain life, and yet, it is probable enough, it was but five ounces of bread which was his allowance. A hard case, when the law of the twelve tables allowed a pound of bread to prisoners daily for their diet. But here the prophet hath but half that allowance, if the twenty shekels were shekels of the sanctuary; and he hath but a quarter of that allowance, if they were common shekels by which his allowance was weighed.

From time to time; at set hours this was weighed out, and no more could be had at any other time, whether morning or evening; once in four and twenty hours, or once in twelve hours, still at the appointed hour; and possibly there might be different hours appointed to different persons, and every one must observe his own time. And thy meat which thou shall eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day,.... To eat bread by weight was a sign of a grievous famine; see Leviticus 26:26; a shekel, according to Josephus (i), weighed four Attic drachms, or half an ounce, wherefore twenty shekels weighed ten ounces; so that the bread the prophet had to eat was but ten ounces a day:

from time to time shall thou eat it; at the certain time of eating, or but once a day; from a set time in one day to the same in another; as from morning to morning, or from noon to noon, or from evening to evening; see Jeremiah 37:21.

(i) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 2.

And thy food which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, {h} twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.

(h) Which make a pound.

10. twenty shekels a day] Twenty shekels might be eight or nine ounces. In this country two pounds of bread is held an ordinary allowance.Verse 10. - Thy meat, etc.; better, food, here and elsewhere. Coarse as the food was, the people would have but scanty rations of it. Men were not, as usual, to measure the corn, but to weigh the bread (Leviticus 26:26). Taking the shekel at about 220 grains, the twenty shekels would be about 10 or 12 ounces. The common allowance in England for prison or pauper dietaries gives, I believe from 24 to 32 ounces, Besides other food. And this was to be taken, not as hunger prompted, but at the appointed hour. once a day. The whole scene of the people of the besieged city coming for their daily rations is brought vividly before us. Introduction to the first prophetic announcement. - Ezekiel 3:22. And there came upon me there the hand of Jehovah, and He said to me, Up! go into the valley, there will I speak to thee. Ezekiel 3:23. And I arose, and went into the valley: and, lo, there stood the glory of Jehovah, like the glory which I had seen at the river Chebar: and I fell upon my face. Ezekiel 3:24. And spirit came into me, and placed me on my feet, and He spake with me, and said to me, Go, and shut thyself in thy house. - הבּקעה is, without doubt, the valley situated near Tel-abib. Ezekiel is to go out from the midst of the exiles - where, according to Ezekiel 3:15, he had found himself-into the valley, because God will reveal Himself to him only in solitude. When he had complied with this command, there appears to him there the glory of Jehovah, in the same form in which it had appeared to him at the Chaboras (Ezekiel 1:4-28); before it he falls, a second time, on his face; but is also, as on the first occasion, again raised to his feet, cf. 1:28-2:2. Hereupon the Lord commands him to shut himself up in his house - which doubtless he inhabited in Tel-Abib - not probably "as a sign of his future destiny," as a realistic explanation of the words, "Thou canst not walk in their midst (Ezekiel 3:25); they will prevent thee by force from freely exercising thy vocation in the midst of the people." For in that case the "shutting of himself up in the house" would be an arbitrary identification with the "binding with fetters" (Ezekiel 3:25); and besides, the significance of the address ואתּה בן אדם, and its repetition in Ezekiel 4:1 and Ezekiel 5:1, would be misconceived. For as in Ezekiel 4:1 and Ezekiel 5:1 there are introduced with this address the principal parts of the duty which Ezekiel was to perform, so the proper divine instruction may also first begin with the same in Ezekiel 3:25; consequently the command "to shut himself up in his house" can only have the significance of a preliminary divine injunction, without possessing any significance in itself; but only "serve as a means for carrying out what the prophet is commissioned to do in the following chapters" (Kliefoth), i.e., can only mean that he is to perform in his own house what is commanded him in Ezekiel 4 and 5, or that he is not to leave his house during their performance. More can hardly be sought in this injunction, nor can it at all be taken to mean that, having shut himself up from others in his house, he is to allow no one to approach him; but only that he is not to leave his dwelling. For, according to Ezekiel 4:3, the symbolical representation of the siege of Jerusalem is to be a sign for the house of Israel; and according to Ezekiel 4:12, Ezekiel is, during this symbolical action, to bake his bread before their eyes. From this it is seen that his contemporaries might come to him and observe his proceedings.
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