Ezekiel 4:7
Therefore you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and your arm shall be uncovered, and you shall prophesy against it.
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(7) Set thy face is a common Scriptural expression for any steadfast purpose. (See Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 20:5-6; Leviticus 26:17; 2Chronicles 20:3, marg., &c.) It is a particularly favourite phrase with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 15:7; Ezekiel 20:46, &c.). Here this steadfastness of purpose was to be exercised “toward the siege of Jerusalem;” there would be no relenting in this matter—God’s purpose of judgment should surely be fulfilled. Further symbolism to the same effect is added, “Thine arm shall be uncovered,” withdrawn from the loose sleeve of the Oriental robe, and made ready for battle. (Comp. Isaiah 52:10.) Withal he is to “prophesy against it,” doubtless by words suited to his actions.

Ezekiel 4:7-8. Thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem — Thou shalt look toward Jerusalem, or toward the portraiture of it upon the tile, with a threatening countenance, as men do toward the city which they are besieging. And thine arm shall be uncovered — Or, stretched out, as the Vulgate reads it. Their habits were anciently so contrived, that their right arms were disengaged from their upper garments, that they might be the more ready for action. So ancient statues and coins represent heroes with their right arms bare, and out of the sleeves of their garments. Thus God is said to make bare his arm, Isaiah 52:10, where he is represented as subduing his adversaries, and bringing salvation to his people. And thou shalt prophesy against it — Thou shalt signify by these signs what shall happen to it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee — See Ezekiel 3:25. God is said to do what was done in consequence of his command. And thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another — This may mean, that the Lord would powerfully enable, and even constrain him to lie quietly in the posture appointed him, till the days were accomplished, in the sense explained in note on Ezekiel 4:4, this being intended to signify that the Chaldeans should continue the siege, and should be, as it were, fixed and fastened there, as by bonds, till the city was taken. This evidently seems to have been a real transaction, and not a vision, otherwise it does not appear how it could have been a sign to the people; for how could any thing be a sign to them, of which they were not eye-witnesses? Till thou hast ended the days of thy siege — “The three hundred and ninety days, mentioned Ezekiel 4:5; Ezekiel 4:9, it seems, were designed, not only to signify the years of Israel’s sin, but the continuance of the siege of Jerusalem. That siege lasted, from the beginning to the end of it, seventeen months, as appears from 2 Kings 25:1-4. But the king of Egypt, coming to relieve the city, was the occasion of raising the siege for some time, as appears from Jeremiah 37:3. So that it may reasonably be gathered from the authority of the text, joined to the circumstances of the story, that the siege lasted about thirteen months, or three hundred and ninety days.”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.Therefore thou shalt set thy face - Or, "And etc." i. e., direct thy mind to that subject.

Thine arm shall be uncovered - A sign of the execution of vengeance Isaiah 52:10.

7. arm … uncovered—to be ready for action, which the long Oriental garment usually covering it would prevent (Isa 52:10).

thou shalt prophesy against it—This gesture of thine will be a tacit prophecy against it.

Therefore, Heb. And, while thou liest on thy side, thou shalt fix thy countenance on the portrait of besieged Jerusalem, with angry and menacing looks.

Jerusalem; not which was in the land of Judah, but that described in the tile, the emblem of the other.

Thine arm, thy right arm, the stronger and more ready to act, shall be uncovered, naked and stretched out, as being ready to strike and slay.

Thou shalt prophesy against it: this very emblem doth threaten, which is a visional prediction, and no doubt Ezekiel unfolded these riddles on just occasions, and this was a prophesying to them, sometimes by signs, and sometimes by words. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege at Jerusalem,.... All the while he was lying either on the left side or the right, his face was to be directed to the siege of Jerusalem, portrayed upon the tile, and to all the preparations made for that purpose, to show that all had reference to that and that it wound certainly be; for, as the prophet represented the Chaldean army the directing and setting his face to the siege shows their resolution and inflexibleness, that they were determined upon taking the city, and nothing should divert them from it:

and thine arm shall be uncovered; which was usual in fighting in those times and countries; for, wearing long garments, they were obliged to turn them up on the arm, or lay them aside, that they might more expeditiously handle their weapons, and engage with the enemy: in this form the soldiers in Trajan's column are figured fighting; and it is related that the Africans used to fight with their arms uncovered (h); thus Scanderbeg in later times used to fight the Turks. The design of the phrase is to show how ready, diligent, and expeditious, the Chaldeans would be in carrying on the siege. The Targum renders it,

"thou shalt strengthen thine arm;''

and so do the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions:

and thou shall prophesy against it: meaning not so much by words, if at all, but by these actions, gestures, and habit; for they all foretold what would certainly come to pass.

(h) Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 4. c. 3. p. 160.

Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thy {d} arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.

(d) In token of a speedy vengeance.

7. Therefore thou shalt set] With R.V., and thou shalt set … with thine arm uncovered. In this verse the prophet resumes Ezekiel 4:1-3, representing the besiegers; he sets his face towards the siege, presses it steadily and with determination; his arm is bare—the instrument with which he works unentangled and effective (Isaiah 52:10); and he prophesies against the city, for all that is done to Jerusalem is but the irresistible word of the Lord against it taking effect.Verse 7. - Thine arm shall be uncovered. This, as in Isaiah 52:10, was the symbol of energetic action. The prophet was to be, as it were, no apathetic spectator of the siege which he was thus dramatizing, but is as the representative of the Divine commission to control and guide it. The picture of the prophet's attitude, not merely resting on his side and folding his hands, as a man at ease might do, but looking intently, with bare outstretched arm, at the scene portrayed by him, must, we may well imagine, have added to the startling effect of the whole procedure. We note the phrase, "set thy face," as specially characteristic of Ezekiel (here, and, though the Hebrew verb is not the same, Ezekiel 14:8; Ezekiel 15:7). The words "prophesy against it" may imply some spoken utterance of the nature of a "woe," like that of the son of Ananus (see above), but hardly, I think, a prolonged address. After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Ezekiel 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Ezekiel 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Ezekiel 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Ezekiel 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Ezekiel 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Revelation 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not equals אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Ezekiel 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Ezekiel 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Revelation 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.
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