Ezekiel 4:9
Take you also to you wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make you bread thereof, according to the number of the days that you shall lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days shall you eat thereof.
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(9) Take thou also unto thee wheat.—The grains enumerated are of all kinds from the best to the worst, indicating that every sort of food would be sought after in the straitness of the siege. If the mixing of these in one vessel and making bread of them all together was not against the exact letter of the law, it was, at least, a plain violation of its spirit (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9), thus again indicating the stern necessity which should be laid upon the people.

Three hundred and ninety days.—No mention is here made of the additional forty days. (See Excursus.)

Ezekiel 4:9. Take thou also wheat and barley, &c. — In times of scarcity it is usual for people to mix a great deal of the coarse kinds of grain with a little of the better sort, to make their provisions last the longer. This Ezekiel was commanded to do, to signify the scarcity, and the coarse fare the inhabitants should have in the siege of the city. Three hundred and ninety days thou shalt eat thereof — During which time the siege lasted: see Ezekiel 4:8. The forty days, mentioned Ezekiel 4:6, seem not to be brought into this account. These, denoting Judah’s sin of forty years’ continuance, being superadded to the three hundred and ninety days of the siege, may signify the days spent in spoiling and desolating the city and temple, and carrying away the remnant of the people. Jerusalem was taken on the ninth day of the fourth month, Jeremiah 52:6; and on the tenth day of the fifth month the temple was burned, Ezekiel 4:12; and so we may reasonably conjecture by the eighteenth of that month, which was the fortieth from the taking of the place, the whole city was burned, and the few Jews who were left were carried into captivity: see Lowth.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.Two things are prefigured in the remainder of this chapter,

(1) the hardships of exile,

(2) the straitness of a siege.

To the people of Israel, separated from the rest of the nations as holy, it was a leading feature in the calamities of their exile that they must be mixed up with other nations, and eat of their food, which to the Jews was a defilement (compare Ezekiel 4:13; Amos 7:17; Daniel 1:8.)

Fitches - A species of wheat with shorn ears.

In one vessel - To mix all these varied seeds was an indication that the people were no longer in their own land, where precautions against such mixing of seeds were prescribed.

Three hundred and ninety days - The days of Israel's punishment; because here is a figure of the exile which concerns all the tribes, not of the siege which concerns Judah alone.

9. wheat … barley, &c.—Instead of simple flour used for delicate cakes (Ge 18:6), the Jews should have a coarse mixture of six different kinds of grain, such as the poorest alone would eat.

fitches—spelt or dhourra.

three hundred and ninety—The forty days are omitted, since these latter typify the wilderness period when Israel stood separate from the Gentiles and their pollution, though partially chastened by stint of bread and water (Eze 4:16), whereas the eating of the polluted bread in the three hundred ninety days implies a forced residence "among the Gentiles" who were polluted with idolatry (Eze 4:13). This last is said of "Israel" primarily, as being the most debased (Eze 4:9-15); they had spiritually sunk to a level with the heathen, therefore God will make their condition outwardly to correspond. Judah and Jerusalem fare less severely, being less guilty: they are to "eat bread by weight and with care," that is, have a stinted supply and be chastened with the milder discipline of the wilderness period. But Judah also is secondarily referred to in the three hundred ninety days, as having fallen, like Israel, into Gentile defilements; if, then, the Jews are to escape from the exile among Gentiles, which is their just punishment, they must submit again to the wilderness probation (Eze 4:16).

Provide thee corn enough; for a grievous famine will accompany the siege. And whereas all sorts of grain are to be provided, it assures us all would be little enough; wheat and barley would not outlast the siege, coarser and meaner must be provided, though less fit for bread. Mix the worst with the best to lengthen out the best, that the mixture may render them useful in such necessity.

Three hundred and ninety days; he mentions only three hundred and ninety; the forty days either concur with them, or else because they refer to the time after the city was taken, whereby such as revived and got some liberty to go abroad found food for themselves; if they escaped the sword of the enemy, and were got into the country, they wanted not bread. Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches,.... The first of these was commonly used to make bread of; in case of want and poverty, barley was used; but, for the rest, they were for cattle, and never used for the food of men but in a time of great scarcity; wherefore this was designed to denote the famine that should attend the siege of Jerusalem; see 2 Kings 25:3;

and put them in one vessel; that is, the flour of them, when ground, in order to be mixed and kneaded together, and make one dough thereof; which mixed bread was a sign of a sore famine: the Septuagint call it an earthen vessel; a kneading trough seems to be designed:

and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side; the left side, on which he was to lie three hundred and ninety days: and so as much bread was to be made as would suffice for that time; or so many loaves were to be made as there were days, a loaf for a day:

three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof; no mention is made of the forty days, perhaps they are understood, a part being put for the whole; or they were included in the three hundred and ninety days. The Septuagint and Arabic versions read only a hundred and ninety days.

Take thou also to thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, {f} and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread of them, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, {g} three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat of it.

(f) Meaning that the famine would be so great that they would be glad to eat whatever they could get.

(g) Which were fourteen months that the city was besieged and this was as many days as Israel sinned years.

9. and fitches] So Vulg. viciam, vetches. Others spelt, as marg. and R.V. Bread was usually made of wheat, the addition of the other coarser materials and their mixture indicate the straits to which men will be reduced in the siege and perhaps after the fall of the city; cf. Lamentations 5:6; Lamentations 5:10, “We gave the hand to the Egyptians and to the Assyrians to be satisfied with bread … Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.” It is not certain that a mixture of various kinds of grain was regarded as a thing unclean, though the Law forbade sowing a field with divers sorts of seed, Leviticus 19:19; cf. Deuteronomy 22:9.

three hundred and ninety] Probably 190 should be read as in Ezekiel 4:5. The language here shews that the 190 (or, 390) was the whole number, and that the 40 for Judah were not additional but included.

9–17. Symbol of scarcity during the siege and pollution in the dispersion from having to eat unclean things among the Gentiles

The passage continues Ezekiel 4:8. The prophet is commanded (while lying immovably on his side in siege) to take of all kinds of grain, coarse as well as fine, of everything that will still hunger, and cast them into one vessel. These are to be baked into cakes and fired with hot ashes of men’s dung, though on the prophet’s entreaty a relaxation of this repulsive condition is granted and he is allowed to substitute the dung of cows. These cakes are to be eaten sparingly in small quantity from time to time, and water drunk with them sparingly. And this use of the cakes so prepared is to continue all the time that the prophet lies on his side. These actions symbolize first, great scarcity and straitness during the siege (Ezekiel 4:16-17); and secondly, pollution from eating unclean things in the exile among the nations (Ezekiel 4:13).Verse 9. - Take thou also unto thee, etc. The act implies, as I have said, that there were exceptions to the generally immovable attitude. The symbolism seems to have a twofold meaning. We can scarcely exclude a reference to the famine which accompanied the siege. On the other hand, one special feature of it is distinctly referred, not to the siege, but to the exile (ver. 13). Starting with the former, the prophet is told to make bread, not of wheat, the common food of the wealthier class (Deuteronomy 32:14; Psalm 81:16; Psalm 147:14; Jeremiah 12:13; Jeremiah 41:8), nor of barley, the chief food of the poor (Ezekiel 13:19; Hosea 3:2; John 6:9), but of these mixed with beans (2 Samuel 17:28), lentils (2 Samuel 17:28; Genesis 25:34) - then, as now, largely used in Egypt and other Eastern countries - millet (the Hebrew word is not found elsewhere), and fitches, i.e. vetches (here also the Hebrew word is found only in this passage, that so translated in Isaiah 28:25-27 standing, it is said, for the seed of the black cummin). The outcome of this mixture would be a coarse, unpalatable bread, not unlike that to which the population of Paris was reduced in the siege of 1870-71. This was to be the prophet's food, as it was to be that of the people of Jerusalem during the 390 days by which that siege was symbolically, though not numerically, represented. It is not improbable, looking to the prohibition against mixtures of any kind in Deuteronomy 22:9, that it would be regarded as in itself unclean. 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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