Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Eze 24:1-27. Vision of the Boiling Caldron, and of the Death of Ezekiel's Wife.
1, 2. Ezekiel proves his divine mission by announcing the very day, ("this same day") of the beginning of the investment of the city by Nebuchadnezzar; "the ninth year," namely, of Jehoiachin's captivity, "the tenth day of the tenth month"; though he was three hundred miles away from Jerusalem among the captives at the Chebar (2Ki 25:1; Jer 39:1).
Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.
2. set himself—laid siege; "lay against."
And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it:
3. pot—caldron. Alluding to the self-confident proverb used among the people, Eze 11:3 (see on Eze 11:3), "This city is the caldron and we be the flesh"; your proverb shall prove awfully true, but in a different sense from what you intend. So far from the city proving an iron, caldron-like defense from the fire, it shall be as a caldron set on the fire, and the people as so many pieces of meat subjected to boiling heat. See Jer 1:13.
Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.
4. pieces thereof—those which properly belong to it, as its own.
every good piece … choice bones—that is, the most distinguished of the people. The "choice bones" in the pot have flesh adhering to them. The bones under the pot (Eze 24:5) are those having no flesh and used as fuel, answering to the poorest who suffer first, and are put out of pain sooner than the rich who endure what answers to the slower process of boiling.
Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein.
5. burn … bones—rather, "pile the bones." Literally, "Let there be a round pile of the bones."
therein—literally, "in the midst of it."
Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it.
6. scum—not ordinary, but poisonous scum, that is, the people's all-pervading wickedness.
bring it out piece by piece—"it," the contents of the pot; its flesh, that is, "I will destroy the people of the city, not all at the same time, but by a series of successive attacks." Not as Fairbairn, "on its every piece let it (the poisonous scum) go forth."
let no lot fall upon it—that is, no lot, such as is sometimes cast, to decide who are to be destroyed and who saved (2Sa 8:2; Joe 3:3; Ob 11; Na 3:10). In former carryings away of captives, lots were cast to settle who were to go, and who to stay, but now all alike are to be cast out without distinction of rank, age, or sex.
For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust;
7. upon the top of a rock—or, "the dry, bare, exposed rock," so as to be conspicuous to all. Blood poured on a rock is not so soon absorbed as blood poured on the earth. The law ordered the blood even of a beast or fowl to be "covered with the dust" (Le 17:13); but Jerusalem was so shameless as to be at no pains to cover up the blood of innocent men slain in her. Blood, as the consummation of all sin, presupposes every other form of guilt.
That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered.
8. That it might cause—God purposely let her so shamelessly pour the blood on the bare rock, "that it might" the more loudly and openly cry for vengeance from on high; and that the connection between the guilt and the punishment might be the more palpable. The blood of Abel, though the ground received it, still cries to heaven for vengeance (Ge 4:10, 11); much more blood shamelessly exposed on the bare rock.
set her blood—She shall be paid back in kind (Mt 7:2). She openly shed blood, and her blood shall openly be shed.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great.
9. the pile for fire—the hostile materials for the city's destruction.
Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned.
10. spice it well—that the meat may be the more palatable, that is, I will make the foe delight in its destruction as much as one delights in well-seasoned, savory meat. Grotius, needlessly departing from the obvious sense, translates, "Let it be boiled down to a compound."
Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed.
11. set it empty … that … brass … may burn, … that … scum … may be consumed—Even the consumption of the contents is not enough; the caldron itself which is infected by the poisonous scum must be destroyed, that is, the city itself must be destroyed, not merely the inhabitants, just as the very house infected with leprosy was to be destroyed (Le 14:34-45).
She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire.
12. herself—rather, "she hath wearied Me out with lies"; or rather, "with vain labors" on My part to purify her without being obliged to have recourse to judgments (compare Isa 43:24; Mal 2:17) [Maurer]. However, English Version gives a good sense (compare Isa 47:13; 57:10).
In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.
13. lewdness—determined, deliberate wickedness; from a Hebrew root, "to purpose."
I have purged thee—that is, I have left nothing untried which would tend towards purging thee, by sending prophets to invite thee to repentance, by giving thee the law with all its promises, privileges, and threats.
thou shalt not be purged … any more—that is, by My gracious interpositions; thou shalt be left to thine own course to take its fatal consequences.
I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.
14. go back—desist; relax [Fairbairn].
Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
15. Second part of the vision; announcement of the death of Ezekiel's wife, and prohibition of the usual signs of mourning.
Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.
16. desire of … eyes—his wife: representing the sanctuary (Eze 24:21) in which the Jews so much gloried. The energy and subordination of Ezekiel's whole life to his prophetic office is strikingly displayed in this narrative of his wife's death. It is the only memorable event of his personal history which he records, and this only in reference to his soul-absorbing work. His natural tenderness is shown by that graphic touch, "the desire of thine eyes." What amazing subjection, then, of his individual feeling to his prophetic duty is manifested in the simple statement (Eze 24:18), "So I spake … in the morning; and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded."
stroke—a sudden visitation. The suddenness of it enhances the self-control of Ezekiel in so entirely merging individual feeling, which must have been especially acute under such trying circumstances, in the higher claims of duty to God.
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.
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."
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.
And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?
19. what these things are to us—The people perceive that Ezekiel's strange conduct has a symbolical meaning as to themselves; they ask, "What is that meaning?"
Then I answered them, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.
21. excellency of your strength—(compare Am 6:8). The object of your pride and confidence (Jer 7:4, 10, 14).
desire of … eyes—(Ps 27:4). The antitype to Ezekiel's wife (Eze 24:16).
pitieth—loveth, as pity is akin to love: "yearned over."
Profane—an appropriate word. They had profaned the temple with idolatry; God, in just retribution, will profane it with the Chaldean sword, that is, lay it in the dust, as Ezekiel's wife.
sons … daughters … left—the children left behind in Judea, when the parents were carried away.
And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.
22. (Jer 16:6, 7). So general shall be the calamity, that all ordinary usages of mourning shall be suspended.
And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another.
23. ye shall not mourn … but … pine away for your iniquities—The Jews' not mourning was to be not the result of insensibility, any more than Ezekiel's not mourning for his wife was not from want of feeling. They could not in their exile manifest publicly their lamentation, but they would privately "mourn one to another." Their "iniquities" would then be their chief sorrow ("pining away"), as feeling that these were the cause of their sufferings (compare Le 26:39; La 3:39). The fullest fulfilment is still future (Zec 12:10-14).
Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
24. sign—a typical representative in his own person of what was to befall them (Isa 20:3).
when this cometh—alluding probably to their taunt, as if God's word spoken by His prophets would never come to pass. "Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come now" (Jer 17:15). When the prophecy is fulfilled, "ye shall know (to your cost) that I am the Lord," who thereby show My power and fulfil My word spoken by My prophet (Joh 13:19; 14:29).
Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters,
25, 26. "The day" referred to in these verses is the day of the overthrow of the temple, when the fugitive "escapes." But "that day," in Eze 24:27, is the day on which the fugitive brings the sad news to Ezekiel, at the Chebar. In the interval the prophet suspended his prophecies as to the Jews, as was foretold. Afterwards his mouth was "opened," and no more "dumb" (Eze 3:26, 27; compare Eze 24:27; 33:21, 22).
That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears?
In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.