And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it…
By the remarkable symbolism described in this chapter, Ezekiel was himself assured that the metropolis of his country was about to endure the horrors of a siege, and his action was intended for a sign to the house of Israel. Jerusalem, like many of the ruinous cities of antiquity, and indeed of modern times, underwent the calamity again and again. It was probably the siege by Nebuchadnezzar which was foretold by the symbol of the tile and the iron pan. To be besieged was a not uncommon incident of warfare. But the prophet of God treated this approaching catastrophe, not merely as a fact of history, but as a moral and Divine lesson.
I. THE GENERAL LESSONS VIVIDLY PRESENTED BY A CITY ENDURING A STATE OF SIEGE.
1. Community in civic life. Every city always has its own social characteristics. Citizens take a pride in the prosperity and glory of their city, especially if it be the metropolis of the nation. In our own time Paris was besieged by the German army, and its unity was never so realized as when thus encompassed by the enemy.
2. Community in resistance and hostility. Distinctions of rank and of social position almost vanish when a common danger threatens every class alike. Each man takes his share in the defence of the city, in bearing the common burden. All are drawn together by their community in dread or in defiance of the foe.
3. Community in the experience of suffering. Hunger and thirst, privation and want of rest, are shared by all the citizens of a beleaguered city. Men who partake the same calamity are drawn together by their common experience. The annals of a siege will usually be found to contain the record of remarkable cases of heroic unselfishness and public devotion.
II. THE SPECIAL LESSONS PRESENTED BY THE SIEGE OF JERUSALEM. There may well have been manifested a community in spiritual discipline and profit.
1. The vanity of human pride and ambition was strikingly exhibited. The Jews were a vain glorious people; they possessed many distinctive marks of superiority raising them above the heathen, and their knew and boasted that it was so. They took credit to themselves for much for which they ought to have offered thanks to God. Their self-confidence and glorying were rebuked in the most emphatic manner when their fair and famed metropolis was besieged and threatened with destruction. This lesson is impressed upon their countrymen with unsparing faithfulness by the ancient Hebrew prophets.
2. Equally pointed was the lesson conveyed as to the utter vanity of merely human help. The Jews did indeed sometimes seek alliances which might befriend and assist them in their distress; but against such alliances they were repeatedly warned by the prophets, whose duty it was to assure their countrymen of the vanity of the help of man. Especially were they rebuked for seeking friendship and aid from Egypt against, the forces of the Eastern foe; and they found such friendship hollow, and such aid ineffectual.
3. The inhabitants of Jerusalem and the people of Judah generally were, by the siege of the city, directed to seek Divine deliverance. The city might fall; its walls might be levelled with the dust; its defenders might be slain; its inhabitants decimated. But all this might be overruled for the nation's real and lasting good, should calamity and humiliation lead to repentance, should Divine favour be entreated, and a way of salvation be opened up to the remnant of the people. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.