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Shaving and Dividing Hair
Ezekiel is even more personally involved in the judgments he is to announce. He must shave off his head hair and beard with a sharp sword (Ezekiel 5:1). This is a great reproach to him (cf. 2 Samuel 10:4; 1 Chronicles 19:4; Nehemiah 13:25) and is even forbidden to a priest (Leviticus 21:5; Ezekiel 44:20). That he must use a sharp sword as a razor shows that this is an act that symbolically represents the judgment of God (Deuteronomy 32:41; Isaiah 7:20).
Then he must take a scale and divide the hairs. This indicates a very precise weighing, for hairs are so light that they can hardly be weighed. That precise weighing means that each one gets the punishment he deserves, no more and no less. God punishes perfectly justly (Revelation 20:12-1 Chronicles :).
He is to divide the hair into three heaps (Ezekiel 5:2). With each of those heaps he is to do something:
1. One-third of the hair he is to lay “at the center of the city” – that is in the center of the inscribing he made on the brick (Ezekiel 4:1) – and burn it with fire. The LORD adds that he is to do this “when the days of the siege are completed”.
2. The next third of hair he is to take and “strike [it] with the sword all around the city”.
3. The last third he must “scatter to the wind”. Those hairs are carried everywhere.
Judgment does not come on all the hair (Ezekiel 5:3). Ezekiel is to take a few hairs, “a few in number”, and bind them in the edges of his robes. There are also hairs that Ezekiel is to throw directly into the fire to burn them with fire (Ezekiel 5:4). These are not burned only after the days of the siege. From this part “a fire will spread to all the house of Israel”, that is, it will burn all that is left.
The Sins of Jerusalem
The Lord GOD (Adonai Yahweh) explains to Ezekiel the meaning of the symbolic acts, which he in turn is to communicate to God’s people. The acts concern Jerusalem which the LORD has set as the center of all nations, as the center [literally: navel] of the earth (Ezekiel 5:5; Ezekiel 38:12; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8). Globally, we can say that Israel is the geographical center of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Also, Jerusalem is the spiritual center of the world, where the throne of the LORD will stand and from where He will send forth His Word for instruction to all nations (Isaiah 2:2-Numbers :; Micah 4:1-Leviticus :).
Then follows God’s “but” regarding the city (Ezekiel 5:6). Jerusalem has sinned against Him in a horrible way. She has been disobedient to His statutes. Jerusalem’s sin is even greater than that of all the nations around her. While the inhabitants of Jerusalem have received the knowledge of God, they have rejected His statutes and not observed His ordinances. What a great insult this is to Him Who has so provided them with good statutes and ordinances.
Even by heathen standards, the inhabitants of Jerusalem have perverted horribly (Ezekiel 5:7). The nations remain faithful to their idols, even though they are not gods, but the inhabitants of Jerusalem have denied the true God and have begun to serve idols. This is a dramatic development. As a result, their turmoil is more in the ears of God than that of the idolatrous nations.
Therefore the LORD is against Jerusalem (Ezekiel 5:8), that is, He will punish Jerusalem (cf. Nahum 2:13; Nahum 3:5; Jeremiah 23:31). He says it with great emphasis, “I, even I!” He will judge Jerusalem in the sight of the nations, in accordance with the unfaithfulness toward Him that Jerusalem also committed in the sight of the nations.
The judgment He will bring on Jerusalem will be without parallel (Ezekiel 5:9). This is because of all her abominations. Jerusalem brought this on herself. The judgments will cause a terrible famine, so great that some will fall to cannibalism during the siege of Jerusalem, with even fathers eating their own children and children eating their own fathers (Ezekiel 5:10). A deeper fall of man’s moral awareness is not possible. So severe God’s judgments on Jerusalem will be (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53; 2 Kings 6:28-Joel :; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10).
Meaning of Dividing the Hair
The words, “’So as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘surely’”, are an oath swearing from the LORD (Ezekiel 5:11). He expresses Himself in this way several times in this book (Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 14:16Ezekiel 14:18; Ezekiel 14:20Ezekiel 16:48; Ezekiel 17:16Ezekiel 18:3; Ezekiel 20:31Ezekiel 20:33; Ezekiel 33:11Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 35:6Ezekiel 35:11). He swears by His own life. That means His decision is absolute. That applies always to everything He says, but He wants to impress Jerusalem with the gravity of His decision. He is also extremely wroth at her sins. These, indeed, are no small matter. Jerusalem has defiled His sanctuary with her detestable idols, and with her abominations, which are her idolatries, the things that the inhabitants of Jerusalem do for their idols.
Therefore, the LORD will “withdraw”, which means He will take from Jerusalem all honor and ornament. In doing so, He will not spare her and He will do it without pity. He will no longer show mercy, as He has so often, time and again, in the past. That He has no compassion for Jerusalem does not show an unmerciful God, but a stubborn city that will not break with its iniquities. Therefore, He must judge Jerusalem and there is no escape for the city (cf. Psalms 130:3).
Because of the siege of the city, one-third will perish because of plague and famine (Ezekiel 5:12). Plague and famine belong together. Plague is a consequence of famine. Those who think they can escape God’s discipline by fleeing will be killed by the sword of the enemy. Those who are taken captive and scattered everywhere will equally fall by the sword.
When God brings this severe judgment upon Jerusalem and His anger rests upon her inhabitants, He will be appeased (Ezekiel 5:13). After all that He has had to endure on the part of Jerusalem, all that she has done to Him to offend Him, He will feel free of her when He has made Himself known to her in this way. He will not allow Himself to be mocked endlessly. He is zealous God and will execute His wrath against the city because Jerusalem has forced Him to do so. He makes a desolation of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 5:14). The nations around the city will hear of the reproach inflicted on Jerusalem. The city’s ignominious demise will be seen by every person who passes by it.
The judgments that God in His wrath executes on the city express His anger and wrath (Ezekiel 5:15). They are punishments of anger and wrath. God makes His deep indignation heard through these words. What He has done to Jerusalem in His judgments provides the nations around them with material for reproach and scorn. But not only that. It also supplies education and cause for dismay.
There is also a warning message to the nations. Jerusalem and the nations must realize that He, the LORD, has spoken it. They are not words without meaning, they are not threats from impotent wrath that lacks the power to assert itself. What God says, He does.
He has denounced famine that will come into the city (Ezekiel 5:16). This is no idle threat, but He will cause famine to come into the city as “deadly arrows” that He Himself shoots. Those arrows will lead to destruction and bring them to ruin. The hunger will truly increase and the bread to satisfy the hunger will be lacking. No matter how desperately they will search, it will not be there.
The famine will be sent by the LORD, and in its immediate aftermath, the wild animals will also come (Ezekiel 5:17). Both plagues will rob them of their children. In addition to these two plagues, there are also plague and bloodshed. These will roam among them and make their victims. The combination of these four judgments will result in complete destruction and extermination. There is no doubt that this is how it will go, for “I (emphatically), the LORD, have spoken”.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany