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The Sign Itself
v. 1. And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, a sword such as was used in war, take thee a barber's razor, the sword itself being used like the razor of a barber, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard, Ezekiel here representing Jerusalem besieged and his shaving the severe straits in which the capital would find itself shortly; then take the balances to weigh, as symbolizing the divine justice, and divide the hair.
v. 2. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part, namely, of the hair thus set apart by his careful division, in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled, when the city is taken by the Chaldeans; and thou shalt take a third part and smite about it with a knife, striking and felling it with a sword; and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind, so as to leave no two hairs together, and I will draw out a sword after them.
v. 3. Thou shalt also take thereof, of the last third of the mass of hair, a few in number and bind them in thy skirts, thus preserving a few in the midst of the general calamity.
v. 4. Then take of them again, of the few thus saved, and cast them into the midst of the fire and burn them in the fire, the fire being considered a purifying agent; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. The thought underlying this last statement is that of the refiner's fire, for it was this phase of the matter which was brought to bear upon Israel, so that a remnant at least was saved. Cf Isaiah 6:12-13; Luke 12:49. God poured out His loving-kindness upon the Jews in an ever-increasing measure.
The Interpretation of the Sign
v. 5. Thus saith the Lord God, This is Jerusalem, the exalted city of the Lord's habitation; I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her, the center of the true worship, from which rays go forth to all the world.
v. 6. And she hath changed My judgments, the decrees of the Lord concerning justice and righteousness, into wickedness more than the nations, the people heaping upon themselves a greater guilt than the very heathen, and My statutes more than the countries that are round about her, in an utter disregard of the Lord's will; for they have refused My judgments and My statutes, they have not walked in them. Israel, hating and rejecting the way of justice and righteousness pointed out by the Lord, preferred to follow the evil, sinful customs of the heathen. Cf.Ezekiel 11:12.
v. 7. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, raving and raging in their transgressions of His holy will, and have not walked in My statutes, in bringing their whole life into agreement with their demands, neither have kept My judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you, who, at least in a measure, tried to follow the dictates of the Moral Law in the faint impressions still remaining in their hearts, Romans 2:14-16,
v. 8. therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I, even I, am against thee, setting Himself against the Jewish nation in stern opposition, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations, as a spectacle of His avenging justice.
v. 9. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, punishing in a degree heretofore unheard of, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, never repeating a like punishment upon men, because of all thine abominations, because Israel had exceeded the heathen in every form of wickedness.
v. 10. Therefore the fathers shall eat the Sons in the midst of thee, in a most revolting form of cannibalism, and the sons shall eat their fathers, utterly forgetful, like them, of the fundamental demands of nature, Cf Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53; and I will execute judgments in thee, as shown by the symbolism of the hair, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds, into all parts of the world.
v. 11. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, in a most solemn form of oath, by His own life and being, Surely, because thou hast defiled My Sanctuary with all thy detestable things, with the various idolatrous customs and the false worship introduced from time to time, and with all thine abominations, Cf 2 Chronicles 36:14, therefore will I also diminish thee, neither shall Mine eye spare, literally, "and also I shall withdraw and not have mercy -Mine eye," neither will I have any pity.
v. 12. A third part of thee, corresponding to the first third of the hair of the prophet, shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee, during the course of the siege of the city and when it was taken; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee, as indicated in the second part of the symbolical action; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, among various provinces and nations; and I will draw out a sword after them, to complete His vengeance upon them.
v. 13. Thus shall Mine anger be accomplished, the full measure of His wrath be exhausted upon the Jewish nation, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, so that it would be satisfied in the punishment meted out, and I will be comforted, feeling this satisfaction; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, as a guarantee of His sincerity in making His threats, when I have accomplished My fury in them, carrying out His punishment upon them in full.
v. 14. Moreover, I will make thee waste, so that the city would be changed to a heap of ruins, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, so that people everywhere would mock and deride her, Cf Deuteronomy 29:23-24, in the sight of all that pass by.
v. 15. So it, Jerusalem, the former proud capital city, shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction, an example of warning to teach people a lesson, and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes, in chastisements of his divine indignation. I, the Lord, have spoken it.
v. 16. When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, such as hail, rain, mice, locusts, mildew, Deuteronomy 32:23-24, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you; and I will increase the famine upon you, gathering its forces like those of an invading army, to work havoc on every hand, and will break your staff of bread, upon which men ordinarily lean for support and sustenance of life;
v. 17. so will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, Leviticus 26:22, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence, in various severe epidemics, and blood shall pass through thee, in slaughter by the Chaldean invaders; and I will bring the sword upon thee, here chiefly in civil war. I, the Lord, have spoken it. There is special emphasis in the repetition of this statement and in the heaping of terms denoting the severity of the Lord's punishment, also in the change from the second to the third person, as though the Lord were becoming increasingly estranged from His own people. His avenging fury strikes men with deadly effect, no matter in what form He sends it.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20