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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 24

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verses 1-14


Jeremiah had called Jerusalem a “seething pot,” and counseled submission to Babylon. But the Egyptian party had retorted that even if the city were a caldron it was a safer place than the Babylonian fires outside. Ezekiel had examined this reply (Ezekiel 11:3-11), declaring that the prophecy concerning Judah’s captivity must be fulfilled, and therefore the iron walls could protect none but the dead. Three years passed, and on the very day (Ezekiel 24:1-2; Jeremiah 39:1; 2 Kings 25:12) in which Nebuchadnezzar begins his long prophesied siege of the city Ezekiel again takes up the familiar parable of “the pot” (Ezekiel 24:3). The day of the month is emphasized because it proves Ezekiel’s prophetic knowledge of what was happening at a distance. Critics who do not believe in true prophetic foreknowledge are compelled to say, with Toy, “The date was added later by the prophet.”

Verse 4

4. Every good piece… the choice bones The nobles and princes of the people. (See Ezekiel 11:3.)

Verse 5

5. Burn also the bones R.V., “pile also the bones under it.” Great critics, like Smend and Cornill, read “wood” instead of “bones,” but this is opposed to all the versions. Bones were sometimes used as fuel in case of extremity. The prophet has pictured the land as being desolated by fire and covered with the bones of the slain. Did he mean to suggest that the bones of their own kinsmen slain in the defense of the city should be fuel which would make the Jerusalem pot boil? At any rate the use of bones vividly suggests a state of siege.

Verse 6

6. Scum Rather, rust (as also Ezekiel 24:11-12).

Therein Rather, thereon. Usually the rust is removed from a pot before using it, but here it is to remain as the symbol of Jerusalem’s iniquity (Qimchi).

Let no lot fall upon it Qimchi explains that the pieces are so small that not a single limb can be recognized, nor lots cast upon them to assign them any special destination; or that the pot itself is corrupted and eaten with verdigris, and therefore the meat is unclean and no part of it fit to be eaten; or that the inhabitants are to be snatched out of the city indiscriminately; or no lot is to be taken (2 Samuel 8:2), for all alike must perish. Modern expositors select from these explanations according to taste.

Verse 7

7. Top of a rock The blood of her idol sacrifices was not hidden, but was offered in plain view on the “naked rock;” so shall her own blood be poured out (Ezekiel 24:8).

Verse 9

9. Woe to the bloody city See also Ezekiel 24:6; Ezekiel 22:3; Ezekiel 23:3. Jerusalem “the holy” now deserves the same name as Nineveh! (Nab. Ezekiel 3:1.)

Verse 10

10. Consume the flesh, and spice it well R.V., “boil well the flesh, and make thick the broth.”

The pot (Jerusalem) is empty (seemingly depopulated), yet the fire burns till even its filthiness and rust is consumed, 11-13.

Verse 12

12. Wearied herself with lies R.V., “with toil”; margin, “wearied me with toil.” Plumptre, “it [the caldron] is worn out with labors.” The meaning evidently is that all the previous efforts to cleanse Jerusalem have failed. Even the hottest fire seems unable to cleanse its foulness, and its destruction is the logical sequence.

Verse 13

13. In thy filthiness is lewdness Or, R.V., margin, “For thy filthy lewdness.” (See Ezekiel 16:27.) This includes not only the act, but the evil purpose.

Caused… to rest Rather, satisfied. (See Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 16:42.)

Verse 14

14. Shall they judge See Ezekiel 23:49; LXX., will I judge. (See notes Ezekiel 20:25; Ezekiel 23:30.)

Verses 15-27


There is nothing in literature more pathetic than these few brief words of personal history in the midst of this flaming prophecy. They show us the strength, the nobility of the man, and of this unnamed one who proved her right to be the life companion of a prophet when Jehovah himself called her to be not merely a prophetess but a prophecy. She was so dear to him that Jehovah could use her to symbolize Jerusalem: “The pomp of your strength, the desire of your eyes, the longing of your soul (Ezekiel 24:21); the joy of their glory, and that whereunto they lift up their soul” (Ezekiel 24:25).

He loved her, this grave and silent man, with all the intensity of his lonely heart and superb imagination and royal faith. Others were “briers” and “thorns” and “scorpions” to sting; she was the balm of Babylon to heal. She was all he had. He was an exile, without home or country. He was a prophet, blinded at times with visions of glory and again dumb with unutterable anguish because of the revelations of woe against his countrymen and native land. There was only one soul on the Chebar who understood him and sympathized with him in his great task. Men called him “hard of forehead and face,” but his wife knew him. When Jehovah said, “I take away the desire of thine eyes with a stroke,” Ezekiel knew well who that was. It was indeed a “stroke,” as the word says; yet so noble and so brave was he that his lips uttered not one word of complaint, though he in secret moaned and pined away (Ezekiel 24:25). What a revelation of the prophet’s strength and his loyalty to God! (See Introduction, “IV. Ezekiel’s Personality and Work.”)

His lips and jaw

Grand made as Sinai’s law.

They could enunciate and refrain

From vibratory after-pain,

And his brow’s height was sovereign.

Mrs. Browning.

It may be noticed that the death of Ezekiel’s wife marks a distinct change in the character of his prophecies. Previous to this they have been cries of woe against his countrymen, they now become prophecies against the enemies of his country and speak of Israel’s triumph and of a new life for God’s people. This change could not mark simply the influence of this death upon the prophet, it must also mark a change in the temper of his audience. From this time forward every discourse seems addressed, not to scornful and rebellious, but to sympathetic and repentant hearers. The death of the “desire of his eyes” was not in vain!

Verse 16

16. The desire of thine eyes A recently discovered cuneiform text speaks of a loved one as “the darling of mine eye.” Father Scheil has published a love letter of Abraham’s day, in which the prayer twice occurs, “May Shamash and Marduk allow thee, for my sake, to live forever.” (See also author’s Ancient Egypt, p. 132.) The Hebrews, however, excelled all nations in their home love. The marriage poem of Joseph Ezobi (fourteenth century) well represents the ancient feeling, closing:

Rejoice with her, thy graceful tender dove.

God bless you twain, with love as angels love.

Verse 17

17. Forbear to cry R.V., “sigh, but not aloud.” There could be no funeral dirge, as is so common in all oriental countries, nor were even the universal outward expressions of sorrow in dress permitted to him, nor the funeral feast, the “bread of men.” (See Jeremiah 16:5; Jeremiah 16:7.) He could only”groan and be still” (Targum). For funeral customs see note Ezekiel 27:30-31.

Verse 18

18. In the morning “The next morning.”

Verse 21

21. I will profane my sanctuary The prophet’s wife symbolizes Jehovah’s sanctuary, and what the desire of his eyes was to Ezekiel that the temple was to Jehovah and to Israel. No thought of woman in ancient or modern literature is more noble than this. All of these expressions show not only what the temple was to the Israelites, but what his wife was to Ezekiel. Among no other ancient people was the home so sacred that such comparisons could have been properly made. As to the light which this chapter throws upon the character of Ezekiel see introduction to chapter and general Introduction, “Ezekiel’s Personality.”

Verse 23

23. Ye shall not mourn nor weep Does this mean that the people shall be stunned and speechless over the destruction of Jerusalem as was Ezekiel over the loss of his wife, or that they are forbidden to complain at this blow which comes from God?

Mourn Rather, moan.

Verse 24

24. Is unto you a sign Or, wonder. The word sign is different from the word usually so rendered.

Shall ye See note Ezekiel 12:11.

Verse 25

25. That whereupon they set their minds Hebrews, the lifting up of their soul.

Verse 27

27. Thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb This intimates that from this date to the time of the coming of the messenger announcing the fall of Jerusalem some three years later, Ezekiel uttered no spoken prophecies, but remained in the depths of unutterable sorrow (Ezekiel 24:16-17; Ezekiel 24:26; Ezekiel 33:21-22).

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 24". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/ezekiel-24.html. 1874-1909.
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