Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Ezekiel Lesson 8
Today we begin with Chapter 5:
“And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.”
Shaving one’s head was a sign of grief and mourning (Is.15:2; Jer. 48:37) or shame (2 Sam.10:4). The hair was to be divided into thirds, with each third representing the fate of a group of the captives.
Verses5-10: “Thus saith the L-rd G-d;’ This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them. Therefore, “thus saith the L-rd G-d;’ Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgements in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore, the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.’”
The horrors during the sieged of the city included even cannibalism (Jer.19:9; Lam. 4:10;2 Kin. 6;24-33). Israel had been warned that this would occur (Lev. 26:29; Deut.28:53) if she abandoned her covenant with G-d. “And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.”
6:3-4“And the word of the L-rd came unto me, saying, “Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the L-rd G-d; Thus saith the L-rd G-d to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.”
“High places,” the sanctuaries and shrines which were located on the hilltops, were condemned because they were usually influenced by various forms of idolatry, and because G-d had specified only one place of worship (Deut.12:1-28). Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy against these altars of false worship which combined the worship of G-d with the worship of Canaanite fertility gods and goddesses.
“And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the L-rd. Yet will I leave a remnant that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.”
6:8 Ezekiel foresaw the survival of a “remnant.” Some had escaped to other lands as seed for preserving the nation (Is. 11:11, note Jer.43:7). Going through the Exile, enduring hunger, fire, sickness, and the sword, the remnant would experience the purifying and strengthening of their faith.
“And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go whoring after their idols; and they shall loath themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the L-rd, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.”
“Thus saith the L-rd G-d; ‘Smite thee with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence. He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them. Then shall ye know that I am the L-rd, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they di offer sweet savour to all their idols. So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the L-rd.”
6:14 It has been suggested by some scholars that this verse could be translated “from the wilderness to Riblah” (a city north of Damascus). The change from Diblah (which is probably Almon Diblathaim or Beth Diblathaim’ Num. 33:46; Jer.48:22) is explained as a scribal error, due to the similarities of the Hebrew letters for “R” and “D.” Either translation speaks of great desolation.
Rabbi Tamah Davis