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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 4: Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized



Part 2: The first set of waves of warnings and condemnation

Ch.4 – Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized

Ch.5 – God's Razor of Judgment

Ch.6 – Doom for the High Places of Israel

Ch.7 – The End has come



[Preliminary Comment: The text now moves on from general instructions about Ezekiel's calling to the first specific instructions about how he is to convey the word of God – not by word but by a number of tableaus [stationary ‘action pieces'] to draw to the attention of the exiles what will soon be happening back in Jerusalem – a siege and a famine.]


v.1-3 A Model of Jerusalem under Siege

v.4-8 Ezekiel Picturing carry the Sin of Israel & Judah

v.9-17 Picturing the Famine


v.1-3 A Model of Jerusalem under Siege


v.1   “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 

v.2   Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 

v.3   Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel. 


[Notes: Ezekiel is told to make a prophetic model of Jerusalem under siege, perhaps just inside his open front door so passers-by see it and spread the word. The iron pan between himself and his model possibly suggests a barrier [of unbelief from the people of Jerusalem?] that prevents his words getting through to his people.]



v.4-8 Ezekiel to Picture carrying the Sin of Israel & Judah


v.4  “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 

v.5  I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel. 

v.6  “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. 

v.7 Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 

v.8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege. 


[Notes: Ezekiel is then required to lay down – presumably in a visible place – for 390 days on one side and then 40 days on the other [a total of about 14 months] as if to portray the years of sin of Israel and Judah respectively. Commentators are unclear as to the significance of the two periods. Verse 8 seems to suggest the Lord will enable him to stay in that position throughout that time but whether that meant every hour of every day is unclear but the following verses suggest he could have food preparation breaks etc.]



v.9-17 Ezekiel Picturing the Famine


v.9  “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. 

v.10  Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. 

v.11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. 

v.12 Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” 

v.13  The LORD said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.” 

v.14 Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign LORD! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.” 

v.15  “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.” 

v.16 He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, 

v.17 for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.


[Notes: The coming famine in Jerusalem is to be signified in Ezekiel's activity during this time in the limited amounts of food he has and the ‘unclean' way it is to be prepared.]


[Concluding Note: There are here in this chapter three prophetic pictures:

•  first Ezekiel's model of Jerusalem under siege and

•  second, himself carrying the sin of the people of God and

•  third, his preparing very limited food in an ‘unclean' way to denote a coming famine.

No doubt passers-by and others who knew him would stop and ask him what he was doing and no doubt he would explain. Thus the warning of what was about to happen back in Jerusalem would spread through the expats in exile and filer back to Jerusalem itself to add to the strength of Jeremiah's warnings.]



Continue to Chapter 5