Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
VISION OF THE
SIEGE AND THE
1. tile--a sun-dried brick, such as are found in Babylon, covered
with cuneiform inscriptions, often two feet long and one foot broad.
2. fort--rather, "watch-tower"
wherein the besiegers could watch the movements of the besieged
[GESENIUS]. A wall of circumvallation
[Septuagint and ROSENMULLER]. A kind of
battering-ram [MAURER]. The first view is best.
a mount--wherewith the Chaldeans could be defended from missiles.
battering-rams--literally, "through-borers." In
the same Hebrew is translated "captains."
3. iron pan--the divine decree as to the Chaldean army investing the
set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city--Ezekiel, in the
person of God, represents the wall of separation between him and the
people as one of iron: and the Chaldean investing army. His instrument
of separating them from him, as one impossible to burst through.
set . . . face against it--inexorably
The exiles envied their brethren remaining in Jerusalem, but exile is
better than the straitness of a siege.
4. Another symbolical act performed at the same time as the former,
in vision, not in external action, wherein it would have been only
puerile: narrated as a thing ideally done, it would make a vivid
impression. The second action is supplementary to the first, to bring
out more fully the same prophetic idea.
left side--referring to the position of the ten tribes, the
northern kingdom, as Judah, the southern, answers to "the right
The Orientals facing the east in their mode, had the north on their
left, and the south on their right
Also the right was more honorable than the left: so Judah as being the
seat of the temple, was more so than Israel.
bear the iniquity--iniquity being regarded as a burden; so it
means, "bear the punishment of their iniquity"
A type of Him who was the great sin-bearer, not in mimic show as
Ezekiel, but in reality
(Isa 53:4, 6, 12).
5. three hundred and ninety days--The three hundred ninety years of
punishment appointed for Israel, and forty for Judah, cannot refer to
the siege of Jerusalem. That siege is referred to in
and in a sense restricted to the literal siege, but comprehending the
whole train of punishment to be inflicted for their sin;
therefore we read here merely of its sore pressure, not of its result.
The sum of three hundred ninety and forty years is four hundred thirty,
a period famous in the history of the covenant-people, being that of
their sojourn in Egypt
(Ex 12:40, 41;
The forty alludes to the forty years in the wilderness. Elsewhere
God threatened to bring them back to Egypt, which must mean, not Egypt
literally, but a bondage as bad as that one in Egypt. So now God will
reduce them to a kind of new Egyptian bondage to the world: Israel, the
greater transgressor, for a longer period than Judah (compare
Not the whole of the four hundred thirty years of the Egypt state is
appointed to Israel; but this shortened by the forty years of the
wilderness sojourn, to imply, that a way is open to their return to
life by their having the Egypt state merged into that of the
wilderness; that is, by ceasing from idolatry and seeking in their
sifting and sore troubles, through God's covenant, a restoration to
righteousness and peace [FAIRBAIRN]. The three
hundred ninety, in reference to the sin of Israel, was also
literally true, being the years from the setting up of the calves by
that is, from 975 to 583 B.C.: about the
year of the Babylonians captivity; and perhaps the forty of Judah
refers to that part of Manasseh's fifty-five years' reign in which he
had not repented, and which, we are expressly told, was the cause of
God's removal of Judah, notwithstanding Josiah's reformation
2Ki 23:26, 27).
6. each day for a year--literally, "a day for a year, a day for a
year." Twice repeated, to mark more distinctly the reference to
The picturing of the future under the image of the past, wherein the
meaning was far from lying on the surface, was intended to arouse to a
less superficial mode of thinking, just as the partial veiling of truth
in Jesus' parables was designed to stimulate inquiry; also to remind
men that God's dealings in the past are a key to the future, for He
moves on the same everlasting principles, the forms alone
7. arm . . . uncovered--to be ready for action, which
the long Oriental garment usually covering it would prevent
thou shalt prophesy against it--This gesture of thine will be a tacit
prophecy against it.
not turn from . . . side--to imply the impossibility of their being
able to shake off the punishment.
9. wheat . . . barley, &c.--Instead of simple flour
used for delicate cakes
the Jews should have a coarse mixture of six different kinds of grain,
such as the poorest alone would eat.
fitches--spelt or dhourra.
three hundred and ninety--The forty days are omitted, since these
latter typify the wilderness period when Israel stood
separate from the Gentiles and their pollution, though partially
chastened by stint of bread and water
whereas the eating of the polluted bread in the three hundred ninety
days implies a forced residence "among the Gentiles" who were
polluted with idolatry
This last is said of "Israel" primarily, as being the most debased
they had spiritually sunk to a level with the heathen, therefore
God will make their condition outwardly to correspond. Judah and
Jerusalem fare less severely, being less guilty: they are to "eat bread
by weight and with care," that is, have a stinted supply and be
chastened with the milder discipline of the wilderness period. But
Judah also is secondarily referred to in the three hundred ninety days,
as having fallen, like Israel, into Gentile defilements; if, then, the
Jews are to escape from the exile among Gentiles, which is their
just punishment, they must submit again to the wilderness probation
10. twenty shekels--that is, little more than ten ounces; a scant
measure to sustain life
But it applies not only to the siege, but to their whole subsequent
11. sixth . . . of . . . hin--about a
pint and a half.
12. dung--as fuel; so the Arabs use beasts' dung, wood fuel being
scarce. But to use human dung so implies the most cruel necessity. It
was in violation of the law
(De 14:3; 23:12-14);
it must therefore have been done only in vision.
13. Implying that Israel's peculiar distinction was to be abolished
and that they were to be outwardly blended with the idolatrous heathen
14. Ezekiel, as a priest, had been accustomed to the strictest
abstinence from everything legally impure. Peter felt the same scruple
at a similar command
Positive precepts, being dependent on a particular command can
be set aside at the will of the divine ruler; but moral precepts
are everlasting in their obligation because God cannot be inconsistent
with His unchanging moral nature.
abominable flesh--literally, "flesh that stank from putridity." Flesh
of animals three days killed was prohibited
(Le 7:17, 18; 19:6, 7).
15. cow's dung--a mitigation of the former order
no longer "the dung of man"; still the bread so baked is "defiled," to
imply that, whatever partial abatement there might be for the prophet's
sake, the main decree of God, as to the pollution of Israel by exile
among Gentiles, is unalterable.
16. staff of bread--bread by which life is supported, as a man's weight
is by the staff he leans on
by weight, and with care--in scant measure
17. astonied one with another--mutually regard one another with
astonishment: the stupefied look of despairing want.