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Vision of the Boiling Caldron
v. 1. Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, namely, after the deportation of Jehoiachin and the accession of Zedekiah, in the tenth day of the month, the exact fixing of the day emphasizing the divinity of Ezekiel's mission, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
v. 2. Son of man, write thee the name of the day, as a significant date, one prominent in the history of the Jewish race, even of this same day; the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day, the siege of the Jewish capital thus being begun and Ezekiel being informed of this fact by revelation of God.
v. 3. And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, literally, "the house of rebelliousness," for the exiled Jews were, on the whole, still filled with stubborn resentment, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Set on a pot, a large caldron for cooking over an open fire, set it on and also pour water into it, their own proverb, 11:3, thereby proving awfully true, but in an entirely different sense from that intended by them;
v. 4. gather the pieces thereof into it, those which properly belong into such a caldron for specified purposes. even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones, those having a good amount of flesh adhering to them.
v. 5. Take the choice of the flock, of all small cattle, and burn also the bones under it, literally, "a rounded heap of kindling-wood under it for the bones," which may indicate that dry bones were mingled with the pieces of wood beneath the caldron, and make it boil well and let them seethe the bones of it therein. Thus Jerusalem, as the caldron, was placed over the fire of a fierce war and siege, by which the inhabitants of the city would be sodden to pieces, the poorest suffering first, but the wealthier inhabitants likewise enduring destruction, though by a slower process. These facts are now stated in explicit terms.
v. 6. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord God, Woe to the bloody city, to the city whose blood-guiltiness is so great, to the pot whose scum is therein, like spots of rust that cannot be removed, and whose scum is not gone out of it, the reference being to the people's all-pervading wickedness. Bring it out piece by piece, in a slow judgment and process of destruction; let no lot fall upon it, or, "not has fallen upon it the lot," in which case there might be some chance of deliverance and salvation.
v. 7. For her blood, that shed in the wickedness of her murderous actions, is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock, on the bare rock, shamelessly exposing her wickedness before the eyes of all men; she poured it not upon the ground to cover it with dust, thereby openly challenging the wrath and vengeance of God,
v. 8. that it might, in bringing near the judgment of God, cause fury to come up to take vengeance, or, "to make fury to ascend, to execute vengeance. " I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, on the bare, exposed rock, so as to make it conspicuous before the eyes of all men, that it should not be covered.
v. 9. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, in introducing another element pertaining to the execution of His wrath, Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great, so as to consume Jerusalem with siege and destruction.
v. 10. Heap on wood, so the prophet is bidden, kindle the fire, in a mighty heaping of materials for the city's destruction, consume the flesh, so that it would be cooked to pieces, and spice it well, literally, "let the mixture seethe," and let the bones be burned, so that they would be softened into one mass with the flesh, a heavy broth or thick mixture, which could then be dumped out.
v. 11. Then set it empty upon the coals thereof that the brass of it may be hot and may burn, glowing in white heat, and that the filthiness of it, the remnants of the broth clinging to its sides, may be molten in it, that the scum of it, the rust of the people's wickedness, may be consumed, burned away by the heat of the fire.
v. 12. She, that is, Jerusalem, hath wearied herself with lies, literally, "it has caused labors to grow weary," that is, all the Lord's efforts in the interest of the city had been in vain, and her great scum went not forth out of her, the wickedness being ingrained, as it were; her scum shall be in the fire, or, "Into the fire with her scum!" Everything else having failed, the wrath of the Lord would now burn, with nothing to hold back.
v. 13. In thy filthiness is lewdness, an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Because I have purged thee, making the most earnest efforts to cleanse the people from their wickedness, and thou wast not purged, resisting every effort of the Lord's mercy, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more till I have caused My fury to rest upon thee, in the punishment which Jerusalem so richly deserved.
v. 14. I, the Lord, have spoken it; it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, not show a weak lenience, neither will I spare, neither will I repent, as an overindulgent father might be inclined to do; according to thy ways and according to thy doings, in exact agreement with her behavior and deeds, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God. Note the heaping of synonymous expressions to emphasize the certainty of the approaching judgment. If men persist in wickedness in spite of better knowledge and warning, the Lord punishes them by letting their hearts be hardened in this wickedness and then bringing destruction upon them.
The Death of Ezekiel's Wife and its Significance
v. 15. Also the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
v. 16. Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes, his very beloved wife, with a stroke, by a sudden death; yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down, that is, Ezekiel was to abstain from every show of mourning or sorrow over the deep loss which he would sustain.
v. 17. Forbear to cry, violently repressing the natural show of grief, make no mourning for the dead, as was customary in the Orient, bind the tire of thine head, the head-ornament which was laid aside during times of mourning, upon thee and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, instead of going barefoot in token of a deep sorrow, and cover not thy lips, as custom decreed in such a case, and eat not the bread of men, as people sent food in case of a death and relieved the survivors of the burden of preparing food for themselves. In everything Ezekiel was to act contrary to the established custom in the case of a death in the family.
v. 18. So I spake unto the people in the morning, bringing them the message of the first part of the chapter; and at even my wife died, being torn suddenly from his side; and I did in the morning as I was commanded, acting in the unusual manner commanded him by the Lord.
v. 19. And the people, noticing his strange behavior and surmising a special reason for it, said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, what meaning his behavior was to convey to them, that thou doest so? This would give Ezekiel the opening which the Lord intended him to have in speaking to the people.
v. 20. Then I answered them, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
v. 21. Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will profane My Sanctuary, namely, the Temple at Jerusalem, the excellency of your strength, in which they took such great pride, the desire of your eyes, held as dearly by them as a man holds his beloved wife, and that which your soul pitieth, what they desired with a deep and abiding affection; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left, those remaining in Jerusalem when the first exiles were taken to Babylon, shall fall by the sword.
v. 22. And ye shall do as I have done, in restraining every show of grief in a similar manner: ye shall not cover your lips nor eat the bread of men.
v. 23. And your tires, their turbans or head-ornaments, shall be upon your heads and your shoes upon your feet; ye shall not mourn nor weep, in an outward demonstration of sorrow; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, in an overwhelming measure of grief and pain, and mourn one toward another, all the more deeply affected since their sorrow was beyond the ordinary means of expression.
v. 24. Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign, so the Lord tells the people of Jerusalem in addressing them directly; according to all that he hath done shall ye do; and when this cometh, namely, this calamity or catastrophe, ye shall know that I am the Lord God. But the Lord intended that the token of the prophet should have another consequence as well.
v. 25. Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, the Temple, as the center of their entire religious cult, and that whereupon they set their minds, with natural parental affection, their sons and their daughters,
v. 26. that he that escapeth in that day, any one not taken away in the general destruction, shall come unto thee to cause thee to hear it with thine ears, to make known the awful greatness of the catastrophe?
v. 27. In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, that is, at the same time with that of the escaped fugitive, so that he would no longer be compelled to hold back his grief, and thou shalt speak and be no more dumb; and thou shalt be a sign unto them, once more typically representative in his own person of the things which would befall them; and they shall know that I am the Lord. In all ages of the world the believers have been a sign to the enemies of the Lord in one way or the other, always as a living testimony before their eyes, if possibly they might be induced to see the error of their ways and turn to the Lord in true repentance.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 24". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26