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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 24

Verses 1-27

Last Days of Jerusalem (24:1-27)

In verses 1-14 the terrible day of attack has begun, and all the horrors of siege are brought into bold relief by a prophetic image. "The ninth year, in the tenth month" would be 588 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city. The prophetic description takes the form of an allegory in which Jerusalem is a pot and its people are flesh seething over a hot fire (vss. 3-5). Suddenly the rusty pot is emptied but is left on the fire that fire may purge it of corruption. At this point there is confusion between the two allegories, one a pot with meat seething and the other an empty pot being purified by fire. After verse 10 the pot is empty because the inhabitants have been thoroughly destroyed, and the pot is left to burn itself clean (vs. 11). But the rust and corrosion have become too much a part of the pot, and the fire cannot separate it from its corrosion. The rust is identified as "lewdness," that is, "idolatry." Because the rust is so ingrained — that is to say, because idolatry has become so much a part of Jerusalem’s way of life — God will not cancel the fury of destruction (vss. 13-14). The tragedy of national sins, which began as occasional lapses but became part and parcel of a way of life, is the essence of a tragedy which not even God will redeem.

As with Hosea and Isaiah before him, Ezekiel’s domestic life became a means for emphasizing his spiritual mission (vss. 15-24) . Ezekiel’s wife died in the evening after he had been warned of this blow. He was instructed to forego the usual rites of mourning and to continue his daily life as if nothing had happened (vss. 15-18).

When people inquired of the prophet about his strangely eccentric behavior, he explained that his lack of grief was no more unusual than what would take place at the impending tragedy in Jerusalem, whose dimensions are to be far greater than his own domestic life. Facing a destructive and chaotic immediate future, nobody showed any sign of grief or repentance (vs. 23). Ezekiel thus became a sign to Judah by foregoing any demonstration of grief when his wife died. He saw that the tragedy about to overwhelm his whole nation was far deeper than his personal loss.

On the day when the corporate tragedy shall come upon the city and the Temple ("the delight of their eyes"), a fugitive will come to Ezekiel from the city (vss. 25-27). Then the prophet will be able to speak openly and not be so taciturn as he had been in this prelude to disaster. When his mouth was opened, Ezekiel was apparently free to speak to the doomed people of hope and resurrection. Chronologically Ezekiel 33:21-22 should immediately follow Ezekiel 24:27, as even a cursory reading will clearly show. In any case, at the end of chapter 24 the blow has fallen and Ezekiel’s sorrowful task as a prophet of doom is complete. Following a section directed against the foreign nations (chs. 25-32), the prophet of doom becomes dominantly a harbinger of hope and restoration.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 24". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/ezekiel-24.html.