Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 5

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verses 1-4

Ezekiel 5:1-4 . (D) The Fate of the Besieged.— Yet the last symbol is perhaps the most terrible of all; it suggests the all but irretrievable completeness of the destruction. Ezekiel is commanded to take a sharp sword, and use it, like a razor, upon his head and beard— suggesting how clean the city will be swept of its population. The hair removed is to be scrupulously weighed— there is a deadly accuracy in the Divine justice— and divided into three portions, destined to be burned, smitten, and scattered respectively, symbolic (as we learn from Ezekiel 5:12) of the fate of those within the city (the fire stands for pestilence and famine), of those caught near it, cruelly cut down in their efforts to escape, and of those who will be swept away to exile. Of these last a few, symbolised by a little hair caught in the folds of Ezekiel’ s garment, shall escape, but even this remnant is to be decimated by further disaster. (Perhaps the last sentence of Ezekiel 5:4 should be deleted.)

Verses 5-17

Ezekiel 5:5-17 . Explanation of the Symbols.— By the four preceding symbolical actions the doom has been made too terribly clear: the reason for it is now given. Jerusalem is the centre of the world, conspicuous alike for her position and her privileges, especially for her possession of a unique religious law, the gift of her own unique God. But so far was she from gratefully conforming her life to it, that she fell disgracefully below even heathen standards ( cf. Jeremiah 2:11); and so, conspicuous in her doom as in her privileges, she must be punished before all the world— a fate from which Israel had always shrunk with special horror ( Ezekiel 5:8). Her punishment was to be unparalleled ( Ezekiel 5:9)— parents would literally devour their own children in the stress of the siege ( cf. Lamentations 4:10)— because her sin had been unparalleled; and it is very significant that Ezekiel defines this sin in ritual terms ( cf. Ezekiel 4:14). It is because the Temple had been defiled by idolatry in ways to be described in ch. 8 that the pitiless punishment falls. Over and over again it is described in all the detail of its inexorable ruthlessness, and Yahweh pledges Himself to it all in a solemn oath ( Ezekiel 5:11). In His fury He will make of guilty Jerusalem a terrible example, which will warn, if not win, the rest of the world. The spirit of this threat— that Yahweh will not rest content until He has wreaked the fury of His vengeance upon them— is, of course, not Christian: but neither is it ignoble. He does it out of what is called His zeal ( Ezekiel 5:13), i.e. a jealous regard for His honour which He had entrusted to Israel’ s keeping, and which Israel has trampled in the dust. We have here that “ terrifying sense of the Divine anger against sin so powerfully represented in the preaching of Ezekiel” (Ex. B. Ezek. p. 69).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 5". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.