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Ezekiel 24:1 Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of Yahweh came to me saying- The very day on which the army of Nebuchadnezzar began the two year siege of Jerusalem (Jer. 39:1; 2Kings 25:1-12). 

Ezekiel 24:2 Son of man, write the name of the day, this selfsame day: the king of Babylon came close to Jerusalem this day- The date was to be recorded because this parable of how Jerusalem would become a boiling pot of destruction was given the day the two year siege started. The false prophets were claiming that the people would survive the siege, and like some today, claimed that Jerusalem was inviolate. But this was not to be, and Bible prophecy likewise indicates that all the Zionist Christian claims that Jerusalem cannot fall to her enemies will also be proven tragically false.

Ezekiel 24:3 Utter a parable to the rebellious house- We wonder why this prophecy is given to those already in captivity. They are described in Ez. 2 as rebellious. The implication is perhaps that for the sake of the repentance of that group already in captivity, the suffering of the rest of Judah in Jerusalem could have been avoided; they could have returned from exile, and the further waves of captivity and awful suffering of Jerusalem avoided. But they refused. In the last days, perhaps the repentance of Judah / Jewry in dispersion could avert the latter day suffering of Jerusalem. Hence we ought to be witnessing to them.

And tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh, Set on the cauldron, set it on, and also pour water into it- In Ez. 11:3 the Jews had mocked: "This is the cauldron, and we are the meat". This would have been a sneering at Jeremiah's prophecy that Jerusalem would be boiled in the fire of Babylonian judgment- Jer. 1:13 "I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north". Their idea was that the holy city was as a cauldron which would defend them from the fire of judgment. But this is deconstructed her by Ezekiel in the parable of Ez. 24. The cauldron would refuse to respond to the purging of the fire and they would all in fact be destroyed. Their concept of sacred space would not save them.

Setting on a large pot with selected good pieces in it suggests preparations for a feast. God's judgment is likened to a banquet to which the nations are invited. As with the cup of wine, to be at God's banquet is a double symbol- either of blessing or of condemnation. This is why being given the Lord's cup at His table, the breaking of bread, is cause for self-examination.

Ezekiel 24:4 Gather its pieces into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones- The valley of dry bones vision in Ez. 37 depicted Israel in captivity as bones waiting to come together and return to the land as a great army. Jer. 8:1 and other passages earlier in Ezekiel (Ez. 6:5; 24:4) had described both Judah and Israel as dry bones. The feeling of those bones was that "our bones are dried and our hope is lost" (Ez. 37:11). Judah in captivity felt that they had no "hope", that God had cast them off, and that they were unable to have a full relationship with Him outside the land. However, it seems that this was a rather convenient piece of theology for them- they were doing well in Babylon, and despite the opportunity to return to the land, they largely chose to remain in Babylon. The good pieces, thigh and shoulder [considered the softest and best part of the animal], may refer to the royal family and priesthood. The ordinary people fled from the Babylonians into Jerusalem, thinking they must be safe there; but this false belief was used by God to effectively gather those who believed it into the pot of judgment.

Ezekiel 24:5 Take the choice of the flock, and also a pile of wood for the bones under the cauldron; make it boil well; yes, let its bones be boiled in its midst- The choice of the flock would refer to the leadership of Judah. The bones are emphasized; because the cauldron was to boil dry, and those dry bones would be cast out but then by grace be revived in the Ez. 37 vision. The choice of the flock ought to have been offered to God in sacrifice; but instead, by keeping the best for themselves and other gods, it would all the same be destroyed. We either give the best or lose it at judgment day.

Ezekiel 24:6 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Woe to the city of blood, to the cauldron whose rust is therein, and whose rust is not gone out of it! Take out of it piece after piece- The earlier fire of Babylonian judgment had been intended to purge the cauldron, representing Jerusalem. But it didn't, and so the heat was increased.

No lot is fallen on it- There was to be total destruction. The invaders typically counted off a certain "lot" to be spared and taken into captivity. But this apparently was not to be. And yet not all were destroyed; indeed, some were taken by lot into captivity (Joel 3:3). This again is God's grace, relenting because of His grace and pity; or because of the intercession and repentance of a minority. See on :26.

Ezekiel 24:7 For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it on the bare rock; she didn’t pour it on the ground, to cover it with dust- Blood was poured out on the earth and covered with dust to teach the total dedication of life to God. There was also the custom of covering blood shed in violence with earth, to as it were prevent it from crying to God for vengeance (Gen. 4:10; Jer. 16:18). But Jerusalem didn't even try to cover the blood of the children she had slain; she justified it as part of a ritual of Yahweh worship. And so it was uncovered blood, which cried to God for vengeance.

Ezekiel 24:8 So that it may cause wrath to come up to take vengeance, I have set her blood on the bare rock, that it should not be covered- The blood, as noted on :7, was not covered, and so it as it were cried out for vengeance. "Her blood" may mean the blood shed by Jerusalem, which has earlier been defined as the blood of child sacrifices made to other gods. They did this because they kidded themselves that they were doing this as part of Yahweh worship; they were open about it, placing the blood on the bare rock of the altars, as was perhaps required by the sacrifice rituals. And God saw that and refused to Himself cover it; and the blood cried out to Him for vengeance, as did that of Abel slain by his brother.

Ezekiel 24:9 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Woe to the city of blood! I also will make the pile great- God as it were augmented the pile of firewood by adding the bones out of the boiled dry cauldron to it (:5). The resurrection and revival of these dry, charred bones in Ez. 37 is therefore all the more miraculous, just as in Ez. 15 the charred vine twigs were to be revived and used by God. The language of the restoration is used of us in the New Testament; this is how amazing is His ability to use we who were rendered worse than useless by sin.

Ezekiel 24:10 Heap on the wood, make the fire hot, boil well the flesh, make thick the broth- The language of Is. 30:33, where we learn that the firewood is kindled by the breath or Spirit of God breathing upon them. But it was that same breath of God which was to revive the dry bones in Ez. 37.

And let the bones be burned- Again the bones are emphasized; the cauldron boiled dry and itself melted in the end, and the bones were taken out of it and used as firewood (:5,9). But still by absolute grace, in Ez. 37 it is these bones which are to be revived. This is the power of the Spirit and the prophetic word breathed into those bones.

Ezekiel 24:11 Then set it empty on its coals- It boiled dry, explaining how the dead bones of Israel in Ez. 37 were dry bones.  

That it may be hot and its brass may be hot, so that its filthiness may be molten in it, that its rust may be consumed- The "coals" are the same word used about the coals used in the sanctification of the tabernacle after the gross apostasy of Aaron's two sons (Lev. 16:12). The coals were used to burn incense which formed a cloud which covered the most holy place and made atonement for the desecration of the tabernacle (Lev. 16:13,17). The situation is clearly that of Ez. 10, where Ezekiel takes the coals and then the cloud of God's glory fills first the most holy, then the holy and then the entire temple. The cleansing ritual is then symbolized as complete by a live goat having the sins of the house of Israel placed upon it, and sent by a willing [AV "fit"] man into the desert far away. This willing man represented Ezekiel, sent by the Lord into the desert and thence to Babylon along with the captives. The word is also used in Ez. 24:11 concerning how there would be "coals" of fire in Jerusalem, upon which the cauldron of Jerusalem would be burnt and judged. This action was a direct result of Ezekiel taking the coals of fire from the cherubim in Ez. 10:2 and scattering them upon the city. This was therefore a direct result of the action of the cherubim, God's massively powerful Angelic way of working, in cooperation with Ezekiel. The whole arrangement shows God's eagerness to work with people. The coals of fire therefore don't solely and simply speak of the burning of Jerusalem by fire at the hands of the Babylonians. That burning was part of the cleansing of the temple from its apostasy, and the exile into Babylon along with Ezekiel, the willing man of Lev. 16:21, was in fact the bearing away of Israel's sin. There is always a silver lining to God's judgments. They are not simply Him lashing out in the offended anger of an omnipotent deity. They were and are designed to propel forward His purpose of saving by grace whilst at the same time judging sin and sinners. And yet tragically, the Babylonian holocaust did not purge the cauldron of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 24:12 She has wearied herself with lies- Jerusalem wearied herself with lies in that the "lies" were her dishonest covenants with the various surrounding nations, as well as with Yahweh. She even became 'weary' of this way of life; but still she would not be purged. The Hebrew word carries the idea of loathing; they in a sense hated their sin (s.w. Jer. 9:5), climaxing in Jerusalem loathing herself and wanting to pluck off her own breasts (Ez. 23:34). The world is full of people weary with sin, who loathe their own addictions and sin, yet they will not surrender themselves to God's demands and be purged.

Yet her great rust doesn’t go forth out of her; her rust doesn’t go forth by fire- As noted on :3, it could be that the repentance of a minority could have averted the boiling of the city. But the fire experienced so far at the hands of Babylon didn't make the rust go forth.

Ezekiel 24:13 In your filthiness is lewdness: because I have cleansed you and you weren’t cleansed, you shall not be cleansed from your filthiness any more- As noted on :3,12, there was the opportunity to be cleansed by the initial wave of Babylonian attacks and the captivity of a minority. But this wasn't achieved. This will be true in the last days too; which is why the prophetic program is open ended, as so much depends upon when and whether a remnant repent.

Until I have caused My wrath toward you to rest- The cessation, accomplishment or resting of God's wrath is mentioned several times in Ezekiel, and nowhere else in this way (Ez. 5:13; 6:12; 7:8; 13:15; 16:42; 20:8; 21:17; 22:20; 24:13). The idea is not that God was so angry that He had to express that anger and only calmed down once He had as it were lashed out. He does have real wrath; the huge love He has cannot exist in a dimensionless vacuum, it of itself implies He also has wrath. Ez. 5:13 continues: "I will cause My wrath toward them to rest, and I shall be comforted", and the Hebrew there for "comforted" is literally 'to sigh', to be sorry, even to repent / change. Having expressed His legitimate anger, God knew that He would then be sorry and would then embark upon a process of restoration- by grace. For the objects of His wrath didn't deserve any restoration. "To rest" is the word translated "to place" in Ez. 37:14: "I shall place you in your own land" at the restoration from captivity. His wrath had to be expressed, and yet it was part of His wider purpose toward restoring His people and Kingdom. We would be quite wrong, therefore, to read these words as meaning that God was furiously angry and needed to lash out and get it all expressed so that He could as it were calm down again. His judgments are always ultimately constructive, and therefore "the wrath of God is the love of God". His wrath is therefore described in Ez. 5:15 as the rebuke of His fury / wrath; it was intended to rebuke, to achieve instruction, that they should 'know Yahweh'. The tragedy was that the captives for the most part refused to perceive it this way and respond.

Ezekiel 24:14 I, Yahweh, have spoken it: it shall happen, and I will do it: I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I relent- This could simply mean that the threatened judgment upon the people in Jerusalem would indeed happen; Ezekiel is repeating Jeremiah's message to the Jews in Judah itself (Jer. 4:28 s.w.). But this could also be an example of where God speaks in legitimate anger, but in grace does retract; for He did spare and relent, at least on a national level. And the scale of destruction in Jerusalem was not as total and absolute as implied at times. This could have been from pity; or as the result of the intercession and repentance of a minority. For God does "go back" if there is repentance (s.w. Jer. 18:8,10; 26:3; Joel 2:13,14).


According to your ways and according to your doings shall they judge you, says the Lord Yahweh- The judgment was therefore not so much by God as by "your doings". Sin is its own condemnation and judgment.

Ezekiel 24:15 Also the word of Yahweh came to me, saying- As noted on :3,12,13, there had been repeated attempts to spiritually cleanse Judah but they had not responded. And so now Jerusalem was to fall and the temple be destroyed, represented by the death of Ezekiel's beloved wife.

Ezekiel 24:16 Son of man, behold, I will take away from you the desire of your eyes- Ezekiel loved his wife and was clearly faithful to her, unlike Jerusalem. God recognizes how much he loved her. He is aware of how much we feel towards those we love and whom we lose. We recall God's understanding of Abraham's love for Isaac in Gen. 22:1 "Your only son, whom you love". Ezekiel's very deep and personal loss was to represent how God felt over the loss of Jerusalem; for He was represented by Ezekiel.


With a stroke: yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, neither shall your tears run down- "With a stroke" (s.w. "plague") is LXX "by violence"; :18 can be translated as saying that she not only "died" but 'was killed'. If Ezekiel's wife was indeed slain by violence, then this would point forward exactly to the destruction of Jerusalem. If she were slain by local Babylonians, then the correspondence would be exact. If she were slain by the Jews who were hostile to Ezekiel's ministry, then this would also point forward to how Jerusalem was to be destroyed due to the violence of the Jews towards each other.

Ezekiel is told ahead of time that his wife is going to be slain "by violence" (LXX). He believed this, and the exiles were likewise being asked to believe that indeed, Jerusalem will fall and be slain. They were to prepare for this as Ezekiel was psychologically preparing for the loss of his wife.

Ezekiel 24:17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead; bind your headdress on you, and put your shoes on your feet, don’t cover your lips nor eat men’s bread- The priests were allowed to mourn for their deceased ones; but the high priest was not, and was forbidden from removing his mitre. This command to Ezekiel could imply that with the destruction of the high priesthood in Jerusalem, Ezekiel was effectively the high priest, the spiritual leader of Judah. Or it could be that the idea simply is that Ezekiel is not to mourn at all, even though as a priest he would normally have been permitted to mourn for his wife. Mourners usually went barefoot, but he was to keep his shoes on his feet. Nor was he to eat the bread brought by men to mourners.

Ezekiel 24:18 So I spoke to the people in the morning; and at evening my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded- Ezekiel's personal loss was so intimately connected with the loss of the temple. He was totally involved in the message he preached, as we should be. "Died" here can also be translated "killed" (as it is in Ex. 1:16; 4:24; 16:3 and often); see on :16. The intention of this severe acted parable may have been to recognize Ezekiel's emotions [for his love for her is recognized] but to ask him to grieve by hiding his emotions. He was not to show others the extent of his grief- he was to hide his emotions. This was because he was God's representative; the loss of the temple was going to be deeply tragic to God, and yet He would not reveal His grief about it.  The intention of the sign was so that the people would "know" Yahweh (:24); they would come to realize that indeed He had internally suffered greatly as Ezekiel had in the loss of his wife (cp. God's loss of the temple). The extreme restraint and apparent silence of His suffering was such that Jeremiah lamented that the destroyed temple was a sign of God's wrath (Lam. 2:7), rather than learning the lesson taught by Ezekiel- that the loss of the temple had been so painful for God.

Ezekiel 24:19 The people said to me, Won’t you tell us what these things are to us, that you do so?- This was the intention of the acted parable; to elicit the question, "What are you doing? / What do you mean?", as in Ez. 12:9; even though in their consciences the answer was surely clear. The question was elicited; but this was followed by the direct revelation of God's word. And so it is in our witness; our lives elicit questions and pique interest from those around us, as a springboard toward the declaration of God's word to them. It was clear enough to them that Ezekiel was intentionally hiding his emotions and not sharing them with others; as noted on :18, this was to demonstrate the degree to which God intensely suffered in the destruction of thet temple, and His lack of emotional outburst should not be read as meaning that He didn't feel for them. It could be argued that God isn't necessarily recorded as slaying Ezekiel's wife; perhaps she was terminally ill and now has a final stroke from the Lord leading to her death. But he is being told not to mourn for her, and his restraint of his feelings seems to be the point of the acted parable rather than the death of his wife.


Ezekiel 24:20 Then I said to them, The word of Yahweh came to me, saying- See on :19.

Ezekiel 24:21 Speak to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pities- This is how a man should feel about his wife if he truly loves her; he is proud of her, desires her, she is his holy place, and the one he pities / sympathizes with (Heb.). This was how Ezekiel felt to his wife, and how the people felt for the Jerusalem temple. But in reality they had profaned that which they loved and were proud of. They only loved the externalities of their religion. And we have here powerful reason for self examination; for we can love our church religion in all its external forms, being proud of it to others- and yet profane Yahweh's sanctuary in real spiritual terms.


And your sons and your daughters whom you have left behind shall fall by the sword- The prophecy was initially given by Ezekiel in captivity; the older, more senior members of the royal family and priesthood were already in captivity. And they were learning that now their children left behind in Judah were to die. It is psychologically credible that their angry reaction to this prophecy was to arrange the murder of Ezekiel's wife.

Ezekiel 24:22 You shall do as I have done: you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men- The Babylonian discovery that the Jewish leadership had lied to them and made covenants with other nations, placing their gods in their temple along with those of Babylon, would lead the Babylonians to turn against the royal family and exiles already in Babylon. Perhaps the idea is that they would not have a chance to eat bread brought to them by sympathizers- for there would be no sympathizers, and they themselves would be persecuted and slain. But the reason for not mourning is given in :23.

Ezekiel 24:23 Your ornaments shall be on your heads, and your shoes on your feet: you shall not mourn nor weep; but you shall pine away in your iniquities, and groan one toward another- They were not to remove their ornaments and go barefoot, as was done when mourning. The reason was that they would lament beyond tears and all external mourning; they would mourn internally for their sins (s.w. Ez. 33:10). We wonder why Jeremiah wrote Lamentations, which appears to be a record of his external mourning. Whilst the book was inspired by God, at times Jeremiah there appears to be lamenting in a way inappropriate. He 'wept' (Lam. 1:16), whereas in Ez. 24:23 Judah were told not to externally weep. He did not take on board the idea that there was to be no mourning or weeping externally, but rather deep internal recognition of their sins. It seems the Jews were not obedient to Ezekiel's command not to externally weep but to internally mourn their own sinfulness; the same word for "weep" is used of how they did weep by the rivers of Babylon (Ps. 137:1).

Ezekiel 24:24 Thus Ezekiel shall be a sign to you; according to all that he has done, you will do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh- In Ez. 24:22-24, Ezekiel’s feelings of grief for the loss of his wife were to be understood as representative of two things- Israel’s grief for losing the temple, and God’s grief over losing His people. In this way, Ezekiel was set up as a bridge builder, in that his feelings reflected both those of God and those of his audience- in order that his preaching could come over as God appealing to them. And consciously and unconsciously, this is how God uses us too, today. By opening our hearts to others, they open theirs to us and to the Lord. This was precisely how Paul dealt with Corinth. He opened his mouth and his heart to them, and in return he asks them: “Open you hearts to us” (2 Cor. 6:11; 7:2 RV). Paul received them into his heart (2 Cor. 7:3), and wished to be received into theirs.

Ezekiel 24:25 You, 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, and that whereupon they set their heart, their sons and their daughters- "In the day" may not refer to the same literal day; for it would have taken longer than a day to travel from Jerusalem to Ezekiel in Babylon. "At that time" seems to be the idea. The Jerusalem temple had been their strength, joy, glory, desire and psychological obsession (:21)- to the point that it is now paralleled with how they felt about their own children. And yet despite this very deep love for the religion of Yahweh, their behaviour toward Him was despicable, and they had cast Him behind their backs. This is the problem with being religious; form so easily swamps content. Some people are wired to be attracted to religion, to the outward, external forms of religion such as meetings, places of worship, tradition and history of the religion etc. These types have to be so careful to ensure that form is not swamping content; for the form is meaningless, indeed it is a distraction; it becomes "their strength... joy... glory... desire... that whereupon they set their heart", when it is God and His Son who should be all these things for us, and not mere religion. He is our strength and joy (2 Sam. 22:33; Neh. 8:10; Jer. 16:19), our glory (as the cherubim vision of Ez. 1 had shown}, our desire.

Ezekiel 24:26 That in that day he who escapes shall come to you, to cause you to hear it with your ears?- We noted on :6 that God had originally threatened total destruction of all within Jerusalem, but in actuality He repented of this. But in Ez. 24:26 Ezekiel is told that in fact one would escape and come to him with the news which by prophecy he already knew. This happened (Ez. 33:21). The mention of one who escapes is therefore a tacit reflection of God's grace in not doing all He threatened in Ez. 24:6.

It could be that Ezekiel was struck dumb (:27) and deaf by the death of his wife, just as he had endured a similar period earlier in Ez. 3:24-26; 4:4-8, but when the news of Jerusalem's fall came, he recovered hearing and speech. In that period of prophetic silence and deep mourning we see reflected God's mourning and silence to His people throughout the two year siege. It has been suggested that the period of dumbness recorded in Ez. 3:24-26; 4:4-8 actually refers to this same period. But it could just as well be that Ezekiel, like us, experienced one such situation as a preparation for the repeat of that situation later in life.

Ezekiel 24:27 In that day your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped, and you shall speak, and be no more mute. So you will be a sign to them; and they shall know that I am Yahweh- At the Lord's return, God will use a repentant Israel to achieve great things in terms of converting this world unto Himself. They will walk up and down in His Name, witnessing to Him as He had originally intended them to (Zech. 10:12); men will cling to their skirts in order to find the knowledge of their God (Zech. 8:23). “In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, and I will give thee (Israel) the opening of the mouth in the midst of them (the surrounding nations, see context); and they shall know that I am the LORD”, in that Israel will preach to them from their own experience of having recently come to know Yahweh (Ez. 29:21). But at the time of the Lord’s return, when Israel repent and enter the new covenant with Him, they will remember all their past sins “and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more because of your shame... for all that you have done” (Ez. 16:63). They will be so ashamed that they will feel as if they can never open their mouth. But Yahweh will open their mouth, and they will witness. In some anticipation of this, Ezekiel as the “son of man” prophet, a representative of his people just as the Lord was to be, had his mouth shut in dumbness, and he only had his mouth opened when Israel came to know [to some degree] that “I am the LORD” (Ez. 24:27). In all these evident connections something marvellous presents itself. Those who feel as if they just cannot open their mouths in witness are the very ones whom the Father will use; He will open their mouths and use them exactly because they are ashamed of their sins! And so it should be with us.

Ezekiel's prophetic mouth was to be opened at the time when the siege finished and it would be opened to the remnant who had escaped. Through the ministry of His prophetic word, God would again speak to the remnant whom He hoped would repent and return to reestablish His Kingdom in Israel.