The fiery flames (Dan 3:23-3:25)

“Now the king’s servants,

Who threw them in,

Kept stoking

The furnace

With naphtha,

Pitch,

Tow,

Brushwood.

The flames

Poured out

Above the furnace,

Forty-nine cubits.

The flames

Spread out.

They burned

Those Chaldeans

Who were caught

Near the furnace.”

Originally, the king’s servants who threw the 3 men into the furnace had died because of the flames. Either they were still alive or there were other servants to keep the fire in the furnace going. Here those same servants or other servants were also burned because the flames were 49 cubits or over 75 feet high. They were adding naphtha, pitch, tow, and brushwood to the fire. Naphtha and pitch were like peat coal or a flammable tar base. Tow and brushwood were woods that easily burned.

The food habits of the priests (Ezek 44:29-44:31)

“They shall eat

The grain offering,

The sin offering,

The guilt offering.

Every devoted thing

In Israel

Shall be theirs.

The first of all

The first fruits

Of all kinds

Shall belong

To the priests.

Every offering

Of all kinds,

From all your offerings,

Shall belong

To the priests.

You shall also give

To the priests

The first of your dough.

Thus,

A blessing may rest

On your house.

The priests shall not eat

Of anything,

Whether bird

Or animal,

That died of itself

Or was torn by animals.”

The Zadok Levitical priests had strict dietary habits that were very favorable to them. They were to eat all the various offerings that the people of Israel presented, the grain offerings, the sin offerings, the guilt offerings, or any devoted thing in Israel. They would also get the first fruits of all kinds, including the cooked dough. All these food items belonged to the priests. Giving them to the priests meant that your house would have a blessing. However, these priests were not allowed to eat any bird or animal that had died by itself or was mangled by another animal.

Yahweh and his people (Ezek 39:22-39:24)

“The house of Israel

Shall know

That I am Yahweh,

Their God,

From that day forward.

The nations

Shall know

That the house of Israel

Went into captivity

For their iniquity.

They dealt

Treacherously

With me.

So,

I hid

My face

From them.

I gave them

Into the hand

Of their adversaries.

They all fell

By the sword.

I dealt with them

According to their uncleanness.

I dealt with them

According to their transgressions.

I hid my face

From them.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that the house of Israel would finally know that he was their God, from that day forward. The various countries knew that the house of Israel went into captivity, because of their iniquity in dealing treacherously with Yahweh. Thus, he hid his face from them. He gave them over to their adversaries, where they all died by the sword. Yahweh had dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions. He hid his face, until finally the Israelites recognized Yahweh as their God.

 

Meshech and Tubal in the grave (Ezek 32:26-32:26)

“Meshech

With Tubal

Are there.

All their multitude

Is there.

Their graves are

All around them.

All of them were

Uncircumcised.

They had been killed

By the sword.

They had spread terror

In the land

Of the living.”

Ezekiel had mentioned both these obscure kingdoms in chapter 27 when he was talking about the trading partners of Tyre. Meshech were the Assyrians in the mountain country of present day Turkey. Tubal seemed to be some Assyrians who had settled in today’s southern Turkey. Like those preceding, these two groups of people were uncircumcised. They, too, had spread terror in the land of the living, but also died by the sword.

Assyria in the pit (Ezek 32:22-32:23)

“Assyria is there.

All its company is there.

Their graves are

All around it.

All of them killed,

Fallen by the sword.

Their graves are set

In the uttermost parts

Of the pit.

Its company

Is all around

Its grave.

All of them

Have been killed,

Fallen by the sword.

They had spread

Terror

In the land

Of the living.”

There apparently was a special place for the Assyrians in this pit or Sheol, the shadowy underworld of the afterlife. Somehow their graves were all around them, since they were all killed by the sword. Thus, their graves were set off in the uttermost parts of this pit. The Assyrian company armies were all around in graves also, since all of them had died by the sword. While they were living, they had spread terror. Now they were in the worst part of Sheol.

The sign of Ezekiel (Ezek 24:22-24:24)

“You shall do

As I have done!

You shall not cover

Your upper lip!

You shall not eat

The bread

Of mourners!

Your turbans shall be

On your heads!

Your sandals shall be

On your feet!

You shall not mourn!

You shall not weep!

But you shall pine away

In your iniquities.

You shall groan

To one another.

‘Thus Ezekiel

Shall be a sign

To you.

You shall do

Just as he has done.

When this comes,

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh God.’”

When this catastrophe would hit them, they should do as Ezekiel had done. They were not to cover up their upper lip. They were not to eat the mourner’s bread. However, they should continue to wear their turban hats and their foot sandals. They were not to mourn or weep. They could pine away privately, because of their iniquities. They could also groan to one another privately. Thus Yahweh had placed Ezekiel and his behavior as a sign for them. They were to do just as Ezekiel had done when his wife died. Then they would all know that Yahweh, their God, was in charge. In other words, the death of their loved ones would be a numbing experience, without any outward grief.

What is the meaning of Ezekiel’s reaction? (Ezek 24:18-24:19)

“So I spoke

To the people

In the morning.

At evening,

My wife died.

On the next morning,

I did

As I was commanded.

Then the people

Said to me.

‘Will you not tell us

What these things

Mean for us?

Why are you acting

This way?’”

Ezekiel then went in the morning to tell the people with him in Babylon what Yahweh had said to him. That very evening, his wife died. The next day, he did exactly what Yahweh had told him to do. He did not seem upset. However, the people were confused. They wanted to know what this non-mourning attitude meant. Why was he acting so strange, as if nothing had happened to him in his life? His young wife had died, yet he seemed unperturbed.