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.

Yahweh will scatter the exiles (Ezek 12:14-12:16)

“I will scatter

To every wind

All who are around him,

His helpers,

All his troops.

I will unsheathe

The sword

Behind them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.

When I disperse them

Among the nations

I will scatter them

Through the countries.

But I will let

A few of them escape

From the sword,

From famine,

From pestilence.

Thus they may tell

Of all their abominations

Among the nations

Where they go.

Then they may know

That I am Yahweh.”

In this exile, not everyone will go to the same place. Yahweh indicated that he was going to scatter the helpers and the soldiers of the king to the wind. He certainly was going to make sure that some died by the sword. They should know that he was Yahweh. He was going to disperse them among the various nations and scatter them among different countries. He was going to let a few of them escape from the 3 ways of dying, the sword, famine, or pestilence. Those who survived would talk about all their abominations among the diverse nations, wherever they went. Thus everyone would know that Yahweh was the God of Israel.

Exile to Babylon (Ezek 12:12-12:13)

“The prince

Who is among them

Shall lift

His baggage

On his shoulder

In the dark.

He shall go out.

He shall dig

Through the wall.

He will carry his baggage

Through the hole.

He shall cover

His face.

Thus he may not see

The land

With his eyes.

I will spread

My net over him.

He shall be caught

In my snare.

I will bring him

To Babylon,

The land of the Chaldeans.

Yet he shall not see it.

He shall die there.”

This appears to be a description of what happened to King Zedekiah in 2 Kings, chapter 25, and Jeremiah, chapter 39. The prince or King Zedekiah of Judah left Jerusalem through the hole in the wall. He was captured, blinded, and then taken to Babylon, where he eventually died. This prince was going to take his baggage on his shoulder in the dark, as he dug through the hole in the wall. He covered his face so that he could not see the land. However, he was caught by the Babylonians who blinded him and sent him to Babylon where he died.

They have strayed from Yahweh (Ezek 11:14-11:15)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Your kinsfolk,

Your own relatives,

Your fellow exiles,

The whole house of Israel,

All of them,

Are those of whom

The inhabitants of Jerusalem

Have said.

‘They have gone far

From Yahweh.

To us

This land is

Given for a possession.’”

As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel. He reminded him that all his relatives, his household, his fellow exiles, and the whole house of Israel had strayed from Yahweh. However, there is an unusual twist as the people left in Jerusalem said that since these others had sinned, they would take possession of the land and the property of those who had died or were taken captive.

The cry of Ezekiel at the death of Pelatiah (Ezek 11:13-11:13)

“Now

While I was prophesying,

Pelatiah,

The son of Benaiah,

Died.

Then I fell down

On my face.

I cried

With a loud voice.

I said.

‘O Lord God!

Will you make

A full end

Of the remnant of Israel?’”

There is a strange cry of Ezekiel about the death of Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah, who was one of the wicked ones mentioned earlier in this chapter. He died while Ezekiel was prophesying. It is not clear why Ezekiel was so upset. Nevertheless, Ezekiel fell down with his face to the ground and cried out loudly. He wanted to know if this was the end of the remnant of Israel. Would no one be left in Israel?

Against the altars in the high places (Ezek 6:4-6:7)

“Your altars

Shall become desolate.

Your incense stands

Shall be broken.

I will throw down

Your slain

In front of your idols.

I will lay

The corpses

Of the people of Israel

In front of your idols.

I will scatter your bones

Around your altars.

Wherever you live,

Your towns

Shall be waste.

Your high places

Shall be ruined.

Thus your altars

Shall be waste.

Your altars

Shall be ruined.

Your idols

Shall be broken.

Your idols

Shall be destroyed.

Your incense stands

Shall be cut down.

Your works

Shall be wiped out.

The slain shall fall

In your midst.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh continued to tell Ezekiel that these Israelite altars would become desolate. The incense stands would be broken. Yahweh would throw down the dead corpses in front of the idols there. He was going to scatter their bones around these altars. No matter where they might live, Yahweh was going to lay waste to these high places, so that they all would be ruined. The idols would be broken and destroyed. Their incense stands would be cut down. All their works would be wiped out, as many died among them. They would all know that Yahweh was the one who did all this.