Jerusalem has fallen (Ezek 33:21-33:21)

“In the twelfth year

Of our exile,

In the tenth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

Someone

Who had escaped

From Jerusalem

Came to me.

He said.

‘The city has fallen.’”

Once again, there is an exact date, the 5th day of the 10th month in the 12th year of his captivity, probably January, 586 BCE. On that day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to him, perhaps a month or two after the fall of Jerusalem. This time it was not Yahweh who came to Ezekiel, but this straggler. However, the news was not good, since he said that the city of Jerusalem had fallen.

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The future sign of Ezekiel (Ezek 24:25-24:27)

“You!

Son of man!

On the day

When I take

From them

Their stronghold,

Their joy,

Their glory,

The delight of their eyes,

Their heart’s affection,

Someone will come

To you.

I will take their sons.

I will take their daughters.

On that day,

One who has escaped

Will come

To you

To report

To you

The news.

On that day,

Your mouth

Shall be opened

To the one

Who has escaped.

You shall speak.

You will no longer

Be silent.

So you shall be a sign

To them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke directly to Ezekiel, the son of man. On a future day, Yahweh was going to bring down Jerusalem. The Israelites would lose their stronghold, their joy, their glory, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s affection. They would also lose their sons and daughters. Someone, who had escaped from Jerusalem, would come to Ezekiel on that day with the report of the news about the fall of Jerusalem. On that day, Ezekiel would open his mouth to speak. He would not be silent anymore. Thus the actions of Ezekiel would a sign, so that everyone would know that Yahweh was in charge.

The explanation of the allegory of the vine (Ezek 15:6-15:8)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘Like the wood

Of the vine

Among the trees

Of the forest,

That I have given

To the fire

For fuel,

So I will give up

The inhabitants

Of Jerusalem.

I will set my face

Against them.

Although they escape

From the fire,

The fire shall still

Consume them.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I set

My face

Against them.

I will make

The land desolate,

Because they have acted

Faithlessly.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh then explained this allegory or parable. Just as Yahweh had given the wood of the vine as fuel to the fire, so he has done the same to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.   Even if they escaped from this fire, the fire would still consume them. They would know that he was Yahweh, their God. He was going to make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly. The people of Jerusalem were strong special wood, like the vine wood. However, they were useless before the fire, and they are now even more useless after the fire. They had lost faith in Yahweh. What good were they?

The survivors (Ezek 7:16-7:18)

“If any survivors escape,

They will be found

On the mountains,

Like doves

Of the valleys.

All of them

Will be moaning

Over their iniquity.

All hands

Shall grow feeble.

All knees

Shall turn to water.

They shall put on

Sackcloth.

Horror

Shall cover them.

Shame shall be

On all faces.

Baldness shall be

On all their heads.”

Instead of being taken captive, these survivors escaped and headed to the hills. They could be found in the mountains, like droves of valley doves. They would all be moaning over their iniquity. However, their hands would grow feeble, while their knees would turn to jelly or water. They would put on sackcloth, as if in mourning. Horror would cover them. Shame would be all over their faces. They would have shaved bald heads. These survivors would not be a happy lot, even if they were alive.

The day of Yahweh’s anger (Lam 2:22-2:22)

Taw

“You invited

My enemies

From all around

As if for a festival day.

On the day

Of the anger

Of Yahweh,

No one escaped.

No one survived.

Those whom I bore,

Those whom I reared,

My enemy destroyed.”

Jerusalem blamed Yahweh for inviting its enemies from all over to come and have a great feast. On the day of Yahweh’s anger, no one escaped or survived from Jerusalem. Now the enemies of Jerusalem have destroyed all the people who were born and raised in Jerusalem. Thus Yahweh’s anger was to blame for all the havoc and death that happened in Jerusalem. This final verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Taw. This acrostic poem ends with the personification of Jerusalem speaking about Yahweh’s day of anger.

The flight and capture of King Zedekiah (Jer 39:4-39:5)

“When King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

With all the soldiers

Saw the Babylonians,

They fled.

They went out of the city

At night

By way of the king’s garden

Through the gate

Between the two walls.

They went toward the Arabah.

But the army of the Chaldeans

Pursued them.

They overtook King Zedekiah

In the plains of Jericho.

When they had taken him,

They brought him up

To King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

At Riblah,

In the land of Hamath.

He passed sentence on him.”

This is pretty much the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. The king and his army escaped through a hole in the wall via the king’s garden. They were headed for Arabah, the Jordan River valley, but the Chaldeans caught them in the plains of Jericho, about 5 miles from Jerusalem. In 2 Kings, chapter 24, the Judean troops scattered and deserted the king, but there is no mention of that here.  They then brought the king and his army officials to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was at Riblah in Hamath, north of Jerusalem, almost on the Syrian border.

Yahweh had protected them in the past (Isa 10:25-10:27)

“In a very little while,

My indignation

Will come to an end.

My anger will be directed

To their destruction.

Yahweh of hosts

Will wield a whip against them,

As when he smote Midian

At the rock of Oreb.

His staff will be over the sea.

He will lift it

As he did in Egypt.

In that day,

His burden will be removed

From your shoulder.

His yoke will be destroyed

From your neck.’”

Yahweh speaks directly via Isaiah about his love for Israel. His indignation at them will be short lived. In his anger, he will destroy the Assyrians with a whip. He will do this, just as he had helped the Israelites under Gideon against Oreb and the Midian people at the rock of Oreb in Judges, chapters 6-7. Then there is also an allusion to Yahweh’s staff at the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites escaped from Egypt in Exodus, chapter 14. At that point, the burden on their shoulders and the yoke on their necks will be lifted.