Cannibalism (Ezek 5:10-5:10)

“Surely,

Parents shall eat

Their children

In your midst.

The children shall eat

Their parents.

I will execute judgments

On you.

Any of you

Who survive,

I will scatter

To every wind.”

This ideal of cannibalism in Jerusalem was attested by Jeremiah, chapter 19, and Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, and now here in Ezekiel. Parents would eat their children, while children would eat their parents in this situation of starvation in Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to execute his judgments on those who survived. These survivors would be scattered to the four winds in every direction.

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Death would be better than famine (Lam 4:9-4:9)

Tet

“Happier were those

Pierced by the sword

Than those

Pierced by hunger.

Their life

Drains away.

They are deprived

Of the produce

Of the field.”

This author points out that famine or starvation is worse than death by a sword. Starvation leads to the draining of life since they were deprived of the products of the field. This brings up the question of whether a quick death or a slow painful death is better. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet in this acrostic poem.

The dead people in the streets (Lam 4:5-4:5)

He

“Those who feasted

On delicacies

Perish

In the streets.

Those who were

Brought up

In purple

Cling

To ash heaps.”

This author points out that there has been a complete reversal of fortunes. Those who feasted on delicate foods are now dead in the streets because of starvation. Those who were brought up with fine purple clothes now cling to ash heaps dead. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter He in this acrostic poem.

The oracle about Ebed-melech (Jer 39:15-39:18)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

While he was confined

In the court of the guard.

‘Go!

Say to Ebed-melech,

The Ethiopian.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I am going to fulfill my words

Against this city

For evil,

Not for good.

They shall be accomplished

In your presence

On that day.

But I will save you

On that day.’

Says Yahweh.

‘You shall not be

Handed over

To those whom you dread.

I will surely save you.

You shall not fall

By the sword.

But you shall have

Your life

As a prize of war.

Because you have trusted

In me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Perhaps this oracle should have been at the end of chapter 38, but it is here. Jeremiah is still in the royal prison as he gets this oracle about the Ethiopian eunuch Ebed-melech, who had saved him from starvation and death in the cistern well. Jeremiah was to go to Ebed-melech to tell him what Yahweh had told him. Yahweh was going to destroy Jerusalem because of its evil ways, in the sight of this Ethiopian. However, the God of Israel was going to save him as he would not be handed over to the Babylonians to die by the sword. Ebed-melech was going to save his life as a prize of war. This usually meant that he would be taken into captivity with the king of Judah. His life would be saved because he trusted in Yahweh.