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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 5

 

 

Verse 1

Ezekiel 5:1. Take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor — The latter expression explains the former; and cause it to pass upon thy head, &c. — Hair being then accounted an ornament, and baldness a token of sorrow, therefore shaving denoted calamity or desolation. “Among the Arabs,” says Harmer, chap. 6. observ. 23, “there cannot be a greater stamp of infamy than to cut off any one’s beard: and many among them would prefer death to this kind of punishment. And as they would think it a grievous calamity to lose it, so they carry things so far as to beg for the sake of it, ‘By your beard, by the life of your beard, do.’ In like manner some of the benedictions are, ‘God preserve your blessed beard, God pour his blessings on your beard.’ And when they would express their value for a thing, they say, ‘It is worth more than his beard.’ I never had so clear an apprehension, I must confess, as after I had read these accounts, of the intended energy of that thought of Ezekiel, where the inhabitants are compared to the hair of the prophet’s head and beard. The passage seems to signify, that though the inhabitants of Jerusalem had been dear to God, as the hair of an eastern beard to its owner, yet that they should be taken away and consumed, one part by pestilence and famine, another part by the sword, and a third by the calamities of an exile.” See note on 2 Samuel 10:4. And then take the balances, &c. — A symbol of God’s justice, as the razor was of his wrath; to weigh and divide the hair — What the prophet is here commanded to do was by way of another emblematical representation of what was to happen to the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem. The hair signified the Jewish people; shaving the hair with a razor, the divine vengeance; the weighing of the hair in the balances, the divine equity, which metes out to every one what is just and right; the dividing of the hair, the punishments allotted to different persons of them.


Verses 2-4

Ezekiel 5:2-4. Thou shall burn a third part in the midst of the city — In the midst of that portraiture of the city, which the prophet was commanded to make, chap. Ezekiel 4:1. This signified the destruction of the inhabitants within the city by famine and pestilence; for both famine and pestilence may be said to burn, as they make great havoc, and consume as fast as fire. Thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife — To show that a third part of the inhabitants should be slain with the sword; either in the sallies they made out of the city against the enemy, or when the city was taken by assault. A third part thou shalt scatter in the wind — This signified that a part of them should be dispersed into various countries, as the chaff is dispersed by the wind; I will draw out a sword after them — My vengeance shall pursue them in their dispersions, and they shall be everywhere exposed to suffer violence and injury. Also take a few and bind them in thy skirts — The Hebrew is, in thy wings. This signified that a small part of them should be preserved in the land; and accordingly we find that Nebuzar-adan, captain-general of the king of Babylon, left a few of them in the land under Gedaliah, as we read Jeremiah 40:5-6. Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire — This expressed the calamity and destruction which should arise from this small remnant differing among themselves: some espousing the part of Gedaliah, who had been set over them by the Babylonians, and was a good man; and others joining themselves to Ishmael, one of the blood of David, but a wicked man; who formed a conspiracy against Gedaliah, and treacherously slew him, which was the occasion of the utter ruin of that poor remainder of the Jews, which were left in their native country. For thereupon some of them went down into Egypt, where they were all consumed according to Jeremiah’s prophecy against them, Jeremiah 44:11, &c., and the rest who remained in the land were entirely carried away captive by Nebuzar- adan, Jeremiah 52:30.


Verse 5-6

Ezekiel 5:5-6. Thus saith the Lord, This is Jerusalem — Here the explication of the foregoing type is given, namely, that the hair to be shaved off signified Jerusalem, which was to be destroyed. I have set it in the midst of the nations — I set Jerusalem in the midst of the heathen nations, that it might be a pattern of religion and virtue to them: that the Egyptians, Syrians, Arabians, &c., might take example from her. Jerusalem was set in the midst of the nations to be as the heart in the human body, to invigorate the dead world with a divine life, as well as to enlighten the dark world with a divine light. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness — Instead of following my judgments, and the precepts I gave her for the conduct of life, she hath given herself up to wickedness. More than the nations — She hath sinned against clearer light and stronger convictions of duty than the heathen nations, and therefore has contracted greater guilt, and deserved greater punishment than they. And my statutes more than the countries round about her — None of the countries round about had the statutes of Jehovah delivered to them, for he made known his statutes only to Israel: the meaning of this therefore must be, that the nations round about were more observant of the statutes and precepts delivered to them by men than the Israelites were of those delivered to them by God. Thus we find from Jeremiah, that the Rechabites were much more observant of the precepts (though no easy ones) which their father or first founder enjoined them, than the Israelites were of the commandments given them by God.


Verses 7-9

Ezekiel 5:7-9. Therefore, because ye multiplied more than the nations — Their multiplying, in the common sense of the word, was a blessing promised to them, and could not be alleged against them as a crime; therefore a word ought to be supplied here, as is done in many versions, namely, because ye multiplied your crimes, or wickedness, more than the nations, &c., neither have done according to the judgments [or manners] of the nations that are round about you — Namely, by persevering in the religion of your forefathers: you have not been so constant and zealous for the true religion as they have been for a false one. Or, as others interpret the clause, You have exceeded them in superstition and idolatry, and fallen short of them in moral duties. Therefore, behold, I, even I, am against thee — I will vindicate my laws from being contemned as they have been by you; for why should I suffer it to be said, See how they who profess to worship the true and only God, live immersed in wickedness, and without any virtue? And I will do in thee that which I have not done — As your sins have particular aggravations above those of other nations, so your punishment shall be proportionably greater. I will not do any more the like The punishments you shall suffer shall be more remarkable for their greatness than those I shall at any time inflict upon other nations.


Verse 10-11

Ezekiel 5:10-11. The fathers shall eat the sons, &c. — Fathers eating their children, and children their fathers, expresses the height of misery, and the most grievous famine. We have sufficient proof that such instances happened in the Jewish nation amidst their more than common calamities. Josephus relates some instances of parents eating their children during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans; and we have further evidence of such horrid acts having been done by them in the extremity of famine, from the texts referred to in the margin. And the whole remnant of them will I scatter, &c. — This is another judgment threatened against them by Moses, and remarkably fulfilled in this their last dispersion, in which they are to be found in every part of the known world, and yet live everywhere like strangers only upon sufferance: see note on Deuteronomy 28:64. Because thou hast defiled my sanctuary — Hast profaned my temple by placing idols in it, and worshipping them. With all thy detestable things, and all thine abominations — These are expressions of the same signification, denoting idols. Therefore will I also diminish thee — Will make thee of less account, and take from thee all honours as thou hast from me, as much as lay in thy power: or, as some interpret the clause, I will cut off or destroy, by diminishing, (as the word גרע is used Numbers 27:4,) without showing any pity or compassion. See the margin.


Verse 12-13

Ezekiel 5:12-13. A third part of thee, &c. — In this verse is given an explication of what the burning of the hair, the smiting of it with a knife, &c., signified: see on Ezekiel 5:2. And I will draw out a sword after them — My anger shall still pursue them, even into the countries whither they shall be banished and carried captives. As this was particularly fulfilled in those that went into Egypt, (see on Ezekiel 5:4,) so it has been remarkably verified in the several persecutions and massacres they have undergone at different times in most of the countries of Europe, in latter ages: see note on Deuteronomy 28:65. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished — My anger shall be appeased toward them, after I have executed due punishment upon them for their sins. And I will cause my fury — Or rather, my wrath, or indignation, as, חמתי should be rendered, for to apply the word fury to God, is highly improper and indecent: to rest upon them —

To be satisfied in punishing them. And I will be comforted — Here we have a strong instance of the metaphor called anthropopathia, by which the qualities of men are ascribed to God. As men sometimes find some sort of ease and rest in their minds upon venting their anger on just occasions, and bringing offenders to condign punishment; so God is here described as feeling ease and satisfaction in executing his justice on obstinate offenders: compare Ezekiel 16:42; Ezekiel 21:17; and see note on Isaiah 1:24. They shall know that I have spoken it in my zeal — Out of a just concern for my own honour and authority, which they have slighted and despised.


Verses 15-17

Ezekiel 5:15-17. So it shall be an instruction to the nations — They shall learn from such an example of vengeance to fear me, and be afraid of my judgments. When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine — Hail, tempest, drought, mildew, locusts, all which contribute to make a famine. So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts — Wild beasts multiply in a land when it becomes uninhabited, Exodus 23:29. This likewise is a punishment which, among others, was threatened against the Jews by Moses: see the margin. Pestilence and blood shall pass through thee — Blood signifies any unusual sort of death, and may denote here such a pestilence as would destroy multitudes; or that, in addition to destruction by pestilence, they should be slaughtered by their enemies throughout their land.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 5:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezekiel-5.html. 1857.

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