For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

24:1.  “Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


24:2.  “Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.”


The date was January 15, 588 BC, the ninth year of king Jehoiachin’s exile in Babylon, and the day on which Nebuchadnezzar began his siege of Jerusalem.


24:3.  “And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it:”


In chapter 11 the false prophets had likened the people of Jerusalem to meat safe and secure within a cooking pot, Jerusalem being the pot; but here God is about to show the rebellious idolaters that the are indeed like meat in a pot, not safe as they supposed, but rather penned up within it without hope of escape, and about to be seized by the Babylonians, some of them to be slain, and the survivors to be carried captive to Babylon.


24:4.  “Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.”


This continues the symbolic picture of Jerusalem’s inhabitants being gathered within the city like pieces of meat and marrow bones collected in a pot for boiling.


24:5.  “Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein.”


“... the choice of the flock“ refers to the very best cuts of meat, used here as figures or symbols of the princes and rulers.  “... burn also the bones under it,” is an incorrect translation: the bones were to be placed in the pot, wood being piled underneath it as fuel to make it boil.


24:6.  “Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it.”


“... scum” means rust, corrosion, filth.  Jerusalem had become like a filthy pot in which the scum was befouling what was being cooked, so that it was necessary to remove all the pieces of meat and bones, so that the pot might be scoured clean. 


“... let no lot fall upon it,” means that there was to be no selectivity in choosing the pieces of meat and bones to be removed from the filthy pot: it was to be completely emptied.  This was a symbolic way of saying that none would be spared in the coming judgment about to overtake the wicked city.  It would be emptied of inhabitant by death and captivity.


24:7.  “For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust;”


The blood that had been shed in Jerusalem had, as it were, lain on a rock for all to see, rather than having been removed from sight by being absorbed in the dust.  Her multiplied sins had been blatant.


Lev 17:13 records the command that the blood of an animal or bird taken in hunting was to be poured out and covered with dust.


24:8.  “That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered.”


The wickedness had increased to the point where God had become infuriated, and was compelled to execute judgment on the perpetrators.  His setting her blood upon the top of a rock is a symbolic way of saying that He was about to expose her wickedness, and thus reveal the justice of His vengeance.


24:9.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile of fire great.”


God Himself would ensure that the fire of His judgment would be fully commensurate with her wickedness, a principle that governs His punishment of every man’s sin.  Those who suffer His eternal judgment in the lake of fire will be compelled to admit that their punishment is absolutely just, for the Lord Jesus Christ has borne that punishment fully at Calvary, it being their refusal to accept Him as Savior that condemns them then to suffer that punishment themselves in that dreadful lake.


24:10.  “Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned.”


The picture continues to be of the unmitigated punishment to be suffered, not just by that wicked generation of Israel, but by all who refuse to repent and avail themselves of His mercy within His appointed time, His dire warning being, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man,” Ge 6:3; and “He, who being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1.


Relative to the spicing of the meat, the Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary states, “that the meat may be more palatable, i.e., I will make the foe delight in its destruction as much as one delights in well-seasoned savory meat.”


24:11.  “Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed.”


The empty pot was then to be heated red hot until all the scum was consumed, leaving it completely purified, the type being fulfilled in the literal burning of Jerusalem by the Babylonians following their capture of the city, and their deportation of the surviving  citizens in 586 BC.


24:12.  “She hath wearied herself with lies (toil), and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire.”


“... lies” is literally “toil,” the reference being perhaps to Israel’s vain attempts to dispute God’s charges against her, as for example in Mal 2:17 “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words.  Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him?  When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”  As well as wearying God they also wearied themselves by continually arguing against His accusations, for all their protestations of righteousness couldn’t alter the fact that in His sight they were filthy; and nothing could cleanse them and the city of that filth except His judgmental fire, to come in the form of Babylon’s destruction of the city, and captivity of the guilty people.


24:13.  “In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.”


“... lewdness” in the present context is wicked plotting, and is related to the fact that in spite of all God’s attempts to purge (cleanse) them they had not been cleansed because they were bent on doing evil.  Their whole mind set was toward wickedness, and now having exhausted God’s patience, and having provoked His fury, they were about to be cleansed by the fire of His fierce judgment in the form of the Babylonian invasion.


24:14.  “I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God.”


All that God had threatened to do He would do.  Their doom was sealed.  His decision was irrevocable.  They had crossed over the invisible line that separates His mercy from His wrath.  He would execute judgment against them in proportion to their very great wickedness and refusal to repent.


24:15.  “Also the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


24:16.  “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.”


The reference here is to Ezekiel’s wife whom he loved very dearly.  God was about to take her away from him suddenly in death, yet he was not to give any outward sign of his grief.


24:17.  “Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire (turban) of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.”


The bereft prophet was not to employ any of the customary signs of grief that were the normal accompaniments of a funeral.  He was to put on his turban, wear his shoes, keep his lips uncovered, nor was he to eat the special bread served at funerals.


24:18.  “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.”


The next morning he did as God had commanded him, and that same evening his wife died, and on the following morning he spoke to the people.


24:19.  “And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?”


The people responded by asking him to explain the meaning of his strange conduct, and what application it had to them.


24:20.  “Then I answered them, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


24:21.  “Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.”


The message was that as they had profaned His Temple by their idolatry, so would He now allow it to be profaned by the Babylonians.  The desecration and destruction of the Temple, which was the delight of their eyes, was something the people had firmly believed would never happen, a misplaced confidence that had led them to believe wrongly that they themselves were therefore also safe from attack by an invader.  They were about to be disillusioned.  Not only would the Temple be destroyed, but they and their children would also be slain.


24:22.  “And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.”


Ezekiel’s failure to mourn the death of his wife according to the usual custom of the bereaved, would be what they too would do following the death of their children and other family members.  They would not engage in the normal mourning and weeping that might have been expected: and for good reason.  Many of them would also be slain, while their being led away as captives would preclude the possibility of any of the survivors engaging in the normal forms of mourning.  The covering of the lips, and the eating of special mourning bread, were an integral part of the mourning ritual.


24:23.  “And your tires (turbans) shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep: but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn (moan, groan) one toward another.”


It was customary for mourners to uncover their heads and feet, but following the invasion by the Babylonians there would be no opportunity to follow customary procedure.  There would be too many dead; and the survivors chained as captives and about to be led away to Babylon, would have neither opportunity nor desire to follow normal mourning practices.  The survivors would gradually die off in Babylon where their plight would cause them to groan one to another, not for the dead, but because of their own misery.


24:24.  “Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord God.”


The identity of the speaker here is not disclosed, but he confirms what Ezekiel had already said, and emphasized that the fulfillment of the prophet’s words would confirm that he had indeed been God’s spokesman.


Some believe the speaker to have been the prophet himself, so that the verse might be paraphrased, “Thus, I, Ezekiel am unto you a sign: according to all that I have done shall ye do, etc.”


24:25.  “Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters,”


Some commentators take all of this verse as being applicable to their sons and daughters, while others believe that the first part relates to the Temple; only the last part “their sons and their daughters,” having reference to their children.  This latter seems the more likely viewpoint.


24:26.  “That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears?”


This is God’s assurance to His servant who was then a captive in Babylon, that following the destruction of Jerusalem, escapees  would come to him from Jerusalem to tell him how accurately his words had been fulfilled.


24:27.  “In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


Relative to the prophet’s dumbness, see comments on 3:26-27.  On the day when the messengers came with tidings of Jerusalem’s destruction, Ezekiel would be no longer dumb, but would be able to talk with them as formerly.

[Ezekiel 25]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough