Ezekiel 5


In this chapter the prophet shows, under the type of hair, the

judgments which God was about to execute on the inhabitants of

Jerusalem by famine, sword, and dispersion, 14.

The type or allegory is then dropped, and God is introduced

declaring in plain terms the vengeance that was coming on the

whole nation which had proved so unworthy of those mercies with

which they had hitherto been distinguished, 5-17.


Verse 1. - 4. Take thee a sharp knife] Among the Israelites, and

indeed among most ancient nations, there were very few edge-tools.

The sword was the chief; and this was used as a knife, a razor,

&c., according to its different length and sharpness. It is likely

that only one kind of instrument is here intended; a knife or

short sword, to be employed as a razor.

Here is a new emblem produced, in order to mark out the coming

evils. 1. The prophet represents the Jewish nation. 2. His hair,

the people. 3. The razor, the Chaldeans. 4. The cutting the

beard and hair, the calamities, sorrows, and disgrace coming

upon the people. Cutting off the hair was a sign of mourning; see

on Jer 45:5; 48:37; and also a sign of great

disgrace; see 2Sa 10:4. 5. He is ordered to divide the hair,

Eze 5:2, into

three equal parts, to intimate the different degrees and kinds

of punishment which should fall upon the people. 6. The balances,

Eze 5:1, were to represent the Divine justice, and the

exactness with which God's judgments should be distributed among

the offenders. 7. This hair, divided into three parts, is to be

disposed of thus: 1. A third part is to be burnt in the midst of

the city, to show that so many should perish by famine and

pestilence during the siege. 2. Another third part he was to cut

in small portions about the city, (that figure which he had

pourtrayed upon the brick,) to signify those who should perish in

different sorties, and in defending the walls. 3. And the

remaining third part he was to scatter in the wind, to point out

those who should be driven into captivity. And, 4. The sword

following them was intended to show that their lives should be at

the will of their captors, and that many of them should perish by

the sword in their dispersions. 5. The few hairs which he was to

take in his skirts, Eze 5:3, was intended to represent those few

Jews that should be left in the land under Gedaliah, after the

taking of the city. 6. The throwing a part of these last into the

fire, Eze 5:4, was intended to show the miseries that these

suffered in Judea, in Egypt, and finally in their being also

carried away into Babylon on the conquest of Egypt by

Nebuchadnezzar. See these transactions particularly pointed out in

the notes on Jeremiah, chapters xl., xli., xlii. Some think that

this prophecy may refer to the persecution of the Jews by

Antiochus Epiphanes.

Verse 2. See Clarke on Eze 5:1.

Verse 3. See Clarke on Eze 5:1.

Verse 4. See Clarke on Eze 5:1.

Verse 5. This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the

nations] I have made this city the most eminent and the most

illustrious in the world. Some think that these words refer to its

geographical situation, as being equally in the centre of the

habitable world. But any point on a globe is its centre, no matter

where laid down; and it would not be difficult to show that even

this literal sense is tolerably correct. But the point which is

the centre of the greatest portion of land that can be exhibited

on one hemisphere is the capital of the British empire. See my

Sermon on the universal spread of the Gospel.

Verse 6. She hath changed my judgments] God shows the reason why

he deals with Jerusalem in greater severity than with the

surrounding nations; because she was more wicked than they. Bad

and idolatrous as they were, they had a greater degree of morality

among them than the Jews had. Having fallen from the true God,

they became more abominable than others in proportion to the

height, eminence, and glory from which they had fallen. This is

the common case of backsliders; they frequently, in their fall,

become tenfold more the children of wrath than they were before.

Verse 9. I will do in thee that which I have not done] The

destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest

calamities that ever fell on any nation or place before; and that

by the Romans under Titus exceeded all that has taken place since.

These two sackages of that city have no parallel in the history of


Verse 10. The fathers shall eat the sons] Though we have not

this fact so particularly stated in history, yet we cannot doubt

of it, considering the extremities to which they were reduced

during the siege. The same is referred to by Jeremiah, La 4:10.

Even the women, who were remarkable for kindness and humanity,

boiled their own children, and ate them during the siege.

Will I scatter into all the winds.] Disperse you, by captivity,

among all the nations of the earth.

Verse 12. A third part of thee] See Clarke's notes on Eze 5:1-4.

Verse 13. I will cause my fury to rest] My displeasure, and the

evidences of it, shall not be transient; they shall be permanent

upon you, and among you. And is not this dreadfully true to the

present day?

Verse 16. The evil arrows of famine] Famine and pestilence are

represented as poisoned arrows, inflicting death wherever they

wound. The ancients represented them in the same way.

Verse 17. So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and

they shall bereave thee] Wild beasts always multiply in

depopulated countries. In England, wolves abounded when the

country was thinly peopled, it is now full of inhabitants, and

there is not one wolf in the land. Nebuchadnezzar and his

Chaldeans may be called here evil beasts. He is often compared to

a lion, Jer 4:7; Da 7:14; on account of the ravages made by

him and his Chaldean armies.

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