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Insights into Ezekiel 5

Chapter 5 The Lord continues to instruct Ezekiel to give prophetic enactments to the Jews to show His upcoming judgements upon Jerusalem.

A Sword Against Jerusalem

1 “And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber’s razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair.2 You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. 4 Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel.

The Lord commands Ezekiel to do another unseemly thing for a priest by telling him to shave off all his hair. The shaved hair is to be carefully weighed and split into three portions and reflects the careful planning by the Lord when he is about to execute his judgements on the disobedient. The first third of the hair represents those people who will be destroyed during the siege of Jerusalem. The second portion of hair represents those people who will survive the siege of Jerusalem but only die beyond the city. The last third represents those who will be scattered to the nations. The small number of hairs hidden in the prophet’s garments represents a small remnant that will survive under the protection of God and will go onto to rekindle the fire of God’s love in the hearts of the rest of Israel.

5 “Thus says the Lord God: ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. 6 She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.’ 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done [1] according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you’— 8 therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations.9 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.

God explains to Ezekiel that the reason his judgments will come upon Jerusalem and Israel are that despite the great favour that the Lord has shown to Jerusalem and Israel in terms of exalting them before the nations they very openly rebelled against his commandments and in a way that the Lord considered to be worse than the pagan nations around them. Now because of their great provocation of God He is going to judge them very publicly in full view of the surrounding gentile nations. So great are the abominations perpetrated by the Jews that the Lord is going to permit cannibalism within families to occur and whoever survives these judgements will be scattered to the nations.

11 ‘Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 One-third of you shall die of the pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.

13 ‘Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them. 14 Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by.

God great patience and grace towards the Israelites has now run out and now having had enough of them is preparing to release the above judgements on them. Once these judgments are completed God’s wrath will be pacified but no one will be in any doubt that it is the Sovereign Lord who has instigated these judgements. The same God will now openly humiliate the once exalted nations of Israel.

15 ‘So it [2] shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken.16 When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”

The Lord will use his judgements on Israel as an object lesson to the nations round about them showing that it is a terrible thing to come under the judgement of the Living God. This chapter concludes with God reminding Ezekiel and his hearers that his judgements will include famine, death by wild beasts and death at the hands of their enemies. The Lord has spoken so it will certainly happen.


  1. Ezekiel 5:7 Following Masoretic Text, Septuagint, Targum, and Vulgate; many Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac read but have done (compare 11:12).

  2. Ezekiel 5:15 Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate read you.

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