Ominous Object Lessons

1And you, son of man, take a brick1 and set it in front of you. Inscribe2 a city on it – Jerusalem. 2 Lay siege to it! Build siege works against it. Erect a siege ramp3 against it! Post soldiers outside it4 and station battering rams around it. 3 Then for your part take an iron frying pan5 and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face toward it. It is to be under siege; you are to besiege it. This is a sign6 for the house of Israel.

4Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity7 of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days8 for you – 390 days.9 So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.10

6When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days11I have assigned one day for each year. 7 You must turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it. 8 Look here, I will tie you up with ropes, so you cannot turn from one side to the other until you complete the days of your siege.12

9As for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt,13 put them in a single container, and make food14 from them for yourself. For the same number of days that you lie on your side – 390 days15you will eat it. 10 The food you eat will be eight ounces16 a day by weight; you must eat it at fixed17 times. 11 And you must drink water by measure, a pint and a half;18 you must drink it at fixed times. 12 And you must eat the food like you would a barley cake. You must bake it in front of them over a fire made with dried human excrement.”19 13 And the Lord said, “This is how the people of Israel will eat their unclean food among the nations20 where I will banish them.”

14 And I said, “Ah, sovereign Lord, I have never been ceremonially defiled before. I have never eaten a carcass or an animal torn by wild beasts; from my youth up, unclean meat21 has never entered my mouth.”

15 So he said to me, “All right then, I will substitute cow’s manure instead of human excrement. You will cook your food over it.”

16 Then he said to me, “Son of man, I am about to remove the bread supply22 in Jerusalem.23 They will eat their bread ration anxiously, and they will drink their water ration in terror 17 because they will lack bread and water. Each one will be terrified, and they will rot for their iniquity.24

14:1sn Ancient Near Eastern bricks were 10 to 24 inches long and 6 to 13 1/2 inches wide. 24:1tn Or perhaps “draw.” 34:2tn Or “a barricade.” 44:2tn Heb “set camps against it.” 54:3tn Or “a griddle,” that is, some sort of plate for cooking. 64:3tn That is, a symbolic object lesson. 74:4tn Or “punishment” (also in vv. 5, 6). 84:5tn Heb “I have assigned for you that the years of their iniquity be the number of days.” Num 14:33-34 is an example of the reverse, where the days were converted into years, the number of days spying out the land becoming the number of years of the wilderness wanderings. 94:5tc The LXX reads “190 days.”sn The significance of the number 390 is not clear. The best explanation is that “days” are used figuratively for years and the number refers to the years of the sinfulness of Israel during the period of the First Temple. Some understand the number to refer to the length of the division of the northern and southern kingdoms down to the fall of Jerusalem (931-586 b.c.), but this adds up to only 345 years. 104:5tn Or “When you have carried the iniquity of the house of Israel,” and continuing on to the next verse. 114:6sn The number 40 may refer in general to the period of Judah’s exile using the number of years Israel was punished in the wilderness. In this case, however, one would need to translate, “you will bear the punishment of the house of Judah.” 124:8sn The action surely refers to a series of daily acts rather than to a continuous period. 134:9sn Wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. All these foods were common in Mesopotamia where Ezekiel was exiled. 144:9tn Heb “bread.” 154:9tc The LXX reads “190 days.” 164:10sn Eight ounces (Heb “twenty shekels”). The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of grain about 230 grams here (8 ounces). 174:10tn Heb “from time to time.” 184:11sn A pint and a half [Heb “one-sixth of a hin”]. One-sixth of a hin was a quantity of liquid equal to about 1.3 pints or 0.6 liters. 194:12sn Human waste was to remain outside the camp of the Israelites according to Deut 23:15. 204:13sn Unclean food among the nations. Lands outside of Israel were considered unclean (Josh 22:19; Amos 7:17). 214:14tn The Hebrew term refers to sacrificial meat not eaten by the appropriate time (Lev 7:18; 19:7). 224:16tn Heb, “break the staff of bread.” The bread supply is compared to a staff that one uses for support. 234:16map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 244:17tn Or “in their punishment.” Ezek 4:16-17 alludes to Lev 26:26, 39. The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here, 3:18, 19; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”