PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Parable of the Boiling Pot||Symbol of the Cooking Pot||The Allegory of the Pot||The Corroded Cooking Pot||Announcement of the Siege of Jerusalem|
|Death of Ezekiel's Wife is a Sign||The Prophet's Wife Dies||Oracles at the Death of Ezekiel's Wife||The Death of the Prophet's Wife||Ordeals for the Prophet|
READING CYCLE THREE
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:24:1-5
1And the word of the Lord came to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth of the month, saying, 2"Son of man, write the name of the day, this very day. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. 3Speak a parable to the rebellious house and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God,
"Put on the pot, put it on and also pour water in it;
4 Put in it the pieces,
Every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder;
Fill it with choice bones.
5Take the choicest of the flock,
And also pile wood under the pot.
Make it boil vigorously.
Also seethe its bones in it."
24:1 This is the fourth date (cf. 1:2; 8:1; 20:1) listed in Ezekiel. Surprisingly one would expect another date at chapter 25, which starts the judgment context on the nations. This may mean chapters 24 and 25 are a literary unit.
This dates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem (cf. II Kgs. 25:1; Jer. 39:1; 52:4). It was begun on January 15, 588 b.c. It took until 586 b.c. for the city to fall.
In a book of prophecy the question of final revision always comes into play. Did Ezekiel know the exact date of the siege and later fall of Jerusalem? Of course he could; he was a prophet of YHWH. YHWH often used this predictive quality to encourage His people that He was in control of history. However, it is also surely possible, without distracting from the power of YHWH or the foresight of His prophets, to see these dates as literary. These books were, at some point, the collected and arranged prophecies of Ezekiel. Literary design does not diminish prophetic predictions!
24:2 "Son of man" See note at 2:1.
▣ "write" The MT has "write" (BDB 507, KB 503) as a Qal infinitive absolute, but the Masoretic scholars suggested it be read (Qere) as a Qal imperative (same kind of problem as in v. 10).
There are many imperatives in this chapter (cf. vv. 2,3[three],4,5[two],6,10[two],11,17[two],21. Most of them occur in the poetic section (i.e., vv. 3b-5, 6-13) and are directed to the rebellious house (i.e., Judah).
▣ "the name of the day, this very day" Judgment on Jerusalem was not a future prediction, but a terrible reality!
▣ "has laid siege" The verb (BDB 701, KB 759, Qal perfect) is literally "lean on," but is used here as an idiom of besiege (Jerusalem's siege is begun, cf. II Kgs. 25:1; Jer. 39:1; 52:4).
24:3-5 This first poetic stanza has several commands from YHWH which set the stage for the parable/proverb.
1. put on the pot, BDB 1046, KB 1636, Qal imperative, v. 3
2. put it on, BDB 1046, KB 1636, Qal imperative, v. 3
3. pour, BDB 427, KB 428, Qal imperative, v. 3
4. put (lit. gather), BDB 62, KB 74, Qal imperative, v. 4
5. fill, BDB 569, KB 583, Piel imperative, v. 4
6. pile, BDB 189, KB 217, Qal imperative, v. 5
7. boil, BDB 958, KB 1299, Piel imperative, v. 5
24:3 "speak a parable" This (BDB 605, KB 647) is a Qal imperative. See note at 12:22,23; 17:2; 18:2, 3; 20:49. Ezekiel used several poems to communicate YHWH's messages.
1. poem of the sharp, bright, swift sword of judgment, 12:8-17
2. poem of the large cup of drunkenness, 23:32-34
3. poem of the corrupted, large, bronze (cf. v. 11) cooking pot, 24:3-13
▣ "to the rebellious house" This (BDB 598, cf. 2:5,6,8; 3:9,26,27; 12:2[twice],3,9,25; 17:12; Isa. 30:9) is a derogatory way of referring to Judah (cf. 2:6,8).
The idiom is repeated with the participle of the verb (BDB 597, KB 632) in 2:3 (also note the use of the parallel terms (1) BDB 833, KB 981 in Isa. 1:2 and (2) BDB 710 in Isa. 30:1.
Judah's stubborn rebellion (cf. Deut. 9:5-6,13; 10:16; 31:27) has been continual and purposeful! I think YHWH chose Israel with all her weaknesses to clearly reveal His faithfulness in the stark light of their unfaithfulness! If YHWH can continue to love, forgive, and use Israel, then there is a great hope for all of Adam's children, based solely on the unchanging, merciful, gracious character of YHWH!
▣ This chapter is based on Jeremiah's parable about a boiling pot (cf. Jer. 1:13, 14).
24:4-5 The very best pieces of the very best of the flock were put in the pot. Who does this refer to?
1. the royal, priestly, and civic leaders who remained in Jerusalem, cf. Jer. 39:6; 52:10,24-27
2. Israel herself when YHWH found her in the wilderness, 16:4-14
In this context of the citizens of Jerusalem seeing themselves as the "lucky ones," "spared ones," "better ones" than those taken into exile, this phrase may well refer to all of them! However, they will be destroyed and YHWH will choose to work with and restore the early exiles! This was shocking to the arrogant, sinful Judeans still in Jerusalem and Judah.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:24:6-14
6Therefore, thus says the Lord God,
"Woe to the bloody city,
To the pot in which there is rust
And whose rust has not gone out of it!
Take out of it piece after piece,
Without making a choice.
7For her blood is in her midst;
She placed it on the bare rock;
She did not pour it on the ground
To cover it with dust.
8That it may cause wrath to come up to take vengeance,
I have put her blood on the bare rock,
That it may not be covered."
9Therefore, thus says the Lord God,
"Woe to the bloody city!
I also will make the pile great.
10Heap on the wood, kindle the fire,
Boil the flesh well
And mix in the spices,
And let the bones be burned.
11Then set it empty on its coals
So that it may be hot
And its bronze may glow
And its filthiness may be melted in it,
Its rust consumed.
12She has wearied Me with toil,
Yet her great rust has not gone from her;
Let her rust be in the fire!
13In your filthiness is lewdness.
Because I would have cleansed you,
Yet you are not clean,
You will not be cleansed from your filthiness again
Until I have spent My wrath on you.
14I, the Lord, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent, and I will not pity and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds I will judge you," declares the Lord God.'"
24:6 "Woe" This interjection (BDB 17, cf. v. 9) expresses deep emotion often connected to judgment (cf. 16:23; Jer. 4:13; 6:4; 10:19; 13:27; 15:10; Hosea 7:13).
▣ "the bloody city" See note at 22:2.
▣ "rust" This Hebrew word is uncertain ((BDB 316, KB 315). It is found only in this chapter in the OT. The same trilateral root means "rust" in Arabic. God had tried to cleanse His people over and over again, but their sin was too deep (i.e., Genesis 3).
▣ "Without making a choice" This verb (lit. "fall," BDB 656, KB 709, Qal perfect) was used of casting lots to know YHWH's will.
1. dividing the Promised Land among the tribes, Num. 34:2; Josh. 13:6; 23:4; Ezek. 45:1
2. dividing the duties in the temple, I Chr. 24:31; 26:13,14
3. determining who would supply wood for the new sacrificial system, Neh. 10:34
4. determining who would live in the rebuilt Jerusalem, Neh. 11:1
5. determining the guilty party, Jonah 1:7
This phrase seems to imply that death would come indiscriminately to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
24:7 This seems to refer to the openness and flagrant nature (i.e., "places it on a bare rock," i.e., in the sight of all) of Israel's sin. This refers to (1) an allusion to a priestly act of draining the blood from sacrificial animals and putting it on the appropriate places (Leviticus 1-7). The remainder was poured out at the base of the altar of sacrifice or (2) the proper slaughter of wild animals to be consumed (cf. Lev. 17:13; Deut. 12:16).
▣ "To cover it with dust" This seems to refer to the blood of their victims (cf. Lev. 17:13).
24:8 As Judah flagrantly sinned for all to see, now YHWH will judge them for all to see (cf. Deut. 29:24-28; Jer. 16:10; 22:8,9).
24:9-10 This is a reflection of vv. 3b-5. The pot of judgment is boiling and Judah is in it!
Verses 10-11 have a series of commands related to the boiling pot.
1. heap, BDB 915, KB 1176, Hiphil imperative, cf. v. 5b, 9c
2. kindle, BDB 196, KB 223, Hiphil imperative, cf. v. 5c
3. boil, BDB 1070, KB 1752, Hiphil (John J. Owens, Analytical Keys to the Old Testament, vol. 4, p. 572, calls it a Hiphil imperative, but Beall, Banks, Smith, Old Testament Parsing Guide, p. 619, calls it a Hiphil infinitive absolute. Benjamin Davidson, Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 231, gives both options).
4. mix, BDB 955, KB 1289, Hiphil imperative (Owens) or infinitive absolute (Beall, Banks, Smith) or either (Davidson)
5. set, BDB 763, KB 840, Hiphil imperative, v. 11
24:10 The fully cooked meat will be poured into the fire and completely destroyed.
There is some question about the phrase.
NRSV"and mix in the spices"
TEV"boil away the broth"
LXX"and the liquor boiled away"
REB"pour out all the broth"
JPSOA"and stew it completely"
The MT is reflected in JPSOA (UBS Hebrew OT Text Project gives it a "B" rating), the emendation in TEV, REB, LXX.
24:11 The empty pot (cf. v. 11) is set on the hot coals and the remaining scum (or "rust") will be completely burned up and removed (i.e., ritual cleansing). Verse 12 either (1) describes YHWH's continual attempts to cleanse His people or (2) even with all of this burning (i.e., vv. 10-11), Judah is not yet clean (cf. vv. 12-13).
24:12 "She has wearied Me with toil" This refers to YHWH's attempt to bring Judah to repentance. He made a great and continuous effort to bring her back to Himself. This phrase is difficult to understand because (1) the word "toil" is unusual and found only here in the OT; (2) the verb has no object; and (3) the LXX omits it; therefore, some scholars see it as an addition.
24:13 "lewdness" This term (BDB 273) describes Judah's idolatry. It is often associated with inappropriate sexual activity (cf. 16:27,43,58; 22:9,11; 23:21,27,29,35,44,48[twice],49; 24:13).
▣ "Until I have spent My wrath on you" The verb (lit. "cease activity," BDB 628, KB 679, Hiphil infinitive construct) denotes that at some point YHWH's wrath will be appeased and brought to an end (cf. 5:13; 16:42; 21:17).
24:14 YHWH's word (prophetic predictions of judgment) is sure! He has tried again and again to get His people to repent (cf. vv. 12-13). Notice the number of "I's" in the English translation (6). Therefore, He will not (i.e., Jer. 13:14)
1. relent, BDB 828, KB 970, Qal imperfect
2. pity, BDB 299, KB 298, Qal imperfect
3. be sorry, BDB 636, KB 688, Niphal imperfect
He will judge Judah according to her ways and deeds (cf. 7:3,8,27; 18:30; 36:19). This is metaphorical language for YHWH's refusal to forgive (cf. 8:18)! Only judgment remains! The terms themselves may allude to YHWH's initial love and care in Ezek. 16:5.
24:15 The NASB 1995 Update starts a new paragraph at v. 15.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:24:15-24
15And the word of the Lord came to me saying, 16"Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. 17Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men." 18So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded. 19The people said to me, "Will you not tell us what these things that you are doing mean for us?" 20Then I said to them, "The word of the Lord came to me saying, 21'Speak to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am about to profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes and the delight of your soul; and your sons and your daughters whom you have left behind will fall by the sword. 22You will do as I have done; you will not cover your mustache and you will not eat the bread of men. 23Your turbans will be on your heads and your shoes on your feet. You will not mourn and you will not weep, but you will rot away in your iniquities and you will groan to one another. 24Thus Ezekiel will be a sign to you; according to all that he has done you will do; when it comes, then you will know that I am the Lord God.'"
24:16-17 "the desire of your eyes" This shows the tenderness of Ezekiel toward his wife. This also is the metaphor used in verses 16-24 to describe the unbelievable pain of the people of Judah when Jerusalem fell.
In Ezekiel's pain he is told to
1. not mourn, BDB 704, KB 763, Qal imperfect, negated
2. not weep, BDB 113, KB 129, Qal imperfect, negated
3. no tears shall run down, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect, negated (because this phrase  is left out of the LXX;  does not fit the parallelism; and  is redundant with #2, many scholars think it is an addition)
This is similar to YHWH's message about grieving to Jeremiah (cf. 16:5).
Just a personal note, it is always hard for me, being a modern western person, to not be affected as an interpreter by my culture's overemphasis on the rights and value of the individual. Most societies in the world are tribal or clan-focused. It bothers me when (1) Job's children die or (2) David's child dies or (3) Jeremiah is told not to marry or (4) YHWH takes Ezekiel's wife. My mind screams to me "are not these affected individuals as important to God as the biblical characters? Does not God love and care for them? Do not His promises cover them? Do you hear the twenty-first century American in me?
God has a universal redemptive plan. This world is affected by sin. This life is only the beginning of an eternal relationship! Yes, God loves and cares for individuals, but He has bigger and better plans for all humanity. This is not the world God intended it to be!
Theologically I know that the OT attributes all causality to God as a way of affirming monotheism! He, and only He, is in control. Individuals get hurt, die, both by natural causes and by the hand of evil, manipulative people. Yet God's promises are still sure! He does care for each, but also for all (cf. II Cor. 5:21)! The book by Hannah Whithall Smith, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, has really helped me in this area.
24:17 This is a series of Hebrew cultural metaphors describing mourning rites (cf. Jer. 16:5-13). Ezekiel was not allowed to mourn ("be silent," BDB 198, KB 266, Qal imperative) for the death of his own wife. The things he was expected to do, he was told to do the opposite.
1. put on your hat
2. put on your shoes
3. do not cover your mouth
4. do not eat mourner's bread
Ezekiel's grief (i.e., v. 22) over the loss of his wife parallels YHWH's grief over the loss of His wife (i.e., Judah). However, Judah's judgment was appropriate! Grieving over them would imply that the judgment was not deserved, appropriate, and necessary (cf. Lev. 10:1-7 in Nadab and Abihu's death).
24:21 Notice the parallel phrases YHWH uses to describe Judah's feelings toward the temple.
1. the pride of your power
2. the desire of your eyes
3. the delight of your soul
Judah had substituted devotion to a building for their devotion to YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 7). This is always a problem for religiously oriented people! The goal is fellowship with God (cf. Ps. 42:1-2; 63:1; 143:6). It is an orientation of the heart, not a physical place to worship, or human performance.
24:23 "you will rot away in your iniquities" This verb (BDB 596, KB 628, Niphal perfect) is used several times by Ezekiel (cf. 4:17; 33:10) and may reflect Lev. 26:39. Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's condemnations of both Israel and Judah reflect the terminology of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-29.
24:24 Notice the direct speech of YHWH where Ezekiel is mentioned by name. The prophet himself is a sign (cf. v. 27; 12:11).
YHWH addresses Ezekiel directly in vv. 25-27. We, as later readers of the OT, know more about the man Ezekiel from this chapter than from any other prophet. We sense his love for his wife and his people. We feel his pain over Judean sin and incalcitrance!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:24:25-27
25"'As for you, son of man, will it not be on the day when I take from them their stronghold, the joy of their pride, the desire of their eyes and their heart's delight, their sons and their daughters, 26that on that day he who escapes will come to you with information for your ears? 27On that day your mouth will be opened to him who escaped, and you will speak and be mute no longer. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.'"
24:27 "On that day your mouth will be opened" Originally, after the vision of Ezekiel in chapter 1, God told the prophet that he would be unable to speak at times (cf. 3:26). Therefore, these opening chapters of Ezekiel deal quite often with symbolic action. However, after the Fall of Jerusalem, the prophet's mouth was opened (cf. 3:27; 33:22) and his message changed from doom/judgment to forgiveness/restoration! Now he could preach hope, restoration, and the renewal of covenant promises.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. What is the unifying theme of chapters 20 through 24?
2. Describe the worship of the god Molech.
3. Define divination and list its numerous forms found in the OT (cf. Deuteronomy 18).
4. Why is the marriage relationship such a good analogy to the covenant relationship?
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