Commentary on
Ezekiel 5:1

Jerusalem’s Desolation Foretold

5:1  And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.

Commentary on 5:1
[6 September 2007]: Yehuveh often uses visible illustrations to relate the deepest and most painful truths. He instructed Jeremiah to obtain “a linen girdle,” first to wear it and then to “take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.” “After many days” when he was sent to retrieve it, the girdle was totally ruined. All this travel and activity was required to graphically illustrate of Yehuveh’s words: “After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, which refuse to hear My words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.” Jeremiah 13:1, 4, 6, 9-10.
        So, here,
Yehuveh has a difficult illustration which He must first give to Ezekiel and then, through Ezekiel, to anyone in Israel who will listen. Ezekiel is told to shave his head and beard, reserving the hair for his graphic illustration. For an Israelite man, to be without a beard and hair was forbidden and considered shameful. “They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard.” Leviticus 21:5 [also see: Leviticus 10:6; 19:27-28; Deuteronomy 14:1; Isaiah 15:2; 22:12; Jeremiah 16:6; 48:37; Ezekiel 44:20; Amos 8:10; Micah 1:16]; II Samuel 10:4-5; I Chronicles 19:4-5.
      
Hair, the Scriptural symbol of understanding, was to be shaved off at the end of the Nazarite vow, and from the depth of his spiritual insight, it is highly probable that Ezekiel, like Samson, had been “a Nazarite unto Elohim from the womb,” a life-long nazarite priest [Ezekiel 1:3]. Were this the case, from infancy he had lived the instruction that “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto Yehuveh, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.” Had this indeed been Ezekiel’s experience, it was doubtless as painful and violating for him to shave his head as it had been for him to even consider eating food cooked over human dung. Few requests could have more graphically shown Ezekiel the anguish Yehuveh felt at what He was forced to do with His rebellious people. Numbers 6:18; Judges 13:5; Numbers 6:5; Ezekiel 4:14.
        Challenging as this assignment was for Ezekiel, consider how it must have impacted the people around him. All the time these people had known Ezekiel, he had appeared with unshaven head and full beard.
For him to walk among them shaven, symbolic of intense rebellion and deepest shame, more than raised questions. It was doubtless alarming and gendered the greatest sense of impending terror and doom.  Yehuveh purposed this appeal to the nation.
        Once cut, Ezekiel is told to
“then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair” in thirds. In a similar illustration, Zechariah describes the fate of the people after they have been divided into three groups, but it appears that the third group in Zechariah’s story fares better than any of these three groups. Zechariah 13:7-9.


Gael Bataman
Originally Written:            
6 September 2007
Latest Update:                   6 September 2007


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