The Siege of Jerusalem Portrayed

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The Lord instructed Ezekiel to draw a picture of Jerusalem on a clay tablet and to stage a miniature siege of the city, complete with siege ramps, enemy camps, and battering rams. The prophet was also to place an iron pan between himself and the city. This action perhaps illustrated the unbreakable nature of the siege or represented the barrier between God and His sinful people.

The Lord also instructed the prophet to symbolically bear the punishment of Israel. He was to lie on his left side for 390 days, corresponding to the years of the Northern Kingdom’s punishment. He was then to lie on his right side for 40 days, corresponding to the years of Judah’s punishment. This passage also describes the prophet conducting various activities, indicating that he did occasionally rise from his symbolic posture (vv. 9-17). Whether periods of past sin or future punishment were being symbolized is uncertain.

At the Lord’s command Ezekiel made bread from various grains and stored it in a jar. During the 390-day period he was to eat a daily portion of eight ounces of bread, supplemented by two-thirds of a quart of water. This restricted diet would symbolize the food rationing that would be necessary during the coming siege of Jerusalem. The Lord also told Ezekiel to cook his bread over a fire fueled by human excrement. Though the Old Testament law does not specifically prohibit this, it does suggest it would be regarded as unclean (Duet. 23;12-14). Ezekiel’s action would portray Judah’s spiritual uncleanness and the plight of the exiles, who would be forced to eat food in an unclean foreign land. When Ezekiel objected that he had always kept himself ceremonially pure, the Lord allowed him to use cow manure as fuel.


I am wondering how many of us would be willing to so dramatically portray the sins of our nation? I need to pray for greater boldness in my witness for the Lord.

Ezekiel 4:1-17 (English Standard Version)

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