King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ezekiel 4

The siege of Jerusalem. (1-8) The famine the inhabitants would suffer. (9-17)

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The siege of Jerusalem

1 Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem:

2 And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

3 Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.

4 Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.

5 For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.

7 Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.

8 And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.

The famine the inhabitants would suffer

9 Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

10 And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.

11 Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.

12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.

13 And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.

14 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.

15 Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.

16 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:

17 That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Tile, very large. C. — Those of Italy were two feet large and one broad. Pallad. — This might be soft clay; (Grot. M.) or the siege might be marked out upon it with chalk or a sharp stile. C.

Ver. 2. Cast up. The ditch would be about three feet deep, and the earth being thrown up, people might approach the town with less danger. W. — The besieged were thus also prevented from going out. 4 K. xxv. 1. Forts or towers were erected to overlook and clear the walls. — Rams. This is the first time we find them mentioned. Homer is silent about them; (C.) and the ancient sieges lasted so long, because people had not found out the art of demolishing the walls. Diod. ii.

Ver. 3. Pan, or plate, on which bread was usually baked. This was to represent the walls of the city. C.

Ver. 4. Sleep. Heb. “lie down.” M. — He eat at intervals. C. — Iniquities, or punishments. H.

Ver. 5. Three, &c. S. Jerom says some “Vulgate,” (H.) Latin, (C.) or rather incorrect Greek (H.) copies read 100, others 150. See Origen, &c. C. — The Alex. copy has the former, (H.) the Rom. edit. the latter number; and is followed by Theodoret and Maldonat. C. — But the more accurate Sept. agree with the Heb. &c. The captivity of Israel must be dated from Phacee, (4 K. xv. 29.) to the end of the reign of Darius Memnon, who espoused Esther, and granted liberty “to all the Jews;” or rather from Manathem, (4 K. xv. 19.) to the 28th of the same king Assuerus. Thus God’s “grace, we think, and we may so speak without arrogance, has enabled us to explain this difficulty, which no other has done.” S. Jer. — Many confound the duration of the iniquity of Israel with that of Juda, forming 430 years; and they explain it of the time during which the nation had prevaricated. But this seems unnatural. We may rather conclude, that the prophet speaks of a separate judgment, and dates from the destruction of Samaria and of Jerusalem. The former city was taken A. 3283. If we add 390 years, we shall find the year 3673 the very year when Alexander overcame Darius, and soon after granted the Jews full liberty to return, or live according to their own laws. This he granted to those in Babylon, and to the Israelites (C.) in Media. Jos. Ant. xi. ult. & c. Ap. i. — Philadelphus afterwards liberated many in Egypt, (Jos. Ant. xii. 2.) as Osee (xi. 11.) had foretold. The chastisement of Juda must be dated from the destruction of Jerusalem under Sedecias, till Darius, the Mede, favoured the Jews about forty years afterwards. C. — S. Jerom only allows forty years to have elapsed from the first of Jechonias till the first of Cyrus. The want of an exact chronology gives rise to many such difficulties. H. — It is very hard to explain how the ten tribes were 390 and the two tribes 40 years in captivity, as it is certain that the latter were seventy year banished from their own country. W. — Perhaps during the last thirty their condition was greatly ameliorated, after the decree of Cyrus, though the liberation was only perfect under Hystaspes and Esther. H. — The iniquity of Israel, from Solomon to Salmanasar, lasted 390 years; and that of Juda, under the reign of Manasses, was most abominable for the space of forty years; (Tournemine) or it continued so long from the 18th of Josias till the 4th, after the city was destroyed, and the land became a desert. Usher, A. 3380 to 3420. — But how shall the reign of the virtuous Josias be included in this period? H. — The action of the prophet lying 430 days, denoted the length of the siege of Jerusalem, during which extreme scarcity should be felt, and also the captivity of the people. Some have thought that he could not remain 390 days on one side, and that all passed in spirit. But what impression would that make upon the people? He was chained down, (C.) to represent their miserable condition. H. — Prædo saw a fool who lay tied in one posture for above fifteen years. C. — The remaining so long in one posture must have been painful to the prophet. T.

Ver. 7. Siege, which shall be most terrible; (H.) 390 days: the pillage shall last other forty. T. — So many years have the people transgressed. — Out. Heb. “naked.” Thus various barbarians fight. — Prophesy, not by words, (C. viii. 26.) but by actions. M.

Ver. 10. Staters, sicles, each being equal to 9 dwt. 2.57 gr. Eng. The hin contained 1 gal. 2 pints. Arbuthnot. H. — He had an allowance of ten ounces a-day. C. T.

Ver. 12. Barley, the worst or usual food of the poor. H. — Ashes, to denote hurry. C. — Cover with hot ashes, (H.) formed of dry excrements. C. — That of oxen is still used in Egypt, (Val. ep. xi.) and in some parts of England, by the poor people. Hooke. — This was more tolerable, (C.) and God agrees to substitute it. v. 15. Heb. “Thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and shalt bake,” (Prot.) or “hide it,” &c. Sept. H. — “The law itself, which the Jews read and do not understand, is this ember cake covered with human dung.” Phil. iii. 8. — “They adore not idols, but do all for the belly and for earthly goods.” S. Jer.

Ver. 13. Filthy. Israel was less careful to avoid uncleannesses than Juda. Hence the prophet eats only during 390 days. Osee ix. 3. C. — While the city was pillage for forty days, the prisoners would procure better food. v. 7. H.

Ver. 14. Ah. He makes the same exclamation as Jeremias. i. 6. Heb. aha. Theodot. “Oh!” Sept. and Sym. “by no means.” H. — God forbid. Excrements make a person legally unclean. Deut. xxiii. 12. C.

Ver. 15. Neats, or “oxen;” boum. Prot. “cow’s dung.” H. — God allows him to bake his bread under such ashes. C. — So great is his condescension towards his friends! T.

Ver. 16. Staff. As this supports the weak, so bread nourishes all men, (W.) particularly the bread of life. S. Jer. — Very little food, (C.) and that of a nauseous kind, (H.) would be found during the siege. C.

Ver. 17. When. Prot. “they may want bread and water, and be astonished one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.” H.