Ezekiel 24

The Word Made Fresh

1On the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year, the LORD’s word came to me: 2“Son of man, write down the name of this very day, for this is the day King Nebuchadnezzar has laid siege to Jerusalem. 3Then speak out a parable to the rebellious people and tell them this is what the LORD God says:
Set out a pot on the fireplace. Pour water into it.
4Then put in the good portions of meat – the thigh and the shoulder,
and fill the pot with the good bones you select.
5Take the best animal in the flock,
pile the wood under it and boil its pieces.
Then let its bones seethe in it.”
6This is what the LORD God says:
“Torment comes to the blood-filled city.
It is like the pot that has rusted,
and the rust lingers within it.
Empty it one piece at a time at random.
7The blood she shed is in it.
She put it on a flat rock;
she did not pour it on the ground and cover it with dirt.
8I placed the blood on a flat rock so that it wouldn’t be hidden,
to arouse my anger and take my vengeance.”
9This is what the LORD says:
“Alas for the blood-filled city!
I will make the pile even greater.
10Gather the logs and light the fire.
Boil the meat thoroughly and mix in the spices.
Let the bones burn.
11Stand the pot empty on the hot coals
and heat it until its copper glows.
Melt its filth inside it and let the heat consume its rust.
12But this will be done in vain,
for the thick rust will not be removed,
not even by fire.
13When I washed you to remove your filthy behavior
you did not become clean.
You will never be made clean until my fury is satisfied.

14“I am the LORD, and I have spoken. The time is coming for me to act. I won’t hold back, and I won’t change my mind. I will judge you according to your deeds,” says the LORD.

15The LORD’s word came to me: 16“Son of man, with a single blow I am going to take from you the delight of your eyes. But you shall not mourn or weep. You shall not let tears fall down your face. 17You may sigh, but not to be heard. Don’t mourn for the dead. Wrap your turban on your head and sandals on your feet. Don’t cover your upper lip or eat the bread prepared for those who mourn.”

18So, I spoke to the people in the morning. That evening my wife died. The next morning, I did what I had been told to do.

19The people came to me and asked me to tell them why I was acting in such a way and what it might mean for them. 20I told them that the word of the LORD had come to me 21and instructed me to tell this to the house of Israel: “Thus says the LORD God, I will demean my sanctuary, and the pride you have in your strength, the things you find delightful, and your heart’s desire. The children you left behind shall fall by the sword. 22And when this occurs you will do what I have done: you will not cover your upper lip or eat the bread that mourners eat. 23Keep your turbans on your head and your sandals on your feet. You may not mourn or weep, but you will suffer in your punishment, and you will complain to one another. 24Ezekiel will be your sign, and you will do just as he has done. When these things take place, you will know that I am the LORD God.

25“As for you, son of man, on the day I remove them from their fortress which they delight to look upon and which their hearts love; that is the day I also remove their children, 26and on that very day someone who has escaped will come to you and tell you the news. 27On that day your mouth will be opened to the one who has escaped. You will speak and no longer be silent. In this way you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.”


1-2: The date is the same as that reported in 2 Kings 25:2.

3-5: God tells Ezekiel to tell a fable about putting on a pot for stew into which is placed the pieces of an animal to boil. The pieces represent pieces of Jerusalem, including its people.

6-14: The fable continues, now weaving back and forth from fable to actual event as the spoiled city and its people are cooked but do not make a decent stew and so are thrown out “until,” God says, “my fury is satisfied.”

15-18: The horrors continue, only this time Ezekiel himself will experience it. God tells him, “I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.” He is not to grieve visibly or audibly. Ezekiel goes on to tell us bluntly that his wife dies the next evening. The morning after, he goes about business as usual.

19-24: It is such a strange and unexpected reaction to personal tragedy that the people question him about it. His explanation is that he is acting as they will when they learn that the sanctuary in Jerusalem will fall. It is God’s sanctuary, but here God calls it the delight of their eyes and the desire of their hearts (I wonder how many of the sanctuaries we build mean more to us than they do to God). The people are to react as they see Ezekiel now reacting, but I find the illustration disturbing.

25-27: This paragraph is not clear. When the sanctuary in Jerusalem falls, someone will come and tell them. Then Ezekiel can speak. The only sense I can make of it is that he must have been commanded to remain silent after he spoke to the people the words in verses 21-24. He just hasn’t told us about that command. Prophet’s prerogative, I suppose.


While we may cringe at reading the detailed description of the behavior of God’s people, Israel, and God’s anger against them, Ezekiel is determined that his people be aware that God will let their (and our?) sinfulness progress only so far before God acts to punish us.