Ezekiel 24


Siege announced to Ezekiel (588 B.C.)

A most amazing thing happens on the very day of the siege, in the ninth year of king Zedekiah’s reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day. Some 300 to 700 miles away from Jerusalem, in the city of Tel. Abib, near the river Kebar in Babylonia.

The prophet Ezekiel is told about the siege, no messenger of Ezekiel’s day can deliver news that quickly! None that is except God himself, and here is what Ezekiel is told.

Prediction of the destruction of the siege and capture of Jerusalem both in parable and by sign

The allegorical portrayal of the siege and capture of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 24:1-14.

The date and occasion of the prophecy. Ezekiel 24:1-2.

Parable of the pot with the boiling pieces. Ezekiel 24:3-14.

The parable. Ezekiel 24:3-5.

The interpretation of the parable. Ezekiel 24:6-14.

Punishment of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 24:6-8.

Punishment of the city itself. Ezekiel 24:9-14.

The death of Ezekiel’s wife is a symbol of despair caused by the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 24:15-27.

Sign of the silent sorrow concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 24:15-24.

The sequel of the destruction of Jerusalem to the prophet himself is no longer mute. Ezekiel 3:26-24:25-27.


Imminent Judgement Two Signs. The rusty Pot. Death of Ezekiel’s wife.

‘In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, record this date, this very date because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.’ Ezekiel 24:1-2

The Sign of the Rusty Pot

9th year, 10th month, 10th day, the date is 15th January 588 B.C. Ezekiel is to note this day down, in his book of written prophecy perhaps. This is the day that the siege of Jerusalem began. 2 Kings 25:1 / Jeremiah 39:1 / Jeremiah 52:4. He brings to the people two different signs regarding destruction.

‘Tell this rebellious people a parable and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Put on the cooking pot; put it on and pour water into it. Put into it the pieces of meat, all the choice pieces—the leg and the shoulder. Fill it with the best of these bones; take the pick of the flock. Pile wood beneath it for the bones; bring it to a boil and cook the bones in it. ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Woe to the city of bloodshed, to the pot now encrusted, whose deposit will not go away! Take the meat out piece by piece in whatever order it comes. ‘For the blood she shed is in her midst: She poured it on the bare rock; she did not pour it on the ground, where the dust would cover it. To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered. ‘Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Woe to the city of bloodshed! I, too, will pile the wood high. So, heap on the wood and kindle the fire. Cook the meat well, mixing in the spices; and let the bones be charred. Then set the empty pot on the coals till it becomes hot and its copper glows, so that its impurities may be melted, and its deposit burned away. It has frustrated all efforts; its heavy deposit has not been removed, not even by fire. ‘Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. ‘I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ Ezekiel 24:3-14

The parable of the cooking pot

This may be an event or simply an allegory related by the prophet. He boils water in a pot using wood and bones for heat. He boils up good meat. When it is ready he is told to take out pieces indiscriminately, without choice. These bones when picked clean are to be added to the fire.

The bones act like charcoal, keeping it red hot. Then he is to empty out the water and let the pot be heated until the rust is removed from the pot.

The pot, the destruction of Jerusalem.

Rusty pot? Lawlessness, immorality.

The bones and good meat, the leaders and people, thighs and shoulders.

Picked out without discrimination.

Bones to be burned, judgment is great and total. This is a description of the invasion of the city by the Babylonians and how they will act when they get in.

God wanted to cleanse his people, but they would not let him. We are shown once more that the only way God is able to get rid of the filth is through the fire. the cleansing will be total. 5 times God begins his intention.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your moustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.’ So, I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning, I did as I had been commanded.’ Ezekiel 24:15-18

The Death of Ezekiel’s Wife

Following this word about the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, comes one of the most disturbing accounts in all recorded Scripture. It is nothing new for God to provide signs of his working. Ezekiel himself has enacted many of them in the presence of his people and provided his interpretation for their edification. And it is nothing new for God to require a great sacrifice on the part of his prophets.

But God now brings a sign which requires the ultimate sacrifice of Ezekiel. As a sign that there will be no mourning for the loss of life when the city of Jerusalem falls. God actually takes the life of Ezekiel’s wife!

‘Then the people asked me, ‘Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us? Why are you acting like this?’ So, I said to them, ‘The word of the LORD came to me: Say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. And you will do as I have done. You will not cover your moustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners. You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.’ ‘And you, son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes, their heart’s desire, and their sons and daughters as well— on that day a fugitive will come to tell you the news. At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak with him and will no longer be silent. So, you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.’ Ezekiel 24:19-27

Probably the same day, the prophet’s wife is to be used as a sign. She will stand for the Temple, city, all that the people delighted in. His wife is described as the delight of his eyes, showing his great love for her, and she is to die and become a sign for the exiles.

Her death was sudden, it happened at a stroke. She was not ill and expected perhaps to die soon, it was sudden, unexpected death. He was told some things to do and others not to do upon her death, each of which showed that he had not to show outward signs of mourning for her. Do not sigh, a groaning, mourn, cover lips, eat the mourner’s bread. Do put on a turban, and shoes. These were usually removed in distress. Exodus 39:28 / Isaiah 61:3 / Isaiah 61:6 / 2 Samuel 15:30.

Whether Ezekiel was allowed to mourn his wife’s death or not, and if not whether God was being very hard on him is debatable. It is possible he was being told that he could not show outward or ceremonious grief, although God did allow him to be human and mourn personally for her. Undoubtedly this sensitive man felt a lot losing someone who was the ‘delight of his eyes’.

The message for the exiles was clear. When they lost the delight of their eyes, temple, city, etc. they were to act as Ezekiel had acted. This was to show that they accepted this act as the will of God. Jeremiah 7:4 / Ezekiel 33:24. When that happened Ezekiel was to receive a messenger telling him of what was happening.

Perhaps Ezekiel’s wife was dying in any event, and God simply used her death as a way of bringing an important message. But that would be highly coincidental and clearly contrary to Ezekiel’s account.

Certainly, it can be said that Ezekiel is being asked to give up more than what God himself will give up one day in order to bring a sign to all the world.

Perhaps that is the answer, as the creator of the universe God can and does act in ways that confound man. Death to God has a different significance than it does for man. But the immediate mystery is how Ezekiel can seemingly take his wife’s death in his stride and continue his ministry.

What a testimony to any man’s faith this would be.

Go To Ezekiel 25