A picture with a message about Jerusalem
1 ‘Now, son of man, make a square flat plate out of soft earth. Draw a picture on this plate. Draw a picture of the city, Jerusalem. 2 Then build hills round it for soldiers to attack the city. Put your tents round the city. Prepare very heavy long sticks to hit its gates. 3 Then you must turn your face towards it. Take an iron plate and put it between your face and the city. This will be a wall between you and the city. The army is round the city. But you will attack it. This is to show Israel's people what I will do.
4:3God gave this prophecy to Ezekiel. It was an unusual kind of prophecy. God told Ezekiel to make a model and to carry out certain actions. The purpose of those actions was to show what would happen to Jerusalem.
4:3The people of Babylon did not have paper so, instead, they made their official records on bricks. They made the bricks out of soft earth. They would scratch what they wanted to write on the soft brick. Then they would bake the brick to make it hard. These bricks were their books.
4 Then lie on your left side. I will put on you the sin of the Israelites. You will stay there for 390 days and you will suffer because of their sin. 5 This means that I will punish Israel for 390 years. 6 After you have finished this, lie down on your right side. You will stay there for 40 days. You will suffer for the sin of Judah's people. This is to show that I will punish them for 40 years. 7 Turn your face towards the picture of the soldiers who are attacking Jerusalem. Point to it and prophesy against the city. 8 I will tie you up so that you cannot turn from one side to another. You will stay on one side until the day when the soldiers round the city go away.’
4:8The text does not mean that Ezekiel was on his side for 24 hours each day. But he had to lie on his side for a part of each day.
9 ‘You must take different kinds of food grains. Then put them in a jar. Use them to make bread for yourself. You must eat this for 390 days. Those are the 390 days that you are on your left side. 10 Weigh out 20 shekels (about 8 ounces or 220 grams) of food for each day. This is all the food that I will let you eat in one day. 11 You can have a sixth of a hin (two cups) of water a day to drink. 12 Bake the food like a cake. Bake it in front of the people on a fire that you have made with human dirt.’
13 The Lord said, ‘I will send Israel's people to live in foreign lands. This is to show them that they will eat bad food there. That food will not be clean.’
4:13Ezekiel did not bake the cake in an oven, but on hot stones.
4:13Ezekiel was to use human dirt as the fuel for the fire to heat the stones. The normal fuel would be animal dirt. But when the armies surrounded Jerusalem, the people had to kill the animals in the city for meat. Then there would be no animal dirt for fuel. They would have to use human dirt.
14 ‘No, Lord God,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that would make me not clean. Even when I was a child, I obeyed your rules. An animal might have died when nobody had killed it. I did not eat that meat. Nor did I eat meat that wild animals had killed. I have never eaten any food that was not clean.’
15 So God spoke to me. ‘It is good,’ he said. ‘You can use dirt from cows instead. You can cook your bread on that.’
16 Then God said, ‘I am going to take away the bread from the people in Jerusalem. They will have to measure the food that they eat. And they will measure the water that they drink. I will give them great trouble. 17 They will have no more bread or water. They will be very sad and their bodies will become thin. This is because they have done so many bad things.’
4:17God had given Israel's people a list of the only animals that they should eat. They might not obey him and eat another animal. Then they would not be clean. Then they must not go near to God. They would not be holy.