The Sign of the Siege and Famine, Ezek 4:1-17

In Ezekiel 4, Ezekiel gives two signs to Israel and Judah about the coming sieges of both countries and the consequent famines.  

The sign of the siege – Ezek 4:1-8 – Ezekiel is instructed to portray Jerusalem on a tile.  This would have been a clay tile, upon which he painted or drew the city.  And then, like a child playing army, he portrayed a siege around it. The tactics and weapons used in a siege are in Ezek 4:2, a fort (2 Ki 25:1), a mount (Jer 6:6), a surrounding camp (2 Ki 18:17, 19:34-36), and battering rams (2 Sam 20:15).  Then in Ezek 4:3, Ezekiel set up an iron pan, representing an iron wall, between himself and the city.  The iron pan represents an impenetrable wall between Israel and God (Lev 26:17-20) because God will not hear them when they cry for help (Ezek 8:18).

In Ezek 4:4-5, Ezekiel is instructed to lie on his left side and bear the iniquity of Israel for 390 days, each day representing a year.  In Ezek 4:6-8, Ezekiel is instructed to lie on his right side for forty days to bear the iniquity of Judah.  The sum of these two events is 430 years.  Interestingly, there were 430 years between the beginning of Solomon’s reign and the final captivity of Judah by the Chaldeans.  Also of interest is that both Israel and Judah were under a lengthy siege before their capitulation (2 Ki 17:5-6; 2 Ki 25:1-4).

God lay bands on Ezekiel to keep him from turning during the time he bore the iniquity.

The sign of the famine – Ezek 4:9-17 – In Ezekiel 4:9, God gave Ezekiel a recipe for the bread he was to eat during the time he lay on his side.  In Ezek 4:10, God gave the amount of bread that Ezekiel was to eat.  This would have been a starvation ration, picturing the limited quantity of food available to Israel and Judah during their sieges (Jer 38:9, 52:6).  In Ezek 4:11, a small ration of water was given to Ezekiel, as well.  Both of these troubles came upon both countries, Ezek 4:16-17; 5:16, as God said.

In Ezek 4:12-15, Ezekiel didn’t eat dung.  The dung was for fuel.  God was lenient and allowed Ezekiel to cook his bread with cow’s dung.  During the sieges of Israel and Judah, when there were no cattle, the people would have to cook “with dung that cometh out of man.”

Conclusion: Ezekiel’s portrayal and starvation ration would certainly have been a sign to the Jews who saw him.  Yet, God surely got his point across to Israel, and then fulfilled the prophecy exactly.