Ezekiel – Chapter 5

A Hairy Situation

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d told Ezekiel to take a razor and shave his hair and beard. (Because this violates a Biblical prohibition against shaving with a razor, many commentators surmise that it occurred in a vision.) Ezekiel was told to take a scale and divide the hair into three even amounts. One third was to be burnt in the brick representing Jerusalem after the 430 days of siege against it were completed. (See the previous chapter.) A third was to be struck with a sword outside of the Jerusalem-brick. The final third was to be thrown to the wind and scattered, though G-d would unleash a sword against them. But it’s not finished! Ezekiel was told to take some of the hair from the remnants and tie them up in his garment. He was then to take from them and throw them in the fire. This represents the fate of Jerusalem.

The people of Jerusalem ignored G-d’s commands worse than the other nations, therefore He is going to judge them in front of the rest of the world. He will punish them like has never been done before. For example, the horrors of the siege against Jerusalem will drive the people to the desperation of cannibalism. The survivors of these horrors will be scattered. Because of the abominations they did, G-d will reduce the people; He will not have pity. One third will die by famine and plague; another third will be struck down in war; the final third will be scattered in every direction, still pursued by the sword.

After G-d has exercised His wrath, He will allow them to rest and be consoled; they will recognize that all this was from Him. The nations of the world will be amazed at what G-d allowed to happen to His people. G-d will send an increasing famine, until the “staff of bread” ultimately breaks. The famine and wild animals will ravage the populace; G-d will bring plague, blood and the sword against the people.

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