Bible: What Does Ezekiel 24-26 Teach Us About Retributive Justice?
"Woe to the Bloody City"
Perhaps indicating another structural division in his prophecy, Ezekiel prefaces one more divine message with the specific date of its occurrence—two years and five months later than the last incident (v. 1; cf. 20:1).
God stresses the importance of noting this particular day as the beginning of a terrible period in Israelite history (v. 2).
The prophet then tells Israel the "Parable of the Cooking Pot," a story that depicts choice cuts of meat boiling in water (vv. 3-5).
Parts two and three—verses six through eight and nine through fourteen respectively, both headed by "Woe to the bloody city"--- explain the parable as referring to the purging of Jerusalem.
Part two (vv. 6-8) draws an analogy between the bloody scum, unskimmed, that arises from the boiling meat, and the uncovered blood shed in the midst of the city.
Such shameless bloodletting will "raise up fury and take vengeance" (v. 8).
In part three Yahweh adds fuel beneath the pot (v. 9), so that both the meat (v. 10) and the pot (v. 11) might burn, and that the scum, identified as Jerusalem's lies, might be consumed (vv. 11-12).
Since His attempts to purge the city have not lasted, He determines to bring judgment (vv. 13-14).
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The Trials of a Prophet
The final section presents what must have sorely tried Ezekiel: God's use of the death of the prophet's wife (v. 18) and the prophet's subsequent stoicism (vv. 16-17) as object lessons (signs) for Israel.
When Yahweh finally brings disaster upon the sanctuary and Israel's children (v. 21), the nation should mimic Ezekiel's reaction (vv. 22-24).
One who escapes the destruction will inform Ezekiel about it, and the prophet will be able to respond to him, for God will have discontinued his mute condition (vv. 25-27; cf. 2:26-27).
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Ezekiel 25-32: Prophecies Against Neighboring Nations
Beginning with this chapter and concluding with chapter thirty-two, Ezekiel delivers prophecies against the nations surrounding Israel.
The prophet names their particular sin, and then foretells how God would punish them. Verses one through seven deal with Ammon; Moab follows in vv. 8-11, then Edom (vv. 12-14) and Philistia (vv. 15-17).
First in line stands Ammon, who rejoiced over the destruction of Israel's temple and land (vv. 3,6); therefore, God decreed that he would become as plunder to the nations, especially the men of the East (vv. 4,5,7).
Moab's chief sin involved his denial of Judah as God's special, chosen people (v. 8). The men of the East will possess Moab's cities and execute judgment upon his people (vv. 9-11).
As for Edom, he will suffer God's vengeance because he sought vengeance against Judah (vv. 12, 14; cf. Ezekiel 35 for commentary about Mount Seir).
Spiteful revenge was Philistia's wrongdoing against God; Yahweh promises to rebuke him severely (vv. 15, 17).
Again, God's judgment visits these nations to convince them that the LORD is God (vv. 7, 11, 14, 17).
Most of the next three chapters concern themselves with God's dealings with the city of Tyre and her king.
The first contains a prophecy against Tyre (chap. 26), the second, a lamentation for Tyre (chap. 27), and the last, a proclamation against the king of Tyre (chap. 28:1-19).
Ezekiel wrote these pieces more than a year after his "Parable of the Cooking Pot" (chapter 24).
Yahweh's complaints against Tyre and Ammon (25:3) do not differ substantially, except that He hates that Tyre specifically planned to benefit economically from Israel's fall (vv. 1-2).
God utters a detailed prophecy of this city's doom. Many nations (vv. 3, 4) will break down her walls and towers, and make her so flat that she will become "a place for spreading nets" (v. 5).
In addition, villages akin to her will perish by the sword (v. 6).
He then describes more specifically the havoc and destruction that Nebuchadnezzar's army will wreak upon her (vv. 7-14).
First, the king of Babylon will attack and slaughter the village people living outside the walled city.
Then he will besiege the city proper, using a mound, wall, battering rams, and axes (vv. 8-9).
Last, his forces will destroy any and all remnants of normal life as Tyre knew it: lives will be lost, wealth will be confiscated, private property will be broken down, and the city’s culture will be eliminated.
The entire location will resemble flatlands near the sea (vv. 10-14).
News of Tyre's annihilation will cause neighboring lands to tremble with fear and take up a lamentation for her.
By bewailing the fall of such a city of renown, they betray their own terror (vv. 15-18).
Tyre's humiliation will last forever; she will "descend into the Pit" to "dwell in the lowest part of the earth" where all attempts to find her will be in vain (vv. 19-21).
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