Ezekiel 4:7 MEANING

Ezekiel 4:7
(7) Set thy face is a common Scriptural expression for any steadfast purpose. (See Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:3; Leviticus 20:5-6; Leviticus 26:17; 2 Chronicles 20:3, marg., &c.) It is a particularly favourite phrase with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 15:7; Ezekiel 20:46, &c.). Here this steadfastness of purpose was to be exercised "toward the siege of Jerusalem;" there would be no relenting in this matter--God's purpose of judgment should surely be fulfilled. Further symbolism to the same effect is added, "Thine arm shall be uncovered," withdrawn from the loose sleeve of the Oriental robe, and made ready for battle. (Comp. Isaiah 52:10.) Withal he is to "prophesy against it," doubtless by words suited to his actions.

Verse 7. - Thine arm shall be uncovered. This, as in Isaiah 52:10, was the symbol of energetic action. The prophet was to be, as it were, no apathetic spectator of the siege which he was thus dramatizing, but is as the representative of the Divine commission to control and guide it. The picture of the prophet's attitude, not merely resting on his side and folding his hands, as a man at ease might do, but looking intently, with bare outstretched arm, at the scene portrayed by him, must, we may well imagine, have added to the startling effect of the whole procedure. We note the phrase, "set thy face," as specially characteristic of Ezekiel (here, and, though the Hebrew verb is not the same, Ezekiel 14:8; Ezekiel 15:7). The words "prophesy against it" may imply some spoken utterance of the nature of a "woe," like that of the son of Ananus (see above), but hardly, I think, a prolonged address.

4:1-8 The prophet was to represent the siege of Jerusalem by signs. He was to lie on his left side for a number of days, supposed to be equal to the years from the establishment of idolatry. All that the prophet sets before the children of his people, about the destruction of Jerusalem, is to show that sin is the provoking cause of the ruin of that once flourishing city.Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege at Jerusalem,.... All the while he was lying either on the left side or the right, his face was to be directed to the siege of Jerusalem, portrayed upon the tile, and to all the preparations made for that purpose, to show that all had reference to that and that it wound certainly be; for, as the prophet represented the Chaldean army the directing and setting his face to the siege shows their resolution and inflexibleness, that they were determined upon taking the city, and nothing should divert them from it:

and thine arm shall be uncovered; which was usual in fighting in those times and countries; for, wearing long garments, they were obliged to turn them up on the arm, or lay them aside, that they might more expeditiously handle their weapons, and engage with the enemy: in this form the soldiers in Trajan's column are figured fighting; and it is related that the Africans used to fight with their arms uncovered (h); thus Scanderbeg in later times used to fight the Turks. The design of the phrase is to show how ready, diligent, and expeditious, the Chaldeans would be in carrying on the siege. The Targum renders it,

"thou shalt strengthen thine arm;''

and so do the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions:

and thou shall prophesy against it: meaning not so much by words, if at all, but by these actions, gestures, and habit; for they all foretold what would certainly come to pass.

(h) Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 4. c. 3. p. 160.

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