[Yechezkel 5 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

Divine judgment

1And thou, son of man [Ben Adam], take thee a sharp knife [cherev], take thee a barber's razor [ta'ar], and cause it to pass upon thine head [rosh ] and upon thy beard [zakan]: then take thee balances [scales] to weigh, and divide the hair.

In contrast to the opening chapters of the glorious visions of the cherubim, the prophecy is immediately plunged into the dismal picture of divine judgment as severe as any man might experience.

If receiving the message were not enough, the prophet Ezekiel had to demonstrate Yahweh's grief at the apostasy of His people in the prophet's very person and actions. Being made dumb, it remained for him to demonstrate the judgment in a pictorial form. He had to remove hair and beard, and present a symbol of mourning (Lev. 21:5). In so doing it depicted the broken vow of the Nazarite, for if he had defiled his consecration, he was required to shave his head and commence anew his vow of separation (Num. 6:9). *

2Thou shalt burn with fire [flame] a third part in the midst of the city [Ir], when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife [cherev]: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind [ruach]; and I will draw out a sword [cherev] after them.

The sharp knife was the symbol of punishment. The knife was used as a razor. The cutting of the hair was a symbol of mourning; the hair was considered an ornament; Yahweh was to cut off the ornament of the proud. Putting the hair on the scales was a symbol of judgment - each would receive according to his just deserts (cp. Jer. 2:5, 9). *

3Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number [mispar], and bind them in thy skirts [the folds of thy robes].

The hair was placed on balances, divided into three, and scattered in the wind. But a few strands retained in his "skirts", indicative of the remnant that would be permitted to remain in the Land under Gedaliah. Yet even that remnant would be decimated, for only a small number returned from Egypt to Judah (Jer. 44:28). *

6And she hath changed my judgments [rebelled against My mishpatim] into wickedness [resha'ah] more than the nations [Goyim], and My statutes [chukkot ] more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused My judgments and My statutes [mishpatim and My chukkot], they have not walked in them.

Israel was worse than the nations, because it had a greater responsibility; it had received divine grace, and therefore their punishment was to fit the crime. *

* GEM, Logos.