[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). *

Weigh and divide the hair

Another enacted parable of judgment. Ezekiel is to shave off his hair and beard with a sword (Revised Version is clearer: Authorised Version has "razor"). It would be all his hair and beard, to fit the symbol, and it would be a matter of personal shame and embarrassment (and doubtless ridicule) to Ezekiel, just as Isaiah's going "naked and barefoot" (20:2) would be.

They typified the nation's shame and degradation. Shaving the head was a sign of mourning (Deut. 21:12; Job 1:20; Isa. 15:2, etc.), but it also implied a process of cleansing from defilement

And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp... - Lev. 14:8.

The hair represents the people of Jerusalem: its living glory and ornament. One-third he burns: those who died by famine and pestilence in the city in the siege. One-third he smites with the sword: those killed in the taking of the city. One-third he scatters to the winds: those who survived and were driven away captive.

A few of these last he puts in a fold in his garment, for protection and preservation: those assembled under Gedaliah. But these are taken out again and burned, for Gedaliah was slain and the survivors killed and scattered.

Bro Growcott - Prophecies in the captivity

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.