4 1-2 “And now, son of dust, take a large brick and lay it before you and draw a map of the city of Jerusalem on it. Draw a picture of siege mounds being built against the city, put enemy camps around it and battering rams surrounding the walls. 3 And put an iron plate between you and the city, like a wall of iron. Demonstrate how an enemy army will capture Jerusalem!
“There is special meaning in each detail of what I have told you to do. For it is a warning to the people of Israel.
4-5 “Now lie on your left side for 390 days,[a] to show that Israel will be punished for 390 years by captivity and doom. Each day you lie there represents a year of punishment ahead for Israel. 6 Afterwards, turn over and lie on your right side for forty days, to signify the years of Judah’s punishment. Each day will represent one year.
7 “Meanwhile continue your demonstration of the siege of Jerusalem; lie there with your arm bared to signify great strength and power in the attack against her.[b] This will prophesy her doom. 8 And I will paralyze you[c] so that you can’t turn over from one side to the other until you have completed all the days of your siege.
9 “During the first 390 days eat bread made of flour mixed from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and spelt. Mix the various kinds of flour together in a jar. 10 You are to ration this out to yourself at the rate of eight ounces at a time, one meal a day. 11 And use one quart of water a day; don’t use more than that. 12 Each day take flour from the barrel and prepare it as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire, using dried human dung as fuel, and eat it. 13 For the Lord declares, Israel shall eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which I exile them!”
14 Then I said, “O Lord God, must I be defiled by using dung? For I have never been defiled before in all my life. From the time I was a child until now I have never eaten any animal that died of sickness or that I found injured or dead; and I have never eaten any of the kinds of animals our law forbids.”[d]
15 Then the Lord said, “All right, you may use cow dung instead of human dung.”
16 Then he told me, “Son of dust, bread will be tightly rationed in Jerusalem. It will be weighed out with great care and eaten fearfully. And the water will be portioned out in driblets, and the people will drink it with dismay. 17 I will cause the people to lack both bread and water; they will look at one another in frantic terror and waste away beneath their punishment.
- Ezekiel 4:4 390 days. Some versions read, “190 days.”
- Ezekiel 4:7 to signify great strength and power in the attack against her, implied.
- Ezekiel 4:8 paralyze you, literally, “lay bands upon you.”
- Ezekiel 4:14 the kinds of animals our law forbids, see Leviticus 11 for the dietary laws Ezekiel refers to here.
New International Version
Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized
4 “Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp(A) up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it.(B) 3 Then take an iron pan,(C) place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward(D) it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign(E) to the people of Israel.(F)
4 “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself.[a] You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. 5 I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.
6 “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin(G) of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.(H) 7 Turn your face(I) toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. 8 I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.(J)
9 “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt;(K) put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. 10 Weigh out twenty shekels[b](L) of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. 11 Also measure out a sixth of a hin[c] of water and drink it at set times.(M) 12 Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement(N) for fuel.” 13 The Lord said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”(O)
14 Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign Lord!(P) I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead(Q) or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.(R)”
15 “Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
16 He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off(S) the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair,(T) 17 for food and water will be scarce.(U) They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of[d] their sin.(V)