On the day Nebuchadnezzar began his siege of Jerusalem (January 15, 588 BC) the Lord gave Ezekiel a second message. The first message with a demonstration for the people to watch was the parable of the boiling pot (Ezekiel 24:1-14). The Lord told Ezekiel that his wife, the delight of his eyes, would be taken (die) “with one blow.” The use of the phrase “with one blow” is a translation of a word (Heb. magephah) that referred to a plague or disease (Ex. 9:14; Num. 14:37) and a sudden death
(1 Sam. 4:17; 2 Sam. 17:9).
Ezekiel is forbidden to mourn for his wife. Although Ezekiel is allowed to weep and groan quietly (privately), there is to be no public demonstration of sorrow and no visible signs that Ezekiel is grieving the loss of the wife he loved.
These customary signs of grief and morning for the dead normally observed are forbidden:
- long, loud wailing
- covering the head and placing hands on the head
- throwing dust in the air and on one’s head
- going barefoot
- eating bland, simple food
- covering mustache
The captives in Babylon would observe Ezekiel’s strange and coarse response to his wife’s death and ask, “Why?” Ezekiel’s personal tragedy is turned into a symbol and a sign for the people. This sign is acted out and explained to the people concerning their own cultural situation and the response that will be received when the Lord’s temple, his own sanctuary, in Jerusalem is destroyed.
Basic social behavior has broken down in Jerusalem. There will be no funerals and no mourning for the multitude of the dead people as was prophesied by Jeremiah.
- Jeremiah 7:32-8:2
- Jeremiah 16:5-9
- Jeremiah 15:5
- Jeremiah 22:10
- Jeremiah 19:6
The Lord’s own temple will be destroyed and overrun by pagans with no one left in the city to mourn the loss.