This is the last set of chapters leading up to the actual fall of Jerusalem and the warnings of what’s to come.
This is a lamentation about a lioness and cubs and a vine and vineyard, none of which works out for anyone. Royal lineage becomes a mess at the end of Chronicles with usurpings within and princes taken up to Babylon and replaced and all that. This laments it all happening.
This chapter begins with the people coming to see Ezekiel to ask about God, which just upsets God. He goes through a history of Israel and explains that after all this that they have been doing since Egypt, He won’t be “inquired of by them”. It’s a little funny in that way that I’ve seen parents say similar things to children who don’t listen and then wanna come in and ask them about being just like all the other families when they were being raised to act differently. I get it. I would be upset with my kid too.
Then He sets down a punishment that sounds a lot like a modern parent too. He’s going to get rid of those bad influences in their lives so that they can get back to what they’re supposed to be doing.
The end of the chapter changes the subject, though, and talks about a fire to the south that consumes everything and cannot be put out as a symbol that God has command over how long a fire will rage and how much it will consume.
More imagery about what’s to come.
Judgements continue in this chapter. The nation is again referred to with female pronouns and there are mistreated widows mentioned in their wrongdoing. There is a large section of accusations where people are not doing the things mentioned in chapter eighteen to be righteous.
Again with the hypothetical women in comparison to the actions of Israel and Judah. God doesn’t paint a good picture of these women but He also does not in any way compare them to the actions of all women. He is making a specific point of how these nations have acted. He is upset and disgusted as would anyone be if their significant other behaved this way. Would I expect a deity to be more levelheaded? Sure, but I’ve also read the accounts of what God has done for them and of what they have been up to since David and I get it. He has been patient and they can’t get even one commandment straight.
Toward the end there is a verse that mentions these hypothetical women as a warning to all women, but I’m not sure if this is within or outside of the analogy. Is it a warning to other nations or actual flesh and blood women? I’d take it as both if I were around then, but even now, I wouldn’t expect a man to treat me well after having done all of that. That may sound unfeminist of me, but people are people. I don’t expect a man to take this kind of treatment any more than I would expect a woman to deal with a man acting this way.
By the way, the men in the scenario don’t take equal accountability because they are outsiders in this case. The nations that are not those God lifted from slavery in Egypt and promised a land of milk and honey to are not those that are betraying God. This is the same for actual adulterous unions. If one is married and the other is not, I would absolutely expect the spouse of the married person to be more angry at them than the random person they slept with. That person is still guilty of adultery, but not the one who was disloyal to the spouse. Does that make sense?
Anyway, I get that this may sound awfully apologist but remembering how terrible things were in the times coming up to this punishment for everyone, I understand the need to send a message that this behavior is unacceptable and to wipe the slate clean in order to try again.
The siege of Jerusalem happens and God has some words for Ezekiel, another comparison and the use of feminine pronouns though the city is not anthropomorphized into another hypothetical woman.
In the second half of the chapter, God tells Ezekiel his wife will die and that he should not mour in public as an example to all the others who will suffer down the line. It sounds apathetic, but Ezekiel agrees.