Yechezkel Five: Thirds

The weirdness continues! Ezekiel is told to take a sharp sword and shave his head and beard, and then to divide his hair into three parts on a scale. 1/3 will be burned in the middle of the city, 1/3 will be struck with a sword, and 1/3 shall be thrown to the wind and scattered. It’s in no way clear to me what the hair is supposed to represent, or what this will mean to the people. A few verses later, part of the question is answered – the fire is representative of Jerusalem. “Therefore, so said the Lord God: Behold, I too am upon you, and I shall execute judgments in your midst before the eyes of the nations (Ezekiel 5:8).” The judgment will take the form of horrible abominations. We are told that children will eat their fathers, and vice versa. That seems to be the ultimate low to which a society can sink – cannibalism within the tribe.

We’re back to the three parts analogy. 1/3 of the people will die through pestilence, 1/3 by the sword, and the final third will be scattered. It’s amazing to see that in this case, being dispersed around the world is to be taken as the equivalent fate to death. It puts the diaspora experience in a different light when one considers how awful of a punishment it was meant to be. In some places, some times, it was, but as I’ve written before, it’s also how the Jewish people managed to thrive. So how does that work when it comes to prophecies like this?

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