Ezekiel 4 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Ezekiel 4)
The siege of Jerusalem: the dates of the years of iniquity leading to Israel's judgment

Besides the general judgment that God pronounced upon the condition of Israel, Jerusalem—on whom lay all the iniquity of the people now come to its height—appears before God whom she had despised. The prophet, in representing the siege of Jerusalem, was also to point out the years of iniquity that had led to this judgment: for Israel in general, 390; for Judah, 40. It is certain that these dates do not refer to the duration of the kingdom of Israel apart from Judah, nor to that of Judah, because the kingdom of Israel only lasted about 254 years, while that of Judah continued about 134 years after the fall of Samaria. It would appear that the longer period mentioned is reckoned from the separation of the ten tribes under Rehoboam, counting the years as those of Israel, because from that moment Israel had a separate existence, and comprised the great body of the nation; while Judah was everything during the reign of Solomon, which lasted forty years. After his reign Judah would be comprised in the general name of Israel according to Ezekiel's usual habit, although on certain occasions he distinguishes them on account of the position of Zedekiah and of God's future dealings. The reason for using this name of Israel for the whole is plain enough, namely, that the captivity had placed the whole nation in the same condition and under one common judgment, and Israel was the name of the whole people. The entire nation was now set aside, and a Gentile kingdom established. Judah is sometimes distinguished, because there was still a remnant at Jerusalem—judged indeed yet more severely than the mass, but which nevertheless existed, and which will have distinct circumstances in their history until the last days. The same thing happens in the New Testament. In the language of the apostles the twelve tribes are blended. Nevertheless, as a matter of history, the Jews—that is to say, those of Judah—are always distinct. In the main, Ezekiel prophesied under the same circumstances. Hence, in part, as we have said, his title of "son of man," given also to Daniel, as well as that of "man greatly beloved." The man of power was Nebuchadnezzar. But he who represented the race before God was an Ezekiel, as the man of desire was a Daniel, a man beloved of God.

With respect to the date, it is certain that the 390 years are almost exactly the time of Israel's duration from the death of Solomon to the destruction of the temple. Some persons have wished to reckon the forty years of Judah from Josiah's passover down to the same period, supposing that the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar took place four or five years after the captivity of Zedekiah; but this was not the case—it was a month later in the same year. Jehoiachin was carried into captivity in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24: 12). Zedekiah reigned eleven years (Jer. 52: 1). In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzar-adan burnt the house of Jehovah, and, reading from verse 6, we see that it was a month after in the same year. In taking the forty years of Judah to be the reign of Solomon, it would be saying that Israel had done nothing but sin ever since the establishment of the kingdom, for it was only in the days of Solomon that there was a peaceful reign. David founded the kingdom. The responsibility of his family began with Solomon (2 Sam. 7).