New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:2 lay siege. Ezekiel had been carried captive to Babylon after the first siege of Jerusalem in 597 B.C. (II Kings 24:10-16), but he was writing these prophecies before the second siege eleven years later (II Kings 25:1-11).
4:6 forty days. Ezekiel was to lie on his left side 390 days and his right side 40 days, representing the 390-year iniquity of Israel (Ezekiel 4:5) and the 40-year iniquity of Judah. Biblical chronology is not yet an exact science, but the 390-year period is at least close to the time since Jeroboam had led Israel into idolatry (I Kings 12:25-33), and the 40-year period would be close to the time since God had said He would “remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel” (II Kings 23:27). Thus Ezekiel was to lie on his side a total of 430 days, which was also a significant number, since Israel had previously spent 430 years in exile in Egypt prior to the exodus (Galatians 3:17). Note also that these 430 days were literal days, even though they represented 430 years. There is no warrant here for the so-called “year-day” theory, whose advocates often arbitrarily take “days” to mean “years” without any warrant in the context.
4:10 twenty shekels. The inhabitants of the besieged city would each have a daily ration of a half-pound (that is, twenty shekels weight) of food (the connotation of “meat” here) to eat each day and about two-thirds of a quart of water (Ezekiel 4:11).
4:15 cow’s dung. In the ancient Middle East, cow dung was (and is still today) often used for fuel. To bake bread using human waste for fuel, however, would “defile” the bread (Ezekiel 4:12-13), and God respected Ezekiel’s objection. In symbol, of course, the lesson was the warning that Israel would be forced to many ritualistic defilements when they were living among the Gentiles.