Ezekiel’s arithmetic, part one
Somehow despite having considered this account umteen times since my childhood i never realized that Ezekiel would have known the exact year of Jerusalem’s downfall in advance.
A most interesting feature of this tableau was that it indicated in advance the exact year in which Jerusalem was to be destroyed. From official records available in Jerusalem the time that the division of the kingdom had taken place could doubtless be determined. Ezekiel, in Babylon, may have had information enough to calculate the year of Jerusalem’s calamity when he received the vision six years before her fall occurred. The time feature is revealed in what Jehovah next said:
“And as for you, lie upon your left side, and you must lay the error of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you will lie upon it you will carry their error. And I myself must give to you the years of their error to the number of three hundred and ninety days, and you must carry the error of the house of Israel. And you must complete them.”—Ezek. 4:4-6a.
God had tolerated rebellion and idolatry in Israel since 997 B.C.E. The rebellious Northern Kingdom did not last three hundred and ninety years. When it was destroyed in 740 B.C.E. this served as a direct punishment for its departure from the worship of Jehovah as God. But it did not settle the matter as far as Jehovah was concerned. There was still a measure of accounting to be settled with the mother capital, Jerusalem. Therefore, Jehovah went on to instruct Ezekiel:
“And you must lie upon your right side in the second case, and you must carry the error of the house of Judah forty days. A day for a year, a day for a year, is what I have given you. And to the siege of Jerusalem you will fix your face, with your arm bared, and you must prophesy against it. And, look! I will put cords upon you that you may not turn yourself from your one side to your other side, until you will have completed the days of your siege.”—Ezek. 4:6b-8.