Under the type of a siege is shown the time from the defection of Jeroboam to the captivity, 1-8. By the provision of the siege is shown the hardness of the famine, 9-17.
1 "You also, son of man, take a tile and lay it before you, and portray the city upon it, even Jerusalem. 2 And lay siege against it, build a fort against it, cast a siege-mound against it, set the camp against it, and set battering rams against it on every side. 3 Moreover, take an iron pan and set it for a wall of iron between you and the city. And set your face against it so that it shall be besieged, and then lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.
4 "Lie upon your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie upon it you shall bear their iniquity. 5 For I have laid upon you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days. Thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have accomplished them, lie again on your right side, and you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have appointed you each day for a year. 7 Therefore, you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and your arm shall be uncovered, and you shall prophesy against it. 8 And behold, I will put ropes upon you, and you shall not turn yourself from one side to another until you have ended the days of your siege.
9 "Also take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, put them in one vessel, and make yourself bread thereof. According to the number of the days that you shall lie upon your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat of it. 10 And your food which you shall eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day. From time to time you shall eat it. 11 You shall also drink water by measure, the sixth part of a hin. From time to time you shall drink. 12 And you shall eat it as barley cakes and bake it with human excrement in their sight." 13 And the LORD said, "Even thus the children of Israel shall eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them." 14 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, my soul has not been polluted. For from my youth even until now I have not eaten of that which dies of itself, or is torn in pieces, neither has abominable flesh come into my mouth." 15 Then he said to me, "Behold, I have given you cow's dung for man's dung, and you shall prepare your bread with them." 16 Moreover, he said to me, "Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem. And they shall eat bread by weight and with care, and they shall drink water by measure and with astonishment, 17 So that they may lack bread and water. And they will be astonished with one another and consume away for their iniquity."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Ezekiel, Chapter 4[➚]
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains a prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem and of the famine that attended it. The siege is described by a portrait of the city of Jerusalem on a tile, laid before the prophet (Ezekiel 4:1); by each of the actions, representing a siege of it, as building a fort, casting a mount, and setting a camp and battering rams against it, and an iron pan for a wall, between the prophet, the besieger, and the city (Ezekiel 4:2-3); by his gesture, lying first on his left side for the space of three hundred and ninety days, and then on his right side for the space of forty days, pointing at the time when the city should be taken (Ezekiel 4:4-6); and by setting his face to the siege and uncovering his arm, and prophesying (Ezekiel 4:7); and by bands being laid on him so that he could not turn from one side to the other until the siege was ended (Ezekiel 4:8); the famine is signified by bread the prophet was to make of various sorts of grain and seeds, baked with men's dung and eaten by weight, with water drank by measure, which is applied to the people, it is suggested that this would be fulfilled by the children of Israel's eating defiled bread among the Gentiles (Ezekiel 4:9-13); but upon the prophet's concern about eating anything forbidden by the law, which he had never done, cow's dung is allowed instead of men's to prepare the bread with (Ezekiel 4:14-15); and the chapter is concluded with a resolution to bring a severe famine on them, to their great astonishment, and with which they should be consumed for their iniquity (Ezekiel 4:16-17).