Did God really demand Ezekiel eat excrement?


by Shawn Brasseaux

No. There is a misunderstanding here. It is important to look at the Bible passage in question so we can set the record straight.

The inquiry stems from Ezekiel chapter 4: “[9] Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof. [10] And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. [11] Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. [12] And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. [13] And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.

“[14] Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth. [15] Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith. [16] Moreover he said unto 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] That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.”

These are certainly bizarre instructions, are they not?! However, they are not as strange as we first suspect. Contrary to what we may have heard, Ezekiel was not actually required to use human or cow excrement as ingredients for his bread. Rather, the feces were a form of fuel to cook that food. While an unpleasant thought to “cultured” people such as ourselves, the ancient Egyptians and Persians (Iranians) used dried animal dung as fuel—and this is true even today. People throughout modern Asia (India, Pakistan, China, for example) still resort to the practice because manure is cheap, plentiful, and easy to collect, among other “advantages.”

How could God be so extreme and grotesque here? The key is verse 13: “And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.” JEHOVAH God was leading the Prophet Ezekiel to behave in a certain way so as to teach the Jewish people a lesson. These “skits” or “plays” are found in chapters 4 and 5 of Ezekiel. In the case of the “object lesson” using cow dung to cook his bread, Ezekiel was demonstrating to Israel they would be deported to foreign (Gentile) lands. These Gentiles or non-Jews did not observe the kosher food laws as found in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14. Such conduct was just as repulsive to Israel as Ezekiel’s disgusting dung fuel! After centuries of pagan idolatry, the Kingdom of Judah (Southern Kingdom) would be chastised as God promised in the Law of Moses. This is the Babylonian Captivity of 606–536 B.C., of which Ezekiel (and other prophets) predicted.

Leviticus chapter 26: “[27] And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; [28] Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. [29] And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. [30] And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. [31] And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. [32] And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.

“[33] And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. [34] Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. [35] As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. [36] And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. [37] And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. [38] And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. [39] And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.

Also see:
» What are “vanities” in Scripture?
» Why did John the Baptist behave so strangely?
» Who is the “foolish nation” in Romans 10:19?