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who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses. This city is the caldron, and we are the meat.’ Bible

“The time is not near to build houses. This city is the caldron, and we are the meat.” The meaning of these phrases in Ezekiel 11:3 is debated. The idea in the text as espoused by the REV seems to be that these new “leaders,” who were left in Jerusalem after the former leaders and citizens such as Daniel and Ezekiel were carried away to Babylon, did not need to build houses. This could be because they needed to fortify the walls of Jerusalem, or more likely, because they had taken over the estates of those people who had been carried away already, and they did not need to build places for themselves to live in. Actually, if the text is worded as a question, “Is not the time near to build houses?” (NASB), then the idea would be that these new leaders had taken over the estates of the people who had been carried away captive to Babylon and so could build themselves nice new houses. In either case the new leaders who had taken over Jerusalem had only their own interests in mind.

The phrase, “This city is the caldron and we are the meat” has to be understood from the context, which is that these new leaders were thinking of themselves and relishing in the fact that, with the king and former leaders led away captive, they had risen to rulership in Jerusalem. These men were plotting evil and giving wicked advice (Ezekiel 11:2). Therefore, this verse does not mean that Jerusalem was a vulnerable pot and the men were “just meat,” that is, somehow in deep trouble. Rather, the meat in the caldron was the best part, certainly much better than the vegetables, and the caldron, which usually had a lid, protected the food from things getting into it and spoiling the taste. Thus, these men were saying that Jerusalem would protect them and they were the meat, the “best part,” or the most privileged part, and they certainly were taking advantage of their new power and taking advantage of the common people who were their prey.

“this city.” The Hebrew is “she,” but that would be very unclear in English; the leaders are referring to the city of Jerusalem, a “she” (or an “it”) to them.


Commentary for: Ezekiel 11:3