In Ezekiel 4:7, among God’s instructions to the prophet to act out the punishment of Jerusalem by lying on his left side and then his right, he is told:

And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared (זְרֹעֲךָ֖ חֲשׂוּפָ֑ה), and you shall prophesy against the city. (ESV)

I’m wondering about the meaning of this phrase - possibly idiomatic - or maybe just symbolic within the enactment prophecy? The only other place I’m finding these words collocated is in Isaiah 52:10 (conveniently cross-referenced in the ESV):

The LORD has bared his holy arm (חָשַׂ֤ף... אֶת־זְר֣וֹעַ)....and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (ESV)

The meaning in Isaiah is apparent (LXX: ἀποκαλύψει...τὸν βραχίονα), but it seems very different from Ezekiel. (The Greek there: τὸν βραχίονά σου στερεώσεις - you will strengthen your arm - but I’m not sure what that means either.)

What is the significance of this phrase in Ezekiel?

1 Answer 1


The general opinion of scholars seems to be that Ezekiel's bared arm signified the Lord's hostility toward his people and/or his readiness to act against them. Dr. Thomas Constable of Dallas Theological Seminary says Ezekiel's act of facing Jerusalem with his arm bared signified Yahweh's hostility toward his people [Constable's Notes]. Lamar Cooper suggests that Ezekiel's bared arm here may indicate the prophet was to shake his fist as a prophecy against Jerusalem [NAC, 94]. Albert Barnes says it signified the execution of vengeance here, as also in Isa 52:10 [Notes on the OT, 316]. Hengstenberg says, "The uncovered, outstretched arm, not resting in the bosom, belongs to the bold combatant. The prophecy is made by this very gesture, which announces the siege begun" [The Prophecies of the Prophet Ezekiel Elucidated, 48]. Keil & Delitzsch say the prophets bared arm signified the Lord's readiness for action against Jerusalem [Commentary on the OT, (vol. 9), 45].

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