Ezekiel 5:1 in the NIV

Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair.

Being a man with about half the hair I used to have I wonder about this verse.

A head full of hair weighs very little.

Does it indicate that Ezekiel had a lot of hair that could be weighed and separated into thirds with crude balance scales?

Were the scales more sophisticated in those days than we might have thought?

Does the verse mean something else?


2 Answers 2


The common wisdom, which I have no reason to question or challenge, is that scales represent the precision and certainty of the judgement prophesied. Note the following remarks from various people:


Then take thee balances to weigh is not a mere detail introduced to give vividness to the symbolism, but seems designed to show the absolute certainty of the impending judgment.


And then take the balances, &c. — A symbol of God’s justice, as the razor was of his wrath; to weigh and divide the hair — What the prophet is here commanded to do was by way of another emblematical representation of what was to happen to the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem. The hair signified the Jewish people; shaving the hair with a razor, the divine vengeance; the weighing of the hair in the balances, the divine equity, which metes out to every one what is just and right; the dividing of the hair, the punishments allotted to different persons of them.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:

Balances; just and exact scales, an emblem of Divine justice and equity.

To weigh: the prophet’s weighing represents God weighing these men and their ways.

Gill -

then take thee balances to weigh and divide the hair. The Syriac version adds, "into three parts"; signifying, that several distinct punishments would be inflicted on them, and these according to the righteous judgment of God; balances being a symbol of justice.


balances to weigh The divine justice is accurate, assigning to each part its destined chastisement; Jeremiah 15:2, “Such as are for death to death; and such as are for the sword to the sword; and such as are for the famine to the famine; and such as are for the captivity to the captivity.”


What is the significance of Ezekiel weighing his shaved off hair and bear

Jerusalem’s Desolation Foretold

5 “As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword; take and [a]use it as a barber’s razor on your head and beard. Then take scales for weighing and divide [b]the hair

"Shave your head and beard" The shaving of Ezekiel’s head represented how the Jews would be attacked and wiped out by the Babylonians. Also, the command to “take scales to weigh and divide the hair into portions” implied that God's judgment against Jerusalem would be carried out, not haphazardly, but deliberately and thoroughly.

Does the verse mean something else? Yes, it does.

Vs 2 Reads " A third you shall burn in the fire at the center of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. Then you shall take a third and strike it with the sword all around [c]the city, and a third you shall scatter to the wind; for I will unsheathe a sword behind them."

Ezekiel burned a third portion of his hair at the center of the city to indicate that about one-third of the inhabitants will die inside the city. Ezekiel then struck a third of his hair around the city to indicate to the inhabitants that others will be killed outside the city. The last portion was to be scattered to the wind indicating that other inhabitants would be scattered to the nations, even so, those scattered will find no peace," for I will unsheathe a sword behind them" Verse 11-12 reads:

Ezekiel 5 :11-12 NASB

11 Therefore as I live,’ declares the Lord God, ‘Because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, I definitely will also withdraw and My eye will have no pity, and I also will not spare. 12 A third of you will die by plague or perish by famine among you, a third will fall by the sword around you, and a third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.

  • And the significance of weighing it?
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 19:06
  • Kris: I have added a paragraph to answer your query Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 17:45

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