17 Groan to moan for the dead,[a] but do not perform mourning rites.[b] Bind on your turban[c] and put your sandals on your feet. Do not cover your lip[d] and do not eat food brought by others.”[e]
Ezekiel 24:17tn As it stands in the MT, the syntax is difficult. Most translations say something like “groan in silence,” but this is problematic. According to their form, the two verbs that begin the verse, הֵאָנֵק (heʾanek; to groan) and דֹּם (dom; to be silent), may each be parsed as either imperative or infinitive construct. This allows four possible sequences. An infinitive followed by an infinitive would lack a main verb and can be dismissed. An infinitive followed by an imperative is improper syntax and nowhere occurs with both in the same clause. An imperative followed by an infinitive is very rare. The only three clear cases (Ps 33:3; Isa 1:16; 23:16) appear to involve infinitive complements, which does not fit these terms. Two imperatives back to back are common, occurring over 200 times, but in no case does the second imperative tell the manner of the action in the first (except perhaps a couple disputable parsings of מַהֵר (maher; be quick). So there is no combination of the forms in the MT that supports the common translation. It may also be said that groaning and being silent are mutually exclusive concepts. However, there is a rare homonym, also attested in the cognate languages Ugaritic and Akkadian, another root דמם (dmm), which means to moan. The translation above follows the suggestion of M. Greenberg that דֹּם מֵתִים (dom metim) be taken together and דֹּם be derived from דָּמַם (damam, “to moan, murmur”) meaning: “Groan a moaning for the dead.” See M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 2:508. Note that in verse 23 Ezekiel affirms that the people will moan to each other (though there the root is נָהַם, naham); therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that Ezekiel is moaning here, since his actions forecast theirs.
Ezekiel 24:17tnHeb “(For) the dead mourning you shall not conduct.” In the Hebrew text the word translated “dead” is plural, indicating that mourning rites are in view. Such rites would involve outward demonstrations of one’s sorrow, including wailing and weeping.
Ezekiel 24:17tnHeb “the bread of men.” The translation follows the suggestion accepted by M. Greenberg (Ezekiel [AB], 2:509) that this refers to a meal brought by comforters to the one mourning. Some repoint the consonantal text to read “the bread of despair” (see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 2:56), while others, with support from the Targum and Vulgate, emend the consonantal text to read “the bread of mourners” (see D. I. Block, Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:784).
You'll get this book and many others when you join Bible Gateway Plus. Learn more
You must be logged in to view your newly purchased content. Please log in below or if you don't have an account, creating one is easy and only takes a few moments. After you log in your content will be available in your library.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate, click the button below.
Upgrade, and get the most out of your new account. An integrated digital Bible study library - including complete notes from the Believer's Bible Commentary and the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV and NRSV) - is just a step away! Try it free for 30 days.