v. 1. And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, a sword such as was used in war, take thee a barber's razor, the sword itself being used like the razor of a barber, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard, Ezekiel here representing Jerusalem besieged and his shaving the severe straits in which the capital would find itself shortly; then take the balances to weigh, as symbolizing the divine justice, and divide the hair.
v. 2. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part, namely, of the hair thus set apart by his careful division, in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled, when the city is taken by the Chaldeans; and thou shalt take a third part and smite about it with a knife, striking and felling it with a sword; and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind, so as to leave no two hairs together, and I will draw out a sword after them.
v. 3. Thou shalt also take thereof, of the last third of the mass of hair, a few in number and bind them in thy skirts, thus preserving a few in the midst of the general calamity.
v. 4. Then take of them again, of the few thus saved, and cast them into the midst of the fire and burn them in the fire, the fire being considered a purifying agent; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. The thought underlying this last statement is that of the refiner's fire, for it was this phase of the matter which was brought to bear upon Israel, so that a remnant at least was saved. Cf Isa_6:12-13; Luk_12:49. God poured out His loving-kindness upon the Jews in an ever-increasing measure.