Ezekiel 24:17

Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.

Forbear to cry,.... Groan or howl, or make any doleful noise: or, "be silent" {x}: which the Talmudists {y} interpret of not greeting any person:

make no mourning for the dead; use none of those rites and ceremonies commonly observed for deceased relations and friends, particularly and especially for a wife; who is one of the seven persons for whom mourning is to be made, according to the Jewish canons {z}; and which the ties of nature, nearness of relation, and especially mutual and cordial affection, where that has taken place, require; and though a wife is not expressly mentioned among those, for whom a priest might defile himself by attending their funerals, yet must be included among those akin to him, if not solely designed, as Jarchi thinks; whose note on Leviticus 21:2, is, there are none his kin but his wife; so that Ezekiel, though a priest, was not exempted from the observation of funeral rites, but obliged to them, had he not been forbid by a special order from the Lord: the particulars of which follow:

bind the tire of thine head upon thee; cap or turban, wore on the head, as a covering of it, and ornament to it, as the word used signifies; and the priests' bonnets were for glory and beauty,

Exodus 28:40, and such was the tire about the prophet's head, since he was a priest; and which, in time of mourning, was taken off, and it was customary for mourners to be bare headed; and though the high priest might not uncover his head and rend his clothes for the dead,

Leviticus 21:10, yet other priests might, unless they had a particular and special prohibition, as Ezekiel here; see Leviticus 10:6 and yet it seems, by some instances, particularly that of David's mourning for Absalom, that the head was covered at such a time, 2 Samuel 19:5 and Kimchi on the place expressly says, that it was the way and custom of mourners to cover themselves; and certain it is, that in later times, however, it has been the usage of the Jews to cover their heads in mourning; for this is one of the things expressly forbid in the Jewish canons, as Maimonides {a} says, to be used in mourning for the dead, namely, making bare the head; and covering the head is what mourners are obliged to {b}; this Gejerus {c} reconciles, by observing, that at the first of the mourning they used to take off of their heads what they wore for the sake of ornament, such as the tire, or bonnet here; but after a while covered themselves with veils when they went abroad, or others came to them. Jarchi interprets this of the "tephillim", or phylacteries the Jews wore about their heads; and so the Talmud {d}; and the Targum is,

"let thy "totaphot" or frontlets be upon thee;''

of which interpretation Jerom makes mention; but these things do not appear to be in use in Ezekiel's time:

and put on thy shoes upon thy feet: which used to be taken off, and persons walked barefoot in times of mourning, 2 Samuel 15:30, and this custom continues with the Jews to this day; and which they say is confirmed by this passage. One of their canons {e} runs thus,

"they do not rend garments, nor pluck off the shoe for any, until he is dead;''

which supposes they do, and should do, when he is dead: and this is one of the things, their writers {f} say, is forbidden a mourner for the dead, namely, to put on his shoes; and they ask, from whence it appears that a mourner is forbid to put on his shoes? the answer is, from what is said to Ezekiel, "put on thy shoes upon thy feet": which shows that in common it was not right nor usual to do it; and it is their custom now for mourners, when they return from the grave, to sit seven days on the ground with their feet naked {g}:

and cover not thy lips; as the leper did in the time of his separation and distress, who put a covering upon his upper lip, Leviticus 13:45 and as mourners did, who put a veil upon their faces:

and eat not the bread of men: of other men; or "of mourners" {h}, as the Targum; such as used to be sent to mourners by their friends, in order to refresh and revive their spirits; and who, they supposed, through their great grief, were not careful to provide food for themselves; and this they did to comfort them, and let them know that, though they had lost a relation, there were others left, who had a cordial respect for them, and heartily sympathized with them: and, according to the traditions of the Jews {i}, a mourner might not eat of his own bread; but was obliged to eat the bread of others, at least his first meal, and on the first day of his mourning; though he might on the second, and on the following days; and this they endeavour to establish from this place of Scripture. What their friends used to send them at such a time were usually hard eggs and wine. Eggs, because round and spherical, and so a proper emblem of death, and might serve to put in mind of it, which goes round, is with one today, and with another tomorrow; and wine, to cheer their spirits, that they might forget their sorrow {k}. They also used to eat at such times a sort of pulse, called lentiles, to show by what sort of food they lost their birthright, or firstborn {l} And such like things were used by the Romans in their funeral feasts, as beans, parsley, lettuce, lentiles, eggs, &c. {m}, and as the Romans had their "parentalia", and the Greeks their paradeipna, so the Jews had also very sumptuous feasts on such occasions: not only great personages, as kings and nobles, made them; so Archelaus, made a magnificent one for the people, on the death of his father Herod {n}, after the custom of the country; but even the common people were very profuse and lavish in them; and which, as Josephus {o} observes, was the cause of great poverty among them; for so prevalent was the custom, that there was a necessity of doing it, or otherwise a man would not have been reckoned a holy man; see Jeremiah 16:7.

{x} Md "tace", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus.
{y} T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1.
{z} Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 2. sect. 1. Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 708.
{a} Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 5. sect. 1.
{b} Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 380. sect. 1. c. 386. sect. 1, 2.
{c} De luctu Ebr. c. 11. sect. 5. p. 250.
{d} T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 11. 1. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1. Succa, fol. 25. 2.
{e} Messech, Semachot, c. 1. sect. 5.
{f} Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 5. sect. 1. Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 380. sect. 1. 382. sect. 1, 2.
{g} Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 706.
{h} T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 11. 1. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1. Succa, fol. 25. 2.
{i} T. Bab. Moed Katan, fol. 27. 2. Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 4. sect. 9. Schulchan Aruch, lib. Jore Dea, c. 378. sect. 1.
{k} Buxtorf. Jud. Synagog. c. 49. p. 708.
{l} Hieron. ad Paulam super obitu Blesillae, tom. 1. operam, fol. 54. L.
{m} Vid. Kirchman. de Funer. Rom. l. 4. c. 7. p. 591.
{n} Joesph Antiqu. l. 17. c. 8. sect. 4.
{o} De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 1. sect. 1.