"Keep" here may relate to the word "bind" in Ezekiel 5:3, as this Hebrew word means "to bind," "to keep in a secret place," "to guard," "to look after," and "to hide," among others.
This final meaning, "to hide," bears consideration.
The idea of hiding is not foreign to the Bible, as the Old Testament mentions it over 200 times and the New Testament, 35 times. More often than not, people hide because of guilt, shame, or fear, but hiding can be a courageous act or a wise move. The idea occurs in the Bible very early with Adam and Eve hiding from God in Genesis 3:8. Tamar hid her identity from Judah (Genesis 38:14-15). Many of the prophets found themselves in hiding, for instance, Elijah hid from Jezebel (I Kings 19:1-3).
Was anyone more adept at hiding than David? He is one of the most courageous men who ever lived, yet he seems to have spent a great deal of his time running and hiding from someone. He often hid from Saul, and later in life, he ran from Absalom.
Even God hides! After killing his brother Abel, Cain lost favor with God, and he knew that God would hide His face from him (Genesis 4:14). God has hidden His truth from men. Our Savior Jesus was not above hiding to escape the crowds or from danger (John 8:59; 12:36). The day of His return has been hidden so that no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36).
Consider Moses for a moment. Moses was at first hidden by his parents, but after that, he was brought up right under Pharaoh's nose! Pharaoh had issued an order to kill all the male Hebrew children, yet this child was reared right in his own house. Did Pharaoh know that Moses was Hebrew? Whatever the case, God hid Moses right in front of them! Perhaps this explains why Moses fled for the desert after he killed an Egyptian, if he was afraid that his Hebrew identity would be revealed, and he would thus face execution (Exodus 2:11-15).
Examining Ezekiel 5:3 a little further brings out the detail that God tells the prophet to bind the small pinch of hair in the hem of his garment. Because my mother worked as a seamstress most of her life, I have seen many hems, and they are very small compared to the size of the garment. In addition, when a person binds or sews something in a hem, it is secure; it cannot come out. We should also note that Ezekiel was not only a prophet, but he was also a priest (Ezekiel 1:3). So, putting this all together, Ezekiel's small bit of hair is bound as a whole and quite securely in a priest's garment!
Ronny H. Graham
Hidden From the Hour of Trial