In response to the rebellion of Jehoiakim of Judah in 601 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler, besieged Jerusalem. When Jehoiakim’s successor, Jehoiachin, surrendered in 597, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah king and deported to Babylon Jehoiachin and the royal family, along with members of the upper class, including Ezekiel the priest. Five years later, as Zedekiah planned his own revolt against Babylon, Ezekiel became the first prophet to be commissioned outside Judah or Israel (chaps. 1–3). Before Jerusalem is destroyed (587 B.C.), Ezekiel is concerned to convince his audience that they are responsible for the punishment of exile and to justify the Lord’s decision to destroy their city and Temple. Later, Ezekiel argues that the Judahites who embrace his preaching are the people whom the Lord has chosen as a new Israel, enlivened by a new heart, imbued with new breath (chaps. 36–37), and restored to a re-created land, Temple, and covenant relationship (chaps. 40–48). Ezekiel is clear on one point: the Lord punishes and restores for one reason—for the sake of his name, in order to demonstrate once and for all that he is Lord.
Ezekiel’s symbolic actions or performances foreshadow the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem (4:1–5:4; 12:1–20; 24:15–24). The closely related judgment oracles are directed against increasingly larger groups: the inhabitants of Jerusalem (5:5–17); refugees who have fled into the mountains (6:1–14); Judah’s total population, “the four corners of the land” (7:1–27). Particularly chilling is Ez 8–11, the prophet’s vision of the violent injustice and idolatrous worship that fills Jerusalem. When Ezekiel protests the Lord’s order to slaughter Jerusalem’s wicked inhabitants, the Lord refuses to relent; the Lord’s glory leaves the Temple, affirming his judgment on Jerusalem (11:22–25), whom Ezekiel portrays as a promiscuous woman, rebel from the beginning, more violent and sinful than Sodom (chap. 16). Appeals for a speedy end to the exile on the basis of a past relationship with the Lord or of Jerusalem’s privileged status are futile gestures.
Ezekiel uses stereotypic oracles against the nations (chaps. 25–32) to claim universal sovereignty for Israel’s God, to exemplify the consequences of arrogant national pride, and to set the stage for Israel’s restoration. In order to demonstrate to all the nations that “I am the Lord,” God becomes Israel’s just shepherd (34:15) under whose rule a restored people (37:1–14) enjoy prosperity in a restored land. God again acts “for the sake of my name” when the mysterious forces of Gog attack Israel (chaps. 38–39). Their defeat is prelude to Ezekiel’s vision of a new Israel whose source of life and prosperity is a well-ordered cult in a new Temple, where the divine glory again dwells (chaps. 40–48).
The Book of Ezekiel has the following divisions:
The Vision: God on the Cherubim. 1In the thirtieth year,* on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens opened, and I saw divine visions.a— 2On the fifth day of the month—this was the fifth year* of King Jehoiachin’s exileb— 3the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar. There the hand of the LORD came upon him.c
4As I watched, a great stormwind came from the North,* a large cloud with flashing fire, a bright glow all around it, and something like polished metal gleamed at the center of the fire.d 5From within it figures in the likeness of four living creatures* appeared. This is what they looked like:e 6They were in human form, but each had four faces and four wings,f 7and their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass.g 8Human hands were under their wings, and the wings of one touched those of another.h 9Their faces and their wings looked out on all their four sides; they did not turn when they moved, but each went straight ahead.i
10* Their faces were like this:j each of the four had a human face, and on the right the face of a lion, and on the left, the face of an ox, and each had the face of an eagle. 11Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above. On each one, two wings touched one another, and the other two wings covered the body.k 12Each went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they went; they did not change direction when they moved.l 13* And the appearance of the living creatures seemed like burning coals of fire. Something indeed like torches moved back and forth among the living creatures. The fire gleamed intensely, and from it lightning flashed. 14The creatures darting back and forth flashed like lightning.
15* As I looked at the living creatures, I saw wheels on the ground, one alongside each of the four living creatures.m 16The wheels and their construction sparkled like yellow topaz, and all four of them looked the same: their construction seemed as though one wheel was inside the other. 17When they moved, they went in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. 18n The four of them had rims, high and fearsome—eyes filled the four rims all around. 19When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved with them; and when the living creatures were raised from the ground, the wheels also were raised. 20Wherever the spirit would go, they went. And they were raised up together with the living creatures, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21Wherever the living creatures moved, the wheels moved; when they stood still, the wheels stood still. When they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up with them.o For the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
22* Above the heads of the living creatures was a likeness of the firmament; it was awesome, stretching upwards like shining crystal over their heads.p 23Beneath the firmament their wings stretched out toward one another; each had two wings covering the body. 24Then I heard the sound of their wings, like the roaring of mighty waters, like the voice of the Almighty. When they moved, the sound of the tumult was like the din of an army. And when they stood still, they lowered their wings.q 25While they stood with their wings lowered, a voice came from above the firmament over their heads.
26Above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne that looked like sapphire; and upon this likeness of a throne was seated, up above, a figure that looked like a human being.* r 27And I saw something like polished metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed on all sides, from what looked like the waist up; and from what looked like the waist down, I saw something like the appearance of fire and brilliant light surrounding him.s 28Just like the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day so was the appearance of brilliance that surrounded him. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speak.t
* [1:1] The thirtieth year, which corresponds to the fifth year of exile (v. 2), has never been satisfactorily explained; possibly it refers to the prophet’s age, or the anniversary of the finding of the book of the law in the Temple during Josiah’s reform of 622 (2 Kgs 22:1–13). The river Chebar: probably a canal near Nippur, southeast of Babylon, one of the sites on which the Jewish exiles were settled.
* [1:2] The fifth day…the fifth year: the end of July, 593 B.C.; cf. v. 1.
* [1:4] The North: Zaphon, the traditional abode of the gods; see notes on Jb 37:22; Ps 48:3; Is 14:13–15.
* [1:5] Four living creatures: identified as cherubim in 10:1–2, 20. Known from Assyrian religion as minor guardian deities of palaces and temples, the cherubim were usually portrayed in gigantic sculpture with the bodies of bulls or lions, wings like an eagle and a human head. In the Jerusalem Temple, the Lord was enthroned above in the holy of holies (Is 6:1–2).
* [1:10] The four faces together represent animate creation: wild animals, domesticated livestock, birds, and human beings. Christian tradition associates them with the four evangelists: the lion with Mark, the ox with Luke, the eagle with John, and the man with Matthew.
* [1:13–14] The coals and flashing lightning moving among the four creatures and yet coming from them identify this vision as a theophany. See note on 10:2–13.
* [1:15–21] The repetitions and inconsistencies in the description of the wheels and the direction of their movements evoke the vision’s mysterious quality and emphasize the difficulty of describing the divine world in human language.
* [1:22–23, 26] This symbolic description of God’s throne is similar to that in Ex 24:9–10.
* [1:26] Looked like a human being: the God who transcends the powers of the human imagination is pictured here in the likeness of an enthroned human king.
a. [1:1] Ez 10:20; 11:24–25; 43:3; Ps 137:1.
b. [1:2] 2 Kgs 24:15.
c. [1:3] Ez 3:14, 22; 8:1; 33:22; 37:1; 40:1; 2 Kgs 3:15; Is 8:11.
d. [1:4] Ez 8:2; Jb 38:1.
e. [1:5] Is 6:2.
f. [1:6] Ez 10:14.
g. [1:7] Rev 1:15.
h. [1:8] Ez 10:8.
i. [1:9] Ez 10:22.
j. [1:10] Ez 10:14; Rev 4:6–7.
k. [1:11] Is 6:2.
l. [1:12] Ez 10:16–19.
m. [1:15] Ez 10:2.
n. [1:18] Ez 10:12; Rev 4:6, 8.
o. [1:21] Ez 10:9–12.
p. [1:22] Ez 10:1; Gn 1:6.
q. [1:24] Ez 3:13; 10:5; 43:2; Rev 1:15.
r. [1:26] Rev 1:13.
s. [1:27] Ez 8:2.
t. [1:28] Rev 4:2–3.
Eating of the Scroll. 1The voice said to me: Son of man,* stand up! I wish to speak to you. 2As he spoke to me, the spirit* entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speakinga 3say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day.b 4Their children are bold of face and stubborn of heart—to them I am sending you. You shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD.c 5And whether they hear or resist—they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.d 6But as for you, son of man, do not fear them or their words. Do not fear, even though there are briers or thorns and you sit among scorpions.* Do not be afraid of their words or be terrified by their looks for they are a rebellious house.e 7You must speak my words to them, whether they hear or resist, because they are rebellious.f 8But you, son of man, hear me when I speak to you and do not rebel like this rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.g
9h It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me; in it was a written scroll. 10He unrolled it before me; it was covered with writing front and back. Written on it was: Lamentation, wailing, woe!i
* [2:1] Son of man: in Hebrew, “son/daughter of…” is a common idiom expressing affiliation in a group; in this case, “a human being.” The title is God’s habitual way of addressing the prophet throughout this book, probably used to emphasize the separation of the divine and the human.
* [2:2] The spirit: lit., wind, breath; a vital power, coming from God, which enables the prophet to hear the divine word; cf. 8:3; 11:1, 24.
* [2:6] And you sit among scorpions: the prophet must be prepared for bitter opposition.
a. [2:2] Ez 3:24; Dn 8:18.
b. [2:3] Ez 20:8, 13.
c. [2:4] Ex 32:9.
d. [2:5] Ez 3:11, 27; 33:33.
e. [2:6] Dt 31:6.
f. [2:7] Ez 3:10–11; Jer 7:27.
g. [2:8] Jer 15:16.
h. [2:9] Ez 8:3; Rev 10:2.
i. [2:10] Zec 5:3; Rev 5:1.
1He said to me: Son of man, eat what you find here: eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3a Son of man, he said to me, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey* in my mouth. 4Then he said to me, Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.
5Not to a people with obscure speech and difficult language am I sending you, but to the house of Israel.b 6Nor to many nations of obscure speech and difficult language whose words you cannot understand. For if I were to send you to these, they would listen to you.c 7But the house of Israel will refuse to listen to you, since they refuse to listen to me. For the whole house of Israel is stubborn of brow and hard of heart.d 8* Look! I make your face as hard as theirs, and your brow as stubborn as theirs.e 9Like diamond, harder than flint, I make your brow. Do not be afraid of them, or be terrified by their looks, for they are a rebellious house.f
10Then he said to me, Son of man, take into your heart all my words that I speak to you; hear them well. 11Now go to the exiles, to your own people, and speak to them. Say to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear: Thus says the LORD God!
12Then the spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling noise as the glory of the LORD* rose from its place:g 13the noise of the wings of the living creatures beating against one another, and the noise of the wheels alongside them, a loud rumbling.h 14And the spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went off, my spirit angry and bitter, for the hand of the LORD pressed hard on me. 15Thus I came to the exiles who lived at Tel-abib* by the river Chebar; and there where they dwelt, I stayed among them distraught for seven days. 16i At the end of the seven days, the word of the LORD came to me:
The Prophet as Sentinel.* 17Son of man, I have appointed you a sentinel for the house of Israel.j When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me.
18If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 19If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life.
20But if the just turn away from their right conduct and do evil when I place a stumbling block before them, then they shall die. Even if you warned them about their sin, they shall still die, and the just deeds that they performed will not be remembered on their behalf. I will, however, hold you responsible for their blood.k 21If, on the other hand, you warn the just to avoid sin, and they do not sin, they will surely live because of the warning, and you in turn shall save your own life.
Ezekiel Mute. 22The hand of the LORD came upon me there and he said to me: Get up and go out into the plain, where I will speak with you.l 23m So I got up and went out into the plain. There it was! The glory of the LORD was standing there like the glory I had seen by the river Chebar. Then I fell on my face, 24but the spirit entered into me, set me on my feet; he spoke to me, and said: Go, shut yourself in your house. 25As for you, son of man, know that they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them.n 26And I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute,* no longer one who rebukes them for being a rebellious house.o 27Only when I speak to you and open your mouth, shall you say to them: Thus says the LORD God: Let those who hear, hear! Let those who resist, resist! They are truly a rebellious house.
* [3:3] As sweet as honey: though the prophet must foretell terrible things, the word of God is sweet to the one who receives it.
* [3:8] Cf. Jer 1:18. The prophet must face fierce opposition with the determination and resistance shown by his opponents.
* [3:12] The glory of the LORD: the divine presence, manifested here in audible form. Cf. Ex 40:34; Lk 2:9.
* [3:15] Tel-abib: one of the sites where the exiles were settled, probably near Nippur.
* [3:17–21] This passage refers to the prophet’s role as sentinel, placed here and in chap. 33 as introductions to sections containing judgment oracles and salvation oracles respectively; cf. Hb 2:1.
* [3:26–27] Mute: here the prophet’s inability to speak to the people in exile while Jerusalem was being besieged is seen as a consequence of God’s direct intervention (cf. 24:27).
a. [3:3] Jer 15:16; Rev 10:9–10.
b. [3:5] Is 28:11.
c. [3:6] cf. Mt 11:21.
d. [3:7] Jer 7:27.
e. [3:8] Jer 1:18.
f. [3:9] Is 48:4.
g. [3:12] Ez 8:3; 43:5.
h. [3:13] Ez 10:16–17.
i. [3:16] Ez 33:7–9; cf. 18:5–18.
j. [3:17] Is 52:8; Jer 1:17; Hb 2:1.
k. [3:20] Is 8:14.
l. [3:22] Ez 1:3; 8:4.
m. [3:23] Ez 10:15; 40:3.
n. [3:25] Ez 4:8.
o. [3:26] Ps 22:15.
Acts Symbolic of Siege and Exile. 1* You, son of man, take a clay tablet; place it in front of you, and draw on it a city, Jerusalem. 2Lay siege to it: build up siege works, raise a ramp against it, pitch camps and set up battering rams all around it. 3Then take an iron pan and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face toward it and put it under siege. So you must lay siege to it as a sign for the house of Israel.a 4Then lie down on your left side, while I place the guilt of the house of Israel upon you. As many days as you lie like this, you shall bear their guilt. 5I allot you three hundred and ninety days* during which you must bear the guilt of the house of Israel, the same number of years they sinned. 6When you have completed this, you shall lie down a second time, on your right side to bear the guilt of the house of Judah forty days; I allot you one day for each year.b 7Turning your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with bared arm* you shall prophesy against it. 8See, I bind you with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege.c
9* Then take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them into a single pot and make them into bread. Eat it for as many days as you lie upon your side, three hundred and ninety days. 10The food you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; each day you shall eat it. 11And the water you drink shall be the sixth of a hin* by measure; each day you shall drink it. 12And the barley cake you eat you must bake on human excrement in the sight of all. 13The LORD said: Thus the Israelites shall eat their food, unclean, among the nations where I drive them.d 14“Oh no, Lord GOD,” I protested. “Never have I defiled myself nor have I eaten carrion flesh or flesh torn by wild beasts, nor from my youth till now has any unclean meat entered my mouth.”e 15Very well, he replied, I will let you use cow manure in place of human dung. You can bake your bread on that. 16Then he said to me: Son of man, I am about to break the staff of bread* in Jerusalem so they shall eat bread which they have weighed out anxiously and drink water which they have measured out fearfully.f 17Because they lack bread and water they shall be devastated; each and every one will waste away because of their guilt.g
* [4:1–5:4] The symbolic actions in this section prepare for the series of oracles that follow in 5:5–7:27.
* [4:5–6] Three hundred and ninety days…forty days: a symbol to represent the respective lengths of exile for the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Israel had already fallen to Assyria in 722/721 B.C. The numerical value of the Hebrew consonants in the phrase translated “the days of your siege” (v. 8) is three hundred and ninety. Forty years conventionally represents one generation.
* [4:7] Bared arm: a symbol of unrestrained power.
* [4:9–13] This action represents the scarcity of food during the siege of Jerusalem, and the consequent need to eat whatever is at hand. Twenty shekels: about nine ounces. The sixth of a hin: about one quart.
* [4:11] Hin: see note on 45:24.
* [4:16] Break the staff of bread: reducing the supply of bread that supports life as the walking staff supports a traveler; cf. 5:16; 14:13; Lv 26:26; Ps 105:16; Is 3:1.
a. [4:3] Is 8:18.
b. [4:6] Dn 9:24–25; 12:11–12.
c. [4:8] Ez 3:25.
d. [4:13] Hos 9:4.
e. [4:14] Dn 1:8.
f. [4:16] Ez 5:16; Lv 26:26.
g. [4:17] Lv 26:39.
1Now you, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it like a barber’s razor, to shave your head and your beard. Then take a balance scale for weighing and divide the hair.a 2Set a third on fire within the city,* when the days of your siege are completed; place another third around the city and strike it with the sword; the final third scatter to the wind and then unsheathe the sword after it.b 3But take a few of the hairs and tie them in the hem of your garment. 4Take some of these and throw them into the fire and burn them in the fire. Because of this, fire will flash out against the whole house of Israel.
5Thus says the Lord GOD: This is Jerusalem! I placed it in the midst of the nations, surrounded by foreign lands. 6But it rebelled against my ordinances more wickedly than the nations, and against my statutes more than the foreign lands around it; they rejected my ordinances and did not walk in my statutes.c 7Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have caused more uproar than the nations surrounding you, not living by my statutes nor carrying out my judgments, nor even living by the ordinances of the surrounding nations; 8therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: See, I am coming against you!* I will carry out judgments among you while the nations look on.d 9Because of all your abominations I will do to you what I have never done before, the like of which I will never do again. 10Therefore, parents will eat their children in your midst, and children will eat their parents.* I will inflict punishments upon you and scatter all who remain to the winds.e
11Therefore, as I live, says the Lord GOD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your atrocities and all your abominations, I will surely withdraw and not look upon you with pity nor spare you.f 12A third of your people shall die of disease or starve to death within you; another third shall fall by the sword all around you; a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue them with the sword.g
13Thus my anger will spend itself; I will vent my wrath against them until I am satisfied. Then they will know that I the LORD spoke in my passion when I spend my wrath upon them.h 14I will make you a desolation and a reproach among the nations around you, in the sight of every passerby.i 15And you will be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror to the nations around you when I execute judgments against you in angry wrath, with furious chastisements. I, the LORD, have spoken! 16When I loose against you the deadly arrows of starvation that I am sending to destroy you, I will increase starvation and will break your staff of bread.j 17I will send against you starvation and wild beasts who will leave you childless, while disease and bloodshed sweep through you. I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken.k
* [5:2] The city: the one drawn on the tablet (4:1).
* [5:8] I am coming against you: an expression borrowed from the language of warfare in which an enemy attacked another with the sword. “You” in vv. 8–17 is Jerusalem.
* [5:10] Parents will eat their children…parents: the prophet describes the consequences of the prolonged Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 587/586 B.C. See note on Lam 2:20.
a. [5:1] Is 7:20.
b. [5:2] Jer 13:24.
c. [5:6] Ez 16:47–51.
d. [5:8] Jer 21:5.
e. [5:10] Lv 26:29, 33; Dt 28:53; Jer 19:9.
f. [5:11] Ez 7:4, 9; 8:18.
g. [5:12] Ez 6:11–12; Rev 6:8.
h. [5:13] Ez 16:42.
i. [5:14] Lv 26:32.
j. [5:16] Ez 4:16; 14:13; Lv 26:26.
k. [5:17] Lv 26:25.
Against the Mountains of Israel. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them:a 3You shall say: Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD. Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys:b Pay attention! I am bringing a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places.* 4Your altars shall be laid waste, your incense stands smashed, and I will throw your slain down in front of your idols. 5Yes, I will lay the corpses of the Israelites in front of their idols, and scatter your bones around your altars.* c 6Wherever you live, cities shall be ruined and high places laid waste, in order that your altars be laid waste and devastated, your idols broken and smashed, your incense altars hacked to pieces, and whatever you have made wiped out.d 7The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.* e 8But I will spare some of you from the sword to live as refugees among the nations when you are scattered to foreign lands. 9Then your refugees will remember me among the nations to which they have been exiled, after I have broken their lusting hearts that turned away from me and their eyes that lusted after idols. They will loathe themselves for all the evil they have done, for all their abominations.f 10Then they shall know that I the LORD did not threaten in vain to inflict this evil on them.
11Thus says the Lord GOD: Clap your hands, stamp your feet,* and cry “Alas!” for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! They shall fall by the sword, starvation, and disease.g 12Those far off shall die of disease, those nearby shall fall by the sword, and those who survive and are spared shall perish by starvation; thus will I spend my fury upon them. 13They shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain lie among their idols, all around their altars, on every high hill and mountaintop, beneath every green tree and leafy oak*—any place they offer sweet-smelling oblations to all their idols.h 14I will stretch out my hand against them; I will make the land a desolate waste, from the wilderness to Riblah,* wherever they live. Thus they shall know that I am the LORD.i
* [6:3] High places: raised platforms usually built on hills outside towns for making sacrifices to the Lord or to Canaanite deities. They became synonymous with places of idolatry after the centralization of worship in the Jerusalem Temple.
* [6:5] Scatter your bones…altars: the bones of the dead defiled a place; cf. 2 Kgs 23:14.
* [6:7] You shall know that I am the LORD: this formula is repeated after most of Ezekiel’s oracles from this point on. Whatever happens to Israel happens at the Lord’s command; because the Lord uses the nations to punish or reward Israel for its behavior, Israel will learn that its God has sole rule over the nations and the universe, and will acknowledge that rule in obedience.
* [6:11] Clap your hands, stamp your feet: these gestures may express grief, even horror, at Israel’s infidelities; in 25:6, they are signs of gloating.
* [6:13] Every green tree and leafy oak: trees often identified with fertility deities and the “tree of life”; sacred groves had a long history in Palestine and throughout the Mediterranean basin as places of worship; cf. Dt 12:2.
* [6:14] From the wilderness to Riblah: the whole land, from the far south to the far north.
a. [6:2] Ez 36:1.
b. [6:3] Ez 36:4; Lv 26:30.
c. [6:5] Lv 26:30; Jer 8:12.
d. [6:6] Lv 26:30.
e. [6:7] Ez 11:10–12.
f. [6:9] Ez 20:7, 24; Ps 137:1.
g. [6:11] Ez 21:14–17.
h. [6:13] Ez 20:28; Lv 26:30.
i. [6:14] Jer 48:22.
The End Has Come. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, now say: Thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel: An end! The end comes upon the four corners of the land!a 3Now the end is upon you; I will unleash my anger against you, judge you according to your ways, and hold against you all your abominations. 4My eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity; but I will hold your conduct against you, since your abominations remain within you; then shall you know that I am the LORD.b
5Thus says the Lord GOD: Evil upon evil! See it coming! 6An end is coming, the end is coming; it is ripe for you! See it coming! 7The crisis has come for you who dwell in the land! The time has come, near is the day: panic, no rejoicing on the mountains.c 8Soon now I will pour out my fury upon you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and hold against you all your abominations.d 9My eye will not spare, nor will I take pity; I will hold your conduct against you since your abominations remain within you, then you shall know that it is I, the LORD, who strikes.e
10The day is here! Look! it is coming! The crisis has come! Lawlessness is blooming, insolence budding; 11the violent have risen up to wield a scepter of wickedness. But none of them shall remain; none of their crowd, none of their wealth, for none of them are innocent. 12* The time has come, the day dawns. The buyer must not rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is coming upon all the throng.f 13Assuredly, the seller shall not regain what was sold, as long as they all live; for the vision is for the whole crowd: it shall not be revoked! Yes, because of their guilt, they shall not hold on to life. 14They will sound the trumpet and get everything ready, but no one will go out to battle, for my wrath weighs upon all the crowd.
15The sword is outside; disease and hunger are within. Whoever is in the fields will die by the sword; whoever is in the city disease and hunger will devour.g 16If their survivors flee, they will die on the mountains, moaning like doves of the valley on account of their guilt. 17All their hands will hang limp, and all their knees* turn to water.h 18i They put on sackcloth, horror clothes them; shame is on all their faces, all their heads are shaved bald.* 19They fling their silver into the streets, and their gold is considered unclean.j Their silver and gold cannot save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their bellies, for it has been the occasion of their sin. 20* In their beautiful ornaments they took pride; out of them they made their abominable images, their detestable things. For this reason I will make them unclean.k 21I will hand them over as spoils to foreigners, as plunder to the wicked of the earth, so that they may defile them. 22I will turn my face away from them. My treasure will be defiled; the violent will enter and defile it.l 23They will wreak slaughter, for the land is filled with bloodshed and the city with violence.m 24I will bring in the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. I will put an end to their proud strength,* and their sanctuaries will be defiled.n 25When anguish comes, they will seek peace, but there is none.o 26Disaster after disaster, rumor upon rumor. They keep seeking a vision from the prophet; instruction from the priest is missing, and counsel from the elders.p 27The king mourns, the prince is terror-stricken, the hands of the common people tremble. I will deal with them according to their ways, and according to their judgments I will judge them. They shall know that I am the LORD.
* [7:12–13] Normal affairs will cease to have any meaning in view of the disaster that is to come.
* [7:17] Hands…knees: image of profound terror; loss of control of body movement and functions.
* [7:18] Shaved bald: shaving the head was a sign of mourning.
* [7:20] Assyrian wall paintings show that statues of deities were often cast in precious metals and then decorated with jewelry. Cf. Is 40:19–20; 41:6–7; 44:9–20.
* [7:24] Proud strength: misplaced trust in the might and power of their kings and army. Cf. v. 22; 33:28 and related ideas in Is 2:12; 10:12; 13:11; Jer 48:29; Ez 24:21; 30:18.
a. [7:2] Rev 7:1; 20:8.
b. [7:4] Ez 5:11; Jer 13:14.
c. [7:7] Ez 12:23; 30:3; Am 5:18–19; Zep 1:14.
d. [7:8] Ez 20:8, 13, 21.
e. [7:9] Ez 22:31; Jer 21:7.
f. [7:12] Is 24:2; cf. Mt 24:17–18.
g. [7:15] Dt 32:25.
h. [7:17] Jer 47:3.
i. [7:18] Is 15:2–3; Jer 4:8; 48:3.
j. [7:19] Zep 1:7, 18; 2:2.
k. [7:20] Jer 10:3–4.
l. [7:22] Ps 74:7–8.
m. [7:23] Ez 22:9; 24:6.
n. [7:24] Lam 2:7.
o. [7:25] Jer 6:1.
p. [7:26] Jer 18:18; Mi 3:6–7.
1In the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month,* as I was sitting in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there.a 2I looked up and there was a figure that looked like a man.* Downward from what looked like his waist, there was fire; from his waist upward, like the brilliance of polished bronze.b
Vision of Abominations in the Temple. 3He stretched out the form of a hand and seized me by the hair of my head. The spirit lifted me up* between earth and heaven and brought me in divine vision to Jerusalemc to the entrance of the inner gate facing north where the statue of jealousy that provokes jealousy stood. 4There I saw the glory of the God of Israel, like the vision I had seen in the plain.d 5He said to me: Son of man, lift your eyes to the north! I looked to the north and there in the entry north of the altar gate was this statue of jealousy.e 6He asked, Son of man, do you see what they are doing? Do you see the great abominations that the house of Israel is practicing here, so that I must depart from my sanctuary? You shall see even greater abominations!f
7Then he brought me to the entrance of the courtyard, and there I saw a hole in the wall. 8Son of man, he ordered, dig through the wall. I dug through the wall—there was a doorway. 9Go in, he said to me, and see the evil abominations they are doing here. 10I went in and looked—figures of all kinds of creeping things and loathsome beasts,* all the idols of the house of Israel,g pictured around the wall. 11Before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel. Among them stood Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, each with censer in hand; a cloud of incense drifted upward.h 12Then he said to me: Do you see, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his idol chamber? They think: “The LORD cannot see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.”i 13He said: You will see them practicing even greater abominations.
14Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD. There women sat and wept for Tammuz.* j 15He said to me: Do you see this, son of man? You will see other abominations, greater than these!
16Then he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. There at the door of the LORD’s temple, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the LORD’s temple and their faces toward the east; they were bowing eastward* to the sun.k 17He said: Do you see, son of man? Are the abominable things the house of Judah has done here so slight that they should also fill the land with violence, provoking me again and again? Now they are putting the branch to my nose!* 18Therefore I in turn will act furiously: my eye will not spare, nor will I take pity. Even if they cry out in a loud voice for me to hear, I shall not listen to them.
* [8:1] In the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month: September, 592 B.C.
* [8:2] Looked like a man: the divine presence which accompanies Ezekiel in these visions. Cf. 40:3–4.
* [8:3] The spirit lifted me up: the prophet is transported in vision from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezekiel may be drawing on his memory of the Temple from before his exile in 598 B.C. The statue of jealousy: the statue which provokes the Lord’s outrage against the insults of his own people; perhaps the statue of the goddess Asherah set up by Manasseh, king of Judah (cf. 2 Kgs 21:7; 2 Chr 33:7, 15). Although his successor, Josiah, had removed it (2 Kgs 23:6), the statue may have been set up again after his death.
* [8:10] Creeping things and loathsome beasts: perhaps images of Egyptian deities, often represented in animal form. During the last days of Jerusalem Zedekiah, king of Judah, was allied with Egypt, hoping for protection against the Babylonians.
* [8:14] Wept for Tammuz: the withering of trees and plants that began in late spring was attributed to the descent of Tammuz, the Mesopotamian god of fertility, to the world of the dead beneath the earth. During the fourth month of the year, female worshipers of Tammuz would wail and mourn the god’s disappearance.
* [8:16] Bowing eastward: sun worship was perhaps introduced as a condition of alliance with other nations. While Josiah removed some elements of this worship (2 Kgs 23:11), Manasseh, for example, built altars to all the “hosts of heaven” in two Temple courtyards (2 Kgs 21:5).
* [8:17] Putting the branch to my nose: the meaning is uncertain. It may be connected with the social injustice mentioned in v. 17b and in 9:9, e.g., “with their violence they tweak my nose,” i.e., “goad my fury.” The Masoretic text reads “their noses” as a euphemism for “my nose,” thus avoiding the impropriety of these idolaters coming into contact with God even figuratively.
a. [8:1] Ez 14:1; 33:31.
b. [8:2] Ez 1:4, 26–27.
c. [8:3] Ez 2:9; 3:12; Dn 14:6.
d. [8:4] Ez 3:22.
e. [8:5] Ps 78:58.
f. [8:6] Ps 78:60.
g. [8:10] Ez 23:14.
h. [8:11] Nm 11:16.
i. [8:12] Is 29:15.
j. [8:14] cf. Dn 11:37.
k. [8:16] Jb 31:26–28.
Slaughter of the Idolaters. 1Then he cried aloud for me to hear: Come, you scourges of the city! 2And there were six men coming from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with a weapon of destruction in his hand. In their midst was a man dressed in linen, with a scribe’s case at his waist. They entered and stood beside the bronze altar.a 3Then the glory of the God of Israel moved off the cherub and went up to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen with the scribe’s case at his waist,b 4c and the LORD said to him:* Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it. 5To the others he said in my hearing: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not let your eyes spare; do not take pity. 6Old and young, male and female, women and children—wipe them out! But do not touch anyone marked with the X. Begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple.d 7Defile the temple, he said to them, fill its courts with the slain. Then go out and strike in the city.
8As they were striking, I was left alone. I fell on my face, crying out, “Alas, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all that is left of Israel when you pour out your fury on Jerusalem?” 9He answered me: The guilt of the house of Israel and the house of Judah is too great to measure; the land is filled with bloodshed, the city with lawlessness. They think that the LORD has abandoned the land, that he does not see them. 10My eye, however, will not spare, nor shall I take pity, but I will bring their conduct down upon their heads.
11Just then the man dressed in linen with the scribe’s case at his waist made his report: “I have done as you commanded!”
* [9:4] Ezekiel emphasizes personal accountability; the innocent inhabitants of Jerusalem are spared while the idolatrous are punished. An X: lit., the Hebrew letter taw.
a. [9:2] Ez 10:2; Dn 10:5; 12:6; Rev 8:2; 15:6.
b. [9:3] Ez 11:22.
c. [9:4] Ex 12:7; Rev 7:2–4; 13:16.
d. [9:6] Gn 4:15; Ex 12:7.
1Then I looked and there above the firmament over the heads of the cherubim was something like a sapphire, something that looked like a throne.a 2* And he said to the man dressed in linen: Go within the wheelwork under the cherubim; fill both your hands with burning coals from the place among the cherubim, then scatter them over the city. As I watched, he entered.b 3Now the cherubim were standing to the south of the temple when the man went in and a cloud filled the inner court. 4The glory of the LORD had moved off the cherubim to the threshold of the temple; the temple was filled with the cloud, the whole court brilliant with the glory of the LORD. 5The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far as the outer court; it was like the voice of God Almighty speaking.c 6He commanded the man dressed in linen: Take fire from within the wheelwork among the cherubim. The man entered and stood by one of the wheels. 7Thereupon a cherub stretched out a hand from among the cherubim toward the fire in the midst of the cherubim, took some, and put it in the hands of the one dressed in linen. He took it and came out. 8Something like a human hand was visible under the wings of the cherubim. 9I also saw four wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside each cherub, and the wheels appeared to have the sparkle of yellow topaz. 10And the appearance of the four all seemed alike, as though one wheel were inside the other. 11When they moved, they went in any of the four directions without veering as they moved; in whatever direction the first cherub faced, the others followed without veering as they went. 12Their entire bodies—backs, hands, and wings—and wheels were covered with eyes all around like the four wheels.d 13I heard the wheels called “wheelwork.” 14Each living creature had four faces: the first a cherub, the second a human being, the third a lion, the fourth an eagle.e 15* When the cherubim rose up, they were indeed the living creatures I had seen by the river Chebar.f 16When the cherubim moved, the wheels went beside them; when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the earth, even then the wheels did not leave their sides. 17When they stood still, the wheels stood still; when they rose up, the wheels rose up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. 18Then the glory of the LORD left the threshold of the temple and took its place upon the cherubim. 19The cherubim lifted their wings and rose up from the earth before my eyes as they departed with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them.g 20* These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar. Now I knew they were cherubim.h 21Each of them had four faces and four wings, and something like human hands under their wings. 22Their faces looked just like the faces I had seen by the river Chebar; and each one went straight ahead.
* [10:2–13] The burning coals, a sign of the divine presence (cf. 28:14; Ps 18:9), represent the judgment of destruction that God is visiting upon the city; they may also represent the judgment of purification that prepares the land to become the Lord’s sanctuary (cf. Is 6:6–7).
* [10:15–19] The throne represents God’s presence as ruler and protector of the land. In chap. 1, God is revealed as the lord of the world who can appear even in a far-off land; here God is about to abandon the Temple, that is, hand the city over to its enemies. God and the throne return again in 43:1–3.
* [10:20–22] The repetition of description from the preceding verses is a device intended to suggest the rapid, constantly changing motion of the vision and the difficulty of describing the divine in human language.
a. [10:1] Ex 24:10; Rev 4:2.
b. [10:2] Rev 8:2.
c. [10:5] Jb 40:9.
d. [10:12] Ez 1:15–20; Rev 4:6–8.
e. [10:14] cf. Gn 3:24.
f. [10:15] Ps 137:1.
g. [10:19] Ez 43:4.
h. [10:20] Ez 1:1.
Death for the Remnant in Jerusalem. 1The spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the LORD facing east. There at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men; among them I saw the public officials Jaazaniah, son of Azzur, and Pelatiah, son of Benaiah. 2The LORD said to me: Son of man, these are the men who are planning evil and giving wicked counsel in this city. 3They are saying, “No need to build houses! The city is the pot, and we are the meat.”* a 4Therefore prophesy against them, son of man, prophesy! 5Then the spirit of the LORD fell upon me and told me to say: Thus says the LORD: This is how you talk, house of Israel. I know the things that come into your mind! 6You have slain many in this city, filled its streets with the slain. 7Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: The slain whom you piled up in it, that is the meat, the pot is the city. But you I will bring out of it.b 8You fear the sword—that sword I will bring upon you—oracle of the Lord GOD.c 9I will bring you out of the city, hand you over to foreigners, and execute judgments against you. 10By the sword you shall fall. At the borders of Israel I will judge you so that you will know that I am the LORD. 11The city shall not be a pot for you, nor shall you be meat within it. At the borders of Israel I will judge you,d 12so you shall know that I am the LORD, whose statutes you did not follow, whose ordinances you did not keep. Instead, you acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you.
13While I was prophesying, Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah, dropped dead. I fell down on my face and cried out in a loud voice: “Alas, Lord GOD! You are finishing off what remains of Israel!”* e
Restoration for the Exiles. 14The word of the LORD came to me: 15* Son of man, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are saying about all your relatives, the other exiles, and all the house of Israel, “They are far away from the LORD. The land is given to us as a possession.”f 16Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: I have indeed sent them far away among the nations, scattered them over the lands, and have been but little sanctuary for them in the lands to which they have gone. 17Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, I will gather you from the nations and collect you from the lands through which you were scattered, so I can give you the land of Israel.g 18They will enter it and remove all its atrocities and abominations. 19h And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them. From their bodies I will remove the hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh, 20so that they walk according to my statutes, taking care to keep my ordinances. Thus they will be my people, and I will be their God.i 21But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their atrocities and abominations, I will bring their conduct down upon their heads—oracle of the Lord GOD.
22Then the cherubim lifted their wings and the wheels alongside them, with the glory of the God of Israel above them.j 23* The glory of the LORD rose up from the middle of the city and came to rest on the mountain east of the city.k 24In a vision, the spirit lifted me up and brought me back to the exiles in Chaldea, by the spirit of God. The vision I had seen left me,l 25and I told the exiles everything the LORD had shown me.m
* [11:3] No need to build houses…meat: this advice is based on the conviction that invincible Jerusalem will protect its citizens from further danger just as a pot shields the meat inside from the fire. The poorer citizens of Jerusalem and the refugees from nearby villages can now appropriate the property abandoned by the city’s wealthier upper class when they were deported (v. 15). The metaphor of the pot and its contents reappears in chap. 24.
* [11:13] In Ezekiel’s vision Pelatiah represents the people left in Jerusalem, “the remnant of Israel.” His sudden death in the vision, but not in reality, is a figure for the judgment described in vv. 8–10 and prompts Ezekiel’s anguished question about the survival of the people left in the land after the deportations in 597.
* [11:15–21] Ezekiel insists that those who remained in Judah are doomed; the exiles, under a new covenant, will constitute a new Israel. Cf. chap. 36; Jer 24:7; 29.
* [11:23] The glory of the Lord departs toward the east, to the exiles in Babylon; it will return once the Temple is rebuilt (43:1–3).
a. [11:3] Ez 24:3; Jer 1:13.
b. [11:7] Mi 3:2–3.
c. [11:8] Lv 26:25.
d. [11:11] 2 Kgs 25:20–21.
e. [11:13] Ez 9:8.
f. [11:15] Ez 33:24.
g. [11:17] Ez 34:13; 36:28.
h. [11:19] Ez 18:31; 36:26; 2 Cor 3:3.
i. [11:20] Ex 6:7; Jer 31:33; 32:38.
j. [11:22] Ex 24:16.
k. [11:23] Zec 14:4.
l. [11:24] Ez 37:1.
m. [11:25] Ez 3:4, 11.
Acts Symbolic of the Exile. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear. They are such a rebellious house!a 3Now, son of man, during the day while they watch, pack a bag for exile,* and again while they watch, go into exile from your place to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. 4During the day, while they watch, bring out your bag, an exile’s bag. In the evening, again while they watch, go out as if into exile.b 5While they watch, dig a hole through the wall* and go out through it. 6While they watch, shoulder your load and go out in darkness. Cover your face so you cannot see the land, for I am making you a sign for the house of Israel!c
7I did just as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my bag, an exile’s bag. In the evening while they watched, I dug a hole through the wall with my hands and set out in darkness, shouldering my load.
8In the morning, the word of the LORD came to me: 9Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that house of rebels, say, “What are you doing?”d 10Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: This load is the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. 11Say, I am a sign for you: just as I have done, so it shall be done to them; into exile, as captives they shall go.e 12The prince among them shall shoulder his load in darkness and go out through the hole they dug in the wall to bring him out. His face shall be covered so that he cannot even see the ground.f 13g I will spread my net over him and he shall be caught in my snare. I will bring him into Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans, though he shall not see it,* and there he shall die. 14All his retinue, his aides and all his troops, I will scatter to the winds and pursue them with the sword.h 15Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands.i 16But I will let a few of them escape the sword, starvation, and plague, so that they may recount all their abominations among the nations to which they go. Thus they may know that I am the LORD.*
17The word of the LORD came to me: 18Son of man, eat your bread trembling and drink your water shaking with fear.j 19And say to the people of the land:* Thus says the Lord GOD about the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: they shall eat their bread in fear and drink their water in horror, because the land will be emptied of what fills it—the lawlessness of all its inhabitants. 20Inhabited cities shall be in ruins, the land a desolate place. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
Prophecy Ridiculed. 21The word of the LORD came to me: 22Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: “The days drag on, and every vision fails”?* k 23Say to them therefore: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to that proverb; they shall never use it again in Israel. Say to them instead: “The days are at hand and every vision fulfilled.”l 24No longer shall there be any false visions or deceitful divinations within the house of Israel,m 25for whatever word I speak shall happen without delay. In your days, rebellious house, whatever I speak I will bring about—oracle of the Lord GOD.n
26The word of the LORD came to me: 27Son of man, listen! The house of Israel is saying, “The vision he sees is a long time off; he prophesies for distant times!”o 28Say to them therefore: Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words shall be delayed any longer. Whatever I say is final; it shall be done—oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [12:3–10] An exile’s bag contains bare necessities, probably no more than a bowl, a mat, and a waterskin. The prophet’s action foreshadows the fate of ruler and people (vv. 11–14).
* [12:5] Through the wall: mud-brick outer wall of a private home. In this symbolic action, Ezekiel represents the enemy forces, and the house wall, the city wall of Jerusalem breached by the Babylonian army.
* [12:13] Though he shall not see it: according to a Targum, an allusion to Nebuchadnezzar having Zedekiah blinded before deporting him to Babylonia (cf. 2 Kgs 25:7); according to the Septuagint, the king is ashamed of his flight from the city and disguises himself so others will not recognize him.
* [12:16] Both exiles and nations shall know that the exile is divine punishment for Israel’s betrayal of the Lord and the covenant, not evidence that the Lord is too weak to fight off the Babylonian deity.
* [12:19] The people of the land: the exiles in Babylon who, ironically, are now outside the land.
* [12:22–28] This proverb conveys the skepticism the people of Jerusalem have; cf. Jer 20:7–9.
a. [12:2] Is 6:9–10; Jer 5:21; cf. Mt 13:15; Mk 4:12; 8:18.
b. [12:4] 2 Kgs 25:4.
c. [12:6] Is 8:18.
d. [12:9] Ez 20:49; 24:19.
e. [12:11] 2 Kgs 25:7; Jer 52:15.
f. [12:12] Jer 23:33; 52:7.
g. [12:13] Ez 17:20; 19:8; 32:3.
h. [12:14] 2 Kgs 25:5; Jer 21:7.
i. [12:15] Lv 26:33.
j. [12:18] Lam 5:9.
k. [12:22] Ps 49:4.
l. [12:23] Ez 7:7.
m. [12:24] Ez 13:23; Jer 14:14; Zec 13:2–4.
n. [12:25] Hb 2:3.
o. [12:27] cf. Mt 24:48; 2 Pt 3:4.
Against the Prophets of Peace. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, prophesy! Say to those who prophesy their own thoughts: Hear the word of the LORD!a 3Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to those prophets, the fools who follow their own spirit and see nothing.b 4Like foxes among ruins are your prophets, Israel! 5You did not step into the breach, nor repair the wall around the house of Israel so it would stand firm against attack on the day of the LORD. 6False visions! Lying divinations! They say, “The oracle of the LORD,” even though the LORD did not send them. Then they expect their word to be confirmed!c 7Was not the vision you saw false? Did you not report a lying divination when you said, “Oracle of the LORD,” even though I never spoke? 8Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have spoken falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore, for certain I am coming at you—oracle of the Lord GOD. 9My hand is against the prophets who see false visions and who make lying divinations. They shall not belong to the community of my people. They shall not be written in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.d
10Because they led my people astray, saying, “Peace!” when there is no peace, and when a wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,* 11say then to the whitewashers: I will bring down a flooding rain; hailstones shall fall, and a stormwind shall break forth.e 12When the wall has fallen, will you not be asked: “Where is the whitewash you spread on it?”
13Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: In my fury I will let loose stormwinds; because of my anger there will be flooding rain, and hailstones will fall with destructive wrath.f 14I will tear down the wall you whitewashed and level it to the ground, laying bare its foundations. When it falls, you shall be crushed beneath it. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD. 15When I have poured out my fury on the wall and its whitewashers, it will fall. Then I will say to you: No wall! No whitewashers— 16the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem and see visions of peace for it when there is no peace—oracle of the Lord GOD.g
Against Witches. 17As for you, son of man, now set your face against the daughters of your people who play the prophet from their own thoughts, and prophesy against them.h 18You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to those who sew amulets for the wrists of every arm and make veils* for every head size to snare lives! You ensnare the lives of my people, even as you preserve your own lives! 19You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and crumbs of bread,* slaying those who should not be slain, and keeping alive those who should not live, lying to my people, who listen to lies. 20Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am coming after your amulets by which you ensnare lives like prey. I will tear them from your arms and set free the lives of those you have ensnared like prey.i 21I will tear off your veils and deliver my people from your power, so that they shall never again be ensnared by your hands. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD. 22Because you discourage the righteous with lies when I did not want them to be distressed, and encourage the wicked so they do not turn from their evil ways and save their lives,j 23therefore you shall no longer see false visions or practice divination again. I will deliver my people from your hand. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
* [13:10] The false prophets contributed to popular illusions of security by predictions of peace, like those who whitewash a wall to conceal its defects.
* [13:18] Sew amulets…make veils: used by sorcerers to mark individuals for life or for death. For a small price (v. 19), these women promised protection for the wicked, who, in the Lord’s estimation, “should not live” (v. 19), and death for the righteous, “who should not be slain” (v. 19). Both decisions belong to the Lord.
* [13:19] Handfuls of barley and crumbs of bread: payment for the amulets and scarves.
a. [13:2] Jer 23:16, 21–22; 28:15.
b. [13:3] Ez 14:9; Nm 16:28; Is 32:6; Jer 23:1, 16, 25–40; Mi 2:11.
c. [13:6] cf. Is 30:10.
d. [13:9] Ex 32:32.
e. [13:11] cf. Ps 18:7–15; 77:17–18.
f. [13:13] Rev 11:19; 16:21.
g. [13:16] Jer 6:14.
h. [13:17] Rev 2:20.
i. [13:20] Ps 124:7.
j. [13:22] Ez 18:21; 33:14–16.
Idolatry and Unfaithfulness. 1Some elders of Israel came and sat down before me.a 2Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3Son of man, these men keep the memory of their idols alive in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them. Should I allow myself to be consulted by them? 4Therefore say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: If any of the house of Israel who keep the memory of their idols in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them, come to a prophet, I the LORD will answer in person because of their many idols, 5in order to catch the hearts of the house of Israel, estranged from me because of all their idols.
6Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Return, turn away from your idols; from all your abominations, turn your faces.b 7For if anyone of the house of Israel or any alien residing in Israel who are estranged from me and who keep their idols in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them, come to ask a prophet to consult me on their behalf, I the LORD will answer them in person. 8I will set my face against them and make them a sign and a byword, and cut them off from the midst of my people. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
9c As for the prophet, if he speaks a deceiving word, I the LORD am the one who deceives that prophet.* I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10They will be punished for their own sins, the inquirer and the prophet alike, 11so that the house of Israel may no longer stray from me, no longer defile themselves by all their sins. Then they shall be my people, and I shall be their God—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Just Cause.* 12The word of the LORD came to me: 13d Son of man, if a land sins against me by breaking faith, and I stretch out my hand against it, breaking its staff of bread and setting famine loose upon it, cutting off from it human being and beast alike— 14even if these three were in it, Noah, Daniel, and Job,* they could only save themselves by their righteousness—oracle of the Lord GOD.e 15If I summoned wild beasts to prowl the land, depopulating it so that it became a wasteland which no one would cross because of the wild beasts,f 16and these three were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear they could save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved, but the land would become a wasteland.g 17Or if I bring the sword upon this land, commanding the sword to pass through the land cutting off from it human being and beast alike,h 18and these three were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—they could save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved. 19Or if I send plague into this land, pouring out upon it my bloody wrath, cutting off from it human being and beast alike, 20even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—they could save neither son nor daughter; they would save only themselves by their righteousness.
21Thus says the Lord GOD: Even though I send against Jerusalem my four evil punishments—sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague—to cut off from it human being and beast alike,i 22there will still be some survivors in it who will bring out sons and daughters. When they come out to you and you see their ways and their deeds, you shall be consoled regarding the evil I brought on Jerusalem, everything I brought upon it. 23They shall console you when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that not without reason did I do to it everything I did—oracle of the Lord GOD.j
* [14:9] The ancient Israelites thought that God could use deception as a means of promoting divine justice; cf. 2 Sm 24:1–3; 1 Kgs 22:19–23.
* [14:12–23] According to Ezekiel, the people in Jerusalem deserve destruction because they are corrupt. Yet he admits an exception to the principle of individual responsibility when he affirms that some of those deserving death will survive and be reunited with family in exile. The depravity of Jerusalem testifies that the punishment of Jerusalem was just and necessary.
* [14:14] Noah, Daniel, and Job: righteous folk heroes whom Israel shared with other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Daniel was the just judge celebrated in Ugaritic literature, perhaps the model for the hero of Dn 13.
a. [14:1] Ez 8:1; 20:1.
b. [14:6] Is 2:20; cf. Ez 18:30; 33:11.
c. [14:9] cf. 1 Kgs 22:23; 2 Chr 18:22.
d. [14:13] Lv 26:26.
e. [14:14] Ez 28:3; Dn 1:6; cf. Gn 6:9; Jb 1:1.
f. [14:15] cf. Lv 26:22.
g. [14:16] cf. Ez 18:20.
h. [14:17] Lv 26:25.
i. [14:21] cf. Rev 6:8.
j. [14:23] Jer 22:8–9.
Parable of the Vine. 1* The word of the LORD came to me:
2Son of man,
what makes the wood of the vine
Better than the wood of branches
found on the trees in the forest?a
3Can wood be taken from it
to make something useful?
Can someone make even a peg out of it
on which to hang a vessel?
4Of course not! If it is fed to the fire for fuel,
and the fire devours both ends of it,
Leaving the middle charred,
is it useful for anything then?
5Even when it is whole
it cannot be used for anything;
So when fire has devoured and charred it,
how useful can it be?
6Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
Like vine wood among forest trees,
which I have given as fuel for fire,
So I will give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
7I will set my face against them:
Although they have escaped the fire,
the fire will still devour them;
You shall know that I am the LORD,
when I set my face against them.b
8Yes, I will make the land desolate,
because they are so unfaithful—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [15:1–8] Verses 2–5 point out that the wood of the vinestock may be burned for fuel, fit only for destruction. In vv. 6–8 Ezekiel asserts that Jerusalem has the same destiny.
a. [15:2] cf. Ps 80; Is 5:1–7.
b. [15:7] Is 24:18; Am 9:1–4.
A Parable of Infidelity. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations.a 3You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: By origin and birth you belong to the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, your mother a Hittite.* b 4* As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut; you were not washed with water or anointed; you were not rubbed with salt or wrapped in swaddling clothes.c 5No eye looked on you with pity or compassion to do any of these things for you. Rather, on the day you were born you were left out in the field, rejected.
6Then I passed by and saw you struggling in your blood, and I said to you in your blood, “Live!” 7I helped you grow up like a field plant, so that you grew, maturing into a woman with breasts developed and hair grown; but still you were stark naked. 8I passed by you again and saw that you were now old enough for love. So I spread the corner of my cloak* over you to cover your nakedness; I swore an oath to you and entered into covenant with you—oracle of the Lord GOD—and you became mine.d 9Then I bathed you with water, washed away your blood, and anointed you with oil.e 10I clothed you with an embroidered gown, put leather sandals on your feet; I gave you a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear.f 11I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your arms, a necklace about your neck,g 12a ring in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver; your garments made of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and olive oil were your food. You were very, very beautiful, fit for royalty.h 14You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfected by the splendor I showered on you—oracle of the Lord GOD.
15But you trusted in your own beauty and used your renown to serve as a prostitute. You poured out your prostitution on every passerby—let it be his.i 16* You took some of your garments and made for yourself gaudy high places, where you served as a prostitute. It has never happened before, nor will it happen again!j 17You took the splendid gold and silver ornaments that I had given you and made for yourself male images and served as a prostitute with them. 18You took your embroidered garments to cover them; my oil and my incense you set before them; 19the food I had given you, the fine flour, the oil, and the honey with which I fed you, you set before them as a pleasant odor, says the Lord GOD.k 20* l The sons and daughters you bore for me you took and offered as sacrifices for them to devour! Was it not enough that you had become a prostitute? 21m You slaughtered and immolated my children to them, making them pass through fire. 22In all your abominations and prostitutions you did not remember the days of your youth when you were stark naked, struggling in your blood.n
23Then after all your evildoing—woe, woe to you! oracle of the Lord GOD— 24you built yourself a platform and raised up a dais* in every public place.o 25p At every intersection you built yourself a dais so that you could degrade your beauty by spreading your legs for every passerby, multiplying your prostitutions. 26You served as a prostitute with the Egyptians, your big-membered neighbors, and multiplied your prostitutions to provoke me. 27Therefore I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your allotment, and delivered you over to the whim of your enemies, the Philistines,* who were revolted by your depraved conduct.q 28You also served as a prostitute for the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied. Even after serving as a prostitute for them, you were still not satisfied.r 29You increased your prostitutions again, now going to Chaldea, the land of traders; but despite this, you were still not satisfied.s
30How wild your lust!—oracle of the Lord GOD—that you did all these works of a shameless prostitute, 31when you built your platform at every intersection and set up your high place in every public square. But unlike a prostitute, you disdained payment. 32Adulterous wife, taking strangers in place of her husband! 33Prostitutes usually receive gifts. But you bestowed gifts on all your lovers, bribing them to come to you for prostitution from every side.t 34Thus in your prostitution you were different from any other woman. No one solicited you for prostitution. Instead, you yourself offered payment; what a reversal!
35Therefore, prostitute, hear the word of the LORD! 36Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your nakedness in your prostitution with your lovers and your abominable idols, because you gave the life-blood of your children to them, 37u therefore, I will now gather together all your lovers with whom you found pleasure, both those you loved and those you hated; I will gather them against you from all sides and expose you naked for them to see. 38* I will inflict on you the sentence of adultery and murder; I will bring on you bloody wrath and jealous anger.v 39I will hand you over to them to tear down your platform and demolish your high place, to strip you of your garments and take away your splendid ornaments, leaving you stark naked.w 40They shall lead an assembly against you to stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords.x 41y They shall set fire to your homes and inflict punishments on you while many women watch. Thus I will put an end to your prostitution, and you shall never again offer payment. 42When I have spent my fury upon you I will stop being jealous about you, and calm down, no longer angry. 43Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, see, I am bringing down your ways upon your head—oracle of the Lord GOD. Have you not added depravity to your other abominations?
44See, everyone who makes proverbs will make this proverb about you, “Like mother, like daughter.” 45Yes, you are truly the daughter of your mother* who rejected her husband and children: you are truly a sister to your sisters who rejected their husbands and children—your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.z 46* Your elder sister was Samaria with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister was Sodom and her daughters, south of you.a 47Not only did you walk in their ways and act as abominably as they did, but in a very short time you became more corrupt in all your ways than they were.b 48As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear that your sister Sodom with her daughters have not done the things you and your daughters have done!c 49d Now look at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in prosperity. They did not give any help to the poor and needy. 50Instead, they became arrogant and committed abominations before me; then, as you have seen, I removed them.e 51Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more abominable things than they did. You even made your sisters look righteous, with all the abominations you have done. 52You, then, must bear your disgrace, for you have made a case for your sisters! Because your sins are more abominable than theirs, they seem righteous compared to you. Blush for shame, and bear the disgrace of having made your sisters appear righteous.
53I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters—and your fortunes along with them. 54Thus you must bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done to bring them comfort. 55Yes, your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, Samaria and her daughters, shall return to the way they were,f and you and your daughters shall return to the way you were. 56Did you not hold your sister Sodom in bad repute while you felt proud of yourself, 57before your evil was exposed? Now you are like her, reproached by the Arameans and all their neighbors, despised on all sides by the Philistines.g 58The penalty of your depravity and your abominations—you must bear it all—oracle of the LORD.
59For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you for what you did; you despised an oath by breaking a covenant.h 60But I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young; I will set up an everlasting covenant* with you.i 61Then you shall remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, those older and younger than you; I give them to you as daughters, but not by reason of your covenant. 62For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the LORD,j 63that you may remember and be ashamed, and never again open your mouth because of your disgrace, when I pardon you for all you have done—oracle of the Lord GOD.k
* [16:3–4] By origin and birth…Hittite: Jerusalem’s pre-Israelite origins are the breeding ground for its inability to respond faithfully to the Lord’s generosity.
* [16:4–5] In this chapter, Ezekiel represents Jerusalem and Samaria as unwanted, abandoned sisters whom the Lord rescues and cares for. Here the prophet depicts Jerusalem as a newborn female, abandoned and left to die, an accepted practice in antiquity for females, who were considered financial liabilities by their families. That the infant has no one, not even her mother, to tie off her umbilical cord, wash her clean, and wrap her in swaddling clothes emphasizes Jerusalem’s death-like isolation and accentuates the Lord’s gracious action in her behalf. The practice of rubbing the skin of newborns with salt is an attested Palestinian custom that survived into the twentieth century.
* [16:8] I spread the corner of my cloak: one way to acquire a woman for marriage; cf. Ru 3:9. In Dt 23:1 a son’s illicit sexual relations with his father’s wife is described as “uncovering the edge of the father’s garment.”
* [16:16] In the allegory of this chapter the viewpoint often shifts from the figure (prostitution) to the reality (idolatry). A symbol of the woman’s depravity supersedes her parents’ cruel abandonment when she was an infant. It overrides the loyalty she owes her covenant partner and the care she owes their children.
* [16:20–21] Also a reference to the practice of child sacrifice introduced under Judah’s impious kings; cf. 2 Kgs 16:3; 17:17; Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35.
* [16:24] A platform…a dais: associated with rituals borrowed from the Canaanites.
* [16:27] Philistines: lit., “daughters of the Philistines,” a common expression when referring to the various towns that make up a territory.
* [16:38] As a jealous husband, Yhwh severely punishes Jerusalem for her adultery: i.e., her worship of idols. Adultery was considered a capital crime in ancient Israel; cf. Lv 20:10–14; Nm 5:11–28; Dt 22:22.
* [16:45] Truly the daughter of your mother: Jerusalem’s depraved behavior follows from the bad behavior of its non-Israelite forebears; cf. v. 3.
* [16:46–47] Jerusalem is so much more corrupt than Samaria, the elder sister in size, and the smaller Sodom that both now appear just and righteous. Ezekiel’s reference to Sodom indicates that the city’s identification with wickedness and evil was already an established tradition in fifth century B.C. Judah.
* [16:60] Everlasting covenant: Ezekiel foresees God renewing the covenant of Sinai in a new and spirit-empowered way that will not be fatally broken as in the present exile or force God to abandon Israel again; cf. 11:19–21; 36:25–27; 37:26–28.
a. [16:2] cf. Ez 8:17.
b. [16:3] cf. Dt 26:5; Gn 23:10; 48:22.
c. [16:4] cf. Lk 2:2.
d. [16:8] cf. Ez 16:59; Ru 3:9.
e. [16:9] cf. Ru 3:3.
f. [16:10] cf. Ps 45:14.
g. [16:11] cf. Ez 23:40–42.
h. [16:13] Dt 32:13–14; Hos 2:8.
i. [16:15] Is 57:7–8.
j. [16:16] cf. 2 Kgs 23:7.
k. [16:19] Hos 2:13.
l. [16:20] Jer 7:31; cf. Lv 18:21; Dt 18:10; 2 Kgs 21:6; 23:10.
m. [16:21] cf. 2 Kgs 16:3; 17:17.
n. [16:22] Jer 2:2; Hos 2:15; 11:1.
o. [16:24] Is 57:7.
p. [16:25] Jer 2:20; 3:2; 5:7; Hos 2:4.
q. [16:27] cf. 2 Chr 28:18.
r. [16:28] 2 Kgs 16:7.
s. [16:29] cf. Ez 23:14–17.
t. [16:33] Hos 8:9–10.
u. [16:37] cf. Ez 23:10, 22; Is 47:3; Rev 17:16.
v. [16:38] Lv 20:10; Dt 22:22.
w. [16:39] cf. 2 Kgs 18:11.
x. [16:40] cf. Ez 23:47; Jn 8:5, 7.
y. [16:41] 2 Kgs 25:9; cf. Jgs 12:1; 15:6.
z. [16:45] cf. Ez 23:2.
a. [16:46] Jer 3:8–11; Rev 11:8.
b. [16:47] cf. Dt 29:23; 32:32; Is 1:9–10.
c. [16:48] cf. Gn 19:25; Mt 10:15; 11:23–24.
d. [16:49] cf. Is 1:10; cf. Gn 49:24.
e. [16:50] cf. Gn 18:20–21.
f. [16:55] cf. Ez 36:11.
g. [16:57] cf. Ez 25:12–14; 35:1–15; 2 Kgs 16:6.
h. [16:59] cf. Ez 17:19.
i. [16:60] cf. Ez 37:26; Is 55:3; Jer 32:40.
j. [16:62] Dt 29:14.
k. [16:63] Dn 9:7–8.
The Eagles and the Vine. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, propose a riddle, and tell this proverb to the house of Israel: 3Thus says the Lord GOD:
The great eagle, with wide wingspan
and long feathers, with thick plumage,
many-hued, came to Lebanon.
He plucked the crest of the cedar,a
4broke off its topmost branch,
And brought it to a land of merchants,
set it in a city of traders.
5Then he took some native seed
and planted it in fertile soil;
A shoot beside plentiful waters,
like a willow he planted it,b
6That it might sprout and become a vine,
dense and low-lying,
With its branches turned toward him,
its roots beneath it.
Thus it became a vine, produced branches,
and put forth shoots.
7Then another great eagle appeared,
with wide wingspan, rich in plumage,
And see! This vine bent its roots to him,
sent out branches for him to water.
From the bed where it was planted,c
8it was transplanted to a fertile field
By abundant waters, to produce branches,
to bear fruit, to become a majestic vine.
9Say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Can it thrive?
Will he not tear up its roots
and strip its fruit?
Then all its green leaves will wither—
neither strong arm nor mighty nation
is needed to uproot it.
10True, it is planted; but will it thrive?
Will it not wither up
When the east wind strikes it,
wither in the very bed where it sprouted?d
11* The word of the LORD came to me:
12Now say to the rebellious house:
Do you not understand this? Tell them!
The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem
and took away its king and officials
and brought them to him in Babylon.e
13After removing the nobles from the land,
he then took one of the royal line
And made a covenant with him,
binding him under oath,f
14To be a humble kingdom,
without high aspirations,
to keep his covenant and so survive.
15But this one rebelled against him
by sending envoys to Egypt
To obtain horses and a mighty army.
Can he thrive?
Can he escape if he does this?
Can he break a covenant and go free?g
16As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—
in the house of the king who set him up to rule,
Whose oath he ignored and whose covenant he broke,
there in Babylon I swear he shall die!h
17Pharaoh shall not help him on the day of battle,
with a great force and mighty horde,
When ramps are thrown up and siege works built
for the cutting down of many lives.
18He ignored his oath, breaking his covenant;
even though he gave his hand, he did all these things—
he shall not escape!i
19Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
As I live, my oath which he spurned,
And my covenant which he broke,
I will bring down on his head.
20I will spread my net over him,
and he will be caught in my snare.
I will bring him to Babylon
to judge him there
because he broke faith with me.j
21Any among his forces who escape
will fall by the sword,
And whoever might survive
will be scattered to the winds.k
Thus you will know that I the LORD have spoken.
22Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will pluck from the crest of the cedar
the highest branch.
From the top a tender shoot
I will break off and transplant*
on a high, lofty mountain.
23On the mountain height of Israel
I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Every small bird will nest under it,
all kinds of winged birds will dwell
in the shade of its branches.l
24Every tree of the field will know
that I am the LORD.
I bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
Wither up the green tree,
and make the dry tree bloom.m
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do!
* [17:11–21] These verses explain the allegory in vv. 3–10. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin from the throne and took him into exile; in his place he set Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, on the throne and received from him the oath of loyalty. But Zedekiah was persuaded to rebel by Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt and thus deserved punishment; cf. 2 Kgs 24:10–25:7.
* [17:22–23] The Lord will undo the actions of the Babylonian king by rebuilding the Davidic dynasty so the nations realize that only Israel’s God can restore a people’s destiny.
a. [17:3] Dt 28:49; Jer 49:22; Dn 7:4.
b. [17:5] cf. 2 Kgs 24:17.
c. [17:7] cf. Ez 31:4–5; Jer 37:5; 44:30.
d. [17:10] cf. Ez 19:12.
e. [17:12] 2 Kgs 24:15.
f. [17:13] 2 Chr 36:13.
g. [17:15] Jer 52:3.
h. [17:16] 2 Kgs 24:17; 25:7; Jer 52:11.
i. [17:18] cf. 2 Kgs 10:15.
j. [17:20] cf. Ez 12:13; 32:3.
k. [17:21] Lv 26:33; 2 Kgs 25:5.
l. [17:23] Dn 4:12; Hos 14:5–7.
m. [17:24] Dn 5:21.
Personal Responsibility. 1The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, 2what is the meaning of this proverb you recite in the land of Israel:
“Parents eat sour grapes,a
but the children’s teeth are set on edge”?*
3As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD: I swear that none of you will ever repeat this proverb in Israel. 4For all life is mine: the life of the parent is like the life of the child, both are mine. Only the one who sins shall die!
5If a man is just—if he does what is right, 6if he does not eat on the mountains,* or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel; if he does not defile a neighbor’s wife, or have relations with a woman during her period;b 7c if he oppresses no one, gives back the pledge received for a debt, commits no robbery; gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked; 8if he does not lend at interest or exact usury; if he refrains from evildoing and makes a fair judgment between two opponents;d 9if he walks by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances, that man is just—he shall surely live—oracle of the Lord GOD.e
10But if he begets a son who is violent and commits murder, or does any of these things,f 11even though the father does none of them—a son who eats on the mountains, defiles the wife of his neighbor, 12oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not give back a pledge, raises his eyes to idols, does abominable things, 13lends at interest and exacts usury—this son certainly shall not live. Because he practiced all these abominations, he shall surely be put to death; his own blood shall be on him.g
14But, in turn, if he begets a son who sees all the sins his father commits, yet fears and does not imitate him— 15a son who does not eat on the mountains, or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile a neighbor’s wife; 16who does not oppress anyone, or exact a pledge, or commit robbery; who gives his food to the hungry and clothes the naked;h 17who refrains from evildoing, accepts no interest or usury, but keeps my ordinances and walks in my statutes—this one shall not die for the sins of his father. He shall surely live! 18Only the father, since he committed extortion and robbed his brother, and did what was not good among his people—he will die because of his sin! 19You ask: “Why is not the son charged with the guilt of his father?” Because the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to observe all my statutes—he shall surely live! 20i Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. Justice belongs to the just, and wickedness to the wicked.
21But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die! 22None of the crimes he has committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the justice he has shown. 23j Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked—oracle of the Lord GOD? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?
24And if the just turn from justice and do evil, like all the abominations the wicked do, can they do this evil and still live? None of the justice they did shall be remembered, because they acted treacherously and committed these sins; because of this, they shall die.k 25l You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”* Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair? Are not your ways unfair? 26When the just turn away from justice to do evil and die, on account of the evil they did they must die. 27But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives; 28since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die. 29But the house of Israel says, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Is it my way that is not fair, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair?
30m Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, all of you according to your ways—oracle of the Lord GOD. Turn, turn back from all your crimes, that they may not be a cause of sin for you ever again. 31Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel?n 32o For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies—oracle of the Lord GOD. Turn back and live!
* [18:2] Parents…on edge: a proverb the people quoted to complain that they were being punished for their ancestors’ sins; cf. Jer 31:29.
* [18:6] Eat on the mountains: take part in meals after sacrifice at the high places.
* [18:25] The LORD’s way is not fair: this chapter rejects the idea that punishment is transferred from one generation to the next and emphasizes individual responsibility and accountability.
a. [18:2] Jer 31:29; cf. Ez 21:19.
b. [18:6] Lv 15:19–24; cf. Hos 4:13.
c. [18:7] Ex 22:26; Is 58:7; Mt 25:35.
d. [18:8] Ex 22:25; Lv 25:35–37; Dt 23:19–20.
e. [18:9] Lv 18:5.
f. [18:10] cf. Ez 22:6–9.
g. [18:13] Ex 22:25; Lv 20:9–11.
h. [18:16] cf. Ez 16:49; Is 58:7–10.
i. [18:20] Dt 24:16; 2 Kgs 14:6; cf. Mt 16:27; Jn 9:2.
j. [18:23] cf. Ez 33:11; 2 Pt 3:9.
k. [18:24] cf. 2 Pt 2:20–22.
l. [18:25] cf. Ez 33:20.
m. [18:30] Jer 35:15; cf. Mt 3:2; Lk 3:3.
n. [18:31] cf. Ez 11:19; 36:26.
o. [18:32] cf. Ez 18:23; 33:11.
1As for you, raise a lamentation over the princes of Israel, 2and say:
What a lioness was your mother,
a lion among lions!
She made her lair among young lions,
to raise her cubs;
3One cub she raised up,
a young lion he became;
He learned to tear apart prey,
he devoured people.a
4Nations heard about him;
in their pit he was caught;
They took him away with hooks
to the land of Egypt.* b
5When she realized she had waited in vain,
she lost hope.
She took another of her cubs,
and made him a young lion.
6He prowled among the lions,
became a young lion;
He learned to tear apart prey,
he devoured people.c
7He ravaged their strongholds,
laid waste their cities.
The earth and everything in it were terrified
at the sound of his roar.
8Nations laid out against him
snares all around;
They spread their net for him,
in their pit he was caught.d
9They put him in fetters and took him away
to the king of Babylon,
So his roar would no longer be heard
on the mountains of Israel.
10Your mother was like a leafy vine*
planted by water,
Fruitful and full of branches
because of abundant water.
11One strong branch grew
into a royal scepter.
So tall it towered among the clouds,
conspicuous in height,
with dense foliage.e
12But she was torn out in fury
and flung to the ground;
The east wind withered her up,
her fruit was plucked away;
Her strongest branch dried up,
fire devoured it.f
13Now she is planted in a wilderness,
in a dry, parched land.g
14Fire flashed from her branch,
and devoured her shoots;
Now she does not have a strong branch,
a royal scepter!h
This is a lamentation and serves as a lamentation.
* [19:1–9] Some commentators identify Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, sons of the same mother, as the “two young lions”; they were deported to Egypt and Babylon respectively. Cf. 2 Kgs 23:31–34; 24:18–20.
* [19:4] A common fate for royal prisoners: e.g., Assurbanipal claims he put a ring in the jaw of a captive king and a dog collar around his neck (cf. v. 9). A wall relief shows Esarhaddon holding two royal captives with ropes tied to rings in their lips.
* [19:10–14] Vine: Judah. One strong branch: the Davidic king. This allegory describes the deportation of the Davidic dynasty to Babylon and laments the destruction of the house of David. From Ezekiel’s perspective, the arrogance of Judah’s kings leads to this tragedy (vv. 12–14).
a. [19:3] 2 Kgs 23:31–34.
b. [19:4] 2 Chr 36:4.
c. [19:6] 2 Kgs 24:9.
d. [19:8] 2 Kgs 24:2–15.
e. [19:11] Dn 4:11.
f. [19:12] Hos 13:15.
g. [19:13] cf. Ez 20:35.
h. [19:14] cf. Ez 20:47.
Israel’s History of Infidelity. 1In the seventh year, on the tenth day of the fifth month,* some of the elders of Israel came to consult the LORD and sat down before me.a 2Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: Have you come to consult me? As I live, I will not allow myself to be consulted by you!—oracle of the Lord GOD.
4Will you judge them? Will you judge, son of man? Tell them about the abominations of their ancestors,b 5and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: The day I chose Israel, I swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob; I revealed myself to them in the land of Egypt and swore to them, saying: I am the LORD, your God. 6That day I swore to bring them out of the land of Egypt to the land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, a jewel among all lands.c 7Then I said to them: Throw away, each of you, the detestable things* that held your eyes; do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD, your God.d
8But they rebelled and refused to listen to me; none of them threw away the detestable things that held their eyes, nor did they abandon the idols of Egypt. Then I considered pouring out my fury and spending my anger against them there in the land of Egypt.e 9I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be desecrated in the eyes of the nations among whom they were: in the eyes of the nations I had made myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.f 10Therefore I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11g Then I gave them my statutes and made known to them my ordinances, so that everyone who keeps them has life through them. 12h I also gave them my sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, to show that it is I, the LORD, who makes them holy.
13But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not observe my statutes, and they rejected my ordinances that bring life to those who keep them. My sabbaths, too, they desecrated grievously. Then I considered pouring out my fury on them in the wilderness to put an end to them,i 14but I acted for the sake of my name, so it would not be desecrated in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.j 15Nevertheless in the wilderness I swore to them that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, a jewel among all the lands. 16Their hearts followed after their idols so closely that they did not live by my statutes, but rejected my ordinances and desecrated my sabbaths. 17But I looked on them with pity, not wanting to destroy them, so I did not put an end to them in the wilderness.
18Then I said to their children in the wilderness: Do not follow the statutes of your parents. Do not keep their ordinances. Do not defile yourselves with their idols. 19I am the LORD, your God: follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances; 20keep holy my sabbaths as a sign between me and you so that you may know that I am the LORD, your God.k 21But their children rebelled against me: they did not follow my statutes or keep my ordinances that bring life to those who observe them; my sabbaths they desecrated. Then I considered pouring out my fury on them, spending my anger against them in the wilderness; 22but I stayed my hand, acting for the sake of my name, lest it be desecrated in the eyes of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. 23Nevertheless I swore to them in the wilderness that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them in other lands, 24because they did not carry out my ordinances, but rejected my statutes and desecrated my sabbaths, having eyes only for the idols of their ancestors. 25Therefore I gave them statutes that were not good,* and ordinances through which they could not have life.l 26I let them become defiled by their offerings, by having them make a fiery offering of every womb’s firstborn, in order to ruin them so they might know that I am the LORD.m
27Therefore speak to the house of Israel, son of man, and tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD: In this way also your ancestors blasphemed me, breaking faith with me. 28When I brought them to the land I had sworn to give them, and they saw all its high hills and leafy trees, there they offered sacrifices, there they made offerings to provoke me, there they sent up sweet-smelling oblations, there they poured out their libations.n 29So I said to them, “What is this high place* to which you go?” Thus its name became “high place” even to this day.o 30Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Will you defile yourselves in the way your ancestors did? Will you lust after their detestable idols? 31By offering your gifts, by making your children pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols even to this day. Shall I let myself be consulted by you, house of Israel? As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear I will not let myself be consulted by you!p
32What has entered your mind shall never happen: You are thinking, “We shall be like the nations, like the peoples of foreign lands, serving wood and stone.” 33As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—with mighty hand and outstretched arm, with wrath poured out, I swear I will be king over you!q 34With mighty hand and outstretched arm, with wrath poured out, I will bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries over which you are scattered;r 35* I will lead you to the wilderness of the peoples and enter into judgment with you face to face. 36Just as I entered into judgment with your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you—oracle of the Lord GOD. 37Thus I will make you pass under the staff* and will impose on you the terms of the covenant.s 38I will sort out from you those who defied me and rebelled against me; from the land where they resided as aliens I will bring them out, but they shall not return to the land of Israel. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
39As for you, house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go! each of you, and worship your idols. Listen to me! You shall never again desecrate my holy name with your offerings and your idols!t 40For on my holy mountain,* on the highest mountain in Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD—there the whole house of Israel shall worship me; there in the land I will accept them all, there I will claim your tributes, the best of your offerings, from all your holy things.u 41As a sweet-smelling oblation I will accept you, when I bring you from among the nations and gather you out of the lands over which you were scattered; and through you I will manifest my holiness in the sight of the nations.v 42Thus you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you back to the soil of Israel, the land I swore to give your ancestors. 43There you shall remember your ways, all the deeds by which you defiled yourselves; and you shall loathe yourselves because of all the evil you did.w 44And you shall know that I am the LORD when I deal with you thus, for the sake of my name, not according to your evil ways and wanton deeds, house of Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD.x
* [20:1] The seventh year…the fifth month: August 14, 591 B.C.
* [20:7] Detestable things: in the Book of Ezekiel, Israel’s continued worship of idols in Egypt and in the wilderness, despite the Lord’s powerful deeds on their behalf, is the reason God punishes them so severely; they must learn and acknowledge that he is their only Lord. Cf., e.g., Exodus (5:1–6:9; 14:10–30; 16:1–36) and Numbers (11:1–15; 14:1–12; 20:1–9), where the people’s failure to trust Moses and the Lord brings punishment.
* [20:25–26] I gave them statutes that were not good: because Israel rejected the Lord’s life-giving laws, he “gave” laws (e.g., the sacrifice of every firstborn) that would lead only to death and destruction. Dt 12:29–31; Jer 7:31; 19:4–5 may address a popular assumption that the Lord accepted and perhaps required child sacrifice, especially as evidence of great trust during national emergencies (2 Kgs 3:27; Mi 6:7). By combining language from Ex 22:28 with the vocabulary of child sacrifice, Ezekiel suggests that firstborn sons were regularly sacrificed in Israel.
* [20:29] High place: a cultic site, originally a hilltop, but often a raised platform in a sacred area. Until Deuteronomy’s insistence that official and legitimate worship of the Lord take place only in Jerusalem, these local shrines were popular places for worship (e.g., 1 Sm 9–10) or for consulting the Lord (1 Kgs 3:4–5). In order to unite the Kingdom of Judah politically and religiously, Dt 12:2 demands destruction of the high places. Ezekiel, like other prophets, condemns Israelite worship at these places and identifies this illegitimate worship as one reason for the punishment of exile.
* [20:35–38] Exile among other lands occasions a new exodus and a new wilderness journey back to Israel. The Lord will eliminate the rebellious, as he did on the first journey, and use the surviving remnant to reveal his power to the nations.
* [20:37] Pass under the staff: in Lv 27:32–33, a method of counting off animals to select those to be dedicated for the tithe. In Ezekiel, on the other hand, those who survive the selection process are marked for destruction for violating the covenant.
* [20:40] Holy mountain: the Temple mount and Jerusalem in contrast to “every high hill” in v. 28 (cf. the royal Zion theology in Ps 48:2). Acceptable worship takes place here among a restored people, a theme taken up in chaps. 40–48 (cf. 40:2).
a. [20:1] cf. Ez 8:1.
b. [20:4] cf. Ez 16:2; Mt 23:32.
c. [20:6] Ex 3:8; 6:8; Dt 8:7–10.
d. [20:7] Ex 20:2–4.
e. [20:8] cf. Ez 16:26; Ex 32:7.
f. [20:9] cf. Ez 36:22.
g. [20:11] Lv 18:5; Dt 4:7–8; Rom 10:5.
h. [20:12] Ex 20:8, 10; 31:13; Dt 5:12; Neh 13:17–18.
i. [20:13] Jer 11:7–8; 17:21–23.
j. [20:14] Is 48:11.
k. [20:20] Ex 31:13.
l. [20:25] cf. Rom 1:28.
m. [20:26] Lv 18:21.
n. [20:28] Ps 78:57–58.
o. [20:29] cf. Ez 16:16.
p. [20:31] Ps 106:37–39.
q. [20:33] Dt 4:34; 5:1.
r. [20:34] Ps 106:47.
s. [20:37] Lv 27:3; Jer 33:13.
t. [20:39] Ex 20:7.
u. [20:40] cf. Ps 2:6; Is 11:9; 56:7.
v. [20:41] cf. 2 Cor 2:14.
w. [20:43] Lv 26:41.
x. [20:44] cf. Ez 36:22.
The Sword of the Lord. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2* Son of man, turn your face to the south: preach against the south, prophesy against the forest land in the south. 3Say to the forest in the south: Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am kindling a fire in you that shall devour every green tree as well as every dry tree. The blazing flame shall not be quenched so that from south to north every face shall be scorched by it. 4All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.a
5But I said, “Ah! Lord GOD, they are saying about me, ‘Is not this the one who is forever spinning parables?’” 6Then the word of the LORD came to me: 7Son of man, turn your face toward Jerusalem: preach against its sanctuary, prophesy against the land of Israel.b 8Say to the land of Israel: Thus says the LORD: See! I am coming against you; I will draw my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked.* 9Thus my sword shall come out from its scabbard against all flesh from south to north 10and all flesh shall know that I, the LORD, have drawn my sword from its scabbard. It cannot return again.c
Act Symbolic of the City’s Fall. 11As for you, son of man, groan! with shattered loins and bitter grief, groan in their sight. 12When they ask you, “Why are you groaning?” you shall say: Because of what I heard!* When it comes every heart shall melt, every hand fall helpless; every spirit will grow faint, and every knee run with water. See, it is coming, it is here!—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Song of the Sword. 13The word of the LORD came to me:d 14Son of man, prophesy! say: Thus says the LORD:
A sword, a sword has been sharpened,
a sword, a sword has been burnished:e
15Sharpened to make a slaughter,
burnished to flash lightning!
Why should I stop now?
You have rejected the rod and every judgment!
16I have given it over to the burnisher
that he might hold it in his hand,
A sword sharpened and burnished
to be put in the hands of an executioner.
17Cry out and howl, son of man,
for it is destined for my people,
For all the princes of Israel,
victims of the sword with my people.
Therefore, slap your thigh,*
18for it is tested, and why not?
Since you rejected my staff,
should it not happen?—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
19As for you, son of man, prophesy,
and clap your hands!
Let the sword strike twice, a third time.
It is a sword of slaughter,
A sword for slaughtering,
whirling around them all,
20That every heart may tremble;
for many will be made to stumble.
At all their gates
I have stationed the sword for slaughter,
Made it flash lightning,
drawn for slaughter.
21Slash to the right!
turn to the left,
Wherever your edge is directed!f
22Then I, too, shall clap my hands,*
and spend my fury.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
Nebuchadnezzar at the Crossroads. 23The word of the LORD came to me: 24Son of man, make for yourself two roads over which the sword of the king of Babylon can come. Both roads shall start out from the same land. Then put a signpost at the head of each road 25so the sword can come to Rabbah of the Ammonites or to Judah and its fortress, Jerusalem. 26For the king of Babylon is standing at the fork of the two roads to read the omens:* he shakes out the arrows, inquires of the teraphim, inspects the liver.g 27Into his right hand has fallen the lot marked “Jerusalem”:* to order the slaughter, to raise the battle cry, to set the battering rams against the gates, to throw up a ramp, to build siege works. 28In the eyes of those bound by oath this seems like a false omen; yet the lot taken in hand exposes the wickedness for which they, still bound by oath, will be taken in hand.
29Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because your guilt has been exposed, your crimes laid bare, your sinfulness revealed in all your deeds—because you have been exposed, you shall be taken in hand.h 30And as for you, depraved and wicked prince of Israel, a day is coming to end your life of crime.i 31Thus says the Lord GOD: Off with the turban and away with the crown! Nothing shall be as it was! Exalt the lowly and bring the exalted low! 32A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, I shall make it! Nothing will be the same until the one comes to whom I have given it for judgment.j
To the Ammonites.* 33As for you, son of man, prophesy: Thus says the Lord GOD to the Ammonites and their insults:
O sword, sword drawn for slaughter,
burnished to consume, to flash lightning!
34Your false visions and lying omens,
Set you over the necks of the slain,
the wicked whose day had come—
an end to their life of crime.
35Return to your scabbard!
In the place you were created,
In the land of your origin,
I will judge you.
36I will pour out my anger upon you,
breathing my fiery wrath against you;
I will hand you over to ravagers,
artisans of destruction!
37You shall be fuel for the fire,
your blood shall flow throughout the land;
You shall not be remembered,
for I, the LORD, have spoken.
* [21:2–4] In Babylon Ezekiel looks toward Judah, pictured as a forest about to be destroyed by fire.
* [21:8] Cut off from you the righteous and the wicked: a more complete devastation of Jerusalem than that described in 9:6.
* [21:12] What I heard: the news of the fall of Jerusalem; cf. 33:21–22.
* [21:17] Slap your thigh: a gesture signifying grief and dread; cf. Jer 31:19.
* [21:22] Clap my hands: the Lord declares himself no longer responsible for Judah; cf. 22:13; Nm 24:10; Jb 27:23; Lam 2:15.
* [21:26] Three forms of divination are mentioned: arrow divination, consisting in the use of differently marked arrows extracted or shaken from a case at random; the consultation of the teraphim or household idols; and liver divination, scrutiny of the configurations of the livers of newly slaughtered animals, a common form of divination in Mesopotamia.
* [21:27–28] A lot marked “Jerusalem” falls out, which marks the guilt of the city’s inhabitants.
* [21:33–37] In vv. 23–32 Ezekiel imagines Nebuchadnezzar deciding whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbath-Ammon. As it happened, the Babylonians decided to attack Jerusalem first. Here (vv. 33–37) Ezekiel prophesies to the Ammonites that a nation which serves as an instrument of the Lord’s judgment will itself be judged.
a. [21:4] Lv 26:25.
b. [21:7] Lv 26:36.
c. [21:10] Is 34:5–6.
d. [21:13] Gn 49:10.
e. [21:14] cf. 2 Kgs 13:18–19.
f. [21:21] Prv 16:33; Zec 10:2.
g. [21:26] Is 28:5; Ps 75:8.
h. [21:29] Jer 8:11–12; 27:9–10.
i. [21:30] cf. Ez 16:3.
j. [21:32] Mal 3:19.
Crimes of Jerusalem. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2You,* son of man, will you judge? will you judge the city of bloodshed? Then make known all its abominations, 3and say: Thus says the Lord GOD: O city that sheds blood within itself so that its time has come, that has made idols for its own defilement: 4By the blood you shed you have become guilty, and by the idols you made you have become defiled. You have brought on your day, you have come to the end of your years. Therefore I make you an object of scorn for the nations and a laughingstock for all lands.a 5Those near and those far off will mock you: “Defiled of Name! Queen of Tumult!” 6See! the princes of Israel within you use their power to shed blood.* 7Within you, father and mother are dishonored; they extort the resident alien in your midst; within you, they oppress orphans and widows.b 8What I consider holy you have rejected, and my sabbaths you have desecrated. 9* In you are those who slander to cause bloodshed; within you are those who feast on the mountains; in your midst are those whose actions are depraved.c 10In you are those who uncover the nakedness of their fathers; in you those who coerce women to intercourse during their period.d 11e There are those in you who do abominable things with their neighbors’ wives, men who defile their daughters-in-law by incest, men who coerce their sisters to intercourse, the daughters of their own fathers. 12There are those in you who take bribes to shed blood. You exact interest and usury; you extort profit from your neighbor by violence. But me you have forgotten—oracle of the Lord GOD.f
13See, I am clapping my hands because of the profits you extorted and the blood shed in your midst. 14Will your heart remain firm, will your hands be strong, in the days when I deal with you? I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will act! 15I will disperse you among the nations and scatter you over other lands, so that I may purge your filth. 16In you I will allow myself to be desecrated in the eyes of the nations; thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
17The word of the LORD came to me: 18* Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me. All of them are copper, tin, iron, and lead within a furnace; they have become the dross from silver.g 19Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because all of you have become dross, See! I am gathering you within Jerusalem. 20Just as silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin are gathered within a furnace to be blasted with fire to smelt it, so I will gather you together in my furious wrath, put you in, and smelt you.h 21When I have assembled you, I will blast you with the fire of my anger and smelt you with it. 22Just as silver is smelted in a furnace, so you shall be smelted in it. Thus you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out my fury on you.
23The word of the LORD came to me: 24* Son of man, say to her: You are an unclean land receiving no rain at the time of my fury. 25A conspiracy of its princes is like a roaring lion tearing prey; they devour people, seizing their wealth and precious things, making many widows within her.i 26Her priests violate my law and desecrate what I consider holy; they do not distinguish between holy and common, nor teach the difference between unclean and clean; they pay no attention to my sabbaths, so that I have been desecrated in their midst.j 27k Within her, her officials are like wolves tearing prey, shedding blood and destroying lives to extort profit. 28l And her prophets cover them with whitewash, seeing false visions and performing lying divinations, saying, “Thus says the Lord GOD,” although the LORD has not spoken. 29The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they wrong the poor and the needy, and oppress the resident alien without justice. 30Thus I have searched among them for someone who would build a wall or stand in the breach before me to keep me from destroying the land; but I found no one. 31Therefore I have poured out my fury upon them; with my fiery wrath I have consumed them, bringing down their ways upon their heads—oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [22:2–16] This first oracle focuses on Jerusalem as a “city of bloodshed” (cf. Na 3:1). Here transgressions involving blood, the oppression of the poor, and improper cultic practices are seen as interrelated, for blood as the carrier of life is fundamental to both the cultic and social spheres of life.
* [22:6] To shed blood: a very serious charge in light of the solemn command of God to Noah in Gn 9:6 against human bloodshed.
* [22:9–11] The charges against Jerusalem echo the commandments of Lv 20:10–18.
* [22:18–22] The image of smelting metals for purifying the people by the attacks of their enemies is common among the prophets; cf. Is 1:22, 25; Jer 6:27–30.
* [22:24–31] For a similar oracle, cf. Zep 3:1–8.
a. [22:4] Ps 44:13–14.
b. [22:7] Ex 22:21–22; 23:9; Dt 5:16.
c. [22:9] cf. Ez 18:11.
d. [22:10] Lv 18:7–8, 19.
e. [22:11] Lv 18:7–20; 20:10–21; Dt 23:1–30; Jer 5:8.
f. [22:12] Ez 18:8; Dt 27:25; Am 5:12.
g. [22:18] Is 1:21–26; 48:10; Jer 6:27–30.
h. [22:20] Hos 8:10; Mal 3:2.
i. [22:25] Jer 15:8.
j. [22:26] Lv 20:25; Hg 2:11–14.
k. [22:27] Mi 3:11; Zep 3:3.
l. [22:28–29] cf. Ez 13:2–10.
The Two Sisters. 1a The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother.b 3Even as young girls, they were prostitutes, serving as prostitutes in Egypt. There the Egyptians fondled their breasts and caressed their virgin nipples.c 4Oholah was the name of the elder, and the name of her sister was Oholibah.* They became mine and gave birth to sons and daughters.d As for their names: Samaria was Oholah and Jerusalem, Oholibah. 5e Oholah became a prostitute while married to me and lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians: warriors 6dressed in purple, governors and officers, all of them handsome young soldiers, mounted on horses. 7She gave herself as a prostitute to them, to all the Assyrian elite; with all those for whom she lusted, she also defiled herself with their idols. 8She did not abandon the prostitution she had begun with the Egyptians, who had lain with her when she was young, fondling her virgin breasts and pouring out their lust upon her.f 9Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, to the Assyrians for whom she lusted. 10g They exposed her nakedness; her sons and daughters they took away, and her they killed with the sword. She became a byword for women because of the sentence carried out against her.
11Although her sister Oholibah saw all this, her lust was more depraved than her sister’s; she outdid her in prostitution.h 12She too lusted after the Assyrians, governors and officers, warriors impeccably clothed, mounted on horses, all of them handsome young soldiers.i 13I saw that she had defiled herself—now both had gone down the same path. 14She went further in her prostitution: She saw male figures drawn on the wall, images of Chaldeans drawn with vermilion, 15with sashes tied about their waists, flowing turbans on their heads, all looking like chariot warriors, images of Babylonians, natives of Chaldea. 16As soon as she set eyes on them she lusted for them, and she sent messengers to them in Chaldea.j 17The Babylonians came to her, to her love couch; they defiled her with their impurities. But as soon as they had defiled her, she recoiled from them. 18When her prostitution was discovered and her shame revealed, I recoiled from her as I had recoiled from her sister. 19But she increased her prostitution, recalling the days of her youth when she had served as a prostitute in the land of Egypt. 20She lusted for the lechers of Egypt, whose members are like those of donkeys, whose thrusts are like those of stallions.
21You reverted to the depravity of your youth, when Egyptians fondled your breasts, caressing your young nipples. 22Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: I will now stir up your lovers against you, those from whom you recoiled, and I will bring them against you from every side: 23the men of Babylon and all of Chaldea, Pekod, Shoa and Koa,* along with all the Assyrians, handsome young soldiers, all of them governors and officers, charioteers and warriors, all of them horsemen. 24They shall invade you with armor, chariots and wagons, a horde of peoples; they will array against you on every side bucklers and shields and helmets. I will give them the right of judgment, and they will judge you according to their standards.k 25I will direct my jealousy against you, so that they deal with you in fury, cutting off your nose and ears; what is left of you shall fall by the sword. They shall take away your sons and daughters, and what is left of you shall be devoured by fire. 26They shall strip off your clothes and seize your splendid jewelry. 27I will put an end to your depravity and to your prostitution from the land of Egypt; you shall no longer look to them, nor even remember Egypt again.
28For thus says the Lord GOD: I am now handing you over to those whom you hate, to those from whom you recoil. 29They shall treat you with hatred, seizing all that you worked for and leaving you stark naked, so that your indecent nakedness is exposed.l Your depravity and prostitution 30brought these things upon you because you served as a prostitute for the nations, defiling yourself with their idols.m
31Because you followed your sister’s path, I will put her cup into your hand.* n
32Thus says the Lord GOD:o
The cup of your sister you shall drink,
deep and wide;
It brings ridicule and mockery,
it holds so much;
33You will be filled with drunkenness and grief—
A cup of horror and devastation,
the cup of your sister Samaria;
34You shall drink it dry,
its very sherds you will gnaw;
And you shall tear out your breasts;
for I have spoken—oracle of the Lord GOD.
35Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: You have forgotten me and cast me behind your back; now suffer for your depravity and prostitution.
36* Then the LORD said to me: Son of man, would you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then make known to them their abominations.p 37For they committed adultery, and blood covers their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; even the children they bore for me they burnt as food for them. 38And they also did this to me: on that day, they defiled my sanctuary and desecrated my sabbaths. 39On the very day they slaughtered their children for their idols, they entered my sanctuary to desecrate it. Thus they acted within my house!q 40Moreover, they sent for men who had to come from afar; when a messenger was sent to them, they came. On their account you bathed, painted your eyes, and put on jewelry.r 41You sat on a magnificent couch, set before it a table, on which to lay my incense and oil. 42The cries of a mob! The shouts of men coming in from the wilderness! They put bracelets on the women’s arms and splendid crowns on their heads. 43I said: “That worn-out one still has adulteries in her! Now they engage her as a prostitute and she… 44And indeed they did come in to her as men come in to a prostitute. Thus they came to Oholah and Oholibah, the depraved women. 45The righteous shall certainly punish them with sentences given to adulterers and murderers, for they committed adultery, and blood is on their hands.s
46Indeed, thus says the Lord GOD: Raise up an army against them and hand them over to terror and plunder. 47The army will stone them and hack them to pieces with their swords. They will kill their sons and daughters and set fire to their houses. 48Thus I will put an end to depravity in the land, and all women will be warned not to imitate your depravity. 49They shall inflict on you the penalty of your depravity, and you shall pay for your sins of idolatry. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.t
* [23:4] Oholah…Oholibah: symbolic names for Samaria, “her own tent,” and Jerusalem, “my tent is in her.” Cf. Ps 15:1 where “tent” is a synonym for “holy mountain.” The names refer to the temple set up in the Northern Kingdom of Samaria (1 Kgs 12:28–29) and the Jerusalem Temple.
* [23:23] Pekod, Shoa and Koa: nations along the Tigris River, part of “greater Babylonia.”
* [23:31] The cup is a metaphor for divine punishment, the lot of all who rebel against the Lord (cf. Ps 75:9; Jer 25:15–16; 51:7; Is 51:21–23; Lam 4:21; Hb 2:15–16).
* [23:36–49] Unlike vv. 1–35, this short poem juxtaposes the careers of the two sisters and looks to a future punishment. The male lovers of the first poem become the sisters’ executioners, and the guests at the love feast a lynch mob. So corrupt and depraved are the two sisters that their executioners win the esteemed title “righteous,” for they have acted appropriately as agents of the Lord’s judgment.
a. [23:1] cf. Ez 16.
b. [23:2] Jer 3:7.
c. [23:3] Is 1:21.
d. [23:4] Jer 3:6–12.
e. [23:5] Hos 5:3; 8:9.
f. [23:8] cf. Ez 20:5–8.
g. [23:10] cf. Ez 16:37.
h. [23:11] Jer 3:8–11.
i. [23:12] 2 Kgs 16:7–15; 2 Chr 28:16.
j. [23:16] Is 57:8–9.
k. [23:24] Jer 30:5–6.
l. [23:29] Jer 13:27; Mi 1:11.
m. [23:30] Ps 106:37–38.
n. [23:31] Ps 75:8; Ob 16; Mt 20:22; Rev 14:10.
o. [23:32–33] Jer 25:15–16.
p. [23:36] Is 58:1; Mi 3:8.
q. [23:39] 2 Kgs 21:4.
r. [23:40] Jer 27:3.
s. [23:45] Lv 20:10.
t. [23:49] cf. Ez 24:13.
Allegory of the Pot.* 1On the tenth day of the tenth month, in the ninth year,* the word of the LORD came to me:a 2Son of man, write down today’s date this very day, for on this very day the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem. 3b Propose this parable to the rebellious house and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Put the pot on, put it on!
Pour in some water;
4Add to it pieces of meat,
all choice pieces;
With thigh and shoulder,
with choice cuts fill it.
5Choose the pick of the flock,
then pile logs beneath it;
Bring it to a boil,
cook all the pieces in it.c
6Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Woe to the city full of blood!d
A pot containing filth,
whose filth cannot be removed!
Take out its pieces one by one,
for no lot has fallen on their behalf.
7For her blood is still in her midst;
on a bare rock she left it;
She did not pour it on the ground
to be covered with dirt.*
8To arouse wrath, to exact vengeance,
I have left her blood on bare rock
not to be covered.
9Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
Woe to the city full of blood!
I will make the pyre great!
10Pile on the wood, kindle the fire.
Cook the meat, stir the spicy mixture,
char the bones!
11Then set it empty on the coals,
to heat up until its copper glows,
So its impurities melt,
its filth disappears.
12* The toil is exhausting,
but the great filth will not come out—
Filth, even with fire.
13Even in defiling yourself with depravity
I would still have cleansed you,
but you would not have your impurity cleansed.
You will not be cleansed now
until I wreak my fury on you.e
14I, the LORD, have spoken;
it will happen!
I will do it and not hold back!
I will not have pity or relent.
By your conduct and deeds you shall be judged—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel as a Sign for the Exiles. 15The word of the LORD came to me: 16Son of man, with a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.f 17Groan, moan for the dead, but make no public lament; bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, but do not cover your beard or eat the bread of mourners.* 18I spoke to the people in the morning. In the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded.g 19Then the people asked me, “Will you not tell us what all these things you are doing mean for us?” 20I said to them, The word of the LORD came to me: 21Say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, the concern of your soul. The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword.h 22* Then you shall do as I have done, not covering your beards nor eating the bread of mourning. 23i Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet. You shall not mourn or weep, but you shall waste away because of your sins and groan to one another. 24Ezekiel shall be a sign for you: everything he did, you shall do. When it happens, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
End of Ezekiel’s Muteness. 25j As for you, son of man, truly, on the very day I take away from them their strength, their glorious joy, the delight of their eyes, the desire of their soul, the pride of their hearts, their sons and daughters, 26on that day a survivor will come to you so that you may hear it with your own ears.k 27On that day, with the survivor, your mouth shall be opened; you shall speak and be mute* no longer. You shall be a sign to them, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
* [24:1–14] As the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem begins (588 B.C.), Ezekiel uses allegory to depict Jerusalem and its over-confident inhabitants as a pot of meat set on the fire for boiling (vv. 3–5; cf. 11:3) and left there until only burnt bones remain (v. 10). In vv. 6–8, the innocent blood shed by Jerusalem’s inhabitants is the rust that, despite efforts to remove it, coats the interior of the pot filled with meat. Once emptied (v. 8), the rust-encrusted pot is set on hot coals (v. 11), but the rust remains (v. 12). Only the brunt of the Lord’s fury can cleanse Jerusalem of its guilt (vv. 13–14).
* [24:1] The tenth day…the ninth year: January 15, 588 B.C. The same wording appears in 2 Kgs 25:1 (Jer 52:4).
* [24:7] Blood…to be covered with dirt: since blood was sacred to God, it had to be covered with earth (Gn 37:26; Lv 17:13); the blood of innocent victims left uncovered cried out for vengeance; cf. Gn 4:10; Jb 16:18; Is 26:21.
* [24:12] A cryptic line in Hebrew.
* [24:17] The bread of mourners: a post-burial meal that mourners shared to comfort one another; cf. 2 Sm 3:35; Jer 16:7. The other gestures mentioned here were also popular mourning customs. Because Ezekiel does not observe any of the mourning customs mentioned, the people are puzzled and ask him to explain.
* [24:22–24] The fall of the city will be so sudden and final that the exiles will have no time to go into mourning.
* [24:27] Mute: unable to preach anything but the Lord’s judgment against Judah and Jerusalem; cf. 3:27 and note on 33:21–22.
a. [24:1] cf. Ez 8:1.
b. [24:3–6] cf. Ez 11:3–12.
c. [24:5] Jer 52:24–27.
d. [24:6] Na 3:1; Hb 2:12.
e. [24:13] Is 22:14; Jer 6:28–30.
f. [24:16] Jer 16:5–7.
g. [24:18] cf. Ez 12:9.
h. [24:21] Lv 26:31.
i. [24:23–24] Is 20:2–3.
j. [24:25] cf. Ez 3:22–27.
k. [24:26] cf. Ez 33:22.
Against Ammon. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, turn toward the Ammonites and prophesy against them.a 3Say to the Ammonites: Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you jeered at my sanctuary when it was desecrated, at the land of Israel when it was destroyed, and at the house of Judah when they went into exile, 4therefore I am giving you to people from the east* as a possession. They shall set up their encampments among you and pitch their tents in your midst; they shall eat your produce and drink your milk.b 5And I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and all of Ammon into a grazing place for flocks. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
6For thus says the Lord GOD: Because you rejoiced over the land of Israel with scorn in your heart, clapping your hands and stamping your feet, 7therefore, see, I am stretching out my hand against you and giving you up as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the peoples and wipe you out of the lands. I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the LORD.c
Against Moab. 8d Thus says the Lord GOD: Because Moab said, “See! the house of Judah is like all the other nations,” 9therefore, I am exposing the whole flank of Moab* with its cities, the jewels of its land: Beth-jesimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim. 10I will hand it over, along with the Ammonites, to the people from the east that it may not be remembered among the nations. 11I will execute judgment upon Moab that they may know that I am the LORD.e
Against Edom. 12f Thus says the Lord GOD: Because Edom took vengeance on the house of Judah and incurred terrible guilt by taking vengeance on them, 13therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it human being and beast alike. I will turn it into ruins from Teman to Dedan; they shall fall by the sword.g 14I will put my vengeance against Edom into the hands of my people Israel; they will deal with Edom in accord with my furious anger. Thus they shall know my vengeance!—oracle of the Lord GOD.h
Against the Philistines. 15Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the Philistines acted vengefully and exacted vengeance with intentional malice, destroying with undying hostility,i 16therefore thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am stretching out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites* and wipe out the remnant on the seacoast. 17Thus I will execute great acts of vengeance on them, punishing them furiously. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I wreak my vengeance on them.
* [25:1–32:32] These chapters form a body of oracles directed against foreign nations. They follow the prophet’s condemnation of Judah and oracles announcing its destruction. The unit precedes the announcement of Judah’s salvation in chaps. 33–48.
* [25:1–17] Ezekiel condemns four nations for their reactions to Judah’s destruction and exile: Ammon to the east (vv. 2–7); Moab to the southeast (vv. 8–11); Edom to the south (vv. 12–14); Philistia to the west (vv. 15–17). Their hostility was not unprovoked; at one time or another, each one either lost territory to Israel or had been under Israelite control.
* [25:4] People from the east: nomadic tribes from the desert east of Ammon and Moab (cf. Is 11:14; Jer 49:28), often a threat to outlying towns and villages.
* [25:9] The whole flank of Moab: the eastern edge of the Moabite plateau, perhaps lightly fortified because the vast desert to the east provided a natural barrier to invasion.
* [25:16] Cherethites: people from the island of Crete in the Aegean, the Philistines’ point of origin. In Zep 2:5, the terms “Philistines,” “Cherethites,” and “seacoast people” describe the same group of people.
a. [25:2] Jer 49:1–6; Am 1:13–15; Zep 2:8–11.
b. [25:4] Dt 28:33, 51.
c. [25:7] Am 1:14–15.
d. [25:8] Sir 50:26; Is 15–16; Jer 48; Am 2:1–3.
e. [25:11] Am 2:1–3.
f. [25:12] 2 Sm 8:13–14; 2 Chr 28:17; Ob 11–14.
g. [25:13] cf. Ez 35; Is 34:5–17; 63:1–6; Jer 49:7–11.
h. [25:14] cf. Ez 35:11.
i. [25:15] Is 14:29–31; Jer 47:1–7; Am 1:6–8; Zep 2:4–7.
Against the City of Tyre. 1* On the first day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, the word of the LORD came to me:
2* Son of man, because Tyre said of Jerusalem:
“Aha! The gateway of the peoples is smashed!
It has been turned over to me;
I will be enriched by its ruin!”a
3therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
See! I am coming against you, Tyre;
I will churn up against you many nations,
just as the sea churns up its waves.
4They will destroy the walls of Tyre
and tear down its towers;
I will scrape off its debris
and leave it a bare rock.*
5It will become a place for drying nets
in the midst of the sea.
For I have spoken—oracle of the Lord GOD:
she will become plunder for the nations.
6Her daughter cities* on the mainland
will be slaughtered by the sword;
then they shall know that I am the LORD.
7Indeed thus says the Lord GOD:
I am bringing up against Tyre
from the north, Nebuchadnezzar,
King of Babylon, king of kings,
with horses and chariots, with cavalry,
and a mighty horde of troops.b
8Your daughter cities on the mainland
he shall slay with the sword.
He shall build a siege wall around you,
throw up a ramp against you,
and raise his shields about you.
9He shall pound your walls with battering-rams
and break down your towers with his axes.
10From the surging of his horses
he will cover you with dust;
from the noise of warhorses,
wheels and chariots.
Your walls will shake
when he enters your gates,
even as one enters a city that is breached.
11With the hooves of his horses
he will trample all your streets;
Your people he will slay by the sword;
your mighty pillars will collapse.c
12They shall plunder your wealth
and pillage your goods;
They will tear down your walls
and demolish your splendid houses.
Your stones, timbers, and debris
they will cast into the sea.
13I will bring an end to the noise of your songs;
the music of your lyres will be heard no more.
14I will turn you into bare rock,
you will become a place for drying nets.
You shall never be rebuilt,
for I the LORD have spoken—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
15Thus says the Lord GOD to Tyre:
At the sound of your downfall,
at the groaning of the wounded,
When victims are slain within you,
will the islands not quake?
16All the princes of the sea*
will step down from their thrones,
Lay aside their robes,
and strip off their embroidered garments.
Clothed in mourning,
they will sit on the ground
And tremble, horror-struck
and appalled at you.d
17They will raise lament* over you
and say to you:
How you have perished,
gone from the seas,
Once she was mighty on the sea,
she and her inhabitants,
Those who spread their terror
to all who dwelt nearby.e
18On this, the day of your fall,
the islands quake!
The islands in the sea
are terrified at your passing.
19Indeed thus says the Lord GOD:
When I make you a ruined city
like cities no longer inhabited,
When I churn up the deep
and its mighty waters cover you,
20Then I will thrust you down
with those who go down to the pit,*
to those of the bygone age;
I will make you dwell in the netherworld,
in the everlasting ruins,
with those who have gone down to the pit,
So you will never return
or have a place in the land of the living.f
21I will make you a horror,
and you shall be no more;
You shall be sought for,
but never found again—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [26:1] The Hebrew text does not give a number with the month. This translation assumes a scribal error, the omission of the second occurrence of the number eleven.
* [26:2] Tyre is pictured rejoicing over Jerusalem’s fall to Babylon because now the wealth from caravans and other trade will go to Tyrian merchants.
* [26:4–5] A bare rock: the Tyre of Ezekiel’s time was situated on a rocky island just off the Phoenician coast. During the time of Alexander the Great a causeway was built to connect it to the mainland.
* [26:6] Daughter cities: tributary towns and villages on the mainland.
* [26:16] The princes of the sea: the rulers of the islands and coastal cities leagued commercially with Tyre.
* [26:17] Lament: the princes sing a funeral dirge at the burial of the personified Tyre; cf. the similar lamentation over Egypt in 32:3–8.
* [26:20] Those who go down to the pit: the dead, pictured as dwelling in Sheol, a place or cave of darkness. Cf. 32:17–32; Is 14:4–21 for other examples.
a. [26:2] Is 23:1–18; Jl 3:4–5; Am 1:9–10; Zec 9:2–4.
b. [26:7] Jer 27:6; Na 2:3–4.
c. [26:11] Na 3:11.
d. [26:16] cf. Ez 32:10.
e. [26:17] cf. Ez 19:1.
f. [26:20] cf. Ez 31:14; 32:18, 24, 30.
The Ship Tyre. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2You, son of man, raise a lament over Tyre, 3and say to Tyre, who sits at the entrance to the sea, trader to peoples on many coastlands, Thus says the Lord GOD:
Tyre, you said, “I am a ship,
perfect in beauty;a
4In the heart of the sea was your territory;
your builders perfected your beauty.b
5With juniper wood from Senir*
they built all your decks;
A cedar from Lebanon they took
to make you a mast.
6With oaks of Bashan*
they fashioned your oars,
Your bridge, of ivory-inlaid cypress wood
from the coasts of Kittim.
7Fine embroidered linen from Egypt
became your sail;
Your awnings were made of purple and scarlet
from the coasts of Elishah.* c
8Inhabitants of Sidon* and Arvad
were your oarsmen;
Your own sages, Tyre, were on board,
serving as your sailors.d
9The elders and sages of Gebal
were with you to caulk your seams.
Every ship and sailor on the sea
came to you to carry on trade.e
10Persia and Lud and Put
were warriors in your army;
Shield and helmet they hung on you
to enhance your splendor.
11The men of Arvad and Helech*
were on your walls all around
And Gamadites on your towers;
they hung their shields around your walls,
they made your beauty perfect.
12Tarshish traded with you,
so great was your wealth,
Exchanging for your wares
silver, iron, tin, and lead.
13Javan, Tubal, and Meshech
also traded with you,
Exchanging slaves and bronze vessels
for your merchandise.f
14Horses, steeds, and mules from Beth-togarmah
were exchanged for your wares.
15Men of Rhodes trafficked with you;
many coastlands were your agents;
Ivory tusks and ebony wood
they brought back as your payment.
16Edom traded with you for your many wares:
garnets, purple dye, embroidered cloth,
Fine linen, coral, and rubies
they gave you as merchandise.
17Judah and the land of Israel
trafficked with you:
Minnith wheat, grain,* honey, oil, and balmg
they gave you as merchandise.
18Damascus traded with you for your many wares,
so great was your wealth,
exchanging Helbon wine and Zahar wool.
19Javan exchanged wrought iron, cassia, and aromatic cane
from Uzal for your wares.
20Dedan traded with you for riding gear.h
21Arabia and the sheikhs of Kedar were your agents,
dealing in lambs, rams, and goats.i
22The merchants of Sheba and Raamah also traded with you,
exchanging for your wares the very best spices,
all kinds of precious stones, and gold.
23Haran, Canneh, and Eden,
the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad,
24Traded with you, marketing rich garments,
purple cloth, embroidered fabric,
varicolored carpets, and braided cords.
25The ships of Tarshish sailed for you with your goods;
You were full and heavily laden
in the heart of the sea.
26Out into deep waters
your oarsmen brought you;
The east wind shattered you
in the heart of the sea.j
27Your wealth, your goods, your wares,
your sailors, your crew,
The caulkers of your seams,
those who traded for your goods,
All the warriors with you,
the whole crowd with you
Sank into the heart of the sea
on the day of your downfall.k
28At the sound of your sailors’ shouts
the waves shudder,l
29Down from their ships
come all who ply the oars;
Sailors, all the seafaring crew,
stand on the shore.
30They raise their voices over you
and shout their bitter cries;
They pour dust on their heads
and cover themselves with ashes.
31For you they shave their heads bald
and put on sackcloth;
For you they weep bitterly,
in anguished lament.m
32They raise a lament for you;
they wail over you:
“Who was ever destroyed like Tyre
in the midst of the sea?”n
33By exporting your goods by sea
you satisfied many peoples,
With your great wealth and merchandise
you enriched the kings of the earth.o
34Now you are wrecked in the sea,
in the watery depths;
Your wares and all your crew
have fallen down with you.
35All who dwell on the coastlands
are aghast over you;
Their kings are terrified,
their faces distorted.
36The traders among the peoples
now hiss at you;
You have become a horror,
you shall be no more.
* [27:5] Senir: another name for Mount Hermon; cf. Dt 3:9.
* [27:6] Bashan: an area in northern Transjordan, noted for its lush growth and great forests (cf. Is 2:13). Kittim: here, probably Cyprus.
* [27:7] Elishah: perhaps another term for Cyprus.
* [27:8–9] Sidon…Gebal: Phoenician cities in Tyre’s orbit of influence; Gebal is classical Byblos.
* [27:11] Helech: perhaps in Asia Minor; otherwise unknown.
* [27:17] Grain: most commentators have read “figs,” but Hebrew panag more properly describes milled grains or prepared meal.
a. [27:3] Is 23:9.
b. [27:4] cf. Ez 28:1.
c. [27:7] Is 19:9–10.
d. [27:8] cf. Ez 28:20–23.
e. [27:9] Ps 104:26.
f. [27:13] cf. Ez 38:2; 39:1.
g. [27:17] 1 Kgs 5:9.
h. [27:20] Is 21:13.
i. [27:21] Is 21:17; Jer 49:28.
j. [27:26] Ps 48:7; Jer 18:17.
k. [27:27] cf. Ez 28:8.
l. [27:28] Jer 49:21.
m. [27:31] Is 15:2; Jer 48:37.
n. [27:32] Is 23:1–6.
o. [27:33] cf. Ez 28:4–5.
The Prince of Tyre. 1* The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, “I am a god!
I sit on a god’s throne
in the heart of the sea!”
But you are a man, not a god;
yet you pretend
you are a god at heart!
3Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel,*
nothing secret is too obscure for you!a
4By your wisdom and intelligence
you made yourself rich,
filling your treasuries with gold and silver.
5Through your great wisdom in trading
you heaped up riches for yourself—
your heart is haughty because of your riches.
6Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you pretend you are a god at heart,
7Therefore, I will bring against you
strangers, the most bloodthirsty of nations.
They shall draw their swords
against your splendid wisdom,
and violate your radiance.b
8They shall thrust you down into the pit:
you shall die a violent death
in the heart of the sea.
9Then, face to face with your killers,
will you still say, “I am a god”?
No, you are a man, not a god,
handed over to those who slay you.
10You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
handed over to strangers,
for I have spoken—oracle of the Lord GOD.c
11The word of the LORD came to me: 12Son of man, raise a lament over the king of Tyre, and say to him: Thus says the Lord GOD:
* You were a seal of perfection,
full of wisdom, perfect in beauty.d
13In Eden, the garden of God, you lived;
precious stones of every kind were your covering:
Carnelian, topaz, and beryl,
chrysolite, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, garnet, and emerald.
Their mounts and settings
were wrought in gold,
fashioned for you the day you were created.e
14With a cherub I placed you;
I put you on the holy mountain of God,*
where you walked among fiery stones.
15Blameless were you in your ways
from the day you were created,
Until evil was found in you.
16Your commerce was full of lawlessness, and you sinned.
Therefore I banished you from the mountain of God;
the cherub drove you out
from among the fiery stones.f
17Your heart had grown haughty
because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground,
I made you a spectacle
in the sight of kings.g
18Because of the enormity of your guilt,
and the perversity of your trade,
you defiled your sanctuary.
I brought fire out of you;
it devoured you;
I made you ashes on the ground
in the eyes of all who see you.h
19All the nations who knew you
are appalled on account of you;
You have become a horror,
never to be again.i
Against Sidon. 20The word of the LORD came to me: 21Son of man, turn your face toward Sidon and prophesy against it. 22Thus says the Lord GOD:
Watch out! I am against you, Sidon;
I will win glory for myself in your midst.
They shall know that I am the LORD,
when I deliver judgment upon it
and manifest my holiness in it.
23I will send disease into it;
blood will fill its streets,
Within it shall fall
those slain by the sword
raised against it on every side.
Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
24No longer will there be a thorn that tears
or a brier that scratches for the house of Israel
From the surrounding neighbors
who despise them;
thus they shall know that I am the LORD.j
25Thus says the Lord GOD: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and I manifest my holiness through them in the sight of the nations, then they shall live on the land I gave my servant Jacob.k 26They shall dwell on it securely, building houses and planting vineyards. They shall dwell securely while I execute judgment on all their neighbors who treated them with contempt; then they shall know that I, the LORD, am their God.l
* [28:1–10] Ezekiel mocks the arrogance of Tyre’s leader, who mistakes the city’s commercial success for evidence of his divinity. At the hands of a foreign army, commissioned by the only God worthy of the name, this leader dies a humiliating, unceremonious death.
* [28:3] Wiser than Daniel: see note on 14:14.
* [28:12–19] Ezekiel describes the leader of Tyre in language that recalls the imagery of Gn 2–3.
* [28:14] The holy mountain of God: the residence of gods in Israelite and non-Israelite myth; cf. Is 14:13. Fiery stones: associated with the divine presence; cf. Ez 1:13; Ps 18:13.
a. [28:3] cf. Ez 14:14; Dn 1:20; 2:20–23.
b. [28:7] cf. Ez 30:11; 31:12; 32:12.
c. [28:10] cf. Ez 32:19, 24.
d. [28:12] Is 14:12–15.
e. [28:13] cf. Ez 31:8–9; Gn 2:8, 15.
f. [28:16] Gn 3:24.
g. [28:17] Is 10:12.
h. [28:18] Ob 18.
i. [28:19] Lv 26:12.
j. [28:24] Nm 33:55.
k. [28:25] cf. Ez 20:41.
l. [28:26] Lv 25:18–19; Jer 23:6.
Egypt the Crocodile. 1In the tenth year, on the twelfth day of the tenth month,* the word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, turn your face toward Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt.* a 3Say to him: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Pay attention! I am against you,
Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
Great dragon* crouching
in the midst of the Nile,
Who says, “The Nile belongs to me;
I made it myself!”b
4* I will put hooks in your jaws
and make all the fish of your Nile
Cling to your scales;
I will drag you up from your Nile,
With all the fish of your Nile
clinging to your scales.c
5I will hurl you into the wilderness,
you and all the fish of your Nile.
You will fall into an open field,
you will not be picked up or gathered together.
To the beasts of the earth
and the birds of the sky
I give you as food.d
6e Then all the inhabitants of Egypt
will know that I am the LORD.
Because you were a staff of reeds*
for the house of Israel:
7When they took hold of you, you would splinter,
throwing shoulders out of joint.
When they leaned on you, you would break,
pitching them down headlong.
8Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Look! I am bringing the sword against you
to cut off from you people and animals.
9The land of Egypt shall become a desolate waste;
then they shall know that I am the LORD.
Because you said, “The Nile belongs to me;
I made it!”
10Beware! I am against you
and against your Nile.
I will turn the land of Egypt into ruins,
into a dry, desolate waste,
From Migdol to Syene,*
up to the border of Ethiopia.f
11No foot shall pass through it,
no human being or beast cross it;
it will remain uninhabited for forty years.
12I will make the land of Egypt the most desolate
among desolate lands;
Its cities, the most deserted
among deserted cities for forty years;
I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations
and disperse them throughout other lands.g
13But thus says the Lord GOD:
At the end of forty years
I will gather the Egyptians
from among the peoples
where they are scattered;
14I will restore Egypt’s fortunes,
bringing them back to the land of Pathros,*
the land of their origin.
But there it will be a lowly kingdom,
15lower than any other kingdom,
no longer able to set itself above the nations.
I will make them few in number,
so they cannot rule other nations.
16No longer shall they be security
for the house of Israel,
But a reminder of its iniquity
in turning away to follow them.
Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.h
Wages for Nebuchadnezzar. 17In the twenty-seventh year on the first day of the first month,* the word of the LORD came to me: 18Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has made his army wage a hard campaign against Tyre;* their heads grew bald, their shoulders rubbed raw, yet neither he nor his army received compensation from Tyre for all the effort they expended against it.i 19Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:j See! I am giving to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the land of Egypt! He will carry off its wealth, plundering and pillaging whatever he can find to provide pay for his army. 20As payment for his toil I give him the land of Egypt—oracle of the Lord GOD.
21On that day I will make a horn* sprout for the house of Israel, and I will let you again open your mouth in their midst; then they shall know that I am the LORD.k
* [29:1] The date is calculated to be January 7, 587 B.C. The siege of Jerusalem had begun a year earlier; cf. 24:1.
* [29:2] Egypt was allied with Judah against the Babylonians.
* [29:3] Dragon: Hebrew reads tannim, usually translated “jackals,” here a byform of tannin, the mythical dragon, or sea monster, representing chaos (cf. Is 27:1; 51:9; Jer 51:34; Ps 91:13; Jb 7:12), and the crocodile native to the Nile. Nile: the many rivulets of the Nile that branch out into the Delta.
* [29:4–5] Ezekiel’s repetition of detail creates a vivid picture of Egypt’s destruction: God hauls the crocodile (Pharaoh) and the fish clinging to it for protection (the Egyptian populace) out of the Nile and lands them in an open field, where their corpses are torn apart by wildlife rather than being properly buried (cf. Dt 28:26; 2 Kgs 9:36–37; Jer 34:20; Ez 39:17–20).
* [29:6] Staff of reeds: Pharaoh is like a reed that looks sturdy but breaks under pressure. For a similar image, cf. 2 Kgs 18:21 (Is 36:6).
* [29:10] From Migdol to Syene: from the northeastern to the southern limits of Egypt. Syene is the modern Aswan, at the first cataract of the Nile; Ethiopia (Heb. kush) is the territory south of Aswan.
* [29:14] Pathros: an Egyptian word for upper, i.e., southern, Egypt, above Memphis/Thebes. As silt filled the Delta region and richer land became available there, the population spread north, creating the tradition of a migration from the south (Is 11:11; Jer 44:1, 15).
* [29:17] In the twenty-seventh year on the first day of the first month: April 26, 571 B.C. This is the latest date attached to any of Ezekiel’s prophecies.
* [29:18–19] Nebuchadnezzar’s thirteen-year siege (587–574 B.C.) ended with Tyre’s surrender on the condition that the Babylonian army would not loot and pillage (pace 26:3–14). According to Ezekiel, Nebuchadnezzar and his army should collect their wages for serving as God’s instrument in Tyre’s punishment, by plundering and controlling Egypt.
* [29:21] A horn: God will give Israel renewed strength. For horn as a symbol of strength, cf. Dt 33:17; Ps 92:11; 132:17. Ezekiel suggests that the Babylonian conquest of Egypt precedes Israel’s restoration, an event he expects to witness and acknowledge when God removes his muteness.
a. [29:2] Is 19:1–17; Jer 25:19.
b. [29:3] cf. Ez 32:2.
c. [29:4] Is 19:5.
d. [29:5] Jer 7:33.
e. [29:6–7] 2 Kgs 18:21; Is 36:6.
f. [29:10] cf. Ez 30:4, 6.
g. [29:12] Jer 46:19.
h. [29:16] Ps 40:5; Is 20:5.
i. [29:18] Is 26:7–14.
j. [29:19] Is 19:4.
k. [29:21] Ps 132:17; Lk 1:69.
The Day of the Lord Against Egypt. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Wail: “Alas the day!”
3Yes, a day approaches,
a day of the Lord approaches:
A day of dark cloud,
a time appointed for the nations.a
4A sword will come against Egypt,
there will be anguish in Ethiopia,
When the slain fall in Egypt
when its hordes are seized,
its foundations razed.b
5Ethiopia, Put, and Lud,
all the mixed rabble* and Kub,
and the people of allied lands
shall fall by the sword with them.
6Thus says the LORD:
The pillars of Egypt shall fall,
and its proud strength sink;
From Migdol to Syene,
its people will fall by the sword—
oracle of the Lord GOD.c
7It shall be the most desolate
among desolate lands,
Its cities the most ruined
among ruined cities.
8They shall know that I am the LORD,
when I set fire to Egypt,
and all its allies are shattered.d
9On that day, messengers from me
will go forth in ships
to terrorize confident Ethiopia.
Anguish will be among them
on Egypt’s day—it is certainly coming!*
10Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will put an end to Egypt’s hordes
by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon:
11He and his army with him,
the most ruthless of nations,
will be brought in to devastate the land.
They will draw their swords against Egypt
and fill the land with the slain.
12Then I will dry up the streams of the Nile,
and sell the land into evil hands;
By the hand of foreigners I will devastate
the land and everything in it.
I, the LORD, have spoken.e
13* Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will destroy idols,
and put an end to images in Memphis.
There will never again be a prince
over the land of Egypt.
Instead, I will spread fear
throughout the land of Egypt.f
14I will devastate Pathros,
set fire to Zoan,
and execute judgment against Thebes.g
15I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium,
the fortress of Egypt,
and cut off the troops of Thebes.
16I will set fire to Egypt;
Pelusium will writhe in anguish,
Thebes will be breached,
and Memphis besieged in daylight.
17The warriors of On and Pi-beseth
will fall by the sword,
the cities taken captive.
18In Tahpanhes, the day will turn dark
when I break the scepter of Egypt there
and put an end to its proud strength.
Dark clouds will cover it,
and its women will go into captivity.h
19I will execute judgment against Egypt
that they may know that I am the LORD.
Pharaoh’s Broken Arm. 20On the seventh day of the first month in the eleventh year,* the word of the LORD came to me: 21* Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. See! It has not been immobilized for healing, nor set with a splint to make it strong enough to grasp a sword.i 22Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am coming against Pharaoh, king of Egypt. I will break both his arms, the strong one and the broken one, making the sword fall from his hand. 23I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout other lands. 24I will, however, strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand so he can bring it against Egypt for plunder and pillage.j 25When I strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh collapse, they shall know that I am the LORD, because I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon to wield against the land of Egypt. 26When I scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout other lands, they shall know that I am the LORD.
* [30:5] Mixed rabble: mercenaries.
* [30:9] God spreads panic throughout Ethiopia, ancient Cush, by sending messengers with news of Egypt’s fall. Rivers at its borders insulated Ethiopia and made it inaccessible except by boat.
* [30:13–19] The prophet enumerates a list of major Egyptian cities that shall each bear the judgment proclaimed in the previous oracle, vv. 1–12.
* [30:20] The seventh day of the first month in the eleventh year: April 29, 587 B.C.
* [30:21–26] This oracle was delivered more than a year into the siege of Jerusalem (24:1). When Pharaoh Hophra came to help Jerusalem, the Babylonians temporarily lifted the siege; cf. Jer 34:21; 37:6–7. In Ezekiel’s eyes, Hophra was interfering with the punishment God intended the Babylonians to inflict on Judah. The Babylonians routed the Egyptians, who could not offer Jerusalem any more help; cf. chap. 31.
a. [30:3] cf. Ez 7:7; Is 13:6.
b. [30:4] Jer 25:19–20.
c. [30:6] cf. Ez 29:10.
d. [30:8] Jer 49:27.
e. [30:12] Is 19:6.
f. [30:13] Is 19:13.
g. [30:14] Is 19:11, 13; Jer 46:25.
h. [30:18] Jer 43:4–7.
i. [30:21] Jer 37:10; 44:30; 48:25.
j. [30:24] cf. Ez 21:14.
Allegory of the Cedar. 1On the first day of the third month in the eleventh year,* the word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, say to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to his hordes: In your greatness, whom do you resemble?
3Assyria! It is Assyria!*
A cedar of Lebanon—
its crown in the clouds!a
4The waters made it grow,
the deep made it tall,
Letting its currents flow
around the place it was planted,
Then sending its channels
to all the other trees of the field.b
5Thereupon it towered in height
above all the trees in the field;
Its branches were numerous
and its boughs long,
Because of the many waters
sent to its shoots.
6In its branches nested
all the birds of the sky;
Under its boughs all the wild animals
And in its shade* dwelt
all the mighty nations.c
7It was magnificent in size
and in the length of its branches,
For its roots reached down
to the many waters.
8In the garden of God,
no cedars could rival it,
No juniper could equal its branches,
no plane tree match its boughs.
No tree in the garden of God
could match its beauty.d
9I made it beautiful
with abundant foliage,
So that all the trees in Eden
were envious of it.*
10Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
Because it was arrogant about its height,
lifting its crown among the clouds
and exalting itself because of its size,e
11I handed it over to a ruler of nations
to deal with it according to its evil.
I have cast it off,
12and foreigners have cut it down,
The most ruthless nations,
have hurled it on the mountains.
Its boughs fell into every valley
and its branches lay broken
in every ravine in the land.
All the peoples of the earth
departed from its shade
when it was hurled down.f
13On its fallen trunk
sit all the birds of the sky;
Beside its fallen branches,
are found all the beasts of the field.
14This has happened so no well-watered tree
will gain such lofty height,
or lift its crown to the clouds.
Not one of those fed by water
will tower in height over the rest.
For all of them are destined for death,
for the underworld, among mere mortals,
with those who go down to the pit.
15Thus says the Lord GOD:
On the day it went down to Sheol,
I made the deep close up
in mourning for it.
I restrained the currents of the deep,
and held back the many waters.
I darkened Lebanon because of it,
and all the trees of the field
languished because of it.
16At the sound of its fall,
I made nations shudder,
When I cast it down to Sheol
with those who go down to the pit.
In the underworld
all the trees of Eden took comfort:
Lebanon’s choicest and best,
all that were fed by the waters.g
17They too will go down to Sheol,
to those slain by the sword,
Its allies* who dwelt
in its shade among the nations.
18To whom among the trees of Eden
do you compare in glory and greatness?
You will be brought down
with the trees of Eden to the underworld,
And lie among the uncircumcised,
with those slain by the sword.
Such is Pharaoh and all his hordes—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [31:1] The first day of the third month in the eleventh year: June 21, 587 B.C.
* [31:3] Assyria: this translates te’ashshur, which some interpret as “cypress tree.” The oracle, however, compares the fate of Pharaoh to the terrible demise of Assyria because of its arrogant pride (cf. Na 1–3). Ezekiel may have drawn on an ancient myth of a cosmic tree of life to emphasize the greatness of Egypt’s fall.
* [31:6] Shade: a metaphor for protection (cf. Lam 4:20).
* [31:9] Here Israel’s God is responsible for Assyria’s splendor, whereas in Is 10:13 Assyria claims to have created its own might.
* [31:17] Allies: lit., “arm.”
a. [31:3] Ps 92:12; Jer 50:18.
b. [31:4] Dn 4:10.
c. [31:6] Dn 4:12; cf. Mt 13:32.
d. [31:8] Ps 80:10.
e. [31:10] Is 2:11.
f. [31:12] Dn 4:14.
g. [31:16] Is 14:8, 15.
Lament over Pharaoh. 1On the first day of the twelfth month in the twelfth year,* the word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, utter a lament over Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and say to him:
You liken yourself to a lion among nations,
but you are like the monster in the sea!
Thrashing about in your streams,
churning the water with your feet,
polluting the streams.a
3Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will cast my net over you
by assembling many armies,
and I will hoist you up in my mesh.
4I will hurl you onto the land,
cast you into an open field.
I will make all the birds of the sky
roost upon you,
The beasts of the whole earth
gorge themselves on you.
5I will strew your flesh on the mountains,
and fill the valleys with your corpse.b
6I will drench the land,
pouring out your blood on the mountain;
filling up the ravines with you.
7When I extinguish you,
I will cover the heavens
and darken all its stars.
The sun I will cover with clouds;
the moon will not give light.c
8All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you;
I will spread darkness over your land—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
9I will trouble the hearts
of many peoples,
When I bring you captive
among the nations,
to lands you do not know.
10I will fill many nations with horror;
their kings will shudder at you,
when I brandish my sword in their faces.
They will tremble violently
fearing for their lives on the day of your fall.d
11For thus says the Lord GOD:
The sword of the king of Babylon
will come against you.
12I will cut down your hordes
with the swords of warriors,
all of them, ruthless nations;
They will lay waste the glory of Egypt,
and all its hordes will be destroyed.
13I will wipe out all the livestock
from the banks of its many waters;
No human foot will disturb them again,
no animal hoof stir them up.
14Then I will make their waters clear
and their streams flow like oil—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
15When I make Egypt a wasteland
and the land destitute of everything,
When I strike down all its inhabitants
they shall know that I am the LORD.
16This is the lamentation
women of all nations will chant;
They will raise it over Egypt;
over all its hordes they will chant it—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
Another Lament over Egypt. 17* On the fifteenth day of that month in the twelfth year, the word of the LORD came to me:
18Son of man, wail over the hordes of Egypt—
you and the women of mighty nations—
Send them down to the underworld,
with those who go down into the pit.
19Whom do you excel in beauty? Go down!
Be laid to rest with the uncircumcised!
20Among those slain by the sword they will fall,
for the sword has been appointed!
Seize Egypt and all its hordes.e
21Out of Sheol the mighty warriors
will speak to him and his allies:
Let them descend and lie down among the uncircumcised,
those slain by the sword!f
22There is Assyria and all its company,
around it are its graves,
all of them slain, fallen by the sword.
23The graves are set
in the recesses of the pit;
Its company is assembled
around its grave,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword,
those who spread terror in the land of the living.g
24There is Elam and all its horde
around its grave,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword;
they descended uncircumcised
into the underworld,
Those who spread their terror
in the land of the living.
They bear their disgrace
with those who go down into the pit.
25Among the slain is set its bed,
with all its horde around its grave;
All of them uncircumcised,
slain by the sword
Because of the terror they spread
in the land of the living.
They bear their disgrace
with those who go down into the pit.
Among the slain it is set!
26There is Meshech and Tubal* and all the hordes
surrounding it with their graves.
All of them uncircumcised,
slain by the sword
Because they spread their terror
in the land of the living.h
27They do not rest with the warriors
who fell in ancient times,
who went down to Sheol fully armed.
Their swords were placed under their heads
and their shields laid over their bones;
For there was terror of these warriors
in the land of the living.
28But as for you, among the uncircumcised
you will be broken and laid to rest
with those slain by the sword.
29There is Edom, all its kings and princes,
who, despite their might,
are put with those slain by the sword.
They lie among the uncircumcised,
with those who go down into the pit.i
30There are the generals of the north
and all the Sidonians
Who have gone down with the slain,
because of the terror their might inspired.
They lie uncircumcised
with those slain by the sword,
And bear their shame with those
who have gone down into the pit.j
31When Pharaoh sees them,
he will be consoled on behalf of all his hordes,
slain by the sword—
Pharaoh and all his army—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
32I spread terror of him
in the land of the living;
Now he is laid among the uncircumcised,
with those slain by the sword—
Pharaoh and all his horde—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [32:1] The first day of the twelfth month in the twelfth year: March 3, 585 B.C.
* [32:17–32] The description of Pharaoh in Sheol shifts rapidly between the single individual and the collective body, between corpses speaking and corpses lying inert, between singular (his, hers, its) and plural (them, theirs) pronouns to emphasize that all the enemies of Israel come to the same end.
* [32:26] Meshech and Tubal: see note on 38:2.
a. [32:2] cf. Ez 19:1; 20:3.
b. [32:5] Is 34:3.
c. [32:7] Is 3:10.
d. [32:10] Rev 18:9–10; 32:12; cf. Ez 31:11–12.
e. [32:20] cf. Ez 31:17–18.
f. [32:21] Is 14:9.
g. [32:23] Is 14:15.
h. [32:26] cf. Ez 27:13.
i. [32:29] Is 34:5–15.
j. [32:30] Jer 25:26.
The Prophet as Sentinel. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, speak to your people and tell them: When I bring the sword against a land, if the people of that land select one of their number as a sentinel* for them,a 3and the sentinel sees the sword coming against the land, he should blow the trumpet to warn the people.b 4If they hear the trumpet but do not take the warning and a sword attacks and kills them, their blood will be on their own heads.c 5They heard the trumpet blast but ignored the warning; their blood is on them. If they had heeded the warning, they could have escaped with their lives. 6If, however, the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the sword attacks and takes someone’s life, his life will be taken for his own sin, but I will hold the sentinel responsible for his blood.
7d You, son of man—I have appointed you as a sentinel for the house of Israel; when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them for me. 8When I say to the wicked, “You wicked, you must die,” and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 9If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.
Individual Retribution. 10As for you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel: You people say, “Our crimes and our sins weigh us down; we are rotting away because of them. How can we survive?”e 11f Answer them: As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?
12As for you, son of man, say to your people: The justice of the just will not save them on the day they sin; the wickedness of the wicked will not bring about their downfall on the day they turn from their wickedness. No, the just cannot save their lives on the day they sin.g 13Even though I say to the just that they shall surely live, if they, relying on their justice, do wrong, none of their just deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong they have done, they shall die.h 14And though I say to the wicked that they shall die, if they turn away from sin and do what is just and right— 15returning pledges, restoring stolen goods, walking by statutes that bring life, doing nothing wrong—they shall surely live; they shall not die.i 16None of the sins they committed shall be remembered against them. If they do what is right and just, they shall surely live.
17Your people say, “The way of the LORD is not fair!” But it is their way that is not fair. 18When the just turn away from justice and do wrong, they shall die for it.j 19When the wicked turn away from wickedness and do what is right and just, because of this they shall live. 20But still you say, “The way of the LORD is not fair!” I will judge each of you according to your ways, house of Israel.
The Survivor from Jerusalem. 21On the fifth day of the tenth month,* in the twelfth year of our exile, the survivor came to me from Jerusalem and said, “The city is taken!”k 22The hand of the LORD had come upon me the evening before the survivor arrived and opened my mouth when he reached me in the morning. My mouth was opened, and I was mute no longer.l
Those Left in Judah.* 23The word of the LORD came to me: 24Son of man, these who live among the ruins in the land of Israel are saying: “Abraham was only one person, yet he was given possession of the land. Since we are many, the land must be given to us as our possession.”m 25Therefore say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: You eat on the mountains, you raise your eyes to your idols, you shed blood—yet you would keep possession of the land?n 26You rely on your swords, you commit abominations, each defiles his neighbor’s wife—yet you would keep possession of the land? 27Say this to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, those among the ruins shall fall by the sword; those in the open field I have made food for the wild beasts; and those in rocky hideouts and caves shall die by the plague. 28I will make the land a desolate waste, so that its proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will cross them. 29Thus they shall know that I am the LORD, when I make the land a desolate waste because of all the abominations they committed.
Popular Misunderstanding. 30As for you, son of man, your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doorways of houses. They say to one another, “Let’s go hear the latest word that comes from the LORD.” 31My people come to you, gathering as a crowd and sitting in front of you to hear your words, but they will not act on them. Love songs are on their lips, but in their hearts they pursue dishonest gain.o 32For them you are only a singer* of love songs, with a pleasant voice and a clever touch. They listen to your words, but they do not obey them. 33But when it comes—and it is surely coming!—they shall know that there was a prophet among them.
* [33:2] Sentinel: the theme of the sentinel’s duty initiates a new commission to announce salvation (chaps. 33–48), just as the same command (3:17–21) opened Ezekiel’s ministry to announce judgment (chaps. 3–24).
* [33:21–22] The fifth day of the tenth month: January 8, 585 B.C. According to Jeremiah (39:2), Jerusalem was taken in July, 587. Some manuscripts read “eleventh” for “twelfth” year (January, 586); even so, there was ample time between the fall of Jerusalem and the arrival of the survivor from that city to journey to Babylon. However, this is the survivor sent to fulfill the promise of Ez 24:25–27, the eyewitness whose arrival would release Ezekiel from his muteness; cf. 3:26–27.
* [33:23–29] News brought by the survivor furnished the occasion for this prophecy. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel rejects the idea that those left in Judah have any claim to the land. The new Israel is to be formed from the exiles.
* [33:32] Singer: perhaps the term indicates an entertainer whom one enjoys and then forgets.
a. [33:2] Lv 26:25.
b. [33:3] Hos 5:8; 8:1.
c. [33:4] Lv 20:9; Jer 6:17.
d. [33:7] Jer 1:17.
e. [33:10] Lv 26:16, 39.
f. [33:11] Jer 44:7–8; cf. Ez 18:23.
g. [33:12] cf. Ez 3:20.
h. [33:13] Heb 10:38.
i. [33:15] Ex 22:1–4, 26.
j. [33:18] Jer 18:7–10.
k. [33:21] 2 Kgs 25:4, 10; Is 39:1–2.
l. [33:22] cf. Ez 3:26–27.
m. [33:24] Is 51:2.
n. [33:25] Gn 9:4; Jer 7:9–10.
o. [33:31] cf. Ez 8:1; Mt 13:22.
Parable of the Shepherds. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds* of Israel. Prophesy and say to them: To the shepherds, thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!a Should not shepherds pasture the flock? 3You consumed milk, wore wool, and slaughtered fatlings, but the flock you did not pasture.b 4You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the stray or seek the lost but ruled them harshly and brutally.c 5So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. They were scatteredd 6and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; over the entire surface of the earth my sheep were scattered. No one looked after them or searched for them.
7Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—because my sheep became plunder, because my sheep became food for wild beasts, for lack of a shepherd, because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep,e 9therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10Thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I am coming against these shepherds. I will take my sheep out of their hand and put a stop to their shepherding my flock, so that these shepherds will no longer pasture them. I will deliver my flock from their mouths so it will not become their food.f
11For thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I myself will search for my sheep and examine them. 12As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep. I will deliver them from every place where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds.g 13I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the lands; I will bring them back to their own country and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and every inhabited place in the land.h 14In good pastures I will pasture them; on the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down on good grazing ground; in rich pastures they will be pastured on the mountains of Israel.i 15I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord GOD. 16The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal; but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them in judgment.
Separation of the Sheep. 17As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.j 18Was it not enough for you to graze on the best pasture, that you had to trample the rest of your pastures with your hooves? Or to drink the clearest water, that you had to pollute the rest with your hooves? 19Thus my flock had to graze on what your hooves had trampled and drink what your hooves had polluted. 20Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will judge between the fat and the lean. 21Because you push with flank and shoulder, and butt all the weak sheep with your horns until you drive them off, 22I will save my flock so they can no longer be plundered; I will judge between one sheep and another. 23k I will appoint one shepherd* over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd. 24I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince in their midst. I, the LORD, have spoken.l
25I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the country of wild beasts so they will dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forests.m 26I will settle them around my hill and send rain in its season, the blessing of abundant rain. 27The trees of the field shall bear their fruits, and the land its crops, and they shall dwell securely on their own soil. They shall know that I am the LORD when I break the bars of their yoke and deliver them from the power of those who enslaved them.n 28They shall no longer be plundered by the nations nor will wild beasts devour them, but they shall dwell securely, with no one to frighten them.o 29I will prepare for them peaceful fields for planting so they are never again swept away by famine in the land or bear taunts from the nations. 30Thus they shall know that I, the LORD, their God, am with them, and that they are my people, the house of Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD.p 31Yes, you are my flock: you people are the flock of my pasture, and I am your God—oracle of the Lord GOD.q
* [34:2] Shepherds: the leaders of the people. A frequent title for kings and deities in the ancient Near East; the ideal ruler took care of his subjects and anticipated their needs. Ezekiel’s oracle broadens the reference to include the whole class of Jerusalem’s leaders (v. 17). The prophet assures his audience, the exiles in Babylon, that God holds these leaders responsible for what has happened to Jerusalem and will give Israel a new shepherd worthy of the title.
* [34:23] One shepherd: a future king to rule over a unified, restored Israel, in the image of the idealized David present in the Book of Kings (cf., e.g., 1 Kgs 3:3; 11:38; 2 Kgs 14:3; 22:2). My servant David: a common characterization of David; e.g., 1 Kgs 11:34, 36, 38; 2 Kgs 8:19; Ps 36:1; 78:70. See Ez 37:25.
a. [34:2] Ps 78:70–72; Jn 10:11.
b. [34:3] Is 56:11.
c. [34:4] Ex 1:13; Zec 11:15–17; Mt 18:12–14.
d. [34:5] cf. Mk 6:34.
e. [34:8] Jude 12.
f. [34:10] Ps 72:14.
g. [34:12] Is 40:11; Lk 19:10.
h. [34:13] cf. Ez 36:24, 29–30.
i. [34:14] Ps 23:2; Is 40:11.
j. [34:17] Mt 25:32–33.
k. [34:23] Ps 89:4, 20; Jer 23:5–6.
l. [34:24] cf. Ez 36:28; Ps 89:49; Jn 10:16.
m. [34:25] Is 11:6–9.
n. [34:27] Lv 26:13; Ps 72:16; Jer 28:10–13.
o. [34:28] Jer 30:10.
p. [34:30] Ex 6:7.
q. [34:31] Ps 28:9.
Against Edom.* 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir and prophesy against it. 3Say to it: Thus says the Lord GOD: Watch out! I am against you, Mount Seir. I will stretch out my hand against you and turn you into a desolate waste.a 4Your cities I will turn into ruins, and you shall be a desolation; then you shall know that I am the LORD.b
5Because you nursed a long-standing hatred and handed the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their collapse, at the time of their final punishment,* c 6therefore, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—you are guilty of blood, and blood, I swear, shall pursue you. 7I will make Mount Seir a desolate waste and cut off from it anyone who travels across it and back.d 8I will fill its mountains with the slain; those slain by the sword shall fall on your hills, into your valleys and all your ravines.
9I will make you a desolation forever,
your cities will not be inhabited,
and you shall know that I am the LORD.e
10Because you said: The two nations and the two lands* belong to me; let us take possession of them—although the LORD was there— 11therefore, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I will deal with you according to the anger and envy you dealt out to them in your hatred, and I will make myself known to them when I execute judgment on you,f 12then you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have heard all the insults you spoke against the mountains of Israel, saying: They are desolate; they have been given to us to devour. 13You boasted against me with your mouths and used insolent words against me. I heard everything! 14Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you rejoiced that the whole land was desolate, so I will do to you. 15As you rejoiced over the devastation of the heritage of the house of Israel, the same I will do to you: you will become a ruin, Mount Seir, and the whole of Edom, all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD.g
* [35:1–15] After the fall of Jerusalem, Edom assisted the Babylonians in devastating the land and subduing the population in order to occupy part of Judah’s former territory. For this reason these oracles against Edom are found in the context of the city’s fall.
* [35:5] Final punishment: throughout this oracle the prophet echoes the threat against the mountains of Israel found in chaps. 6–7.
* [35:10] The two nations and the two lands: by presenting Edom’s excursion into the southern territory of Judah as its claim to both kingdoms, Ezekiel exaggerates Edom’s greed and arrogance. LORD was there: Edom’s betrayal of Judah becomes an attack on Judah’s God, the land’s sovereign. In 11:15 and 33:24, Ezekiel condemns Judahites who annex land that does not belong to them. Now the exiles in Babylon learn that even though God had left Jerusalem (chap. 11), he witnesses Edom’s insolence and pronounces judgment against it. Cf. 48:35, “The Lord is there!”
a. [35:3] cf. Ez 25:12–14.
b. [35:4] Ob 13.
c. [35:5] Ob 11–15.
d. [35:7] Jer 46:19.
e. [35:9] Is 34:5–6; Ob 10.
f. [35:11] Ob 15.
g. [35:15] Is 34:11; Ob 12.
Regeneration of the Land. 1As for you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say: Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD! 2Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the enemy said about you, “Ha! the ancient heights have become our possession,” 3therefore prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord GOD: because you have been ridiculed and hounded on all sides for becoming a possession for the remaining nations and have become a byword and a popular jeer,a 4therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and abandoned cities, plundered and mocked by the nations remaining around you:b 5therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Truly, with burning jealousy I speak against the remaining nations and against Edom; they all took possession of my land for plunder with wholehearted joy and utter contempt. 6Therefore, prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: Thus says the Lord GOD: See! in my jealous fury I speak, because you endured the reproach of the nations. 7Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: I raise my hand and swear: the nations around you shall bear their own reproach.
8But you, mountains of Israel, you will sprout branches and bear fruit for my people Israel, for they are coming soon.c 9Look! I am for you! I will turn my face toward you; you will be plowed and planted.d 10Upon you I will multiply the whole house of Israel; cities shall be resettled and ruins rebuilt.e 11Upon you I will multiply people and animals so they can multiply and be fruitful. I will resettle you as in the past, and make you more prosperous than at your beginning; then you shall know that I am the LORD.f
12Upon you I will have them walk, my people Israel. They shall possess you, and you shall be their heritage. Never again shall you rob them of their children.
13Thus says the Lord GOD: Because they say of you, “You devour your own people,* you rob your nation of its children,”g 14therefore, you shall never again devour your people or rob your nation of its children—oracle of the Lord GOD. 15I will no longer make you listen to the reproach of nations. You will never again endure insults from the peoples. Never again shall you rob your nation of its children—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Regeneration of the People. 16The word of the LORD came to me: 17Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in its land, they defiled it with their behavior and their deeds. In my sight their behavior was like the impurity of a woman in menstruation.h 18So I poured out my fury upon them for the blood they poured out on the ground and for the idols with which they defiled it. 19I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through other lands; according to their behavior and their deeds I carried out judgment against them.i 20* But when they came to the nations, where they went, they desecrated my holy name, for people said of them: “These are the people of the LORD, yet they had to leave their land.” 21So I relented because of my holy name which the house of Israel desecrated among the nations to which they came. 22Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Not for your sake do I act, house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you desecrated among the nations to which you came.j 23But I will show the holiness of my great name, desecrated among the nations, in whose midst you desecrated it. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD—oracle of the Lord GOD—when through you I show my holiness before their very eyes.k 24I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you back to your own soil. 25* l I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26m I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.n 27I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.o 28You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.p 29I will deliver you from all your impurities. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful; I will not send famine against you. 30I will increase the fruit on your trees and the crops in your fields so that you no longer endure reproach from the nations because of famine.q 31Then you will remember your evil behavior and your deeds that were not good; you will loathe yourselves for your sins and your abominations. 32Not for your sake do I act—oracle of the Lord GOD. Let this be known to you! Be ashamed and humbled because of your behavior, house of Israel.
33Thus says the Lord GOD: When I cleanse you of all your guilt, I will resettle the cities and the ruins will be rebuilt.r 34The desolate land will be tilled—once a wasteland in the eyes of every passerby. 35They will say, “This once-desolate land has become like the garden of Eden. The cities once ruined, laid waste and destroyed, are now resettled and fortified.”s 36Then the surrounding nations that remain shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt what was destroyed and replanted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken: I will do it. 37Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will be persuaded to do for the house of Israel: to multiply them like sheep. 38Like sheep for sacrifice, like the sheep of Jerusalem on its feast days, the ruined cities shall be filled with flocks of people; then they shall know that I am the LORD.t
* [36:13] You devour your own people: i.e., the land destroys its own population; this phrase also occurs in Nm 13:32, where Israelite spies describe Canaan as “a land that devours its inhabitants.”
* [36:20–24] These verses make clear that Israel’s restoration is God’s initiative, independent of the people’s shame and repentance (v. 31). By their wickedness, Israel provoked the exile; its presence among the nations gave the impression that God could not protect his people. God’s gracious return of Israel to its land will restore his honor among these same nations.
* [36:25–26] God’s initiative to cleanse Israel (cf. 24:13–14) is the first act in the creation of a new people, no longer disposed to repeating Israel’s wicked past (chap. 20). To make this restoration permanent, God replaces Israel’s rebellious and obdurate interiority (“heart of stone”) with an interiority (“heart of flesh”) susceptible to and animated by God’s intentions (“my spirit,” v. 27).
a. [36:3] Ob 13.
b. [36:4] cf. Ez 6:3.
c. [36:8] Lv 26:3–5.
d. [36:9] Lv 26:9.
e. [36:10] Is 49:8, 17–23.
f. [36:11] cf. Gn 1:22, 28.
g. [36:13] Nm 13:32.
h. [36:17] Ps 106:37–38.
i. [36:19] Lv 18:24–28.
j. [36:22] cf. Ez 20:44; Dt 9:4–6; Is 37:35.
k. [36:23] cf. Ez 20:41; Is 37:23.
l. [36:25] Ezr 6:21; Ps 51:2–7.
m. [36:26–27] Jer 31:33–34.
n. [36:26] cf. Rom 8:5–8.
o. [36:27] Ps 51:7–11.
p. [36:28] Jer 30:22; 31:33.
q. [36:30] Lv 26:4–5.
r. [36:33] Lv 26:31.
s. [36:35] cf. Ez 28:13; 31:9.
t. [36:38] 1 Kgs 8:63.
Vision of the Dry Bones.* 1The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones. 2He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were! 3He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come back to life? “Lord GOD,” I answered, “you alone know that.”a 4Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life. 6I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. 7I prophesied as I had been commanded. A sound started up, as I was prophesying, rattling like thunder. The bones came together, bone joining to bone. 8As I watched, sinews appeared on them, flesh grew over them, skin covered them on top, but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me: Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.* b 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.c 11He said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel! They are saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.” 12Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I am going to open your graves; I will make you come up out of your graves, my people, and bring you back to the land of Israel.d 13You shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people! 14I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have spoken; I will do it—oracle of the LORD.e
The Two Sticks. 15* Thus the word of the LORD came to me: 16As for you, son of man, take one stick and write on it, “Judah and those Israelites associated with it.” Then take another stick and write on it: “Joseph, Ephraim’s stick, and the whole house of Israel associated with it.” 17Join the two sticks together so they become one stick in your hand. 18When your people ask you, “Will you not tell us what you mean by all this?” 19answer them: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take the stick of Joseph, now in Ephraim’s hand, and the tribes of Israel associated with it, and join to it the stick of Judah, making them one stick; they shall become one in my hand.f 20The sticks on which you write, you must hold in your hand in their sight. 21Say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will soon take the Israelites from among the nations to which they have gone and gather them from all around to bring them back to their land. 22I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one king for them all. They shall never again be two nations, never again be divided into two kingdoms.g
23No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their apostasy through which they sinned. I will cleanse them so that they will be my people, and I will be their God.h 24i David my servant shall be king over them; they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my ordinances, observe my statutes, and keep them. 25They shall live on the land I gave to Jacob my servant, the land where their ancestors lived; they shall live on it always, they, their children, and their children’s children, with David my servant as their prince forever. 26j I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them. I will multiply them and put my sanctuary among them forever. 27My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.k 28Then the nations shall know that I, the LORD, make Israel holy, by putting my sanctuary among them forever.
* [37:1–14] This account is a figurative description of God’s creation of a new Israel. Even though that creation begins with the remains of the old Israel, the exiles under the image of dry bones, depicting a totally hopeless situation, the new Israel is radically different: it is an ideal people, shaped by God’s spirit to live the covenant faithfully, something the old Israel, exiles included, were unable to do. While this passage in its present context is not about the doctrine of individual or communal resurrection, many Jewish and Christian commentators suggest that the doctrine is foreshadowed here.
* [37:9] The Hebrew word rûah has multiple related meanings expressed by different English words: wind, spirit, breath. In this translation, rûah is rendered “spirit,” a powerful force that creates vision and insight (v. 1); “breath,” physical energy that quickens and enlivens (vv. 5–6); “wind,” invisible physical energy, sometimes destructive, sometimes invigorating (e.g., the rain-bearing winter winds), also a metaphor for restoration and new life (vv. 9–10); “my spirit,” a share in God’s power so the people observe the law that assures them life in the land (v. 14).
* [37:15–22] The symbolic action of joining two sticks into one continues Ezekiel’s description of God’s future saving action: the unification of Judah and Israel under an ideal ruler.
a. [37:3] Is 26:19.
b. [37:9] Ps 104:30; Is 32:15; Dn 7:2.
c. [37:10] cf. Rev 11:11.
d. [37:12] Is 26:19; Jer 19:14.
e. [37:14] cf. Ez 36:27–28; Jer 43:2; Jl 3:1–2.
f. [37:19] Zec 10:6.
g. [37:22] cf. Ez 17:22; 34:13–14.
h. [37:23] cf. Ez 11:18; 36:28; Na 2:2.
i. [37:24] Ps 78:70–71; Is 55:4.
j. [37:26] Gn 9:16; Nm 25:12; Heb 13:20.
k. [37:27] Lv 26:11.
First Prophecy Against Gog. 1The word of the LORD came to me:* 2Son of man, turn your face against Gog* of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.a 3Say: Thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am coming against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 4I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with all your army, horses and riders, all well armed, a great company, all of them with bucklers and shields, carrying swords: 5b Persia, Cush, and Put with them, all with shields and helmets; 6Gomer and all its troops, Beth-togarmah from the recesses of Zaphon and all its troops—many nations will accompany you. 7Prepare and get ready, you and the company mobilized for you, but in my service. 8After many days you will be called to battle; in the last years you will invade a land that has survived the sword—a people gathered from many nations back to the long-deserted mountains of Israel, brought forth from the nations to dwell securely.c 9You shall come up like a sudden storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and the many nations with you.d
10Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day thoughts shall cross your mind, and you shall devise an evil plan. 11You will say, “I will invade a land of open villages and attack a peaceful people who live in security—all of them living without city walls, bars, or gates”—e 12in order to plunder and pillage, turning your hand against resettled ruins, against a people gathered from the nations, a people whose concern is cattle and goods, dwelling at the center* of the earth. 13Sheba and Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish and all its “young lions” shall ask you: “Have you come here to plunder? Have you summoned your army for pillage, to carry off silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to seize much plunder?”f
Second Prophecy Against Gog. 14Therefore, prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog: Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day, when my people Israel dwell securely, will you not take action, 15leaving your base in the recesses of Zaphon,* you and many nations with you, all mounted on horses, a great company, a mighty army?g 16You shall rise up over my people Israel like a cloud covering the land. In those last days, I will let you invade my land so that the nations acknowledge me, when in their sight I show my holiness through you, Gog.
17Thus says the Lord GOD: About you I spoke in earlier times through my servants, the prophets of Israel, who prophesied at that time that I would let you invade them. 18But on that day, the day Gog invades the land of Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD—my fury will flare up in my anger, 19and in my jealousy, with fiery wrath, I swear on that day there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.h 20Before me will tremble the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, the beasts of the field and everything that crawls on the ground, and everyone on the face of the earth. Mountains will be overturned, terraces will collapse, and every wall will fall to the ground.i 21Against him I will summon every terror—oracle of the Lord GOD; every man’s sword will be raised against his brother.j 22I will execute judgment on him: disease and bloodshed; flooding rain and hailstones, fire and brimstone, I will rain down on him, on his troops and on the many nations with him.k 23And so I will show my greatness and holiness and make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.l
* [38:1–39:20] These three oracles against Gog (38:2–13; 14–23; 39:1–20) describe a mythic attack of God against a final enemy of his people sometime in the future. Like the oracles against the nations, their purpose is to strengthen Israel’s hope in God, since they end with God’s triumph on behalf of the people.
* [38:2] Gog: the name is symbolic, probably derived from Gyges, king of Lydia. The gloss Magog may be an Akkadian expression, mat-Gog, “the land of Gog.” Meshech and Tubal, as well as Gomer and Beth-togarmah (v. 6), were countries around the Black Sea, the northernmost countries known to the Israelites. The north was the traditional direction from which invasion was expected; cf. Jer 1:13–15.
* [38:12] Center: lit., “navel.” Many ancient peoples spoke of their own homelands as “the navel,” that is, the center of the earth.
* [38:15] Zaphon: cf. note on Jb 37:22.
a. [38:2] cf. Gn 10:2; Ez 27:13.
b. [38:5–6] Gn 10:2–3, 6.
c. [38:8] Is 24:22.
d. [38:9] Is 25:4; Jer 4:13; Rev 20:8.
e. [38:11] Zec 2:4–5.
f. [38:13] Gn 10:4, 7.
g. [38:15] cf. Ez 39:2.
h. [38:19] Is 24:18; Rev 6:12.
i. [38:20] Is 42:15.
j. [38:21] Is 34:5–6; 66:16.
k. [38:22] cf. Rev 9:17; 16:21.
l. [38:23] Rev 20:8.
Third Prophecy Against Gog. 1You, son of man, prophesy against Gog, saying: Thus says the Lord GOD: Here I am, Gog, coming at you, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 2I will turn you around, even though I urged you on and brought you up from the recesses of Zaphon and let you attack the mountains of Israel.a 3Then I will strike the bow from your left hand and make the arrows drop from your right. 4Upon the mountains of Israel you shall fall, you and all your troops and the peoples with you. I will give you as food to birds of prey of every kind and to wild beasts to be eaten. 5In the open field you shall fall, for I have spoken—oracle of the Lord GOD.b
6I will send fire against Magog and against those who live securely on the seacoast, and they will know that I am the LORD.c 7I will reveal my holy name among my people Israel, and I will never again allow my holy name to be defiled. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.d 8Yes, it is coming! It shall happen—oracle of the Lord GOD. This is the day I decreed.
9Everyone living in the cities of Israel shall go out and set fire to the weapons, buckler and shield, bows and arrows, clubs and spears; for seven years they shall make fires with them.e 10They will not need to bring in wood from the fields or cut down trees in the forests, for they will make fires with the weapons, plundering those who plundered them, pillaging those who pillaged them—oracle of the Lord GOD.
11On that day I will give Gog a place for his tomb in Israel, the Valley of Abarim,* east of the sea. It will block the way of travelers. There Gog shall be buried with all his horde; it shall be called “Valley of Hamon-Gog.”f 12For seven months the house of Israel shall bury them in order to cleanse the land. 13All the people of the land shall take part in the burials, making a name for themselves on the day I am glorified—oracle of the Lord GOD. 14Men shall be permanently assigned to pass through the land, burying those who lie unburied in order to cleanse the land. For seven months they shall keep searching. 15When these pass through the land and see a human bone, they must set up a marker beside it, until the gravediggers bury it in the Valley of Hamon-Gog. 16Also the name of the city is Hamonah. Thus the land will be cleansed.
17As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Say to birds of every kind and to every wild beast: “Assemble! Come from all sides for the sacrifice I am making for you, a great slaughter on the mountains of Israel. You shall eat flesh and drink blood! 18You shall eat the flesh of warriors and drink the blood of the princes of the earth: rams, lambs, and goats, bulls and fatlings from Bashan, all of them.g 19From the sacrifice I slaughtered for you, you shall eat fat until you are sated and drink blood until you are drunk. 20At my table you shall be sated with horse and rider, with warrior and soldier of every kind—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Israel’s Return. 21Then I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment I executed, the hand I laid upon them. 22From that day forward the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD, their God. 23The nations shall know that the house of Israel went into exile because of its sins. Because they betrayed me, I hid my face from them, handing them over to their foes, so they all fell by the sword.h 24According to their defilement and their crimes I dealt with them, hiding my face from them.i
25Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and take pity on the whole house of Israel; I am zealous for my holy name.j 26They will forget their shame and all the infidelities they committed against me when they live securely on their own land with no one to frighten them. 27When I bring them back from the nations and gather them from the lands of their enemies, I will show my holiness through them in the sight of many nations.k 28Thus they shall know that I, the LORD, am their God, since I who exiled them among the nations will gather them back to their land, not leaving any of them behind. 29I will no longer hide my face from them once I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel—oracle of the Lord GOD.l
* [39:11] The Valley of Abarim: in the Abarim mountains, east of the Jordan. “Abarim” plays on the word ’oberim, “travelers.” Hamon-Gog: “the horde of Gog.”
a. [39:2] cf. Ez 32:30; 38:6, 15.
b. [39:5] cf. Ez 32:4.
c. [39:6] Rev 20:9.
d. [39:7] Is 12:6.
e. [39:9] Ps 46:9; 76:3.
f. [39:11] cf. Ez 38:2.
g. [39:18] Jer 51:40; Rev 19:17–21.
h. [39:23] Ps 30:7; Is 54:8.
i. [39:24] 2 Kgs 17:23.
j. [39:25] Is 27:13.
k. [39:27] cf. Ez 20:41.
l. [39:29] cf. Ez 37:9; Is 11:2.
The Man with a Measure. 1In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, fourteen years after the city had been captured, on that very day the hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me back there.a 2In a divine vision he brought me to the land of Israel, where he set me down on a very high mountain. In front of me, there was something like a city built on it.b 3He brought me there, and there standing in the gateway was a man whose appearance was like bronze! He held in his hand a linen cord and a measuring rod.c 4The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen intently. Pay strict attention to everything I show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Then you must tell the house of Israel everything you see.” 5There an outer wall completely surrounded the temple. The measuring rod in the man’s hand was six cubits long, each cubit being a cubit plus a handbreadth;* he measured the width of the structure, one rod, and its height, one rod.
The East Gate.* 6Going to the gate facing east, he climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the outer gateway as one rod wide.d 7Each cell was one rod long and one rod wide, and there were five cubits between the cells; the threshold of the inner gateway adjoining the vestibule of the gate facing the temple was one rod wide. 8He also measured the vestibule of the inner gate, 9eight cubits, and its posts, two cubits each. The vestibule faced the inside. 10On each side of the east gatehouse were three cells, all the same size; their posts were all the same size. 11He measured the width of the gate’s entryway, ten cubits, and the length of the gate itself, thirteen cubits. 12The borders in front of the cells on both sides were one cubit, while the cells themselves measured six cubits by six cubits from one opening to the next. 13Next he measured the gatehouse from the back wall of one cell to the back wall of the cell on the opposite side through the openings facing each other, a width of twenty-five cubits. 14All around the courtyard of the gatehouse were posts six cubits high. 15From the front of the gatehouse at its outer entry to the gateway of the porch facing inward, the length was fifty cubits. 16There were recessed windows in the cells on all sides and in the posts on the inner side of the gate. Posts and windows were all around the inside, with palm trees decorating the posts.e
The Outer Court. 17Then he brought me to the outer court,* where there were chambers and pavement laid all around the courtyard: thirty chambers facing the pavement.f 18The pavement lay alongside the gatehouses, the same length as the gates; this was the lower pavement. 19He measured the length of the pavement from the front of the lower gate to the outside of the inner gate, one hundred cubits. He then moved from the east to the north side.
The North Gate. 20He measured the length and width of the north gate of the outer courtyard. 21Its cells, three on each side, its posts, and its vestibule had the same measurements as those of the first gate, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 22Its windows, its vestibule, and its palm decorations had the same proportions as those of the gate facing east. Seven steps led up to it, and its vestibule faced the inside. 23The inner court had a gate opposite the north gate, just as at the east gate; he measured one hundred cubits from one gate to the other.
The South Gate. 24Then he led me to the south. There, too, facing south, was a gate! He measured its posts and vestibule; they were the same size as the others. 25The gate and its vestibule had windows on both sides, like the other windows, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 26Seven steps led up to it, its vestibule faced inside; and palms decorated each of the posts opposite one another. 27The inner court also had a gate facing south. He measured it from gate to gate, facing south, one hundred cubits.
Gates of the Inner Court.* 28Then he brought me to the inner courtyard by the south gate, where he measured the south gateway; its measurements were the same as the others. 29Its cells, posts, and vestibule were the same size as the others, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 30* The vestibules all around were twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide. 31Its vestibule faced the outer court; palms decorated its posts, and its stairway had eight steps. 32Then he brought me to the inner courtyard on the east and measured the gate there; its dimensions were the same as the others. 33Its cells, posts, and vestibule were the same size as the others. The gate and its vestibule had windows on both sides, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 34Its vestibule faced the outer court, palms decorated the posts opposite each other, and it had a stairway of eight steps. 35Then he brought me to the north gate,g where he measured the dimensions 36of its cells, posts, and vestibule; they were the same. The gate and its vestibule had windows on both sides, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. 37Its vestibule faced the outer court; palm trees decorated its posts opposite each other, and it had a stairway of eight steps.
Side Rooms. 38There was a chamber opening off the vestibule of the gate where burnt offerings were washed.h 39In the vestibule of the gate there were two tables on either side for slaughtering the burnt offerings, purification offerings, and reparation offerings.i 40Two more tables stood along the wall of the vestibule by the entrance of the north gate, and two tables on the other side of the vestibule of the gate. 41There were thus four tables on one side of the gate and four tables on the other side, eight tables in all, for slaughtering. 42The four tables for burnt offerings were made of cut stone, one and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one cubit high; the instruments used for slaughtering burnt offerings and other sacrifices were kept 43on shelves the width of one hand, fixed all around the room; but on the tables themselves was the meat for the sacrifices. 44Outside the inner gatehouse there were two rooms on the inner courtyard, one beside the north gate, facing south, and the other beside the south gate, facing north. 45He said to me, “This chamber facing south is reserved for the priests who have charge of the temple area, 46while this chamber facing north is reserved for the priests who have charge of the altar; they are the sons of Zadok,* the only Levites who may come near to minister to the LORD.” 47He measured the courtyard, a square one hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits wide, with the altar standing in front of the temple.j
The Temple Building.* 48k Then he brought me into the vestibule of the temple and measured the posts, five cubits on each side. The gateway was fourteen cubits wide, its side walls three cubits. 49The vestibule was twenty cubits long and twelve cubits wide; ten steps led up to it, and there were columns by the posts, one on each side.
* [40:1–48:35] This lengthy vision of a new Temple and a restored Israel is dated in v. 1 to April 28, 573 B.C. The literary form of the vision is sometimes compared to a mandala, a sacred model through which one can move symbolically to reach the world of the divine. Ezekiel describes the Temple through its boundaries, entrances, and exits in chaps. 40–43; by its sacred and profane use and space in 44–46; and by its central place within the land itself in 47–48. The prophet could not have expected a literal fulfillment of much of what he described. The passage doubtless went through several editorial stages, both from the prophet and from later writers.
* [40:5] A cubit plus a handbreadth: a great cubit. The ordinary cubit consisted of six handbreadths; the great cubit, of seven. In measuring the Temple, a rod six great cubits long was used. The ordinary cubit was about one and a half feet, or, more exactly, 17.5 inches; the large cubit, 20.4 inches.
* [40:6–16] The gate facing east, leading into the outer court of the Temple, is described more fully than the north and south gates, which, however, have the same dimensions. On the west side of the outer court there is a large building instead of a gate (cf. 41:12).
* [40:17] The outer court: the court outside the Temple area proper, which had its own inner court (vv. 28–37).
* [40:28–37] The gates leading into the inner court of the Temple area correspond to the gates leading into the outer court, with the exception that their vestibules are on the outer rather than the inner side.
* [40:30] The reference to vestibules all around is uncertain, and the verse may have arisen as a partial repetition of v. 29.
* [40:46] Sons of Zadok: descendants of the priestly line of Zadok; cf. 2 Sm 15:24–29; 1 Kgs 1:32–34; 2:35.
* [40:48–41:15] The description of Ezekiel’s visionary Temple closely follows the description of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kgs 6), along with some crucial differences.
a. [40:1] 2 Kgs 25:7; Jer 39:1–10; 52:4–11.
b. [40:2] Is 2:2; Mi 4:1; Zec 14:10; cf. Rev 21:10.
c. [40:3] Zec 2:1–2; Rev 1:15; 11:1; 21:15.
d. [40:6] cf. Ez 8:16.
e. [40:16] 1 Kgs 6:29, 32, 35.
f. [40:17] cf. Ez 41:6; 42:1.
g. [40:35] cf. Ez 44:4; 47:2.
h. [40:38] 2 Chr 4:6.
i. [40:39] cf. Ez 46:2.
j. [40:47] cf. Ez 41:13–14; 43:14–17.
k. [40:48] 1 Kgs 6:2.
1Then he brought me to the nave and measured the posts; each was six cubits wide.a 2The width of the entrance was ten cubits, and the walls on either side measured five cubits. He measured the nave, forty cubits long and twenty cubits wide.
3Then he went inside and measured the posts at the other entrance, two cubits wide. The entrance was six cubits wide, with walls seven cubits long on each side. 4Next he measured the length and width of the room beyond the nave, twenty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. He said to me, “This is the holy of holies.”* b
5Then he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits wide, and the width of the side chambers stretching all around the temple, four cubits each. 6* There were thirty side chambers, chamber upon chamber in three stories; terraces on the outside wall of the temple enclosing the side chambers provided support, but there were no supports for the temple wall itself. 7A broad passageway led up the side chambers, for the house was enclosed all the way up and all the way around. Thus the temple was widened by the ascent that went from the lowest story through the middle one to the highest story.c 8I saw a raised platform all around the temple, the foundation for the side chambers; the width of this terrace was a full rod, six cubits. 9The width of the outside wall enclosing the side chambers was five cubits. There was an open space between the side chambers of the temple 10and the other chambers that measured twenty cubits around the temple on all sides. 11The side chambers had entrances to the open space, one entrance on the north and the other on the south. The width of the wall surrounding the open space was five cubits. 12The building* opposite the restricted area on the west side was seventy cubits long and ninety cubits wide, with walls five cubits thick all around it. 13Thus he measured the temple, one hundred cubits long. The restricted area, its building and walls, measured a hundred cubits in length. 14The temple facade, along with the restricted area to the east, was also one hundred cubits wide. 15He then measured the building opposite the restricted area which was behind it, together with its terraces on both sides, one hundred cubits.
Interior of the Temple. The inner nave and the outer vestibule 16were paneled; the windows had recesses and precious wood trim around all three sides except the sill. Paneling covered the walls from the floor up to the windows and even the window sections.d 17Even above the doorway and in the inner part of the temple and outside as well, around all the walls inside and out, 18were figures of cherubim and palm trees: a palm tree between each pair of cherubim. Each cherub had two faces:e 19the face of a human being looked toward one palm tree and the face of a lion looked toward the other palm tree. Thus the figures covered all the walls around the temple. 20From the floor to the lintel of the door, cherubim and palm trees decorated the walls. 21The nave had a square door frame, and inside facing the holy place was something that looked like 22a wooden altar,* three cubits high, two cubits long, and two cubits wide. It had corners and a wooden base and sides. He said to me, “This is the table that stands before the LORD.”f 23The nave had a double door,g and the holy place 24also had a double door; each door had two sections that could move; two sections on one door, and two on the other.h 25Cherubim and palm trees decorated the doors of the nave like the decoration on the walls. Outside a wooden lattice faced the vestibule. 26There were recessed windows and palm trees on the side walls of the vestibule. The side chambers of the temple also had latticework.
* [40:49–41:4] Vestibule…nave…holy of holies: the three divisions of the Temple building in progressing order of sanctity. The last is called “the inner sanctuary” in 1 Kgs 6.
* [41:6] The description of the three stories of rooms surrounding the Temple building can be compared with Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kgs 6:6; there a step-like or terraced retaining wall supported the Temple building so no beams or nails from these chambers would enter the Temple wall itself.
* [41:12] The building: the function of this structure behind the Temple is never specified.
* [41:22] A wooden altar: the altar of incense, standing in the nave at the entrance to the holy of holies.
a. [41:1] 1 Kgs 6:3–5.
b. [41:4] 1 Kgs 6:20; cf. Ex 26:33; Heb 9:3–8.
c. [41:7] 1 Kgs 6:8.
d. [41:16] 1 Kgs 6:4, 15.
e. [41:18] 1 Kgs 6:18, 29; 7:36.
f. [41:22] Ex 25:23; Lv 24:5–9.
g. [41:23] 1 Kgs 6:32.
h. [41:24] 1 Kgs 6:34.
Other Structures. 1Then he led me north to the outer court, bringing me to some chambers on the north side opposite the restricted area and the north building.a 2They were a hundred cubits long on the north side and fifty cubits wide. 3Built in rows at three different levels, they stood between the twenty cubits of the inner court and the pavement of the outer court. 4In front of the chambers was a walkway ten cubits wide on the inside of a wall one cubit wide. The doorways faced north. 5* The upper chambers were shorter because they lost space to the lower and middle tiers of the building. 6Because they were in three tiers, they did not have foundations like the court, but were set back from the lower and middle levels from the ground up. 7The outside walls ran parallel to the chambers along the outer court, a length of fifty cubits. 8The chambers facing the outer court were fifty cubits long; thus the wall along the nave was a hundred cubits. 9At the base of these chambers, there was an entryway from the east so that one could enter from the outer court 10where the wall of the court began.
To the south along the side of the restricted area and the building there were also chambers 11with a walkway in front of them. They looked like the chambers on the north side in length and width, in their exits, their design, and their doorways. 12At the base of the chambers on the south side there was an entry at the end of a walkway in front of the protective wall by which one could enter from the east. 13He said to me, “The north and south chambers facing the restricted area are the chambers of the holy place where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy meals. Here they shall place the most holy offerings: the grain offerings, the purification offerings, and the reparation offerings; for the place is holy.* b 14When the priests have entered, they must not go out again from the holy place into the outer court without leaving the garments in which they ministered because they are holy. They shall put on other garments before approaching the area for the people.”c
Measuring the Outer Court. 15When he finished measuring the interior of the temple area, he brought me out by way of the gate facing east and measured all around it. 16He measured the east side, five hundred cubits by his measuring rod. Then he turned 17and measured the north side: five hundred cubits by his measuring rod. He turned 18and measured the south side, five hundred cubits by his measuring rod. 19He turned and measured the west side, also five hundred cubits by his measuring rod. 20Thus he measured it on the four sides. It was surrounded by a wall five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the sacred from the profane.
* [42:5–6] The three rows of identical chambers, on different ground levels, necessarily had roofs on correspondingly different levels.
* [42:13] The function of these chambers is explained again in 46:19–20.
a. [42:1] Ex 27:9.
b. [42:13] Lv 10:12–13, 17.
c. [42:14] Ex 29:9; Lv 8:7–9.
The Glory of the Lord Returns. 1Then he led me to the gate facing east,a 2and there was the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east! His voice was like the roar of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. 3The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the vision I had seen by the river Chebar—I fell on my face. 4The glory of the LORD entered the temple by way of the gate facing east.b 5Then the spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court. And there the glory of the LORD filled the temple!c 6I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, but the man was standing beside me. 7The voice said to me: Son of man, do you see the place for my throne, and the place for the soles of my feet? Here I will dwell among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel, neither they nor their kings, will never again defile my holy name, with their prostitutions and the corpses of their kings at their death.d 8When they placed their threshold against my threshold* and their doorpost next to mine, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by the abominations they committed, and I devoured them in my wrath.e 9From now on, let them put their prostitution and the corpses of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.f
The Law of the Temple. 10As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel so they are ashamed for their sins. Let them measure its layout. 11If they are ashamed for all they have done, tell them about the layout and design of the temple, its exits and entrances, with all its regulations and instructions; write it down for them to see, that they may carefully observe all its laws and statutes. 12This is the law for the temple: the entire area on top of the mountain all around will be a most holy place. This is the law for the temple.
The Altar. 13These were the dimensions of the altar* in cubits, a cubit being one cubit plus a handbreadth. The channel was one cubit deep by one cubit wide, and its rim had a lip one span wide all around it.g The height of the altar itself was as follows: 14from the channel at floor level up to the lower ledge was two cubits, with the ledge one cubit wide; from the lower ledge to the upper ledge, four cubits, with the ledge one cubit wide. 15The altar hearth was four cubits high, and extending up from the top of the hearth were four horns. 16The hearth was twelve cubits long and twelve cubits wide, a square with four equal sides. 17The upper ledge was fourteen cubits long and fourteen cubits wide on all four sides. The rim around it was half a cubit, with a channel one cubit all around. The steps faced east.h
18Then he said to me: Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: These are the statutes for the altar when it is set up for sacrificing burnt offerings and splashing blood on it.i 19A young bull must be brought as a purification offering to the priests, the Levites descended from Zadok, who come near to serve me—oracle of the Lord GOD.j 20You shall take some of its blood and smear it on the four horns of the altar, and on the four corners of the ledge, and all around its rim. Thus you shall purify and purge it.k 21Then take the bull as purification offering and burn it in the appointed place outside the sanctuary.l 22On the second day present an unblemished male goat as a purification offering, to purify the altar as you did with the bull. 23When you have completed the purification,m you must bring an unblemished young bull and an unblemished ram from the flock 24and present them before the LORD. The priests shall throw salt on them and sacrifice them as burnt offerings to the LORD. 25Daily for seven days you shall give a male goat as a purification offering; and a young bull and a ram from the flock, all unblemished,n shall be offered 26for seven days. Thus they shall purge the altar, in order to cleanse and dedicate it. 27And when these days are over, from the eighth day on, the priests shall sacrifice your burnt offerings and communion offerings on the altar. Then I will be pleased with you—oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [43:8] They placed their threshold against my threshold: in preexilic Jerusalem, the Temple and the palace belonged to the same complex of buildings; kings like Ahaz and Manasseh treated it as their private chapel for the religious practices Ezekiel condemns. In the new Israel the Temple is free, even spatially, from civil jurisdiction; cf. 45:7–8. This is an instance of Ezekiel’s broader program to separate the sacred from the secular.
* [43:13–17] The altar: like altars from Assyria and other parts of the ancient Near East, this altar has three parts: a base, a pedestal, and an upper block with a channel cut into the surface on all sides. The rim around the upper block (v. 17) stopped blood and other sacrificial material from falling to the ground.
a. [43:1] 1 Chr 9:18.
b. [43:4] cf. Ez 10:19.
c. [43:5] cf. Ez 11:24.
d. [43:7] 1 Chr 28:2; Ps 132:7; Is 6:1; Jer 3:17.
e. [43:8] 1 Kgs 7:1–12.
f. [43:9] cf. Ez 37:26–28.
g. [43:13] cf. Ex 20:24.
h. [43:17] Ex 20:26.
i. [43:18] Ex 29:16; Lv 4:6; 5:9.
j. [43:19] Lv 4:3.
k. [43:20] Lv 4:7.
l. [43:21] Ex 29:14; Lv 4:12; 8:17; cf. Heb 13:11–13.
m. [43:23] Ex 29:1.
n. [43:25] Ex 29:37; Lv 8:33.
The Closed Gate. 1Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary facing east, but it was closed. 2The LORD said to me: This gate must remain closed; it must not be opened, and no one should come through it. Because the LORD, the God of Israel, came through it, it must remain closed. 3Only the prince may sit in it to eat a meal in the presence of the LORD; he must enter through the vestibule of the gate and leave the same way.* a
Admission to the Temple. 4Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the facade of the temple. I looked—and the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house! I fell on my face.b 5The LORD said to me: Son of man, pay close attention, look carefully, and listen intently to everything I tell you about all the statutes and laws of the LORD’s house. Pay close attention to the entrance into the temple and all the exits of the sanctuary. 6Say to that rebellious house, the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Enough of all your abominations, house of Israel! 7You have admitted foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, into my sanctuary to profane it when you offered me food, the fat and blood.* Thus you have broken my covenant by all your abominations.c 8Instead of caring for the service of my sanctuary, you appointed these foreigners to care for the service of my sanctuary. 9Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, shall ever enter my sanctuary: not even any of the foreigners who live among the Israelites.d
Levites. 10As for the Levites who went far away from me when Israel strayed from me after their idols, they will bear the consequences of their sin. 11They will serve in my sanctuary only as gatekeepers and temple servants; they will slaughter burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people. They will stand before the people to serve them.e 12Because they used to serve them before their idols, thus becoming a stumbling block to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn an oath against them, says the Lord GOD, and they will bear the consequences of their sin. 13They shall no longer come near to serve as my priests, nor shall they touch any of my sacred things or my most sacred offerings, for they must bear their shame, the abominations they committed. 14Instead I will make them responsible for the service of the temple and all its work, for everything that must be done in it.f
Priests. 15As for the levitical priests, sons of Zadok, who took charge of my sanctuary when the Israelites strayed from me, they may approach me to serve me and stand before me to offer the fat and the blood—oracle of the Lord GOD.g 16They may enter my sanctuary; they may approach my table to serve me and carry out my service.h 17Whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments; they shall not put on anything woolen when they serve at the gates of the inner court or within the temple. 18i They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19j And when they go out to the people in the outer court, they shall take off the garments in which they served and leave them in the rooms of the sanctuary, and put on other garments so they do not transmit holiness to the people* by their garments.
20k They shall not shave their heads nor let their hair hang loose, but they shall keep their hair carefully trimmed. 21No priest shall drink wine before he enters the inner court. 22l They shall not take as wives either widows or divorced women, but only unmarried women from the line of Israel; however, they may take as wives widows who are widows of priests. 23m They shall teach my people to distinguish between sacred and profane and make known to them the difference between clean and unclean. 24n In legal cases they shall stand as judges, judging according to my ordinances. They shall observe all my laws and statutes regarding all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my sabbaths holy.
25o They shall not make themselves unclean by going near a dead body; only for their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or unmarried sister may they make themselves unclean. 26After he is again clean, he must wait an additional seven days; 27on the day he enters the inner court to serve in the sanctuary, he shall present a purification offering for himself—oracle of the Lord GOD. 28p I will be their heritage: I am their heritage! You shall not give them any property in Israel, for I am their property! 29q They shall eat grain offerings, purification offerings, and reparation offerings; anything under the ban* in Israel belongs to them; 30r all the choicest first fruits of every kind and all the best of your offerings of every kind shall belong to the priests; the best of your dough you shall also give to the priests to bring a blessing upon your house. 31s The priests shall not eat anything, whether bird or animal, that died naturally or was killed by wild beasts.
* [44:3] Ezekiel imagines a scene like this: The prince stands at the eastern gate of the inner court while his sacrifice is being offered (46:2); he then goes to the vestibule of the outer court to eat the sacrificial meal. The closed outer gate on the eastern side signifies that the Lord has entered the Temple permanently, not to depart again.
* [44:7–14] According to Ezekiel, the Levites’ priestly role is reduced to the performance of menial tasks as punishment for their misdeeds (cf. vv. 10–14). This demotion was enforced during the restoration of Temple worship under Ezra and Nehemiah; this may explain the small number of Levites willing to return to Jerusalem after the exile.
* [44:19] Transmit holiness to the people: holiness was considered to have a physical quality that could be communicated from person to person. It is a danger to those who have not prepared themselves to be in God’s presence. The priests remove their ceremonial garments out of concern for the people.
* [44:29] Under the ban: dedicated to the Lord.
a. [44:3] Ex 24:9–11; 2 Chr 26:16–20.
b. [44:4] Is 6:4; Rev 15:8.
c. [44:7] Lv 26:41.
d. [44:9] Jl 4:17; Neh 13:8.
e. [44:11] Nm 3:5–37; 1 Chr 26:12–19.
f. [44:14] 1 Chr 23:28–32.
g. [44:15] 1 Chr 6:50–53.
h. [44:16] Lv 3:16–17.
i. [44:18] Ex 28:39, 42.
j. [44:19] Ex 39:27–29; Lv 6:10–11.
k. [44:20] Lv 21:5.
l. [44:22] Lv 21:7.
m. [44:23] Hg 2:10–13.
n. [44:24] Dt 17:8–9.
o. [44:25] Lv 21:1–4.
p. [44:28] Nm 18:23–24; Dt 18:1–2.
q. [44:29] Lv 6:16; 27:28.
r. [44:30] Nm 15:18–21; 18:12–13.
s. [44:31] Lv 11:39.
The Holy Portion. 1When you apportion the land heritage by heritage, you shall set apart a holy portion for the LORD, holier than the rest of the land—twenty-five thousand cubits long and twenty thousand cubits wide; the entire area shall be holy. 2Of this land a square plot, five hundred by five hundred cubits, shall be assigned to the sanctuary, with fifty cubits of free space around it. 3From this tract also measure off a length of twenty-five thousand cubits and a width of ten thousand cubits; on it the sanctuary, the holy of holies, shall stand. 4This shall be the sacred part of the land belonging to the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who draw near to minister to the LORD; it shall be a place for their homes and an area set apart for the sanctuary. 5There shall also be a strip twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide for the Levites, the ministers of the temple, so they have cities to live in. 6You shall assign a strip five thousand cubits wide and twenty-five thousand long as the property of the city parallel to the sacred tract; this shall belong to the whole house of Israel. 7A section shall belong to the prince, bordering both sides of the sacred tract and city combined, extending westward on the west side and eastward on the east side, corresponding in length to one of the tribal portions from the west boundary to the east boundary 8of the land. This shall be his property in Israel so that my princes will no longer oppress my people, but will leave the land to the house of Israel according to its tribes. 9Thus says the Lord GOD: Enough, you princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right! Stop evicting my people!—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Weights and Measures.* 10a You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah, and an honest bath. 11The ephah and the bath shall be the same size: the bath equal to one tenth of a homer, and the ephah equal to one tenth of a homer; their capacity is based on the homer. 12The shekel shall be twenty gerahs. Twenty shekels plus twenty-five shekels plus fifteen shekels make up a mina* for you.
Offerings. 13This is the offering you must make: one sixth of an ephah from each homer of wheat and one sixth of an ephah from each homer of barley. 14This is the regulation for oil: for every bath of oil, one tenth of a bath, computed by the kor,* made up of ten baths, that is, a homer, for ten baths make a homer. 15Also, one sheep from the flock for every two hundred from the pasture land of Israel, for the grain offering, the burnt offering, and communion offerings, to make atonement on their behalf—oracle of the Lord GOD.b 16All the people of the land shall be responsible for these offerings to the prince in Israel. 17It shall be the duty of the prince to provide burnt offerings, grain offerings, and libations on feast days, new moons, and sabbaths, on all the festivals of the house of Israel. He shall provide the purification offering, grain offering, burnt offering, and communion offerings, to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.c
The Passover. 18Thus says the Lord GOD: On the first day of the first month you shall take an unblemished young bull to purify the sanctuary.d 19The priest shall take some of the blood from the purification offering and smear it on the doorposts of the house, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the doorposts of the gates of the inner courtyard.e 20You shall repeat this on the seventh day of the month for those who have sinned inadvertently or out of ignorance; thus you shall purge the temple.f 21On the fourteenth day of the first month you shall observe the feast of Passover; for seven days unleavened bread must be eaten. 22On that day the prince shall sacrifice, on his own behalf and on behalf of all the people of the land, a bull as a purification offering. 23On each of the seven days of the feast he shall sacrifice, as a burnt offering to the LORD, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, and as a purification offering he shall sacrifice one male goat each day.g 24As a grain offering he shall offer one ephah for each bull and one ephah for each ram and one hin* of oil for each ephah.h
The Feast of Booths. 25In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, on the feast day and for the next seven days, he shall make the same offerings: the same purification offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, and offerings of oil.i
* [45:10–12] Besides the land monopoly fostered by royal greed and collusion with the wealthy (Mi 2:2; Is 3:12–15; 5:8–10), one grave social evil of preexilic Israel was dishonesty in business; cf. Hos 12:8; Am 8:5. Ephah, bath: see note on Is 5:10.
* [45:12] Mina: before the exile, a mina was worth fifty shekels; later, in imitation of Babylonian practice, its value increased to sixty shekels. A shekel weighed slightly less than half an ounce. A shekel’s monetary value depended on whether it was gold or silver.
* [45:14] Kor: a liquid and a dry measure, equal to a homer.
* [45:24] Hin: one sixth of the liquid measure known as a bath.
a. [45:10] Lv 19:35–36; Dt 25:13–16; Mi 6:10–12.
b. [45:15] Lv 1:4; 6:23.
c. [45:17] cf. Ez 46:4–12.
d. [45:18] Lv 16:33.
e. [45:19] Lv 16:18–19.
f. [45:20] Lv 4:27.
g. [45:23] Nm 22:40; 28:16–25.
h. [45:24] Nm 28:12–13.
i. [45:25] Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lv 23:34–43; Nm 29:12–38.
Sabbaths. 1Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court facing east shall remain closed throughout the six working days, but on the sabbath and on the day of the new moon it shall be open. 2* Then the prince shall enter from outside by way of the vestibule of the gate and remain standing at the doorpost of the gateway while the priests sacrifice his burnt offerings and communion offerings; then he shall bow down in worship at the opening of the gate and leave. But the gate shall not be closed until evening. 3The people of the land also shall bow down in worship before the LORD at the opening of this gate on the sabbaths and new moons. 4The burnt offerings which the prince sacrifices to the LORD on the sabbath shall consist of six unblemished lambs and an unblemished ram, 5together with a grain offering of one ephah for the ram and whatever he pleases for the lambs, and a hin of oil for each ephah. 6a On the day of the new moon, he shall provide an unblemished young bull, six lambs, and a ram without blemish, 7with a grain offering of one ephah for the bull and an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs whatever he can, and for each ephah a hin of oil.b
Ritual Laws. 8When the prince enters, he shall always enter and depart by the vestibule of the gate. 9When the people of the land come before the LORD to bow down on the festivals, if they enter by the north gate they shall leave by the south gate, and if they enter by the south gate they shall leave by the north gate. They shall not go back by the gate through which they entered; everyone shall leave by the opposite gate. 10When they come in, the prince shall be with them; he shall also leave with them. 11On feasts and festivals, the grain offering shall be an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, but for the lambs whatever they please, and a hin of oil with each ephah. 12When the prince makes a freewill offering to the LORD, whether a burnt offering or communion offering, the gate facing east shall be opened for him, and he shall bring his burnt offering or peace offering as he does on the sabbath. Then he shall leave, and the gate shall be closed after his departure. 13c Every day you shall bring as a burnt offering to the LORD an unblemished year-old lamb; you shall offer it every morning, 14and with it every morning a grain offering of one sixth of an ephah, with a third of a hin of oil to moisten the fine flour. This grain offering for the LORD is a perpetual statute. 15d The lamb, the grain offering, and the oil you must bring every morning as a perpetual burnt offering.
The Prince and the Land. 16Thus says the Lord GOD: If the prince makes a gift of part of his heritage to any of his sons, it belongs to his sons; that property is their heritage. 17But if he makes a gift of part of his heritage to one of his servants, it belongs to him until the year of release;* then it reverts to the prince. Only the heritage given to his sons belongs to him.e 18The prince shall not seize any part of the heritage of the people by forcing them off their property. From his own property he shall provide heritage for his sons, so that none of my people will be driven off their property.
The Temple Kitchens. 19Then he brought me through the entrance at the side of the gateway to the chambers reserved for the priests, which faced north. There I saw a place at the far west end, 20about which he said to me, “This is the place where the priests cook the reparation offerings and the purification offerings and bake the grain offerings, so they do not have to bring them into the outer court and so transmit holiness to the people.”* f 21Then he led me into the outer court and had me cross to the four corners of the court, and there, in each corner, was another court! 22In all four corners of the courtyard there were courts set off, each forty cubits long by thirty cubits wide, all four of them the same size. 23A stone wall surrounded them on four sides, and ovens were built along the bottom of the walls all the way around. 24He said to me, “These are the kitchens where the temple ministers cook the sacrifices of the people.”
* [46:2–12] The prophet describes the inner eastern gateway opening on the inner court of the priests in front of the Temple itself where the altar of sacrifice stands. The people may watch the priests making offerings on sabbaths and feast days only by looking through the open gate; the prince, however, may stand inside the gate, in the vestibule on the edge of the inner court, to observe the offerings. Only priests could stand in the court itself.
* [46:17] The year of release: the jubilee year; cf. Lv 25:23–55.
* [46:20] Cf. note on 44:19.
a. [46:6] Lv 22:20.
b. [46:7] cf. Nm 28:12.
c. [46:13] Ex 29:38; Nm 28:3–8.
d. [46:15] Ex 29:42; Nm 28:5–6.
e. [46:17] Lv 25:8–17.
f. [46:20] Lv 6:20.
The Wonderful Stream.* 1Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and there! I saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east. The water flowed out toward the right side of the temple to the south of the altar.a 2He brought me by way of the north gate and around the outside to the outer gate facing east; there I saw water trickling from the southern side. 3When he continued eastward with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was ankle-deep. 4He measured off another thousand cubits and once more had me wade through the water; it was up to the knees. He measured another thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was up to my waist. 5Once more he measured off a thousand cubits. Now it was a river I could not wade across. The water had risen so high, I would have to swim—a river that was impassable. 6Then he asked me, “Do you see this, son of man?” He brought me to the bank of the river and had me sit down. 7As I was returning, I saw along the bank of the river a great many trees on each side.b 8He said to me, “This water flows out into the eastern district, runs down into the Arabah and empties into the polluted waters of the sea* to freshen them.c 9Wherever it flows, the river teems with every kind of living creature; fish will abound. Where these waters flow they refresh; everything lives where the river goes. 10Fishermen will stand along its shore from En-gedi to En-eglaim;* it will become a place for drying nets, and it will abound with as many kinds of fish as the Great Sea.d 11Its marshes and swamps shall not be made fresh, but will be left for salt. 12Along each bank of the river every kind of fruit tree will grow; their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fresh fruit because the waters of the river flow out from the sanctuary. Their fruit is used for food, and their leaves for healing.”e
Boundaries of the Land.* 13Thus says the Lord GOD: These are the boundaries of the land which you shall apportion among the twelve tribes of Israel, with Joseph having two portions.f 14You shall apportion it equally because I swore to give it to your ancestors as a heritage; this land, then, is your heritage.g 15h These are the borders of the land: on the northern side, from the Great Sea in the direction of Hethlon, Lebo-hamath to Zedad, 16Berothah, and Sibraim, along the frontiers of Damascus and Hamath, to Hazar-enon, on the border of Hauran.i 17Thus the border extends from the sea to Hazar-enon, north of the border of Damascus, the frontier of Hamath to the north. This is the northern boundary. 18The eastern border shall be between Damascus and Hauran, while the Jordan will form the border between Gilead and the land of Israel down to the eastern sea as far as Tamar. This is the eastern boundary. 19The southern border shall go southward from Tamar to the waters of Meribath-kadesh, on to the Wadi of Egypt, and into the Great Sea. This is the southern boundary.j 20The western border shall have the Great Sea as a boundary as far as a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the western boundary.
The Northern Portions. 21You shall divide this land according to the tribes of Israel. 22k You shall allot it as heritage for yourselves and for the resident aliens in your midst who have fathered children among you. You shall treat them like native Israelites; along with you they shall receive a heritage among the tribes of Israel. 23In whatever tribe the resident alien lives, there you shall assign his heritage—oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [47:1–12] The life and refreshment produced wherever the Temple stream flows evoke the order and abundance of paradise (cf. Gn 1:20–22; 2:10–14; Ps 46:5) and represent the coming transformation Ezekiel envisions for the exiles and their land. Water signifies great blessings and evidence of the Lord’s presence (cf. Jl 2:14).
* [47:8] The sea: the Dead Sea, in which nothing can live. This vision of the Temple stream which transforms places of death into places of life is similar in purpose to the oracle of dry bones in 37:1–14: it offers the exiles hope for the future.
* [47:10] From En-gedi to En-eglaim: En-gedi is about halfway down the western shore of the Dead Sea; En-eglaim may have been at its northern end.
* [47:13–20] These boundaries for a restored Israel correspond to the boundaries of the Davidic kingdom at its fullest extent; they are the “ideal boundaries” of the promised land; cf. Nm 34:3–12.
a. [47:1] cf. Gn 2:10; Ps 46:4; Rev 22:1.
b. [47:7] Rev 22:2.
c. [47:8] Zec 14:8.
d. [47:10] Ps 104:25.
e. [47:12] Ps 1:3; Jer 17:8.
f. [47:13] Gn 48:16; Nm 34:2–12.
g. [47:14] Gn 12:7; 15:9–21.
h. [47:15] Nm 34:1–12.
i. [47:16] 2 Sm 8:8.
j. [47:19] Nm 34:4; Dt 32:51.
k. [47:22] Lv 24:22; Nm 15:29; 26:55–56; Is 56:6–7.
1These are the names* of the tribes:
At the northern end, along the side of the way to Hethlon, Lebo-hamath, and Hazar-enon, the border of Damascus, and northward up to the frontier with Hamath, from the eastern border to the western: Dan, one portion. 2Along the territory of Dan from the eastern border to the western border: Asher, one portion.a 3Along the territory of Asher from the eastern border to the western border: Naphtali, one portion.b 4Along the territory of Naphtali from the eastern border to the western border: Manasseh, one portion.c 5Along the territory of Manasseh from the eastern border to the western border: Ephraim, one portion.d 6Along the territory of Ephraim from the eastern border to the western border: Reuben, one portion.e 7Along the territory of Reuben from the eastern border to the western border: Judah, one portion.f
The Sacred Tract. 8Along the territory of Judah from the eastern border to the western border is the tract you shall set apart, twenty-five thousand cubits wide and as long as one of the portions from the eastern border to the western border. The sanctuary shall stand in the center of the tract. 9The tract you set apart for the LORD shall be twenty-five thousand cubits long by twenty thousand wide. 10The sacred tract will be given to the following: the priests shall have twenty-five thousand cubits on the north, ten thousand on the west, ten thousand on the east, and twenty-five thousand on the south. The sanctuary of the LORD shall be in its center. 11The consecrated priests, the Zadokites, who fulfilled my service and did not stray with the Israelites as the Levites did, 12shall have their own tract set apart, next to the territory of the Levites, separate from the most holy tract. 13The Levites shall have territory corresponding to that of the priests, twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits wide. The whole tract shall be twenty-five thousand cubits long and twenty thousand wide. 14They may not sell or exchange or transfer any of it, the best part of the land, for it is sacred to the LORD. 15The remaining section, five thousand cubits long and twenty-five thousand cubits wide, is profane land, assigned to the city for dwellings and pasture. The city is at its center. 16These are the dimensions of the city: the north side, forty-five hundred cubits; the south side, forty-five hundred cubits; the east side, forty-five hundred cubits; and the west side, forty-five hundred cubits.g 17The pasture land for the city extends north two hundred fifty cubits, south two hundred fifty cubits, east two hundred fifty cubits, and west two hundred fifty cubits. 18The remaining section runs eastward along the sacred tract for ten thousand cubits and westward ten thousand cubits. Its produce shall provide food for the workers of the city. 19The workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall cultivate it. 20The entire sacred tract measures twenty-five thousand by twenty-five thousand cubits; as a square you shall set apart the sacred tract together with the city property.
21The remaining land on both sides of the sacred tract and the property of the city shall belong to the prince, extending eastward twenty-five thousand cubits up to the eastern boundary, and westward twenty-five thousand cubits to the western boundary. This portion belongs to the prince and corresponds to the tribal portions. The sacred tract and the sanctuary of the temple shall be in the middle. 22Except for the Levites’ property and the city’s property, which are in the middle of the prince’s property, the territory between the portion of Judah and the portion of Benjamin shall belong to the prince.
The Southern Portions. 23These are the remaining tribes:
From the eastern border to the western border: Benjamin, one portion.h 24Along the territory of Benjamin from the eastern border to the western border: Simeon, one portion.i 25Along the territory of Simeon from the eastern border to the western border: Issachar, one portion.j 26Along the territory of Issachar from the eastern border to the western border: Zebulun, one portion.k 27Along the territory of Zebulun from the eastern border to the western border: Gad, one portion.l 28Along the territory of Gad shall be the southern border. This boundary shall extend from Tamar to the waters of Meribath-kadesh, and along the Wadi of Egypt to the Great Sea. 29This is the land you shall apportion as a heritage among the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions—oracle of the Lord GOD.
The Gates of the City. 30These are the exits from the city: On the north side, measuring forty-five hundred cubits— 31the gates are named after the tribes of Israel—on the north, three gates: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; and the gate of Levi, one. 32On the east side, measuring forty-five hundred cubits, three gates: the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; and the gate of Dan, one. 33On the south side, measuring forty-five hundred cubits, three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; and the gate of Zebulun, one. 34On the west side, measuring forty-five hundred cubits, three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; and the gate of Naphtali, one.m 35The circuit of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. From now on the name of the city is “The LORD is there.”n
* [48:1–29] This distribution of the land among the tribes does not correspond to the geographical realities of Palestine. It is another idealizing element in Ezekiel’s representation of a restored and transformed Israel.
a. [48:2] Jos 19:24–31.
b. [48:3] Jos 19:32–39.
c. [48:4] Jos 17:1–11.
d. [48:5] Jos 16:5–9.
e. [48:6] Jos 13:15–21.
f. [48:7] Jos 15:1–63.
g. [48:16] Rev 21:16.
h. [48:23] Jos 18:11–28.
i. [48:24] Jos 19:1–9.
j. [48:25] Jos 19:17–23.
k. [48:26] Jos 19:10–16.
l. [48:27] Jos 13:24–28.
m. [48:34] Rev 21:12–13.
n. [48:35] Is 2:6; Rev 3:12; 21:3.