Ezekiel 21


וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   21:1

Ezek. 21:1   Now the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

בֶּן־אָדָם שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ דֶּרֶךְ תֵּימָנָה וְהַטֵּף אֶל־דָּרֹום וְהִנָּבֵא אֶל־יַעַר הַשָּׂדֶה נֶגֶב׃  21:2

Ezek. 21:2   “Human, set your face the way to the south and preach to the south, and prophesy to the forest of the southern field,

וְאָמַרְתָּ לְיַעַר הַנֶּגֶב שְׁמַע דְּבַר־יְהוָה כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנְנִי מַצִּית־בְּךָ אֵשׁ וְאָכְלָה בְךָ   21:3                כָל־עֵץ־לַח וְכָל־עֵץ יָבֵשׁ לֹא־תִכְבֶּה לַהֶבֶת שַׁלְהֶבֶת וְנִצְרְבוּ־בָהּ כָּל־פָּנִים מִנֶּגֶב צָפֹונָה׃

Ezek. 21:3   and you shall say to the forest of the south, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!  Thus says the Master, the Lord:  Behold, I am kindling a fire in you and it shall consume every moist tree in you and every dry tree; the flaming flame will not be quenched, and all surfaces from south to the north will be scorched by it.’

In these first five verses, vss. 21:1 to 21:5,  the Lord resorts to metaphors for Jerusalem.  Afterwards, in response to Ezekiel’s objection (v. 21:5 below), He mentions Jerusalem by name.

רָאוּ כָּל־בָּשָׂר כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה בִּעַרְתִּיהָ לֹא תִּכְבֶּה׃   21:4

Ezek. 21:4   ‘And all flesh shall see that I, the Lord, kindled it; it shall not be quenched.’”

וָאֹמַר אֲהָהּ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הֵמָּה אֹמְרִים לִי הֲלֹא מְמַשֵּׁל מְשָׁלִים הוּא׃   21:5

Ezek. 21:5   And I said, “Ah, Master, O Lord!  They are saying about me, ‘Is he not a maker of parables?’”

Here I have to point out two interesting aspects of this verse:  For one, this is the first time -- after twenty chapters -- that Ezekiel actually describes himself as an active participant in his revelations.  Up until this point, he has been passively describing only his visions and inspirations from the Lord.  Now he responds to the Lord’s words by addressing Him.  It sounds to me as if he is objecting to the Lord’s speaking to him in so many parables, freely using metaphors with uncertain meanings.  Secondly, this is also the first time that Ezekiel indicates he actually prophesied these things to the people.  But is he not saying by the question he quotes that they think he is foolish or merely a dreamer?  It sounds to me like they don’t put much stock in his words.  The Lord responds by setting things a bit clearer in the next few verses.

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   21:6

Ezek. 21:6   Then the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

בֶּן־אָדָם שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ אֶל־יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְהַטֵּף אֶל־מִקְדָּשִׁים וְהִנָּבֵא אֶל־אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   21:7

Ezek. 21:7   “Human, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach to the sanctuaries, and prophesy to the land of Israel,

וְאָמַרְתָּ לְאַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה הִנְנִי אֵלַיִךְ וְהֹוצֵאתִי חַרְבִּי מִתַּעְרָהּ וְהִכְרַתִּי מִמֵּךְ צַדִּיק   21:8    וְרָשָׁע׃

Ezek. 21:8   and you shall say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord:  Behold, I am against you and will draw out My sword from its sheath and cut off righteous along with wicked from you.’

יַעַן אֲשֶׁר־הִכְרַתִּי מִמֵּךְ צַדִּיק וְרָשָׁע לָכֵן תֵּצֵא חַרְבִּי מִתַּעְרָהּ אֶל־כָּל־בָּשָׂר מִנֶּגֶב צָפֹון׃   21:9

Ezek. 21:9   ‘For the reason that I cut off righteous with wicked from you, then My sword must be drawn out from its sheath against all flesh from south northward,

וְיָדְעוּ כָּל־בָּשָׂר כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה הֹוצֵאתִי חַרְבִּי מִתַּעְרָהּ לֹא תָשׁוּב עֹוד׃   21:10

Ezek. 21:10   so all flesh would know that I, the Lord, have drawn out My sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’”

Verses 21:8 to 21:10 seem to be saying that the Lord is being forced to sacrifice the righteous along with the wicked as a demonstration of His power.  Rabbis and other Jewish commentators have remarked about the seeming inconsistency between these words and those in Gene. 18:23 and 25 and in Ezek. 18:20.  Read my remarks concerning the latter link, which I believe make these verses not inconsistent with that one.  The words of Gene. 18:23 and following do seem to be inconsistent with these verses.  However, that episode may have been described as a one-time event only, not as a matter of rule for the Lord.  Forgive me, but as I’ve said before, I believe it is the soul that is important in God’s world, not so much the body.  When the righteous die, as they most certainly do, their souls live on.  When the wicked die, their souls do not survive.

וְאַתָּה בֶן־אָדָם הֵאָנַח בְּשִׁבְרֹון מָתְנַיִם וּבִמְרִירוּת תֵּאָנַח לְעֵינֵיהֶם׃   21:11

Ezek. 21:11   “So you, human, groan over the breaking of the loins, and with bitterness you shall sigh before their eyes.”

וְהָיָה כִּי־יֹאמְרוּ אֵלֶיךָ עַל־מָה אַתָּה נֶאֱנָח וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל־שְׁמוּעָה כִי־בָאָה וְנָמֵס כָּל־לֵב וְרָפוּ   21:12            כָל־יָדַיִם וְכִהֲתָה כָל־רוּחַ וְכָל־בִּרְכַּיִם תֵּלַכְנָה מַּיִם הִנֵּה בָאָה וְנִהְיָתָה נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃

Ezek. 21:12   “And it shall be, when they say to you, ‘Why are you sighing?’  Then you shall say, ‘Because of the news that it is coming:  That every heart shall melt, and all hands shall become weak, and every spirit shall grow dim, and all knees shall drip water.  Behold, it is coming, and it shall be done, declares the Master, the Lord.’”

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   21:13

Ezek. 21:13   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

בֶּן־אָדָם הִנָּבֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי אֱמֹר חֶרֶב חֶרֶב הוּחַדָּה וְגַם־מְרוּטָה׃   21:14

Ezek. 21:14   “Human, prophesy, and you shall say, ‘Thus says the Lord:

                        Say, ‘A sword, a sword!’

                                  It is sharpened and also polished.’

לְמַעַן טְבֹחַ טֶבַח הוּחַדָּה לְמַעַן־הֱיֵה־לָהּ בָּרָק מֹרָטָּה אֹו נָשִׂישׂ שֵׁבֶט בְּנִי מֹאֶסֶת כָּל־עֵץ׃   21:15

Ezek. 21:15   ‘For a ruthless slaughter

                                  it is sharpened;

                          it is polished in order to

                                  have a gleam to it;

                          otherwise We would rejoice,

                                   the scepter, My son,

                          despising every tree.’”

The Hebrew word translated as My son must refer to the king of Babylon, who will be carrying out the destruction (of every tree -- another metaphor that recalls the moist tree and dry tree in v. 21:3).  These trees represent the righteous and the wicked.

וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָהּ לְמָרְטָה לִתְפֹּשׂ בַּכָּף הִיא־הוּחַדָּה חֶרֶב וְהִיא מֹרָטָּה לָתֵת אֹותָהּ בְּיַד־הֹורֵג׃   21:16

Ezek. 21:16   So He gives it to be polished,

                                   to be grasped in the hand;

                          it is sharpened, a sword,

                                   and it is polished,

                           to put it in the hand of the slayer.

Although this verse appears to continue the poetry of the previous two verses, I suspect that it describes Ezekiel speaking for himself in response to those two verses.  It’s possible, however, that the Lord is continuing His words, and the third-person pronoun in the first Hebrew word, translated as So He gives, would then also refer to the king of Babylon.

זְעַק וְהֵילֵל בֶּן־אָדָם כִּי־הִיא הָיתָה בְעַמִּי הִיא בְּכָל־נְשִׂיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מְגוּרֵי אֶל־חֶרֶב הָיוּ אֶת־עַמִּי   21:17 

   לָכֵן סְפֹק אֶל־יָרֵךְ׃

Ezek. 21:17   “Cry and wail, human!  For it is on My people; it is on all the princes of Israel; they are hurled at the sword with My people.  So slap at the thigh!”

Slapping the thigh may have been a demonstration of grief and sorrow.

כִּי בֹחַן וּמָה אִם־גַּם־שֵׁבֶט מֹאֶסֶת לֹא יִהְיֶה נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   21:18

Ezek. 21:18   Because it is a trial, then what if the scepter is also despised?  “It would not be,” declares the Master, the Lord.

The Lord is saying here that Nebuchadnezzar will not be despised by Him for his role in this trial.

וְאַתָּה בֶן־אָדָם הִנָּבֵא וְהַךְ כַּף אֶל־כָּף וְתִכָּפֵל חֶרֶב שְׁלִישִׁתָה חֶרֶב חֲלָלִים הִיא חֶרֶב חָלָל הַגָּדֹול   21:19 הַחֹדֶרֶת לָהֶם׃

Ezek. 21:19   “Then you, human, prophesy, and strike palm to palm, and you shall double the third sword, the sword of the fatally wounded; it is the sword of the slain, of the great one who will be closing them in.”

Striking palm to palm, clapping, may be a way of signaling the imminent start of the destruction.

לְמַעַן לָמוּג לֵב וְהַרְבֵּה הַמִּכְשֹׁלִים עַל כָּל־שַׁעֲרֵיהֶם נָתַתִּי אִבְחַת־חָרֶב אָח עֲשׂוּיָה לְבָרָק מְעֻטָּה   21:20 לְטָבַח׃

Ezek. 21:20   “In order to melt the heart and to multiply those stumbling, I have set the threat of the sword against all their gates.  Ah!  It is made for a sharp sword, for slaughter.”

הִתְאַחֲדִי הֵימִנִי הָשִׂימִי הַשְׂמִילִי אָנָה פָּנַיִךְ מֻעָדֹות׃   21:21

Ezek. 21:21   “Choose to go to the right, direct yourself to the left, wherever your face is pointing.”

וְגַם־אֲנִי אַכֶּה כַפִּי אֶל־כַּפִּי וַהֲנִחֹתִי חֲמָתִי אֲנִי יְהוָה דִּבַּרְתִּי׃   21:22

Ezek. 21:22   “I also will slap My ‘palm’ to My ‘palm’ so I can satisfy My ‘rage;’ I, the Lord, have spoken.”

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   21:23

Ezek. 21:23   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

וְאַתָּה בֶן־אָדָם שִׂים־לְךָ שְׁנַיִם דְּרָכִים לָבֹוא חֶרֶב מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל מֵאֶרֶץ אֶחָד יֵצְאוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם וְיָד בָּרֵא   21:24 בְּרֹאשׁ דֶּרֶךְ־עִיר בָּרֵא׃

Ezek. 21:24   “Now you, human, determine for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them should come out from one land; and form a sign, form at the start of the way to the city.”

דֶּרֶךְ תָּשִׂים לָבֹוא חֶרֶב אֵת רַבַּת בְּנֵי־עַמֹּון וְאֶת־יְהוּדָה בִירוּשָׁלִַם בְּצוּרָה׃   21:25

Ezek. 21:25   “You shall determine a way for the sword,  Rabbah of the children of Ammon or Judah, to come to fortified Jerusalem.”

כִּי־עָמַד מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל אֶל־אֵם הַדֶּרֶךְ בְּרֹאשׁ שְׁנֵי הַדְּרָכִים לִקְסָם־קָסֶם קִלְקַל בַּחִצִּים שָׁאַל בַּתְּרָפִים   21:26 רָאָה בַּכָּבֵד׃

Ezek. 21:26   “For the king of Babylon stands by the fork of the way at the start of the two ways, using divination; he shakes arrows, consults with teraphim, looks at the liver.”

I believe this means that Nebuchadnezzar is poised at a crossroads, figurative or actual, trying to decide whether he should attack Ammon or Judah first.

בִּימִינֹו הָיָה הַקֶּסֶם יְרוּשָׁלִַם לָשׂוּם כָּרִים לִפְתֹּחַ פֶּה בְּרֶצַח לְהָרִים קֹול בִּתְרוּעָה לָשׂוּם כָּרִים   21:27        עַל־שְׁעָרִים לִשְׁפֹּךְ סֹלְלָה לִבְנֹות דָּיֵק׃

Ezek. 21:27   “In his right hand there is the Jerusalem divination, to set battering rams to make an opening by force, raising up a noise with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to pour out mounds, to build a bulwark.”

וְהָיָה לָהֶם (כִּקְסֹום) [כִּקְסָם]־שָׁוְא בְּעֵינֵיהֶם שְׁבֻעֵי שְׁבֻעֹות לָהֶם וְהוּא־מַזְכִּיר עָוֹן לְהִתָּפֵשׂ׃   21:28

Ezek. 21:28   “Now it shall be as false divination to them in their eyes, their oaths of innocence, but he should be a reminder of iniquity, to be grasped.”

The third word in this verse, which is in the parentheses, has an error, an extra vav.  The correction is in the brackets.

לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה יַעַן הַזְכַּרְכֶם עֲוֹנְכֶם בְּהִגָּלֹות פִּשְׁעֵיכֶם לְהֵרָאֹות חַטֹּאותֵיכֶם בְּכֹל   21:29            עֲלִילֹותֵיכֶם יַעַן הִזָּכֶרְכֶם בַּכַּף תִּתָּפֵשׂוּ׃

Ezek. 21:29   “Therefore, thus says the Master, the Lord:  Because of your being reminded of your iniquity, your transgressions are being revealed, your sins in all your deeds to be seen; because of your remembering, you shall be seized by the hand.”

וְאַתָּה חָלָל רָשָׁע נְשִׂיא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־בָּא יֹומֹו בְּעֵת עֲוֹן קֵץ׃    21:30

Ezek. 21:30   “And you, one of the wicked slain, prince of Israel, whose day has come, at the end of the time of iniquity,

I suppose this is Zedekiah.  Now notice the last phrase in the verse, which I translate as at the end of the time of iniquity.  This phrase can also be translated as at the time of the iniquity of the end, and usually is by others  The identical Hebrew phrase appears also below in v. 21:34, and in Ezek. 35:5.  The phrase is seen as referring to the full measure of the iniquity that resulted in destruction.  As I have interpreted it, I believe it refers instead to the time that the iniquity in question is to come to an end.  Here it applies to Zedekiah and Judah.  In v.21:34 it applies to Ammon.  And in Chapter 35 it applies to Edom.                                              [Return to Ezek. 35:5]

כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הָסִיר הַמִּצְנֶפֶת וְהָרִים הָעֲטָרָה זֹאת לֹא־זֹאת הַשָּׁפָלָה הַגְבֵּהַ וְהַגָּבֹהַ   21:31           הַשְׁפִּיל׃

Ezek. 21:31   thus says the Master, the Lord:  the turban is to be removed, and the crown lifted.  This is not to be this way!  The humble shall be made lofty, and the proud low!”

וְאַתָּה בֶן־אָדָם הִנָּבֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוִה אֶל־בְּנֵי עַמֹּון וְאֶל־חֶרְפָּתָם וְאָמַרְתָּ חֶרֶב חֶרֶב   21:32 פְּתוּחָה לְטֶבַח מְרוּטָה לְהָכִיל לְמַעַן בָּרָק׃

Ezek. 21:32   “A ruin, a ruin!  I shall make it a ruin.  It is not yet to be, until he is to come whose is the right that I give him.”

This is probably Nebuchadnezzar again.

עַוָּה עַוָּה עַוָּה אֲשִׂימֶנָּה גַּם־זֹאת לֹא הָיָה עַד־בֹּא אֲשֶׁר־לֹו הַמִּשְׁפָּט וּנְתַתִּיו׃   21:33

Ezek. 21:33   “Then you, human, prophesy, and you shall say, ‘Thus says the Master, the Lord about the children of Ammon and about their scorn.’  And you shall say,

                         ‘A sword, a sword loosened for slaughter,

                                  polished to devour,

                         for the sake of shining!’”

Now the Lord turns His words to Ammon.

בַּחֲזֹות לָךְ שָׁוְא בִּקְסָם־לָךְ כָּזָב לָתֵת אֹותָךְ אֶל־צַוְּארֵי חַלְלֵי רְשָׁעִים אֲשֶׁר־בָּא יֹוםָם בְּעֵת עֲוֹן   21:34


Ezek. 21:34   “Because of perceiving falsehood about you,

                                  by divining a lie about you,

                         putting you in among the necks

                                  of the slain of the wicked,

                         that comes by day at the time

                                  of the end of iniquity.”

הָשַׁב אֶל־תַּעְרָהּ בִּמְקֹום אֲשֶׁר־נִבְרֵאת בְּאֶרֶץ מְכֻרֹותַיִךְ אֶשְׁפֹּט אֹתָךְ׃   21:35

Ezek. 21:35   “Restore to the sheath!

                                  In the place where you were created,

                         in the land of your origin,

                                  I shall judge you.”

וְשָׁפַכְתִּי עָלַיִךְ זַעְמִי בְּאֵשׁ עֶבְרָתִי אָפִיחַ עָלָיִךְ וּנְתַתִּיךְ בְּיַד אֲנָשִׁים בֹּעֲרִים חָרָשֵׁי מַשְׁחִית׃  21:36

Ezek. 21:36   “Then I shall pour out

                                  My ‘indignation’ upon you;

                          I will blow upon you

                                  with the fire of My ‘wrath;’

                         and I will deliver you into the hand

                                  of dull-hearted men,

                         craftsmen of destruction.”

לָאֵשׁ תִּהְיֶה לְאָכְלָה דָּמֵךְ יִהְיֶה בְּתֹוךְ הָאָרֶץ לֹא תִזָּכֵרִי כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה דִּבַּרְתִּי׃  21:37

Ezek. 21:37   “To the fire you shall be for fuel;

                                  your blood shall be

                          in the midst of the land;

                                  you shall not be remembered.

                          For I, the Lord, have spoken!”


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