Ezekiel Israel’s Watchman

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 Son of man, speak to your people,1 and say to them, ‘Suppose I bring a sword against the land, and the people of the land take one man from their borders and make him their watchman. 3 He sees the sword coming against the land, blows the trumpet,2 and warns the people,3 4 but there is one who hears the sound of the trumpet yet does not heed the warning. Then the sword comes and sweeps him away. He will be responsible for his own death.4 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, so he is responsible for himself.5 If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But suppose the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people. Then the sword comes and takes one of their lives. He is swept away for his iniquity,6 but I will hold the watchman accountable for that person’s death.’7

7As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman8 for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’9 and you do not warn10 the wicked about his behavior,11 the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death.12 9 But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior,13 and he refuses to change,14 he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life.

10And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you have said: “Our rebellious acts and our sins have caught up with us,15 and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior16 and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds!17 Why should you die, O house of Israel?’

12And you, son of man, say to your people,18The righteousness of the righteous will not deliver him if he rebels.19 As for the wicked, his wickedness will not make him stumble if he turns from it.20 The righteous will not be able to live by his righteousness21 if he sins.’22 13 Suppose I tell the righteous that he will certainly live, but he becomes confident in his righteousness and commits iniquity. None of his righteous deeds will be remembered; because of the iniquity he has committed he will die. 14 Suppose I say to the wicked, ‘You must certainly die,’ but he turns from his sin and does what is just and right. 15 He23 returns what was taken in pledge, pays back what he has stolen, and follows the statutes that give life,24 committing no iniquity. He will certainly live – he will not die. 16 None of the sins he has committed will be counted25 against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live.

17Yet your people26 say, ‘The behavior27 of the Lord is not right,’28 when it is their behavior that is not right. 18 When a righteous man turns from his godliness and commits iniquity, he will die for it. 19 When the wicked turns from his sin and does what is just and right, he will live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The behavior of the Lord is not right.’ House of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his behavior.”29

The Fall of Jerusalem

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth of the month,30 a refugee came to me from Jerusalem31 saying, “The city has been defeated!32 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been on me33 the evening before the refugee reached me, but the Lord34 opened my mouth by the time the refugee arrived35 in the morning; he opened my mouth and I was no longer unable to speak.36 23 The word of the Lord came to me: 24 Son of man, the ones living in these ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land, but we are many; surely the land has been given to us for a possession.’37 25 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: You eat the meat with the blood still in it,38 pray to39 your idols, and shed blood. Do you really think you will possess40 the land? 26 You rely41 on your swords and commit abominable deeds; each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Will you possess the land?’

27This is what you must say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those living in the ruins will die42 by the sword, those in the open field I will give to the wild beasts for food, and those who are in the strongholds and caves will die of disease. 28 I will turn the land into a desolate ruin; her confident pride will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate no one will pass through them. 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord when I turn the land into a desolate ruin because of all the abominable deeds they have committed.’43

30But as for you, son of man, your people44 (who are talking about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses) say to one another,45Come hear the word that comes46 from the Lord.’ 31 They come to you in crowds,47 and they sit in front of you as48 my people. They hear your words, but do not obey49 them. For they talk lustfully,50 and their heart is set on51 their own advantage.52 32 Realize53 that to them you are like a sensual song, a beautiful voice and skilled musician.54 They hear your words, but they do not obey them.55 33 When all this comes true – and it certainly will56 – then they will know that a prophet was among them.”

133:2tn Heb “sons of your people.” 233:3tn Heb “shofar,” a ram’s horn rather than a brass instrument (so throughout the chapter). 333:3tn Sounding the trumpet was a warning of imminent danger (Neh 4:18-20; Jer 4:19; Amos 3:6). 433:4tn Heb “his blood will be on his own head.” 533:5tn Heb “his blood will be on him.” 633:6tn Or “in his punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity/punishment” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and in vv. 8 and 9; 3:18, 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment” for iniquity or “guilt” of iniquity. 733:6tn Heb “his blood from the hand of the watchman I will seek.” 833:7sn Jeremiah (Jer 6:17) and Habakkuk (Hab 2:1) also served in the role of a watchman. 933:8tn The same expression occurs in Gen 2:17. 1033:8tn Heb “and you do not speak to warn.” 1133:8tn Heb “way.” 1233:8tn Heb “and his blood from your hand I will seek.” 1333:9tn Heb “from his way to turn from it.” 1433:9tn Heb “and he does not turn from his way.” 1533:10tn Heb “(are) upon us.” 1633:11tn Heb “turn from his way.” 1733:11tn Heb “ways.” This same word is translated “behavior” earlier in the verse. 1833:12tn Heb “the sons of your people.” 1933:12tn Heb “in the day of his rebellion.” The statement envisions a godly person rejecting what is good and becoming sinful. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:247-48. 2033:12tn Heb “and the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble in it in the day of his turning from his wickedness.” 2133:12tn Heb “by it.” 2233:12tn Heb “in the day of his sin.” 2333:15tn Heb “the wicked one.” 2433:15tn Heb “and in the statutes of life he walks.” 2533:16tn Heb “remembered.” 2633:17tn Heb “the sons of your people.” 2733:17tn Heb “way.” 2833:17tn The Hebrew verb translated “is (not) right” has the basic meaning of “to measure.” For a similar concept, see Ezek 18:25, 29. 2933:20tn Heb “ways.” 3033:21tn January 19, 585 b.c. 3133:21map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 3233:21tn Heb “smitten.” 3333:22tn The other occurrences of the phrase “the hand of the Lord” in Ezekiel are in the context of prophetic visions. 3433:22tn Heb “he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. 3533:22tn Heb “by the time of the arrival to me.” For clarity the translation specifies the refugee as the one who arrived. 3633:22sn Ezekiel’s God-imposed muteness was lifted (see 3:26). 3733:24sn Outside of its seven occurrences in Ezekiel the term translated “possession” appears only in Exod 6:8 and Deut 33:4. 3833:25sn This practice was a violation of Levitical law (see Lev 19:26). 3933:25tn Heb “lift up your eyes.” 4033:25tn Heb “Will you possess?” 4133:26tn Heb “stand.” 4233:27tn Heb “fall.” 4333:29sn The judgments of vv. 27-29 echo the judgments of Lev 26:22, 25. 4433:30tn Heb “sons of your people.” 4533:30tn Heb “one to one, a man to his brother.” 4633:30tn Heb “comes out.” 4733:31tn Heb “as people come.” Apparently this is an idiom indicating that they come in crowds. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:264. 4833:31tn The word “as” is supplied in the translation. 4933:31tn Heb “do.” 5033:31tn Heb “They do lust with their mouths.” 5133:31tn Heb “goes after.” 5233:31tn The present translation understands the term often used for “unjust gain” in a wider sense, following M. Greenberg, who also notes that the LXX uses a term which can describe either sexual or ritual pollution. See M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 2:687. 5333:32tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb. 5433:32tn Heb “one who makes playing music well.” 5533:32sn Similar responses are found in Isa 29:13; Matt 21:28-32; James 1:22-25. 5633:33tn Heb “behold it is coming.”