A Desecrated Temple

1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month,1 as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting in front of me, the hand2 of the sovereign Lord seized me.3 2 As I watched, I noticed4 a form that appeared to be a man.5 From his waist downward was something like fire,6 and from his waist upward something like a brightness,7 like an amber glow.8 3 He stretched out the form9 of a hand and grabbed me by a lock of hair on my head. Then a wind10 lifted me up between the earth and sky and brought me to Jerusalem11 by means of divine visions, to the door of the inner gate which faces north where the statue12 which provokes to jealousy was located. 4 Then I perceived that the glory of the God of Israel was there, as in the vision I had seen earlier in the valley.

5 He said to me, “Son of man, look up toward13 the north.” So I looked up toward the north, and I noticed to the north of the altar gate was this statue of jealousy at the entrance.

6 He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing – the great abominations that the people14 of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see greater abominations than these!

7 He brought me to the entrance of the court, and as I watched, I noticed a hole in the wall. 8 He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and discovered a doorway.

9 He said to me, “Go in and see the evil abominations they are practicing here.” 10 So I went in and looked. I noticed every figure15 of creeping thing and beast – detestable images16 – and every idol of the house of Israel, engraved on the wall all around.17 11 Seventy men from the elders of the house of Israel18 (with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them) were standing in front of them, each with a censer in his hand, and fragrant19 vapors from a cloud of incense were swirling upward.

12 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 the chamber of his idolatrous images?20 For they think, ‘The Lord does not see us! The Lord has abandoned the land!’ 13 He said to me, “You will see them practicing even greater abominations!

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the Lord’s house. I noticed21 women sitting there weeping for Tammuz.22 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see even greater abominations than these!

16 Then he brought me to the inner court of the Lord’s house. Right there23 at the entrance to the Lord’s temple, between the porch and the altar,24 were about twenty-five25 men with their backs to the Lord’s temple,26 facing east – they were worshiping the sun27 toward the east!

17 He said to me, “Do you see, son of man? Is it a trivial thing that the house of Judah commits these abominations they are practicing here? For they have filled the land with violence and provoked me to anger still further. Look, they are putting the branch to their nose!28 18 Therefore I will act with fury! My eye will not pity them nor will I spare29 them. When they have shouted in my ears, I will not listen to them.”

18:1tc The LXX reads “In the sixth year, in the fifth month, on the fifth of the month.”sn In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month would be September 17, 592 b.c., about fourteen months after the initial vision. 28:1tn Or “power.”sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s hand being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1). 38:1tn Heb “fell upon me there,” that is, God’s influence came over him. 48:2tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb (so also throughout the chapter). 58:2tc The MT reads “fire” rather than “man,” the reading of the LXX. The nouns are very similar in Hebrew. 68:2tc The MT reads “what appeared to be his waist and downwards was fire.” The LXX omits “what appeared to be,” reading “from his waist to below was fire.” Suggesting that “like what appeared to be” belongs before “fire,” D. I. Block (Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:277) points out the resulting poetic symmetry of form with the next line as followed in the translation here. 78:2tc The LXX omits “like a brightness.” 88:2tn See Ezek 1:4. 98:3tn The Hebrew term is normally used as an architectural term in describing the pattern of the tabernacle or temple or a representation of it (see Exod 25:8; 1 Chr 28:11). 108:3tn Or “spirit.” See note on “wind” in 2:2. 118:3map For the location of Jerusalem see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 128:3tn Or “image.” 138:5tn Heb “lift your eyes (to) the way of.” 148:6tn Heb “house.” 158:10tn Or “pattern.” 168:10tn Heb “detestable.” The word is often used to describe the figures of foreign gods. 178:10sn These engravings were prohibited in the Mosaic law (Deut 4:16-18). 188:11sn Note the contrast between these seventy men who represented Israel and the seventy elders who ate the covenant meal before God, inaugurating the covenant relationship (Exod 24:1, 9). 198:11tn The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT. 208:12tn Heb “the room of his images.” The adjective “idolatrous” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.sn This type of image is explicitly prohibited in the Mosaic law (Lev 26:1). 218:14tn Given the context this could be understood as a shock, e.g., idiomatically “Good grief! I saw….” 228:14sn The worship of Tammuz included the observation of the annual death and descent into the netherworld of the god Dumuzi. The practice was observed by women in the ancient Near East over a period of centuries. 238:16tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something. 248:16sn The priests prayed to God between the porch and the altar on fast days (Joel 2:17). This is the location where Zechariah was murdered (Matt 23:35). 258:16tc The LXX reads “twenty” instead of twenty-five, perhaps because of the association of the number twenty with the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash.tn Or “exactly twenty-five.” 268:16sn The temple faced east. 278:16tn Or “the sun god.”sn The worship of astral entities may have begun during the reign of Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:5). 288:17tn It is not clear what the practice of “holding a branch to the nose” indicates. A possible parallel is the Syrian relief of a king holding a flower to his nose as he worships the stars (ANEP 281). See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:145-46. The LXX glosses the expression as “Behold, they are like mockers.” 298:18tn The meaning of the Hebrew term is primarily emotional: “to pity,” which in context implies an action, as in being moved by pity in order to spare them from the horror of their punishment.