The Sins of Jerusalem
1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “As for you, son of man, are you willing to pronounce judgment,#tn Heb “will you judge.” Here the imperfect form of the verb is probably used with a desiderative nuance. Addressed to the prophet, “judge” means to warn of or pronounce God’s impending judgment upon the city. See 20:4. are you willing to pronounce judgment on the bloody city?#tn The phrase “bloody city” is used of Nineveh in Nah 3:1. Then confront her with all her abominable deeds! 3 Then say, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: O city, who spills blood within herself (which brings on her doom),#tn Heb “her time”; this refers to the time of impending judgment (see the note on “doom” in v. 4). and who makes herself idols (which results in impurity), 4 you are guilty because of the blood you shed and defiled by the idols you made. You have hastened the day of your doom;#tn Heb “you have brought near your days.” The expression “bring near your days” appears to be an adaptation of the idiom “days draw near,” which is used to indicate that an event, such as death, is imminent (see Gen 27:41; 47:29; Deut 31:14; 1 Kgs 2:1; Ezek 12:23). Here “your days” probably refers to the days of the personified city’s life, which was about to come to an end through God’s judgment. the end of your years has come.#tn Heb “and you have come to your years.” This appears to mean that she has arrived at the time when her years (i.e., life) would end, though it may mean that her years of punishment will begin. Because “day” and “time” are so closely associated in the immediate context (see 21:25, 29) some prefer to emend the text and read “you have brought near your time.” See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:31, as well as the translator’s note on verse 3. Therefore I will make#tn The Hebrew verb is a prophetic perfect, emphasizing that the action is as good as done from the speaker’s perspective. you an object of scorn to the nations, an object to be mocked by all lands. 5 Those both near and far from you will mock you, you with your bad reputation,#tn Heb “unclean of name.” full of turmoil.
6 “‘See how each of the princes of Israel living within you has used his authority to shed blood.#tn Heb “Look! The princes of Israel, each according to his arm, were in you in order to shed blood.” 7 They have treated father and mother with contempt#tn Heb “treated lightly, cursed.” within you; they have oppressed the foreigner among you; they have wronged the orphan and the widow#tn Widows and orphans are often coupled together in the OT (Deut 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19-21; 26:12-13; Jer 7:6; 22:3). They represented all who were poor and vulnerable to economic exploitation. within you. 8 You have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths! 9 Slanderous men shed blood within you.#tn Heb “men of slander are in you in order to shed blood.” Those who live within you eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains;#tn Heb “and on the mountains they eat within you.” The mountains mentioned here were the site of pagan sacrifices. See 18:6. they commit obscene acts among you.#sn This statement introduces vv. 10-11 and refers in general terms to the sexual sins described there. For the legal background of vv. 10-11, see Lev 18:7-20; 20:10-21; Deut 22:22-23, 30; 27:22. 10 They have sex with their father’s wife within you;#tn Heb “the nakedness of a father one uncovers within you.” The ancient versions read the verb as plural (“they uncover”). If the singular is retained, it must be taken as indefinite and representative of the entire group. The idiomatic expression “uncover the nakedness” refers here to sexual intercourse (cf. Lev 18:6). To uncover a father’s nakedness could include sexual relations with one’s own mother (Lev 18:7), but more likely it refers to having intercourse with another wife of one’s father, such as a stepmother (Lev 18:8; cf. Gen 35:22; 49:4). they violate women during their menstrual period within you.#tn Heb “(one who is) unclean due to the impurity they humble within you.” The use of the verb “to humble” suggests that these men forced themselves upon women during menstruation. Having sexual relations with a woman during her period was forbidden by the Law (Lev 18:19; 20:18). 11 One#tn Heb “a man.” commits an abominable act with his neighbor’s wife; another obscenely defiles his daughter-in-law; another violates#tn The verb is the same one used in verse 10b and suggests forcible sexual violation of the woman. his sister – his father’s daughter#sn Sexual relations with one’s half-sister may be primarily in view here. See Lev 18:9; 20:17. – within you. 12 They take bribes within you to shed blood. You engage in usury and charge interest;#tn Heb “usury and interest you take.” See 18:13, 17. This kind of economic exploitation violated the law given in Lev 25:36. you extort money from your neighbors. You have forgotten me,#sn Forgetting the Lord is also addressed in Deut 6:12; 8:11, 14; Jer 3:21; 13:25; Ezek 23:35; Hos 2:15; 8:14; 13:6. declares the sovereign Lord.#tn The second person verb forms are feminine singular in Hebrew, indicating that the personified city is addressed here as representing its citizens.
13 “‘See, I strike my hands together#sn This gesture apparently expresses mourning and/or anger (see 6:11; 21:14, 17). at the dishonest profit you have made, and at the bloodshed#tn Heb “the blood which was in you.” they have done among you. 14 Can your heart endure,#tn Heb “stand.” The heart here stands for the emotions; Jerusalem would panic in the face of God’s judgment. or can your hands be strong when I deal with you?#tn Heb “in the days when I act against you.” I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it! 15 I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you among various countries; I will remove your impurity from you.#sn The ultimate purpose of divine judgment is to purify the covenant community of its sins. 16 You will be profaned within yourself#tc Several ancient versions read the verb as first person, in which case the Lord refers to how his people’s sin brings disgrace upon him. For a defense of the Hebrew text, see D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:712, n. 68, and M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 2:457-58. tn The phrase “within yourself” is the same as the several previous occurrences of “within you” but adjusted to fit this clause which is the culmination of the series of indictments. in the sight of the nations; then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become slag to me. All of them are like bronze, tin, iron, and lead in the furnace;#tn For similar imagery, see Isa 1:21-26; Jer 6:27-30. they are the worthless slag of silver. 19 Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘Because all of you#tn The Hebrew second person pronoun is masculine plural here and in vv. 19b-21, indicating that the people are being addressed. have become slag, look out! – I am about to gather you in the middle of Jerusalem.#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 20 As silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin are gathered in a furnace so that the fire can melt them, so I will gather you in my anger and in my rage. I will deposit you there#tn Heb “I will put.” No object is supplied in the Hebrew, prompting many to emend the text to “I will blow.” See BHS and verse 21. and melt you. 21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my fury, and you will be melted in it. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted in it, and you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out my anger on you.’”
23 The word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that receives no rain#tc The MT reads “that is not cleansed”; the LXX reads “that is not drenched,” which assumes a different vowel pointing as well as the loss of a מ (mem) due to haplography. In light of the following reference to showers, the reading of the LXX certainly fits the context well. For a defense of the emendation, see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:32. Yet the MT is not an unreasonable reading since uncleanness in the land also fits the context, and a poetic connection between rain and the land being uncleansed may be feasible since washing with water is elsewhere associated with cleansing (Num 8:7; 31:23; Ps 51:7). or showers in the day of my anger.’#tn Heb “in a day of anger.” 25 Her princes#tn Heb “a conspiracy of her prophets is in her midst.” The LXX reads “whose princes” rather than “a conspiracy of prophets.” The prophets are mentioned later in the paragraph (v. 28). If one follows the LXX in verse 25, then five distinct groups are mentioned in vv. 25-29: princes, priests, officials, prophets, and the people of the land. For a defense of the Septuagintal reading, see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:32, and D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:720, n. 4. within her are like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they have devoured lives. They take away riches and valuable things; they have made many women widows#tn Heb “her widows they have multiplied.” The statement alludes to their murderous acts. within it. 26 Her priests abuse my law and have desecrated my holy things. They do not distinguish between the holy and the profane,#tn Or “between the consecrated and the common.” or recognize any distinction between the unclean and the clean. They ignore#tn Heb “hide their eyes from.” The idiom means to disregard or ignore something or someone (see Lev 20:4; 1 Sam 12:3; Prov 28:27; Isa 1:15). my Sabbaths and I am profaned in their midst. 27 Her officials are like wolves in her midst rending their prey – shedding blood and destroying lives – so they can get dishonest profit. 28 Her prophets coat their messages with whitewash.#tn Heb “her prophets coat for themselves with whitewash.” The expression may be based on Ezek 13:10-15. They see false visions and announce lying omens for them, saying, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says,’ when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have wronged the poor and needy; they have oppressed the foreigner who lives among them and denied them justice.#tn Heb “and the foreigner they have oppressed without justice.”
30 “I looked for a man from among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one.#tn Heb “I did not find.” 31 So I have poured my anger on them, and destroyed them with the fire of my fury. I hereby repay them for what they have done,#tn Heb “their way on their head I have placed.” declares the sovereign Lord.”