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Ezekiel 21:19-23

21:19 “You, son of man, mark out two routes for the king of Babylon’s sword to take; both of them will originate in a single land. Make a signpost and put it at the beginning of the road leading to the city. 21:20 Mark out the routes for the sword to take: “Rabbah of the Ammonites” and “Judah with Jerusalem in it.” 1  21:21 For the king of Babylon stands at the fork 2  in the road at the head of the two routes. He looks for omens: 3  He shakes arrows, he consults idols, 4  he examines 5  animal livers. 6  21:22 Into his right hand 7  comes the portent for Jerusalem – to set up battering rams, to give the signal 8  for slaughter, to shout out the battle cry, 9  to set up battering rams against the gates, to erect a siege ramp, to build a siege wall. 21:23 But those in Jerusalem 10  will view it as a false omen. They have sworn solemn oaths, 11  but the king of Babylon 12  will accuse them of violations 13  in order to seize them. 14 

1 tc The MT reads “Judah in fortified Jerusalem,” a geographic impossibility. The translation follows the LXX, which assumes בְּתוֹכָהּ (bÿtokhah, “in it”) for בְּצוּרָה (bÿtsurah, “fortified”).

sn As the Babylonians approached from the north, one road would branch off to the left and lead down the east side of the Jordan River to Ammon. The other road would veer to the right and lead down west of the Jordan to Jerusalem.

2 tn Heb “mother.”

3 sn Mesopotamian kings believed that the gods revealed the future through omens. They employed various divination techniques, some of which are included in the list that follows. A particularly popular technique was the examination and interpretation of the livers of animals. See R. R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel, 90-110.

4 tn This word refers to personal idols that were apparently used for divination purposes (Gen 31:19; 1 Sam 19:13, 16).

5 tn Heb “sees.”

6 tn Heb “the liver.”

7 tn Or “on the right side,” i.e., the omen mark on the right side of the liver.

8 tn Heb “to open the mouth” for slaughter.

9 tn Heb “to raise up a voice in a battle cry.”

10 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people in Jerusalem) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 sn When the people of Judah realized the Babylonians’ intentions, they would object on grounds that they had made a treaty with the Babylonian king (see 17:13).

12 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king of Babylon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Or “iniquity.”

14 tn Heb “and he will remind of guilt for the purpose of being captured.” The king would counter their objections by pointing out that they had violated their treaty with him (see 17:18).

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