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Ezekiel 3:12-21

Context
Ezekiel Before the Exiles

3:12 Then a wind lifted me up 1  and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, 2  3:13 and the sound of the living beings’ wings brushing against each other, and the sound of the wheels alongside them, a great rumbling sound. 3:14 A wind lifted me up and carried me away. I went bitterly, 3  my spirit full of fury, and the hand of the Lord rested powerfully 4  on me. 3:15 I came to the exiles at Tel Abib, 5  who lived by the Kebar River. 6  I sat dumbfounded among them there, where they were living, for seven days. 7 

3:16 At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 8  3:17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman 9  for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. 3:18 When I say to the wicked, “You will certainly die,” 10  and you do not warn him – you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live – that wicked person will die for his iniquity, 11  but I will hold you accountable for his death. 12  3:19 But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life. 13 

3:20 “When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I set an obstacle 14  before him, he will die. If you have not warned him, he will die for his sin. The righteous deeds he performed will not be considered, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 3:21 However, if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he 15  does not sin, he will certainly live because he was warned, and you will have saved your own life.”

1 sn See note on “wind” in 2:2.

2 tc This translation accepts the emendation suggested in BHS of בְּרוּם (bÿrum) for בָּרוּךְ (barukh). The letters mem (מ) and kaph (כ) were easily confused in the old script while בָּרוּךְ (“blessed be”) both implies a quotation which is out of place here and also does not fit the later phrase, “from its place,” which requires a verb of motion.

3 tn The traditional interpretation is that Ezekiel embarked on his mission with bitterness and anger, either reflecting God’s attitude toward the sinful people or his own feelings about having to carry out such an unpleasant task. L. C. Allen (Ezekiel [WBC], 1:13) takes “bitterly” as a misplaced marginal note and understands the following word, normally translated “anger,” in the sense of fervor or passion. He translates, “I was passionately moved” (p. 4). Another option is to take the word translated “bitterly” as a verb meaning “strengthened” (attested in Ugaritic). See G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 152.

4 tn Heb “the hand of the Lord was on me heavily.” The “hand of the Lord” is a metaphor for his power or influence; the modifier conveys intensity.

sn In Ezekiel God’s “hand” being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).

5 sn The name “Tel Abib” is a transliteration of an Akkadian term meaning “mound of the flood,” i.e., an ancient mound. It is not to be confused with the modern city of Tel Aviv in Israel.

6 tn Or “canal.”

7 sn A similar response to a divine encounter is found in Acts 9:8-9.

8 sn This phrase occurs about fifty times in the book of Ezekiel.

9 tn The literal role of a watchman is described in 2 Sam 18:24; 2 Kgs 9:17.

10 sn Even though the infinitive absolute is used to emphasize the warning, the warning is still implicitly conditional, as the following context makes clear.

11 tn Or “in his punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and v. 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”

12 tn Heb “his blood I will seek from your hand.” The expression “seek blood from the hand” is equivalent to requiring the death penalty (2 Sam 4:11-12).

13 tn Verses 17-19 are repeated in Ezek 33:7-9.

14 tn Or “stumbling block.” The Hebrew term refers to an obstacle in the road in Lev 19:14.

15 tn Heb “the righteous man.”



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