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Ezekiel 21:1-17

Context
The Sword of Judgment

21:1 (21:6) 1  The word of the Lord came to me: 21:2 “Son of man, turn toward 2  Jerusalem 3  and speak out against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel 21:3 and say to them, 4  ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, 5  I am against you. 6  I will draw my sword 7  from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. 8  21:4 Because I will cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked, my sword will go out from its sheath against everyone 9  from the south 10  to the north. 21:5 Then everyone will know that I am the Lord, who drew my sword from its sheath – it will not be sheathed again!’

21:6 “And you, son of man, groan with an aching heart 11  and bitterness; groan before their eyes. 21:7 When they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you will reply, ‘Because of the report that has come. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand will be limp; everyone 12  will faint and every knee will be wet with urine.’ 13  Pay attention – it is coming and it will happen, declares the sovereign Lord.”

21:8 The word of the Lord came to me: 21:9 “Son of man, prophesy and say: ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘A sword, a sword is sharpened,

and also polished.

21:10 It is sharpened for slaughter,

it is polished to flash like lightning!

“‘Should we rejoice in the scepter of my son? No! The sword despises every tree! 14 

21:11 “‘He gave it to be polished,

to be grasped in the hand –

the sword is sharpened, it is polished –

giving it into the hand of the executioner.

21:12 Cry out and moan, son of man,

for it is wielded against my people;

against all the princes of Israel.

They are delivered up to the sword, along with my people.

Therefore, strike your thigh. 15 

21:13 “‘For testing will come, and what will happen when the scepter, which the sword despises, is no more? 16  declares the sovereign Lord.’

21:14 “And you, son of man, prophesy,

and clap your hands together.

Let the sword strike twice, even three times!

It is a sword for slaughter,

a sword for the great slaughter surrounding them.

21:15 So hearts melt with fear and many stumble.

At all their gates I have stationed the sword for slaughter.

Ah! It is made to flash, it is drawn for slaughter!

21:16 Cut sharply on the right!

Swing to 17  the left,

wherever your edge 18  is appointed to strike.

21:17 I too will clap my hands together,

I will exhaust my rage;

I the Lord have spoken.”

1 sn Ezek 21:1 in the English Bible is 21:6 in the Hebrew text (BHS). See the note at 20:45.

2 tn Heb “set your face toward.”

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

4 tn Heb “the land of Israel.”

5 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) draws attention to something and has been translated here as a verb.

6 tn Or “I challenge you.” The phrase “I am against you” may be a formula for challenging someone to combat or a duel. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:201-2, and P. Humbert, “Die Herausforderungsformel ‘h!nn#n' ?l?K>,’” ZAW 45 (1933): 101-8.

7 sn This is the sword of judgment, see Isa 31:8; 34:6; 66:16.

8 sn Ezekiel elsewhere pictures the Lord’s judgment as discriminating between the righteous and the wicked (9:4-6; 18:1-20; see as well Pss 1 and 11) and speaks of the preservation of a remnant (3:21; 6:8; 12:16). Perhaps here he exaggerates for rhetorical effect in an effort to subdue any false optimism. See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:25-26; D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:669-70; and W. Zimmerli, Ezekiel (Hermeneia), 1:424-25.

9 tn Heb “all flesh” (also in the following verse).

10 tn Heb “Negev.” The Negev is the south country.

11 tn Heb “breaking loins.”

12 tn Heb “every spirit will be dim.”

13 sn This expression depicts in a very vivid way how they will be overcome with fear. See the note on the same phrase in 7:17.

14 tn Heb “Or shall we rejoice, scepter of my son, it despises every tree.” The translation understands the subject of the verb “despises,” which is a feminine form in the Hebrew text, to be the sword (which is a feminine noun) mentioned just before this. Alternatively, the line may be understood as “let us not rejoice, O tribe of my son; it despises every tree.” The same word in Hebrew may be either “rod,” “scepter,” or “tribe.” The word sometimes translated as “or” or taken as an interrogative particle may be a negative particle. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:672, n. 79.

sn The people of Judah should not place false hope in their king, symbolized by his royal scepter, for God’s judgment (symbolized by fire and then a sword) would destroy every tree (see 20:47), symbolizing the righteous and wicked (see 21:3-4).

15 sn This physical action was part of an expression of grief. Cp. Jer. 31:19.

16 tn Heb “For testing (will come) and what if also a scepter, it despises, will not be?” The translation understands the subject of the verb “despises,” which is a feminine form in the Hebrew text, to be the sword (which is a feminine noun) mentioned in the previous verses. The text is very difficult and any rendering is uncertain.

17 tn Heb “Put to.”

18 tn Heb “face.”



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