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Ezekiel 21:9-17

Context
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! 1 

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. 2 

21:13 “‘For testing will come, and what will happen when the scepter, which the sword despises, is no more? 3  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 4  the left,

wherever your edge 5  is appointed to strike.

21:17 I too will clap my hands together,

I will exhaust my rage;

I the Lord have spoken.”

1 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).

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

3 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.

4 tn Heb “Put to.”

5 tn Heb “face.”



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