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Ezekiel 33

Ezekiel Israel’s Watchman

33:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 33:2 “Son of man, speak to your people, 1  and say to them, ‘Suppose I bring a sword against the land, and the people of the land take one man from their borders and make him their watchman. 33:3 He sees the sword coming against the land, blows the trumpet, 2  and warns the people, 3  33:4 but there is one who hears the sound of the trumpet yet does not heed the warning. Then the sword comes and sweeps him away. He will be responsible for his own death. 4  33:5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, so he is responsible for himself. 5  If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved his life. 33:6 But suppose the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people. Then the sword comes and takes one of their lives. He is swept away for his iniquity, 6  but I will hold the watchman accountable for that person’s death.’ 7 

33:7 “As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman 8  for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. 33:8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’ 9  and you do not warn 10  the wicked about his behavior, 11  the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 12  33:9 But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior, 13  and he refuses to change, 14  he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life.

33:10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you have said: “Our rebellious acts and our sins have caught up with us, 15  and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior 16  and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! 17  Why should you die, O house of Israel?’

33:12 “And you, son of man, say to your people, 18  ‘The righteousness of the righteous will not deliver him if he rebels. 19  As for the wicked, his wickedness will not make him stumble if he turns from it. 20  The righteous will not be able to live by his righteousness 21  if he sins.’ 22  33:13 Suppose I tell the righteous that he will certainly live, but he becomes confident in his righteousness and commits iniquity. None of his righteous deeds will be remembered; because of the iniquity he has committed he will die. 33:14 Suppose I say to the wicked, ‘You must certainly die,’ but he turns from his sin and does what is just and right. 33:15 He 23  returns what was taken in pledge, pays back what he has stolen, and follows the statutes that give life, 24  committing no iniquity. He will certainly live – he will not die. 33:16 None of the sins he has committed will be counted 25  against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live.

33:17 “Yet your people 26  say, ‘The behavior 27  of the Lord is not right,’ 28  when it is their behavior that is not right. 33:18 When a righteous man turns from his godliness and commits iniquity, he will die for it. 33:19 When the wicked turns from his sin and does what is just and right, he will live because of it. 33:20 Yet you say, ‘The behavior of the Lord is not right.’ House of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his behavior.” 29 

The Fall of Jerusalem

33:21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth of the month, 30  a refugee came to me from Jerusalem 31  saying, “The city has been defeated!” 32  33:22 Now the hand of the Lord had been on me 33  the evening before the refugee reached me, but the Lord 34  opened my mouth by the time the refugee arrived 35  in the morning; he opened my mouth and I was no longer unable to speak. 36  33:23 The word of the Lord came to me: 33:24 “Son of man, the ones living in these ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land, but we are many; surely the land has been given to us for a possession.’ 37  33:25 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: You eat the meat with the blood still in it, 38  pray to 39  your idols, and shed blood. Do you really think you will possess 40  the land? 33:26 You rely 41  on your swords and commit abominable deeds; each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Will you possess the land?’

33:27 “This is what you must say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those living in the ruins will die 42  by the sword, those in the open field I will give to the wild beasts for food, and those who are in the strongholds and caves will die of disease. 33:28 I will turn the land into a desolate ruin; her confident pride will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate no one will pass through them. 33:29 Then they will know that I am the Lord when I turn the land into a desolate ruin because of all the abominable deeds they have committed.’ 43 

33:30 “But as for you, son of man, your people 44  (who are talking about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses) say to one another, 45  ‘Come hear the word that comes 46  from the Lord.’ 33:31 They come to you in crowds, 47  and they sit in front of you as 48  my people. They hear your words, but do not obey 49  them. For they talk lustfully, 50  and their heart is set on 51  their own advantage. 52  33:32 Realize 53  that to them you are like a sensual song, a beautiful voice and skilled musician. 54  They hear your words, but they do not obey them. 55  33:33 When all this comes true – and it certainly will 56  – then they will know that a prophet was among them.”

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1 tn Heb “sons of your people.”

2 tn Heb “shofar,” a ram’s horn rather than a brass instrument (so throughout the chapter).

3 tn Sounding the trumpet was a warning of imminent danger (Neh 4:18-20; Jer 4:19; Amos 3:6).

4 tn Heb “his blood will be on his own head.”

5 tn Heb “his blood will be on him.”

6 tn Or “in his punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity/punishment” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and in vv. 8 and 9; 3:18, 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment” for iniquity or “guilt” of iniquity.

7 tn Heb “his blood from the hand of the watchman I will seek.”

8 sn Jeremiah (Jer 6:17) and Habakkuk (Hab 2:1) also served in the role of a watchman.

9 tn The same expression occurs in Gen 2:17.

10 tn Heb “and you do not speak to warn.”

11 tn Heb “way.”

12 tn Heb “and his blood from your hand I will seek.”

13 tn Heb “from his way to turn from it.”

14 tn Heb “and he does not turn from his way.”

15 tn Heb “(are) upon us.”

16 tn Heb “turn from his way.”

17 tn Heb “ways.” This same word is translated “behavior” earlier in the verse.

18 tn Heb “the sons of your people.”

19 tn Heb “in the day of his rebellion.” The statement envisions a godly person rejecting what is good and becoming sinful. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:247-48.

20 tn Heb “and the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble in it in the day of his turning from his wickedness.”

21 tn Heb “by it.”

22 tn Heb “in the day of his sin.”

23 tn Heb “the wicked one.”

24 tn Heb “and in the statutes of life he walks.”

25 tn Heb “remembered.”

26 tn Heb “the sons of your people.”

27 tn Heb “way.”

28 tn The Hebrew verb translated “is (not) right” has the basic meaning of “to measure.” For a similar concept, see Ezek 18:25, 29.

29 tn Heb “ways.”

30 tn January 19, 585 b.c.

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

32 tn Heb “smitten.”

33 tn The other occurrences of the phrase “the hand of the Lord” in Ezekiel are in the context of prophetic visions.

34 tn Heb “he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Heb “by the time of the arrival to me.” For clarity the translation specifies the refugee as the one who arrived.

36 sn Ezekiel’s God-imposed muteness was lifted (see 3:26).

37 sn Outside of its seven occurrences in Ezekiel the term translated “possession” appears only in Exod 6:8 and Deut 33:4.

38 sn This practice was a violation of Levitical law (see Lev 19:26).

39 tn Heb “lift up your eyes.”

40 tn Heb “Will you possess?”

41 tn Heb “stand.”

42 tn Heb “fall.”

43 sn The judgments of vv. 27-29 echo the judgments of Lev 26:22, 25.

44 tn Heb “sons of your people.”

45 tn Heb “one to one, a man to his brother.”

46 tn Heb “comes out.”

47 tn Heb “as people come.” Apparently this is an idiom indicating that they come in crowds. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:264.

48 tn The word “as” is supplied in the translation.

49 tn Heb “do.”

50 tn Heb “They do lust with their mouths.”

51 tn Heb “goes after.”

52 tn The present translation understands the term often used for “unjust gain” in a wider sense, following M. Greenberg, who also notes that the LXX uses a term which can describe either sexual or ritual pollution. See M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 2:687.

53 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb.

54 tn Heb “one who makes playing music well.”

55 sn Similar responses are found in Isa 29:13; Matt 21:28-32; James 1:22-25.

56 tn Heb “behold it is coming.”

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