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Ezekiel 2:1--3:15

Context
Ezekiel’s Commission

2:1 He said to me, “Son of man, 1  stand on your feet and I will speak with you.” 2:2 As he spoke to me, 2  a wind 3  came into me and stood me on my feet, and I heard the one speaking to me.

2:3 He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the house 4  of Israel, to rebellious nations 5  who have rebelled against me; both they and their fathers have revolted 6  against me to this very day. 2:4 The people 7  to whom I am sending you are obstinate and hard-hearted, 8  and you must say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says.’ 9  2:5 And as for them, 10  whether they listen 11  or not – for they are a rebellious 12  house 13  – they will know that a prophet has been among them. 2:6 But you, son of man, do not fear them, and do not fear their words – even though briers 14  and thorns 15  surround you and you live among scorpions – do not fear their words and do not be terrified of the looks they give you, 16  for they are a rebellious house! 2:7 You must speak my words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious. 2:8 As for you, son of man, listen to what I am saying to you: Do not rebel like that rebellious house! Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.”

2:9 Then I looked and realized a hand was stretched out to me, and in it was a written scroll. 2:10 He unrolled it before me, and it had writing on the front 17  and back; 18  written on it were laments, mourning, and woe.

3:1 He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you 19  – eat this scroll – and then go and speak to the house of Israel.” 3:2 So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll.

3:3 He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.” So I ate it, 20  and it was sweet like honey in my mouth.

3:4 He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 3:5 For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech 21  and difficult language, 22  but 23  to the house of Israel – 3:6 not to many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand 24  – surely if 25  I had sent you to them, they would listen to you! 3:7 But the house of Israel is unwilling to listen to you, 26  because they are not willing to listen to me, 27  for the whole house of Israel is hard-headed and hard-hearted. 28 

3:8 “I have made your face adamant 29  to match their faces, and your forehead hard to match their foreheads. 3:9 I have made your forehead harder than flint – like diamond! 30  Do not fear them or be terrified of the looks they give you, 31  for they are a rebellious house.”

3:10 And he said to me, “Son of man, take all my words that I speak to you to heart and listen carefully. 3:11 Go to the exiles, to your fellow countrymen, 32  and speak to them – say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says,’ whether they pay attention or not.”

Ezekiel Before the Exiles

3:12 Then a wind lifted me up 33  and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, 34  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, 35  my spirit full of fury, and the hand of the Lord rested powerfully 36  on me. 3:15 I came to the exiles at Tel Abib, 37  who lived by the Kebar River. 38  I sat dumbfounded among them there, where they were living, for seven days. 39 

1 sn The phrase son of man occurs ninety-three times in the book of Ezekiel. It simply means “human one,” and distinguishes the prophet from the nonhuman beings that are present in the world of his vision.

2 tc The phrase “as he spoke to me” is absent from the LXX.

3 tn Or “spirit.” NIV has “the Spirit,” but the absence of the article in the Hebrew text makes this unlikely. Elsewhere in Ezekiel the Lord’s Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of the Lord” (11:5; 37:1), “the Spirit of God” (11:24), or “my (that is, the Lord’s) Spirit” (36:27; 37:14; 39:29). Some identify the “spirit” of 2:2 as the spirit that energized the living beings, however, that “spirit” is called “the spirit” (1:12, 20) or “the spirit of the living beings” (1:20-21; 10:17). Still others see the term as referring to an impersonal “spirit” of strength or courage, that is, the term may also be understood as a disposition or attitude. The Hebrew word often refers to a wind in Ezekiel (1:4; 5:10, 12; 12:4; 13:11, 13; 17:10, 21; 19:12; 27:26; 37:9). In 37:5-10 a “breath” originates in the “four winds” and is associated with the Lord’s life-giving breath (see v. 14). This breath enters into the dry bones and gives them life. In a similar fashion the breath of 2:2 (see also 3:24) energizes paralyzed Ezekiel. Breath and wind are related. On the one hand it is a more normal picture to think of breath rather than wind entering someone, but since wind represents an external force it seems more likely for wind rather than breath to stand someone up (unless we should understand it as a disposition). It may be that one should envision the breath of the speaker moving like a wind to revive Ezekiel, helping him to regain his breath and invigorating him to stand. A wind also transports the prophet from one place to another (3:12, 14; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5).

4 tc The Hebrew reads “sons of,” while the LXX reads “house,” implying the more common phrase in Ezekiel. Either could be abbreviated with the first letter ב (bet). In preparation for the characterization “house of rebellion,” in vv. 5, 6, and 8, “house” is preferred (L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:10 and W. Zimmerli, Ezekiel [Hermeneia], 2:564-65).

5 tc Heb “to the rebellious nations.” The phrase “to the rebellious nations” is omitted in the LXX. Elsewhere in Ezekiel the singular word “nation” is used for Israel (36:13-15; 37:22). Here “nations” may have the meaning of “tribes” or refer to the two nations of Israel and Judah.

6 tc This word is omitted from the LXX.

tn The Hebrew term used here is the strongest word available for expressing a covenant violation. The word is used in the diplomatic arena to express a treaty violation (2 Kgs 1:1; 3:5, 7).

7 tn Heb “sons.” The word choice may reflect treaty idiom, where the relationship between an overlord and his subjects can be described as that of father and son.

8 tc Heb “stern of face and hard of heart.” The phrases “stern of face” and “hard of heart” are lacking in the LXX.

9 tn The phrase “thus says [the Lord]” occurs 129 times in Ezekiel; the announcement is identical to the way messengers often introduced their messages (Gen 32:5; 45:9; Exod 5:10; Num 20:14; Judg 11:15).

10 tn Heb “they”; the phrase “And as for them” has been used in the translation for clarity.

11 tn The Hebrew word implies obedience rather than mere hearing or paying attention.

12 tn This Hebrew adjective is also used to describe the Israelites in Num 17:25 and Isa 30:9.

13 sn The book of Ezekiel frequently refers to the Israelites as a rebellious house (Ezek 2:5, 6, 8; 3:9, 26-27; 12:2-3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3).

14 tn The Hebrew term occurs only here in the OT.

15 tn The Hebrew term is found elsewhere in the OT only in Ezek 28:24.

sn Here thorns may be a figure for hostility (Ezek 28:24; Mic 7:4).

16 tn Heb “of their faces.”

17 tn Heb “on the face.”

18 sn Written on the front and back. While it was common for papyrus scrolls to have writing on both sides the same was not true for leather scrolls.

19 tn Heb “eat what you find.”

20 tc Heb “I ate,” a first common singular preterite plus paragogic he (ה). The ancient versions read “I ate it,” which is certainly the meaning in the context, and indicates they read the he as a third feminine singular pronominal suffix. The Masoretes typically wrote a mappiq in the he for the pronominal suffix but apparently missed this one.

sn I ate it. A similar idea of consuming God’s word is found in Jer 15:16 and Rev 10:10, where it is also compared to honey and may be specifically reminiscent of this text.

21 tn Heb “deep of lip” (in the sense of incomprehensible).

22 tn Heb “heavy of tongue.” Similar language occurs in Exod 4:10; Isa 33:19.

23 tn The conjunction “but” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied from the context.

24 tn Heb “hear.”

25 tc The MT reads “if not” but most ancient versions translate only “if.” The expression occurs with this sense in Isa 5:9; 14:24. See also Ezek 34:8; 36:5; 38:19.

26 sn Moses (Exod 3:19) and Isaiah (Isa 6:9-10) were also told that their messages would not be received.

27 sn A similar description of Israel’s disobedience is given in 1 Sam 8:7.

28 tn Heb “hard of forehead and stiff of heart.”

29 tn Heb “strong, resolute.”

30 tn The Hebrew term translated “diamond” is parallel to “iron” in Jer 17:1. The Hebrew uses two terms which are both translated at times as “flint,” but here one is clearly harder than the other. The translation “diamond” attempts to reflect this distinction in English.

31 tn Heb “of their faces.”

32 tn Heb “to the sons of your people.”

33 sn See note on “wind” in 2:2.

34 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.

35 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.

36 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).

37 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.

38 tn Or “canal.”

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



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