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Well-Deserved Judgment

14 Then some men from Israel’s elders came to me and sat down in front of me. The Lord’s message came to me: “Son of man, these men have erected their idols in their hearts and placed the obstacle leading to their iniquity[a] right before their faces. Should I really allow them to seek[b] me? Therefore speak to them and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When anyone from the house of Israel erects his idols in his heart and sets the obstacle leading to his iniquity before his face, and then consults a prophet, I the Lord am determined to answer him personally according to the enormity of his idolatry.[c] I will do this in order to capture the hearts of the house of Israel, who have alienated themselves from me on account of all their idols.’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Return! Turn from your idols, and turn your faces away from your abominations. For when anyone from the house of Israel, or the resident foreigner[d] who lives in Israel, separates himself from me and erects his idols in his heart and sets the obstacle leading to his iniquity before his face, and then consults a prophet to seek something from me, I the Lord am determined to answer him personally. I will set my face against that person and will make him an object lesson and a byword[e] and will cut him off from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

“‘As for the prophet, if he is made a fool by being deceived into speaking a prophetic word—I, the Lord, have made a fool of[f] that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. 10 They will bear their punishment;[g] the punishment of the one who sought an oracle will be the same as the punishment of the prophet who gave it[h] 11 so that the house of Israel will no longer go astray from me, nor continue to defile themselves by all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God,[i] declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

12 The Lord’s message came to me: 13 “Son of man, suppose a country sins against me by being unfaithful, and I stretch out my hand against it, cut off its bread supply,[j] cause famine to come on it, and kill both people and animals. 14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel,[k] and Job, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.

15 “Suppose I were to send wild animals through the land and kill its children, leaving it desolate, without travelers due to the wild animals. 16 Even if these three men were in it, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, they could not save their own sons or daughters; they would save only their own lives, and the land would become desolate.

17 “Or suppose I were to bring a sword against that land and say, ‘Let a sword pass through the land,’ and I were to kill both people and animals. 18 Even if these three men were in it, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, they could not save their own sons or daughters—they would save only their own lives.

19 “Or suppose I were to send a plague into that land and pour out my rage on it with bloodshed, killing both people and animals. 20 Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, they could not save their own son or daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness.

21 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send my four terrible judgments—sword, famine, wild animals, and plague—to Jerusalem to kill both people and animals! 22 Yet some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out. They will come out to you, and when you see their behavior and their deeds, you will be consoled about the catastrophe I have brought on Jerusalem—for everything I brought on it. 23 They will console you when you see their behavior and their deeds, because you will know that it was not without reason that I have done everything that I have done in it, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Footnotes

  1. Ezekiel 14:3 tn Heb “the stumbling block of their iniquity.” This phrase is unique to the prophet Ezekiel.
  2. Ezekiel 14:3 tn Or “I will not reveal myself to them.” The Hebrew word is used in a technical sense here of seeking an oracle from a prophet (2 Kgs 1:16; 3:11; 8:8).
  3. Ezekiel 14:4 tn Heb “in accordance with the multitude of his idols.”
  4. Ezekiel 14:7 sn The ger (גֵּר) “resident foreigner” had a different status in different countries. In Israel the foreigners going by this term are (or are supposed to be) fully integrated into Israel’s social fabric and worshipers of Yahweh. Such an attachment to the Lord is a prior condition to the possibility of separating from the Lord. See also the notes at Exod 12:19 and Deut 29:11.
  5. Ezekiel 14:8 tn Heb “proverbs.”
  6. Ezekiel 14:9 tn The translation is uncertain due to difficulty both in determining the meaning of the verb’s stem and its conjugation in this context. In the Qal stem the basic meaning of the verbal root פָּתַה (patah) is “to be gullible, foolish.” The doubling stems (the Pual and Piel used in this verse) typically give such stative verbs a factitive sense, hence either “make gullible” (i.e., “entice”) or “make into a fool” (i.e., “to show to be a fool”). The latter represents the probable meaning of the term in Jer 20:7, 10 and is followed here (see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:193; R. Mosis “Ez 14, 1-11 - ein Ruf zur Umkehr,” BZ 19 [1975]: 166-69; and ThWAT 4:829-31). In this view, if a prophet speaks when not prompted by God, he will be shown to be a fool, but this does not reflect negatively on the Lord because it is God who shows him to be a fool. Secondly, the verb is in the perfect conjugation and may be translated as “I have made a fool of him” or “I have enticed him,” or to show determination (see IBHS 439-41 §27.2f and g), or in certain syntactical constructions as future. Any of these may be plausible if the doubling stems used are understood in the sense of “making a fool of.” But if understood as “to make gullible,” more factors come into play. As the Hebrew verbal form is a perfect, it is often translated as present perfect: “I have enticed.” In this case the Lord states that he himself enticed the prophet to cooperate with the idolaters. Such enticement to sin would seem to be a violation of God’s moral character, but sometimes he does use such deception and enticement to sin as a form of punishment against those who have blatantly violated his moral will (see, e.g., 2 Sam 24). If one follows this line of interpretation in Ezek 14:9, one would have to assume that the prophet had already turned from God in his heart. However, the context gives no indication of this. Therefore, it is better to take the perfect as indicating certitude and to translate it with the future tense: “I will entice.” In this case the Lord announces that he will judge the prophet appropriately. If a prophet allows himself to be influenced by idolaters, then the Lord will use deception as a form of punishment against that deceived prophet. A comparison with the preceding oracles also favors this view. In 14:4 the perfect of certitude is used for emphasis (see “I will answer”), though in v. 7 a participle is employed. For a fuller discussion of this text, see R. B. Chisholm, Jr., “Does God Deceive?” BSac 155 (1998): 23-25.
  7. Ezekiel 14:10 tn Or “They will bear responsibility for their iniquity.” The Hebrew term “iniquity” (three times in this verse) often refers by metonymy to the consequence of sin (see Gen 4:13).
  8. Ezekiel 14:10 tn Or “As is the guilt of the inquirer, so is the guilt of the prophet.”
  9. Ezekiel 14:11 sn I will be their God. See Exod 6:7; Lev 26:12; Jer 7:23; 11:4.
  10. Ezekiel 14:13 tn Heb “break its staff of bread.”
  11. Ezekiel 14:14 sn Traditionally this has been understood as a reference to the biblical Daniel, though he was still quite young when Ezekiel prophesied. One wonders if he had developed a reputation as an intercessor by this point. For this reason some prefer to see a reference to a ruler named Danel, known in Canaanite legend for his justice and wisdom. In this case all three of the individuals named would be non-Israelites, however the Ugaritic Danel is not known to have qualities of faith in the Lord that would place him in the company of the other men. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:447-50.

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