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God Uses the Babylonians to Judge Israel

21 A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, “Son of man, turn your attention to Jerusalem. Preach against the temple. Prophesy against the land of Israel. Tell them, ‘The Lord says, “I am against you. I will pull out my sword. I will remove from you godly people and sinful people alike. Because I am going to remove them, my sword will be ready to use. I will strike down everyone from south to north. Then all people will know that I have pulled out my sword. I will not put it back. I am the Lord.” ’

“Groan, son of man! Groan in front of your people. Groan with a broken heart and bitter sorrow. They will ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ Then you will say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. The hearts of all the people will melt away in fear. Their hands will not be able to help them. Their spirits will grow weak. And they will be so afraid they’ll wet themselves.’ The news is coming! You can be sure those things will happen,” announces the Lord and King.

A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, “Son of man, prophesy. Say, ‘The Lord says,

“ ‘ “A sword! A sword!
    A sharp and shiny sword is coming from Babylon!
10 It is sharpened to kill people.
    It flashes like lightning.” ’ ”

The people say, “Should we take delight in the scepter of the Lord’s royal son? The sword looks down on every scepter like this.” 11 The Lord says,

“I have told Nebuchadnezzar to shine his sword.
    It is in his hand.
It has been sharpened and shined.
    It is ready for the killer’s hand.
12 Son of man, cry out and weep.
    The sword is against my people.
    It is against all the princes of Israel.
It will kill them
    along with the rest of my people.
    So beat your chest in sorrow.

13 “You can be sure that testing will come. Why does the sword look down on the scepter? Because even the scepter will not continue to rule,” announces the Lord and King.

14 “Son of man, prophesy.
    Clap your hands.
Let the sword strike twice.
    Let it strike even three times.
It is a sword to kill people.
    It is a sword to kill many people.
    It is closing in on them from every side.
15 People’s hearts will melt away in fear.
    Many will be wounded or killed.
I have prepared the sword to kill people
    at all their city gates.
Look! It strikes like lightning.
    It is in the killer’s hand.
16 Sword, cut to the right.
    Then cut to the left.
    Strike down people everywhere your blade is turned.
17 I too will clap my hands.
    I won’t be so angry anymore.
    I have spoken. I am the Lord.”

18 A message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, 19 “Son of man, mark out on a map two roads for the sword to take. The sword belongs to the king of Babylon. Both roads start from the same country. Put up a sign where the road turns off to the city of Rabbah. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to take against Rabbah in Ammon. Mark out another against Judah and the walls of Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylon will stop at the place where the two roads meet. He will look for a special sign. He will cast lots by pulling arrows out of a bag. He will ask his gods for advice. And he will look carefully at the liver of a sheep. 22 His right hand will pull out the arrow for Jerusalem. There he will get huge logs ready to knock down its gates. He will give the command to kill its people. He will sound the battle cry. He will build a ramp up to the city wall. He will bring in his war machines. 23 The decision to attack Jerusalem will seem like the wrong advice to those who made a treaty with Nebuchadnezzar. But he will remind them that they are guilty. And he will take them away as prisoners.”

24 So the Lord and King says, “You people have reminded everyone of how guilty you are. You have done it by refusing to obey me or any other authority. Everything you do clearly shows how sinful you are. So you will be taken away as prisoners.”

25 King Zedekiah, your day has come. You are an unholy and evil prince in Israel. The day for you to be punished is here. 26 The Lord and King says, “Take off your turban. Remove your crown. Things will not be as they were in the past. Those who are considered not important will be honored. And those who are honored will be considered not important. 27 Jerusalem will fall. I will destroy it. It will not be rebuilt until the true king comes. After all, the kingdom belongs to him. I will give it to him.

28 “Son of man, prophesy. Say, ‘The Lord and King speaks about the Ammonites. He also talks about the way they laugh because of Jerusalem’s fall. He says,

“ ‘ “A sword! A sword!
    Nebuchadnezzar’s sword is ready to kill you.
It is shined to destroy you.
    It flashes like lightning.
29 The visions of your prophets are false.
    They use magic to try to find out
    what is going to happen to you.
But their magic tricks are lies.
    The sword will strike the necks of you sinful people.
    You will be killed.
The day for you to be punished has finally come.
    Your time is up.
30 Ammon, return your sword to its place.
    In the land where you were created, I will judge you.
    That is where you came from.
31 I will pour out my anger on you.
    I will breathe out my burning anger against you.
I will hand you over to mean people.
    They are skilled at destroying others.
32 You will be burned in the fire.
    Your blood will be spilled in your land.
    You will not be remembered anymore.
I have spoken. I am the Lord.” ’ ”

Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment

21 [a]The word of the Lord came to me:(A) “Son of man, set your face against(B) Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary.(C) Prophesy against(D) the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you.(E) I will draw my sword(F) from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.(G) Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword(H) will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.(I) Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword(J) from its sheath; it will not return(K) again.’(L)

“Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.(M) And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?(N)’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear(O) and every hand go limp;(P) every spirit will become faint(Q) and every leg will be wet with urine.’(R) It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

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

“‘A sword, a sword,
    sharpened and polished—
10 sharpened for the slaughter,(S)
    polished to flash like lightning!

“‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.(T)

11 “‘The sword is appointed to be polished,(U)
    to be grasped with the hand;
it is sharpened and polished,
    made ready for the hand of the slayer.
12 Cry out and wail, son of man,
    for it is against my people;
    it is against all the princes of Israel.
They are thrown to the sword
    along with my people.
Therefore beat your breast.(V)

13 “‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’

14 “So then, son of man, prophesy
    and strike your hands(W) together.
Let the sword strike twice,
    even three times.
It is a sword for slaughter—
    a sword for great slaughter,
    closing in on them from every side.(X)
15 So that hearts may melt with fear(Y)
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter[b]
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.(Z)
16 Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
17 I too will strike my hands(AA) together,
    and my wrath(AB) will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.(AC)

18 The word of the Lord came to me: 19 “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword(AD) of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost(AE) where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites(AF) and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots(AG) with arrows, he will consult his idols,(AH) he will examine the liver.(AI) 22 Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry,(AJ) to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp(AK) and to erect siege works.(AL) 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind(AM) them of their guilt(AN) and take them captive.

24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.

25 “‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come,(AO) whose time of punishment has reached its climax,(AP) 26 this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown.(AQ) It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.(AR) 27 A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come;(AS) to him I will give it.’(AT)

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the Ammonites(AU) and their insults:

“‘A sword,(AV) a sword,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
29 Despite false visions concerning you
    and lying divinations(AW) about you,
it will be laid on the necks
    of the wicked who are to be slain,
whose day has come,
    whose time of punishment has reached its climax.(AX)

30 “‘Let the sword return to its sheath.(AY)
    In the place where you were created,
in the land of your ancestry,(AZ)
    I will judge you.
31 I will pour out my wrath on you
    and breathe(BA) out my fiery anger(BB) against you;
I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men,
    men skilled in destruction.(BC)
32 You will be fuel for the fire,(BD)
    your blood will be shed in your land,
you will be remembered(BE) no more;
    for I the Lord have spoken.’”


  1. Ezekiel 21:1 In Hebrew texts 21:1-32 is numbered 21:6-37.
  2. Ezekiel 21:15 Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

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