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A Desecrated Temple

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month,[a] as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting in front of me, the hand[b] of the Sovereign Lord seized me.[c] As I watched, I noticed[d] a form that appeared to be a man.[e] From his waist downward was something like fire,[f] and from his waist upward something like a brightness,[g] like an amber glow.[h] He stretched out the form[i] of a hand and grabbed me by a lock of hair on my head. Then a wind[j] lifted me up between the earth and sky and brought me to Jerusalem by divine visions, to the door of the inner gate that faces north where the statue[k] that provokes to jealousy was located. Then I perceived that the glory of the God of Israel was there, as in the vision I had seen earlier in the valley.

He said to me, “Son of man, look up toward[l] the north.” So I looked up toward the north, and I noticed to the north of the altar gate was this statue of jealousy at the entrance.

He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the great abominations that the people[m] of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see greater abominations than these!”

He brought me to the entrance of the court, and as I watched, I noticed a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and discovered a doorway.

He said to me, “Go in and see the evil abominations they are practicing here.” 10 So I went in and looked. I noticed every figure[n] of creeping thing and beast—detestable images[o]—and every idol of the house of Israel, engraved on the wall all around.[p] 11 Seventy men from the elders of the house of Israel[q] (with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them) were standing in front of them, each with a censer in his hand, and fragrant vapors[r] from a cloud of incense were swirling upward.

12 He said to me, “Do you see, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in the chamber of his idolatrous images?[s] For they think, ‘The Lord does not see us! The Lord has abandoned the land!’” 13 He said to me, “You will see them practicing even greater abominations!”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the Lord’s house. I noticed[t] women sitting there weeping for Tammuz.[u] 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see even greater abominations than these!”

16 Then he brought me to the inner court of the Lord’s house. Right there[v] at the entrance to the Lord’s temple, between the porch and the altar,[w] were about twenty-five[x] men with their backs to the Lord’s temple,[y] facing east—they were worshiping the sun[z] toward the east!

17 He said to me, “Do you see, son of man? Is it a trivial thing that the house of Judah commits these abominations they are practicing here? For they have filled the land with violence and provoked me to anger still further. Look, they are putting the branch to their nose![aa] 18 Therefore I will act with fury! My eye will not pity them nor will I spare[ab] them. When they have shouted in my ears, I will not listen to them.”


  1. Ezekiel 8:1 tc The LXX reads “In the sixth year, in the fifth month, on the fifth of the month.” sn In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth of the month would be September 17, 592 b.c., about fourteen months after the initial vision.
  2. Ezekiel 8:1 tn Or “power.” sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s hand being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
  3. Ezekiel 8:1 tn Heb “fell upon me there,” that is, God’s influence came over him.
  4. Ezekiel 8:2 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb (so also throughout the chapter).
  5. Ezekiel 8:2 tc The MT reads “fire” rather than “man,” the reading of the LXX. The nouns are very similar in Hebrew.
  6. Ezekiel 8:2 tc The MT reads: “what appeared to be his waist and downwards was fire.” The LXX omits “what appeared to be,” reading: “from his waist to below was fire.” Suggesting that “like what appeared to be” belongs before “fire,” D. I. Block (Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:277) points out the resulting poetic symmetry of form with the next line, as followed in the translation here.
  7. Ezekiel 8:2 tc The LXX omits “like a brightness.”
  8. Ezekiel 8:2 tn See Ezek 1:4.
  9. Ezekiel 8:3 tn The Hebrew term is normally used as an architectural term in describing the pattern of the tabernacle or temple or a representation of it (see Exod 25:8; 1 Chr 28:11).
  10. Ezekiel 8:3 tn Or “spirit.” See note on “wind” in 2:2.
  11. Ezekiel 8:3 tn Or “image.”
  12. Ezekiel 8:5 tn Heb “lift your eyes (to) the way of.”
  13. Ezekiel 8:6 tn Heb “house.”
  14. Ezekiel 8:10 tn Or “pattern.”
  15. Ezekiel 8:10 tn Heb “detestable.” The word is often used to describe the figures of foreign gods.
  16. Ezekiel 8:10 sn These engravings were prohibited in the Mosaic law (Deut 4:16-18).
  17. Ezekiel 8:11 sn Note the contrast between these seventy men who represented Israel and the seventy elders who ate the covenant meal before God, inaugurating the covenant relationship (Exod 24:1, 9).
  18. Ezekiel 8:11 tn The Hebrew word occurs only here in the OT.
  19. Ezekiel 8:12 tn Heb “the room of his images.” The adjective “idolatrous” has been supplied in the translation for This type of image is explicitly prohibited in the Mosaic law (Lev 26:1).
  20. Ezekiel 8:14 tn Given the context, this could be understood as a shock, e.g., idiomatically “Good grief! I saw….”
  21. Ezekiel 8:14 sn The worship of Tammuz included the observation of the annual death and descent into the netherworld of the god Dumuzi. The practice was observed by women in the ancient Near East over a period of centuries.
  22. Ezekiel 8:16 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something.
  23. Ezekiel 8:16 sn The priests prayed to God between the porch and the altar on fast days (Joel 2:17). This is the location where Zechariah was murdered (Matt 23:35).
  24. Ezekiel 8:16 tc The LXX reads “twenty” instead of “twenty-five,” perhaps because of the association of the number twenty with the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash. tn Or “exactly twenty-five.”
  25. Ezekiel 8:16 sn The temple faced east.
  26. Ezekiel 8:16 tn Or “the sun god.” sn The worship of astral entities may have begun during the reign of Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:5).
  27. Ezekiel 8:17 tn It is not clear what the practice of “holding a branch to the nose” indicates. A possible parallel is the Syrian relief of a king holding a flower to his nose as he worships the stars (ANEP 281). See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:145-46. The LXX glosses the expression as “Behold, they are like mockers.”
  28. Ezekiel 8:18 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term is primarily emotional: “to pity,” which in context implies an action, as in being moved by pity in order to spare them from the horror of their punishment.

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