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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 21


Thus the word of the LORD came to me:


1 Son of man, look southward, preach toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the southern land.


Hear the word of the LORD! you shall say to the southern forest. Thus says the Lord GOD: See! I am kindling a fire in you that shall devour all trees, the green as well as the dry. The blazing flame shall not be quenched, but from south to north every face shall be scorched by it.


Everyone shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it, and it shall not be quenched.


But I said, "Alas! Lord GOD, they say to me, 'Is not this the one who is forever spinning parables?'"


Then the word of the LORD came to me:


Son of man, look toward Jerusalem, preach against their sanctuary, and prophesy against the land of Israel,


2 saying to the land of Israel: Thus says the LORD: See! I am coming at you; I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you the virtuous and the wicked.


Thus my sword shall leave its sheath against everyone from south to north,


and everyone shall know that I, the LORD, have drawn my sword from its sheath, and it shall not be sheathed again.


As for you, son of man, groan! with shattered strength groan bitterly while they look on.


3 And when they ask you, "Why are you groaning?", you shall say: Because of a report; when it comes every heart shall fail, every hand shall fall helpless, every spirit shall be daunted, and every knee shall run with water. See, it is coming, it is here! says the Lord GOD.


Thus the word of the LORD came to me:


Son of man, prophesy! say: Thus says the LORD: A sword, a sword has been sharpened, a sword, a sword has been burnished:


To work slaughter has it been sharpened, to flash lightning has it been burnished. Why should I now withdraw it? You have spurned the rod and every judgment!


I have given it over to the burnisher that he might hold it in his hand, A sword sharpened and burnished to be put in the hand of a slayer.


Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is destined for my people; It is for all the princes of Israel, victims of the sword with my people. Therefore, slap your thigh, 4


for the sword has been tested; and why should it not be so? says the Lord GOD, since you have spurned the rod.


As for you, son of man, prophesy, brushing one hand against the other: While the sword is doubled and tripled, this sword of slaughter, This great sword of slaughter which threatens all around,


That every heart may tremble; for many will be the fallen. At all their gates I have appointed the sword for slaughter, Fashioned to flash lightning, burnished for slaughter.


Cleave to the right! destroy! to the left! wherever your edge is turned.


5 Then I, too, shall brush one hand against the other and wreak my fury. I, the LORD, have spoken.


Thus the word of the LORD came to me:


Son of man, make for yourself two roads over which the sword of the king of Babylon can come. Both roads shall lead out from the same land. Then put a signpost at the head of each road,


so that the sword can come to Rabbah of the Ammonites or to Judah's capital, Jerusalem.


6 For at the fork where the two roads divide stands the king of Babylon, divining; he has shaken the arrows, inquired of the teraphim, inspected the liver.


7 In his right hand is the divining arrow marked "Jerusalem," bidding him to give the order for slaying, to raise his voice in the battle cry, to post battering rams at the gates, to cast up a ramp, to build a siege tower.


In their eyes this is but a lying oracle; yet they are bound by the oaths they have sworn, and the arrow taken in hand marks their guilt.


Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have drawn attention to your guilt, with your crimes laid bare and your sinfulness in all your wicked deeds revealed (because attention has been drawn to you), you shall be taken in hand.


And as for you, depraved and wicked prince of Israel, whose day is coming when your life of crime will be ended,


thus says the Lord GOD: Off with the turban and away with the crown! Nothing shall be as it was! Up with the low and down with the high!


Twisted, twisted, twisted will I leave it; it shall not be the same until he comes who has the claim against the city; and to him I will hand it over.


8 As for you, son of man, prophesy: Thus says the Lord GOD against the Ammonites and their insults: A sword, a sword is drawn for slaughter, burnished to consume and to flash lightning,


because you planned with false visions and lying divinations to lay it on the necks of depraved and wicked men whose day has come when their crimes are at an end.


Return it to its sheath! In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you.


I will pour out my indignation upon you, breathing my fiery wrath upon you, I will hand you over to ravaging men, artisans of destruction.


You shall be fuel for the fire, your blood shall flow throughout the land. You shall not be remembered, for I, the LORD, have spoken.



1 [2-4] The southern kingdom, Judah, is likened to a forest about to be burned; cf Jeremiah 21:14.

2 [8] Cut off from you the virtuous and the wicked: a more complete devastation of Jerusalem than that described in Ezekiel 9:6.

3 [12] A report: the news of the fall of Jerusalem; cf Ezekiel 33:21- 22.

4 [17] Slap your thigh: a gesture signifying grief and dread.

5 [22] Brush one hand against the other: a gesture signifying the rejection of responsibility; cf Ezekiel 22:13; Numbers 24:10.

6 [26] Three forms of divination are mentioned: arrow divination, consisting in the use of differently marked arrows extracted or shaken from a case at random; the consultation of the teraphim or household idols, and liver divination, scrutiny of the configurations of the livers of newly slaughtered animals, a common form of divination in Mesopotamia.

7 [27-28] An arrow marked "Jerusalem" is picked out, which marks the guilt of the city's inhabitants for having broken their oath of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar.

8 [33] (33-37) In the preceding section Nebuchadnezzar is represented as deciding whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbath-Ammon. As it happened, Jerusalem was chosen for attack; later, however, the Chaldeans also invaded Ammon. The present oracle against Ammon is inserted here, rather than in Ezekial 25-32, in order to complement the oracle against Jerusalem.

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