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Ezekiel 33-34 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

IV. Hope for the Future

Chapter 33

The Prophet as Sentinel. The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, speak to your people and tell them: When I bring the sword against a land, if the people of that land select one of their number as a sentinel[a] for them, and the sentinel sees the sword coming against the land, he should blow the trumpet to warn the people. If they hear the trumpet but do not take the warning and a sword attacks and kills them, their blood will be on their own heads. They heard the trumpet blast but ignored the warning; their blood is on them. If they had heeded the warning, they could have escaped with their lives. If, however, the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the sword attacks and takes someone’s life, his life will be taken for his own sin, but I will hold the sentinel responsible for his blood.

You, son of man—I have appointed you as a sentinel for the house of Israel; when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them for me. When I say to the wicked, “You wicked, you must die,” and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.

Individual Retribution. 10 As for you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel: You people say, “Our crimes and our sins weigh us down; we are rotting away because of them. How can we survive?” 11 Answer them: As I live—oracle of the Lord God—I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?

12 As for you, son of man, say to your people: The justice of the just will not save them on the day they sin; the wickedness of the wicked will not bring about their downfall on the day they turn from their wickedness. No, the just cannot save their lives on the day they sin. 13 Even though I say to the just that they shall surely live, if they, relying on their justice, do wrong, none of their just deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong they have done, they shall die. 14 And though I say to the wicked that they shall die, if they turn away from sin and do what is just and right— 15 returning pledges, restoring stolen goods, walking by statutes that bring life, doing nothing wrong—they shall surely live; they shall not die. 16 None of the sins they committed shall be remembered against them. If they do what is right and just, they shall surely live.

17 Your people say, “The way of the Lord is not fair!” But it is their way that is not fair. 18 When the just turn away from justice and do wrong, they shall die for it. 19 When the wicked turn away from wickedness and do what is right and just, because of this they shall live. 20 But still you say, “The way of the Lord is not fair!” I will judge each of you according to your ways, house of Israel.

The Survivor from Jerusalem. 21 On the fifth day of the tenth month,[b] in the twelfth year of our exile, the survivor came to me from Jerusalem and said, “The city is taken!” 22 The hand of the Lord had come upon me the evening before the survivor arrived and opened my mouth when he reached me in the morning. My mouth was opened, and I was mute no longer.

Those Left in Judah.[c] 23 The word of the Lord came to me: 24 Son of man, these who live among the ruins in the land of Israel are saying: “Abraham was only one person, yet he was given possession of the land. Since we are many, the land must be given to us as our possession.” 25 Therefore say to them: Thus says the Lord God: You eat on the mountains, you raise your eyes to your idols, you shed blood—yet you would keep possession of the land? 26 You rely on your swords, you commit abominations, each defiles his neighbor’s wife—yet you would keep possession of the land? 27 Say this to them: Thus says the Lord God: As I live, those among the ruins shall fall by the sword; those in the open field I have made food for the wild beasts; and those in rocky hideouts and caves shall die by the plague. 28 I will make the land a desolate waste, so that its proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will cross them. 29 Thus they shall know that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolate waste because of all the abominations they committed.

Popular Misunderstanding. 30 As for you, son of man, your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doorways of houses. They say to one another, “Let’s go hear the latest word that comes from the Lord.” 31 My people come to you, gathering as a crowd and sitting in front of you to hear your words, but they will not act on them. Love songs are on their lips, but in their hearts they pursue dishonest gain. 32 For them you are only a singer[d] of love songs, with a pleasant voice and a clever touch. They listen to your words, but they do not obey them. 33 But when it comes—and it is surely coming!—they shall know that there was a prophet among them.

Chapter 34

Parable of the Shepherds. The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds[e] of Israel. Prophesy and say to them: To the shepherds, thus says the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds pasture the flock? You consumed milk, wore wool, and slaughtered fatlings, but the flock you did not pasture. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the stray or seek the lost but ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. They were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; over the entire surface of the earth my sheep were scattered. No one looked after them or searched for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live—oracle of the Lord God—because my sheep became plunder, because my sheep became food for wild beasts, for lack of a shepherd, because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep, therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God: Look! I am coming against these shepherds. I will take my sheep out of their hand and put a stop to their shepherding my flock, so that these shepherds will no longer pasture them. I will deliver my flock from their mouths so it will not become their food.

11 For thus says the Lord God: Look! I myself will search for my sheep and examine them. 12 As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep. I will deliver them from every place where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds. 13 I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the lands; I will bring them back to their own country and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and every inhabited place in the land. 14 In good pastures I will pasture them; on the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down on good grazing ground; in rich pastures they will be pastured on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord God. 16 The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal; but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them in judgment.

Separation of the Sheep. 17 As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. 18 Was it not enough for you to graze on the best pasture, that you had to trample the rest of your pastures with your hooves? Or to drink the clearest water, that you had to pollute the rest with your hooves? 19 Thus my flock had to graze on what your hooves had trampled and drink what your hooves had polluted. 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will judge between the fat and the lean. 21 Because you push with flank and shoulder, and butt all the weak sheep with your horns until you drive them off, 22 I will save my flock so they can no longer be plundered; I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will appoint one shepherd[f] over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince in their midst. I, the Lord, have spoken.

25 I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the country of wild beasts so they will dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forests. 26 I will settle them around my hill and send rain in its season, the blessing of abundant rain. 27 The trees of the field shall bear their fruits, and the land its crops, and they shall dwell securely on their own soil. They shall know that I am the Lord when I break the bars of their yoke and deliver them from the power of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no longer be plundered by the nations nor will wild beasts devour them, but they shall dwell securely, with no one to frighten them. 29 I will prepare for them peaceful fields for planting so they are never again swept away by famine in the land or bear taunts from the nations. 30 Thus they shall know that I, the Lord, their God, am with them, and that they are my people, the house of Israel—oracle of the Lord God. 31 Yes, you are my flock: you people are the flock of my pasture, and I am your God—oracle of the Lord God.

Footnotes:

  1. 33:2 Sentinel: the theme of the sentinel’s duty initiates a new commission to announce salvation (chaps. 33–48), just as the same command (3:17–21) opened Ezekiel’s ministry to announce judgment (chaps. 3–24).
  2. 33:21–22 The fifth day of the tenth month: January 8, 585 B.C. According to Jeremiah (39:2), Jerusalem was taken in July, 587. Some manuscripts read “eleventh” for “twelfth” year (January, 586); even so, there was ample time between the fall of Jerusalem and the arrival of the survivor from that city to journey to Babylon. However, this is the survivor sent to fulfill the promise of Ez 24:25–27, the eyewitness whose arrival would release Ezekiel from his muteness; cf. 3:26–27.
  3. 33:23–29 News brought by the survivor furnished the occasion for this prophecy. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel rejects the idea that those left in Judah have any claim to the land. The new Israel is to be formed from the exiles.
  4. 33:32 Singer: perhaps the term indicates an entertainer whom one enjoys and then forgets.
  5. 34:2 Shepherds: the leaders of the people. A frequent title for kings and deities in the ancient Near East; the ideal ruler took care of his subjects and anticipated their needs. Ezekiel’s oracle broadens the reference to include the whole class of Jerusalem’s leaders (v. 17). The prophet assures his audience, the exiles in Babylon, that God holds these leaders responsible for what has happened to Jerusalem and will give Israel a new shepherd worthy of the title.
  6. 34:23 One shepherd: a future king to rule over a unified, restored Israel, in the image of the idealized David present in the Book of Kings (cf., e.g., 1 Kgs 3:3; 11:38; 2 Kgs 14:3; 22:2). My servant David: a common characterization of David; e.g., 1 Kgs 11:34, 36, 38; 2 Kgs 8:19; Ps 36:1; 78:70. See Ez 37:25.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Ben Sira 34:1-13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 34

Trust in the Lord and Not in Dreams[a]

Empty and false are the hopes of the senseless,
    and dreams give wings to fools.
Like one grasping at shadows or chasing the wind,
    so anyone who believes in dreams.
What is seen in dreams is a reflection,
    the likeness of a face looking at itself.
How can the unclean produce what is clean?
    How can the false produce what is true?
Divination, omens, and dreams are unreal;
    what you already expect, the mind fantasizes.
Unless they are specially sent by the Most High,
    do not fix your heart on them.
For dreams have led many astray,
    and those who put their hope in them have perished.
Without such deceptions the Law will be fulfilled,
    and in the mouth of the faithful is complete wisdom.

A much-traveled person knows many things;
    and one with much experience speaks sense.
10 An inexperienced person knows little,
11     whereas with travel one adds to resourcefulness.
12 I have seen much in my travels,
    and learned more than I could ever say.
13 Often I was in danger of death,
    but by these experiences I was saved.

Footnotes:

  1. 34:1–20 Confidence placed in dreams, divinations, and omens is false because these are devoid of reality (vv. 1–8). True confidence is founded on knowledge and experience (vv. 9–13), and above all on the fear of the Lord, with its accompanying blessings of divine assistance and protection (vv. 14–20).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Revelation 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

To Ephesus. [a]“To the angel of the church[b] in Ephesus,[c] write this:

“‘The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this: “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors.[d] Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. But you have this in your favor: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans,[e] which I also hate.

“‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor[f] I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.”’

To Smyrna.[g] “To the angel of the church in Smyrna,[h] write this:

“‘The first and the last, who once died but came to life, says this: “I know your tribulation and poverty, but you are rich.[i] I know the slander of those who claim to be Jews and are not, but rather are members of the assembly of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11 “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor shall not be harmed by the second death.”’[j]

To Pergamum.[k] 12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum,[l] write this:

“‘The one with the sharp two-edged sword says this: 13 “I know that you live where Satan’s throne[m] is, and yet you hold fast to my name and have not denied your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was martyred among you, where Satan lives. 14 [n]Yet I have a few things against you. You have some people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block before the Israelites: to eat food sacrificed to idols and to play the harlot. 15 Likewise, you also have some people who hold to the teaching of [the] Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore, repent. Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and wage war against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna;[o] I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.”’

To Thyatira.[p] 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira,[q] write this:

“‘The Son of God, whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like polished brass, says this: 19 “I know your works, your love, faith, service, and endurance, and that your last works are greater than the first. 20 Yet I hold this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, who teaches and misleads my servants to play the harlot and to eat food sacrificed to idols.[r] 21 I have given her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her harlotry. 22 So I will cast her on a sickbed and plunge those who commit adultery with her into intense suffering unless they repent of her works. 23 I will also put her children[s] to death. Thus shall all the churches come to know that I am the searcher of hearts and minds and that I will give each of you what your works deserve. 24 But I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not uphold this teaching and know nothing of the so-called deep secrets of Satan:[t] on you I will place no further burden, 25 except that you must hold fast to what you have until I come.

26 “‘“To the victor,[u] who keeps to my ways[v] until the end,
    I will give authority over the nations.
27 He will rule them with an iron rod.
    Like clay vessels will they be smashed,

28 just as I received authority from my Father. And to him I will give the morning star.

29 “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–3:22 Each of the seven letters follows the same pattern: address; description of the exalted Christ; blame and/or praise for the church addressed; threat and/or admonition; final exhortation and promise to all Christians.
  2. 2:1–7 The letter to Ephesus praises the members of the church there for their works and virtues, including discerning false teachers (Rev 2:2–3), but admonishes them to repent and return to their former devotion (Rev 2:4–5). It concludes with a reference to the Nicolaitans (see note on Rev 2:6) and a promise that the victor will have access to eternal life (Rev 2:7).
  3. 2:1 Ephesus: this great ancient city had a population of ca. 250,000; it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and the commercial, cultural, and religious center of Asia. The other six churches were located in the same province, situated roughly in a circle; they were selected for geographical reasons rather than for the size of their Christian communities. Walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands: this signifies that Christ is always present in the church; see note on Rev 1:4.
  4. 2:2 Who call themselves…impostors: this refers to unauthorized and perverse missionaries; cf. Acts 20:29–30.
  5. 2:6 Nicolaitans: these are perhaps the impostors of Rev 2:2; see note on Rev 2:14–15. There is little evidence for connecting this group with Nicolaus, the proselyte from Antioch, mentioned in Acts 6:5.
  6. 2:7 Victor: referring to any Christian individual who holds fast to the faith and does God’s will in the face of persecution. The tree of life that is in the garden of God: this is a reference to the tree in the primeval paradise (Gn 2:9); cf. Rev 22:2, 14, 19. The decree excluding humanity from the tree of life has been revoked by Christ.
  7. 2:8–11 The letter to Smyrna encourages the Christians in this important commercial center by telling them that although they are impoverished, they are nevertheless rich, and calls those Jews who are slandering them members of the assembly of Satan (Rev 2:9). There is no admonition; rather, the Christians are told that they will suffer much, even death, but the time of tribulation will be short compared to their eternal reward (Rev 2:10), and they will thus escape final damnation (Rev 2:11).
  8. 2:8 Smyrna: modern Izmir, ca. thirty miles north of Ephesus, and the chief city of Lydia, with a temple to the goddess Roma. It was renowned for its loyalty to Rome, and it also had a large Jewish community very hostile toward Christians.
  9. 2:9–10 The church in Smyrna was materially poor but spiritually rich. Accusations made by Jewish brethren there occasioned the persecution of Christians; cf. Acts 14:2, 19; 17:5, 13.
  10. 2:11 The second death: this refers to the eternal death, when sinners will receive their final punishment; cf. Rev 20:6, 14–15; 21:8.
  11. 2:12–17 The letter to Pergamum praises the members of the church for persevering in their faith in Christ even in the midst of a pagan setting and in face of persecution and martyrdom (Rev 2:13). But it admonishes them about members who advocate an unprincipled morality (Rev 2:14; cf. 2 Pt 2:15; Jude 11) and others who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:15; see note there). It urges them to repent (Rev 2:16) and promises them the hidden manna and Christ’s amulet (Rev 2:17).
  12. 2:12 Pergamum: modern Bergama, ca. forty-five miles northeast of Smyrna, a center for various kinds of pagan worship. It also had an outstanding library (the word parchment is derived from its name).
  13. 2:13 Satan’s throne: the reference is to emperor worship and other pagan practices that flourished in Pergamum, perhaps specifically to the white marble altar erected and dedicated to Zeus by Eumenes II (197–160 B.C.).
  14. 2:14–15 Like Balaam, the biblical prototype of the religious compromiser (cf. Nm 25:1–3; 31:16; 2 Pt 2:15; Jude 11), the Nicolaitans in Pergamum and Ephesus (Rev 2:6) accommodated their Christian faith to paganism. They abused the principle of liberty enunciated by Paul (1 Cor 9:19–23).
  15. 2:17 The hidden manna: this is the food of life; cf. Ps 78:24–25. White amulet: literally, “white stone,” on which was written a magical name, whose power could be tapped by one who knew the secret name. It is used here as a symbol of victory and joy; cf. Rev 3:4–5. New name: this is a reference to the Christian’s rebirth in Christ; cf. Rev 3:12; 19:12; Is 62:2; 65:15.
  16. 2:18–29 The letter to Thyatira praises the progress in virtue of this small Christian community (Rev 2:19) but admonishes them for tolerating a false prophet who leads them astray (Rev 2:20). Her fate is sealed, but there is hope of repentance for her followers (Rev 2:21–22). Otherwise, they too shall die (Rev 2:23). They are warned against Satanic power or knowledge (Rev 2:24–25). Those who remain faithful will share in the messianic reign, having authority over nations (Rev 2:26–27), and will in fact possess Christ himself (Rev 2:28).
  17. 2:18 Thyatira: modern Akhisar, ca. forty miles southeast of Pergamum, a frontier town famous for its workers’ guilds (cf. Acts 16:14), membership in which may have involved festal meals in pagan temples.
  18. 2:20 The scheming and treacherous Jezebel of old (cf. 1 Kgs 19:1–2; 21:1–14; 2 Kgs 9:22, 30–34) introduced pagan customs into the religion of Israel; this new Jezebel was doing the same to Christianity.
  19. 2:23 Children: spiritual descendants.
  20. 2:24 The so-called deep secrets of Satan: literally, “the deep things of Satan,” a scathing reference to the perverse teaching of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:15).
  21. 2:26–28 The Christian who perseveres in faith will share in Christ’s messianic authority (cf. Ps 2:8–9) and resurrection victory over death, symbolized by the morning star; cf. Rev 22:16.
  22. 2:26 Who keeps to my ways: literally, “who keeps my works.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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