Rebellious Israel Purged

20 In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire(A) of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me.(B)

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to the elders(C) of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Have you come to inquire(D) of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign Lord.(E)

“Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Then confront them with the detestable practices of their ancestors(F) and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose(G) Israel, I swore with uplifted hand(H) to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, “I am the Lord your God.(I) On that day I swore(J) to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey,(K) the most beautiful of all lands.(L) And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images(M) you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols(N) of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.(O)

“‘But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me;(P) they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.(Q) So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt.(R) But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt.(S) I did it to keep my name from being profaned(T) in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites. 10 Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.(U) 11 I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, by which the person who obeys them will live.(V) 12 Also I gave them my Sabbaths(W) as a sign(X) between us,(Y) so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.(Z)

13 “‘Yet the people of Israel rebelled(AA) against me in the wilderness. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws(AB)—by which the person who obeys them will live—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths.(AC) So I said I would pour out my wrath(AD) on them and destroy(AE) them in the wilderness.(AF) 14 But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned(AG) in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.(AH) 15 Also with uplifted hand I swore(AI) to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands(AJ) 16 because they rejected my laws(AK) and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts(AL) were devoted to their idols.(AM) 17 Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy(AN) them or put an end to them in the wilderness. 18 I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the statutes of your parents(AO) or keep their laws or defile yourselves(AP) with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God;(AQ) follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.(AR) 20 Keep my Sabbaths(AS) holy, that they may be a sign(AT) between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.(AU)

21 “‘But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws,(AV) of which I said, “The person who obeys them will live by them,” and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger(AW) against them in the wilderness.(AX) 22 But I withheld(AY) my hand, and for the sake of my name(AZ) I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the wilderness that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter(BA) them through the countries, 24 because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees(BB) and desecrated my Sabbaths,(BC) and their eyes lusted after(BD) their parents’ idols.(BE) 25 So I gave(BF) them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live;(BG) 26 I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice(BH) of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.(BI)

27 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In this also your ancestors(BJ) blasphemed(BK) me by being unfaithful to me:(BL) 28 When I brought them into the land(BM) I had sworn to give them and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices, made offerings that aroused my anger, presented their fragrant incense and poured out their drink offerings.(BN) 29 Then I said to them: What is this high place(BO) you go to?’” (It is called Bamah[a] to this day.)

Rebellious Israel Renewed

30 “Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves(BP) the way your ancestors did and lust after their vile images?(BQ) 31 When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your children(BR) in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, you Israelites? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not let you inquire of me.(BS)

32 “‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. 33 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm(BT) and with outpoured wrath.(BU) 34 I will bring you from the nations(BV) and gather(BW) you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand(BX) and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.(BY) 35 I will bring you into the wilderness(BZ) of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment(CA) upon you. 36 As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord.(CB) 37 I will take note of you as you pass under my rod,(CC) and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.(CD) 38 I will purge(CE) you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.(CF)

39 “‘As for you, people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols,(CG) every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name(CH) with your gifts and idols.(CI) 40 For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel,(CJ) declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings(CK) and your choice gifts,[b] along with all your holy sacrifices.(CL) 41 I will accept you as fragrant incense(CM) when I bring you out from the nations and gather(CN) you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy(CO) through you in the sight of the nations.(CP) 42 Then you will know that I am the Lord,(CQ) when I bring you into the land of Israel,(CR) the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your ancestors.(CS) 43 There you will remember your conduct(CT) and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves(CU) for all the evil you have done.(CV) 44 You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake(CW) and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, you people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.(CX)’”

Prophecy Against the South

45 The word of the Lord came to me: 46 “Son of man, set your face toward(CY) the south; preach against the south and prophesy against(CZ) the forest of the southland.(DA) 47 Say to the southern forest:(DB) ‘Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume(DC) all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north(DD) will be scorched by it.(DE) 48 Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.(DF)’”

49 Then I said, “Sovereign Lord,(DG) they are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?(DH)’”[c]

Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment

21 [d]The word of the Lord came to me:(DI) “Son of man, set your face against(DJ) Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary.(DK) Prophesy against(DL) the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you.(DM) I will draw my sword(DN) from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.(DO) Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword(DP) will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.(DQ) Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword(DR) from its sheath; it will not return(DS) again.’(DT)

“Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.(DU) And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?(DV)’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear(DW) and every hand go limp;(DX) every spirit will become faint(DY) and every leg will be wet with urine.’(DZ) 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,(EA)
    polished to flash like lightning!

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

11 “‘The sword is appointed to be polished,(EC)
    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.(ED)

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(EE) 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.(EF)
15 So that hearts may melt with fear(EG)
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter[e]
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.(EH)
16 Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
17 I too will strike my hands(EI) together,
    and my wrath(EJ) will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.(EK)

18 The word of the Lord came to me: 19 “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword(EL) of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost(EM) where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites(EN) 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(EO) with arrows, he will consult his idols,(EP) he will examine the liver.(EQ) 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,(ER) to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp(ES) and to erect siege works.(ET) 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind(EU) them of their guilt(EV) 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,(EW) whose time of punishment has reached its climax,(EX) 26 this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown.(EY) It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.(EZ) 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;(FA) to him I will give it.’(FB)

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

“‘A sword,(FD) a sword,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
29 Despite false visions concerning you
    and lying divinations(FE) 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.(FF)

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

Judgment on Jerusalem’s Sins

22 The word of the Lord came to me:

“Son of man, will you judge her? Will you judge this city of bloodshed?(FN) Then confront her with all her detestable practices(FO) and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood(FP) in her midst and defiles herself by making idols, you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed(FQ) and have become defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come.(FR) Therefore I will make you an object of scorn(FS) to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries.(FT) Those who are near and those who are far away will mock you, you infamous city, full of turmoil.(FU)

“‘See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood.(FV) In you they have treated father and mother with contempt;(FW) in you they have oppressed the foreigner(FX) and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.(FY) You have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths.(FZ) In you are slanderers(GA) who are bent on shedding blood;(GB) in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines(GC) and commit lewd acts.(GD) 10 In you are those who dishonor their father’s bed;(GE) in you are those who violate women during their period,(GF) when they are ceremonially unclean.(GG) 11 In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife,(GH) another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law,(GI) and another violates his sister,(GJ) his own father’s daughter.(GK) 12 In you are people who accept bribes(GL) to shed blood; you take interest(GM) and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors.(GN) And you have forgotten(GO) me, declares the Sovereign Lord.(GP)

13 “‘I will surely strike my hands(GQ) together at the unjust gain(GR) you have made and at the blood(GS) you have shed in your midst.(GT) 14 Will your courage endure(GU) or your hands(GV) be strong in the day I deal with you? I the Lord have spoken,(GW) and I will do it.(GX) 15 I will disperse you among the nations and scatter(GY) you through the countries; and I will put an end to(GZ) your uncleanness.(HA) 16 When you have been defiled[f] in the eyes of the nations, you will know that I am the Lord.’”

17 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, the people of Israel have become dross(HB) to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace.(HC) They are but the dross of silver.(HD) 19 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you have all become dross,(HE) I will gather you into Jerusalem. 20 As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you.(HF) 21 I will gather you and I will blow(HG) on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her.(HH) 22 As silver is melted(HI) in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath(HJ) on you.’”(HK)

23 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to the land, ‘You are a land that has not been cleansed or rained on in the day of wrath.’(HL) 25 There is a conspiracy(HM) of her princes[g] within her like a roaring lion(HN) tearing its prey; they devour people,(HO) take treasures and precious things and make many widows(HP) within her. 26 Her priests do violence to my law(HQ) and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common;(HR) they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean;(HS) and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned(HT) among them.(HU) 27 Her officials(HV) within her are like wolves(HW) tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people(HX) to make unjust gain.(HY) 28 Her prophets whitewash(HZ) these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations.(IA) They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken.(IB) 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery;(IC) they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner,(ID) denying them justice.(IE)

30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall(IF) and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.(IG) 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger,(IH) bringing down(II) on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.(IJ)

Two Adulterous Sisters

23 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother.(IK) They became prostitutes in Egypt,(IL) engaging in prostitution(IM) from their youth.(IN) In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed.(IO) The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.(IP)

“Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians(IQ)—warriors(IR) clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen. She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after.(IS) She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt,(IT) when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust on her.(IU)

“Therefore I delivered her into the hands(IV) of her lovers,(IW) the Assyrians, for whom she lusted.(IX) 10 They stripped(IY) her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women,(IZ) and punishment was inflicted(JA) on her.(JB)

11 “Her sister Oholibah saw this,(JC) yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.(JD) 12 She too lusted after the Assyrians—governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men.(JE) 13 I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way.(JF)

14 “But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall,(JG) figures of Chaldeans[h] portrayed in red,(JH) 15 with belts(JI) around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea.[i] 16 As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers(JJ) to them in Chaldea.(JK) 17 Then the Babylonians(JL) came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust.(JM) 18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body,(JN) I turned away(JO) from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister.(JP) 19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.[j](JQ)

22 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stir up your lovers(JR) against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side(JS) 23 the Babylonians(JT) and all the Chaldeans,(JU) the men of Pekod(JV) and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses.(JW) 24 They will come against you with weapons,[k] chariots and wagons(JX) and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment,(JY) and they will punish you according to their standards. 25 I will direct my jealous anger(JZ) against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters,(KA) and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire.(KB) 26 They will also strip(KC) you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry.(KD) 27 So I will put a stop(KE) to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore.

28 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to deliver you into the hands(KF) of those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust. 29 They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you stark naked,(KG) and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed.(KH) Your lewdness(KI) and promiscuity(KJ) 30 have brought this on you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols.(KK) 31 You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup(KL) into your hand.(KM)

32 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“You will drink your sister’s cup,
    a cup large and deep;
it will bring scorn and derision,(KN)
    for it holds so much.(KO)
33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
    the cup of ruin and desolation,
    the cup of your sister Samaria.(KP)
34 You will drink it(KQ) and drain it dry
    and chew on its pieces—
    and you will tear your breasts.

I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.(KR)

35 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you have forgotten(KS) me and turned your back on me,(KT) you must bear(KU) the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.”

36 The Lord said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront(KV) them with their detestable practices,(KW) 37 for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.(KX) 38 They have also done this to me: At that same time they defiled my sanctuary(KY) and desecrated my Sabbaths.(KZ) 39 On the very day they sacrificed their children to their idols, they entered my sanctuary and desecrated(LA) it. That is what they did in my house.(LB)

40 “They even sent messengers for men who came from far away,(LC) and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, applied eye makeup(LD) and put on your jewelry.(LE) 41 You sat on an elegant couch,(LF) with a table(LG) spread before it on which you had placed the incense(LH) and olive oil that belonged to me.(LI)

42 “The noise of a carefree(LJ) crowd was around her; drunkards(LK) were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets(LL) on the wrists of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads.(LM) 43 Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, ‘Now let them use her as a prostitute,(LN) for that is all she is.’ 44 And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah. 45 But righteous judges will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood,(LO) because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands.(LP)

46 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob(LQ) against them and give them over to terror and plunder.(LR) 47 The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters(LS) and burn(LT) down their houses.(LU)

48 “So I will put an end(LV) to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.(LW) 49 You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry.(LX) Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.(LY)


  1. Ezekiel 20:29 Bamah means high place.
  2. Ezekiel 20:40 Or and the gifts of your firstfruits
  3. Ezekiel 20:49 In Hebrew texts 20:45-49 is numbered 21:1-5.
  4. Ezekiel 21:1 In Hebrew texts 21:1-32 is numbered 21:6-37.
  5. Ezekiel 21:15 Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  6. Ezekiel 22:16 Or When I have allotted you your inheritance
  7. Ezekiel 22:25 Septuagint; Hebrew prophets
  8. Ezekiel 23:14 Or Babylonians
  9. Ezekiel 23:15 Or Babylonia; also in verse 16
  10. Ezekiel 23:21 Syriac (see also verse 3); Hebrew caressed because of your young breasts
  11. Ezekiel 23:24 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

Bible Gateway Recommends