Parable of the Sword of the Lord

21 [a]And the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, (A)set your face toward Jerusalem, and [b](B)speak against the sanctuaries and prophesy against the land of Israel; and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, (C)I am against you; and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off from you the (D)righteous and the wicked. Because I will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked, therefore My sword will go forth from its sheath against (E)all flesh from south to north. Thus all flesh will know that I, the Lord, have drawn My sword out of its sheath. It will (F)not return to its sheath again.”’ As for you, son of man, groan with breaking [c]heart and bitter grief, groan in their sight. And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the (G)news that is coming; and (H)every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will [d]faint and all knees will [e]be weak as water. Behold, it comes and it will happen,’ declares the Lord [f]God.”

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ Say,

(I)A sword, a sword sharpened
And also polished!
10 ‘Sharpened to make a (J)slaughter,
Polished [g]to flash like lightning!’

Or shall we rejoice, the [h]rod of My son (K)despising every tree? 11 It is given to be polished, that it may be handled; the sword is sharpened and polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. 12 (L)Cry out and wail, son of man; for it is against My people, it is against all the (M)officials of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with My people, therefore strike your thigh. 13 For there is a testing; and what if even the [i]rod which despises will be no more?” declares the Lord God.

14 “You therefore, son of man, prophesy and clap your hands together; and let the sword be (N)doubled the third time, the sword for the slain. It is the sword for the great one slain, which surrounds them, 15 that their (O)hearts may melt, and many (P)fall at all their (Q)gates. I have given the glittering sword. Ah! It is made for striking like lightning, it is wrapped up in readiness for slaughter. 16 [j]Show yourself sharp, go to the right; set yourself; go to the left, wherever your [k]edge is appointed. 17 I will also clap My hands together, and I will [l](R)appease My wrath; I, the Lord, have spoken.”

The Instrument of God’s Judgment

18 The word of the Lord came to me saying, 19 “As for you, son of man, [m](S)make two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them will go out of one land. And [n]make a signpost; [o]make it at the head of the way to the city. 20 You shall [p]mark a way for the sword to come to (T)Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and to Judah into (U)fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the [q]parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use (V)divination; he (W)shakes the arrows, he consults the [r](X)household idols, he looks at the liver. 22 Into his right hand came the divination, ‘Jerusalem,’ to (Y)set battering rams, to open the mouth [s]for slaughter, to lift up the voice with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up ramps, to build a siege wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in their eyes; (Z)they have sworn solemn oaths. But he (AA)brings iniquity to remembrance, that they may be seized.

24 “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins appear—because you have come to remembrance, you will be seized with the hand. 25 And you, O slain, wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose (AB)day has come, in the time of the [t]punishment of the end,’ 26 thus says the Lord God, ‘Remove the turban and take off the (AC)crown; this will [u]no longer be the same. (AD)Exalt that which is low and abase that which is high. 27 (AE)A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, I will make it. This also will be no more until (AF)He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.’

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning their (AG)reproach,’ and say: ‘A sword, a sword is drawn, polished for the slaughter, to cause it [v]to (AH)consume, that it may be like lightning— 29 while they see for you (AI)false visions, while they divine lies for you—to place you on the necks of the wicked who are slain, whose day has come, in the (AJ)time of the [w]punishment of the end. 30 (AK)Return it to its sheath. In the (AL)place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you. 31 I will (AM)pour out My indignation on you; I will (AN)blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and I will give you into the hand of brutal men, [x](AO)skilled in destruction. 32 You will be [y](AP)fuel for the fire; your blood will be in the midst of the land. You will (AQ)not be remembered, for I, the Lord, have spoken.’”


  1. Ezekiel 21:1 Ch 21:6 in Heb
  2. Ezekiel 21:2 Lit flow
  3. Ezekiel 21:6 Lit loins
  4. Ezekiel 21:7 Lit be dim
  5. Ezekiel 21:7 Lit flow
  6. Ezekiel 21:7 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord, and so throughout the ch
  7. Ezekiel 21:10 Lit lightning to be to her
  8. Ezekiel 21:10 Or scepter
  9. Ezekiel 21:13 Or scepter
  10. Ezekiel 21:16 Or Unite yourself
  11. Ezekiel 21:16 Lit face
  12. Ezekiel 21:17 Lit cause to rest
  13. Ezekiel 21:19 Or set for yourself
  14. Ezekiel 21:19 Lit cut out a hand
  15. Ezekiel 21:19 Lit cut it
  16. Ezekiel 21:20 Lit set
  17. Ezekiel 21:21 Lit mother
  18. Ezekiel 21:21 Heb teraphim
  19. Ezekiel 21:22 Lit in
  20. Ezekiel 21:25 Or iniquity
  21. Ezekiel 21:26 Lit not this
  22. Ezekiel 21:28 Lit to finish
  23. Ezekiel 21:29 Or iniquity
  24. Ezekiel 21:31 Or artisans of
  25. Ezekiel 21:32 Lit food

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.