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Ezekiel 12 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Previewing the Exile

12 The Lord’s message came to me: “Son of man, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house.[a] They have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear, but do not hear,[b] because they are a rebellious house.

“Therefore, son of man, pack up your belongings as if for exile. During the day, while they are watching, pretend to go into exile. Go from where you live to another place. Perhaps they will understand,[c] although they are a rebellious house. Bring out your belongings packed for exile during the day while they are watching. And go out at evening, while they are watching, as if for exile. While they are watching, dig a hole in the wall and carry your belongings out through it. While they are watching, raise your baggage onto your shoulder and carry it out in the dark.[d] You must cover your face so that you cannot see the ground[e] because I have made you an object lesson[f] to the house of Israel.”

So I did just as I was commanded. I carried out my belongings packed for exile during the day, and at evening I dug myself a hole through the wall with my hands. I went out in the darkness, carrying my baggage[g] on my shoulder while they watched.

The Lord’s message came to me in the morning: “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The prince will raise this burden in Jerusalem,[h] and all the house of Israel within it.’[i] 11 Say, ‘I am an object lesson[j] for you. Just as I have done, so it will be done to them; they will go into exile and captivity.’

12 “The prince[k] who is among them will raise his belongings[l] onto his shoulder in darkness and will go out. He[m] will dig a hole in the wall to leave through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land with his eyes. 13 But I will throw my net over him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans[n] (but he will not see it),[o] and there he will die.[p] 14 All his retinue—his attendants and his troops—I will scatter to every wind; I will unleash a sword behind them.

15 “Then they will know that I am the Lord when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among foreign countries. 16 But I will let a small number of them survive the sword, famine, and pestilence, so that they can confess all their abominable practices to the nations where they go. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

17 The Lord’s message came to me: 18 “Son of man, eat your bread with trembling[q] and drink your water with anxious shaking. 19 Then say to the people of the land, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of the land of Israel: They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water in fright, for their land will be stripped bare of all it contains because of the violence of all who live in it. 20 The inhabited towns will be left in ruins, and the land will be devastated. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

21 The Lord’s message came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel, ‘The days pass slowly, and every vision fails’? 23 Therefore tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I hereby end this proverb; they will not recite it in Israel any longer.’ But say to them, ‘The days are at hand when every vision will be fulfilled.[r] 24 For there will no longer be any false visions or flattering omens amidst the house of Israel. 25 For I, the Lord, will speak. Whatever word I speak will be accomplished. It will not be delayed any longer. Indeed in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and accomplish it, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

26 The Lord’s message came to me: 27 “Take note, son of man, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for distant days; he is prophesying about the far future.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer! The word I speak will come to pass, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”


  1. Ezekiel 12:2 sn The book of Ezekiel frequently refers to the Israelites as a rebellious house (Ezek 2:5, 6, 8; 3:9, 26-27; 12:2-3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3).
  2. Ezekiel 12:2 sn This verse is very similar to Isa 6:9-10.
  3. Ezekiel 12:3 tn Heb “see.” This plays on the uses of “see” in v. 2. They will see his actions with their eyes and perhaps they will “see” with their mind, that is, understand or grasp the point.
  4. Ezekiel 12:6 tn Apart from this context the Hebrew term occurs only in Gen 15:17, in reference to the darkness after sunset. It may mean twilight.
  5. Ezekiel 12:6 tn Or “land” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
  6. Ezekiel 12:6 sn See also Ezek 12:11 and 24:24, 27.
  7. Ezekiel 12:7 tn The words “my baggage” are not in the Hebrew text but are implied from the context.
  8. Ezekiel 12:10 tc The MT reads: “The prince, the load/oracle, this, in Jerusalem.” The term מַשָּׂא (massaʾ) may refer to a “burden” or prophetic “oracle” (the two homonyms also coming from the same root, cf. Isa 13:1). Also the preposition ב (bet) can mean “in” or “against.” The Targum says, “Concerning the prince is this oracle,” assuming the addition of a preposition. The LXX reads the word for “burden” as a synonym for leader, as both words are built on the same root, but the result does not make good sense in context. The current translation assumes that the verb יִשָּׂא (yisaʾ) from the root נָשָׂא (nasaʾ) has dropped out due to homoioteleuton (cf. vv. 7 and 12 for the verb). The original text would have three consecutive words based on the root נָשָׂא and an environment conducive to an omission in copying: הַנָּשִׂיא יִשָּׂא הַמַּשָּׂא הַזֶּה (hannasiʾ yissaʾ hammassaʾ hazzeh, “the prince will raise this burden”). Another possibility is that הַנָּשִׂיא is an inadvertent addition based on v. 12, so that the text should be “[This is] the oracle against…,” but the formula typically uses the construct state to mean “the oracle about…,” and this would be the only case where Ezekiel uses this term for an oracle. It is also unlikely that this is a copulative sentence, “The prince is the oracle.” While Hebrew can make copulative sentences without a verb, it is odd to do so with articular nouns. The sequence article + noun + article + noun is normally: a case where the second term is an adverbial accusative of place or time, a case where the second term acts as an adjective, part of a list, a case of apposition, or an improper construct chain (or other textual issue involving one of the apparent articles). Besides this verse, only Jer 4:26 (הַכַּרְמֶל הַמִּדְבָּר, hakkarmel hammidbar, “Carmel is/had become a wilderness”) may be suggested as a place where this syntax makes a copulative sentence, but there the first word should be understood as a proper noun. Also if the syntax were this simple (“the A is the B”), one would have expected the versions to follow it.sn The prince in Jerusalem refers to King Zedekiah. The Hebrew termנָשִׂיא (nasi’, “leader, chief prince”) refers to one lifted up and here means the leader of Jerusalem. The idea in the message is: “As goes the king, so goes the city.” The fortunes of the city are bound up in and symbolized by the king.
  9. Ezekiel 12:10 tc The MT reads “within them.” Possibly a scribe copied this form from the following verse “among them,” but only “within it” makes sense in this context.
  10. Ezekiel 12:11 tn object lesson is מוֹפֵת (mofet, “wonder, sign”), which here refers to a sign or portent of bad things to come.
  11. Ezekiel 12:12 sn The prince is a reference to Zedekiah.
  12. Ezekiel 12:12 tn The words “his belongings” are not in the Hebrew text but are implied.
  13. Ezekiel 12:12 tc The MT reads “they”; the LXX and Syriac read “he.”
  14. Ezekiel 12:13 tn Or “Babylonians” (NCV, NLT). sn The Chaldeans were a group of people in the country south of Babylon from which Nebuchadnezzar came. The Chaldean dynasty his father established became the name by which the Babylonians are regularly referred to in the book of Jeremiah, while Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, uses both terms.
  15. Ezekiel 12:13 sn He will not see it. This prediction was fulfilled in 2 Kgs 25:7 and Jer 52:11, which recount how Zedekiah was blinded before being deported to Babylon.
  16. Ezekiel 12:13 sn There he will die. This was fulfilled when King Zedekiah died in exile (Jer 52:11).
  17. Ezekiel 12:18 tn The Hebrew term normally refers to an earthquake (see 1 Kgs 19:11; Amos 1:1).
  18. Ezekiel 12:23 tn Heb “the days draw near, and the word of every vision (draws near).”
New English Translation (NET)

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