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Ezekiel 21:12-22 Good News Translation (GNT)

12 Howl in grief, mortal man;
    this sword is meant for my people
    and for all the leaders of Israel.
They are going to be killed
    with all the rest of my people.
Beat your breast in despair!
13 I am testing my people,
    and if they refuse to repent,
    all these things will happen to them.[a]

14 “Now, mortal man, prophesy. Clap your hands, and the sword will strike again and again. It is a sword that kills, a sword that terrifies[b] and slaughters. 15 It makes my people lose courage and stumble. I am threatening their city with a sword[c] that flashes like lightning and is ready to kill. 16 Cut to the right and the left, you sharp sword! Cut wherever you turn.[d] 17 I also will clap my hands, and my anger will be over. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

The Sword of the King of Babylonia

18 The Lord spoke to me. 19 “Mortal man,” he said, “mark out two roads by which the king of Babylonia can come with his sword. Both of them are to start in the same country. Put up a signpost where the roads fork.[e] 20 One will show the king the way to the Ammonite city of Rabbah, and the other the way to Judah, to the fortified city, Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylonia stands by the signpost at the fork of the road. To discover which way to go, he shakes the arrows;[f] he consults his idols; he examines the liver of a sacrificed animal. 22 Now! His right hand holds the arrow marked ‘Jerusalem’! It tells him to go and set up battering rams, to shout the battle cry, to place battering rams against the gates, to throw up earthworks, and to dig trenches.


  1. Ezekiel 21:13 Verse 13 in Hebrew is unclear.
  2. Ezekiel 21:14 Some ancient translations terrifies; Hebrew unclear.
  3. Ezekiel 21:15 Probable text threatening … sword; Hebrew unclear.
  4. Ezekiel 21:16 Verse 16 in Hebrew is unclear.
  5. Ezekiel 21:19 Probable text Put … fork; Hebrew unclear.
  6. Ezekiel 21:21 When faced with a decision, people in ancient times would sometimes take a handful of arrows, throw them down, and study the pattern in which they fell, in order to learn what to do.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Ezekiel 21:12-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 Cry and wail, O mortal,
    for it is against my people;
it is against all Israel’s princes;
    they are thrown to the sword,
    together with my people.
    Ah! Strike the thigh!

13 For consider: What! If you despise the rod, will it not happen?[a] says the Lord God.

14 And you, mortal, prophesy;
    strike hand to hand.
Let the sword fall twice, thrice;
    it is a sword for killing.
A sword for great slaughter—
    it surrounds them;
15 therefore hearts melt
    and many stumble.
At all their gates I have set
    the point[b] of the sword.
Ah! It is made for flashing,
    it is polished[c] for slaughter.
16 Attack to the right!
    Engage to the left!
    —wherever your edge is directed.
17 I too will strike hand to hand,
    I will satisfy my fury;
    I the Lord have spoken.

18 The word of the Lord came to me: 19 Mortal, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them shall issue from the same land. And make a signpost, make it for a fork in the road leading to a city; 20 mark out the road for the sword to come to Rabbah of the Ammonites or to Judah and to[d] Jerusalem the fortified. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the fork in the two roads, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the teraphim,[e] he inspects the liver. 22 Into his right hand comes the lot for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to call out for slaughter, for raising the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up ramps, to build siege towers.


  1. Ezekiel 21:13 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  2. Ezekiel 21:15 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. Ezekiel 21:15 Tg: Heb wrapped up
  4. Ezekiel 21:20 Gk Syr: Heb Judah in
  5. Ezekiel 21:21 Or the household gods
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ezekiel 21:12-22 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

12 (7) Then, when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you will answer, ‘Because of the news, because it’s coming. All hearts will melt, all hands hang limp, all spirits faint and all knees turn to water; here, it’s coming, it will happen,’ says Adonai Elohim.”

13 (8) The word of Adonai came to me: 14 (9) “Human being, prophesy. Say that Adonai Elohim says to say this:

‘A sword, a sword has been sharpened and polished,
15 (10) sharpened in order to slaughter and slaughter,
polished to flash like lightning.
But how can we rejoice?
My son rejects the rod
and every other stick.
16 (11) The sword was given to be polished,
so that it could be wielded;
it was sharpened and polished
to be placed in the slaughterer’s hand.’

17 (12) “Shout and wail, human being, because it’s coming upon my people, upon all the leaders of Isra’el — they will be victims of the sword along with my people. Strike your thigh in remorse! 18 (13) For a test is coming, and what if he rejects the rod again then? He will cease to exist,” says Adonai Elohim.

19 (14) “Therefore, human being, prophesy and clap your hands together. Then the sword will strike twice, three times, the sword for victims, the sword for a great slaughter, coming from every direction. 20 (15) So that their hearts will melt, and many will stumble and fall, I have posted the point of the sword at every one of their gates. See how it flashes, sharpened for the kill!

21 (16) “Sword!
Slash to the right; destroy to the left,
whichever way your edge is aimed!
22 (17) I too will clap my hands together
and satisfy my fury.

I, Adonai, have spoken.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Ezekiel 21:12-22 The Message (MSG)

12 “Yell out and wail, son of man.
    The sword is against my people!
The princes of Israel
    and my people—abandoned to the sword!
Wring your hands!
    Tear out your hair!

13 “‘Testing comes.
    Why have you despised discipline?
You can’t get around it.
    Decree of God, the Master.’

14-17 “So, prophesy, son of man!
    Clap your hands. Get their attention.
Tell them that the sword’s coming down
    once, twice, three times.
It’s a sword to kill,
    a sword for a massacre,
A sword relentless,
    a sword inescapable—
People collapsing right and left,
    going down like dominoes.
I’ve stationed a murderous sword
    at every gate in the city,
Flashing like lightning,
    brandished murderously.
Cut to the right, thrust to the left,
    murderous, sharp-edged sword!
Then I’ll clap my hands,
    a signal that my anger is spent.
        I, God, have spoken.”

18-22 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, lay out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take. Start them from the same place. Place a signpost at the beginning of each road. Post one sign to mark the road of the sword to Rabbah of the Ammonites. Post the other to mark the road to Judah and Fort Jerusalem. The king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road and he decides by divination which of the two roads to take. He draws straws, he throws god-dice, he examines a goat liver. He opens his right hand: The omen says, ‘Head for Jerusalem!’ So he’s on his way with battering rams, roused to kill, sounding the battle cry, pounding down city gates, building siege works.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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