21 [a]This message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of Man, look toward Jerusalem, preach[b] against its sanctuaries, and prophesy against Israel’s land. 3 Declare to Israel, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Watch out! I’m against you! I’m going to unsheathe my sword to kill both the righteous and the wicked among you. 4 Since I’m going to kill both the righteous and the wicked among you, I’ll be unsheathing my sword against everyone from south to north. 5 Then everyone will know that I am the Lord, who unsheathed my sword, and who won’t have to unsheathe it again.”’
6 “And now, Son of Man, you are to start groaning until you’re sick to your stomach.[c] You are to groan bitterly right in front of them.[d]7 When they’ll ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you are to say, ‘Because of the news that just arrived. Every heart will melt with fear, every hand will grow limp, every spirit will grow faint, and every knee will glisten with sweat.’ Look! It has come and it will be fulfilled,” declares the Lord God.
God’s Sword and Scepter
8 This message came to me from the Lord: 9 “Son of Man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord God says:
‘A sword! A sword is being sharpened. It’s also being polished. 10 It’s being sharpened for slaughter, and being polished to gleam like lightning.’ “We shouldn’t be rejoicing, should we, while my Son’s scepter, the sword, is despising[e] every tree?[f] 11 It’s intended to be polished so it can be grasped in the hand. The sword is sharpened. It’s polished for placement into the hand of the executioner.” 12 ‘Cry and wail, you Son of Man! It’s headed against my people. It’s also against all the princes of Israel, who have been tossed to the sword, along with my people. So it’s time to grieve like you mean it,[g] 13 because testing is sure to come.
‘In putting the sword to the test along with the scepter, it won’t keep on rejecting, will it?’ declares the Lord God.”
A Double and Triple Judgment
14 “Now, Son of Man, prophesy as you strike your hands together. Let the sword that fatally wounds be doubled and tripled. That great, slaughtering sword closes in on them. I’ve set in place a slaughtering sword at the entrance to all their gates, 15 so that their hearts melt and the number of those who stumble increase. I’ve set in place a slaughtering sword at the entrance to all their gates. Oh, no! It’s made like lightning. It’s drawn to slaughter. 16 Be sharp! Attack on the right, or parry to your left, wherever you point your sword.[h] 17 I will also clap my hands; then my anger will subside.[i] I, the Lord have spoken it.”
Two Pathways to Invasion
18 This message came to me from the Lord: 19 “Now, Son of Man, demarcate two pathways by which the sword of Babylon’s king will arrive in the land. Both pathways will lead from a single land.
“Make a sign,[j] carving it out and installing it at the junction on the way to the city. 20 Set it to point one way for bringing the sword against Rabbah, the descendants of Ammon, and the other way against Judah and fortified Jerusalem.
21 “Meanwhile, Babylon’s king is standing at the fork of the road,[k] where he can head in either of two directions, and that’s where he is practicing divination. Shaking his arrows, he’s asking questions of his teraphim while he examines livers. 22 On his right hand he is divining against Jerusalem, preparing to set up battering rams, preparing[l] for the slaughter, getting ready to sound the alarm for battle,[m] setting the battering rams in place at the gates, building siege mounds, and erecting a siege wall. 23 In their view, it will seem to be a false prophecy, but because they swore allegiance, he’ll make them remember their guilt as he takes them captive.”
24 Therefore this is what the Lord God says: “Because you remembered your sins when your transgressions were uncovered, your sins are visibly evident in everything you’ve done. And since you’ve remembered them, you’ll be taken captive.
25 “So now, you dishonored and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come in this time of final punishment, 26 This is what the Lord God says:
‘Remove your turban! Take off your crown! Things aren’t going to remain as they used to be. What is lowly will be exalted, and what is lofty will be brought low. 27 A ruin! A ruin! I’m bringing about ruin!’ But this also will not happen until he who has authority over it arrives, because I’ll give it to him.”
A Rebuke to Ammon
28 And now Son of Man, prophesy to the Ammonites that this is what the Lord God says to the Ammonites about their approaching humiliation:
“A sword! A sword is being drawn for slaughter. It’s polished to flash like lightning. 29 When they see empty visions about you while they’re divining lies for you, to lay you on the necks of the wicked, who are fatally wounded, whose days have come, their time for punishment. 30 Return it to its scabbard. “At the place where you were formed, in the land of your origin, there is where I’ll judge you. 31 I’m going to pour out my indignation all over you. I’ll blow my fierce wrath against you and deliver you into the control of brutal men who are skilled at destruction. 32 You’ll be fuel[n] for the conflagration. Your blood will be spilled[o] throughout the land. You won’t be remembered anymore, now that I, the Lord, have spoken.”
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