21 The word of the Eternal once again came to me with a similar message.
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, look toward Jerusalem, and speak against My temple. Prophesy against the whole land of Israel, 3 and tell the land of Israel what the Eternal One says: “Pay attention. I am against you. I will draw My sword from its sheath and kill both the righteous and the wicked who live within your borders. 4 Because I am going to kill everyone, both good and evil, all flesh from south to north will feel the wrath of My sword! 5 Then everyone all over the world will know I, the Eternal One, have drawn My sword from its sheath and do not intend to return it.”
God tells Ezekiel to act out His message. He must demonstrate what it will be like when the bad news arrives of what has happened back home in Jerusalem.
6 Now as for you, son of man, groan as if your heart is breaking. Groan in front of people because of your bitter agony! 7 When they see you, they will ask you, “Why all this loud and noisy groaning?” Answer them this way: “I am groaning because of the horrible news that is coming. Every heart will melt, every hand will fall limp, every spirit will grow faint, and every knee will become as weak as water. So pay attention. The time is near! It is going to happen soon.”
So said the Eternal Lord.
8 The word of the Eternal came to me.
Eternal One: 9 Son of man, prophesy, and tell them this message is from the Eternal.
A sword! Yes, a sword—
keenly sharpened and polished.
10 A razor-sharp blade honed to slaughter anything in its path,
polished to flash like lightning!
Should we celebrate My son’s scepter?
The sword repulses every such bit of wood.
11 My sword is sent to be polished till radiant,
It is keenly sharpened and brightly burnished,
ready for the hand of the slayer.
12 Cry out and wail, son of man!
My sword is against My people;
It swings for all the princes of Israel.
I have deserted them all—princes and people—to the wrath of My sword!
Therefore, beat your thigh, Ezekiel, in front of everyone
So they understand what a tragedy this is.
13 For the test will come;
so what happens if the sword repulses the scepter
And the scepter is gone?
I, the Eternal Lord, say this to you.
14 As for you, son of man, prophesy;
clap your hands loudly!
Let the sword strike two, even three times!
It is a sword honed and polished to massacre!
This sword is ready for the great slaughter,
coming after them on all sides.
15 Hearts will melt, and masses will fall
because I have placed the tip of the blade at every city gate!
Oh, this beautiful instrument flashes like lightning;
it’s wrapped and ready for slaughter.
16 Now, My sword, thrust to the right—
and slash to the left!
Be ready to attack wherever the blade is turned.
17 I will clap My hands together,
and I will cool My wrath once judgment has been executed.
I, the Eternal One, have spoken.
18 The word of the Eternal came to me regarding Babylon’s sword.
Eternal One: 19 Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of Babylon’s king to take. Have both roads begin in the same place. Make a signpost, and put it at the fork in the road: 20 one road leading the sword to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah; the other road leading to Judah and its fortified capital, Jerusalem. 21 The Babylonian king will stop at the fork in the road and look for a sign to see which way to go: he will shake the arrows and draw one, call to his household gods[a] for advice, and examine an animal liver.
Kings never go into battle without first looking for signs and omens. War is too risky—even for Babylon—not to have the blessings of the gods. The Babylonian king stops at the crossroads: which way should he go? So he calls for his priests to consult the gods for signs. Their mediation may be something like drawing straws. At times it involves the ancient practice of “reading” the liver of a sacrificial animal. When a king wants to make sure his decision is the correct one, he uses several forms of divination. The ancients do not believe in chance; they believe their gods are involved in orchestrating their lives and decisions. In this case, Babylon’s king happens to be correct because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is directing him to take the road to Jerusalem.
Eternal One: 22 He reads “Jerusalem” in his right hand, so he will march first in that direction with battering rams for the gates and a command to massacre the city, sounding war cries and building siege ramps and siege walls. 23 Everyone in Jerusalem will believe the omen to be false because they had pledged loyalty to Babylon. But his actions will remind the doubters of their guilt, and they will be taken prisoners.
(to the Israelites) 24 Because you have reminded Me of your sins and once again exposed your rebellious ways, making every wicked thing you ever did obvious, you will be forcefully taken prisoner. 25 You are already dead, you wicked prince of Israel! Your hour has arrived! Your day of excruciating punishment has come! 26 This is what the Eternal Lord says: “Remove your royal turban and crown. Everything is about to change: the lowly will be brought high, and the high will be brought low. 27 Ruination! I will make a total ruin out of everything! It will remain in ruins until the one to whom it rightfully belongs arrives, and then I will hand it over to Him.”
28 But you, son of man, must preach to them what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say about the Ammonites and their insults:
A sword! Yes, a sword
is drawn to slaughter the Ammonites—
Honed to destroy, polished to flash like lightning.
29 “In spite of false prophesies and lying omens concerning you, the sword will slice the necks of the wicked. They are as good as dead. Their hour has come! Their day of punishment has arrived! 30 Put the sword back in its sheath. In the place where you were conceived, in the land of your origin, I will judge you with My sword of judgment. 31 I will pour out My anger over your head, I will breathe fiery wrath on you, I will give you over to barbaric men (artists of destruction who love to mutilate and kill). 32 You will become coals for a fire; Babylonian blood will flood the land, and you will be forgotten! I, the Eternal, promise this.”
- 21:21 Hebrew, teraphim