New English Translation
3 He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you[a]—eat this scroll—and then go and speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll.
3 He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.” So I ate it,[b] and it was sweet like honey in my mouth.
4 He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech[c] and difficult language,[d] but[e] to the house of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand.[f] Surely if[g] I had sent you to them, they would listen to you! 7 But the house of Israel is unwilling to listen to you,[h] because they are not willing to listen to me,[i] for the whole house of Israel is hardheaded and hardhearted.[j]
8 “I have made your face adamant[k] to match their faces, and your forehead hard to match their foreheads. 9 I have made your forehead harder than flint—like diamond![l] Do not fear them or be terrified of the looks they give you,[m] for they are a rebellious house.”
10 And he said to me, “Son of man, take all my words that I speak to you to heart and listen carefully. 11 Go to the exiles, to your fellow countrymen,[n] and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they pay attention or not.”
Ezekiel Before the Exiles
12 Then a wind lifted me up[o] and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me as the glory of the Lord rose from its place,[p] 13 and the sound of the living beings’ wings brushing against each other, and the sound of the wheels alongside them, a great rumbling sound. 14 A wind lifted me up and carried me away. I went bitterly,[q] my spirit full of fury, and the hand of the Lord rested powerfully[r] on me. 15 I came to the exiles at Tel Abib,[s] who lived by the Kebar River.[t] I sat dumbfounded among them there, where they were living, for seven days.[u]
16 At the end of seven days the Lord’s message came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman[v] for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You will certainly die,’[w] and you do not warn him—you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked lifestyle so that he may live—that wicked person will die for his iniquity,[x] but I will hold you accountable for his death.[y] 19 But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life.[z]
20 “When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I set an obstacle[aa] before him, he will die. If you have not warned him, he will die for his sin. The righteous deeds he performed will not be considered, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 21 However, if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he[ab] does not sin, he will certainly live because he was warned, and you will have saved your own life.”
Isolated and Silenced
22 The hand[ac] of the Lord rested on me there, and he said to me, “Get up, go out to the valley,[ad] and I will speak with you there.” 23 So I got up and went out to the valley, and the glory of the Lord was standing there, just like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River,[ae] and I threw myself face down.
24 Then a wind[af] came into me and stood me on my feet. The Lord[ag] spoke to me and said, “Go shut yourself in your house. 25 As for you, son of man, they will put ropes on you and tie you up with them, so you cannot go out among them. 26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to reprove[ah] them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will loosen your tongue[ai] and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Those who listen will listen, but the indifferent will refuse,[aj] for they are a rebellious house.
- Ezekiel 3:1 tn Heb “eat what you find.”
- Ezekiel 3:3 tc Heb “I ate,” a first common singular preterite plus paragogic he (ה). The ancient versions read “I ate it,” which is certainly the meaning in the context, and indicates they read the he as a third feminine singular pronominal suffix. The Masoretes typically wrote a mappiq in the he for the pronominal suffix but apparently missed this one.sn I ate it. A similar idea of consuming God’s word is found in Jer 15:16 and Rev 10:10, where it is also compared to honey and may be specifically reminiscent of this text.
- Ezekiel 3:5 tn Heb “deep of lip” (in the sense of incomprehensible).
- Ezekiel 3:5 tn Heb “heavy of tongue.” Similar language occurs in Exod 4:10 and Isa 33:19.
- Ezekiel 3:5 tn The conjunction “but” is not in the Hebrew text but is implied from the context.
- Ezekiel 3:6 tn Heb “hear.”
- Ezekiel 3:6 tc The MT reads: “if not,” but most ancient versions translate only “if.” The expression occurs with this sense in Isa 5:9 and 14:24. See also Ezek 34:8; 36:5; 38:19.
- Ezekiel 3:7 sn Moses (Exod 3:19) and Isaiah (Isa 6:9-10) were also told that their messages would not be received.
- Ezekiel 3:7 sn A similar description of Israel’s disobedience is given in 1 Sam 8:7.
- Ezekiel 3:7 tn Heb “hard of forehead and stiff of heart.”
- Ezekiel 3:8 tn Heb “strong, resolute.”
- Ezekiel 3:9 tn The Hebrew term translated “diamond” is parallel to “iron” in Jer 17:1. The Hebrew uses two terms which are both translated at times as “flint,” but here one is clearly harder than the other. The translation “diamond” attempts to reflect this distinction in English.
- Ezekiel 3:9 tn Heb “of their faces.”
- Ezekiel 3:11 tn Heb “to the sons of your people.”
- Ezekiel 3:12 sn See note on “wind” in 2:2.
- Ezekiel 3:12 tc This translation accepts the emendation suggested in BHS of בְּרוּם (berum, “in the lifting”) for בָּרוּךְ (barukh). The letters mem (מ) and kaf (כ) were easily confused in the old script, while בָּרוּךְ (“blessed be”) implies a quotation, which is out of place here. The word also does not fit the later phrase “from its place,” which requires a verb of motion.
- Ezekiel 3:14 tn The traditional interpretation is that Ezekiel embarked on his mission with bitterness and anger, either reflecting God’s attitude toward the sinful people or his own feelings about having to carry out such an unpleasant task. L. C. Allen (Ezekiel [WBC], 1:13) takes “bitterly” as a misplaced marginal note and understands the following word, normally translated “anger,” in the sense of fervor or passion. He translates, “I was passionately moved” (p. 4). Another option is to take the word translated “bitterly” as a verb meaning “strengthened” (attested in Ugaritic). See G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 152.
- Ezekiel 3:14 tn Heb “the hand of the Lord was on me heavily.” The “hand of the Lord” is a metaphor for his power or influence; the modifier conveys intensity. sn In Ezekiel God’s “hand” being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
- Ezekiel 3:15 sn The name “Tel Abib” is a transliteration of an Akkadian term meaning “mound of the flood,” i.e., an ancient mound. It is not to be confused with the modern city of Tel Aviv in Israel.
- Ezekiel 3:15 tn Or “canal.”
- Ezekiel 3:15 sn A similar response to a divine encounter is found in Acts 9:8-9.
- Ezekiel 3:17 tn The literal role of a watchman is described in 2 Sam 18:24 and 2 Kgs 9:17.
- Ezekiel 3:18 sn Even though the infinitive absolute is used to emphasize the warning, the warning is still implicitly conditional, as the following context makes clear.
- Ezekiel 3:18 tn Or “in his punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and v. 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 18:17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”
- Ezekiel 3:18 tn Heb “his blood I will seek from your hand.” The expression “seek blood from the hand” is equivalent to requiring the death penalty (2 Sam 4:11-12).
- Ezekiel 3:19 tn Verses 17-19 are repeated in Ezek 33:7-9.
- Ezekiel 3:20 tn Or “stumbling block.” The Hebrew term refers to an obstacle in the road in Lev 19:14.
- Ezekiel 3:21 tn Heb “the righteous man.”
- Ezekiel 3:22 tn Or “power.” sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s hand being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
- Ezekiel 3:22 sn Ezekiel had another vision at this location, recounted in Ezek 37.
- Ezekiel 3:23 tn Or “canal.”
- Ezekiel 3:24 tn See the note on “wind” in 2:2.
- Ezekiel 3:24 tn Heb “he.”
- Ezekiel 3:26 tn Heb “you will not be to them a reprover.” In Isa 29:21 and Amos 5:10 “a reprover” issued rebuke at the city gate.
- Ezekiel 3:27 tn Heb “open your mouth.”
- Ezekiel 3:27 tn Heb “the listener will listen, and the refuser will refuse.” Because the word for listening can also mean obeying, the nuance may be that the obedient will listen, or that the one who listens will obey. Also, although the verbs are not jussive as pointed in the MT, some translate them with a volitive sense: “the one who listens—let that one listen, the one who refuses—let that one refuse.”