Ezekiel received another “word” or message from YHWH. (7:1) Concerning the “land of Israel,” the Lord YHWH declared, “An end has come, the end upon the four wings [or corners] of the earth.” The expression the “four wings of the earth” probably is to be understood as applying to the entire territory of the kingdom of Judah that the warriors under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar would devastate. (7:2) YHWH’s anger was not with the land itself but with the people who had defiled it, for they were guilty of engaging in idolatry, oppression, and injustice. Therefore, his wrath, though affecting the land, would be let loose against the wayward people. They would be judged “according to [their] ways” or their corrupt conduct and punished for all their abominations, especially their veneration of foreign deities. (7:3 [7:7]; see the Notes section.) YHWH declared, “My eye will not pity you, and I will not be compassionate.” He would not look upon the suffering people with any sense of sorrow or feel any compassion for them. YHWH would punish them for their corrupt ways. They merited punishment, for their “abominations” were in their midst. As to what would then follow, the word of YHWH continued, “And you will know that I am YHWH.” They would then know or be forced to recognize YHWH as the God who does not tolerate wrongdoing indefinitely and who acts according to the word he has made known through his prophets. (7:4 [7:8, LXX])
By means of repetition, the certainty of the coming disaster is expressed. The Lord YHWH is quoted as saying, An “evil [or a calamity], one [notable] evil — look, it is coming.” According to another reading, “evil after [literally, another] evil — look, it is coming.” (7:5) An “end has come. The end has awakened [or is about to reveal itself] against you [the land and the wayward people]. Look, it is coming.” (7:6) “The doom [tsephiráh] has come to you, the one inhabiting the land. The time has come; the day [is] near, tumult and not the shouting [on] the mountains,” possibly the joyous shouts of the people at the sites used for idolatrous worship or their joyous shouts on the mountain slopes at harvesttime. According to the Targum, the people would be unable to escape to mountain strongholds. (7:7; see the Notes section.) In the Septuagint, similar thoughts are expressed in verses 3, 4, and 7. “The end has come upon you, the one inhabiting the land; the time has come, the day has drawn near, not with tumult nor with labor pains.” (7:3, 4, LXX) “Now the end [is coming] to you, and I will send [calamity] upon you, and I will take vengeance upon you for all your ways [or corrupt conduct] and give against you all your abominations,” or exact punishment for all your loathsome practices. (7:7, LXX)
YHWH would pour out his wrath upon the disobedient people, bringing his anger against them to a finish. His judgment would be “according to [their] ways” or their evil practices. He would punish them for “all [their] abominations [literally, bring upon (them) all (their) abominations],” which included all their idolatrous observances. (7:8 [7:5, LXX])
With minor variations, the expressions of verse 4 are repeated (which see). In the concluding phrase, YHWH is quoted as saying, “And you will know that I am YHWH, [the one] smiting.” At the time they suffered siege and conquest from the enemy warriors under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar, the people would know or be forced to recognize that this was an expression of YHWH’s punitive judgment against them. He was the one striking them. (7:9 [7:6, LXX])
The “day” that is referred to as coming is YHWH’s day for executing judgment by means of the troops under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar. In the next phrase, the Hebrew word (tsephiráh) that appears in verse 7 is found here. To be consistent, the word may be assigned the conjectural meaning “doom.” The only other occurrence of tsephiráh is at Isaiah 28:5, where it has the meaning “wreath,” “garland,” or “crown.” This significance does not appear to fit the context. Doom, however, had indeed come for the wayward people of the kingdom of Judah. A number of modern translations convey this significance. “The day is coming, doom is here; it has burst upon them.” (REB) “See, the day! See, it comes! Your doom has gone out.” (NRSV) “The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth.” (NIV) In the Septuagint, the rendering is, “See, the end is here! See, the day of the Lord!” The phrase that includes the Hebrew word tsephiráh is missing. The “rod” that blossomed could be the instrument that YHWH would use to punish his disobedient people, and the “pride” that budded could designate the arrogance of the disobedient people that had become clearly manifest in their defiantly refusing to heed the word of YHWH that the prophets proclaimed. Instead of “rod,” a number of modern translations contain the interpretive renderings “injustice,” “violence,” and “wickedness.” “Injustice and arrogance are everywhere.” (CEV) “Injustice buds, insolence blossoms.” (REB) “Violence is flourishing. Pride is at its height.” (TEV) “The people’s wickedness and pride have blossomed to full flower.” (NLT) The Septuagint rendering could be understood to indicate that the arrogance of the people had sprouted even though the “rod” for punishment had blossomed, being ready for use against them. In the Targum, the reference could be to King Nebuchadnezzar as the “ruler’s rod” for inflicting punishment. (7:10)
Apparently among the people in the kingdom of Judah, “violence” had “risen up into a rod of wickedness.” This could mean that it had increased to the point of coming to be a rod that was used to inflict serious harm or that the resulting wickedness merited to be punished severely as with a rod. In the Targum, the reference is to “violent men” as having risen up to give their support to the wicked. The Septuagint rendering seems to indicate that the rod would break the “support of the lawless one and not with tumult nor with haste.” Modern translations contain various interpretive renderings. “Violence leads to flagrant injustice.” (REB) “Violent criminals run free.” (CEV) “Their violence has grown into a rod that will beat them for their wickedness.” (NLT) “Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness.” (NIV) “The violent have risen up to wield a scepter of wickedness.” (NAB, revised edition). A literal rendering of the rest of the verse could be, “Not of them, and not their crowd [or abundance], and not their wealth, and not preeminence among them.” There is uncertainty about the actual meaning of the words that are here translated “wealth” and “preeminence,” and the significance of the phrases is also obscure. Perhaps the implied thought is that nothing would save the violent ones from perishing when God’s time for executing his judgment arrives, or that neither they nor anything they possess would continue to exist. Interpretive renderings in modern translations include: “None of the people will be left, none of that crowd — no wealth, nothing of value.” (NIV) “None of these proud and wicked people will survive. All their wealth and prestige will be swept away.” (NLT) “But none of them [violent ones] shall remain; none of their crowd, none of their wealth, for none of them are innocent.” (NAB, revised edition) “Is it [the violence or injustice] not their fault, the fault of their turbulence and tumult? There is nothing but turmoil in them.” (REB) According to the Targum, nothing would remain of the violent men — not their crowd, not their children, not the children of their children. (7:11)
The time to come was the time for the execution of YHWH’s judgment against his people to arrive. In that “time” or “day,” enemy warriors under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar would devastate the land, plunder possessions, and take survivors into exile. Therefore, the buyer had no reason to rejoice about his purchased property, for it would soon be lost to him The seller did not need to mourn because adverse circumstances had forced him to part with his property, for otherwise he would have lost it through enemy conquest. YHWH’s wrath was directed against everyone (literally, “all its crowd”). (7:12)
For decades to come, there would be no possibility for those taken into exile to return to their own land. As long as those taken into exile were still alive (literally, “while in the lives their life”), the seller would not be able to return to the property he sold. The “vision,” or the fulfillment of the divinely decreed and revealed coming punitive judgment, would affect everyone (literally, “all its crowd”). It would “not turn back” or be hindered or stopped from taking place. A “man,” by [or because of] his iniquity,” would not be able to hold on to his life. The words in the Septuagint could be rendered, “A man, in the eye [perhaps meaning in the sight of God], will not hold on to his life.” (7:13)
At the blowing of a trumpet, or at the sounding of an alarm, all the people would be getting ready. No one among them, however, would go out to battle the enemy warriors. They would be paralyzed by fear, for YHWH’s wrath would be directed against them (literally, “all its crowd”). The shorter rendering in the Septuagint is, “Trumpet with a trumpet, and judge everything.” (7:14)
Outside the protective city walls, the “sword” of the enemy would be wielded against the people. Inside the besieged city, famine and pestilence (“death” [LXX]) or infectious disease would be claiming victims. Enemy warriros would kill anyone whom they encountered in the field. Persons in the besieged city would perish from famine or pestilence (“death” [LXX]). (7:15)
On the mountains, where they had fled to escape from the enemy, the survivors would be like “doves of the valleys,” individually moaning like these birds over their guilt. The Septuagint represents God as saying that he would slay all of them for the injustices they individually had committed. (7:16) Faced with the enemy warriors, all the people would prove to be helpless, with “all hands” dropping down instead of being used in a successful defense. All the knees would drip with water. Fright would cause involuntary urination. (7:17) In expression of their grief and pain, people would gird themselves with sackcloth, covering the bare skin of their loins with a coarse cloth made from goat’s hair. The terrifying situation would cover them with “shuddering.” They would be in the grip of horror. There would be “shame on all faces,” for all the people would be helpless and in fear. In expression of their sorrowful circumstances, they would shave off the hair of their head. (7:18)
Tossing silver into the streets and coming to view gold as something abhorrent (like the impurity resulting from menstruation) indicated that these precious metals were valueless in the “day” or the time for the execution of YHWH’s punitive judgment. They would furnish no deliverance from his fury. Gold and silver would provide nothing that could satisfy the people (literally, “their soul”) or any of their needs. They were not items with which they could fill their stomachs. For the people, precious metal was the “stumbling block of their iniquity.” The wrongful use they made of it caused their calamitous fall. The Septuagint indicates that it became a “test of their injustices,” possibly meaning that it exposed them as having been guilty of serious wrongs. (7:19)
For the people, the “beauty of [their] ornament” was the basis for “pride.” This arrogance was especially evident in their idolatrous practices. To them, their images were like a beautiful ornament. They used gold or silver when fashioning “images of their abominations, their detestable things,” or of the foreign deities that they venerated. YHWH declared that this beautiful ornament would become a loathsome thing. According to the interpretation of the Targum, the “beautiful ornament” was the temple that God had given to the people “for glory” or as something truly glorious in which they could take pride. They, however, venerated “images of abominations” (foreign deities) in the temple. Therefore, YHWH made the ornament or temple into something contemptible. (7:20)
Possibly regarding the precious metal that was used for making idols, YHWH is quoted as saying that he would give it into the “hand of foreigners” (enemy warriors) “for plunder.” The designation “wicked ones of the earth” or land apparently also refers to enemy warriors. They would have no regard for the idols conquered peoples worshiped and would profane these idols by removing the gold or silver for other purposes. (7:21)
YHWH would turn his face away from the people, refraining from coming to their aid in their time of distress. The “hidden” or “precious place” could designate the temple, the city of Jerusalem, or the land that YHWH had given to his people. Renderings in modern translations include “treasured land” (NLT, REB), “treasured place” (NIV), “treasured Temple” (TEV), and “treasure-house” (NJB). The Septuagint identifies it as God’s “visitation,” possibly meaning the place that he guards. According to the Talmud, the reference is to the “land of the dwelling of [God’s] Shekinah [Shechinah].” Enemy warriors would enter the place and defile it. They would plunder treasures and, therefore, are called “robbers.” (7:22)
The making of the chain may refer to putting captives in chains and then leading them into exile. This fate did befall the people (Jeremiah 40:1) because the land had become full of “judgment of bloods,” probably meaning full of unjust judgments that resulted in shedding much innocent blood. Jerusalem apparently was the city that had become full of violence. The Septuagint rendering differs significantly. Seemingly, the enemy invaders are portrayed as causing befouling or confusion, for the land would be “full of peoples” (evidently foreign peoples), and the “city” (Jerusalem) would be “full of lawlessness.” According to the Targum, the land was full of persons who merited execution.(7:23)
The large military force under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar is called the “worst of nations,” for the warriors would cause extensive devastation in the land and much loss of life. By using these warriors as his instrument for punishing his disobedient people, YHWH would be bringing them into the land and having them take possession of the houses of his people. The defending warriors among the people would be powerless and fall before the enemy invaders. As everything would take place by YHWH’s permission, he would be the one who would bring an end to the proud strength of his people (both valiant warriors and fortresses). Their “holy places,” probably the sites used for idolatrous worship, would be profaned, for the enemy invaders would reduce them to ruins. (7:24)
The advance of the enemy troops would cause shuddering among the people. They would long for an end to the conflict, but there would be no peace. (7:25) One disaster would come on the heels of another disaster, and one report would follow another report, with each report giving rise to increasing fear. The people would seek a “vision” from a prophet (not a prophet of YHWH like Jeremiah whom they opposed). They would want guidance in their time of distress, but none would be provided. The people would look to a priest for “law” or instruction, but none would be forthcoming. Such instruction would perish, as also would the counsel of elders. The elders would be unable to give any sound advice for dealing effectively with the threatening circumstances. (7:26)
The suffering and devastation from the Babylonian military campaign against the kingdom of Judah would cause the “king,” Zedekiah, to mourn. Any chieftain, high official, or prominent man in the realm would wrap himself “in devastation”or be in a state of despair and weakness. The “hands of the people of the land” (the general population) would be “disturbed,” trembling in fear, for they would be without strength to defend themselves. By means of the enemy troops, YHWH would act against the people “according to their way” or their corrupt conduct. He would “judge them according to their [own] judgments.” They had dealt unjustly and harshly with innocent people. Therefore, the judgment again them would be severe, causing them experience the ruthless treatment they had meted out to others. Regarding that time, YHWH declared, “They will know that I [am] YHWH.” The people would be forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who does not tolerate lawlessness indefinitely and executes punitive judgment at the time and by means of the agency of his choosing. (7:27; see the Notes section.)
In verse 2, prophet is addressed as “son of man.” This designation would have reminded him of his being an earthling or a mortal with a commission from the eternal Sovereign upon whom cherubs are in attendance.
For verses 3 through 9, the arrangement of the text in the Septuagint differs from that in the Masoretic Text.
In verses 7 and 10, the rendering “doom” is conjectural. The Targum says that the “kingdom has been revealed.” Possibly this means that God’s royal authority in the capacity of judge had come to be in evidence, for the time for the punishment of the wayward people had arrived.
In verse 27, the initial part of the Septuagint text is shorter. It says that a “ruler will clothe himself with destruction” or devastation, “and the hands of the people of the land will be lamed.” The Targum does not refer to judgments but indicates that God would exact payment from the disobedient people according to their deeds.