Ezekiel 6:1-14

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2017-10-23 11:33.

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A “word” or message from YHWH came to Ezekiel (6:1), directing him to set his face to the “mountains of Israel” and to prophesy against them. (6:2; see the Notes section.) To the “mountains of Israel,” Ezekiel was to say, “Hear the word of the Lord YHWH. Thus says the Lord YHWH to the mountains and to the hills and to the ravines and to the valleys [groves (LXX)], See, I even will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.” Throughout the territory of the kingdom of Judah, high places or sites for idolatrous worship existed on mountains and hills and in ravines and valleys, and enemy warriors would destroy these high places. (6:3) Altars for presenting sacrifices at the high places would become desolate, and incense altars (“shrines” or “sacred precincts” [LXX]) would be broken. YHWH would be using enemy warriors as his agents of destruction, and they would slay worshipers at the high places. He permitted this to happen. Therefore, he is quoted as identifying himself as the one who would cause the slain to fall before (literally, “before the face of”) the idols (literally, “dungy things” [an expression of contempt] (6:4), who would lay the “carcasses of the sons [or people] of Israel” before [literally, “before the face of] “their idols [literally, dungy things],” and would scatter the bones of those slain round about the altars. (6:5; see the Notes section.)

In all the dwelling places of the people, their cities would be laid waste, the “high places” or cultic sites would be ruined. The altars at these sites would be broken, the idols smashed, and the incense altars (“shrines” or “sacred precincts” [LXX]) cut down, and the “works” of the people or all the appendages of idolatry wiped out. Nothing would remain at the devastated high places. The “works” could also include everything that the people had constructed in the cities that would be conquered and reduced to rubble. (6:6; see the Notes section.) In the midst of the people, the slain would fall as the enemy warriors continued their campaign of conquest. This would happen in expression of YHWH’s judgment. Therefore, the people would know or be forced to recognize that he is YHWH, the God who does not tolerate wrongdoing indefinitely and fulfills the word about punitive judgment that he made known through his prophets. (6:7)

The words “and I will leave” are followed by a preposition and an infinitive that can mean “to be,” “to become,” or “to happen” or come to pass. Modern translations commonly interpret the Hebrew to mean that God would leave a remnant or survivors, but do not include a rendering that incorporates a form of the infinitive “to be” in the next phrase. Among the renderings are the following: “But I will spare some. Some of you shall escape the sword among the nations and be scattered through the countries.” (NRSV) “But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world.” (NLT) “I will let some escape the slaughter and be scattered among the nations.” (TEV) In the Septuagint, the phrase “and I will leave” is not included. (6:8; see the Notes section.)

The survivors would remember YHWH “among the nations” where they had been taken into captivity. This would take place after the severe punishment had brought them to repentance. This punishment or discipline would be the means by which YHWH would break their “whorish heart,” or their inclination to engage in the veneration of idols. The “heart” of the people, or they in their inmost selves, had departed from YHWH, and their “eyes” had whored after idols, longingly seeking opportunities to engage in idolatry. Upon being brought to repentance, they would look upon themselves as loathsome on account of the evils they had committed and all their abominations or their disgusting idolatrous practices. According to the Septuagint, they would “strike their faces for all their abominations.” (6:9) At that time, they would “know” or come to recognize that YHWH was indeed the Sovereign, the one to whom they were accountable. It had not been in vain that he had spoken through his prophets about the “evil” or calamity that he would bring upon them. (6:10; see the Notes section.)

The meaning of the clapping of the hands and the stamping of the foot depends upon whether they are divinely commanded reactions to the horrific calamity the people would experience or are the divinely commanded reactions to the merited execution of punitive judgment. A number of modern translations have added words to identify the divinely commanded acts as reactions that express despair or horror. “The LORD God then said: Ezekiel, beat your fists together and stomp your feet in despair! Moan in sorrow, because the people of Israel have done disgusting things and now will be killed by enemy troops, or they will die from starvation and disease.” (CEV) “This is what the Sovereign Lord says, Clap your hands in horror, and stamp your feet. Cry out because of all the detestable sins the people of Israel have committed. Now they are going to die from war and famine and disease.” (NLT) The wording of the Septuagint suggests that the clapping of the hands and the stamping of the foot are divinely commanded responses to the execution of merited punitive judgment. “Thus says the Lord, Clap [with] the hand and stomp [with] the foot and say, Good, good, over [or because of] all the abominations of the house of Israel. By the sword and by death [or pestilence] and by famine, they will fall.” In the Septuagint, the Hebrew expression that may be rendered “alas” or “aha” is translated as “good” and repeated. On account of the God-dishonoring practices of the “house [or people] of Israel,” they would die by the sword of the troops under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar or perish from famine or infectious disease. (6:11)

Those who were far away from the wielding of the sword of warfare would die from pestilence (“die by death” [LXX]). Although having succeeded in escaping the slaughter, they would be physically weak, have limited resources, and find themselves in circumstances that would make them vulnerable to infectious disease. Those near the attacking enemy warriors would fall or perish by the sword. Others who had escaped death by pestilence or sword would die from famine. Thus by sword, pestilence, and famine, YHWH would bring his anger to a finish against his wayward people. (6:12) The people would then “know” or be forced to recognize that he is YHWH, the God who does not tolerate wrongdoing indefinitely and fulfills the word about punitive judgment that he made known through his prophets. This would be when the slain would lie among their idols (literally, “dungy things” [an expression of contempt]), all around their altars, and at the cultic sites on all the high hills, on all the tops of the mountains, and in groves — all the locations where the people offered sacrifices or incense (literally, “pleasing odor”) to their idols (literally, “dungy things”). (6:13)

YHWH declared that he would stretch out his hand (“destructive power” [LXX]) against his people, desolate their land, and devastate all their habitations. The desolation would extend from the wilderness, probably the arid area (the Negeb) south of the mountainous region of Judah, to Diblah (possibly a location in the north), suggesting that the entire territory from south to north would be reduced to a wasteland. When that happened, the people would “know” or be forced to recognize that the God whom they had disobeyed is YHWH, the God who does not tolerate wrongdoing indefinitely and acts according to the word he has made known through his prophets. (6:14; see the Notes section.)


In verse 2, the 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.

In the Septuagint, the wording of verse 5 is shorter. “And I will scatter your bones around your altars.”

In verse 6, the Septuagint does not mention the “works.”

Verse 8 in the Septuagint is rendered like a compound introductory phrase for the words that are completed in verse 9. Those who would be delivered from the sword and come to be among the nations and scattered in the lands would remember God.

The shorter text of verse 10 in the Septuagint is, “And they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.”

According to the Septuagint rendering of verse 14, the desolation would extend from the “wilderness [or desert] of Deblatha.”