Ezekiel 11:1-25

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2017-12-12 12:44.

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The “spirit,” either God’s spirit or a strong wind of which God was the source, lifted Ezekiel and transported him to the “eastern gate of the house [or temple] of YHWH.” The temple itself faced the east. At the entrance of the eastern gate, Ezekiel saw twenty-five men, including two princes (leaders [LXX]) of the people, Jaazaniah the son of Azzur and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah. (11:1)

YHWH revealed to Ezekiel that the twenty-five men were devising what would prove to be injurious and were giving bad counsel in Jerusalem. Their devising of harm may have included plotting rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon and counseling King Zedekiah to seek military aid from Egypt to support the plot. (11:2)

After King Jehoiachin, members of the royal family, princes, warriors, skilled craftsmen, and other prominent ones were taken into Babylonian exile, the twenty-five men apparently believed that they had no reason for concern about the city’s security. The initial words they are quoted as saying are somewhat obscure. A literal rendering of the Hebrew text would be, “Not near to build houses.” When understood as a question, this could mean that the men felt that the time was near for proceeding with building projects in Jerusalem. Another significance could be that they thought there was no need for building houses, for dwellings were available for occupancy because of having been vacated by the people who were taken into exile. Modern translations vary in their interpretive renderings. “Is it not a good time to build houses?” (NLT) “We will soon be building houses again.” (TEV) “Let’s build more houses.” (CEV) “The time has not yet come to build.” (REB) “No need to build houses!” (NAB, revised edition) “There will be no house-building yet awhile.” (NJB) According to the Septuagint, the question is, “Have not the houses been built recently?” Within the walls of the city, the men regarded themselves as safe, comparable to meat that remains within the confines of a cooking pot and is in no danger of being burned up by the fire underneath it. (11:3)

In view of their bad schemes and their senseless counsel that contradicted the message he had conveyed through his prophets, YHWH instructed Ezekiel to prophesy against the men. Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God upon whom cherubs are in attendance. (11:4)

The “spirit of YHWH” (spirit of prophecy [Targum]) fell upon Ezekiel, and he received a message to proclaim. “Thus says YHWH, So you say, O house of Israel. I know the things that come into your mind [literally, spirit].” Apparently the words of leaders among them and those of false prophets persuaded the “house” or people of Israel to consider themselves secure in Jerusalem. Therefore, they spoke or expressed themselves to this effect, and YHWH was fully aware of their thoughts (“deliberations” or plans [LXX]). (11:5)

Particularly the leaders and other prominent ones in Jerusalem would have been responsible for many people to be killed in the city, causing the streets to be filled with the slain. Those who were killed may have disagreed strongly with the scheming of the leaders or have been victims of injustice and oppression. (11:6) “Therefore” (because of the bloodguilt the men had incurred), the Lord YHWH declared, “Your slain whom you have placed in the midst of [Jerusalem] are the flesh, and [the city is] the cooking pot, and one [I (LXX), YHWH] will bring you out of the midst of it.” Whereas the dead would remain inside, the surviving men of the military campaign against Jerusalem would be forcibly removed as captives. (11:7)

The people had feared the “sword” of war being wielded against them, and the Lord YHWH purposed to bring the sword upon them. According to the Targum, the people feared those who slay with the sword, and they would be the ones God would be bringing upon them. (11:8) He would take survivors of the military campaign out of the midst of Jerusalem, give them into the hand (or power) of foreigners (the conquerors or the troops under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar), and execute judgments against them. (11:9)

People would fall by the sword that Babylonian warriors would be wielding against them. By means of the conqueror, YHWH would judge the people “at the border [borders (LXX)] of Israel.” The “border” or “borders” (LXX) could refer to the northern limits of Israelite territory and control that anciently existed in the time of kings David and Solomon. If so, the judgment that King Nebuchadnezzar pronounced against King Zedekiah, his sons, and others at Riblah may be regarded as YHWH’s judgment at the border or borders of Israel. It was his judgment, for he permitted it to take place. (2 Kings 25:6, 7, 18-21) When the prophetic words were fulfilled, the people came to “know” or were forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who does not tolerate lawlessness indefinitely and executes judgment by means of an instrument and at a time of his choosing. (11:10)

The city of Jerusalem would not be like a cooking pot that keeps the contents from being consumed by fire nor would anyone be like the meat in such a pot. There would be no place of safety or security within the fortifications of Jerusalem, for YHWH would execute judgment “at the border [borders (LXX) of Israel.” (11:11; see verse 10.) This development would cause the people to “know” or force them to recognize YHWH as the God who punishes those who defy him and disregard his commands. Punitive judgment was merited, for the people had not walked or conducted themselves in harmony with his statutes and did not do what his judgments required, but they acted according to the judgments or ordinances of surrounding nations. (11:12; see the Notes section.)

While Ezekiel was prophesying, Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. As the prophet was in Babylon, the death of Pelatiah in Jerusalem was revealed to him in a vision. In response to this, Ezekiel dropped to his knees, “fell down upon [his] face, and cried with a loud voice,” saying, “[Hear my prayer (Targum)] Ah, Lord YHWH, will you make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?” Apparently Ezekiel considered the sudden death of Pelatiah to indicate that judgment would be executed against the other twenty-four men (11:1) and all the remaining ones of the people. (11:13)

Ezekiel received a “word” or message from YHWH. The Targum refers to this message as the “word of prophecy from before the Lord.” (11:14)

Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God YHWH upon whom cherubs attended. The “brothers” of Ezekiel were fellow Israelites. In the Septuagint, they are also called “men of your captivity,” for they had been taken into exile as captives. They and all the house or people of Israel had a right to repurchase their inheritance in the land from which they had been exiled. The reference to “all the house of Israel” could include the descendants of Israelite exiles the Assyrians took into captivity from the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the inhabitants of the city gave no consideration to the repurchase rights of Israelite exiles. These inhabitants are quoted as saying, “Go far from YHWH. To us, the land is given for a possession.” Probably because of their having YHWH’s temple in their city, they believed that the exiles were far from him, and they wanted this circumstance of the exiles to continue. In their view, the land inheritance the exiles lost had been given to them as their possession. (11:15)

The Lord YHWH had permitted Israelites to be taken into exile. Therefore, he is quoted as having put them far away among foreign nations and scattered them among various lands. Nevertheless, he would become a sanctuary to them in the lands to which they had been exiled. The Hebrew text could be understood to mean that this would be for a little while or in a little way. His being a sanctuary for a little while could indicate that the exile would end and that during this little while YHWH would still be with his people in whatever foreign land they might find themselves as exiles. He would care for them and preserve them as a people. If the meaning of the Hebrew text is “little way,” this could suggest that YHWH’s presence with the exiles would not be the same as if they were in their own land, for they would still be subject to a foreign power and to mistreatment. In the Targum, the interpretation is that God had given the Israelite exiles synagogues that were places of worship only second to the temple in Jerusalem. (11:16; see the Notes section.) YHWH promised to gather the exiled Israelites from among the foreign peoples, to assemble them out of the lands to which they had been scattered, and again to give them their own land (the land of Israel). (11:17)

The ones returning to the land of Israel would be a repentant people who had benefited from the divinely decreed punitive judgment they had experienced. Upon their return to the land, they would clear out of it all disgusting and detestable things (lawless deeds [LXX]). This would include idols and all appendages of idolatry. (11:18) The stubborn refusal of the people to heed YHWH’s commands that had led to military defeat and exile would cease. They would prove to be a changed people. This is indicated in YHWH’s giving them “one [another (LXX)] heart,” or an inner motivation that would be undivided in its love for him and devoted to doing his will, and putting a “new spirit” inside them. This “new spirit” would be a powerful motivating force that would prompt them to live in harmony with his commands. YHWH would remove (or cause to be taken from them) a “heart of stone,” an inner self that stubbornly resisted to living in harmony with his requirements. He would give them (or cause them to have) a “heart of flesh,” an inner self that would willingly yield to his will for them. (11:19) With a different heart and new spirit, the people would “walk” or conduct themselves in harmony with his statutes and act according to his “judgments” or ordinances. They would prove to be a people having an approved relationship with YHWH, and he would be their God, acknowledging them as uniquely belonging to him as his people. (11:20)

Israelites whose hearts or inmost selves inclined them to walk or to conduct themselves according to their detestable and disgusting things (their idolatry and lawless ways) would face serious consequences . The penalty for pursuing their own way would come upon their heads or upon them. (11:21)

After having received YHWH’s word or message about future developments, Ezekiel saw the cherubs raise their wings, and a wheel was beside each one of the four cherubs. The glory of YHWH, the magnificent divine splendor described earlier (1:26-28), was above them. (11:22) The “glory of YHWH” ascended “from the midst the city” or from over Jerusalem and began to stand over the mountain on the “east side of the city.” The Targum is specific in identifying this mountain as the Mount of Olives. (11:23)

Ezekiel found himself being lifted up and transported to the exiles in Chaldea or Babylonia. This occurred in a vision through the operation of the “spirit of God” (the “prophetic spirit … from before the Lord” [Targum]). The vision Ezekiel had seen ascended from him, suggesting that it faded away. (11:24) With the vision having ended and his being back at the actual location in Chaldea, Ezekiel was in a position to relate to the exiles everything that YHWH, through the operation of his spirit, had shown to him. (11:25)


In verse 12, the Septuagint does not include the words about not walking in YHWH’s statutes and not carrying out his judgments but acting according to the judgments of surrounding nations.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 16 represents the developments as being future, indicating that those who were still living in Jerusalem would be cast out into the nations and scattered. For them, God would be a small or diminished sanctuary in the places to which they would be exiled.