Ezekiel 12:1-28

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2017-12-26 16:52.

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YHWH’s “word (“word of prophecy from before the Lord [Targum]) came to Ezekiel. (12:1) He was addressed as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God. Ezekiel found himself in a “rebellious house,” among people guilty of “injustices” [LXX]). They defiantly refused to act in harmony with YHWH’s commands. As a “rebellious house,” the people were unresponsive, as if unable to see although they had eyes and if unable to hear although they had ears. (12:2; see the Notes section.)

YHWH directed Ezekiel to prepare baggage for exile and to enact going into exile before the eyes or in the sight of his fellow exiles then already in Babylon. This baggage would have contained only a few essential items, possibly including a mat used for sleeping and a skin bottle for water. To portray going into exile, Ezekiel was to leave his own place for another location before the “eyes” of the people. This was an enactment for his fellow exiles to watch and apparently served to impress upon them the serious consequences that would result from continuing to be a “rebellious house [people (Targum)].” (12:3; see the Notes section.)

In the daytime so that his actions could be watched, Ezekiel was to take out of his place baggage like baggage exiles would be carrying to distant lands. Then, in the evening, apparently at a time when he could still be observed, Ezekiel was to depart from his place like a captive to be taken into exile. (12:4)

Walls of houses and other buildings commonly were constructed of mud brick. This made it possible for Ezekiel to obey the instructions to dig a hole through the wall and then to leave through the opening with his baggage. This was to be done before the “eyes” of the people or as something for them to see. (12:5) While they would be watching (literally, “before their eyes”), Ezekiel was to lift the baggage on his shoulder and, after the onset of evening darkness, depart with his face covered so as not to see the “earth” or the ground. According to the Septuagint, Ezekiel was to leave concealed from his place. His actions served as a “sign” to the “house of Israel,” for YHWH had made him a sign to the people of Israel. (12:6)

Ezekiel did exactly what he had been commanded. In the daytime, he brought out his baggage from his place like baggage for exile. Then, in the evening, he dug through the wall by hand and left (left “concealed” [LXX]) during the time of darkness, carrying the baggage upon his shoulder. Ezekiel did so as people watched (literally, “before their eyes”). (12:7)

YHWH’s “word” (“word of prophecy from before the Lord” [Targum]) came to Ezekiel in the morning following his enactment relating to exile. (12:8) YHWH is quoted as saying to him, “Son of man, has not the house [people] of Israel, the rebellious house [people (Targum)] said to you, What are you doing?” (12:9; see the Notes section.) The “utterance,” burden, or response of the Lord YWHW (“Lord Lord” [LXX]) for Ezekiel to relate was meant for the prince (ruler [LXX]) or King Zedekiah in Jerusalem and for “all of the house [people] of Israel in the midst of them.” The plural suffix rendered “them” could be understood to apply to Jerusalem and to the king who was in the city. The Septuagint refers to “the ruler and the leader.” (12:10) Ezekiel was to tell the king and the people that he was a “sign” to them. What he had done when enacting going into exile would “be done to them” or would be their experience. They would go “into exile, into captivity” (“into exile and into captivity” [LXX]). (12:11; see the Notes section.)

The prince (ruler [LXX]) or King Zedekiah in the midst of the people would do lifting or carrying upon his shoulder after dark and go out of city. Those accompanying him would dig through the wall, creating an opening through which to depart. According to the Septuagint, the ruler would be lifted or carried upon shoulders. He would “cover his face” so that his “eye” would not see the “earth” or land. The Targum interprets the reason for his not seeing the land as being that he had “sinned with his eyes.” According to the Septuagint, the ruler would cover his face so that no eye would see or recognize him and that he would not see the earth or land. (12:12; see the Notes section.)

In view of what he permitted to happen to King Zedekiah, YHWH is represented as saying, “I will spread my net over him, and he will be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans, and he will not see it, and there he will die.” Zedekiah was captured, blinded at Riblah, and taken as a captive to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:4-7) As a blind man, he did not see the land of the Chaldeans and died there. (12:13)

YHWH is quoted as declaring that he would “scatter to every wind” or in every direction all those around King Zedekiah as helpers and his troops, unsheathing his sword after them. According to 2 Kings 25:5, all the warriors with Zedekiah were scattered . (12:14)

Upon being dispersed “among the nations” and scattered in various lands, the people would come to know or be forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who does not tolerate lawlessness indefinitely and will execute punitive judgment against those who choose to disregard his commands. (12:15)

At the time for punitive judgment, YHWH would let a few men or a remnant escape or survive the sword of warfare, famine resulting from siege and conquest, and pestilence (“death” [LXX]) or infectious disease that would spread in the unsanitary conditions of siege among the famished people. The effect on the remnant of survivors would be that, wherever they went among the nations as exiles, they would confess or acknowledge their suffering to have resulted from “all their abominations” (lawless deeds [LXX]) — their idolatrous practices and wayward conduct. The dire consequences would impress upon them that YHWH was the God who had acted against them. (12:16)

Another “word” (“word of prophecy “ [Targum]) came to Ezekiel from YHWH. (12:17) He was directed to illustrate what the people would be facing during times of siege. Ezekiel was to eat his bread or food with trembling (“pain” or “grief” [LXX]). This would indicate that the scarcity of food and the probability of running out of food entirely would give rise to fear. Likewise, Ezekiel’s drinking water with horror (“torment and affliction” [LXX]) would serve to show that little potable water would be available during the time of siege and would likely cease to exist. (12:18; compare 4:16, 17, and see the Notes section regarding “son of man.”)

Ezekiel was instructed to tell the “people of the land,” apparently fellow exiles in Babylonia, “Thus says the Lord YHWH regarding the ones residing in Jerusalem in the land of Israel, Their bread they will eat with fearfulness and their water they will drink in horror, for their land will be stripped of its fullness [or everything it contains] because of the violence [impiety (LXX)] of all those residing in it.” The inhabitants of Jerusalem would be in a state of anxiety when eating, fearful that shortly there might not be any bread or food. Water also would be scarce, causing the people to experience terror when drinking because they would know that they could soon be without any water. The enemy military force would devastate the land, cutting off life’s essentials from the besieged people. On account of the violence directed especially against the poor who were often the victims of injustice and oppression, the people of Jerusalem would experience siege and conquest. (12:19; compare 4:16, 17.)

The enemy military force would devastate the inhabited cities in the territory of the kingdom of Judah and transform the land into a desolate waste. When this would come to pass, the people would know or be forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who does not leave oppression and injustices unpunished. (12:20)

Again YHWH’s “word or message (“word of prophecy from before the Lord” [Targum]) came to Ezekiel. (12:21) This message related to a proverb the people were using regarding the land of Israel. They did not believe that the punitive judgment Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and other prophets had proclaimed would actually be executed. Therefore, the people mockingly took up the proverb, “The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing.” Even if some calamity were to come, they imagined that it would be in the distant future and of no concern to them. As to the visions the prophets had seen and made known, the people reasoned that the message of these visions had not been fulfilled and so never would be. (12:22; see the Notes section regarding the expression “son of man.”)

Through Ezekiel, YHWH reproved the people for using the proverb that did not take the message he conveyed through his prophets seriously. Ezekiel was to tell them, “Thus says the Lord YHWH, I will put an end to this proverb, and they will no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” The very opposite of the thoughts expressed with the mocking proverb would take place. The days for the execution of punitive judgment were at hand, and the “word [or message] of every vision” would be fulfilled. (12:23) Once the message of YHWH’s prophets began to be fulfilled, there would not be any false or deceptive vision that contradicted what they had proclaimed nor would there be “smooth” divination or divination that supported a favorable outcome. “False vision” and “smooth divination” would not continue “in the house of Israel” or among the people of Israel (“in the midst of the sons of Israel” [LXX]). The Septuagint indicates that there would no longer be someone who would resort to divination “for favor” or to please those hearing it. (12:24)

YHWH declared that he would speak the word (his “words” [LXX]) or message, and it would be performed (he would “speak and act and no more delay” [LXX]). There would be no postponement. The Lord YHWH is quoted as telling the “rebellious house” (rebellious people” [Targum]), “For in your days, … I will speak a word, and I will do it,” fulfilling the message about coming punitive judgment. (12:25)

Again YHWH’s “word” or message (“word of prophecy from before the Lord” [Targum]) came to Ezekiel. (12:26; see the Notes section.) This word revealed what the people (the “house of Israel”) said about his prophesying. “The vision that he sees” (“the teaching that he teaches” [Targum]) is “for many days” or for a distant future time, and “he prophesies about times far off” or times that were of no concern to them because the prophecies would not be fulfilled during their lifetime. (12:27; see the Notes section regarding the expression “son of man.”) Therefore, he was to tell them that the Lord YHWH would not delay the fulfillment of all his words any longer. He would do what he had declared. The Septuagint quotes the Lord as saying, “I will speak and act.” (12:28)


In this chapter (verses 2, 3, 9, 18, 22, 27), Ezekiel is repeatedly addressed as “son of man.” This reminded Ezekiel that he was a mortal in the service of YHWH, the eternal God with cherubs in attendance upon him.

In verse 11, the Septuagint represents Ezekiel as doing or performing signs in the midst of Jerusalem (literally, “her”).

The Septuagint rendering of verse 12 represents the ruler as the one who would go out concealed through the hole that he had dug in the wall. Ancient Greek codex P967 does not include the words, “and he himself will not see the earth” or land.

The ancient Greek codex (P967) omits the wording in verse 26 through 28, and continues the text with the words in verse 1 of chapter 13.