Ezekiel 13:1-23

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2017-12-29 12:51.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

YHWH’s “word” or message came to Ezekiel. The Targum refers to this message as a “word of prophecy from before the Lord.” (13:1) YHWH is quoted as addressing Ezekiel as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God. He directed Ezekiel to “prophesy against the prophets [false prophets (Targum)] of Israel,” for they had no message from him but were making proclamations “out of their [own] heart” or their own thoughts. YHWH, however, had a message for them and, through Ezekiel, he said, “Hear [or listen to] the word of YHWH.” (13:2) They were not to be left in any doubt about the source of the message Ezekiel would be making known to them. It was introduced with the words, “Thus says the Lord YHWH, Woe to the foolish prophets who walk [or follow] after their [own] spirit [or inclination and imagination] and have seen nothing.” They had received no vision from YHWH and, therefore, had nothing to proclaim other than what originated in their own imagination. These prophets were “foolish,” proclaiming messages contrary to what YHWH’s prophets were making known. Their folly consisted of senselessly, deliberately and defiantly contradicting the word of YHWH. Therefore, they would experience woe or calamity. (13:3) The “prophets” (false prophets [Targum]) in Israel were “like foxes among ruins [in the deserts or desolate areas (LXX)].” With their burrowing, foxes do additional damage, undermining portions of walls that might still be standing. Likewise, the proclamations of false prophets had a ruinous effect on those who believed them. Their words lulled the people into a false sense of security as they continued to engage in divinely disapproved practices. The false prophets did nothing constructive. (13:4)

The prophets should have admonished the people to repent and to abandon their lawless ways so as to escape having YHWH express his wrath against them. False prophets, however, had not gone up into the breaches, acting in ways that would have spared the people from punitive judgment. They had done nothing comparable to building a protective wall “for the house of Israel,” a wall that would “stand in battle in the day of YHWH.” Instead, they had left the people in a state that merited YHWH’s wrath. According to the Targum, the false prophets had not performed good deeds nor had they petitioned for the house of Israel, praying that mercy might be shown to the people at the time for the arrival of those making war against them. (13:5; see the Notes section.)

What the false prophets saw or visioned was falsehood, and they “divined a lie.” Yet they attributed their utterances to YHWH even though he had not sent them. They still expected him to fulfill their word. According to the Targum, they insisted that their word would be fulfilled. The Septuagint refers to those saying the “Lord says” as not having been sent by him and as beginning to raise up a “word” or a false message. (13:6)

When identifying their words as a “pronouncement of YHWH” although he had not spoken anything to them, the false prophets were seeing a vain, worthless or delusive vision and expressing a lying divination. This thought is expressed in the form of a question that YHWH is quoted as directing to them. In the Septuagint, the question is shorter than it is in the Hebrew text. “Have you not seen a lying vision and spoken vain [empty or worthless] divinations?” According to the Targum, the question is, “Have you not prophesied false prophecies?” (13:7)

The Lord YHWH declared that he was against the false prophets because they had uttered vanities, delusions, or worthless things and had visioned a falsehood that they then proclaimed as truth. They deluded the people into thinking that no calamity would befall them for their disregard of YHWH’s commands and the words he directed to them through his prophets. The Targum refers to the false prophets as prophesying falsehood and teaching lies. (13:8)

YHWH would direct his “hand” (the striking power of his might [Targum]) “against the prophets [false prophets (Targum)]” who were visioning “vanity,” emptiness, or worthlessness and divining falsehood (prophesying falsehood and teaching lies [Targum]). These false prophets would not be in the council or intimate group of YHWH’s people. According to the Septuagint, they would have no part in the “instruction” of his people. The Targum indicates that they would not share in the “secret good that is concealed” or reserved for God’s people. There would be no place of honor for the false prophets. They would not be in the “writing of the house of Israel,” indicating that their names would not be found in a listing of God’s people. There would be no written record of them. At the time others would be returning to the “land of Israel,” these false prophets would not be among them. When the judgment would be executed against them, they would know that it had come upon them from YHWH. They would then know or be forced to recognize that he is a God who does not leave unpunished those who act contrary to his commands and ways. According to the interpretation of the Targum, the false prophets would not be in the record for eternal life that is recorded for the righteous ones of the house of Israel. (13:9)

The false prophets misled the people when saying, “Peace [Peace, peace (LXX)],” but there was no peace. (Compare Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11.) They maintained that all was well, with nothing to threaten security. Through his true prophets, however, YHWH had made known that punitive judgment would soon be executed against the rebellious people. The false sense of security into which the lying prophets lulled the people was comparable to the building of an unstable wall that provided no defensive value or security. The flimsy wall was covered with whitewash. In the Targum, the false prophets are likened to a person who plasters with mud that is not strengthened with a mixture of straw. (13:10)

To those applying the whitewash, YHWH through Ezekiel declared that the wall would come crashing down. This would result from means comparable to a torrential downpour, a destructive hail, and a fierce wind. (13:11; see the Notes.) The wall representing the false claim that all was well for the people would tumble down at the time the foretold calamity would befall them. Then the question for the false prophets or the ones who did the whitewashing would be, “Where is the plaster with which you plastered [the wall]?” The implication is that the whitewash would have disappeared, revealing the unstable wall that would collapse. (13:12)

The Lord YHWH is quoted as telling the false prophets that he would make a tempestuous wind break out in his wrath, cause a torrential rain in his anger, and, for annihilation, have hailstones fall in his wrath. (13:13) By this means, he would break down the wall that the false prophets had covered with whitewash, leveling it to the ground and laying its foundation bare. The prophets’ false claims of security (represented as their whitewashing of the wall) would then be fully exposed as a delusion. In the Hebrew text, the verb for “falls” that appears in the next phrase is followed by a feminine suffix (“she will fall”) and apparently refers to the fall of Jerusalem, for the word for “wall” is masculine gender. In the midst of the city, the false prophets would come to their finish (“with reproofs” or in disgrace [LXX]). They would then know or be forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who executes punitive judgment against those who act contrary to his commands and will. (13:14; see the Notes section.)

YHWH would direct his “wrath upon the wall [the city (Jerusalem) (Targum)] and upon those who covered it with whitewash (“the false prophets who prophesied false prophecies” [Targum]). He is quoted as saying to them, “The wall is no more, and those covering [plastering] it are no more.” According to the interpretation of the Targum, Jerusalem is no more, and neither are the false prophets. (13:15; see the Notes section and the comments in verse 10 about the wall.) Those covering the wall with whitewash are next identified as the “prophets [false prophets (Targum)] of Israel who are prophesying about Jerusalem and seeing visions of peace for her.” Their visions were mere delusions, for they imagined that the city and its inhabitants were secure, with no reason to fear that the people would soon be the recipients of YHWH’s punitive judgment for having transgressed his commands and disregarded the messages he had made known through his prophets. Contrary to what the false prophets were saying, there was no peace. The Targum says concerning the false prophets that they were leading Jerusalem astray with a teaching of peace. (13:16)

YHWH next directed Ezekiel’s attention to the “daughters” of his people, more specifically prophetesses whose utterances came from their own “heart” or were the products of their own imagination. When divinely commissioned to prophesy against these prophetesses, Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man.” This would have reminded him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God YHWH. (13:17) To the prophetesses, Ezekiel was to say, “Thus says the Lord YHWH, Woe upon those who are sewing bands upon all wrists [literally, joints of my hands] and who are making veils for the head of every stature [or size (every age or both young and old [LXX])] to hunt for souls [pervert souls (LXX)]. Are you hunting souls of my people [the souls of my people you have perverted (LXX)], and will you preserve alive souls for your benefit [and souls they have preserved or kept alive (LXX)]?” The Septuagint concludes with the words, “The souls of my people were perverted, and souls they have preserved” or kept alive either themselves or persons who chose to follow them. (13:18)

Apparently the false prophetesses resorted to magical practices, but exactly what they did cannot be determined from the Hebrew text. This is also evident from the variety of interpretive renderings in modern translations. “Woe to those who sew pads on all arm-joints and make bonnets for the head of every person, in order to entrap! Can you hunt down lives among My people, while you preserve your own lives? (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “Disaster is in store for women who sew ribbons round each wrist and make headcloths for people of all sizes, in their hunt for souls! Are you to hunt the souls of my people and keep your own souls safe?” (NJB) “Woe betide you women who hunt men’s lives by sewing magic bands on the wrists and putting veils over the heads of persons of every age! Are you to hunt the lives of my people and keep your own lives safe?” (REB) “You women are doomed! You sew magic wristbands for everyone and make magic scarves for everyone to wear on their heads, so that they can have power over other people’s lives. You want to possess the power of life and death over my people and to use it for your own benefit.” (TEV) “What sorrow awaits you women who are ensnaring the souls of my people, young and old alike. You tie magic charms on their wrists and furnish them with magic veils. Do you think you can trap others without bringing destruction on yourselves?” (NLT) “Tell them they’re doomed! They wear magic charms on their wrists and scarves on their heads, then trick others into believing they can predict the future. They won’t get away with telling those lies.” (CEV) (13:18)

With their lies, the prophetesses profaned YHWH among his people (his favor for his people [Targum]), for they, like the false prophets, probably spoke their falsehoods in his name. For their services, they accepted handfuls of barley or pieces of bread. The prophetesses put to death the “souls who should not die and preserved alive the souls who should not live.” They did this with their lies to God’s people, the ones who listened to falsehood. According to the Septuagint, they declared vain, empty, or worthless declarations. Either through their misleading utterances they caused people to continue in a course that would mean death for them or, with their lying expressions, caused innocent persons to be killed. These prophetesses, however, supported lawless persons who merited death, making utterances that allowed them to escape the severe punishment they deserved. (13:19)

YHWH determined to destroy the influence of the prophetesses. He is quoted as declaring, “Look, I am against your bands with which you are hunting souls as for birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will set free [literally, send away] the souls that you hunt, souls” that you hunt as if they were “birds.” YHWH would not permit the prophetesses to cause his people to go astray with their magical devices and lying utterances, but would let his people escape from their snares. According to the Septuagint, he would send away into dispersion the souls or persons whom the prophetesses perverted. (13:20) YHWH would tear off the veils of the prophetesses and deliver his people out of their “hand,” power, or control. The people would cease to be like prey in the hand of these women. Upon the fulfillment of the punitive judgment, the prophetesses would “know” or be forced to recognize YHWH as the God who had acted against them and as the one who does not indefinitely tolerate those who act contrary to his will. (13:21)

The prophetesses “discouraged the heart of the righteous one” (or disheartened the upright person ) with falsehood, discouraging the very one whom YHWH had not discouraged or pained. They “strengthened the hands of the wicked one,” encouraging the wicked one to continue engaging in corrupt practices and not to turn away from his wicked way so that he might escape punitive judgment and preserve his life. (13:22) “Therefore,” in view of what the prophetesses had done, they would no longer see or vision vanity, delusion, emptiness, or worthlessness and no more engage in divination. YHWH determined to rescue his people from their “hand,” power, or control. Then the prophetesses would “know” or be forced to recognize that YHWH is the God who had executed judgment against them. (13:23)


In verse 5, the Septuagint rendering differs from the Masoretic Text. It indicates that the false prophets did not stand up in firmness or strength and “gather flocks [a flock (P967)] to the house of Israel. They did not arise [stand up (P967)], the ones saying, In the day of the Lord.”

In verse 11, the Septuagint refers to God as giving stones that can be hurled. Whereas P967 indicates that the wall would then fall (“it will fall”), other Greek manuscripts say that “they [the stones] will fall.”

In verse 14, the wording of the Septuagint relates everything to the wall, with no allusion to Jerusalem. According to the interpretation of the Targum, God would break down the city in which the prophets had prophesied false prophecies.

With reference to the wall, verse 15 in the Septuagint adds, “It will fall.”