God’s Dealings with Israel Rehearsed
20 In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month [after the beginning of the exile in Babylon], certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord and sat down before me.(A) 2 Then came the word of the Lord to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you.”’ 4 Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Then make them know [accurately] and understand fully the repulsive acts of their fathers;(B) 5 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day when I chose Israel and lifted up My hand and swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God, 6 on that day I swore to them to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had selected for them, [plentiful and] [a]flowing with milk and honey, [a land] which is an ornament and a glory to all lands. 7 Then I said to them, ‘Let every man throw away the detestable things on which he feasts his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.’ 8 But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not throw away the detestable things on which they feasted their eyes, nor did they [b]give up the idols of Egypt.
“Then I decided to pour out My wrath on them and finish My anger against them in the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for My Name’s sake, that it would not be profaned in the sight of the [pagan] nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I made them leave the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them My statutes and explained My ordinances to them, which, if a man keeps, he will live. 12 Also I gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord who sanctifies them (separates and sets them apart). 13 But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes and they despised and rejected My ordinances, which, if a man keeps, he will live; and they greatly profaned My Sabbaths. Then I decided to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. 14 But I acted for My Name’s sake, that it would not be profaned in the sight of the [pagan] nations in whose sight I had brought them out [of slavery]. 15 I also swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, [a land of plenty] [c]flowing with milk and honey, which is the ornament and glory of all lands, 16 because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My Sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their [worthless] idols. 17 Yet My eye [looked on them with compassion and] spared them instead of destroying them, and I did not annihilate them in the wilderness.
18 “But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers nor observe their ordinances nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. 20 Sanctify My Sabbaths and keep them holy; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord your God.’ 21 Yet the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they careful to observe My ordinances, which, if a man keeps, he will live; they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I decided to pour out My wrath on them and finish My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 Yet I withdrew My hand and acted for My Name’s sake, that it would not be profaned in the sight of the [pagan] nations in whose sight I had brought them out [of slavery]. 23 Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the [Gentile] nations and disperse them among the countries, 24 because they had not observed My ordinances, but had [dishonored and] rejected My statutes and had profaned My Sabbaths, and set their eyes on the [man-made] idols of their fathers. 25 [Therefore] I also gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live;(C) 26 and I pronounced them unclean because of their offerings [to their idols], in that they made all their firstborn pass through the fire [as pagan sacrifices], so that I might make them desolate, in order that they might know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.”’(D)
27 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Again in this your fathers have blasphemed Me, in that they acted faithlessly and treacherously against Me. 28 For when I had brought them into the land which I swore to give to them, they saw every high hill and every dark and leafy tree [as a place for idol worship], and there they offered their sacrifices and there they presented their offering that provoked My anger; there also they made their sweet-smelling aroma and there poured out their drink offerings. 29 Then I said to them, ‘What is the high place to which you go?’ So the name of it is called Bamah (High Place) to this day.”’ 30 Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Will you [exiles] defile yourselves in the same manner as your fathers? And will you prostitute yourselves before their loathsome and heinous things? 31 When you offer your gifts, when you make your sons pass through the fire, you are defiling yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be asked by you [for an oracle], O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you. 32 What comes into your mind will never happen, when you say, ‘We will be like the [pagan] nations, like the tribes of the [Gentile] countries, serving [idols made of] wood and stone.’
God Will Restore Israel to Her Land
33 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “most certainly with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be King over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and will gather you from the countries in which you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; 35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you and contend with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment and contend with you,” says the Lord God.(E) 37 “I will make you pass under the rod [as the shepherd does with his sheep when he counts them, and I will count you as Mine and constrain you] and bring you into the bond of the covenant [to which you are permanently bound].(F) 38 And I will separate from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they temporarily live, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.(G)
39 “As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord God, “Go, let everyone serve his idols; but later you shall most certainly listen to Me, and you shall no longer profane My holy name with your gifts and with your idols. 40 For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel (Zion),” says the Lord God, “there the whole house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me. There I will [graciously] accept them, and there I will seek (require) your offerings and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy and sacred things. 41 I will accept you [graciously] as a pleasant and soothing aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands in which you have been scattered; and I will prove Myself holy and manifest My holiness among you in the sight of the nations.(H) 42 And you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. 43 There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all your evil deeds which you have done. 44 And you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord when I have dealt with you for My Name’s sake, not in accordance with your evil ways nor with your corrupt conduct, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God.’”
45 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 46 “Son of man, set your face toward Teman, and speak out against the south and prophesy against the forest land of the Negev (the South), 47 and say to the forest of the Negev, ‘Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am about to kindle a fire in you, and it will devour every one of your green trees, as well as every one of your dry trees. The blazing flame will not be quenched and the whole surface from the south to the north will be burned by it. 48 All flesh will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.”’” 49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not [just] speaking in parables and making allegories?’”
- Ezekiel 20:6 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
- Ezekiel 20:8 Lit forsake.
- Ezekiel 20:15 See note v 6.