Ezekiel 34

A Prophecy Against False Shepherds

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds
The term shepherd is applied to kings in the ancient Near East. In the OT the Lord is often addressed as shepherd of Israel (Gen 49:24; Ps 8:1). The imagery of shepherds as Israel’s leaders is also employed (Jer 23:1–2).
of Israel; prophesy, and say to them – to the shepherds: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock?
You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the choice animals, but you do not feed the sheep! You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost, but with force and harshness
The term translated “harshness” is used to describe the oppression the Israelites suffered as slaves in Egypt (Exod 1:13).
you have ruled over them.
They were scattered because they had no shepherd, and they became food for every wild beast.
As a case of dittography, the MT repeats “and they were scattered” at the end of the verse.
My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over the entire face of the earth with no one looking or searching for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, my sheep have become prey and have become food for all the wild beasts. There was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my flock, but fed themselves and did not feed my sheep, Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand my sheep from their hand. I will no longer let them be shepherds;
Heb “I will cause them to cease from feeding sheep.”
the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore. I will rescue my sheep from their mouth, so that they will no longer be food for them.

11  “‘For this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day.
The imagery may reflect the overthrow of the Israelites by the Babylonians in 587/6 b.c.
13 I will bring them out from among the peoples and gather them from foreign countries; I will bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams and all the inhabited places of the land. 14 In a good pasture I will feed them; the mountain heights of Israel will be their pasture. There they will lie down in a lush
Heb “good.”
pasture, and they will feed on rich grass on the mountains of Israel.
15 I myself will feed my sheep and I myself will make them lie down, declares the sovereign Lord. 16 I will seek the lost and bring back the strays; I will bandage the injured and strengthen the sick, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them – with judgment!

17  “‘As for you, my sheep, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? When you drink clean water, must you muddy the rest of the water by trampling it with your feet? 19 As for my sheep, they must eat what you trampled with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet!

20  “‘Therefore, this is what the sovereign Lord says to them: Look, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with your side and your shoulder, and thrust your horns at all the weak sheep until you scatter them abroad,
Heb “outside.”
22 I will save my sheep; they will no longer be prey. I will judge between one sheep and another.

23  I will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them – namely, my servant David.
The messianic king is here called “David” (see Jer 30:9 and Hos 3:5, as well as Isa 11:1 and Mic 5:2) because he will fulfill the Davidic royal ideal depicted in the prophets and royal psalms (see Ps 2, 89).
He will feed them and will be their shepherd.
24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince
The messianic king (“David”) is called both “king” and “prince” in 37:24–25. The use of the term “prince” for this king facilitates the contrast between this ideal ruler and the Davidic “princes” denounced in earlier prophecies (see 7:27; 12:10, 12; 19:1; 21:25; 22:6, 25).
among them; I, the Lord, have spoken!

25  “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and will rid the land of wild beasts, so that they can live securely
The phrase “live securely” occurs in Ezek 28:26; 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26 as an expression of freedom from fear. It is a promised blessing resulting from obedience (see Lev 26:5–6).
in the wilderness and even sleep in the woods.
The woods were typically considered to be places of danger (Ps 104:20–21; Jer 5:6).
26 I will turn them and the regions around my hill into a blessing. I will make showers come down in their season; they will be showers that bring blessing.
Heb “showers of blessing.” Abundant rain, which in turn produces fruit and crops (v. 27), is a covenantal blessing for obedience (Lev 26:4).
27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the earth will yield its crops. They will live securely on their land; they will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be prey for the nations and the wild beasts will not devour them. They will live securely and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will prepare for them a healthy
The MT reads לְשֵׁם (leshem, “for a name”), meaning perhaps a renowned planting (place). The translation takes this to be a metathesis of שָׁלֹם (shalom) as was read by the LXX.
planting. They will no longer be victims
Heb “those gathered” for famine.
of famine in the land and will no longer bear the insults of the nations.
30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them,
A promise given to Abraham (Gen 15:7) and his descendants (Gen 15:8; Exod 6:7).
and that they are my people, the house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord.
The blessings described in vv. 25–30 are those promised for obedience in Lev 26:4–13.
31 And you, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are my people,
Heb, “the sheep of my pasture, you are human.” See 36:37–38 for a similar expression. The possessive pronoun “my” is supplied in the translation to balance “I am your God” in the next clause.
and I am your God, declares the sovereign Lord.’”

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