Ezekiel 6

Judgment on the Mountains of Israel

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, turn toward
Heb “set your face against.” The expression occurs at the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophetic oracles in Ezek 13:17; 20:46; 21:2; 25:2; 28:21; 29:2; 35:2; 38:2.
Based on comparison to a similar expression in Ugaritic, the phrase may imply that Ezekiel was to actually go to these locations to deliver his message.
the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them:
Say, ‘Mountains of Israel,
The phrase “mountains of Israel” occurs only in the book of Ezekiel (6:2, 3; 19:9; 33:28; 34:13, 14; 35:12; 36:1, 4, 8; 37:22; 38:8; 39:2, 4, 17). The expression refers to the whole land of Israel.
The mountainous terrain of Israel would contrast with the exiles’ habitat in the river valley of Babylonia.
Hear the word of the sovereign Lord!
The introductory formula “Hear the word of the sovereign Lord” parallels a pronouncement delivered by the herald of a king (2 Kgs 18:28).
This is what the sovereign Lord says to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I am bringing
Heb “Look I, I am bringing.” The repetition of the pronoun draws attention to the speaker. The construction also indicates that the action is soon to come; the Lord is “about to bring a sword against” them.
a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places.
The Hebrew term refers to elevated platforms where pagan sacrifices were performed.
Your altars will be ruined and your incense altars will be broken. I will throw down your slain in front of your idols.
Thirty-nine of the forty-eight biblical occurrences of this Hebrew word are found in the book of Ezekiel.
This verse is probably based on Lev 26:30 in which God forecasts that he will destroy their high places, cut off their incense altars, and set their corpses by the corpses of their idols.
I will place the corpses of the people of Israel in front of their idols,
This first sentence, which explains the meaning of the last sentence of the previous verse, does not appear in the LXX and may be an instance of a marginal explanatory note making its way into the text.
and I will scatter your bones around your altars.
In all your dwellings, the cities will be laid waste and the high places ruined so that your altars will be laid waste and ruined, your idols will be shattered and demolished, your incense altars will be broken down, and your works wiped out.
The Hebrew verb translated “wiped out” is used to describe the judgment of the Flood (Gen 6:7; 7:4, 23).
The slain will fall among you and then you will know that I am the Lord.
The phrase you will know that I am the Lord concludes over sixty oracles in the book of Ezekiel and indicates the ultimate goal of God’s action. The phrase is often used in the book of Exodus as well (Exod 7:5; 14:4, 18). By Ezekiel’s day the people had forgotten that the Lord (Yahweh) was their covenant God and had turned to other gods. They had to be reminded that Yahweh alone deserved to be worshiped because only he possessed the power to meet their needs. Through judgment and eventually deliverance, Israel would be reminded that Yahweh alone held their destiny in his hands.


“‘But I will spare some of you. Some will escape the sword when you are scattered in foreign lands.
Heb “when you have fugitives from the sword among the nations, when you are scattered among the lands.”
Then your survivors will remember me among the nations where they are exiled. They will realize
The words “they will realize” are not in the Hebrew text; they are added here for stylistic reasons since this clause assumes the previous verb “to remember” or “to take into account.”
how I was crushed by their unfaithful
Heb “how I was broken by their adulterous heart.” The image of God being “broken” is startling, but perfectly natural within the metaphorical framework of God as offended husband. The idiom must refer to the intense grief that Israel’s unfaithfulness caused God. For a discussion of the syntax and semantics of the Hebrew text, see M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 1:134.
heart which turned from me and by their eyes which lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves
Heb adds “in their faces.”
because of the evil they have done and because of all their abominable practices.
10 They will know that I am the Lord; my threats to bring this catastrophe on them were not empty.’
Heb “not in vain did I speak to do to them this catastrophe.” The wording of the last half of v. 10 parallels God’s declaration after the sin of the golden calf (Exod 32:14).


11  “‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Clap your hands, stamp your feet, and say, “Ah!” because of all the evil, abominable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine, and pestilence.
By the sword and by famine and by pestilence. A similar trilogy of punishments is mentioned in Lev 26:25–26. See also Jer 14:12; 21:9; 27:8, 13; 29:18).
12 The one far away will die by pestilence, the one close by will fall by the sword, and whoever is left and has escaped these
Heb “the one who is left, the one who is spared.”
will die by famine. I will fully vent my rage against them.
13 Then you will know that I am the Lord – when their dead lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and all the mountaintops, under every green tree and every leafy oak,
By referring to every high hill…all the mountaintops…under every green tree and every leafy oak Ezekiel may be expanding on the phraseology of Deut 12:2 (see 1 Kgs 14:23; 2 Kgs 16:4; 17:10; Jer 2:20; 3:6, 13; 2 Chr 28:4).
the places where they have offered fragrant incense to all their idols.
14 I will stretch out my hand against them
I will stretch out my hand against them is a common expression in the book of Ezekiel (14:9, 13; 16:27; 25:7; 35:3).
and make the land a desolate waste from the wilderness to Riblah,
The Vulgate reads the name as “Riblah,” a city north of Damascus. The MT reads Diblah, a city otherwise unknown. The letters resh (ר) and dalet (ד) may have been confused in the Hebrew text. The town of Riblah was in the land of Hamath (2 Kgs 23:33) which represented the northern border of Israel (Ezek 47:14).
in all the places where they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord!”

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