The new fertile land (Ezek 36:34-36:36)

“The land

That was desolate

Shall be tilled.

Instead of being

The desolation

That it was

In the sight of all

Who passed by.

Now they will say.

‘This land

That was desolate

Has become

Like the garden of Eden.

The wasted towns,

The desolate towns,

The ruined towns,

Are now inhabited.

They are fortified.’

‘Then the nations

That are left

All around you

Shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have rebuilt

The ruined places.

I have replanted

That which was desolate.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.

I will do it.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that the desolate land would be tilled. Everyone passing by would notice the difference. The former desolation would be gone. Now they will say that this land is like the Garden of Eden, as in Genesis, chapter 3. All those wasted, desolate, and ruined Israelite towns would be inhabited and fortified. All the nations and countries around Israel would know that Yahweh had rebuilt and replanted these various ruined and desolate places. What Yahweh had spoken about, he would actually do.

The desolate mountains of Israel (Ezek 36:2-36:3)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

The enemy

Has said of you.

‘Aha!

The ancient heights

Have become

Our possession.’

Therefore,

Prophesy!

Say!

‘Thus says Yahweh God!

They made you desolate!

Indeed,

They crushed you

From all sides.

Thus,

You became

The possession

Of the rest

Of the nations.

You became

An object

Of gossip.

You became

An object

Of slander

Among the people.’”

Yahweh God, via Ezekiel, reminded the Israelites that their enemies had laughed at them because their ancient high mountains had become their own possessions. Thus, Ezekiel was to prophesy about these mountains, since they were truly desolate and crushed from all sides. They had become the possession of various countries. They had become an object of gossip and slander to all the people.

Yahweh was going to deal with Edom (Ezek 35:11-35:13)

“Says Yahweh God!

‘Therefore,

As I live,

I will deal

With you

According to the anger,

According to the envy

That you showed

Because of your hatred

Against them.

I will make myself

Known among you,

When I judge you.

You shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have heard

All the abusive speech

That you uttered

Against the mountains

Of Israel.

Saying.

‘They are laid desolate.

They are given us

To devour.’

You magnified yourselves

Against me

With your mouth.

You multiplied

Your words

Against me.

I heard it.”

Yahweh God, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to deal with Edom, Mount Seir. The Edomites, with their anger and envy. had showed their hatred against Israel. Now Yahweh was going to judge the Edomites. They would soon learn who Yahweh was. He had heard all their abusive speech against the mountains of Israel. They had said that Israel was desolate and ready to be devoured. They magnified themselves against Yahweh with their mouths. They multiplied their words against Yahweh, but he had heard them.

 

The explanation of the allegory of the vine (Ezek 15:6-15:8)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘Like the wood

Of the vine

Among the trees

Of the forest,

That I have given

To the fire

For fuel,

So I will give up

The inhabitants

Of Jerusalem.

I will set my face

Against them.

Although they escape

From the fire,

The fire shall still

Consume them.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I set

My face

Against them.

I will make

The land desolate,

Because they have acted

Faithlessly.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh then explained this allegory or parable. Just as Yahweh had given the wood of the vine as fuel to the fire, so he has done the same to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.   Even if they escaped from this fire, the fire would still consume them. They would know that he was Yahweh, their God. He was going to make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly. The people of Jerusalem were strong special wood, like the vine wood. However, they were useless before the fire, and they are now even more useless after the fire. They had lost faith in Yahweh. What good were they?

The three great men (Ezek 14:14-14:16)

“‘Even if

These three men,

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘If I send

Wild animals

Through the land,

To ravage it,

Thus it is made desolate,

So that no one

May pass through

Because of the animals.

Even if these three men

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would deliver

Neither sons,

Nor daughters.

They alone

Would be saved.

But the land

Would be desolate.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh seems to single out 3 great men, Noah, Daniel, and Job. Strangely enough, all 3 are not mainstays of Israelite history. Noah, in Genesis, precedes Abraham, thus is pre-Israelite. Daniel is a prophet who lived after the time of Ezekiel, with a book named after him. Job was, of course, not an Israelite in his famous book. They seem like unlikely heroes for the exiles. The point of this oracle was that individuals could not save a country of wicked people. Their righteousness would only save their own lives. Quite often this is used as an example of individual responsibility. However, it can be seen as an example of the limited impact of good people. The land would be devastated by wild animals, despite these 3 good men. They would not even be able to save their own sons or daughters. Only they would be saved since the land would be desolate.

Death at the idol worship sites (Ezek 6:13-6:14)

“You shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Their slain

Shall lie

Among their idols,

Around their altars.

On every high hill,

On all the mountain tops,

Under every green tree,

Under every leafy oak,

Wherever they offered

Pleasing odor

To all their idols,

I will stretch out

My hand

Against them.

I will make

The land desolate.

I will make

The land waste

Throughout all their settlements,

From the wilderness

To Riblah.

Then they will know

That I am Yahweh.”

These false worshippers would know that Yahweh was in charge. All these worshippers would die and lie with their idols, around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak. This is the first mention of the green trees and leafy oaks, instead of the vague high places. Wherever they offered the pleasing odor to their idols, Yahweh was going to stretch out his hand against them. He was going to make their land desolate and a waste, no matter where they lived, from the wilderness in the south to Riblah in the north on the Syrian border. They would all come to know that Yahweh was in charge. He was Yahweh.

Against the altars in the high places (Ezek 6:4-6:7)

“Your altars

Shall become desolate.

Your incense stands

Shall be broken.

I will throw down

Your slain

In front of your idols.

I will lay

The corpses

Of the people of Israel

In front of your idols.

I will scatter your bones

Around your altars.

Wherever you live,

Your towns

Shall be waste.

Your high places

Shall be ruined.

Thus your altars

Shall be waste.

Your altars

Shall be ruined.

Your idols

Shall be broken.

Your idols

Shall be destroyed.

Your incense stands

Shall be cut down.

Your works

Shall be wiped out.

The slain shall fall

In your midst.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh continued to tell Ezekiel that these Israelite altars would become desolate. The incense stands would be broken. Yahweh would throw down the dead corpses in front of the idols there. He was going to scatter their bones around these altars. No matter where they might live, Yahweh was going to lay waste to these high places, so that they all would be ruined. The idols would be broken and destroyed. Their incense stands would be cut down. All their works would be wiped out, as many died among them. They would all know that Yahweh was the one who did all this.

Jerusalem is in sack cloth (Bar 4:17-4:20)

“But I!

How can I help you?

He who brought

These calamities

Upon you

Will deliver you

From the hand

Of your enemies.

Go!

My children!

Go!

I have been left desolate.

I have taken off

The robe of peace.

I put on

Sackcloth

For my supplication.

I will cry

To the Everlasting One

All my days.”

The personification of Jerusalem continued with the first person singular, I. Jerusalem wanted to know how she could help. God, who brought their calamities, was also going to deliver them from the hand of their enemies. Jerusalem told her children to go and leave her. She would be left desolate. She was going to take off her robe of peace and prosperity to put on sackcloth for crying to the Everlasting One, not Yahweh, all her remaining days.

The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

The sickness (Lam 5:17-5:18)

“Our hearts

Are sick

Because of this.

Our eyes

Have grown dim

Because of these things.

Mount Zion

Lies desolate.

Jackals prowl

Over it.”

The hearts of the people of Jerusalem are sick. Their eyes have grown dim. Mount Zion has become desolate. The famous jackals prowl all around the city.