Oracle about the fire against the south (Ezek 20:45-20:48)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the south!

Preach

Against the south!

Prophesy

Against the forest land

In the Negeb!

Say to the forest

Of the Negeb!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh God!

I will kindle

A fire in you.

It shall devour

Every green tree

In you.

It shall devour

Every dry tree.

The blazing flame

Shall not be quenched.

All faces,

From south to north,

Shall be scorched by it.

All flesh

Shall see

That I,

Yahweh,

Have kindled it.

It shall not be quenched.’”

As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face to the south. He was to preach and prophesy against the south, the forest land in the Negeb, the dry like wilderness south of Judah, perhaps the kingdom of Edom. He was to tell them to listen to the word of Yahweh. Yahweh was going to kindle a fire that would devour every green tree and every dry tree. This blazing flame would not be quenched. Everyone’s face would be scorched by it. Everyone would know that Yahweh set this unquenchable fire. This section is the first part of the next chapter in the Jerusalem Bible.

The wickedness destroyed (Isa 9:18-9:21)

“Wickedness burned like a fire.

It consumed briers.

It consumed thorns.

It kindled the thickets of the forest.

They swirled upward

In a column of smoke.

Through the wrath of Yahweh of hosts

The land was burned.

The people became

Like fuel for the fire.

No one spared another.

They gorged on the right.

But they were still hungry.

They devoured on the left.

But they were not satisfied.

They devoured

The flesh of their own kindred.

Manasseh devoured Ephraim.

Ephraim devoured Manasseh.

Together they were against Judah.

Thus his anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

Isaiah says that wickedness burned like a fire consuming all briers and thorns, like a forest fire. The northern Israelites would be like swirling smoke because the wrath of God would come upon them. He would burn their land with the people on it as fuel for the fire. No one would be spared because they would become like cannibals, eating their own relatives, but never satisfied. They would turn on each other. Even the 2 northern brother tribes of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, would turn on each other. They would also attack Judah. Once again, this statement ends with the refrain that the angry hand of Yahweh was still outstretched against northern Israel.