The fall of the sanctuary and death (Ezek 24:20-24:21)

“Then I said to them.

‘The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

Say to the house of Israel!

Thus says Yahweh God!

I will profane

My sanctuary!

The pride of your power!

The delight of your eyes!

Your heart’s desire!

Your sons,

Whom you have left behind

Shall fall

By the sword.

Your daughters,

Whom you have left behind,

Shall fall

By the sword.’”

Ezekiel then told them what Yahweh had said to him, as the word of Yahweh came to him. He told the house of Israel that Yahweh was going to profane his own sanctuary. This Temple had been the pride of their power, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s desire. However, it would be gone. Their sons and daughters, who had been left behind, would die by the sword. This was not a happy oracle.

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Your sister’s cup (Ezek 23:31-23:34)

“‘You have gone

The way

Of your sister.

Therefore,

I will give her cup

Into your hand.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You shall drink

Your sister’s cup!

It is deep!

It is wide!

You shall be scorned!

You shall be derided!

It holds so much!

You will be filled

With drunkenness!

You will be filled

With sorrow!

It is a cup of horror!

It is a cup of desolation!

It is the cup

Of your sister

Samaria!

You shall drink it!

You shall drain it out!

You shall gnaw its sherds!

You shall

Tear out your breasts!

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God.”

This seems to be a poem or oracle about a cup of wrath. Jerusalem has gone the way of her sister Samaria. Thus she will be given her sister’s cup, the Samarian cup. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that Jerusalem would drink her sister’s deep and wide cup. Thus she was going to be scorned and derided. Jerusalem would drink from this large cup. She would be filled with drunkenness and sorrow because this was a cup of horror and desolation. Jerusalem was to drain this big cup by drinking from it. She would then gnaw and eat the glass pottery sherd pieces of this cup. Finally, she would tear out her breasts. This is what Yahweh, God, had spoken. This did not sound like a good experience.

The two daughters (Ezek 23:1-23:3)

“The word of Yahweh
Came to me.
‘Son of man!
There were two women.
They were
The daughters
Of one mother.
They played the whore
In Egypt.
They played the whore
In their youth.
Their breasts
Were caressed there.
Their virgin bosoms
Were fondled.’”
Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This oracle was about two women, the daughters of the same mother. Both of them played the whore in Egypt when they were young. In particular, their young virgin breasts or bosoms were fondled and caressed. Ezekiel and Yahweh loved the theme of the whoring woman to get a point across. Here there was a particular emphasis on the breasts of these two young women.

The unclean land (Ezek 22:23-22:24)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Say to her!

You are a land

That is not cleansed.

You are a land

Not rained upon

In the day of indignation.’”

Once again there is another oracle that Yahweh gave to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to tell the people of Jerusalem that they were a land that was not clean. There was no rain to cleanse them on the day of Yahweh’s indignation.

The chant of the sharpened sword (Ezek 21:8-21:11)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Prophesy!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh!

Say!

‘A sword!

A sword is sharpened!

A sword is also polished!

It is sharpened

For slaughter!

It is polished

To flash

Like lightning!

How can we make merry?

You have despised

The rod.

You have despised

All discipline.

The sword is given

To be polished,

To be grasped

In the hand.

It is sharpened.

The sword is polished.

It is to be placed

In the killer’s hand.’”

This oracle of Yahweh is often called the song of the sword. Yahweh told Ezekiel to prophesize this chant about the importance of the sword. A sword should be sharpened and polished for the slaughter to come. The sword should be polished so that it flashes like lightning. How can they be happy and merry? They had despised the rod and all discipline. They should have a polished sword that can be easily grasped. It should be sharpened and polished before it was placed in the killer’s hand.

Yahweh explains the allegory (Ezek 17:11-17:14)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Say now

To the rebellious house!

Do you not know

What these things mean?

Tell them!

The king of Babylon

Came to Jerusalem.

He took its king.

He took its officials.

He brought them

Back with him

To Babylon.

He took

One of the royal offspring.

He made a covenant

With him.

He put him

Under oath.

He had taken away

The chief men

Of the land.

Thus the kingdom

Might be humble.

The kingdom might not

Lift itself up.

By keeping

His covenant,

It might stand.’’’

Ezekiel had another oracle from Yahweh that explained the first eagle allegory or riddle. Obviously the rebellious house of Judah did not understand it. Thus Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was going to explain it to them. The first eagle was the king of Babylon who came to Jerusalem. He took its king and officials back with him to Babylon. Then he took one of the Judean royal offspring and made an agreement with him. This new king swore an oath of allegiance to the King of Babylon. The first king that was uprooted was King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE), while the new king was King Zedekiah (598-587). Thus the kingdom of Judah would be humbled and not be able to lift itself up. It would be allowed to exist, if it kept the agreement with the King of Babylon.

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.