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Ezekiel 21 The Voice (VOICE)

21 The word of the Eternal once again came to me with a similar message.

Eternal One: Son of man, look toward Jerusalem, and speak against My temple. Prophesy against the whole land of Israel, and tell the land of Israel what the Eternal One says: “Pay attention. I am against you. I will draw My sword from its sheath and kill both the righteous and the wicked who live within your borders. Because I am going to kill everyone, both good and evil, all flesh from south to north will feel the wrath of My sword! Then everyone all over the world will know I, the Eternal One, have drawn My sword from its sheath and do not intend to return it.”

God tells Ezekiel to act out His message. He must demonstrate what it will be like when the bad news arrives of what has happened back home in Jerusalem.

Now as for you, son of man, groan as if your heart is breaking. Groan in front of people because of your bitter agony! When they see you, they will ask you, “Why all this loud and noisy groaning?” Answer them this way: “I am groaning because of the horrible news that is coming. Every heart will melt, every hand will fall limp, every spirit will grow faint, and every knee will become as weak as water. So pay attention. The time is near! It is going to happen soon.”

So said the Eternal Lord.

The word of the Eternal came to me.

Eternal One: Son of man, prophesy, and tell them this message is from the Eternal.

    A sword! Yes, a sword—
        keenly sharpened and polished.
10     A razor-sharp blade honed to slaughter anything in its path,
        polished to flash like lightning!

    Should we celebrate My son’s scepter?
        The sword repulses every such bit of wood.

11     My sword is sent to be polished till radiant,
        comfortably wielded.
    It is keenly sharpened and brightly burnished,
        ready for the hand of the slayer.
12     Cry out and wail, son of man!
        My sword is against My people;
    It swings for all the princes of Israel.
        I have deserted them all—princes and people—to the wrath of My sword!
        Therefore, beat your thigh, Ezekiel, in front of everyone
    So they understand what a tragedy this is.
13     For the test will come;
        so what happens if the sword repulses the scepter
    And the scepter is gone?
        I, the Eternal Lord, say this to you.

14     As for you, son of man, prophesy;
        clap your hands loudly!
    Let the sword strike two, even three times!
        It is a sword honed and polished to massacre!
    This sword is ready for the great slaughter,
        coming after them on all sides.
15     Hearts will melt, and masses will fall
        because I have placed the tip of the blade at every city gate!
    Oh, this beautiful instrument flashes like lightning;
        it’s wrapped and ready for slaughter.
16     Now, My sword, thrust to the right—
        and slash to the left!
    Be ready to attack wherever the blade is turned.
17     I will clap My hands together,
        and I will cool My wrath once judgment has been executed.
    I, the Eternal One, have spoken.

18 The word of the Eternal came to me regarding Babylon’s sword.

Eternal One: 19 Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of Babylon’s king to take. Have both roads begin in the same place. Make a signpost, and put it at the fork in the road: 20 one road leading the sword to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah; the other road leading to Judah and its fortified capital, Jerusalem. 21 The Babylonian king will stop at the fork in the road and look for a sign to see which way to go: he will shake the arrows and draw one, call to his household gods[a] for advice, and examine an animal liver.

Kings never go into battle without first looking for signs and omens. War is too risky—even for Babylon—not to have the blessings of the gods. The Babylonian king stops at the crossroads: which way should he go? So he calls for his priests to consult the gods for signs. Their mediation may be something like drawing straws. At times it involves the ancient practice of “reading” the liver of a sacrificial animal. When a king wants to make sure his decision is the correct one, he uses several forms of divination. The ancients do not believe in chance; they believe their gods are involved in orchestrating their lives and decisions. In this case, Babylon’s king happens to be correct because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is directing him to take the road to Jerusalem.

Eternal One: 22 He reads “Jerusalem” in his right hand, so he will march first in that direction with battering rams for the gates and a command to massacre the city, sounding war cries and building siege ramps and siege walls. 23 Everyone in Jerusalem will believe the omen to be false because they had pledged loyalty to Babylon. But his actions will remind the doubters of their guilt, and they will be taken prisoners.

(to the Israelites) 24 Because you have reminded Me of your sins and once again exposed your rebellious ways, making every wicked thing you ever did obvious, you will be forcefully taken prisoner. 25 You are already dead, you wicked prince of Israel! Your hour has arrived! Your day of excruciating punishment has come! 26 This is what the Eternal Lord says: “Remove your royal turban and crown. Everything is about to change: the lowly will be brought high, and the high will be brought low. 27 Ruination! I will make a total ruin out of everything! It will remain in ruins until the one to whom it rightfully belongs arrives, and then I will hand it over to Him.”

28 But you, son of man, must preach to them what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say about the Ammonites and their insults:

    A sword! Yes, a sword
        is drawn to slaughter the Ammonites
    Honed to destroy, polished to flash like lightning.

29 “In spite of false prophesies and lying omens concerning you, the sword will slice the necks of the wicked. They are as good as dead. Their hour has come! Their day of punishment has arrived! 30 Put the sword back in its sheath. In the place where you were conceived, in the land of your origin, I will judge you with My sword of judgment. 31 I will pour out My anger over your head, I will breathe fiery wrath on you, I will give you over to barbaric men (artists of destruction who love to mutilate and kill). 32 You will become coals for a fire; Babylonian blood will flood the land, and you will be forgotten! I, the Eternal, promise this.”


  1. 21:21 Hebrew, teraphim
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Ezekiel 21 New International Version (NIV)

Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment

21 [a]The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’

“Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘A sword, a sword,
    sharpened and polished—
10 sharpened for the slaughter,
    polished to flash like lightning!

“‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son? The sword despises every such stick.

11 “‘The sword is appointed to be polished,
    to be grasped with the hand;
it is sharpened and polished,
    made ready for the hand of the slayer.
12 Cry out and wail, son of man,
    for it is against my people;
    it is against all the princes of Israel.
They are thrown to the sword
    along with my people.
Therefore beat your breast.

13 “‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’

14 “So then, son of man, prophesy
    and strike your hands together.
Let the sword strike twice,
    even three times.
It is a sword for slaughter—
    a sword for great slaughter,
    closing in on them from every side.
15 So that hearts may melt with fear
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter[b]
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.
16 Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
17 I too will strike my hands together,
    and my wrath will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.

18 The word of the Lord came to me: 19 “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. 22 Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works. 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.

24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.

25 “‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, 26 this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. 27 A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it.’

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the Ammonites and their insults:

“‘A sword, a sword,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
29 Despite false visions concerning you
    and lying divinations about you,
it will be laid on the necks
    of the wicked who are to be slain,
whose day has come,
    whose time of punishment has reached its climax.

30 “‘Let the sword return to its sheath.
    In the place where you were created,
in the land of your ancestry,
    I will judge you.
31 I will pour out my wrath on you
    and breathe out my fiery anger against you;
I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men,
    men skilled in destruction.
32 You will be fuel for the fire,
    your blood will be shed in your land,
you will be remembered no more;
    for I the Lord have spoken.’”


  1. Ezekiel 21:1 In Hebrew texts 21:1-32 is numbered 21:6-37.
  2. Ezekiel 21:15 Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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