Ezekiel 21

Babylon as God’s Sword of Judgment

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel
3 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.
4 Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.
5 Then all people will know that I the LORD have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’
6 “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.
7 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.”
8 The word of the LORD came to me:
9 “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[a]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.’ ”

Ezekiel 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

The ruin of Judah under the emblem of a sharp sword. (1-17) The approach of the king of Babylon described. (18-27) The destruction of the Ammonites. (28-32)

Verses 1-17 Here is an explanation of the parable in the last chapter. It is declared that the Lord was about to cut off Jerusalem and the whole land, that all might know it was his decree against a wicked and rebellious people. It behoves those who denounce the awful wrath of God against sinners, to show that they do not desire the woful day. The example of Christ teaches us to lament over those whose ruin we declare. Whatever instruments God uses in executing his judgments, he will strengthen them according to the service they are employed in. The sword glitters to the terror of those against whom it is drawn. It is a sword to others, a rod to the people of the Lord. God is in earnest in pronouncing this sentence, and the prophet must show himself in earnest in publishing it.

Verses 18-27 By the Spirit of prophecy Ezekiel foresaw Nebuchadnezzar's march from Babylon, which he would determine by divination. The Lord would overturn the government of Judah, till the coming of Him whose right it is. This seems to foretell the overturnings of the Jewish nation to the present day, and the troubles of states and kingdoms, which shall make way for establishing the Messiah's kingdom throughout the earth. The Lord secretly leads all to adopt his wise designs. And in the midst of the most tremendous warnings of wrath, we still hear of mercy, and some mention of Him through whom mercy is shown to sinful men.

Verses 28-32 The diviners of the Ammonites made false prophecies of victory. They would never recover their power, but in time would be wholly forgotten. Let us be thankful to be employed as instruments of mercy; let us use our understandings in doing good; and let us stand aloof from men who are only skilful to destroy.

Cross References 57

  • 1. S Ezekiel 20:1
  • 2. S Ezekiel 13:17
  • 3. Ezekiel 9:6
  • 4. Jeremiah 26:11-12; S Ezekiel 20:46
  • 5. S Jeremiah 21:13
  • 6. S Isaiah 27:1; S Ezekiel 14:21
  • 7. ver 9-11; S Job 9:22; S Isaiah 57:1; Jeremiah 47:6-7
  • 8. S Leviticus 26:25; S Jeremiah 25:27
  • 9. Ezekiel 20:47
  • 10. S Isaiah 34:5
  • 11. ver 30
  • 12. S Ezekiel 20:47-48; Nahum 1:9
  • 13. ver 12; S Isaiah 22:4; Jeremiah 30:6; S Ezekiel 9:4
  • 14. S Job 23:2
  • 15. S Joshua 7:5
  • 16. S Jeremiah 47:3; Ezekiel 22:14; Ezekiel 7:17
  • 17. S Psalms 6:2
  • 18. S Leviticus 26:36; S Job 11:16
  • 19. Psalms 110:5-6; Isaiah 34:5-6
  • 20. Deuteronomy 32:41
  • 21. Jeremiah 46:4
  • 22. Jeremiah 31:19
  • 23. ver 17; S Numbers 24:10
  • 24. S Ezekiel 6:11; Ezekiel 30:24
  • 25. S 2 Samuel 17:10
  • 26. Psalms 22:14
  • 27. ver 14; Ezekiel 22:13
  • 28. S Ezekiel 5:13
  • 29. S Ezekiel 6:11; S Ezekiel 16:42
  • 30. S Ezekiel 14:21; Ezekiel 32:11
  • 31. Jeremiah 31:21
  • 32. S Deuteronomy 3:11; Jeremiah 49:2; Amos 1:14
  • 33. S Proverbs 16:33
  • 34. Zechariah 10:2
  • 35. Numbers 22:7; S Numbers 23:23
  • 36. S Jeremiah 4:16
  • 37. Jeremiah 32:24
  • 38. S 2 Kings 25:1; S Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 26:9
  • 39. S Numbers 5:15
  • 40. S Ezekiel 17:19
  • 41. Ezekiel 22:4
  • 42. Ezekiel 35:5
  • 43. S Isaiah 28:5; S Jeremiah 13:18
  • 44. S Psalms 75:7; Isaiah 40:4; S Ezekiel 17:24; S Matthew 23:12
  • 45. Genesis 49:10
  • 46. Psalms 2:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 37:24; Haggai 2:21-22
  • 47. S Genesis 19:38; Zephaniah 2:8
  • 48. S Jeremiah 12:12
  • 49. Jeremiah 27:9
  • 50. ver 25; Ezekiel 22:28; Ezekiel 35:5
  • 51. ver 5; Jeremiah 47:6
  • 52. S Ezekiel 16:3
  • 53. Psalms 18:15; S Isaiah 11:4
  • 54. Psalms 79:6; Ezekiel 22:20-21
  • 55. S Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 51:20-23; S Ezekiel 16:39
  • 56. S Ezekiel 20:47-48; Malachi 4:1
  • 57. Ezekiel 25:10

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains an explanation of a prophecy in the latter part of the preceding chapter; and a new one, concerning the sword of the Chaldeans, and the destruction of the Jews and Ammonites by it. The prophecy of the fire in the forest is explained, Eze 21:1-5, upon which the prophet is directed to show his concern at it by sighing, in order to awaken the attention of the people to it, Eze 21:6,7, then follows a prophecy of a very sharp and bright sword, which should do great execution upon the people and princes of Israel; and therefore the prophet, in order to affect them, with it, is bid to howl and cry, and smite on his thigh; and smite his hands together, and the Lord says he would do so; all which is designed to set forth the greatness of the calamity and the distress, Eze 21:8-17, next the prophet is ordered to represent the king of Babylon as at a place where two ways met, and as at a loss which way to take, and as determined by divination to go to Jerusalem first, Eze 21:18-24, and then Zedekiah, the then reigning prince of Israel, has his doom pronounced on him, and he is ordered to be stripped of his regalia; and an intimation is given that there should be no more king over Israel of the house of David until the Messiah came, Eze 21:26,27 and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy of the destruction of the Ammonites in their own land, which should certainly be, though their diviners might, say the contrary, Eze 21:28-31.

above excuse or complaint about speaking in parables; wherefore the prophet is ordered to speak in plainer language to the people. It is very probable that the prophet delivered the prophecy recorded in the latter part of the preceding chapter in the figurative terms in which he received it; and he here is bid to explain it to the people, or to repeat it to them in clearer expressions. 28904-950610-1207-Eze21.2

Ezekiel 21 Commentaries

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