The Watchman’s Duty
1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people [who are exiled in Babylon] and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword on a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming on the land, and he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his [own] head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood shall be on himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, he is taken away because of his corruption and sin; but I will require his blood from the watchman’s hand.’
7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you shall hear a message from My mouth and give them a warning from Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will certainly die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man will die because of his sin; but I will require his blood from your hand. 9 But if you on your part warn the wicked man to turn from his [evil] way and he does not turn from his [evil] way, he will die in his sin; but you have saved your life.
10 “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have said, “Truly our transgressions and our sins are on us, and we are rotting away because of them; how then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back (change your way of thinking), turn back [in repentance] from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 And you, son of man, say to the sons of your people, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him in the day of his transgression; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stagger because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness, whereas a righteous man will not be able to live because of his [previous acts of] righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’ 13 When I say to the righteous that he will most certainly live, and he trusts in his [previous acts of] righteousness [to save him] and commits injustice, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but he will die for his injustice that he committed. 14 But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will certainly die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices that which is just (fair) and right— 15 if a wicked man returns [what he took as] a pledge, pays back what he had taken by robbery, walks in the statutes which ensure life, without committing injustice, he will certainly live; he will not die. 16 None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced that which is just (fair) and right; he will most certainly live.
17 “Yet your people [who are in exile in Babylon] say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right;’ but as for them, it is their own way that is not right. 18 When the righteous turns back from his righteousness and commits injustice, he will also die because of it. 19 But when a wicked man turns back from his wickedness and practices what is just (fair) and right, he will live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge you, every one [of you] in accordance with his own ways!”
Word of Jerusalem’s Capture
21 In the twelfth year of our exile [in Babylon], on the fifth of the tenth month, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been captured.” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me in the evening, before the survivor came. And He (a)opened my mouth at the time he came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened [in readiness] and I was no longer mute.
23 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, those [back in Palestine] who inhabit these ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was [only] one man and he took possession of the land, but we are many; the land has [most certainly] been given to us [to possess] as property.’ 25 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “You eat meat with the blood in it and raise your eyes to your idols and shed blood. Should you take possession of the land?(A) 26 You rely on your sword [as your security]; you commit outrageous and disgraceful acts and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then take possession of the land?”’ 27 You shall say this to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “As I live, those who are in the ruins certainly will fall by the sword, and I will give whoever is in the open field to the [predatory] animals to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves will die of virulent diseases. 28 And I will make the land [of Israel] a desolation and a ruin, and her pride in her power will be brought to an end; and the mountains of Israel will be so deserted that no one will pass through. 29 Then they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolation and a ruin because of all the atrocities which they have committed.”’
30 “But as for you, son of man, your people who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses say one to another, every one to his brother, ‘Come now and hear what the message is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 They come to you as people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not practice them; for with their mouth they express loving devotion, but their heart goes after their (unlawful) gain. 32 Behold, you are to them like a love song by one who has a pleasant voice and plays well on a stringed instrument [merely to entertain them]; for they hear your words but do not practice them. 33 So when it comes to pass—as it most certainly will—then they will know [without any doubt] that a prophet has been among them.”
a. Ezekiel 33:22: See note 24:27.