The Word Made Fresh
1Then I was lifted up by the Spirit and taken to the east gate of the LORD’s temple. There were twenty-five men at the entrance. I recognized Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah who were officials of the people. 2The LORD said to me, “These are the men who plan corruption and give wicked advise in the city. 3They say the time is not near for building houses and that this city is like a pot, with the people as the meat. 4That is why you must prophesy against them, son of man.”
5Then the LORD’s Spirit came upon me and said, “Warn them that the LORD says: I know your thoughts, house of Israel, and the ideas that come to your minds. 6You have killed many people in this city and thrown their bodies into the streets. 7Therefore the LORD God says, ‘The dead bodies you have put there are the meat, and the city is the pot, but you will be removed from it. 8You are afraid of the sword, so I will bring the sword upon you, says the LORD God. 9I will take you out of the city and hand you over to foreigners who will judge you. 10You will fall by the sword and I will pass sentence on you at Israel’s border, and then you will know that I am the LORD. 11This city will not be your pot and you will not be the meat in it. I will judge you at the border of Israel. 12Then you will know that I am the LORD whose laws you have disregarded and whose rules you have not kept, but your actions were in response to the laws of the nations around you.”
13While I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. I fell on my face and cried, “LORD God! Will you completely make an end of those who remain in Israel?”
14Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 15“Your relatives, your own household, and your fellow exiles from the house of Israel, all of them, are the ones the inhabitants of Jerusalem have spoken of. They have said, ‘Those are the ones who have gone far away from the LORD; this land is given to us as our possession.’ 16Tell them the LORD says this: ‘Yes, I moved them far away among other nations. But even though I scattered them, I have been a sanctuary for them for a short time in the countries to which they have been taken.’ 17So, tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will gather you from those foreign lands and bring you out of the places to which you have been scattered, and give the land of Israel to you.’ 18And when they return here, they will remove all the detestable and abominable things. 19I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them. I will remove their hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh 20so that they might obey my laws and statutes. Then they shall be my people and I will be their God. 21But as for those who still cling to their despicable things and their repulsive rituals, I will send their deeds back to haunt them,” says the LORD God.
22And then the cherubim raised their wings. The wheels were beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. 23The glory of the LORD arose from the center of the city and rested on the mountain east of the city. 24The Spirit raised me up, and in a vision brought me to Chaldea to the exiles. Then the vision I had seen disappeared, 25and I told the exiles about everything the LORD had shown me.
1-4: We have met the 25 men before, at 8:16-18. They were up to no good then and are up to no good still. Jaazaniah we have also met (at 8:11) but this may or may not be the same man because in the earlier passage he is called the son of Shaphan. He is a leader of the 25, along with another chief priest named Pelatiah (who will die in verse 13). Based on the earlier vision in chapter 8 we can surmise that they are engaging in the worship of things other than God. Jaazaniah and Pelatiah are also advising the people not to build houses amidst the ruins because “this city is like a pot, with the people as the meat,” meaning they are still being cooked, so there is no need to rebuild. Perhaps the underlying motive is that they want to get their hands on the funds that would be used in such rebuilding projects.
5-12: God’s response to them is that they are responsible for the calamity that has befallen the city; they are responsible for the many that have been slain. Those innocent people are the “meat,” but these “religious” leaders will be taken out of the city and judged “at the border,” that is, on their way out of the country.
13: Pelatiah dies while Ezekiel is prophesying and his death alarms Ezekiel. He fears that God will completely destroy what little is left of Israel.
14-21: Jaazaniah and his companions are telling the people that the land is left for them to enjoy, that the others have gone so far away that they will never return. Ezekiel is to tell them that God will bring the people back from all the places to which they have been dispersed, will transform them with new hearts, and renew the covenant with them. Those among the remnant left in Jerusalem who have gone after other gods will be punished.
22-25: All of this has been part of the vision that Ezekiel saw at the beginning of chapter 8. The cherubim (see 10:1) “transport” him back to the river Chebar where he recounts to the exiles everything he has seen in the visions.
It seems that when a community is bereft of its leaders, the leadership that takes over is made up of people whose primary goal is to elevate themselves and reward themselves. The Babylonians left Jerusalem in a sorry state, and the wrong people took over. But God wasn’t done with Jerusalem yet. Where God is, there is always hope. Read on!