Idolatry and Unfaithfulness. 1Some elders of Israel came and sat down before me.a 2Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3Son of man, these men keep the memory of their idols alive in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them. Should I allow myself to be consulted by them? 4Therefore say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: If any of the house of Israel who keep the memory of their idols in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them, come to a prophet, I the LORD will answer in person because of their many idols, 5in order to catch the hearts of the house of Israel, estranged from me because of all their idols.
6Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Return, turn away from your idols; from all your abominations, turn your faces.b 7For if anyone of the house of Israel or any alien residing in Israel who are estranged from me and who keep their idols in their hearts, setting the stumbling block of their sin before them, come to ask a prophet to consult me on their behalf, I the LORD will answer them in person. 8I will set my face against them and make them a sign and a byword, and cut them off from the midst of my people. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
9c As for the prophet, if he speaks a deceiving word, I the LORD am the one who deceives that prophet.* I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10They will be punished for their own sins, the inquirer and the prophet alike, 11so that the house of Israel may no longer stray from me, no longer defile themselves by all their sins. Then they shall be my people, and I shall be their God—oracle of the Lord GOD.
Just Cause.* 12The word of the LORD came to me: 13d Son of man, if a land sins against me by breaking faith, and I stretch out my hand against it, breaking its staff of bread and setting famine loose upon it, cutting off from it human being and beast alike— 14even if these three were in it, Noah, Daniel, and Job,* they could only save themselves by their righteousness—oracle of the Lord GOD.e 15If I summoned wild beasts to prowl the land, depopulating it so that it became a wasteland which no one would cross because of the wild beasts,f 16and these three were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—I swear they could save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved, but the land would become a wasteland.g 17Or if I bring the sword upon this land, commanding the sword to pass through the land cutting off from it human being and beast alike,h 18and these three were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—they could save neither sons nor daughters; they alone would be saved. 19Or if I send plague into this land, pouring out upon it my bloody wrath, cutting off from it human being and beast alike, 20even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—they could save neither son nor daughter; they would save only themselves by their righteousness.
21Thus says the Lord GOD: Even though I send against Jerusalem my four evil punishments—sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague—to cut off from it human being and beast alike,i 22there will still be some survivors in it who will bring out sons and daughters. When they come out to you and you see their ways and their deeds, you shall be consoled regarding the evil I brought on Jerusalem, everything I brought upon it. 23They shall console you when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that not without reason did I do to it everything I did—oracle of the Lord GOD.j
* [14:9] The ancient Israelites thought that God could use deception as a means of promoting divine justice; cf. 2 Sm 24:1–3; 1 Kgs 22:19–23.
* [14:12–23] According to Ezekiel, the people in Jerusalem deserve destruction because they are corrupt. Yet he admits an exception to the principle of individual responsibility when he affirms that some of those deserving death will survive and be reunited with family in exile. The depravity of Jerusalem testifies that the punishment of Jerusalem was just and necessary.
* [14:14] Noah, Daniel, and Job: righteous folk heroes whom Israel shared with other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Daniel was the just judge celebrated in Ugaritic literature, perhaps the model for the hero of Dn 13.
b. [14:6] Is 2:20; cf. Ez 18:30; 33:11.
c. [14:9] cf. 1 Kgs 22:23; 2 Chr 18:22.
e. [14:14] Ez 28:3; Dn 1:6; cf. Gn 6:9; Jb 1:1.