Against the Mountains of Israel. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them:a 3You shall say: Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD. Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys:b Pay attention! I am bringing a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places.* 4Your altars shall be laid waste, your incense stands smashed, and I will throw your slain down in front of your idols. 5Yes, I will lay the corpses of the Israelites in front of their idols, and scatter your bones around your altars.* c 6Wherever you live, cities shall be ruined and high places laid waste, in order that your altars be laid waste and devastated, your idols broken and smashed, your incense altars hacked to pieces, and whatever you have made wiped out.d 7The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.* e 8But I will spare some of you from the sword to live as refugees among the nations when you are scattered to foreign lands. 9Then your refugees will remember me among the nations to which they have been exiled, after I have broken their lusting hearts that turned away from me and their eyes that lusted after idols. They will loathe themselves for all the evil they have done, for all their abominations.f 10Then they shall know that I the LORD did not threaten in vain to inflict this evil on them.
11Thus says the Lord GOD: Clap your hands, stamp your feet,* and cry “Alas!” for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! They shall fall by the sword, starvation, and disease.g 12Those far off shall die of disease, those nearby shall fall by the sword, and those who survive and are spared shall perish by starvation; thus will I spend my fury upon them. 13They shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain lie among their idols, all around their altars, on every high hill and mountaintop, beneath every green tree and leafy oak*—any place they offer sweet-smelling oblations to all their idols.h 14I will stretch out my hand against them; I will make the land a desolate waste, from the wilderness to Riblah,* wherever they live. Thus they shall know that I am the LORD.i
* [6:3] High places: raised platforms usually built on hills outside towns for making sacrifices to the Lord or to Canaanite deities. They became synonymous with places of idolatry after the centralization of worship in the Jerusalem Temple.
* [6:5] Scatter your bones…altars: the bones of the dead defiled a place; cf. 2 Kgs 23:14.
* [6:7] You shall know that I am the LORD: this formula is repeated after most of Ezekiel’s oracles from this point on. Whatever happens to Israel happens at the Lord’s command; because the Lord uses the nations to punish or reward Israel for its behavior, Israel will learn that its God has sole rule over the nations and the universe, and will acknowledge that rule in obedience.
* [6:11] Clap your hands, stamp your feet: these gestures may express grief, even horror, at Israel’s infidelities; in 25:6, they are signs of gloating.
* [6:13] Every green tree and leafy oak: trees often identified with fertility deities and the “tree of life”; sacred groves had a long history in Palestine and throughout the Mediterranean basin as places of worship; cf. Dt 12:2.
* [6:14] From the wilderness to Riblah: the whole land, from the far south to the far north.
f. [6:9] Ez 20:7, 24; Ps 137:1.