1In the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month,* as I was sitting in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there.a 2I looked up and there was a figure that looked like a man.* Downward from what looked like his waist, there was fire; from his waist upward, like the brilliance of polished bronze.b
Vision of Abominations in the Temple. 3He stretched out the form of a hand and seized me by the hair of my head. The spirit lifted me up* between earth and heaven and brought me in divine vision to Jerusalemc to the entrance of the inner gate facing north where the statue of jealousy that provokes jealousy stood. 4There I saw the glory of the God of Israel, like the vision I had seen in the plain.d 5He said to me: Son of man, lift your eyes to the north! I looked to the north and there in the entry north of the altar gate was this statue of jealousy.e 6He asked, Son of man, do you see what they are doing? Do you see the great abominations that the house of Israel is practicing here, so that I must depart from my sanctuary? You shall see even greater abominations!f
7Then he brought me to the entrance of the courtyard, and there I saw a hole in the wall. 8Son of man, he ordered, dig through the wall. I dug through the wall—there was a doorway. 9Go in, he said to me, and see the evil abominations they are doing here. 10I went in and looked—figures of all kinds of creeping things and loathsome beasts,* all the idols of the house of Israel,g pictured around the wall. 11Before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel. Among them stood Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, each with censer in hand; a cloud of incense drifted upward.h 12Then he said to me: Do you see, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his idol chamber? They think: “The LORD cannot see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.”i 13He said: You will see them practicing even greater abominations.
14Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD. There women sat and wept for Tammuz.* j 15He said to me: Do you see this, son of man? You will see other abominations, greater than these!
16Then he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. There at the door of the LORD’s temple, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the LORD’s temple and their faces toward the east; they were bowing eastward* to the sun.k 17He said: Do you see, son of man? Are the abominable things the house of Judah has done here so slight that they should also fill the land with violence, provoking me again and again? Now they are putting the branch to my nose!* 18Therefore I in turn will act furiously: my eye will not spare, nor will I take pity. Even if they cry out in a loud voice for me to hear, I shall not listen to them.
* [8:1] In the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month: September, 592 B.C.
* [8:3] The spirit lifted me up: the prophet is transported in vision from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezekiel may be drawing on his memory of the Temple from before his exile in 598 B.C. The statue of jealousy: the statue which provokes the Lord’s outrage against the insults of his own people; perhaps the statue of the goddess Asherah set up by Manasseh, king of Judah (cf. 2 Kgs 21:7; 2 Chr 33:7, 15). Although his successor, Josiah, had removed it (2 Kgs 23:6), the statue may have been set up again after his death.
* [8:10] Creeping things and loathsome beasts: perhaps images of Egyptian deities, often represented in animal form. During the last days of Jerusalem Zedekiah, king of Judah, was allied with Egypt, hoping for protection against the Babylonians.
* [8:14] Wept for Tammuz: the withering of trees and plants that began in late spring was attributed to the descent of Tammuz, the Mesopotamian god of fertility, to the world of the dead beneath the earth. During the fourth month of the year, female worshipers of Tammuz would wail and mourn the god’s disappearance.
* [8:16] Bowing eastward: sun worship was perhaps introduced as a condition of alliance with other nations. While Josiah removed some elements of this worship (2 Kgs 23:11), Manasseh, for example, built altars to all the “hosts of heaven” in two Temple courtyards (2 Kgs 21:5).
* [8:17] Putting the branch to my nose: the meaning is uncertain. It may be connected with the social injustice mentioned in v. 17b and in 9:9, e.g., “with their violence they tweak my nose,” i.e., “goad my fury.” The Masoretic text reads “their noses” as a euphemism for “my nose,” thus avoiding the impropriety of these idolaters coming into contact with God even figuratively.