1On the fifth day of the fourth month of the thirtieth year, I, Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, was living with the Jewish exiles by the River Chebar in Babylonia. The sky opened, and I saw a vision of God. ( 2It was the fifth year since King Jehoiachin had been taken into exile.) 3There in Babylonia beside the River Chebar, I heard the LORD speak to me and I felt his power.
4I looked up and saw a storm coming from the north. Lightning was flashing from a huge cloud, and the sky round it was glowing. Where the lightning was flashing, something shone like bronze. 5At the centre of the storm, I saw what looked like four living creatures in human form, 6but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7Their legs were straight, and they had hoofs like those of a bull. They shone like polished bronze. 8In addition to their four faces and four wings, they each had four human hands, one under each wing. 9Two wings of each creature were spread out so that the creatures formed a square with their wing tips touching. When they moved, they moved as a group without turning their bodies.
10Each living creature had four different faces: a human face in front, a lion's face at the right, a bull's face at the left, and an eagle's face at the back. 11Two wings of each creature were raised so that they touched the tips of the wings of the creatures next to it, and their other two wings were folded against their bodies. 12Each creature faced all four directions, and so the group could go wherever they wished, without having to turn.
13Among the creatures there was something that looked like a blazing torch, constantly moving. The fire would blaze up and shoot out flashes of lightning. 14The creatures themselves darted to and fro with the speed of lightning.
15As I was looking at the four creatures, I saw four wheels touching the ground, one beside each of them.16All four wheels were alike; each one shone like a precious stone, and each had another wheel intersecting it at right angles, 17so that the wheels could move in any of the four directions. 18The rims of the wheels were covered with eyes.19Whenever the creatures moved, the wheels moved with them, and if the creatures rose up from the earth, so did the wheels. 20The creatures went wherever they wished, and the wheels did exactly what the creatures did, because the creatures controlled them. 21So every time the creatures moved or stopped or rose in the air, the wheels did exactly the same.
22Above the heads of the creatures there was something that looked like a dome made of dazzling crystal. 23There under the dome stood the creatures, each stretching out two wings towards the ones next to it and covering its body with the other two wings. 24I heard the noise their wings made in flight; it sounded like the roar of the sea, like the noise of a huge army, like the voice of Almighty God. When they stopped flying, they folded their wings, 25but there was still a sound coming from above the dome over their heads.
26Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure that looked like a human being. 27The figure seemed to be shining like bronze in the middle of a fire. It shone all over with a bright light 28that had in it all the colours of the rainbow. This was the dazzling light that shows the presence of the LORD.
God Calls Ezekiel to be a Prophet
When I saw this, I fell face downwards on the ground. Then I heard a voice
1saying, “Mortal man, stand up. I want to talk to you.” 2While the voice was speaking, God's Spirit entered me and raised me to my feet, and I heard the voice continue, 3“Mortal man, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They have rebelled and turned against me and are still rebels, just as their ancestors were. 4They are stubborn and do not respect me, so I am sending you to tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them. 5Whether those rebels listen to you or not, they will know that a prophet has been among them.
6“But you, mortal man, must not be afraid of them or of anything they say. They will defy and despise you; it will be like living among scorpions. Still, don't be afraid of those rebels or of anything they say. 7You will tell them whatever I tell you to say, whether they listen or not. Remember what rebels they are.
8“Mortal man, listen to what I tell you. Don't be rebellious like them. Open your mouth and eat what I am going to give you.” 9I saw a hand stretched out towards me, and it was holding a scroll. 10The hand unrolled the scroll, and I saw that there was writing on both sides — cries of grief were written there, and wails and groans.
1God said, “Mortal man, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.”
2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3He said, “Mortal man, eat this scroll that I give you; fill your stomach with it.” I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey.
4Then God said, “Mortal man, go to the people of Israel and say to them whatever I tell you to say. 5I am not sending you to a nation that speaks a difficult foreign language, but to the Israelites. 6If I sent you to great nations that spoke difficult languages you didn't understand, they would listen to you. 7But none of the people of Israel will be willing to listen; they will not even listen to me. All of them are stubborn and defiant. 8Now I will make you as stubborn and as tough as they are. 9I will make you as firm as a rock, as hard as a diamond; don't be afraid of those rebels.”
10God continued, “Mortal man, pay close attention and remember everything I tell you. 11Then go to your countrymen who are in exile and tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them, whether they pay attention to you or not.”
12Then God's Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the loud roar of a voice that said, “Praise the glory of the LORD in heaven above!” 13I heard the wings of the creatures beating together in the air, and the noise of the wheels, as loud as an earthquake. 14The power of the LORD came on me with great force, and as his Spirit carried me off, I felt bitter and angry. 15So I came to Tel Abib beside the River Chebar, where the exiles were living, and for seven days I stayed there, overcome by what I had seen and heard.
16After the seven days had passed, the LORD spoke to me. 17“Mortal man,” he said, “I am making you a watchman for the nation of Israel. You will pass on to them the warnings I give you. 18If I announce that an evil person is going to die but you do not warn him to change his ways so that he can save his life, he will die, still a sinner, and I will hold you responsible for his death. 19If you do warn an evil man and he doesn't stop sinning, he will die, still a sinner, but your life will be spared.
20“If a truly good person starts doing evil and I put him in a dangerous situation, he will die if you do not warn him. He will die because of his sins — I will not remember the good he did — and I will hold you responsible for his death. 21If you do warn a good man not to sin and he listens to you and doesn't sin, he will stay alive, and your life will also be spared.”
Ezekiel will be Unable to Talk
22I felt the powerful presence of the LORD and heard him say to me, “Get up and go out into the valley. I will talk to you there.”
23So I went out into the valley, and there I saw the glory of the LORD, just as I had seen it beside the River Chebar. I fell face downwards on the ground, 24but God's Spirit entered me and raised me to my feet. The LORD said to me, “Go home and shut yourself up in the house. 25You will be tied with ropes, mortal man, and you will not be able to go out in public. 26I will paralyse your tongue so that you won't be able to warn these rebellious people. 27Then, when I speak to you again and give you back the power of speech, you will tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying. Some of them will listen, but some will ignore you, for they are a nation of rebels.”
Ezekiel Acts Out the Siege of Jerusalem
1God said, “Mortal man, get a brick, put it in front of you, and scratch lines on it to represent the city of Jerusalem. 2Then, to represent a siege, put trenches, earthworks, camps, and battering rams all round it. 3Take an iron pan and set it up like a wall between you and the city. Face the city. It is under siege, and you are the one besieging it. This will be a sign to the nation of Israel.
4-5“Then lie down on your left side, and I will place on you the guilt of the nation of Israel. For 390 days you will stay there and suffer because of their guilt. I have sentenced you to one day for each year their punishment will last. 6When you finish that, turn over on your right side and suffer for the guilt of Judah for forty days — one day for each year of their punishment.
7“Fix your eyes on the siege of Jerusalem. Shake your fist at the city and prophesy against it. 8I will tie you up so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until the siege is over.
9“Now take some wheat, barley, beans, peas, millet, and spelt. Mix them all together and make bread. That is what you are to eat during the 390 days you are lying on your left side. 10You will be allowed 230 grammes of bread a day, and it will have to last until the next day. 11You will also have a limited amount of water to drink, two cups a day. 12You are to build a fire out of dried human excrement, bake bread on the fire, and eat it where everyone can see you.”
13The LORD said, “This represents the way the Israelites will have to eat food which the Law forbids, when I scatter them to foreign countries.”
14But I replied, “No, Sovereign LORD! I have never defiled myself. From childhood on I have never eaten meat from any animal that died a natural death or was killed by wild animals. I have never eaten any food considered unclean.”
15So God said, “Very well. I will let you use cow dung instead, and you can bake your bread on that.”
16And he added, “Mortal man, I am going to cut off the supply of bread for Jerusalem. The people there will be distressed and anxious as they measure out the food they eat and the water they drink. 17They will run out of bread and water; they will be in despair, and they will waste away because of their sins.”
Ezekiel Cuts his Hair
1The LORD said, “Mortal man, take a sharp sword and use it to shave off your beard and all your hair. Then weigh the hair on scales and divide it into three parts. 2Burn a third of it in the city when the siege is over. Take another third and chop it up with your sword as you move about outside the city. Scatter the remaining third to the winds, and I will pursue it with my sword. 3Keep back a few hairs and wrap them in the hem of your clothes. 4Then take a few of them out again, throw them in the fire, and let them burn up. From them fire will spread to the whole nation of Israel.”
5The Sovereign LORD said, “Look at Jerusalem. I put her at the centre of the world, with other countries all round her. 6But Jerusalem rebelled against my commands and showed that she was more wicked than the other nations, more disobedient than the countries around her. Jerusalem rejected my commands and refused to keep my laws. 7Now listen, Jerusalem, to what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying. By not obeying my laws or keeping my commands, you have caused more trouble than the nations around you. You have followed the customs of other nations. 8And so I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling you that I am your enemy. I will pass judgement on you where all the nations can see it. 9Because of all the things you do that I hate, I will punish Jerusalem as I have never done before and will never do again. 10As a result, parents in Jerusalem will eat their children, and children will eat their parents. I will punish you and scatter in every direction any who are left alive.
11“Therefore, as I am the living God — this is the word of the Sovereign LORD — because you defiled my Temple with all the evil, disgusting things you did, I will cut you down without mercy. 12A third of your people will die from sickness and hunger in the city; a third will be cut down by swords outside the city; and I will scatter the last third to the winds and pursue them with a sword.
13“You will feel all the force of my anger and rage until I am satisfied. When all this happens, you will be convinced that I, the LORD, have spoken to you because I am outraged at your unfaithfulness. 14All those from the nations around you who pass by will sneer at you and keep their distance.
15“When I am angry and furious with you and punish you, all the nations around you will be terrified. They will look at you with disgust and will mock you. 16I will cut off your supply of food and let you starve. You will feel the pains of hunger like sharp arrows sent to destroy you. 17I will send hunger and wild animals to kill your children, and will send sickness, violence, and war to kill you. I, the LORD, have spoken.”