Ezekiel 33 – “Individual Responsibility; The Fall of Jerusalem”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God asserts that individuals are responsible for their actions and that Jerusalem will fall because of its sins.

II. Photo
God likens Ezekiel to a watchman: “When I bring the sword against a country, the citizens of that country take one of their number and appoint him their watchman.” (v. 2b)

III. Important Verses
2-6: O mortal, speak to your fellow countrymen and say to them: When I bring the sword against a country, the citizens of that country take one of their number and appoint him their watchman. Suppose he sees the sword advancing against the country, and he blows the horn and warns the people. If anybody hears the sound of the horn but ignores the warning, and the sword comes and dispatches him, his blood shall be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the horn but ignored the warning, his bloodguilt shall be upon himself; had he taken the warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword advancing and does not blow the horn, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and destroys one of them, that person was destroyed for his own sins; however, I will demand a reckoning for his blood from the watchman.
17-20: Your fellow countrymen say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” But it is their way that is unfair! When a righteous man turns away from his righteous deeds and commits iniquity, he shall die for it. And when a wicked man turns back from his wickedness and does what is just and right, it is he who shall live by virtue of these things. And will you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair”? I will judge each one of you according to his ways, O House of Israel!
21-22: In the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth day of the tenth month, a fugitive came to me from Jerusalem and reported, “The city has fallen.” Now the hand of the LORD had come upon me the evening before the fugitive arrived, and He opened my mouth before he came to me in the morning; thus my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless.

IV. Outline

1-20. Oracle #1: Responsibility for sin
    1-2a. Superscription
    2b-20. Oracle
        2b-6. The responsibilities of the watchman and the citizens
        7-9. Ezekiel’s responsibility to the wicked
        10-11. God desires repentance
        12-16. Discourse about reward and punishment
        17-20. Disputation: God is fair
            17a. Position of the Israelites
            17b-20. Rebuttal
21-33. Oracle #2: Responsibility for the fall of Jerusalem
    21-23. Superscription
        21a. Historical/geographic introduction
        21b. Messenger report: Jerusalem has fallen
        22-23. God’s oracle from the night before
    24-29. Disputation: The people do not deserve the land
        24. Position of the Israelites: they will possess the land
        25-27. Rebuttal: the Israelites are sinners
        28. God will destroy the land
        29. Recognition of God formula
    30-33. Prophecy: the people will listen to Ezekiel but not heed his message

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Allen, Leslie C. “Ezekiel 1-19” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 28 (Waco, Texas: Wordbook, 1994).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Hals, Ronald M. “Ezekiel” The forms of the Old Testament Literature vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1989)
Photo taken from http://www.acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_free_images/0420-0907-3020-0104_soldier_standing_in_front_of_barbed_wire_using_binoculars_m.jpg