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He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.

4 He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them. 5For you are not sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel— 6not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. 7But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8See, I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. 9Like the hardest stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not fear them or be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 10He said to me: Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart and hear with your ears; 11then go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them. Say to them, “Thus says the Lord G od”; whether they hear or refuse to hear.

Ezekiel at the River Chebar

12 Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the L ord rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; 13it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. 14The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the L ord being strong upon me. 15I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days.

16 At the end of seven days, the word of the L ord came to me: 17Mortal, I have made you a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18If I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give them no warning, or speak to warn the wicked from their wicked way, in order to save their life, those wicked persons shall die for their iniquity; but their blood I will require at your hand. 19But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life. 20Again, if the righteous turn from their righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before them, they shall die; because you have not warned them, they shall die for their sin, and their righteous deeds that they have done shall not be remembered; but their blood I will require at your hand. 21If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning; and you will have saved your life.

Ezekiel Isolated and Silenced

22 Then the hand of the L ord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. 23So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the L ord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. 24The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; 26and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. 27But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord G od”; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Now he adds, not to many peoples Those who translate “many” by “great,” do not understand the Prophet’s meaning, for God had spoken in the singular number concerning all people, but now he uses the plural, as if he had said, I send thee neither to Egyptians, nor to Chaldeans, nor to any other remote nation, since the world is on all sides of thee, inhabited by peoples whose language thou dost not understand: to those therefore I do not send thee. The particle, if not, follows, and Jerome translates, “If I had sent thee unto them,” although the negative particle is interposed, literally, if not, but because this phrase appears harsh, some have supposed אם-לא, am-la, to have the sense of swearing, and interpret it affirmatively for כאמת, cameth, “truly,” or “surely.” But if we receive it so, the passage will be defective; for they understand אם, am, “again,” “afterwards:” for these two words, אם-לא, am-la, have the force of an oath interposed. What sense then shall we extract from the words, “truly I will send thee unto them, and they shall hear thee?” We see then this sense to be too forced. Some explain the passage thus: “If I had not sent thee unto them, they would have heard thee,” as if God here blamed the disposition of the people, because they rather sought vain and foolish prophecies:, than submitted themselves to the truth; just as if he had said, if any impostor should pour darkness upon them, they would immediately embrace his fables and lies, as they are so prone to foolishness. Since, therefore, I send thee, therefore they do not hear. But this explanation does not suit, because a little afterwards we shall see it in its own place. To me therefore this context is most probable, if I had not sent thee to them, these also would have heard thee, as if it had been said, unless a difference of speech had interposed, I had rather have used thine assistance with reference to foreign nations. In this way God signifies his displeasure, when he says, that he would rather send his Prophet hither and thither than to the Israelites, except through the want of a common language; for this difference of language presented the only boundary to the Prophet, so that he was confined to his own people. In this sense there is nothing forced. I do not, therefore, send thee to many peoples, profound in speech and strange in tongue, because thou wouldst not understand their language But if this had not been an obstacle, I would have sent thee, and they would have heard thee. We see then what I have just touched upon, that the Israelites are compared to foreign or uncircumcised tribes, because they rejected the instruction offered them, not through ignorance of the language, but through the hardness of their heart. Isaiah also says, (Isaiah 28:11, 13,) that the word of God would be deep and obscure to even the Jews themselves, but in another sense; he also compares his prophecies to a sealed book, since God had blinded them according to their deserts. Since therefore they were so given over to a reprobate mind, and were destitute of sound understanding, therefore he says, that his teaching would be like a closed and sealed book: then he says, that he would be a barbarian, as if he was using an unknown language. So God in this place clearly shows that the house of Israel were suffering no impediment in profiting by his word, except their own unwillingness to hear. (Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 29:11.) For he says, that the heathen would be obedient, if they could be partakers of such a benefit. Unless therefore the language of the Prophet had been unknown to the profane and uncircumcised heathen, he had there found attentive and obedient disciples, as God testifies. How then comes it to pass that the house of Israel cannot hear! It now follows, But the house of Israel are unwilling to hear, that is, the house of Israel is unwilling to hear thee, because it will not hear me, says he.

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