20:1 In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month,1 some of the elders2 of Israel came to seek3 the Lord, and they sat down in front of me.
20:2 The word of the Lord came to me:
20:3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and tell them: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Are you coming to seek me? As surely as I live, I will not allow you to seek me,4 declares the sovereign Lord.’
20:4 “Are you willing to pronounce judgment?5 Are you willing to pronounce judgment, son of man? Then confront them with the abominable practices of their fathers,
20:5 and say to them:
“‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel I swore6 to the descendants7 of the house of Jacob and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore8 to them, “I am the Lord your God.”
20:6 On that day I swore9 to bring them out of the land of Egypt to a land which I had picked out10 for them, a land flowing with milk and honey,11 the most beautiful of all lands.
20:7 I said to them, “Each of you must get rid of the detestable idols you keep before you,12 and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
20:8 But they rebelled against me, and refused to listen to me; no one got rid of their detestable idols,13 nor did they abandon the idols of Egypt. Then I decided to pour out14 my rage on them and fully vent my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
20:9 I acted for the sake of my reputation,15 so that I would not be profaned before the nations among whom they lived,16 before whom I revealed myself by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.17
20:10 “‘So I brought them out of the land of Egypt and led them to the wilderness.
20:11 I gave them my statutes18 and revealed my regulations to them. The one19 who carries20 them out will live by them!21
20:12 I also gave them my Sabbaths22 as a reminder of our relationship,23 so that they would know that I, the Lord, sanctify them.24
20:13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness; they did not follow my statutes and they rejected my regulations (the one who obeys them will live by them), and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I decided to pour out25 my rage on them in the wilderness and destroy them.26
20:14 I acted for the sake of my reputation, so that I would not be profaned before the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
20:15 I also swore27 to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them to the land I had given them – a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.
20:16 I did this28 because they rejected my regulations, did not follow my statutes, and desecrated my Sabbaths; for their hearts followed their idols.29
20:17 Yet I had pity on30 them and did not destroy them, so I did not make an end of them in the wilderness.
20:18 “‘But I said to their children31 in the wilderness, “Do not follow the practices of your fathers; do not observe their regulations,32 nor defile yourselves with their idols.
20:19 I am the Lord your God; follow my statutes, observe my regulations, and carry them out.
20:20 Treat my Sabbaths as holy33 and they will be a reminder of our relationship,34 and then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”
20:21 “‘But the children35 rebelled against me, did not follow my statutes, did not observe my regulations by carrying them out (the one who obeys36 them will live by them), and desecrated my Sabbaths. I decided to pour out37 my rage on them and fully vent my anger against them in the wilderness.
20:22 But I refrained from doing so,38 and acted instead for the sake of my reputation, so that I would not be profaned before the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
20:23 I also swore39 to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the lands.40
20:24 I did this41 because they did not observe my regulations, they rejected my statutes, they desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on42 their fathers’ idols.
20:25 I also gave43 them decrees44 which were not good and regulations by which they could not live.
20:26 I declared them to be defiled because of their sacrifices45 – they caused all their first born to pass through the fire46 – so that I would devastate them, so that they will know that I am the Lord.’47
20:27 “Therefore, speak to the house of Israel, son of man, and tell them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: In this way too your fathers blasphemed me when they were unfaithful to me.
20:28 I brought them to the land which I swore48 to give them, but whenever they saw any high hill or leafy tree, they offered their sacrifices there and presented the offerings that provoke me to anger. They offered their soothing aroma there and poured out their drink offerings.
20:29 So I said to them, What is this high place you go to?’” (So it is called “High Place”49 to this day.)
20:30 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves like your fathers50 and engage in prostitution with detestable idols?
20:31 When you present your sacrifices51 – when you make your sons pass through the fire – you defile yourselves with all your idols to this very day. Will I allow you to seek me,52 O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I will not allow you to seek me!53
20:32 “‘What you plan54 will never happen. You say, “We will be55 like the nations, like the clans of the lands, who serve gods of wood and stone.”56
20:33 As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, with a powerful hand and an outstretched arm,57 and with an outpouring of rage, I will be king over you.
20:34 I will bring you out from the nations, and will gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a powerful hand and an outstretched arm and with an outpouring of rage!
20:35 I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.
20:36 Just as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the sovereign Lord.
20:37 I will make you pass under58 the shepherd’s staff,59 and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.
20:38 I will eliminate from among you the rebels and those who revolt60 against me. I will bring them out from the land where they have been residing, but they will not come to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
20:39 “‘As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Each of you go and serve your idols,61 if you will not listen to me.62 But my holy name will not be profaned63 again by your sacrifices64 and your idols.
20:40 For there on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord, all the house of Israel will serve me, all of them65 in the land. I will accept them there, and there I will seek your contributions and your choice gifts, with all your holy things.
20:41 When I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, I will accept you along with your soothing aroma. I will display my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.
20:42 Then you will know that I am the Lord when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land I swore66 to give to your fathers.
20:43 And there you will remember your conduct67 and all your deeds by which you defiled yourselves. You will despise yourselves68 because of all the evil deeds you have done.
20:44 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for the sake of my reputation and not according to your wicked conduct and corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord.’”
Prophecy Against the South
20:45 (21:1)69 The word of the Lord came to me:
20:46 “Son of man, turn toward70 the south,71 and speak out against the south.72 Prophesy against the open scrub73 land of the Negev,
20:47 and say to the scrub land of the Negev, ‘Hear the word of the Lord: This is what the sovereign Lord says: Look here,74 I am about to start a fire in you,75 and it will devour every green tree and every dry tree in you. The flaming fire will not be extinguished, and the whole surface of the ground from the Negev to the north will be scorched by it.
20:48 And everyone76 will see that I, the Lord, have burned it; it will not be extinguished.’”
20:49 Then I said, “O sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, ‘Does he not simply speak in eloquent figures of speech?’”