Where the world comes to study the Bible

Ezekiel 22



The Sins of Israel Sins of Jerusalem Oracles of Judgment The Crimes of Jerusalem The Crimes of Jerusalem
22:1-5 22:1-5 22:1-5 22:1-12 22:1-5
22:6-12 22:6-12 22:6-12   22:6-12
22:13-16 22:13-16 22:13-16 22:13-16 22:13-16
  Israel In the Furnace   God's Refining Furnace  
22:17-22 22:17-22 22:17-22 22:17-22 22:17-22
  Israel's Wicked Leaders   The Sins of Israel's Leaders  
22:23-31 22:23-31 22:23-31 22:23-31 22:23-31

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2"And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then cause her to know all her abominations. 3You shall say, 'Thus says the Lord God, "A city shedding blood in her midst, so that her time will come, and that makes idols, contrary to her interest, for defilement! 4You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and defiled by your idols which you have made. Thus you have brought your day near and have come to your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations and a mocking to all the lands. 5Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you, you of ill repute, full of turmoil."'"

22:2 "Then the word of the Lord came to me saying" See note at 21:1.

▣ "son of man" See note at 2:1.

▣ "will you judge, will you judge" The repetition of the verb (BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal imperfect) is for emphasis. Ezekiel acted as both prosecutor and judge on YHWH's behalf. He lays out the charges and the consequences, then because of no intercessor or repentance (cf. vv. 30-31), they are implemented (i.e., 586 b.c.)!

▣ "bloody city" This is the key construct (BDB 746, 196) used throughout this chapter (cf. vv. 2 [twice], 3,4,6,9,12,13). It is used of Nineveh in Nahum 3:1. Some think it is used of Jerusalem because of (1) the worship of Molech (cf. 16:21; 20:26,31; 23:37) or (2) the killing of the righteous (cf. 22:25).

It is historically possible that Nebuchadnezzar's initial raid in 588 b.c. caused the population of the area to seek refuge in the walled city of Jerusalem, but instead of refuge they found exploitation and death by their own countrymen!

In 586 b.c. the city and temple were destroyed by Babylon's army and the populace who escaped the sword were exiled to Babylon.

▣ "cause her to know" See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: KNOW (using mostly Deuteronomy as a paradigm)

▣ "abomination" See Special Topic at 5:11.

22:3 "for defilement" This verb (BDB 379, KB 375, Qal infinitive construct) means to become unclean because of her creation of and association with foreign pagan idols (cf. v. 4).

This defilement (Qal perfect in v. 4, i.e., uncleanness) is also described in v. 4.

1. I have made you a reproach (BDB 357) to the nations, cf. 5:14,15; 16:57

2. I have made you a mocking (BDB 887) to all lands, cf. verb (Hithpael imperfect) in v. 5 (Hithpael only 3 times in the OT, II Kgs. 2:23; Hab. 1:10; and Piel only once, Ezek. 16:31).

3. you of ill repute, v. 5

There is a parallelism among

1. the nations, v. 4

2. all the lands, v. 4

3. those who are near. . .far, v. 5

All people will be affected by Judah's sin (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6)! Judah's actions affect the way the world understands YHWH. The same is true as to the way the church's sin confuses the world about Jesus!

▣ "thus you have brought your day near" YHWH asserts that their sin has hastened the day of their judgment (e.g., II Pet. 3:12)!

22:5 "you of ill repute, full of turmoil" These are two characterizations of Judah.

1. "of ill repute" is literally a Hebrew construct (BDB 379, 1027) "polluted name." They are considered ceremonially unclean and thereby cannot approach YHWH.

2. "full of turmoil" is literally a Hebrew construct (BDB 912, 223), "full of confusion," which is a "Holy War" term (cf. Exod. 14:24; 23:27; Deut. 7:23). The tragedy is that now YHWH fights against His polluted people (cf. Deut. 28:20)! Isaiah 22:5 describes an eschatological scene (cf. Ezek. 7:5-9, esp. v. 7).


 6"Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood. 7They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you. 8You have despised My holy things and profaned My sabbaths. 9Slanderous men have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood, and in you they have eaten at the mountain shrines. In your midst they have committed acts of lewdness. 10In you they have uncovered their fathers' nakedness; in you they have humbled her who was unclean in her menstrual impurity. 11One has committed abomination with his neighbor's wife and another has lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law. And another in you has humbled his sister, his father's daughter. 12In you they have taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest and profits, and you have injured your neighbors for gain by oppression, and you have forgotten Me," declares the Lord God.

22:6-12 First Ezekiel lists (perfect tense) the continuing sins of Judah's political leaders, especially the kings.

1. shed blood, v. 6

2. treated fathers and mothers lightly, v. 7

3. oppressed the alien, fatherless, and widows, v. 7

Then he lists the sins of the nations (cf. Jer. 7:5-11).

1. despised YHWH's holy things, v. 8

2. profaned YHWH's sabbaths, cf. 20:13,16,21,24; 23:38

3. lied (i.e., slandered, cf. Lev. 19:16), v. 9

4. worshiped idols (i.e., shed blood and eaten at mountain shrines, fertility worship, cf. 18:6,11), v. 9

a. committed acts of lewdness, v. 9

b. uncovered their father's nakedness (sexual contact with mother or another of his father's wives, cf. Leviticus 18), v. 10

c. sex with women during menstrual period (cf. Lev. 18:19), v. 10

d. sex with neighbor's wife (cf. Lev. 18:20; 20:10), v. 11

e. lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law (cf. Lev. 20:12), v. 11

f. humbled his sister (or half sister), his father's daughter (cf. Lev. 20:17), v. 11

5. took money to commit murder (cf. Deut. 27:25), v. 12

6. loaned money with interest (cf. 18:13; Lev. 25:36,37; Deut. 23:19,20; Pro. 28:8), v. 12

7. took advantage of neighbors, v. 12

8. forgot YHWH (cf. 23:35; Deut. 6:12; 8:11,14; Isa. 17:10), v. 12

The Mosaic Covenant and common decency had been lost to Canaanite fertility worship. Ezekiel tries to embarrass Judah by using shocking language related to their fertility worship (cf. 16:27, 43, 58; 22:9,11; 23:21,27,29,35,44,48,49; 24:13)!

22:7 "treated their father and mother lightly" See Exod. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; and Deut. 27:16.

▣ "the widow" See Exod. 22:22-24 and Deut. 24:17; 27:19.

22:9 "slanderous men" See Lev. 19:16.

22:10 "uncover their fathers' nakedness" This seems to refer to sexual intercourse with a former wife, stepmother, or concubine (cf. Lev. 18:7, 8; 20:11; Deut. 22:30; 27:20).

 13"Behold, then, I smite My hand at your dishonest gain which you have acquired and at the bloodshed which is among you. 14Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the days that I will deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken and will act. 15I will scatter you among the nations and I will disperse you through the lands, and I will consume your uncleanness from you. 16You will profane yourself in the sight of the nations, and you will know that I am the Lord."

22:13 "I strike my hand" See note at 21:14.

22:14 This is an allusion to 21:7.

▣ "I, the Lord, have spoken and will act" This is a recurrent theme of Ezekiel which emphasizes

1. YHWH's control of world events

2. the fact that YHWH's word can be trusted and depended on

3. the fact that judgment is coming, repentance (i.e., conditional covenant) is no longer possible


22:15 The threat of removal from the Promised Land for covenant disobedience goes back to Lev. 26:33 and Deut. 4:27; 28:64; 29:28. YHWH removed the Canaanites from Canaan because of their sins (cf. Gen. 15:12-21), now He will remove Israel. He is no respecter of persons, shows no favoritism!

The verbs "scatter" (BDB 806, KB 918, cf. 12:15; 20:23,24) and "disperse" (BDB 279, KB 280, cf. 5:10,12; 6:8; 12:15; 20:23; 36:19) are most often used of Israel's and Judah's exiles, but they are also used of YHWH's judgment on Egypt, 29:12,13; 30:23,26. Egypt was the source of Israel's idolatry (cf. 23:27,48). YHWH must cleanse His people of this pollution.

The same verbs are used to describe YHWH's fighting on Israel's behalf (i.e., Num. 10:35), but now He fights against them because they have become abominations like the ten Canaanite tribes (see Special Topic at 16:3). They must be removed from YHWH's land, which they are polluting!

YHWH's purpose in the exiles was the purification of His people! YHWH wants a righteous people who reflect His character to a lost world so that they may know Him and come to Him!


NASB, ASV"you will profane yourself"
NKJV"you shall defile yourself"
NRSV, RSV"I shall be profaned through you"
NJB"through your own fault, you will be profaned"
JB"I shall be dishonoured by you"
LXX"I will take possession of thee"
Peshitta"I will chastise you"
REB"I shall sift you"
JPSOA"you shall be dishonored"
NIV"when you have been defiled"

The MT has "you," but several ancient versions (LXX, Peshitta, Vulgate) change this to "I." The second part of the verse lends support for the MT, but v. 26 tends to support the versions. The UBS Hebrew OT Project gives "I" a "C" rating.

 17And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 18"Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver. 19Therefore, thus says the Lord God, 'Because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you. 21I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you will be melted in the midst of it. 22As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out My wrath on you.'"

22:17-22 This is a metaphor from ancient metallurgy. YHWH calls Jerusalem a mixture of metals, which made them absolutely useless (cf. Jer. 6:27-30). The mixture was the Mosaic Covenant with Egyptian idolatry and Canaanite idolatry. YHWH would melt them so as to remove the useless metals (cf. Isa. 1:22,25).

22:21 As so often Ezekiel uses terms normally reserved for a positive connotation in a shockingly negative way. In this verse "gather" (BDB 488, KB 484, Piel perfect) is used in a judgment sense, but usually it refers to a gathering of Israelites from among the nations where they have been exiles (cf. 39:28; Ps. 147:2).

 23And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24"Son of man, say to her, 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.' 25There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her. 26Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. 28Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord God,' when the Lord has not spoken. 29The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads," declares the Lord God.

22:24 "is not cleansed or rained on" This is a very difficult verse. Some think it refers to (1) no human tending and no divine rain or (2) no cleansing rain. For sure God's judgment has fallen and no moisture came (sign of judgment in Deuteronomy).

22:25-28 "There is a conspiracy of the prophets" The Septuagint has "whose princes" (cf. NJB, REB) because the prophets are mentioned in v. 28. This paragraph is a condemnation of all of Judean society (cf. Zeph. 3:3-4).

1. the political leaders, v. 25, repeated in v. 27

a. acted like ravenous lions (cf. 19:3,6)

b. devoured lives

(1) took treasure and precious things

(2) killed many (i.e., made widows)

2. the priests, v. 26

a. have done violence to YHWH's law

b. profaned YHWH's holy things

(1) made no distinction between holy and profane, cf. Lev. 10:10; 11:47; 20:25

(2) have not taught the difference between unclean and clean

c. hid their eyes from YHWH's sabbaths

3. the prophets, v. 28

a. have smeared whitewash, cf. 13:10,11,12,14,15 (twice)

b. saw false visions, cf. 13:6,7,9,23; 21:29

c. divining lies

4. the people, v. 29 (cf. 18:7,12,16; Jer. 22:3)

a. practiced oppression

b. committed robbery

(1) wronged the poor and needy

(2) oppressed the alien/sojourner


22:29 "The people of the land" This term originally (and here) meant "landed owners with full rights as citizens" (cf. 12:19; 45:16,22; 46:3), but after the Exile it referred to the poorest people of the land (cf. the use in the NT).

22:30 This is such a shocking verse, which mirrors Isa. 59:16; 63:5 and Jer. 5:1. There was no one! What was YHWH looking for? Someone to

1. build up the wall, cf. 13:5; Ps. 106:23

2. stand in the gap (intercede in prayer on behalf of Israel as Moses and Samuel had, cf. Jer. 15:1, which is similar to Ezek. 14:14,20; 33:1-6)

It is surprising that Ezekiel himself did not fulfill this text, but remember the setting is Jerusalem, not the exiles in Babylon. But then Jeremiah was in Jerusalem, why did he not fulfill this search? The verse is a literary hyperbole. It is not meant to be taken literally. It is for shock value only! There were some righteous people in Jerusalem (cf. 20:47; 21:4).

The good news is that YHWH seeks intercessors! He wants to be convinced to withhold judgment. He wants to forgive, but no one interceded and people did not repent!

22:31 See notes at 7:3,8,9; 9:10; 16:43. We reap what we sow (i.e., Gal. 6:7)!