A Cloud Across the Sun
In the twelfth year, on the first day of the twelfth month, God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, sing a funeral lament over Pharaoh king of Egypt. Tell him:
“‘You think you’re a young lion
prowling through the nations.
You’re more like a dragon in the ocean,
snorting and thrashing about.
“‘God, the Master, says:
“‘I’m going to throw my net over you
—many nations will get in on this operation—
and haul you out with my dragnet.
I’ll dump you on the ground
out in an open field
And bring in all the crows and vultures
for a sumptuous carrion lunch.
I’ll invite wild animals from all over the world
to gorge on your guts.
I’ll scatter hunks of your meat in the mountains
and strew your bones in the valleys.
The country, right up to the mountains,
will be drenched with your blood,
your blood filling every ditch and channel.
When I blot you out,
I’ll pull the curtain on the skies
and shut out the stars.
I’ll throw a cloud across the sun
and turn off the moonlight.
I’ll turn out every light in the sky above you
and put your land in the dark.
Decree of God, the Master.
I’ll shake up everyone worldwide
when I take you off captive to strange and far-off countries.
I’ll shock people with you.
Kings will take one look and shudder.
I’ll shake my sword
and they’ll shake in their boots.
On the day you crash, they’ll tremble,
thinking, “That could be me!”
To Lay Your Pride Low
“‘God, the Master, says:
“‘The sword of the king of Babylon
is coming against you.
I’ll use the swords of champions
to lay your pride low,
Use the most brutal of nations
to knock Egypt off her high horse,
to puncture that hot-air pomposity.
I’ll destroy all their livestock
that graze along the river.
Neither human foot nor animal hoof
will muddy those waters anymore.
I’ll clear their springs and streams,
make their rivers flow clean and smooth.
Decree of God, the Master.
When I turn Egypt back to the wild
and strip her clean of all her abundant produce,
When I strike dead all who live there,
then they’ll realize that I am God.’
“This is a funeral song. Chant it.
Daughters of the nations, chant it.
Chant it over Egypt for the death of its pomp.”
Decree of God, the Master.
In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the first month, God’s Message came to me:
“Son of man, lament over Egypt’s pompous ways.
Send her on her way.
and her proud daughter nations
To the underworld,
down to the country of the dead and buried.
Say, ‘You think you’re so high and mighty?
Down! Take your place with the heathen in that unhallowed grave!’
“She’ll be dumped in with those killed in battle. The sword is bared. Drag her off in all her proud pomp! All the big men and their helpers down among the dead and buried will greet them: ‘Welcome to the grave of the heathen! Join the ranks of the victims of war!’
“Assyria is there and its congregation, the whole nation a cemetery. Their graves are in the deepest part of the underworld, a congregation of graves, all killed in battle, these people who terrorized the land of the living.
“Elam is there in all her pride, a cemetery—all killed in battle, dumped in her heathen grave with the dead and buried, these people who terrorized the land of the living. They carry their shame with them, along with the others in the grave. They turned Elam into a resort for the pompous dead, landscaped with heathen graves, slaughtered in battle. They once terrorized the land of the living. Now they carry their shame down with the others in deep earth. They’re in the section set aside for the slain in battle.
“Meshech-tubal is there in all her pride, a cemetery in uncircumcised ground, dumped in with those slaughtered in battle—just deserts for terrorizing the land of the living. Now they carry their shame down with the others in deep earth. They’re in the section set aside for the slain. They’re segregated from the heroes, the old-time giants who entered the grave in full battle dress, their swords placed under their heads and their shields covering their bones, those heroes who spread terror through the land of the living.
“And you, Egypt, will be dumped in a heathen grave, along with all the rest, in the section set aside for the slain.
“Edom is there, with her kings and princes. In spite of her vaunted greatness, she is dumped in a heathen grave with the others headed for the grave.
“The princes of the north are there, the whole lot of them, and all the Sidonians who carry their shame to their graves—all that terror they spread with their brute power!—dumped in unhallowed ground with those killed in battle, carrying their shame with the others headed for deep earth.
“Pharaoh will see them all and, pompous old goat that he is, take comfort in the company he’ll keep—Pharaoh and his slaughtered army. Decree of God, the Master.
“I used him to spread terror in the land of the living and now I’m dumping him in heathen ground with those killed by the sword—Pharaoh and all his pomp. Decree of God, the Master.”
You Are the Watchman
God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it’s his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it—it’s his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life.
“‘But if the watchman sees war coming and doesn’t blow the trumpet, warning the people, and war comes and takes anyone off, I’ll hold the watchman responsible for the bloodshed of any unwarned sinner.’
“You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.
“Son of man, speak to Israel. Tell them, ‘You’ve said, “Our rebellions and sins are weighing us down. We’re wasting away. How can we go on living?”’
“Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’
“There’s more, son of man. Tell your people, ‘A good person’s good life won’t save him when he decides to rebel, and a bad person’s bad life won’t prevent him from repenting of his rebellion. A good person who sins can’t expect to live when he chooses to sin. It’s true that I tell good people, “Live! Be alive!” But if they trust in their good deeds and turn to evil, that good life won’t amount to a hill of beans. They’ll die for their evil life.
“‘On the other hand, if I tell a wicked person, “You’ll die for your wicked life,” and he repents of his sin and starts living a righteous and just life—being generous to the down-and-out, restoring what he had stolen, cultivating life-nourishing ways that don’t hurt others—he’ll live. He won’t die. None of his sins will be kept on the books. He’s doing what’s right, living a good life. He’ll live.
“‘Your people say, “The Master’s way isn’t fair.” But it’s the way they’re living that isn’t fair. When good people turn back from living good lives and plunge into sin, they’ll die for it. And when a wicked person turns away from his wicked life and starts living a just and righteous life, he’ll come alive.
“‘Still, you keep on saying, “The Master’s way isn’t fair.” We’ll see, Israel. I’ll decide on each of you exactly according to how you live.’”
In the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth day of the tenth month, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city’s fallen.”
The evening before the survivor arrived, the hand of God had been on me and restored my speech. By the time he arrived in the morning I was able to speak. I could talk again.
God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, those who are living in the ruins back in Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man and he owned the whole country. But there are lots of us. Our ownership is even more certain.’
“So tell them, ‘God the Master says, You eat flesh that contains blood, you worship no-god idols, you murder at will—and you expect to own this land? You rely on the sword, you engage in obscenities, you indulge in sex at random—anyone, anytime. And you still expect to own this land?’
“Tell them this, Ezekiel: ‘The Message of God, the Master. As sure as I am the living God, those who are still alive in the ruins will be killed. Anyone out in the field I’ll give to wild animals for food. Anyone hiding out in mountain forts and caves will die of disease. I’ll make this country an empty wasteland—no more arrogant bullying! Israel’s mountains will become dangerously desolate. No one will dare pass through them.’
“They’ll realize that I am God when I devastate the country because of all the obscenities they’ve practiced.
“As for you, son of man, you’ve become quite the talk of the town. Your people meet on street corners and in front of their houses and say, ‘Let’s go hear the latest news from God.’ They show up, as people tend to do, and sit in your company. They listen to you speak, but don’t do a thing you say. They flatter you with compliments, but all they care about is making money and getting ahead. To them you’re merely entertainment—a country singer of sad love songs, playing a guitar. They love to hear you talk, but nothing comes of it.