The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Ezechiel
Word came to me from the Lord:
Son of man, tell thy fellow-countrymen this: Plague I a country with war, some frontier-dweller is chosen by the citizens to be their sentry.
Let such a man spy the invader’s approach, and sound the alarm with his trumpet;
whoever hears it must give good heed, or else the enemy may catch him, and none but himself to blame.
What, hear trumpet, and pay no heed? The fault is his. More cautious, he should have found safety.
But what if sentry, when he sees the invader coming, sounds no alarm to warn his neighbours? Here is some citizen overtaken by the enemy; well, his guilt deserved it. But for his death I will hold the sentry accountable.
So it is with thee, son of man; for the whole race of Israel thou art my watchman; the warning thou hearest from my lips, to them pass on.
Sinner if I threaten with death, and word thou give him none to leave off his sinning, die he shall, as he deserves to die, but thou for his death shalt answer to me.
If warning thou givest, and he will not leave off his sinning, he dies by his own fault, and thou shalt stand acquitted.
This be thy word, son of man, to the race of Israel: Think you no hope of life is left, so burdened you are, so languish under the guilt of your sins?
This message give them from the Lord: As I am a living God, the sinner’s death is none of my contriving! I would have him leave his sinning, and live on. Come back, come back from your ill-doing; why must you choose death, men of Israel?
And warn them, son of man, warn thy fellow-countrymen that, once the upright man falls a-sinning, his uprightness shall nothing avail him. Sinner that will leave his sinning, no harm shall he have; upright man that sins, no life shall his uprightness bring him.
Promise I the upright he shall live on, he must not by his own uprightness be emboldened to sin; forgotten, all his good deserts, his guilt shall be his undoing.
Threaten I the sinner with instant death, he has but to repent of his sins, do innocently and uprightly,
restore the debtor’s pledge, the ill-gotten gains, follow the life-giving law, forswear ill-doing, and it shall be life, not death for him.
Forgotten, all his ill deserving; innocent and upright, he shall live on.
And yet they say, these fellow-countrymen of thine, that the Lord’s dealings are inconsiderate, when in truth it is they that deal inconsiderately.
Death for the upright that is upright no more, and turns ill-doer;
life for the sinner that will leave his sinning, upright and innocent now!
Will you still have it that the Lord’s dealings are inconsiderate? Nay, men of Israel, each of you shall have his deserts.
It was in the twelfth year of the exile, on the fifth day of the tenth month, that a fugitive came to me with the news that Jerusalem had fallen.
The night before this man reached me, the power of the Lord had visited me, to unseal my lips in readiness for his coming on the morrow; so now I could speak out, and was dumb no longer.
And a message came to me from the Lord:
Son of man, what are they saying, the folk that now inhabit yonder ruins of Israel? Enough of us, they say, to be the true heirs of this land! Abraham was granted possession of it when he was all alone.✻
Tell them this from the Lord God: You, that cook your meat with the blood in it, that look to false gods for aid, that thrive by murder, the land’s heirs!
You, that live by the sword, that practise foul rites, that dishonour your neighbours’ wives, the land’s heirs!
This is the Lord’s message to them: As I am a living God, ruin-dwellers, the sword shall be your ruin! Or choose you the open country, you shall be a prey to the wild beasts; choose you mountain-fastness and cave, the pestilence shall take you.
A lonely desert this land shall be, all its proud boast at an end; the hill-country of Israel shall lie desolate, untrodden by wayfarers;
desert and desolate their land must be, in punishment of all their foul doings, before they learn to recognize my power.
And thou, son of man, listen to what they are saying of thee, as they stand close to wall, huddled under doorway. Each says to other, Come and find out whether the Lord has any message for us.
Ay, they come crowding about thee, this people of mine, and sit here closeted with thee, listening to all thou sayest, but do thy bidding they will not. No, they will have thee sing in their own tune,✻ and all their thought dwells upon gains ill-gotten.
As well had it been some tuneful air, sung excellently well; better listeners thou couldst not have, nor less achievement.
But when thy words come true, as come true they shall, none shall doubt that they have had a prophet in their midst.
The Holy Bible