Ezekiel 34

 

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   34:1

Ezek. 34:1   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

בֶּן־אָדָם הִנָּבֵא עַל־רֹועֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִנָּבֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם לָרֹעִים כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הֹוי   34:2                    רֹעֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ רֹעִים אֹותָם הֲלֹוא הַצֹּאן יִרְעוּ הָרֹעִים׃

Ezek. 34:2   “Human, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel!  Prophesy, and you shall say to them, to the shepherds, ‘Thus says the Master, the Lord:  Alas, shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves!  Should not the shepherds feed the sheep?’

I imagine this chapter is addressing the priests, Levites, kings, princes, and officials of Israel for the most part.  Later the Lord appears to address the other bullies and profiteers of the community as well.

אֶת־הַחֵלֶב תֹּאכֵלוּ וְאֶת־הַצֶּמֶר תִּלְבָּשׁוּ הַבְּרִיאָה תִּזְבָּחוּ הַצֹּאן לֹא תִרְעוּ׃   34:3

Ezek. 34:3   ‘You would eat the fat and be clothed with the wool; you would slaughter the fattest; you would not feed the sheep.’

אֶת־הַנַּחְלֹות לֹא חִזַּקְתֶּם וְאֶת־הַחֹולָה לֹא־רִפֵּאתֶם וְלַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת לֹא חֲבַשְׁתֶּם וְאֶת־הַנִּדַּחַת לֹא   34:4           הֲשֵׁבֹתֶם וְאֶת־הָאֹבֶדֶת לֹא בִקַּשְׁתֶּם וּבְחָזְקָה רְדִיתֶם אֹתָם וּבְפָרֶךְ׃

Ezek. 34:4   ‘You did not strengthen the weak, and no sick one did you heal, and you did not bind up the broken, and you did not bring back those driven away, and you did not seek those who went astray, but you have ruled them with force and with cruelty.’

וַתְּפוּצֶינָה מִבְּלִי רֹעֶה וַתִּהְיֶינָה לְאָכְלָה לְכָל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וַתְּפוּצֶינָה׃   34:5

Ezek. 34:5   ‘So they became scattered without a shepherd, and they were for food for every animal of the field, and they were dispersed.’

יִשְׁגּוּ צֹאנִי בְּכָל־הֶהָרִים וְעַל כָּל־גִּבְעָה רָמָה וְעַל כָּל־פְּנֵי הָאָרֶץ נָפֹצוּ צֹאנִי וְאֵין דֹּורֵשׁ וְאֵין   34:6

 מְבַקֵּשׁ׃

Ezek. 34:6   ‘My sheep have been scattered on all the mountains and over every high hill, and My sheep were scattered over the entire surface of the earth, and none has been asking and none has been seeking.’

לָכֵן רֹעִים שִׁמְעוּ אֶת־דְּבַר יְהוָה׃   34:7

Ezek. 34:7   ‘Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!’

חַי־אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אִם־לֹא יַעַן הֱיֹות־צֹאנִי לָבַז וַתִּהְיֶינָה צֹאנִי לְאָכְלָה לְכָל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה מֵאֵין   34:8 רֹעֶה וְלֹא־דָרְשׁוּ רֹעַי אֶת־צֹאנִי וַיִּרְעוּ הָרֹעִים אֹותָם וְאֶת־צֹאנִי לֹא רָעוּ׃

Ezek. 34:8   ‘As I live, declares the Master, the Lord, surely, because of My sheep being for a spoil and My sheep have become for food for every animal of the field because there was no shepherd, and My shepherds did not seek My sheep, yet the shepherds fed themselves while they did not feed My sheep,

לָכֵן הָרֹעִים שִׁמְעוּ דְּבַר־יְהוָה׃   34:9

Ezek. 34:9   for this, you who are shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!’

כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנְנִי אֶל־הָרֹעִים וְדָרַשְׁתִּי אֶת־צֹאנִי מִיָּדָם וְהִשְׁבַּתִּים מֵרְעֹות צֹאן וְלֹא־יִרְעוּ   34:10

 עֹוד הָרֹעִים אֹותָם וְהִצַּלְתִּי צֹאנִי מִפִּיהֶם וְלֹא־תִהְיֶיןָ לָהֶם לְאָכְלָה׃

Ezek. 34:10   ‘Thus says the Master, the Lord:  Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall require My sheep out of their hand, and I will put an end to their tending any sheep, so the shepherds will never feed themselves again, and I will rescue My sheep from their mouths and they will not be as food for them.’

כִּי כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנְנִי־אָנִי וְדָרַשְׁתִּי אֶת־צֹאנִי וּבִקַּרְתִּים׃   34:11

Ezek. 34:11   ‘For thus says the Master, the Lord:  Behold, I am I, and I will seek My sheep and consider them.’

The strange Hebrew phrase ynIa'-ynIn>h appears only twice in the Bible, here and in v. 34:20 below.  And as far as I have been able to determine, it is usually translated by others as “Behold, here I am” or “Behold I, even, I,” neither of which is an accurate translation.  Now here’s what’s strange about this phrase:  Normally the first Hebrew word is itself translated as “here I am” or “behold, I” everywhere it is found in the Bible.  So the only way to translate the two words accurately is as I’ve done.  And this translation seems to fit the verse and circumstances better than the others.  However, there’s one other aspect of this situation that intrigues me still.  In Exod. 3:14 God provides the words for how He should be referred to by Moses.  He says there “I Will Be Whom I Will Be.”  In recognition of that, I wonder if here the proper translation of the two words in question should be ”Behold, I will be I.”  Perhaps the verse in Exodus is connected to this verse.

כְּבַקָּרַת רֹעֶה עֶדְרֹו בְּיֹום־הֱיֹותֹו בְתֹוךְ־צֹאנֹו נִפְרָשֹׁות כֵּן אֲבַקֵּר אֶת־צֹאנִי וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְהֶם   34:12             מִכָּל־הַמְּקֹומֹת אֲשֶׁר נָפֹצוּ שָׁם בְּיֹום עָןָן וַעֲרָפֶל׃

Ezek. 34:12   ‘Like a shepherd seeking his flock at the time of his being among his scattered sheep, so I will seek My sheep and I will deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and thickly dark day.’

וְהֹוצֵאתִים מִן־הָעַמִּים וְקִבַּצְתִּים מִן־הָאֲרָצֹות וַהֲבִיאֹתִים אֶל־אַדְמָתָם וּרְעִיתִים אֶל־הָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   34:13 בָּאֲפִיקִים וּבְכֹל מֹושְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ׃

Ezek. 34:13   ‘And I will bring them out of the peoples and gather them from the lands and bring them back to their own ground, then I will tend them in among the mountains of Israel, in the channels and in all the habitations of the land.’

בְּמִרְעֶה־טֹּוב אֶרְעֶה אֹתָם וּבְהָרֵי מְרֹום־יִשְׂרָאֵל יִהְיֶה נְוֵהֶם שָׁם תִּרְבַּצְנָה בְּנָוֶה טֹּוב וּמִרְעֶה שָׁמֵן   34:14 תִּרְעֶינָה אֶל־הָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

Ezek. 34:14   ‘In a pleasant pasture I will tend them, and their abode shall be on the highest mountains of Israel; there they shall stretch out in a good fold, and they shall graze a rich pasture by the mountains of Israel.’

אֲנִי אֶרְעֶה צֹאנִי וַאֲנִי אַרְבִּיצֵם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   34:15

Ezek. 34:15   ‘I shall tend my flock and I shall cause them to lie down, declares the Master, the Lord.’

אֶת־הָאֹבֶדֶת אֲבַקֵּשׁ וְאֶת־הַנִּדַּחַת אָשִׁיב וְלַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת אֶחֱבֹשׁ וְאֶת־הַחֹולָה אֲחַזֵּק וְאֶת־הַשְּׁמֵנָה   34:16         וְאֶת־הַחֲזָקָה אַשְׁמִיד אֶרְעֶנָּה בְמִשְׁפָּט׃

Ezek. 34:16   ‘I will seek the strayed and bring back the thrust out, and I will apply a binding to the broken and strengthen the sick, but I shall destroy the fat and the strong -- I shall tend them with justice.’

וְאַתֵּנָה צֹאנִי כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנְנִי שֹׁפֵט בֵּין־שֶׂה לָשֶׂה לָאֵילִים וְלָעַתּוּדִים׃   34:17

Ezek. 34:17   ‘And you, My flock, thus says the Master, the Lord:  Behold, I am judging between cattle and cattle, rams and he-goats.’

הַמְעַט םִכֶּם הַמִּרְעֶה הַטֹּוב תִּרְעוּ וְיֶתֶר מִרְעֵיכֶם תִּרְמְסוּ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶם וּמִשְׁקַע־מַיִם תִּשְׁתּוּ וְאֵת   34:18        הַנֹּותָרִים בְּרַגְלֵיכֶם תִּרְפֹּשׂוּן׃

Ezek. 34:18   ‘Is it a small matter with you you can graze the good pasture while you can trample the remainder of your pasture with your feet, or you can drink the clear water while you can foul the remainder with your feet,

וְצֹאנִי מִרְמַס רַגְלֵיכֶם תִּרְעֶינָה וּמִרְפַּשׂ רַגְלֵיכֶם תִּשְׁתֶּינָה׃   34:19

Ezek. 34:19   but My sheep must graze the trampled place of your feet, and must drink the befouled water of your feet?’

לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אֲלֵיהֶם הִנְנִי־אָנִי וְשָׁפַטְתִּי בֵּין־שֶׂה בִרְיָה וּבֵין שֶׂה רָזָה׃  34:20

Ezek. 34:20   ‘Therefore, thus says the Master, the Lord to them:  Behold, I am I, I will judge between the fat cattle and the lean cattle,

יַעַן בְּצַד וּבְכָתֵף תֶּהְדֹּפוּ וּבְקַרְנֵיכֶם תְּנַגְּחוּ כָּל־הַנַּחְלֹות עַד אֲשֶׁר הֲפִיצֹותֶם אֹותָנָה אֶל־הַחוּצָה׃   34:21

Ezek. 34:21   because you have thrust aside with side and with shoulder and pushed all the weak with your horns until when you have scattered them to the outside.’

וְהֹושַׁעְתִּי לְצֹאנִי וְלֹא־תִהְיֶינָה עֹוד לָבַז וְשָׁפַטְתִּי בֵּין שֶׂה לָשֶׂה׃   34:22

Ezek. 34:22   ‘So I will provide safety for My flock that they will not be for a spoil again, and I will judge between cattle and cattle.’

וַהֲקִמֹתִי עֲלֵיהֶם רֹעֶה אֶחָד וְרָעָה אֶתְהֶן אֵת עַבְדִּי דָוִיד הוּא יִרְעֶה אֹתָם וְהוּא־יִהְיֶה לָהֶן לְרֹעֶה׃   34:23

Ezek. 34:23   ‘Then I will raise up one shepherd over them and he shall tend them, My servant, of David.  He shall feed them and he shall be for a shepherd to them.’

וַאֲנִי יְהוָה אֶהְיֶה לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְעַבְדִּי דָוִד נָשִׂיא בְתֹוכָם אֲנִי יְהוָה דִּבַּרְתִּי׃   34:24

Ezek. 34:24   ‘And I, the Lord, shall be for God to them, and My servant, of David, shall be a prince among them.  I, the Lord, have spoken.’                                               [Return to Ezek. 44:3]

The pronouns of the last dozen or so verses that refer to the flock are of mixed gender.  Some are masculine and some are feminine, seemingly haphazardly selected.  I see this as a typical Ezekielism,  I believe that Ezekiel conveys his feelings and views through his use of gender in many of his pronouns.  In these verses, when the pronouns are masculine, I imagine he is referring either to the he-goats and rams of the flock (the bullies and thieves) or the entire flock, both male and female.  When they are feminine, he is referring to the weak and helpless victims in the flock.  I’m sure you recognize by now that much of this chapter consists of a metaphor for Israel.

Also in this verse and the preceding one, you may notice that my translation differs from all others with which you and I may be familiar.  I have “My servant, of David” rather than “My servant, David.”  How could it be David himself (unless it was the end times, which it might be)?                                           [Return to Ezek. 37:24]

וְכָרַתִּי לָהֶם בְּרִית שָׁלֹום וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי חַיָּה־רָעָה מִן־הָאָרֶץ וְיָשְׁבוּ בַמִּדְבָּר לָבֶטַח וְיָשְׁנוּ בַּיְּעָרִים׃   34:25

Ezek. 34:25   ‘And I will make a covenant of peace for them, and will make the evil beast disappear from the land, and they shall dwell in the wilderness in safety, and sleep in the woods.’

וְנָתַתִּי אֹותָם וּסְבִיבֹות גִּבְעָתִי בְּרָכָה וְהֹורַדְתִּי הַגֶּשֶׁם בְּעִתֹּו גִּשְׁמֵי בְרָכָה יִהְיוּ׃   34:26

Ezek. 34:26   ‘And I will make them and the surroundings of My hill a blessing, and I will cause the rain to descend in its season.  They shall be showers of blessing.’

וְנָתַן עֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה אֶת־פִּרְיֹו וְהָאָרֶץ תִּתֵּן יְבוּלָהּ וְהָיוּ עַל־אַדְמָתָם לָבֶטַח וְיָדְעוּ כִּי־אֲנִי יְהוָה בְּשִׁבְרִי   34:27 אֶת־מֹטֹות עֻלָּם וְהִצַּלְתִּים מִיַּד הָעֹבְדִים בָּהֶם׃

Ezek. 34:27   ‘And the tree of the field shall produce its fruit and the land shall yield its produce, and they shall be on their land in safety, and they shall know that I am the Lord by My breaking the bars of their yoke and I have delivered them from the hand of whom they were bondsmen among them.’

וְלֹא־יִהְיוּ עֹוד בַּז לַגֹּויִם וְחַיַּת הָאָרֶץ לֹא תֹאכְלֵם וְיָשְׁבוּ לָבֶטַח וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד׃   34:28

Ezek. 34:28   ‘And they shall not be a spoil for the nations again, and the beast of the land shall not devour them, and they shall dwell in safety and none shall be afraid.’

וַהֲקִמֹתִי לָהֶם מַטָּע לְשֵׁם וְלֹא־יִהְיוּ עֹוד אֲסֻפֵי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וְלֹא־יִשְׂאוּ עֹוד כְּלִמַּת הַגֹּויִם׃   34:29

Ezek. 34:29   ‘And I shall raise up a plantation of renown for them that they will not be gatherers of famine in the land again, and they shall not bear the reproach of the nations anymore.’

וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם אִתָּם וְהֵמָּה עַמִּי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   34:30

Ezek. 34:30   ‘And they shall know that I, the Lord, their God, am with them and they are My people, the house of Israel, declares the Master, the Lord.’

וְאַתֵּן צֹאנִי צֹאן מַרְעִיתִי אָדָם אַתֶּם אֲנִי אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   34:31

Ezek. 34:31   ‘Now you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are human, I am your God, declares the Master, the Lord.’”

While this prophesy contained in the last ten verses sounds lovely, and some may argue that it is being fulfilled, I don’t believe so.  Parts of each verse, from v. 34:22 to this last one, have not transpired as yet.  They are for the future.  Now notice the strange expression in this verse, “you are human.”  I suspect the Lord is making certain that no one misunderstands this part of the chapter.  His people are human, not a flock.  I see this as His concession to free will.  Unlike sheep, we are supposed to be “masters” of our fate.  Unfortunately, ....

 

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