Ezekiel 21:21
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.

New Living Translation
The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He calls his magicians to look for omens. They cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They inspect the livers of animal sacrifices.

English Standard Version
For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination. He shakes the arrows; he consults the teraphim; he looks at the liver.

New American Standard Bible
"For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver.

King James Bible
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the king of Babylon stands at the split in the road, at the fork of the two roads, to practice divination: he shakes the arrows, consults the idols, and observes the liver.

International Standard Version
"Meanwhile, Babylon's king is standing at the fork of the road, where he can head in either of two directions, and that's where he is practicing divination. Shaking his arrows, he's asking questions of his teraphim while he examines livers.

NET Bible
For the king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road at the head of the two routes. He looks for omens: He shakes arrows, he consults idols, he examines animal livers.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The king of Babylon will stop where the roads branch off, where there is a fork in the road. Then he will look for omens. He will shake some arrows, ask his household gods for help, and examine animal livers.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way at the head of the two ways to use divination; he made his arrows bright; he consulted with images; he looked in the liver.

King James 2000 Bible
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook his arrows, he consulted with images, he looked at the liver.

American King James Version
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

American Standard Version
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows to and fro, he consulted the teraphim, he looked in the liver.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For the king of Babylon stood in the highway, at the head of two ways, seeking divination, shuffling arrows: he inquired of the idols, and consulted entrails.

Darby Bible Translation
For the king of Babylon standeth at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shaketh [his] arrows, he inquireth of the teraphim, he looketh in the liver.

English Revised Version
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows to and fro, he consulted the teraphim, he looked in the liver.

Webster's Bible Translation
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

World English Bible
For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows back and forth, he consulted the teraphim, he looked in the liver.

Young's Literal Translation
For stood hath the king of Babylon at the head of the way, At the top of the two ways, to use divination, He hath moved lightly with the arrows, He hath asked at the teraphim, He hath looked on the liver.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

21:18-27 By the Spirit of prophecy Ezekiel foresaw Nebuchadnezzar's march from Babylon, which he would determine by divination. The Lord would overturn the government of Judah, till the coming of Him whose right it is. This seems to foretell the overturnings of the Jewish nation to the present day, and the troubles of states and kingdoms, which shall make way for establishing the Messiah's kingdom throughout the earth. The Lord secretly leads all to adopt his wise designs. And in the midst of the most tremendous warnings of wrath, we still hear of mercy, and some mention of Him through whom mercy is shown to sinful men.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways,.... That is, he would stand there; the prophet knew that it was certain it should be, and therefore represents it as if it was; he had, by a spirit of prophecy, seen, that when the king of Babylon was come to such a place, on the borders of the desert of Arabia, where the road from Babylon parted, where two ways met, the one leading to Jerusalem on the right, and the other to Rabbath on the left, he should make a full stop with his army, and consider which way he should take, whether that which led to Jerusalem, or that which led to Rabbath. It is very probable, when he came out of Babylon, his scheme was to make an attempt on both these important places, and take them; but be had not determined which to attack first, and was still doubtful; and now being come to the two roads, which led to the one and the other, it was necessary to make a halt, consider, and conclude, which course to steer; to determine which, he thought proper "to use divination", which was performed in the following manner:

he made his arrows bright; being made of iron or steel; in the brightness of which diviners looked, and made their observations, and accordingly directed what was to be done; as they did by looking into the brightness of a man's nails, as David Kimchi observes; though his father, Joseph Kimchi, was of opinion that the word has the signification of casting of arrows, or causing them to fly in the air; and supposes that Nebuchadnezzar cast up arrows into the air, and observed on which side they fell, and so judged which way to take; to this agrees the Targum,

"with a bow he cast out arrows;''

so the Syriac and Arabic versions (b). Jerom says the way of divining by arrows was this: arrows, with the names of the cities inscribed upon them, were put into a quiver, and mixed together; and the city upon the arrow which came out first was first attacked. To this agrees the Vulgate Latin version, which renders the words, "mingling the arrows"; and Dr. Pocock (c) prefers this sense of the word, which he observes so signifies in the Arabic language; and who gives an account of the use of divination by arrows among the Arabians, who much used it; though forbidden by Mahomet, as Schultens (d) observes. Their custom was this; when a man was about to marry a wife, or go a journey, or do any business of importance, he put three arrows into a vessel; on one was inscribed,

"my lord hath commanded me;''

on another,

"my lord hath forbid me;''

the third had nothing on it. If the first he took out had the command upon it, then he proceeded with great alacrity: but if it had the prohibition, he desisted; and if that which had nothing inscribed on it, he laid it by, till one of the other two was taken out; and there is to this day a sort of divination by arrows used by the Turks; it is commonly for the wars, though it is also performed for all sorts of things; as to know whether a man should undertake a voyage, buy such a commodity, or the like. The manner of doing it, as Monsieur Thevenot (e) relates, is this; they take four arrows, and place them with their points against one another, giving them to be held by two persons; then they lay a naked sword upon a cushion before them, and read a certain chapter of the Alcoran; with that the arrows fight together for some time, and at length the one fall upon the other: if, for instance the victorious have been named Christians (for two of them they call Turks, and the other two by the name of their enemy), it is a sign that the Christians will overcome; if otherwise, it denotes the contrary. The Jews (f) say, that in the present case of Nebuchadnezzar, that when he or his diviner cast the arrow for Antioch, or for Tyre, or for Laodicea, it was broke; but when he cast it for Jerusalem, it was not broke; by which he knew that he should destroy it. This is that sort of divination which is called "belomancy": he consulted with images; or "teraphim"; images in which, as Kimchi says, they saw things future; Heathen oracles, from whence responses were made; these were images for private use, such as were the "lares" and "penates" with the Romans; these Laban had in his house in which Rachel stole from him; and are supposed to be such as are made under certain constellations, and their influences capable of speaking; see Zechariah 10:2, as Aben Ezra on Genesis 31:34 observes, with which men used to consult about things future or unknown; and this is thought to be one reason why Rachel took away these images from her father, that he might not, by consulting with them, know which way Jacob fled (g) with such as these the king of Babylon consulted, that he might know which way he should take:

he looked in the liver; of a beast slain, and made observations on that to direct him; as used to be done by the Aruspices among the Romans. This is that sort of divination which is called "hepatoscopy", or inspection into the liver; for though the Aruspices or Extispices, so called from their looking into the entrails of a beast, and making their observations on them, used to view the several inward parts, yet chiefly the liver, which they called the head of the intestines; and if this was wanting, or the head in it, the chief part of it, it was an ill omen; thus, in the month that Claudius Caesar was poisoned, the head of the liver was wanting in the sacrifice; or if the liver was livid, vicious, had any pustules upon it, or any purulent matter in it; or was touched, cut and wounded with the knife of the sacrificer, it foreboded great evils and misfortunes; or if the extreme part of the liver, which is called the fibre, was so placed, that from the lowest fibre the livers were replicated, or there was a double liver, this was a token for good, and portended joy and happiness (h): moreover, they used to divide the bowels or entrails into two parts, and so the liver; the one they called "familiaris", by which they judged what would befall themselves and their friends; the other "hostilis", what concerned their enemies; according to the habit, colour, and position they were in, they concluded what would befall the one and the other (i). Lucan (k) and Seneca (l) particularly have respect to this: and the king of Babylon here having two people to deal with, the Ammonites and the Jews, he inspects the liver of a creature slain for sacrifice, that he might judge which was best and safest for him to attack; which was less threatening, and more easy to be overcome (m): this divination used to be made with calves, kids, and lambs (n).

(b) So R. So. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 25, 2, interprets the word. (c) Specimen Arab. Hist. p. 327. (d) Animadv. in Job, p. 169, 170. (e) Travels, par. 1. B. 1. ch. 6. p. 36. (f) Midrash Tillim in Psal. lxxix. 1.((g) See Godwin's Moses and Aaron, l. 4. c. 9. (h) Vid. Alex. ab flex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 25. & Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37. (i) Vid. Valtrinum de Re Militari Roman. l. 1. c. 6. p. 27. Liv. & Ciceron. in ib. (k) "Cernit tabe jecur madidum, venasque minaces, Hostili de parte videt", &c. Pharsal. l. 1.((l) "Hostile valido robore insurlit latus." Oedipus, Acts 2. (m) Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 1. c. 3. p. 9, 10. (n) Pausanias, l. 6. p. 345.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

21. parting—literally, "mother of the way." As "head of the two ways" follows, which seems tautology after "parting of the way," Havernick translates, according to Arabic idiom, "the highway," or principal road. English Version is not tautology, "head of the two ways" defining more accurately "parting of the way."

made … bright—rather, "shook," from an Arabic root.

arrows—Divination by arrows is here referred to: they were put into a quiver marked with the names of particular places to be attacked, and then shaken together; whichever came forth first intimated the one selected as the first to be attacked [Jerome]. The same usage existed among the Arabs, and is mentioned in the Koran. In the Nineveh sculptures the king is represented with a cup in his right hand, his left resting on a bow; also with two arrows in the right, and the bow in the left, probably practising divination.

images—Hebrew, "teraphim"; household gods, worshipped as family talismans, to obtain direction as to the future and other blessings. First mentioned in Mesopotamia, whence Rachel brought them (Ge 31:19, 34); put away by Jacob (Ge 35:4); set up by Micah as his household gods (Jud 17:5); stigmatized as idolatry (1Sa 15:23, Hebrew; Zec 10:2, Margin).

liver—They judged of the success, or failure, of an undertaking by the healthy, or unhealthy, state of the liver and entrails of a sacrifice.

Ezekiel 21:21 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Parable of the Lord's Sword
20"You shall mark a way for the sword to come to Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem. 21"For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver. 22"Into his right hand came the divination, 'Jerusalem,' to set battering rams, to open the mouth for slaughter, to lift up the voice with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up ramps, to build a siege wall.…
Cross References
Matthew 22:9
So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'

Genesis 31:19
When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods.

Genesis 31:30
Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father's household. But why did you steal my gods?"

Numbers 22:7
The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

Numbers 23:23
There is no divination against Jacob, no evil omens against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'See what God has done!'

Judges 17:5
Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest.

Judges 18:17
The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.

Judges 18:20
The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people.

Proverbs 16:33
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Zechariah 10:2
The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
Treasury of Scripture

For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.

the king

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: …

parting [heb] mother
to use

Numbers 23:28 And Balak brought Balaam to the top of Peor, that looks toward Jeshimon.

Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or …

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as …

Proverbs 16:10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresses …

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed …

he made. Or as the Vulgate, `he mingled his arrows.' They wrote on several arrows,' says Jerome, the names of the cities they intended to assault; and then putting them altogether promiscuously in a quiver, they drew then out thence as lots to be drawn; and that city whose name was written on the arrow first drawn, was the city they first made war on.'

arrows. or, knives
images [heb] teraphim

Genesis 31:19,30 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images …

Judges 17:5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, …

Judges 13:14,18,20,24 She may not eat of any thing that comes of the vine, neither let …

2 Kings 23:24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and …

Hosea 3:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, …

Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares to …

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, …

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OT Prophets: Ezekiel 21:21 For the king of Babylon stood at (Ezek. Eze Ezk) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools

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