Ezekiel 21:21
Parallel Verses
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.

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.

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.

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.

Ezekiel 21:21 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

The Sword is Sharpened for Slaying

Ezekiel 21:8. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 21:9. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith Jehovah, A sword, a sword sharpened and also polished: Ezekiel 21:10. That it may effect a slaughter is it sharpened; that it may flash is it polished: or shall we rejoice (saying), the sceptre of my son despiseth all wood? Ezekiel 21:11. But it has been given to be polished, to take it in the hand; it is sharpened, the sword, and it is polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. Ezekiel 21:12. Cry and howl, son of man, for it goeth over my people, it goeth over all the princes of Israel: they have fallen by the sword along with my people: therefore smite upon the thigh. Ezekiel 21:13. For the trial is made, and what if the despising sceptre shall not come? is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 21:14. And thou, son of man, prophesy and smite the hands together, and the sword shall double itself into threefold, the sword of the pierced: it is the sword of a pierced one, of the great one, which encircles them. Ezekiel 21:15. That the heart may be dissolved, and stumbling-blocks may be multiplied, I have set the drawing of the sword against all their gates: Alas! it is made into flashing, drawn for slaying. Ezekiel 21:16. Gather thyself up to the right hand, turn to the left, whithersoever thine edge is intended. Ezekiel 21:17. And I also will smite my hands together, and quiet my wrath: I, Jehovah, have spoken it. - The description of the sword is thrown into a lyrical form (Ezekiel 21:8-13), - a kind of sword-song, commemorating the terrible devastation to be effected by the sword of the Lord. The repetition of חרב in Ezekiel 21:9 is emphatic. הוּחדּה is the perfect Hophal of חדד, to sharpen. מרוּטה is the passive participle of מרט, to polish; מרטּה (Ezekiel 21:10), the participle Pual, with מ dropped, and Dagesh euphon. היה, a rare form of the infinitive for היות. The polishing gives to the sword a flashing brilliancy, which renders the sharpness of its edge still more terrible. The very obscure words, 'או נשׂישׂ וגו, I agree with Schmieder and Kliefoth in regarding as a protest, interposed by the prophet in the name of the people against the divine threat of the sword of vengeance, on the ground of the promises which had been given to the tribe of Judah. או, or perhaps; introducing an opposite case, or an exception to what has been said. The words 'שׁבט are to be taken as an objection, so that לאמר is to be supplied in thought. The objection is taken from the promise given in Jacob's blessing to the tribe of Judah: "the sceptre will not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10). שׁבט בּני points unquestionably to this. בּני is taken from Ezekiel 21:9, where the patriarch addresses Judah, whom he compares to a young lion, as בּני. Consequently the sceptre of my son is the command which the patriarch holds out to view before the tribe of Judah. This sceptre despises all wood, i.e., every other ruler's staff, as bad wood. This view is not rendered a doubtful one by the fact that שׁבט is construed as a feminine here, whereas it is construed as a masculine in every other case; for this construction is unquestionable in Ezekiel 21:7 (12), and has many analogies in its favour. All the other explanations that have been proposed are hardly worth mentioning, to say nothing of refuting, as they amount to nothing more than arbitrary conjectures; whereas the assumption that the words are to be explained from Genesis 49:10 is naturally suggested by the unquestionable allusion to the prophecy in that passage, which we find in Ezekiel 21:27 of the present chapter. ויּתּן in Ezekiel 21:11 is to be taken adversatively, "but he gave it (the sword) to be sharpened." The subject to ויּתּן is not Jehovah, but is indefinite, "one" (man, Angl. they), although it is actually God who has prepared the sword for the slaughter of Israel. The train of thought is the following: Do not think we have no reason to fear the sharply-ground sword of Jehovah, because Judah has received the promise that the sceptre shall not depart from it; and this promise will certainly be fulfilled, and Judah be victorious over every hostile power. The promise will not help you in this instance. The sword is given to be ground, not that it may be put into the scabbard, but that it may be taken in the hand by a slayer, and smite all the people and all its princes. In the phrase היא הוּחדּה חרב, חרב is in apposition to the subject היא, and is introduced to give emphasis to the words. It is not till Ezekiel 21:19 that it is stated who the slayer is; but the hearers of the prophecy could be in no doubt. Consequently - this is the connection with Ezekiel 21:12 - there is no ground for rejoicing from a felling of security and pride, but rather an occasion for painful lamentation.

This is the meaning contained in the command to the prophet to cry and howl. For the sword will come upon the nation and its princes. It is the simplest rendering to take היא as referring to הרב, היה ב, to be at a person, to fasten to him, to come upon him, as in 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 24:17. מגוּרי, not from גּוּר, but the passive participle of מגר in the Pual, to overthrow, cast down (Psalm 89:45): "fallen by the sword have they (the princes) become, along with my people." The perfects are prophetic, representing that which will speedily take place as having already occurred. - Smiting upon the thigh is a sign of alarm and horror (Jeremiah 31:19). בּחן, perfect Pual, is used impersonally: the trial is made. The words allude to the victories gained already by Nebuchadnezzar, which have furnished tests of the sharpness of his sword. The question which follows וּמה contains an aposiopesis: and what? Even if the despising sceptre shall not come, what will be the case then? שׁבט מאסת, according to Ezekiel 21:10, is the sceptre of Judah, which despises all other sceptres as bad wood. יהיה, in this instance, is not "to be," in the sense of to remain, but to become, to happen, to come (come to pass), to enter. The meaning is, if the sceptre of Judah shall not display, or prove itself to possess, the strength expected of it. - With Ezekiel 21:14 the address takes a new start, for the purpose of depicting still further the operations of the sword. Smiting the hands together (smiting hand in hand) is a gesture expressive of violent emotion (cf. Ezekiel 6:11; Numbers 24:10). The sword is to double, i.e., multiply itself, into threefold (שׁלישׁתה, adverbial), namely, in its strength, or its edge. Of course this is not to be taken arithmetically, as it has been by Hitzig, but is a bold paradoxical statement concerning the terrible effect produced by the sword. It is not even to be understood as referring to three attacks made at different times by the Chaldeans upon Jerusalem, as many of the commentators suppose. The sword is called חבב חללים, sword of pierced ones, because it produces the pierced or slain. The following words are rendered by Hitzig and Kliefoth: the great sword of the slain. But apart from the tautology which this occasions, the rendering can hardly be defended on grammatical grounds. For, in the first place, we cannot see why the singular חלל should have been chosen, when the expression was repeated, instead of the plural חללים; and secondly, חגּדול cannot be an adjective agreeing with חרב, for חרב is a noun of the feminine gender, and is construed here as a feminine, as החדרת clearly shows. הגּדול is in apposition to חלל, "sword of a pierced man, the great one;" and the great man pierced is the king, as Ewald admits, in agreement with Hengstenberg and Hvernick. The words therefore affirm that the sword will not only slay the mass of the people, but pierce the king himself. (See also the comm. on Ezekiel 21:25.) - Ezekiel 21:15 is not dependent upon what precedes, but introduces a new thought, viz., for what purpose the sword is sharpened. God has placed the flashing sword before all the gates of the Israelites, in order that (למען, pleonastic for למען) the heart may dissolve, the inhabitants may lose all their courage for defence, and to multiply offendicula, i.e., occasions to fall by the sword. The ἁπ. λεγ. אבחת signifies the rapid motion or turning about of the sword (cf. Genesis 3:24); אבח, related to הפך, in the Mishna אפך. The ἁπ. λεγ. מעטּה, fem. of מעט, does not mean smooth, i.e., sharpened, synonymous with מרט, but, according to the Arabic m̀t, eduxit e vagina gladium, drawn (from the scabbard). In Ezekiel 21:16 the sword is addressed, and commanded to smite right and left. התאחדי, gather thyself up, i.e., turn with all thy might toward the right (Tanchum). To the verb השׂימוּ it is easy to supply פּניך, from the context, "direct thine edge toward the left." אנה, whither, without an interrogative, as in Joshua 2:5 and Nehemiah 2:16. מעדות, from יעד, intended, ordered; not, directed, turned. The feminine form may be accounted for from a construction ad sensum, the gender regulating itself according to the חרב addressed in פּניך. The command to the sword is strengthened by the explanation given by Jehovah in Ezekiel 21:17, that He also (like the prophet, Ezekiel 21:14) will smite His hands together and cool His wrath upon them (cf. Ezekiel 5:13).

Ezekiel 21:21 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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: he turns it wherever he will.

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 his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination...

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD...

Proverbs 16:10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresses not in judgment.

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us...

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 that were her father's...

Judges 17:5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

Judges 13:14,18,20,24 She may not eat of any thing that comes of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing...

2 Kings 23:24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols...

Hosea 3:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image...

Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares to them: for the spirit of prostitutions has caused them to err...

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain...

Cross References
Matthew 22:9
Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.'

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

Genesis 31:30
And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father's house, but why did you steal my gods?"

Numbers 22:7
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak's message.

Numbers 23:23
For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, 'What has God wrought!'

Judges 17:5
And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest.

Judges 18:17
And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war.

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