Thirty years had passed; it was the fifth day of the fourth month, and I was sharing the lot of the exiles by the river Chobar, when heaven opened, and I saw a vision of God. The fifth day of the month, and the fifth year since king Joachin was banished. To the priest Ezechiel, son of Buzi, the divine word came; there in the Chaldaean land, by the river Chobar, the power of the Lord could reach him.
I looked round me, to find that a storm-wind had sprung up from the north, driving a great cloud before it; and this cloud had fire caught up in it, that fringed it with radiance. And there in the heart of it, in the very heart of the fire, was a glow like amber, that enclosed four living figures. These were human in appearance, but each had four faces, and two pairs of wings. Either leg was straight-formed, yet ended in a calf's hoof; they sparkled like red-hot bronze. On each of the four sides, human arms shewed beneath the wings; faces and wings looked outwards four ways. Wings of each were held touching wings of other; and when they moved, they did not turn round, but each kept an onward course. As for the appearance of their faces, each had the face of a man, yet each of the four looked like a lion when seen from the right, like an ox when seen from the left, like an eagle when seen from above. So much for their faces; each had two wings spread out above him, those two which met his neighbours wings; with the other two he veiled his body. Each of them marched straight forward, following the movement of a divine impulse, never swerving as he marched. There was that, too, in the appearance of the living figures which put me in mind of flaming coals, or of torches; that was what I saw going to and fro in the midst of the living figures, a glow as of fire, and from this glow lightning came out. So the living creatures came and went, vivid as lightning-flashes.
And as I watched the living figures, all at once wheels appeared close to them, one at each of the four sides, of strange colour and form. All four were alike, the colour of aquamarine, and each looked like a wheel within a wheel. Moved they, it was ever one of the four ways the living figures looked; and they did not turn round in moving. As for their size, their height was terrible to look upon; and the whole frame of them, all round, was full of eyes. Onward the wheels moved, when the living figures moved onward, at their side; rose above the earth when the living figures rose above it. They too had a living impulse in them, they too, whenever that impulse stirred them, must rise up and follow the way it went; with the living figures, whose vital impulse they shared, the wheels too moved, and halted, and rose.
Over the living figures a vault seemed to rise, like a sheet of dazzling crystal resting on their heads; under this vault each held two wings erect to meet his neighbour's. Each had two turned upwards to overshadow him, and two turned downwards to veil his body. When they moved, the sound of their wings reached me, loud as waters in flood or thunders from on high, incessant as the hum of a great throng or an armed camp; only when they came to rest did they lower their wings. A voice would come from the firmament over their heads; then they would halt, then they would lower their wings. Above this vault that rested on them, sapphire blue towered up into the form of a throne, nor did that throne seem to be empty; a shape was there above it, as of one enthroned, and all about him it was filled with amber-coloured flame. Upwards from his loins, downwards from his loins, an arch of light seemed to shine, like rainbow among the clouds on a day of storm; there was brightness all about him.
So much I saw of what the Lord's glory is like; and seeing it, I fell down face to earth. And now I heard a voice, which said to me, Rise up, son of man, I must have speech with you. And at his words, a divine force mastered me, raising me to my feet, so that I could listen to him. Son of man, he told me, I am sending you on an errand to the men of Israel, this heathen brood that has rebelled and forsaken me; see how my covenant has been violated by the fathers yesterday, the children to-day! To brazen-faced folk and hard-hearted your errand is, and still from the Lord God a message you must deliver, hear they or deny you hearing; rebels all, at least they shall know that they have had a prophet in their midst. Never fear them, son of man, never let rebuke of theirs dishearten you; with the unbelieving and the unruly you must learn to live, scorpions ever at your side; rebels all, they must not frighten you, must not dishearten you. Hear they or deny you hearing, remonstrate with them you must; they are a defiant brood.
Do my bidding, then, son of man; no rebel you, like those others; open your mouth and eat what I give you. And with that, I saw a hand stretched out towards me, with a closed book in it; and this, when he opened it to my view, had writing on both sides of it; nothing was there but dirge and lamenting, nothing but cries of woe.
Son of man, he told me, eat you must what eat you can; here is this scroll for your eating. After that, go and give my message to the sons of Israel. Thereupon I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat, promising me safe digestion and a full belly with the gift; and indeed, it was sweet as honey when I ate it. Now, son of man, said he, to the men of Israel betake you, and give them my message. Are they strange folk that lisp and stammer, these men of Israel? Ah, no; nations there are a many that lisp and stammer, past your understanding, but I am sending you to Israel instead. These might have listened to you; hearing from Israel you shall have none; my word goes ever unheeded, so stubborn of forehead they are and so hard-hearted, all the brood of them. But see, I have given you strength of brow, hardness of forehead, that shall outmatch theirs; unyielding as flint or adamant you shall face them. Fear them not, never let their frown daunt you, this brood of rebels.
Then he said to me, Son of man, all the words I tell you heed and hear; then to captive Israel betake you, and give them your message in the name of the Lord God, hear they or deny you hearing. And with that, a sudden transport seized me, and as I went, I heard the noise of a great stir behind me... Blessed be the glory of the Lord... from the place where he was. Beat of wing against wing as the living figures moved onwards, and whirr of the wheels that followed them, great stirring there was all about me; and I, in a transport borne up and on, set out on my journey, unwillingly enough, and vexed at heart, but the Lord's hand was there to hold me to my purpose. So I made my way to the settlement of exiles at Tel-Abib, near the river Chobar; and when I had found them, I sat there for seven days in their company, dumb all the while with grief.
Then, when seven days had passed, the Lord's word came to me. Son of man, he told me, I am posting you here as a sentry, to give the sons of Israel warning; no message I send you but you must pass it on in my name. When I threaten the sinner with doom of death, it is for you to give him word, and warn him, as he loves his life, to have done with sinning. If not, he shall die as he deserves, but for his undoing yourself shalt be called to account. If you warn him, and leave his rebellious sinning he will not, die he shall as he deserves, and you go free. Or if the upright man leaves his innocence, and I take him unawares in his wrong-doing, dies he for want of warning? Die he shall, his good deeds all forgotten, but you for his undoing shall be called to account. Yours to warn the upright man against the marring of his innocence; and he, sin avoiding, shall owe his life to your remonstrance; your duty is done.
Then the power of the Lord came over me, bidding me rise up and keep tryst with him, out in the open plain. Rise up I did, and when I reached the open plain, there was the glory of the Lord rising above it, such as I had seen it by the banks of Chobar; and I fell face to earth. But a divine force mastered me and raised me to my feet again. Now go within doors, he said, and shut yourself in there... And you, son of man... here are bonds confining you; closely your fellow-countrymen shall keep you imprisoned, so that you can not escape from them. And I, meanwhile, will keep tongue of yours fast fixed in your mouth; dumb you shall be, when you would fain expostulate with a rebellious brood. Then, when my message I give you, I will unseal your lips, and you shall speak to that rebellious brood in the name of the Lord God, hear they or deny you hearing.
And now, son of man, go and get you a tile; set it before you and make marks on it, to represent the city of Jerusalem. This you are to beleaguer; siege-works built, mound raised, camp pitched, battering-rams all around. And therewithal get you an iron cooking-pan, that shall make a ring of iron between you and this city of yours; look closely as you will, here is siege complete. So you shall beleaguer it; a sign, this, for the race of Israel.
This, too, you must do; ever on your left side lie down to sleep, weighing it down, day after day as you sleep upon it, with the guilt of Israel; bear it you must. Three hundred and ninety days of guilt-bearing I have allotted you, one day for every year of Israel's guilt; this done, Juda's guilt you must bear for forty days yet, sleeping on your right side; a day for a year, for every year a day. And ever towards beleaguered Jerusalem you shall turn your face, and hold your arm stretched out, prophesying its doom; I hold you enchained, and never shall you turn from one side to other, till the days of your siege are over.
For your food, wheat you must have by you, and barley, and beans, and lentils; and spelt, and vetch; all in one pan mix them, and make you bread, while you are sleeping ever on your same side; for three hundred and ninety days you shall eat it. Nine ounces shall be all your daily food, at set times apportioned, and water you shall drink at set times, two pints by measure. Cooked in the ashes your bread, like barley cakes, and dung of man shall be your fuel, for all to see. Polluted as this, the Lord says, shall be the bread Israel eats, in the land I have decreed for his exile.
Alas, alas, Lord God, said I, here is a soul that never knew defilement; from childhood's days, beast I never ate that died by chance or lay mangled, nor ever did food unclean cross my lips. Be it so, he answered; for dung of man droppings of cattle you shall have, and cook your bread with these. But be sure of this, son of man; I mean to cut off from Jerusalem every source of bread; weighed out to them their bread shall be, and anxiously, measured out to them their water, and in great lack. And at last, for want of bread and water, every man's face shall fall as he looks at other, and they shall pine away in their guilt.
And next, son of man, to the sharp sword betake you! A razor you must take, and pass it over head and beard both; then weigh your hair in the scales and make equal portions of it. A third of it you shall set alight and burn up within this city of yours, when the days of its besieging are over; a third you shall cut to pieces with the blade you carry, round about it; and a third you shall scatter to the winds, for my unsheathed sword to go in pursuit. Of this last third, gather some few hairs and secure them in the fold of your cloak; yet even of these take some away and throw them into the heart of the fire, to burn there; fire enough to kindle the whole race of Israel!
Look you, says the Lord God, here is Jerusalem, that I have set down at earth's very midst, the nations all about her, and she has defied my will, than the very heathen more rebellious, defied my commandments, as neighbouring peoples never did. My bidding they have cast to the winds, followed never where my commandments led. All your neighbours, the Lord God says, outdone in wickedness, my paths untrodden, my bidding unheeded! False even to the heathen traditions of yonder country-side! Have at you, says the Lord God; in your very heart I will execute judgement for all the world to see; such punishment I will inflict as never was before, never shall be again, for your detestable doings. Men's flesh men shall eat, father of son and son of father; then, when my sentence is executed, I will scatter all that is left of you to the four winds.
As I am a living God, the Lord says, since you have not scrupled to profane my sanctuary with vile things and detestable things a many, I will make havoc of you, and my eye shall not melt with pity; I will not scruple in my turn. A third of your sons shall die of pestilence, or with famine pine away; a third shall fall in your defence; a third I will scatter to the four winds, and my sword unsheathed in pursuit. And at last, my anger spent, my vengeance glutted, my grief healed, doubt they shall not that the God whom they slighted has decreed it; my sentence shall take full toll of them. Desolate, and the scorn of your neighbours, so every passerby shall see you. A name of scorn and reproach, a byword you shall be and a thing of horror, to all the nations about you, when your punishment is done, so fierce the anger, so shrewd the blow; I, the Lord, have decreed it. Hungry arrows of mine shall fly abroad, dolorous and deadly, for your minishing; famine that grows worse and worse as the stocks of bread fail, and with the famine wild beasts to bereave you, visitations of plague and violent death; and the sword too, I will let loose upon you; I, the Lord, have decreed it.
And now the Lord's word came to me: Turn your eyes, son of man, towards the hills of your own country, and prophesy their doom. Mountains of Israel, you shall say, listen to the word of the Lord God; here is a message from the Lord God to mountain and hill, to rocky slope and river-bed. I mean to let the sword loose on you, pull shrine down, overthrow altar, break column, pile corpses before the false god's feet; before every idol, sons of Israel prostrate in death, before every altar, the ground strewn with their bones. In all your confines, every city desolate, every shrine wrecked and ruined; deserted and defaced the altars, forlorn the idols, shattered the columns, obliterated all the work of man; and ever the dead lying in the midst of you. Will you doubt, then, the power of the Lord?
I will leave a remnant of you; some shall escape the sword, to live on among the Gentiles, dispersed far and wide; and these survivors, in their land of exile, shall once again bethink themselves of me. Wanton heart that played me false, eyes that hankered still after idols, shall be tamed now; they will look back with loathing on all the foul wrong they did, and confess it was no empty boast, when I threatened this calamity.
Clap hands and stamp feet, the Lord God says, and cry aloud, Out upon the foul wrong the men of Israel did, that are now doomed to perish by sword, famine and pestilence! Keep they their distance, the plague shall smite them, come they to grips, the sword; safe behind the battlements, they shall die of famine; so shall my vengeance take toll of them. Who shall doubt the Lord's power, when the dead lie thick at the feet of your idols and about your altars; on hill-top and mountain height, in forest covert and under spreading oak, where once men would burn fragrant incense to their false gods? When the blow falls, I will make their countryside, once so thickly inhabited, into a wilderness; Deblatha itself is not more forlorn. And who shall doubt the Lord's power?
Then the Lord's word came to me: And you, son of man. A message to the land of Israel from the Lord God! For this land, for every corner of it, here is doom, here is doom. Doom for you at last; I mean to wreak vengeance on you, pass sentence on your evil life, bring home to you your foul deeds. Nor shall my eye melt with pity; I will not spare. All your evil life brought home to you, all your foul deeds confronting you; who shall doubt that it comes from the Lord? The blow, the first blow has fallen, says the Lord God; all is over now, all is over; the day dawns, and for you doom comes with day. Dwellers in the land, this is the end of you; your time is up, your day has come; a day when your mountains shall echo with tumult, not with harvest-home. Close at hand, now, I will rain down my vengeance upon you, give my anger full play, no crime unjudged, no weight of punishment unborne. Never shall my eye melt with pity for you; all your evil life shall be accounted for, all your foul deeds brought to light; and none shall doubt that I, the Lord, punish.
It has come, the day has come; the wheel to full circle, the branch in full bloom, pride bears its harvest. Violence has grown up into a shoot of rebellion... and not by their means, not through clamouring multitude of theirs; rest they shall have none. The time is up, the day of reckoning come; who buys now, of his purchase shall have no joy, who sells now, shall not feel his loss; the Lord's vengeance will overtake the whole throng of citizens alike; alas! here is property alienated for ever, though buyer and seller count among the living yet. The vision is for the whole throng of citizens; there is no reversing it; never a man of that guilty race shall survive.
Sound the trumpet there, rally all to arms! But none goes out to war; on the whole throng of citizens my vengeance has fallen; sword without, pestilence and famine within; sword for the straggler, pestilence and famine for the besieged. Fugitives there shall be that make good their flight, but these must take to the mountains, fluttered as the doves that haunt their ravines, sinners all; hands that hang listless, knees weak as water. See where men go clad in sackcloth, trembling in every limb, with downcast faces, and their heads shorn! See where they cast their silver out of doors, their gold on to the dung-hill; how should precious metal speed them in this day of the Lord's vengeance? Hunger it sates not, belly it fills not; and this, all the while, was the very occasion of their guilt! Did they not pride themselves on the beauty of their workmanship, was it not from this they made images of their detestable false gods? And now there it lies, all defilement! Now I am giving it over to strangers for spoil; the vilest of earth's inhabitants shall plunder it. Still my eyes shall be averted, while my own treasure-chamber is broken open, while the enemy's pursuivants enter and profane it. Make short work of it, a land where innocent lives are forfeit, a nest of wrong! The very refuse of the heathen I will summon to dispossess them of their homes, to be masters of their holy places, that proud boast of theirs now for ever silenced.
Days of despair, when they will look about them for a respite, and respite shall be none! Fresh anxieties still, and fresh alarms; vainly they ask the prophet for revelation; tradition among the priests, counsel among the elders is none. Mourns king, princes go covered with dismay, numb with despair the common folk; ill they shall fare, that ill did, cruelly be judged, that were cruel judges; they shall know what manner of God they serve.
The sixth year of King Sedecias came; and on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Juda for my company, the power of the Lord God came over me there. I had a vision; a figure was there before me all aglow, fire beneath where his loins shewed, and from the loins upwards, brightness made visible, like amber to see. It seemed as if an outstretched hand caught me by a lock of my hair; and with that, a force lifted me up between heaven and earth, and I was carried away in a divine transport to Jerusalem. There was the gateway of the inner court, looking northwards, and there was that image of rival deity God sees and hates. There, too, was the bright presence of Israel's God, as I had seen it earlier on the river plain; Son of man, he told me, look northwards; so northwards I looked from the altar-gate, and saw the image of rival deity standing at the very entrance. Foul deeds a-doing, son of man, said he; little wonder if I was fain to withdraw from my sanctuary, where the men of Israel do me such wrong. But you are not finished with them; you have fouler yet to see.
And with that, he brought me close up to the door of the court, where I found a hole in the wall. Then he would have me a dig through the wall; so dig I did, and there was a door facing me. Now go in, he told me, and see for yourself what foul deeds are done here. And when I went in to look, what should I find painted on the walls but likenesses of reptile and of beast! A very foul sight it was; no idol Israel worships but it was there; and in front of these pictures stood Jezonias, the son of Saphan, with seventy elders of Israel about him, censer in hand each of them, so that a thick cloud of incense went up. Now, son of man, he told me, you can see for yourself what work they make in the darkness, these elders of Israel, each hidden where hide he may; Fear is none, they say, the Lord should see us; he has forsaken the land for good and all, the Lord has.
You have not seen all yet, he told me; you shall see still fouler things done; and he took me, through the northern gate of the temple, and there what found I but women that sat weeping for Adonis? Have you marked it well, son of man? he asked. Prepare yourself for a sight fouler yet. Then he took me into the inner court of the temple, and there, at the door of the Lord's own house, between porch and altar, some five and twenty men were standing with their backs to the temple, that worshipped the eastern sun. Have you marked it well, son of man? he asked. And are they not content, the men of Juda, with such detestable doings as these, that they must provoke me further yet, filling the whole land with wrong? See how they hold branch to nostril! For their busy wickedness, busy shall my vengeance be; unmelting this eye, this heart unpitying, deaf these ears to their cry of complaint.
Then I heard him cry aloud, Make way there for the plagues that must befall the city, for the weapon-bearers of death! And with that, from the upper gate which looks northwards, I saw six men coming on their way, and none of them but bore his deadly weapon; in their midst walked another, clad in linen, with a writer's ink-horn at his girdle. All, when they had entered, took their stand by the brazen altar; and now, borne on cherub wings, the glory of Israel's God rose above the threshold of the house, summoning him of the linen clothes and the ink-horn to set about his task. Make your way, the Lord said to him, all through the city, from end to end of Jerusalem; and where you find men that weep and wail over the foul deeds done in it, mark their brows with a cross. To the others I heard him say, Yours it is to traverse the city at his heels, and smite. Never let eye of yours melt with pity; old and young, man and maid, mother and child, all alike destroy till none is left, save only where you see the cross marked on them. And begin first with the temple itself.
So they began with the elders in the court. Desecrate yonder temple, said he, and fill its precincts with the slain; then go out on your errand. So out they went, and now it was on the city their strokes came. And I, left alone amid that carnage, fell face to earth; Alas, alas, Lord God, cried I, will you destroy all the poor remnant of Israel, pouring out your vengeance on Jerusalem thus? Nay, he told me, the guilt of Israel and Juda is past bound or measure; all bloodshed the country-side, the city all wrong-doing; The Lord has forsaken the land for good and all, say they; fear is none the Lord will see it. And should eye of mine melt with pity? Nay, they shall rue yet the false paths they have taken. And sure enough, the man clad in linen stood there with the ink-horn at his side to give account of himself; and reported, I have done your errand.
And now I looked up at the vault over the cherubim, and there was the hue of sapphire, and the likeness of a throne. And his word came to the man clad in linen, Make your way in where the whirring is loudest, beneath the cherubim, take a handful of the coals that lie there among them, and pour these out over the city. So I watched him make his way in; and all the while, as he did so, the cherubs were standing close to the right of the temple, and the inner court was full of smoke. And the brightness of the Lord's presence, cherub-throned, rose up above the threshold, till the house was all smoke, and all the precincts filled with the divine radiance and ever the beating of the cherubs wings could be heard in the outer court, loud as the voice of the Omnipotent heard in thunder. There by the wheels stood the man clad in linen, ready to receive the cherub-guarded flame as he was bidden; and one cherub, parting from the rest, reached hand out, took fire from the midst, and gave it him; so he went on his errand. Cherub hand shewed under every cherub wing.
Such was the vision I saw; four wheels beside four cherubim, one by each, and their colour shewed like aquamarine; all alike had the same appearance of a wheel within a wheel. Moved they to this quarter or that, they followed ever without ado the lead of the foremost; there was no turning about when they moved. Eyes were everywhere, on body and neck and hand and wing and wheel too, for each cherub had its own wheel. (It was these wheels I had heard spoken of as the whirring!) Four-fold was the semblance of them, now cherub, now man, now lion, now eagle. They rose aloft, these cherubim, (such living figures as I had seen by Chobar; the wheels accompanying them as they went, never left behind, but still at their side when they spread their wings for flight, resting when they rested, rising when they rose; these too had a living impulse in them), and therewith the bright presence of the Lord left the temple threshold, and stood there, cherub-throned. With my own eyes I saw them, as they spread their wings and rose aloft; saw the wheels follow as they went; saw a halt made at the eastern gate of the temple, and the Lord's bright presence resting above them. Full well I knew that cherubs they were, living figures I had seen bearing God's throne by Chobar, each with four semblances, and four wings, and human hands shewing under their wings; the same faces, the same looks, I had seen by Chobar, the same onward impulse of their journeying.
Thereupon a transport seized me, carrying me off to the gate of the temple that looks eastward; and here were twenty-five men at the gate's threshold, with two nobles, Jezonias son of Azur and Pheltias son of Benaias, plain to be seen among them. Son of man, the divine voice said to me, here are folk that plot mischief, and give the city ruinous counsel. What, say they, have we not houses here newly built? We may lie as snug here as meat in a cooking-pot. Tell them of their doom, son of man, tell them of their doom. With that, the spirit of the Lord came full upon me, and bade me speak. This message I gave them from the Lord of hosts, These are your own words, men of Israel; can I not read your hearts? So many done to death in this city, you have filled all the streets of it with bodies of the slain! You have peopled it with the dead, says the Lord God; their flesh it is shall line yonder cooking-pot; as for you, I will fetch you out of it. The sword it is you dread, and to the sword I doom you, the Lord God says; out of it you shall come, and fall into the enemy's hands, and be punished as you deserve. Doomed to fall by the sword, up and down the country-side of Israel; then you shall learn what manner of God the Lord is! Cooking-pot is none here to shelter you; up and down the country-side you shall meet your sentence, and learn what manner of God it is whose paths you have left untrodden, whose will you have disobeyed, to follow the ill customs of your neighbours!
So, in my vision, I prophesied, and while I was prophesying, Pheltias the son of Banaias sank down dead. Thereupon I fell face to earth, crying aloud, Alas, alas, Lord God, will you take full toll of the remnant left to Israel? But the Lord's answer came to me: you have brethren, son of man, you have brethren still. They are nearest of kin to you that are far away, exiled sons of Israel. What though these dwellers at Jerusalem cry, Keep your distance, the land is ours? Not such is the message the Lord God sends them; Far away I have banished them, says he, widely scattered them; yet, go they where they will, a sanctuary in little they shall find in my companionship. Tell them this, from the Lord God, Lost among the peoples, I will gather you, scattered over the world, I will muster you, and give you the land of Israel for your home. To it they shall find their way, and rid it of all that is foul, all that is abominable there; one mind they shall have, and a new spirit shall fill their inmost being; gone the heart of stone, and a human heart theirs in place of it. My paths they shall tread, my will jealously obey, they my people, and I their God. Only where men's hearts are set on their own foul abominations, the Lord God says they shall bear their punishment.
And now the cherubim spread their wings for flight, the wheels beside them, the bright presence of the Lord above them; and that presence, withdrawn from the city's midst, came to rest upon the mountain height eastwards of it. With that, a fresh transport seized me, and I was back among the exiles in Chaldaea, still in a trance, still full of the divine impulse. So the vision faded from my eyes, and I told the exiles all the Lord had made known to me.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, you dwell among a brood of rebels, that have eyes to see with, ears to hear with, yet see and hear nothing, so bent are they on rebellion. Do you, then, son of man, provide you with an exile's pack, and while it is daylight, let them see you marching to and fro; in their full view, if those rebellious eyes will but mark it, remove from one place to another, carrying those goods of yours with you, as if ready for a journey. Then, at nightfall, take your leave in public, as if you were going into exile. Let them see you dig a hole through the wall of your house, to escape by; let them see you carried out on men's shoulders, darkness all around, blindfold, so that you can not view the land about you. A portent of doom you shall be to the men of Israel.
His bidding was done; while daylight served, I brought my exile's pack out into the open; then, at nightfall, dug wall through and went out on my dark journey, borne on men's shoulders, plain to view. And word came to me from the Lord: What of the rebel brood? Have the Israelites asked to know what you mean? This tell them from the Lord God, A princely burden! Here went the prince that rules over Jerusalem, and over all such Israelites as dwell in their native country. Tell them, This is your own doom I foreshadow; the men of Israel shall fare as I do, exile and prison their lot, and he who rules among them shall be fain to escape in the darkness, borne on men's shoulders. They shall breach wall to make way for him, and he shall go with his face covered, so that he will look on the land no more. But my net is spread; I have him in the noose; Babylon for him, the Chaldaean country for him; that land, too, he shall not see, yet die in that land he must. Retinue and bodyguard of his, nay, all his army, I will scatter to the four winds, with my naked sword at their heels. Then at last they shall learn what manner of God I am, when they find themselves lost among the nations, dispersed all the world over! A few shall survive, in despite of sword, famine, and pestilence, to tell these new neighbours of theirs what foul deeds they did; so shall the Gentiles learn to know me.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, tremble still when bread you eat, nor ever drink water but with anxious fear; and this message send from the Lord God to your countrymen that are left at home: Never citizen of Jerusalem, never inhabitant of Israel, but must eat in fear, put cup to his lips unmanned, till at last unmanned it lies, the whole country-side around them, for their guilt that dwelt in it. Lonely the crowded streets, wasted the country-side must be, ere you learn to know me.
Word came to me from the Lord: What means this saying you have in Israel, The days drag on, and never a warning comes true? Tell them this from the Lord God: Here is a proverb shall be heard in Israel no more; I mean to do away with it. Tell them the time is close at hand now for the fulfilment of all my warnings. Vain vision and flattering hopes Israel shall know no longer; the divine foretelling shall not wait for the divine fulfilling; in your own days, brood of rebels, you shall witness both, the Lord God says. And the Lord's word came to me: Fond hope of Israel, that these should be distant things you foretell, the prophet of a later age! Give them word from the Lord God: Warning of mine knows no delay; here and now, the Lord says, it shall be accomplished.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, on the prophets pronounce my doom, the prophets whom Israel heeds; would they prophesy after their own devices? Give them this message from the Lord: Out upon the reckless prophets, the Lord God says, that follow their own whim, and vision have none! Poor Israel, that such foxes as these should burrow among your ruins! What did you to restore the fortunes of the day, when the Lord's stroke fell? Not for you to man the breach, to throw up a wall about Israel! Vain vision and cheating hopes are theirs, that warrant from me have none, yet speak in the Lord's name and look to see their word fulfilled; has the Lord spoken? Not the Lord, only your empty dreams, your lying oracles. For these vain visions, these cheating hopes of yours, have at you! says the Lord God. On false prophet and sightless seer my hand is raised in judgement; never shall they take part in the assembly of Israel, or have their names written in its muster-roll, or find a home in Israel's land! So shall you learn what manner of God the Lord is.
How dared they cheat my people with false hopes, crying, All's well, when in truth all went amiss? My people, that strove to build a wall, and here were the prophets plastering it with clay that had no straw in it! ours to warn these unskilful plasterers that the wall must needs crumble; here is a rain-storm brewing, and I mean to ply it with a volley of great hailstones, and a tempestuous wind that scatters all before it; crumble your wall, shall no one ask what became of the mortar that went to its plastering? Like a tempestuous wind my anger shall break out, the Lord God says; like the rain-storm my indignation shall be, and like a volley of hail-stones my vengeance shall take toll of you; down shall come the wall you plastered so ill, razed to earth, and all its foundations shewing, overthrown to your common ruin; so you shall learn what manner of God the Lord is. Wall nor plasterer my vengeance shall spare; Down with the wall, my sentence is, and down with the plasterers that plastered it so unworkmanly, Israel's prophets, that gave Jerusalem comfort, the Lord says, promising all should be well when all went amiss.
There are women, too, among this people of mine who would play the prophetess as their own whim bids them. Turn upon these, son of man, and tell them their doom: Out upon them, says the Lord God, the women who stitch an elbow-cushion for every corner, make a soft pillow for the heads of young and old! Men's lives are their prey; shall they cast a net about the lives of Israelites, and save their own? For a handful of meal, or a crust of bread, they will put me to shame before my own people; will doom to life or death the undeserving, such credence they win from a people ever credulous. Have at those elbow-cushions of yours, the Lord God says, the nets yonder silly birds are caught in! I mean to snatch them away from your grasp, and set the birds free, those lives you have ensnared with your prophesying. Your pillows shall be torn in pieces; I will rescue my people from your power, and they shall no longer be yours to ensnare; then you will learn what manner of God the Lord is. You have brought woe on innocent lives, when I was fain to comfort them, confirmed the sinner in those evil ways that shall be his undoing; now there shall be no more of your empty visions, there shall be no more divinings; I mean to save my people from your clutches, and you shall know the Lord's power at last.
At a time when some of the Israelite leaders had come to visit me, and sat closeted with me, this message I had from the Lord: Son of man, here be folk that have cumbered their own hearts with false gods, entangled their own feet with guilt; would you have me answer when I am consulted by such as these? Speak to them, you, and tell them this from the Lord God: When a man of Israel's race comes to consult me through a prophet, his own heart yet cumbered with false gods, his own feet yet entangled with guilt, shall I, the Lord, give him answer in his idolatry? Nay, the faithless heart that leaves me for the worship of false gods shall be Israel's undoing. This warning give them in the name of the Lord God: Come back to me, leave those idols of yours, have no eyes henceforward for sights detestable! If a man of Israel's race, or any of alien breed among them, forsakes me, cumbers his heart with false gods, entangles his feet with guilt, and then comes to consult me through a prophet, shall I, in my own name, answer him? Nay, that man, under my frown, shall become a warning and a by-word, lost to his people, and you shall doubt the Lord's power no longer. Or, if misguided the prophet speaks, it is I, the Lord, that have guided that prophet amiss. And thereupon I will exert my power, and rid my people Israel of his company; both alike shall be held guilty, the prophet and his dupe; till Israel learns to wander from me no more, stain itself with guilt no more. So they shall be my people, and I will be their God, says the Lord of hosts.
And word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, if a land lies deep in guilt, sin upon sin, and I cut off every source of bread; sending famine upon it to slay man and beast, though three such men as Noe, Daniel, and Job were counted among its citizens, innocence of theirs no life but theirs should save. If I send beasts to make a pathless wilderness of it, none daring to pass for fear of their encounter; as I am a living God, the Lord says, man nor maid should those three rescue by their companionship; in a desert land they alone should live. The sword if I let loose, bid the sword pass through that land to destroy man and beast, as I am a living God, the Lord says, their own lives those three should ransom, and neither man nor maid besides. Or if pestilence does my errand of punishment, taking deadly toll of man and beast; though Noe dwell there, and Daniel, and Job, as I am a living God, the Lord says, only their own lives they shall ransom, neither man nor maid besides. And what of Jerusalem, says the Lord God, when I send all four plagues on her at once, sword and famine and wild beast and pestilence, till men nor cattle are left alive there? A remnant only shall survive, sons and daughters of your race led out into exile. When these reach you, and you find out what manner of folk they are in thought and deed, for the sorrows of Jerusalem you shall weep no more, though I have plagued her so abundantly. From thought and deed of theirs you shall take consolation nor doubt it was with good reason I used her thus, says the Lord God.
Word came to me from the Lord: So much timber in the forest, son of man! And what of the vine that grows wild there? What avails the wood of it for any manner of craftsmanship? Who will use it to make so much as a peg that pot or pan should hang from? And now it has been thrown away to feed the fire; now either end is burnt up altogether, and the middle of it no better than charcoal; of what use is it now, that use had none even when it was whole? Half burned away, half scorched, here is right unserviceable timber! And I, the Lord says, that destined yonder wild vine to feed the oven, have decreed for the citizens of Jerusalem no other destiny. My frown shall meet them yet; if they have escaped the fire, it is to be consumed by fire anew. Under my frown, they shall learn what manner of God I am; their land all pathless and desolate, for their guilt's rewarding, says the Lord God.
Word came to me from the Lord: And now, son of man, do you confront Jerusalem with the record of her misdoings. Tell her this, in the name of the Lord God: Root of you, stock of you, spring from yonder soil of Chanaan; an Amorrhite it was begot you, a Hethite bore you. Born when you were, there was none to cut navel-string, in healing water wash you, with salt harden you, wrap you in swaddling-clothes; never an eye melted with pity, none befriended you; on the bare ground you were cast away, a thing of abhorrence, that day of your birth. Who but I found you, as I passed on my way, blood-bespattered as you were, and trodden under foot; in that plight preserved you, bade it live on, this defiled thing?
Swift as the wild blossoms I bade you grow; grow you did and thrive, and came to woman's estate, the breasts formed, new hair shewing; and still you were all naked, and blushing for your nakedness. Who but I came upon you, as I passed on my way? And already you were ripe for love; cloak of mine should be thrown about you, to hide your shame; my troth I plighted to you, the Lord God says, and you were mine. Water to wash you, all your stains gone, oil I brought to anoint you; clad you with embroidery, shod your feet with leather; of fine linen your tiring should be, of silk your wear. How I decked you with ornaments! Bracelets for those arms, a collar for that neck; a frontlet on your brow, rings in your ears, on your head a crown magnifical. Of gold and silver your adorning, of fine linen and silk and embroidery your apparel, of wheat and honey and oil your nourishment; matchless beauty, too, was yours, such beauty as brought you to a throne. All the world heard the fame of your loveliness; I had made you so fair, says the Lord God, utterly fair!
Fatal beauty, fatal renown, which emboldened you to play the harlot, lavish your favours on every passer-by, and be his! That you should use those garments of yours to make curtains for your hill-shrines, what age can match the villainy of it? Silver and gold of mine, your adornment and my gift, should they be turned into gods of male form, at your harlot's whim? And these would you clothe with your own embroideries, offer them the perfume and incense that was mine by right, set before them the bread, the oil, the honey I gave you, to appease them with the smell of burnt-sacrifice? More happened besides (he, the Lord God, reminds you); to these gods you would bring sons and daughters of yours and mine, consecrating them to death. Could not your wanton desires rest content, without immolating my own sons as victims to such as these? Most foul deeds and most lecherous, that quite put your youth out of mind, the days when you were naked, and overcome with shame, blood-bespattered and trodden under foot.
And at last, to crown your misdoings (Fie on you, fie on you for shame! says the Lord God), you would build you a brothel, a common stew, in every street; no crossroads but should carry the blazon of your harlotry. the dishonour done to your beauty, when you did welcome every passer-by to your favours, insatiable in your dalliance! With those lusty neighbours of yours, the Egyptians, you would play the wanton; these should be my rivals! What wonder I should interpose, and abridge the rights you did enjoy, handing you over for a prey to the maids of Philistia, rivals of your own, and such as blushed to witness your ill-doings? It was not enough; you must needs dally with the men of Assur, nor might their dalliance content you; you would extend your trade as far as Chaldaea, where all is for sale, insatiable to the last. Salve is none, says the Lord God, for such a heart as yours, set on following a harlot's ways. Never a cross-roads, never a street, but you have set up some brothel for public resort; no harlot you, to bargain over a hateful trade. Yours was the craving of the false wife, that must ever bring a stranger between her husband's sheets. The price of love other harlots claim, you would offer; gifts of yours should entice gallants from every side to your bower. Never did wanton the like, nor shall again; it is out of all nature, a harlot that gives, not takes.
Here then, poor wanton, is the Lord's doom; this message he has for you. Because all your bronze was put to such ill use, because you did wanton so shamelessly with those lovers of yours, idols most foul, in whose honour the lives of your own children were sacrificed, I mean to have a reckoning with you. All the gallants that have enjoyed you, men that love you and men that hate, I will muster together; muster them from all around, and then lay your shame bare, expose your nakedness for all to see. Such punishment you shall have as unfaithful wives have, or murderers; to my jealous anger your life must make amends; I mean to leave you at their mercy. Ruined your bower, ransacked your brothel shall be; your garments stripped off you, plundered your fair adornment; naked they shall leave you, and overcome with shame. Hue and cry they shall raise against you, stone you and put you to the sword; house of yours the flames shall not spare. Before all womankind they will make an example of you; no more dalliance, no more hired lovers now. Then at last my vengeance shall be complete, my jealous anger appeased; you shall have a respite from my ill-will. So forgetful of your youth, so obstinate in your provocations, what wonder if I pay you what you have earned? the Lord says. Yet even now I have not requited you as your most foul crimes have deserved.
Like mother, like daughter; so runs the proverb, and of you it shall be spoken. you are your mother's daughter, that was false to husband and child; false to husband and child were those sisters of yours; your mother a Hethite, your father an Amorrhite, sure enough. Here was your elder sister on your left, Samaria, your younger sister on your right, Sodom, with daughter towns both of them. Did you follow their example, share their misdoings? Nay, that was not enough for you; it should go hard but you would outdo them in their crimes. As I am a living God, the Lord says, never were Sodom and her daughters guilty as you and yours. Pride was the fault of her, this sister of yours; pride and a full belly; the peace and plenty she and her daughters had, with no thought for the poor that stood in need! So it was they rebelled against me, ever I must see foul deeds done, till I rid myself of them, as you see. Nor was Samaria in her turn half so guilty as you. It remained for you to outvie your sisters in crime, till your more abominable doings put them in countenance. Their lesser guilt, that somewhat excuses them, is the measure of your shame; of that shame you must bear the brand, while your sisters go free. When I reverse the doom of exile against Sodom and her daughters, Samaria and her daughters, then, in their company, your own exiles shall return; a sorry boast for you, that you have cheered, in such fashion, their loneliness! Only when Sodom and her daughters, Samaria and her daughters, to their former state return, is there any hope for your daughters and for you.
Time was, when no mention of Sodom's name might soil your proud lips; that was before your own sins came to light, that now disgrace you before Syria's daughters, Philistia's daughters, your watchful neighbours north and south. Now it is your turn, the Lord God says to undergo the shame of your guilt. And this is his doom: False to your oath, you have forsworn our covenant, and you shall have the punishment you have earned. That covenant I made with you in your youth shall not be forgotten; nay, I will ratify it eternally, but humbled you shall be with memories of past days when you must needs take your sisters, older and younger, to yourself. Daughters of yours they shall be, strangers to the covenant no longer. My covenant thus ratified with you, you shall know my power at last; remembering still, shamefaced and tongue-tied still, even when I have pardoned all your ill-doing, says the Lord God.
Word came to me from the Lord: A riddle, son of man, a parable for the men of Israel to interpret! This shall be your message from the Lord God: A great eagle there was, strong of wing, long of limb; thick and gay his plumage. And this eagle flew to Lebanon, where he robbed cedar of cedar's very pith; tore away its crown of leaves and carried it off to Merchant-land, set it down in Traffic City. Then back he flew to that same country, chose out both seed and seed-ground there; it was on a level lawn by a brimming stream he planted it. When the plant grew, it proved to be a spreading vine, low of stature, and ever branch curled inwards and root struck downwards, yet vine it was, with sprig that burgeoned, shoot that sprang. But now, here is a second eagle comes in sight, another great eagle, strong of wing, thick-plumed; and it seems as if the vine, in the garden where it grows, were stretching out its roots, waving its tendrils, to ask this second eagle for water instead. What, when it was planted in ground so fair, by waters so abundant, with such promise of leaf and fruit, a vine so destined to greatness! Will any good come of this? asks the Lord God. Nay, roots shall be plucked up, fruit ravaged, branches left to wither; fade it must, nor is it like to need great strength or many hands for its unearthing. Take root is not thrive; rich soil or none, when the sirocco parches it, the vine must wither.
Then the Lord's word came to me, bidding me ask the rebel brood, Were they at a loss for the meaning of it? This tells how Nabuchodonosor came to Jerusalem, carried off the king and princes and took them away to Babylon; yet spared a prince of the blood royal, making a treaty with him and exacting an oath of allegiance. All the flower of the citizens he carried away; the kingdom should be submissive henceforward, and rebel no more, should keep troth with him loyally. Straightway the new king revolted from Nabuchodonosor, and sent envoys to Egypt, asking for horses, asking for the despatch of a great army in his support. Speeds he, finds he deliverance? Should broken faith avail him? As I am a living God, the Lord says, Babylon that made a king of him, Babylon that trusted in his false oath of allegiance, shall be the place of his death. Nor think that his enemy will need great strength, a great muster of men, to overcome him, mound here, trench there, and the loss of many lives; for the man that did so ill, held his faith a light thing and broke the bond he had set his hand to, there is no escape. This doom the Lord pronounces: As I am a living God, false troth and broken treaty shall be the undoing of him! My net is spread; I have him in the noose; Babylon for him! There I will call him to account for the dishonour he has done to my name by his treachery; and all that escape with him, nay, his whole army, must fall by the sword, or survive scattered to the four winds; you shall learn what manner of God you worship.
And here is a message from the Lord God: Pith of the tall cedar I will take and set it firm, young branch from its crest of branches I will snap off, and plant it on a mountain that stands high above the rest. High in the hill-country of Israel I will plant it, and there it shall grow into a great cedar-tree; no bird on the wing but shall find rest under its shade, nestle among its branches; till all the forest learns its lesson, that I, the Lord, bring high tree low, raise low tree high, wither the burgeoning trunk, give life to the barren. What the Lord promises, the Lord fulfils.
Word came to me from the Lord: Strange, that a proverb should be current in Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are being set on edge! As I am a living God, the Lord says, this proverb shall be current in Israel no more. What, is not every soul at my disposal, father and son alike? It is the guilty soul that must die. Is a man loyal to me, does he live innocently and uprightly? Is he one who never feasted at mountain-shrines, or looked for help to the false gods that are worshipped in Israel; never came between his neighbour's sheets or had commerce with a woman when she was defiled? Does he keep clear of oppression, giving back the pledge he took from his neighbour, and seizing nothing by violence? Does he feed the hungry, clothe the naked? Does he shun usury and extortion? Does he refuse the bribe, and judge honestly between man and man? Does he follow my commandments, hold fast to my ordinances, as a true man should? Here is a loyal servant of mine; life for him, he shall live on, says the Lord God.
But now, what if son he begets that is a man of violence, a murderer; lends himself to any of those practices which his father ever shunned? At hill-shrine eats he, neighbour's wife wrongs he, the friendless poor oppresses; gets him ill gains, withholds the pledge, betakes himself to false god and foul rite; a usurer besides and an extortioner. Shall he live on? Nay, no life for him; he must die the death his foul crimes have earned him. Son of his, in turn, warned by such a father's doom, forswears that ill example. Not for him the hill-feast, the false gods of the country-side, the adulterous bed; never a wrong done, a pledge withheld, gain dishonestly come by; feeds he the hungry, clothes the naked, and keeps clear of oppression, and usury, and extortion; what of him? Doer of my will, keeper of my law, he shall not die for his father's sins; he shall live on. His father, a man of wrong and violence, that deserved ill of his countrymen, has paid for his guilt by death; would you have the son, too, make amends for it? Nay, but here is a man upright and honest, that holds fast by decrees of mine and obeys them; he must live on.
It is the guilty soul that must die; not for the son the father's punishment, not for the father the son's; good shall befall the good, evil the evil. It may be the wicked man will repent of all his sinful deeds, and learn to keep my commandments, and live honestly and uprightly; if so, he shall live on; life, not death, for him. All his transgressions shall be forgotten, and his uprightness shall bring him life. What pleasure should I find in the death of a sinner, the Lord God says, when he might have turned back from his evil ways, and found life instead? It may be the innocent man will lose his innocence, and begin to live as foul a life as that other in his wickedness; if so, shall he be spared? No, all his upright life shall be forgotten; a traitor, shall he not die in his treachery, a sinner in his sins? And yet you say, The Lord is inconsiderate in his dealings! Listen, sons of Israel; it is your dealings that are inconsiderate, not mine. The innocent man loses his innocence, and lives amiss; it is death I deal to him; he dies for his guilty deeds. The wicked man abandons his wicked ways, and learns to live honestly and uprightly; he wins life by it. He bethinks himself, and turns away from his evil doings; there is life, not death, for him.
What, should the sons of Israel hold the Lord inconsiderate? It is you who are inconsiderate, men of Israel, not he. Each by his own life you shall be judged, men of Israel, the Lord God says. Come back, and make amends for all this guilt of yours, that shall else be your undoing; away with them, your defiant rebellions against me; a new heart, a new spirit! Why must you choose death, men of Israel? Die who will, his death is none of my contriving, says the Lord God; come back to me, and live!
... Yours to raise a dirge over the princes of Israel: Prince, that mother of yours was a lioness indeed; where lions haunt, she made her lair, among their whelps nursed her brood. One cub she reared that grew to lion's estate, learned to bring down his prey, to eat men; the neighbours heard of it, caught him, not scatheless, in their pit, and carried him off in chains to Egypt. Baulked of her hopes, she reared another, till it was a grown lion. This one, in turn, took his ease like a lion among the rest; learned to bring down prey, eat men, of women make widows, of cities a desert; dispeopled a whole land with his roaring. At that, folk came from far and near with nets to snare him, caught him in their cruel toils and caged him. This one they led off in chains to the king of Babylon; in Babylon he remained a prisoner, and his voice was heard on the hill-sides of Israel no more.
Mother of that royal stock! Vine planted by the water-side, and in that neighbourhood leafy and fruitful both, was never so fertile. Here was a vine could yield sturdy boughs, sceptres for kings to govern with; high grew the leaves, fair the branching tendrils. But vengeance fell upon it, torn up and thrown away on the ground, the sirocco to wither its leaves; faded and dry those strong boughs, till at last fire consumed them! It is planted now far away, in the parched soil of a desert. Fire came out from those branching boughs, that consumed all the fruit of it; never a sturdy bough more, to be a king's sceptre. Make lament, then; here is good cause for lament.
And now it was the seventh year, the tenth day of the fifth month. Some of the Israelite leaders had come to visit me, asking what was the Lord's will, and sat closeted with me. And this message I had from the Lord: Son of man, tell the leaders of Israel this from the Lord God: Would you come to ask my will? As I am a living God, the Lord says, you shall have no answer. Arraign them, son of man, arraign them for their crimes; tell them what foul things their fathers did before them. This shall be your message to them from the Lord God: Long ago I made choice of Israel, plighted to Jacob my troth, when I made myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to be their own God, swore that I would take them away to the home I had destined for them, a land all milk and honey, the best of lands. Only, I told them, his darling idolatries each man must set aside; not for you to be contaminated with the false gods of Egypt; I, the Lord, am your God. All was defiance and disobedience; idolatry still cherished, the worship of Egypt's gods still unforsaken. I was minded to let my anger have its way, glut my vengeance on them, there in Egypt. But no, I would be their champion, for my own honour's sake; the heathen all around, that had witnessed my coming to deliver them, must not learn to hold my honour cheap. So from Egypt I rescued them, and led them out into the desert.
There I gave them a law, made known to them the usages that bring life; bade them share my sabbath rest, that should be a token between me and them, a token that they were divinely set apart. What did Israel then? Defied my anger, disobeyed my law, life-giving commandments cast away, left my sabbath all unhonoured. Should I give vent to my anger, and make an end of them, there in the desert? And let the heathen see my work of deliverance half accomplished? For my honour's sake, I must not. But I swore, out in the desert, that the promised land, all milk and honey, best of lands, should never be theirs. My will defied, my law forsaken, my sabbath neglected, a heart set on idols, they should learn to rue; had not my pity spared them, they should have died there and then, swallowed up in those wastes. To their sons, the desert-born, warning I gave: Not for you your fathers' example, your fathers' traditions, the contamination of the false gods they worshipped. I, the Lord, am your God; mine the laws you must follow, the usages you must cherish and obey; my sabbath you must honour, in token that the Lord is the God you worship. But they too, the sons, defied me; my laws forsook, my life-giving usages forgot, my sabbaths profaned. There in the desert I would have given vent to my anger, let my vengeance take its toll of them, but still I held my hand; for my own honour, the heathen must see my work of deliverance accomplished. But once more in the desert I bound myself by an oath... I would scatter them among all the nations, spread them over the face of earth, men defiant of my will, contemptuous of my law, careless of my sabbath as ever, after the false gods of their fathers hankering still. Laws they should have, but for their harm, usages that brought, not life, but death; guilty, they should stain themselves with fresh guilt by the very offerings they made, when they consecrated their first-born to the fire; they must have proof of my power at last.
They blasphemed me (tell Israel from the Lord God), those fathers of yours, and did me great despite. Scarce had I brought them into the promised land, when the sight of high mountain here, thick forest there, set them offering victims in honour of my rivals, burning incense, pouring libations! Well might I ask them, Whither resort you? And hill-resorts they are called to this day.
Give the men of Israel, then, this message from the Lord God: Still the same ways your fathers went, still the same itch, for things abominable? To this day, when you would make offering, you pass your sons through the fire; guilt of idolatry stains you yet, and shall I make answer to you, men of Israel? As I am a living God, the Lord says, you shall have no answer from me! Never think I will allow you to worship wood and stone like other races of men, your neighbours; as I am a living God, the Lord says, I mean to reign over you, though it should need all the exercise of my constraining power, all the outpouring of my vengeance. Rescued from many masters, summoned from many lands, you shall serve me perforce, my power constraining you, my vengeance threatening you. I will lead you out into a desert world, and there plead my cause against you, as I did with your fathers long ago, in the desert confines of Egypt. I will force you under my sceptre, chain you to my covenant. The rebels I will set apart, and though I summon them away from their banishment, they shall never return to the land of Israel; then you will know what manner of God you serve. Come, then, says the Lord God, let each man have recourse to his own idol, and pay it due worship! If that counsel you will not follow, nor drag my name in the dust with foul rites and false gods...
On that holy mountain of mine, the Lord God says, that high mountain that looks down over Israel, all the race of Israel shall be my worshippers, favoured suitors in a favoured land; first-fruit and tithe, all your hallowings shall be awaited there. Rescued from so many masters, summoned from so many lands, you shall be a fragrant offering; all my dealings with you the heathen shall acclaim, and you yourselves shall recognize my power, restored to the land of Israel, the land I promised to your fathers. False paths and foul misdoings you shall remember yet, and think with loathing of what you were; my power you shall know, men of Israel, says the Lord God; and that I was your benefactor, not for your deserts, that erred and sinned, but for my own honour's sake.
Word came to me from the Lord: Look southward, son of man; pour out your complaint towards the noon-day sun, and let the southern woodlands hear you prophesy. To the listening forest give this message from the Lord God: I mean to set you alight, burn up green tree and dry; unquenchable, that flame shall scorch the faces of all beholders, northward and south alike; plain enough it shall be for all the world to see that it was I, the Lord, set it ablaze, and there is no quenching it.
Alas for pity, Lord God, said I, they are complaining already that I speak to them only in parables!
So the Lord's word came to me, Why then, son of man, towards Jerusalem turn you, pour out your complaint sanctuarywards, and let the land of Israel hear you prophesy. And this be your message to the land of Israel: Have at you! the Lord God says; here is my sword unsheathed to make an end of your inhabitants, innocent souls and guilty. In token that all alike must perish, northward and south alike, all the world over, my unsheathed sword must go on its errand; drawn it is, plain for all the world to see, and there is no sheathing it. And therewithal I would have you groan, as men groan that have an aching in the loins, very piteously in the public view; ask they the reason of it, you will say, For ill tidings. Faint every heart shall be, when those tidings come, every hand shall hang listless; cowed every spirit shall be, every knee be weak as water. Those tidings are on the way, the Lord God says; there is no averting it.
Word came to me from the Lord: Tell them, son of man, the Lord God has this message for you to utter: Whetted the sword is, polished the sword is, whetted for slaughter, polished to dazzle as lightning does. Never a tree but must fall at your onset, woodman who are to overthrow the sceptre my son wields. Polished, for the hand to grasp it well, the sharp sword, the bright sword, which the slayer must needs handle! Cry aloud, son of man, and bewail you, that on my people it must fall, and all the princes of Israel that are left; prince and people, doomed to perish by the sword; smite on your thigh most dolorously. A tried sword, the Lord God says, and when yonder sceptre it has overthrown, brought to nothing... Prophesy, then, son of man; smite hands together and call for a second stroke and a third of the avenging sword; a sword of massacre, that strikes men dumb, turns their hearts faint, and lays all in ruin. Havoc wrought at every gate by the sharp sword, the sword polished till it shines again, wrapped about the hilts for more ease of smiting! Sharp be your blade; cut right, cut left, wherever your lust beckons you! I too will smite hands together, telling the tale of my vengeance; I, the Lord, command you.
Word came to me from the Lord: And now, son of man, draw a picture. A picture of two roads, both leading from a common point, by which the sword of the Chaldaean king may travel. Here he is, planning his course at the sign-post, where two roads meet, a city at the end of either. Draw the two roads, one beckoning that sword to Rabbath, where the Ammonites dwell, one to Juda, and Jerusalem the impregnable. There stands the king of Babylon at the parting of the ways, taking omens; there is shuffling of arrows, consulting of deities, searching of entrails. Choose he the right, it is for Jerusalem; the battering-rams, the breach made ere the slaughter can begin, the cries of battle, the assault on the gates, the mound, the siege-works. your picture will shew him as a man baffled by the omens given him, that remains idle, as if he were keeping the sabbath rest. Then he remembers the guilt; shall a guilty race go free?
Ay, says the Lord God, still fresh is the memory of that guilt; open rebels you are, and never a thought in your hearts but shews vile; capture awaits you, that revive those memories still. And you, perjured wretch that rule Israel, your time has run out; off with head-band, off with crown, symbols that honour the base, the noble degrade! I will wrest it this way, wrest it that, as it was never wrested yet; at last one shall come that claims it of right, and to him I will give it.
Prophesy, son of man, and give a message from the Lord God to the men of Ammon, in answer to their taunts: Drawn be the sword, cried they, whetted be the sword and bright for its work of slaying! Nay, sword of Ammon, it was but a vain dream, a lying augury, that it should be your office to fall on the necks of yonder doomed sinners, whose time has run out. Back to your sheath with you, back to your native soil; there, in the land where you were fashioned, I will call you to account. I mean to pour out my vengeance on you, blast you with the fire of my anger; barbarian foes shall have the mastery of you, that are skilful only to destroy. Fire shall feed on you, earth run with your blood, oblivion bury your name; I, the Lord, have given sentence.
Word came to me from the Lord: will you not arraign them, citizens of this murderous place, will you not arraign them? Confront them with their foul misdeeds, and give them this message from the Lord God: Here is a city that hastens her own end with open bloodshed, soils herself with idols to her own undoing. Blood-spilth and idol-filth have brought your time nearer, shortened your years; what marvel if I let the heathen reproach you, a whole world mock you? What marvel if men exult over you, far and near, great only in your misfortune, as you are renowned only for your shame? No better title now to Israel's nobility, than to fill those streets with blood! Home of wrong, where father and mother are despised, the stranger oppressed, widow and orphan ill used! My sanctuary, how it is despised, my sabbath how profaned! Innocent lives sworn away, feasting at the hill-shrines, and foul deeds done besides; see where a father's bed is dishonoured, a woman pleads her defilement in vain; neighbour comes lecherously between his neighbour's sheets, father beds incestuously with his son's wife, brother mates with sister sprung of the same blood! The murderer's hire, usury and extortion, gains won by violence; and of me, the Lord God says, never a thought! Well may I smite hands together, indignant at your ill-gotten gains, your murderous doings; will your courage be so high, your arm so powerful, when it is I that reckon with you? What the Lord threatens, the Lord fulfils. Far will I banish you, widely scatter you, and bring the tale of your shame to an end; so I will claim my rights over you for all the world to see, and you shall learn at last my power.
And word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, where the race of Israel shews in the heart of the furnace, nothing I find but dross; all is copper, and tin, and iron, and lead; dross of silver where silver should be. This warning, then, the Lord God has for them: I mean to shut you up in Jerusalem, dross as you are; this shall be your furnace, silver and copper and tin and iron and lead, all together; and I will light a fire to smelt you. There my angry vengeance shall imprison you, and I will give you respite for a little, and then melt you down. Beleaguered there, with the fire of my anger to smelt you like silver in the furnace, you shall feel the force of the Lord's vengeance at last.
Then word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, tell the land of Juda that it is unclean, and, when my vengeance falls on it, rain it shall have none. What of the prophets? A sworn conspiracy; lions roaring for their prey, the lives of men; wealth and treasure they must have; there be widows everywhere. What of the priests? Priests, that despise my law, violate my sanctuary, cannot tell sacred from profane, count all one, clean or unclean; priests, that leave my own sabbath unregarded; am I not defiled by their company? What of the nobles? Ravening wolves, all blood and murder, greedy for gain; and here are the prophets with their untempered mortar, their vain dreams and false auguries, crying a message from the Lord when message from the Lord they have none. Great wrong the citizens themselves do, robbing where they will, harrying the helpless poor, oppressing the stranger and denying him redress. Who would close the breach, intercede with me to spare the land from ruin? Never a man was found! What wonder if I have poured out my vengeance, burnt them up in my anger? It was but their deserts I gave them, says the Lord God.
Word came to me from the Lord: There were two women once, son of man, daughters of the same mother, that went to Egypt and played the wanton there, so wanton and so young! There those breasts surrendered to the attack, virginity was ravished. For their names, the elder was called Oölla, the younger Oöliba, both I espoused, and they bore me sons and daughters. (Samaria and Jerusalem are the true names.)
What did Oölla? She played me false, love-sick for the Assyrians that dwelt hard by, her paramours. Gay gallants were these, princes and noblemen that went clad in purple, and proudly they came riding, for they were horsemen all. Among the flower of Assyrian chivalry was none but enjoyed her favours; and she, that courted all alike, soiled herself with their idolatry. Alas, still unforgotten her dalliance in Egypt; the lovers that bedded her in her youth, mishandled her virgin breast, plied her with their debauchery! Love-sick for new paramours, into their keeping she should be given up, the Assyrians should have the mastery of her. How they stripped and dishonoured her, robbed her of sons and daughters both, and then put her to the sword! Never fell such signal punishment upon womankind.
That sight before her, what did the other sister, Oöliba? Why, she outwent the first in her wantonness, more lascivious yet; she too cast shame aside, gave herself to the gallants of Assyria that came riding by, horsemen all, princes and noblemen in their broidered cloaks, so young, so fair! Light women both; I knew them now. This other would set no bounds to her lust; her eye fell on some pictured wall, where the men of Chaldaea stood portrayed, all in crimson. What girdles they is had about their loins, these men of Babylon, what gaily-coloured turbans they wore! Sure, they must be princes, all of them, in their own Chaldaean land! And with that, her eye fell a-doting on them, and she must send them a message all the way to Chaldaea. So the Chaldaeans, too, were her bedfellows, dishonoured her with their embraces, till even she grew weary of dishonour. Weary was I too, as once of her sister; the open harlotry, the public shame! Must she still renew her unfaithfulness, hanker still after those old debaucheries in Egypt, when she was lovesick for gallants lusty as the wild ass, hot as stallions?
Alas, Oöliba, are they remembered still, the passions of your youth, far away in Egypt, when those breasts surrendered to the attack, that virginity was ravished? This doom, then, the Lord God pronounces on you: They shall be summoned to the attack, all those old lovers you are wearied of, beleaguer you round about; all those Chaldaeans from Babylon, nobleman and prince and chieftain, all those gay gallants from Assyria, captains and rulers, lords paramount and knights of renown! What rattling of chariot-wheels, what hordes of warriors in breastplate and shield and helmet, mustered about your walls! These shall be your judges; theirs the sentence you must abide. Ministers of my jealous anger, they shall cut nose and ears off you, and there shall be sword-strokes yet; carry off your sons and your daughters, and the fire shall have work to do yet. They shall strip you of your clothes, rifle your proud ornaments; gone the memory of your harlotries in Egypt, no hankering for them now, no thought of Egypt now!
Weary you are and disdainful of them, says the Lord God, but they shall have the mastery of you; and they shall use you cruelly enough; carry all your harvest away, and leave you stripped and humbled; lay bare the secret of your shame. Lust it is and lechery of yours that has brought you to this pass; so wantonly did you court the heathen, till at last their idolatry infected you. Your sister's counterpart, the cup of your sister's doom you shalt inherit; deep your cup shall be as hers, wide as hers; full of mockery and reproach, so much it holds, full of dizziness and dismay, full of despair and melancholy, the cup of your sister Samaria. Drink it you shall, ay, drain it to the dregs, till you are ready to devour cup itself piecemeal, or mutilate your own breasts in your madness. Me you did forget; on me your back was turned; wanton and faithless, you shall be held to account.
Arraign them, son of man, the Lord God said to me; confront Oölla and Oöliba with the record of their foul deeds. Bloodstained those adulterous hands; false gods they have taken for their paramours, and to the greed of false gods sacrificed their own children and mine. Theirs to defile my sanctuary, profane my sabbath; no sooner had they done offering their sons to false gods, than my sanctuary must be violated; so would they treat me in my own house. And then they sent word to their paramours, summoning them from afar. They came, those paramours; and you, fresh from the bath, eyes painted, all your ornaments hung about you, did await them, sitting on a fine bed with a table before it; incense of mine, oil of mine was there. What a stir was heard there, as of a great throng taking their ease! They had brought in a rabble of desert folk with them, and these must be given bracelets for their arms, fine garlands for their heads. And I wondered whether she would grant them her favours, even she, that had grown so old in unfaithfulness; but sure enough they went in, boldly as to a harlot's bed.
Such lovers had Oölla and Oöliba, wantons both. Yet honest folk there be, that can judge their deeds as adultery should be judged and murder; adulterous they are and murderous both at once. Muster me a company of such men, the Lord God says, and let them make a fearful example of these women, their prize. With stones from many hands, with swords from every side dispatch them; death for their children, the fire for their homes! Rid we the land of its guilt; of such harlotry let all women beware! Wantonness punished, idolatry's guilt uncondoned; you shall know the Lord's power at last.
And so the ninth year came and the tenth month, and the tenth day of it. And the Lord gave me this message: Son of man, write down this day as The Day Itself. This day, this very day, the king of Babylon has closed his grip on Jerusalem. A riddle, a parable, for the rebellious brood! Tell them the Lord God this bidding gave you: Set a pot on the fire, but filling it first with water; slice after slice goes in, all that is best; thigh and shoulder, the best joints of all, to fill the pot; and fat be the sheep that yields them. Pile high the fuel beneath; now boil pot, and see the stew, there in the heart of it! But ah, says the Lord God, what of the city that is stained with blood? It is no better than a pot covered with rust, that cannot be scraped off any longer; broken in pieces that must be cast away one by one; never shall the lot fall upon it. Blood plain for all to see, spilt on the polished rock, not on earth that might hide it away under the dust; rock, not earth, so I would have it; blood unconcealed, to warrant my angry frown, my avenging punishments!
Out upon the blood-stained city, says the Lord God, the great pyre I mean to kindle! Pile high the fuel for its burning! Why, how is this meat wasted, the whole dish charred, the very bones calcined? Empty of water it must be set on the coals, till it is red-hot, and copper melts away, and the stain on it is burnt out, and it is rusty no more! Alas, it is but labour spent in vain; so deep is that rust, even the fire will not drive it out. A curse lies on this uncleanness of yours; purge you I would, yet purged you will never be, never till I have taken full toll of my vengeance on you. Such is my divine doom; come it must, executed it needs must be; indulgence is none, nor mercy, nor pity; I will pay you what your ill life, your ill thoughts have earned.
The Lord's word came to me, Son of man, I mean to smite you down, by taking away from you what you most love. Dole make you none, nor lament, shed never a tear. Unmarked be your sighing, with no funeral grief made; your head covered, your feet shod, no veil on your face, no customary fare of mourners. And so it was; that morning I uttered my word to the people, and my wife died at set of sun. Next day, I did as the Lord bade me, and the people were all agog to know the meaning of what I did. Why, I told them, the Lord has spoken to me, giving me a message for the race of Israel: he means to profane his own sanctuary, that proud boast of yours, which you love so, trembling ever for its safety. Sons and daughters of yours, left behind at Jerusalem, will die at the sword's point. As I do now, you will do then; no veils on your faces, no customary fare of mourners; heads covered, feet shod, you will make neither dole nor lament, but languish ever under the load of your guilt, sighing each of you in his neighbour's ear. In Ezechiel, says the Lord God, read your own doom; when that day comes, you will be at pains to do as he does now; you will have learned what power the Lord God has.
Yes, son of man, the day is coming when I will rob them of that citadel of theirs, that proud boast of theirs, so well loved, the comfort of their thoughts; rob them, too, of sons and daughters. And what of yourself? Wait till a fugitive comes and tells you the news; then, when he utters his message, utter you yours, dumb no longer. So you shall be the presage of their doom, and they shall learn my power at last.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, turn your regard towards the Ammonites, and prophesy their doom. Give Ammon this message from the Lord God: Joy, joy! was your cry when my sanctuary was profaned, Israel ravaged, the men of Juda carried off into exile; what shall be your reward? The eastern folk shall enjoy your lands; sheep-cote of theirs, tent of theirs shall be found in you, crop of yours they shall eat, milk of yours drink; camels lodged in Rabbath, and all Ammon a pasture-land of sheep! Thus you shall know what power is mine. For clapping of hand and stamping of foot, and heart that rejoiced at Israel's fall, that power shall be used in vengeance; all the world shall have the pillaging of you, till you are a nation no longer, a kingdom no longer; your ruin shall teach you what manner of God I am.
This doom, too, the Lord God pronounces: Boasted they, the Moabites and the men of Seir, that Juda had gone the way of other lands? I will lay open the valleys of Moab, that climb up from the cities, those frontier cities, fair Bethjesimoth, and Beelmeon and Cariathaim; open them to the men of the east in their pursuit of the Ammonites, and all shall be overrun. Ammon shall be blotted out from the memory of mankind, and there is justice too, awaiting the Moabites; they too shall learn my power.
And this: Ill did the Edomites to glut their malice, by taking their revenge on Juda. This doom the Lord God pronounces: My hand is raised to smite Edom, sparing neither man nor beast, making a desert of it all the way from Teman in the south to Dedan, that shall be put to the sword. My own people of Israel shall execute this sentence against Edom, avenge for me the grudge I bear it; then it shall be seen how I punish my enemies the Lord God says.
And this: Rancour of the Philistines, that murderous toll would take, old scores would settle! Against the Philistines, too, this hand is raised; executed they shall be, the executioners; the dwellers on the sea-coast, all that is left of them, I mean to exterminate. Great havoc I mean to make of them, unrelenting in my anger; such havoc as shall teach them to know what the Lord is.
In king Sedecias' eleventh year, on the first day of the month, word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, what was the cry of Tyre over Jerusalem? Joy, joy, the toll-gate of the world has been broken down! It is mine now; I shall grow fat on Jerusalem's ruin! This doom the Lord God pronounces: Have at you, Tyre! I mean to bring hordes of nations marching on you, like wave upon wave of the sea. Walls of Tyre they shall break down, and towers of her overthrow; all the soil I will scrape away from her, and leave her bare rock, doom her to be but an island where fisher-folk dry their nets; I, the Lord God, will give her over as a prey to all the nations. Daughter-towns that stand in her territory shall be put to the sword, and learn my power at last.
Here is Nabuchodonosor of Babylon, the Lord says, a king that has kings for his vassals, marching from the north with horse and chariot, with his knights and all his retinue, a great army of men, to put your daughter-towns to the sword, compass you with siege-works and raise a mound about you. A barrier of shields he will raise under your walls, ply engine and battering-ram against them, and bring down your towers with grappling-irons. Of horses such a company, as shall cover you all with dust; with cries of horsemen and rattle of chariot-wheels entering your gates, your walls shall ring again like the walls of a breached city. Never a street of yours but must echo with hoofs; butchered your citizens shall be, your fair pillars cast down, your wealth plundered, your merchandise taken for spoil. Down shall come walls, palaces totter in ruins; stone and timber and mortar of yours shall strew the seas. Hushed the murmur of your songs; never more the sound of harp shall be heard in you. Bare rock you shall be, for fisher-folk to dry their nets on; there shall be no building you again, says the Lord God.
This too: The very isles shall echo with the crash of your fall, ring with the cries of the wounded dying in your streets. Down from their thrones they shall come, all the lords of the sea-harbours, throw robe aside, broidered coats lay down; wrapped in dismay they sit on the bare ground, at the sudden fall of you bewildered and amazed. And thus they shall sing your dirge: What a doom was yours, sea-built city, far renowned! Mistress of the seas, mother of a race that all held in dread! Day of terror, that affrights the very ships, fills the islands with alarm, to see no ships leave your harbour now!
This too: Desolate you shall be, your place among the lost cities; higher and higher yet the fathomless ocean shall rise about you swallowing you up under its waters. Among the dead your place is, that go down into the grave, where time is not; entombed with those other ruined cities in the depths of earth, tenanted no longer. The living world shall see the glory of my presence, but you shall have no part in it, you shall no longer be; who searches for you will search evermore in vain, says the Lord God.
And word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, do you yourself sing the dirge over Tyre. A message from the Lord God to the city that is built by the sea's gates, and trafficks with many peoples on many shores! Yours was the boast of perfect beauty, the embosoming sea your frontier. A well-fitted ship you were, such as they build on yonder coast; of fir-wood from Sanir your outer planks, of Lebanon cedar your mast, oars shaped from Basan oak, your thwarts of box-wood from the western islands, with marquetry of Indian ivory. Of broidered linen from Egypt the sails they spread for you, awning of blue and purple from the Grecian isles gave you shade.
For you, men of Sidon and of Arad manned the oar; yourself, Tyre, gave men of skill, your own citizens, to be helmsmen. For your dockyards, all the grey-haired wisdom of Gebal was at your command, and for trafficking, never was ship or sailor in the world but visited you. Warriors from Persia, from Lydia, from Africa, fought your battles, with shield and helmet decked your walls; men of Arvad ringed the battlements, your defenders, and the Gammadim, too, were mounted on your towers, on your walls hung their quivers; lacked nothing for your adornment.
And for the merchants that dealt with you, how Carthage poured her wealth into your market-place, of silver and iron, of tin and lead! What purveyors of yours were Ionia, Thubal, and Mosoch, with their slaves to sell you, their urns of bronze; and the men of Thogorma, with horse and horseman and mule! The sons of Dedan were your pedlars; riches came to you from the islands far away; ivory and ebony you could win by barter. Syria, too, for the multitude of your wares, must trade with you, exposing in your mart carbuncles, and purple, and embroidery, and lawn, and silk, and rubies. Juda and Israel themselves had their yield to bring you, fresh wheat and balm and honey and oil and gum for your stalls. Damascus, for your many goods, had much to exchange, rare wines and brightly dyed wool; Dan and Ionia and Mosel offered wrought iron for sale, with cassia and calamus supplied you. Dedan brought you saddles; Arabia and Cedar's chieftains were at your call, driving in lamb and ram and goat for your purchasing. The merchants of Saba and Reema were your merchants too, with spices and precious stones and gold to shew in your fairs; Haran, Chene and Eden, Saba, Assur and Chelmad, none of them but exchanged traffick with you; and how rich the variety of it, the coverlets of blue, the embroideries, the treasure-caskets wound about with cords, the cedar-wood, all for your profit!
But the ships, they were your pedlars in chief; the ocean-going ships, that gave you your wealth, gave you your sea-environed renown. Alas, that those oarsmen of yours should have ferried you out into deep waters, for the storm-wind to wreck you, out in the heart of the sea! All your wealth and treasure and merchandise, your mariners and helmsmen, dockyard masters and captains, all the warriors you have, and the common folk that dwell in you, must sink down to the sea's depths in this day of your fall. Bewildered, all your navy, with the helmsmen's shouts; down come the rowers from their ships, mariner and pilot line the shore. Loud they bewail you, bitter their cry, as they throw dust on their heads and sprinkle themselves with ashes; heads are shaven, sackcloth is every man's wear; woeful hearts are all around, and woeful lament. And a sad dirge they shall sing as they mourn over you: City was none like Tyre, that now lies forgotten in the depths of the sea! Peoples a many your trafficking supplied; all the kings of the earth were richer for wealth of yours, enterprise of yours; and now the sea has swallowed you up; buried in the deep waters all the prosperity that was yours, all the citizens that thronged you. The island peoples, how they stood aghast at your fall; the island kings, how their faces fell at the news of your shipwreck! How they hissed in derision, the traders of other nations! Only ruin is left of you, for ever vanished and gone.
And word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, give this message from the Lord God to the prince of Tyre: An ill day for you, when your proud heart told you you were a god, enthroned god-fashion in the heart of the sea! Mortal man, you have played the god in your own thoughts. What if more than a Daniel you were for wisdom, no secret hidden from you? Skill and craft have brought you power, lined your coffers with gold and silver; and this skill of yours, this pedlar's empire of yours, have made you proud of your own strength. This doom, then, the Lord God has for you, man that would play the god: I mean to embroil you with foreign foes, a warrior nation as none else, that shall draw sword on that fair creature, your wisdom, soil your beauty in the dust! Dragged down to your ruin, wounded to your death, there in the heart of the sea, will you still boast of your godhead to the slayer, while his sword ungods you? Such my doom is for you, death at an alien's hand, the uncircumcised for your company.
This too: Son of man, sing a dirge over yonder king of Tyre. This be your message to him from the Lord God: The token, you, of my considerateness. How wise you were, how peerlessly fair, with all God's garden to take your pleasure in! No precious stone but went to your adorning; sardius, topaz, jasper, chrysolith, onyx, beryl, sapphire, carbuncle and emerald; all of gold was your fair fashioning. And your niche was prepared for you when you were created; a cherub you should be, your wings outstretched in protection; there on God's holy mountain I placed you, to come and go between the wheels of fire. From the day of your creation all was perfect in you, till you did prove false; all these traffickings had made you false within, and for your guilt I must expel you, guardian cherub as you were, from God's mountain; between the wheels of fire you should walk no longer. A heart made proud by its own beauty, wisdom ruined through its own dazzling brightness, down to earth I must cast you, an example for kings to see. Great guilt of yours, all the sins of your trafficking, have profaned your sanctuaries; such a fire I will kindle in the heart of you as shall be your undoing, leave you a heap of dust on the ground for all to gaze at. None on earth that recognizes you but shall be dismayed at the sight of you; only ruin left of you, for ever vanished and gone.
This too: Son of man, turn your regard towards Sidon, and prophesy its doom. This message give it from the Lord God: Have at you, Sidon! Battle-field your territory shall be of my renown! In her, too, my power shall be made known, my sentence executed, my holiness vindicated. Plague I mean to bring down on her and blood-letting both; the sword everywhere, and wounded men dying in her streets, to prove what power the Lord has. No more shall the Israelites have scornful enemies round about, thorns and briers to prick and hurt them; they shall know at last what manner of God they serve. When I restore the scattered race of Israel from its exile, the Lord God says, my holiness shall be vindicated for all the world to see. The land I gave to my servant Jacob shall be thenceforward its home; securely it shall dwell there, build houses, plant vineyards, fear no attack. It shall see every scornful neighbour punished, and know at last what it is to have the Lord for its God.
It was the tenth year of Sedecias, on the eleventh day of its tenth month, when word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, turn your regard towards Pharao, king of Egypt, and prophesy his and all Egypt's doom. This message give him from the Lord God: Have at you, Pharao, king of Egypt, great dragon that lie couched between your streams, boasting that yonder river is your own, you are a god, self-created! Trust me, I will bridle those jaws of yours, and all the fish in your river I will fasten to your scales! Out of the river, fish clinging to scales I will drag you, and leave you aground in the desert, and your fish too. None shall go out to search for your corpse, or bring it home; carrion it shall be for beast on earth, for bird in heaven, and all the citizens of Egypt shall learn my power. This, because you did prove a staff of cane to the men of Israel; grasped they that staff, it splintered, and there was an arm wounded; leaned they on it, it broke, and their strength gave way under them.
This doom, then, the Lord God pronounces: For you, the sword; man nor beast will I spare in you; a lonely desert you shall be, till you have learned what my power is, you that would be river's lord and river's maker. Out upon you, out upon those streams of yours; a desert Egypt shall be, devastated by the sword, from Syene's tower to the marches of Ethiopia; man nor beast shall set foot in it till it has lain forty years desolate. Land of Egypt shall be as the desert lands are, cities of Egypt as the ruined cities are, for forty years uninhabited; and the men of Egypt shall be scattered wide as earth among the nations.
This too: At the end of forty years I will bring the Egyptians back from their countries of exile, restore them from banishment, and in Phatures, the land of their birth, give them a home once more; there they shall be a kingdom of little account. Least of the kingdoms Egypt shall be, no more hold up its head among the nations, too weak for empire now. No more shall it raise hopes among the men of Israel, and bring upon them the guilt of finding a refuge there; they shall learn that I, the Lord, am their God.
It was on the first day of the twenty-seventh year that word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, here is great drudgery king Nabuchodonosor of Babylon has given his men in the assault upon Tyre; every head worn bald, every shoulder smooth, by the burdens they carried! A thankless service it was they did me there, he and his army; but now, says the Lord God, I will make use of Egypt to pay Nabuchodonosor his wages; all its great wealth he shall have, spoil for his spoiling, plunder for his plundering, and so his men shall have their reward. He has fought my battles, and Egypt shall be his recompense, the Lord God says. When that day comes, new life shall spring from the stock of Israel, and to the men of Israel you shall speak with unhampered utterance, to attest my divine power.
And again word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, tell them their doom in the name of the Lord God, and bid them raise loud lament: Alas, alas the day! Nearer, nearer it comes, the Lord's reckoning day, dawning in cloud; it is the heathen's turn now. Egypt shall feel the sword, and Ethiopia tremble to see Egypt's warriors dying, Egypt's wealth carried away, the foundations of Egypt overthrown. Ethiop and Libyan and Lydian, all that motley host, men of Chub and men that hold their lands under treaty, by that same sword shall perish. Such doom the Lord God pronounces; gone, all the props that supported her, gone her proud empire; all that lies beyond Syene, the Lord says, ravaged by the sword! Land of Egypt shall be as the desert lands are, cities of Egypt as the ruined cities are; my power they will never learn till I have spread fire over their country, till all their allies have perished. When that day comes, there will be ships carrying news of my onset, to daunt the courage of Ethiopia; Egypt's doom approaching, they shall know it and be afraid. This too: I mean to make an end of Egypt's prosperity, through king Nabuchodonosor of Babylon; he and his army, in all the world is none fiercer, shall be let loose for the land's undoing, their swords drawn to fill Egypt with dead. I will dry up the course of its rivers, and leave the land at the mercy of its bitter enemies; nothing in it but shall be ravaged by alien hands; I, the Lord, have decreed it. Down shall come the idols of Memphis, the Lord God says, I will have no more false gods there, and prince in all the land shall be none. Such terrors Egypt shall know, Phatures all in ruin, Taphnis afire, in Alexandria my doom executed. Pelusium, her fortress, shall feel my vengeance, Alexandria be laid waste; all Egypt shall be ablaze, such bitter throes Pelusium shall have, Alexandria such devastation, Memphis such hard straits day by day. Their warriors put to the sword, Heliopolis shall be enslaved and Bubastis; dark days there shall be at Taphnis, when I crush the power of Egypt there, and all the pride of her empire is gone; a city in darkness, with all her women-folk carried off into exile. Such doom I will execute upon the Egyptians, and they shall know my power at last.
In the eleventh year of Sedecias, on the seventh day of the first month, word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, I have left Pharao, king of Egypt, with his arm broken; bound up and healed it may not be, clout or bandage is none to wind about it and give it support, give it strength to hold sword again. Out upon Pharao, king of Egypt, says the Lord God; that strong arm of his, that broken arm of his, I will disable, strike the sword from his hand; dispersed among the nations Egypt shall be, scattered to the winds. Strong arms I will give the king of Babylon, and a sword to wield, to Pharao broken arms, and the groans of dying men for all his comfort. The king of Babylon strong, and Pharao disabled; my power shall be known, when my sword, in Babylon's hand, hangs over Egypt; my power shall be known, when the men of Egypt are scattered wide as earth among the nations.
That same year, on the first day of the third month, word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, here is a message for Pharao, king of Egypt, and his retinue. Say to him, This greatness of yours, whose memory does it recall? Not less powerful once was the Assyrian king, a very cedar of Lebanon. How fair its boughs, yonder tree, its leaves how over-shadowing; what height, what thickness of growth about its top! Water nourished it, water came up from the depth beneath to sustain it, washed about its roots and parted into runnels to feed the trees around. In all the country-side none rose so tall, had covert so thick, branches so wide; none fed so deep. Among its boughs the birds nested, the beasts in their travail sought its shade; proud nations a many under Assyria's shelter grew. So fair it was, so tall and spreading, there by the brimming water's side, in God's own garden cedar could not overtop it, fir-tree match it for height, or plane-tree for shade. God's garden itself could not shew such beauty: never a tree there, tree of Eden, but must envy it the leafy loveliness that was my gift.
Alas, that he should aim too high, the Lord God says; alas for youth's luxuriant promise, that swelled his heart with pride! I must needs hand him over to a conquering power, that should settle my reckoning with him; he, the godless, homeless should be. Cut down, yonder tree, by alien folk, heathen that pity have none, and left to lie on the hill-side, boughs choking the valleys, branches carried off by the mountain streams; vassal nations abandoned his shelter, and he was all alone. In the fallen trunk birds nested, under torn branches the wild beasts made their lair; never again should tree boast of its height, there by the river bank, overtopping the covert of the woods, never again should the waters nourish its pride. Death and the deep earth should await them all, mortal things to a mortal doom appointed.
Sad dirge was his, the Lord God says, at his down-going; the great depth was the shroud of him, its flooding streams hushed and stayed; mourned Lebanon, and all the forest swooned away. How it echoed through the world, the crash of his fall! He too, like all mortal things, was for the earth at last; comfort for those others that were brought to earth like himself, trees of Eden like himself, so noble, so fair, so well watered! All alike must go down to the grave the sword's way; his arm...
... his shadow their protection against surrounding nations. And you, in your greatness and glory among Eden's trees so like him! Yet you, like other Eden trees, must come down low as earth can bring you; and the sword shall level you with the uncircumcised in death. (Pharao is meant, and Pharao's retinue, the Lord God says.)
And in the twelfth year, on the first day of the twelfth month, word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, sing a dirge for Pharao, the king of Egypt, that counts for a lion among the nations: Monster you are of the depths, holding up your head in those rivers of yours, trampling them under foot, till their waters run foul! This doom the Lord God pronounces: A net-work I have of many peoples that I will cast over you, a seine that will bring you presently ashore. High on the beach I will leave you aground, for all the birds to perch on you, all the beasts to take their fill of you; flesh of yours shall strew the mountains, with blood of yours the gullies shall overflow, reeking blood that drenches hill and chokes valley with its stream.
Your light when I quench, muffled the skies shall be, the stars dim, the sun beclouded, and the moon shall refuse her light; no luminary in heaven but shall go mourning for you and in that land of yours, the Lord God says, all shall be darkness.
Here shall be a challenge to many nations, in lands you still know not, when I tell them the story of your downfall; peoples a many there shall be that gape in bewilderment, kings that tremble and quake at the story of you. My sword they shall see flashing before their eyes, and each for his own life shall tremble in the day of your fall. Sword of the king of Babylon shall reach you, the Lord God says; tried warriors your thronging multitudes shall cut down, pitiless hordes that shall harry the pride of Egypt, scatter her wealth. The very beasts that roam beside your full stream I will destroy; never foot of man, hoof of beast shall sully it thenceforward; clear those waters shall be as never they were, smooth as oil the river's flow, the Lord God says; all Egypt, now, shall be desolate, all its busy life shall be still, when I smite the men that dwell in it, and teach them to recognize my power. Make dole, then; here is good cause; Egypt shall have the world for her mourner, none but shall mourn for Egypt and her lost greatness, says the Lord God.
And in the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, this: Son of man, a dirge now for the common folk of Egypt; sing Egypt to her grave, and with her those other proud nations that must go down into the dark: Measure not your beauty against another's; to your grave get you, and with the uncircumcised take your rest. The sword carries off all alike; once loose it, she and all her multitudes must perish. From the tomb they greet the newcomer, those great warriors, men of the uncircumcised races, allies once, that now lie there, slain in battle. Here is the Assyrian king with all his muster-roll; how their graves ring him about, dead warriors all! Down there in the dark, his grave and theirs around him, dead now in battle, that once daunted the hearts of the living! Here are the Elamites, too, lying about their king, men uncircumcised that made themselves feared in life, and now lie in the pit beneath with all those others, stripped and shamed as they were left on the battle-field; (here he lies, with his men about him for monument, once so feared; stripped and shamed they lie, Elamites uncircumcised, there in the dark, there amongst the slain). Uncircumcised, too, the king of Mosoch and Thubal, with all his retinue buried around him, dead now and feared no longer; shall they not sleep on there with the slain warriors, with the uncircumcised, still armed, swords beneath their heads; their corpses lawless yet, and feared no longer? Your place too, the place of your slain warriors, is with the uncircumcised in their ruin. King and chief of the Edomites lie slain among the uncircumcised, there in the dark; so do all the kings of the north, and the Sidonians, dismayed now and trusting no more in their own valour, stripped and shamed. Well may Pharao and his men be comforted by that sight over the multitude of their slain, the Lord God says. He too, in this living world, wielded my terrors; he too lies there, the Lord God says, slain in battle, with the uncircumcised about him.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, tell your 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 you, son of man; for the whole race of Israel you are my watchman; the warning you hear from my lips, to them pass on. Sinner if I threaten with death, and word you give him none to leave off his sinning, die he shall, as he deserves to die, but you for his death shalt answer to me. If warning you give, and he will not leave off his sinning, he dies by his own fault, and you shall stand acquitted. This be your 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 your 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 yours, 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 pestilences 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 you, son of man, listen to what they are saying of you, 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 you, this people of mine, and sit here closeted with you, listening to all you say, but do your bidding they will not. No, they will have you 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 you could not have, nor less achievement. But when your words come true, as come true they shall, none shall doubt that they have had a prophet in their midst.
Word came to me from the Lord: Now, son of man, prophesy doom to the rulers of Israel, the shepherds of my flock. This be your message from the Lord God: Out upon Israel's shepherds, that had a flock to feed, and fed none but themselves; the milk drank, the wool wore, the fat lambs slaughtered, but pastured these sheep of mine never at all! The wasted frame went unnourished, the sick unhealed; nor bound they the broken limb, nor brought strayed sheep home, nor lost sheep found; force and constraint were all the governance they knew. So my sheep fell a-wandering, that shepherd had none; every wild beast fell a-preying on them, and they scattered far and wide. All over the mountains they strayed, all over the high hills were scattered, this flock of mine, and no search was made for them, no search at all. This doom, then, the Lord pronounces on yonder shepherds: As I am a living God, I will have a reckoning for sheep of mine carried off, sheep of mine the wild beasts have preyed on, while they went all untended, with shepherds that would not go in search of them, shepherds that no flock would feed, but themselves only. A word, shepherds, for your hearing, a message from the Lord God: Out upon yonder shepherds! I will hold them answerable for the flock entrusted to them, and they shall have charge of it no more, feed themselves out of its revenues no more. From their greedy power I will rescue it; no longer shall it be their prey.
This is what the Lord God says: I mean to go looking for this flock of mine, search it out for myself. As a shepherd, when he finds his flock scattered all about him, goes looking for his sheep, so will I go looking for these sheep of mine, rescue them from all the nooks into which they have strayed when the dark mist fell upon them. Rescued from every kingdom, recovered from every land, I will bring them back to their own country; they shall have pasture on the hill-sides of Israel, by its water-courses, in the resting-places of their home. Yes, I will lead them out into fair pastures, the high mountains of Israel shall be their feeding-ground, the mountains of Israel, with soft grass for them to rest on, rich feed for them to graze. Food and rest, says the Lord God, both these I will give to my flock. The lost sheep I will find, the strayed sheep I will bring home again; bind up the broken limb, nourish the wasted frame, keep the well-fed and the sturdy free from harm; they shall have a true shepherd at last.
And what of you, my flock? I mean to do justice, the Lord God says, among the beasts themselves, give redress against the rams and the buck-goats. What, was it not enough to have stripped the pasture-lands with your grazing, drunk all that was purest out of the stream, but you must trample and foul all that was left? None but trampled fields must my sheep graze, none but fouled waters drink? This is what the Lord God says: I mean to see justice done between fat beast and lean. Thrust back with side and shoulder, gored with the horn, all the weaker of them have been driven away; but now I mean to protect this flock of mine against your greed, give beast redress against its fellow.
...They shall have a single shepherd to tend all of them now; who should tend them but my servant David? He shall be their shepherd, and I, the Lord, will be their God, now that he rules them on earth; such is my divine promise to them. Such a covenant I will make as shall grant them security; beasts of prey there shall be none, safe resting, now, in the desert, safe sleeping in the woods; on my hillsides they shall dwell, a blessed people in a blessed home, rain in its season fall on them, and blessings all the while. Wild trees their fruit, the earth its crops shall afford; undisturbed they shall dwell on their own lands, acknowledging my power at last, my power that severed strap of yoke, rescued them from the tyrant's hand. Forgotten, the enemies that despoiled, the wild beasts that preyed on them; they will live sheltered from all alarms. Once more their renown shall burgeon; never again the land starve with drought, never the alien's taunts be heard. None shall doubt that I, the Lord their God, am at their side, and they are my own people, the race of Israel, the Lord God says. Flock of mine, the Lord God says, flock of my pasturing, you are but men, yet I, the Lord, am your God.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, turn your regard towards the hill-country of Seir, and prophesy its doom. This be your message from the Lord God: Have at you, Seir! My hand is raised to smite you; desert you shall be and desolate; when I have pulled down your cities and left you in ruins, you shall know my power at last. Relentless foe, did you not cut off Israel's retreat in its most need, when doom closed round it? As I am a living God, the Lord says, to bloodshed I doom you, bloodshed shall hunt you down, the very bloodshed that liked you so little. Desolate and desert mount Seir shall be, none come and go there, every crest of it piled high with the slain. Slain they shall fall, your warriors, by hill-slope and valley and ravine, till you are left solitary for all time, your cities uninhabited; so you shall witness my power. Two nations and two countries (your boast was), and both are mine; to me is left the enjoyment of them! forgetting that I, the Lord, dwell there. As I am a living God, the Lord says, the rankling grudge that embittered you, you shall feel to your cost; by the doom I execute upon you, Israel shall learn to know me better; and you too shall learn that I, the Lord, was listening, when your arrogance claimed its deserted hill-country for your prey. I was listening to all those defiant blasphemies of yours, and now, says the Lord God, let all the world rejoice as it will, you shall lie desolate. Ruined utterly they shall be, mount Seir and all Edom, that triumphed in the ruin of Israel; the Lord's power shall be made known at last.
And now, son of man, to the mountains of Israel address your prophecy, and give them my divine message, comforting them, in the name of the Lord God, for the taunts of the enemy, that think to claim possession of their ancient strongholds. Thus shall your word of prophecy begin: Desolate you lie, the Lord God says, and overrun by the invader; aliens have the lordship of you, and your name is on men's lips, a byword of common talk. Yet here is word for you, mountains of Israel, from the Lord God; word from him for crag and hill, ravine and valley and barren upland, ruined wall and deserted city, empty now and a mockery to their neighbours! On Edom, on all the Gentiles that fell to and feasted on lands of mine, marked them down for pillage, my jealous love pronounces doom. A promise, then, from the Lord God to every mountain and hill, every upland and valley in the land of Israel! Till now, the Lord God says, you have been put to the blush before your neighbours, but now my love and my indignation can contain itself no more. My oath upon it, the Lord God says, these neighbours of yours shall be put to the blush in their turn.
But you, mountains of Israel, must burgeon anew, and grow fruit for my own people to enjoy; their home-coming is not far off now. Watch for me, I am coming back to you; soil of you shall be ploughed and sown anew; and men, too, shall thrive on it, Israel's full muster-roll, peopling the cities, restoring the ruins. Full tale you shall have of men and beasts that thrive and multiply; I will make you populous as of old, more than of old my blessings lavish, and you shall not doubt my power. Masters you shall have, and those masters my people of Israel, your rightful lords; never shall they want lands or you lords again. Till now, the Lord God says, men have called you a land that starves folk and empties cradle; henceforth, his will is that you should starve your folk, bereave your folk, no longer; scoff and taunt of heathen neighbours you will have none to bear, he says, nor lack men to till you henceforward.
This too: Son of man, how the race of Israel profaned this country of theirs, when they still dwelt in it, by their lives and their likings! Cast clouts of woman were less defiling. What marvel if my vengeance was let loose on them for all the blood that stained it; all the idols that polluted it? What marvel if I drove them out among the nations, scattered them wide as earth, as lives and likings of theirs had deserved? But alas, wherever they went among the heathen, they brought my holy name into ill repute; These are the Lord's people, folk said, and here they are, exiled from the land he loves! Should I let my holy name go unhonoured, among the heathen that harboured them?
Give Israel, then, this message from the Lord God: It is not for your own sakes, men of Israel, that I come forward as your champion; it is for the sake of my holy name, brought into disrepute among the Gentiles who have crossed your path. That great renown of mine I mean to vindicate, that is now dragged in the dust among the Gentiles, dragged in the dust because of you. The very Gentiles will recognize my power, the Lord God says, when I proclaim my majesty in their sight by delivering you. I mean to set you free from the power of the Gentiles, bring you home again from every part of the earth. And then I will pour cleansing streams over you, to purge you from every stain you bear, purge you from the taint of your idolatry. I will give you a new heart, and breathe a new spirit into you; I will take away from your breasts those hearts that are hard as stone, and give you human hearts instead. I will make my spirit penetrate you, so that you will follow in the path of my law, remember and carry out my decrees. So shall you make your home in the land I promised to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will set you free from the guilt which stains you; I will send my word to the harvest, and bid it come up abundantly, from dearth spare you; yield of tree and crop of earth I will multiply, and the heathen shall taunt you no longer with your starving lot. Well may you think with loathing of what you were, as your minds go back to false paths and crooked aims you once followed! Be assured of it, the Lord God says, it was for no deserts of yours I delivered you; blush still, men of Israel, for your crimes, hang your heads still!
This too: A time is coming when I will set you free from the guilt which stains you; when I will people your cities, rebuild your ruins; when the deserted land shall be tilled anew. Desolate the passers-by saw it once; now they will say, Why, it is a very garden of Eden, the country-side which once lay all uncultivated; the empty towns, all gone to rack and ruin, are walled and populous! And the heathen shall know, such heathen as are your neighbours still, that I, the Lord, rebuild ruin and plant wilderness; what the Lord promises, the Lord fulfils. This boon, says the Lord God, Israel shall yet have of me, as a flock thrives their manhood shall thrive. See how the victim-herd throngs the streets of Jerusalem on her feast-days! Yonder empty cities shall be thronged, too, but with men; the proof of my divine power.
... The Lord's power laid hold of me, and by the spirit of the Lord I was carried away and set down in the midst of the plain, which was covered with bones. Round the whole extent of them he took me where they lay thick on the plain, all of them parched quite dry. Son of man, he said, can life return to these bones? Lord God, said I, you know. Then he bade me utter a prophecy over the bones: Listen, dry bones, to the word of the Lord. A message to these bones from the Lord: I mean to send my spirit into you, and restore you to life. Sinews shall be given you, flesh shall grow on you, and skin cover you; and I will give you breath to bring you to life again; will you doubt, then, the Lord's power?
So I prophesied as he had bidden me, and as I prophesied a sound came, and I felt a stirring, and the bones came together, each at its proper joint; under my eyes the sinews and the flesh clothed them, and the skin covered them, but there was no breath in them even now. Son of man, he said, prophesy now to the breath of life; give the breath of life itself this message from the Lord God: Come, breath of life, from the four winds, and breathe on these slain men to make them live. So I prophesied as he had bidden me, and the breath of life came into them, so that they lived again; and all rose to their feet, host upon host of them. Then he told me, Son of man, in these bones here you see the whole race of Israel. They are complaining that their very bones have withered away, that all hope is lost, they are dead men. It is for you to prophesy, giving them this message from the Lord God: I mean to open your graves and revive you, my people; I mean to bring you home to the land of Israel. Will you doubt, then, the Lord's power, when I open your graves and revive you? When I breathe my spirit into you, to give you life again, and bid you dwell at peace in your own land? What the Lord promises, the Lord performs; you will know that, he tells you, at last.
And word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, take two pieces of wood, and write on one, For Juda, and the tribes of Israel that take part with him; on the other, that is the stick of Ephraim, write, For Joseph, and all the tribes of Israel that take part with him. Then join them together into the form of a single stick, so that they are united in your hand. And when your fellow-countrymen would have you tell them what you mean by all this, give them this message from the Lord: Here is this stick of Joseph and his confederate tribes, with Ephraim at their head; I mean to join it with Juda's and make one stick of it; one stick now, and in my hand.
And while you are still holding the inscribed sticks, there in the presence of your fellow-countrymen, say this: A message from the Lord God! I mean to recall the sons of Israel from their exile among the Gentiles, gather them from every side and restore them to their home. And there, in the hill-country of Israel, I will make one nation of them, with one king over them all; no longer shall they be two nations under two crowns. No more shall they be contaminated with idol-worship, and foul rites, and forbidden things a many; I will deliver them from the lands that were once the haunts of their sinning, and make them clean again; they shall be my people, and I will be their God. They shall have one king over them, a shepherd to tend them all, my servant David; my will they shall follow, my commands remember and obey. And their home shall be the home of your fathers, the land I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children shall enjoy it, and their children's children, in perpetuity, and ever my servant David shall be their prince. My covenant shall pledge them prosperity, a covenant that shall never be revoked; I will make them... and give them increase, and set up my sanctuary in their midst for ever. My tabernacle over them; they my people, and I their God; proof to all the world that I, the Lord, have set Israel apart, I that dwell apart in their midst for ever.
Word came to me from the Lord: Son of man, turn your regard now towards Gog, Magog's country, that has the lordship of Mosoch and Thubal, and prophesy its doom. This be your message to it from the Lord God: Have at you, Gog, that have the lordship of Mosoch and Thubal! Trust me, I will turn you about this way and that, bridle those jaws of yours! I will bring you out to battle, with all your army; with horses and mailed cavalry, with a great company that ply spear and shield and sword. Persians shall be there, and Ethiopians, and Libyans, all with shield and helmet, Gomer with his hordes, the men of Thogorma from the northern fastnesses, mustered in full strength; what an array you have about you! Now hold yourself in readiness, marshal your own strength and the hordes that follow you; yours is the leadership.
Long hence your turn shall come; long years must pass before you do march on Israel; a land, now, recovered from its blood-letting; its hills, desolate till now, are repeopled with exiles from many shores, come back to dwell there in security. Storm never rose so suddenly, cloud-wrack never darkened it so fearsomely, as you with that host of yours, those confederate hordes. What thoughts will be in your heart that day, the Lord God says, what foul design will be a-brewing? Why, you will think to march on a land unfortified, a people dwelling free from all alarms, that walls about them have none, bolt nor bar to shut them in; spoil for your spoiling, plunder for your plundering. Easily enough they are like to fall into your hand, the ruins so lately rebuilt; the men restored from exile, that hold but the heart of the country, and are already enriched! Small wonder if the traders of Saba, Dedan and Tharsis, ravenous lions all, would know whether it is plunder your heart is set on? Such a muster of men, it can but mean spoil; silver and gold to rifle, stock and stuff to carry away, ay, there is spoil behind this, and spoil worth the taking!
Prophesy, then, son of man, and make known to Gog this divine message: None better ware of it than you, when my people of Israel is living at peace, free from alarms! Then it is you will come down from those northern fastnesses, with your hordes about you, your troops of cavalry, a great muster, an army irresistible, sweeping down on my people of Israel like a cloud that overshadows the land. Offspring of that later age, you shall march on yonder land of mine so that in Gog's doom my power may be vindicated, and the heathen may learn what I am. Long years ago, the Lord God says, there were servants of mine that foresaw my will concerning you, and even then warned Israel, in my name, of your coming.
When Gog marches against Israel, the Lord God says, my indignation will contain itself no longer; jealous love and fierce anger of mine, I swear it, shall throw all the land of Israel into commotion. Fish in sea, bird in air, beast on earth and all the creeping things of earth shall tremble at my presence, and the world of men, too, shall tremble; mountains be overthrown, defences totter, walls come toppling to the ground. All through this hill-country of mine my word shall run, The sword! And with that, the Lord says, friend shall turn his sword against friend; ordeal they shall have of pestilence and of blood-letting, of lashing storm and great hail-stones; fire and brimstone I will rain down upon them, all that great army and the hordes that follow with it. My greatness, my holiness, shall then be displayed for a world of nations to see, and they will recognize my power at last.
Prophesy, then, son of man, the doom of Gog; be this the divine message you give him: Have at you, Gog, that have the lordship of Mosoch and Thubal! This way and that I will turn you, whistle you on and bid you leave your northern fastnesses, to march against the hill-country of Israel; then I will strike yonder bow from your left hand, spill the arrows from your right! Host and horde of yours shall fall with you on the mountains of Israel, carrion for every bird in air, every beast on earth; cast away on the bare ground you shall lie, such is my doom for you, the Lord God says. Such a fire I will light as shall reach Magog, and others besides, island-dwellers far away that have no thought of peril; they too shall know my power. Among my own people of Israel my renown shall spread, and never more shall my holy name be dragged in the dust; the heathen shall know what manner of God it is that dwells apart in Israel.
When all is over and done, and my day of doom past, the townsfolk of Israel will come out to gather kindling-wood and firewood out of the spoils that were left; shield and spear, bow and arrow, staff and pole; and they will be seven years aburning. All that time, faggots will strew the country-side ungathered, and never axe will be laid to forest tree; weapons of war shall be all their fuel, spoil of the spoiler, plunder of the plunderer, the Lord God says. Then, too, Gog shall have a burying-place named after him, there in Israel, none other than the Valley of the Wayfarers, east of the Dead Sea; a thing of wonder to all that pass by. There they shall bury Gog with all the rabble that came after him, and Valley of Gog's Rabble the place shall be called. Seven months work Israel shall have burying them, and cleansing the land from its defilement; all the citizens shall take part in it, and shall commemorate that day as the day on which I was vindicated, says the Lord God. Even when the seven months are over, some there will be whose office it is to search ever the country-side, finding those remains and burying them, to rid the land of defilement; still they will be scouring those plains, and setting up a mark where they see men's bones lie, for the grave-diggers to bury them, there in the Valley of Gog's Rabble; from this the city of Amona, Rabble, shall take its name. And so the land shall be cleansed.
This too: Son of man, here is a message for every bird in air, every beast that roams the earth: Come all, come with haste, gather from every side for the sacrificial feast I am making for you, a great feast on the uplands of Israel, flesh to eat, blood for your drinking! Flesh of fighting men, blood of the world's great ones; never was ram or lamb, never was goat or bull, food so rich or so dainty! Glutted with fat, drunk you shall be with blood, at this feast of mine; horse and brave rider, warriors of high rank and low, are the cheer they shall have at my table, says the Lord God.
In glory I will reveal myself to the Gentiles; the doom I have executed, the power I have exerted, shall be for all to see; nor shall Israel doubt thenceforward that I, the Lord, am their God. All the world shall know why it was that Israel went into banishment, why I turned my back on them and gave them up to massacre; that it was because they wronged me and deserted me; that it was foul crime of theirs bade me disown them. I mean to restore Jacob from exile, the Lord God says, and extend my mercy to the whole race of Israel; the honour of my name demands it. The disgrace, the punishment of all their guilt, they needs must bear ...
... when they are dwelling safely in their own land, free from all alarms; when I have brought them back from banishment among strangers, in hostile countries; and so, before the whole world's eyes, retrieved my honour. They shall know at last that I, the Lord, am their God: it was I that drove them into captivity, it was I, too, that restored them to their home; not a man of them left in exile. And I will turn away from them no longer, I, that have poured out my spirit on the whole race of Israel.
It was the tenth day of the month; the twenty-fifth year of our banishment, and the fourteenth since the fall of the city, was just beginning. This was the precise day upon which the Lord's power came over me, and I fell into transport; in which transport, so the divine revelation would have it, I was carried of to the country of Israel. There, I found myself on the top of a very high mountain, that seemed to have a city built on it, sloping away towards the south. Into this city I was taken, and there met a man whose look dazzled the eye like bronze; he stood there in the gateway, holding a flaxen cord and a measuring-rod. The open eye, son of man, said he, the open ear, and mark well all I shew you! You were brought here to see, and tell the men of Israel what you see.
There was an outer wall that ran round the whole building, which he measured with his rod, that was six cubits and a palm in length; a rod's thickness there was in the wall, and a rod's height; when he came to the gate at the eastern approach and had mounted the stairs of it, the entrance-way was spanned by a single rod; each entrance was of a rod's thickness. Within were guard-chambers, six cubits square and five cubits apart; then came an inner gateway, a rod's length deep; then an inner entrance-hall, measuring eight cubits across, with pillars two cubits thick. This eastern gateway had three guard-chambers on each side, alike in size, and alike in size the pillars between them. The entrance of the gateway was ten cubits across, and the span of the gateway itself thirteen cubits; on either side the six-cubit guard-chamber was set a cubit back. From gable-window of guard-room to gable-window of guard-room opposite was twenty-five cubits. (And he made the whole length of the colonnade sixty cubits, but this was measuring right up to the pillars which stood out round the gateway); the distance from the outer gate to the inner was fifty cubits... and slanting windows in the guard-chambers and in the thickness of the walls that separated them, all round the gateway; the hall, too, within had its windows all round, and there was a pattern of palm-trees on the pillars between them.
So he led me into the outer courtyard, which was surrounded by parlours, that had the ground about them paved with stone; there were thirty parlours standing in this strip of pavement. It stretched up to the gateways, and was broad as they were long; like them, it was on the level of the ground. And now he measured the distance from the eastern gate to the inner courtyard, where they stood fronting one another; it was a hundred cubits.
As with the east, so with the north; length and breadth he must measure of the outer gate that looked northwards. This, too, was fifty cubits long and twenty-five broad; it had guard-chambers, three on each side, pillar and hall like the other. Hall and windows and palm-tree pattern differed nothing from those of the eastern gate; all was the same, from the seven steps of the approach to the hall within. As on the east, so on the north, the inner court had a gateway matching it, a hundred cubits distant. And next he took me to the south, where there was a fresh gate, which he measured, pillar of it and hall of it, as before; the same windows about the hall, the same length and breadth; the seven steps, the hall at the further end, the pillars with a palm-tree patterned on either side. Here, too, a hundred cubits away, was a gateway on the south side of the inner courtyard.
It was through this southern gateway of it that he led me into the inner courtyard itself; a gateway with the same measurements as before, guard-chamber and pillar and hall. It had the same windows and window-pillars, the same length and breadth, and the porch round it was twenty-five cubits long, five cubits broad. The pillars had the same pattern, but this time the hall was on the outer side of the gateway, and there were eight steps instead of seven. Then he took me to the east side of the inner court, with the same measurements, guard-chamber and pillar and hall, window and window-pillar, length and breadth; the pillared hall again facing the outer court, the steps eight in number. And next to the northern gate, with the same measurements still, guard-chamber and pillar and hall and windows and length and breadth; the pillared hall facing outwards, the eight steps.
... and each ante-chamber had a door, between pillars. This was where they washed the victims for burnt-sacrifice; and in the hall of the entrance-way there were two tables on each side, for the slaying of the victims, whether it were a burnt-sacrifice, or some offering for a fault or for a wrong done. On the outer side of the gateway, towards the north gate, and again on the opposite side, there were two more tables, close to the hall. Thus altogether there were eight tables ranged along the side of the entranceway, all for sacrifice. And for the burnt-sacrifice there were four other tables of hewn stone, a cubit and a half square, and a cubit in height; here they laid the instruments needed for sacrifice and offering; they had ledges, too, curving upwards all round, a palm in breadth, for these tables must also hold the flesh of the victims.
In the inner court itself, beyond the gateway, the singers had their lodging, on the north side, facing south. There was a parlour, too, at the side of the eastern gate, facing north; the one facing south, he told me, was for the priests who kept watch over the temple, the one facing north for the priests who are busied with the service of the altar, Sadocite Levites, that were the Lord's privileged ministers. The court, with the altar standing in it, was a hundred cubits square.
Then he led me to the porch of the temple; the jamb on either side was five cubits deep, and the width of the gate three cubits on either side; the porch itself was twenty cubits long and eleven broad. As we climbed up the eight steps to it, there were columns facing us, one on either side.
So he brought me into the temple, between pillars that were six cubits square by tabernacle measure. The door was ten cubits across, the recess behind the doorway five cubits on either side; the whole length of the outer temple was forty cubits, and the width twenty. Then he went into the inner sanctuary, measuring the doorway, two cubits thick, the door, six cubits across, and the width of the recess behind the doorway, seven cubits. Each side had the length of the side next to the outer temple, twenty cubits. This, said he, is the innermost sanctuary.
Then he measured the temple wall, which was six cubits thick; it was flanked all round by rooms four cubits square. There were sixty of these rooms, in three storeys one on the top of another; and their upper storeys jutted out all round the temple wall, but keeping apart from it; the temple wall must not be touched. And there was a round staircase which went up in a spiral to this upper loft of the temple building, which projected outwards for that very reason; there was thus an easy passage from the lower to the middle, and from the middle to the upper storey. The building, I saw, was all raised above the ground; the rod shewed that the ground level of the rooms was six cubits up. The rooms were at a distance of five cubits beyond the temple wall, and they enclosed it all round; and there was a close of twenty cubits width between these and a line of parlours which flanked the temple. The doors of the inner rooms let out, to north and south, on a praying-walk, five cubits in width, which ran round the temple.
Round this again was the close of twenty cubits, and beyond that, on the west, a pavilion seventy cubits by ninety, with a wall five cubits thick. He shewed me that the temple was a hundred cubits long; the close with the pavilion beyond it, including its walls, a hundred cubits long; the eastern face of the temple, with the close on each side of it, a hundred cubits long; and the breadth from side to side of the pavilion beyond the close (with its galleries) a hundred cubits long...
... and the inner sanctuary, and the halls that gave on to the courtyard, the doorways, the slanting windows, the galleries that went round on three sides, over the several doorways; all were completely panelled in wood. The panelling ran right up to the windows, which it framed, right up to the top level of the doorway; ran all the way round to meet the inner sanctuary, keeping the same height within and without it. The design was of alternate cherubs and palm-trees, and each cherub had two faces, shewing like a man towards one palm-tree and like a young lion towards the other; the same pattern ran all through the building, carved cherubs and palm-trees on each wall from ground level to the height of the door's lintel.
The entrance of the temple stood square, facing the inner sanctuary; facing the altar, which was of wood, three feet high, and two feet across; corners and slab and sides were all of wood. This, he told me, is the table that stands in the Lord's presence. Outer temple, inner sanctuary, had two doors each; and either door had leaves that folded together, two leaves on each door, with the same pattern of cherubs and palm-trees that the walls had.
To match this, the outer porch was faced with thick beams reaching up to the level of the slanting windows; thick beams figured with palm-trees in either recess... matching the width of the rooms and of the temple walls.
Then he took me into the outer court again, the northern part of it, and would have me enter the parlours that lay there, close to the pavilion and to the northern side of the temple. The long side of them, facing the north door, was a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty; between the twenty-cubit close of the inner court, and the paving of the outer, they rose, gallery upon gallery, three storeys in all. In front of them was a walk ten cubits wide, encroaching on the inner court by one cubit; all their doors faced the north. Here, the top rooms were narrower, since they must make room for porticos at the side, built out over the two lower storeys; these three-storeyed parlours had no columns in front of them, like the parlours in the outer court, but made up for it by porticos that rose from the roof of the first two floors, filling in the width of the fifty cubits. Inner parlours faced outer only with fifty cubits of their wall's length; in the outer court, the parlours were but fifty cubits long, whereas those beside the temple were a hundred. These inner parlours were entered from below at their eastern end, from the outer court. ... in the thickness of the court's eastern wall... opposite the pavilion, and here too there were parlours close to the pavilion. Southern parlours, like northern, had a walk in front of them; had the same length and breadth, were entered by doors of the same kind; the doors of these parlours opened on a walk along their southern side, and the main entrance was approached at the eastern end, from the walk that faced the hall and the close. These parlours, he told me, built to north and south beside the pavilion, are hallowed precincts, where the priests who sacrifice to the Lord may eat what is set apart for holy uses. All that is set apart, all the offerings made for fault and for wrong done, shall there be laid out, as on holy ground. Nor, entering it, shall the priests leave it for the inner court all at once; here they must lay aside their vestments, for these, too, are hallowed, and put on other clothes before ever they mingle with the people.
With that, he made an end of measuring the precincts within, and led me through the eastern doorway, to measure them from without. Along the eastern side his reed measured five hundred cubits; five hundred cubits along the northern side, and five hundred cubits along the southern; westwards, too, the measure of it was five hundred cubits. All round the four quarters of the wind he would measure it, five hundred cubits in length as in breadth, this boundary between things sacred and things profane.
Then he took me to the eastern gate; and all at once, from the sun's rising, the bright presence of the God of Israel made entry there. Like the sound of waters in deep flood his voice was, and earth was lit up with the splendour all around. Such was the appearance I had seen of him, when he came bent on the city's destruction, when I saw my vision by the banks of Chobar; down fell I, face to earth. In it came through the eastern gateway, the splendour of the Lord himself; and with that, a transport seized me, carrying me off into the inner court, where already the brightness of the Lord's presence filled the temple. Thence it was I heard his voice speaking to me; and the man who stood at my side passed on the message.
Son of man, he told me here is my throne; here eternally, in the heart of Israel, is my resting-place. No more shall Israel's folk, Israel's kings, drag my name in the dust with their infidelities, with the dead gods they served, with their hill-sanctuaries. Door next to door of mine, pillar to pillar, only a wall between us; and for the foul doings that dragged my name in the dust, my vengeance took full toll of them. Bid they those infidelities, those dead gods farewell, I will make my eternal home here in the midst of them. Yours, son of man, to shame the men of Israel by the sight of yonder temple; who measures the fabric of it, shall learn to blush for his misdeeds. Form and fashion of the temple, gates that lead in and out, all the plot of it do you make known to them; and what observances they are that govern the ordering of it. All this they must see in writing, and so learn to keep its pattern ever unaltered, its laws ever to fulfil. Would you know what the temple's charter is? No part of the mountain top that lies within its bounds but is my inmost sanctuary; that, nothing less, is the charter of the temple. These measurements the altar had, measured by the true cubit, that is the width of a fore-arm and a palm; first came a gutter, of a cubit's depth and a cubit's width, ending in a lip a span broad all round; thus the altar was drained. Above this gutter, which was at ground level, came the lower base, two cubits high and a cubit across; the upper base rose four cubits above it, and was again a cubit wide. The altar proper was four cubits high, with four horns projecting above it, and the sides of it were square, twelve cubits by twelve. The base was also square, fourteen cubits by fourteen, and had a projecting rim half a cubit across; the groove under this was a cubit in height. The steps of the altar faced eastwards...
Son of man, he told me, when the altar is set up, ready for burnt-sacrifice and for blood-sprinkling, these ceremonies the Lord God would have you observe. A young bullock the priests must have, those priests of Sadoc's line that are my true ministers, for a transgression-victim. Horns of the altar, and the four corners of its base, and the rim round about it, you shall smear with the victim's blood, to cleanse them and purge them of fault, then take the victim itself to a place apart, beyond the temple precincts, and there burn it. Next day, the transgression-victim shall be a male kid, without blemish; with this, as with the calf, the altar must be purged; and when the purging is over, bullock and ram must be offered, these too without blemish; when they have been brought into the Lord's presence, and the priests have sprinkled them with salt, they must be given to the Lord in burnt-sacrifice. Each day, for seven days, goat and bullock and ram must be offered, all unblemished; purged and cleansed and hallowed the altar must be for seven days, and when these are over, on the eighth day and ever afterwards, the priests may use it for burnt-sacrifice and welcome-offering of yours, and I will look favourably on you, the Lord God says.
Then he brought me back to the eastern gate of the outer precincts, that was fast shut. Shut this gate must ever be, the Lord told me, nor open its doors to give man entrance again, since the Lord, the God of Israel, entered by it. Access to it is none, even for the prince himself; sit there he may, to eat his share of the welcome-offering, but it is through the hall at the other end of the gateway he comes and goes. And so he took me towards the northern gate, in full view of the temple; and all the temple was filled with the brightness of the Lord's presence, a sight that brought me to my knees, face to earth. Give good heed, son of man, the Lord said to me; the open eye, the open ear! Rule and observance of the Lord's house I mean to tell you; of the temple, and who may approach it, of my sanctuary, and the manner of leaving it.
This message deliver, from the Lord God, to the rebel brood of Israel: Will you never have done with insult, men of Israel, letting alien folk, that in mind and body circumcision have none, profane my house by entering the sanctuary? What avails it, to offer me bread, and fat, and blood, when all the while these foul doings of yours violate my covenant? The sacred charge committed to you went for nothing; guardians of my own worship, in my own sanctuary, should be men of your choosing! Place the alien may have, though body and mind be both uncircumcised, in the commonwealth of Israel, the Lord says; place in my sanctuary he has none. There be Levites that have forsaken the following of me, when all the race of Israel went a-straying; that have betaken themselves to false gods, and must needs do penance for their fault. What forbids they should be sacrists and door-keepers of mine, temple attendants to prepare burnt-sacrifice, slay victim, and stand ministering in the people's presence? Ministers of false worship, that betrayed Israel into guilt, they have made me their sworn enemy, and must be held to account for it; never may they come before me as priests, never touch consecrated gift that is set apart for holy uses; disgraced they must needs be, penance must needs bear; yet I would have them keep the doors of my house, and be charged with all the menial offices that belong to it.
The priests, the true Levites, shall be those sons of Sadoc that held fast by my temple worship when Israel left the following of me. Theirs to come forward as my ministers; theirs to wait upon my presence, offering me fat and blood of victims, the Lord God says; theirs my sanctuary to enter, my table to approach, servants of mine that shall keep the charge I gave them. Come they within the inner gate, they shall be all vested in linen nothing of wool shall clothe them, when they serve me in the intimacy of the inner court; mitres of linen on their brows, breeches of linen about their loins, with no such habiting as may bring them out in a sweat. These vestments of office they must lay aside, and put away in the temple sacristy, when they go out to mingle with the people in the outer court; that holy contact is not for common folk; it is time they put on their workaday clothes instead.
They shall be at pains to cut their hair, not grow it long; yet cropped their heads must not be. As for wine, a priest may not drink it when he is soon to enter the sanctuary. Wed he, it must be a maid he weds, of Israelite birth; not rejected wife or widow, save it be the widow of another priest. Their office it is, to teach the people what is clean and unclean, what is holy and what profane; when dispute arises, to take their place at my judgement-seat and give award; my feasts with due rite and ordinance to observe, my sabbaths to keep holy. Never shall they defile themselves with dead body's contact, save only it be father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unwedded sister of theirs. Cleansed though he be after such contact, a priest must wait for seven days yet, nor enter the inner court to do service in my sanctuary, the Lord God says, till he has made an offering in amends for his fault. And for the priestly tribe, it must have no patrimony assigned to it; I am their patrimony, nor needs he portion, whose portion is his God. Bloodless offering they shall eat, and the victim that is offered for a fault or a wrong done; theirs every gift an Israelite vows to me, theirs the first of all first-fruits, and the residue of all you offer; and the first batch of your baking you must give to the priest, to win his blessing for you and yours. Bird or beast that drops dead, or has been a wild thing's prey, the priest may not eat.
When you set about the allotment of your territory, one strip you must leave out, twenty-five thousand cubits by ten thousand, a hallowed strip of land that is to be the Lord's peculiar, all the length and breadth of it hallowed. (Hallowed entirely one plot in it shall be, a square plot of five hundred cubits each way, with fifty cubits space for approach all about it.) Within the Lord's domain, a space of twenty-five thousand cubits by ten thousand, surrounding temple and sanctuary, must be measured out as dedicated to the priests, that serve the sanctuary and worship in the Lord's presence; this shall be their home, this their sacred enclosure. And for the Levites that serve the temple another like space is to be measured out; twenty cells they shall have there. Marching with the sacred enclosure, there shall be a strip of twenty-five thousand cubits by five thousand, where the common folk of Israel shall have their city and their city's lands. And at either end of the enclosure, and of the city lands, the prince shall have his domains, adjoining either end, and stretching away to west and east as far as each of the tribal allotments stretches westwards and eastwards. He shall enjoy his own possessions on Israelite soil; there shall be no more encroaching on the public rights; each tribe shall be given its own territory, to have and to hold.
Will you never have enough, princes of Israel? the Lord God says. Must it always be wrong and robbery, never right and redress? Right of king and right of people he bids you determine once for all. Let us have true scales, a true ephi, a true bate; let ephi and bate match, a tenth part of a cor either of them; by the standard of the cor they shall be measured. Let twenty obols go to the sicle, twice twenty sides and fifteen besides go to the mina. And so let these be the tithings you pay; a sixth of an ephi for every cor of wheat or barley, and a tenth of a bate for every cor of oil, tenth of bate or hundredth of cor, since the cor is to measure ten bates; and one ram you must contribute out of every two hundred that feed in Israel's pasture-lands. That each may pay his scot, for bloodless offering or burnt-sacrifice or welcome-offering, the Lord says, this tax the whole land of Israel owes to its prince. And he, on Israel's behalf, shall defray the cost of burnt-sacrifice, and bloodless offering, and libation, on feast-day and new moon and sabbath, whenever the folk of Israel keep holiday; transgression-victim, and burnt-sacrifice and welcome-offering, he must provide them all.
On the first day of the year, the Lord God says, the sanctuary must have a calf, without blemish, sacrificed for its purging. Door-posts of the temple, corners of the altar's base, door-posts of the inner court, the priest shall smear with blood of the transgression-victim. And the like must be done again on the seventh day of that month, for faults committed unwittingly, through inadvertence; and so the temple shall be purged clean. On the fourteenth day of the first month you will keep the paschal feast, and for a week eat bread without leaven. On the feast itself, the prince must provide a calf, in amends for fault of his own, fault of his people; and every day during the week seven calves and seven rams without blemish; every day, too, a goat for a transgression-victim; with each ram or goat a bushel of flour, and with each bushel of flour a gallon and a half of oil. The same provision he must make, of transgression-victim, burnt-sacrifice, bloodless offering, and oil, for the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and its week of holiday.
Eastern gate of the inner court, the Lord God says, must be shut on the six working days, open on the sabbath; on the day of the new moon, too, it shall be opened. When it is opened, the prince shall come in by way of the outer hall, and wait in the entrance till the priests have done presenting burnt-sacrifice of his, welcome-offering of his; there on the threshold he shall do reverence, and go his ways, but the gate shall not be shut after him, not till the evening. On sabbath days, and when the moon is new, before this gate the people also shall do reverence. Six lambs and a ram, without blemish, are the prince's burnt-sacrifice to the Lord every sabbath, with a bushel of flour for the ram and for the lambs what bloodless offering he will; and of oil a gallon and a half to the bushel. And when the moon is new, the same victims, and a bullock besides, unblemished as they; with the bullock, too, a bushel goes as bloodless offering, and the rest shall be as before. Through the outer hall of the gateway the prince comes and goes; but on feast-days, when a great throng comes into the Lord's presence, they must enter by one gate and leave by the opposite, from north to south or south to north, and the prince, that worships in their midst, shall enter and leave as they. And for the bloodless offering, come feast-day, come holiday, it shall be made as aforesaid. Will the prince make burnt-sacrifice or welcome-offering of his own free will, the eastern gate shall be opened for him, as on the sabbath, till burnt-sacrifice or welcome-offering is done; but when he goes out, the gate shall be shut behind him. And there shall be daily burnt-sacrifice; morning by morning he shall offer one of that year's lambs, unblemished; of flour, morning by morning, the sixth part of a bushel, and half a gallon of oil mingled with it; ever this blood-less offering is the Lord's due, continual and unalterable. Lamb and flour and oil, morning by morning, an eternal sacrifice.
If the prince will make a gift of land to sons of his, the Lord God says, their patrimony it is, held by right of inheritance; crown lands he cannot alienate to any of his servants beyond the year of jubilee, when they must needs return to him; the crown lands are entailed upon his sons. And at no time shall he rob the people by violence of their rightful patrimony; if he will endow his sons, out of his own patrimony let him do it; my people must not be disinherited.
And now he took me through an entry close by the side of the gate, which led to the northern row of priests' rooms round the sanctuary. Where this reached its western end, there was a kitchen, which the priests used, he told me, to boil the flesh of victims for a fault or a wrong done, to bake the bloodless offering. They must not be carried out into the courtyard; such holy contact was not for the people. Afterwards he took me into the outer court, round all the corners of it in turn, and shewed me that there was a little garth in each of them; no corner but had its garth; in each, there was a space of forty cubits by thirty, perfectly matched. The wall enclosed them, and here, under an open roof, kitchens were built. These kitchens, he told me, were used by the temple attendants for cooking the welcome-offerings made by the people.
And last, he took me to the door of the temple itself, and shewed me where a stream of water flowed eastwards from beneath the threshold of it. Eastward the temple looked, and eastward these waters flowed, somewhat to the temple's right, so as to pass by the southern side of the altar. Through the northern gate he led me, and round the walk that passed the outer gate, taking the eastern sun; and here to the right of the gate, the water gushed out. Eastward then he faced, the man of the measuring-rod; measured a thousand cubits, and led me across a stream that reached my ankles. Another thousand, and when I crossed the stream it reached my knees; another thousand, and it was up to my waist, another thousand, and now it had become a torrent I might not cross any longer, so high the waters had swelled, out of my depth. Mark it well, son of man, said he; and with that he brought me out on to the bank again; when I reached it, I found that there were trees growing thick on either hand.
This stream, he told me, must flow eastward to the sand-dunes, and so fall into the desert; pass into the Dead Sea and beyond it, cleansing those waters by its passage. Wherever it flows, there shall be teeming life once again; in the Dead Sea itself there will be shoals of fish, once this stream has reached it, this stream that heals all things and makes all things live. Fisher-folk will line the shores of it, and there will be drying of nets all the way from Engaddi to Engallim, and fish there will be in great shoals, varied in kind as the ocean fish are. Only the swamps and marshes about it there is no cleansing; these shall turn into salt-pits. And on either bank of the stream fruit-trees shall grow of every kind; never leaf lost, never fruit cast; month after month they shall yield a fresh crop, watered by that sanctuary stream; fruit for man's eating, and medicinal leaves.
This message, too, the Lord God has for you, about the frontiers of the territory you are to divide among the twelve tribes; twelve, because Joseph must have a double portion. I promised it to your fathers long ago; This land, I told them, shall be allotted to you. And you must allot it among yourselves in equal shares. These are to be its boundaries on the north; from Hethalon, on the Great Sea, across the pass which leads to Sedada and Emath, by Berotha and Sabarim (where Emath marches with Syria) and Hazar Tichon (near the Hauran country) to the Syrian frontier-town of Hazar Enan, its extreme limit inland. Ever northward it stretches, this northern frontier of yours, till it reaches Emath. The eastern frontier is to be drawn between Hauran and what is now Syria, between Galaad and Israel proper, down the line of the Jordan to the Dead Sea. Towards the south and the noon-day sun, the line stretches from Thamar to the Waters of Challenge at Cades, then follows the Brook of Egypt to the sea; and on the west, it runs straight from the Egyptian border to the Emath pass. All this territory must be apportioned between the tribes of Israel; then you will divide it up among yourselves. Aliens will have their share in it, such aliens as have thrown in their lot with yours and bred amongst you; native Israelites you shall count them, and allot them their portions in this tribe or that. Amidst the tribe which has given him shelter, each shall find a home, the Lord God says.
And here is a list of the tribal domains. First Dan, with its northern frontier on a line from Hethalon, across the Emath pass, to the Syrian frontier-town of Hazar Enan, and marching with Emath all the way; its eastern limit ... the sea. Next, stretching from Israel's eastern frontier to the sea, Aser; next, in like manner, Nephthali; next, in like manner, Manasses; next, in like manner, Ephraim; next, in like manner, Ruben; next, in like manner, Juda.
Next, in like manner, comes the strip of dedicated land you are to set apart; in breadth, twenty-five thousand cubits, in length, stretching from Israel's frontier to the sea like the rest; and in the heart of it, the sanctuary. The Lord's own domain will be twenty-five thousand cubits by ten thousand; and in this holy plot, measuring twenty-five thousand cubits north and south, ten thousand cubits east and west, the priests are to dwell, with the sanctuary in their midst. Priests, I say, of Sadoc's line, that held fast by my observances and never went a-straying with strayed Israel, as the other Levites did; first-fruit of the first-fruits their domain shall be, the domain of the Levites marching with it. This neighbouring strip will be of the same size, twenty-five thousand cubits by ten thousand; sell their land they may not, nor exchange it; the consecrated ground is unalienable. The remaining strip of five thousand cubits breadth shall be for city's buildings and city's lands; the city itself standing in the middle; north, south, east and west it shall measure four thousand five hundred cubits; north, south, east and west it shall have purlieus two hundred and fifty cubits deep. In length, it will fall short of the Lord's domain by ten thousand cubits on the east, and as much on the west; but this remaining space will be city lands, like the sanctuary lands, growing food for the needs of labouring men in the city; these shall have the right to cultivate it, come they from what tribe they will. All the length and breadth of this square of territory, twenty-five thousand cubits either way, shall be sanctuary enclosure and city lands; beyond this square of sanctuary and city, all that is left of the dedicated domain, eastwards to the Jordan and westwards to the sea, shall belong to the prince; the hallowed plot that surrounds the temple shall divide his lands in two. Royal lands and Levite lands shall march with Juda, royal lands and city lands with Benjamin.
For the rest of the tribes, Benjamin comes first, stretching from Israel's frontier on the east to the sea on the west; next, in like manner, Simeon; next, in like manner, Issachar; next, in like manner, ZabuIon; next, in like manner, Gad. Gad shall be the southernmost, facing the noon-day sun, with a frontier running from Thamar to the Waters of Challenge at Cades, and along the Brook to the Great Sea. Such shall be the territory allotted to Israel's tribes, the Lord God says, and thus allotted they shall be.
And these are the city's limits; on the north side, measure four thousand five hundred cubits; and here (for all must be named after Israel's tribes) are three gates named after Ruben, Juda and Levi. As many on the east, and here are gates named after Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan. As many on the south, and here are gates named after Simeon, Issachar and Zabulon. As many on the west, and here are gates named after Gad, Aser and Nephthali. The whole circumference is one of eighteen thousand cubits. THE LORD IS THERE; such is the name by which the city will be known ever after.