Ezekiel 33:7-11

Ezekiel 33:7-11
Ordinary A41


So you, mortal,A I have made a sentinelB for the houseC of Israel;D whenever you hearE a wordF from my mouth, you shall give them warningG from me. 

Notes on verse 7

A “mortal” = ben + adam. Literally “son of man.” Adam is perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
B “sentinel” = tsaphah. This is to look out, look around, spy watchman, sentinel. It is leaning out to look far away. So it is to await or observe.
C “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.       
D “Israel” = yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
E “hear” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
F “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
G “give…warning” = zahar. This is to be a light, shine, or gleam. Figuratively, it can refer to enlightening, warning, or teaching. It is to teach by giving caution.

If I say to the wicked,H “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,”I and you do not speakJ to warn the wicked to turn from their ways,K

Notes on verse 8a

H “wicked” = rasha. This is to be wicked, guilty, make trouble, do wrong. It can also be condemn, guilty, inflict punishment. This verb implies disturbing or violating.
I “surely die” = mut + mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
J “speak” = dabar. Related to “word” in v7. See note F above.
K “ways” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.

the wicked shall die in their iniquity,L but their bloodM I will requireN at your hand.O 

Notes on verse 8b

L “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
M “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
N “require” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
O “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

But if you warn the wicked to turnP from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have savedQ your life.R

Notes on verse 9

P “turn” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
Q “saved” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
R “life” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

10 Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressionsS and our sinsT weigh upon us, and we waste awayU because of them; how then can we live?”V 

Notes on verse 10

S “transgressions” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
T “sins” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.
U “waste away” = maqaq. 10x in OT. This is to melt, decay, wear away, or waste away. Figuratively, it could be to corrupt, flow, or vanish.
V “live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.

11 Say to them, As I live,W saysX the LordY God,Z I have no pleasureAA in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evilBB ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Notes on verse 11

W “live” = chay. Related to “live” in v10. From chayah (see note V above). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
X “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
Y “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
Z “God” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
AA “have…pleasure” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
BB “evil” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.

Image credit: “Prophets from the Ferapontov Monastery – Prophets Aaron, Gideon, and Ezekiel” from the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, circa 1502.

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