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2. The persistent unfaithfulness of Judah proves the necessity of judgment

(14:1—19:14). The mention of elders sitting before Ezekiel indicates a minor break. The

topic turns to a demonstration of the reasonableness, indeed the necessity, of such an

unthinkable act of judgment. The nation’s practice of idolatry (14:1–11) is tantamount to

marital unfaithfulness between Yahweh and His bride Israel, whom He had rescued and

beautified (16:1–59). This unfaithfulness had not been merely incidental but persistent

throughout the nation’s history (14:12–23), necessitating the desolation of the land

(15:8). Once again, such severe treatment is not without hope. Yahweh promises to

establish an everlasting covenant with them (16:60–63) and eventually set Messiah-King6

over them (17:22–24), though in the immediate future they will be subdued by a king of

judgment to whom they must submit (17:1–21). Though this judgment will affect all, it

will not be unfair (18:1–32) since each individual will live or die for his or her own

deeds. To highlight the failure of the leaders, perhaps as a way of pointing to the need for

the ideal King, Ezekiel is instructed to take up a funeral dirge for the princes of Israel

(19:1–14).

B. Ezekiel confirms Judah’s judgment as unavoidable (20:1—23:49).

This is a major break, having both a date indicator and reference to the elders

inquiring of the Lord and sitting before Ezekiel. It occurs eleven months after the shat-

tering of their false confidence in the temple’s inviolability. During this hiatus, Egypt had

begun to reassert itself and Zedekiah was rebelling against Babylon. Perhaps hope in

Egypt’s regaining of sovereignty over Palestine was the substance of their inquiry, which

6

Ibid., 58-59.

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