The Prophet a Watchman. 1Thus the word of the LORDcame to me: 2Son of man, speak thus to your countrymen: When I bring the sword against a country, and the people of this country select one of their number to be their watchman, 3and the watchman, seeing the sword coming against the country, blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4anyone hearing but not heeding the warning of the trumpet and therefore slain by the sword that comes against him, shall be responsible for his own death. 5He heard the trumpet blast yet refused to take warning; he is responsible for his own death, for had he taken warning he would have escaped with his life. 6But if the watchman sees the sword coming and fails to blow the warning trumpet, so that the sword comes and takes anyone, I will hold the watchman responsible for that person's death, even though that person is taken because of his own sin.
7 h Ez 3, 17 . You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. 8If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he [the wicked man] shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. 9But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
Individual Retribution. 10As for you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel: You people say, “Our crimes and our sins weigh us down; we are rotting away because of them. How can we survive?” 11 i Ez 18, 23–32 . Answer them: As I live, says the Lord GOD,I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man's conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, O house of Israel?
12As for you, son of man, tell your countrymen: The virtue which a man has practiced will not save him on the day that he sins; neither will the wickedness that a man has done bring about his downfall on the day that he turns from his wickedness [nor can the virtuous man, when he sins, remain alive]. 13Though I say to the virtuous man that he shall surely live, if he then presumes on his virtue and does wrong, none of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong he has done, he shall die. 14And though I say to the wicked man that he shall surely die, if he turns away from his sin and does what is right and just, 15giving back pledges, restoring stolen goods, living by the statutes that bring life, and doing no wrong, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16None of the sins he committed shall be held against him; he has done what is right and just, he shall surely live.
17Yet your countrymen say, “The way of the LORD is not fair!”; but it is their way that is not fair. 18When a virtuous man turns away from what is right and does wrong, he shall die for it. 19But when a wicked man turns away from wickedness and does what is right and just, because of this he shall live. 20 j Ez 18, 25 . And still you say, “The way of the LORD is not fair!”? I will judge every one of you according to his ways, O house of Israel.
The Fugitive from Jerusalem.* 21On the fifth day of the tenth month, in the twelfth year of our exile, the fugitive came to me from Jerusalem and said, “The city is taken!” 22The hand of the LORDhad come upon me the evening before the fugitive arrived, and he opened my mouth when the fugitive reached me in the morning. My mouth was opened, and I was dumb no longer.
The Survivors in Judah.* 23Thus the word of the Lord came to me: 24Son of man, they who live in the ruins on the land of Israel reason thus: “Abraham, though but a single individual, received possession of the land; we, therefore, being many, have as permanent possession the land that has been given to us.” 25Give them this answer: Thus says the Lord GOD: You eat on the mountains, you raise your eyes to your idols, you shed blood—yet you would keep possession of the land? 26You rely on your sword, you do abominable things, each one of you defiles his neighbor's wife—yet you would keep possession of the land? 27Tell them this: Thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, those who are in the ruins I swear shall fall by the sword; those who are in the open field I have given to the wild beasts for food; and those who are in fastnesses and in caves shall die by the plague. 28I will make the land a desolate waste, so that its proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will cross them. 29Thus they shall know that I am the LORD, when I make the land a desolate waste because of all the abominable things they have done.
The Prophet's False Popularity. 30As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking about you along the walls and in the doorways of houses. They say to one another, “Come and hear the latest word that comes from the LORD.”* 31My people come to you as people always do; they sit down before you and hear your words, but they will not obey them, for lies are on their lips and their desires are fixed on dishonest gain. 32For them you are only a ballad singer, with a pleasant voice and a clever touch. They listen to your words, but they will not obey them. 33But when it comes—and it is surely coming!—they shall know that there was a prophet among them.