The Bible – Old Testament
In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me there.
I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man.[a] From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal.
1 Spirit lifted me up in the air and brought me in divine visions to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate, where stood the statue of jealousy which stirs up jealousy.
And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.
2 He said to me: Son of man, look toward the north! I looked toward the north and saw northward of the gate the altar of the statue of jealousy.
Son of man, he asked me, do you see what they are doing? Do you see the great abominations that the house of Israel is practicing here, so that I must depart from my sanctuary? But you shall see still greater abominations!
Then he brought me to the entrance of the court, where I saw there was a hole in the wall.
Son of man, he ordered, dig through the wall. I dug through the wall and saw a door.
Enter, he said to me, and see the abominable evils which they are doing here.
3 I entered and saw that all around upon the wall were pictured the figures of all kinds of creeping things and loathsome beasts (all the idols of the house of Israel).
Before these stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel, among whom stood Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, each of them with his censer in his hand, and the fragrance of the incense was rising upward.
Then he said to me: Do you see, son of man, what each of these elders of the house of Israel is doing in his idol room? They think: “The LORD cannot see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.”
He continued: You shall see still greater abominations that they are practicing.
4 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the temple, and I saw sitting there the women who were weeping for Tammuz.
Then he said to me: Do you see this, son of man? You shall see other abominations, greater than these!
5 Then he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and there at the door of the LORD’S temple, between the vestibule and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the LORD’S temple and their faces toward the east; they were bowing down to the sun.
6 Do you see, son of man? he asked me. Is it such a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the abominable things they have done here – for they have filled the land with violence, and again and again they have provoked me – that now they must also put the branch to my nose?
Therefore I in turn will act furiously: I will not look upon them with pity nor will I show mercy.
1  The statue of jealousy which stirs up jealousy: the statue which provokes the Lord’s jealousy for his honor. This was probably the statue of the goddess Asherah erected by the wicked King Manasseh (cf ⇒ 2 Kings 21:7; ⇒ 2 Chron 33:7, ⇒ 15). Though it had been removed by King Josiah (⇒ 2 Kings 23:6), it had no doubt been set up again in the repaganizing of Jerusalem that followed on Josiah’s death.
2  He: an angel accompanies Ezekiel in these visions and represents the voice of the Lord; cf ⇒ Ezekiel 40:3-4.
3  Creeping things and loathsome beasts: probably Egyptian deities, which were represented in animal form. During the last days of Jerusalem King Zedekiah was allied with Egypt, trusting in it for protection against the Chaldeans.
4  Weeping for Tammuz: the withering of trees and plants in autumn was thought to be due to the descent of Tammuz, the Babylonian god of fertility, to the nether world of the dead; this descent was bewailed by the women.
5  Bowing down to the sun: sun worship had been made an important part of Judahite idolatry by the impious kings; cf ⇒ 2 Kings 23:11.
6  Put the branch to my nose: the meaning is uncertain. Perhaps it refers to an Egyptian practice imported into Judah: the Egyptian sun god Re is pictured with a vine branch at his nose, signifying the transfer of creative power (divine breath) to living things. Such rites were abominable to the Lord.