The prophet – watchman of the people
1 The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: Imagine that I bring the sword against a country, and the people of that country choose one among them to be their sentry. 3 When this man sees the sword ap proach the land, he shall sound the trumpet to warn the people; 4 then if any one hears the trumpet and does not heed the warning he shall be responsible for his own death, 5 but the man who gave the warning will save his life. 6 On the other hand when the sentry sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, the peo ple are not warned and some are killed. In that case I will hold the sentry responsible and he will answer for the victims’ death.
7 For your part, son of man, I have set you as a watchman for Israel, and when you hear my word, you must give them my warning. 8 When I say to the wicked: ‘Wicked man, you shall die for sure,’ if you do not warn the wicked man to turn from his ways, he will die because of his sin, but I will also call you to account for his blood. 9 If you warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you yourself will be saved.
10 Son of man, you know the people of Israel say: ‘We are wasting away because of our sin, and our wrongdoing is weighing us down. How can we live?’ 11 Say to them: As I live, word of Yahweh, I do not want the wicked to die but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! turn from your wicked ways! Why, O Israel, should you die?
12 You, son of man, say to your people: The righteous life of the upright will not save him on the day he turns to sin and the wicked man will not be bound to his wickedness on the day he turns from his evil ways; likewise for the up right: he will die. 13 When I have said to the righteous: ‘You will live,’ if he takes advantage of his righteousness to do evil, his former up right life will not be remembered; the evil he is doing will make him die. 14 And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will certainly die,’ but he then turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 gives back what he took as a pledge on a loan, restores what he has stolen, obeys the decrees that are life- giving and avoids evil, he will live, he will not die. 16 His life in sin will no longer be held against him. He has done what is just and right and because of that he will live.
17 Yet your people say, ‘The position of the Lord is not just.’ On the contrary it is theirs that is wrong. 18 The upright man who turns from what is just and right and does evil, shall die; 19 and the wicked man who turns from evil to do what is just and right shall live! 20 Though you say: ‘The Lord’s position is wrong,’ I will judge you, Israel, each one according to his ways.”
21 On the fifth day of the tenth month in the eleventh year of our exile, a fugitive arrived from Jerusalem to tell me: “The city has fallen.”
22 Now the hand of Yahweh had been on me the evening before the arrival of the fugitive. When I met him in the morning, Yahweh opened my mouth. My tongue was loosened and no longer was I silent.
23 The word of Yahweh then came to me in these terms, 24 “Son of man, those who remain among the ruins in the land of Israel reckon: ‘Abraham was alone when he received the land as a possession; we are still numerous enough and it is to us that the country has been given.’
25 But you will say to them: thus says Yahweh: You eat food with blood, you look towards idols, you shed blood, and you want to possess the land! 26 You lean on your sword, you do what is detestable, each one dishonors his neigh bor’s wife and yet you want to possess the land!
27 Say to them: This is the word of Yahweh: As I live, those who settled among the ruins will fall by the sword; those in the open country I will give as food to the beasts and those in strongholds and caves shall die of the plague. 28 I will make the country a wasteland, a lonely place. They will no longer lean on their power and the mountains of Israel shall be deserted with no one crossing them. 29 Then they will know that I am Yahweh when I make their country a lonely waste because of all the detestable things they have done.
30 Son of man, your people talk about you along the walls and at the doors of the houses, each one with his neighbor: ‘Come and hear the latest word of Yahweh.’
31 They go to you as they go to an as sembly and sit in front of you. They listen to your words but do not do what you say. Instead they con tinue to lie and look only for their own interest. 32 For them you are no more than a singer of lovesongs – a beautiful voice accompanied by beautiful music. They listen but do not practice what they hear.
33 But when what is foretold comes true – and it is about to happen – they will know that there was a prophet among them.”