Ezekiel 34

Ezekiel 34:1

 וַיְהִ֥י דְבַר־יְהוָ֖ה אֵלַ֥י לֵאמֹֽר׃

and the word of YHWH was to me, saying

Paraphrase:  Then I received another message from YHWH.  


In translation, לֵאמֹר is a set of quotation marks.

Ezekiel 34:2

 בֶּן־אָדָ֕ם הִנָּבֵ֖א עַל־רֹועֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל הִנָּבֵ֣א וְאָמַרְתָּ֩ אֲלֵיהֶ֨ם לָהַרֹעִ֜ים כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֣ר׀ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה הֹ֤וי רֹעֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הָיוּ֙ רֹעִ֣ים אֹותָ֔ם הֲלֹ֣וא הַצֹּ֔אן יִרְע֖וּ הָרֹעִֽים׃

Son of man, prophesy to the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, to the shepherds, “Thus says Lord YHWH.  Woe the shepherds of Israel who are shepherding themselves.  Why aren’t the shepherds shepherding the flock? 

Paraphrase:  Ezekiel, my servant.  I am YHWH, the Great King and you are a weak human person.  This is the word which I am now giving you and which I expect you to bring to the Shepherds of Israel.  The word for them is a word of judgment and woe, and the point at issue is this:  why aren’t they shepherding my people?


The nifal of נבא has an active meaning “to prophesy”; see here.

The verb וְאָמַרְתָּ continues the imperative mood from הִנָּבֵא; see here.

Ewald writes:

These words [I am YHWH], considered as to their outward form, serve only to mark the declaration as spoken by Jahveh himself; but, considered as to their inner meaning, they flow out of that strong simple feeling, according to which the true Prophet announces what he receives not humanly, but divinely. In the earliest times this feeling was most direct and powerful, so that the human being seemed wholly to disappear in presence of the God who spoke through him; and the language corresponded with the feeling, expressing in the strongest way that God alone spoke, and spoke moreover strictly as God, that is simply commanding; wherefore the irresistible power of his word was announced by the expression ‘I am Jahveh,’ either preceding or closing it.”   source

Note the judgment oracle using the interjection הֹוי.

Ezekiel 34:3

 אֶת־הַחֵ֤לֶב תֹּאכֵ֙לוּ֙ וְאֶת־הַצֶּ֣מֶר תִּלְבָּ֔שׁוּ הַבְּרִיאָ֖ה תִּזְבָּ֑חוּ הַצֹּ֖אן לֹ֥א תִרְעֽוּ׃

You are eating the fat and the wool you are wearing.  The fat sheep you are slaughtering.

Paraphrase:  I will now present my case against you, oh shepherds.  You are leading my people, not for their benefit but for your own.  You want to extract as much from them for your own personal gain as possible.  Just as a shepherd might feed his sheep simply so he can feast on the choicest cuts of meat or spin their wool into clothes for himself.  The fatter the animal or the more prime the meat, the more you slaughter them and feast on them.  You don’t really care about the sheep; you only care about how much you can gain from them. 


Notice the word order here with “fat” and “wool” out front for emphasis; see §46 The Syntax of Word Order in Van der Merwe.

Ezekiel 34:4

 אֶֽת־הַנַּחְלֹות֩ לֹ֨א חִזַּקְתֶּ֜ם וְאֶת־הַחֹולָ֣ה לֹֽא־רִפֵּאתֶ֗ם וְלַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת לֹ֣א חֲבַשְׁתֶּ֔ם וְאֶת־הַנִּדַּ֙חַת֙ לֹ֣א הֲשֵׁבֹתֶ֔ם וְאֶת־הָאֹבֶ֖דֶת לֹ֣א בִקַּשְׁתֶּ֑ם וּבְחָזְקָ֛ה רְדִיתֶ֥ם אֹתָ֖ם וּבְפָֽרֶךְ׃

those who were made sick, you have not strengthened and the ill you have not healed and to those who were broken you have not bound up and those who were driven away you did not cause to return and those caused to perish you did not seek out.  Instead, with strength you ruled them and with cruelty.

Paraphrase:  When any of my sheep caught a disease, you did nothing to bring them back to full strength again.  In fact, you were the cause of the disease in the first place.  When any of my sheep were weak or ill, you didn’t lift a finger to get them to a doctor.  Some of my people were broken in spirit, and you didn’t set their broken bones or do anything to relieve them.  Some of My sheep were driven away by your tyranny, and you did not try to bring them back from their defenseless position.  Other of my sheep who fled your tyranny were lost in the wilderness and had nowhere to go.  You did not go out looking for them; you let them perish in their misery.  The people that were still living, you ruled with an iron fist and with great cruelty.


Notice again the word order; see §46 The Syntax of Word Order in Van der Merwe.

הַנַּחְלֹות is nifal which should be passive.  Hence, my translation of “those who were made sick.”   source

Similarly with הָאֹבֶדֶת which is hifil and hence my translation of “those caused to perish”; see the same form in Job 14:19.

וְלַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת has four prefixes on it.  The vav is the conjunction, the lamed is a preposition, the ה is the article (note the patah), and the nun is the nifal prefix.  The article has elided; see here.

Ezekiel 34:5

 וַתְּפוּצֶ֖ינָה מִבְּלִ֣י רֹעֶ֑ה וַתִּהְיֶ֧ינָה לְאָכְלָ֛ה לְכָל־חַיַּ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה וַתְּפוּצֶֽינָה׃

They were scattered with no shepherd and they are food to all the animals of the field and they are scattered.

Paraphrase:  My people were scattered far and wide as they fled your tyranny.  Imagine my people roaming a strange and hostile country like sheep in the wide country being prey to every wolf and predatory animal that might discover them.  They had no shepherd; no one to protect them; no one to lead them out of this miserable situation.  They were scattered to the four winds and in this dreadful situation many of them perished in fear and despair.


וַתְּפוּצֶינָה is a hollow verb; see here.

מִבְּלִי is from the verb בלה with the preposition min;  see here.

Ezekiel 34:6

 יִשְׁגּ֤וּ צֹאנִי֙ בְּכָל־הֶ֣הָרִ֔ים וְעַ֖ל כָּל־גִּבְעָ֣ה רָמָ֑ה וְעַ֨ל כָּל־פְּנֵ֤י הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ נָפֹ֣צוּ צֹאנִ֔י וְאֵ֥ין דֹּורֵ֖שׁ וְאֵ֥ין מְבַקֵּֽשׁ׃

The flock wandered over all the mountains and on all high hills and on all the face of the land my flock was scattered.  No one enquired; no one searched. 

Paraphrase:  To the mountains and steep hills, my people fled as they desperately ran away from your cruelty.  Indeed, there is hardly a place in the entire land where they did not attempt to flee as refugees.  And what about their shepherds?  What about those whom I had placed over my people and given them the responsibility to care for them?  What were they doing as my people wandered about in despair?  Alas, can it really be?  No one went looking for them; no one even asked where they might be.


Ezekiel 34:7

 לָכֵ֣ן רֹעִ֔ים שִׁמְע֖וּ אֶת־דְּבַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃

Therefore, oh shepherds, hear the word of YHWH:

Paraphrase:  Have you heard all this, oh shepherds?  Now prepare to hear my verdict.


לָכֵן according to BDB, is common in the prophets and often used to introduce a divine declaration after the grounds for for such a declaration have been announced.  source  That’s certainly the case here.

Ezekiel 34:8

 חַי־אָ֜נִי נְאֻ֣ם׀ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה אִם־לֹ֣א יַ֣עַן הֱיֹֽות־צֹאנִ֣י׀ לָבַ֡ז וַתִּֽהְיֶינָה֩ צֹאנִ֨י לְאָכְלָ֜ה לְכָל־חַיַּ֤ת הַשָּׂדֶה֙ מֵאֵ֣ין רֹעֶ֔ה וְלֹֽא־דָרְשׁ֥וּ רֹעַ֖י אֶת־צֹאנִ֑י וַיִּרְע֤וּ הָֽרֹעִים֙ אֹותָ֔ם וְאֶת־צֹאנִ֖י לֹ֥א רָעֽוּ׃ ס

by My life, it is an utterance of Lord YHWH if I do not.  Because my flock became spoil my flock was for food to all the animals of the field because there is no shepherd and the shepherds do not seek the flock and the shepherds do not shepherd them and my flock they do not shepherd. 

Paraphrase: I YHWH, the Great King swear by My own life if what I pronounce here does not come to pass.  First I announce the grounds for this verdict.  The leaders whom I chose and anointed to care for My people are a disgrace.  My people are scattered abroad and at the mercy of anyone who desires to plunder them.  Where are the leaders?  They are busy taking care of their own interests and have no concern for the wellbeing of My people.  In a word, the shepherds do not shepherd.


  • This sentence begins with an oath.  Greenhill writes: “…the sense whereof is this, Let me not be the living God, but be laid aside as some idol or false god, if I do not punish these shepherds which have dealt so with my flock.”   source

  • For אִם־לֹא see §149 Gesenius.

  • יַעַן introduces the reason for YHWH’s verdict; see §150 Gesenius.

  • The preposition מִן is often used to show the cause of a given effect.  Sometimes this usage occurs with a negative as here.  The negative is אַיִן, and it joined with מִן here to make מֵאֵין.  The effect in this verse is the flock being exposed to the predatory animals of the field; the cause is מֵאֵין רֹעֶה.

  • Note the reflexive use of the pronoun in אֹותָם.  The pronoun here can be used with a reflexive meaning, not “them” but “themselves”.   source

Ezekiel 34:9

 לָכֵן֙ הָֽרֹעִ֔ים שִׁמְע֖וּ דְּבַר־יְהוָֽה׃

Therefore, oh shepherds, hear the word of YHWH

Paraphrase:  Now this is the verdict, shepherds, which I announce:


Same as verse 7.

Ezekiel 34:10

 כֹּה־אָמַ֞ר אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֗ה הִנְנִ֨י אֶֽל־הָרֹעִ֜ים וְֽדָרַשְׁתִּ֧י אֶת־צֹאנִ֣י מִיָּדָ֗ם וְהִשְׁבַּתִּים֙ מֵרְעֹ֣ות צֹ֔אן וְלֹא־יִרְע֥וּ עֹ֛וד הָרֹעִ֖ים אֹותָ֑ם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֤י צֹאנִי֙ מִפִּיהֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־תִהְיֶ֥יןָ לָהֶ֖ם לְאָכְלָֽה׃ ס

Thus says Lord YHWH:  “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will ask my flock from their hand, and I will cause them to stop from shepherding the flock and the shepherds will not shepherd themselves again, and I will deliver my flock from their mouth and I will not be for them for food.

Paraphrase:  This is the verdict of the Great King, YHWH:  “I now declare that from this point forward, these shepherds are my enemies.  I summon them to my holy court and demand that they release my people from under the heel of their oppression.  I dismiss them as shepherds over my people.  The days of exploiting my people for their own person gain are over.  I will no longer allow them to tear my people from limb to limb like a hungry pack of dogs tears apart whatever helpless animal they may have caught.


Another reflexive use of the pronoun in אֹותָם as in v8.  The pronoun here can be used with a reflexive meaning, not “them” but “themselves”.   source

Note the defective spelling in תִהְיֶיןָ; there should be a ה on the ending, cf the verb endings.  See also §47L Gesenius.

Ezekiel 34:11

 כִּ֛י כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֖ר אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֑ה הִנְנִי־אָ֕נִי וְדָרַשְׁתִּ֥י אֶת־צֹאנִ֖י וּבִקַּרְתִּֽים׃

Because thus says Lord YHWH, Behold I, even I will seek my flock and search them out.



Ezek 34:12

 כְּבַקָּרַת֩ רֹעֶ֨ה עֶדְרֹ֜ו בְּיֹום־הֱיֹותֹ֤ו בְתֹוךְ־צֹאנֹו֙ נִפְרָשֹׁ֔ות כֵּ֖ן אֲבַקֵּ֣ר אֶת־צֹאנִ֑י וְהִצַּלְתִּ֣י אֶתְהֶ֗ם מִכָּל־הַמְּקֹומֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נָפֹ֣צוּ שָׁ֔ם בְּיֹ֥ום עָנָ֖ן וַעֲרָפֶֽל׃

Ezek 34:13

 וְהֹוצֵאתִ֣ים מִן־הָעַמִּ֗ים וְקִבַּצְתִּים֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲרָצֹ֔ות וַהֲבִיאֹתִ֖ים אֶל־אַדְמָתָ֑ם וּרְעִיתִים֙ אֶל־הָרֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בָּהַאֲפִיקִ֕ים וּבְכֹ֖ל מֹושְׁבֵ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Ezek 34:14

 בְּמִרְעֶה־טֹּוב֙ אֶרְעֶ֣ה אֹתָ֔ם וּבְהָרֵ֥י מְרֹֽום־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יִהְיֶ֣ה נְוֵהֶ֑ם שָׁ֤ם תִּרְבַּ֙צְנָה֙ בְּנָ֣וֶה טֹּ֔וב וּמִרְעֶ֥ה שָׁמֵ֛ן תִּרְעֶ֖ינָה אֶל־הָרֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Ezek 34:15

 אֲנִ֨י אֶרְעֶ֤ה צֹאנִי֙ וַאֲנִ֣י אַרְבִּיצֵ֔ם נְאֻ֖ם אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִֽה׃

Ezek 34:16

 אֶת־הָאֹבֶ֤דֶת אֲבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְאֶת־הַנִּדַּ֣חַת אָשִׁ֔יב וְלַהַנִּשְׁבֶּ֣רֶת אֶחֱבֹ֔שׁ וְאֶת־הַחֹולָ֖ה אֲחַזֵּ֑ק וְאֶת־הַשְּׁמֵנָ֧ה וְאֶת־הַחֲזָקָ֛ה אַשְׁמִ֖יד אֶרְעֶ֥נָּה בְמִשְׁפָּֽט׃

Ezek 34:17

 וְאַתֵּ֣נָה צֹאנִ֔י כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֖ר אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֑ה הִנְנִ֤י שֹׁפֵט֙ בֵּֽין־שֶׂ֣ה לָשֶׂ֔ה לָהַאֵילִ֖ים וְלָהַעַתּוּדִֽים׃

Ezek 34:18

 הַמְעַ֣ט מִכֶּ֗ם הַמִּרְעֶ֤ה הַטֹּוב֙ תִּרְע֔וּ וְיֶ֙תֶר֙ מִרְעֵיכֶ֔ם תִּרְמְס֖וּ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֑ם וּמִשְׁקַע־מַ֣יִם תִּשְׁתּ֔וּ וְאֵת֙ הַנֹּ֣ותָרִ֔ים בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֖ם תִּרְפֹּשֽׂוּן׃

Ezek 34:19

 וְצֹאנִ֑י מִרְמַ֤ס רַגְלֵיכֶם֙ תִּרְעֶ֔ינָה וּמִרְפַּ֥שׂ רַגְלֵיכֶ֖ם תִּשְׁתֶּֽינָה׃ ס

Ezek 34:20

 לָכֵ֗ן כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֛ר אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִ֖ה אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם הִנְנִי־אָ֕נִי וְשָֽׁפַטְתִּי֙ בֵּֽין־שֶׂ֣ה בִרְיָ֔ה וּבֵ֥ין שֶׂ֖ה רָזָֽה׃

Ezek 34:21

 יַ֗עַן בְּצַ֤ד וּבְכָתֵף֙ תֶּהְדֹּ֔פוּ וּבְקַרְנֵיכֶ֥ם תְּנַגְּח֖וּ כָּל־הַנַּחְלֹ֑ות עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁ֧ר הֲפִיצֹותֶ֛ם אֹותָ֖נָה אֶל־הַחֽוּצָה׃

Ezek 34:22

 וְהֹושַׁעְתִּ֣י לְצֹאנִ֔י וְלֹֽא־תִהְיֶ֥ינָה עֹ֖וד לָבַ֑ז וְשָׁ֣פַטְתִּ֔י בֵּ֥ין שֶׂ֖ה לָשֶֽׂה׃

Ezek 34:23

 וַהֲקִמֹתִ֨י עֲלֵיהֶ֜ם רֹעֶ֤ה אֶחָד֙ וְרָעָ֣ה אֶתְהֶ֔ן אֵ֖ת עַבְדִּ֣י דָוִ֑יד ה֚וּא יִרְעֶ֣ה אֹתָ֔ם וְהֽוּא־יִהְיֶ֥ה לָהֶ֖ן לְרֹעֶֽה׃

Ezek 34:24

 וַאֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֶהְיֶ֤ה לָהֶם֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים וְעַבְדִּ֥י דָוִ֖ד נָשִׂ֣יא בְתֹוכָ֑ם אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה דִּבַּֽרְתִּי׃

Ezek 34:25

 וְכָרַתִּ֤י לָהֶם֙ בְּרִ֣ית שָׁלֹ֔ום וְהִשְׁבַּתִּ֥י חַיָּֽה־רָעָ֖ה מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְיָשְׁב֤וּ בַהַמִּדְבָּר֙ לָבֶ֔טַח וְיָשְׁנ֖וּ בַּהַיְּעָרִֽים׃

Ezek 34:26

 וְנָתַתִּ֥י אֹותָ֛ם וּסְבִיבֹ֥ות גִּבְעָתִ֖י בְּרָכָ֑ה וְהֹורַדְתִּ֤י הַגֶּ֙שֶׁם֙ בְּעִתֹּ֔ו גִּשְׁמֵ֥י בְרָכָ֖ה יִֽהְיֽוּ׃

Ezek 34:27

 וְנָתַן֩ עֵ֨ץ הַשָּׂדֶ֜ה אֶת־פִּרְיֹ֗ו וְהָאָ֙רֶץ֙ תִּתֵּ֣ן יְבוּלָ֔הּ וְהָי֥וּ עַל־אַדְמָתָ֖ם לָבֶ֑טַח וְֽיָדְע֞וּ כִּי־אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה בְּשִׁבְרִי֙ אֶת־מֹטֹ֣ות עֻלָּ֔ם וְהִ֨צַּלְתִּ֔ים מִיַּ֖ד הָעֹבְדִ֥ים בָּהֶֽם׃

Ezek 34:28

 וְלֹא־יִהְי֨וּ עֹ֥וד בַּז֙ לַהַגֹּויִ֔ם וְחַיַּ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ לֹ֣א תֹאכְלֵ֑ם וְיָשְׁב֥וּ לָבֶ֖טַח וְאֵ֥ין מַחֲרִֽיד׃

Ezek 34:29

 וַהֲקִמֹתִ֥י לָהֶ֛ם מַטָּ֖ע לְשֵׁ֑ם וְלֹֽא־יִהְי֨וּ עֹ֜וד אֲסֻפֵ֤י רָעָב֙ בָּהַאָ֔רֶץ וְלֹֽא־יִשְׂא֥וּ עֹ֖וד כְּלִמַּ֥ת הַגֹּויִֽם׃

Ezek 34:30

 וְיָדְע֗וּ כִּ֣י אֲנִ֧י יְהוָ֛ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֖ם אִתָּ֑ם וְהֵ֗מָּה עַמִּי֙ בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל נְאֻ֖ם אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִֽה׃

Ezek 34:31

 וְאַתֵּ֥ן צֹאנִ֛י צֹ֥אן מַרְעִיתִ֖י אָדָ֣ם אַתֶּ֑ם אֲנִי֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם נְאֻ֖ם אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִֽה׃ פ



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