Translation commentary on Ezekiel 27:9

The elders of Gebal and her skilled men were in you, caulking your seams: These two lines list those who maintained and repaired the “ship” of Tyre. Good News Translation calls them the “ship’s carpenters.” They were the elders of Gebal and her skilled men, that is, the respected leaders and skilled workers of Gebal. For elders see 8.1; for skilled men, see the previous verse. Gebal was a town, better known as “Byblos” (Good News Translation, Contemporary English Version, New International Reader’s Version, New Century Version, Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch), about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Tyre. Caulking your seams refers to putting something like tar in the holes and cracks of the ship to make it watertight so that water will not seep in and cause it to sink. Translators may need a footnote to explain caulking your seams. A model for these two lines is “The men who sealed the boat with tar so it wouldn’t sink [or, who kept the boat in good condition] were experienced and skillful workers from Byblos.”

All the ships of the sea with their mariners were in you, to barter for your wares: These two lines interrupt the picture of Tyre as a ship and refers to Tyre the city. All the ships of the sea refers to ships from all over the world. New American Bible says “Every ship … on the sea.” Their mariners are the “sailors” (New International Version) or “crews” (New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh) of the ships. In you refers to Tyre, or its harbor. To barter for your wares means to do business with you. New Century Version says “to trade with you.” Translators may render these two lines as “Ships from all over the world with their sailors came into your harbor to trade with you.”

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 28:6

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: This line introduces how God will punish the king of Tyre in verses 6-10a. For the prophetic formula thus says the Lord GOD, see Ezek 28.2. This line may be rendered “So this is what I, the Lord GOD, say” (similarly New Century Version).

Because you consider yourself as wise as a god: See the comments on Ezek 28.2. Before God actually outlines the way he will punish the king, he reminds the hearers of the sin, even though he returned to this theme at the end of verse 5. Such repetition is not unusual in Ezekiel. This line may be rendered “You consider yourself as wise as a god. Because of this….”

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 29:15

It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms means Egypt will be “the weakest kingdom of all” (Good News Translation; similarly New Century Version). For lowly see the previous verse.

And never again exalt itself above the nations means Egypt will not become powerful again. This clause may be rendered “and it will never again consider itself more powerful [or, important] than the other nations” or “and it will never again rule other nations” (New Century Version; similarly Good News Translation).

And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations: God will make sure that Egypt will never become powerful again by making the Egyptians so weak politically that they will never control other nations again. In this context the Hebrew word for small does not mean physically little, but “[politically] weak” (New International Version, New International Reader’s Version, New Century Version) or “unimportant” (Good News Translation). But the fact that the Hebrew, followed by Revised Standard Version, changes from the singular pronouns It/itself (that is, Egypt) to the plural pronouns them/they (that is, the Egyptians) in this verse suggests that a better rendering for small may be “few [in number]” (Revised English Bible, New American Bible). Either interpretation is acceptable. One model for this sentence is “I will make them so unimportant that they will never again rule over other nations.”

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 30:26

And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries: See verse 23 and 29.12.

Then they will know that I am the LORD: See verses 8 and 25.

A model that combines verses 23-26 is:

• I will give the king of Babylonia strong arms and I will put my sword in his hand so he can attack Egypt. But I will break the arms of Pharaoh so they will fall useless to his side. He won’t be able to help Egypt. He will cry out in pain like a dying man before the king of Babylonia. When I give strength to the king of Babylonia, he will defeat Egypt and scatter the people to live in exile in all the other countries. Then the people of Egypt will know that I am Yahweh.”

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 32:15

When I make the land of Egypt desolate: For make the land … desolate, see the comments on 6.14. For this clause New Living Translation has “And when I destroy Egypt,” New Century Version says “When I make the land of Egypt empty,” and Contemporary English Version translates “Egypt will become a barren wasteland.”

And when the land is stripped of all that fills it: The Hebrew verb rendered is stripped comes from the same root as the noun for desolation. New Century Version provides a good model for this clause, saying “and [I] take everything that is in the land.”

When I smite all who dwell in it may be rendered “and I kill all those who live there” (similarly New Century Version). This clause and the previous two summarize what has been said in the prophecy.

Then they will know that I am the LORD: The total destruction of Egypt will make the Egyptians recognize and acknowledge God. It will be helpful in some languages to make it explicit that the pronoun they refers to the Egyptians by rendering this clause as “Then the people of Egypt will know that I am Yahweh.”

A model for this verse is:

• I will destroy the land of Egypt. I will take away everything in the land and leave it empty. I will kill everyone who lives there. Then at that time they will know that I am Yahweh.

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 33:17

Yet your people say: Again God quotes what the Israelites are saying. Yet renders well the Hebrew waw conjunction (literally “And”), since it introduces a surprising response of the people. Other good connectors here are “But” (New Jerusalem Bible) and “In spite of that” (New International Reader’s Version).

The way of the Lord is not just: This quotation is the same as in 18.25 (see the comments there). The people feel that it is unfair for God to disregard all the good things a person has done, even though that person has later turned to evil, and they also feel it is wrong for God not to punish wicked people, just because they have turned away from evil. The way of the Lord refers to the way God treats people. It may be rendered “What the Lord does” (similarly Good News Translation). The Lord does not render the personal name of God but the Hebrew word ʾadonai, which means “chief” or “boss.” The Hebrew expression rendered not just refers to something that does not measure up against a standard. Some translations say “unfair” (Contemporary English Version) or “not fair” (New Century Version, New King James Version , New American Bible), which fits perfectly in the people’s charge against God, but is less appropriate for the later part of the verse. “Isn’t right” (Good News Translation) fits both parts of the verse better. Translators may use indirect discourse here by beginning this verse with “However, your people accuse me of not doing the right thing” (similarly Good News Translation, Contemporary English Version).

When it is their own way that is not just is God’s answer to the people’s accusation that he doesn’t do what is right (compare 18.25). The emphatic Hebrew expression here (literally “And they, their way is not right”) challenges and contradicts the people’s belief. They are the ones who do what is wrong. When is better translated “But” (Contemporary English Version, New International Reader’s Version, New Century Version) or “No” (Good News Translation). This clause may be rendered “But in fact, it is what they do that is not right.”

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 34:17

As for you, my flock: God now turns his attention to the whole community of his people. A flock is a group of sheep that feed together or belong together (see the comments on Ezek 34.2, where the Hebrew word for flock is rendered “sheep”). In languages that do not have a similar word, translators may use “sheep” (New Jerusalem Bible).

Thus says the Lord GOD: See the comments on Ezek 34.2 for this prophetic formula.

For Behold see verse 10.

I judge between sheep and sheep, rams and he-goats: From now on, God, not the bad leaders, will administer justice within the community and judge the disputes and legal cases that arise between members of the community. For the Hebrew verb rendered judge, most translators use the future tense (for example, Good News Translation with “I will judge…”), but it could also be a timeless verb, showing the sort of thing God always does (for example, “I am one [or, the sort of person] who judges…”). Different languages have various ways of expressing this. The Hebrew word for sheep refers to individual animals of the flock; they may be sheep or goats (see Ezek 34.2). Translators need to be careful not to revert to the traditional picture of the last judgment in Matt 25.31-46, which describes God judging the good people and the bad people under the picture of separating the sheep from the goats (as, for example, Good News Translation and New Living Translation do). Here God is just judging one sheep against another, one goat against another. Rams are male sheep and he-goats are billy goats, that is, male goats. These are mentioned because they are bigger and stronger than the other sheep and goats, and so are more likely to use their strength to mistreat others. Revised Standard Version implies that God will judge them along with the sheep and goats, and this is possible. But a better interpretation is that these male sheep and goats are singled out as the ones being addressed in the next two verses. Therefore translators may render the last half of this verse as “I’m going to judge between one animal and another. The rams and the billy goats 18 …” (similarly New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh).

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

Translation commentary on Ezekiel 36:3

Therefore prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: In this verse God gives another message to Ezekiel for the mountains of Israel. The connector therefore introduces this additional message as a response to what Israel’s enemies were saying. For prophesy see Ezek 36.1; for Thus says the Lord GOD, see Ezek 36.2.

Because, yea, because they made you desolate …: The rest of this verse gives another reason for the action God is about to take against Israel’s enemies. Because, yea, because renders an emphatic logical connector in Hebrew (compare Anchor Bible “For the very good reason that”), which most translations do not try to reflect (so Good News Translation, Contemporary English Version). However, it is important for translators to make this causal link explicit in some way. The pronoun they refers to Israel’s enemies. They made you desolate means they destroyed the land of Israel (see 25.3). New Century Version says “They have made you an empty ruin,” and Contemporary English Version has “They ruined … you.”

And crushed you from all sides: The Hebrew verb for crushed has the idea of “trample down [under foot]” (similarly Revised English Bible). New Living Translation uses the verb “attacked.” From all sides is not to be taken literally; this figurative expression shows that there was no way in which the land of Israel could have avoided defeat. In some languages it may be better to reverse the order of this clause and the previous one by saying “your enemies attacked you from all directions and destroyed you.”

So that you became the possession of the rest of the nations …: The rest of this verse gives two results of Israel’s defeat. First, other nations took over the land. The rest of the nations refers to neighboring countries, such as Ammon and Edom, that were not defeated and destroyed by the Babylonians. This clause may be rendered “So other nations took over your land” (similarly New International Reader’s Version).

And you became the talk and evil gossip of the people: This is the second result of Israel’s defeat. You became the talk renders a vivid expression in Hebrew, which is literally “you have been taken up on the lip of the tongue,” meaning that everyone was talking about the mountains of Israel. Christian Community Bible says “you became the subject of talk,” and New International Reader’s Version has “People talked about you.” Evil gossip (also Moffatt; similarly Jerusalem Bible/New Jerusalem Bible, Christian Community Bible) renders well the Hebrew word here. Other possible renderings are “slander” (New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, New Living Translation), “lies” (New International Reader’s Version), and “jibes” (New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh). The Hebrew word for people does not refer to any specific people here but is a general term that means people in general, people anywhere and everywhere. Revised English Bible translates evil gossip of the people as “common gossip,” and Anchor Bible has “popular defamation.” Some translations take this “malicious talk and slander” (New International Version) in the sense of “made fun of” (Good News Translation, Contemporary English Version, Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch). In those cultures where this might be understood as light-hearted joking, this interpretation is not appropriate. An acceptable model for this whole clause is “and you became the object of much mocking and slander” (similarly New Living Translation).

A model for this verse that avoids the connector Because at the beginning of the sentence is:

• Therefore give the mountains my message and say to them, ‘Here is what the Lord Yahweh says: “Your enemies attacked you from all directions and made your land an empty ruin, with the result that the rest of the nations took over your land. You also became what people talked about and told lies about. Because your enemies did that….

Quoted with permission from Gross, Carl & Stine, Philip C. A Handbook on Ezekiel. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2016. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .