TORAH
FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES
NEVI'IM
PROPHETS
KETUVIM
WRITINGS

Ezekiel 20

1In the seventh year, on the tenth day of the fifth month, certain elders of Yisrael came to inquire of Hashem, and sat down before me.

אוַיְהִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִית בַּחֲמִשִׁי בֶּעָשׂוֹר לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּאוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת־יְהֹוָה וַיֵּשְׁבוּ לְפָנָי׃

2And the word of Hashem came to me:

בוַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃

3O mortal, speak to the elders of Yisrael and say to them: Thus said Hashem: Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live, I will not respond to your inquiry—declares Hashem.

גבֶּן־אָדָם דַּבֵּר אֶת־זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הֲלִדְרֹשׁ אֹתִי אַתֶּם בָּאִים חַי־אָנִי אִם־אִדָּרֵשׁ לָכֶם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃

4Arraign, arraign them, O mortal! Declare to them the abhorrent deeds of their fathers.

דהֲתִשְׁפֹּט אֹתָם הֲתִשְׁפּוֹט בֶּן־אָדָם אֶת־תּוֹעֲבֹת אֲבוֹתָם הוֹדִיעֵם׃

5Say to them: Thus said Hashem: On the day that I chose Yisrael, I gave My oath to the stock of the House of Yaakov; when I made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I gave my oath to them. When I said, “I Hashem am your God,”

הוְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה בְּיוֹם בָּחֳרִי בְיִשְׂרָאֵל וָאֶשָּׂא יָדִי לְזֶרַע בֵּית יַעֲקֹב וָאִוָּדַע לָהֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וָאֶשָּׂא יָדִי לָהֶם לֵאמֹר אֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם׃

6that same day I swore to them to take them out of the land of Egypt into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land which I had sought out for them, the fairest of all lands.

ba-YOM ha-HU na-SA-tee ya-DEE la-HEM l'-ho-tzee-AM may-E-retz mitz-RA-yim el E-retz a-sher TAR-tee la-HEM za-VAT kha-LAV ud-VASH tz'-VEE HEE l'-khol ha-a-ra-TZOT

ובַּיּוֹם הַהוּא נָשָׂאתִי יָדִי לָהֶם לְהוֹצִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֶל־אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־תַּרְתִּי לָהֶם זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ צְבִי הִיא לְכָל־הָאֲרָצוֹת׃

 20:6 The fairest of all lands

A spotted deer in Golan Heights

Eretz Yisrael is described here as ‘fair’ or ‘beautiful,’ in Hebrew tzvi (צבי). The word tzvi also means ‘deer,’ which prompts the Talmud (Ketubot 112a) to compare the Land of Israel to the skin of a deer (see also Daniel 11:16 where the Land of Israel is referred to as eretz ha-tzvi, ‘the beautiful land’). Just as deerskin stretches to fit over the body of the deer but shrinks when removed, so do the physical borders of Eretz Yisrael stretch to fit its Jewish inhabitants, but shrink when they are exiled from the land. Perhaps a deeper message can be applied for Israel’s inhabitants as well. Unlike other places in the world, the inhabitants of Israel must “stretch” themselves morally and spiritually to appreciate the holiness of the Land of the Deer, “the fairest of all lands.”

7I also said to them: Cast away, every one of you, the detestable things that you are drawn to, and do not defile yourselves with the fetishes of Egypt—I Hashem am your God.

זוָאֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ שִׁקּוּצֵי עֵינָיו הַשְׁלִיכוּ וּבְגִלּוּלֵי מִצְרַיִם אַל־תִּטַּמָּאוּ אֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם׃

8But they defied Me and refused to listen to Me. They did not cast away the detestable things they were drawn to, nor did they give up the fetishes of Egypt. Then I resolved to pour out My fury upon them, to vent all My anger upon them there, in the land of Egypt.

חוַיַּמְרוּ־בִי וְלֹא אָבוּ לִּשְׁמֹעַ אֵלַי אִישׁ אֶת־שִׁקּוּצֵי עֵינֵיהֶם לֹא הִשְׁלִיכוּ וְאֶת־גִּלּוּלֵי מִצְרַיִם לֹא עָזָבוּ וָאֹמַר לִשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם לְכַלּוֹת אַפִּי בָּהֶם בְּתוֹךְ אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃

9But I acted for the sake of My name, that it might not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they were. For it was before their eyes that I had made Myself known to Yisrael to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

טוָאַעַשׂ לְמַעַן שְׁמִי לְבִלְתִּי הֵחֵל לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר־הֵמָּה בְתוֹכָם אֲשֶׁר נוֹדַעְתִּי אֲלֵיהֶם לְעֵינֵיהֶם לְהוֹצִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃

10I brought them out of the land of Egypt and I led them into the wilderness.

יוָאוֹצִיאֵם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וָאֲבִאֵם אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּר׃

11I gave them My laws and taught them My rules, by the pursuit of which a man shall live.

יאוָאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת־חֻקּוֹתַי וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַי הוֹדַעְתִּי אוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם׃

12Moreover, I gave them My Shabbatot to serve as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that it is I Hashem who sanctify them.

יבוְגַם אֶת־שַׁבְּתוֹתַי נָתַתִּי לָהֶם לִהְיוֹת לְאוֹת בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיהֶם לָדַעַת כִּי אֲנִי יְהֹוָה מְקַדְּשָׁם׃

13But the House of Yisrael rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not follow My laws and they rejected My rules—by the pursuit of which a man shall live—and they grossly desecrated My Shabbatot. Then I thought to pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness and to make an end of them;

יגוַיַּמְרוּ־בִי בֵית־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּחֻקּוֹתַי לֹא־הָלָכוּ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַי מָאָסוּ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַי חִלְּלוּ מְאֹד וָאֹמַר לִשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר לְכַלּוֹתָם׃

14but I acted for the sake of My name, that it might not be profaned in the sight of the nations before whose eyes I had led them out.

ידוָאֶעֱשֶׂה לְמַעַן שְׁמִי לְבִלְתִּי הֵחֵל לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִים לְעֵינֵיהֶם׃

15However, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the fairest of all lands, which I had assigned [to them],

טווְגַם־אֲנִי נָשָׂאתִי יָדִי לָהֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר לְבִלְתִּי הָבִיא אוֹתָם אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַתִּי זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ צְבִי הִיא לְכָל־הָאֲרָצוֹת׃

16for they had rejected My rules, disobeyed My laws, and desecrated My Shabbatot; their hearts followed after their fetishes.

טזיַעַן בְּמִשְׁפָּטַי מָאָסוּ וְאֶת־חֻקּוֹתַי לֹא־הָלְכוּ בָהֶם וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתוֹתַי חִלֵּלוּ כִּי אַחֲרֵי גִלּוּלֵיהֶם לִבָּם הֹלֵךְ׃

17But I had pity on them and did not destroy them; I did not make an end of them in the wilderness.

יזוַתָּחָס עֵינִי עֲלֵיהֶם מִשַּׁחֲתָם וְלֹא־עָשִׂיתִי אוֹתָם כָּלָה בַּמִּדְבָּר׃

18I warned their children in the wilderness: Do not follow the practices of your fathers, do not keep their ways, and do not defile yourselves with their fetishes.

יחוָאֹמַר אֶל־בְּנֵיהֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּחוּקֵּי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם אַל־תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפְּטֵיהֶם אַל־תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּבְגִלּוּלֵיהֶם אַל־תִּטַּמָּאוּ׃

19I Hashem am your God: Follow My laws and be careful to observe My rules.

יטאֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בְּחֻקּוֹתַי לֵכוּ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַי שִׁמְרוּ וַעֲשׂוּ אוֹתָם׃

20And hallow My Shabbatot, that they may be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I Hashem am your God.

כוְאֶת־שַׁבְּתוֹתַי קַדֵּשׁוּ וְהָיוּ לְאוֹת בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיכֶם לָדַעַת כִּי אֲנִי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם׃

21But the children rebelled against Me: they did not follow My laws and did not faithfully observe My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live; they profaned My Shabbatot. Then I resolved to pour out My fury upon them, to vent all My anger upon them, in the wilderness.

כאוַיַּמְרוּ־בִי הַבָּנִים בְּחֻקּוֹתַי לֹא־הָלָכוּ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַי לֹא־שָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם אֶת־שַׁבְּתוֹתַי חִלֵּלוּ וָאֹמַר לִשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם לְכַלּוֹת אַפִּי בָּם בַּמִּדְבָּר׃

22But I held back My hand and acted for the sake of My name, that it might not be profaned in the sight of the nations before whose eyes I had led them out.

כבוַהֲשִׁבֹתִי אֶת־יָדִי וָאַעַשׂ לְמַעַן שְׁמִי לְבִלְתִּי הֵחֵל לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹתָם לְעֵינֵיהֶם׃

23However, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the lands,

כגגַּם־אֲנִי נָשָׂאתִי אֶת־יָדִי לָהֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר לְהָפִיץ אֹתָם בַּגּוֹיִם וּלְזָרוֹת אוֹתָם בָּאֲרָצוֹת׃

24because they did not obey My rules, but rejected My laws, profaned My Shabbatot, and looked with longing to the fetishes of their fathers.

כדיַעַן מִשְׁפָּטַי לֹא־עָשׂוּ וְחֻקּוֹתַי מָאָסוּ וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתוֹתַי חִלֵּלוּ וְאַחֲרֵי גִּלּוּלֵי אֲבוֹתָם הָיוּ עֵינֵיהֶם׃

25Moreover, I gave them laws that were not good and rules by which they could not live:

כהוְגַם־אֲנִי נָתַתִּי לָהֶם חֻקִּים לֹא טוֹבִים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים לֹא יִחְיוּ בָּהֶם׃

26When they set aside every first issue of the womb, I defiled them by their very gifts—that I might render them desolate, that they might know that I am Hashem.

כווָאֲטַמֵּא אוֹתָם בְּמַתְּנוֹתָם בְּהַעֲבִיר כָּל־פֶּטֶר רָחַם לְמַעַן אֲשִׁמֵּם לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יֵדְעוּ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי יְהֹוָה׃

27Now, O mortal, speak to the House of Yisrael and say to them: Thus said Hashem: By this too your fathers affronted Me and committed trespass against Me:

כזלָכֵן דַּבֵּר אֶל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל בֶּן־אָדָם וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה עוֹד זֹאת גִּדְּפוּ אוֹתִי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם בְּמַעֲלָם בִּי מָעַל׃

28When I brought them to the land that I had sworn to give them, and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, they slaughtered their sacrifices there and presented their offensive offerings there; there they produced their pleasing odors and poured out their libations.

כחוָאֲבִיאֵם אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת־יָדִי לָתֵת אוֹתָהּ לָהֶם וַיִּרְאוּ כָל־גִּבְעָה רָמָה וְכָל־עֵץ עָבֹת וַיִּזְבְּחוּ־שָׁם אֶת־זִבְחֵיהֶם וַיִּתְּנוּ־שָׁם כַּעַס קָרְבָּנָם וַיָּשִׂימוּ שָׁם רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחֵיהֶם וַיַּסִּיכוּ שָׁם אֶת־נִסְכֵּיהֶם׃

29Then I said to them, “What is this shrine which you visit?” (Therefore such [a shrine] is called bamah to this day.)

כטוָאֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם מָה הַבָּמָה אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם הַבָּאִים שָׁם וַיִּקָּרֵא שְׁמָהּ בָּמָה עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃

30Now say to the House of Yisrael: Thus said Hashem: If you defile yourselves as your fathers did and go astray after their detestable things,

ללָכֵן אֱמֹר אֶל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הַבְּדֶרֶךְ אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם אַתֶּם נִטְמְאִים וְאַחֲרֵי שִׁקּוּצֵיהֶם אַתֶּם זֹנִים׃

31and if to this very day you defile yourselves in the presentation of your gifts by making your children pass through the fire to all your fetishes, shall I respond to your inquiry, O House of Yisrael? As I live—declares Hashem—I will not respond to you.

לאוּבִשְׂאֵת מַתְּנֹתֵיכֶם בְּהַעֲבִיר בְּנֵיכֶם בָּאֵשׁ אַתֶּם נִטְמְאִים לְכָל־גִּלּוּלֵיכֶם עַד־הַיּוֹם וַאֲנִי אִדָּרֵשׁ לָכֶם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי־אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אִם־אִדָּרֵשׁ לָכֶם׃

32And what you have in mind shall never come to pass—when you say, “We will be like the nations, like the families of the lands, worshiping wood and stone.”

לבוְהָעֹלָה עַל־רוּחֲכֶם הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים נִהְיֶה כַגּוֹיִם כְּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאֲרָצוֹת לְשָׁרֵת עֵץ וָאָבֶן׃

33As I live—declares Hashem—I will reign over you with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with overflowing fury.

לגחַי־אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אִם־לֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְחֵמָה שְׁפוּכָה אֶמְלוֹךְ עֲלֵיכֶם׃

34With a strong hand and an outstretched arm and overflowing fury I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered,

לדוְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִן־הָעַמִּים וְקִבַּצְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מִן־הָאֲרָצוֹת אֲשֶׁר נְפוֹצֹתֶם בָּם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְחֵמָה שְׁפוּכָה׃

35and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples; and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.

להוְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם אֶל־מִדְבַּר הָעַמִּים וְנִשְׁפַּטְתִּי אִתְּכֶם שָׁם פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים׃

36As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you—declares Hashem.

לוכַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁפַּטְתִּי אֶת־אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם בְּמִדְבַּר אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם כֵּן אִשָּׁפֵט אִתְּכֶם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃

37I will make you pass under the shepherd's staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.

לזוְהַעֲבַרְתִּי אֶתְכֶם תַּחַת הַשָּׁבֶט וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם בְּמָסֹרֶת הַבְּרִית׃

38I will remove from you those who rebel and transgress against Me; I will take them out of the countries where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Yisrael. Then you shall know that I am Hashem.

לחוּבָרוֹתִי מִכֶּם הַמֹּרְדִים וְהַפּוֹשְׁעִים בִּי מֵאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵיהֶם אוֹצִיא אוֹתָם וְאֶל־אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָבוֹא וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהֹוָה׃

39As for you, O House of Yisrael, thus said Hashem: Go, every one of you, and worship his fetishes and continue, if you will not obey Me; but do not profane My holy name any more with your idolatrous gifts.

לטוְאַתֶּם בֵּית־יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוִה אִישׁ גִּלּוּלָיו לְכוּ עֲבֹדוּ וְאַחַר אִם־אֵינְכֶם שֹׁמְעִים אֵלָי וְאֶת־שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי לֹא תְחַלְּלוּ־עוֹד בְּמַתְּנוֹתֵיכֶם וּבְגִלּוּלֵיכֶם׃

40For only on My holy mountain, on the lofty mount of Yisrael—declares Hashem—there, in the land, the entire House of Yisrael, all of it, must worship Me. There I will accept them, and there I will take note of your contributions and the choicest offerings of all your sacred things.

מכִּי בְהַר־קָדְשִׁי בְּהַר מְרוֹם יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה שָׁם יַעַבְדֻנִי כָּל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כֻּלֹּה בָּאָרֶץ שָׁם אֶרְצֵם וְשָׁם אֶדְרוֹשׁ אֶת־תְּרוּמֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת־רֵאשִׁית מַשְׂאוֹתֵיכֶם בְּכָל־קָדְשֵׁיכֶם׃

41When I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands in which you are scattered, I will accept you as a pleasing odor; and I will be sanctified through you in the sight of the nations.

b'-RAY-akh nee-KHO-akh er-TZEH et-KHEM b'-ho-tzee-EE et-KHEM min ha-a-MEEM v'-ki-batz-TEE et-KHEM min ha-a-ra-TZOT a-SHER n'-fo-tzo-TEM BAM v'-nik-dash-TEE va-KHEM l'-ay-NAY ha-go-YIM

מאבְּרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ אֶרְצֶה אֶתְכֶם בְּהוֹצִיאִי אֶתְכֶם מִן־הָעַמִּים וְקִבַּצְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מִן־הָאֲרָצוֹת אֲשֶׁר נְפֹצֹתֶם בָּם וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בָכֶם לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם׃

20:41 When I bring you out from the peoples and gather you 

President Yitzchak Ben-Zvi (1884-1963)

Having already lived in exile, the prophet Yechezkel describes the future miraculous ingathering of the exiles, a miraculous event our generation has been privileged to witness. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1884 – 1963), historian, Zionist leader and the second President of Israel, reflected on the role of the State in this biblical promise: “The ingathering of the exiles is the most central and lofty ideal of this country. The redemptive reestablishment of Israel – this is a complete revolution in the annals of our days, in the chronicles of our entire nation. It serves as a counterweight, opposing our destruction and our extended exile.”  For 2,000 years, Jews pondered the “When?” of these events, and Yitzchak Ben Zvi’s founding generation of Zionists dealt with the question of “How?” – how could they enable the process to succeed?  Now, it is our generation’s mission to ask the next question: “Why?” – Why is it that we have merited to witness, and be involved in, such wondrous episodes? The key to appreciating our present day opportunities, and the path to enhancing our future lies in seeking these answers and working towards their fulfillment.

42Then, when I have brought you to the land of Yisrael, to the country that I swore to give to your fathers, you shall know that I am Hashem.

מבוִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בַּהֲבִיאִי אֶתְכֶם אֶל־אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת־יָדִי לָתֵת אוֹתָהּ לַאֲבוֹתֵיכֶם׃

43There you will recall your ways and all the acts by which you defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves for all the evils that you committed.

מגוּזְכַרְתֶּם־שָׁם אֶת־דַּרְכֵיכֶם וְאֵת כָּל־עֲלִילוֹתֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר נִטְמֵאתֶם בָּם וּנְקֹטֹתֶם בִּפְנֵיכֶם בְּכָל־רָעוֹתֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר עֲשִׂיתֶם׃

44Then, O House of Yisrael, you shall know that I am Hashem, when I deal with you for My name's sake—not in accordance with your evil ways and corrupt acts—declares Hashem.

מדוִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בַּעֲשׂוֹתִי אִתְּכֶם לְמַעַן שְׁמִי לֹא כְדַרְכֵיכֶם הָרָעִים וְכַעֲלִילוֹתֵיכֶם הַנִּשְׁחָתוֹת בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃