And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them. – Ezekiel 25:17
Meaning of Ezekiel 25:17
The meaning of the verse Ezekiel 25:17, “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them,” is that God is protective of His believers, also called children. He remembers those who hurt his children and takes it upon Himself to avenge them on their behalf. The term “furious rebukes” might have been intended to explain and show the severity of his anger and revenge. This verse has also become famous with a twisted version through the film ‘Pulp Fiction’ and remains the most searched verse in pop culture instead of a Biblical perspective.
Interpretations of Ezekiel 25:17
The verse Ezekiel 25:17 might look simple to understand, but it is easy to misinterpret and perceive in different ways, even with the context from the entire chapter. A few interpretations are as follows.
Interpretation #1 God in the Old Testament is always angry
One of the interpretations of the verse, “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes,” is that God is an angry God, especially in the Old Testament. This perspective can come from anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament, as there are numerous instances where God states through His priests and prophets that He will avenge on behalf of His people. The idea might have been to instill fear in the enemies, but the same also makes the readers believe that He is always angry. As the anger was not always directed towards the enemies but also towards Israelites/His children who disobeyed his commands, it confirms that the God in the Old Testament is an angry God.
Interpretation #2 God’s enemies are bound to be dead
A few readers also assume that when God says, “I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD” it means that vengeance is about death as a punishment. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament where God is said to have followed through with His threat, where the enemies were killed in the battle or through diseases. The act of punishing people, nations, or enemies with death was likely because God wanted to create fear in other people and show that He was protective of the nation of Israel and the laws given to them. Thus in this interpretation, the term “furious rebukes” as opposed to admonitions does sound like a death threat.
Interpretation #3 God’s followers and believers don’t have to fight wars
In this interpretation, the meaning of the phrase, “and they shall know that I am the Lord when I shall lay my vengeance upon them,” is that God fights on behalf of His children. He expects and even commands them to step aside. Also, God has mentioned to His children to follow Him in faith, behaving to do anything here. The context of this verse is the Israelites’ war against the Ammonites, which only confirms that God’s followers do not really have to worry while they are fighting wars. Since God promises to avenge them, they can be confident in winning it.
Interpretation #4 God wants His people to see His power
In this version and part of the verse, “they shall know that I am the LORD” can be interpreted as God wanting to establish or display His power to His believers as well as the enemies. The Old Testament has many instances of Israelites’ disobedience, rebellion, and God’s punishment followed by His forgiveness as a cycle. This also means that God had displayed His power to end the cycle. It is possible that Ezekiel 25:17 was solely meant to make people aware of God’s power, strength, and divinity.
Interpretation #5 God’s protection is always with his people during wars
In the background of this chapter, the author reminds his readers that God may discipline His children, but He also defends and protects them from their enemies. The phrase, “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them,” means that God protects them against the enemies and destroys anyone who tries to harm his people. However, it doesn’t mean that the follower must be overconfident or stay still during trying times. While the verse applies to historical wars that were already fought, it applies to any situation when a person is struggling.
Historical Background of Ezekiel 25:17
The book of Ezekiel was written by the well-known prophet Ezekiel, who ministered to Israelites from the years 592 B.C. to 570 B.C. He warned them of the eventual destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Babylon in the year 586 B.C. Ezekiel wrote most of his messages from captivity as one of 10,000 Jews taken by King Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. The verse Ezekiel 25:17 was not only a message of comfort for the Israelites but also a warning to the enemies and nations who wanted to destroy Israel.
Literary devices of Ezekiel 25:17
The verse Ezekiel 25:17 is a strong statement by God and hence holds its own power. This long sentence has some interesting literary devices. The examples are as follows.
Theme – The verse Ezekiel 25:17 uses themes of wrath, vengeance or revenge, and the authority of God.
Repetition – The word ‘vengeance’ is repeated twice in verse Ezekiel 25:17 to emphasize that God does not tolerate disobedience and also protects His children.
Consonance – The verse is not a poem there is a good use of consonance. For example, the sound /t/ and /s/ in ‘And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes’ and the sound of /n/‘when I shall lay my vengeance upon them’.
Ad Hominem – The verse Ezekiel 25:17 uses ad hominem, which means against the man by declaring that He (God) will rebuke them and also punish them for their actions.
Amplification – There is also a good use of ‘amplication’ as the verse ends with repeated phrases to increase its information and also grab the attention of the readers. For example, ‘when I shall lay my vengeance upon them’.