Ezek 21.1-32 gives us a plain explanation of the prophecy of the trees in Chapter 20, with a new one about the sword of the Babylonians. It will refer to the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem and Ammon as well.
v 1…And the word of the Lord came to me saying,
v 2…”Son of man (Ezekiel represents the people when this is used), set your face (concentrate) toward Jerusalem, and speak against the sanctuaries (holy places), and prophesy against the land of Israel;
v 3…and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord (Yehovah), “Behold (see), I am against you; and I shall draw my sword (Babylon) out of its sheath and cut off from you the righteous (the green tree, those with life) and the wicked (dry tree, dead).
v 4…Seeing that I will cut off from among you righteous and wicked alike (some by sword, some by famine, some by pestilence and some by captivity), therefore, my sword will leave its scabbard against all flesh, from the south to the north (20.47).
v 5…That all flesh may know that I am the Lord (Yehovah) has drawn my sword out of its scabbard, it shall not return any more (until all is accomplished-Luke 12.49-53).
v 6…As for you, son of man, groan (sigh) with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan in their sight (as a sign to those in Babylon who would inform those in Jerusalem how he sighed in apprehension about what is coming).
v 7…And it will come about when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ that you will say, ‘Because of the news that is coming; and every heart will melt, all hands will feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it comes and it will happen,’ declares the Lord.
v 8…Again the word of the Lord came to me saying,
v 9…”Son of man, prophesy and say, “Thus says the Lord.’ Say, “A sword, a sword (repeated for emphasis) sharpened and also polished (for use)!
v 10…Sharpened to make a slaughter, polished to flash like lightning (to strike terror into whoever sees it)!’ Or shall we rejoice (saying), the scepter of my son despises all wood (the scepter of every other ruler’s staff was considered bad wood, so Judah thought Nebuchadnezzar will not defeat their king because of the promise given to Jacob in Gen 49.10, “the scepter will not depart from Judah.” But this view will be proven wrong in this case, as we shall see in the next verse)?
v 11…And it (the sword) is given (to Babylon) to be polished that it can be handled (because Judah caused it to be prepared); the sword is sharpened and polished, to give it into the hand of the slayer (to Babylon as judgment on Judah).
v 12…Cry out and wail (howl, indicating the horror that was coming), son of man, for it (the sword) is against my people, it is against the officials (Hebrew “nisi’ay” or princes and rulers) of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with my people, therefore, strike your thigh (as one grieved).
v 13…For a testing (trial); and what if even the despising rod ( of v 10) shall not be (or remain; David’s line, the royal line and family will be cut off)?” declares the Lord.
v 14…You therefore, son of man, prophesy and clap your hands together (in agitation and agony); and let the sword be doubled the third time (the sharpness and edge of the sword is increased with horrible effect), the sword for the slain. It is the sword of the great massacre (literally “corpses upon corpses”) which penetrates to them (it will follow wherever they flee if they get away),
v 15…that their hearts may melt and many fall at their gates. I have given the glittering (flashing) sword (before all the gates). Ah! It is made like lightning, it is wrapped up (sharpened) for slaughter.
v 16…Show yourself (Nebuchadnezzar) sharp (think, concentrate), go to the right; set yourself; go to the left, wherever your edge is destined (Nebuchadnezzar had a decision to make, as he travels south from Babylon. Should he turn to his right towards Jerusalem, or to his left to Rabbah, the capital of Ammon)
v 17…I shall clap my hands together (with Nebuchadnezzar) and I will appease my wrath;’ I, the Lord (Yehovah), have spoken.”
v 18…And the word of the Lord came to me saying (v 18-27 describes the approach of the king of Babylon),
v 19…As for you, son of man, make two ways (Ezekiel will act out Nebuchadnezzar’s indecision) for the sword of the king of Babylon to come, both of them will go out of one land (Babylon). And make a signpost; make it at the head of the way to the city.
v 20…You shall mark a way (put up a sign) for the sword to come to Rabbah of the sons of the Ammon, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem.
v 21…For the king of Babylon stands at the parting (Hebrew “mother” or the crossroads, the fork in the road) of the way, at the head of the two ways to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household gods (teraphim), he looks at the liver.
v 22…Into his right came the divination, ‘Jerusalem,’ to set battering rams, to open the mouth for slaughter, to lift the voice with a battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build a siege wall.
v 23…And it will be to them like a false divination in their eyes (because the false prophets told them they will not be turned over to Babylon); they have sworn solemn oaths (to Nebuchadnezzar). But he brings iniquity to remembrance that they may be seized (Nebuchadnezzar will remember how Zedekiah lied to him and broke the covenant).
v 24…Therefore, thus says the Lord God (Adonai Yehovah), ‘Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins appear-because you have come to remembrance you will be seized with the hand (and taken to Babylon).
v 25…And you, O slain (a corpse), wicked one, the prince of Israel (referring to Zedekiah the king, but v 25-27 could allude to the False Messiah and his end-Dan 7.25; Mic 2.4), whose day has come (of punishment), in the time of the punishment of the end (his destruction),
v 26…thus says the Lord God, ‘Remove the turban (of the high priesthood) and take off the crown (of the king; the priesthood and the kingship were the two fundamental pillars of the theocracy); this will be no more the same (both will not continue). Exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high (a complete overthrow of the current status).
v 27…A ruin, a ruin, a ruin (said three times for the certainty of it; Jewish life was overturned), I will make it. This also will be no more, until he (Messiah) comes whose right it is (to be high priest and king); I shall give it to him (Zech 6.11-12; Psa 2.1-12; Rev 5.7).’
v 28…And you, son of man, prophesy and say, “Thus says the Lord God concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning their reproach (Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem; and went back to Babylon. The Ammonites cursed the Jews and laughed at their destruction, as if Yehovah could not save them and attributed their own safety from Babylon as a sign their gods were more powerful) and say: ‘A sword, a sword is drawn (ready), polished for slaughter, to cause it to consume, that it may be like lightning (the Babylonian attack against Ammon came five years after the fall of Jerusalem)-
v 29…while they (the false prophets of the Ammonites) see for you false visions, while they divine lies for you-to place you (the sword) on the necks of the wicked who are slain, whose day has come in the time of the punishment of the end (their destruction).
v 30…Return it (the sword) to its sheath (defending yourself will be in vain). In the place where you were created, in the land of your birth, I shall judge you.
v 31…And I shall pour out my indignation on you; I shall blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and I shall give you into the hand of brutal men, skilled in destruction (learned in violence).
v 32…You will be fuel for the fire (be devoured by it; easily consumed) your blood will be in the midst of the land (the slain will be everywhere in great numbers). You will not be remembered (leaving no trace behind, with no hope of restoration, unlike Judah and Israel), for I, the Lord (Yehovah), have spoken.’ ”