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Ezekiel 20:25 Statutes That Were Not Good

By Chuck Henry
rev. 7/2/2012



Table of Contents




Supporting Evidence from Various Translations

Supporting Evidence from Reference Works

Supporting Evidence from Scripture





Eze 20:25 (KJV)

Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.


This verse may be interpreted by many as though some part, or all, of the law of Yahweh (whether given directly to the people by Yahweh or through His servant Moses) is not good. But, does Ezekiel 20:25 really refer to any of Yahweh’s law as being “not good”?




In search of the answer to this question, let us begin by examining the context of the statement in question. In reading Ezekiel, chapter 20, the following may be noted…


·        Yahweh commanded Israel to rid herself of her abominations; however, she rebelled (vv. 5-8).


·        Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt and gave her His statutes and judgments, “…Which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” Moreover, He also gave them His sabbaths to be a sign. Yet Israel rebelled and walked not in Yahweh’s statutes, and they polluted His sabbaths (vv. 9-22).


·        Because of her rebellion, Yahweh pledged that he would scatter Israel among the heathen and disperse her through the countries (vv. 23-24).


·        This brings us to verse 25, and the statement in question:

Verse 25 (KJV)
“Wherefore I game them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;”


·        Verse 26 is a continuation of verse 25 [in fact, many (and probably most) translations do not even put a period at the end of verse 25, but show it to be the middle of the sentence, with verse 26 continuing the same sentence]:

Verse 26 (KJV)
“And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am Yahweh.”

We will come back to verse 26 momentarily, but for now, let us examine some additional verses--


·        Verses 27-32: Israel was exceedingly wicked, turning to pagan worship and even burning their children in the fire.


·        Verses 33-44: Yet Yahweh pledges to gather Israel and to purge the rebels from among her.


Now, let us return to verse 26 and notice the context:


F     Verse 26 reveals…


·        That Israel was polluted in their own gifts (not gifts that pertain to Yahweh or that were prescribed in His Law).


·        They even sacrificed their children by burning them in the fire! Obviously, this is not a statute given by Yahweh and is in unmistakable contrast with the statutes and judgments given to Israel by Yahweh.


·        For those who would attempt to have us believe that Yahweh’s sacrificial system is being referred to here, let it be noted that the topic, according to the context, is not animal sacrifices, but human sacrifices!


F     In addition, the several verses, before and after verses 25-26, show that:


·        Yahweh commanded Israel to rid herself of her abominations.


·        Yahweh gave Israel His statutes and judgments, and gave His sabbaths to be a sign.


·        But Israel rebelled and was exceedingly wicked – they did things that are not prescribed by the statutes of Yahweh; in fact, deeds that are directly against the statutes of Yahweh.


The context indicates that, because of Israel’s rebellion, Yahweh gave them over to their own wickedness.




The New King James Version and others provide a clearer translation of Ezekiel 20:25 than does the King James Version. Whereas the KJV states, “I gave them,” notice how these other translations read (Verses 25-26 are quoted from each version for additional clarity of thought):


Eze 20:25-26 (NKJV)

25 Therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live;

26 and I pronounced them unclean because of their ritual gifts, in that they caused all their firstborn to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate and that they might know that I am Yahweh.


Eze 20:25-26 (NIV)

25 I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by;

26 I let them become defiled through their gifts--the sacrifice of every firstborn --that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am Yahweh.


Eze 20:25-26 (Amp)

25 Wherefore also I gave them [over to] statutes that were not good and ordinances whereby they should not live and could not have life,

26 And I [let them] pollute and make themselves unclean in their own offerings [to their idols], in that they caused to pass through the fire all the firstborn, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know, understand, and realize that I am Yahweh.




E. W. Bullinger, in his work The Companion Bible, states in a note on Ezekiel 20:25:


Gave them also statues, &c. In Heb. idiom = I suffered others to give them statutes, &c.: i.e. in their captivity. Active verbs in Hebrew were used to express not only the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do. The verb nathan, to give, is therefore often rendered to suffer in this sense. See Gen. 31.7. Judg. 15.1. 1 Sam. 24.7. 2 Sam. 21.10.


-- PDF Edition of The Companion Bible. Published by C. T. Haywood, Sevierville, TN, March, 2005.


Let us follow-up on what Mr. Bullinger says about the Hebrew word nathan. Upon checking the word “gave” in Ezekiel 20:25, we do find that it is indeed the word nathan:


Eze 20:25 (KJV)

Wherefore I gave [nathan (H5414)] them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.


Now, let us check on the other passages to which Mr. Bullinger refers us:


Gen 31:7 (KJV)

And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but the Mighty One suffered [nathan (H5414)] him not to hurt me.


Jdg 15:1 (KJV)

But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer [nathan (H5414)] him to go in.


1 Sam 24:7 (KJV)

So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered [nathan (H5414)] them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.


2 Sam 21:10 (KJV)

And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered [nathan (H5414)] neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.


As we can see, Mr. Bullinger correctly pointed out that the Hebrew word nathan is also translated suffer. This is yet more evidence that Yahweh gave them over to, or suffered them to have, statues that were not good.


The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge states:


I gave (KJV): The simple meaning of this place is, that when the Israelites had rebelled against God, despised his statutes, and polluted his sabbaths, in effect cast him off, and given themselves up wholly to their idols, then He, in a just judgment for their disobedience, abandoned them, “gave them up to a reprobate mind,” (Ro 1:28,) and suffered them to walk after the idolatrous, cruel, and impious customs and ordinances of the heathen; by which they were ripened for the destruction which he intended to bring upon them, that they might learn to know God by his judgments, seeing they had despised his mercies. In the same sense God is said judicially to “send a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” to those who “received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”


-- taken from QuickVerse for Windows Bible software, ver. 4.0g, © 1992-1997 by Craig Rairdin and Parsons Technology, Inc.




The fact that Yahweh gave Israel over to their own wickedness is a concept that is not foreign to Scripture. Consider the following…


Psa 81:11-12

11 But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me.

12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.


Psa 125:4-5

4 Do good, O Yahweh, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.

5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, Yahweh shall lead them away with the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel!


Isa 66:4

So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.


Acts 7:41-43

41 And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

42 Then Yahweh turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?

43 You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your mighty one Remphan, Images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.


Rom 1:28

And even as they did not like to retain Yahweh in their knowledge, Yahweh gave them over to a debased [KJV: “reprobate”] mind, to do those things which are not fitting.


2 Th 2:9-12

9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this reason Yahweh will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.




The “statutes that were not good” does not refer to any of Yahweh’s statutes. Instead, it refers to the fact that Yahweh gave them over to statutes that were not good (i.e., to do wicked things which are against the true statues and judgments of Yahweh). &