“They are far away from Yahweh.” This translation of Ezekiel 11:15 is more consistent with the context than, “Go far from Yahweh,” which most versions have. The vowels in the Masoretic text, which were added centuries after the Old Testament was written, make more sense if added such that the verb is a perfect (“They are far”) instead of an imperative (“Go far”), and some versions and commentaries adopt this reading, as does the REV (cp. NAB; NET; NIV; NLT; NRSV; RSV; The New International Commentary on the Old Testament).
The sentiment of the people in Jerusalem reveals the coldness of their hearts, as well as their arrogance, for they themselves had certainly gone far away from Yahweh when they turned to idols. And now, instead of doing what they can to support those people who had been carried away from the land of Israel and taken as captives to Babylon, they coldly announced that the captives were, after all, far away from Yahweh and so the land belonged to the Jews who were still there. In fact, it may have in part been due to a “land grab” situation that they did not want to try to help their fellow Judeans in captivity. The phrase “this land has been given to us” indicates that they thought that because they were still in the land, the ancient promise of the gift of the land to Abraham and his seed was somehow meant for them but not for the people who had been taken captive, and that, of course, is a complete misrepresentation of the truth.
In Ezekiel 11:16, Yahweh corrects the arrogant Jews who still lived in Israel and who were thinking that the captives in Babylon were far away from Yahweh. God says that even though the captives had been carried to far off countries, He has still been a sanctuary for them. Furthermore, in Ezekiel 11:17, God says He will bring the captives back to Israel and give the land to them. We know historically that many Jews died in captivity and never returned to the land in their first life, but those who lived lives faithful to God will inherit the land once the First Resurrection occurs, and the land of Israel will be distributed as is laid out in Ezekiel 48. [For more on the Promised Land being given to the resurrected Jews, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].