Book of Ezekiel
Overview
 
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, following the books of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 and Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 and preceding the Book of the Twelve. (The order is somewhat different in the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

). It derives its name from, and records the visions of, the 6th century BC priest and prophet Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

.

According to the book, the prophet, exiled in Babylon, experienced a series of seven visions during the 22 years from 593 to 571 BC, a period which spans the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586.
Encyclopedia
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, following the books of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 and Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 and preceding the Book of the Twelve. (The order is somewhat different in the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

). It derives its name from, and records the visions of, the 6th century BC priest and prophet Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

.

According to the book, the prophet, exiled in Babylon, experienced a series of seven visions during the 22 years from 593 to 571 BC, a period which spans the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586. The visions, and the book, are structured around three themes: (1) judgment on Israel (chapters 1-24); (2) judgment on the nations (chapters 25-32); and future blessings for Israel (chapters 33-48).

Contents

The book opens with a vision of Yahweh, the God of Israel, moves on to anticipate the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, explains this as Yahweh's punishment, and closes with the promise of a new beginning and a new Temple.
  1. Inaugural vision (Ezekiel 1:1–3:27): Yahweh approaches Ezekiel as the divine warrior, riding in his battle chariot
    Merkabah
    Merkabah is the throne-chariot of God, the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four "chayot" , each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle...

    . The chariot is drawn by four living creatures each having four faces (of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle), and four wings. Beside each "living creature" is a "wheel within a wheel," with "tall and awesome" rims full of eyes all around. Yahweh commissions Ezekial to be a prophet and a "watchman" in Israel: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites." (2:3)
  2. Judgment on Jerusalem and Judah (Ezekiel 4:1–24:27) and on the nations (Ezekiel 25:1–32:32): Yahweh warns of the certain destruction of Jerusalem and the devastation of the nations that have troubled his people, the Ammon
    Ammon
    Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

    ites, Moab
    Moab
    Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

    ites, Edom
    Edom
    Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

    ites and Philistines
    Philistines
    Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

    , the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon
    Sidon
    Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

    , and Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    .
  3. Building a new city (Ezekiel 33:1–48:35): The Jewish exile will come to an end, a new city and new Temple will be built, and the Israelites will be gathered and blessed as never before.


Some of the highlights include:
  • The "throne vision", in which Ezekiel sees God enthroned in the Temple among the heavenly host (Ezekiel 1:4-28);
  • The first "temple vision", in which Ezekiel sees God leave the Temple because of the abominations being practiced there (meaning the worship of gods other than Yahweh, the official god of Judah (Ezekiel 8:1-16);
  • Images of Israel, in which Israel is seen as a nymphomaniac bride, among other things (Ezekiel 15-19);
  • The valley of bones, in which the prophet sees the dead rise again (Ezekiel 37:1-14);
  • The destruction of Gog and Magog, in which he sees Israel's enemies destroyed and a new age of peace established (Ezekiel 38-39);
  • The final temple vision, in which Ezekiel is transported to Jerusalem and sees a new commonwealth cebtered around a new Temple to which God's glory has returned (Ezekiel 40-48)

Composition

The Book of Ezekiel describes itself as the words of the Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

 ben-Buzi, a priest living in exile in the city of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 between 593 and 571 BC; it is clear, however, that the book as we have it today is the product of extendive editing at the hands of a highly-educated priestly
Priestly
Priestly may refer to:* Alexander Priestly Camphor , American Methodist bishop* JB Priestley, author of An Inspector Calls* Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen* Miranda Priestly, a character in the novel The Devil Wears Prada...

 circle that owed allegiance to the historical Ezekiel and was closely associated with the Temple.

According to the information given in the book, the historical Ezekiel ben-Buzi was born into a priestly family of Jerusalem c.623 BCE, during the reign of the reforming king Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

. Prior to this time, Judah had been a vassal of the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n empire, but the rapid decline of Assyria after c.630 led Josiah to assert his independence and institute a religious reform stressing loyalty to Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, the national god. Josiah was killed in 609 and Judah became a vassal of the new regional power, the Babylonian empire. In 597, following a rebellion against Babylon, Ezekiel was among the large group of Judeans taken into captivity by the Babylonians. He appears to have spent the rest of his life in Mesopotamia. A further deportation of Jews from Jerusalem to Babylon occurred in 586 when a second unsuccessful rebellion resulted in the destruction of the city and its Temple and the exile of the remaining elements of the royal court, including the last scribes and priests. The various dates given in the book suggest that Ezekiel was 25 when he went into exile, 30 when he received his prophetic "call", and 52 at the time of the last vision c.571.

Themes

"Israel"

Previous prophets had used "Israel" to mean the northern kingdom and its tribes; when Ezekiel speaks of Israel he is addressing the deported remnant of Judah. At the same time, however, he can use this term to mean the glorious future destiny of a truly comprehensive "Israel".

The "Glory of YHWH"

Ezekiel's phrase “glory
K-B-D
K-B-D is a triliteral Semitic root with the common meaning of to "be heavy", or less literally, "be important".The basic noun formed from the root means "liver", "interior", "soul" in most Semitic languages....

 of YHWH” describes the presence of the God of Israel which filled the Temple. The “glory of YHWH” was also revealed in the form of light-filled cloud which accompanied the Israelites during the Exodus to the Promised Land. This same divine presence is on the move again; this time accompanying the Babylonian exile. Ezekiel sees the "glory of YHWH" leaving the Temple, from the Holy of Holies to the gate, and moving toward Babylon (Eze. 9-11). This refers to YHWH going into exile with his people leaving Jerusalem. In his vision of the new Temple, Ezekiel sees the glory of God entering the Temple and filling the Temple (Eze. 43.2-5). Upon the return from Babylonia and the restoration of the Temple, YHWH will once again dwell in the new Temple as he had in the Temple built by Solomon.

Influence

Ezekiel's literary influence can be seen in the later apocalyptic writings of Daniel and Zechariah. He is specifically mentioned by Ben Sirah (a writer of the Hellenistic period who listed the "great sages" of Israel) and 4 Maccabees (1st century CE), and by the 1st century CE historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, who says that the prophet wrote two books. He may have had in mind the Apocryphon of Ezekiel
Apocryphon of Ezekiel
Apocryphon of Ezekiel is an apocryphal book, written in the style of the Old Testament, as revelations of Ezekiel. It survives only in fragments including quotations in writings by Epiphanius, Clement of Rome and Clement of Alexandria, and the Chester Beatty Papyri 185...

, a 1st century BCE text that expands on the doctrine of resurrection. Ezekiel appears briefly in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

, but his influence there was profound, most notably in the Temple Scroll
Temple Scroll
The Temple Scroll is one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the discoveries at Qumran it is designated: 11QTemple Scrolla.1 It describes a Jewish temple which has never been built along with extensive detailed regulations about sacrifices and temple practices...

 with its temple plans, and the defence of the Zadok
Zadok
Zadok was a high priest of the Israelites in Jerusalem after it was conquered by David.Zadok may also refer to:*Rabbi Zadok, tanna of the 1st-century CE*Zadok the Priest, an 18th-century coronation anthem by Handel...

ite priesthood in the Damascus Document
Damascus Document
The Damascus Document or Damascus Rule is one of the most interesting texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls because it is the only Qumran sectarian work that was known before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls....

.

In Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 21-23, as in the closing visions of Ezekiel, the prophet is transported to a high mountain, where a heavenly messenger measures the symmetrical new Jerusalem, complete with high walls and twelve gates, the dwelling-place of God, producing a state of perfect well-being for his people.

See also

  • The Kohanim sons of Tzadok
    The Kohanim sons of Tzadok
    The Sons of Zadok are a family of priests descended from Zadok, the first high priest to in Solomon's Temple.The sons of Zadok are mentioned three times in the Hebrew Bible, as part of the Third Temple prophecies in the final chapters of the Book of Ezekiel, and are a theme in Jewish and Christian...

  • Babylonian captivity
    Babylonian captivity
    The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

  • Temple in Jerusalem
    Temple in Jerusalem
    The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

  • Apocryphon of Ezekiel
    Apocryphon of Ezekiel
    Apocryphon of Ezekiel is an apocryphal book, written in the style of the Old Testament, as revelations of Ezekiel. It survives only in fragments including quotations in writings by Epiphanius, Clement of Rome and Clement of Alexandria, and the Chester Beatty Papyri 185...

  • Gog and Magog
    Gog and Magog
    Gog and Magog are names that appear primarily in various Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures, as well as numerous subsequent references in other works. Their context can be either genealogical or eschatological and apocalyptic, as in Ezekiel and Revelation...


On-line translations


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