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Book of Ezekiel

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This article is about the Book of Ezekiel. See also Ezekiel, the prophet . For other meanings, see Ezekiel (disambiguation).

The Book of Ezekiel is a book of the Jewish Hebrew Bible as well as the Christian Old Testament, attributed to the prophet Ezekiel (יְחֶזְקֵאל "God will strengthen", Standard Hebrew Yəḥezqel, Tiberian Hebrew Yəḥezql) who is regarded by both Jews and Christians as a prophet.


Contents

The author Ezekiel

Main article Ezekiel.

What little personal information is presented in the text about the prophet is discussed at Ezekiel. We do know he was a priest in the temple at Jerusalem, the son of a priest, and that he had a wife prior to being carried off in the Jewish exile of 597 BCE, at age 26.

His mission

With the exile, monarchy and state were annihilated, and a political and national life was no longer possible. In the absence of a worldly foundation it became necessary to build upon a spiritual one. This mission Ezekiel performed by observing the signs of the time and by deducing his doctrines from them. In conformity with the two parts of his book his personality and his preaching are alike twofold. The events of the past must be explained. although God has permitted his city and Temple to be destroyed, and his people to be led into exile.

Nonetheless, Ezekiel holds that God is not betraying his people. He asserts that God was compelled to do this because of the sins of the people. Nevertheless, there is no reason to despair for God does not desire the death of the sinner, but his reformation. The Lord will remain the God of Israel, and Israel will remain his people. As soon as Israel recognizes the sovereignty of the Lord and acts accordingly, God will restore the people, in order that they may fulfil their eternal mission and that He may truly dwell in the midst of them. This, however, can not be accomplished until every individual reforms and makes the will of the Lord his law.

Resurrection of the dead

Ezekiel writes about a resurrection of the dead in chapter 37. As early as the second century, however, some authorities declared this resurrection of the dead was a prophetic vision: an opinion regarded by Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed, II:46) and his followers as the only rational explanation of the Biblical passage.


Authorship

There have been a number of debates that have surrounded this book over the centuries. For the most part there has been little question of the authenticiy of the book, or its authorship, but rather whether it should be included in the biblical Canon. This debate did not stem from any doubt of its inspired message, but rather the fear that the unlearned may misinterpret it. For a time, the first chapter was not to be read in synagogues and the private reading of the prophecy was not allowed until a person's 30th birthday.

Up until 1924, no one had questioned the authorship of the book of Ezekiel. For many, it seems clear that the book was written by one person, expressing one train of thought and style. However, in 1924 a theory was developed that 1,103 of the verses in Ezekiel were added at a later date.

Since then, the academic community has been split into a number of different camps over the authorship of the book. W. Zimmerli, who has a rather large following, proposes that Ezekiel's original message was influenced by a later school that added a deeper understanding to the prophecies. Other groups, like the one led by M. Greenberg, still tend to see the majority of the work of the book done by Ezekiel himself.

The purpose of the book

The book of Ezekiel is a record of the prophesying of Ezekiel who delivered these oracles and prophecies orally at first. Most people accept that Ezekiel did play a part in the written record of these visions, possibly with the help of scribes or followers. The book, which is split into three sections based on the time they were written, was mostly written by Ezekiel himself. Ezekiel's writing is one of the most sophisticated of all of the Old Testament Prophets. This stems from his training as a priest for the temple, as well as his experience in ministering to the elite members of the nation of Judah.

Ezekiel's writing is made up of three distinct levels: an oracle, a continuation and a closing oracle. The first two layers are related in their writing sytle and are both attributed to Ezekiel himself. The third level, however, tends to be different from the first two, and as such is attributed to others who were interested in preserving and updating his work.

The book does show many examples of editing done over a period of time by both Ezekiel and others. Most of this work was simply rearranging the order of the oracles to fit the time period to which they applied.

Date

The Book of Ezekiel can be dated due to Ezekiel's recording of events based on the rule of King Jehoiachin (King of Jerusalem). Ezekiel's records makes it possible to accurately date his life and his time of prophecy due to these references to the reigns of kings.

Ezekiel was originally written in the 25 year period between 593 to 571 B.C. The book seems to be written in two different time periods during Ezekiel's 25 years of prophecy. The first section which is aimed at the upper class of Judah was written between from 593 to 586 B.C. The second section, which runs from 586 to 571, deals with his oracles of salvation for the people.

The text records numerous events that allow us to estimate their time in history. The following table lists events in Ezekiel with their approximate dates.

Dates of Book of Ezekiel
Event Verse Reference Date
Chariot Vision 1:1-3 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=ezekiel%201:1-3&version=49) June 593 B.C.
Call to be a Watchman 3:16 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%203:16;&version=49;) June 593
Temple Vision 8:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%208:1;&version=49;) August/September 592
Discourse with Elders 20:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2020:1;&version=49;) August 591
Second Siege of Jerusalem 24:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2024:1;&version=49;) January 588
Judgment on Tyre 26:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2026:1;&version=49;) March/April 587/586
Judgment on Egypt 29:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2029:1;&version=49;) January 587
Judgment on Egypt 29:17 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2029:17;&version=49;) April 571
Judgment on Egypt 30:20 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2030:20;&version=49;) April 587
Judgment on Egypt 31:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2031:1;&version=49;) June 587
Lament over Pharaoh 32:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2032:1;&version=49;) March 585
Lament over Egypt 32:17 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2032:17;&version=49;) April 586
Fall of Jerusalem 33:21 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2033:21;&version=49;) December/January 586/85
New Temple Vision 40:1 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%2040:1;&version=49;) April 573

Ezekiel's hearers

The Book of Ezekiel was written for the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon. For a people whose custom it was to worship their God, who dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem, being in exile raised some important theological questions for them. The largest question was how they could worship a God that had resided in their temple when they were now in a distant land, cut off from their traditional place of worship.

It is to this problem that Ezekiel speaks. Explaining their exile as a punishment for the nations disobedience, Ezekiel explains to the people why they were in exile, and why God would allow the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed.

He does, however, offer hope to the people living in exile. Turning to God's promised grace and forgiveness, he spoke words of hope to the people that desperately needed it at the time. Pointing to a day when they would be restored to their land, and once again they would be prosperous, Ezekiel gave hope to a people who had very little of it.

Borrowing heavily from earlier prophets and books, Ezekiel sought to comfort the people with the religous texts they were familar with, while giving them new meaning in their time of exile.

In a time when the Jewish people were ready to totally turn their backs on the God of their ancestors, Ezekiel sought to show them that their God was still in control of their situation. In their society where their God had lost credibility, and the people were turning away from Him, Ezekiel used his own life and relationship to God as an example to the people of what a right relationship looked like.

Content

Ezekiel contains three distinct sections.

  1. Judgment on Israel - Ezekiel makes a series of denunciations against his fellow Jews ( 3:22-24 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%203:22-24;&version=49;)), warning them of the certain destruction of Jerusalem, in opposition to the words of the false prophets (4:1-3 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%204:1-3;&version=49;)). The symbolic acts, by which the extremities to which Jerusalem would be reduced are described in Chapters 4 and 5 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezekiel%204-5;&version=49;), show his intimate acquaintance with the Levitical legislation. (See, for example, Exodus 22:30 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2022:30;&version=49;); Deuteronomy 14:21 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deut%2014:21;&version=49;); Leviticus 5:2 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev%205:2;&version=49;); 7:18,24 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev%207:18,24;&version=49;); 17:15 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev%2017:15;&version=49;); 19:7 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev%2019:7;&version=49;); 22:8 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev%2022:8;&version=49;))
  2. Prophecies against various neighboring nations: against the Ammonites ( Ezek. 25:1-7 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2025:1-7;&version=49;)), the Moabites ( 8-11 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%208-11;&version=49;)), the Edomites ( 12-14 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2012-14;&version=49;)), the Philistines ( 15-17 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2015-17;&version=49;)), Tyre and Sidon ( 26-28 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2026-28;&version=49;)), and against Egypt (29-32 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2029-32;&version=49;)).
  3. Prophecies delivered after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II: the triumphs of Israel and of the kingdom of God on earth ( Ezek. 33-39 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2033-39;&version=49;) ); Messianic times, and the establishment and prosperity of the kingdom of God ( 40;48 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2040;48;&version=49;)).

Ezekiel did much of his prophizing through his actions. Instead of coming out and just orally give the people a message, God instructed him to live out his messages in various ways. Each one had a unique and specific meaning to them. He does various things like sketches Jersualem on a brick ( Ezek. 4:1-3 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%204:1-3;&version=49;)), Lies on left side for 390 days and right side for 40 ( Ezekiel 4:4-8 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%204:4-8;&version=49;) ), Shaves his head with a sword, weighs and divides the hair, burning a portion of it, smiting a second portion with a sword and scattering hte third portion ot the winds ( Ezek. 5:1-12 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%205:1-12;&version=49;)), Digs his way through a wall and takes an exile's baggage with him ( Ezek. 12:1-12 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2012:1-12;&version=49;)), Marks out a route for the Babylonian army with a crossroads that forces the king to cast lots to decide which road to take (Ezek. 21:18-23 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2012:18-23;&version=49;)), and Loses his wife in death (Ezek. 25:15-24 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2025:15-24;&version=49;)).

The closing visions of this book are referred to in the book of Revelation (Ezek. 38 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2038;&version=49;) = Rev. 20:8 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rev%2020:8;&version=49;); Ezek. 47:1-8 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2047:1-8;&version=49;) = Rev. 22:1,2 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rev%2022:1-2;&version=49;)). Other references to this book are also found in the New Testament. (Compare Epistle to the Romans 2:24 with Ezek. 36:22 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rom%202:24;Ezek%2036:22;&version=49;); Rom. 10:5, Galatians 3:12 with Ezek. 20:11 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rom%2010:5;Gal%203:12;Ezek%2020:11;&version=49;); 2 Peter 3:4 with Ezek. 12:22 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Peter%203:4;Ezek%2012:22;&version=49;).)

Daniel, fourteen years after his deportation from Jerusalem, is mentioned by Ezekiel (14:14) along with Noah and Job as distinguished for his righteousness, and some five years later he is spoken of as pre-eminent for his wisdom (28:3).

Ezekiel refers to the Pentateuch (e.g., Ezek. 27; 28:13; 31:8; 36:11, 34; 47:13, etc.) quite often, and shows on a number of occasions that he is familar with the writings of Hosea (Ezek. 37:22), Isaiah (Ezek. 8:12; 29:6), and especially with those of Jeremiah, his older contemporary (Jeremiah 24:7, 9; 48:37).

Translations and commentaries on the book of Ezekiel

Print translations and commentaries

(To be added)

On-line translations and commentaries

References

  • Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.
  • LaSor, William Sanford et al. Old Testament Survey: the Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.
  • Allen, Leslie C. Word Biblical Commentary Volume 28: Ezekiel 1-20. Word Books Publisher: Dallas TX, 1990
  • Allen, Leslie C. Word Biblical Commentary Volume 29: Ezekiel 20-48. Word Books Publisher: Dallas TX, 1990

External links



de:Ezechiel he:ספר צפניה nl:Ezechil ja:エゼキエル書 pl:Księga Ezechiela sv:Sefanja

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