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Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel


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Title: Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel

Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel
1. Name
  • Like its immediate predecessor in the Hebrew
    canon, the book of Ezekiel was name after its
    principal prophetic figure. His cognomen laqzxy
    probably means may God make strong. It is
    rendered VIezekih,l in the LXX and Ezechiel in
    the Vulgate. Apart from its two occurrences in
    the prophecy, the name of Ezekiel does not occur
    elsewhere in the Old Testament. Harrison, 822
  • Everywhere else, some 93 times in all, Yahweh
    calls him mortal, my translation for the title
    conventionally and literally rendered as son of
    man. Klein, Ezekiel, 3 Note also that the
    NRSV uses Mortal

2. Canonical Location
  • Our Rabbis taught The order of the Prophets is,
    Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
    Isaiah, and the Twelve Minor Prophets. Let us
    examine this. Hosea came first, as it is written,
    God spake first to Hosea. But did God speak first
    to Hosea? Were there not many prophets between
    Moses and Hosea? R. Johanan, however, has
    explained that what It means is that he was the
    first of the four prophets who prophesied at that
    period, namely, Hosea, Isaiah, Amos and Micah.
    Should not then Hosea come first? Since his
    prophecy is written along with those of Haggai,
    Zechariah and Malachi, and Haggai, Zechariah and
    Malachi came at the end of the prophets, he is
    reckoned with them. But why should he not be
    written separately and placed first? Since his
    book is so small, it might be lost if copied
    separately. Let us see again. Isaiah was prior
    to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Then why should not
    Isaiah be placed first? Because the Book of
    Kings ends with a record of destruction and
    Jeremiah speaks throughout of destruction and
    Ezekiel commences with destruction and ends with
    consolation and Isaiah is full of consolation
    therefore we put destruction next to destruction
    and consolation next to consolation. Talmud,
    Mas. Baba Bathra, 14b

2. Canonical Location
  • The shift was in the Middle ages in terms of the
    MT, while the English bible reflects the LXX by
    having Lamentations between Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

3. Outline of General Schema
  • 1. Chapters 1-24 Threats Against Judah and
  • 2. Chapters 25-32 Threats Against Foreign Nations
  • 3. Chapters 33-48 Promises for Ezekiels Nation

4. Time Outline of Three Basic Periods
  • 1. 593/2-587 BC Unconditional Destruction
  • 2. 586-585 BC Period of Comfort
  • 3. 585ff BC Unconditional Salvation

5. Outline
  • I. Judgments Against Judah and Jerusalem 1-24
  • A. Introduction and Call Vision 1.1-3.3
  • B. Instructions to Ezekiel 3.4-21
  • C. Symbolic and Oracular Judgments 3.22-7.27
  • D. Vision of the Judgment of Jerusalem 8.1-11.25
  • E. Oracles Predicting the Captivity of Jerusalem
  • F. Final Warnings prior to the Fall of the City

5. Outline
  • II. Oracles Against the Foreign Nations 25-32
  • A. Against Ammon 25.1-7
  • B. Against Moab 25.8-11
  • C. Against Edom 25.12-14
  • D. Against Philistia 25.15-17
  • E. Against Tyre 26.1-28.19
  • F. Against Sidon 28.20-26
  • G. Against Egypt 29.1-32.32

5. Outline
  • III. Prophecies of Hope after the Fall of
    Jerusalem 33-48
  • A. The New Covenant 33.1-22
  • B. Spiritual Revival 34.1-31
  • C. The Devastation of Edom 35.1-15
  • D. The Restoration of Israel 36.1-37.28
  • E. The Gog Battle 38.1-39.29
  • F. The Temple in the Vision 40.1-46.24
  • G. The Land in the Vision 47.1-48.35

5. Outline
  • Note Two Structural Keys
  • The reuse of the Ezekiels commissioning as a
    watchman in chaps. 3 and 33.
  • The series of visions of Gods glory in 1, 8-11,

6. Authorship
  • According to the traditions preserved in
    rabbinic circles, the men of the Great Synagogue
    wrote Ezekiel and the Twelve, a statement that
    probably means that they edited or copied out the
    book. There was some dispute between leading
    rabbinic scholars concerning its genuineness,
    however. The school of Shammai repudiated the
    prophecy, holding it to be apocryphal on the
    ground that the first ten chapters appeared to be
    theosophical in character, and that the book
    conflicted at certain important points with the
    Torah, which for them was the norm of canonical
    Scripture. In this connection the school of
    Shammai pointed out that, whereas the Torah
    required two bullocks, seven lambs, and one ram
    as the new moon offering (Num 28.11), Ezekiel
    prescribed only one unblemished bullock, six
    lambs, and one ram (Ezk 46.6).Harrison, 823

6. Authorship
  • The Men of the Great Assembly wrote (Mnemonic
    KNDG) Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel
    and the Scroll of Esther. Talmud, Mas. Baba
    Bathra, 14b

6. Authorship
  • Six main reasons for ascribing the book to a
    single author, the prophet Ezekiel Taylor, John
    B. Tyndal Old Testament Commentaries Ezekiel,
  • The book has a balanced structure... and this
    logical arrangement extends from Chapter 1 to 48.
    There are no breaks in the continuity of the
    prophecy, except where (as in the case of the
    oracles against the nations, 25-32) this is done
    for deliberate effect. Taylor, 14

6. Authorship
  • The message of the book has an inner consistency
    which fits in with the structural balance. The
    center-point is the fall of Jerusalem and the
    destruction of the Temple. Taylor, 15
  • The book shows a remarkable uniformity of style
    and language. This is largely due to the
    repetitious phraseology. Taylor, 15
  • The book has a clear chronological sequence,
    with dates appearing at 1.1, 2 8.1 20.1 24.1
    26.1 29.1 30.20 31.1 32.1, 17 33.21 40.1.
    Taylor, 15

6. Authorship
  • Unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos and
    Zechariah, which all combine material in the
    first and third persons singular, a feature which
    is usually regarded as a sure sign of editorial
    compilation, Ezekiel is written
    autobiographically throughout. The only exception
    is the duplicated introduction (1.2,3), which
    looks very much as if it was an editors
    explanation of an opening verse.... Taylor, 16
  • The picture of the character and personality of
    Ezekiel appears consistent through the whole
    book there is the same earnestness, the same
    eccentricity, the same priestly love of
    symbolism, the same fastidious concern with
    detail, the same sense of the majesty and
    transcendence of God. Taylor, 16

7. Dates in Ezekiel
  • This book, unlike any other, specifically dates
    several of its sections. Albright and others are
    right in accepting the correctness of these dates
    and in understanding them as reckoned from the
    time of Jehoiachins captivity, which would also
    coincide with the year of his reign. The
    thirtieth year mentioned in 1.1 refers to the
    thirtieth year of Jehoiachin, who was still
    considered the rightful ruler of the exile
    nation, and it was in their thirtieth year that
    Ezekiel or some editor published his book. The
    twelfth year in Eze. 32.1 33.21 should be read
    the eleventh year. Otherwise the dates are
    substantially correct however, all the material
    appears between two dates should not be
    understood as being in proper chronological
    sequence. The general date for Ezekiel must
    therefore remain the first half of the sixth
    century until such times as new evidence is
    discovered. Howie, C.G. Ezekiel, IDB, 207

8. Style Form in Ezekiel
  • 8.1 Dramatic Signs and Symbolic Actions
  • 3.22-27 4.1-5.17 12.1-20 21.6-7, 18-23
    24.15-24, 25-27 33.21-22.
  • They are not to be seen as magical acts, but
    rather as a form of teaching aid they have a
    performative character that makes them a kind of
    street theater to provoke the people to listen.
    Boadt, ABD, II, 716b-717a

8. Style Form in Ezekiel
  • 8.2 Ecstatic Prophecy Forms
  • Close paralleling of the pre-classical prophets
    like Elijah, Elisha and even Balaam.
  • the hand of YHWH fell upon me 1.3 3.22
    33.22 37.1 with 1 Kgs 18.46 (Elijah) and 2 Kgs
    3.15 (Elisha).
  • the Spirit of YHWH coming on him 2.2 3.12
    8.3 37.1 with Elijahs 1 Kgs 18.12 and 2 Kgs
    2.16. Also note Num 11.17-19 24.2 2 Sam 23.2.
    The prophetic schools also 1 Sam 10.6, 10
    19.20, 23.

8. Style Form in Ezekiel
  • 8.2 Ecstatic Prophecy Forms
  • Sitting at home for the elders visit 14.1 20.1
    33.31 with Elisha in 2 Kgs 6.32.
  • Acting out his own words as a lesson Elijah in 1
    Kgs 19.9 and Ahijah in 1 Kgs 11.29-30.
  • 8.3 Special and Unusual Vocabulary
  • ...there are 130 words found only in Ezekiel, or
    overwhelmingly found in this book. Boadt, ABD,
    II, 718a
  • Special use Son of Man as I live the
    oracle of the Lord (x85) I the Lord have
    spoken Behold, I am against you the word of
    the Lord came to me

8. Style Form in Ezekiel
  • 8.3 Special and Unusual Vocabulary
  • that you (or they) may know / that I am the
    Lord. The last section is related to the
    Holiness codes because I am the Lord
  • 8.4 Artistic Devices
  • Alliteration, assonance, chiasmus, the breakup
    of stereotyped expressions, heightened imagery,
    climatic series, polarity, intentional
    repetitions and rhetorical euphemisms are
    common. Boadt, ABD, II, 718b

8. Style Form in Ezekiel
  • 8.4 Artistic Devices
  • When combined with the other patterns, such as
    the use of allegorical and mythological language,
    it would be better to identify the style of most
    oracles as a kind of artistic prose, what the
    Germans call Kunstprosa, which owes more to
    poetry than to ordinary narrative or legal
    prose. Boadt, ABD, II, 718b

9. Historical Background
  • 9.1 Life in Judah
  • 9.1.1 Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians
    in March 597 BC.
  • 9.1.2 Second capture in 587 or 586.
  • II Kings verses Jeremiah 40
  • The removal of the landed citizens, officials
    and priests was probably partial, though it seems
    clear that a considerable social revolution was
    affected by the raising to position of greater
    influence of those who could be described as the
    poor of the land (dallat haarets), the
    presumably property less members of the community
    who now came to be landholders or tenants under
    the Babylonian authority, perhaps occupying royal
    lands, perhaps also taking over lands which had
    been expropriated from other property-owners.
    Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration, 23-24

9. Historical Background
  • 9.1 Life in Judah
  • 9.1.2 Second capture in 587 or 586.
  • Peoples Attitude 11.3, 15 9.9b 33.24
  • It is reasonable also to assume ...that there
    were many refugees from the Babylonian attacks
    who hid themselves in caves as their forefathers
    had done before them (Judg. 6.1ff) and as their
    descendants were to do in later years. Ackroyd,
    Exile and Restoration, 24

9. Historical Background
  • 9.1 Life in Judah
  • 9.1.3 Temple Conditions
  • Possible continuation of sacred-site idea by
    means of prayer instead of sacrifice.
  • Eze 8-10 Jer 7.17-19 44.15-18
  • Whisper that Yahweh is not just Eze 18.2, 25
    Jer 31.29

9. Historical Background
  • 9.2 Life in Babylon
  • 9.2.1 General Life Conditions
  • A tantalizingly allusive piece of information
    about food allocations made to Jehoiachin and his
    family as well as to various craftsmen from
    Jerusalem, leaves us in doubt as to whether the
    exiles were treated as captives in the strictest
    sense, kept on small rations, or whether they
    were given reasonably generous allocations. II
    Kings 24.14,16 The subsequent reference to the
    release of Jehoiachin indicates imprisonment, but
    we have no means of knowing whether the
    imprisonment was constrictive or reasonably
    humane, except that it is clear that Jehoiachins
    royal status was acknowledged. Ackroyd, Exile
    and Restoration, 31

9. Historical Background
  • 9.2 Life in Babylon
  • 9.2.1 General Life Conditions
  • Indirect information from Ezekiel and Jeremiah
    Here the indications are of reasonable freedom,
    of settlement in communities - perhaps engaged in
    work for the Babylonians, but possibly simply
    engaged in normal agricultural life - of the
    possibility of marriage, of the ordering of their
    own affairs, of relative prosperity. Ackroyd,
    Exile and Restoration, 32) Note the location of
    Eze (3.15).
  • The ideas found in Psalm 137 and the distress of
    Ezekiel 4.14, the complaining of the injustice in
    Ezekiel 18 and the impossibility of escaping
    divine judgment in Ezekiel 37 set the mood of the

9. Historical Background
  • 9.2 Life in Babylon
  • 9.2.1 Worship in Exile
  • Although many have argued for the beginning of
    the synagogues in the exile, there is no clear
    foundation. Note however Kraus, Worship in
    Israel, 229-31.
  • The sabbath and circumcision rites came into
    prominence. Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration, 35f

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3 Theological Challenges
  • Almost all of the old symbol systems had been
    rendered useless. Almost all the old institutions
    no longer functioned. What kind of future was
    possible for a people which traced its unique
    election to a God who had just lost a war to
    other deities? What kind of future was possible
    for a people who had so alienated their God that
    categorical rejection was his necessary
    response. Klein, Israel in Exile, 5

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3.1 The Destruction of the Temple
  • Considered the footstool of God (Lam.2.1),
    hwhys dwelling place (1 Kings 8.13 Ezk.43.7),
    his resting place (Ps.132.1), or the place where
    his face was to be seen (Isa. 1.12 BHS), it had
    also opened the door to Canaanite influences and
    to the motion that God was the guarantor of the
    status quo. Klein, Israel in Exile, 3
  • ...the temple was a tangible symbol of the
    peoples election and a reminder of Gods
    unfailing actions in history on their behalf.
    Klein, Israel in Exile, 3

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3.1 The Destruction of the Temple
  • Note the Temple Sermons of Jeremiah in Jer 7, 26.
  • The temples destruction called God into
    question either there were deities stronger than
    or superior to hwhy, or for some reason hwhy had
    rejected his own people and his own place.
    Klein, Israel in Exile, 3-4

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3.2 The of the Davidic Dynasty
  • Kings had come and gone, but kingship itself and
    the state had endured through thick and thin. Now
    Zedekiah had been captured, his two sons had been
    murdered before his eyes, and then he had been
    blinded, His nephew, Jehoiachin, king himself for
    only three months in 597, sat in a Babylonian
    prison. Klein, Israel in Exile, 4

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3.3 The Promised Land Lost
  • The promises of land and descendants were the
    key items from the patriarchal tradition. hwhy
    was the owner of the land, and his gift of the
    land to Israel was hailed by the Deuteronomist
    and by the psalmists, among others. The land,
    Israels inheritance, was now in the hands of the
    foreigners. Klein, Israel, in Exile, 4

9. Historical Background
  • 9.3.4 The Broken Covenant
  • Covenant broken by Israel in spite of Josiahs
    attempt to revive Israel. As Jeremiah saw it, the
    covenant was broken. (Jer. 31.32)
  • The problem of the decimation of the priesthood
    thought exile and execution and by the cessation
    of sacrifices.
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