Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve. (The order is somewhat different in the Christian Old Testament). It derives its name from, and records the visions of, the 6th century BC priest and prophet Ezekiel.
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).
Ezekiel has the broad three-fold structure found in a number of the prophetic books: oracles of woe against the prophet's own people, followed by oracles against Israel's neighbours, ending in prophecies of hope and salvation:
- Oracles against Judah and Jerusalem, chapters 1-24
- Oracles against the foreign nations, chapters 25-32
- Prophecies of hope and salvation, chapters 33-48.
The book opens with a vision of Yahweh or Jehovah (יהוה), 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.
- Inaugural vision (Ezekiel 1:1-3:27): Yahweh approaches Ezekiel as the divine warrior, riding in his battle chariot. 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 Ezekiel to be a prophet and a "watchman" in Israel: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites." (2:3)
- 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 Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites and Philistines, the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, and Egypt.
- 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 harlot bride, among other things (Ezekiel 15-19);
- The valley of dry 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 centered around a new Temple to which God's glory has returned (Ezekiel 40-48)
Life and times of Ezekiel 
The Book of Ezekiel describes itself as the words of the Ezekiel ben-Buzi, a priest living in exile in the city of Babylon between 593 and 571. Most scholars today accept the basic authenticity of the book, but see in it significant additions by a "school" of later followers of the original prophet. While the book exhibits considerable unity and probably reflects much of the historic Ezekiel, it is the product of a long and complex history and does not necessarily preserve the very words of the prophet.
According to the book that bears his name, Ezekiel ben-Buzi was born into a priestly family of Jerusalem c.623 BC, during the reign of the reforming king Josiah. Prior to this time, Judah had been a vassal of the Assyrian 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, the national God of Israel. Josiah was killed in 609 and Judah became a vassal of the new regional power, the Neo-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.
Textual history 
The Jewish scriptures were translated into Greek in the two centuries immediately before the birth of Christ. The Greek version of these books is called the Septuagint (Greek for Seventy, because it was supposedly translated by seventy scholars), and the Hebrew version is called the Masoretic text (after the Hebrew word for the rabbis who curated and commented on the text). The Greek (Septuagint) version of Ezekiel differs considerably from the Hebrew (Masoretic) version - it is shorter and possibly represents an earlier stage of the book we have today - while other ancient manuscript fragments differ from both.
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 of YHWH” (glory of Yahweh) 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.
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 AD), and by the 1st century AD historian Josephus, says that the prophet wrote two books. He may have had in mind the Apocryphon of Ezekiel, a 1st century BC text that expands on the doctrine of resurrection. Ezekiel appears briefly in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but his influence there was profound, most notably in the Temple Scroll with its temple plans, and the defence of the Zadokite priesthood in the Damascus Document.
Ezekiel's visions of the Chariot and other angelic visions form the basis of much of the teachings of Kabbalah.
In Revelation 21-22, 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.
The Visionary Ezekiel Temple plan drawn by the 19th century French architect and Bible scholar Charles Chipiez.
The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones by Gustave Doré, 1866
Painting by Marten de Vos, c. 1600
See also 
|Books of Nevi'im (Hebrew Bible)|
|8. 12 minor prophets|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Apocryphon of Ezekiel
- Babylonian captivity
- Biblical numerology
- Gog and Magog
- Temple in Jerusalem
- The Kohanim sons of Tzadok
- Petersen 2002, p.140
- McKeating 1993, p. 15.
- Redditt 2008, p. 148
- Blenkinsopp (1990)
- Blenkinsopp 1996, p. 8.
- Joyce 2009, p. 16.
- Drinkard 1995, p. 160-161.
- Blenkinsopp 1996, p. 166.
- Goldingay, p.624
- Michael D. Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament (New York: Oxford, 2009), 321-322.
- Block (1997), p.43
- Block 1998, p.502
Further reading 
Commentaries on Ezekiel 
- Bandstra, Barry L (2004). Reading the Old Testament: an introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Wadsworth. ISBN 9780495391050.
- Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1996). A history of prophecy in Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664256395.
- Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1990). Ezekiel. Westminster John Knox. ISBN 9780664237554.
- Block, Daniel I. (1997). The Book of Ezekiel: chapters 1-24, Volume 1. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802825353.
- Block, Daniel I. (1998). The Book of Ezekiel: chapters 25-48, Volume 2. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802825360.
- Brueggemann, Walter (2002). Reverberations of faith: a theological handbook of Old Testament themes. Westminster John Knox. ISBN 9780664222314.
- Bullock, C. Hassell (1986). An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Moody Press. ISBN 9781575674360.
- Clements, Ronald E (1996). Ezekiel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664252724.
- Drinkard, Joel F. Jr. (1996-09-01). "Ezekiel". The Prophets. ISBN 9780865545090.
- Eichrodt, Walther E (1996). Ezekiel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664227661.
- Goldingay, John A. (2003). "Ezekiel". In James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson. Eerdmans Bible Commentary. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802837110.
- Joyce, Paul M. (2009). Ezekiel: A Commentary. Continuum. ISBN 9780567483614.
- Emil Heller Henning III, "Ezekiel's Temple: A Scriptural Framework Illustrating the Covenant of Grace." 2012.
- Kugler, Robert; Hartin, Patrick (2009). The Old Testament between theology and history: a critical survey. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802846365.
- Levin, Christoph L (2005). The Old testament: a brief introduction. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691113944.
- McKeating, Henry (1993). Ezekiel. Continuum. ISBN 9781850754282.
- Petersen, David L (2002). The prophetic literature: an introduction. John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664254537.
- Redditt, Paul L. (2008). Introduction to the Prophets. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802828965.
- Sweeney, Marvin A. (1998). "The Latter Prophets". In Steven L. McKenzie, Matt Patrick Graham. The Hebrew Bible today: an introduction to critical issues. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780664256524.
On-line translations 
- English Translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible: Ezekiel
- Yechezkiel from Chabad.org
- BibleGateway (Various translations)
Book of Ezekiel
|Hebrew Bible||Succeeded by
The Twelve Prophets
Letter of Jeremiah