- The name Ezekiel means “God strengthens.”
- Ezekiel prophesied from roughly 993-971BCE.
- Ezekiel is not mentioned outside his prophetic work.
- Ezekiel was a priest and was probably the son of a priest, so he would have been well versed in the religious traditions and regulations.
- He was one of those who had been taken to Babylon in the deportation of 597BCE.
- He experienced his prophetic “call” through a vision of God.
- The number four (as in four living creatures, four wings, four faces…) has special significance for Ezekiel in that it suggests the idea of completeness.
- The climax of his call vision was to see the glory of God (perhaps a brightness, cloud, or fire suggesting his presence).
- He wasn’t anywhere near the temple when he saw this vision and felt the presence of God. This says that people in foreign lands could experience God’s presence.
- After falling on his face, God called out to him and told him about Israel’s obstinacy and stubbornness.
- God’s spirit went into him and raised him up.
- Eating the scroll meant the words he would speak were not his own.
- The scroll was so full of words of judgment that it was written on both sides.
- The taste of honey suggests God’s words would be sweet.
- He was told to prophesy and he was given the strength to do it.
- Even though he was in exile, he was a prophet to both those in exile and in Jerusalem.
- He was appointed to be a watchman for Israel.
- He was rendered mute for 7 ½ years, but could periodically speak prophetic words.
- Ezekiel performed many unusual acts that were meant to get people’s attention and to illustrate a message (especially after he couldn’t speak).
- One was to go to his house and bind himself with ropes.
- He modeled the city and weapons of siege, all the while looking at the city.
- He was to lie on his left side for 390 days (one day for each year of iniquity).
- Then he was to turn on his right side for 40 days (one day for each year of Judah’s iniquity). Scholars have no idea how this actually worked.
- He was limited in how much bread and water he could eat during this time.
- He had to shave his beard and hair – not just as a symbol of humiliation, but also to indicate that whatever happened to his hair would be the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 1/3 was blown away, 1/3 was struck with a sword, 1/3 was burned.
- The purpose of all these events was to make it clear that total disaster was imminent. And just to make sure there was no mistaking the identity of the city, he announced, “This is Jerusalem!”
- Fourteen months after his first vision, he had another.
- He was sitting at home with the elders of Judah, when he was whisked to the temple itself where he was instructed to observe the pagan worship going on there.
- He was told to dig through the wall of the temple and found a room full of vermin with 70 elders worshiping them.
- Then he found women worshiping a fertility god and 25 men worshiping the sun.
- In his vision, the angel of death came to kill the idol worshipers. One of the seven angels was to mark all those who thought this was wrong. The rest were killed. Ezekiel was very upset.
- The end of the vision involved the burning of the dead bodies.
- When he gathered the elders to illustrate the destruction of Jerusalem using a stewpot and meat, one of them immediately fell down dead.
- To illustrate the coming exile of the people, he packed his bag and left his house, symbolizing their fate.
- At one point, he was told to quake with horror while he ate and drank.
- His detailed allegory of an unfaithful young bride who is ravished raises many hackles among modern scholars and feminists.
- Ezekiel is perhaps most noted for his statements re: personal responsibility. He revoked the proverb: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” It was to deny that people would be punished for anyone’s sins apart from their own.
- Several times Ezekiel clapped his hands after issuing words of judgment as if to say he was delighted that evil was coming to an end.
- When his wife died, he was not allowed to mourn because the time for mourning had past. Jerusalem would not have time to mourn. The living would not be able to honor the dead (nothing could have been more shameful).
- Like Jeremiah before him, Ezekiel saw Babylon as the Lord’s instrument and did NOT want Jerusalem to make an alliance with Egypt.
- As soon as word came that Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel changed from a prophet of doom to one of encouragement.
- Also at that time, the hand of the Lord came upon him and he was given back his speech.
- Some time later, he saw a vision of the valley of bones and was told to prophesy to them. He did and they came to life (One of the more noteworthy stories in the book).
- Later he took two sticks and held them together, symbolizing the end of the divided nation.
- Although his last prophecy of the ideal temple of the future remained unfulfilled, it was an impressive vision of trust and anticipation of a new life. After the fall of Jerusalem, he must have been a beacon of hope and promise for those who had lost everything.
- The image of God’s return to this new temple must have filled Ezekiel with great joy and satisfaction.
- There is no information on what happened to him after 571.
Allen, Leslie. "Ezekiel, 1-19, 20-48." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books. 1986, 1990.
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. "Ezekiel." Interpretation. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1990.
Block, Daniel. "The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 1-24." The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1997.
Carley, Keith W. "The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel." The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
Gaebelein, Frank. "Ezekiel." The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1986.