EZEKIEL (ē-zēk'yĕl, Heb. yehezqē’l, God strengthens). A Hebrew prophet of the Exile. A play is made on this name in connection with the prophet’s call (
Ezekiel was called to be a prophet in the fifth year of his captivity (
The “captivity” of the Jews consisted in their deportation to a foreign land. Once arrived in Babylon, however, the exiles seem to have been completely free to settle and live their lives as they pleased. At Nippur, located on the Kebar Canal, many records have been found of a Jewish business house, the Murashu Sons, indicating the possibilities open to the exiles. Many of the Jews became so settled in their adopted land that they refused to leave it at the end of the Exile, and from that time to this the majority of the Hebrews have lived outside of Palestine.
When Jerusalem was finally destroyed, some ten years after he arrived in Babylon, Ezekiel entered into the sufferings of his people. On the day on which the final siege began, the prophet’s wife became suddenly sick and died. In this he became a sign to the people and was not allowed to go through the customary period of mourning, doubtless to emphasize to them the greater sorrow now coming on the nation.
In recent years a good deal of interest has been awakened regarding the unusual states of the prophets during the reception of their revelations. Some have diagnosed Ezekiel’s condition as catalepsy, but the passages adduced (
Ezekiel was a powerful preacher. Possessing a deeply introspective and religious nature, he used allegory, vivid figures, and symbolic actions to clothe his message. His favorite expression to denote the divine inspiration, “the hand of the Lord was upon me” (
The prophet’s ministry was divided into two periods. The first ends with the siege of Jerusalem in 587 b.c. (
Frequently in this book (more than seventy times), Ezekiel is referred to as “son of man.” The term means a mortal, as in
The problem concerning the age of Ezekiel when he was taken into exile has been a matter of discussion, but it is most probable that he was twenty-five years old at the time. The opening statement of his prophecy, “In the thirtieth year...as I was among the exiles,” appears to be a reference to his age at the time of his call into the prophetic ministry, which in the following verse is dated in the “fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin,” who was also among the captives of the 597 b.c. deportation (
As a member of the Zadok family, Ezekiel was among the aristocracy taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar (
The years of Ezekiel’s captivity were the most severe years of Judah’s history. The period of Assyrian domination of Judah actually began in 722 b.c. when the Assyrian Sargon took Samaria and destroyed the northern kingdom, and although Judah remained an independent kingdom, she was forced to pay tribute to the Assyrians. With the rise of Babylonian power under Nebuchadnezzar in 605 b.c. through the battle of Carchemish, the position of Judah rapidly grew worse. In that year, Daniel was in the group taken into captivity by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar. This was the first deportation, which was followed in 597 b.c. by a second when Nebuchadnezzar again invaded Judah and took the young king Jehoiachin and many of the leading citizens as captives to Babylonia (
It is interesting to contrast Ezekiel’s inaugural vision with the experiences of Isaiah and Jeremiah. The lips of Isaiah were cleansed and then he received an audible and verbal communication from the Lord (
Ezekiel emphasized the doctrine of personal responsibility for sin in the most vigorous terms. “The soul that sins shall die” (
Like other prophets, Ezekiel enforced his spoken message from the Lord by various symbolic acts. These symbolic acts were enacted words, and they were assumed to have in themselves divine effectiveness. He drew a plan of besieged Jerusalem upon a brick (
Aside from Ezekiel’s influence upon the NT, esp. the imagery of the Apocalypse, he exerted great influence upon the development of Judaism. He is sometimes referred to as the father of Judaism. The doctrines of personal immortality and the resurrection, and the emphasis upon the law in Judaism were all profoundly influenced by Ezekiel. His visions, frequently mysterious, affected considerably the development of Judaism’s apocalyptic as well as the later mysticism of the Cabala. The prophet figured prominently in the mural paintings of the synagogue of Dura Europos completed in a.d. 255. The synagogue was removed and reconstructed as part of the national museum in Damascus, Syria. Some rabbis of the school of Shammai regarded Ezekiel as only an apocryphal book because they thought it contradicted the Mosaic law. See Exile.
G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1960), 88, 123, 132; H. Daniel-Rops, Israel and the Ancient World (1964), 203, 286-290, 313; W. Narrelson, Interpreting the(1964), 285-315.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Contents I. THE PROPHET AND HIS BOOK
1. The Person of Ezekiel Name, Captivity and Trials
2. The Book (1) Its Genuineness (2) Its Structure (3) Relation to Jeremiah (4) Fate of the Book and Its Place in the Canon
II. SIGNIFICANCE OF EZEKIEL IN ISRAEL’s RELIGIOUS HISTORY
1. Formal Characteristics of Ezekiel (1) Visions (2) Symbolical Acts (3) Allegories (4) Lamentations
I. The Prophet and His Book.
1. The Person of Ezekiel:
The name yehezqe’l, signifies "God strengthens." The Septuagint employed the form Iezekiel, from which the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 AD.) took its "Ezechiel" and Luther "Hesekiel." In
We find Ezekiel in Tel-abib (3:15) at the river Chebar (1:1,3; 3:15) on a Euphrates canal near Nippur, where the American expedition found the archives of a great business house, "Murashu and Sons." The prophet had been taken into exile in 597 BC. This event so deeply affected the fate of the people and his personal relations that Ezekiel dates his prophecies from this event. They begin with the 5th year of this date, in which year through the appearance of the Divine glory (compare II, 1 below) he had been consecrated to the prophetic office (1:2) and continued to the 27th year (29:17), i.e. from 593 to 571 BC. The book gives us an idea of the external conditions of the exiles. The expressions "prison," "bound," which are applied to the exiles, easily create a false impression, or at any rate a one-sided idea. These terms surely to a great extent are used figuratively. Because the Jews had lost their country, their capital city, their temple, their service and their independence as a nation, their condition was under all circumstances lamentable, and could be compared with the fate of prisoners and those in fetters.
The external conditions in themselves, however, seem rather to have been generally tolerable. The people live in their own houses (
Ezekiel was living in most happy wedlock. Now God reveals to him on a certain night that his wife, "the desire of his eye," is to die through a sudden sickness. On the evening of the following day she is already dead. But he is not permitted to weep or lament over her, for he is to serve as a sign that Jerusalem is to be destroyed without wailing or lamentation (24:15 ff). Thus in his case too, as it was with Hosea, the personal fate of the prophet is most impressively interwoven with his official activity.
The question at what age Ezekiel had left Jerusalem has been answered in different ways. From his intimate acquaintance with the priestly institutions and with the temple service, as this appears particularly in chapters 40 to 48, the conclusion is drawn that he himself must have officiated in the temple. Yet, the knowledge on his part can be amply explained if he only in a general way had been personally acquainted with the temple, with the law and the study of the Torah. We accept that he was already taken into exile at the age of 25 years, and in his 30th year was called to his prophetic office; and in doing this we come close to the statement of Josephus, according to which Ezekiel had come to Babylon in his youth. At any rate the remarkable statement in the beginning of his book, "in the 30th year," by the side of which we find the customary dating, "in the 5th year" (1:1,2), can still find its best explanation when referred to the age of the prophet. We must also remember that the 30th year had a special significance for the tribe of Levi (
It is indeed true that the attempt has been made to interpret this statement of Ezekiel on the basis of an era of Nabopolassar, but there is practically nothing further known of this era; and in addition there would be a disagreement here, since Nabopolassar ruled from 625 on, and his 30th year would not harmonize with the year 593 as determined by
As in the case of the majority of the prophets, legends have also grown around the person of Ezekiel. He is reported to have been the teacher of Pythagoras, or a servant of Jeremiah, or a martyr, and is said to have been buried in the tomb of Shem and Arphaxad. He indeed did stand in close relationship to Jeremiah (see ''''2, 3 below). Since the publication of Klostermann’s essay in the Studien und Kritiken, 1877, it has been customary, on the basis of
He lives in the midst of briars and thorns and dwells among scorpions (2:6). Israel has a mind harder than a rock, firmer than adamant (3:8 f). "Is he not a speaker of parables?" is cast up to him by his contemporaries, and he complains to God on this account (20:49); and God in turn sums up the impression which Ezekiel has made on them in the words (33:32): "Thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not." They consequently estimate him according to his aesthetic side (compare II, 1, below), but that is all.
2. The Book:
(1) Its Genuineness.
When compared with almost every other prophetic book, we are particularly favorably situated in dealing with the genuineness of the(compare my work, Die messianische Erwartung der vorexilischen Propheten, zugleich ein Protest gegen moderne Textzersplitterung), as this is practically not at all called into question, and efforts to prove a complicated composition of the book are scarcely made.
Both the efforts of Zunz, made long ago (compare Zeitschrift der deutsch-morgenlandishchen Gesellschaft, 1873, and Die gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Juden), and of Seinecke (Geschichte des Volkes Israel, II, 1 ff) to prove a Persian or even a Greek period as the time of the composition of the book; as also the later attempt of Kroetzmann, in his Commentary on Ezekiel, to show that there are two recensions of the book, have found no favor. The claim that
(2) Its Structure.
The parts of the book are in general very transparent. First of all the book is divided into halves by the announcement of the fall of Jerusalem in
The most extensive are those against Tyre and the group of oracles against Egypt, both provided with separate dates (compare 26:1-29:1; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1,17). The supplement in reference to Tyre (29:17 ff) is the latest dated oracle of Ezekiel (from the year 571 BC), and is found here, at a suitable place, because it is connected with a threat against Egypt (
Probably the five parts of the first subdivision, and the seven of the second, supplement each other, making a total of twelve (compare the analogous structure of
The second part also naturally fails into two subdivisions, of which the first contains the development of the nearer and more remote future, as to its inner character and its historical course (Eze 34-39):
(1) the true shepherd of Israel (
(2) the future fate of Edom (
(3) Israel’s deliverance from the disgrace of the shameful treatment by the heathen, which falls back upon the latter again (
(4) the desecration of the name of Yahweh by Israel and the sanctification by Yahweh (
(5) the revival of the Israelite nation (
(6) the reunion of the separated kingdoms, Judah and Israel (
(7) the overthrow of the terrible Gentilepower of the north (
The second subdivision (Eze 40-48) contains the reconstruction of the external affairs of the people in a vision, on the birthday of 573, "in the beginning of the year" (beginning of a jubilee year? (
(1) directions with reference to the temple (compare the subscription
(2) the altar (
(3) the wonderful fountain of the temple, on the banks of which the trees bear fruit every month (
(4) the boundaries of the land and its division among the twelve tribes of Israel (
(5) the size of the holy city and the names of its twelve gates (
In (3) to (5) the prominence of the number twelve is clear. Perhaps we can also divide (1) and (2) each into twelve pieces:
(1) would be
(2) it would be 43:13 ff,18 ff; 44:1 ff,4 ff,15 ff; 45:1 ff,9 ff,13 ff,18 ff; 46:1 ff,16 ff,19 ff.
At any rate the entire second chief part, Eze 34-48, contains predictions of deliverance. The people down to 586 were confident, so that Ezekiel was compelled to rebuke them. After the taking of Jerusalem a change took place in both respects. Now the people are despairing, and this is just the right time for the prophet to preach deliverance. The most important separate prophecies will be mentioned and examined in another connection (II below).
The transparent structure of the whole book suggests the idea that the author did not extend the composition over a long period, but wrote it, so to say, at one stretch, which of course does not make it impossible that the separate prophecies were put into written form immediately after their reception, but rather presupposes this. When the prophet wrote they were only woven together into a single uniform book (compare also EXODUS, IV, 1, 2).
(3) Relation to Jeremiah.
(4) Fate of the Book and Its Place in the Canon.
With Jeremiah and Ezekiel, many Hebrew manuscripts, especially those of the German and French Jews, begin the series of "later prophets," and thus these books are found before Isaiah; while the Massorah and the manuscripts of the Spanish Jews, according to the age and the size of the books, have the order, Isa, Jer, Ezk. The text of the book is, in part, quite corrupt, and in this way the interpretation of the book, not easy in itself, is made considerably more difficult. Jerome, Ad Paul., writes that the beginning and the end of the book contained many dark passages; that these parts, like the beginning of Gen, were not permitted to be read by the Jews before these had reached their 30th year. During the time when the schools of Hillel and Shammai flourished, Ezekiel belonged to those books which some wanted "to hide," the others being Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Canticles. In these discussions the question at issue was not the reception of the book into the Canon, which was rather presupposed, nor again any effort to exclude them from the Canon again, which thought could not be reconciled with the high estimate in which it is known that Es was held, but it was the exclusion of these books from public reading in the Divine service, which project failed. The reasons for this proposal are not to be sought in any doubt as to their authenticity, but in reference to their contents (compare my article "," in Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Possibly, too, one reason was to be found in the desire to avoid the profanation of the most sacred vision in the beginning of the book, as Zunz suggests. There is no doubt, however, that the difference of this book from the Torah was a reason that made it inadvisable to read it in public. It was hoped that these contradictions would be solved by Elijah when he should return. But finally, rabbinical research, after having used up three hundred cans of oil, succeeded in finding the solution. These contradictions, as a matter of fact, have not yet been removed, and have in modern times contributed to the production of a very radical theory in criticism, as will be shown immediately under II, 2.
II. Significance of Ezekiel in Israel’s Religious History.
Under the first head we will consider the formal characteristics and significance of the book; and the examination of its contents will form the subject under the next four divisions.
1. Formal Characteristics of Ezekiel:
It is not correct to regard Ezekiel merely as a writer, as it is becoming more and more customary to do. Passages like 3:10 f; 14:4 ff; 20:1 ff,27; 24:18 ff; 43:10 f show that just as the other prophets did, he too proclaimed by word of mouth the revelations of God he had received. However, he had access only to a portion of the people. It was indeed for him even more important than it had been for the earlier prophets to provide for the wider circulation and permanent influence of his message by putting it into written form. We will, at this point, examine his book first of all from its formal and its aesthetic side. To do this it is very difficult, in a short sketch, to give even a general impression of the practically inexhaustible riches of the means at his command for the expression of his thoughts.
Thus, a number of visions at once attract our attention. In the beginning of his work there appears to him the Divine throne-chariot, which comes from the north as a storm, as a great cloud and a fire rolled together. This chariot is borne by the four living creatures in the form of men, with the countenances of a man, of a lion, of an ox and of an eagle, representing the whole living creation. It will be remembered that these figures have passed over into the
As a rule the visions of Ezekiel, like those of Zechariah (compare my article "Zechariah" in Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary), are not regarded as actual experiences, but only as literary forms. When it is given as a reason for this that the number of visions are too great and too complicated, and therefore too difficult of presentation, to be real experiences, we must declare this to be an altogether too unsafe, subjective and irrelevant rule to apply in the matter. However, correct the facts mentioned are in themselves they do not compel us to draw this conclusion. Not only is it uncertain how many visions may be experiences (compare eg. the five visions in
(2) Symbolical Acts.
Then we find in Ezekiel, also, a large number of symbolical acts. According to Divine command Ezekiel sketches the city of Jerusalem and its siege on a tile (4:1 ff); or he lies bound on his left side, as an atonement, 390 days, and 40 days on his right side, according to the number of years of the guilt of Israel and Judah (4:4 ff). During the 390 days the condition of the people in exile is symbolized by a small quantity of food daily of the weight of only 20 shekels, and unclean, being baked on human or cattle dung, and a small quantity of water, which serves as food and drink of the prophet (4:9 ff).
By means of his beard and the hair of his head, which he shaves off and in part burns, in part strikes with the sword, and in part scatters to the wind, and only the very smallest portion of which he ties together in the hem of his garment, he pictures how the people shall be decimated so that only a small remnant shall remain (
In regard to the numerous allegories, attention need be drawn only to the picture of the two unfaithful sisters, Oholah and Oholibah (i.e. Samaria and Jerusalem), whose relation to Yahweh as well as their infidelity is portrayed in a manner that is actually offensive to over-sensitive minds (
Of the lamentations, we mention the following: according to
That his contemporaries knew how to appreciate the prophet at least from the aesthetic side, we saw above (I, 1). What impression does Ezekiel make upon us today, from this point of view? He is declared to be "too intellectual for a poet"; "fantastic"; "vividness in him finds a substitute in strengthening and repetition"; "he has no poetical talent"; "he is the most monotonous prose writer among the prophets." These and similar opinions are heard. In matters of taste there is no disputing; but there is food for reflection in the story handed down that Frederick yon Schiller was accustomed to read Ezekiel, chiefly on account of his magnificent descriptions, and that he himself wanted to learn Hebrew in order to be able to enjoy the book in the original. And Herder, with his undeniable and undenied fine appreciation of the poetry of many nations, calls Ezekiel "the Aeschylus and the Shakespeare of the Hebrews" (compare Lange’s Commentary on Ezk, 519).
2. Ezekiel and the Levitical System:
(1) Ezekiel 44:4 ff: Theory That the Distinction of Priests and Levites Was Introduced by Ezekiel.
(a) The Biblical Facts:
In the vision of the reconstruction of the external relations of the people in the future (
(b) Modern Interpretation of This Passage:
The modern interpretation of this passage (
It is indeed true, it is said, that these priests did not submit to such a representation of the case and such treatment. The violent contentions which are said to have arisen in consequence are thought to have their outcome expressed in
(c) Examination of Theory:
Both the exegesis of
(i) Not Tenable for Preexilic Period:
(ii) Not Sustained by Ezekiel:
Examination of the hypothesis on the basis of Ezekiel: No less unfavorable to the view of the critics must the judgment be when we examine it in the light of the contents of Ezekiel itself. The prophet presupposes a double service in the sanctuary, a lower service which, in the future, the degraded priests of the high places are to perform and which, in the past, had been performed in an unlawful manner by strangers (44:6-9), and a higher service, which had been performed by the Zadokites, the priests at the central sanctuary, in the proper way at the time when the other priests had gone astray, which service was for this reason to be entrusted to them alone in the future (compare, also, 40:45,46; 43:19). Since in 44:6 ff the sharpest rebukes are cast up to Israel (according to the reading of the Septuagint, which here uses the second person, even the charge of having broken the covenant), because they had permitted the lower service to be performed by uncircumcised aliens, it is absolutely impossible that Ezekiel should have been the first to introduce the distinction between higher and lower service, but he presupposes this distinction as something well known, and, also, that the lower service has been regulated by Divine ordinances. As we have such ordinances clearly given only in
But, on the representation of the critics, the whole attitude ascribed to Ezekiel cannot be upheld. It is maintained that a prophet filled with the highest religious and ethical thoughts has been guilty of an action that, from an ethical point of view, is to be most sharply condemned. The prophet is made to write reproaches against the people of Israel for something they could not help (
(iii) Not Supported by Development after Ezekiel:
(d) The True Solution:
The text as it reads in
The fact that in the ranks of lower participants in the cults, already in the days of David, according to Chronicles, a still further division had taken place (
(2) Ezekiel 40-48: Priority claimed for Ezekiel as against the Priest Codex
(a) Sketch of the modern view:
The entire vision of what the external condition of affairs would be in the future in Eze 40-48, and not only what is particularly stated in 44:4 ff, is made a part of Israel’s religious development in accordance with the scheme of the Wellhausen school. For this hypothesis, this section is one of the chief arguments, besides the opposition which it claims exists on the part of the prophets against the sacrifices, in addition to the proof taken from the history of the people and from the comparison of the different collections of laws with each other. In
(b) One-Sidedness of This View:
(c) Impossibility That Ezekiel Preceded P:
While the description of the temple in 40:5 ff and of the future dwelling-places of the people (47:13 ff) is comparatively complete, it is the very legislation of the ritual in 43:13-46:24, in which it is maintained that the authors of P followed the precedent of the prophet, that is in itself so full of omissions in Ezek, that it could not possibly have been a first sketch, but must presuppose the Priestly Code (P), if it is not to be regarded as suspended in the air. Eze presupposes not only burnt offerings, peace offerings and food offerings, but also sin offerings (40:39; 42:13; 43:19,21,22,25; 44:27,29; 46:20). Ezekiel is indeed the first and the only prophet who mentioned sin offerings, just as the guilt offerings are found outside of Eze only in
If this is not the case then Eze is without any foundation. In the same way the injunctions with reference to what is clean and unclean are presupposed as known in 44:23,15 f (compare 22:26). How long the uncleanness described in 22:26 continued can be seen only from
(d) Correct Interpretation of Passage
Eze 40-48: These chapters dare not be made a part of the development of the law in the Old Testament. Ezekiel’s was not a program that was under all circumstances to be carried out or even could be carried out, for it presupposes conditions that were beyond the control of Israel. For in 40:2 ff, a new geographical or geological situation is presupposed, which the country up to this time did not possess (compare the "very high mountain," 40:2), and the same is true in 47:1 ff in reference to the miraculous temple fountain with its equally miraculous powers, and in 47:13 ff in the division of the land. Only after these changes had been effected in the character of the localities by Yahweh, and Yahweh should again have entered the holy city according to 43:1 if, would it be possible to carry out also the other injunctions. It is impossible, either, to interpret these chapters as an allegory. This interpretation is out of the question on account of a large number of directions and measurements. It is, however, true that the whole is an ideal scheme, which portrays to the eye the continuation of the kingdom of God, and represents symbolically the presence of Yahweh, which sanctifies all around about it and creates for itself a suitable outward form. This is particularly apparent in the new name which is assigned to Jerusalem, namely, "Yahweh at that place," or the conclusion of this section and at the same time of the entire book. This, finally, leads us to a brief account of the views presented.
(3) Ezekiel’s Leviticism.
In (1) and (2) above, it has been shown that Ezekiel was not the starting-point of Leviticism in Israel: it rather represents the extreme development of this tendency. It was in harmony with the elementary stage of the Old Testament to give the thoughts and demands of God, not in a purely abstract form, but to clothem in objective and external materials, in order to prepare and educate Israel to understand Christianity. (The negative side of Leviticism, which is not to be overlooked by the side of the positive, is discussed in the article LEVITICUS) It is a matter of utmost importance for the correct understanding of the Old Testament, that we recognize that the prophets too throughout think Levitically; in their discourses, too, sacred trees, sacrifices, times, persons, tithes, play a most important role, notwithstanding all the spiritualization of religion on their part; and where it is thought possible to show an absolute opposition on the part of the prophets to the Levitical system, namely, in the matter of sacrifices, a close consideration, but especially, too, the analogy of the other external institutions, shows that we have in these cases only a relative antithesis (compare Are the Critics Right? 99 ff; Messianische Erwartung der vorexilischen Propheten, 333 ff). Thus e.g. Jeremiah who, in 6:20; 7:21 ff, engages as sharply as possible in polemics against the sacrificial system, and in 31:31 ff, in the passage treating of the new covenant, spiritualizes religion as much as possible, has assigned to sacrifices a place in his predictions of the future (compare 17:19 ff,26; 31:14; 33:18), just as the abiding-place and the revelation of God for this prophet too, are always found connected with the Holy Land, Jerusalem or Zion (compare 3:17; 12:15; 30:18; 31:6,11,12; 32:36 ff; 33:9). That in this the ultimate development of the kingdom of God has not yet been reached, but that the entire Old Testament contains only a preliminary stage, cannot be too sharply emphasized. In so far Ezekiel, in whose book Leviticism appears in its most developed state, more than others, shares in the limitations of the Old Testament. But just as little can it be denied that the Levitical system was really one stage, and that, too, an important and indispensable stage in the development of the kingdom of God; and that in this system, the question at issue is not only that of a change of a religion into a stereotyped formalism or externalism, which is the case if this system loses its contents, but the fact that it contained a valuable kernel which ripened in this shell, but would not have ripened if this shell had been prematurely discarded. The external conditions, their harmonious arrangement, the ceremonial ordinances, keeping clean from external pollution, are indeed only forms; but in them valuable contents succeed in finding their expression; through these Israel learned to understand these contents. The kernel could not be given without the shell nor the contents without the form, until in Christianity the time came when the form was to be broken and the shell discarded. This significance of the Levitical system becomes more evident in Eze than is the case, e.g. in the Priestly Code (P), where indeed a few passages like
3. Ezekiel and the Messianic Idea:
4. Ezekiel and Apocalyptic Literature:
Ezekiel is also, finally, regarded as the creator of apocalyptic literature, which in prophetic garment sought to satisfy the curiosity of the people and picture the details of the last times. In this connection the critics have in mind especially Eze 38; 39, that magnificent picture of the final onslaught of the nations under, which will end with the certain victory of the Divine cause and the terrible overthrow of the enemies of Yahweh. On the mountains of Israel the hosts will fall (39:4); seven years it will be possible to kindle fires with the weapons of the enemies (39:9); it takes seven months to bury the dead (39:12); a great feast is prepared for the birds (39:17 ff).
5. Ezekiel’s Conception of God:
A prophet who, from the aesthetic side, enjoyed the highest appreciation of a Schiller and a Herder (see 1 above), who has brought the Leviticism of the Old Testament to the highest stage of development (compare 2 above), who in his portrait of the Messiah has introduced the high-priestly characteristics (compare 3 above), who in eschatology developed new features and laid the foundation for the development that followed in later times (compare 4 above), can scarcely with any right or reason be termed a "secondary character among the prophets." This fact becomes all the more sure when we now finally examine the conception of God as taught in Ezk. In grandeur and variety of thought, in this respect only, Isaiah and Moses can be compared with Ezekiel. Already in the visions, we are struck by the sublimity of God as there pictured, especially in the opening vision, where He appears as the absolute ruler of all creation, over which He sits enthroned (compare II, 1, above). He is constantly called "the Lord Yahweh," over against whom the prophet is at all times only "the son of man." More than fifty times it is said that the purpose of the prophecy was that the heathen nations, as well as the Israelites, shall by His judgments and His promises recognize that He is Yahweh.
Most of all, Ezekiel’s conception of God, according to the preceding sketch, reminds us of that of Calvin. By the exalted character of God we find also a second feature. On the one side we find the holy God; on the other, sinful man. The entire development of the people is from the beginning a wrong one. Ezekiel’s thoughts are to be regarded as those for days of penance when he, on the one hand, emphasizes the great guilt of the people as such (compare
Comm. of Keil, Havernick, Hengstenberg, von Orelli, Smend, Bertholet, Kraetzschmar. For the Messianic Prophecies, the works of von Orelli, Riehm, Delitzsch, Hengstenberg. Compare also Volz, Die vorexilische Jahwe-Prophetie und der Messias; Moller, Die messianische Erwartung der vorexilischen Propheten, zugleich ein Protest gegen moderne Textzersplitterung; Cornill, The Prophet Ezekiel; Klostermann, Studien und Kritken, 1877. Introductions of Kuenen, Strack, Baudissin, Konig, Cornill, Driver. Histories of Israel, by Kohler, Konig, Kittel, Klostermann, Oettli, Stade, Wellhausen. Bible Lexicons, see under "Ezekiel."
Against the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis, Moller, Are the Critics Right? In this Encyclopedia, for further literature compare also the article LEVITICUS: Orr, Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament; Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism, and The Origin of the Pentateuch; Hoffmann, Die wichtigsten Instanzen gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese; Kegel, Wilhelm Vatke u. die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese; Zunz, Die gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Juden; Seinecke, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, II.