Ezekiel

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 (Ezek.3.7-Ezek.3.8, Ezek.3.14). Of a priestly family (Ezek.1.3), Ezekiel grew up in Judea during the last years of Hebrew independence and was deported to Babylon with Jehoiachin in 597 b.c., probably early in life. He was thus a younger contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah and of Daniel who, also as a young man, was taken to Babylon in 605. Ezekiel lived with the Jewish exiles by the irrigation canal Kebar (Ezek.1.1, Ezek.1.3; Ezek.3.15) which connected the Tigris River with the Euphrates above Babylon; Daniel carried out his quite different work in the Babylonian court. We know little more about Ezekiel, except that he was married (Ezek.24.18).

Ezekiel was called to be a prophet in the fifth year of his captivity (Ezek.1.1-Ezek.1.2); the last date mentioned is the twenty-seventh year (Ezek.29.17); his ministry therefore lasted at least twenty-two years, from about 593 to 571 b.c.

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 (Ezek.3.14-Ezek.3.15, Ezek.3.26-Ezek.3.27; Ezek.4.4-Ezek.4.5; Ezek.24.27) hardly support such a theory. Rather it would seem that the occasional silence of the prophet and his lying on the ground were signs to gain the attention of the people and to act out his message.

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” (Ezek.1.3; Ezek.3.14, Ezek.3.22), shows how strongly he felt impelled to communicate the message given him. His preaching was directed to his Jewish brethren in exile; and, like Jeremiah’s, it was often resented, for it held out little hope for the immediate future. No doubt his message was ultimately received, for the Exile became a time of religious purging. In Babylon the Jews were cured permanently of their idolatry; and Ezekiel, their major religious leader, must be given much credit for that.

The prophet’s ministry was divided into two periods. The first ends with the siege of Jerusalem in 587 b.c. (Ezek.24.1, Ezek.24.27). It was a message of approaching destruction for Jerusalem and of condemnation of her sin. The second period begins with the reception of the news of Jerusalem’s fall, some two years later (Ezek.33.21-Ezek.33.22). Now the prophet’s message emphasized comfort and looked forward to the coming of the kingdom of God. It would appear that during the two years between, Ezekiel ceased all public ministry.

Frequently in this book (more than seventy times), Ezekiel is referred to as “son of man.” The term means a mortal, as in Ps.8.4, and is used here to emphasize the prophet’s weakness and dependence on God for his success. Later the term came to be a messianic designation.——JBG



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 (Ezek 1:2). The summons to take up the prophetic ministry thus came to Ezekiel in 592 b.c. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their public ministry at the age of thirty (Luke 3:23).

As a member of the Zadok family, Ezekiel was among the aristocracy taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14). The prophet therefore built the chronology of his prophecy on the years of Jehoiachin’s abduction (Ezek 1:2; 33:21; 40:1). His last dated prophecy is in the year 570 b.c., the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin’s captivity (29:17), and indicates that Ezekiel exercised his prophetic office for at least twenty-two years, his first prophecy having been announced in 592 b.c.


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 (2 Kings 24:14-17). Among the captives of this deportation was Ezekiel. The third deportation of Judean captives to Babylonia by Nebuchadnezzar was in 586 b.c., the year of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the kingdom of Judah. Thus Ezekiel’s life paralleled the years of the greatest crisis of Israel’s history.


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 (Isa 6:6-10). Jeremiah first heard the Lord addressing him. The Lord then touched his mouth in an act symbolizing the delivering of His words to the prophet (Jer 1:4-10). For Ezekiel, however, the words for the people were written in advance and he “ate” the written words (Ezek 2:10).

Ezekiel emphasized the doctrine of personal responsibility for sin in the most vigorous terms. “The soul that sins shall die” (18:4). The message of Ezekiel in this respect constituted an important turning point in the prophetic message. With the destruction of the nation, the emphasis on national responsibility gave way to an emphasis on individual responsibility.

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 (4:1-3). He lay prostrate on one side and then on the other for several days (4:4-8). He shaved himself with a sword and then divided the hair (5:1-17). Many such dramatic symbolic acts enhanced the effectiveness of the prophet’s message. After the destruction of Jerusalem Ezekiel’s prophecy became predominantly a message of consolation. Fully aware of the weaknesses of God’s chosen people, the prophet centered Israel’s Messianic hope in them, describing in glowing terms their religious, moral, political, and economic future.

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.

Bibliography

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 Old Testament (1964), 285-315.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

e-ze’-ki-el:

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 Eze 1:3 the prophet is said to be the son of a certain Buzi, and that he was a priest. This combination of the priestly and prophetic offices is not accidental at a time when the priests began to come more and more into the foreground. Thus, too, Jeremiah (1:1) and Zechariah (1:1; compare Ezr 5:1; 6:14; Ne 12:4,16, and my article "Zechariah" in Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) were priests and prophets; and in Zec 7:3 a question in reference to fasting is put to both priests and prophets at the same time. And still more than in the case of Zechariah and Jeremiah, the priestly descent makes itself felt in the case of Ezekiel. We here already draw attention to his Levitical tendencies, which appear particularly prominent in Eze 40; Eze 46 (see under II, 2 below), and to the high-priestly character of his picture of the Messiah (21:25 f; 45:22; see II, 3 below).

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 (Jer 29:5). Ezekiel himself is probably the owner of a house (Eze 3:24; 8:1). They have also retained their organization, for their elders visit the prophet repeatedly (Eze 8:1; 14:1; 20:1). This makes it clear why later comparatively few made use of the permission to return to their country. The inscriptions found in the business house at Nippur contain also a goodly number of Jewish names, which shows how the Jews are becoming settled and taking part in the business life of the country.

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 (Nu 4:3,13,10,39), and that later on, and surely not accidentally, both Jesus and nodetitle began their public activity at this age (Lu 3:23).

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 Eze 1:2. Just as little can be said for explaining these 30 years as so many years after the discovery of the book of the law in 623, in the reign of Josiah (2Ki 22 f). For this case too there is not the slightest hint that this event had been made the beginning of a new era, and, in addition, the statement in Eze 1:1, without further reference to this event, would be unthinkable.

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 Eze 3:14 f,26 f; 4:4 ff; 24:27, to regard Ezekiel as subject to catalepsy (compare the belief often entertained that Paul was an epileptic). Even if his condition, in which he lay speechless or motionless, has some similarity with certain forms of catalepsy or kindred diseases, i.e. a temporary suspension of the power of locomotion or of speech; yet in the case of Ezekiel we never find that he is describing a disease, but his unique condition occurs only at the express command of God (3:24 ff; 24:25 ff); and this on account of the stubbornness of the house of Israel (3:26). This latter expression which occurs with such frequency (compare 2:5 ff; 3:9,27, etc.) induces to the consideration of the reception which the prophet met at the hand of his contemporaries.

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 Book of Ezekiel (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 Eze 40; Eze 48 were written by a pupil of Ezekiel was made as a timid suggestion by Volz, but, judging from the tendency of criticism, the origin of these chapters will probably yet become the subject of serious debate. But in general the conviction obtains that the book is characterized by such unity that we can only accept or reject it as a whole, but that for its rejection there is not the least substantial ground. This leads us to the contents.

(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 Eze 33; of which parts the first predominantly deals with punishments and threats; the other with comfort and encouragement. Possibly it is these two parts of the book that Josephus has in mind when he says (Ant., X) that Ezekiel had written two books. That the introduction of prophecies of redemption after those of threats in other prophetical books also is often a matter of importance, and that the right appreciation of this fact is a significant factor in the struggle against the attacks made on the genuineness of these books has been demonstrated by me in my book, Die messianische Erwartung der vorexilischen Prophelen (compare 39-40 for the case of Amos; 62 ff, 136 f, for the case of Hosea; 197 ff for Isa 7-12 ff for Micah; see also my article in Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Down to the time when Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel was compelled to antagonize the hopes, which were supported by false prophets, that God would not suffer this calamity. Over against this, Ezekiel persistently and emphatically points to this fact, that the apostasy had been too great for God not to bring about this catastrophe. There is scarcely a violation of a single command--religious, moral or cultural--which the prophet is not compelled to charge against the people in the three sections, 3:16 ff; 8:1 ff; 20:1 ff, until in 24:1 ff, on the 10th day of the 10th month of the 9th year (589 BC) the destruction of Jerusalem was symbolized by the vision of the boiling pot with the piece of meat in it, and the unlamented destruction of the city was prefigured by the unmourned and sudden death of his wife (see 1 above). After the five sections of this subdivision I, referring to Israel--each one of which subdivisions is introduced by a new dating, and thereby separated from the others and chronologically arranged (1:1 ff, with the consecration of the prophet immediately following it; 3:16 ff; 8:1 ff; 20:1 ff; 24:1 ff)--there follow as a second subdivision the seven oracles against the Ammonites (25:1 ff); the Moabites (25:8 ff); the Edomites (25:12 ff); the Philistines (25:15 ff); Tyre (26:1 ff); Sidon (28:20 ff); Egypt (29:1 ff), evidently arranged from a geographical point of view.

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 (Eze 40; Eze 48 date from the year 573 according to Eze 40:1). The number seven evidently does not occur accidentally, since in other threats of this kind a typical number appears to have been purposely chosen, thus: Isa 13-22, i.e. ten; Jer 46; Jer 51, also ten; which fact again under the circumstances is an important argument in repelling attacks on the genuineness of the book.

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 Ex 25:1;30:10 under EXODUS, and probably the chiastic structure of Eze 34, with 7 and 5 pieces; see below). The oracles against the foreign countries are not only in point of time to be placed between Eze 24 and 33:21, but also, as concerns contents, help splendidly to solve the difficulty suggested by chapter 24, and in this way satisfactorily fill the gap thus made. The arrival of the news of the fall of Jerusalem, in 586 BC (compare 33:21 ff), which had already been foretold in chapter 24, introduced by the mighty watchman’s cry to repentance (33:1 ff), and followed by a reproof of the superficial reception of the prophetic word (see 1 above), concludes the first chief part of the book.

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 (Eze 34);

(2) the future fate of Edom (Eze 35);

(3) Israel’s deliverance from the disgrace of the shameful treatment by the heathen, which falls back upon the latter again (Eze 36:1-15);

(4) the desecration of the name of Yahweh by Israel and the sanctification by Yahweh (Eze 36:15-38);

(5) the revival of the Israelite nation (Eze 37:1-14);

(6) the reunion of the separated kingdoms, Judah and Israel (Eze 37:15-28);

(7) the overthrow of the terrible Gentilepower of the north (Eze 38 f).

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? (Le 25:10); compare also DAY OF ATONEMENT). After the explanatory introduction (Eze 40:1-4), there follow five pericopes:

(1) directions with reference to the temple (compare the subscription Eze 43:12) (Eze 40:5-43:12);

(2) the altar (Eze 43:13-46:24);

(3) the wonderful fountain of the temple, on the banks of which the trees bear fruit every month (Eze 47:1-12);

(4) the boundaries of the land and its division among the twelve tribes of Israel (Eze 47:13-48:29);

(5) the size of the holy city and the names of its twelve gates (Eze 48:30-35).

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 Eze 40:5 ff,17 ff,28 ff,39 ff,48 ff; 41:1 ff,5 ff,12 ff,15 ff; 42:1 ff,15 ff; 43:1 ff; for

(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 "Canon of the Old Testament," 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.

(1) Visions.

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 Revelation of John (Re 4:7), and later were regarded as the symbols of the four evangelists. In Eze 10 f this throne-chariot in the vision leaves the portal of the temple going toward the east, returning again in the prediction of deliverance in Eze 43. Moreover, the entire last nine chapters are to be interpreted as a vision (compare 40:2). We must not forget, finally, the revivification of the Israelite nation in Eze 37, represented in the picture of a field full of dead bones, which are again united, covered with skin, and receive new life through the ruach (word of two meanings, "wind" and "spirit").

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 Am 7 ff, which are generally regarded as actual experiences), but it is also absolutely impossible to prove such an a priori claim with reference to the impossibility and the unreality of processes which are not accessible to us by our own experience. As these visions, one and all, are, from the religious and ethical sides, up to the standards of nodetitle prophecy, and as, further, they are entirely unique in character, and as, finally, there is nothing to show that they are only literary forms, we must hold to the conviction that the visions are actual experiences.

(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 (Eze 5:1 ff). In Eze 12, he prepares articles necessary for marching and departs in the darkness. Just so Israel will go into captivity and its king will not see the country into which he goes (compare the blinding of Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:7). In Eze 37:15 ff, he unites two different sticks into one, with inscriptions referring to the two kingdoms, and these picture the future union of Israel and Judah. It is perhaps an open question whether or not some of these symbolical actions, which would be difficult to carry out in actuality, are not perhaps to be interpreted as visions; thus, eg. the distributing the wine of wrath to all the nations, in Jer 25:15, can in all probability not be understood in any other way. But, at any rate, it appears to us that here, too, the acceptance of a mere literary form is both unnecessary and unsatisfactory, and considering the religio-ethical character of Ezekiel, not permissible.

(3) Allegories.

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 (Eze 23; compare Eze 16). In Eze 17, Zedekiah is represented under the image of a grapevine, which the great eagle (i.e. the king of Babylon) has appointed, which, however, turns to another great eagle (king of Egypt), and because of this infidelity shall be rooted out, until God, eventually, causes a new tree to grow out of a tender branch.

(4) Lamentations.

Of the lamentations, we mention the following: according to Eze 19, a lioness rears young lions, one after the other, but one after the other is caught in a trap and led away by nose-rings. The ones meant are Jehoahaz and certainly Jehoiachin. The lion mother, who before was like a grapevine, is banished (Zedekiah). Another lamentation is spoken over Tyre, which is compared to a proud ship (compare Eze 27:1 ff); also over the king of Tyre, who is hurled down from the mountain of the gods (Eze 28:11-19); and over Pharaoh of Egypt, who is pictured as a crocodile in the sea (Eze 32:1 ff).

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 (Eze 40;48), in the second pericope, which treats of the cult (43:13-46:24; compare I, 2, 2), it is claimed that Ezekiel, at the command of Yahweh, reproaches the Israelites that they engage in their room strangers, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to take charge of the service of Yahweh in the sanctuary, instead of doing this service themselves, and thus desecrate the temple (44:4-8). From now on the Levites, who hitherto have been participating in the service of the idols on the high places and had become for Israel an occasion for guilt, are to attend to this work. They are degraded from the priesthood as a punishment of their guilt, and are to render the above-mentioned service in the temple (Eze 44:9 ff), while only those Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who had been rendering their services in the sanctuary in the proper way, while Israel was going astray, are to be permitted to perform priestly functions (Eze 44:15 ff).

(b) Modern Interpretation of This Passage:

The modern interpretation of this passage (Eze 44:4 ff) is regarded as one of the most important proofs for the Wellhausen hypothesis. Down to the 7th century BC it is claimed that there are no signs that a distinction was made between the persons who had charge of the cults in Israel, and this is held to be proved by the history of the preceding period and by the Book of Deuteronomy, placed by the critics in this time. It is said that Ezekiel is the first to change this, and in this passage introduces the distinction between priests and the lower order of Levites, which difference is then presupposed by the Priestly Code. According to this view, the high priest of the Priestly Code, too, would not yet be known to Ezekiel, and would not yet exist in his time. More fully expressed, the development would have to be thought as follows: the Book of Deuteronomy, which abolished the service on the high places, and had introduced the concentration of the cults, had in a humane way provided for the deposed priests who had been serving on the high places, and, in 18:6 ff, had expressly permitted them to perform their work in Jerusalem, as did all of their brethren of their tribe, and to enjoy the same income as these. While all the other Deuteronomic commands had in principle been recognized, this ordinance alone had met with opposition: for in 2Ki 23:9 we are expressly told that the priests of the high places were not permitted to go up to Jerusalem. Ezekiel now, according to Wellhausen’s statement, "hangs over the logic of the facts a moral mantle," by representing the deposition of the priests of the high places as a punishment for the fact that they were priests of the high places, although they had held this position in the past by virtue of legal right.

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 Nu 16 f (the rebellion of Korah, the budding staff of Aaron). The Priestly Code, however, continued to adhere to the distinction once it had been introduced, and had become a fact already at the return in 538 BC (compare Ezr 2:36 ff), even if it was found impossible to limit the priesthood to the Zadokites, and if it was decided to make an honorable office out of the degraded position of the Levites as given by Ezekiel. The fact that, according to Ezr 2:36-39, in the year 538 BC, already 4,289 priests, but according to verse 40, only 74 Levites, returned, is also regarded as proving how dissatisfied the degraded priests of the high places had been with the new position, created by Ezekiel, to which they had been assigned. With the introduction of the P Codex in 444 BC, which made a distinction between high priest, priests and Levites within the tribe of Levi, this development reached an end for the time being. While Deuteronomy speaks of the "Levitical priests," which expression is regarded as confirming the original identity of the priests and the Levites, it is claimed that since the days of Ezekiel, priests and Levites constitute two sharply distinguished classes.

(c) Examination of Theory:

Both the exegesis of Eze 44:4 ff and the whole superstructure are in every direction indefensible and cannot be maintained (compare also my work, Are the Critics Right? 30 ff, 124 ff, 196 ff).

(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 Nu 18:2 ff (from P) it is in itself natural and almost necessary that Ezekiel has reference to these very ordinances, but these very ordinances direct that the Levites are to have charge of this lower service. This is confirmed by Eze 48:12 f, where the designation "Levites" in contradistinction from the priests is a fixed and recognized term for the lower cult officials. For Ezekiel has not at all said that he would from now on call these temple-servants simply by the name "Levites," but, rather, he simply presupposes the terminology of P as known and makes use of it. He would, too, scarcely have selected this expression to designate a condition of punishment, since the term "Levites" is recognized on all hands to be an honorable title in the sacred Scriptures. And when he, in addition, designates the Zadokites as "Levitical priests" (Eze 44:15), this only shows anew that Ezekiel in his designation of the lower temple-servants only made use of the terminology introduced by P.

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 (Eze 44:6 ), and he is made to degrade and punish the priests of the high places, who also had acted in good faith and were doing what they had a right to do (Eze 44:9 ff; compare "the moral mantle" which, according to Wellhausen, "he threw over the logic of facts"). Ezekiel is accordingly regarded here as a bad man; but at the same time he would also be a stupid man. How could he expect to succeed in such an uncouth and transparent trick? If success had attended the effort to exclude from the service in Jerusalem the priests of the high places according to 2Ki 23:9, and notwithstanding De 18:6 ff, which according to what has been said under (a) is most improbable, then this would through the action of Ezekiel again have been made a matter of uncertainty. Or, was it expected that they would suffer themselves to be upraided and punished without protesting if they had done no wrong? Finally, too, the prophet would have belonged to that class whose good fortune is greater than their common sense. This leads us to the following:

(iii) Not Supported by Development after Ezekiel:


(d) The True Solution:

The text as it reads in Eze 44:9 ff actually does speak of a degradation. If the matter involved only a mere putting back into the status quo ante, of the Levites, who on the high places, contrary to the law, had usurped the prerogatives of the higher priestly offices, as this could easily be understood, then the expression in Eze 44:10,12, "They shall bear their iniquity," would lose much of its significance. On the other hand, the whole matter finds its explanation if, in the first place, the lower order of Levites did not put a high estimate on their office, so that they transferred their service to aliens (44:6 ff), and if, in the second place, by those Levites who departed from Yahweh, when Israel was going astray, not all the Levites are to be understood, but only a certain group of priests, who by these words were for themselves and their contemporaries clearly enough designated: namely, the descendants of Aaron through Ithamar and Eleazar in so far as they were not Zadokites, that is, had not officiated at the central sanctuary. The non-Zadokite priests had permitted themselves to be misled to officiate in the idolatry in the services of the high places, and for this reason were for the future to be degraded to the already existing lower order of the Levites.

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 (1Ch 23-26), so that by the side of the Levites in the most narrow sense of the word, also the singers and the gate watchmen were Levites of a lower rank (Ne 12:44-47; 13:10), is again in itself entirely credible, and, in addition, is made very probable by Ezr 2:40 ff. This too at once increases the small number of Levites who returned from the exile from 74 to 341. In comparison to the number of priests (4,289) the number yet remains a small one, but from Eze 44:6 ff we learn further that the Levites also before the days of Ezekiel had not appreciated their office, for then they would not have given it over to aliens. In this way not only does everything become clear and intelligible, but the weapon which was to serve for the defense of the Wellhausen school has in every respect been turned against these critics. The historical order can only be: first, the Priestly Code, and after that Ezekiel; never vice versa.

(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 Eze 40;48 many things are different from what they are in the Priestly Code, and in Eze much is lacking that is found in P. How now would a prophet dare to change the legislation in P? Hence, P is regarded as later than Ezk. This is, briefly, the logic of the Wellhausen school.

(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 Isa 53:10. But this reference is of such a kind that he presupposes on the part of his readers an acquaintance also with these two kinds of sacrifices; hence, it is, in itself, a natural conclusion, that the sacrificial legislation of the Priestly Code (P), that is, chiefly Le 1 to 7, is older, and as the guilt offerings and the sin offerings are prescribed only by the Priestly Code (P), and in Le 4 f appear to be emphasized anew, this conclusion becomes a necessity.

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 Nu 19:11 ff. Since in Eze 22:26 there is presupposed a definitely fixed Torah or Law, which it is possible to violate, then it is only natural to conclude that such commands existed before the days of Ezekiel, especially such as are found in Le 11-15. In the same way the general character of the ordinances (Eze 44:30 a), concerning the tithes due to the cult officials, demand such further developments as are found especially in Nu 18 in P. The high priests, too, although Ezekiel makes no mention of them, belong to the period earlier than Ezekiel, as was proved under (1). If there had been no high priest before the days of Ezekiel, it would have been a perfect mystery, in addition, how he would be found after 520 BC (Hag 1:1; Zec 3:8; 6:10 ), without a word having been mentioned of the establishment of such an important institution. In addition, if the office had been created just at this time, this would make it very uncomfortable for the contentions of the Wellhausen school, since the other ordinances of P were introduced only in 444 BC, and should here be regarded as innovating.


(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 Ex 25:8; 29:45 ff; 40:34 ff; Le 16; 19:18; 26:31,41 clearly show in what sense the entire legislation is to be understood; but the mere fact that there are so few of these passages makes it easy to overlook them; while in Ezekiel, in addition to the purely Levitical utterances, and in part more closely connected with these, the entire work is saturated with the emphasis put on the highest religious and ethical thoughts, so that both must be in the closest harmony with each other (compare on this subject also Ezekiel’s conception of God under 5 below). That Ezekiel and the Law of Holiness stand in such close relations to each other is not to be explained from this, that Ezekiel is in any way to be connected with the composition of the law in Le 17-26, but on the ground of the tendency common to both. The fact that Ezekiel shows a special liking for these chapters in P does not, accordingly, justify the conclusion that Le 17 ff ever existed as a separate legal codex. We must in this connection not forget the close connection of the prophets with the rest of P mentioned under (2) above (compare LEVITICUS). We close this part of the discussion with the statement that Ezekiel constructed his system on the basis of the Levitical ordinance, but as priest-prophet (compare under I, 1) utilized this material independently and freely.

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 Gog and Magog, 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 Eze 16 and 23), and by the side of this maintains the principle that each one must be punished on account of his own sins (Eze 18:2), so that the individual cannot excuse himself, and the individual cannot be freed through the guilt of the people as a totality. But now comes the highest conception. The exalted and holy God comes to be a God of love. What is it but love, that He does not reject His people forever, but promises them a future (compare Eze 34-48, in which also the divided kingdoms are to be reunited, 37:15 ff)? As Exodus finds its culmination point in the indwelling of God among His people, which He promised in Ex 25 ff (25:8; 29:45 f), but seems to have become a matter of doubt again in Ex 32 ff through the apostasy of the people, and nevertheless is finally realized in Ex 35 ff (40:34 ff), thus too in Eze 10 f, Yahweh leaves the city, but in 43:1 ff He again returns, and now the name of the city is "Yahweh is there" (48:35). But as every single member participates in the sin and the punishment of the people, so too he takes part in the deliverance. Ezekiel is indeed, as little as is Jeremiah, the creator of individualism, which he has often been declared to be. Against this claim, e.g. the character of the patriarchs can be appealed to. But a deeper conception of individualism has actually been brought about by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The national organization as such was for the present dissolved. Accordingly, these prophets have now to deal more with the individual (compare 1, 2, 3, above). Ezekiel is actually the pastor of those in exile. He has been appointed the watchman of the house of Israel (3:16 ff and 33:1 ff). He can bear the responsibility for the individual souls (compare also Eze 18). The wicked man who dies without having been warned is demanded from his hand by God. Yahweh does not wish the death of the sinner, but that he should repent and live. Here such a clear mirror is given, that before it conscientious Christian preachers must all feel ashamed. Yahweh is the gracious God, who does not treat men simply according to the principle of retaliation, else what would become of man? God rather desires to bestow all things out of free grace; he that repents shall live. This is the highest ideal of the prophet, and with it we close.

The Feast of Weeks, the Pentecost of the Israelites, Ezekiel does not mention (compare II, 2, 2b, above). This festival has come to be one of higher importance since on Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out, and this Spirit Ezekiel knows. Besides, such passages as Jer 32:15; 44:1-6; Ps 51:12 ff; Joe 2:28 ff; Jer 31:31 ff, it is Ezekiel which contains the clearest predictions of Pentecost. It is the Spirit who in Eze 37 awakens to new life the dead bones of Israel.

And in Eze 36:25-28 we read: "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."

LITERATURE.

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.

Wilhelm Moller