Book of Ezekiel of The Old Testament

Book of Ezekiel often just called Ezekiel

Book of Ezekiel

photo by Mario Lapid

Ezekiel or the Book of Ezekiel is a major prophetic text of the Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible Tanakh. The book of Ezekiel describes seven visions of Ezekiel during his 22-year exile in Babylon from 593 BC to 571 BC. The structure of the book of Ezekiel revolves around three themes: oracles of judgment against the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem that covers chapters 1 to 24; oracles of judgment against foreign nations that covers chapters 25 to 32; and future prophecies of hope, salvation and happiness in chapters between 33 and 48.

The Book of Ezekiel opens by describing a vision that propelled Ezekiel to follow in his prophetic mission. The prophet narrates his vision that makes use of complex and elaborate imagery symbolizing the greatness of Yahweh and establishes Yahweh’s sovereign authority over all nations of earth. Yahweh approaches Ezekiel in his majestic battle chariot as a divine warrior. The Book of Ezekiel then goes on to explain that the chariot is driven by 4 living creatures, each of whom has 4 faces, that of an ox, a lion, an eagle and a man, and 4 wings. A “wheel within a wheel” is present beside each of the living creatures that have tall rims with eyes all around. This vision totally overcomes the prophet who by now has fallen on his face.

Yahweh’s voice reaches out to him, commissioning him to go to the rebellious nation of Israel and be a prophet and watchman there. A scroll is then handed over to Ezekiel which consists of words of lamentation and mourning. Ezekiel eats the scroll as he is told to do so and finds that it has a honey-like sweet taste. Although Ezekiel understands the message that he is to convey pertains to the forthcoming destruction and fall of Jerusalem and First Temple, he is still overjoyed by the fact that he is to carry out this divine task.

Ezekiel opined that the reason for the exile as well as the forthcoming doom is that people were in defiance of the laws set by Yahweh. As Yahweh is the supreme ruler of all earthly nations, disobedience of His commands should be met with appropriate punishment as it is a matter of honor for the all-powerful deity. Jerusalem needs to be destroyed because of the sinful acts of its people. The sinful acts include both ceremonial and moral transgressions. Worshiping of idols representing foreign deities and consuming forbidden meat are unclean acts that are against the commandments set by Yahweh.

Furthermore in the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel proclaims that Yahweh will inflict His punishment on Jerusalem, Judah and other nations for their sins. People like Edomites, Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians and Phoenician cities of Sidon and Tyre will see devastation and destruction. Although Yahweh is a universal God, he stands in a special relationship to Israel. Whereas other cities will be destroyed without any hope for reformation, the Kingdom of Israel will go through destruction and then be restored again when the spirit of Yahweh will dwell on the hearts of Israelites.

The final eight chapters of the Book of Ezekiel describe a restored Israel at the end of Jewish exile. A new Temple is going to be erected outside the main city of Jerusalem which will be immune to possible contamination. The high priest will take on the position of the highest official, indicating the supremacy of religious considerations.