The book of Ezekiel.
Counted among the prophets.
None on site.
CCEL: Ezekiel (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Gateway (English only).
HTML Bible: Ezekiel (Hebrew and English).
HTML Bible: Ezekiel
(Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
Kata Pi BHS: Ezekiel (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX: Ezekiel (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Ezekiel (polyglot).
Ezekiel at the OT Gateway.
Ezekiel in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Ezekiel at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
Ezekiel from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to Ezekiel (David Malick).
Outline of Ezekiel (David Malick).
Life and Literature of the Early Period (Gerald Larue).
The book of Ezekiel ranks among the latter prophets in the Jewish
The book was originally written in Hebrew, but the ancient Greek
translation known as the Septuagint
(abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text.
Various patristic sources also attribute a separate
apocryphal work to the prophet
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of Ezekiel:
Robert R. Wilson writes: "In Jewish tradition the interpretation of Ezekiel
has been particularly difficult because some of the legal material contained
in chaps. 40-48 contradicts the laws of the Torah. The Babylonian Talmud reports
that this fact caused some rabbis to advocate withdrawing the book from circulation,
a fate that was avoided only through the extraordinary efforts of Hananiah son
of Hezekiah, who successfully reconciled the contradictions (b. Sabb. 13b; b.
Hag. 13a; b. Menah 45a). Equally troublesome to the rabbis was the vision of
God's glory described in Ezekiel 1, a passage that they feared might lead to
dangerous mystical speculations or even destroy the interpreter who probed too
deeply into its mysteries. According to the Talmud, Hananiah son of Hezekiah
was again able to persuade his colleagues not to withdraw Ezekiel, although
Jerome reports that some rabbis prohibited the reading of the beginning and
end of the book by anyone under the age of thirty (b. Hag. 13a)." (Harper's
Bible Commentary, p. 652)
Samuel Sandmel writes: "It must be confessed that the Book of Ezekiel
is very difficult. Most of us know about it primarily from an American spiritual,
'Ezekiel Saw de Wheels,' or from the celebrated vision of the valley of dry
bones in the 37th chapter. It is such a difficult book that I can think of nothing
less rewarding for the untrained person than to try to read it in the King James
Version without explanatory help. The book consists of forty-eight chapters.
Chapters 40-8, at the end of the book, are a description of a vision of what
the restored Temple in Jerusalem was to look like. We can set aside this section
for later consideration, as well as Chapters 25-32, which consist of denunciations
of foreign nations. The remainder, Chapters 1-24, presents a series of visions
and predictions, which announce that the ruin of Jerusalem is going to take
place, as it did in 586. Chapters 33-9 deal with the future restoration of Israel.
One can say, then, that the total book consists of the prophetic call and commission,
predictions of the destruction, denunciations of foreign nations, visions of
restoration, and, finally, a plan for religious restoration." (The Hebrew
Scriptures, pp. 152-153)
Arnold J. Tkacik writes: "The problem on which there is the sharpest disagreement
even today is the locale of Ezekiel's ministry and the identity of his audience.
Traditionally, Ezekiel was thought to have been deported to Babylon in 597,
where he received his call and worked all his life among the exiles. Such, at
first sight, is the picture that springs immediately from the text (1:1). The
first to question the Babylonian setting of the Prophet's activity was C. C.
Torrey, who in 1930 maintained that Ezekiel was created by a 3rd-cent. writer
who originally set his ministry in the northern kingdom during Manasseh's reign;
such idolatry as Ezekiel condemned fits that age and is not to be found after
Josiah's reform. A later editor, writing from the chronicler's theological bias,
set the ministry of the Prophet in Babylon; he changed a few dates and revised
the text to make it appear that the restored people found its origin in the
remnant of the captivity and in the authority of a prophet who also made provisions
for a new Temple in Jerusalem, thus nullifying the claims of the Samaritans
for their own community and sanctuary. In 1931, J. Smith also maintained that
northern Israel was the scene of the Prophet's activity, admitting that he was
an historical person taken into captivity in 734 who returned to prophesy in
Palestine. In 1932, V. Herntrich (op. cit.) stated the thesis that others
have maintained with little variationi.e., Ezekiel prophesied in Palestine
and a disciple edited the work in the Exile, adding not a little to it (esp.
chs. 40-48). Other studies followed maintaining the Prophet's activity in Palestine,
before either the deportation of 597, or that of 587; in either case, his prophesying
continued in Babylon, and a double ministry is postulated. Scholars are divided
almost equally among an exclusively Babylonian ministry, an exclusively Palestinian
ministry, and a double ministry. Of the recent commentaries on Ezekiel, G. Fohrer
and W. Zimmerli hold a Babylonian ministry and H. G. May, P. Auvray, and J.
Steinmann hold a double ministry." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary,
vol. 1, p. 345)
J. Alberto Soggin writes: "One particularly striking characteristic of
Ezekiel is that the book appears to be in relatively good orderso good,
that down to the end of the last century it was presented as a model, apart
from a text which in many places is far from easy. It is in fact remarkably
simple to make a division: (a) oracles against Judah and Jerslaem in chs. 1-24;
(b) oracles against the nations in chs. 25-32; and finally (c) oracles of salvation
in chs. 33-48. The last section is subdivided into two parts: the preparation
in chs. 33-39 and its programmatic realization in the restoration of the temple
and the cult in chs. 40-48. Once again, then, we would seem to have the tripartite
scheme which we have also found in other prophetic books, but which we have
seen to be almost certainly the work of the redactors. So even in the apparently
perfect Ezekiel we have signs of a redaction, and there are in fact many more
indications: too often the chronology, which we have seen to be so exact, appears
valid essentially for the verses which immediately follow the chronological
note, but stops there (and it is worth noting that at this time, from the first
tentative indications in Jeremiah, the prophetic oracles begin to be dated,
a system left aside by Deutero-Isaiah and then taken up on a large scale by
Haggai and Proto-Zechariah); there are a good many contradictions and repetitions,
passages edited in the first and the third person, and so on. This has suggested
at least two redactions. Others have wanted to make a distinction between passages
in poetry and passages in prose, a criterion which, as we have seen, is also
followed in the case of Jermeiah, but has been shown to be too simplistic. On
the basis of the apocalyptic elements present in the work, yet others have come
to view the work as having been written by an anonymous prophet who lived towards
the third century BC and who will have projected his work back to the time of
the exile in order to make it comply with the criteria established in the first
century AD for the place of a book in the canon, namely that it should have
been composed at a time earlier than that of Ezra and Nehemiah. In reality these
attempts are simply the product of a swing of the pendulum in opposite directions:
whereas Ezekiel was first cited as an example of systematic redaction (or what
was thought to be systematic redaction), at a later stage the truth seemed to
be precisely the opposite, and Ezekiel therefore had to become an artificial
work at a stroke, possibly put together with scissors and paste, with a fictitious
order and fictitious chronology. Today, however, as with the other prophets,
the tendency is to examine each passage in Ezekiel on its merits, deciding on
the authenticity, the inauthenticity or the dubious character of each one of
them in turn. Thus it is possible to find some interpolations in 27.2-9a, 25-37;
in ch. 38 and in chs. 40-48, and in some further cases. We have seen that this
situtation also exists for the most part among the prophets who preceded him.
It is not possible to establish who has been at work. We do not hear of any
disciples whom Ezekiel may have had, but since he regularly received the elders
of Judah, a school or at least a circle could (that is, of course, only
a possibility) have arisen which transmitted his words and meditated on them.
In any case, the inauthentic material is difficult to recognize in Ezekiel because
we have fewer external points of reference with him than with others."
(Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 304-305)
James King West writes: "Ezekiel has not without good reason been dubbed
'the father of Judaism.' He perceived, as did Jeremiah, that Israel's future
lay with the exiles, and his efforts to influence their thinking pointed the
way toward certain of the most characteristic features of the post-Exilic era.
His pre-occupation with cult, priesthood, and temple proved to be more than
antiquarian musings, as the second temple was destined to achieve an even more
central role in Jewish life than its Solomonic counterpart. His priestly concern
for purity and separation from defiling influences is reminiscent of later Judaism's
scrupulous attention to such matters; and his exclusion of non-Israelites from
the restoration community smacks of the exclusivism practiced by post-Exilic
Judaism. It is hardly defensible to portray him as the champion of a new individualism,
though his principle of the responsibility of each man for his own actions was
to provide the starting point for many later questions concerning individual
values and personal destiny. Again, he was no apocalypticist; but his bizarre
symbols, angelic interpreters, cataclysmic battle with Gog, and vision of the
New Jerusalem were to find their way into much of the later apocalyptic literature."
(Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 338)