EZEKIEL, Book of. The third of the ((major,* or longer, prophetical books of the Old Testament, derives its title from its author, the priest-prophet who bore the name cGod strengtheneth.* The Hebrew form is repre sented more closely in the English of I Chroni cles xxiv, 16 by the name Jehezkel, a priest ascribed to David's time. No one else in the Old Testament bears this name, although the familiar Hezekiah, cYah strengtheneth* or Math strengthened* is of similar unport. The author, as one of priestly rank, was among the eight or ten thousand men of standing who with their families were taken to Babylonia in the first exile, 597 tic. The company of which he was a member formed a community, presided over by its own elders, on the banks of the river Giebar. American excavations in central Babylonia have identified this with the canal Kabaru, ((the Grand Canal,D which ran near the ancient, famous seat of Babylonian worship, the city of Nippur. Here Ezekiel lived in his own house, where the elders and people re sorted to him to inquire of Jehovah (viii, 1; xiv 1; xx, 1; xxxiii, 30-32). Here, too, in the ninth year of the captivity, his wife died, and he restrained himself from the usual signs of mourning that he might impress upon the peo ple a sense of the stupefying gnef that was soon to fall upon them through the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel's familiarity with the worship of the temple leads to the inference that he was already an active priest before the captivity. It was not until the fifth year of the exile (592 a.c.) that he became conscious of his prophetic call through an impressive and repeated vision which assured him that he had the work of a prophet to perform as a spokes man of God (i-iii). For at least 22 years, until 570 B.C. (xxix, 17), Ezelciel continued to in terpret the Divine will and purpose to his fellow exiles, using every ingenious device of symbolic action and figurative speech to arouse their curiosity and interest and make his message penetrate the chard forehead and stiff heart." The contents of the book of Ezekiel are ar ranged, for the most part, in chronological or der and fall also into clearly marked topical divi sions. Chapters 1-24 contain oracles from the beginning of the prophetic ministry in 592 to the investment of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies in January 587 a.c.; these deal with the approaching fall of the city. Chapters 25 32 pronounce judgment upon Israel's ancient neighbors, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philisna, Tyre and Egypt; they prepare the way for Israel's complete restoration to her land, freed from the old, troublesome neighbors. 'The oracles of this second section of the book are dated within the period of one or two years from January 586 to March 585 or 584 a.c., except for a slight addition made by the prophet in the year 570. Chapters 33-48 con tain the direct prophecies of restoration with which Ezekiel sought to encourage andguide his fellow exiles after the destruction of Jeru salem in the summer of 586 B.C. The second division of these prophecies of restoration (40 48) is dated as late as 572; this contains Ezekiel's detailed plans for the restored tem ple and worship, and the systematic redistribu tion of Palestine among the 12 tribes, the Prince, the priests and the Levites, Ezekiel's early ministry was contemporary with the later years of Jeremiah. Though the two men were as different as possible in their mode of thought and expression and in some of their conceptions, they were in full agree ment in their central emphasis, at this time, upon the certainty of Jerusalem's destruction and of a restoration after long years. Ezekiel, too, even more clearly than Jeremiah, enunci ated the doctrine of the individual's relation to God, in contrast to the earlier prophetic message of the nation's relationship, and .re iterated Jereiniah's teaching of a new spirit within guiding the life in the DiVinely ap pointed ways. Ezekiel renews the charges of
bribery, greed, oppression of the defenceless, social corruption and blood guiltiness that the 8th century prophets had made against the people; but he gives equal or greater promi nence to the corrupt worship that had come flooding into Jerusalem under Manasseh and again under Jehoiakim. His references to economic crimes, which the earlier prophets had painted so vividly, seem rather general and perfunctory, while his pictures of the idolatrous practices in the temple are most con crete and vivid (viii, 5-8). To him it is clear that Jehovah must vindicate upon his people his outraged honor and holiness. As in Deu teronomy, the priestly demand for purity of worship and the prophetic demand for moral character are united; but in Ezekiel the ritual conception of holiness is much more prominent than the moral. This writer is in fact more fully the heir of priestly ideals and the pre cursor of the age of ritual dominance than the successor of the great ethical and spiritual prophets of the centuries immediately preced ing. In the development of Levitical organi zation Ezekiel's ideals stand between the simpler arrangements of Josiah's time and the completed hierarchy of post-exilic Judaism. His influence upon later generations in further ing the eclipse of the prophetic religion by sacerdotalism was important. Attributable to him is the conception of a sacred nation isolated from all others, which played so large a part in rebuilding and preserving the Jewish com munity after the exile and which led also to the exclusive, ceremonial ideas that culminated in Pharisaic Judaism. This prophet's influence was equally determinative in shaping the Messianic hopes of later centuries. In this stream of influence issuing from his teachings we may distinguish elements which ultimately came to flow in very different channels. On the one hand, he gave the beautiful picture of the good shepherd (34). In this he described the manner in which the former rulers and strong ones had taken advantage of their posi tion to secure the best water and pasture and wantonly to destroy and foul that which they could not themselves consume. In contrast, he promised the era of justice and safety when God himself would defend the flock and his servant David should feed and shepherd them, Again Ezekiel promised from God a new heart of flesh instead of their old stony heart; Jehovah's Spirit within them causing them to walk in all his ways (xx.xvi, 22-27). On the other hand, he taught that God must re-establish and glorify his people in order to make his own name great among the nations which now despised him as a discredited deity unable to protect his own people from their enemies. He feels the mere restoration of Israel to the land inade quate in itself to vindicate the Divine power, and foresees a time when Israel, gathered out of all lands, shall dwell securely; then hordes from the north shall sweep down over the land, as the Scythians had come a generation before. Suddenly God will smite down, upon the moun tains of Isarel, this awe-inspiring multitude of King Gog, there to lie asprey of the ravenous birds and beasts. Then Jehovah's holy name will be made known in the midst of Israel and the nations will know that he is the Holy One in Israel (38-39). Here holiness is evi dently understood in its primary Hebrew con ception of separateness or unapproachableness without the moral connotation that the great prophets had given it. This particular vision of Ezekiel seems to have been the original of that picture of the future which appeared in varied, fantastic forms in the Jewish apoc alyptic writings of the two centuries before Christ and the opening years of the Christian era.