In this book the descriptions of symbolic acts and visions, characteristic of the Hebrew prophets, are carried to an extreme unknown in the earlier documents. Doubtless the elabo rate, composite, human-animal figures conspicu ous in the Babylonian sculptures influenced the form of Ezekiel's visions. The beings seen in the opening vision, each with the face of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle, each with four wings, with human hands beneath the wings and feet like those of a calf, seem fairly to outdo the fantastic imaginings of the sculptors of Babylonia. An Amos or an Hosea thought in the pictures of the varied hills and skies and mountain torrents of Palestine; Ezekiel, on the endless plain by the sluggish canal, thought in pictures suggested by the most impressive work of the artists who had decorated the great temples for the ancient worship of this centre of mighty human power. With the audacity of faith belonging to the true interpreters of the unseen God, the exile prophet appropriated the symbols of the conquerors' religion to enforce his own lessons as to the power and purposes of the God of subject Israel. At times, the imagery of the prophet is more simple and becomes effective or even beautiful. An example in point is the picture of the Divine shepherd and the sheep, but generally the figures, even at- their best, seem labored. A few poems are introduced here and there among the prose oracles. In the dirge sung over Tyre (xxvii, 3b-9a, 25b-36) we have one of the most elaborate and appro priate of the many poetic descriptions of the ship of state. In the lament for Egypt (xxxii, 19-32), both the conception and the form of the poem, with its varied haunting, baffling refrain are notable. In general, however,
Ezekiel lacks the poetic power and the rhetori cal passion of the greatest of Israel's prophets. The book shows the marks of deliberate literary composition far more even than that of Jere miah, of whose repeated dictation to Baruch of sermons long before delivered, we are told. The books of Hosea and Isaiah suggest in their arrangement scattered memorials gathered by loyal followers. In the case of Ezekiel it seems evident that he committed his own teachings to writing with deliberation and that he finally composed the entire book in essentially its present form. The internal evidence of the book speaks of unity of plan and purpose and of date of composition. Although the text has suffered more than usual corruption through copyists' errors, the book as a whole is singu larly free from later additions or expansions.
Bennett, W. H.,