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Book of Ezekiel
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Book of Ezekiel

The Book of Ezekiel (Hebrew יחזקאל Yechezkel or Yəḥezqēíl) is a book of the Jewish Hebrew Bible known to Christians as the Old Testament attributed to the prophet Ezekiel. After a preface that describes his call to the prophetical office (1-3:21), three groups of prophecies follow:

  1. A series of denunciation against his fellow Jews (3:22-24), warning them of the certain destruction of Jerusalem, in opposition to the words of the false prophets (4:1-3). The symbolical acts, by which the extremities to which Jerusalem would be reduced are described in ch. 4,5, show his intimate acquaintance with the Levitical legislation. (See, for example, Exodus 22:30; Deuteronomy 14:21; Leviticus 5:2; 7:18,24; 17:15; 19:7; 22:8)
  2. Prophecies against various neighboring nations: against the Ammonites (Ezek. 25:1-7), the Moabites (8-11), the Edomites (12-14), the Philistines (15-17), Tyre and Sidon (26-28), and against Egypt (29-32).
  3. Prophecies delivered after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II: the triumphs of Israel and of the kingdom of God on earth (Ezek. 33-39); Messianic times, and the establishment and prosperity of the kingdom of God (40;48).

The closing visions of this book are referred to in the book of Revelation (Ezek. 38 = Rev. 20:8; Ezek. 47:1-8 = Rev. 22:1,2). Other references to this book are also found in the New Testament. (Compare Romans 2:24 with Ezek. 36:2; Rom. 10:5, Galatians 3:12 with Ezek. 20:11; 2 Peter 3:4 with Ezek. 12:22.)

It may be noted that Daniel, fourteen years after his deportation from Jerusalem, is mentioned by Ezekiel (14:14) along with Noah and Job as distinguished for his righteousness, and some five years later he is spoken of as pre-eminent for his wisdom (28:3).

Ezekiel's prophecies are characterized by symbolical and allegorical representations, "unfolding a rich series of majestic visions and of colossal symbols." There are a great many also of "symbolcal actions embodying vivid conceptions on the part of the prophet" (4:1-4; 5:1-4; 12:3-6; 24:3-5; 37:16, etc.) "The mode of representation, in which symbols and allegories occupy a prominent place, gives a dark, mysterious character to the prophecies of Ezekiel. They are obscure and enigmatical. A cloudy mystery overhangs them which it is almost impossible to penetrate. Jerome calls the book 'a labyrinth of the mysteries of God.' It was because of this obscurity that the Jews forbade any one to read it till he had attained the age of thirty."

Ezekiel is singular in the frequency with which he refers to the Pentateuch (e.g., Ezek. 27; 28:13; 31:8; 36:11, 34; 47:13, etc.). He shows also an acquaintance with the writings of Hosea (Ezek. 37:22), Isaiah (Ezek. 8:12; 29:6), and especially with those of Jeremiah, his older contemporary (Jeremiah 24:7, 9; 48:37).

This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernization.