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Book of Ezekiel

General Information

The Book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament of the Bible is one of the books of the Major Prophets. Its name is drawn from Ezekiel, a priest - prophet who lived in Jerusalem and was one of the Jews deported by Nebuchadnezzar II to Babylon at the beginning of the 6th century BC. The book is divided into three parts: (1) the threats against Judah and Jerusalem before the fall of Jerusalem (chaps. 1 - 24); the threats against foreign nations (chaps. 25 - 32); and (3) promises for the future restoration of Israel and the Temple (chaps. 33 - 48).

The Book of Ezekiel describes the prophet's many visions and symbolic actions with vivid literary imagery. The following well - known passages demonstrate the author's extraordinary imagination and gift for allegory: the vision of Yahweh's chariot (chap. 1); Ezekiel's symbolic acts of eating the scroll (2:1 - 3:15) and shaving his hair and beard (5:1 - 4); the sword of God's wrath (21); the allegory of the rusty pot (24:1 - 14); the lament over Egypt (31 - 32); and the vision of the dry bones (37:1 - 14).

Written during the Babylonian Captivity (586 - 38 BC), the book links preexilic Israel and the Judaism of the restoration. Ezekiel stressed the interior qualities of religion, as the earlier prophets had, but in the manner of later writers he looked to the Temple and to cultic observances. He described life in exile and preached a message of hope, striving to sustain his fellow deportees in their faith and traditions. This message culminates in the final vision of the temple in the new Jerusalem and the restoration of Israel.

George W Coats

W Eichrodt, Ezekiel: A Commentary (1970); P Fairbain, Ezekiel (1988); H Jacobson, The Exagogue of Ezekiel (1983); R W Klein, Ezekiel (1988).

Book of Ezekiel

Brief Outline

  1. Denunciation of Judah and Israel (1-24)
  2. Oracles against foreign nations (25-32)
  3. The future restoration of Israel (33-48)


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