Ezekiel

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Ezekiel the Prophet
יְחֶזְקֵאל
Ezekiel by Michelangelo, restored - large.jpg
Ezekiel, as depicted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling
Prophet, Priest
Bornpossibly c. 622 BCE
Diedpossibly c. 570 BCE (aged 51–52)
Babylon
Venerated in Judaism
Christianity (Protestantism, Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Eastern Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church)
Islam
Bahai Faith
Major shrine Ezekiel's Tomb , Al Kifl, Iraq
Feast August 28 – Armenian Apostolic Church
July 23 – Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism
July 21 – Lutheranism
The Prophet Hesekiel by Peter Paul Rubens (1609-1610) in the Louvre 0 Le Prophete Ezechiel - P.P. Rubens - Louvre (IN V 20231).JPG
The Prophet Hesekiel by Peter Paul Rubens (1609–1610) in the Louvre

Ezekiel ( /ɪˈzkiəl/ ; Hebrew : יְחֶזְקֵאלYəḥezqē’l [jəħɛzˈqēl] ) is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel. Modern Hebrew was spoken by over nine million people worldwide in 2013. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Book of Ezekiel book of the Bible

The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Tanakh and one of the major prophetic books in the Old Testament, following Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to the book itself, it records six visions of the prophet Ezekiel, exiled in Babylon, during the 22 years from 593 to 571 BC, although it is the product of a long and complex history and does not necessarily preserve the very words of the prophet.

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Contents

In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet. In Judaism and Christianity, he is also viewed as the 6th-century BCE author of the Book of Ezekiel, which reveals prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, the restoration to the land of Israel, and what some call the Millennial Temple (or Third Temple) visions.

Judaism The ethnic religion of the Jewish people

Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, comprising the collective religious, cultural and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world's population, commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

The name Ezekiel means 'God Strengthens'.

Life

The author of the Book of Ezekiel presents himself as Ezekiel, the son of Buzzi, born into a priestly (Kohen) lineage. [1] Apart from identifying himself, the author gives a date for the first divine encounter which he presents: "in the thirtieth year". [2] If this is a reference to Ezekiel's age at the time, he was born around 622 BCE, about the time of Josiah's reforms. [3] His "thirtieth year" is given as five years after the exile of Judah's king Jehoiachin by the Babylonians. The Aramaic Targum on Ezekiel 1:1, however, as well as the 2nd-century rabbinic work Seder Olam Rabba (chapter 26), take a different approach, where they both say that Ezekiel's vision came "in the thirtieth year after Josiah was presented with a Book of the Law discovered in the Temple."

Kohen or cohen is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic priesthood. Levitical priests or kohanim are traditionally believed and halakhically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the biblical Aaron, brother of Moses.

Josiah King of Judah

Josiah or Yoshiyahu was a seventh-century BCE king of Judah who, according to the Hebrew Bible, instituted major religious reforms. Josiah is credited by most biblical scholars with having established or compiled important Hebrew Scriptures during the "Deuteronomic reform" which probably occurred during his rule. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from 641/640 to 610/609 BCE. Josiah is known only from biblical texts; no reference to him exists in other surviving texts of the period from Egypt or Babylon, and no clear archaeological evidence, such as inscriptions bearing his name, has ever been found. Nevertheless, most scholars believe that he existed historically and that the absence of documents is due to few documents of any sort surviving from this very early period, and to Jerusalem having been occupied, conquered, and rebuilt for thousands of years.

According to Jewish tradition, Ezekiel did not write his own book, the Book of Ezekiel, but rather his prophecies were collected and written by the Men of the Great Assembly. [4] Josephus claims that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia's armies exiled three thousand Jews [5] from Judah, after deposing King Jehoiakim in 598 BCE.

Josephus First-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer

Titus Flavius Josephus, born Yosef ben Matityahu, was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.

Nebuchadnezzar II king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, was the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Living in Babylon

According to the Bible, Ezekiel and his wife lived during the Babylonian captivity on the banks of the Chebar River, in Tel Abib, [6] with other exiles from Judah. [7] There is no mention of him having any offspring.

The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylonia. After the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem, resulting in tribute being paid by King Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim refused to pay tribute in Nebuchadnezzar's fourth year, which led to another siege in Nebuchadnezzar's seventh year, culminating with the death of Jehoiakim and the exile of King Jeconiah, his court and many others; Jeconiah's successor Zedekiah and others were exiled in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year; a later deportation occurred in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. The dates, numbers of deportations, and numbers of deportees given in the biblical accounts vary. These deportations are dated to 597 BCE for the first, with others dated at 587/586 BCE, and 582/581 BCE respectively.

Tel Abib is an unidentified tell on the Kebar Canal, near Nippur in what is now Iraq. Tel Abib is mentioned in Ezekiel 3:15:

Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel Abib, that lived by the river Chebar, and to where they lived; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.

Prophetic career

Ezekiel describes his calling to be a prophet by going into great detail about his encounter with God and four "living creatures" with four wheels that stayed beside the creatures. [8] For the next five years he incessantly prophesied and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, which was met with some opposition. However, Ezekiel and his contemporaries like Jeremiah, another prophet who was living in Jerusalem at that time, witnessed the fulfillment of their prophecies with the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. On the hypothesis that the "thirtieth year" of Ezekiel 1:1 refers to Ezekiel's age, Ezekiel was fifty years old when he had his final vision. [3] On the basis of dates given in the Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel's span of prophecies can be calculated to have occurred over the course of about 22 years. [9] The last dated words of Ezekiel date to April 570 BCE. [10] [11]

Prophet person claiming to speak for divine beings

In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on that entity's behalf, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

Yahweh God of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Yahweh was the national god of the kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah beginning sometime between the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age.

City of David archaeological site in Jerusalem

The City of David, called in Arabic: وادي حلوه‎, Wadi Hilweh, a neighborhood of Silwan, is a Palestinian Arab village intertwined with an Israeli settlement, and the archaeological site which is speculated to constitute the original settlement core of Bronze and Iron Age Jerusalem.

World views

Jewish tradition

Monument to Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The quote is Ezekiel 37:14. Yad Vashem Memorial to survivors by David Shankbone.jpg
Monument to Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The quote is Ezekiel 37:14.

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, is said by Talmud [12] and Midrash [13] to have been a descendant of Joshua by his marriage with the proselyte and former prostitute Rahab. Some statements found in rabbinic literature posit that Ezekiel was the son of Jeremiah, who was (also) called "Buzi" because he was despised by the Jews. [14]

Ezekiel was said to be already active as a prophet while in the Land of Israel, and he retained this gift when he was exiled with Jehoiachin and the nobles of the country to Babylon. [15]

Rava states in the Babylonian Talmud that although Ezekiel describes the appearance of the throne of God (Merkabah), this is not because he had seen more than the prophet Isaiah, but rather because the latter was more accustomed to such visions; for the relation of the two prophets is that of a courtier to a peasant, the latter of whom would always describe a royal court more floridly than the former, to whom such things would be familiar. [16] Ezekiel, like all the other prophets, has beheld only a blurred reflection of the divine majesty, just as a poor mirror reflects objects only imperfectly. [17]

According to the midrash Canticles Rabbah , it was Ezekiel whom the three pious men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (also called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Bible) asked for advice as to whether they should resist Nebuchadnezzar's command and choose death by fire rather than worship his idol. At first God revealed to the prophet that they could not hope for a miraculous rescue; whereupon the prophet was greatly grieved, since these three men constituted the "remnant of Judah". But after they had left the house of the prophet, fully determined to sacrifice their lives to God, Ezekiel received this revelation: "Thou dost believe indeed that I will abandon them. That shall not happen; but do thou let them carry out their intention according to their pious dictates, and tell them nothing". [18]

Christianity

Russian icon of the Prophet Ezekiel holding a scroll with his prophecy and pointing to the "closed gate" (18th century, Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia) Ezekiel-icon.jpg
Russian icon of the Prophet Ezekiel holding a scroll with his prophecy and pointing to the "closed gate" (18th century, Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia)

Ezekiel is commemorated as a saint in the liturgical calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church—and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite—on July 21 (for those churches which use the traditional Julian Calendar, July 21 falls on August 5 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). [19] Ezekiel is commemorated on August 28 on the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and on April 10 in the Roman Martyrology.

Certain Lutheran churches also celebrate his commemoration on July 20.

Saint Bonaventure interpreted Ezekiel's statement about the "closed gate" as a prophecy of the Incarnation: the "gate" signifying the Virgin Mary and the "prince" referring to Jesus. This is one of the readings at Vespers on Great Feasts of the Theotokos in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.[ citation needed ] This imagery is also found in the traditional Catholic Christmas hymn "Gaudete" and in a saying by Bonaventure, quoted by Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori: "No one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as though through a door." [20] The imagery provides the basis for the concept that God gave Mary to humanity as the "Gate of Heaven" (thence the dedication of churches and convents to the Porta Coeli), an idea also laid out in the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) prayer.

Islamic tradition

Ezekiel is recognized as a prophet in Islamic tradition. Although not mentioned in the Qur'an by the name, Muslim scholars, both classical [lower-alpha 1] and modern [lower-alpha 2] have included Ezekiel in lists of the prophets of Islam.

The Qur'an mentions a prophet called Zul-Kifl. This prophet is sometimes identified with Ezekiel although Zul-Kifl's identity is disputed. Carsten Niebuhr, in his Reisebeschreibung nach Arabian, [21] says he visited Al Kifl in Iraq, midway between Najaf and Hilla and said Kifl was the Arabic form of Ezekiel. He further explained in his book that Ezekiel's Tomb was present in Al Kifl and that the Jews came to it on pilgrimage. The name Zul-Kifl or more correctly Dhū l-Kifl (ذو الكفل) would mean "Possessor of the Double" or "Possesor of the Fold" (ذوdhū "possessor of, owner of" and الكفلal-kifl "double, folded"). Some Islamic scholars have likened Ezekiel's mission to the description of Dhul-Kifl. When the exile, monarchy, and state were annihilated, a political and national life was no longer possible. In the absence of a worldly foundation it became necessary to build a spiritual one and Ezekiel performed this mission by observing the signs of the time and deducing his doctrines from them. In conformity with the two parts of his book, his personality and his preaching are alike twofold. Aside from the possible identification of Zul-Kifl with Ezekiel, Muslims have viewed Ezekiel as a prophet, regardless of his identification with Zul-Kifl. Ezekiel appears in all Muslim collections of Stories of the Prophets . [22] Muslim exegesis further lists Ezekiel's father as Buzi (Budhi) and Ezekiel is given the title ibn al-adjus, denoting "son of the old (man)", as his parents are supposed to have been very old when he was born. A tradition, which resembles that of Hannah and Samuel in the Hebrew Bible, states that Ezekiel's mother prayed to God in old age for the birth of an offspring and was given Ezekiel as a gift from God. [23]

Bibliography

  • Ibn Kutayba, K. al-Ma'arif ed. S. Ukasha, 51
    One traditional depiction of the cherubim and chariot vision, based on the description by Ezekiel. Ezekiel's vision.jpg
    One traditional depiction of the cherubim and chariot vision, based on the description by Ezekiel.
  • Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings, 2, 53–54
  • Tabari, Tafsir, V, 266 (old ed. ii, 365)
  • Masudi, Murudj, i, 103ff.
  • K. al-Badwa l-tarikh, iii, 4/5 and 98/100, Ezechiel
  • Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Holy Qur'an: Translation and Commentary, Note. 2473 (cf. index: Ezekiel)
  • Emil Heller Henning III, "Ezekiel's Temple: A Scriptural Framework Illustrating the Covenant of Grace." 2012.

Tomb

The tomb of Ezekiel is a structure located in modern-day south Iraq near Kefil, believed to be the final resting place of Ezekiel. [24] It has been a place of pilgrimage to both Muslims and Jews alike. After the Jewish exodus from Iraq, Jewish activity in the tomb ceased, although a disused synagogue remains in place. [25]

See also

Notes

  1. Ibn Kutayba, Ukasha, Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ishaq, Masudi, Kisa'i, Balami, Thalabi and many more have all recognized Ezekiel as a prophet
  2. The greatest depth to the figure is given by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his commentary; his commentary's note 2743: "If we accept "Dhul al Kifl" to be not an epithet, but an Arabicised form of "Ezekiel", it fits the context, Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel who was carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after his second attack on Jerusalem (about BCE 599). His Book is included in the English Bible (Old Testament). He was chained and bound, and put into prison, and for a time he was dumb. He bore all with patience and constancy, and continued to reprove boldly the evils in Israel. In a burning passage he denounces false leaders in words which are eternally true: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken ...... etc. (Ezekiel, 34:2–4)."

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Jeremiah Biblical prophet

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Ezekiel 25 Book of Ezekiel, chapter 25

Ezekiel 25 is the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Ezekiel, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. This chapter contains the oracles against 4 nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. The prophecies of God's vengeance against these and other foreign nations are recorded in other books of the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos.

References

  1. [Ezekiel 1:3]
  2. [Ezekiel 1:1–2]
  3. 1 2 Terry J. Betts (2005). Ezekiel the Priest: A Custodian of Tôrâ. Peter Lang. p. 51. ISBN   978-0-8204-7425-0.
  4. Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 15a
  5. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews Book X, 6.3.98
  6. Not to be confused with modern day Tel Aviv, located on the Mediterranean coastline. However, this location's name was influenced by Ezekiel 3:15.
  7. Ezekiel 1:1, 3:15.
  8. [Ezekiel 1]
  9. Ronald Ernest Clements (1 January 1996). Ezekiel. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 1. ISBN   978-0-664-25272-4.
  10. [Ezekiel 29:17]
  11. Walther Eichrodt (20 June 2003). Ezekiel: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 407. ISBN   978-1-61164-596-5.
  12. (Meg. 14b)
  13. (Sifri, Num. 78)
  14. Radak – R. David Kimkhi – in his commentary on Ezekiel 1:3, based on Targum Yerushalmi
  15. (Josephus, Ant. x. 6, § 3: "while he was still a boy"; comp. Rashi on Sanh. 92b, above)
  16. (Ḥag. 13b)
  17. Midrash Lev. Rabbah i. 14, toward the end
  18. (Midrash Canticles Rabbah vii. 8)
  19. Orthodox Church in America – Liturgical Calendar
  20. Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori, The Glories of Mary , Liguori, Mo.: Liguori Publications, 2000, p. 623. ISBN   0-7648-0664-5.
  21. Reisebeschreibung nach Arabian Copenhagen, 1778, ii. 264–266
  22. Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Story of Ezekiel (Hizqil)
  23. Encyclopedia of Islam, G. Vajda, Hizkil
  24. "Jewishencyclopedia.com". Jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  25. "Iraq Cleric Slams Plan to Turn Jewish Tomb into Mosque". Thejc.com. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2012-06-22.

Further reading