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Literature / Book of Ezekiel

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The Book of Ezekiel is the third book of the Latter Prophets of the Hebrew Bible and is listed among the Major Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. In this book, Ezekiel was called to be a prophet during the early years of the Babylonian exile of the Judeans, sent to give the people still living in Jerusalem warning before the city is taken over and its people are destroyed.

Structure of the book:

  • Ezekiel's first vision of God (Ezekiel chapter 1)
  • God speaks judgment against Israel (Ezekiel chapters 2 to 24)
  • God speaks judgment against the foreign pagan nations (Ezekiel chapters 25 to 32)
  • God speaks about disciplining and restoring Israel (Ezekiel chapters 33 to 37)
  • The invasion from the north in the latter days (Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39)
  • The new temple and the division of the land of Israel (Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48)

This book provides examples of:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: God warns Ezekiel a few times that if he as a watchman does not warn the people of Israel to repent so that they will not die because of their sins, and they end up perishing, God will hold him responsible for not warning them.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: God to Edom (Mount Seir) in Ezekiel 35:14 in His judgment against them:
    This is what the Lord God says. While the whole world celebrates, I will make you a desolation. (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • Angelic Abomination: Ezekiel 1:4-8 has this description of an angel.
    "The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands."
  • Angelic Beauty: The King of Tyre (or rather, The Man Behind the Man) is spoken of as having this in Ezekiel 28:12.
    "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."
  • Animate Dead: Ezekiel, under the command of God, reanimated an army of skeletons and resurrected them by a prophecy.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Son of man," God's name for Ezekiel, which was later used as Jesus's form of self-identification. note 
    • "And they shall know that I am the Lord."
  • Aroused by Their Voice: God tells Ezekiel in Ezekiel 33:32 (Evangelical Heritage Version):
    You see, to them you are like someone who sings erotic songs with a beautiful voice, who is an excellent musician. So they listen to your words, but they are not obeying them.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed:
    • "You prostituted yourself with the Egyptians, your neighbors with the large sexual organs, and as you added to your seductions, you provoked me to anger." (Ezekiel 16:26, Common English Bible)
    • "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses." (Ezekiel 23:20, NIV)
  • Bring My Brown Pants:
    • God speaks to Ezekiel about Jerusalem:
    And those who flee? They will turn up on the hills like valley doves, all of them moaning, those guilty ones. Every hand will hang limp; urine will run down every leg. (Ezekiel 7:16-17, Common English Bible)
    • And later on:
    If they ask you why you're groaning, say to them, "Because of the news." When it comes, every heart will despair, every hand will hang lifeless, every spirit will be listless, and urine will run down every leg. It's coming! It will happen! This is what the LORD God says. (Ezekiel 21:7, Common English Bible)
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ezekiel was made out to be this in his own book. At one point, Ezekiel makes a model of Jerusalem and besieges it in the city square for about fourteen months. Another time, he shaves his head and beard with a sword, then runs about town with a portion of the hair, hitting it with the sword.
  • By the Hair: God grabs Ezekiel by the hair in Chapter 8 and takes him to Jerusalem to show him the detestable things that are being done in His Temple.
  • The Cassandra: Ezekiel was purposely made to be this by God, with God saying that, whether His people will listen to him or not, they will at least know that a prophet has been among them.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: God in chapter 9 has a messenger with a writer's ink horn mark off the people who sigh and mourn over Jerusalem's sins to be spared from the other messengers who will go throughout the city and slay the others.
  • Corrupt Church: The Judaic religious system at the time of Ezekiel's ministry was so corrupt, with the priests worshiping idols even in God's holy Temple, that the glory of God decided to vacate the premises with Ezekiel watching.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: For all of his strange public stunts and offensive sermons, Ezekiel was indeed right — Jerusalem did fall and the Jews were exiled for their sins.
  • Death from Above: The fate of Magog in Ezekiel 37:6:
    And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts, and they shall know I am the Lord. (The Living Bible)
  • Defiled Forever: Judah and Israel are compared to young women who were prostitutes back in Egypt and taken in by God as His wives, only for them to cheat on Him with Assyrian soldiers and the like. They are punished for their adultery, and "their names became bywords among women."
  • Dem Bones: Ezekiel is given a vision of a valley full of dry skeletons, where he is commanded to carry a prophecy. Before him, the bones connect into human figures, and then the bones become covered with tendon tissues, flesh, and skin. Then God reveals the bones to the prophet as the people of Israel in exile and commands Ezekiel to carry another prophecy in order to revitalize these human figures, to resurrect them, and to bring them to the land of Israel.
  • Disposable Woman: Ezekiel's wife dies, but God commands him not to mourn for her death so that his actions would be used as a message to God's people that they too will lose their wives and family and not mourn for them.
  • Doomed Hometown: God pronounces doom to the people of Jerusalem throughout the early chapters of this book, telling them that He's going to send the sword, famine, and plague against them. In the later chapters, though, God tells the people who were sent into exile that He will bring them back, cleanse them of their sins, and give them a new heart and a new spirit so that they would obey Him and things will be well with them again.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come:
    • Chapters 38 and 39 can be interpreted as a future attack on Israel by Magog that will be thwarted supernaturally by God, where the people of Israel will be able to burn all of the invading army's supplies for fuel for seven years. note 
    • Chapters 40 to 48 speak of a future Temple to come and what the land of Israel will be like years off into the future. note 
  • Due to the Dead: In Chapter 39, God says that after the devastating defeat of Gog, He will give Gog's whole army a burial in the place that will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog (Valley of Gog's Horde) and that Israel will spend seven months burying all the people in that army who died there.
  • Easy Evangelism: Averted. In Chapter 3, God tells Ezekiel that he is being sent to be a messenger to his own people, "the House of Israel", instead of "to the many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose talk you cannot understand." God's reason for this? "If I sent you to them, they would listen to you. But the House of Israel will refuse to listen to you, for they refuse to listen to Me; for the whole House of Israel are brazen of forehead and stubborn of heart." (verses 6 and 7)
  • The End Is Nigh: Chapter 7 has God through Ezekiel warning Jerusalem that "the end is coming", meaning the time of the city's destruction.
  • Everybody Has Standards: For as bad as the Philistines are presented in Scripture, God says that even they are shocked by the adulterous ways of the land of Israel, as presented in the parable God speaks about them as a whorish wife in Chapter 16.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Ezekiel in the early chapters is given a scroll to eat, which to him tasted like honey.
  • Face–Heel Turn and Heel–Face Turn: God says a few times in this book that if a righteous person trusts in his own righteousness and commits evil, he will die and none of his righteous acts will be remembered, and also if a wicked person is warned that he will die from his sins and thus turns away from his sins and lives righteously before God, then he will live and none of his wicked acts will be remembered.
  • Feathered Fiend:
    • God in Chapter 32 tells the Pharaoh of Egypt that "I will haul you up and leave you on dry land and throw you into an open field. I will let all the birds of the air settle on you. I will let all the wild animals of the earth feed on you till they are filled."
    • God in Chapter 39 summons birds together to feast on the bodies of those who are slain in the failed assault upon Israel.
  • Fossil Revival: God has Ezekiel in chapter 37 stand in "the valley of dry bones" to prophesy to the scattered bones so that they will rise up and become living people again, as a parable of God bringing His own people back from "the dead" to have them live again.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: In Chapter 18, God has Ezekiel tell Israel to not use the proverb "The parents ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" anymore as an excuse for blaming parents or previous generations for the sins they themselves are committing before God.
  • From Bad to Worse: If what Ezekiel saw being done in the Temple by God's people Israel in Chapter 8 was horrible, God tells him that He will show him things "more detestable than this".
  • A God Am I: God speaks to the King of Tyre boasting about himself being a god in Ezekiel 28:1-10, saying He's going to bring judgment upon the king to make him stop thinking that about himself.
  • God of Good: God points out a few times in Ezekiel that He has no delight in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his ways and live. He also promises that if a wicked person turns from his wickedness and does what God considers righteous, then he shall live and not die.
  • Good-Looking Privates: In Chapter 23, in God's parable of the two kingdoms (Judah and Israel) being like two promiscuous sisters, He says that both of them "lusted after the Assyrians — governors, commanders, bodyguards in full uniform, and cavalrymen riding horses, all of them desirable young men."
  • Good Shepherd: God in Chapter 34 speaks of Himself as being the Good Shepherd that will take care of the flock that the other shepherds chose to rule over with cruelty, and will also judge between sheep and sheep.
  • Healing Spring: The water that comes out of the Temple, as shown in chapter 47.
    “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. Every living creature that swarms, wherever the rivers go, will live." (Ezekiel 47:8-9)
  • Holy Is Not Safe: God tells Ezekiel in Chapter 44 to warn the priests to leave the holy priest's clothes in the sacred chambers so that they do not "transmit holiness" unto the people and thus harm them. In Chapter 46, Ezekiel is shown the kitchens where the priests are to boil and bake the offerings to avoid carrying them into the outer court because they are also holy.
  • Human Sacrifice: God brings judgment upon His people Israel for sacrificing children born to Him to the fire, saying to them in Chapter 16, "Was it too little for you to be a prostitute in order to do that?".
  • Humans by Any Other Name: "Son of man" (or "mortal", depending on the translation) is God's preferred way of calling His prophet.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Chapter 5 says when the Babylonians build a siege around Jerusalem, the people would be so hungry that parents will eat their own children, and children will eat their own parents.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: In the early part of the book, Ezekiel is given a scroll to eat with lamentations and woe written on it, and it was to Ezekiel like honey in sweetness.
  • It's All Junk: From Ezekiel 7:19, regarding the survivors of the Babylonian siege against Jerusalem: "They shall throw their silver into the streets, and their gold shall be treated as something unclean. Their silver and gold shall not avail to save them in the day of the LORD's wrath"
  • Jewish Complaining: God tells Ezekiel to bake bread for himself by using human excrement for fuel. When Ezekiel complains to God by saying he has never eaten anything defiled since childhood, God changes His mind and tells Ezekiel to use cow manure instead. (The latter, when dried, was a normal staple fuel at the time, as it still is in some parts of the world.)
  • Magic Is Evil: God speaks against the sorceresses in Israel in Chapter 13 who are using magic pillows to "hunt after souls like birds, to make them fly" so they can kill the souls that should not die and save alive the souls that should not live.
  • Malicious Slander: God through Ezekiel says to the sorceresses in Israel:
    You hurt the righteous with slander—I didn't wound them!—and you strengthened the hands of the wicked so that they survived without changing their evil ways! (Ezekiel 13:22, Common English Bible)
  • The Man Behind the Man: Ezekiel 28:11-19 is usually interpreted as God speaking to the Man behind the King of Tyre.
  • Many-Faced Divinity: In Ezekiel's vision of Heaven, he sees four "living creatures", each with four faces — man in front, lion to the right, ox to the left, and eagle on the back, to represent the four orders of higher creatures (humankind, wild beasts, domestic beasts, and birds).
  • Mass Resurrection: Ezekiel in Chapter 37 prophesying in the "valley of dry bones" to resurrect the bones of people into a living human army, as a symbol of what God is going to do with His people Israel.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: From Ezekiel 1:5-11:
    Also out of the midst came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man. Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. Their legs were straight and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s hoof. And they gleamed like the color of burnished bronze. They had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, their wings were joined to one another. Their faces did not turn when they went. Each went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man, and all four had the face of a lion on the right side, and the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. And their wings were stretched upward. Two wings of every one were joined to one another, and two covered their bodies.
  • Money Is Not Power: "They will hurl their silver into the street, and their gold will seem unclean. Their silver and their gold won't deliver them on the day of the LORD's anger." (Ezekiel 7:19, Common English Bible)
  • Moral Myopia: A few times in this book God addresses this problem with His people when they say, "The ways of the LORD are not fair [or equal]," by saying unto them, "Are not My ways fair, and your ways are not fair?"
  • Nose Shove: In Chapter 8 in the Evangelical Heritage Version, when Ezekiel sees a group of Jews standing outside the Temple looking toward the east and worshiping the sun, God says, "Have you seen this, son of man? Is it too trivial for the house of Judah to commit the abominations they are committing here? Do they also have to fill the land with violence, so that they provoke me more and more? They are even sticking the branch up my nose!" (verse 17)
  • Parental Abandonment: Jerusalem, as depicted in God's parable about them in chapter 16, was an unwanted baby daughter who was left out into the streets without anyone to care for her until God spoke to the baby and caused her to grow into a young woman that He married.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In Chapter 35, in God's judgment against Edom (Mount Seir), He says, "Because you harbored an ancient hatred and handed the people of Israel over to the sword in their time of calamity, the time set for their punishment— assuredly, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will doom you with blood; blood shall pursue you; I swear that, for your bloodthirsty hatred, blood shall pursue you. I will make Mount Seir an utter waste, and I will keep all passersby away from it." (verses 5 to 7)
  • Phony Psychic: God in Chapter 13 tells Ezekiel that He's going to bring judgment on the so-called prophets who prophesy lies in His name, declaring "thus says the Lord" whereas He has not spoken to them, that their prophecies of peace where there is no peace is like somebody building a wall with untempered mortar and that the wall will fall, and so will those who put their trust in those so-called prophets.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Ezekiel's graphic metaphorical descriptions of Judah as God's adulterous wife (who gets gruesomely punished by God for her sluttishness) are often considered politically incorrect today, especially by feminists (who often think the imagery is misogynistic, and/or encourages abusive relationships in real life). However, those same descriptions would already have been extremely politically incorrect in his own time, if not for the exact same reasons. Ezekiel's contemporary Jeremiah was accused of blasphemy for using far less offensive language in his own prophecies.
  • Power Glows: The man Ezekiel meets in Chapter 8 is described in verse 2 as this: "From his waist downward was something like fire, and from his waist upward something like a brightness, like an amber glow." (NET Bible)
  • Pride:
    • Jerusalem, as depicted as a Rags to Royalty woman in Chapter 16, had a pride issue. God gave His people the best of everything and made them into a successful kingdom, but eventually fame went to their heads and they started "committing adultery" with the surrounding nations. Eventually God had to punish them because of their spiritually adulterous hearts.
    • While the other books of the Bible say Sodom was destroyed due to its people "going after other flesh" (in other words, perverted sexuality according to God), this book says what started her downfall was "pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness" and that she "did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy". And from there, Sodom became haughty and went From Bad to Worse, thus bringing God's judgment upon them. Ezekiel does mention various unspecified "abominations" as sins that the people there also committed, as well, which may or may not be a reference to the more familiar story (since homosexuality is one example of things that fall under what the Bible calls "abominations" in other places).
  • Rags to Royalty: Jerusalem is spoken of in Chapter 16 as a woman God raised from an unwanted child to a queen, whose fame and beauty became known to the world because of the beauty He bestowed unto her. However, once she became popular, she turned into an adulterous woman seeking the surrounding nations for their favors instead of having them pay her for her services like a common prostitute.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: God has Ezekiel give one to Jerusalem in chapter 22 for all the various crimes they have committed against Him. Namely, their murders, their idolatry, their exploitation of people, their denial of justice, and their sexual immorality.
  • Rule of Three:
    • In Chapter 14, God uses the names of three righteous people — Noah, Daniel, and Job — to say that if even these three were to stand to intercede for Israel when God brings various judgments upon His people, they would only save themselves due to their own righteousness.
    • In Chapter 21, God tells Ezekiel in regard to His judgment on Jerusalem: "Now you, son of man, prophesy. Clap your hands together. Let the sword strike two times or even three." (verse 14)
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Ezekiel watched as God's glory in physical form departed from the Temple when He saw how corrupt even His priests were. Later on in his vision of the new Temple, Ezekiel would see the glory of God enter in, with God saying that now at that point He will dwell among His people again.
  • Shameful Strip: In God's judgment parable against Jerusalem in Chapter 16, He says that He will bring together all her lovers — those whom she loved and those whom she hated — and will strip her completely naked so that they will see all her nakedness.
  • Sinister Minister: God condemns the shepherds of Israel in Chapter 34 that rule over their spiritual flocks with cruelty.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: In stereo with Jeremiah, Ezekiel also got an oracle from God condemning Israelites for saying "The fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge," and stating that God is going to put a stop to that nonsense and make individuals take responsibility for all of their own infractions.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: Jerusalem in God's eyes at the time of Ezekiel's ministry, to the point where He would bring judgment upon them.
  • The Speechless: God rendered Ezekiel speechless for a time and then loosens his tongue so he could speak a message of God to His people.
  • Tarnishing Their Own Beauty: God tells His people in Chapter 16 that their adulterous ways with the nations surrounding them has made their beauty as God's wife to be abhorred.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: God says to the Pharaoh of Egypt in Ezekiel 32:7-8:
    When you are snuffed out, I will cover the sky and darken its stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. I will black out all the bright lights in the sky because of you. I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Lord God. (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • Traumatic Haircut: God in Ezekiel chapter 5 has the prophet cut off his own hair and beard as a sign against His people Israel. He also says against Israel itself through the prophet (metaphorically speaking):
    Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. (Ezekiel 5:11, NIV 2011 edition)
  • Two-Faced: The prophet Ezekiel has a vision in which he sees four "creatures", each with four faces: that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle.
  • Virgin Tension: In Chapter 44, in regard to the priests who will serve in the future Temple seen in Ezekiel's vision, God says that they must marry only a virgin — no divorced women and no widows unless she is the widow of a priest.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Implied in the parable God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel chapter 16, since Middle Eastern cultures of that time desired boys over girls, partly inspired by the "seed of the woman" prophecy from the Book of Genesis that would "crush the head" of the "seed of the serpent", with the "seed of the woman" being a male figure, who turned out to be Jesus Christ. The infant girl of that parable, who represents God's people, is cast off as an unwanted child, and God, as the parent/future husband, spoke to the child, causing her to grow until she was old enough to be united with Him in a marriage covenant.
  • Wife Husbandry: Israel is compared to an unwanted baby girl that was rejected and abandoned by her Canaanite parents and left to die with her cord still attached, to whom God says, "Live!" and she does. She grows and reaches puberty, at which point God takes her as a wife, and gives her everything she could ever want and more...only for her to cheat on him.