Consider helping today!
by Daniel Whedon
COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Intended for Popular Use
VOL. 8. EZEKIEL AND DANIEL
BY CAMDEN M. COBERN, D.D.
NEW YORK; EATON & MAINS CINCINNATI; JENNINGS & PYE
Copyright by EATON & MAINS, 1901.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
I. Date, Authorship, and Canonicity
II. The Text
III. The Style of Ezekiel
IV. Ezekiel’s Personality and Work
V. Ezekiel’s Alleged Historical Mistakes
VI. The Book of Ezekiel and the Levitical Priestly Law
VII. The Exiled Jews in Babylon
VIII. The Language of Symbolism
Analysis of the Book
NOTES AND COMMENTS
THESE comments on Ezekiel and Daniel have been written under the pressure of pastoral duty in two of the largest and most important charges in American Methodism. Great debts have been raised, large plans of institutional church work projected, and many hundreds admitted to the church on confession of faith while this work was being carried forward.
No one can be more sensible than the writer of the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of doing one’s best critical work under such circumstances. Yet, on the other hand, there is at least one advantage in a preacher engaged in the active work of the ministry attempting to interpret these prophecies; while he may not be able to use the apparatus of the study with the same facility as some expositors, yet the whole thought and purpose of his life lead him into sympathetic relation with the men whose processes of argument he seeks to explain.
The Old Testament prophets were not professors, they were preachers. They were not students of the smoky lamp, they were seers of God spiritual interpreters of history, expositors of the ancient writings, teachers of morality men who came into close touch with the needs and sins of their fellow-men, and who sought to give help and comfort and salvation by bringing God, and the truth which he had revealed, close to those needy, sinful hearts. The aim of the present writer is to make plain such points in these old sermons and ecstatic visions as may seem obscure to the modern reader.
Unfortunately, some things which seemed perfectly clear to the congregations which they addressed cannot now be understood at all; yet in the opening, by recent excavations, of the Babylonian life of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., the meaning of many statements previously not understood, or misunderstood, has been made plain. In these comments the writer has freely used the results of cuneiform scholarship whenever they seemed to explain or illustrate the text, while occasionally his own Egyptian studies have not been without a certain value.
In conclusion, he would express his sense of obligation to the librarians who have afforded special courtesies to those particularly of the British Museum, the University of Michigan, and Harvard University and, above all, to the literary helpmeet in his own home, whose encouragement and assistance have been invaluable. Her patience and skill in verifying English and French references, as well as in preparing the manuscript for the press, have made the completion of this work possible.
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL.
ONE of the most celebrated German professors of theology began a recent course of lectures on the prophecy of Ezekiel by saying: “Of all the biblical books there is probably not one so little known to laymen and clergy as this. He must indeed be an enthusiastic Bible reader who knows more of Ezekiel than the mere name. Even among theologians there are very few who have read him wholly, or even in part. Nor is this mere chance. He is one of the most difficult, obscure, and dark prophets of the Old Testament. Already the Church fathers call his book the ‘abyss of Holy Scripture’ and ‘a maze of divine secrets’” (Cornill, Der Prophet Ezechiel). Yet this same scholar, who confesses that he began the examination of this book expecting “scientific martyrdom,” was able to say, after fifteen months of careful study, “It is a masterpiece which can only be paralleled by the Book of Job.”
We do wisely to sit at the feet of this banished prophet who for over two thousand years has been talking to the wisest of earth’s wise. As John Wesley wrote, “There is much in the book which is very mysterious, especially in the beginning and latter end of it; but, though the visions are intricate, the sermons are plain, and the design of them is to show God’s people their transgressions” ( Notes on the Old Testament).
I. Date, Authorship, and Canonicity.
This is one of the very few books of the prophets indeed the only one which is universally allowed by the destructive critics to have left the prophet’s own hand in exactly the same condition in which we find it. The objections of a very few critics Zunz (1873), Wettstein and Seinecke (1884), Vernes and Havet (1890) have only made the general decision more sure. Kuenen ( Onderzoek, 1889, ii, p. 304) emphatically declares: “There exists not one good reason for affirming that this collection of oracles was not gathered by Ezekiel himself. These prophecies are, without exception, from his own hand.” Konig in his most critical and trustworthy work ( Einleitung in das Alt Testament, 1893, pp. 344, 354), affirms that the authenticity of the book is undoubted, and its unity is “not attacked nor attackable.”
The dates at which the various prophecies were delivered are fixed by the book itself. The first was in the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, 592-593 B.C. (Ezekiel 1:2), followed by others in the sixth year (Ezekiel 8:1), seventh year (Ezekiel 20:1), ninth year (Ezekiel 24:1), tenth year (Ezekiel 29:1), eleventh year (Ezekiel 31:1), twelfth year (Ezekiel 32:1), twenty-fifth year (Ezekiel 40:1), and twenty-seventh year of the captivity (Ezekiel 29:17).
It is curious that the book of whose canonicity the modern criticism is most assured was, according to the Talmud, the one book which almost lost its place in the Jewish canon owing to a suspicion of the Jewish doctors that it contradicted the law. Fortunately Hananiah, son of Hezekiah, after burning three hundred measures of oil in his midnight studies was able satisfactorily to explain these seeming discrepancies. Though it was retained, the book seemed so mysterious that no Jew was permitted to read it until he had reached the age of thirty years.
II. The Text.
The text of no other equally ancient work is so certain as that of the Bible prophets, yet it is by no means perfect. No manuscript can be copied by hand, century after century, without error. There are many passages in Ezekiel which, notwithstanding the careful study of such scholars as Smend, Cornill, Ginsburg, Toy, and others, still baffle all attempts to critically translate them.
III. The Style of Ezekiel.
Gregory of Nazianzum calls Ezekiel “the most wonderful and exalted of the prophets,” and this appears to have been the general impression among Hebrew scholars down to the present generation. Some recent critics, however, without any too great reverence for Jehovah’s messenger, have bluntly expressed a different opinion, declaring that he totally lacked both imagination and originality (Smend); his was chiefly “borrowed treasure,” taken from “the desolate fields of the Levitical law” (Arndt); he has simply swallowed a book and given it out again (Wellhausen); his prophecies are “neither edifying nor attractive,” while some of his illustrations are quite “shocking” (Kuenen), and his style “uncouth and labored” (Toy). But surely St. John and the Teacher of Nazareth were as good judges of Hebrew style and spiritual visions as any modern professor, and their judgment is not so severe. There can be no doubt that, of all the prophets, this is the one which the Beloved Disciple loved best. In St. John’s highest hour of rapture he saw the vision which Ezekiel had seen six centuries before, and described it in phrases strikingly similar, while the rich music of his parables, like that of the Vine and the Shepherd (17, 34) is also heard again in the notes struck by the Good Shepherd himself. We ask, then, what was the style of this favorite author of the exile of Patmos and his Lord?
Professor Kautzsch (1896) has voiced the highest modern learning in his statement that Ezekiel’s style “shows a grand scale of variation from the simplest and most naive utterances to the most artistic and most complicated.” Ewald has declared that he “excels all former prophets as a writer in point of skill, beauty, and perfection of treatment,” his style being enriched by “charming and telling metaphors… full of new turns and surprises, often very beautifully elaborated.”
Ezekiel was celebrated as a maker of parables (Ezekiel 20:49), and his writings are full of riddles, proverbs, and allegories. In the heat of his stormy exhortations he would seize upon the most familiar and common objects and turn them to account. Israel is a vine; Jerusalem is a pot; the kingdom of Judah is a lioness, and the royal family are her whelps; Nebuchadnezzar is an eagle; the false prophets, instead of standing guard at the breaches in the city walls, are foxes burrowing under them; or, again, they are dumb and greedy dogs, hunters and murderers of souls; Egypt is a crocodile pulled out of the river by a hook and dying on the shore, or it is a splinter wounding the hand that leans upon it for support. Every sentence sparkles and gleams with brilliant figures of speech. It has been said that Ezekiel has furnished more striking expressions for liturgy and sermon than any other prophet.
Sometimes these metaphors are savage, sometimes full of exquisite tenderness, sometimes strangely fantastic, but in any case never to be forgotten. Some of his allegories are made as disgusting as possible; like that of the foundling child who became the adulterous wife, picturing Israel’s unfaithfulness. He rendered his sermons more dramatic by his action. It is not to be forgotten that gestures were the main part of primitive language; very often, even in ancient law, they took the place of technical phraseology (Maine, Ancient Law). Orientals have always been particularly partial to their use, and Ezekiel, like the early Methodist preachers, adapted himself to his audience. These symbolic actions may be repugnant to us, but that they were just fitted to influence the men to whom he spoke is seen by the result. The mimic siege (4), the shaving of his beard (5), the seeming paralysis, the carefulness of diet, and the disgusting method of cooking his food (Ezekiel 4:8; Ezekiel 4:12-13), the sighing and quaking (Ezekiel 12:18; Ezekiel 21:6), all were picture sermons which covered lessons of tremendous importance.
The visions, too, in which all the majesties and splendors of earth and heaven are thrown together, forming, as Jerome says, “a labyrinth of the mysteries of God,” each had its divine, far-reaching message. Ezekiel’s entire philosophy of history and philosophy of religion can be discovered in the vision of Jehovah’s glory, which is indeed the key to this whole prophecy. (See notes chaps. Ezekiel 1:10.) He explains all history by the controlling hand of Jehovah. The sternness of his own words is fully explained by the fact that he had felt upon him the weight of the hand which he had himself seen underneath the mechanism of the universe (Ezekiel 1:8; Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 3:14), while his quenchless hope for the future, when all others were in despair, was grounded upon the faithfulness and mercifulness of the ever-present and all-powerful One.
We cannot understand the meaning of every part of his vision, but as we come better to understand the language of oriental symbolism we see that to his auditors there was nothing forced or artificial in these descriptions, but that every detail contained some rich spiritual suggestion. It must also be remembered that Ezekiel was a poet, and only the soul of a poet can appreciate his wealth of imagery. His songs of war and his dirges over fallen heroes and fallen nations are worthy to be compared with those of any age or any race. Herder has called him the AEschylus and Shakespeare of the Hebrews, while Schiller wished to study Hebrew chiefly because he longed to read Ezekiel in his own language.
IV. Ezekiel’s Personality and Work.
It has been said that since Ezekiel has told us nothing of himself, we must be content to remain wholly ignorant of what manner of man he was. But this is not correct. There are a few significant circumstances related concerning him, and various necessary inferences from his customary speech and life, which throw not a little light upon the character of this silent prophet. The very fact that he does not make his own personality prominent, but forgets himself in his absorption in his lifework, speaks louder than words concerning his modesty and the intensity of his devotion to God. Even Duhm, his most severe critic, styles him the “prophet of humility.” There is a positive sublimity in his self-forgetfulness and silence. His life was quiet and withdrawn. He seems rarely, if ever, to have left his own home. He was a “man of the Spirit,” given up to holy thoughts and heavenly dreams.
That he was “the priest, the son of Buzi” (Ezekiel 1:3), proves that he belonged to the highest aristocracy of Israel and that he lived either in or just outside the temple. As a boy he stepped beside his father along those echoing aisles and toward those smoking altars, gazing with familiar eyes at the splendors which Solomon three hundred years before had dedicated to the God of ages. This was his home, where he “sucked in love for the temple with his mother’s milk.” (Compare Alexander Duff, Old Testament Theology; Cornill, Das Buch des Prophet Ezechiel.) His young poet-soul must have been thrilled with the nearness of Jehovah to his people and with the awfulness of the blasphemy when he saw even the priests themselves staggering to the sacrifices and filling the holy place with the noise of their drunken orgies. (See Isaiah 28:0.) This young student of the truth, whose memory was stored from his earliest childhood with the teachings of the law, doubtless listened many times with breathless interest to the warnings and cries of Jeremiah, that most tender-hearted prophet, who during all his boyhood stood up in the holy city as the chief representative of Jehovah’s will. He remembered well his master’s teachings, and often in his later sermons reproduced even his very words.
How old Ezekiel was when carried into captivity (598-597 B.C.) is not known. Josephus declares he was still but a youth ( Antiquities, 10:63). The fact that he began his prophetic work only five years later would suggest since no one sneered at the “boy prophet” that he must have been at least twenty-five years of age when the captivity began. The maturity of his style, which never changed for over twenty years, also leads to the conclusion that he was of ripe age when he entered captivity (Kuenen), and was born, therefore, not later than 622 B.C. He had witnessed the most horrible national apostasies, had been impressed with Josiah’s attempted reformation (621-608 B.C.), and had felt the authority of his newly found “book of the law” (2 Kings 22:8). That he was well acquainted with the Jewish law books, particularly Leviticus and Deuteronomy, is proved by constant reference and frequent quotation.
For at least twenty-two years he was a prophet in Babylon (Ezekiel 29:17), and distinguished scholars have pointed out the influence that the Babylonian learning had upon his literary style. That he always remained a great student is conceded, and if his library is ever discovered at Tel-abib, it is not unlikely that some cuneiform writings may be found upon its shelves side by side with the great works of Hebrew literature. (Compare note Ezekiel 5:12.)
So vividly has he described the harbor of Tyre that modern archaeologists have been irresistibly drawn to the conclusion that he must have visited it at some time in his life, probably before his exile from Jerusalem. If so, in addition to the best training that the schools of Jerusalem could have given him, which at that period were no doubt largely influenced by Egyptian and even Greek learning (see Introduction to Daniel, III, 3), he would also have possessed the culture which comes only from travel.
That Jehovah chose this young man for one of the most delicate and dangerous tasks ever committed to a prophet is proof of his nobility and courage and many other high qualities. This alone ought to show the error of those critics who are constrained by their theories to count this man hard, narrow, and bigoted, a distorter of history and defamer of his own countrymen.
Poor Ezekiel! How much he had to suffer while he lived, and though he has been long dead the thorns still continue to prick him. He is a “fanatic” (Renan), a “dogmatist” with all “the coldness of a criminal judge,” in whom “human sympathy and original inspiration are alike wanting” (Duhm); he has “no kindness of heart,” “knows no mercy,” and is “without attractiveness” (Kuenen), while his description of God’s justice is “absolutely frightful,” since he would solve the problem of theology, by “a theory of revenge” (Th. Arndt).
How little these critics know of the man with whom Jehovah loved to talk. He was naturally reticent and afraid of the words of others (Ezekiel 3:6); but controlled by the hand of Jehovah he spoke without faltering the hardest message which ever fell from the lips of man. It was not till the weight of the omnipotent Hand fell upon him that he uttered the harsh truths which the people so needed to know. He was so sensitive that the mockery and jests of certain nameless persons, even when the elders were showing him utmost respect, wounded him like the sting of nettles and scorpions. His face was not stone, but tender human flesh till God made it hard (Ezekiel 3:8).
He did speak stern words, yet his love for his native land was such that Jerusalem could be pictured by Jehovah as the desire of his eyes whose destruction would fall as heavily upon him as did the death of his wife that wife who was the excellency of his strength, the joy of his glory (Ezekiel 24:16; Ezekiel 24:21; Ezekiel 24:25). His patriotism and his love for his countrymen, are also seen by his bitterness and hot anger when he first learns the message of woe and fiery scorn he is given to speak (Ezekiel 3:14). That he did not flee his duty shows the strength and conscientiousness of his nature. He was called to be the “conscience of the state.” The hand of the Lord was heavy upon him, compelling him to dissipate illusions and crush false hopes. That he held the respect of the elders, notwithstanding his withering reproaches, proves their faith in his thorough manhood and uttermost sincerity. He may have lacked politeness, as Renan claims; but even Renan acknowledges that this was a “martyr spirit,” “fascinated by justice,” while Kuenen speaks of him as “scrupulously conscientious,” “passionately in earnest to the very bone,” and Cornill says, “that for holy earnestness and deep piety Ezekiel stands first and foremost among the prophets.” Such admissions from such men go far to overthrow certain theories that these same critics have tenaciously held. Such a pious prophet could hardly have been guilty of originating a system of legislation and imposing it upon his countrymen as the ancient authority of Judaism, nor ought we to charge a man of such “scrupulous conscientiousness” with describing visions which he never really saw, and recording conversations with elders who never really honored him with a visit! It is rather evident that Ezekiel’s whole life was a listening for God’s voice and a looking for his glory. His life task was a struggle to tell the unspeakable things he had seen and heard. His definition of the false prophet is one who does not speak as he is moved by the strong Spirit of God, but utters his prophecies out of his own heart (Ezekiel 13:3).
Nor was this pious prophet a weak character. He was a mighty man, even his enemies being the judges. As we become better acquainted with him “the more mighty and grand he appears as a true man of God equipped with vast powers” (Cornill). “He was a man of action and extraordinary success” (Kautzsch). “Power went out from him;… without him Judaism would not have fulfilled her mission and Christianity would not have been born” (Kuenen). “How great is he in his solitude, how heroic in his captivity, how sublime in his desolation.… During more than twenty years this extraordinary man was the center of that fiery preaching which saved the conscience of Israel from a storm in which every other national conscience would have perished.… Christianity owes more to Ezekiel than to any other prophet, perhaps excepting the second Isaiah” (Renan). Such are the testimonies forced from the lips of men who have tried in many ways to belittle him. Cornill, as well as Gautier, has seen a spiritual relationship between this Babylonian prophet and St. Paul.
Kamrath has styled him, because of his far-reaching influence and mental grasp of vast problems, the Jewish Calvin. He was indeed a powerful personality, who has left his mark on everything he touched. No one doubts that this colossal figure, this organizer and lawgiver of captive Israel, was the “spiritual director of the exile, the father of Judaism” (Cornill), and the “preserver of the Jewish commonwealth” (Konig).
Without his teaching Israel would have been buried in its Babylonian grave forever (37). He furnished the impulse which culminated in the edict of Cyrus and the return of his people to the Holy Land “with songs of rejoicing on their lips.” He lived in an evil hour, but his majestic personality mastered all adverse circumstances. As a priest he restored the past; as a prophet he created the future. He stands large and unique among the great men of his race. His was a vast mission: to save the Israelites from becoming Babylonians; to transform those faithless, hopeless, idol-worshiping exiles into an ardent, hopeful, believing Church, and with serene audacity to prepare them for their second Exodus.
The exodus from Babylon was as epochal an event as the exodus from Egypt, and the man elected by Providence to be spiritual leader of that exodus must have been a mighty prophet “like unto” Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). His very name is significant Ezekiel: “Strong is God” (Ewald), or “God makes strong” (Gesenius). The second exodus was accomplished not by miracles, but by the transforming power of the preached word. Ezekiel was a preacher. His exposures of the awful sin and inexcusable guilt of his countrymen cut like a two-edged sword, for he felt that the prophet who does not warn the lost is a murderer of souls (xxxiii). He showed the necessary and eternal connection between sin and penalty. He was “a powerful preacher of repentance” (Pfleiderer), because he believed that God had no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but was ready to forgive when the wicked man turned from his wickedness. Nowhere in the Old Testament is it so clearly taught that the real object of divine punishment is that the sinner may turn from his evil ways and live.
Amos had emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s righteousness; Hosea had felt the need of forgiveness, and, therefore, God’s need to forgive; Isaiah had seen Jehovah himself coming as the weary world’s great Deliverer; but Ezekiel, his lips touched by a coal from the holy altar, was able to speak out “another sentence from the eternal tale of love, and men gained a new depth of vision into the infinite heart of God.” No one before in human history had so emphasized the blessed truth that “man’s holiest hope and God’s holiest purpose is forgiveness.” Ezekiel, too, as no other prophet, emphasized the enormous value of a human soul and the individual need of forgiveness and salvation if the nation were to be saved.
Even Isaiah had taught that Zion’s sanctuary could not be harmed, for Zion is “the place of our tryst with Jehovah;” but Ezekiel saw that the true Zion was not in any earthly city, but wherever Jehovah’s glorious chariot rested, and that the humblest “son of man” and the one farthest from the Holy City, if only truly righteous, could meet with God and find close to him a “little sanctuary.” (Compare Alexander Duff, Old Testament Theology.)
The character of this preacher may be truly seen in his horror of sin and in his method of preaching repentance and the need of a new heart. His anathemas seem almost pitiless until we hear sounding through it all, as the chief note of every sermon, “Will ye die, O house of Israel?” The crowning thought of every warning was to bring men to repentance, and thus to holiness, and to turn their eyes from the black past to a new future which shall open to men who have new hearts. His high humanitarianism, far in advance of his age, is seen not merely from his deep interest in all nationalities, but in the honor he paid to women and the marriage covenant, actually counting this relation of husband and wife so sacred that it could image the relation of Jehovah and Israel (23). The sins which he condemned were not the sins of ritualism, merely (Stade), but of morals (Ezekiel 7:23; Ezekiel 18:3-15; Ezekiel 22:3-16; Ezekiel 24:7; Ezekiel 33:25; Ezekiel 36:17); the holiness which he commended was not ceremonial, merely, but spiritual. The lofty morality of Ezekiel is shown everywhere by his precepts as well as his actions (Ezekiel 18:6-9). His was a religion of justice and truth. While Ezekiel was in Babylon it was the moral capital of the world. Justice, righteousness, holiness, according to Ezekiel, were not cold abstractions and formalities. He told the elders to their faces that they were no better than the heathen, because, though they outwardly worshiped Jehovah, they had set up idols “in their hearts,” and they could claim no special favor from him because they were children of Abraham, since God’s favor was not obtained through birth, but through a new birth (Ezekiel 11:19-21, etc.).
The deep spirituality of this man is seen also from his conception of the Deity. He was not like one who
With a shudder feels his naked soul
In the great black world face to face with God.
He loved to find “the secret place of the Most High.” Like the scientist of to-day, he had discovered an omnipresent, invisible energy, working like a living spirit behind the mechanism of this universe, but he did not call it the Unknowable. He knew the name of this invisible omnipotency: Jehovah! That this son of a priest knew well the ancient meaning of this name of God, which he so often uses, cannot be doubted. His every prophecy is based upon the fundamental thought that God is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 5:9-10). Jehovah is just and holy, but possesses also the tenderness and passion of a father and a husband (16, 18, etc.).
It is noticeable that Ezekiel is the first prophet who represents God as the Shepherd seeking his lost sheep (34). Every man becomes like the God he worships, and the chief characteristic of Ezekiel is the searching and saving love by which he sought to bring his people to a new life, and did, in fact, prepare them for the future Messianic Gospel. He was a watchman. He stood in his place, as sentinel on the Babylonian canal, and with undaunted voice proclaimed the downfall of Jerusalem unless the people repented; but when the awful calamity at length became realized, and his countrymen were crushed by the blow, his voice grew tender as he cheered them with the promise that, though the holy city had fallen, the God of the city still lived and was able to protect and deliver his people. By his words he awoke the spirit of the nation. He opened to them a wealth of unfathomably rich comfort. Though his nation had fallen into ruin this lonely mystic cast himself upon the future with a great hope, a radiant vision of a better day, when a new Jerusalem should arise in which Jehovah would be honored by all as King, and there would be no war, no injustice, no inequality, no unrighteousness.
It was the dream of a seer! As has been well said, he was “tyrannized by Conscience and the Ideal.” (Compare Darmsteter, Les Prophetes D’Israel.) Ezekiel was a dreamer, but, unlike the authors of modern and ancient Utopias, his dream became a reality. His vision of God and of the future led to Israel’s resurrection and to the building of the walls of a New Jerusalem. We make bold to call this man the St. John of the Old Testament, not only because of his sublime thunderings and apocalyptic visions, but because Jesus, by his sympathetic and tender use of this book, proved that its author was the beloved one among the seers of the Old Covenant. (Compare, e.g., Ezekiel 15:0 and John 15:0.) Certain modern critics do not like this prophet. They think him “cold” and “heartless,” and his book “grotesque and repulsive” (e.g., Kuenen, Onderzoek).
Are these scholars more fastidious than the Teacher of Nazareth, or have they not yet become acquainted with this “maker of parables” (Ezekiel 20:49) whom Jesus loved? The prophet whose writings the Master used more, perhaps, than those of any other, and whose method of teaching he adopted, must have been a man after his own heart.
As one sympathetically studies these obscure prophecies he may catch many a glimpse of the man who writes them. What self-restraint! What self-conquest! What awfulness of silence! What domination of conscience! What absolute submission to God’s will! With its unrivaled vividness of coloring, its maze of symbols, and blaze of divine visions, this book is not only a prototype of the splendors of the Apocalypse, but its author, the lonely man, this thorn-pierced man of sorrows, is a prototype of the coming Christ. The One whose name is above every name chose as his title Ezekiel’s name, “the Son of man.” There must be some deep spiritual meaning in the book honored by St. John and his Master. If it seem barren and unfruitful, woe to the eyes that look! If its author seem narrow and harsh of speech, he is only placed the nearer to the One who was despised and rejected of men, who saw no beauty in him (Isaiah liii).
V. Ezekiel’s Alleged Historical Mistakes.
Ezekiel’s prophetic dignity has not saved him from various severe criticisms from certain scholars of the new school. Even his word is disbelieved, and he is declared to have written out and revised his prophecies to fit the facts after they were spoken, or probably never to have spoken them at all; certainly not at the dates which he gives. This is a most unholy suspicion of a man whose every act and word proves his uprightness. Via, Veritas, Vita seem almost as vitally connected in the Gospel which Ezekiel preached as in that proclaimed by his great Namesake six centuries afterward. The main reason for suspecting the prophet of untruthfulness is that some of these prophecies contain clear statements of political conditions which were in the future at the time when he claims to have uttered them, and “therefore Ezekiel could not have written them at the period given” (Kuenen, Onderzoek, 2:304-312). It is evident that this argument can only weigh heavily with one who disbelieves in any predictive revelation from God. The attack upon the prophet’s trustworthiness in other directions seems to be made for less reason than any modern writer would require to make such a charge against a contemporary even one who had no particular reputation for saintliness.
There are two specific “blunders,” plainly so called by our critics, which have received much enthusiastic mention as proving that a prophet cannot be trusted when he attempts to foretell important events. One of these refers to the conquest of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 26:7-14). It is denied that Nebuchadnezzar ever captured Tyre; and it is even claimed that Ezekiel himself afterward acknowledges this when he says that the Babylonian king and his army received no “wages” for Tyre, notwithstanding their long siege (Ezekiel 39:18-19). But, if, indeed, Ezekiel acknowledges the failure of his own prophecy, certainly this clearly displays his utter frankness and honesty. A disingenuous person who was accustomed to revise his prophecies to suit the facts would not have left such a passage. Only a true and honest prophet, recognizing the fact that few prophecies were unconditional, and that God was always quick to forgive, or to postpone promised punishment (Ezekiel 12:21-28; Jonah 4:0), could possibly have left on record both the prediction and its failure without any attempt at harmonization.
But it is by no means proved that Nebuchadnezzar did not capture the Phoenician capital. The sufficient answer to this criticism ought to be, first, that while no ancient non-biblical writer has said that Nebuchadnezzar captured Tyre, none has denied this, and Ezekiel, as a contemporary, ought by any just criticism to be allowed to have known the facts; and second, Ezekiel has not distinctly said (Ezekiel 29:18-19) that he failed to capture the city, but only that he failed to receive from the city sufficient reward for his enormous expenditure of time and treasure.
It is suggestive that Professor Fritz Hommel, of Munich, who formerly held that Nebuchadnezzar merely blockaded Tyre, failing to capture it though he finally brought it again under tribute ( Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens, 1888, and in Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1:1898), has now revised his former critical judgment sufficiently to say, that while “Tyre could not be taken by Nebuchadrezzar, it passed notwithstanding after a fruitless blockade of thirteen years (by a voluntary surrender) into the hands of the Babylonian monarch” ( Exp. Times, 1899). Nebuchadnezzar came to the throne 605-604 B.C.; the siege of Tyre occurred, probably, 585-573 B.C.; it is certain that a little later than this (565 B.C.) Nebuchadnezzar was king of Tyre, since he is so recognized in a legal contract which was drawn up in that city ( Records of the Past, vol. iv, pp. 99-101). All of this harmonizes beautifully with Ezekiel’s statements.
The other alleged “blunder” of Ezekiel has reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest in Egypt as prophesied in chapter 32. Although Josephus had sustained the Bible account, yet, as Herodotus was silent concerning this campaign, several writers were very confident that we have here a very plain mistake of a biblical writer. In his Prophets and Prophecy (1877) Dr. Kuenen gave much space to this matter. Very soon, however, a fragment of Nebuchadnezzar’s annals was discovered, in which he declared without equivocation that he did invade Egypt in the thirty-seventh year of his reign just the year that this prophecy required (568-567 B.C.) and achieved a great victory over the king [Ama]sis. More than this, a hieroglyphic inscription written by a famous Egyptian governor of this same era, named Nes-Hor, was found, in which he described the horrors of an invasion which swept Egypt without opposition clear to Syene. (Compare Ezekiel 30:16, Greek.) So strongly did these contemporaneous inscriptions confirm Ezekiel’s account, that archaeologists and biblical historians of the most critical school conceded his trustworthiness on this point; for instance, Sayce, Pinches, Tiele, Wiedemann, etc.
It is to be regretted, however, that Dr. Kuenen, in his Historisch-critisch Onderzoek (1889, pp. 265-318), declined to acknowledge that Ezekiel’s accuracy had been vindicated. He objected, first, that Nes-Hor in his inscription did not definitely call his opponents Babylonians, and that, while the term used referred undoubtedly to Asiatics and Ionians, these might have been Egyptian mercenaries who had revolted and not Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers; second, that the fragment of Nebuchadnezzar’s annals describing his Egyptian campaign did not affirm how far his troops had pressed into Egypt, and therefore they might not have gone as far as Syene; third, the Egyptian tablet of Nes-Hor mentioned Hophra as king, while the Babylonian inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar mentioned [Ama]sis as the reigning king, and therefore these writings evidently alluded to different campaigns; fourth, that even if it should be proved that Nebuchadnezzar did invade Egypt and raid the country as far as Ezekiel claimed, certainly there was no literal fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Pharaoh (Ezekiel 29:1-12).
Taking the last objection first, let it be noticed that the prophecy is full of symbolic numbers and poetic figures, and it is no more just to demand a bald, prosaic fulfillment of it than it would have been for St. Peter to demand such a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning the time when the sun should be turned into darkness and the moon into blood (Joel 2:30-31; Acts 2:16-20). From the standpoint of the oriental who understood better than we the symbolic sense of the expressions used both prophecies were truly, though not literally, fulfilled.
As to the third objection, let it also be noted that no scholar doubts that Amasis and Hophra were contemporaries. They were, indeed, brothers-in-law, and the most critical living authorities on Egyptian history declare them to have been co-rulers. Their pictures may be seen, even to this day, portrayed side by side upon the same royal monument. There would seem to be no contradiction, therefore, in Nebuchadnezzar winning victories such as he narrates over Amasis, in Lower Egypt, in the very same campaign in which his forces might have had a severe struggle with Hophra in Upper Egypt. Dr. Kuenen’s other arguments are no more weighty. That these captors and plunderers of the whole country were revolting Egyptian mercenaries I think the hieroglyphic text makes clear; but does not this suggest a condition of national weakness which is most easily accounted for by such an invasion as Ezekiel claims? Even if the Nes-Hor text has no connection whatever with Nebuchadnezzar or his invasion, as Dr. Adolph Erman, of Berlin, believes who in a recent letter has favored me with a new translation of the inscription yet the statement of Nebuchadnezzar himself concerning his invasion of Egypt remains as a remarkable contemporaneous corroboration of Ezekiel’s accuracy. It is evident, therefore, that the most generous conclusion open to the critical examiner of these documents would be that, notwithstanding these texts, it still remains barely possible that Dr. Kuenen may be right and Ezekiel may be wrong. But is this the correct principle of exegesis? Is the old principle which affirms that a Scripture writer shall not be declared wrong when any consistent interpretation of the documents allows him to be in the right, not more in accordance with justice?
VI. The Book of Ezekiel and the Levitical Priestly Law.
No one can doubt the close relationship between Ezekiel and certain portions of the Pentateuch, particularly Leviticus.*
[* Stanley Leathes, in The Law in the Prophets, believes he has traced references in Ezekiel to every book of the Pentateuch and almost every chapter in Leviticus.] Over eighty of Ezekiel’s characteristic expressions are to be found in Leviticus, chiefly in chapters xvii-xxvi, and many of these nowhere else in Scripture. These phrases sound like verbal quotations. But who quotes? This question was never raised previous to this century. It was universally accepted as natural that Ezekiel’s vocabulary should be that of a priest whose memory was filled with the exact wording of the authoritative Mosaic law. (Compare Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Deuteronomy 30:11.) A new school of biblical criticism, however, which denies the ancient authorship of the Pentateuch, or any considerable section of it, explains these similarities in a very different manner. Some critics, like Graf and Kayser, boldly theorize that Ezekiel wrote the Levitical laws himself. Others like Dillmann, think that, while he was not personally its author certain portions of this law must have been worked over during the exile under his eye. Still others, like Smend and Wellhausen and Kuenen and Robertson Smith, representing the most popular wing of the new school, believe that the priest code of Leviticus was prepared considerably later than the time of Ezekiel, and that the laws, even to their phraseology, were copied from him. Ezekiel himself first made the sketch of the written priestly law, and originated much of the ritual which was afterward supposed by the Jews to have been in existence from ancient times.
Of course this theory contradicts such writers as Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicler, but the answer to this is that these Bible writers are “very independent of historic perspective.” Indeed, these leaders of the new school have been so confident that their theory concerning Ezekiel’s priority to the priestly law was correct that they have spoken of it as the “stronghold” of their entire hypothesis and “the key to the criticism of the Old Testament.” Recently, however, not to mention the arguments of recognized opponents such as Green, Cave, Delitzsch, Orelli, Gautier, Zahn, etc., serious objections to this theory have been developed within the new school itself by such scholars as Noldeke, Dillmann, Klostermann, Baudissin, Riehm, Hofmann, etc. Klostermann even attempts to show that the Levitical law was so well known in Ezekiel’s day that it was used by the people in exile as a sort of catechism, which accounts for Ezekiel’s frequent use of it.
Driver, in his Introduction (1892), gives much weight to these objections, and decides that at least the principal and most characteristic of the Levitical laws must have been much older than Ezekiel, although the parenthetic framework may not have been ancient, while Konig ( Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, 1894) strongly emphasizes the fact that we cannot explain Ezekiel without remembering that he used a religious phraseology, and appealed to a religious conscience already existing. He constantly appealed to a law already known in codified and written form ( Ezekiel 18:59), a law which was accepted by the people as their religious constitution and legitimate court of appeal. Ezekiel’s idea of a just man was one who acted according to the written law. He even uses the very word for law which is used in the Jewish law book (Ezekiel 20:11; Deuteronomy 12:0); which law, he says, they had from the beginning.
Criticism has changed front to a marked extent in the few years since W. Robertson Smith could write: “In every point Ezekiel’s Torah prepares the way for the Levitical law.… Ezekiel makes no appeal to a previous law of ritual; like Jeremiah, he knew of no such written law;” and Wellhausen could declare that Amos (786-741 B.C.) was the first Hebrew author, and without literary predecessors.
The point upon which the new criticism has been most certain for many years, regarding it, indeed, as the starting point of every argument, has been the distinction which, as was claimed, the prophet Ezekiel made for the first time in history, between the priests and Levites. Kittel ( Geschichte der Hebraer, 1888) quotes Kuenen as saying that “anyone who does not see that Ezekiel regards the degradation of the Levites (Ezekiel 44:6-16) as something entirely new, and previously unknown, is more to be pitied than contradicted.” Yet Kittel himself and many critical scholars since have continued to show extreme doubtfulness of this fundamental conclusion of the new school, that up to the time of Ezekiel, according to Hebrew law, every Levite was a priest, and that it was Ezekiel who first limited to the house of Zadok the priestly functions. Even Dr. Driver, while he accepts as certain the contention that in primitive times every member of the tribe of Levi “enjoyed the right of exercising priestly offices,” sees that “there is nothing in this incompatible with the pre-eminence of a particular family that of Aaron (Deuteronomy 10:6) which in the line of Zadok held the chief rank in the central sanctuary” ( Int., p. 146). Dr. Driver attempts to prove, however, from the fact that certain terms are used in Deuteronomy to describe the service of the Levites, which very terms are also used to describe the priests’ services, that therefore no distinction was recognized between priests and Levites. But these references by no means prove that every Levite was a priest and exercised the functions of the priesthood. No one doubts that every priest was a Levite, and that therefore certain functions, such as those referred to by Dr. Driver, were common to both of these orders of the clergy. Every Levite as well as every priest “ministered” and “stood before Jehovah” and “stood before the congregation” (see Driver’s list, Int., p. 77, N. 2); but certain specific priestly duties, such as giving the lot and doing service in the offering tent, are never ascribed to the Levites as a tribe. Deuteronomy itself which is now acknowledged by all writers to be earlier than Ezekiel, and by some of the most recent critics (such as Westphal, Le Deuteronomy, 1891; A. von Hoonacker, Le Museon, 1892, 1893; Klostermann, Der Pent., 1893; Konig, Einleitung, 1893; and A. Harper, Deuteronomy, 1895) to contain the very ancient Hebrew legislation makes some distinction between priests and Levites (for example, Ezekiel 18:1; Ezekiel 18:3; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:14), while other biblical books make this distinction very sharply (Joshua 21:4; 1 Samuel 6:15; 2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 8:4; Ezra 1:5; Ezra 2:36; Ezra 2:40; Ezra 3:8; Ezra 3:10; Ezra 6:20; Nehemiah 7:39; Nehemiah 7:43; Nehemiah 12:1-8; 1 Chronicles 9:2, etc.), representing the pre-eminence of the Aaronites to extend back even to the Mosaic era. It is suggestive that the general term, the use of which some have supposed to indicate in Deuteronomy a lack of knowledge of any difference in rank between the priest and the Levite, is also used in Chronicles, where this distinction is clearly recognized (2 Chronicles 5:5).
It is not strange if for various reasons certain Bible books fail to make the technical distinctions which were always recognized in greater or less degree between priests and Levites. Deuteronomy seems to have been the “people’s book,” in which ecclesiastical distinctions were not made prominent and the Levites and priests were generally classed together, without reference to rank, as men dedicated to holy service. So the Chronicles fuse together Levites, singers, and doorkeepers, and while the distinction between the priests and Levites is not obliterated it is not emphasized. The historic books rarely allude to the differences of rank among the clergy, and yet these differences are definitely recognized (1 Samuel 6:15; 2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 8:4).
There can be no doubt, if the Hebrew ecclesiasticism followed the same course as that of all other nations, that it would become with time more complex, and that the separation between the people and the priesthood and between the different orders of the clergy would become more plainly marked. The technical meaning of a term such as “priest” and “Levite” might change in the course of time, and the duties of each might change as the religious ceremonial became more elaborate.
Dr. Hilprecht has just pointed out that in old Babylonian the term patesi (priest) had such a broad meaning that it could be applied to the civil as well as the religious ruler ( Recent Research, 1896). Dr. Lansing long ago showed that originally this was also true of the Hebrew kohen; e.g., 2 Samuel 8:17 ( Expositor, vol. viii). The recently discovered Carthage inscription proves the same to be true of the holats, or priests of Baal.
Baudissin ( Die Geschichte Alt Testament Priesterthums, 1889) calls attention to the use of this word priest, not only in Hebrew, but in Arabic and Phoenician, and draws the conclusion that it originally meant “standing before Jehovah,” while the term Levite meant “followed,” or “ministered.” As the ritual became more complex it was only natural that the title of priest should become more honorable and the separation between priest and Levite more distinct.
It is perfectly in accordance with a natural order of development to find in early Hebrew history civil rulers such as Joshua, Gideon, and Samuel exercising ecclesiastical functions, and to find certain Levites, though not of the house of Aaron, taking upon them priestly offices. Those were days when the strict enforcement of law, either civil or religious, seems to have been the exception rather than the rule. After the building of Solomon’s temple, and the centralization of an elaborate worship at Jerusalem, a stronger attempt was made to enforce ecclesiastical discipline, subject, however, to the bias of the reigning prince, with the natural result of alienating to a considerable extent the priesthood of the rural sanctuaries from the worship of Jehovah. It was these rebellious and apostate priests, the “Levites that went astray,” whom Ezekiel relegated to the subordinate offices of the ministry. (See notes Ezekiel 6:3; Ezekiel 44:9-16.) He did not degrade the entire body of Levites this would indeed have been, as the new school itself calls it, “an ignoble procedure” (Kuenen) and “very unjust” (Max Kamrath) but he exercised discipline upon insubordinates. That there is a marked difference in the manner of reference to the priests and Levites in different biblical books cannot be doubted, but there is no necessary contradiction. The standpoint of the author, the aim of the book, and the era in which it was written might largely account for this. It could not be expected, for example, that technical phraseology would ordinarily be employed in a book written for popular and practical religious instruction, such as Deuteronomy, while such language would seem perfectly natural in a book like Leviticus. Just as the bishops, priests, and deacons of the English Church are continually spoken of, even by those perfectly acquainted with these distinctions, as “the clergy,” so in Deuteronomy the priests and Levites are spoken of under one general designation.
In Ezekiel, a book written by a priest, these distinctions are naturally not made as frequently as in the Levitical law book, but more frequently than in Deuteronomy. The fact which Dr. Kuenen has himself acknowledged, that the system of worship seen in Ezekiel the distribution of priestly functions, enumeration of sacrifices, treatment of feasts, etc. is more complex than that of the Levitical law, is an almost conclusive argument that Ezekiel’s legislation did not precede, but followed, that simpler and less developed code. It is to be noticed, also, that, even when the phrases of Ezekiel and the Levitical law are most closely paralleled, Ezekiel exhibits a greater fullness of expression, which indicates that he has amplified the holy code. (See Patton, Presbyterian and Reformed Review, January, 1896.)
Only one other point need be raised here. If the Levitical law preceded Ezekiel as a well-known system of legislation, why did he differ from it in so many particulars? (40-48.) Ezekiel’s temple, altar, feasts, sacrifices, etc., differ from the institutions of Leviticus in a marked degree. This is hard to explain. It is difficult for the conservative school to explain why Ezekiel should differ from Moses, and it is almost equally difficult for the new school to explain why the Levitical legislation should differ so widely and unnecessarily from the Ezekiel legislation, upon which, according to this view, it was based. It has been quite generally admitted by conservative writers that Ezekiel intended to change the old legislation, and some, as Delitzsch, have suggested that the reason why Ezekiel’s prophecy of a new ritual was not fulfilled was because the conditions of the prophecy were not fulfilled (Ezekiel 43:9-10). But to the present writer it seems clear that Ezekiel never intended that his vision should be taken as a “ politico-ecclesiastical program.” His miraculous river, his healing trees, his impossible dimensions, all lead us into the region of symbol. It is wrong to say that he did not reaffirm the Levitical institutions because he was not acquainted with them, for he does not mention the high priest, nor the day of atonement, nor the feast of Pentecost, nor the Sabbatic year of rest, and yet these were undoubtedly according to the new criticism parts of the oldest Hebrew legislation. Ezekiel seems to have had no intention of repeating what the people already knew. Rather, this St. John of the Old Testament symbolized the old legislation and set forth its meaning with vivid strokes. Just as in his description of the cherubim he differed both from the ancient Hebrew and the Babylonian pictures, and thus drew special attention to the symbolic lessons taught, so he here differs from the old forms in his description of the Hebrew worship, and for a similar reason. (See notes chaps. 1, 10, and 40.)
VII. The Exiled Jews in Babylon.
The startling discovery of Dr. Hilprecht at Nippur which lies only a few hours southeast of Babylon, quite near where the traditional grave of Ezekiel is still shown at Kepel of a “Jewish quarter,” with its narrow streets, and low, poorly built houses (compare Ezekiel 12:17), put side by side with Professor Petrie’s discovery at Tel Nebesheh, in Egypt, of various signs indicating that in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. the Jews were living in an isolated district in that city, throws a picturesque light on the condition of the so-called “captives;” the fellow-countrymen and fellow-exiles of Ezekiel. It is now made certain that Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15) was situated on the kabaru (the Chebar, Ezekiel 1:3), a large navigable canal not far from Nippur, and it is altogether certain that there was close communication between the colony in Nippur and that with which Ezekiel was connected at Tel-abib; for the news even from Jerusalem, three or four months distant, came to the prophet regularly.
It is seen by these new discoveries that even then the Jews were “children of the Ghetto,” and no doubt in the White-chapel and Petticoat Lanes of the Jewish quarter in Babylon and Nippur and Tel-abib they maintained their national prejudices and customs as they ever since have done. This was certainly true of those whose children of the next generation went back to rebuild the holy city. They carried back with them a love for the old traditions, the old customs, the old faiths, which had only been intensified by their absence from the temple. They scorned and ridiculed the idolatry by which they were surrounded.
A very high authority has ventured the statement that “the Chaldeans exercised no influence whatever on the Old Testament religion” (Schultz, Old Test. Rel., 2:330). But such a statement must not be misunderstood. While it is true that “Babylon in the sixth century B.C. was not capable of giving lessons of purified theology” (Renan, Hist., 3:367), yet the form and expression of the Hebrews’ faith were modified. No one can live for a generation in a foreign land without being affected by his environment. Of this Ezekiel himself is a striking proof. His illustrations and figures of speech are often plainly Babylonian. He had lived in Babylon during half his life. He was probably familiar with its libraries (Kautzsch, Toy, Muller), he was certainly acquainted with its complex symbolic figures, with its methods of divination, and with everything which such a good student of the dress and habits and peculiarities of foreign nations would notice. Kuenen has called attention to the fact that Ezekiel’s language was affected by his long residence in Chaldea, and that he does not write his native Hebrew as easily as other prophets ( Onderzoek), while another scholar, in an exhaustive treatise, has proved that Ezekiel and Daniel and other Bible writers have used illustrative material even from the myths of Babylon (Gunkel), and still another has declared that Ezekiel’s poetry closely resembles, even in rhythm and meter, that of his contemporaries in Babylonia, and traces in detail the similarity of phraseology (Muller, Die Propheten in ihren ursprung-lichen Form, 1896, pp. 56-58). These are novel opinions, but recent discoveries prove that centuries before Ezekiel’s day the cuneiform literature had taken a firm foothold even in Palestine itself. It may be calmly and positively affirmed, on the highest authority, that in Ezekiel’s day the literature of western Asia had the same influence on those times as the European has upon us to-day ( ibid., p. 56).
It has been suggested that perhaps the reason Ezekiel does not attack the worship) of Bel and Nebo and Marduk, as other prophets do (e.g., Jeremiah xxv), and as he himself does the worship of the gods of Canaan and Egypt, was because of local influences. He would not stir up servant against master and master against servant. (See Toy, Society Biblical Literature and Exegesis, December, 1881.) The Bible itself is a constant protest against the superstition that the Jewish people were shielded by the fourfold wings of protecting angels from the laws of human nature and the touch of surrounding nations. It was not Jehovah’s purpose to make a monk of Beni-Israel, but a missionary. Phoenician artisans were imported to build the temple, an Ammonite guard assisted in the temple ritual, the greatest king of Israel was descended from a Hittite ancestry, and Babylon was the schoolmaster employed by Providence to teach the Jews the power of the one God in any land and to show them that there could be a vital, personal relationship with Jehovah apart from the temple sacrifices, and especially to bring the all-conquering monotheism in close touch with the heathen idolatry. The pious “remnant” learned their lesson well. That many of the exiles apostatized, however, there is no doubt, even apart from the testimony of Josephus. Dr. Hilprecht’s discovery of a Jewish colony in Babylon a century or more after Ezra’s day would alone be sufficient proof, but it is also shown by other archaeological finds that numbers of men with Hebrew names were doing business in the leading cities of Babylon long after the return to Jerusalem of the “pure.” Hundreds of contracts and sales in which these men appear as principals or witnesses have been dug up. These business transactions can be traced back to the very years in which Ezekiel was penning his prophecy. Indeed the leading banking firm in Babylon from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign to that of Darius Hystaspes bears a name strikingly Jewish. These “captives” in Babylon were not slaves. While they were exported from their native land, according to the usual policy of the Babylonian government to take away from them all idea of insurrection, they were given most, if not all, of the privileges of native citizenship in the new home to which they were removed. They had houses of their own (Ezekiel 8:1), could retain their manservants and maids, keep up their old titles and honors, and hold high offices in the state (Nehemiah 2:1; Nehemiah 7:5; Nehemiah 7:67; Daniel 2:48; Daniel 6:3; Ezra 1:8). A cuneiform tablet found in 1889 even indicates that they may have had especial privileges, such as freedom from tribute and compulsory service. It seems quite probable that the Jews first commenced their career as a commercial people during their captivity. Previous to their exile they were almost exclusively agriculturists and cattle men. This was the national ideal (Isaiah 66:0; Zechariah 3:10). They were not born merchants and bankers. The pressure of events advised them of the necessity of putting everything into cash at short notice. From the time of the Babylonian captivity down to the present century that has been true (Isidore Loeb, Revue Etudes Juives, January-June, 1894). The strange kindness of Cyrus to this people suggests the possibility that the Rothschilds of Babylon may have influenced legislation in those times somewhat as their successors have so often done. It is certain that this very thing did happen in Egypt, into which Jeremiah and his friends fled at this very period (Jeremiah 43:0), and where shortly after the Jews are seen engaged in large financial enterprises, administering the customs and having surveillance of all the navigation of the Nile (Mahaffy, Empire of the Ptolemies, 1895, pp. 86, 217). It is not strange under these circumstances that many exiles, encouraged by their financial prosperity, refused to return to the desolate and now hostile land which their fathers had left a generation before (Ezra 4:5; Nehemiah 4-6). The Jews have always easily become citizens of the country where they have resided. The Prussian Diet, the German Reichstag, and the French Chamber have all complimented their patriotism.
The prophets themselves had encouraged those carried into Babylon to build houses and plant gardens and pray to the Lord for the peace of the city into which they were carried captive (Jeremiah 29:7). No doubt at first they were homesick. Born among the mountains, their eyes were weary of the sand plains. But, perhaps honestly believing that in the destruction of Jerusalem the God of Israel had been conquered by the gods of Babylon, many Israelites gave up their ancestral faith when the possibilities of the temple worship were removed, and soon became Babylonians in all essentials of life and spirit. Their fellow-countrymen who still believed in Jehovah as the all-powerful Father, and who still hoped for deliverance from exile, seemed to them like dreamers intoxicated with deceptive visions. They doubtless, took Babylonian names,* and married Babylonian wives, and, certainly, when venturing upon some new speculation, offered sacrifices and libations to the Babylonian deities of fortune and good luck (Isaiah 65:11), and when at last the unexpected edict was issued, authorizing their return to their native land, they felt no ardent desire to take advantage of it. At the best, Jerusalem had been a small, poor town compared with the magnificent cities of their adopted land, and it was now lying in ruins and there was no possibility of business success or literary advantage, or perhaps even of social distinctions such as they now enjoyed.
[* This was done even by the loyal princes of Judah who returned, for Hoonacker has proved that Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:8) is a genuine Babylonian name (Wellhausen, Israelitische Geschichte, 1894, N. p. 120).] But a holy remnant of the people through all their calamities held their trust in Jehovah. The very stones and dust of Mount Zion remained precious in their sight. Their food tasted like ashes, and their drink was salt with tears, and they were reduced almost to skeletons (Psalms 102:0). The ancestors of Mendelssohn and Mozart must sing, but they could not sing one of the old happy temple songs in a strange land (Psalms 137:0). Their attempts to sing were pitiful:
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass;
So that I forget to eat my bread.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness:
I am like an owl of the desert (Psalms 102:0 ).
It must not be forgotten that all around the Israelites were representations of other nationalities who could sympathize with their grief. There has been digged up in Babylon a cuneiform text containing a lamentation written by a fellow-captive brought from the land of Ur, shortly before Ezekiel and his friends were transported:
He raises lamentation to heaven day and night:
Day and night he raises, he raises his voice,
Crying day and night, he is not comforted.
Babylonian and Oriental Record, vol. 2.
The cry of the pious Hebrews during this terrible epoch, and especially after the destruction of the temple (see Ezekiel 37:11), is still voiced every year on the day of atonement:
Work for me, I beseech thee, marvels now,
O Lord of hosts! in mercy lull our fears;
Answer with potent signs; and be not thou Silent unto my tears.
Beauty’s perfection lieth fallen low,
Broken and waste which stood in majesty,
The glory passed away and fled, for woe!
The One went out from me. Baruch ben Samuel.
But the time came when the wails were turned to hosannas and paeans of triumph; for the great news reached the ears of the exiles that Cyrus had put the royal seal to an edict permitting every Jew to go back to his home, and commanding that the glorious temple should be rebuilt.* It was almost too good to be believed. They were bewildered with joy.
[* With such a distinguished historical critic and archaeologist as Ed. Meyer defending not only the general truthfulness of the narrative in Ezra and Nehemiah, but their minute correspondence to what ought to be expected in official documents of that period from which they claim to proceed, it is not necessary to discuss here the doubts of Kosters, etc.]
When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion,
We were like unto them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing (Psalms 126:0 ).
It was only by “a miracle of faith and hope unparalleled in history” (Renan) that those “sublime madmen,” the prophets, defying all military and diplomatic decisions, brought about the return of the Jews from the banks of the Euphrates and the river Kebar and the re-establishment of Jehovah’s worship at Jerusalem. The power of Jehovah and the truth of prophecy were demonstrated in a way that was never forgotten.
All the wealth carried by that little caravan of less than five thousand souls was not given to them by Mithredath, the king’s treasurer (Ezra 1:8), nor by sympathizing Israelites who remained in Babylon, preferring business prosperity to a dangerous pilgrimage to the ruins of a fallen temple. All the wealth of hope and faith with which Judaism and Christianity have enriched the world lay hidden among their treasures. Perhaps the Jews were not the only nation to whom the Persian king gave the privilege of returning to their home and reinstating the old forms of worship. A cylinder of Cyrus which came from Babylon, now in the British Museum, says that Marduk “granted the return of all lands.” It seems to have been the Persian policy to keep the allegiance of their conquered subjects, not by transplanting them, as did the Assyrians and Babylonians, but by showing them and their gods special favors; thus Cyrus worshiped the gods of Egypt and Darius brought back certain Elamite captives and reorganized the old worship. (See Ed. Meyer, Die Entstehung des Judenthums, 1896, p. 70.)
But, in any case, the Jews are the only nation carried into Babylonia that the world has heard from since. Twenty nations peopled the streets of those great cities on the Euphrates, but to only one did the edict of Cyrus bring a new life. Babylon was the grave where twenty religions were buried without hope of a resurrection; but one religion came forth from that stinking grave refreshed and strong like some Lazarus awakened from his sleep by a divine voice. As had been prophesied, the captivity brought to them not death but a new birth (37). Those who returned to the Holy Land were more truly “Hebrews” than ever their forefathers had been. Instead of denationalizing them, the captivity had more conspicuously separated them unto Jehovah as a peculiar people. Being scattered among the nations they were drawn closer to each other. They came out from their half century of enforced quietude and meditation with a new faith in the one Jehovah and in prophecy; with a greater devotion to the Sabbath, and all other institutions which differentiated them from the surrounding peoples; and with a new missionary spirit such as their fathers had never known. Wellhausen has profoundly said, “The exile marks the transition from a national religion to world religion.”
Ezekiel was the greatest human force in accomplishing this astonishing reformation and transformation. He was the “bridge” between the old Israel and the new. “We must honor and understand Ezekiel if we wish to understand the history of Israel” (Max Kamrath).
VIII. The Language of Symbolism.
The most ancient speech of man was undoubtedly a picture language. It is now known that the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, even those which stand for the deepest and most abstract conceptions, were originally pictures of articles of apparel, or other commonplace objects. When illuminated and interpreted by the oriental imagination the girdle could become the symbol of life; the uas stick the symbol of power; a row of temple columns the symbol of stability; the common Egyptian beetle the symbol of divine creation, while wings and horns and coiling snakes all spoke a lofty spiritual language. Indeed, as Detzel has said ( Christliche Ikonographie, 1894), “symbolism is as old as the world itself and is founded on the revelation of God in the nature of man. Man can only think of God and the highest spiritual realities in pictures.” Even our stiff Western vocabularies and modern scientific literature would be reduced to small dimensions if all symbolism and figures of speech were eliminated, while the teaching of the early Christian fathers and those of the Middle Ages would have to be almost wholly obliterated. The Christian art of the past centuries has well been described as a “picture book, a mirror of salvation, a biblical hieroglyphic papyrus” (Detzel).
In every age deeply spiritual or poetic natures have thus expressed themselves. Birds and animals, rivers and seas, appear in Dante and Goethe, in Carlyle and Tennyson, in this symbolic sense. The beasts and reptiles on the earth and the stars and planets in the sky all spoke to the ancients of mysterious spiritual truths. So every vessel and every color in the temple ritual had a symbolic meaning. This was true of the Egyptians and Babylonians, and in fact of every religious ritual of the times in which Ezekiel and Daniel lived. That the Hebrews, even from their earliest beginnings as a nation, had emphasized this method of teaching visibly the deep truths of their religion no one doubts. The colors used in the construction of the tabernacle and temple, and the relation of the various parts to each other, together with every detail of the sacrifices, have always been quite correctly understood as representing the “shadows,” or feeble reflections of unseen realities. The prophets are all symbolists, but none of them use this method of teaching so constantly and effectively as Daniel and Ezekiel. It is upon these that the later apocalyptics, such as Baruch and Enoch and especially our canonical book of Revelation are based. The Jewish Kabbala, or book of secret symbols, was founded largely upon these books with added Babylonian features. This does not mean that the Kabbalistic method was originated by these prophets. There are one or two cases in which Jeremiah seems to use it (see notes, Cambridge Bible, on Jeremiah 25:26), and there is absolute proof of its customary use in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s age, by the Egyptian and Babylonian scribes, in their comments upon their sacred texts; but Ezekiel, perhaps being influenced here as elsewhere by Babylonian surroundings (see Introduction, “III. Style of Ezekiel”), gave a tremendous initial influence to the use of secret names and numerical values in the presentation of spiritual lessons.
Nor was any object too commonplace for him to use as a symbol. The fox, the rusty pot, the broken reed by the riverside are seized upon. Every chapter and almost every paragraph is a series of pictures of common objects set in relation to each other that they may symbolize spiritual truths, while in his loftier visions the highest powers of life, and even the heathen gods themselves, are used to picture the powers of Jehovah. (See notes on “cherubim,” chaps. i, 10.)
Some have thought that Ezekiel’s last nine chapters contain simply dry mathematical formulae and are barren of imagination; but to say this would seem almost equivalent to detaching them from the book and assigning them to a separate writer. The first thirty-nine chapters are filled with an overflowing abundance of symbolic pictures. To interpret the last nine chapters the close and crown of the prophecy as literal architectural details, without any hidden symbolic meaning, would be to disown their authorship by the same hand which wrote the rest of the book.
Ezekiel was both a priest and a mystic, and could not have failed to know that Solomon’s temple, as well as the tabernacle, was a building in which not only the ground plan, but the numbers, measurements, and form, expressed religious lessons. This was true of all ancient sanctuaries. As Bahr proved of the Hebrew tabernacle, so Brugsch has proved of the Egyptian, and Maspero of the Babylonian temples, that they were “miniature reproductions of the arrangement of the universe,” and aimed to teach the people visibly as did also the later “mysteries” of the future life and how to enter it in safety. These buildings gave the same teachings through the eye which the Book of the Dead (literally, “Coming out by Day”) and the Descent of Ishtar into Hades gave through the ear. The Labyrinth, with its twelve vaulted halls and three thousand (3x10x100) apartments, one half below and one half above ground, no doubt served a like purpose as was recognized by the early Christians, who decorated the floors of their basilicas with these labyrinths, considering them symbols of the temple in Jerusalem and therefore of the heavenly Jerusalem (Oneil, Night of the Gods, 2:675).
Numbers were used symbolically from very ancient times. In a papyrus at Turin we find the numbers dedicated to the Egyptian deities, as follows: 1, Ra; 2, Shu; 4, Seb; 5, Nut; 6, Osiris; 7, Isis; 8, Set; 10, Horus; 25, Horus the Bull, etc. Mr. F. Ll. Griffith tells me that such numbers are met with as early as 1500 B.C., or earlier, but that there is a great want of agreement between them; which would be exactly what we might expect if the numbers represented some spiritual quality and therefore might be applied to gods having the same nature. The Babylonian gods also were represented by numbers: 10, Nebo; 12, Nergal; 15, Ishtar; 25, Merodach, 30, Sin; 20, Shamash; 50, Bel; 60, Anu (Maspero, Dawn of History, p. 673; compare Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia, p. 465). Muss Arnoldt quotes from an ancient text an attempted explanation of why Bel took for himself the number 50: “With the name 50 ( Xansa) the great god proclaimed his 50 names, his all-surpassing positions” ( Dictionary of Assyrian Language, part vi). It is quite in accordance with this view to find that the number 10, for example, was associated with many gods of the Babylonian pantheon gods who at other times, when other phases of their character were being thought of, were identified with other numbers. (See Jastrow, ibid., p. 466, note.) An ancient text from Edfu explains every dimension of the temple there as expressing some mysterious meaning.
Why is the length of this chamber twenty-five ells? “Because one utters words.” Why is this room fifty ells long? “Because one prays.” These explanations are based on the numerical value of the letters used in writing these numbers (Brugsch, Steininschrift und Bibelwort). There may be no evidence that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet had a numerical meaning in Ezekiel’s day (Brown, Hebrew and English Lexicon), but there is abundant proof that many numbers had with the Hebrews, as with other ancient peoples, a symbolic meaning. This has long been recognized with such numbers as 3 and 7, which in all these nations are peculiarly sacred and divine; but it seems equally true of other numbers, such as 4, 10, 50, etc. Four seems to be the cosmic number, which takes in every point of the compass and expresses the whole. So there are four living creatures, and four world powers, etc. So in Egypt the farthest limits of the earth were “the four supports of heaven” and of Ramses II it was said, “He has conquered even unto the four pillars of the earth.” The sacred temples in almost every land are square, quadrangular, or octagonal (the double four). So 12, the triple four, is everywhere a heavenly number. The number 10 is found to be a fundamental symbolic number among all nations acquainted with the decimal system. In the Scriptures it seems to be used to express perfection or completion. The ten commandments are all that are needed; the ten plagues symbolize the full outpouring of God’s wrath; not to enter the congregation to the tenth generation means never to enter (Deuteronomy 23:3; Nehemiah 13:1); the tribulation for ten days is woe to the end; the ten horns denote the fullness of power of the universal world kingdom. In close connection with this is the number 50 and its multiples. The fiftieth year was the year of emancipation and jubilee among the Hebrews, and 50 seems to be the base of many of Ezekiel’s calculations, as 5 was the base number of the tabernacle.
But it must be acknowledged that the definite symbolic meaning of the numbers used by Ezekiel in his new temple, as of those used in the old temple, are matters of inference with us and cannot be pressed too far. What we may be sure of is that these numbers as used by Ezekiel did have, to those who listened to him, a well-known spiritual significance. This is as certain as that the one thousand years of Revelation has a definite symbolic meaning. As Dr. Milligan well says, “We are not to imagine that the numbers, in the allegorical or spiritual use made of them by the Jews, might be tossed about at their pleasure or shuffled like a pack of cards. They were a language; and the bond between them and the ideas that are involved was quite as close as it is between the words of ordinary speech and the speaker’s thought” ( Book of Revelation, p. 345). And it should also be remembered that, at the very time when Ezekiel wrote, the mystery of numbers was engaging the attention of the learned world as never before. The Pythagorian philosophy, which even in Greece dates back to Thales (640 B.C.), and which the Greeks themselves recognized as a foreign export, was coming into flower a philosophy which not only explained all natural phenomena in mathematical formulae, fire being composed of pyramids, air of octahedrons, the earth of cubes, and the cosmos being thought of as a dodecahedron; but the loftiest ethical and spiritual conceptions were expressed in the same way. In this system the Numbers 4:10 occupied the most prominent place.
To us the Pythagorian symbols seem often inexplicable or absurd; but to those who understood better their secret meaning they expressed the profoundest and deepest thought. It ought not therefore to be doubted that much of the stiff literality of Ezekiel’s architectural descriptions would be illuminated with a new meaning if we understood more perfectly the numerical symbolism common in his day. Ezekiel was a draughtsman (iv, 1), and he used his skill in this direction to express in a language well known to his contemporaries certain spiritual conceptions. No one doubts that the dimensions of the Babylonian temples contained a symbolic teaching, and the figures which are given of the temple of Be1 are curiously similar to those of Ezekiel’s temple. Its foundation platform was a square three ku in length and three ku in breadth. Its four walls faced the cardinal points, and there were four outer gates. There were twelve cubits in the gar, and the inner building was ten gar long by ten wide. The great ziggaret, or heavenly tower, was composed of seven stages, each probably painted a symbolic color, and, no doubt, making visible by its dimensions a symbolic revelation. The first platform was a square 15 by 15 gar; the second, 13 by 13; the third, 10 by 10; the fourth, 8½ by 8½; the fifth, 7 by 7; the sixth, 5½ by 5½; the seventh, 4 by 4½; the entire height being 15 gar; exactly equal to the breadth of the base (Appendix to Sayce’s Hibbert Lectures; compare Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia, p. 619, etc.). It is evident from this that Ezekiel’s temple would have been recognized, even by his Babylonian neighbors as containing a secret religious teaching and the symbolic meaning of many of his numbers would have been understood by them.
This language has always been attractive to mystics. A Jewish poet who lived about 950 A.D., in the midst of his sobs because of the downfall of his people, breaks forth:
Lo, of the one am I.
Lo, of the six hundred thousand and of twelve.
Yea, behold me of the seventy-one.
Jewish Quarterly Review, January, 1897.
And even in our generation Rosetti has sung of his lost love:
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.
On ancient symbolism see especially John Oneil, Night of the Gods, 1893-97; Brugsch, Steininschrift und Bibelwort, Sacred Books of the East, 4 and 31; Malcom White, Symbolic Numbers of Scripture; and on modern symbolic teaching in China, Asiatic Quarterly Review, January, 1895.
Analysis of the Book.
Introduction. Ezekiel’s Account of His Call to the Prophetic Office. Chaps. 1-3.
THE VISION OF JEHOVAH AND HIS CHARIOT. APPENDIX ON THE MEANING OF SYMBOLISM USED EZEKIEL RECEIVES HIS COMMISSION FROM JEHOVAH Ezekiel 2:1-8
IN SYMBOL AND BY DIRECT INSTRUCTION THE PREACHER IS TAUGHT THAT HE MUST NOT SPEAK HIS OWN WORDS Ezekiel 2:9 to Ezekiel 3:11
THE PREACHER’S BITTERNESS OF SPIRIT, AND HIS UTTER DISCOMFITURE IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS FIRST CONGREGATION Ezekiel 3:12-15
EZEKIEL IS RECOMMISSIONED WITH INCREASED SOLEMNITY Ezekiel 3:16-21
THE SECOND VISION OF THE “GLORY OF THE LORD” Ezekiel 3:22-27
Book I. Symbols and Oracles Concerning the Wickedness and Doom of the Chosen People and the Holy City. Chaps. 4-14.
SIEGE OF JERUSALEM SYMBOLIZED BY THE PICTURED TILE Ezekiel 4:1-8
THE PROPHET’S FOOD SYMBOLIZING THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE IN EXILE Ezekiel 4:9-17
SCATTERING AND DESTRUCTION OF THE NATION SYMBOLIZED BY THE TREATMENT OF THE PROPHET’S HAIR Ezekiel 5:0
PROPHECY OF ISRAEL’S CAPTIVITY AND THE LAND’S UTTER DESOLATION BECAUSE OF IDOLATRY Ezekiel 5:6-7
THE THIRD “VISION OF GOD” (IN JERUSALEM) Ezekiel 8:1-4
EZEKIEL SEES IN VISION THE WICKEDNESS OF THE CITY, AND HEARS THE SENTENCE OF JEHOVAH UPON IT Ezekiel 8:5-18
THE PROPHET SEES IN VISION THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM WHO HAVE NOT THE SAVING T UPON THEIR FOREHEADS Ezekiel 9:0
THE FOURTH “VISION OF GOD” Ezekiel 10:0
THE POLITICAL LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE GIVE WICKED COUNSEL, AND ARE INVOLVED IN THE CITY’S RUIN Ezekiel 11:1-21
JEHOVAH LEAVES JERUSALEM Ezekiel 22:23
COMING OUT OF HIS TRANCE, EZEKIEL DESCRIBES HIS VISION TO HIS FELLOW-CAPTIVES Ezekiel 24:25
SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATIONS OF THE CAPTIVITY WHICH IS TO COME SPEEDILY UPON THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM Ezekiel 12:0
REPROOF OF THE LYING PROPHETS AND PROPHETESSES IN JERUSALEM WHO DECEIVE THE PEOPLE WITH DELUSIVE HOPES Ezekiel 13:0
THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL (IN BABYLONIA), WHO ARE IN THEIR HEARTS IDOL WORSHIPERS, INQUIRE IN VAIN OF JEHOVAH CONCERNING THE FUTURE Ezekiel 14:1-5
STATEMENT OF THE DIVINE LAW WHICH CONTROLS EVEN FALSE PROPHECY Ezekiel 14:6-11
THE CERTAINTY OF PUNISHMENT PROPHESIED AND A STATEMENT OF THE DIVINE LAW GOVERNING IT Ezekiel 14:12-21
THE JUSTICE AND BENEFICENCE OF THE PUNISHMENT PROVED BY ITS EFFECTS Ezekiel 14:22-23
UNFAVORABLE COMPARISON OF THE “VINE TREE” (JERUSALEM) WITH OTHER TREES Ezekiel 15:0
JERUSALEM’S UNFAITHFULNESS AND PUNISHMENT SET FORTH UNDER THE FIGURE OF THE ADOPTED CHILD-WIFE Ezekiel 16:1-43
THE LOATHSOMENESS OF JERUSALEM, THE SPIRITUAL SISTER OF SODOM AND SAMARIA, DESCRIBED Ezekiel 16:44-59
NEVERTHELESS, THE “EVERLASTING COVENANT” OF JEHOVAH STANDETH SURE Ezekiel 16:60-63
THE RIDDLE OF THE GREAT EAGLE Ezekiel 17:0
THE LAW OF DIVINE RETRIBUTION AND MORAL FREEDOM Ezekiel 18:0
DIRGE OVER THE THREE PRINCES OF JUDAH (JEHOAHAZ, JEHOIACHIN, AND ZEDEKIAH) Ezekiel 19:0
THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL AGAIN INQUIRE IN VAIN OF JEHOVAH. (COMPARE Ezekiel 14:1-5) Ezekiel 20:1-4
THE PROPHET RECITES BEFORE THE ELDERS THE IDOLATROUS HISTORY OF THEIR FATHERS Ezekiel 20:5-29
THE SONS HAVE FOLLOWED THE EXAMPLE OF THEIR FATHERS; YET JEHOVAH STILL RULES, AND THE FUTURE, AS THE PAST, SHALL DISPLAY HIS POWER AND GOODNESS Ezekiel 20:30-44
BY VIVID SYMBOL AND WITH STRONG CRIES EZEKIEL PROPHESIES THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM WITH FIRE AND SWORD. (ODE OF THE GLITTERING SWORD) Ezekiel 20:45-49; Ezekiel 21:1-27
THE AMMONITES, REJOICING IN JERUSALEM’S CALAMITY, SHALL THEMSELVES SUFFER EVEN MORE BITTERLY Ezekiel 21:28-32
DESCRIPTION OF THE GROSS SINS OF THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM, INCLUDING EVEN THE PROPHETS AND PRIESTS OF JEHOVAH Ezekiel 22:0
STORY OF THE LEWD SISTERS, AHOLAH AND AHOLIBAH Ezekiel 23:0
PARABLE OF THE RUSTED POT Ezekiel 24:1-14
THE DEATH OF EZEKIEL’S WIFE AND ITS PROPHETIC LESSONS Ezekiel 24:15-27
Book II. Threatenings Concerning the Enemies of God’s People.
AGAINST AMMON, MOAB, EDOM, AND PHILISTIA Ezekiel 25:0
AGAINST TYRE AND SIDON Ezekiel 26-28
AGAINST EGYPT Ezekiel 29-32
APPENDIX TO CHAP. 32, “THE BABYLONIAN AND HEBREW UNDERWORLD.”
Book III. The Book of Consolations. Chaps. 33-39.
DUTIES OF A PROPHET TO WARN MEN AND NATIONS OF THEIR SINS Ezekiel 33:1-6
A CHANGE OF HEART CAN AVERT JEHOVAH’S WRATH. THE PRINCIPLES OF GOD’S MORAL GOVERNMENT WHICH ENABLES HIM TO BE JUST AND YET TO SAVE THE PENITENT Ezekiel 33:7-20
JERUSALEM IS TAKEN, AND THE BABYLONIAN EXILES LISTEN WITH REPENTANT HEARTS TO THE WORDS OF HIM WHOM THEY HAD SCORNED, BUT WHOSE PROPHECIES HAD NOW COME TRUE Ezekiel 33:21-33
REPROOF OF THE SELFISH SHEPHERDS, WHO FOR GAIN HAVE PROPHESIED SMOOTH THINGS, AND BROUGHT RUIN UPON THE PEOPLE Ezekiel 34:1-19
JEHOVAH IS THE “GOOD SHEPHERD,” AND WILL NOT FORGET HIS SMITTEN AND SCATTERED FLOCK, BUT WILL MAKE WITH REPENTANT ISRAEL A “COVENANT OF PEACE” Ezekiel 34:20-31
FATE OF EDOM, AND EXALTATION OF ISRAEL OVER THE HEATHEN BECAUSE OF THE NAME OF JEHOVAH Ezekiel 35:1-15; Ezekiel 36:1-23
GOD’S PROMISE TO RESURRECT THE DEAD NATION, AND TO PUT WITHIN IT A NEW SPIRIT, AND GIVE BACK ITS BEAUTIFUL LAND Ezekiel 36:24-38; Ezekiel 36:37
OVERTHROW OF GOG AND MAGOG, THE DREADFUL HEATHEN POWERS OF THE NORTH Ezekiel 38, 39
Book IV. The Prophetic Vision of the New Sanctuary, and its Orders in Messianic Time. Chaps. 40-48.
THE TEMPLE DESCRIBED Ezekiel 40-42
RETURN OF JEHOVAH TO HIS NEW TEMPLE, AND ITS CONSECRATION TO HIS SERVICE Ezekiel 43:0
SERVANTS OF THE SANCTUARY Ezekiel 44:0; Ezekiel 45:1-8
THE SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS Ezekiel 45:9-25; Ezekiel 46:0
THE HOLY LAND (THE TEMPLE, SPRING, BOUNDARIES OF THE LAND).
PORTIONS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES, CITY AND SUBURBS, DIMENSIONS AND ENTRANCES OF THE CITY. THE CITY’S NEW NAME Ezekiel 47, 48
the Third Week after Epiphany