The introduction includes a superscription in
, which identifies the prophet
and his historical context, and an account of his inaugural vision in
, in which God commissions him to speak. Compare the call narratives
of Moses (Ex 3
) or Isaiah (Isa 6
See Isa 1.1; Jer 1.3
Some understand the thirtieth year as the thirtieth year after the prophet's call, the thirtieth year after Josiah's reform, the year of Jehoiachin's exile,
or the date of the book's composition. It probably refers to Ezekiel's age at the time of his call. Ezekiel is a priest (
), and the age of priestly service begins at thirty (Num 4.3, compare Num 8.23–25
) and concludes at fifty. Apart from the reference to the twenty-seventh year in
, the dated oracles of the book extend from the fifth (
) to the twenty-fifth year of the Exile
), so that the book correlates Ezekiel's prophetic oracles with the 20 years of active priestly service. The river Chebar: A canal by Nippur, a Babylonian city.
The fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin: 593 BCE.
Buzi is otherwise unknown. Had he not been exiled, Ezekiel would have served as a Zadokite priest in the Temple.
The inaugural vision. The imagery of God's throne chariot (compare 1 Chr 28.18; Ps 18.10
) is based on the most holy place in the Temple where the ark of the covenant
is kept under the cherubim
(1 Kings 6; see also Ex 25.10–22; 37.1–9
Wind, cloud, and fire appear frequently in theophanies
(Ex 19; 1 Kings 19
Like: The vision is only a proximate human attempt to describe the divine presence. The four living creatures are the cherubim that surround the ark. Exodus 25.18–22; 37.7–9; and 1 Kings 6.23–28; 2 Chr 3.10–14
each mentioned only two, but this passage combines the totals. Composite human/animal winged creatures are well represented
throughout the ancient Near East as guardians of thrones, city gates, and temples. The number four presupposes the four horns
of the Temple altar (Ex 27.2; 38.2; Zech 2.1–4; 1.18–21
), which represent the four “winds” or cardinal directions, indicating God's presence in the Temple at the center of creation.
The four faces represent the divine qualities of intelligence (human), royalty (lion), strength (ox), and mobility (eagle).
The burning coals of fire: The sacrificial altar of the Temple (Ex 27.1–8; 38.1–7
) or the incense altars (Ex 30.1–10; 37.5–28
The wheels contribute to the imagery of divine motion in all four directions. They are based on the image of the cart that carried the
ark of the covenant from Philistia to Jerusalem (1 Sam 6; 2 Sam 6
) and the rings that held the poles by which the Levites carried the ark (Ex 25.12–15; 30.4–5
). The wheel within a wheel: A wheel with a hub.
Dome shining like crystal, see Gen 1.6–8
, which uses “firmament” or “dome” to symbolize the distinction between heaven and earth. The sound of mighty waters: The vision is both auditory and visual.
Compare 1 Sam 4.4; 2 Sam 6.2; 1 Chr 13.6
, “the ark of the covenant of the LORD of Hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim.” Sapphire:
See Ex 24.10
. Ezekiel attempts to describe God in human terms, but the imagery is inadequate. Gleaming amber and fire convey the power and incorporeality of the divine presence. The rainbow symbolizes God's covenant with creation (Gen 9.8–17
). The glory of the LORD: God's presence (Ex 16.6–7; 40.34–38
The commissioning of Ezekiel.
A voice of someone speaking:
Compare 1 Kings 19.12
God addresses Ezekiel as mortal, literally, “son of adam,” ninety-three times in the book. Adam means “human” in Hebrew, and “son of adam” conveys Ezekiel's
mortal status in contrast to God. The spirit (literally, “wind”) of the LORD prepares Ezekiel to serve as a prophet
(see 1 Sam 10.6, 10; 1 Kings 18.12
The charge of Israel's rebellion against God is a constant theme throughout the prophets to justify Israel's suffering as
an act of divine punishment. Habakkuk and Job question this theology but ultimately defend God's righteousness. The messenger
formula, Thus says the Lord GOD
, indicates Ezekiel's role as God's representative.
Ezekiel eats the scroll to internalize the divine message. The scroll represents the Torah
scroll stored in the ark of the covenant and read to the people (Deut 31.9–13, 24–27; Neh 8–10
). Although the scroll is inscribed with words of lamentation and mourning and woe, Ezekiel states that it was as sweet as honey (compare Jer 15.16
Many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language: Many peoples were incorporated into the Assyrian and Babylonian empires (Isa 33.19
). God stresses that the message is for Israel, not the nations.
Tel-abib, “hill of barley,” may derive from the Babylonian expression “til abubi,” “hill of the flood”; Babylonia is prone to flooding
in the spring.
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