Ezekiel part 1

by John Thomas Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

OUTLINE
Introduction
Hebrew prophet
Alternate titles:
Ezechiel, Yeḥezqel, Ezekiel
Ezekiel, also spelled Ezechiel, Hebrew Yeḥezqel, (flourished 6th century BC), prophet-priest of ancient Israel and the subject and in part, the author of an Old Testament book that bears his name.
Flourished: c.600 BCE - c.550 BCE
Notable Works:
• The Book of Ezekiel
Scripture - religious literature
Key People:
St. Paul the Apostle St. Peter the Apostle Muhammad Isaiah Jeremiah
• Characteristics
• Scriptures in non-Western religions
• Scriptures in Western religions
• Other religious or devotional literature
• Article History

Introduction
In Jerusalem, there were reports of violence and destruction; his later statements addressed the hopes of the Israelites exiled in Babylon. The faith of Ezekiel in the ultimate establishment of a new covenant between God and the people of Israel has had a profound influence on the postexilic reconstruction and reorganization of Judaism.
Ezekiel's ministry was conducted in Jerusalem and Babylon during the first three decades of the 6th century BC. For Ezekiel and his people, these years were bitter ones because the remnant of the Israelite domain, the tiny state of Judah, was eliminated by the rising Babylonian empire under Nebuchadrezzar (reigned 605–562 BC). Jerusalem surrendered in 597 BC. Israelite resistance was nevertheless renewed, and in 587–586, the city was destroyed after a lengthy siege. In both debacles, and indeed again in 582, large numbers from the best elements of the surviving population were forcibly deported to Babylonia.
Before the first surrender of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was a functioning priest probably attached to the Jerusalem Temple staff. He was, among his fellow exiles, a person of uncommon stature. He was among those deported in 597 to Babylonia, located at Tel-Abib on the Kebar canal (near Nippur). Ezekiel's religious call came in July 592 when he had a vision of the "throne-chariot" of God. He subsequently prophesied until 585 and was not heard of again until 572. His latest datable utterance can be dated about 570 BC, 22 years after his first.
These two periods of prophesying, separated by 13 years, represent various emphases in Ezekiel's message. His earlier oracles to the Jews in Palestine were pronouncements of God's judgment on a sinful nation for its apostasy. Pagan rites abounded in the courts of the Temple. Ezekiel said that Judah was guiltier than Israel had been and that Jerusalem would fall to Nebuchadrezzar, and its inhabitants would be killed or exiled. According to him, Judah trusted in foreign gods and alliances, and Jerusalem was a city full of injustice.
After the fall of Jerusalem and his period of silence, Ezekiel now addressed himself more pointedly to the exiles. He sought to direct their hopes for the restoration of their nation. His theme changed from the harsh judgment of God to the promise of the future. Ezekiel prophesied that the exiles from Judah and Israel would return to Palestine, leaving none in the dispersion. In the impending new age, a new covenant would be made with the restored house of Israel, to whom God would give a new spirit and a new heart. The restoration would be an act of divine grace for the sake of God's name. Ezekiel's prophecies conclude with a vision of a restored Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple's form of worship would be reestablished in Israel, and each of the ancient tribes would receive appropriate allotments of land. In contrast to those hoping for national restoration under a Davidic king, Ezekiel envisioned a *theocratic community revolving around the Temple and its cult as the connection ( of the restored Jewish state).
*theocratic (Theocracy) is a form of government in which one or more deities of some type are recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries who manage the day-to-day affairs of the government.
More than any of the classical biblical prophets, Ezekiel was given to symbolic actions, strange visions, and even trances (although it is entirely complementary to deduce from these, and from his words "I fell upon my face" 1:28, that he was cataleptic - comatose). He eats a scroll on which words of prophecy are written to symbolize his appropriation (seizure) of the message (3:1–3). He lies down to symbolize Israel's punishment (4:4ff). He is struck dumb on one occasion for an unspecified length of time (3:26). As other prophets have done before him, he sees the God-to-People relationship as corresponding to a husband to an unfaithful wife. He, therefore, understands the collapse of the life of Judah as a judgment for actual infidelity.
Scripture, also called sacred scripture, is the revered text, or Holy Writ, of the world's religions. Scriptures comprise a large part of the literature of the world. They vary significantly in form, volume, age, and degree of sacredness, but their common attribute is that their words are regarded by the devout as sacred. Sacred words differ from ordinary words. They are believed either to possess and convey spiritual and magical powers or to be the means through which a divine being or other sacred reality is revealed in phrases and sentences full of power and truth.
Characteristics
Most sacred scriptures were originally oral (spoken) and were passed down through memorization from generation to generation until they were finally committed to writing. A few are still preserved orally, such as the hymns of Native Americans. Many bear the unmistakable marks of their oral origin and can best be understood when recited aloud; in fact, it is still held by many Hindus and Buddhists that their scriptures lack when read silently. The meaning and significance they have when recited aloud is vastly improved, for the human voice is believed to add to the recited texts dimensions of truth and power not readily grasped by the solitary reader.
Not all scriptures, however, were originally oral, nor were they in all parts directly effectual in rituals that sought the granting of magical and spiritual powers. The more significant part of recorded scripture has either a narrative or an expository character. The types of sacred and semisacred texts are, in fact, many and varied. Besides magical characters (ancient Germanic alphabet characters – signs, symbols, cryptograms, incantations, and spells) from primitive and ancient sources, they include hymns, prayers, chants, myths, stories about gods and heroes, epics, fables, sacred laws, directions for the conduct of rituals, the original teachings of prominent religious figures, expositions of these teachings, moral anecdotes, dialogues of seers and sages, and philosophical discussions. Scriptures include every form of literature capable of expressing religious feelings or convictions.
Types of sacred literature vary in authority and degree of sacredness. The centrally essential and most holy of the sacred texts have in many instances been gathered into canons (standard works of the faith), which, after being determined either by general agreement or by official religious bodies, become fixed—i.e., limited to particular works that are viewed as fully convincing and genuinely beyond all further change or alteration.
The works not admitted to the canons (semisacred or semi canonical character) may still be valuable supplementary texts.
Scriptures in non-Western religions
A striking instance of making a distinction between canonical and semi canonical scriptures occurs in Hinduism. The Hindu sacred literature is voluminous and varied; it contains ancient elements and every type of religious literature that has been listed, except historical details on the lives of the seers and sages who produced it. Its earliest portions, namely the four ancient Vedas (hymns), seem to have been provided by Indo-European families in northwestern India in the 2nd millennium BCE. These and the supplements to them were composed after 1000 BCE—the Brahmanas (commentaries and instruction in ritual), the Aranyakas (forest books of ascetics), and the Upanishads (philosophical treatises - Sanskrit texts of Hindu philosophy which supplied the basis of later Hindu philosophy)—are considered more sacred than any later writings. They are collectively referred to as Shruti ("Heard"; i.e., communicated by Revelation), whereas the later writings are labeled Smriti ("Remembered"; i.e., recollected and reinterpreted at some distance in time from the original revelations). The former are canonical and completed, not to be added to nor altered, but the latter are semi canonical and semisacred.
Buddhist sacred literature recollects Gautama Buddha's life and teaching in the 6th century BCE and first appeared in the language called Pali, allied to the Magadhi that he spoke. As time passed and his movement spread beyond India, Buddhism adopted the Indian classical language widely used in ancient Asia. A distinction arose between the Theravada ("Way of the Elders"), preserved in Pali and regarded as canonical. The vast number of works written in Sanskrit within the more widely dispersed Buddhism is called by its adherents Mahayana ("Greater Vehicle"). The Mahayana works were later translated and further expanded in Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese.


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