The literary peculiarities of Ezekiel's book are connected with his position as an exile during its composition. He differed from the earlier prophets, even from his older contemporary Jeremiah, by being removed from the actual theater of history, thus being denied an immediate influence in the developments of his time, and this affected the form of his oral and written speech. His prophecies were no casual addresses to fit passing events, but were worked out in quiet meditation and prepared with literary art, for which he had an evident liking. Not that the short, striking, oracular utterance is wholly wanting; but Ezekiel more often discusses his subject at leisure and his deliverance develops deliberately before his prophetic eye (compare the detailed description of his first vision-chap. i.-with the brief sketch of the similar vision in Isa. vi.). He is not satisfied with
a few characteristic strokes, but rather aims at a perfect picture which affects the spectator less by its immediate power and warmth than by its grandeur and harmonious finish. The frequency of the visions attests also his inclination toward quiet meditation. That he could not come into immediate contact with the concrete objects may, furthermore, have helped to cause the figurative descriptions which are peculiar to him. His contemporaries complained of his figurative speech (xx. 49), and the enigmatie character of his writing has always tried the patience of Jewish as well as Christian interpreters, while it has yielded the richer material to mysticism. Figurative utterance is found in Ezekiel in various forms-now as simple metaphor, now approaching the parable (xv.; xxii. 18 sqq.), now as true allegory (xvii.). He delights especially in personifying nations and countries or in representing them under the image of animal or plant. Thus he portrays Judah (Jerusalem) and Samaria as prostitutes (xvi., xxiii. 1 sqq.); the house of David as a lion's den (xix. 1 sqq.), or a vine (xix. 10 sqq.; cf. xvii. 6), or a cedar (xvii. 3); Egypt as a cedar (xxxi. 3 sqq.), or a crocodile (xxxii. 1 sqq.); the Chaldean power as a great eagle full of feathers of diverse colors (xvii. 3). After giving the meaning of his cryptic utterances, he again takes up the allegoric form. He shows himself a master in describing the great and sublime, and some portions of his book are specimens of the most beautiful and the most tender lyric poetry-e.g., the elegies, characteristic of him as of Jeremiah, in which he laments the lot of the foreign powers (xix. 1 sqq., xxvi. 17 sqq., xxvii. 2 sqq., xxviii. 12 sqq., xxxii. 2 sqq.). To consider Ezekiel only a writer, however, who did not actually deliver his addresses, is not admissible; but it is true that the written form was of special importance to him, particularly as his spoken words could benefit only a small part of his people.
Once again, Ezekiel's position, his exclusion from all share as an active participant in the events of his time, was accountable for the symbolic actions with which he accompanied his discourses and made them impressive. His whole person was called on to serve his oracles in most varied pantomime. Dumbness (iii. 26), motionless constraint
(iv. 4-8), eating and drinking (iv. 9 3. Symbolic sqq.), cutting of the hair (v. 1 sqq.),Actions. stamping with the foot and clapping
of hands (vi. 11), sighing (xxi. 11), and trembling (xii. 17) were all made "signs." What happened to the prophet was emblematic of the fate of his people (xxiv. 14 sqq.); in his own person he represented also that of his king (xii. 3 sqq.). Partly because of the triviality of such symbolic signs it has been denied that they were actually employed, and they have been regarded as mere literary devices. But considering Oriental skill in interpreting such symbols and the readiness of the Israelites to attach importance to the acts of a prophet, actual performance is the more natural assumption, though vii. 23 and xxiv. 3-5 are probably parables. In other cases a mere recital of what happened to the prophet would have lacked significance and contributed little as illustration.264
But what an impression it must have made when people found him in the condition described in iv. 1 sqq. with hostile look directed for weeks on Jerusalem and with arm uplifted against itl The picture was a most eloquent epitome of the fate of the city. Klostermann attempts to make the long immobility of the prophet more intelligible by finding here the symptoms of severe catalepsy. Dumbness, indeed, seems to have been imposed on the prophet, to judge from expressions which can not be referred to mere silence (cf. iii. 26-27, xxiv. 27). Such a disease might be considered a means rod-ordained for prophetic purposes.
To the solemnly ceremonial style of Ezekiel belongs also the stereotyped recurrence of certain solemn formulas. The sayings are generally introduced by "thus saith the Lord Yahweh" (117 times according to Zunz) or ` the¢. Other word of Yahweh came unto me." Character- The prophet is always addressed by istics. God and the angels with the elsewhere unusual name " son of man "; and many other recurring phrases give the book a uniform cast. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel draws fre quently from former prophets. His muse is in spired by the entire sacred literature of the past, especially by the "Mosaic" law, but also by sacred history and tales of prehistoric times (cf., e.g.,
Passing to the spiritual significance and theological character of Ezekiel , he has marked points of contact with Jeremiah, who remained in Jerusalem. Both declare with all emphasis the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth to be unavoidable and near at hand, destroying relentlessly the illusory hopes of the patriots and strongly condemning the fraudulent policy of the princes who were trafficking with Egypt. The Levitical character of Ezekiel's prophecies, which portray the city ofg. Theo- God and its cultus under a new logical regime and in its details, springs from Character. his sacerdotal education and dispo sition. The Levitical side of Ezekiel in recent times has been exaggerated in two ways. In the first place it is asserted that he was the originator of the priestly legislation with its taber nacle, its orders of sacrifices and priests. In the second place he is charged with having pushed aside or destroyed by his formulas and outward injunc tions the free ethical religion of the prophets, be coming the father of the bigoted postexilic Judaism and Pharisaism. It is true that for Ezekiel, as for the Mosaic law, external order and ethical com munion with God are inseparably connected. He
rest. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain
how later men imitated the prophet's style, but
boldly opposed his revelations. Baudissin by an
impartial comparison arrives at an essential affirmation of the priority of the Law of Holiness and the
Priest Code (apart from Lev. xvi. which may be a
later interpolation). Dillmann considers the Law
of Holiness as much older than Ezekiel, which
however (especially Lev. xxvi.) was revised during
the exile with the use of Ezekiel's utterances. The
main argument for the opposite view is found in
xliv. 6-13, according to which only the Levitical
priests of the house of Zadok are the priests proper;
the Levites, however, who had worshiped in the
high places, were to perform the lower functions.
Here may be perceived the first distinction between
classes of Levitos. In Deuteronomy such a difference does not exist; the door to the sanctuary at
Jerusalem was open for the priests of the high
Bibliography: he best text is by S. Baer, with Aeeyrio local notes by Friedrich Delitzsch, Leipsic. 1888, of. C. H. Toy in SBOT, 1899. Commentaries are by H. Ewald, Göttingen, 1841; F. Hitzig, Leipsic, 1847; P. Fairbaim, Edinburgh, 1861; E. W. Hengetanberg, Berlin, 1867, Eng. transl., Edinburgh, 1869; C. F. Kell, Leipeuc, 1888; E. Henderson, Edinburgh, 1870; G. Curry, in Bible Commentary, vol. vi., London, 1876; R. Smend, Leipsic, 1880; C. von Orelli, Munich, 1896; A. B. David. son, in Cambridge BiW 1892; J. Skinner, in Expositor's Bibls. London, 1896; A. Berthokt, Tübingen, 1897; R.
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