Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel

The Writer

He is acknowledged to be a Hebrew prophet who lived during the 6th-century BCE (600 BC – 501 BC.)

His Life

He introduces himself as Ezekiel, the son of Buzzi, from a priestly lineage. He was born around 622 BCE, about the time of King Josiah’s reforms.

The prophet also provides a date for his first divine encounter which he presents: “in the thirtieth year”.

This reference could be interpreted in two ways.  It could mean the thirtieth year of a new century or a new calendar.

The problem with this interpretation is that we don’t have enough historical evidence recording the use of this calendar.  Crystalinks writes:

Knowledge of the Jewish calendar in use before the period of the Babylonian Exile is both limited and uncertain. The Bible refers to calendar matters only incidentally, and the dating of components of Mosaic Law remains doubtful. The earliest datable source for the Hebrew calendar is the Gezer Calendar, written probably in the age of Solomon, in the late 10th century BC. The inscription indicates the length of main agricultural tasks within the cycle of 12 lunations. The calendar term here is yereah, which in Hebrew denotes both “moon” and “month.”

However, since 587 BC when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, the latter has introduced their cyclic calendar “and the reckoning of their regnal years from Nisanu 1, about the spring equinox”. “The Jews now had a finite calendar year with a New Year’s day, and they adopted the Babylonian month names, which they continue to use. In the religious calendar, the commencement of the month was determined by the observation of the crescent New Moon, and the date of the Passover was tied in with the ripening of barley. The actual witnessing of the New Moon and observing of the stand of crops in Judaea were required for the functioning of the religious calendar.”

Ezekiel could be dating 30 years after the introduction of this new calendar. The year of his vision was also given as the fifth year after the exile of Judah’s king Jehoiachin by the Babylonians. Josephus claims that at the request of Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylonian armies exiled 3000 thousand Jews from Judah, after deposing King Jehoiachin in 598 BCE. This will take us to 593 BC.

There is a third interpretation which sees the thirtieth year as a reference to Ezekiel’s age at the time which was 30.

 

The Name – Title

The book is entitled Ezekiel יחזקאל in Hebrew, meaning God strengthens.

 

 

 

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