Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ezekiel 31:1-33:33


Some of Ezekiel's oracles are very precisely dated. The message adressed to the king of Egypt and his hordes in chapter 31 was proclaimed on June 21, 587 BCE. It is a simple allegory. Assyria was a mighty tree. It became proud. YHWH cast it aside and it was cut down by foreign nations. Egypt is next.

Ezekiel 32:1-16 is less precisely dated. It comes from March 585 BCE. In this one the Pharaoh, who was described as a dragon in chapter 29, is now a sea monster. The monster is defeated by YHWH in a story that parallels ancient near eastern creation myths. Babylon is YHWH's chosen weapon for Egypt's defeat. The women of the nations lament for Pharaoh and his hordes.

Verses 17-32 come from the same year but here not even the month is specified. It is a lament for Egypt. Egypt is going down to the pit with the uncircumcised: Assyria, Elam, Meshek, Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and the Sidonians.

Chapter 33 rings a change in the book of Ezekiel. Back in chapter 3 the prophet was appointed to be YHWH's watchman. Here that call is renewed. As before Ezekiel is responsible to proclaim YHWH's message but not for its results. Now, in answer to the charge "YHWH is not just" (cf. Chapter 18) he proclaims that repentance will bring forgiveness.

On January 19. 585 BCE Ezekiel receives news that "Jerusalem has fallen." His mouth, as promised, is opened. He declares taht the city and its environs will become desolate. Ezekiel's fellow deportees don't pay him much heed. They dismiss him as a singer of songs but, YHWH says, when the things he proclaims come to pass, "they will know that a prophet has been among them."

Next: Ezekiel 34-36

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