Friday, March 7, 2014

Ezekiel 9:1-12:28


I started this year of blogging biblically on March 1, 2013. I said at the time that it would probably take more than a year. It is now March 7, 2014. I have 121 days left in my year. All things considered, I have to say I'm satisfied with the pace I've kept.

The vison begun in Ezekiel 8 continues in chapter 9. Still in the temple, Ezekiel's heavenly guide shows him 6 "men" with weapons. The come from the north, the direction of Babylon. A senventh, dressed in linen (like a priest?) carries a writing kit. He is sent into the city to mark an '"X" (Hebrew letter Tau) on the foreheads of those who mourn the abominations committed in the temple. The 6 with weapons are then sent out to kill anyone who does not bear the mark. The corpses are to be piled in the temple, a deliberate defilement. The prophet seems quite distressed by all of this.

In chapter 10, the man in linen is then commanded to spread hot coals in Jerusalem. I think this could symbolic of destruction. Or purification. Or both.

It becomes clear in today's reading that YHWH's throne on wheels, attended by the 4 living creatures is the same as Ezekiel saw in chapter 1. Now, however, the four living creatures are refered to as "cherubim." They each have the same 4 faces described earlier, only now the face of the ox is called a "cherub's face" (v. 14). Clearly a cherub here is not the baby angels that Raphael painted. 

YHWH's glory begins to leave the temple.

In chapter 11 Ezekiel is told to prophecy to the 25 civic elders gathered at the temple's east gate. While he is speaking one of them, Pelatiah son of Benaiah dies. The New Interpreter's Study Bible points out the irony of the name. Pelatiah means "YHWH has delivered." Beniah means "YHWH has built up."

In Ezekiel 11:14-21 YHWH promises that Israelites will return to Jerusalem and they will be faithful. In verses 22-25 YHWH's throne completes its departure from the Temple. The vision ends. Ezekiel finds himself back in Babylon where he tells his fellow exiles what he has seen.

In chapter 12 Ezekiel acts out the exile from Jerusalem. At YHWH's instruction he packs his bags in the daylight and digs through the wall to leave at dusk. The purpose of the exile? "They will know that I am YHWH."

In verses 21-28 YHWH, through Ezekiel replies to two sayings that were current in Jerusalem. First, the people were saying, "Days go by but the (prophets') visions amount to nothing." YHWH's answer: "Every vision will be fullfilled." Second they were saying, "The vision is for the distant future." Wrong-O, says the Lord. There will be no more delay.

Next: Ezekiel 13-15

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