Study Guide

Book of Ezekiel Allusions

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Literary and Philosophical References

  • William BlakeThe poet William Blake was inspired by Ezekiel—more by the trippy, far-out visions than by the predictions of destruction and wrath. In addition to influencing Blake's epic The Four Zoas (the "Four Zoas" or "Four Living Beings" are Blake's take on Ezekiel's four-faced creatures), Ezekiel appears in Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." In this poem he explains that he lay on his side for so long and "ate dung" (which he didn't actually do) in order to try to elevate people's minds towards the Infinite.
  • The Book of Revelation: A huge amount of the imagery from the Hebrew Bible reappears in the Book of Revelation. In this instance, John of Patmos (Revelation's author) says that he saw the same four-faced creatures as Ezekiel, bowing down and singing praises to God.
  • Dante, PurgatorioWhen Dante finally meets his beloved muse, Beatrice, he daringly has her appear on the same chariot as the "Glory of God" in Ezekiel, preceded by the same four-faced beings.
  • John Donne: This major English poet went from being a witty, secular writer to a deeply religious Anglican minister. He found Ezekiel to be the best of the Major Prophets: "Amongst the four great ones, our prophet Ezekiel is the greatest… the extraordinary greatness of Ezekiel is in his extraordinary depth, and mysteriousness."
  • T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday": This poem records T.S. Eliot's conversion to Christianity—in a very surreal and bizarre way totally befitting Eliot. Reflecting on his own resurrection, Eliot quotes Ezekiel's line regarding the Valley of Dry Bones, "And God said / Shall these bones live?"
  • John Milton, "Lycidas": John Milton's "Lycidas" is supposed to be a lamentation for the death of the young poet, Edward King, who was one of Milton's friends. But Milton takes time to attack the English clergy of the day, comparing them to the same "bad shepherds," misleading and corrupting their flock, which Ezekiel also attacks.
  • Sean O'Casey, Juno and the Paycock: At the end of O'Casey's classic play, one of the characters pleads that Ireland's "hearts of stone" must be replaced with "hearts of flesh"—a direct reference to Ezekiel 36:26.
  • The Qur'an: The Qur'an gives a new take on Ezekiel's prophesy about Gog's invasion. In the Qur'an, "Dhul Qarnain" (maybe the same as Alexander the Great) builds a wall in the North to protect people from the wicked destroyers, Gog and Magog. Like in the Book of Revelation, Magog is a being in The Qur'an, whereas in the Book of Ezekiel, Magog is a place.

Pop Culture References

  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: In this musical starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, one of the characters mentions weird spaceship theories related to the Book of Ezekiel after seeing a shooting star.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind: According to The Oxford Handbook of the Reception of the Bible, Steven Spielberg used Ezekiel-style imagery in depicting some of the flying saucers in this sci-fi classic.
  • Pulp Fiction: Quentin Tarantino's ultra-violent gangster masterpiece has a famous scene where Samuel L. Jackson recites a quote from Ezekiel before shooting someone who tried to rip off his boss. The only thing is… the quote isn't really from Ezekiel. It's made-up.

Other References

  • Ezekiel BreadAlthough Ezekiel Bread is marketed as a healthy alternative to normal bread, Ezekiel himself actually needed to eat this multi-grain treat as a sort of ascetic demonstration: it shows that the Israelites will be under siege and near-starvation, so they'll need to make bread made out of mixed grains.
  • Ezekiel Clothing: This skater-targeted brand of clothing is probably making a reference to Ezekiel…we think. But information is scarce—at any rate, it's cryptic, enigmatic… likely what the marketers were going for.
  • Eric Von Daniken, The Chariots of the Gods: As a disclaimer, this book is one of the most discredited things ever written. But it's popular enough that we have to mention it. Eric von Daniken pioneered the "ancient astronaut theory" which now appears on every History Channel show: the idea that alien visitors influenced human beings in ancient times. Naturally, von Daniken suggests the weird wheels Ezekiel sees on God's chariot are really part of a spaceship.

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