Study Guide

Book of Ezekiel Setting

Setting

Judah and the Near East, Before and After the Babylonian Exile

Ezekiel's set in the unfortunate land of 6th-century BCE Judah, which is in the process of being destroyed and its population sent into exile. But when the book begins, Ezekiel's actually by the river Chebar with one of the first batches of Babylonian exiles. (Biblical history note: there are two waves of exile. First, people under King Jehoiachim get carted off, and then there's another massive exile when Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezzar.) In Ezekiel's visions, he's transported back to Jerusalem, which is the real geographical center of the book.

Ezekiel's all about location—so much so that there's a series of chapters (40-42) that do little more than describe the precise measurements of every single area in the future rebuilt Temple. These chapters might not be the most entertaining chapters for the modern reader unless you're building a Lego version of the Temple, but they help indicate the condition in which the House of Israel has found itself.

They're in a state of transition, to put it mildly. They've been totally devastated and need to start over. However, this isn't just a disaster, it's also an opportunity to begin afresh. Ezekiel keeps looking forward to a time of perfect peace and obedience, when people will be free from the wrath of God because they've learned to stop provoking it. Or more accurately, because God decides to stop being angry.

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