Book of Ezekiel Summary
The Short Story
This book is basically about the destruction and exile of Judah and the promise of its eventual restoration by God. Ezekiel's in Babylon, having been exiled there after the first siege of Judah by the Babylonians. After God drives into town on a chariot pulled by four man-beasts at the beginning of the book, things don't necessarily become less weird. But they do go from pretty bad to much worse before getting better.
So God arrives on the scene and gives Ezekiel his message predicting the fall of Judah and Jerusalem in the most violent imagery possible. Ezekiel proceeds to warn all the exiles about the coming destruction. He makes it clear that this is punishment for their idolatry and other disgusting behavior. In a vision, he sees God's presence leaving the Temple in Jerusalem to instead hang out with the exiles in Babylon.
God also orders Ezekiel to do strange things that you might call "performance art." He has to lie motionless for the same number of days as the number of years that Israel and Judah will be exiled, for example. Don't try that at home. God also relates different helpful allegories about eagles and vines and pots of meat, and compares Judah to an adulterous wife-prostitute. (This seems to be one of God's favorite metaphors for those lyin' and cheatin' Judeans. He's a jealous husband.)
Once God finishes totally reading the riot act to the people, he turns to the other nations (Ch. 25-32). They're all headed for destruction, too; no one really escapes God's wrath. He helps comfort the House of Israel by informing them that all of their enemies are going to get creamed as well.
Once Ezekiel gets the news from a messenger (a real-live human this time) that Jerusalem actually did fall, God promises he'll restore his people to their land and live with them in peace forever. They'll get their country back and be ruled by David (or a righteous descendant of David), no longer committing idolatry and other sins. The book ends with God showing Ezekiel how the Temple will be rebuilt—soon to be an episode of "This Old Old Old Old House," and tells him how the land will be distributed among the different tribes of Israel and God's presence will return to Jerusalem.
- Waiting by the river Chebar with some exiles, Ezekiel—son of a priest named Buzi—sees visions of God.
- A stormy wind and a bright cloud come out of the north. Four creatures are inside the cloud: they're somehow all human, but each has four faces. One face is human, and the other three are those of an ox, a lion, and an eagle.
- The creatures each have a pair of wings and the tips of each touch the tips of the creature next to them. They also have another pair of wings, covering their bodies.
- In the middle of the creatures, there's what appear to be burning coals, which light up as the creatures dart around.
- Wheels appear under each of the creatures, each wheel being like a "wheel within a wheel."
- They look like beryl (a colorful stone) and can move in any of the four directions. The rims of the wheels are full of eyes
- That's creepy.
- The spirit of the creatures moves the wheels.
Game of Thrones
- Next, Ezekiel sees a dome above the creatures, and hears a sound like water surging or God's thunder or an army marching as they move.
- Above the dome there's a throne the color of sapphire, and "something like" a human is seated on the throne. Above the loins the human-like being is the color of amber, and there's fire below the lions and all around the figure.
- What exactly are loins, anyway?
- A rainbow surrounds the being, whom Ezekiel identifies as "the likeness of the glory of the Lord."
This Message Will Self-Destruct…When You Eat It
- Through this mysterious presence, God gives Ezekiel his mission.
- Oh, and he calls Ezekiel "mortal." Like, way more than is necessary. Way to rub it in, man.
- He's going to prophesy to the House of Israel. But they're pretty rebellious so Ezekiel shouldn't get discouraged if they don't listen to him.
- God tells Ezekiel not to be rebellious like his people, and gives Ezekiel a scroll with words of lamentation and mourning written on them (the scroll containing his prophetic message). God tells Ezekiel to eat the scroll. Yes, you heard right.
Like a Churro, Actually
- Ezekiel eats the scroll God gives him and discovers that it's (surprisingly) sweet, like honey.
- God says he's sending Ezekiel to a people whose language he understands (his own people), but even people who didn't know his language would be more likely to listen to him. He shouldn't expect much, in other words.
- God's made Ezekiel's forehead really hard, to resist whatever insults or attacks the House of Israel might hurl at him. He tells Ezekiel to hear all the words God speaks to him and repeat them to his people.
"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"
- As God concludes his message, the living creatures launch off with more loud noises and rumbling.
- A spirit picks up the super shocked Ezekiel and carries him back to Earth. He then walks back to the exiles at Chebar, sitting in stunned silence for seven days.
- At the end of the seven days, God tells Ezekiel that he'll be held responsible if God tells him to warn the wicked about their sins and he (Ezekiel) doesn't follow through. He'll be held accountable for the blood of anyone who turns to sin and dies because Ezekiel failed to warn them.
- But if Ezekiel does warn them, he won't be held accountable and his life will be spared.
Sorry, I've Been Tied Up
- God leads Ezekiel out into the valley. His spirit enters Ezekiel making him fall down. But then it picks him back up.
- God says that Ezekiel will be shut in his home and tied up with cords so he can't go out. He'll be struck motionless and he'll also be unable to speak.
- But when God wants him to go out and speak to the people, he'll be allowed to do it.
- Those who hear will hear and those who won't won't because of the House of Israel's rebelliousness.
- God gives Ezekiel instructions for some crazy acts of "performance art," so to speak.
- First, he tells him to carve a depiction of the siege of Jerusalem on a brick.
- Ezekiel's to take an iron plate and—symbolically—put it between his own face and the picture of the city under siege.
- Simulating Israel's destruction and exile, Ezekiel will lie on his left side for three hundred and ninety days (how long Israel's punishment will last in years).
- Next, he'll lie on his right side for forty days, demonstrating Judah's 40-year punishment.
- He'll prophesy against Jerusalem with his arm bared as he does this.
- This is getting way weird.
- God tells Ezekiel that, during this time period, he'll eat bread made from a bunch of different grains (the recipe for Ezekiel Bread).
- He'll mix it with water to make something like barley cakes and cook it on human dung, eating it through the duration of the time he'll by lying on his sides. (This is the same kind of food people in the siege will be forced to eat, just so you don't think Ezekiel's getting singled out here.)
- God specifies the measurements for how much grain and water he can use and how much water he can drink.
- But Ezekiel objects to the human dung part. He says that he's always been clean in his eating habits and has never eaten carrion or anything like that.
- God relents and allows him to use cow dung (not an uncommon practice, but still) to cook his bread instead.
- Then God predicts that Jerusalem will eat bread and drink water in the same meager way during the siege until they run out of grain and starve.
Ezekiel Gets His Ears Lowered
- God continues telling Ezekiel to perform strange, symbolic actions.
- He says that Ezekiel should take a sharp sword and use it to completely shave his head and his beard.
- Then, Ezekiel needs to gather up the hair and strike a third of it with his sword around the city, burn another third of it, and scatter a third of it to the wind, though binding a small number of hairs from this last bunch in his robes. But even from this remaining bunch of saved hairs, Ezekiel is supposed to burn a few.
We're Having the Kids for Dinner
- God announces that to punish Jerusalem for its disobedience and for being even worse than the nations surrounding it, he's going to come and execute judgments against it.
- Parents will end up eating their children in the middle of the besieged city.
- Explaining the symbolism of Ezekiel's haircut, God says that one third of the citizens of Jerusalem will die of pestilence or famine, one third will die by the sword, and one third will be scattered (and some of them killed by the sword, again).
- God's going to unleash his wrath on Jerusalem, making his people a horror and mockery in the eyes of the other nations. He'll let pestilence and famine kill people, let wild animals move into the city—stuff like that.
But Wait, There's More
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains of Israel.
- God will destroy all the high places in the mountains, littering the altars of other deities with the corpses and scattered bones of the people who worshipped them.
- The people who are spared will remember how hurt and angry God was about his betrayal. They'll feel ashamed and loathsome in their own eyes.
- Famine, pestilence, and warfare will wipe out a huge number of people.
- God will demonstrate his existence by making sure that the Judeans who worshipped foreign gods will have their rotting corpses lying in front of the idols they once worshipped on the high places.
- God will destroy all the settlements from the wilderness to Riblah, further letting everyone see that he exists.
- In this chapter, God—using Ezekiel as a mouthpiece—continues to predict death, doom, destruction, catastrophe. The whole enchilada.
- He'll punish the people for their abominations and won't have any pity.
- Disaster will come after disaster.
- Since their pride has become so great and led to violence, there's no way to put an end through it except with God's humiliating vengeance and wrath.
- Their abundance and wealth will all disappear. Buyers and sellers will both mourn, and the sellers won't get back what they've sold.
Doom, Gloom, and More Doom
- The people are prepared for battle but won't be able to fight, since God's wrath is on them.
- Destruction by the sword is outside the city, and pestilence and famine are inside.
- The survivors will be left in the mountains, like doves fleeing their valley.
- They'll grow weak in the knees and don sackcloth in repentance and shame.
- Their wealth, which they used to create their idols, won't be of any use to them and they'll be forced to throw it away.
- The invading Babylonians will seize that wealth and take it for booty.
- God will turn away his face, so that the invaders can plunder and defile his own Temple.
- The arrogant will find no peace and disaster will follow on disaster. The priests and prophets will be useless to the people.
- The people will know that God is God when he judges them all harshly, so that even the king and the prince are in mourning and despair.
- Another time, while sitting in front of Jerusalem's elders, the hand of God falls on Ezekiel. He sees the same God-like figure, with fiery loins and legs and an amber torso.
- Its hand reaches out and grabs Ezekiel by a lock of his hair, and the spirit of God brings him to Jerusalem in a vision.
- It sits him down in front of the "image of jealousy" in the Temple. The glory of God looks the same way he saw it in Chapter 1, loins and all.
Evil Animal Pictures
- God shows Ezekiel this idolatrous "image of jealousy" but says, just wait, there's worse.
- He tells Ezekiel to dig through the Temple's wall. Ezekiel digs through and sees a room with all kinds of animals and creeping things on the walls.
- The elders of Israel are in the room, swinging incense and worshipping the evil images. Sounds like a scene from Rosemary's Baby.
- But God says there's still worse to come. The suspense is killing us.
- Next, he shows Ezekiel women weeping for the god Tammuz, and finally, twenty-five people all bowing down to the sun.
- The sun. Don't they realize who created the sun?
- God says that the people won't stop with these abominations. They're also filling the land with violence and "putting the branch to their noses" (kind of like thumbing their noses at God, apparently).
- God will bring wrath on them; groveling won't help one bit.
Executioners Wear Linen
- God summons six executioners to kill the people in Jerusalem, including a figure dressed in linen with a writing case.
- The executioners come in and stand by the Temple altar, while God gives them their orders.
- God tells the man with the writing case to mark the people who going to survive off from those doomed for destruction. The survivors are those who turn away from the abominations. The writing case guy will mark them on the foreheads.
- The executioners will then go through the city and kill everyone who doesn't have the mark, everyone from the youngest children to the oldest men and women.
- First, the executioners kill the corrupt elders in God's sanctuary, before moving into the city.
- Ezekiel prostrates himself and asks God if he'll kill as many people in the rest of Judah as he has in Jerusalem.
- God says yeah, no pity.
- At the end of the chapter, the man with the writing case returns and says he's accomplished his mission.
- The chariot with the four-faced cherubim is still parked in the vicinity. God tells writing-case guy to go and take the burning coals from the center of the cherubim near the wheels, and dump them on the city.
- God's glory appears in the Temple in the form of a cloud, while the sound of the wings of the cherubim grows as loud as the voice of God.
- God tells the writing-case dude to take fire from the center of the four-faced cherubim. The cherubim appear to have human hands coming out from under their wings. That's just weird.
- Meanwhile, Ezekiel sees how strange the wheels under the cherubim really are. Every part of the wheels is filled with eyes and they're able to roll not just forwards and backwards but side-to-side, since they're really "wheels within wheels."
- Ezekiel explains that the cherubim's four-faces were those of a human, a lion, an eagle, and that of the cherub itself.
- As the wheels under the cherubim move the cherubim move too in some kind of perfect synchronization.
- The glory of God leaves the Temple and takes its place on top of the throne above the cherubim.
- Ezekiel watches as the throne-chariot takes off, stopping above the east gate of the Temple.
- God's saying b'bye to the Temple and heading east.
- The spirit carries Ezekiel to the east gate of the Temple. He sees twenty-five men there, including Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah.
- God tells Ezekiel that these guys are bad. They're falsely informing Jerusalem that they'll be safe from God's wrath. He tells Ezekiel to prophesy against them.
- God says that the people have been smugly claiming that they're safe in the city like meat in a pot. But in reality, all the corpses in the city will be the meat in the pot, while the people themselves will be taken out of it by the invaders.
- They'll be harshly judged by God and lots of them will be killed. It's payback time for disobeying all his laws.
A Somewhat Distant Promise
- As Ezekiel's making this prophecy, Pelatiah falls down and dies.
- Ezekiel himself falls down and asks if God's planning to destroy everyone from Israel.
- God tells Ezekiel that his own kin, his fellow exiles, and the whole House of Israel have strayed from God and are losing their land as punishment.
- But he's going to re-gather them from exile in the future and give their land back to their descendants.
- They'll be able to follow all of God's laws at that time, and he'll give them a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone.
- But the people who worshipped idols and abominations will definitely be punished.
- The chariot with the cherubim and the glory of God finally flies away. The spirit brings Ezekiel back to Babylon, where he tells the exiles about what he saw.
- It's performance art time again.
- God tells Ezekiel—who's now apparently in Jerusalem—to act out going into exile in the sight of everyone by packing his bags and digging through the wall in plain sight. He'll cover his face so that he won't see the land as he symbolically walks through it.
- God says that the House of Israel might take the hint, even though they're so dense and rebellious.
- After Ezekiel does all this, God tells him that if people ask him what he's doing he's to say that he's symbolically demonstrating what will happen to them and their king (Zedekiah).
- He predicts that King Zedekiah will try to escape and walk away just as Ezekiel had done.
- But he'll be caught by the Babylonians and his servants and troops will be scattered and killed. Some people will survive to tell other nations about their destruction and humiliation.
Eat and Quake
- God's word comes to Ezekiel yet again. It tells him to eat bread and drink water with quaking terror and to tell everyone else to do the same: their land is going to be destroyed and stripped of inhabitants.
- God says he'll put an end to the people's proverb, "The days are prolonged and every vision come to nothing." God will fulfill Ezekiel's visions of destruction and doom.
- When the people start to say that these visions probably relate to the distant future, God tells Ezekiel to tell them that they'll be fulfilled sooner rather than later.
- God changes the subject to another favorite target: false prophets.
- He tells Ezekiel to prophesy against them, saying that they're like jackals wandering in ruins, and haven't done anything to protect their city. They've only given Jerusalem a false sense of security.
- They've lied and pretended to speak God's words when they were really only speaking out of their own imaginations.
- God says he's going to punish these false prophets.
- They won't be permitted in Israel's councils or register or even in the land itself.
- The prophets are like people trying to smear whitewash on a wall that's weak and doomed to be destroyed by a storm.
- God says that he himself will send the storm that will destroy the white-washed wall and destroy the prophets who falsely predicted peace.
- God concludes by telling Ezekiel to prophesy against sorceresses who use magical veils and arm bands to capture people's souls and do dark magic.
- They've basically sold out their integrity and profaned God, making (false) life-and-death prophecies in exchange for lousy morsels of food.
- God says he'll tear off the bands and veils that the sorceresses are using to hunt souls as though they were birds.
- God will punish the sorceresses for protecting the wicked and injuring the good, and he'll save his people from their ways.
- Some elders of Israel come to consult with Ezekiel. He knows that they've been worshipping idols, so he asks God what to do.
- God basically tells Ezekiel to hush up: God's gonna handle this one personally.
- God swears to punish these idolaters by setting his face against them and cutting them off from the people as punishment for leading them astray. Any prophet who breaks this old-school omerta bargain has done so because God made him do it and is gonna be made into an example for anyone even vaguely considering switching teams. God's pretty clear that even seeming betrayal to him is part of his genius plan.
- Without all these false prophets, Israel will be closer to being God's people again.
Not Even for Noah
- God says that when people become faithless and do evil, he punishes them with famine. Even if Noah, Job, and Daniel lived in the land they'd only earn the salvation of their own lives. Everyone else would still be punished.
- This trio couldn't even save their own children. God would still send wild animals in to take over the land.
- In fact, God's sending a four-fold vengeance of war, famine, pestilence, and wild animals against his people.
- But the sons and daughters of the people who survive will turn out to be good (must've been all along, if God have them the okay to live through the turmoil) and will offer consolation to the people. In this way, God will demonstrate that there was some sort of greater point to all this violence and destruction, and reward righteous individuals.
Vines aren't Fine
- In this super-short chapter, God asks Ezekiel what a forest vine can be used for, posing rhetorical questions like, "Can you make it into a peg?" Answer: No.
- God says forest vines are only good for burning. After that, they're good for nothing.
- God says this is an analogy for the people of Jerusalem. They're totally worthless, so he's going to burn them and kill them. Even if they try to escape the fire they'll fall back into it.
- God will punish them for their faithlessness by making the land totally desolate.
God's Adopted Daughter/Wife
- Next, God tells Ezekiel an extended allegory for how he raised the people of Israel. He says that they were like a female baby, the child of a Hittite mother and an Amorite father, abandoned in a field with her umbilical cord still uncut, dirty and bloody and with no one to pity her.
- God walked by the baby, flailing around in her own blood, and gave her the power to live.
- The baby grows up and reaches full womanhood, but she's still naked. Get this girl a Gap credit card.
- God sees that the woman is now "at the age for love." He marries/makes a covenant with her and covers her nakedness with his cloak.
- God bathes her and showers his new bride with gifts: sandals, silver, gold, linen clothes, ornaments, bracelets, rings, oil, flour, honey, a necklace, and a crown.
- Cancel the Gap card.
- The Israel-bride-woman's fame and word of her beauty spreads through the nations.
- So far so good.
- But then things start to go downhill. Wowed by her own beauty and glory, Israel starts to commit adultery and "whore" (God's term) herself out to various passers-by (foreign gods).
- She takes the gifts God's given her and uses them for these idolatrous purposes, making shrines from the fabrics, offering the flour and honey as offerings, and making images of the gods from the jewels and metals.
- She even sacrifices the children she had borne to God. She completely forgets how she'd been saved.
- Israel continually "plays the whore" with the gods of different countries—Egypt, Assyria, and Chaldea (Babylon). After cheating with the Egyptians, God punished the Israelites by sending the Philistines to attack them, but that didn't make an impression.
- God accuses Israel of not even being like a normal prostitute, since normal prostitutes are paid for their services. Israel actually paid her clients, the gods she was worshipping, with offerings from the things God had given her.
A Very Jealous Husband
- God will unleash his vengeance on his former bride. Using the Babylonians, he'll take back all his gifts, destroy their idols, and will strip Judah/Israel naked, just as she was in the beginning.
- She'll be judged as an adulteress and punished as one, by stoning and by being cut to pieces with swords.
- The House of Israel will stop its prostitution and payments to idols and foreign gods. God will rage in anger against them until he's satisfied that they've been justly punished for forgetting how he led them in the wilderness.
Worse than Sodom
- God says that people will mock Judah/Israel saying that she's like her mother—a Hittite—and her (Israel's) sisters, Samaria and Sodom, who also were faithless and betrayed their husbands and children.
- The people of Israel, says God, are even worse than Sodom. They've committed its sins of pride and gluttony without caring for the poor and needy.
- Israel has made Sodom and Samaria look good in comparison, and God'll take it easy on them.
- When you're so bad that you make Sodom look good, you know you're in for some serious divine wrath.
- In the end, God will restore the fortunes of all these sisters, Israel included. But for now, Israel will need to pay for its sins and its lewdness.
- After punishing Israel, God will forgive it, establish an everlasting covenant with it, and let it be ashamed at how God has actually allowed it to return.
- Israel will receive Samaria and Sodom as daughters instead of sisters, and will be forgiven by God for everything (though after he's punished it for everything, apparently). This will make Israel pretty embarrassed and ashamed. How could she have cheated on this wonderful guy?
And Now, a Bird Note Moment
- God tells Ezekiel to repeat an allegory to the house of Israel.
- In the allegory, a great eagle takes the topmost shoot from the tallest cedar in Lebanon.
- The eagle drops into a city of merchants, and then plants a seed in the land from which he took the shoot.
- The seed grows into a vine which stretches out towards another great eagle. The vine wants the eagle to water the seed and transplant it in good soil so that the vine becomes a noble vine.
- God asks if this will really happen to the vine. Won't it just get pulled up and die? Hint: yes.
- Finally, God explains the allegory. The King of Babylon is the first eagle who exiles king Jehoiachin (the shoot from the cedar).
- He then plants Zedekiah like the seed to rule over Judah, believing he'll stay allied with Babylon.
- But Zedekiah (the vine) reaches out towards Egypt, the second eagle, hoping it'll become his ally.
- As punishment for breaking this covenant with Babylon, Zedekiah will end up dying in exile in Babylon.
- The Judean troops and survivors will all be scattered throughout the land.
- But God predicts a positive future for his people: he'll pick a shoot from the cedar (the House of David) and place it on top of the mountain of Israel, where it'll grow into a noble tree and give shelter to birds and bear fruit.
- The other trees of the field (nations) will know that God is the lord.
- God says that he makes the high tree low, the low tree high, dries up the green tree, and makes the dry tree flourish. Guy's got a way with words.
- God says that the people should stop repeating a proverb saying that if parents eat sour grapes their children's teeth will be on edge (meaning the children will experience the consequences of their parents' sins).
- People are only responsible for the sins they commit themselves, not for anyone else's.
- God defines a righteous person as someone who follows some basic rules: doesn't worship idols, doesn't commit adultery or have sex with his wife while she's menstruating, doesn't oppress people, pays debtors, doesn't charge advance or accrued interest, gives to the needy, avoids iniquity, and obeys God's laws.
- How hard can that be?
- If the son of a righteous man does these evil things, he'll be punished and die: Papa's good deeds can't save him. It goes both ways: if that wicked guy has a son who is righteous, the son will get a Godly stamp of approval: Papa's sins don't travel down through the generations.
He Doesn't Actually Love Killing People
- If the wicked turn away from their wickedness and become righteous, God will forgive them and won't punish them for evil deeds in the past. God wants the wicked to become good, and says he takes no pleasure in their destruction.
- But if a righteous person goes bad, God will likewise forget their righteous actions and punish them for their present evil.
- They'll die.
- God says that the House of Israel claims that his actions aren't fair, which God says is silly, because this whole system is obviously pretty fair.
- God urges Israel to change their ways so that they'll escape the judgment coming their way.
- Again, God says he doesn't take pleasure in anyone's death. People should quit doing bad stuff, get themselves a new heart and a new spirit, repent for their sins, and live.
- This is a lamentation for the princes of Israel, and it's basically a gigantic allegory explaining the defeat of the tribe of Judah and the royal House of David, a.k.a. the royal lines of Israel.
- Ezekiel says that the people's mother was a lioness who raised a young lion.
- The young lion learns to catch prey and eat humans, so the nations catch him and send him to Egypt. (This probably refers to King Jehoahaz who was exiled to Egypt a couple generations ago, as narrated here.)
- The lioness takes another of her cubs and makes him a young lion, too.
- He also learns to catch prey, eat people, and destroy towns.
- This young lion is also captured by the nations, who send him to Babylon this time. (This is probz King Jehoiachin who got turfed to Babylon with the other elites shortly thereafter, as narrated here.)
- In addition to being like a lioness, the people's mother was also like a vine, which grew a strong stem that became like a ruler's scepter.
- But this stem was plucked up and thrown down where it dried out and its fruit died. Now it's transplanted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty place.
- Basically, this is where Ezekiel gets all metaphorical, lamenting that Israel's leaders are doing a lame job at living up to their royal promise
- It doesn't look like a scepter anymore.
- Ezekiel repeats that this is a lamentation. Not an episode of "Animals Gone Bad."
"Fool You Once, Shame on You"
- Some elders of Israel come to chat with Ezekiel again.
- God, speaking through Ezekiel, refuses to talk to them. He has Ezekiel judge them and condemn them for their idolatry and abominations.
- God then runs through the history of his relations with Israel. At first, while the Hebrews are still in Egypt, God tells them they need to give up their idolatries. They don't.
- God considers pouring out his anger on them, but for the sake of his name, leads them out of Egypt and into the wilderness.
- He gives them his laws and Sabbaths to keep.
- They don't do that, either.
"Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me—Or, Actually, Wait… On You Again"
- God continues to restrain his anger for his name's sake. He tries to get the children of the people in the wilderness to follow the same laws and honor the Sabbath, but they refuse, too.
- God takes vengeance on them by swearing to scatter them among the nations and by giving them laws that are bad for them and—in the supreme shocker—by apparently encouraging them to sacrifice their firstborn children. In his own terms, he terrifies them into acknowledging him.
- God says that even when he led people into the land he'd promised them, they continued to blaspheme, sacrificing to idols on high places, etc., etc.
- He promises them that they'll never get away with worshipping idols like other nations. He says that it's because of these treasonous acts against him that he refuses to discuss anything with the elders. He has seriously had it with everybody.
"Fool Me A Bunch of Times… Eh, Let's Call It a Draw and Forgive Everyone"
- But eventually, God will lead the people out of exile after judging them and purging the disobedient rebels from among them.
- He won't let the transgressors return to their land.
- Meanwhile, the wicked might as well just go and serve their idols. God doesn't want their cheating love anyway.
- When God brings the remainder of Israel back into their own land, they'll show God's holiness to the world. He'll accept them, and the people will finally be ashamed of their past behavior.
- God ends by tacking on a prophecy that he'll burn down the forest land of the Negeb.
- Ezekiel cries to God, saying that the people are claiming that Ezekiel's only a storyteller and they don't take him seriously with all these weird allegories.
- God gets a little clearer (just for you, Zeke) and sends another message through Ezekiel: he (God) is going to draw his sword and really get down to slaughtering the people in Jerusalem and Israel.
- He'll draw his sword from his sheath and won't sheath it again.
- God instructs the people to mourn and moan. They should answer the people who ask them why they're moaning by saying that they're moaning over the bad news God brought them, which is now being fulfilled.
The Sword-A-Thon Goes on
- God continues on the sword theme, sending another prophecy through Ezekiel:
- The prophecy is a poem of sorts, talking about how the sword (God's or that of the Babylonians) is being sharpened and polished to kill the people of Israel and their princes.
- How can the people mess around and have a good time, asks Ezekiel, when they've failed to adopt God's rules and discipline?
- God says he'll satisfy his fury against the people, setting a sword against all the gates of the city and killing tons of people.
- God orders Ezekiel to mark out two roads for the Babylonians to invade, along with a signpost, leading them both to Rabbah (where the Ammorites live) and to Judah and Jerusalem.
- The King of Babylon will stand at the crossroads between these two paths, consulting his magical methods of divination.
- They'll make him go towards Jerusalem and prepare for a siege.
- The people won't believe this, but it'll definitely happen.
- Everyone will be punished for their sins, and their wicked prince (Zedekiah, although Ezekiel doesn't name him) will be brought down, just as the city is turned to ruins. See the Book of Jeremiah for the gory details about Zedekiah.
- God also predicts destruction for the Ammorites.
- They've been deceived with false visions too, but God will sic the sword on them and they'll be utterly wiped out. Adios, Ammorites.
- God condemns Jerusalem as "the bloody city": its citizens have shed innocent blood and worshipped idols. They'll become a disgrace in the eyes of all the other nations.
- The princes of Israel have killed the innocent, and the people have mistreated their parents, immigrants, orphans, and widows.
- God goes on to attack the people for various sins: adultery, rape, incest, bribery, violating the Sabbath, shady financial dealings.
- God claps his hands angrily at all the blood they've spilled and dishonest gains they've made.
- He'll scatter them through the land and even make himself profaned in the sight of the nations, because of how terribly the people have been disgraced.
The Man Who Smelt It, Dealt It
- Instead of being silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead in the eyes of God, the people appear like dross—worthless metal melted down in a smelter.
- God will angrily put them back in the smelter and then melt them all over again. Kind of like that awesome last scene of Terminator 2.
- The land of Israel needs to be cleansed; its princes are like raging lions murdering the innocent and creating widows.
- The priests have ruined things too, mixing the holy and the everyday, and not teaching the difference between what's clean and unclean. BLTs? Unfortunately, not clean.
- And it's not just princes and priests: the officials kill people for money, the prophets lie, and the people themselves oppress the poor and rob immigrants. Society is going down the tubes.
- God couldn't find one person to stand in front of the broken wall of the city and repair it (by repenting and turning to good).
- So God is judging everyone and punishing them with wrath.
- God says that once upon a time there were two sisters who were the daughters of one mother. They were named Oholah (Israel) and Oholibah (Samaria).
- They both grew up to be prostitutes and sold themselves to Egyptian gods who fondled their breasts.
- Nonetheless, God took them (as his wives, apparently) and they bore sons and daughters for him.
- But Oholah took a fancy to handsome Assyrian horsemen (probably Assyrian gods) and prostituted herself to them like she'd done in Egypt. So God let the Assyrians kill her children and strip her naked.
Sister Act II
- Shmoop Advisory: The following paragraph is rated R for mature audiences. Reader discretion is advised.
- Oholibah is the same as her sister, except she doesn't just commit adultery with Assyrians but with Babylonians as well. She sends messengers to the Babylonians and they come and defile her with their lusts. (Sounds more like late-night Cinemax than the Bible…)
- God turns in disgust from her, but Oholibah continues to step up her "whorings," remembering (and hold on, because this gets way gross and way disturbing) how her lovers in Egypt had penises like donkeys and ejaculations like horses.
Sister Act III: God's Vengeance
- Donkey penises??
- Anyway, back to our story…
- In vengeance, God is going to send all the former lovers of Oholibah to come attack her. Babylonian and Assyrian horsemen will all ride down and hack off her nose, strip her clothes off, and kill her sons and daughters.
- God tells Judah and Jerusalem that they'll drink the same cup of wrath as their sister Oholibah, suffering at the hands of her former lovers for her idolatries and injustices. She'll drink the cup of wrath until it's empty and cut her breasts with the shattered pieces of the cup.
- God tells Ezekiel to judge Oholah and Oholibah, condemning them for adultery, breaking the Sabbath, and sacrificing their children to idols.
- Israel even committed adultery with men (gods) from distant lands involving an elaborate sequence with beds, bathing, and beyond. Raucous partiers and drunk people put bracelets and beautiful crowns on the heads of women.
- So the sisters keep on committing adultery, but righteous judges will judge them accordingly.
- And of course, the judgment against them will involve getting attacked and having their children killed by invading armies—the usual stuff.
- Donkey penises—really?
- Sorry. We digress.
- As the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem, God tells Ezekiel to relate an allegory to the people. Ezekiel rolls his eyes and whips out a pen.
- The allegory takes the form of a command: set a pot with water in it over a fire and put in choice pieces of meat from the best member of the flock.
- Ezekiel was a Temple priest, so he was probably in charge of tending to pots cooking sacrificial meat. Basically, the whole "meat in the pot" image would've symbolized a divine offering prepared by the people for their God, just as it was in the Temple.
- But, God says, no matter how choice the pieces of meat are, it's just not gonna cut it.
- No matter how you heat this pot, says God, the rust won't disappear from it—Israel is like a rusty pot that won't get clean, which is why God is attacking it and judging it.
- Translation: Even though Israel might be trying to put their best foot forward (collecting the choicest pieces of meat), God's not fooled, since their corruption runs too deep.
- And he doesn't want your meat stew anymore either, Israel. God tells them to empty it out and give up. He's pretty sure the only thing to do is burn everything and start over. Sigh.
God Kills Ezekiel's Wife
- Next, God says he's going to kill Ezekiel's wife. He orders him not to show mourning, only to be sad inwardly.
- So God kills Ezekiel's wife as a symbolic act. To make a point. Right.
- People ask Ezekiel why he isn't doing the traditional acts of mourning. Ezekiel says it's because God's going to destroy their city and kill their children and they won't be able to do the traditional form of mourning either.
- So Ezekiel's just demonstrating what they'll need to do. It stinks being the first out of the gate.
- When all this happens, a messenger will report it to these people (who will be fleeing Jerusalem or something), and they'll all be horrified that God is present and trying to kill them.
- This is a pretty troubling episode, we think.
God's Takes Vengeances on all the "–ites" and "–ines"
- Seriously, donkey pe—oh, never mind.
- To punish the Ammonites for rejoicing over the destruction of Israel and the defilement of God's Temple, God's going to allow them to be conquered and devastated as well.
- The people of the east (Babylonians) will come in and plunder them, enjoying their fruit and fields, and turning their cities into pastureland.
- The Moabites are next in line for destruction: since they said that Judah is just like all other nations, they'll be punished by being conquered by the people of the east, too.
- After Moab, Edom's on the chopping block. The Edomites acted vengefully towards Judah. In return, Israel itself will eventually take revenge on Edom and make it desolate.
- Also, in return for their vengefulness, the Philistines and Cherethites and people of the seacoast will all be devastated by God's wrath.
- Next on God's hit list is the city of Tyre, which also supposedly rejoiced at Jerusalem's defeat.
- The Babylonian armies will come like waves against it. The city will crumble and become a place where people fish with nets.
- Tyre will be plundered and its "daughter-towns" will be destroyed too.
- King Nebuchadrezzar (aka Nebuchadnezzar) is going to totally cream Tyre (which actually doesn't happen, as Ezekiel acknowledges later).
- He'll besiege them, hit their walls with battering rams, enter the city, loot their merchandise, smash their houses, and silence their music.
Coastal Panic (Which Is Not a New Indie Band)
- The princes of the sea will all tremble when they see what's happened to Tyre, a great coastal city and port brought to ruins.
- The princes will sit on the ground, trembling and lamenting about how all the coastlands are scared now that Tyre has fallen.
- God will destroy the city, cover it with the waters of the sea, and force the people down into The Pit. (Though just for the record, God apparently changes his mind and lets Nebuchadnezzar ravage the Egyptians instead of destroying Tyre.)
- This chapter is an extended lamentation over the beauty and grandeur of Tyre (which actually didn't get destroyed, but shh).
- God says that Tyre was a great kingdom, dominating trade on the seas while using material from different lands (cedars from Lebanon, linen from Egypt for sails, etc.) to build its ships and become powerful.
- Skilled elders, soldiers, artisans, and rowers from different cities and towns all came to work in Tyre and to eat the to-die-for tabouli.
- Great cities like Tarshish, Javan, Tubal, and Meshech did business with Tyre, trading merchandise and slaves.
- God catalogues all the different markets Tyre traded in with a huge degree of detail: for instance, ivory and tusks, fine fabrics, coral, rubies, wine, saddlecloths, grain—pretty much everything with everybody.
Tyre Tumbles Into the Sea
- Tyre was filled with merchandise and treasures, but the east wind wrecks it and knocks it all into the heart of the sea, along with all the warriors of Tyre.
- All the pilots and mariners lament as they watch Tyre fall. They wallow in ashes and dress in sackcloth. Oh, so they're allowed to mourn but not the widower Ezekiel?
- They lament Tyre, saying that it once was rich and glorious, and spread wealth to many countries: but now it's come crashing into the sea, tabouli and all. The merchants and people of the coastlands are all horrified and hiss at the ruins of Tyre.
- (Like we said, this is a vision of a future that doesn't actually happen, and Ezekiel corrects it later).
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the Prince of Tyre.
- The Prince has grown really arrogant, believing himself to be a god rather than the mortal he is.
- He is, says God/Ezekiel, genuinely wise. But he's squandered that wisdom, which once helped him amass wealth, through excessive pride. Excessive pride is one of God's pet peeves.
- To punish him for believing he's a god, God will let the Babylonians kill him and thrust him down into The Pit (the underworld). He'll die the death of the uncircumcised.
More Fire in Tyre
- Next, after prophesying against the prince, Ezekiel and God start to lament the fall of the Prince of Tyre.
- In the beginning, the Prince of Tyre was pretty great: full of wisdom and beauty. He was in Eden, God's garden, full of precious stones and gold engravings.
- The Prince was on God's mountain, walking among stones of fire, guarded by a cherub that God had appointed.
- But, eventually, the Prince of Tyre gets consumed with pride and behaves violently, so the guardian cherub drives him out of "Eden."
- God brings out fire from inside the Prince of Tyre, which burns him up as punishment for corrupting his wisdom.
- Everyone is appalled at his fate. We can see why.
Oh, and Down With Sidon, Too
- God continues condemning different places: now, he says, Sidon will be punished with pestilence and warfare.
- He doesn't get specific, but God's apparently doing this as punishment for Sidon siding against Israel, since he says that Israel will no longer find a remaining thorn or briar among the nations that used to oppose it.
- He ends by promising the people of Israel that they'll be led out of the lands into which they've been scattered, and will come back to their homeland to build houses and plant vineyards. They'll live in peace while their neighbors are punished.
- The hit list of countries continues. This time God orders Ezekiel to prophesy against Egypt and its pharaoh.
- God compares Pharaoh to a great dragon (like Leviathan or a crocodile) of the Nile, believing it created the river for itself.
- God will put hooks in the pharaoh-dragon's jaws and drag him out of the river, with its fish (the inhabitants of Egypt, probably) sticking to its scales.
- Pharaoh and his army will die in the open field of battle and become food for animals and vultures as their bodies rot on the ground.
- The Egyptians were bad allies to the House of Israel. Like a staff made out of reeds, they fell apart when Judah looked to them for support.
Egypt Gets Schooled
- For this reason, God's going to make Egypt desolate. As punishment for Pharaoh thinking he's the creator and owner of the Nile, God's going to make Egypt desolate: no human or animal will pass through it for forty years.
- The people of Egypt will be scattered in other countries.
- At the end of that time, they'll be gathered back, but for now they'll be the lowliest kingdom and will never be allies to the House of Israel again.
Oh, and About that Whole Tyre Prediction Thing… Well…
- Correcting his earlier Tyre prophecy, Ezekiel says that Nebuchadnezzar and his army tried hard in besieging Tyre, but didn't plunder it or get anything for all the work.
- So instead, God's giving him Egypt as payment for his labor.
- God's also going to cause a horn to sprout up in Israel, and people might finally listen to Ezekiel.
- Now there's a lamentation for Egypt.
- A day of doom is coming for Egypt and Ethiopia as well.
- Egypt's wealth will be taken away and its foundations destroyed.
- Their allies from places like Libya and Arabia will also fall in battle, so this is a warning for Egypt's supporters, too.
Competitive Arm Breaking
- God gets more specific, explaining that King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian hordes will be doing the destroying.
- God will destroy all of Egypt's idols, making sure it no longer has a prince or ruler. He lists the cities he's going to devastate: Thebes, Memphis, Pathros, Zoan, and others.
- Its "daughter-towns" will be taken captive too. Suburbs, we guess.
- God promises Ezekiel that he'll break both of Pharaoh's arms (he's already broken one). Then, after strengthening Nebuchadnezzar's arms so that he can defeat Pharaoh (who will moan like a mortally wounded person before Nebby) he'll scatter the Egyptians throughout the nations.
- Next, God compares Pharaoh to a lofty cedar, the kind that grows in Lebanon.
- Nourished by fresh waters, it grows so that its top is in the clouds. Tons of birds build their nests in it, animals shelter and give birth under it, and trees grow around it.
- No other tree in God's garden could rival it, says God himself.
This Tree Will Die Just Like all the Other Uncircumcised Trees
- However, the tree grew too proud of its height, so God ordered Nebuchadnezzar to come and chop it down. The invaders left broken branches everywhere.
- The other nations stopped taking shelter under the tree, and wild animals and birds sat around on its fallen trunk.
- No other trees (nations) will ever grow to this height. All are doomed to eventually die, being mortal.
- On the day of its destruction, God holds back streams and covers deep springs with mourning (whatever that means).
- God concludes by saying that other trees (nations) have fallen and withered away, going down into the underworld along with Egypt. Again, he says that Egypt was the best of all the trees in Eden, but it will die like the uncircumcised and go to the underworld with the other nations.
- God continues his anti-Egyptian spiel. He tells Ezekiel to prophesy against Pharaoh, comparing him to a lion among the nations and a sea-monster rolling around and churning the water.
- With a throng of people, God will catch the Pharaoh in a net.
- He'll chuck the pharaoh-monster in an open field so birds and animals can eat it, and spread its blood and parts of its corpse over mountains and valleys.
- God will darken the sun, moon, and stars over Egypt, covering it in darkness.
- The people of other nations and their kings will be horrified and tremble at what's happened to Pharaoh and his people.
- Yet again, God says he's sending the Babylonians to kill the Egyptians, and they'll kill all the cattle, too.
- God will make the streams flow slowly, drying them up and making Egypt desolate.
- Helpfully, God explains that the above is the lament people will chant for Egypt when it's destroyed.
Consoled by the Dead
- God continues with the total destruction of Egypt theme.
- Here, he praises the destruction of the Egyptian army.
- Elam, Meshek, and Tubal are condemned for also being uncircumcised nations who spread terror throughout the world, but are now in the underworld.
- The princes of the north, Edom, and the Sidonians are also all in the underworld. And Pharaoh's going to meet the same fate.
- Strangely, he'll be consoled when he sees all those who have gone down before him.
- Misery loves company.
- God explains the reasons for the deaths of everyone who'll die in the Babylonian invasion.
- If a watchman sees the armies coming and blows his trumpet and people fail to heed the warning—hey, they deserve to die.
- But, if the watchman fails to blow the trumpet, he'll be held responsible for those people's deaths. But they're still going to die, because they're sinners.
- As you might have been able to guess, Israel has a watchman. His name? Ezekiel.
- When people turn to Ezekiel asking him what they can do to remedy their sins and offenses, he says, "Turn away from sin—DURR!"
- He reiterates the point that a righteous person who goes bad won't be forgiven because of how good they were in the past. But the same thing goes for the wicked: if they turn good, their pasts won't be held against them.
- Although the people claim God isn't just, it's actually their ways that are unjust.
Ezekiel Ain't Just Some Boy Band Member
- Ezekiel now discusses how a man came to him after the fall of Jerusalem bringing him the news that it had finally been destroyed in the siege.
- Ezekiel says he was able to talk. This may be (slash is very) confusing since Ezekiel has been gabbing it up for 33 chapters and counting. But, back in 3:26, God told him he was going to make him silent (hard to say why) but that his silence would be released when the exile hit (as was predicted in 24:27.) So now, in comes the fall of Jerusalem, and out come the words.
- He prophesies saying that the people in Judah think God's given them the land, because he gave it to Abraham and they're his descendants.
- But that just ain't so, says Ezekiel—they're too given to eating meat with the blood still in it (not kosher), worshipping idols, and committing adultery.
- God says that even the people left in the ruins will die by the sword, and wild animals will devour the bodies of the Judean country folk. The land will be—guess what?—a desolate waste.
- The people, says God, come to Ezekiel and listen to his words about love and goodness and pretend to heed them, but they're actually greedy and corrupt on the inside. To them, Ezekiel is only like a performer of love songs.
- When everything Ezekiel says comes true, they'll recognize him for a genuine prophet. You can just picture Ezekiel shaking his fist and muttering, "just you wait!"
Billy Bob Thornton Stars in "Bad Shepherd"
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the wicked shepherds (leaders) who've been misleading Israel. They're clothing themselves in the wool and eating the curds, but they won't care for the flock.
- They scattered the sheep and let them become food for wild animals.
- God's going to hold these shepherds accountable for all this death and destruction, since they failed to lead the flock and cared for themselves instead of their "sheep."
And Matt Damon in "The Good Shepherd"
- God says he'll prevent the shepherds from guiding the sheep, and will remove them; he's taking over as the new shepherd.
- He'll gather the sheep together from the places where they've been scattered. He'll take care of the weak and injured, and will lead them into good grazing land in Israel, where they'll lie down. But he'll punish the strong and the unjust.
- God says he'll judge between the rams and goats, separating the good and bad members of the flock.
- He asks them why they need to trample good pasture and muddy the water with their feet.
- He'll save the weak, lean sheep from the overfed aggressive sheep, and David will be himself the single shepherd and ruler over the peaceful remainder.
- God will make the land really fruitful and nice, ridding it of savage animals. Everyone will return from exile and it'll all be just great, with the people finally obedient and down with God.
A Casual Digression In Which God Promises the Destruction of Edom
- If you thought God was done with excoriating the nations, you were wrong. He can't get enough of it.
- Next, he turns his sights on Edom and Mt. Seir, saying that he's going to make them a desolate waste.
- Basically, this is because they weren't fans of Israel, rooting against them and applauding bloodshed.
- The mountains and valleys will be filled with the dead.
- For coveting Israel and Judah and hating their people, God's going to punish Edom super hard.
- Edom thought it would be able to rush in now that Israel's been devastated, but that won't happen.
- The rest of the world will be rejoicing when Edom is destroyed.
Stay Strong, Mountains
- Next God consoles the mountains of Israel. Yeah, other nations were thinking they could come in and take over those mountains, like Edom. But God's not gonna let that happen; he'll make sure that the mountains will stay in shape and will provide fruit for the people when they return.
- The towns will be repopulated, and the animals will come back too.
- God says that he'll never deprive the mountains of children and inhabitants again.
- They won't suffer the scorn of other people who claim that the land of Israel devours its children.
The Comeback King
- The people defiled the land with uncleanness—like, God says, a menstrual period.
- So God destroyed the land as punishment for idol worship and the other usual culprits.
- God says he isn't going to let them return for their sake, but for the sake of his own name. He's got a reputation to uphold.
- God will cleanse the people with water sprinkled on them, give them a new heart and a new spirit to replace the old, and put his spirit in them to make sure they follow his laws.
- He won't let the people starve and will make sure their land and fruit flourishes.
- The land, which had been laid waste like Eden after the fall, will be restored, and the people will return to rebuild their cities.
- All the other nations will see God's power through this amazing comeback.
- In a vision, God sets Ezekiel down in a valley full of dry bones. He asks Ezekiel if these bones can live, and Ezekiel replies, saying that only God himself knows. Right answer.
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy, telling the bones that they'll live, that the breath of God will enter them, causing them to put on sinews (tendons and ligaments) and flesh again.
- So Ezekiel prophesies and the bones all rattle together, forming skeletons. They have flesh and muscle grow on them, forming complete human bodies, but they're still not alive, with no divine breath in them.
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy for the breath to enter the bodies, and when Ezekiel does so, they all come alive.
- Zombie Apocalypse? No.
- God explains that these are the bones of the House of Israel. The people believe that their fate is sealed and that there'll be no restoration of their kingdom and their land. But there will, and this is the meaning of the dry bones coming to life.
- God tells Ezekiel to take two sticks and make them into one stick (by binding them together or whatever).
- He's supposed to write on one stick that it represents Judah, and on the other that it represents Joseph (or Ephraim) and the Israelites associated with it. (That kingdom had been long gone courtesy of the Assyrian conquest.)
- God says the meaning of this is that these two peoples will be made into one. He will lead them both back into their lands, making them into a single kingdom.
- This time they'll be obedient, observing all of his laws and giving up idol worship.
- David will be their king, and they'll all have one ruler. They'll never leave the land again, and their children will inhabit it forever.
- God will dwell with them, blessing them and making sure they multiply.
God vs. Gog
- God orders Ezekiel to prophesy against some fearsome ruler named Gog, who rules over the mysterious land of Magog and is chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.
- When Gog goes on the march with a massive army, God's going to put a hook in his mouth and lead the whole army back where it came from.
- That includes all the armies that will side with Gog, including Persia, Ethiopia, Put, Gomer, and people from the distant north.
- God predicts that, in future years, Gog will lead armies against the restored nation of Israel.
- Gog's armies will come like a storm or a cloud covering the land, after Gog is evilly inspired to invade and plunder the defenseless towns in the land—provoking other nations like Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshish (in addition to Israel).
- God will bring Gog out of the far north to invade Israel, but only in order to demonstrate his power and holiness against Gog.
- Shmoop recommends that Gog be the name of the next arch-villain in "The Avengers" sequel.
- When Gog invades, he'll encounter the wrath of God in full force.
- The birds, fish, and animals will all tremble and quake at the vengeful presence of God.
- All the humans will be afraid too, as cliffs and walls and mountains tumble down.
- Everyone's swords will be against Gog, and God will send down pestilence, torrential rain, fire, and sulfur.
- All the nations will see God's holiness and greatness.
God vs. Gog: Game, Set, and Match
- God picks up where he left off about Gog.
- He's going to lead Gog into invading Israel, and then destroy Gog and make his armies food for birds.
- God's going to send fire against Gog, and also against the people who live in the coastlands.
- He'll make sure Israel reveres his holy name and that it isn't profaned anymore. All the nations will know that he's God.
- The people of Israel will make fires from the dropped weapons of Gog's armies for seven years. They won't need to cut down trees, even. They'll just plunder the people who tried to plunder them.
- Gog and his horde will be buried in a place called the Valley of Travelers in Israel, which will be aptly renamed "The Horde of Gog."
- It'll take the House of Israel seven months to bury all the corpses from the invading armies. Whenever they locate a dead guy's bone, they'll mark it for pick-up and burial.
- God instructs Ezekiel to call all the wild animals and birds to come and have a great feast: devouring the dead bodies of the invaders.
- They'll gorge themselves on fat and get drunk on blood.
- This is how God will display his power and glory to the nations of the world.
- Carrion birds seem to be doing pretty well in the Book of Ezekiel.
All Better Now
- The chapter ends with God promising again to restore Israel and Judah.
- God hid his face from them and let them get attacked and sent into captivity for a while.
- But now, he's ready to restore them. They'll forget their shame and treachery, and God won't leave anyone behind.
- He'll pour out his spirit on them, and they'll know that he's God.
Introducing Bronze Guy
- In the twenty-fifth year of the exile, God takes Ezekiel to Jerusalem, near the site of the now ruined Temple.
- He sits Ezekiel on a high mountain, and a guy who looks like he's made of bronze shows up. Guy made the mistake of only using SPF-15 in that Israeli sun.
- Bronze dude has a linen cord and a measuring reed. He tells Ezekiel to remember everything he's about to show him.
- He launches into describing and visually revealing the structure of the new Temple and its outer and inner courts. He provides extremely detailed measurements of the walls, east gateway threshold, recesses, vestibule, pilasters—all measured in cubits.
- Bronze dude continues providing measurements for the outer court, its thirty chambers, its pavement, its north and south gates in the outer court, and even the palm trees planted throughout.
- He then describes the gates on the inner court, its recesses, pilasters with paintings of palm trees on them, and vestibules.
- Next, he shows Ezekiel the chamber in vestibule of the north gate where the burnt offering is washed, again describing it in super-detail and providing all the measurements.
- He goes on to the tables where the burnt offering, guilt offering, and sin offering are killed. Some of them are made of cut stone, some with pegs.
- Next come the chambers for singers, and the chambers for Zadokite and Levite priests; then he shows Ezekiel the Temple itself, measuring its vestibules and pilasters first.
MTV Presents: God's Crib
- They continue with the Temple descriptions (and get another Red Bull because this isn't even close to ending).
- The bronze guy shows Ezekiel the Temple nave, more pilasters (which are like fake pillars built into a wall, for the record), the inner room, and its sidewalls. This inner room is the most holy place, says the bronze guy.
- Then it's on to the walls of the Temple, the sidechambers, offsets and supports and foundations of the sidechambers, a passageway, and a stairway around the Temple. Bronze dude gives out measurements galore, and notes that the Temple gets wider as it goes up each story.
- There's a raised platform all around the Temple.
- The building facing the Temple yard and its wall is measured out as well.
God's Crib Continued
- From there, it's on to the measurements of the depth of the Temple, its yard, the east Temple front, and galleries.
- Oh, and let's not forget that the nave, the inner room, and the outer vestibule are paneled and have windows with recessed frames.
- The Temple itself is paneled with wood and it uses a pattern with a palm tree between two cherubs. Each cherub has two faces, one of a human and one of a young lion. This is carved on the whole Temple, from the wall to the floor to above the door.
- Next, he describes the doorposts of the nave, the wood altar in front of the holy place, and the double door for the nave and the holy place, applying the same cherub-and-palm tree design on them.
- Then he describes the canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside, and the recessed windows and palm trees on the sidewalls of the vestibule.
Bronze Guy Leads the Tour Onwards
- Continuing with this extended, divinely-guided episode of "Extreme Makeover," Bronze Guy takes Ezekiel back to the outer court, opposite the building on the north—for which he gives measurements (of course).
- There are also, facing the pavement of the outer court, three stories of chambers with galleries.
- In front of the chambers there's a passage on the inner side, and entrances on the north. The upper chambers are narrower than lower and middle chambers, since the galleries take up more space on the top.
- There's a passage at the foot of these chambers, allowing you enter them from the east from the outer court.
- There are more chambers on the south, similar to the chambers in the north just described.
- Both of these sets of chambers in the north and the south are holy chambers where the people will deposit their grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings.
- The priests will leave their holy vestments in these chambers before they go out to the public area to speak to people, in which case they'll wear different garments.
- Taking a cue from Van Halen, the priests will insist that brown M&Ms are forbidden in their dressing rooms.
- After measuring the interior of the Temple area, Bronze Guy shows Ezekiel the Temple area all around, giving measurements for it, as well as for the wall separating the holy from the common areas.
- The tour finally comes to an end. Bronze Guy takes Ezekiel to the east gate where he sees the glory of God coming down to re-inhabit the Temple.
- The sound of rushing waters signals God's entrance, as the earth shines with his glory.
- Ezekiel says it was like the vision he had seen before on the river Chebar and when God came to destroy the city.
- Ezekiel falls down on his face, but the spirit lifts him up and brings him into the inner court while the glory of God fills the Temple.
- The voice of God speaks from the Temple, announcing that this is his throne and footstool, where he will reign forever over his people.
- He says the people and their kings won't defile him anymore through idolatry.
- Since they'd set their idols and performed their illicit practices with only a wall between them and God's holy place in the Temple, God needed to go all "Man on Fire" and punish them.
- But things will be different this time.
- God concludes this part of his speech by ordering Ezekiel to give the detailed plans, laws, and ordinances for the Temple to the people (all the info from the previous three chapters, basically). We hope he was taking notes.
Sacrifice: A Primer
- God specifies the dimensions of the altar, the altar hearth, and ledge in cubits. The altar's steps will face east.
- Then he describes how, on the day it is created, the altar will first be used for burnt offerings and dashing blood on it.
- The levitical priests of Zadok will offer God a bull for the sin offering. They'll put blood from the bull on the four corners of the ledge and the four horns of the altar. Then the bull for the sin offering will be burnt in the place appointed, outside the sacred zone.
- On the second day, they're to offer a goat as a sin offering, spreading blood on the altar as they had done with the bull, purifying the altar. After the purification, they're supposed to offer a bull and a ram both without blemish.
- The priests will throw salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering.
- Then, for seven days they need to make a daily goat sacrifice for a sin offering plus a bull and a ram both without blemish again.
- After these seven days of atonement and consecration, the priests will let the people make their sacrifices and offerings to God and it'll be back to Temple business as usual.
God's Special VIP Gate
- God shows Ezekiel the outer, east-facing gate of the sanctuary. He says that this gate is supposed to stay closed since he (God) has entered by it. Only the king will be allowed to sit in the gate and eat. He'll enter by way of the gate vestibule and go out the way he came.
- Then God brings him to the north gate, where Ezekiel falls on his face again when he sees God's glory filling the Temple.
- God tells Ezekiel to listen up, because he's about to give him the straight dope on the Temple's ordinances and laws.
- He orders the people to stop admitting foreigners—"uncircumcised in heart and flesh"—to the Temple when they're offering fat and blood to God. They'd even allowed the foreigners to take charge of the sacrifices at times.
- So no foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, can enter the sanctuary.
A Stick for the Levite Priests and a Carrot for the Zadokites
- As punishment for straying from God and helping people serve idols in the past, the Levite priests will only be allowed to have oversight at the gates of the Temple, serve in the Temple, slaughter the burnt offering, attending on and serving the people.
- But they won't be allowed to come near God or the sacred offerings.
- So basically, they're just going to have to do all the Temple chores.
- But the levitical priests descended from Zadok will get a much better deal. They'll be allowed to come close to God and offer him sacrifices.
- When they enter the inner court, they need to wear linen vestments and definitely nothing made of wool. They'll have linen turbans, linen undergarments, and won't wear anything that make them sweat.
- They'll remove their holy vestments when they go into the outer court where they'll wear something else. The vestments will be stored in the holy chambers.
- This is so they don't accidentally consecrate people who might come in contact with them. Holiness is transmittable by casual contact, we guess.
Priestly Bro Code
- These priests will only trim their heads and won't shave their heads. Absolutely no dreadlocks in this Temple.
- They won't drink wine in the inner court and won't marry a widow or divorcee. They'll only be allowed to marry a virgin from the house of Israel or the widow of a priest.
- They'll teach the people to distinguish between holy and common, clean and unclean.
- They'll act as judges and make sure to keep the laws for the festivals and Sabbaths.
- They won't be allowed to defile themselves by going near a dead person, unless it's a close family member (mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or unmarried sister). But even after that he needs to become clean, wait seven days, and then make a sin offering.
- God will be the inheritance of these priests, and they'll eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering.
- They'll get all the different kinds of first fruits, and the first baked goods, which the people will give so that there'll be a blessing on their houses. Those with the best brownies will get the most blessings.
- The priests can't eat anything that died by itself or was torn by animals.
Pads for Priests
- Next, God gives instruction for how the land will be divided. He'll take a certain portion of it for himself (measured in cubits), which will be divided into the Temple area and the open area around it.
- There will also be an area for the priests and their houses, and another area for the Levites to live in.
- Finally, there's an area for all the people of Israel.
- The prince (king) will own land on both sides of the holy district, portions equal in size to those that will be given to the tribes of Israel.
- The princes (kings) won't oppress the people anymore, by the way, says God.
Not the Metric System
- God lays down the weights and measures the new kingdom will use.
- They'll have fair and honest balances and honest means of measurements called the ephah and bath (which are of the same measure, each containing one tenth of a homer—got that?)
- The homer will be the standard measure, and there will also be the shekel, which is equal to twenty gerahs. Sixty shekels equals a mina. Got that?
- God then specifies in great detail how these measurements will be applied to the offerings of barley and oil, which will go along with a big sacrifice of one out of every two hundred sheep belonging to the people of Israel.
- All the people will join the prince in offering this big sacrifice. The prince will be personally responsible for the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings at all the appointed festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths. God will bring the appetizers.
Sacrifice: Advanced Lessons
- On the first day of the first month people need to kill a young bull to purify the sanctuary, and they should do this again on the seventh day for people who have sinned through error and ignorance.
- Then on the fourteenth day, they'll celebrate Passover, eating unleavened bread for seven days.
- There will be more sacrifices too, a lot of them involving seven young bulls and seven rams, and also a daily sin offering of a goat.
- There are also more sin offerings, burnt offerings, and grain and oil offerings on the seventh month on the fifteenth day and proceeding for seven days of a festival.
Open Saturdays Only, Dawn To Dusk
- God lays down more Temples rules: the inner court gate will remain closed during the work-week, but will be opened on Sabbath and new moon.
- The priest will make burnt offerings in the gate when it's open, and the gate won't be closed until evening. The people will bow down at that gate on Sabbaths and new moons.
- God then specifies more grain and animal offerings for the new moon, giving measurements for the grain.
- The prince will come in and exit by the vestibule of the gate when making these offerings.
- There are more rules about what gates people need to enter, what to offer during festivals and for when the prince wants to make a free-will offering.
- God also talks about how the prince should give out inheritance to his sons. If the prince grants inheritance money to a servant (slave), it will only be his until he gains his freedom. Then it becomes the prince's property again.
- Also, the prince isn't allowed to strip any of the people of their inheritance.
- At the far western end of the northern row of holy chambers is the place where the priests will boil the guilt offering and the sin offering and bake the grain offering.
- Additionally, God shows Ezekiel the four small courts in the outer court where they will boil the sacrifices of the people on built-in hearths.
- God tells Ezekiel that this is where he'll be filming the next episode of "Iron Chef."
The Dead Sea Comes Back to Life
- God and the Bronze Guy show Ezekiel water flowing from the threshold of the Temple towards the east.
- They walk in the water, and Bronze Guy measures how far out they are with his cord, as the water gets deeper and deeper.
- It finally gets deep enough and big enough to swim in—a river that can't be crossed.
- He sees that the river flows out, lined with many trees, and down into the Dead Sea, which it turns to fresh water, making it come alive. It will be full of fish and people will actually come to drop nets there.
- The sides of the river will be full of fruit trees and trees with healing leaves.
- After this vision, God talks about how the different tribes of Israel will divide the land. The tribe of Joseph will get two portions (twice as much as the other tribes).
- God specifies the boundaries of the new kingdom all the way from north of Damascus down to the Wadi of Egypt and the Great Sea, and from along the Jordan as far as Tamar in the east and back to the Great Sea in the west.
- The people will inherit land based on their membership in the twelve tribes.
- The aliens inherit land based on what tribe they're living with, and they're to be treated as citizens of Israel.
This Land is Your Land
- Beginning at the northern border, God allots the portions of land to each of the tribes in this order: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah—then, there's an interruption.
- This is where the zone with Jerusalem is located with the Temple in the middle. It's equal to the tribal potions, and has areas for the Levites, Zadokites, the city-dwellers, and the prince all measured off.
- God forbids the people from exchanging or trading away any part of the priestly and Temple areas.
- Somehow, we think that might cause problems in a couple thousand years.
- The prince's territory lies between that of Judah and that of Benjamin's territory.
- South of Benjamin's tribe are the portions for the tribes of Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad.
- God ends by specifying the directions of the twelve gates of the city of Jerusalem, each named after a tribe.
- He says that the circumference of the city will be eighteen thousand cubits—and its new named will be "The Lord is There."
- So the Book of Ezekiel ends on a note of peace, order, and reconciliation with God. And blueprints.