Overview of the Book of Ezekiel

(I) Oracles of JUDGMENT Against Jerusalem (1:1-24:27)[1]

A  The Call of Ezekiel (1:1-3:21)
1  Ezekiel sees the glory of God (1:1-28)
2  The commission of Ezekiel (2:1-3:15)
2:1 “son of a human being” (traditionally, “son of man”) has the sense of stressing the prophet’s mortality in distinction to God. “Son of a human being” in Daniel 7, and thus, the Gospels carries a different significance.
3  The watchman (3:16-27)
B  Prophecies concerning the Fall of Jerusalem (4:1-7:27)
1  Four sign-acts (4:1-5:17)
a  The clay brick—model of Jerusalem (4:1-3)
b  Ezekiel’s immobility (lying on his side)—390 days on left for Israel and 40 days on right for Judah (4:4-8)
c  The defiled bread (4:9-17)
d  The razor and hair (5:1-4)
e  Explanation of the sign-acts (5:5-17)
2  Two messages (6:1-7:27)
a  Destruction because of idolatry (6:1-14)
b  The end (7:1-27)
C  The Pollution of the Temple (8:1-11:25)
1  Four abominations (8:1-18)
a  Vision of the glory of God (8:1-4)
b  Image of jealousy (4:5-6)
c  Paintings on the wall (8:7-12)
d  Weeping for Tammuz (8:13-14)
Tammuz is a Babylonian god of the underworld.
e  Sun worship (8:15-18)
2  Destruction of the city (9:1-11)
3  The departure of God’s glory (10:1-11:25)
a  Departure of glory to the threshold (10:1-8; cf. 9:3)
b  The wheels and cherubim (10:9-22)
c  The twenty-five evil rulers (11:1-12)
d  The promise of restoration (11:13-21)
e  The departure of glory from the Mount of Olives (11:22-25)
D  Signs and Parables of Judgment (12:1-19:14)
1  Sign-acts concerning the exile (12:1-28)
a  An exile’s baggage (12:1-16)
b  Trembling and eating (12:17-20)
c  Imminent judgment (12:21-28)
2  Message against the false prophets (13:1-23)
3  Message against the elders (14:1-23)
4  Parable of the vine (15:1-8)
5  Parable of Israel’s marriage (16:1-63)
6  Parable of two eagles (17:1-21)
7  The new tree (17:22-24)
8  The lesson of three generations (18:1-32)
The riddle in 18:2 is parallel to Jer 31:29-30; both contexts have parallel interpretations.
9  Lament for the princes of Israel (19:1-9)
10  Parable of the withered vine (19:10-14)
E  Message of Judgment (20:1-24:27)
1  Israel as a hardened repeater (20:1-48)
a  Rehearsal of God’s dealings with Israel (20:1-32) (i) in Egypt (20:1-9); (ii) in wilderness (20:10-26); (iii) in Canaan (20:27-28); (iv) in Ezekiel’s time (20:29-32)
b  Future restoration of Israel (20:33-44)
c  Sign of forest fire (20:45-49)
2  The sword of the Lord (21:1-32)
a  The drawn sword (21:1-17)
On the image of the sword see 1 Chron 20:16
b  The double stroke of the sword (21:18-32)
3  Jerusalem the city of blood (22:1-31)
4  Parables of judgment against Jerusalem (23:1-24:14)
a  The parable of two sisters (23:1-49)
The names of the two sisters Oholah, “she who has a tent,” and Oholibah, “a tent in her,” (may play off the tabernacle/temple? cf. 16:16)
b  The parable of the boiling pot (24:1-14)
5  Sign-act—the death of Ezekiel’s wife and the destruction of the temple (24:15-27)
The sign-act is bold and climactic, closing this section of the book. Lev 21:4 prohibits a priest from mourning for his wife.
(II) Oracles of Judgment Against the Nations (25:1-32:32)
A  Against Ammon (25:1-7)
B  Against Moab and Seir (25:8-11)
C  Against Edom (25:12-14)
D  Against Philistia (25:15-17)
E  Against Tyre (26:1-28:19)
1  downfall of the city (26:1-21)
2  funeral lament for the city (27:1-36)
27:1-36 The city is depicted like an overloaded ship sunk by the “east wind” (27:26). The east wind imagery echoes the destruction of the Egyptians (Exod 14:21), and yet here refers to the threat of the Babylonians from the north (Ezek 26:7); see note on chronological markers above.
3  downfall of the king of Tyre (28:1-10)
4  funeral lament for the king of Tyre (28:11-19)
F  Against Sidon (28:20-24)
G  A Promise for Israel (28:25-26)
H  Against Egypt (29:1-32:32)
1  As a doomed monster (29:1-16)
2  As a payment to Nebuchadnezzar (29:17-21)
3  The approaching day (30:1-19)
4  Pharaoh’s arms are broken (30:20-26)
5  As a fallen cedar of the garden of Eden (31:1-18)
31:1-18 If Egypt is the tallest tree amongst the trees of Eden, that is the other nations, then she will go down to Sheol with the other trees of Eden (see esp. 31:8-9, 15-18). This poignant imagery illustrates that primeval narrative elements, like those used in Ezek 28, can be applied figurally to literal nations in poetic oracles.
6  A lament for Pharaoh (32:1-16)
7  As destined for the pit with the uncircumcised (32:17-32)
(III) Oracles of Hope for Israel’s Restoration (33:1-48:35)
A  The Watchman (33:1-33)
33:22 The previous oracles are framed as night visions by 33:22. The last seven oracles, then, are day visions—(1) watchman (33); (2) shepherds (34); (3) against Edom (35); (4) concerning Israel (36); (5) the restoration (37); (6) Gog and Magog (28-29); (7) the temple (40-48). “Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came (see 3:26; 24:27); but he had opened my mouth by the time the fugitive came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer unable to speak” (33:22 NRSV).
B  The Message to the Shepherds (34:1-31)
1  The false shepherds (34:1-10)
2  The true shepherd (34:11-31)
Ezek 34 This imagery especially may be reflected in Jesus’ riddles about the lost sheep and his instruction concerning the good shepherd (cf., e.g., Lk 15; Jn 10) (also cf. responsibility of leaders Num 27).
C  Oracles Against Mount Seir (Edom) (35:1-15)
D  Prophecies concerning Israel (36:1-37:28)
1  Hope for the mountains of Israel (36:1-15)
2  Israel returns to the Lord (36:16-38)
3  Israel’s Restoration (37:1-28)
a  Vision of the dry bones (37:1-14)
b  Sign of two sticks (37:15-28)
E  The Final Battle Against Gog and Magog (38:1-39:29)[2]
F  The Renewal of Israel and Worship (40:1-48:35)
1  The new temple (40:1-43:27)
a  The vision of the man with the measuring rod (40:1-4)
40:1 The vision of the temple is dated to the twenty-fifth year of the exile at the beginning of the year. The tenth day of the month (Tishri) is the Day of Atonement, the day the high priest enters the holy of holies to secure forgiveness for Israel (Lev 16; see Sweeney, 159-60).
b  The outer court (40:5-27)
c  The inner court (40:28-47)
d  The temple exterior (40:48-41:26)
e  The temple interior (42:1-20)
f  The return of God’s glory (43:1-27)
2  The new worship (44:1-46:24)
a  The priesthood (44:1-31)
b  The land of the priests (45:1-8)
c  The duties of the priests (45:9-46:24)
3  The new land (47:1-48:35)
a  The life-giving river from the temple (47:1-12)
b  Boundaries of the land (47:12-23)
c  Divisions of the land (48:1-29)
d  Gates of the city (48:30-34)
e  Name of the city (48:35)  

[1] Outline based on my own reading and in places indebted to Boadt, Lawrence. “Ezekiel, Book of,” ABD, 2: 711-22; Childs, Introduction; Feinberg, Prophecy, 14-15; Harrison, Introduction, 822-23.
[2] On Judaic tradition related to Ezek. 37-39 see Clarke, Tg-PsJ, 4: 220, n. 45; Num. 11:26 Tg-PsJ (cf. TgN, FT-P, FT-V); Deut. 32:39 Tg-PsJ.

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