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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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like his contemporary Jeremiah, was of the sacerdotal race. He was carried away captive to Babylon with Jehoiachim, king of Judah, B.C. 598, and was placed with many others of his countrymen upon the river Chebar, in Mesopotamia, where he was favoured with the divine revelations contained in his book. He began to prophesy in the fifth year of his captivity, and is supposed to have prophesied about twenty-one years. The boldness with which he censured the idolatry and wickedness of his countrymen is said to have cost him his life; but his memory was greatly revered, not only by the Jews, but also by the Medes and Persians. The book which bears his name may be considered under the five following divisions: the first three chapters contain the glorious appearance of God to the prophet, and his solemn appointment to his office, with instructions and encouragements for the discharge of it. From the fourth to the twenty- fourth chapter inclusive, he describes, under a variety of visions and similitudes, the calamities impending over Judea, and the total destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar, occasionally predicting another period of yet greater desolation, and more general dispersion. From the beginning of the twenty-fifth to the end of the thirty- second chapter, the prophet foretels the conquest and ruin of many nations and cities, which had insulted the Jews in their affliction; of the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites, and Philistines; of Tyre, of Sidon, and Egypt; all of which were to be punished by the same mighty instrument of God's wrath against the wickedness of man; and in these prophecies he not only predicts events which were soon to take place, but he also describes the condition of these several countries in the remote periods of the world. From the thirty-second to the fortieth chapter, he inveighs against the accumulated sins of the Jews collectively, and the murmuring spirit of his captive brethren; exhorts them earnestly to repent of their hypocrisy and wickedness, upon the assurance that God will accept sincere repentance; and comforts them with promises of approaching deliverance under Cyrus; subjoining intimations of some far more glorious, but distant, redemption under the Messiah, though the manner in which it is to be effected is deeply involved in mystery. The last nine chapters contain a remarkable vision of the structure of a new temple and a new polity, applicable in the first instance to the return from the Babylonian captivity, but in its ultimate sense referring to the glory and prosperity of the universal church of Christ. Jerom observes that the visions of Ezekiel are among the things in Scripture hard to be understood. This obscurity arises, in part at least, from the nature and design of the prophecies themselves; they were delivered amidst the gloom of captivity; and though calculated to cheer the drooping spirits of the Jews, and to keep alive a watchful and submissive confidence in the mercy of God, yet they were intended to communicate only such a degree of encouragement as was consistent with a state of punishment, and to excite an indistinct expectation of future blessings, upon condition of repentance and amendment. It ought also to be observed, that the last twelve chapters of this book bear a very strong resemblance to the concluding chapters of the Revelation. The style of this prophet is characterized by Bishop Lowth as bold, vehement, and tragical; as often worked up to a kind of tremendous dignity. He is highly parabolical, and abounds in figures and metaphorical expressions. He may be compared to the Grecian AEschylus; he displays a rough but majestic dignity; an unpolished though noble simplicity; inferior perhaps in originality and elegance to others of the prophets, but unequalled in that force and grandeur for which he is particularly celebrated, He sometimes emphatically and indignantly repeats his sentiments, fully dilates his pictures, and describes the idolatrous manners of his countrymen under the strongest and most exaggerated representations that the license of eastern style would admit. The middle part of the book is in some measure poetical, and contains even some perfect elegies, though his thoughts are in general too irregular and uncontrolled to be chained down to rule, or lettered by language.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Ezekiel'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​e/ezekiel.html. 1831-2.
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