The Divine Lamp

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Posts Tagged ‘Notes on Ezekiel’

An Introduction to Ezekiel 33-39 and an Overview of Ezekiel 33

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 4, 2017

Note: The following is taken from a Protestant reference work, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. It provides a good overview of chapters 33-39. I’ve included a brief list of mostly Catholic resources on Ezekiel at the end.

Ch. 33–39. Prophecies of Israel’s Restoration and Eternal Peace

Only one date appears in connexion with these prophecies, that in Eze 33:21. Though this date does not stand at the beginning of ch. 33 seq., it may be held to indicate the time generally to which the whole seven chapters are to be assigned. There is something suspicious, however, in the date of the arrival of the fugitives—fifth day of tenth month of twelfth year—nearly, a year and a half after the fall of the city. The Syr. read or suggested eleventh year, which would leave about six months for the news of the city’s fall to be carried by messengers to the exiles in Babylon, and this date is now very generally accepted. The various chapters may not all belong to the same period. The dates throughout the book are little else than rubrics of a very general kind, under which, in default of more precise details, a number of discourses, extending over considerable periods, have been grouped. The occupation of part of the country by Edom (35:36) would not take place just close upon the fall of the kingdom; and perhaps the state of despondency of the people and their sense of sinfulness (Eze 33:10) was one which the fall of the country and the confirmation of the predictions of the prophet took some time to create in their minds. The precise dates are of little consequence, it is the general situation alone that is important. The fall of the city is presupposed (Eze 33:21), the overthrow of the royal house (Ezekiel 34), the extinction of the nationality (Ezekiel 37), the dispersion of the people among all nations (Eze 36:16 seq.), the occupation of part of the country by Edom and the neighbouring tribes (35; cf. Jeremiah 41), and the complete prostration of men’s minds under their calamities and the unbearable burden of the sin that had occasioned judgments so unparalleled (Lam 1:12; Lam 2:13; Lam 2:20, &c.). Only the prophet stood erect, while all others were overwhelmed in despair. The greatness of the blow had stunned them, and, as the prophet had foreshewn (Eze 24:23), a stupor had fallen on them. Yet the Lord had not made a full end of Israel. The old era was closed, but a new era was about to open, and a new Israel about to arise. It is of this new era that the prophet has now to speak, and of the hopes of the new Israel and of the conditions of being embraced in it. It is in these chapters that the prophet’s contributions to Old Testament theology are chiefly to be found. The passage contains these general conceptions:—

First, ch. 33. The function of the prophet in preparation for the new age. It is to awaken the moral mind, to create the sense of individual worth and responsibility, and to shew that the conditions of belonging to the new Israel are moral only. This chapter defines the place of the individual human mind, and its duties; the following chapters describe rather the divine operations in bringing in the new and perfect kingdom of the Lord.

Second, ch. 34. The royal house, the shepherds of the people, had destroyed alike themselves and the flock (17, Eze 19:14). The Lord himself will take in hand the gathering of his scattered sheep together, and the feeding of them henceforth; he will appoint his servant David to lead them.

Third, ch. 35–6. The land, the mountains of Israel, usurped by aliens, shall be rescued from their grasp and given again to the people as of old. The reproach of barrenness shall no longer cleave to it; the mountains of Israel shall shoot forth their branches and yield their fruit to the people, and man and beast shall be multiplied.

Fourth, ch. 37. The nation is dead and its bones bleached, but there shall be a resurrection of the dead people and a restoration of them to their own land. Two kingdoms shall no more exist there, but the Lord’s people shall be one, and his servant David shall be prince over them for ever.

Fifth, ch. 38–9. The peace of his people shall be perpetual. The Lord shall be their everlasting defence. When the armies of Gog come up from the uttermost regions of the earth, with all the nations which have not heard God’s fame nor seen his glory, to assail his people, drawn by the hope of boundless plunder, they shall be destroyed by fire out of heaven.

Ch. 33 The function of the Prophet

Though the prophet seems the chief figure in the chapter, he is really but the medium through whom the principles of the new kingdom of God and the conditions of entering it are enunciated. These principles are: (1) that God desires that men should live. (2) The new Israel shall be composed of members who enter it individually. (3) The condition of entering on man’s part is repentance. (4) Man is free to repent—to do good or do evil. The righteous may fall from his righteousness and sin; and the sinner may turn from his evil and do righteousness. He that doeth righteousness shall live; and the soul that sinneth shall die. These principles of the worth and freedom of the individual man, though latent in many parts of the Old Testament, had never been stated so explicitly before. They are no more than what all men will now allow. If pressed indeed and regarded as exhaustive (as everything in this prophet is pressed to his disadvantage), they might seem to ascribe more power to man than he possesses. But in subsequent chapters the prophet lays sufficient emphasis upon the operation of God in regenerating the individual mind and in founding the new kingdom. It would be a novelty indeed if an Old Testament writer were found ascribing too much to man and too little to God. There is a certain vagueness in the prophet’s delineation. It is evident that he is moving among religious principles, and that the enunciation of them is his chief interest; the time and circumstances in which they shall operate are left indefinite. When he says that the righteous shall live and the sinner die, the question, When? naturally occurs. No precise answer is given. But there floats before his view an approaching crisis. The advent of the new era presents itself as a moment of trial and decision; it is like the approach of war upon a people (Eze 33:1-6). The remarkable passage ch. Eze 20:33-44 may be compared in supplement of the present chapter.

The chapter contains these parts:

(1) Eze 33:1-6. Illustration taken from life—the part of the watchman in war. It is his duty to blow the trumpet when danger is coming. If he does so, the fate of those who hear will lie at their own door. If he fails, the blood of those that perish will be on his head.

(2) Eze 33:7-9. Such is the place of the prophet: the same his duties and responsibilities.

(3) Eze 33:10-20. This is the place of the prophet, but the state of the people’s mind is such that his warnings may be addressed to deaf ears. Their calamities have stunned and paralysed the people; they feel lying under an irrevocable doom, entailed upon them by their past history—our sins be upon us, we pine away in them; how, then, shall we live? Nothing is reserved for them but to bear the inexhaustible penalty of their past evil, until, like those in the wilderness, they fall prostrated beneath it. In answer to this stupor of despair comes the voice from heaven with two consoling words: first, that Jehovah has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but desires that all should turn and live; and secondly, it is not by that which men have been that they shall be judged, but by that which they shall become. The past writes no irrevocable doom over men.

(4) Eze 33:21-29. Fugitives from Judaea arrive among the exiles saying, the city is smitten. This confirmation of all the prophet’s past predictions opens his mouth and gives him boldness to address his countrymen. He proceeds to pass judgment on those left in the land, and to state anew that the conditions of inheriting the land are only moral.

(5) Eze 33:30-33. The confirmation which the fall of the city gave to the prophet’s past predictions awakened the interest of his fellow exiles in him and his words.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES:  Titles marked with a “P” refer to Protestant reference works; “E” indicates that the book in question is from an ecumenically oriented series; the author or editor(s) may or may not be Catholic; “O” indicates an Orthodox author or series.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Ezekiel. Currently in production. See the 2017 archives on the right hand side of the page. The series began in June and is ongoing.

The New Jerusalem Bible With Introduction and Notes. This is not the Readers Edition. The extensive footnotes provide valuable aid.

Navarre Bible Commentary: Major Prophets. Very popular and well received. Provides both theological and spiritual commentary.

“E” Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Ezekiel. A commentary series that seeks to interpret scripture in the light of the Nicene faith. This particular volume was authored by a Lutheran.

“E” Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Ezekiel and Daniel. Extensive quotations from the Fathers of the Church. For a brief summary of the purpose and intentions of this series, see here. Compilers of the individual books provide summaries and overviews but do not seek to interpret the Fathers.

“E” International Theological Commentary: A New Heart: A Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel. By Father Bruce Vawter and Father Leslie J. Hoppe. From the back cover: “The series aims, first, to develop the theological significance of the Old Testament and, second, to emphasize the relevance of each book for the life of the church.”

Ancient Christian Writers Series: Origen: Homilies 1-14 on Ezekiel. From Amazon: “In these homilies Origen endeavors to show his audience in the church of Caesarea how the text of Ezekiel points to and prefigures Jesus Christ and the church. Following in the footsteps of St. Paul (Rom 15.4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction… ) and Hebrews (10.1: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come… ), Origen looks for the reality of Christ symbolized in the shadowy words of the prophet Ezekiel. The result is a deeply moving, reverent, and edifying exposition of the Old Testament prophet in a manner that doubtless would have been received with pleasure by St. Paul himself. The homilies are of intrinsic interest on important Christian themes such as persecution and martyrdom, purification, justification, progress, Church unity, God s passionate love for humanity, Catholic versus heretical doctrine, and freedom of the will. The present volume offers the first published English translation of the fourteen homilies, along with Jerome s preface.”

Ancient Christian Writers Series: St Jerome: Commentary on Ezekiel.

“P” Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: Ezekiel.

“E” Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Prophets: Commentary on Ezekiel. Volume 2 of a three part series on Theodoret. Robert Hill was a leading Catholic Patristic scholar.

“O” The Homilies of St Gregory the Great on the Prophet Ezekiel.

“E” T & T Clark’s Approaches to Biblical Studies: An Introduction to the Study of Ezekiel. For the more advanced. From the publisher’s webpage: “These guides have been developed for those taking a course in biblical studies in theological or ministerial education, and are designed to introduce the reader to the various approaches to the study of the bible. The series is ecumenical, and all the writers are professionally engaged in the teaching of biblical studies.”

“E” Interpretation:  A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching: Ezekiel. Joseph Blenkinsopp is a well know Catholic biblical scholar who specializes in the Old Testament.

“E” Yale Anchor Bible Series: Ezekiel. The author is Jewish. The work is in three volumes.

 

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St Irenaeus on Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

CHAP. XV.—PROOFS OF THE RESURRECTION FROM ISAIAH AND EZEKIEL; THE SAME GOD WHO CREATED US WILL ALSO RAISE US UP.

1. Now, that He who at the beginning created man, did promise him a second birth after his dissolution into earth, Esaias thus declares: “The dead shall rise again, and they who are in the tombs shall arise, and they who are in the earth shall rejoice. For the dew which is from Thee is health to them.”8 And again: “I will comfort you, and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem: and ye shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish as the grass; and the hand of the Lord shall be known to those who worship Him.”9 And Ezekiel speaks as follows: “And the hand of the LORD came upon me, and the LORD led me forth in the Spirit, and set me down in the midst of the plain, and this place was full of bones. And He caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were many upon the surface of the plain very dry. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I said, Lord, Thou who hast made them dost know. And He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and thou shalt say to them, Ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD to these bones, Behold, I will cause the spirit of life to come upon you, and I will lay sinews upon you, and bring up flesh again upon you, and I will stretch skin upon you, and will put my Spirit into you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. And I prophesied as the Lord had commanded me. And it came to pass, when I was prophesying, that, behold, an earthquake, and the bones were drawn together, each one to its own articulation: and I beheld, and, lo, the sinews and flesh were produced upon them, and the skins rose upon them round about, but there was no breath in them. And He said unto me, Prophesy to the breath, son of man, and say to the breath, These things saith the LORD, Come from the four winds (spiritibus), and breathe upon these dead, that they may live. So I prophesied as the Lord had commanded me, and the breath entered into them; and they did live, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great gathering.”10 And again he says, “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will set your graves open, and cause you to come out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, p 543 when I shall open your sepulchres, that I may bring my people again out of the sepulchres: and I will put my Spirit into you, and ye shall live; and I will place you in your land, and ye shall know that I am the LORD. I have said, and I will do, saith the LORD.”1 As we at once perceive that the Creator (Demiurgo) is in this passage represented as vivifying our dead bodies, and promising resurrection to them, and resuscitation from their sepulchres and tombs, conferring upon them immortality also (He says, “For as the tree of life, so shall their days be”2), He is shown to be the only God who accomplishes these things, and as Himself the good Father, benevolently conferring life upon those who have not life from themselves.
2. And for this reason did the Lord most plainly manifest Himself and the Father to His disciples, lest, forsooth, they might seek after another God besides Him who formed man, and who gave him the breath of life; and that men might not rise to such a pitch of madness as to feign another Father above the Creator. And thus also He healed by a word all the others who were in a weakly condition because of sin; to whom also He said, “Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee:”3 pointing out by this, that, because of the sin of disobedience, infirmities have come upon men. To that man, however, who had been blind from his birth, He gave sight, not by means of a word, but by an outward action; doing this not without a purpose, or because it so happened, but that He might show forth the hand of God, that which at the beginning had moulded man. And therefore, when His disciples asked Him for what cause the man had been born blind, whether for his own or his parents’ fault, He replied, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”4 Now the work of God is the fashioning of man. For, as the Scripture says, He made [man] by a kind of process: “And the Lord took day from the earth, and formed man.”5 Wherefore also the Lord spat on the ground and made clay, and smeared it upon the eyes, pointing out the original fashioning [of man], how it was effected, and manifesting the hand of God to those who can understand by what [hand] man was formed out of the dust. For that which the artificer, the Word, had omitted to form in the womb, [viz., the blind man’s eyes], He then supplied in public, that the works of God might be manifested in him, in order that we might not be seeking out another hand by which man was fashioned, nor another Father; knowing that this hand of God which formed us at the beginning, and which does form us in the womb, has in the last times sought us out who were lost, winning back His own, and taking up the lost sheep upon His shoulders, and with joy restoring it to the fold of life.
3. Now, that the Word of God forms us in the womb, He says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee; and before thou wentest forth from the belly, I sanctified thee, and appointed thee a prophet among the nations.”6 And Paul, too, says in like manner, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, that I might declare Him among the nations.”7 As, therefore, we are by the Word formed in the womb, this very same Word formed the visual power in him who had been blind from his birth; showing openly who it is that fashions us in secret, since the Word Himself had been made manifest to men: and declaring the original formation of Adam, and the manner in which he was created, and by what hand he was fashioned, indicating the whole from a part. For the Lord who formed the visual powers is He who made the whole man, carrying out the will of the Father. And inasmuch as man, with respect to that formation which, was after Adam, having fallen into transgression, needed the laver of regeneration, [the Lord] said to him [upon whom He had conferred sight], after He had smeared his eyes with the clay, “Go to Siloam, and wash;”8 thus restoring to him both [his perfect] confirmation, and that regeneration which takes place by means of the laver. And for this reason when he was washed he came seeing, that he might both know Him who had fashioned him, and that man might learn [to know] Him who has conferred upon him life.
4. All the followers of Valentinus, therefore, lose their case, when they say that man was not fashioned out of this earth, but from a fluid and diffused substance. For, from the earth out of which the Lord formed eyes for that man, from the same earth it is evident that man was also fashioned at the beginning. For it were incompatible that the eyes should indeed be formed from one source and the rest of the body from another; as neither would it be compatible that one [being] fashioned the body, and another the eyes. But He, the very same who formed Adam at the beginning, with whom also the Father spake, [saying], “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness,”9 revealing Himself in these last times to men, formed visual organs (visionem) for him who had been blind [in p 544 that body which he had derived] from Adam. Wherefore also the Scripture, pointing out what should come to pass, says, that when Adam had hid himself because of his disobedience, the Lord came to him at eventide, called him forth, and said, “Where art thou?”1 That means that in the last times the very same Word of God came to call man, reminding him of his doings, living in which he had been hidden from the Lord. For just as at that time God spake to Adam at eventide, searching him out; so in the last times, by means of the same voice, searching out his posterity, He has visited them.

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Tertullian on Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

CHAP. XXIX.—EZEKIEL’S VISION OF THE DRY BONES QUOTED

Inasmuch, then, as even the figurative portions of Scripture, and the arguments of facts, and some plain statements of Holy Writ, throw light upon the resurrection of the flesh (although without specially naming the very substance), how much more effectual for determining the question will not those passages be which indicate the actual substance of the body by expressly mentioning it! Take Ezekiel: “And the hand of the Lord,” says he, “was upon me; and the Lord brought me forth in the Spirit, and set me in the midst of a plain which was full of bones; and He led me round about them in a circuit: and, behold, there were many on the face of the plain; and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, Son of man, will these bones live? And I said, O Lord God, Thou knowest. And He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones; and thou shalt say, Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God to these bones, Behold, I bring upon you the breath of life, and ye shall live: and I will give unto you the spirit, and I will place muscles over you, and I will spread skin upon you; and ye shall live, and shall know that I am the Lord. And I prophesied as the Lord commanded me: and while I prophesy, behold there is a voice, behold also a movement, and bones approached bones. And I saw, and behold sinews and flesh came up over them, and muscles were placed around them; but there was no breath in them. And He said unto me, Prophesy to the wind, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe in these dead men, and let them live. So I prophesied to the wind, as He commanded me, and the spirit entered into the bones, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, strong and exceeding many. And the Lord said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say themselves, Our bones are become dry, and our hope is perished, and we in them have been violently destroyed. Therefore prophesy unto them, (and say), Behold, even I will open your sepulchres, and will bring you out of your sepulchres, O my people, and will bring you into the land of Israel: and ye shall know how that I the Lord opened your sepulchres, and brought you, O my people, out of your sepulchres; and I will give my Spirit unto you, and ye shall live, and shall rest in your own land: and ye shall know how that I the Lord have spoken and done these things, saith the Lord.”1
CHAP. XXX.—THIS VISION INTERPRETED BY TERTULLIAN OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODIES OF THE DEAD. A CHRONOLOGICAL ERROR OF OUR AUTHOR, WHO SUPPOSES THAT EZEKIEL IN HIS CH. XXXI. PROPHESIED BEFORE THE CAPTIVITY

I am well aware how they torture even this prophecy into a proof of the allegorical sense, on the ground that by saying, “These bones are the whole house of Israel,” He made them a figure of Israel, and removed them from their proper literal condition; and therefore (they contend) that there is here a figurative, not a true prediction of the resurrection, for (they say) the state of the Jews is one of humiliation, in a certain sense dead, and very dry, and dispersed over the plain of the world. Therefore the image of a resurrection is allegorically applied to their state, since it has to be gathered together, and recompacted bone to bone (in other words, tribe to tribe, and people to people), and to be reincorporated by the sinews of power and the nerves of royalty, and to be brought out as it were from sepulchres, that is to say, from the most miserable and degraded abodes of captivity, and to breathe afresh in the way of a restoration, and to live thenceforward in their own land of Judæa. And what is to happen after all this? They will die, no doubt. And what will there be after death? No resurrection from the dead, of course, since there is nothing of the sort here revealed to Ezekiel. Well, but the resurrection is elsewhere foretold: so that there will be one even in this case, and they are rash in applying this passage to the state of Jewish affairs; or even if it do indicate a different recovery from the resurrection which we are maintaining, what matters it to me, provided there be also a resurrection of the body, just as there is a restoration of the Jewish state? In fact, by the very circumstance that the recovery of the Jewish state is prefigured by the reincorporation and reunion of bones, proof is offered that this event will also happen to the bones themselves; for the metaphor could not have been formed from bones, if the same thing exactly were not to be realized in them also. Now, although there is a sketch of the true thing in its image, the image itself still possesses a truth of its own: it must needs be, therefore, that that must have a prior existence for itself, which is used figuratively to express some other thing. Vacuity is not a consistent basis for a similitude, nor does nonentity form a suitable foundation for a parable. It will therefore be right to believe that the bones are destined to have a rehabiliment of flesh and breath, such as it is here said they will have, by reason indeed of which their renewed state could alone express the reformed condition of Jewish affairs, which is pretended to be the meaning of this passage. It is however, more characteristic of a religious spirit to maintain the truth on the authority of a literal interpretation, such as is required by the sense of the inspired passage. Now, if this vision had reference to the condition of the Jews, as soon as He had revealed to him the position of the bones, He would at once have added, “These bones are the whole house of Israel,” and so forth. But immediately on showing the bones, He interrupts the scene by saying somewhat of the prospect which is most suited to bones; without yet naming Israel, He tries the prophet’s own faith: “Son of man, can these bones ever live?” so that he makes answer: “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Now God would not, you may be sure, have tried the prophet’s faith on a point which was never to be a real one, of which Israel should never hear, and in which it was not proper to repose belief. Since, however, the resurrection of the dead was indeed foretold, but Israel, in the distrust of his great unbelief, was offended at it; and, whilst gazing on the condition of the crumbling grave, despaired of a resurrection; or rather, did not direct his mind mainly to it, but to his own harassing circumstances,—therefore God first instructed the prophet (since he, too, was not free from doubt), by revealing to him the process of the resurrection, with a view to his earnest setting forth of the same. He then charged the people to believe what He had revealed to the prophet, telling them that they were themselves, though refusing to believe their resurrection, the very bones which were destined to rise again. Then in the concluding sentence He says, “And ye shall know how that I the Lord have spoken and done these things,” intending of course to do that of which He had spoken; but certainly not meaning to do that which He had spoken of, if His design had been to do something different from what He had said.

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My Notes on Ezekiel 24:15-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 17, 2014

Background~In 603 BC the Kingdom of Judah came under the vassalage of the Babylonian empire.  In 601 BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, met Pharaoh  Neco of Egypt in battle; a battle in which both sides suffered heavy losses. Encouraged by this setback to Babylon’s military might, the reigning king of Judah, Jehoiakim, decided to rebel. Busy rebuilding his army after the devastating stalemate with Pharaoh Neco the king of Babylon was unable to campaign in 600-599 BC, and throughout much of 598 BC his revitalized forces were busy elsewhere. However, he was able to send small forces of his Babylonian regulars, along with mercenaries, into Judah to harass king and populous. In December 598 he was able to send his army. That same month the rebellious king of Judah, Jehoiakim, died, leaving his 18 year old son, Jehoiachin to deal with the problem. On March 16, 597 BC the young king surrendered and he, along with his family, government official, and leading citizens were taken into exile in Babylon. His uncle, Mattaniah, renamed Zedekiah, was place on the throne as the new vassal king to Babylon (see 1 Kings 23:36-24:17). It was in this deportation that Ezekiel was also taken into Babylon where, on July 31, 593 BC he received his call to prophecy (Ezek 1:1-2). In spite of prophecies to the contrary (i.e., by Jeremiah), the people in exile were under the delusion that Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah would continue in existence, and that their exile would soon end. It was one of Ezekiel’s primary prophetic duties to disabuse the people of this expectation. Jerusalem would fall; the exile would continue (see Ezek 4:1-11:13; 12:1-28; 15:1-8; 16:1-63, etc.).

On January 15, 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem (Ezek 24:1-2). On this very day God commanded Ezekiel to declare a parable about a cauldron unto the exiles (see Ezek 24:3-14). To understand the overall point of the passage one has to recall that in Ezek 11:3 the people of Jerusalem had compared their city to a cauldron, and themselves as the meat in it. The point of this comparison seems to be the following: just as a pot protects meat from the fire, so too Jerusalem–the Holy City where God manifested His presence in the Temple–would provide protection for the people.  But because of the blood shed in the city it would not be a protective kettle for the arrogant who placed their hope in its protection (Ezek 11:7-11). The people were unaware that the Divine Presence had already left the Temple and the city, sealing their fate (Ezek 10:18-23).

In the parable of the cauldron (Jerusalem) the people are the choice meat which will be given out indiscriminately, an image of exile (Ezek 24:3-6). But blood has corrupted the cauldron (Jerusalem) and it must be purified. God will heap up a great fire to cook the meat (people) within the pot (Jerusalem), then, with the pot empty, (due to exile) He will heat the pot until its corrupting rust disappears (Ezek 24:9-11). The corrupting rust will not disappear, however (Ezek 24:12). It is implied that a greater cleansing must take place. So too with the people, their willful corruption makes an intense purification by God necessary (Ezek 24:13-14). It is at this point that today’s reading begins.

Ezek 24:15  And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
Ezek 24:16  Son of man, behold I take from thee the desire of thy eyes with a sudden stroke, and thou shall not lament, nor weep; neither shall thy tears run down.
Ezek 24:17  Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead: let a fancy covering for thy head be upon thee, and thy shoes on thy feet, and cover not thy lip, nor eat the food of mourners.

On the same day on which Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, and Ezekiel was told to speak the parable of the cauldron, his wife died. Although she is the desire of his eyes he is not to engage in the usual physical mourning (lament, crying). He is to maintain silence. Then as now in the Middle East loud, public expressions of grief were the norm at the death of a loved one. He is not to divest himself of a head covering-a traditional mourning practice-but rather place an ornate covering upon it. He is not to go barefoot, as was the norm of people mourning. Neither shall he cover his lip (i.e., mustache and beard). He is to abstain from the food of mourners (i. e., food prepared by others since food could not be prepared in the house of a dead person.

Ezek 24:18  So I spoke to the people in the morning, and my wife died in the evening: and I did in the morning as he had commanded me

“The prophet-any prophet-was never a person who could divorce himself from the people to whom the Lord sent him both as a messenger and a representative.  Not even Amos (cf. Am 7:1-6) could do this. It was part of the prophetic vocation and its burden that it had to share in the destiny of its people…So as Ezekiel records, ‘I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died.’ Apparently he was simply a causality of divine providence, a sign, a symbol. Some faith is necessary. ‘And on the next morning I did as I was commanded'” (Father Bruce Vawter and Father Leslie J. Hoppe,  A NEW HEART, page 115).  

Ezek 24:19  And the people said to me: Why dost thou not tell us what these things mean that thou doest?
Ezek 24:20  And I said to them: The word of the Lord came to me, saying:
Ezek 24:21  Speak to the house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will profane my sanctuary, the glory of your realm, and the thing that your eyes desire, and for which your soul feareth: your sons, and your daughters, whom you have left, shall fall by the sword.
Ezek 24:22  And you shall do as I have done: you shall not cover your faces, nor shall you eat the meat of mourners.
Ezek 24:23  You shall have crowns on your heads, and shoes on your feet: you shall not lament nor weep, but you shall pine away for your iniquities, and every one shall sigh with his brother
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The question the people put to the prophet is answered by God through the prophet. Just as he lost the “desire of his eyes,” so too will they lose what their eyes desire, the sanctuary (Temple), along with their sons and their daughters. No reason is given as to why the people are forbidden to mourn. Some scholars speculate that the enormity of the event would make the normal rites of mourning inadequate. Other scholars think the fact that since it is the people’s corruption and sins that have brought such calamity, any kind of mourning would be out of place, hypocritical.

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