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EZEKIEL 2

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Prophet's Call Ezekiel Sent to Rebellious Israel
(1:28b-3:15)
The Five Commissions
(1:28b-3:15)
God Calls Ezekiel to Be a Prophet
(1:28b-3:15)
The Vision of the Scroll
(2:1-3:15)
1:28b-2:5 1:28b-2:7 1:28b-2:5
2:1-7 2:1-8
2:6-8 2:6-7
2:8-10 2:8-10 2:8-10
2:9-10 2:9-10

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: EZEKIEL 2:1-7
 1Then He said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!" 2As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me. 3Then He said to me, "Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' 5As for them, whether they listen or not — for they are a rebellious house —they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. 7But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious."

2:1 "Son of man" This is literally "ben-Adam" (BDB 119 CONSTRUCT BDB 9). This is used often in Ezekiel as a way of referring to Ezekiel as a human being (93 times, cf. Ps. 8:4). In Ezekiel it is the way YHWH addresses Ezekiel. This same phrase is found in Ps. 8:4 in parallel with "man."

In Dan. 7:13 this term takes on divine characteristics as one likened to "a son of man" coming before the Ancient of Days (i.e., deity) riding on the clouds of heaven. Daniel 7:13 is the background for Jesus' use of this term for himself, which combines humanity and deity (i.e., 1 John 4:1-3). The phrase had no nationalistic or militaristic rabbinical overtones.

Special Topic: Son of Man

YHWH addresses Ezekiel.

  1. "stand on your feet" (BDB 763, KB 840, Qal IMPERATIVE)
  2. "I may speak with you" (BDB 180, KB 210, Piel IMPERFECT, but used in a COHORTATIVE sense [cf. Ezek. 2:2])

Notice the personal (cf. Ezek. 1:26) God of glory (cf. Ezek. 1:28) addresses Ezekiel! This is one of the major themes of this book (the personal presence of YHWH in Babylon). Also note a mere human, a fallen human, part of a rebellious people, is addressed face to face, standing before the holy presence. This says something of the dignity of humanity made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

2:2 "the Spirit entered me" It is not certain if we are speaking of the Holy Spirit or, more probably, simply a personal metaphor parallel to "the hand of the Lord" from Ezek. 1:3 (cf. Ezek. 3:14; 33:22; 37:1; 40:1). A non-human life force (ruah, BDB 924) entered me (i.e., divine, angel, cf. Ezek. 37:9,14).

Ezekiel's call to the prophetic ministry is signaled in several characteristic phrases.

  1. "spirit/Spirit entered me" (cf. 1 Chr. 15:1; 20:14; 24:20; Isa. 61:1; Joel 2:28)
  2. "I am sending you" (cf. Ezek. 2:3, 4)
  3. "Thus says the Lord God"
  4. "do not fear them"
  5. "you shall speak My words to them"
  6. "eat the scroll," Ezek. 2:8-3:3
  7. "go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them," Ezek. 3:4,11
  8. "spirit/Spirit lifted me up" (cf. Ezek. 8:3; 11:1,24)

For a good brief discussion of ruah (BDB 924) see Norman Siraith, The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, pp. 143-158.

Special Topic: Spirit in the Bible

Special Topic: The Trinity

2:3 "I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people" The phrase "sons of Israel" in the book of Ezekiel is sometimes used for the Northern Ten Tribes, but most often it is used for all of the Jewish people.

The term "rebellious" is a Qal PARTICIPLE (BDB 597, KB 632). It is followed by a Qal PERFECT of the same VERB (lit., rebels who rebel). Their personal and continual rebellion is directed against the covenant God (i.e., "Me"). This is what their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers also did. To this terrible characterization is added another term for rebellion ("transgressed," BDB 833, KB 981, Qal PERFECT). This is defined as "a rebellious nation" (cf. Exod. 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; Deut. 9:6,7,13; 10:16; 31:27; 2 Chr. 30:8; Acts 7:51).

The term "people" (BDB 156) is the term goim, which is often used contemptuously by the Israelites of the pagan Gentile nations. It is plural, which probably refers to Israel and Judah. This was purposeful sarcasm.

2:4
NASB, TEV, NJB, REB   "stubborn"
NKJV, NRSV, Peshitta   "impudent"
JPSOA   "brazen of face"

This was originally an agricultural phrase referring to unruly oxen. Literally it means "hard of neck" or "stiff-necked" (BDB 904, cf. Exod. 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; Deuteronomy 6,7,13,24,27; 10:16; 31:27).

Special Topic: Stubbornness (OT)

NASB, NJB, REB  "obstinate"
NKJV, NRSV, JPSOA, Peshitta  "stubborn"
TEV  "do not respect me"

The second term (BDB 305 construct 524, lit. "strong of heart"), in this context, implies a hardness toward God and His revealed will (cf. Ezek. 3:7).  What a striking series of descriptive phrases characterizing the covenant people.

▣ "Lord God" This is "adonai – YHWH," which is a characteristic title of God in the book of Ezekiel. It comes from the term Adon, which is the Hebrew term for "master-lord" (BDB 10) and the Covenant name for God, YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be" (BDB 217).

Special Topic: Lord (kurios)

Special Topic: Names for Deity, D.

2:5 "a rebellious house" This descriptive phrase (BDB 108 CONSTRUCT BDB 598) is used often in Ezekiel (cf. Ezek. 2:5,6,8; 3:9,26,27; 12:2 [twice],3,9,25; 17:12; 24:3). Moses also saw this propensity in Israel (cf. Deut. 31:27, also note Neh. 9:17), as did Samuel (cf. 1 Sam. 15:23) and Isaiah (cf. Isa. 30:9).

YHWH seems to have chosen a people who were notoriously stiff-necked and rebellious for the theological purpose of demonstrating His long-suffering covenant faithfulness, even amidst their inability to faithful obedience! YHWH did not choose the family of Abraham because of anything special in them, but to reveal His own character (i.e., Deut. 7:7,8; Isaiah 48; Jer. 7:24-26; 11:7-8). The OT is not primarily about Israel, but about YHWH!

Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God (OT)

▣ "whether they listen or not" This is a recurrent theme (cf. Ezek. 2:5,7; 3:11,27). This is parallel to Isa. 6:9-10.

▣ "they will know that a prophet has been among them" God chose to reveal His future actions in order that

  1. the people are responsible for their rebellious acts (cf. Ezek. 2:6-7)
  2. He is revealed as the only true God (i.e., predictive prophecy, cf. Jer. 28:9; Ezek. 33:33)

Special Topic: Prophecy (OT)

2:6 There is a series of commands from YHWH to Ezekiel.

  1. "neither fear," BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT, but used in a jussive sense and repeated three times
  2. "nor be dismayed," BDB 369, KB 365, Qal IMPERFECT, but used in a JUSSIVE sense, cf. Jos. 10:25; Jer. 17:18

The reason Ezekiel is not to be afraid is YHWH's presence and promises (i.e., Deut. 31:8; Jos. 1:9; 1 Chr. 22:11-13; 28:20).

God uses several metaphors to describe the reaction to Ezekiel's words by the rebellious house.

  1. thistles (BDB 709, lit. "rebel")
  2. thorns (BDB 699)
  3. scorpions (KB 875, cf. Deut. 8:15)

Numbers 1 and 2 are found only in Ezekiel. Israel did not want to hear from God. They wanted the covenant blessings, but not the covenant requirements and consequences!

Just a note to those of us who minister to God's people—they will not always appreciate or advocate our ministry (i.e., Moses and Israel). We must remember who we serve and why! It is possible that the thorns, thistles, and scorpions (possibly another thorny bush) refer to a hedge of God's protection around the prophet and his God-given message.

2:7 "whether they listen or not" This is repeated from Ezek. 2:5 and again in Ezek. 3:11. The same concept is repeated in Ezek. 3:27. God will reveal Himself to His covenant people, even if they refuse to hear (cf. Isa. 6:9-13). This is because

  1. He has an eternal redemptive purpose that involves Israel
  2. of His love for the Patriarchs
  3. of His character, bound to His promises

Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: EZEKIEL 2:8-10
 8"Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you." 9Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. 10When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.

2:8 "do not be rebellious like the rebellious house" Like Ezek. 2:6, Ezek. 2:8 has a series of commands from YHWH to Ezekiel.

  1. "listen," BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal JUSSIVE
  2. "do not be rebellious," BDB 224, KB 243, Qal JUSSIVE
  3. "open your mouth," BDB 822, KB 953, Qal IMPERATIVE
  4. "eat," BDB 37, KB 46, Qal IMPERATIVE

Ezekiel's obedience constitutes his acceptance of God's call to be His spokesperson. It is analogous to

  1. the Seraph touching Isaiah's lips with a coal from the heavenly altar (i.e., Isa. 6:6-7)
  2. Jeremiah's eating a scroll (cf. Jer. 15:16)
  3. John's vision in which an angel gives him a scroll to eat (cf. Rev. 10:8-11)

Obviously eating the scroll is a metaphor for receiving God's message and passing it on.

2:9 "a hand was extended to me" The text is ambiguous as to whose hand was extended and from where. It could be from the throne itself, but more likely, an attending angel, as in Isaiah 6.

▣ "a scroll" This would refer to a piece of papyrus rolled up (BDB 706). It symbolized the message of God (cf. Isa. 29:11-12; 30:8; Jer. 25:13; 30:2; 36:2,4; Dan. 12:4).

Notice how the message of judgment on this scroll is described.

  1. lamentations (BDB 884)
  2. mourning (BDB 211)
  3. woe (BDB 223)

2:10 "It was written on the front and the back" It was highly unusual for either papyrus (i.e., hard to write against the grain) or parchment (i.e., part of message can be worn off) to be written on both sides. This seems to reflect God's entire message of judgment (cf. Rev. 5:1). Once Jerusalem is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's army, Ezekiel begins to proclaim restoration in YHWH's name (i.e., Ezek. 36-37, 40-48).

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