Looking back on Ezekiel

As I mentioned in the first Ezekiel post, the timing here is contemporary with several of books but the exact timing is a little confusing. I have looked in the study section of my Bible and gone on Google and looked for more exact dates, but nothing makes a whole lot of sense with where it sits. That’s not to call the information inconsistent, I’m just having a hard time overlapping everything just right. This is definitely the time of the exile, but with so many waves of exile, I’m just not sure where it fits within it. Most of the book consists of Ezekiel’s visions from God and conversations with God.

The book begins with everything that they are doing wrong, even including a vision where Ezekiel is brought around to see a few groups of people worshiping others gods and generally doing things that God specifically commanded them not to. Among these groups, there is a group exclusively composed of women so they weren’t innocent bystanders in all this either. Later, there are a few chapters that get into some details of behavior that God is mad at that makes me cringe for the current state of Christianity. I get the idea that Christians don’t “have to” follow anything before the teachings of Jesus, but I don’t recall him teaching anything different from the stuff that God is made about the Israelites for in these chapters.

It is, however, important to remember that the most visible people of any group aren’t exactly the most indicative of their behavior. While there are lots of people who claim to be Christian and don’t follow the teachings of Jesus, there are people in the deepest and darkest places of this world trying to educate and feed people too. I thought the inclusion of Christian missionaries back in Half the Sky was both surprising and interesting.

The promises of judgement continue for some time, even including the use of a hypothetical woman to explain to the people what is wrong with the behavior of Israel all this time. I’m not really a fan of this method, but I get the use of it. At the same time, I don’t like it because of the implication that any woman would act like this and that it’s something to worry about. There are some overtones on the part of her benefactor that would today be considered abusive and taints the entire comparison for modern audiences. But what would the effect have been at the time?

Well, women were already “owned” by their husband and fathers so this is a deep level of betrayal of the moral contract of its time. Today we wouldn’t blame a woman for not wanting to live under the thumb of a rich benefactor that way, but back then a woman was expected to be virtuous and true to whatever man was appointed to her or had chosen her, regardless of her own desires. In that environment, I could see her wrongdoing. That said, this is what I know of that time from the relative little I’ve been able to read about it and what’s been taught to me. If anyone has seen differing research, let me know and I’ll look into it.

Ezekiel goes on to be silenced during the time of the rest of the exile after the vision points out all that this is happening to them on account of. He’s allowed to speak again once he’s prophesying the return of the people to their own lands. The last vision is nine chapters long and a description of how things should go when they all get back.

So, no named women, but also indication that the women of the time were not innocent and were a part of the judgement because of their own wrongdoing as well. The use of feminine pronouns for countries in their bad behavior and the hypothetical woman acting like Israel may have contributed to the Israelite outlook on women and how we’re prone to act, but there’s nothing directly calling us bad or saying that we need the guidance or ownership of the men in our lives.

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.

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