Written by an exile carried to Babylon before the final assault on Jerusalem, Ezekiel uses prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols to dramatize Yahweh's message to His exiled people. Though they are like dry bones in the sun, Yahweh will reassemble them and breathe life into the nation once again. Present judgment will be followed by future glory.

The Hebrew name transliterated "Ezekiel" means "Yahweh Strengthens" or "Strengthened by Yahweh." The name occurs twice in this book and nowhere else in the Old Testament.

Author: The opening three verses name Ezekiel the son of Buzi as receiving the visions of Yahweh recorded in chapters 1-3. From there on, the book continues in the first person, no doubt referring to the same prophet Ezekiel. The unity of style, the phrases peculiar to Ezekiel but frequent to this book, and the constant attention to his great themes have convinced most scholars that the book is the result of Ezekiel's encounters with Yahweh.

Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel was a priest who was called to be a prophet of the Yahweh. His wife died as a sign to the exiled Jews that Jerusalem would not be spared (Eze 24:16-24LEB). His prophetic ministry shows a priestly emphasis in his concern with the temple, priesthood, sacrifices, and the Shekinah (the glory of Yahweh manifested in the temple). Ezekiel was privileged to receive a number of striking visions and he was careful and artistic in his presentation.

Date: Ezekiel was carried off to exile in Babylon after the city fell a second time to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. His first vision is probably to be dated in the year 593-92 B.C. and the latest date given for an oracle is probably 571-70 B.C., making his ministry about twenty years long. The book as we now have it was probably completed shortly thereafter. The thirtieth year (Eze 1:1LEB) is probably Ezekiel's age when he received his call, the age when priests entered fully into their temple duties. As exile had deprived Ezekiel of the privilege of serving as a temple priest, Yahweh graciously gave him the prophetic ministry recorded in this book.

This book is the easiest of the Old Testament books to date, because of Ezekiel's unique orderly sequence of dates. Each section of prophetic oracles begins with the year and day of the month. The prophet Ezekiel was a contemporary of both Jeremiah and Daniel, and some of his prophecies seem to be extensions of Jeremiah's message. Daniel is mentioned three times in the book (Eze 14:14LEB, Eze 14:20LEB; Eze 28:3LEB).

Themes and Literary Structure: The book of Ezekiel can be broken into four sections: the call and commission of Ezekiel (chs. 1-3), the judgment on Judah (chs. 4-24), the judgment on the Gentiles (chs. 25-32), and the restoration of Israel (chs. 33-48).

Like the books of Daniel and Revelation, Ezekiel belongs to the genre of "apocalyptic" writings. Characteristics of this type of literature include the use of symbolism, visions, allegories, parables, and symbolic actions. Ezekiel uses many of these avenues of expression to impress upon his fellow exiles that Yahweh's judgment of Jerusalem was not yet finished. Jerusalem's cup of iniquity was finally running over; Yahweh's time for action had come. The certainty of divine judgment was symbolized by the departure of Yahweh's glory from the temple (Eze. 8:1-11LEB).

Ezekiel also stresses the certainty of Yahweh's judgment upon the nations surrounding Israel. It shows the full circle of judgment on the nations that surround Judah by following them in a clockwise circuit: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Sidon (chs. 25-28). The oracles against the nations conclude with Egypt, a nation that would continue to exist but would never recover its former glory (Eze 29:15LEB).

With the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel's attention turns to the future restoration of Israel. The vision of the valley of dry bones (Eze 37:1-14LEB) vividly pictures the reanimation of the nation by the Spirit of Yahweh. The restoration of Israel is further developed as Ezekiel returns in a vision to the fallen city and is given detailed specifications for the reconstruction of the temple, the city, and the land (chs. 40-48). After an intricate description of the new outer court, inner court, and temple (chs. 40-42), Ezekiel views the return of the glory of the Yahweh to the temple from the east (Eze 43:1-12LEB).

Ezekiel's eschatological visions of Israel's restoration clearly have a messianic dimension. The title "son of man" occurs some ninety times in Ezekiel and, while the title here is applied to Ezekiel himself, it was appropriated by Yashua as His favorite self-designation. Therefore, Ezekiel may be regarded as a type of Yashua. As such, Ezekiel was empowered as a prophetic voice of the messianic age when the "Spirit of Yahweh fell" upon him (Eze 11:5LEB). The descent of the Set-apart upon Yashua at the Jordan River empowered Him to proclaim the advent of the messianic kingdom (Luk 4:18LEB, Luk 4:19LEB). In addition, the vision of the Yahweh as the divine Shepherd who gathers His scattered flock (Eze 34:11-16LEB) evokes images of Yashua as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16LEB). The restored sanctuary in the midst of a regathered people whose head is the King-priest, the Davidic Messiah (Eze 37:22-28LEB), foreshadows the restored tabernacle of David, (Amo 9:11LEB; Act 15:16LEB).