Ezekiel : biography
- This article is about the main speaker in the biblical Book of Ezekiel. For a summary and analysis of the book itself, see Book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel ( , Y’ḥez’qel, ), Arabic:حزقيال Hazqiyal, ‘God will strengthen’ (from ‘, ḥazaq, , literally ‘to fasten upon,’ figuratively ‘strong,’ and ‘, el, , literally ‘God’, and so figuratively ‘The Almighty’) is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible.
In Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet. In Judaism and Christianity, he is also viewed as the author of the Book of Ezekiel that reveals prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Millennia Temple visions, or the Third Temple.
Monument to [[Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The quote is Ezekiel 37:14.]] Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, is said by Talmud(Meg. 14b) and Midrash(Sifri, Num. 78) to have been a descendant of Joshua by his marriage with the proselyte Rahab. Some statements found in rabbinic literature (Radak – R. David Kimkhi – in his commentary on Ezekiel 1:3, based on Targum Yerushalmi) posits that Ezekiel was the son of Jeremiah, who was (also) called "Buzi" because he was despised by the Jews.
Ezekiel was said to be already active as a prophet while in the Land of Israel, and he retained this gift when he was exiled with Jehoiachin and the nobles of the country to Babylon.(Josephus, Ant. x. 6, § 3: "while he was still a boy"; comp. Rashi on Sanh. 92b, above)
Rava states in the Babylonian Talmud that although Ezekiel describes the appearance of the throne of God (Merkabah), this is not because he had seen more than the prophet Isaiah, but rather because the latter was more accustomed to such visions; for the relation of the two prophets is that of a courtier to a peasant, the latter of whom would always describe a royal court more floridly than the former, to whom such things would be familiar.(Ḥag. 13b) Ezekiel, like all the other prophets, has beheld only a blurred reflection of the divine majesty, just as a poor mirror reflects objects only imperfectly.Midrash Lev. Rabbah i. 14, toward the end
According to the midrash Canticles Rabbah, it was Ezekiel whom the three pious men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (also called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Bible) asked for advice as to whether they should resist Nebuchadnezzar’s command and choose death by fire rather than worship his idol. At first God revealed to the prophet that they could not hope for a miraculous rescue; whereupon the prophet was greatly grieved, since these three men constituted the "remnant of Judah". But after they had left the house of the prophet, fully determined to sacrifice their lives to God, Ezekiel received this revelation: "Thou dost believe indeed that I will abandon them. That shall not happen; but do thou let them carry out their intention according to their pious dictates, and tell them nothing".(Midrash Canticles Rabbah vii. 8)
Ezekiel’s greatest miracle consisted in his resuscitation of the dead, which is recounted in chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel. Although the Hebrew Bible describes this event as an ecstatic vision rather than a historical occurrence, later interpreters speculated as to the fate of these men, both before and after their revitalization. Some say that they were godless people, who in their lifetime had denied the resurrection, and committed other sins; others Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Fisch, Ezekiel: Hebrew Text & English Translation with an Introduction and Commentary (London & Bournemouth: The Soncino Press, 1950), 246. think they were those Ephraimites who tried to escape from Egypt before Moses and perished in the attempt. There are still others who maintain that after Nebuchadnezzar had carried the beautiful youths of Judah to Babylon, he had them executed and their bodies mutilated, because their beauty had entranced the Babylonian women, and that it was these youths whom Ezekiel called back to life.