The Book of Ezekiel
Brit-Am Commentary and Study Assistance
by Yair Davidiy
The Book of Ezekiel at its primary level is mainly concerned with Judah but here and there it contains messages for the 'Lost Ten Tribes' of the greatest importance. It also uses forms of expression that are amongst the most powerful we have come across in all of Scripture.
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SEE TWO STICKS THAT BECAME ONEThe name “Ezekiel” in Hebrew is pronounced “Yechezkiel” and means “God (-el) will strengthen (Yechezak). Ezekåel, like Jeremiah, was from a Priestly family (Cohen), and descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses.This may be one of the reasons the Book of Ezekiel shows great familiarity with the Temple and also concerns itself with the future Temple that will be rebuilt. The Book of Ezekiel, according to tradition, was actually written by Members of the Great Council (i.e. Sanhedrin), that was set up by Ezra after the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon. The Members of the Great Council were inspired and included prophets in their ranks. The Book of Ezekiel is based on prophecies that Ezekiel uttered over a twenty-year period.
Ezekiel uttered the prophecies in his book while he was in Babylon together with other exiles from Judah. Part of Judah had been exiled to Babylon shortly before the destruction of the Temple, after which most of the rest of Judah was also exiled. Ezekiel was with the earlier exiles. Ezekiel began to prophesy before the final exile and continued afterwards. The prophecies of Ezekiel speak of the sins of Judah prior to the calamity, but after the disaster they take on a note of comfort and future redemption. Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, (“Yechezkiel”, Art scrolls 1977), traces the beginning of the disaster that occurred to Judah, to the separation of Judah from the Northern Tribes, who became the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
Cf. [Isaiah 7:17] THE LORD WILL BRING UPON YOU AND UPON YOUR PEOPLE AND UPON YOUR FATHER'S HOUSE SUCH DAYS AS HAVE NOT COME SINCE THE DAY THAT EPHRAIM DEPARTED FROM JUDAH-- THE KING OF ASSYRIA."
On this passage Brit-Am commented:<<“SINCE THE DAY THAT EPHRAIM DEPARTED FROM JUDAH” : When Ephraim split off from Judah it appears that a terrible calamity had taken place on the physical level that paralleled the spiritual and psychological shock we have never ever really recovered from.
<<Even now the psychic framework of both Judah and Ephraim is impaired due to the split between the two halves of Israel.>>
On Isaiah 7:17 Eisemann (p.xxiii) in the foreword to his commentary on Ezekiel says:
<<The implication is clear. If one seeks the epitome of misfortune unequalled, he need look no further than the day the Ten tribes seceded from the kingdom of King Rechavam, son of Solomon. It was not until Jacob’s family, consisting of the twelve tribes, was complete that Jewish [i.e.Israelite] nationhood could begin; the unity of the twelve tribes was essential to the fulfillment of the nation; the High Priest bore the names of all twelve tribes on his breastplate as he performed the Temple service.But because David’s successors did not maintain his lofty standard of conduct the precondition for God’s continued grace they lost the privilege of ruling over the entire nation. Israel split and when that happened, the nation began the descent that culminated in the exile of Zidkiyahu [i.e. the final exile of Judah] more than three hundred years later.>>
Historical Background:King Hezekiah was a righteous monarch. In the time of Hezekiah the last of the Ten Tribes and part of Judah were exiled by the Assyrians. These exiles became the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Hezekiah was followed by his son, Menasseh, who was wicked but later repented. After Menasseh came Ammon who was also bad. The son of Ammon was Josiah, who was good. King Josiah attempted to reform Judah and also worked for a reconciliation with the Lost Ten Tribes in their places of exile. Josiah attempted to bring part of the Ten Tribes back and was partially successful on a temporary basis. When he died those few of the Ten Tribes who had returned and tried to resettle their former lands abandoned the project and returned to their kinfolk amongst the Scythians in the north. King Josiah had been killed fighting the Ruler of Egypt on behalf of the Scythian Israelites. Eisemann says that if Josiah had have lived he may have averted the final calamity.
cf. <<THE BREATH OF OUR NOSTRILS, THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD, WAS TAKEN IN THEIR PITS, OF WHOM WE SAID, UNDER HIS SHADOW WE SHALL LIVE AMONG THE HEATHEN>>
At the death of Josiah his son Jehoahaz ruled for three months after which Pharoah of Egypt deposed him, then reigned his brother, Jehoiakim, son of Josiah. After eleven years Jehoiakim was taken into captivity to Babylon. Jehoiakin (son of Jehoiakim) then reigned for three months when he too was taken to Babylon together with the elite elements of Jerusalem. Only the lowly people of the land remained. They were ruled over by King Zedekiah, son of Josiah, brother of Jehoiakim and uncle of Jehoiakin. Zedekiah also ruled for eleven years. He rebelled more than once against Babylon. Consequently Jerusalem was completely destroyed and most of the rest of Judah exiled.