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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Part I .  Ezekiel’s concept of God.

Introduction
In ancient Judaism the Temple was the holy center of Creation, and the nation of Israel was secured by a Covenant with G-d.  Ezekiel was a Zadokite priest educated in and with access to the Temple. The Priests “represented” humankind before G-d.  As such, Ezekiel is a teacher of Torah, gatekeeper of the Temple, and his duties include “warning” the people about the G-d and the consequences of their “sins”.[1]  On his watch, so to speak, large and plundering armies of Babylonians swept down from the North and annihilated the monarchy of Israel.  The King and high priests were taken prisoner, the Temple was destroyed, all the cities sacked including Jerusalem, and the Hebrews who were not killed, were carried off as slaves. The Sitz im Leben, is a picture of total loss, with Ezekiel sitting in shock among those who were carried off by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon in 597 BCI.[2]
What impact did this destruction have on his Creator-covenant Theology? Ezekiel shines a light on Universalist Unitarian processes of theology.

Priestly and Prophetic Authority
By introducing himself in the threshold superscription as a  Zadokite priest, Ezekiel appears to be affirming the religion of the old Davidic monarchy. Ez 1:1-2.  Thus, a fair starting point in describing the “concept of deity” of Ezekiel is to begin, as his book begins, with his identification as a priest, and as the son of Buzi, placing him in the House of Zadok, in the authorized line of priests who served at the Temple of Jerusalem.[3]  We have the benefit of a reasonable inference from the years of training as a Zadokite priest, that his theology was consistent with, informed by and influenced by this priesthood.  As a Zadokite priest, Ezekiel would have assumed priestly duties in the Temple of Jerusalem by age thirty until age fifty. Num 4:3, 23, 30.  We know he was born in time to experience the reforms of King Josiah, and had just come of the age to assume Temple duties.[4] 
Other images in the vision reflect the role of the priest as a representative of all humanity. This includes the portrayal of “eating the scroll”, as an image for learning Torah.[5] Ez. 2:8-3:3.  The priest functionally serves as a sentinel to warn of sinful behavior, and conforms to Mosaic practice, for example in adapting a “gatekeeper” role even when the Temple no longer exists, using silentio practice, at his home in Babylon even in the absence of the Temple. Ez 3:22-27.  Ezekiel cut his hair, restricted his diet, and prophesied, even “against the hills” and high places profaned by unauthorized cultic altars.  Ez 6.  Purgation by fire, and preparation of sacrifices invoked by the portrayal of Jerusalem as a sacrificial cauldron that must be cleansed, presupposes purification rituals and concern over death as the ultimate form of impurity.[6] Ezek 8-19; 36:16-37:14 purification and restoration of Israel with blood, after the defilement of the “dry bones” of death.
In ancient times, as reflected in the epigraphy,[7] people associated their gods with their protection. The conquering kings would claim divine sanction, and the losers would reproach themselves in “faith” terms.  Considering the salient tragedy of the conquest, it brings to the fore the question of what impact the destruction and exile must have had on the faith of Ezekiel. The people of Israel and Judah worshiped a Lord who promised them land now lost, and spoke from a Temple now destroyed.

Reconstructing the Temple
After the actual Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed, Ezekiel reconstructs an oneiric Temple, with “traditional” component parts. This method and subject matter is consistent with the “word of the Lord” coming to other prophet/priests.  For example, “the word” appeared to Nathan who served as the high priest of David, concerning the building of a future Temple. 2 Samuel 7:4. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Temple includes a virtual ark of the covenant – with all that object implies -- guarded by glowing cherubim. And the vision includes a Holy of Hollies interior place where G-d is manifest.  As a Zadokite priest, Ezekiel knew what the actual Temple looked like, and that it was built to symbolize the Garden of Eden, with carved wood animals, fruits and tree-symbols, appliance-altars for fire, smoke and sacrifices, and large cherubic guardians.  Compare, Genesis 3, with Cherubim guarding the garden gates.
Noting his twenty years of service as an active priest, the text provides an abundant record that “Ezekiel sought to interpret the significance” of the destruction as a purgation, as part of YHWH’s “efforts to resanctify the Temple at the center of all creation.”[8]  Ezekiel presents himself as being far from thrown into theological doubts and questions.  The book is filled with prophetic visions of purification of Jerusalem and the world as “the process by which a new Temple will be built at the center of Israel and all creation”.[9] 

Theology under Stress—new relationships
The visions in fact go beyond the traditions, and Ezekiel does not attempt to duplicate the actual Temple.  As if adopting a “process theology”,[10] Ezekiel introduces “inter-related” and even inter-textual processes perhaps intended to address both the intellectual (theological) crisis and the physical tragedy of destruction and exile. 
Perhaps these vivid visions reveal an intention on the part of the prophet to open himself up to visionary experiences to obtain insight into the will of his deity in these dire conditions. He seems to have trusted the outcome to be G-d’s will, and then moved to an interpretation which takes the destruction as YHWH’s “efforts to resanctify the Temple at the center of all creation”,[11] clearly a bold and inspired mission.  This interpretation leaves YHWH in control and active in the entire proceedings. It also blames the tribe, not YHWH or even the Babylonians, for the destruction.  The absence of a theodicy suggests that Ezekiel’s deity is omni-present, powerful, retributive, and to be feared.  In the symbols, Ezekiel introduces a new theology with less emphasis on a “chosen people”, expanding G-d’s work to the universe, and pointing to a Messiah who will save the whole human race in the future.  With this messianic message, some Commentators point to Ezekiel as the founder of a Judaic version of visionary mystical tradition. 
In addition, Ezekiel 18:1-32, explicitly challenges the tradition of tribal responsibility.  Verse 3 is explicit universalism – “all souls are mine”, repeated at 30, in a polemic against tribalism. Verses 20 and 24 signal a revolution in personal responsibility for the righteous. In verse 30, the Lord says “I will judge you, O House of Israel, every one according to his ways”.  The chapter certainly introduced what is now considered the legal concept of “damages” owed to the victims of wrongs, but few have considered this to be a new religion.  The tragic scenario elevates Ezekiel to declare “divine presence and sanctity” in the theatre of the entire world, no longer limited to a Temple or even a tabernacle in the dusty hills and watering holes of Canaan.  Ezekiel relieves the righteous for the sins of their fathers – and offers a Lord who asks them to turn away from the wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11. He offers a new life, but not a new deity.
From the oracular visions of the text, the prophetic language and imagery, coupled with Ezekiel’s concern for the reestablishment of the Holy Temple, the text makes it clear that Ezekiel pursues a functional role and identity as both a Prophet and high Priest of the erstwhile Jerusalem Temple.[12]  Professor Sweeney places this dual function and Ezekiel’s face on the annihilation of lives and culture, in perspective, by noting his almost mad salvific:  “Thus Ezekiel’s visions, oracles, and symbolic actions indicate an effort to recognize the manifestation of YHWH in creation at large and to adapt the usual practices and perspectives of life in the holy Temple to account for YHWH’s presence throughout all of creation and to explain the significance of YHWH’s destruction of Israel and the Temple itself.”[13]
                For example, this expansive portrayal of divinity appears in the repetitions of the expression, “the glory of YHWH” (Hebrew kebod yhwh).[14]  The language and the derivative imagery of his “visions” invoke the “divine presence” among a people uniquely accustomed to worshiping an invisible deity without idols.  From the outset, his first vision is a portrayal or invocation of a powerful all-seeing deity.  He sees the glory as a “cloud”, invoking the ten incense stands with smoke symbolizing the divine during worship services in the Temple.  Ezekiel uses similes and metaphoric imagery to describe divine presence, for example, “upon this semblance of a throne, in appearance like sapphire…there was the semblance of a human form”. Ez 1:26.   The “otherness” and power of the divine is expressed in the unprecedented description of creatures with four faces said to be able to move in all four directions at once. Ez 1:17.
By the time of his visions, the people had already lost the nation, the Temple, the ark of the covenant, and many of their priests.  Their King was carried off and the people enslaved or killed. These losses are replaced, by metaphoric and transfigured resurrection in the detailed imagery of the visions. Hence, the visions not only invoke the “presence”, but the Temple itself, the arc, and the elders of Israel assembled on Mt. Sinai for a banquet with YHWH, a clear nod to the story in Exodus 24:9-11.  In other words, Ezekiel is reminding his audience that he worships the same G-d of their Scriptures. The so-called “recognition formula” – “so that they will know that I am YHWH” is employed throughout the book.[15]
Like the Hebrew tradition, Ezekiel’s deity is also a contrast to the native gods in the region. For example, although he uses the flying chariot similar to such pagan deities as Baal, often portrayed as the “rider of clouds”, and Ashur with a winged solar disc,[16] neither the text nor his oracles suggest he saw such a figure or worshiped the entity.  Ezekiel repeatedly presents himself as YHWH’s prophet.[17] Ezekiel 33:23-29.

Is this a New Religion?
The divine visions fairly raise questions about the concept of monotheism and whether Ezekiel was starting a new religion with a new god. For example, Professor Sweeney describes Ezekiel 40:1-43:12[18] where the prophet claims that he “is transported supernaturally to Israel to receive instructions for the building of the Temple.”  “His guide is described as a man whose appearance shone like bronze, much like the four living creatures or cherubim who bore the presence of YHWH through the heavens.”[19] Ezekiel 1-2; 8-11.  Perhaps this is a lesser god, not a human, and not YHWH.  Furthermore, G-d is anthropomorphized as “a man” who speaks, transports Ezekiel, with hands and feet.  Ezekiel 43:5-7. [20] The vision suggests that “carcasses of kings” will no longer be accepted in G-d’s house, perhaps portending theocracy rather than monarchy. Ezekiel 43:9.[21]   Ezekiel’s vision of sacrifices seems to institute a new centralized system, with “sin offering”, “atonement”, and goats. [22]           
This message need not be considered a “new religion” so much as a shift to create a meaningful message for a disenfranchised nation of enslaved exiles.  Ezekiel is one of these captives, and is addressing a freshly-enslaved people whose Mosaic traditions recount a G-d who led them out of Egyptian oppression.  Ezekiel has to create a new redemption for the oppression of Babylonian captivity. He seems to choose to re-build the Temple in order to do so. As professor Sweeney puts it: “Clearly, the destruction and restoration of the Temple are the key events around which the book of Ezekiel turns”, and Ezekiel also ultimately calls for reunification of Israel and Judah under a Davidic monarch.[23]  As a practical proposal, it places the ideals of the Josiah reforms at the center of a “new creation”. 

Father of Syncretic Mysticism
This use of the old unifying theology is applied to a larger and expressly monarchical entity, under a more powerful G-d, but still rooted in the old narrative traditions.  The visions of G-d, and of Israel’s place in history, place crucial emphasis on dominant themes drawn from Genesis and the Exodic Hebrew narratives. Redemption by conforming conduct to the law has always been a unifying and essential theme, and Ezekiel repeatedly assures his audience that such saving will again come as it has in the past.  This vision consummates with the return of YHWH to the rebuilt Temple according to the divine plan. Ezek 43-47:12.
In providing this hope, Ezekiel opens unique theological aspects.  He introduces a more mystical vision of god.  For example, the rustic who ate the tea-cakes served by Sarah and Abraham, and the levin-lit mountain G-d who shows his “back-side” to Moses, is now replaced by a golden chariot “riding the clouds”, with a semblance sitting on a throne pulled by creatures, “Hayot” animals. The vehicle has “wheels within wheels”, with eyes on them, and the four faces of the carriers turn all directions without turning.  The description of G-d is both more and less anthropomorphic, but is clearly an “other”. 
The visions place the “hand of god” at center of the action of the nations – influencing all events. Reality and history are flowing out of the will of god.  This G-d rules the whole world, all nations. He rules the will of people and the inclinations of their hearts. Ezekiel 20:25-26.  This is a new and even bizarre picture, strangely presented, of a powerful deity, seen by no other prophet, nor ever referred to in any other book of Torah.  The chariot literally introduces the literature of “secrets” in Judaism. Ezekiel bore burdens of “truth” and “duty” which were too heavy to bear.  Cultic schools spread across the globe to search for better gods who could command better obedience.[24] Scholars to this day devote themselves to concealing and teaching the “self enfolded self-revealing secrets of the created order”.[25]
For example, in Chapter 8, while Ezekiel sits in front of his house, “the hand of G-d fell upon him”, and took him from Babylon back to Jerusalem. No other prophet had been so transported. He sees a vision of dry bones, and the hand of god, circles around, and carries him back to Babylon where he must preach to the exiles.  His message is that the temple is defiled and impure. The vision of a future Temple is like the dream of a deity who wants people to restore the Temple. Ezekiel plants the seed for a Restoration of Israel.
It is in this sense that Ezekiel is considered by some as the founder a new and mystical tradition, with a futuristic but more than allegoric temple. In Chapter 8, Ezekiel describes  the real temple—defiled-- and then the ideal one. The symbols point to its representation of the world as sacred.  As for the unique theophany – for example the special rainbow and cloud-riding “chariot” in chapter 1 -- is unlike any other narrative in the Bible, the differences may not be “theological”.  Ezekiel does not deify the lesser gods he identifies – for example, the “guide” who measures the specifications for the new Temple, or the carriers of the chariot. He is not introducing polytheism or Hindu pantheism or Psalmic universalism (“Ye are gods” Psalm 82.6), nor Christ-taught Unitarianism (“Who art thou, unmindful of the God within?” John 10:34).  

Part II.       What Biblical sources influenced this conception?

Ezekiel’s imagery and visions invoke the past “story” narratives of Genesis and Exodus, and the Levitical and legal traditions and priestly practices of Numbers and Leviticus.  In addition, his priestly role is a modification and reflection of Isaiah and the other Prophets.  As Professor Sweeney put it, “These chapters draw heavily on earlier Pentateuchal and prophetic traditions.”[26]  Although chariots were not used in the Temple, the local traditions and other books of Torah portrayed divine figures “riding the clouds” in such vehicles to show power over the created world.[27] Ezekiel 8:11 refers to the “seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel” with clouds of incense apparently concealing abominations, and at 8:14, weeping women at the gate of the Temple facing north—where Ishtar’s lover, Tammuz, is mentioned – a perduring Biblical concern because of almost constant devotion in the region.[28]
Indeed, the mystic visionary experience conveyed by Ezekiel fits a pattern already established in the Biblical narratives.  With Moses, for example, in Exodus  3-4, we see the literary motifs of vision, dialogues with god, the appointment of a messenger, who hesitates, refuses, the rejection of the fears and refusal, and messenger receiving a public sign.  Ezekiel provides this Motif and the “touching the lips” to purify the messenger.  Isaiah and Jeremiah also encounter god, and the narrative unfolds the appointment, and comparable prophetic mission imposed upon an anointed court priest.  The Isaiah sequence is repeated with Ezekiel – he sees god, one creature seraphim takes coal to his lips, the hand of god and the “word of god” conflate, and he literally eats the words on a scroll.
One example of direct Biblical influence is the invocation of Leviticus 18.5 throughout Ezekiel 20.  Ezekiel’s allusions connect two major motifs in the book to familiar Mosaic tropes: Israel’s disobedience to the ‘statutes and judgments’ of Yahweh, and unpleasant consequences for disobedience. These motifs are climactically fulfilled in chapters 36-37 where Yahweh causes Israel to obey his ‘statutes and judgments’ and breathes life into the nation with “a new heart” and “new spirit”.  The law text of Leviticus 18.5 was selected to highlight the conditional nature of the covenant, and to amplify the role of divine agency in the restoration.
Ezekiel expressly invokes the Biblical narrative of “Sodom and Gomorrah” in his condemnation of Jerusalem.[29] He reminds the people that the greatest Sin is indifference to the poor and needy: The “Sin of Sodom” was “pride, fulness of bread, and careless ease” while oppressing “the poor and needy”.  Ezekiel repeats the promise of a perpetual covenant, and presents a Lord who will forgive the repentant.
One example of drawing upon the narrative traditions is in Ezekiel 14:14-18. The Prophet seems to make a polemic involving personal recompense raised in detai in 3.17-21, and 33:1-20, from the statement that the righteous “of the earth” (and he names Noah, Job and “Daniel” [not the author of the book circa 164 BCE])—save only themselves, not their offspring.  This may be a theological innovation, but it describes the same deity traced back to earlier times.[30]  
The concept of divinity in Ezekiel owes much to the Biblical “wisdom traditions”.[31] Compare Proverbs 30, for example, with a comparison of the people of Israel to “wood of the vine”. Prov 30; Isa 5:1-7; 28:23-29; Amos 2:13; 3:3-8.  And just as “twisted wood is useless for anything but burning”, so YHWH gave Israel to the torch. Compare, Judg 9.7-21. 
Ezekiel’s priestly character is not only obvious, but is noted from beginning to end. In Ezekiel 94 he makes sophisticated use of a concealed catalog to frame an allegory prophesying the destruction of Tyre.  The colorful words and tragedic frames run curious parallels with the Attic dramatist, Aeschylus. Both contend that a soul in sin shall die, and against the current view that “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge”.[32] Ezekiel is well-educated, for a service purpose.  He is active as prophet during same years’ service as priest.  This fact and the connection of his father’s name “Buzi” with the verb “despise” may also show the influence of Jeremiah.[33]  As with the leaders of historical Israel, Ezekiel invokes the same prophet-priest role – the “watchman” with duty to blow the warning trumpet, Ezekiel 33:5, and a “shepherd of Israel”, Ezekiel 34:1-5.
                There is also a dialectic with Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel’s immediate priestly predecessors.[34] Ezekiel envisions the Persian monarch Cyrus as a divinely-appointed ruler and Temple builder. Isa 44:28; 45:1.  The visions of Ezekiel correspond to those of Jeremiah, who also sees visions, for example in the staff made from an almond branch, which blooms.  Numbers 17. As Professor Sweeney notes, speaking of all three, “the Prophets play the central role in the Tanak, insofar as they provide the link between the ideal portrayal in the Torah of creation with Israel and the Temple at the center and the reestablishment of that ideal in the Writings following its disruption.”[35]
 Ezekiel’s language reveals a close affiliation to priestly stories in the Pentateuch that deal with the cult of the Holy.  Several chapters, for example, deal with “purifying” Jerusalem and the altars and high places.  This draws upon the cultic provisions in Leviticus for preserving the Holy.

Part III.  Did this conception influence writings after the time of Ezekiel?

The two Judaic traditions of Priest and Prophet are joined in a visionary way in the person of Ezekiel. The practical demands of cultic ritual and the moral demands of the prophet are both performed and expressed by the book.   In both these “channels”, the direction and vision of Ezekiel has shaped the face of Judaism for many generations.[36]  Even in collecting the final “form” of the Hebrew canon, performed by the temple scribes of Jerusalem under the direction of the Zadokite priesthood, we see Ezekiel’s legatic muscle. After Ezekiel stared into the face of extinction and found a vision sufficient to unite an exiled people, the priesthood continued the tradition of compilation and preservation of the Torah.[37] The fact that the exiled scribes compiled, codified, and preserved a Canon of Scripture is itself an “influence” of Ezekiel.
In the effort to describe the “presence of YHWH”, and to respond to the new conditions of exile, Ezekiel does express some differences with the Torah of Moses.  For example, chapters 40-48, describe a futuristic temple, and no actual rituals.  However, since that time, and since the actual rebuilding of the Second Temple, rabbis began reconciling the differences.
The Chariot vision with the oneiric Temple, supplants military armies led by angry God-Kings. The rain-bow rider in the clouds is a direct beatific invocation of pacific universalist symbols of dignity and glory.  Ezekiel contributed to a syncretist and unifying movement which appears and begins to fluorish in archeological records after the period of his service.  This influence expanded across the Talmudic literature of the sages who engage with the chariot, often in cultic holiness and sects.  In addition, the winged chariot of Ezekiel 1 appears on coins minted in the late Persian period, and found in the shrine at Lachish inscribed with Aramaic “JDH” (“Judea”) above the figure.[38] The visions are synchronic and coincident with the Great Dawning of the Wisdom Age, from Britain, across Europe and Africa, through the Middle East, all the way to China.
The syncretic influence is pronounced, and scholars have convincingly explained it as a result of the Babylonian (and later the Persian) employment of exilic Jewish officials in both palace and temple.[39]
 Regionally, in the post-Ezekiel exilic period, the Josiah Temple reformations and purification processes were implemented – not in temples and towns, but in the souls of human beings.  Ezekiel kept the idea of what “purity” means in the real world, without a Temple, and this new theology adapted to exile. This was when “Scripture” was canonized, when the community began to care for the poor and require moral leadership from the powerful.  
While Jeremiah had also preached not looking to Egypt for protection, Ezekiel added a new perception:  You cannot just look for G-d’s Temple to save you either, if you are not acting morally. This became a social movement.  Judaism developed into a social protest against the upper classes who neglected the Temple and its community.  The unequally-distributed but robust prosperity of the Hasmonean period was perceived as being immorally wrong, selfish and self-defeating.  In the period after Ezekiel, the perception of a need for Redemption became even more widespread. The return to Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple again as genuine Holiness shifted from merely moral guidance to necessary commands.
Ezekiel 1 can be found in other writings, such as Enoch, and the circle known as defenders of the chariot, mystic sailing on a great sea toward unification with G-d.  The tradition of the sages from Talmudic literature—a wisdom tradition--developed.  Ezekiel was a holotype for the wisdom sages of the Psalms, Proverbs, and Qoheleth. 
Throughout the region, the chariot developed a syncretic Unitarian exegetical domain and became unique doctrine, connected with a visionary experience. Some groups, for example, established the sources of the Kabbalah, and engaged in intense study – seeing themselves encircled by a spiritual fire of awakening consciousness and awareness, and intensifying the concept of divinity.  In a sense, Ezekiel is the inspiration for the Midrash, which was written, according to Talmudic legend, to explain and clarify.  The “PARDES”—the pun on the garden which is an acronym for levels of study – the Peshat, Rash, miDrash, and Sod “secret” – is not coincidentally another reference to Ezekiel’s visions.
And finally, where do apocalyptic traditions come from?  Many scholars trace them to Ezekiel’s first chapter.  Wellhausen, on the other hand, doubted and downplayed Priestly sources.  He suspected even Jeremiah of corrupting the Word. Yet Ezekiel stands on the riparian banks of a vision which stays alive – we still speak of the dry bones, and we still write of the perduring dream of rebuilding the Temple, based on the concept of authenticity and the sanctity of the world it represents.   




Bibliography

Berquist, Jon L. Judaism in Persia’s Shadow: A Social and Historical Approach. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Pub., 2003.
Clifford, Richard J., ed. Wisdom Literature in Mesopotamia and Israel. Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series 36. Atlanta: Soc. of Biblical Literature, 2007.
Cobb, John. Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1976.
“Dictionary of the Bible.” Keylawk Library, 1963. https://www.librarycat.org/lib/keylawk/item/134639122.
Hoffman, Yair. A Blemished Perfection; the Book of Job in Context. Bath: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 1996.
McKenzie, Steven L., and Stephen R. Haynes, eds. To Each Its Own Meaning; an Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application. Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.
Nine Greek Dramas; by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. Vol. 8. New York, NY: P F Collier & Son Company, 1909.
Perdue, Leo G. The Sword and the Stylus: An Introduction to Wisdom in the Age of Empires. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2008.
Pritchard, James B., and Daniel E. Fleming, eds. The Ancient Near East; an Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Sweeney, Marvin A. Tanak: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible, 2011. http://www.librarything.com/work/12075940/edit/133767278.





[1] Sweeney, Tanak, 326, compare 321. Defining “sins” by invoking Sodom and its neglect of the poor – Ezekiel 16:49.
[2] Berquist, Judaism in Persia’s Shadow, 14. Historians disagree on the types and extent of the devastation. It may have been limited to great houses and the ruling strata. However, for a captive Priest, the loss would have annihilating.
[3] Sweeney, Tanak, 319, familiar with the Josiah reforms at 325.
[4] Ibid., 320, noting some speculation around Ezekiel’s exact age, he would have been exposed to King Josiah’s reforms which began in 627 BCE. At 325: “Ezekiel appears to have been heavily-influenced by the reform” based on the programmatic agenda of “his visions of a restored Temple and a reunited Israel with a Davidic monarch gathered around that Temple”, which embody the ideals of Josiah’s reforms.
[5] Ibid., 323, noting Odell’s article.
[6] Ibid., 324, citing intertextual references for these and other priestly concerns.
[7] McKenzie and Haynes, To Each Its Own Meaning, 25, noting thousands of documents recovered from the ancients of the Middle East.
[8] Sweeney, Tanak, 321.
[9] Ibid., 267; and “Ezekiel begins with destruction but concludes with consolation”.
[10] Cobb, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition.
[11] Sweeney, Tanak, 321.
[12] Ibid., 320.
[13] Ibid., 322.
[14] Ibid., 322, with illustrations of multiple usage in multiple settings.
[15] Ibid., 324, footnoting Zimmerli.
[16] Sweeney, Tanak, 325, citing the Baal Cycle, referenced in FN 14, ANET 132, 138, in Pritchard at 107 ff.
[17] Ibid., 336.
[18] Ezekiel 40:1 In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me thither.
40:2 In the visions of God brought He me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, whereon was as it were the frame of a city on the south.
40:3 And He brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.
40:4 And the man said unto me: 'Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee, for to the intent that I might show them unto thee art thou brought thither; declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.'
40:5 And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long, of a cubit and a hand-breadth each; so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed, and the height, one reed.
[19] Sweeney, Tanak, 339.
[20] Ezekiel 43:5 And a spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
43:6 And I heard one speaking unto me out of the house; and a man stood by me.
43:7 And He said unto me: 'Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever…

[21] 43:9 Now let them put away their harlotry, and the carcasses of their kings, far from Me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
[22] 43:15 And the hearth shall be four cubits; and from the hearth and upward there shall be four horns.
43:18 And He said unto me: 'Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD: These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, and to dash blood against it.
43:19 Thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto Me, to minister unto Me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin-offering.
43:20 And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about; thus shalt thou purify it and make atonement for it.
43:21 Thou shalt also take the bullock of the sin-offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
43:25 Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin-offering; they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.
43:27 And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and forward, the priests shall make your burnt-offerings upon the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.'
[23] Sweeney, Tanak, 325.
[24] Clifford, Wisdom Literature in Mesopotamia and Israel, 28: "...the development of the Mesopotamian concept of wisdom has a striking parallel in biblical literature...Wisdom from experience...wisdom by revelation takes its place in the Persian era..The principal difference...is the emphasis that this new wisdom is, precisely, no secret. Having come doen from above, it is accessible to all.".
[25] Perdue, The Sword and the Stylus, 20, paraphrasing Perdue’s quotation of Gerhard von Rad’s formulation.
[26] Ibid., 337, FN 29, referencing Sweeney, "The Priesthood and the Proto–apocalyptic Reading of Prophetic and Pentateuchal Texts," in Form and Intertextuality, 239–47.
[27] Ibid., 322, citing examples  of chariots portrayed in 2 Sam 22:7, Pss 18:6–19; 68:17–20, 32–35; Hab 3bukuk.
[28] Pritchard and Fleming, The Ancient Near East, 81–82, provides the text of the Akkadian Ishtar lament for the competing savior deity “Tammuz” mentioned by Ezekiel.
[29] Exekiel 16:48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and careless ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
…16:55 And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.
…16:59 For thus saith the Lord GOD: I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
16:60 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
16:61 Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder sisters and thy younger; and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not because of thy covenant.
16:62 And I will establish My covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD;
16:63 that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame; when I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.'
[30] Hoffman, A Blemished Perfection; the Book of Job in Context, 230.
[31] Sweeney, Tanak, 330.
[32] Nine Greek Dramas; by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, 8:5, suggesting a parallel of themes (retribution, inheritance of evil; justice of G–d) with "House of Atreus".  Aeshylus also shares the notion of punishment for sinning souls, as well as the “sour grapes” effect on children’s teeth.
[33] “Dictionary of the Bible,” 116 “Buzi.”
[34] Sweeney, Tanak, 267, citing Isaiah at 266, noting the contrast between King David, and King Cyrus, as divinely-appointed ruler and Temple-builder.
[35] Ibid., 268 – citing Gerhard von Rad’s treatment.
[36] McKenzie and Haynes, To Each Its Own Meaning, 40, 91, 95. At 40, noting  Wellhausen’s popular view that "there was a progressive development in Israel’s religion from a natural observance of religion to the reforms of the prophets, which was subsequently superseded by the ceremonial and ritual laws of the priests." This highlights the significance of a holy man who is both prophet and priest, as his theology is examined. Accord, at 91, the tradition-historical reconstruction of text complexes as products of a long process of composition and transmission. Ezekiel is more accurately considered a “collector” or redactor, rather than an author. At 95.
[37] Perdue, The Sword and the Stylus, 161.
[38] Ibid., 193, note 77 describing silver Jewish drachma, imitative of an Athenian coin, with bearded male on obverse, and a Greek chiton seated on a winged wheel holding Egyptian falcon. Iconic syncretism.
[39] Berquist, Judaism in Persia’s Shadow, 16: "Babylonia required a substantial bureaucracy....Both palace and temple needed experts...The ancient wold had such low literacy rates that there was a special value upon any person who could write… syncretism was well entrenched and should not be discounted. Certainly Deutero-Isaiah gives the impression of a close knowldege of the Babylonian temple system.