The Fall of Jerusalem
Judgments on Surrounding Nations
The Restoration of Israel
"They shall Know that I am God"
Ezekiel was a prophet of the Captivity. He was carried to Babylon 597 B.C., 11 years before Jerusalem was destroyed.
The Assyrian Captivity of Israel had been 120 years earlier:
734 B.C. Galilee and North and East Israel, by Tiglath-pileser.
721 B.C. Samaria and the rest of Israel, by Sargon.
701 B.C. 200,000 of the inhabitants of Judah, by Sennacherib.
The Babylonian Captivity of Judah was accomplished:
606 B.C. Some captives taken to Babylon, including Daniel.
597 B.C. More captives taken to Babylon, including Ezekiel.
586 B.C. Jerusalem burned.
The Captivity lasted 70 years. 606-536 B.C. Ezekiel was there from 597 B.C. to at least 570 B.C.
Ezekiel and Daniel
Daniel had been in Babylon 9 years when Ezekiel arrived; and had already attained to great fame (14:14, 20). Daniel in the palace; Ezekiel in the country. They may have met often.
Ezekiel and Jeremiah
Jeremiah was the older. Ezekiel may have been his pupil. Ezekiel preached among the exiles the same things that Jeremiah was preaching in Jerusalem: certainty of Judah's punishment for her sins.
Ezekiel and John
Some of Ezekiel's visions seem to be extended into the book of Revelation: Cherubim (Ezekiel 1, Revelation 4); Gog and Magog Ezekiel 38, Revelation 20); Eating the book (Ezekiel 38, Revelation 20); New Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48, Revelation 21); River of Water of Life (Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22).
"They Shall Know that I am God"
This is a dominant note of the book. We have counted 62 places in which it occurs, in 27 of the 48 chapters, as follows: 6:7, 10, 13, 14; 7:4, 9, 27; 11:10, 12; 12:15, 16, 20; 13:9, 14, 21; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 17:21, 24; 20:12, 20, 28, 38, 42, 44; 21:5; 22:16, 22; 23:49; 24:24, 27; 25:5, 7, 11, 17; 26:6; 28:22, 23, 24, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15; 33:29; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 9, 12, 15; 36 11, 23, 36, 38; 37:6, 13, 14, 28; 38:16, 23; 39:6, 7, 22, 23, 28.
Ezekiel's mission seems to have been to explain the action of God in causing or permitting Israel's captivity. It was because of the unspeakable abominations of which they had been guilty; abominations for which other nations had been blotted out. But for Israel it was punitive. By their punishment they would come to KNOW THAT GOD IS GOD. They did. The Babylonian Captivity CURED the Jews of Idolatry. Up to that time they just would be Idolaters. From that day to this, whatever other sins the Jews have been guilty of, they have not been Idolaters.
Chronology of Ezekiel's Book
The pivot around which the book centers is the Destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred 586 B.C Ezekiel's prophecies began 6 years before that, and continued 16 years thereafter, covering a period of 22 years. Until Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel was unceasingly predicting its certainty (chapters 1-24). After that his prophecies dial with the Overthrow of surrounding Heathen Nations (chapters 25-32); and the Re-establishment and Glorious Future of Israel (chapters 11-48).
His visions, with minor exceptions, are given in chronological sequence. The years are dated from king Jehoiachin's Captivity, which was 597 B.C. The "30th year" (1:1), which was the equivalent of the "5th year" of Jehoiachin's captivity (1:2), is thought to have been the 30th year of Ezekiel's life (age at which Levites began their service [Numbers 4:3]: Jesus and John the Baptist began their work at 30). Or, it may have been the 30th year in the Babylonian calendar of Babylon's independence of Assyria, won by Nebopolasar 625 B.C.
Dates of Ezekiel's visions are as follows:
Chapter 1:2 5th year 4th month (July) 5th day 592 B.C.
Chapter 8:1 6th year 6th month (September) 5th day 591 B.C.
Chapter 20:1 7th year 5th month (August) 10th day 590 B.C
Chapter 24:1 9th year 10th month (January) 10th day 587 B.C.
Siege of Jerusalem began 9th year 10th month 10th day
Chapter 26:1 11th year 5th (?) month (August) lst day 586 B.C.
Chapter 29:1 10th year 10th month (January) 12th day 586 B.C.
Chapter 29: 17 27th year 1sr month (April) 1st day 570 B.C.
Chapter 30:20 11th year 1st month (Abril) 7th day 5g6 B.C.
Chapter 32:1 12th year 12th month (March) 1st day 584 B.C.
Jerusalem Fell 11th year 4th month 9th day
Chapter 32:1 12th year 12th month (March) 1st day 584 B.C.
Chapter 32:17 12th year 12rh (?) month (March) 15th day 584 B.C.
Chapter 33:21 12th year 10th month (January) 5th day 584 B.C.
Chapter 40:1 25th year 1st (?) month (April) 10th day 572 B.C
Since Ezekiel was so meticulous in dating his visions, even to the exact day, it. is assumed that all that follows a given date belongs to that date, till the next date is mentioned.
Chapter 1:1-3. Ezekiel's Abode and Dote
He was carried with king Jehoiachin (597 B.C.), "our" captivity (33:21; 40:1). He had a wife (24:15-18); a home (8:1). He lived by the river Chebar, the great ship canal branching off from the Euphrates above Babylon and running through Nippur to the
Tigris. Nippur, about 50 miles Southeast of Babylon, was Calneh, one of the cities Nimrod had built (Genesis 10:10). Telabib seems to have been Ezekiel's home town (3:15, 24). It is thought to have been near Nippur. There is in the region a village called "Kilfil," the Arabian for "Ezekiel" which, tradition says, was his residence. About 40 miles away was Fara, traditional home of Noah. This may have suggested the use of Noah's name (14:14, 20). Eridu, traditional site of the Garden of Eden, was only 100 miles away. Maybe this is what suggested to Ezekiel frequent mention of the Garden of Eden (28:11; 31:8, 9, 16, 18; 36:35).
"Son of Man": Ezekiel is thus addressed 90 times. In Daniel 7:11 it is used of the Messiah. It was the tide by which Jesus commonly spoke of himself (see under John 1:14).
Visions and symbolic actions are characteristic of Ezekiel's book. Some of his symbolic actions were accompanied by most painful personal sufferings. He have to remain dumb for a long period (3:26; 24:27; 33:22). Had to lie on his side in one position for a year (4:5, 6). And ear loathsome food (4:15). His wife, whom he dearly
loved, was suddenly taken (24:16-18).
Chapter 1:4-28, Ezekiel's Vision of God
The "Living Creatures" are identified as "Cherubim" (10:20). They stood one in the middle of each side of a square, their outspread wings touching at the corners of the square. Each cherub had four faces: the face of a man, looking outward from the square; on his right, the face of a lion; on his left, the face of an ox; in the rear, looking toward the center of the square, the face of an eagle. There were four immense whirling (10:6) wheels, one beside each cherub. The wheels appeared to be of beryl, green precious stone; their rims full of eyes. This Fourfold Living Creature moved like flashes of lightning from place to place, with noise like the roar of the ocean.
Above the Living Creature was a crystal platform. On the platform, a throne of blue sapphire. On the throne, the likeness of a Man, enswathed in the glow of incandescent light, encircled in a rainbow. It was all set within a vest storm cloud, with whirling flashes of fire. This was the form in which God appeared to Ezekiel. It signified His Glory, Power, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Sovereignty, Majesty and Holiness.
Cherubim guarded the entrance to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). Likenesses of Cherubim were placed on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-20), and embroidered on the Veil of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:31). They were reproduced in the Temple (I Kings 6:23,29; II Chronicles 3:14). They had been interwoven in Biblical
thought from the beginning as angelic attendants of God. In Revelation 4:6, 7; 5:6; 6:1 , 6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4, they are intimately connected with the unfolding destiny of the Church.
Chapters 2, 3. Ezekiel's Commission
Ezekiel is warned at the outset that he is being called to a life of hardship and persecution. His message is delivered to him from God in the form of a book, which he is commanded to eat, as was John (Revelation 10:9). In his mouth the book was sweet, which seems to mean that he found joy in being God's messenger, though the message was a message of woe. Eating the book, whether literally, or only in vision, signified thoroughly digesting its contents, so that its message would become a part of himself. In 1:17-21 God seemed to lay upon Ezekiel responsibility for the doom of his nation, which he could escape only by a faithful declaration of God's message. He is also warned that God would, at times, impose silence upon him (3:26; 24:27; 33:22), this being a caution to Ezekiel to speak, not hit own ideas, but only as God commanded.
Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7. Symbolic Siege of Jerusalem
Ezekiel's opening message to the exiles, who were hoping for a speedy return to Jerusalem, was this graphic warning that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, and that they would soon be joined by other captives, and that their captivity would last at least 40 years. The 40 years may be meant as a round number denoting a generation.
At this time, 592 B.C., some of the captives had already been there 14 years. In 6 more years Jerusalem was burned, From that time on the captivity lasted 50 years, 586-536 B.C.
As for the 390 years for Israel's iniquity (4:5), the Septuagint has 190, which was the approximate period from 721 to 536 B.C. If 390 is the correct reading, the 200 additional years would extend the time to the Greek period of Alexander the Great, who in his conquests of those lands showed a great consideration to all Jews. Some
think the 430 years (390 plus 40), duration of the Sojourn in Egypt (Exodus 12:40), is meant as a symbol of a second similar captivity.
As a sign of famine, Ezekiel lived on loathsome bread. Throughout the siege he lay on one side, either continuously or for the greater part of each day, which with famine diet, meant great discomfort.
Chapter 5. When the siege is finished he is commanded, as a further symbol of the fate of Jerusalem's inhabitants, to shave off his hair, burn part of it and scatter rest to the winds.
Chapters 6, 7. A, sort of Dirge over the Destruction and Desolation of the Land of Israel, the main point being that the Jews would, by this terrible punishment, come to know that God is God.
Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11. Ezekiel's Vision-Journey to Jerusalem
September (591 B.C.), a year and two months after his call. He was transported, in rapture, to Jerusalem, where God showed him the abhorrent idolatries being practiced in the Temple. The "image of jealousy" (8:3), probably was Astarte (Syrian Venus). Secret animal worship (8:10), probably an Egyptian cult. It was led by Jaazaniah II, whose father Shaphan had been leader in Josiah's reformation (II Kings 22:8); and whose brothers Ahikam and Gemariah were Jeremiah's close friends (Jeremiah 26:24; 36:10, 25), even while Jeremiah himself was crying out in horror at the sacrilege. Tammuz (14), was the Babylonian Adonis, consort of Syrian Venus, whose worship was celebrated in wild orgies of immoral indulgence. Thus, in spite of warning after warning, and punishment after punishment, the once powerful kingdom of Judah, reduced now almost to the point of extinction, was still sinking lower and lower in the depths of idolatrous infamy-a stench no longer to be endured in the nostrils of God.
Chapter 9. A Vision of the Slaughter of Jerusalem's idolaters, except the faithful who bore the mark of the angel-scribe (3, 4).
Chapter 10. Re-appearance of the Cherubim of chapter 1, superintending the destruction and slaughter of Jerusalem.
Chapter 11. A Vision of the Future Restoration of the Exiles, humbled, purified, and cured of idolatry (10, 12).
The mission ended, Ezekiel was borne, on the cherub chariot, back to his exile home; and reported to the elders (8:1; 11:25).
Chapter 12. Ezekiel Moves his Household Goods
Another symbolic action to emphasize Jerusalem's impending captivity. It contains an amazing detailed prophecy of Zedekiah's fate; his secret flight, capture, and removal to Babylon without seeing it (10, 12, 13). 5 years later it came to pass; Zedekiah attempted a secret escape, was captured, his eyes put out, and he was taken to Babylon (Jeremiah 52:7-11).
Chapter 13. False Prophets
These were very numerous both in Jerusalem and among the captives. The "pillows" (18), and "kerchiefs" (21) must have been used in some sort of magical rite.
Chapter 14. Hypocritical Inquirers
To a delegation of Idol lovers God's answer is not words, but the swift and terrible destruction of Idolatrous Israel. It may be that for Daniel's sake (14), Nebuchadnezzar had spared Jerusalem thus far, now to be spared no longer.
Chapter 15. Parable of the Vine-Tree
Useless for fruit, or as wood. Fit only for fuel. So, Jerusalem was no longer 6t for anything but burning.
Chapter 16. Allegory of the Unfaithful Wife
This chapter is a very graphic and vivid portrayal of Israel's Idolatry under the imagery of a Bride. beloved of her husband, who made her a queen, and lavished upon her silks and sealskins and every beautiful thing; who then made herself a prostitute to every man that passed by, shaming even Sodom and Samaria.
Chapter 17. Parable of the Two Eagles
The first eagle (3), was the king of Babylon. The "topmost twig" (4), was Jehoiachin, who was carried to Babylon (II Kings 24:11-16) six years before this parable was uttered. The "seed of the land" (5:13), who was planted was Zedekiah (II Kings 24:17). The other eagle (7), was the king of Egypt, toward whom Zedekiah leaned. For his treachery Zedekiah shall be brought to Babylon, to be punished, and to die there (13-21), This came to pass 5 years later (II Kings 25:6, 7), a repetition of what Ezekiel had previously prophesied (12:10-16). The "tender twig" (22-24), which God would later plant, in the Restored Royal Family of David, had its fulfillment in the Messiah.
Chapter 18. "The Soul that Sins, It shall Die"
Much is said in the prophets to the effect that Israel's Captivity was due to the cumulative sins of preceding generations. The Captivity generation, overlooking the fact that they were "worse than their fathers," were now trying to lay the blame on their fathers. The burden of this chaptei is-that God judges every men on his own
rrr,lividual and personal conduct. lt is an impassioned appeal ro rhe
s'rcked to repent (30-32).
Chapter 19. A Dirge over the Fall of David's Throne
Under- the imagery of a Lioness. David's Family, once great and powerful, now overthrown, The first whelp (3), was -Jehoahaz (Shallum), who was taken to Egypt (II Kings 23:31-34), The second whelp (5), was either Jehoiachin or Zedekiah, both of whom were taken to Babylon (I Kings 24:8-25:7).
Chapter 20. Rehearsal of Israel's Idolatries
Generation after generation they had wallowed in the filth of Idol-worship. Note the prophecy of Restoration (see chapter 37).
Chapter 21. "A Song of the Sword"
About to be unsheathed against Jerusalem and Ammon. "The south" (20:46), was the land of Judah. "Until he come whose right it is" (21:27): that is, the overturning of Zedekiah's throne (25-27), would be the end of David's kingdom till the coming of the Messiah (34:23-24; 37:24; Jeremiah 23:5, 6).
Chapter 22. The Sins of Jerusalem
Over and over Ezekiel names the sins of Jerusalem: defiles herself with Idols, sheds blood, profanes the Sabbath, practices robbery, promiscuous adultery; and the princes, priests and prophets are ravening wolves after dishonest gain.
Chapter 23. Oholah and Oholibah
Two sisters, insatiable in their lewdness. A parable of Israel's Idolatry. Oholah, Samaria; Oholibah, Jerusalem. Both grown old in their Adulteries. Again and again the relation between husband and wife is used to represent the relation between God and his people (see under chapter 16). Promiscuous adultery must have been very widespread (16:32; 18:6, 11, 15; 22:11; 23:43; Jeremiah 5:7, 8; 7:9; 9:2; 23:10, 14; 29:23).
Chapter 24. The Boiling Caldron
Symbolic of the destruction of Jerusalem, now at hand. The rust on the pot represented the bloodshed and immorality of the city.
Death of Ezekiel's Wife (15-24). This was on the day that the siege of Jerusalem began (1, 18; II Kings 25:1): a heart-rending sign to the exiles that their beloved Jerusalem, was now to be taken from them. Silence was imposed on Ezekiel till news, come of the fallen city, 3 years later (27; 33:21, 22).
Chapter 25. Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia
These four nations were Judah's closest neighbors, who rejoiced at Judah's destruction by Babylon. Ezekiel here predicts for them the same fate, as did Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:l*7). Nebuchadnezzar subdued the Philistines when he took Judah, and four years later invaded Ammon, Moab and Edom.
Chapters 26, 27, 28. Tyre. Visions of 586 B.C
These visions of the doom of Tyre were given to Ezekiel in the same year that Jerusalem fell, that is, the 11th year (26:1).
Chapter 26. A prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar's Siege, and Tyre's Permanent Desolation. Next year (585 B.C.) Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre. It took 13 years to conquer the city (585-573 B.C).
Tyre, located 60 miles northwest of Nazareth, was a double city, one part on an island, the other on the mainland in a fertile and well-watered plain at the western foot of the Lebanon mountain range. It was the great maritime power of the ancient world, at its zenith from the 12th to the 6th centuries B.C., with colonies on the north and west coasts of Africa, in Spain, and Britain, controlling the commerce of the Mediterranean, with the wares of all nations passing through its port. A city renowned for its splendor and fabulous wealth. With its subjugation by Nebuchadnezzar it ceased to be an independent power. It was later subdued by the Persians; and again by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.). It never recovered its former glory, and has for centuries been a "bare rock" where fishermen "spread their nets" (26:4, 5, 14), an amazing fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy that it "nevermore should have any being" (26:14, 21; 27:36; 28:29).
Chapter 27. Tyre, Mistress of the Mediterranean, pictured under imagery of a Majestic Ship, of incomparable beauty, bearing the wares and treasures of the nations, about to be submerged.
Chapter 28:1-19. Overthrow of Tyre's Proud King, who, in his inaccessible and impregnable island throne, made sport of any threat to his security.
Chapter 28:20-24. Overthrow of Sidon, 20 miles north of Tyre. It was taken by Nebuchadnezzar when he took Tyre.
Chapter 28:25-26. Restoration of Israel, after enemy neighbor nations shall have disappeared.
Chapters 29, 30, 31 , 32. Egypt. Six Visions
Predicting Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Egypt, and Egypt's reduction to a place of minor importance for all future time.
Nebuchadnezzar invaded and plundered Egypt 572 and 568 B.C Egypt never recovered its former glory, and ever since has played a very minor part in world history, fulfilling in a very real sense Ezekiel's prophecy that it would be "the basest of kingdoms" (29:15).
29:1-16. January, 586 B.C. 6 months before Jerusalem fell. 15 years before Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt. In this vision Egypt is pictured as a Crocodile, as Tyre has been pictured as a Ship in chapter 27. The Crocodile, monarch of the Nile, was one of the gods of Egypt. The "40 years" of Egypt's captivity and desolation (11, 12): it was nearly 40 years from Nebuchadnezzar's subjugation of Egypt to the Rise of Persia (536 B.C.), which permitted all captive peoples to return to their native lands.
29:17-30:19. April, 570 B.C.: 16 years after the Fall of Jerusalem. This vision, given many years after the other five visions, and on the eve of Nebuchadnezzar's march into Egypt, is inserted here for unity of subject. "No wages for his army" (29:18): Nebuchadnezzar, God's servant in punishing the nations, had besieged Tyre for 13 years (585-573 B.C.). In proportion to the time expended, the booty had been disappointing, because so many inhabitants fled with their wealth. But now he will make up for it in Egypt (20). "No more a prince" (30:13), that is, native ruler of importance.
30:20-26. April, 586 B.C. 3 months before Jerusalem fell. "Have broken" (21), probably refers to the defeat of Pharaoh's army (Jeremiah 37:5-9).
Chapter 31. June, 586 B.C. 1 month before Jerusalem fell. Egypt warned to take heed to the fate of Assyria, which was more powerful than Egypt, yet it had fallen to Babylon.
32:1-16. March, 584 B.C. I year 8 months after Jerusalem fell. A lamentation over Egypt, to be crushed at the hands of Babylon.
32:17-32. March, 584 B.C. I year 8 months after Jerusalem fell. A picture of Egypt and her companions in realm of the dead.
Chapter 33. News of the Fall of Jerusalem
A year and a half after the city had fallen. Ezekiel had been silent since the day the siege had begun, a period of 3 years (24:1, 26, 27; 32:22). The visions of chapters 16 to 31 most of which came within that 3 years, directed against Tyre and Egypt, must have been written, not spoken.
Ezekiel's first utterance, after receiving the news, was that the wicked left in Judah would be exterminated (23-29). 5 years later Nebuchadnezzar took 745 more captives (Jeremiah 52:30).
Then follows a note about Ezekiel's popularity with exiles (30-33), charmed with his speech, but continued unrepentant.
Chapter 34. An Indictment of the Shepherds of Israel
Responsibility for the captivity of Israel is here laid directly at the door of the greedy and cruel kings and priests who had exploited and led astray the people. Against this background Ezekiel sees a vision of the Future Shepherd of God's People in the Coming
Messiah (15, 21, 24), under whom they shall never more suffer, and "there shall be showers of blessing" (26).
Chapter 35. The Doom of Edom
The inhabitants of Judah now carried away, Edom thought hero was a chance to take possession of their land (10; 16:2, 5). But three years later the same fate befell Edom. (See under Obadiah.)
Chapter 36. The Land of Israel to be Re-Inhabited
Now desolate, it will one day become like the garden of Eden (35); peopled with a penitent Judah and Israel (10, 31). This will be for the glory of God's own name (22, 32).
Chapter 37. Vision of the Dry Bones
A prediction of the national resurrection of scattered Israel, their return to their own land, the re-union of Judah and Israel, under the reign of an everlasting king called "David" (2+-26). It is a plain forecast of the Conversion of the Jews to Christ; as Paul also foretold in Romans 11:15, 25, 26.
The vision is of the "whole house of Israel" (11-22), both Judah and Israel. The Return of Judah is told in Ezra, and Nehemiah, where there is no mention of returned captives of Israel. Yet those returned are called "Israel" (Ezra 9: 1; l0:5; Nehemiah 9:2; 11: 3).
As to how much of the language is to be interpreted literally of the Jews and what may be a "shadow" of the Christian Covenant in its universal aspect (26-28), there is difference of opinion. It is not always easy to draw e clear line of demarkation between what is to be taken literally and what figuratively. For instance, the great battle of Gog and Magog of chapters 38, 39, yet future, it does not seem can be fought with literal "bows and arrows and handstaves and spears" (39:9). "David" (37:24) is rrot literal David, but the Messiah. The term "Israel" in the New Testament, while usually used of Jews, is sometimes applied to Christians (Galatians 6:16), and it is indicated that Gentiles were included in the meaning (Galatians 3:7-9, 29; Romans 2:28-29; 4:13-16; Philippians 3:3). So, this vision of a re-inhabited land and a revived and glorified nation, making all due allowance for its evident literal meaning, may, in a sense be also a symbolic picture of a regenerated earth; as the book of Revelation depicts Heaven under the imagery of a magnificent earthly city (Revelation 21). Biblical prophecies of the future were often pictured in terms of what was then present. We think that in such passages as this there may be both a literal and a figurative meaning, just as in Matthew 24 some of Jesus' words seem to refer both to the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End of the World, one typical of the other.
The Messiah is central in Ezekiel's visions of Israel's future. He
calls Him "The Prince" (34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; 44:3; 45:7; 46:16, 17, 18; 48:21).
Chapters 38, 39. Gog and Magog
Gog was ruler of the land of Magog. In Genesis 10:2 Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Gomer are named the sons of Japheth and founders of the northern group of nations. In Ezekiel 27:13 Meshech and Tubal are mentioned as being sellers of slaves to Tyre; and in 32:26 as being ancient bandit nations. Rosh is thought by some to mean Russia; by others the identification is regarded as uncertain. Meshech is thought to mean Moscow; or Muscovy, an ancient Russian name; or a people called Moschi spoken of in the Assyrian inscriptions as dwelling in the Caucasus. Tubal is thought to be Tobolsk,
a Siberian city; or, a people called Tibareni on the Southeast shores of the Black Sea. Gomer is thought to have been the Cimmerians, who poured in from the north through the Caucasus in the days of the Assyrian Empire, and occupied parts of Asia Minor, but
were driven back. Togarmah is thought to be Armenia.
Whatever may be the exact identification of these peoples, Ezekiel speaks of them es dwelling in "the uttermost parts of the north" (38:6, 15; 39:2), end there can be little doubt but that he means nations beyond the Caucasus. A glance at the map makes it plain that he has in mind that part of the world known as Russia.
These peoples were barbarous, and were in a general way spoken of in ancient literature as Scythians. Just about the time Ezekiel was born Southwest Asia was terrorized by vast hordes of them pouring in from the north (see "Scythian Invasion" under Jeremiah 4). Its horrors were still alive in the memories of Ezekiel's older associates.
In these two chapters Ezekiel predicts Another Scythian invasion, on a far more stupendous scale, confederate with peoples from the East (38:5), into the Holy Land, against Restored Israel, "in the latter years" (38:8), apparently during the Messianic Age; and that with the help of God, they will be so overwhelmingly defeated that their weapons will supply fuel for 7 years (39:9), and it will take 7 months to bury their dead (39:14).
In the book of Revelation the same words, Gos and Magog, are used as representing all nations in Satan's final furious attack on the people of God (Revelation 20:7-10).
Chapters 40 to 48. The Rebuilt Temple
April,572 s.c. Passover time. 14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel's second vision journey to Jerusalem, the first having been 19 years earlier (8:1, 3), on a mission of doom for the city. This, to give specifications for its reconstruction, dealing largely with Temple details.
This vision was not fulfilled in the Return from Babylon. Very evidently it is a prediction of the Messianic Age.
Some interpret it literally, as meaning that the Twelve Tribes will one day again inhabit the land, and be distributed as here indicated, that the temple will be rebuilt literally in ell particulars as here specified, and that there.will be literal animal sacrifices. They call it ''The Millennial Temple."
Others interpret it figuratively, taking the vision to be a metamorphical preview of the Whole Christian Era, under the imagery of a Revived, restored and Glorified Nation.
God was to "dwell in this Temple forever" (43:7). This language can scarcely be predicated of a literal material Temple. It must be a figurative representation of something; for Jesus, in John 4:21-24, abrogated Temple worship; and in Heaven there will be no Temple (Revelation 21:22).
Offerings and Sacrifices (45:9-46:24). One wonders why there should be Sacrifices under the reign of the "Prince." The Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly states that these were fulfilled and done away in the death of Christ, "once for all." Those who think that this Temple is a literal "Millennial Temple" consider that these animal sacrifices are to be offered by the Jewish nation while it is still unconverted, or that the sacrifices are commemorative of the death of Christ.
Life-Giving Stream (47:1-12). This is one of Ezekiel's grandest passages. Joel and Zechariah also spoke of this stream (Joel 3:18, Zechariah 14:8). It seems to be a picture of Heaven's "river of water of life" (Revelation 22:1-2). Whatever specific or literal application these waters might have, certainly, without any straining whatever,
they can, in a general way, be taken as a beautiful picture of the benign influences of Christ, coming out of Jerusalem, and flowing forth, in an ever-widening, ever-deepening stream, to the whole wide world, blessing the nations with their life-giving qualities, on into the eternities of Heaven.
Eastern Gate of the Temple to be closed, except to the "Prince" (44:1-3).
The Sacred Area, for the City, Temple, Priests and Levites, was to be in the approximate center of the land, with the lands of the "Prince" on either side (45:1-8).
Boundaries of the land and Location of the Tribes (47:13-48:29). The land was not
quite as large as the domain of David. Roughly, it was the south half of the eastern
shore of the Mediterranean, about 400 miles North and South averaging about 100 miles East and West. The Tribes were not in their original arrangement, but as here indicated.
The City (48:3G-35). 7% miles square. Parrern, in part, of the New Jerusalem
(Revelation 21). Home of God (35).