On the surface, these chapters finalize the destruction of Jerusalem and the covenant failure of its leadership and people as the cause. But there is more than meets the eye. The notion of a “watchman” prominent in Ezekiel chapter 33 is found elsewhere and has possible connections to the divine council. Ezekiel chapter 34 is heavily re-purposed in the New Testament, especially in casting Jesus in the role of God, the true shepherd of Israel. Lastly, we get a hint of the “already but not yet” theme of biblical eschatology.
Ezekiel 32 is a lament for the empire of Egypt, whose hubris was compared to a rebellious divine council member in the previous chapter (one of the “trees” of God’s garden in Lebanon/Eden). This episode focuses on two items in the chapter. Early in the chapter, the prophet casts pharaoh as both a sea dragon and a lion, two seemingly incompatible metaphors. Is this a mistake or is it meaningful? This episode also discusses whether Ezekiel 32:21-28 has anything to do with the origin of demons as the disembodied spirits of the giants.
Theodore Lewis, “CT 13.33-34 and Ezekiel 32: Lion-Dragon Myths,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 116:1 (1996):28-47
Ezekiel 31 is part of the prophet’s oracles against Egypt (chs. 29-32). The chapter strikes an analogy between the mighty nation of Egypt and a great cedar tree in Eden, the envy of other glorious trees in the garden of God. The symbol of the “world tree” or “cosmic tree” is well known, not only to scholars of the ancient Near East, but other cultures as well. The cosmic tree represents a mythological pillar or column that unites all elements of Israel’s ancient three-tiered cosmology. Its branches reach the heavens; its trunk is fixed to the earth, while its roots descend into the subterranean deep of Sheol. It gives life to everything living thing yet it intersects with the realm of the dead. As with Ezekiel28, many scholars presume the point of that the great tree is Adam, to whom Pharaoh is being compared and judged for his hubris. This common assumption misses the meaning of the primeval cosmic tree and its associated forest as this episode details.
Silviu Bunta, “The MEŠU-Tree and the Animal Inside: Theomorphism and Theriomorphism in Daniel 4,” Scrinium 3:1 (2007): 364-384
Edward Lipinski, “El’s Abode: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia,” Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica II, (Leuven, 1971), pp. 13-69
Ezekiel 29-30 are the first two of four chapters that preserve a series of oracles against Egypt and her Pharaoh. As in the case of the oracles against the prince of Tyre, Ezekiel’s imagery of cosmic, non-human forces of chaos that resist God’s order frames Yahweh’s judgment of the hubris of Egypt. This episode therefore pays special attention to chaos and Leviathan imagery while referencing other symbols and metaphors that juxtapose Egypt’s deserved demise and Israel’s future restoration.