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.
The focus in this episode is Ezek 28:1-19. As readers of my book, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible know, this is a controversial passage. All scholars agree that this is an oracle and lament against a human prince of Tyre. The disagreement stems from vv. 11-19, but 1-19 is peripherally affected. The debate is over just who the prince of Tyre in vv. 11-19 is being compared to — i.e., what is the point of analogy? Many say that the prince of Tyre is being compared to Adam in Eden. This would mean that it is Adam who is being referred to as a “guardian cherub” (v. 14) who walked in the midst of the stone of fire (a reference to either divine council members or the divine council locale). Dr. Heiser shares the view of other scholars who say that the prince of Tyre is being compared to a divine rebel — and that this passage is related to another one (Isaiah 14) that compares a human ruler (king of Babylon) to a divine rebel. Further, he argues that these two passages are related to Genesis 3, the OT’s own story of a primeval divine rebellion. This means that the anointed cherub is a divine being, a rebellious member of the divine council (stones of fire) – not Adam. This episode explores why the debate exists and adds some details in defense of Dr. Heiser’s position.
Five of the seven nations that are the target of judgment oracles were found in Ezekiel 25. Tyre takes its position in the prophetic crosshairs next. Over the course of three chapters (26-28), God has Ezekiel pronounce Tyre’s dire future in the wake of her hubris and delight at Jerusalem’s destruction. This episode covers Ezekiel 26-27 with an oracle of judgment (Ezek 26) and a lament (Ezek 27).
Following the prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall (Ezek 24), the next major section in the book of Ezekiel is a series of oracles against the foreign, enemy nations that celebrated the city’s demise. Seven nations are denounced by the prophet as under Yahweh’s judgment. Nearly every book classified among the major and minor prophets contains a collection of such oracles (e.g., Isaiah 13–23; Jeremiah 46–51). This episode discusses the nature of these oracles and discusses how the oracles of Chapter 25 can be read in the context of the Deuteronomy 32 cosmic-geographical worldview of Israel.
Chapter 24 is a turning book in the book of Ezekiel. After Ezekiel’s call (Ch. 1-3), the book has, to this point, been a series of gloom-and-doom pronouncements to the exiled Jews in Babylon subverting their expectations that Jerusalem, the temple, and their friends and loved ones back in Jerusalem were safe from divine judgment. Chapter 24 announces the judgment of the city of Jerusalem and what’s left of Israel has begun—Ezekiel is to mark the very day he received the oracles which constitute this chapter.
On what day was Jesus actually born? What year? Does the timing matter? Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25, but virtually all Christians know that day isn’t the real birth date of the messiah. While that is certainly the case, has the birth date of Jesus been lost to time, or can it be reckoned. This episode of the podcast explores these questions and provides a solution draw from Scripture, backed by both Jewish messianic tradition and astronomy.