himself has a huge defect, a “rafter” that he should first clear out of his own.—Matt. 7:3-5.
The apostle John saw the throne of God and in conjunction with it four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. (Rev. 4:6, 8) Such equipment would enable the possessors thereof to be continually on the watch, taking note of God in all things and observing all his indications of what he wants done. (Compare Psalm 123:2; also Ezekiel 1:18; 10:12.) Jehovah counsels his servants not to let his sayings ‘get away from their eyes.’—Prov. 4:20, 21; Luke 10:23; see BLINDNESS.
1. A son of Gad and the grandson of Jacob. (Gen. 46:16) The parallel account in Numbers 26:16 lists Ozni the forefather of the Oznites instead of Ezbon, suggesting that both names apply to the same person.
2. A son of Bela and a descendant of Benjamin. Ezbon is called one of the “heads of the house of their forefathers, valiant, mighty men.”—1 Chron. 7:6, 7.
(Ezeʹkiel) [God strengthens].
The son of Buzi, a priest. He was among the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along with Jehoiachin in 617 B.C.E. His first visions of God came to him in “the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month,” in the “fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.” He prophesied to the Jews living by the river Chebar, which some modern authorities believe to be one of the great Babylonian canals. The “thirtieth year” seems to have reference to Ezekiel’s age. He began his duties as a prophet at this time.—Ezek. 1:1-3.
Ezekiel, therefore, was about twenty-six years old when he went into captivity with Jehoiachin in 617 B.C.E. Being of a priestly family, he was no doubt very well acquainted with the temple and its arrangement and all the activities carried out therein, and was well versed in the Law.
No doubt Ezekiel had also been well acquainted with Jeremiah and his prophecies much earlier, due to the fact that Jeremiah was a prophet in Jerusalem during Ezekiel’s youth. Then, too, Ezekiel had enjoyed the advantage of living in Judah during part of the reign of righteous King Josiah, who destroyed the Baal altars and the graven images, set about to repair the temple, and intensified his reformation in behalf of pure worship in Judah when the book of the Law (apparently an original written by Moses) was found in the temple.—2 Chron. chap. 34.
Ezekiel’s prophetic life was contemporaneous with Jeremiah and Daniel. Jeremiah served as God’s prophet to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah, coming in contact with the corrupt Judean kings. Daniel, who was in the court of Babylon and later of Medo-Persia, was given prophecies concerning the succession of world powers and their defeat at the hands of the kingdom of God. Ezekiel served among the Jewish people and their headmen in Babylonia and continued the work of the prophets there. So, while the Jews in Jerusalem had the benefit of the temple with its high priest and the priestly prophet Jeremiah, those in Babylon were not forsaken by Jehovah. Ezekiel was God’s prophet to them and, while not performing sacrificial services, he was there as a counselor and instructor in God’s law.
There was also a close relationship between the prophetic work of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both of them refuting and striving to dissipate in the minds of the Jews in Jerusalem and in Babylonia the idea that God was going to bring an early end to Babylonian domination and that Jerusalem would not fall. Jeremiah actually sent a letter to the captives in the land of Babylonia, telling them to settle down and be at peace in Babylon for the reason that a seventy-year period was yet ahead of them before they would be delivered. Doubtless Ezekiel got to hear the words of this letter. Also, he may have heard the reading of the book that Jeremiah later sent foretelling the downfall of Babylon.—Jer. chap. 29; 51:59-64.
PROPHESIED TO “OBSTINATE” PEOPLE
The captives in Babylonia were in a better position before Jehovah than the Jews remaining in Palestine, as illustrated by the baskets of good and bad figs that Jeremiah saw. (Jer. chap. 24) But even so, Ezekiel had no easy task set before him, because the captive Israelites were also a part of the rebellious house, and as Ezekiel was told, it was among “obstinate ones and things pricking you and it is among scorpions that you are dwelling.” (Ezek. 2:6) At Jehovah’s command he took up dwelling among the exiles at Tel-abib by the river Chebar. (Ezek. 3:4, 15) Although the Jews were exiles, they were living in their own houses. (Jer. 29:5) They were able to continue organized, at least to an extent, religiously. The older men of Judah were able to visit Ezekiel several times. (Ezek. 8:1; 14:1; 20:1) Even when the time came for the restoration at the end of the seventy years, many of these Jews did not want to leave Babylon.
One of the reasons for the lack of desire to return on the part of at least some of the Jews in Babylon may have been materialism. The archives of a great business house, “Murashu and Sons,” were uncovered by an American expedition at the site of a Euphrates canal near Nippur, which some authorities believe was near Chebar. Inscriptions found there contain a number of Jewish names, which indicates that the Israelites had become quite well established and that a good many of them had become involved in the commercial activities of Babylon.
DEATH OF WIFE
Ezekiel says that he received his commission by the river Chebar in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin (or in 613 B.C.E.). He prophesied for at least twenty-two years to 591 B.C. E., his last dated prophecy being in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity. (Ezek. 29:17) Ezekiel was apparently happily married. Then Jehovah told him: “Son of man, here I am taking away from you the thing desirable to your eyes by a blow.” (Ezek. 24:16) His wife may have been unfaithful to him or to Jehovah, but, whatever be the reason for her death, Ezekiel was commanded not to weep, but to sigh without words. Ezekiel was told to wear his headdress and not to adopt any signs or evidences of mourning. This was all really for the purpose of a sign to the Israelites there in Babylonian captivity that Jehovah would profane his sanctuary in which the Israelites took such pride, and that, contrary to their hopes, Jerusalem would be destroyed.—Ezek. 24:17-27.
In a manner similar to that of Isaiah, Ezekiel received his commission to prophesy. He was given an awe-inspiring vision of Jehovah on his throne attended by living creatures having four faces and wings, accompanied by wheels within wheels, which moved along with the living creatures. Jehovah then spoke, giving Ezekiel the title “son of man,” which distinguishes him as Jehovah’s prophet throughout the book of Ezekiel. (Ezek. chaps. 1, 2; compare Isaiah chap. 6.) He was sent as a watchman to the house of Israel to warn them of their wicked way. Though they would be very hardhearted, nonetheless the warning was necessary so that they would know