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Nevi'im (prophets) of the Tanakh
Front prophets
Rear prophets
Writing prophets
of the Old Testament
Great prophets
Little prophets
Names after the ÖVBE
italics: Catholic Deuterocanon
The Prophet Ezekhiel by Peter Paul Rubens (1609–1610) in the Louvre .

Ezekiel (/ eˈtsɛçiɛl /) or Ezekiel (/ heˈzeːkiɛl /; Hebrew יְחֶזְקֵאל Jəḥezqêl ) is the name of one of the great scriptural prophets and the text ascribed to him or the book of the same name of the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Old Testament . It originated in the 6th century BC. In exile in Babylon and describes visions and symbolic acts of the prophet .

Author and context

Ezekiel was the son of a priest (1.3 EU ) and belonged to the first group of 598 BC. Israelites abducted to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar II . He was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah . He received his residence in Mesopotamia on the river Kebar , today's Shatt-en-Nil near Babylon, where he appeared as a prophet. There he began his prophetic work at the age of 30. Altogether he worked as a prophet in Babylonian exile for 20 years, but never appeared in Israel or Judah itself. Circumstances in the book of Ezekiel point to its outstanding importance in the diaspora community: meetings of the council of elders before him (8.1 EU ) or local calls about him (33.30ff EU ).

According to Jewish belief, the tomb of the prophet Ezekiel is located in Al-Kifl in Iraq as part of today's Al-Nuchailah mosque.

In the authentic parts of the text of the book, he affirmed the monotheism of the YHWH religion and criticized the idols to which the Israelites had fallen. After the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC BC, which meant a turning point for him, he increasingly proclaimed salvation for Israel. He coined the idea of ​​the holiness of the Name of God and is considered the father of priestly theology. This is also evident in his classic priestly themes such as purity and innocence (4.14 EU ). The divine acts in his conception of Yahweh are often shaped by violent fantasies and acts against religious dissidents .


The book is divided into four parts.

  1. In the first section of chapters 1 through 24, Ezekiel rebukes the people for " idol worship " and numerous other sins . With the entire nation turning away from God and abandoning the covenant with God, he prophesies that Judah will fall, Jerusalem will be destroyed and the people will be taken prisoner.
  2. In the second section of chapters 25 to 32, Ezekiel prophesies the downfall of Judah's enemies: the Moabites , Edomites , Philistines , Ammonites , the Phoenician cities of Tire and Sidon, and the Egyptians . But the word does not go against the Babylonians. In this part the omnipotence and omnipresence of God is revealed, who is not only the God of the kingdom of Judah, but the Lord of all nations. Thus, in the second part, the theme developed in the first section is taken up again and further elaborated through the vision of God's throne chariot.
    Leonhard Kern : Vision of Ezekiel, around 1640/50
  3. Ezekiel, on the other hand, gives consolation to the exiles in the third section of chapters 33 to 39. He prophesies the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple and prophesies the return of God. One of the most famous passages of the Old Testament is Ezekiel's dream of the valley of withered bones ( Ezekis 37: 1-14  EU ). It illustrates that the presence of God is the crucial difference between the living and the dead. Chapters 38 and 39 contain prophecies against Gog and Magog .
  4. The final section of chapters 40 to 48 contains an announcement of the beginning of the messianic era and a detailed visionary description of a future, predominantly theocratic body of the Jews. This section has often caused problems for Christian exegetes because it is very difficult to reconcile it with Christian visions of the future.

God's throne chariot

The first chapter describes how the glory of the Lord appears to Ezekiel on his throne chariot, the Merkaba with the cherubim ; this is by far the most extensive such description in the Bible. This text plays a prominent role in the Jewish Kabbalah , in the oral Jewish tradition and in Christian mysticism .

4 I saw: a storm wind came from the north, a large cloud with flickering fire, surrounded by a bright glow. From the fire it shone like shiny gold. 5 Something like four living beings appeared in the middle. And that was their shape: they looked like people. […] 15 I looked at the living beings: I saw a wheel on the ground next to each of the four. 16 The wheels looked like they were made of chrysolite . All four wheels were the same shape. They were made in such a way that it looked like one wheel was running in the middle of another. 17 They could walk in all four directions and did not change direction as they walked. 18 Their rims were so high that I was frightened; they were full of eyes all around at all four wheels. […] 22 Something like a hammered plate was fastened over the heads of the living beings, terrible to look at, like a shining crystal, above their heads. […] 26 Above the plate above their heads was something that looked like sapphire and resembled a throne. On what resembled a throne sat a figure that looked like a human. [...] "

- Ezekiel 1.4 EU

According to the Mishnah , according to Jewish tradition, it is forbidden to teach a person even the introduction to the book of Ezekiel unless that student is wise and able to understand the material himself.

In his commentary, the church father Hieronymus compares the eye-studded wheels from verse 18 with the figure of Argus Panoptes from the Greek myths.

It is discussed whether Ezekiel's observations strong in this chapter auroras describes the case of strong solar winds can even be seen quite close to the equator, such as the Carrington event is occupied by the 1859th

Religious advancement

During the Babylonian exile , the religion was further developed and reformed. What is new, for example, is the secular notion that palace and temple, politics and religion should no longer form a strict unit. It is also noteworthy that Ezekiel refers to Job , Noah, and Daniel alone as an example of the righteous .

Since the temple cult of the Jerusalem temple can no longer be practiced in exile, it is now said that God serves his people in all countries (34: 11-16 EU ) and will bring them home:

“For thus says the Lord God: See, I, I myself want to ask about my sheep, want to see them. […] They save from all the places where they have been scattered […] I will gather them from the countries and bring them to their own country. "

- ( Ezek 34.11 to 14  EU )

The family liability is finally abolished:

“A son should not bear the guilt of the father, nor should a father bear the guilt of the son. Only the righteous is his righteousness benefit, and only the wicked is his wickedness . "

- Ezekiel 18.20

The proclamation of salvation has a humanistic goal:

"Do I have pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should convert from his walk and stay alive?"

- Ezekiel 18.23 EU

Ezekiel counters narrow notions of cultic descent purity of the Israelites:

"So says God to Jerusalem: According to your origin and birth you come from the land of the Canaanites, your father was an Amorite, your mother a Hittite woman."

- Ezekiel 16.3 EU

He warns against arrogance and complacency :

“But you relied on your beauty […] and you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to me and slaughtered them for them to eat. […] Behold, it was the fault of your sister Sodom: splendor and abundance and carefree rest were given to her and her daughters, but they did not help the poor and poor, but became arrogant and perpetrated abominations before me. […] Samaria has not sinned half as much as you. […] You should recognize that I am the Lord, so that you may think about it and be ashamed and not open your mouth in shame when I forgive you everything you do did, says the Lord God. "

- Ezekiel 16: 15-62

Morality in Ezekiel

Commandments of humanity

The focus of the commandments and prohibitions shifted with Ezekiel away from the temple statutes and purity regulations towards lived humanity. In Ezekiel, the commandments of humanity are:

  • Social statutes: protection of women, the poor and the poor; give bread to the hungry; clothe the naked
  • Economic statutes: waiver of interest and surcharge; Fairness in trade, d. H. Use of fair and recognized units of measurement
  • General rules: avoid injustice, seek justice, repentance

Acts of wickedness

The acts of wickedness that Ezekiel warns of are:

  • Cultic wickedness: "idolatry", e.g. B. Eating “idol meat” or using magic bandages on the wrists; Intercourse with women in a state of cultic impurity; strong desecration of the Sabbath , ignoring the prophets ( hardened heart ); Contamination of the sanctuary with atrocities
  • Social Wickedness: Adultery and Incest ; Oppression of the poor and the poor, the vulnerable and strangers; Violence ; Bloodshed and destruction of life; Disobeying commandments that keep people alive; Expulsion; Child sacrifice
  • Economic godlessness: retention of pawns; Robbery , greed and greed for profit
  • General wickedness: breach of contract, fraud and bribery; Malicious glee and vindictiveness

Priestly criticism

Ezekiel seems modern in the fact that he dares to criticize the priestly caste clearly in chapters 34: 1-5:

“Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who pastured themselves! Shouldn't the shepherds feed the sheep? (…) You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, and you have not connected the broken; you did not bring home what was scattered and did not look for what was lost, and you violently trampled on what was strong. So my sheep are scattered because there was no shepherd. "

With this, Ezekiel explains the causes of the diaspora .

Jesus' criticism of the religious leaders of his time, as reproduced in Matthew 23 LUT , is influenced by Ezekiel.

Land promise to strangers too

What is remarkable about the Book of Ezekiel is, in addition to the ideas of justice, also the ideas of the Promised Land , which he derived from the Torah . Chapter 47 says:

“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You shall give it away as an inheritance among yourselves and among the strangers who are among you and have begotten sons among you. They are to be of yours like native Israelites; with you they shall receive their inheritance by lot in the midst of the tribes of Israel. In the tribe with which the stranger is staying, there you are to give him his inheritance, says the Lord God. "

With the "stranger" is meant here the so-called Beisasse , a non-Jewish resident who is under the rule of Israeli tribes and who observes the seven Noachidic commandments . The lottery procedure aims to ensure that nobody is favored or disadvantaged.

Violent fantasies in Ezekiel

For Ezekiel, the focus is on the relationship between God and ( Israelite ) people, for example the goal of divine retribution or vengeance is the restoration of the disturbed order of faith; the exclusivity of YHWH worship ( monolatry or mono- or henotheism ) is required. Ezekiel's literary god often uses imagery to convey it, from brief parables to extensively developed allegories .

His extermination fantasies are described in detail, so his stories describe the procedure in great detail, paragraph 9 4; 5 and 6):

“And the LORD said to him, Go through the middle of the city, through the middle of Jerusalem, and put a Taw sign on the foreheads of the men who groan and groan at all the atrocities that are committed in it. But to those I heard him say in my ears: Walk through the city, follow this one, and strike! Your eyes should be cold and you should have no pity! Old people, young men and young women and children and women - kill them, destroy them! But you should not approach all those who bear the Taw symbol. And you shall begin with my sanctuary. And they started with the men, the elders, who were in front of the house. "

The prophet often describes and relates Yahweh to acts of violence against the people of Israel and neighboring peoples. In Ez 5, 13 and 5, 15, for example, he describes how, in his imagination, Yahweh lets himself out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The vengeful God is often the focus of his descriptions of God; Ez 25, 6 and 17 when he went to the field against the Ammonites , against Moab , Edom and the Philistines to destroy them.

In his endeavor to lead the people of Israel to the right faith, he also resorts to the metaphor of "fornication" with other (foreign) gods , which he connotes as derogatory , e.g. Ez. 16, 25:

"On every street corner you built your place of worship and desecrated your beauty: You spread your legs for everyone who passed by and you played a lot of fornication!"

In the course of these explanations, the consequent punishment ends, in effigy of the metaphor, for this apostate act in a stoning and smashing of the corpse into many pieces and the arson of the dwellings, Ez. 16 40 and 41:

“And they will bring a congregation against you and stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. And they will burn your houses in the fire, and they will carry out judgments on you, before the eyes of many women. And I will put an end to you so that you can no longer be a whore and also no longer distribute gifts. "

In the parable of the two sisters Ohola and Oholiba, there are two metaphors used only in Ez. 23 for the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem personified as women , which are represented by sexual infidelity, whose sexual needs are denounced on the one hand, Ez. 23, 19; 20 and 21 and ultimately in Ezekiel's conception of God are punished by Yahweh:

“But she went even further in her lewd goings-on. She thought of the days of her youth when she had fornicated in Egypt. And greed for her lovers awoke in her, whose limbs were like the limbs of a donkey and whose effusion was like the effusion of a stallion. You missed the shameful hustle and bustle of your youth when the Egyptians grabbed your breasts and caressed your youthful breast. "

And again, in effigy, the metaphor of the two sisters is followed by the divine punishment through an excessively depicted fantasy of violence, which is presented in great detail, Ez 23, 25; 26; 27 and 28.

“And I will direct my jealousy against you, and they will deal with you in anger: they will cut off your nose and ears, and all you leave behind will fall by the sword: it will be them who give you your sons and take daughters, and what you leave behind will be eaten by fire. And they will strip your clothes and take your jewelry. And I will put an end to your shameful behavior and your fornication, which you have been practicing in the land of Egypt since the time, and you will no longer look up to them and no longer think of Egypt. "

Incidentally, Ezekiel is the prophet who shows the least reluctance to describe Israel's relationship to Yahweh with metaphors or images from the sexual realm. In doing so, Ezekiel does not criticize the inclusion of the sexual in an image of God, his criticism is rather the devotion of Israel or Jerusalem to the wrong partners, the wrong gods, understood as fornicating. A fact that then justifies excessive violence and punishment by Yahweh and his executive agencies.

Remembrance days of the Prophet

Spelling of the name

The Hebrew name יְחֶזְקֵאל (Jechesqel) is rendered somewhat irregularly in the Greek Septuagint as Ιεζεκιηλ (Jezekiel) , according to the transcriptions of other names , Ιεεζκηλ (Jeezkel) would have been expected. The Latin transcription Ezekiel in the Vulgate of the Greek name dispenses with the introductory iota and is therefore also irregular. Luther transcription Ezekiel has no J, but restored the original Hebrew Chet / ⁠ ħ ⁠ / as H. The case of S instead of Z for Sajin (voiced s / ⁠ for ⁠ / ) and K instead of Ch for QOF is the phonetically most suitable in German. This use of H, S and K is also provided for in the Loccumer guidelines , but not with the name Ezekiel , whose spelling was taken from the Vulgate and which is such an exception. - The two German names are emphasized on the vowel of the second syllable, which, like that of the penultimate syllable, was inserted by the Septuagint.


Ezekiel shows many parallels with the Pentateuch or the Torah (e.g. chap. 27; 28:13; 31: 8; 36:11, 34; 47:13 etc.). It is very close to the books of Hosea (chap. 37:22), Isaiah (chap. 8:12; 29: 6), with Amos (including criticism from priests) and Jeremiah (chap. 24: 7, 9; 48: 37).

Ezekiel's prophecies, rich in images , are rich in symbols , metaphors, and allegories . They offer plenty of space for fantastic interpretations and interpretations, including mysticism . Since the risk of misinterpretation is high here, in Judaism only people over 30 years of age are allowed to read this book. Perhaps, as far as a somewhat marginal theological interpretation, this explains the fact that Jesus only began his preaching after he was 30 years old, with the knowledge and interpretation of the last prophets . The cave where Ezekiel is said to have lived is near the Turkish city of Ergani in the province of Diyarbakir, about 2 km beyond the Ergani freight station, which is in the south of the city. Since 2008, numerous caves of this ancient pilgrimage site have been uncovered.

See also


Specialist dictionaries
Research reports
  • Karl-Friedrich Pohlmann : Research on the Ezekiel Book 1969-2004. In: Theologische Rundschau 71 (2006), 60-90.164-191.265-309.
  • Georg Fohrer : The main problems of the book Ezechiel , Berlin 1952, habilitation thesis
  • Moshe Greenberg : Ezekiel 1-20 . Herder's theological commentary on the Old Testament. Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 2001 ISBN 3-451-26842-6 Table of contents (PDF; 79 kB)
  • Moshe Greenberg: Ezekiel 21-37 . Herder's theological commentary on the Old Testament. Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 2005 ISBN 3-451-26843-4
  • Daniel I. Block: The Book of Ezekiel . 2 vols. 1997-1998. - Vol. 1: Chapters 1-24, Vol. 2: Chapters 25-48 (887 + 826 pp.) (Comment)
  • Franz Sedlmeier : The book Ezekiel .
Part 1: Chapters 1-24 . New Stuttgart comment. Old Testament 21.1. 2002, ISBN 3-460-07211-3
Part 2: Chapters 25-48 . New Stuttgart comment. Old Testament 21.2. 2013, ISBN 3-460-07212-1
Monographs and Articles
  • Udo Feist: Ezekiel. The literary problem of the book, viewed in terms of the history of research . Contributions to the science of the Old and New Testament 138 (= series 7, no.18). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart a. a. 1995 ISBN 3-17-013696-8
  • Margaret S. Odell et al. a. (Ed.): The Book of Ezekiel. Theological and Anthropological Perspectives SBL Symposium Series 9th Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta 2000 ISBN 0-88414-024-5
  • Karin Schöpflin : Theology as a biography in the Ezekiel book. A contribution to the conception of Old Testament prophecy . Research on the Old Testament 36. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2002. ISBN 3-16-147869-X
  • Volkmar Premstaller: Foreign ethnic sayings of the Ezekiel book . Research on the Bible 104. Echter, Würzburg 2005 ISBN 3-429-02687-3
  • Angela Russell Christman: What did Ezekiel see? Christian Exegesis of Ezekiel's Vision of the Chariot from Irenaeus to Gregory the Great . Bible in Ancient Christianity 4. Brill, Leiden u. a. 2005 ISBN 90-04-14537-0
  • Dieter Singer (Ed.): The Ezekiel Book in the Revelation of John. Hans Huebner on his 75th birthday. Biblical-theological studies 76th Neukirchener-Verl., Neukirchener 2006 (c2004), ISBN 3-7887-2143-X .
  • Christoph Börchers: Prophet Biography and Biblicism in the Ezekiel Book. An aesthetic reception offensive In: Zeitschrift für Theologie und Gemeinde (ZThG) 14/2009, 46-64.
  • Beate Kowalski : The reception of the prophet Ezekiel in the Revelation of John. Catholic Biblical Works, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-460-00521-1 .
  • Christoph Dohmen : Visions of a new beginning. Introduction to the book of Ezekiel. Verlag Österreichisches Katholisches Bibelwerk, Klosterneuburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-85396-134-6 .

Web links

Commons : Ezekiel  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Ezekiel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Some thought that it might be around the river Khabur have acted
  2. ^ Tombs of the Prophets in the Middle East. Israelnetz.de , March 20, 2020, accessed on March 27, 2020 .
  3. ( Chagiga 2, 1)
  4. See here. in Ezech. 1,1.15-18
  5. Kristian Schlegel: 2 Northern Lights in History , in: Northern Lights between wonder and reality - cultural history and physics of a heavenly phenomenon , Springer (2011), ISBN 978-3-8274-2880-6
  6. Jens Peter Clausen: Historical-critical biblical overview. A contribution to the year of the Bible 2003. Bonn 2002–2003, p. 45 f. [1]
  7. Zurich Bible , German Bible Society, www.die-bibel.de [2]
  8. Christa Mulack: Violence in the Name of God: Causes and Backgrounds in Biblical Monotheism. Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, Marburg 2016
  9. Heinz-Werner Kubitza : The Faith Delusion. From the beginnings of religious extremism in the Old Testament. Tectum, Marburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-8288-3849-9 , p. 117.
  10. Christine Stark: "Cult prostitution" in the Old Testament ?: the Qedeschen of the Hebrew Bible and the motif of fornication. Vol. 221 Orbis biblicus et orientalis, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-7278-1567-1 , p. 212 f.
  11. German Bible Society, www.die-bibel.de [3]
  12. Zurich Bible, German Bible Society, www.die-bibel.de [4]
  13. Christl M. Maier: Ohola / Oholiba, created: March 2007, article: https://www.bibelwissenschaft.de/stichwort/29620/ , Bibelwissenschaft.de [5]
  14. German Bible Society, www.die-bibel.de [6]
  15. Ezekiel in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  16. Clemens Könnecke: The treatment of the Hebrew names in the Septuagint. in: Program of the Royal and Gröning High School in Stargard in Pomerania , Stargard 1885, p. 19 center, no. 5. Online PDF (1863 kB)
  17. http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/ezekiel.htm , English: “The mode of representation, in which symbols and allegories occupy a prominent place, gives a dark, mysterious character to the prophecies of Ezekiel. They are obscure and enigmatical. A cloudy mystery overhangs them which it is almost impossible to penetrate. Jerome calls the book 'a labyrith of the mysteries of God.' It was because of this obscurity that the Jews forbade any one to read it till he had attained the age of thirty. "(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)