Overview: The Book of Ezekiel

The Third Major Prophet

One of the difficulties of the Prophets in the Hebrew bible is that they seem to kind of... drone on. Ever try reading Ezekiel in one sitting? I fell asleep on a solid wood bench trying to.

Most readers know (consciously or not) that the books of the bible didn't originally have their verse and chapter numbers. These unnatural breaks in the text make it hard to follow along with the intended pacing, to pick up on the natural divisions in the text. This is especially the case for the longer prophetic works.

The Book of Ezekiel, for example, consists of thirteen oracles, but three of them have been moved out of chronological order. By doing so, the Book of Ezekiel groups oracles with a similar topic together, and enables the book to conclude with a sense of hope and optimism.

Generally speaking, the first series of oracles in each book are predominantly focused on Israel, Judah, or Jerusalem. The next series of oracles then tend to focus on other nations, the kingdoms and rulers neighboring Israel. Prophecies of judgment on Israel may conclude with a positive note of restoration (and/or the book as a whole will be structured to end that way).

I have below a breakdown of the internal divisions of Ezekiel. I will come back with similar treatments of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Order // Content

Focus primarily on Judah

Oracle 01: Ezekiel 1-7 — Fifth year, fourth month, fifth day (592 BC). Ezekiel is called to prophesy. Judgment upon Jerusalem, Judah, and Israel.
Oracle 02: Ezekiel 8-19 — Sixth year, sixth month, fifth day (591 BC). The temple is profane, judgment on Jerusalem, God's glory leaves the temple, judgment on leaders of Israel. God will restore Israel. Judah in exile, false prophets condemned.
Oracle 03: Ezekiel 20-23 — Seventh year, fifth month, tenth day (590 BC). Judgment on Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem.

Focus shifts from Judah to foreign nations

Oracle 04: Ezekiel 24-25 — Ninth year, tenth month, tenth day (588 BC). Jerusalem currently under siege. Judgment on Ammon, Moab and Seir, Edom, and Philistia.
Oracle 06: Ezekiel 26-28 — Eleventh year, first month(?), first day (586 BC). Judgment on Tyre and the king of Tyre. Judgment on Sidon. Restoration of Israel.
Oracle 05: Ezekiel 29.1-16 — Tenth year, tenth month, twelfth day (587 BC). Judgment on Egypt.
Oracle 13: Ezekiel 29.17-30.19 — Twenty-seventh year, first month, first day (570 BC). Judgment on Egypt.
Oracle 07: Ezekiel 30.20-26 — Eleventh year, first month, seventh day (586 BC). Judgment on Egypt.
Oracle 08: Ezekiel 31 — Eleventh year, third month, first day (586 BC). Judgment on pharaoh.
Oracle 10: Ezekiel 32.1-16 — Twelfth year, twelfth month, first day (585 BC). Judgment on Egypt and pharaoh.
Oracle 11: Ezekiel 32.17-33.20 — Twelfth year, twelfth month, fifteenth day (585 BC). Judgment on Egypt and pharaoh. Judgment on Assyria, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the north, and Sidon. Ezekiel is to warn Israel of God's judgment, Israel under judgment.

Focus shifts primarily to Judah's restoration

Oracle 09: Ezekiel 33.21-39.29 — Twelfth year, tenth month, fifth day (585 BC). Jerusalem and the temple destroyed, judgment on leaders of Israel. God will restore Israel, God will make a covenant of peace. Judgment on Seir and Edom, judgment on Israel's enemies. God will appoint his servant David, God will dwell with his people. Judgment on Gog, Magog, Meshech, and Tubal.
Oracle 12: Ezekiel 40-48 — Twenty-fifth year, first month(?), tenth day (572 BC). Judah restored, Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt.