Lesson 3 of 6
In Progress

Background of Ezekiel

The prophet Ezekiel was raised in a priestly family in Jerusalem and educated to become a priest himself. However, before he was able to perform his priestly duties at the Temple, he was taken with other high-ranking Judahites during the first siege of Jerusalem (597 B.C.E.) by Nebuchadnezzar II (ruler of Babylon, 605-562 B.C.E.). Ezekiel went into the servile oppression of exile, working in a small village (Tel-abib, near Nippur) by the river Chebar (3:15). There, in his 30th year (593 B.C.E.), he received a powerful vision and a call to be a prophet. Between this first exile and the final fall of Jerusalem (in 587 B.C.E.) many Judahites hoped to throw off the yoke of Babylon, often looking to Egypt for help. But Judah was a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel’s prophecies against Jerusalem and  other nations take place in this chaotic context. 

In the end, Jerusalem falls completely to Babylonian forces. The Davidic king no longer sits enthroned in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the Holy City, is destroyed. The Temple is also destroyed. Some of the other prophecies against the nations and the visions or prophecies of future restoration of the land and the Temple date from after the fall of Jerusalem. The background to the book is exilic, taking place before the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Persian rule (starting 538 B.C.E.). The book may have been edited and put to writing during the later, postexilic period.