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Summary of Ezekiel


The book of Ezekiel contains the prophecies, visions, and symbolic actions of Ezekiel, an exilic prophet who lived among the exiles in Babylon. This prophetic book is filled with deeply symbolic visions and extreme actions from a man of zealous faith and profound spiritual vision. The book struggles to respond to the terrible catastrophe of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. It includes an awesome vision of the throne-chariot of God; prophecies of the judgment of God on Judah and Jerusalem (including the future and final fall of the city); prophecies against the nations surrounding Israel; and many symbolic actions and visions. The book concludes with visions of the future restoration of the land and the Temple, and the return of the glory of the Lord (God’s presence) to Israel forever.


Ezekiel is a difficult but rewarding book, full of symbols and allegories. It contains a powerful vision of God, the Lord of history and judge of the nations. The awesome majesty of God and the honor and glory of the Lord in judgment and mercy are constant themes of the prophecies and visions of this book. The book’s theological message addresses the changing political landscape of Israel during a time of upheaval. 


Ezekiel is the 26th book in the Old Testament; it comes between Lamentations and Daniel.


The book is ascribed to Ezekiel, son of Buzi, priest and prophet. He was raised in Jerusalem in a priestly family and lived with the Jews in Babylon during the exile. Ezekiel the person is difficult to retrieve from history because of the scant personal information about him in his prophetic book. Even though the book is written in first person, we learn only a few details about his life. He was married but we know only of his wife’s death. He was both a priest and a prophet. He was an exile who was deported to Babylon in 597 B.C.E. We do not have additional information about the prophet from other sources. Ezekiel probably did not write the whole book, but it represents his visions, prophecies, and symbolic acts.


The prophecies within the book date from about 593-571 B.C.E. Scholars generally accept that the basic form of these prophecies originates from the experience of exile. It may have been some years until the book as we have it was compiled and edited by Ezekiel’s followers after the exile.


The book contains the prophecies, visions, and symbolic acts of Ezekiel during the exile, concerning the Temple, Jerusalem, Judah, and the nations. The book addresses the catastrophe of the Babylonian Exile with a new theological understanding of central religious components. 


The book of Ezekiel is full of symbols and allegories. For many passages a literal interpretation will only confuse and mislead the reader. Ezekiel borrows symbols from earlier Old Testament books. Pay attention to the prophet’s symbolic actions, which often accompany his words as powerful enacted parables. Always keep in mind the historical and political context of the prophet in exile. His symbolic visions and allegories often have historical meaning, even while they are drawn in colors from beyond history.