Eze’ki-el (the strength of God), one of the four greater prophets, was the son of a priest named Buzi, and was taken captive in the captivity of Jehoiachin, eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was a member of a community of Jewish exiles who settled on the banks of the Chebar, a “river” or stream of Babylonia. He began prophesying b.c. 595, and continued until b.c. 573, a period of more than twenty-two years. We learn from an incidental allusion, Ezek. 24:18, that he was married, and had a house, Ezek. 8:1, in his place of exile, and lost his wife by a sudden and unforseen stroke. He lived in the highest consideration among his companions in exile, and their elders consulted him on all occasions. He is said to have been murdered in Babylon and to have been buried on the banks of the Euphrates. The tomb, said to have been built by Jehoiachin, is shown, a few days journey from Bagdad.
Ezekiel was distinguished by his stern and inflexible energy of will and character and his devoted adherence to the rites and ceremonies of his national religion. The depth of his matter and the marvelous nature of his visions make him occasionally obscure.
Prophecy of Ezekiel.—The book is divided into two great parts, of which the destruction of Jerusalem is the turning-point. Chapters 1-24 contain predictions delivered before that event, and chs. 25-48 after it, as we seen from ch. 26:2. Again, chs. 1-32 are mainly occupied with correction, denunciation and reproof, while the remainder deal chiefly in consolation and promise. A parenthetical section in the middle of the book, chs. 25-32, contains a group of prophecies against seven foreign nations, the septenary arrangement being apparently intentional. There are no direct quotations from Ezekiel in the New Testament, but in the Apocalypse there are many parallels and obvious allusions to the later chapters—40-48.