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You will find an introduction and outline to Ezekiel here.

A prayer to use before reading from the Book of Common Worship:
Eternal God, your wisdom is greater than our minds can attain, and your truth shows up our learning. To those who study, give curiosity, imagination, and patience enough to wait and work for insight. Help us to doubt with courage, but to hold all our doubts in the larger faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

An Outline (based on Wilson)

I. 1:1-3:27 Introduction to the Prophet and Prophecy

II. 4:1-24:27 Prophecies and Judgment against Judah and Jerusalem

 

III. 25:1-32 Oracles against Foreign Nations

A. 25:1-17 Oracles against Israel’s Neighbors

B.26:1-28:26 Oracles against Phoenicia

C. 29:1-32:32 Oracles against Egypt: These seven oracles against Egypt are Ezekiel’s largest collection of oracles against a foreign nation.Egypt and Israel had a long and complex relationship. Egypt was traditionally thought of as Israel’s enemy. Egypt was the land of Israel’s enslavement and was the nation from whom God rescued them in the Exodus. But also, Egypt was also where Judah and Israel looked for help against the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Egypt had promised help which led to Zedekiah rebelling against Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied that this action would lead to Jerusalem’s downfall (Ez 17).Pharaoh Hophra did try to rescue Jerusalem during the Babylonian siege but failed. Recall that in Ezekiel’s view, nations which opposed Babylon in its actions against Judah were also acting in opposition to God’s will which was to use Babylon to punish Jerusalem.

29:1-16 Oracle against the Pharaoh: The date is January 587 BCE. The oracle may be in response to Pharaoh Hophra’s failed attempt to end Babylon’s siege against Jerusalem.The Pharaoh is depicted as a sea monster that recalls the crocodiles of the Nile. In Egyptian religion, the Pharaoh created and controlled the Nile. Here, of course, God claims complete control. 29:5-6 Egypt was an unreliable ally. Egypt will be punished in a manner like Judah and will be restored but as a “lowly” kingdom.

29:17-21 Egypt as “wages” for Nebuchadrezzar. This is the lasted dated oracle in Ezekiel, April 571 BCE, after Nebuchadrezzar’s unsuccessful siege of Tyre. This passage amends Ezekiel’s earlier prophecy about Tyre in chapter 26.

30:1-19 Prophecies against Egypt: Three prophecies, verses 2-9 is about the coming of God’s judgment. Verses 10-12 describes Nebuchadrezzar as the agent of God’s plan. Verses 13-19 describe how all of Egypt will be affected.

30:20-26 Pharaoh’s arm will be broken. The date is April 587 BCE. The imagery of arms being broken and strengthened are about military power.

31:1-18 The allegory of the Cedar. The date is June 587 BCE. The cedar was a mythological world tree, reaching the clouds above and its roots reaching into the underworld where the underworld waters nourish the tree. Pride was the cause of Assyria’s fall and will be the cause of Pharaoh’s fall.

32:1-16 Lament over the Pharaoh:March 3, 585 BCE. The lion is a symbol of royal power. While Pharaoh thinks of himself as a mighty lion, he is in fact a sea monster whom God will capture with a net and destroy.

32:17-32 Egypt in the underworld. April 586 BCE Egypt will join others in the part of the underworld reserved for the uncircumcised and those who were executed or died a violent or untimely death. This is a different place than the war dead who were properly buried. Egypt joins other nations who were objects of God’s wrath. Scholars think the Egyptians, Edomites and Sidonians all practiced circumcision.

Read More About It:

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Ezekiel.

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Pfisterer Darr, Katheryne, “Ezekiel” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 6, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 2001.

Cook, Stephen L. “Ezekiel” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Wilson, Robert R. “Ezekiel” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

 

 

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