It’s one of those books I pretty much skipped over in the past, but in my straight-through reading I was moved by the psychedelic imagery and hallucinogenic imagination.
So the Prophet puts his hope in the exiles rather than the remnant in Judah? Got that?
Here, he expresses repeated experiences of being moved by the spirit of Yahweh, “which entered me and put me on my feet and spoke to me.” Again, I tally these as evidence of a growing awareness of the Holy Spirit before the New Testament accounts. He also rejects a later Protestant “assurance of salvation” in verse 18:24, where he also suggests an eternal death for the unrighteous — and, by implication, eternal life for the righteous?
His rage against politics and kings and queens (“politicians” will fit just fine as a synonym here) eventually leads up to a denunciation of what later became “divine right.”
And then we have the resurrection of the dry bones.
Divine visions … why not!
So what do I make of all of his all of his dimensions for the rebuilt Temple, as well as the spring within it, like a source of energy? His expressions of hope in the future include descriptions of a single shepherd leading the people — an image that returns full-force in the New Testament.
In Congregation: Contemporary Writers Read the Jewish Bible, Elie Wiesel notes, “His book is the only one — of the Prophets — that almost fell victim to censorship. Indeed, for a while the Book of Ezekiel was in danger of not being published.”
Wiesel ponders the possible reasons before concluding that Ezekiel alone describes his visions. Other Prophets had visions, “but why did he have to reveal them to others? … Why did he have to boast about it?”
More to the point, “God was kind enough to show him the chariot and its mystical creatures. But nowhere is it mentioned that God told him to tell others what he had seen. And yet Ezekiel did not hesitate to reveal everything he had seen. That was his mistake.”
Does Wiesel wish to keep the expression of this religion entirely verbal, except for the visual details of the Temple? Ezekiel, he contends, “did not understand that there are experiences that cannot be communicated by words. He did not understand the importance of silence — the occasional necessity for silence.”
Suppose Ezekiel had tried to render these as paintings? I feel certain they would have faced even stronger censure.
So the image of bones has generated divided opinions in the Talmud, where rabbis have attempted to make sense of the image. Do they die again and, if so, will it be painless? That sort of thing.
As for me? I love the fact that visual imagery can never quite be nailed down in words. Let’s leave ourselves to view its endless wonders.