Good morning! Can you believe we are nearing the end of the Hebrew Scriptures? It seems like we’re just going along as steadily as ever, but in truth we’ve got only a few more weeks of Old Testament texts before we turn the page to Matthew’s gospel and the stories of Jesus. That’ll start on October 1st, and all are welcome to join in reading through the New Testament in the last three months of the year, even if it’s been a struggle to keep up through the Old Testament.
But first, we continue with another section of Ezekiel today, chapters 24-27. While the prophet shifts focus to other nations starting in chapter 25, the first part of this section finishes Ezekiel’s prophecy to besieged Jerusalem. I don’t truly understand the metaphor about the different pots—one of rich flesh and another that is barren, empty and corroded—that Ezekiel offers against Judah. (If you get that more than I, please share!) This section’s most shocking part is the sudden death of Ezekiel’s wife. We read that it’s God’s intention, which I disbelieve even though I can understand Ezekiel’s need for certainty that everything that’s going on in his life is part of “God’s plan”. Nevertheless, I wonder about Ezekiel’s apparent muteness in the face of this loss. Might his routine behaviors in the immediate aftermath of such tragedy be some sort of post-traumatic stress that Ezekiel succumbs to? In the context of this narrative, failing to grieve those who die sets the precedent for Judeans, a warning of what’s to come. They too will suffer so much under Babylon’s siege that they aren’t able to mourn their loved ones. They’ll be so focused on survival themselves.
The rest of today’s passage consists of proclamations against other nations, especially Tyre. Ezekiel describes how each people has gone awry, and then turns to a repeated chorus that “you [or “they”] shall know that I am the Lord”. It grieves me to think that knowledge of the Lord would come most powerfully in destruction and perceived punishment. The God who puts hearts of flesh in place of hearts of stone can certainly find other ways to be known! Nevertheless, Tyre becomes the focus of God’s “revealing” wrath in chapters 26-27. By way of background, Tyre was a costal city-state legendary for its trading, the cosmopolitan nature of which is referenced throughout chapter 27. Besieged by Nebuchadrezzar after the defeat of Jerusalem, the city withstood the siege for 13 years, according to the notes in my Bible. Even though it didn’t fall, Ezekiel imagines Tyre as a majestic and apparently unsinkable ship which is battered by the storms of the open sea. Even a city-state of immense wealth can be brought to its knees. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Ezekiel 28-31. Thanks for reading!