August 7, 2010

Examining The Scripture CXII: Ezekiel's Call On The Chebar River

We as readers need to understand where Ezekiel is living at the time of his call to be a prophet. By looking at Ezekiel 1 we can begin to figure out where he is living and as we continue to read we find out how he got there and under what circumstances.

Geo-Political Context:

Ezekiel is in exile on the Chebar (Khabur) River. He was part of the second wave of exiles from conquered Jerusalem. The Chebar River or canal flowed from the Euphrates River near the city of Babylon where the exiles form Israel gathered for prayer. When exiles had no place to worship or no synagogue they began a habit of gathering near a river side to worship the Lord. Generally this area would’ve been east of Israel. It is the location that the heavens “split” open and Ezekiel has the first of his visions. This constitutes the initiation of his ministry because this seems to fit the pattern of Jeremiah’s and Isaiah’s call/commissioning also. The visions came to Ezekiel and only him as noted by “the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans”. For all intensive purposes Ezekiel had been removed from Israel proper and moved into a province of the Babylonian Empire having probably been exiled along the Fertile Crescent. Because of the difficulty in explaining I’ve included a map. More than likely it was probably near the border of modern-day Syria and Iraq, not far from Babylon.

Historical-Cultural Context:

He is thirty years old which is the normal age Jewish men were called into active priesthood. Jeremiah had been ministering in Jerusalem for four years when Ezekiel’s was then born. It is likely being a man of renown in the lifetime of Ezekiel that Ezekiel would’ve been aware or familiar with Jeremiah’s ministry. So too Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel. Ezekiel and Daniel both being called by God would’ve probably been aware of each other also. Since the time of Jeremiah Israel has suffered greatly at the hands of their captors. It was a really dark time for Israel but one truth rings true through Ezekiel’s initial visions, God is sovereign over Israel and over all nations. Since this is Jehoiachin’s reign we know that the Jerusalem has not yet been destroyed, this would happen during the reign of Zedekiah and the siege of Jerusalem.

Chebar River/Canal NA, NA. Ezekiel 1:1. 2009. Unknown, Chebar. Biblios. Web. 4 July 2010.

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