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Ezekiel 1:1-3

Context
A Vision of God’s Glory

1:1 In the thirtieth year, 1  on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiles 2  at the Kebar River, 3  the heavens opened 4  and I saw a divine vision. 5  1:2 (On the fifth day of the month – it was the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile – 1:3 the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel 6  the son of Buzi, 7  at the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. 8  The hand 9  of the Lord came on him there).

1 sn The meaning of the thirtieth year is problematic. Some take it to mean the age of Ezekiel when he prophesied (e.g., Origen). The Aramaic Targum explains the thirtieth year as the thirtieth year dated from the recovery of the book of the Torah in the temple in Jerusalem (2 Kgs 22:3-9). The number seems somehow to be equated with the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s exile in 1:2, i.e., 593 b.c.

2 sn The Assyrians started the tactic of deportation, the large-scale forced displacement of conquered populations, in order to stifle rebellions. The task of uniting groups of deportees, gaining freedom from one’s overlords and returning to retake one’s own country would be considerably more complicated than living in one’s homeland and waiting for an opportune moment to drive out the enemy’s soldiers. The Babylonians adopted this practice also, after defeating the Assyrians. The Babylonians deported Judeans on three occasions. The practice of deportation was reversed by the Persian conquerors of Babylon, who gained favor from their subjects for allowing them to return to their homeland and, as polytheists, sought the favor of the gods of the various countries which had come under their control.

3 sn The Kebar River is mentioned in Babylonian texts from the city of Nippur in the fifth century b.c. It provided artificial irrigation from the Euphrates.

4 sn For the concept of the heavens opened in later literature, see 3 Macc 6:18; 2 Bar. 22:1; T. Levi 5:1; Matt 3:16; Acts 7:56; Rev 19:11.

5 tn Or “saw visions from God.” References to divine visions occur also in Ezek 8:3; 40:2

6 sn The prophet’s name, Ezekiel, means in Hebrew “May God strengthen.”

7 tn Or “to Ezekiel son of Buzi the priest.”

8 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” The name of the tribal group ruling Babylon, “Chaldeans” is used as metonymy for the whole empire of Babylon. The Babylonians worked with the Medes to destroy the Assyrian Empire near the end of the 7th century b.c. Then, over the next century, the Babylonians dominated the West Semitic states (such as Phoenicia, Aram, Moab, Edom, and Judah in the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel) and made incursions into Egypt.

9 tn Or “power.”

sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s “hand” being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).



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