INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL
This book is rightly placed after Jeremiah; since Ezekiel was among the captives in Chaldea, when prophesied; whereas Jeremiah began to prophesy long before that captivity, and concerning it. The name of this prophet signifies, as it is commonly interpreted, "the strength of God", or "strengthened by God", as he was, and as he needed to be, having great work to do, and a perverse people to deal with; see Ezekiel 3:8; but the learned HillerusF1Onamast. Sacr. p. 224, 320, 845. chooses to render it, "God shall prevail"; with which compare Jeremiah 20:7. There was a Levite of this name, of whom mention is made in 1 Chronicles 24:16; whose name is there read "Jehezekel"; and this prophet was a priest, Ezekiel 1:3; and both Clemens AlexandrinusF2Stromat. l. 2. p. 344. and EusebiusF3Praeper. Evangel. l. 9. c. 23. p. 436. & c. 29. p. 439. cite a Jewish writer of tragedies, of the same name; which some have very wrongly thought to be the same with our prophet; but whether Ezekiel is not the same with Nazaratus or Zabratus, the master of Pythagoras, mentioned by Clemens as such, according to the opinion of some, is a matter of question; and which the learned SeldenF4De Dis Syris, Syntag. 2. c. 1. p. 210, 211. seems to think probable. According to the judgment and opinion of JeromF5Praefat. in Ezek. tom. 3. fol. 9. D. , his style is neither very eloquent, nor very rustic; but between both, and has a mixture of each. The visions he saw are very abstruse and difficult of interpretation, especially the vision of the living creatures and wheels; wherefore the JewsF6Praefat. in ib. ad Eustochium, tom 5. fol. 174. G. forbad the reading of it, as well as the end of this prophecy, until persons were thirty years of age. The divine visions in this book, the whole subject matter of it, its agreement with the prophecy of Jeremiah, and the accomplishment of events predicted in it, prove the authority of it; and its divine authority has always been allowed, both by the Jewish synagogue and the Christian church. There were indeed some ancient Jewish Rabbins, who were perplexed about some things in it, and consulted about laying it aside, because of some words in it, which seemed to them to be contrary to the law of Moses; but R. Chananiah ben Goron, a very famous doctor in those times, withdrew to his chamber, and wrote a commentary, in order to remove those difficulties to satisfactionF7T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 13. 2. & Taanith, fol. 17. 1, 2. & Maimon. Bartenora in Misn. Sabbat, c. 1. sect. 4. . This book, in general, contains various visions the prophet saw; several threatenings against the people of the Jews; and prophecies against other nations; and an abundance of comfortable promises of the Messiah, and of blessings of grace by him; and of the state and condition of the Gospel church, and the worship of it. JosephusF8Antiqu. l. 10. c. 5. sect. 1. says Ezekiel left two books written by him; one of which AthanasiusF9Synops. Sacr. Script. p. 134, 136. tom. 2. : or the author of the Synopsis under his name, thinks is lost; but the learned HuetiusF11Demonstr. Evang. Prop. 4. p. 272. is of opinion that the prophecy of Ezekiel, in the times of Josephus, was divided into two parts; the first containing the first thirty nine chapters, and the other the nine last chapters; which is not improbable. If the authorities of EpiphaniusF12De Prophet. Vit. c. 9. , or the writer of the lives of the prophets that goes by his name, and of IsidorusF13De Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 39. , are of any weight, Ezekiel was born in the land of Sarera; killed by the governor in Babylon; and buried by the people in the field of Maur or Mahurim, in the sepulchre of Shem and Arphaxad. The account R. Benjamin TudelensisF14Massaot, p. 78, 79. gives is, that there is a synagogue of the Prophet Ezekiel by the river Euphrates; and over against the synagogue sixty towers,; and between every tower a synagogue. In the court of the synagogue is a library; and behind it the grave of Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest; and over it a large vault, of a beautiful building, erected by Jeconiah king of Judah, and thirty five thousand Jews, who came with him, when Evilmerodach brought him out of prison; and over the grave a lamp burns night and day. The Cippi Hebraici sayF15P. 74. he was buried by, the river Hiddekel; and Menasseh ben IsraelF16De Resurrect. Mort. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 5. affirms that he died in Babylon, and was buried there; and so KimchiF17In Ezek. xliii. 19. says the tradition is.