The bronze man (Ezek 40:3-40:4)

“When he brought me there,

A man was there.

His appearance shone

Like bronze.

He had a linen cord

With a measuring reed

In his hand.

He was standing

In the gateway.

The man said to me.

‘Son of man!

Look closely!

Listen attentively!

Set your mind

Upon all

That I shall show you.

You were brought here

In order

That I might show it

To you.

Declare all

That you see

To the house of Israel!’”

Who was this bronze man? He was not a comic book superhero, but a man that appeared to be bronze. Was he a deeply tanned man? Was he an angel of God? Was he God himself? Many have interpreted him as an angel or messenger as in other later Second Temple literature. Genesis, chapter 18, has similar appearances of men who were either angels of God or God himself. Anyway, this bronze man greeted Ezekiel at the gateway. He had in his hand a linen cord to measure short distances and a measuring reed to measure long distances. Then this man also called Ezekiel the son of man, just like Yahweh had. This bronze man told him to look closely and listen attentively. He was to keep his mind focused on what this guy was going to show him. After Ezekiel had seen this, he was then to tell the house of Israel about it. For the next few chapters, this bronze man will be the guide who measured the Temple for Ezekiel.

Against Gog (Ezek 38:1-38:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward Gog,

Of the land of Magog.

The chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal.

Prophesy against him!’”

This section represents an example of apocalyptic literature. The emphasis in this type of literature is on a future that would be better compared to the sufferings of the present time. This thinking predominated in Second Temple Judaism after the return from the exile. This Messianic hope prefigured a future victory of good over evil. The prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse are better examples of this apocalyptic literature. As usual, the word of God came to Ezekiel, the son of man. However, this time he was to prophesize against Gog. Who is this Gog? This is the first mention of Gog in the biblical literature, who clearly was an enemy of Yahweh. There appears to be no historical basis for this Gog from Magog. According to Genesis, chapter 10, Magog was descended from Japheth, the son of Noah. Here Gog is a person and Magog is the land where he comes from. However, in later literature they were usually combined into ‘Gog and Magog,’ perhaps due to the Septuagint Greek translation. Magog might have been a code name for Babylon. There were also other legends about Gog and Magog in the later Greek and Roman times. Both are mentioned in later Jewish and Muslim writings. Meshech and Tubal were 7th century BCE kingdoms in Asia Minor or present day Turkey. Gog appears to be the chief prince of these two kingdoms also.

The new fertile land (Ezek 36:34-36:36)

“The land

That was desolate

Shall be tilled.

Instead of being

The desolation

That it was

In the sight of all

Who passed by.

Now they will say.

‘This land

That was desolate

Has become

Like the garden of Eden.

The wasted towns,

The desolate towns,

The ruined towns,

Are now inhabited.

They are fortified.’

‘Then the nations

That are left

All around you

Shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have rebuilt

The ruined places.

I have replanted

That which was desolate.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.

I will do it.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that the desolate land would be tilled. Everyone passing by would notice the difference. The former desolation would be gone. Now they will say that this land is like the Garden of Eden, as in Genesis, chapter 3. All those wasted, desolate, and ruined Israelite towns would be inhabited and fortified. All the nations and countries around Israel would know that Yahweh had rebuilt and replanted these various ruined and desolate places. What Yahweh had spoken about, he would actually do.

Against Mount Seir (Ezek 35:1-35:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

Son of man!

Set your face

Against Mount Seir!

Prophesy

Against it!’”

Once again, there was an oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, Ezekiel was to face and prophesize against Mount Seir. Where and what was Mount Seir? Mount Seir was between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, on the southeastern border of Judah with Edom. In fact, this is a diatribe against the country of Edom. Quite often, Mount Seir was another name for Edom. Mount Seir was named after Seir, the Horite, in Genesis, chapter 14. The children of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, defeated the Horites, to take possession of this land.

A comparison to the trees in the Garden of Eden (Ezek 31:8-31:9)

“The cedars

In the garden of God

Could not rival it.

The fir trees

Could not equal

Its boughs.

The plane trees were

As nothing

Compared

With its branches.

No tree

In the garden of God

Was like it

In beauty.

I made it beautiful

With its mass

Of its branches.

All the trees of Eden

Envied it.

All the trees envied it

That were

In the garden of God.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared this great cedar to the cedars in the Garden of Eden from Genesis, chapters 2-3. This is much like chapter 28 of this work with the comparison between the precious stones of Tyre and the Garden of Eden. Here the Garden of Eden is called the garden of God. The cedars from this garden of God could not rival this great cedar. The fir trees of the garden of God were not equal to this cedar either. All the branches of common trees were as nothing compared to this great cedar tree. In fact, no tree in the garden of God was like it in its beauty and branches. All the trees from the Garden of Eden, the garden of God, envied this great cedar. Yahweh had made this beautiful cedar tree.

The dismissal from the mountain of God (Ezek 28:14-28:16)

“I placed you

With an anointed cherub

As a guardian.

You were

On the holy mountain

Of God.

You walked among

The stones of fire.

You were blameless

In your ways

From the day

That you were created,

Until iniquity

Was found in you.

In the abundance

Of your trade

You were filled

With violence.

You sinned.

So I cast you

As a profane thing

From the mountain

Of God.

The guardian cherub

Drove you out

From among

The stones of fire.”

Ezekiel has a variation of the Garden of Eden story, in Genesis, chapters 2-3.  This time, Tyre is on a mountain of God or God’s mountain. Usually this referred to Jerusalem. This may have been a reference to the Canaanite myth about Mount Sapon, near the Turkish-Syrian border. This holy mountain had a guardian anointed cherub angel. There Tyre could walk on stones of fire. He, like Adam, was created blameless. Then iniquity came from the abundance of his trade. Tyre became violent and sinned. Then he was cast out from this mountain of God by this guardian cherub as something profane and not holy. Thus Tyre could no longer walk on the stones of fire.

The precious stones in the Garden of Eden (Ezek 28:13-28:13)

“You were in Eden,

The garden of God.

Every precious stone

Was your covering.

This included

Carnelian,

Chrysolite,

Moonstone,

Beryl,

Onyx,

Jasper,

Sapphire,

Turquoise,

Emerald.

They were worked

In gold

As your settings

With your engravings.

On the day

That you were created

They were prepared.”

Somehow, this king of Tyre was in the Garden of Eden, where it is called God’s garden, with precious stones, like the Jewish ephod. This seems to be a variant of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis, chapters 2-3. Instead of a wonderful garden, this king was covered with precious stones in this great garden. These precious stones included carnelian, chrysolite, moonstone, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emeralds. They were worked into gold as settings and engravings. These precious stones were there the day that he was created, so that this allusion to creation and God’s garden of Eden was explicit. Many assumed that this garden was in the north on some mountain.