Ezekiel is to judge the elders (Ezek 20:4-20:5)

“Will you judge them?

Son of man!

Will you judge them?

Then let them know

The abominations

Of their ancestors.

Say to them!

‘Thus says Yahweh God!

On the day

When I chose Israel,

I swore to the offspring

Of the house of Jacob.

I made myself known

To them

In the land of Egypt.

I swore to them.

Saying.

‘I am Yahweh

Your God!’”

Yahweh wanted to know if Ezekiel, the son of man, would be willing to judge the Israelites. He was to let them know about the abominations of their ancestors. He was to tell them that Yahweh, their God, had chosen Israel. On that day, he swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob. He himself had personally let them know this in the land of Egypt. There he swore to them that he was Yahweh, their God.

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The man with the writing case at his side (Ezek 9:2-9:4)

“Among the executors

Was a man

Clothed in linen,

With a writing case

At his side.

They went in.

They stood beside

The bronze altar.

Now the glory

Of the God of Israel

Had gone up

From the cherubim

On which it rested

To the threshold

Of the house.

Yahweh called

To the man

Clothed in linen,

With the writing case

At his side.

Yahweh said to him.

‘Go through the city,

Through Jerusalem,

Put a mark

On the foreheads

Of those who sigh,

Of those who groan

Over all the abominations

That are committed in it.’”

Now a new character enters the scene. This man dressed in white linen with a writing case at his side was among the 6 executioners from the north. They were all standing at the bronze altar when the glory of the God of Israel left the cherubim where it was resting and went to the threshold of the house. Then Yahweh called to the man, who was clothed in linen, with the writing case at his side. Yahweh told him to go into Jerusalem. He was to find all the people who were sighing and groaning about all the abominations in town. He was to put a taw mark on their forehead, like a mini cross, since taw was the last consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus he acted like the angel of death in the Passover story. He marked those who cared about the situation there, who might be spared.

Weeping for the god Tammuz (Ezek 8:14-8:15)

“Then he brought me

To the entrance

Of the north gate

Of the house

Of Yahweh.

Women were sitting there,

Weeping

For Tammuz.

Then he said to me.

‘Have you seen this?

O son of man!

You will see

Still greater abominations

Than these.’”

Next Yahweh brought Ezekiel to the north gate of the Temple. Women were sitting there weeping for the god Tammuz, a food or vegetation god common among Assyrians and Babylonians. He was the only god explicitly mentioned in this tour of the abominations in Israel. The weeping for the lost of Tammuz was generally around the summer solstice, when the vegetation began to dry out. Thus Tammuz would descent into hell at this time. These women were weeping and mourning for his loss. Interesting enough, the Church of the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem was built on an old shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. Once again, in the same terms, Yahweh warned Ezekiel that he had not seen anything yet. There were still greater abominations to come.