The time and place of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek 8:1-8:1)

“In the sixth year,

In the sixth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

I sat in my house,

With the elders

Of Judah

Sitting before me.

The hand

Of Yahweh God

Fell upon me there.”

This book of Ezekiel seems to be very precise about when a vision of Yahweh appears to the prophet, as in chapter 1 of this work. This is no exception, since these so-called Temple visions took place in 592 BCE while Ezekiel was in his house in Babylon with the elders of Judah sitting in front of him. This was the 6th year of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, on the 5th day of the 6th month. There the hand of Yahweh came upon Ezekiel.

The hand of Yahweh (Ezek 3:22-3:23)

“The hand of Yahweh

Was upon me there.

He said to me.

‘Rise up!

Go out

Into the valley!

There I will speak

With you.’

So I rose up.

I went out

Into the valley.

The glory of Yahweh

Stood there,

Like the glory

That I had seen

By the river Chebar.

I fell on my face.”

Ezekiel felt the hand of Yahweh on him. Then Yahweh told him to get up and go into the valley, which would have been the southern Tigris and Euphrates River valley. Yahweh was going to tell him something there. Ezekiel then got up and went into the valley as Yahweh had asked him to do. There the glory of Yahweh appeared to him, just like it had done by the Chebar River earlier in this chapter and in chapter one. Ezekiel then fell on his face out of reverence for the glory of Yahweh. Thus both the hand of Yahweh and the glory of Yahweh represent how God appeared to Ezekiel.

God of trees (Isa 41:19-41:20)

“I will put in the wilderness

The cedar tree,

The acacia tree,

The myrtle tree,

The olive tree.

I will set in the desert

The cypress tree,

The plane tree,

Together with the pine tree.

Thus all may see,

All may know,

All may consider,

All may understand together,

That the hand of Yahweh

Has done this.

The Holy One of Israel

Has created it.”

Once again, assuming the first person singular in Second Isaiah, Yahweh says that he is the one who planted a bunch of trees in the desert wilderness. These trees include the cedar trees, the acacia trees, the myrtle trees, the olive trees, the cypress trees, the plane trees, and the pine trees. Once you realize this, you will see, know, consider, and understand that the hand of Yahweh has done all this. The Holy One of Israel has created all these trees.

The future defeat of Egypt (Isa 19:16-19:17)

“On that day,

The Egyptians will be

Like women.

They will tremble with fear

Before the hand

That Yahweh of hosts

Raises against them.

The land of Judah

Will become a terror

To the Egyptians.

Everyone to whom it is mentioned

Will fear

Because of the plan

That Yahweh of hosts

Is planning against them.”

Once again, Yahweh, via Isaiah, talks about a specific future day, ‘on that day,’ when the Egyptians will be defeated. They would be afraid like women, trembling and fearing the hand of Yahweh. Judah would become a name to be feared in Egypt, where everyone there would fear Yahweh. However, the only great defeat of Egypt did not come until the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, some 400 years after the time of Isaiah, but not under the name of Judah.

Learn from the world around you (Job 12:7-12:10)

“Ask the animals?

They will teach you.

Ask the birds of the air?

They will tell you.

Ask the plants of the earth?

They will teach you.

The fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among all these does not know

That the hand of Yahweh has done this?

In his hand is the life of every living thing.

In his hand is the breath of all mankind.”

Job wanted his friends to ask the animals, the birds, the plants, and the fish, so that they can learn something. All these non-humans know about the hand of Yahweh and what he has done to every living thing. There is an ecological approach as the animals, birds, plants, and fish are given cognition. They, almost better than humans, know the power of God. The hand of life is in every living thing. God’s hand is the breath of all mankind and every living thing. This reminds me of the old song, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” This is the only mention of Yahweh in this book except for the wisdom poem in chapter 28.