The time and place of Ezekiel’s first vision (Ezek 1:1-1:3)

“In the thirtieth year,

In the fourth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

As I was among the exiles

By the river Chebar,

The heavens

Were opened.

I saw visions

Of God.

This was the fifth day

Of the month

Of the fifth year

Of the exile

Of King Jehoiachin.

The word of Yahweh

Came to

The priest Ezekiel,

The son of Buzi,

In the land

Of the Chaldeans

By the river Chebar.

The hand

Of Yahweh

Was on me there.”

The dating is very precise here. This is the 30th year, probably from his birth around 623 BCE during the reign of King Josiah. Ezekiel writes in the first person singular. He said that he was among the exiles at the Chebar River, a small canal near Erech that ran into the Euphrates River in northern Babylon. On the 5th day of the 4th month the heavens opened to provide visions of God to him.  Once again, there is precise information about the date, as this was the 5th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that had occurred in 598 BCE. Thus this year would have been 593 BCE. Ezekiel’s father was Buzi, a Jerusalem priest, so that he was from a family of priests. The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar. Yahweh put his hand on him. Thus the opening scene is set with this 30 year old exiled Jerusalem priest by a river bank with the rest of the exiles, when a heavenly vision appeared to him.

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The title of the decree for the extermination of the Jews (Greek text only)

“This is a copy of the letter. ‘The Great King, Artaxerxes, writes the following to the governors of the one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia and to the officials under them.”

Once again, this appears only in the Greek text and not in the Hebrew text at all. The king is clearly writing to the 127 governors of the various provinces form India to Ethiopia, the great Persian Empire that had been established by King Cyrus the Great. King Cyrus had issued a decree to let the Jewish people return to Jerusalem as in 539 BCE as in Ezra, chapter 1. This would have been around the year 452 BCE, about a hundred years later about 8 years before the time of Nehemiah.