OT Encounters: Ezekiel 2:1-5 – Attending to the Mouth

 By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, July 8, 2018, the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. The text is Ezekiel 2:1-5 and is usually entitled the “Call of Ezekiel,” although the language of the Hebrew more indicates the “Sending of Ezekiel.” We see this language also in the “Call” of other prophets as well (Isaiah; Jeremiah). Horace Hummel, whose Commentary on Ezekiel 1-20 in the Concordia Commentary series we will point to on occasion, titles this section as “The Prophetic Commissioning of Ezekiel: Part 1.” Part 2 of this commissioning would begin then in chapter three.

As we go through the text, we will examine several aspects of preparation and sending. However, one aspect which is not in this pericopal section of Ezekiel and yet is a very significant point is the “mouth” of the man being prepared for the prophetic office. In Isaiah, his mouth is cleansed with the coal from the altar. Jeremiah has words placed in his mouth by the LORD, and now Ezekiel will be given a scroll to eat in order that he might proclaim the words (3:1-4). The mouth of the appointed prophet must be prepared for the Holy Word of God that he will be sent to proclaim.

2:1 ben-adam “Son of man” This is the first time the phrase is used in Ezekiel, and it becomes the way in which the LORD addresses Ezekiel. He no longer calls him by name. Rather, he is called the Son of man 93 times in the book of Ezekiel. This is significant as the title is also used by Christ in referring to Himself in the New Testament.

2:2 watabo biy ruach kaasher dibber elay wataamideniy “And the Spirit entered me as he spoke to me and He set me up on (my feet)…” This is an important verse and phrase for several reasons. First, in verse one, Ezekiel is told to stand on his feet, but he has prostrated himself before the face of the LORD (See also Isaiah; Peter; etc.). Therefore, the LORD Himself sets him on his feet. Note also the Trinitarian language here: The Spirit of the LORD enters Ezekiel, while the Father speaks His Word (Son).

wataamideniy—root: amad—hiphil “to stand; to cause to stand; to make to stand”

midaber—root: dabar “to speak” There is some disagreement on this form of this verb. It has been pointed a Hithpael masculine singular with the assumption that the “tau” has assimilated as a dagesh in the “daleth.” However, it could be pointed as a Piel, which seems to be more in keeping with the grammar. Difference: Hithpael makes Ezekiel an “overhearer” of the Word of God (distance between God and man), while the Piel indicates that God does come down and speak to Ezekiel. (Hummel, p. 75)

2:3 sholeach—root: shalach—qal participle “I am sending you”

beney yisrael “sons of Israel” Israel is the covenantal name for the people (baptismal) set apart by God as His chosen ones. This is contrasted to “goyim hamirdiym” “rebellious nations.” They seem to be addressing the same group and may be Ezekiel’s (God’s) way of pointing out the rebellious, unfaithful nature of the people of Israel.

hamordiym—root: marad “to rise up in revolt; to rebel”

pashu—root: pasha “to break with; to transgress”

ad-etsem hayom Literally: “To the bone of the day.” Usually translated as “on this very day,” “in the midst of this very day.” Uncommon Hebrew idiom.

2:4 qeshey phaniym “brazen faced” Literally, “hard of face”

wechizqey-lev In this context, “the hard hearted; hardness of heart”

Note both exterior and interior are covered in these phrases.

2:5 yechdalu—root: chadal “to cease; to refrain from”

meriy “rebellious; contentiousness”

kiy beyth meriy hemah “a rebellious house” This is another “signature” phrase of Ezekiel since it occurs seven times in the book and nowhere else in the OT. (Hummel, p. 79)

Ezekiel is not called/sent out to be “successful” in his prophetic ministry; he is sent out to be faithful!