The Prophet Ezekiel (“God is strong”) was the son of Buzi and a priest by rank. He was taken captive and brought to Babylon during the reign of Jechonias. In the fifth year of this captivity, about 594 or 593 B.C., he began to prophesy. Having prophesied for about twenty-eight years, he was murdered, it is said, by the tribe of Gad, because he reproached them for their idolatry. His book of prophecy, divided into forty-eight chapters, is ranked third among the greater Prophets. It is richly filled with mystical imagery and marvelous prophetic visions and allegories, of which the dread Chariot of Cherubim described in the first Chapter is the most famous; in the “gate that was shut,” through which the Lord alone entered, he darkly foretold of the Word’s Incarnation from the Virgin (44:1-3); through the “dry bones” that came to life again (37:1-14), he prophesied both of the restoration of captive Israel, and the general resurrection of our race.
Feast Day: July 23
About Prophet Ezekiel by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
The son of a priest from the city of Sarir, he was taken into captivity in Babylon with King Jehoiachin and many other Israelites. Living in captivity, Ezekiel prophesied for twenty-seven years. He was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. As Jeremiah taught and prophesied in Jerusalem, so Ezekiel taught and prophesied in Babylon. Jeremiah’s prophecies were known in Babylon, as were Ezekiel’s in Jerusalem. Both these holy men were in agreement in their prophecy, and they were both ill-treated and tormented by the faithless Jewish people. Ezekiel had vivid and indescribable visions. By the river Chebar, he saw the heavens open, and a cloud like fire and lightning [Ez. 1:4], and four living creatures like molten copper. One of the living creatures had the face of a man, the second that of a lion, the third that of a calf and the fourth that of an eagle [Ez. 1:10]. The human face signified God incarnate as man, the lion’s face His divinity, the calf’s face His sacrifice and the eagle’s His Resurrection and Ascension. In another image, he was shown the resurrection of the dead. The prophet saw a valley filled with the dry bones of the dead, and when the Spirit of God came upon them, they came to life and stood on their feet [Ez. 37:1-10]. He also saw the terrible destruction of Jerusalem, when the wrath of God cut down all except those who had earlier been marked with the mark, that of the Greek Tav [Ez. 9: 1-7], our letter ‘T’, which is also the sign of the Cross. The malice of the Jews did not spare this holy man. Embittered against him for having denounced them, the Jews bound him to the tails of horses and he was torn asunder. He was buried in the self-same place in which Shem, the Son of Noah, was buried.
The Book of Ezekiel
There are sixteen books in the Bible called by the names of the prophets. Four of the prophetic books are those of the so-called major prophets: Ishaih, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
The book of Ezekiel, who was a priest as well as a prophet, is dated at the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Once again, the prophet is directly concerned with God’s righteous anger over the sins of His People, making specific reference to the presence—and the departure—of the Lord’s glory in the Jerusalem Temple. Ezekiel, however, like all of the prophets, is not without hope in the mercy of God. The moving passage about God’s resurrection of the “dry bones” of dead Israel through the breathing in of His Holy Spirit is read over the tomb of Christ at the Great Saturday service of the Orthodox Church.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Ezekiel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O divine Ezekiel, as God’s true Prophet, thou foretoldest unto all the Incarnation of the Lord, the Lamb of God, the Artificer, the Son of God, the Eternal made manifest.