The following public domain book is now available for free download in PDF:
A.B. Davidson [1831-1902], The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1892. Hbk. pp.368.
Chapter 1. The Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is simpler and more perspicuous in its arrangement than any other of the great prophetical books. It was probably committed to writing late in the prophet’s life, and, unlike the prophecies of Isaiah, which were given out piecemeal, was issued in its complete form at once. The prophecies are disposed upon the whole in chronological order, though the book may contain much that was never actually spoken, and even the prophecies that were orally delivered may have undergone considerable modification under the pen of the prophet when reproducing them. None of the prophets shews any anxiety to record his discourses in the precise form in which he delivered them. The aim of the prophets in their writings was not literary but practical, as it was in their speeches. It was their purpose to influence the minds of the people when they spoke, and this was equally their purpose when they wrote, and, if in the interval the circumstances of the people had to some extent changed, they did not hesitate to accommodate their former discourses to the new situation. The book of Ezekiel is occupied with two great themes: the destruction of the city and nation; and the reconstitution of the people and their eternal peace. The book thus falls into two equal divisions of 24 chapters each:-
First Division, ch. i.-xxiv., Prophecies of the destruction of the city and nation, its certainty and necessity.
Second Division, ch. xxv.-xlviii., Prophecies of the restoration of the people, their regeneration .and eternal peace as the people of the Lord.
These prophecies are for the most part symbolical actions, of which the explanation is added; or allegories and riddles, the meaning of which is read to the people. Though a good many actual events are referred to, the book contains little that is historical. It is rather a book of general principles. These principles are all but deductions from the prophet’s conception of Jehovah, God of Israel and God over all. In this respect Ezekiel resembles the author of Is. xl-lxvi, though he has neither the breadth of sympathy nor the glow of emotion that distinguish the Evangelist of the Old Testament.
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