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Ezekiel is a prophet and the author of the Book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel, Yehezkel, "God will strengthen" was a priest in the Bible who prophesied for 22 years sometime in the 6th century BC in the form of visions while exiled in Babylon, as recorded in the Book of Ezekiel.

In Christianity Ezekiel is a saint and a prophet. Judaism considers the Book of Ezekiel a part of its canon, and regards Ezekiel as the third of the major prophets.


The prophet Ezekiel, Sistine Chapel.

In Judaism[]

The Book of Ezekiel[]

The Book of Ezekiel gives little detail about Ezekiel's life and mentions him only twice by name, in 1:3 and 24:24. Ezekiel was a prophet, the son of Buzi. He was one of the Israelite exiles who settled at a place called Tel-abib (mound of the deluge), on the banks of the Chebar River "in the land of the Chaldeans. Traditionally, the book is thought to have been written in the 500s BC during the Babylonian exile of the southern Israelite kingdom, Judah. This estimate is supported by evidence that the author uses a dating system which was only used in the 500s BC.

Other Jewish literature[]

Yad Vashem Memorial to survivors by David Shankbone

Monument to Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; the quote is Ezekiel 37:14.

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, is said by Talmud (Meg. 14b) and Midrash (Sifre, Num. 78) to have been a descendant of Joshua by his marriage with the proselyte Rahab. Some statements found in rabbinic literature go so far as to posit that Ezekiel was Jeremiah or the son of Jeremiah, who was (also) called "Buzi" because he was despised by the Jews.

Ezekiel was said to be already active as a prophet while in the Land of Israel, and he retained this gift when he was exiled with Jehoiachin and the nobles of the country to Babylon (Josephus, Ant. x. 6, § 3: "while he was still a boy"; comp. Rashi on Sanh. 92b, above).

Rava states in the Babylonian Talmud that although Ezekiel describes the appearance of the throne of God (Merkabah), this is not due to the fact that he had seen more than the prophet Isaiah, but rather because the latter was more accustomed to such visions; for the relation of the two prophets is that of a courtier to a peasant, the latter of whom would always describe a royal court more floridly than the former, to whom such things would be familiar (Ḥag. 13b). Ezekiel, like all the other prophets, has beheld only a blurred reflection of the divine majesty, just as a poor mirror reflects objects only imperfectly (Midrash Lev. Rabbah i. 14, toward the end).

According to the midrash Canticles Rabbah, it was Ezekiel whom the three pious men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (also called Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego in the Bible) asked for advice as to whether they should resist Nebuchadnezzar's command and choose death by fire rather than worship his idol. At first God revealed to the prophet that they could not hope for a miraculous rescue; whereupon the prophet was greatly grieved, since these three men constituted the "remnant of Judah". But after they had left the house of the prophet, fully determined to sacrifice their lives to God, Ezekiel received this revelation: "Thou dost believe indeed that I will abandon them. That shall not happen; but do thou let them carry out their intention according to their pious dictates, and tell them nothing" (Midrash Canticles Rabbah vii. 8).

Ezekiel's greatest "miracle" consisted in his resuscitation of the dead, which is recounted in chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel. Although the Hebrew Bible describes this event as an ecstatic vision rather than a historical occurrence, later interpreters speculated as to the fate of these men, both before and after their revitalization. Some say that they were godless people, who in their lifetime had denied the resurrection, and committed other sins; others think they were those Ephraimites who tried to escape from Egypt before Moses and perished in the attempt. There are still others who maintain that after Nebuchadnezzar had carried the beautiful youths of Judah to Babylon, he had them executed and their bodies mutilated, because their beauty had entranced the Babylonian women, and that it was these youths whom Ezekiel called back to life.

This miracle is said to have been performed on the same day on which the three men were cast into the fiery furnace; namely, on the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement (Cant. R. vii. 9). Nebuchadnezzar, who had made a drinking-cup from the skull of a murdered Jew, was greatly astonished when, at the moment that the three men were cast into the furnace, the bodies of the dead boys moved, and, striking him in the face, cried out: "The companion of these three men revives the dead!" (see a Karaite record of this episode in Judah Hadasi's "Eshkol ha-Kofer," 45b, at foot; 134a, end of the section). When the boys awakened from death, they rose up and joined in a song of praise to God for the miracle vouchsafed to them; later, they went to Palestine, where they married and reared children

As early as the second century, however, some authorities declared this resurrection of the dead was a prophetic vision: an opinion regarded by Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed, II:46) and his followers as the only rational explanation of the Biblical passage.

In Christianity[]


Russian icon of the Prophet Ezekiel holding a scroll with his prophecy and pointing to the "closed gate" (18th century, Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia).

Ezekiel is commemorated as a saint in the liturgical calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church—and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite—on July 21 (for those churches which use the traditional Julian Calendar, July 21 falls on August 3 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). This date was chosen because it is the day after the feast day of the Prophet Elias. Ezekiel is commemorated on August 28 on the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church.

Certain Lutheran churches also celebrate his commemoration on July 21.

The Church Fathers interpret Ezekiel's vision of the human likeness upon the sapphire throne (Ezekiel 1:26) as a prophesy of the Incarnation of the Logos from the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), who in many ancient church hymns is called the "living Throne of God".

Ezekiel's statement about the "closed gate" (Ezekiel 44:2-3) is understood by Eastern Christianity as another prophesy of the Incarnation: the "gate" signifying the Virgin Mary and the "prince" referring to Jesus. This is one of the readings at Vespers on Great Feasts of the Theotokos in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.

Ezekiel and Epilepsy[]

Some scholars have suggested that Ezekiel may have suffered from epilepsy. Specifically, it is claimed that Ezekiel may have suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, which has several characteristic symptoms that are apparent from his writing. These symptoms include hypergraphia, hyperreligiosity, fainting spells, and mutism; often these are collectively ascribed to a condition known as Geschwind syndrome.

Tomb of Ezekiel[]

The tomb of Ezekiel is a structure located in the central part of Dezful in Iran, believed to be the final resting place of Ezekiel, close to his son Daniel is buried in Susa - only 35km away. It has been a place of pilgrimage to both Muslims and Jews alike. Another tomb attributed to him, Ezekiel's Tomb, lies in Iraq. After the Jewish exodus from Iraq, Jewish activity in the tomb ceased although a disused Synagogue remains in place.

See also[]

External links[]


Altschuler, E.L.: "Did Ezekiel Have Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?", Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59:561-562.

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