The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 602


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Keywords: Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, history, Middle East, religion, Ezekiel, Roman Catholicism, prophecy, Christianity, Old Testament, Judaism, Protestantism, biblical prophets, Tanakh, Hebrew  Scriptures





Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture 

Ezekiel article page 602 


revolted in 602, vainly relying on Egyptian aid. During the rest of his reign he was harried by raids from neighbouring states subject to Babylon. Finally Nabuchodonosor marched a second time against Jerusalem with the intention of deposing and deporting Joakim (2 Par 36:6 mistranslated in Vg). Joakim however had died in Jerusalem before his arrival and been succeeded by his eighteen-year old son Joachin (yôyākîn) who surrendered to the Babylonians after a mere show of resistance. He was deposed and deported to Babylon after a three months' reign.  f  Nabuchodonosor despoiled the palace of its treasures and the temple of its sacred vessels and deported also to Babylon many thousands of the more influential citizens. Ezechiel was one of the deported and dates his prophecies from this event, 597. Joachin was replaced by Matthanias a third son of Josias who received a new name Sedecias and was the last king of Judah, 597-587. He remained subject to Babylon until 589 when Judah, Ammon and Tyre participated in a revolt instigated by the new Pharaoh Hophra (Vg Ephree) more daring than his predecessor Psammetichus II, 594-589. Jerusalem was besieged for the third time by Nabuchodonosor early in 588 and captured in August 587. The citizens were slaughtered and dispersed, the city and temple destroyed by fire. Only peasants and vintagers were left in the land which was not made a Babylonian province but was abandoned to the depredations of hostile neighbours. Sedecias escaped from the city but was captured and taken to Riblah where his sons were slain before his eyes and he himself was blinded and deported.



The religious condition of Judah during this period was similar to that of nearly a century earlier and was due to the same causes. A great religious revival was followed by a corresponding idolatrous reaction. Pious kings were replaced by impious successors, Ezechias by Manasses and Amon, Josias by Joakim and Sedecias. Foreign alliance or dependence, Assyrian in the earlier, Egyptian and Babylonian in the later period, introduced foreign worship. Old Canaanite religious practices flourished in both periods. The deportation of the best elements of the population in 597 must have aggravated existing evils. There is thus no reason to think that Jeremias and Ezechiel exaggerate in their descriptions of the moral and religious depravity which made chastisement inevitable and sealed the fate of Jerusalem and Judah.


 478a  Contents— The book of Ezechiel is divided into three parts containing respectively threats of chastisement against Jerusalem and Judah, chh. 1-24, prophecies against Gentile neighbours, chh 25-32, and promises of a restoration of the exiles, chh 33-48. The threats are varied by denunciations of the crimes committed, practical instructions and rare gleams of hope of a better future. In view of recent theories on the composition of the book a close synopsis of its contents is necessary to give the reader a clear idea of its logical structure.


In the introduction to the first part, chh. 1-3, Ezechiel receives his prophetic mission with appropriate instructions from Yahweh who appears to him in Babylonia enthroned on his heavenly chariot. The first cycle of threats, chh 4-11, begins with a prediction by means of symbolic actions of the siege and fall of Jerusalem and the death and dispersal of its citizens, chh 4-5. The country also from the Egyptian desert to Riblah on the Orontes will be devastated for the sins of its inhabitants, chh 6-7. Transported in a vision from Babylonia to Jerusalem Ezechiel beholds the idolatrous worship which defiles the sanctuary, the execution of the guilty citizens and the destruction of the city by fire. Yahweh abandons his sanctuary and city, but sends through his prophet a message of hope to the exiles to whom he promises a new heart and a new spirit, chh 8-11. The second cycle of threats, chh 12-19, begins with another symbolical prediction of the fall of Jerusalem and the exile with special reference to the fate of Sedecias. The fulfilment of prophecy is emphatically proclaimed and false prophets are denounced, chh 12-13. The exiles now ask Ezechiel to consult Yahweh on their behalf. He refuses, but exhorts them to a true repentance assuring them that Yahweh spares the innocent when he punishes a nation for their sins, ch 14. There is no hope for Israel, Yahweh's unfruitful vineyard, for the wood of the unproductive vine is useless except as firewood, ch 15. A long historical retrospect of the  c  sins of Israel shows that her punishment is just. and inevitable. The lesson is enforced by the examples of Sodom and Samaria, already punished though less guilty, ch 16. Sedecias, a perjurer, doomed to deportation, suggests by contrast a picture of the Messias, ch 17. The exiles, again informed that they will not be punished except for their own sins, are reminded of God's mercy and exhorted to repentance, ch 18. A poetical elegy on three exiled princes, Joachaz, Joachin and Sedecias, aptly concludes the cycle, ch 18. The third cycle opens with another request from the exiles to consult Yahweh on their behalf. Ezechiel again refuses, then denounces their fathers' sins and their own sins, but finally predicts future conversion and restoration, ch 20. The sword of Yahweh, Nabuchodonosor, is next depicted entering the land to exterminate its inhabitants, ch 21. The sins of Judah are again denounced and all classes of her inhabitants are shown to be guilty, ch 22. Another historical retrospect of the sins of the northern and southern kingdoms, Oholah and Oholibah, shows that Judah's chastisement is just and inevitable, ch 23. The last chapter announces the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem and on the same day the death of Ezechiel's wife whom he is forbidden to mourn as a sign to the exiles not to mourn the fall of Jerusalem. The news of that event brought to the exiles by a fugitive will detach Ezechiel's tongue from his palate, give him free use of his prophetic gift.




The second part of the book begins with a prophecy  d  of the destruction of Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia, ch 25. Next come three prophecies against Tyre concluding with brief indications of the fall of Sidon and the restoration of Israel, chh 26-28. Finally seven prophecies predict the fall of Egypt and one also her subsequent restoration, though not to her former greatness, chh 29-32.


The promises of restoration commence with the  e  arrival of the fugitive announcing Jerusalem's fall. The teaching on personal responsibility is more fully expounded. Not the remnant left in Palestine and doomed to destruction but the exiles shall possess the land, ch 33, Former shepherds of Israel are denounced. The reign of a new David and the abiding presence of Yahweh are promised, ch 34. The ruin of Edom, implacable enemy of Judah and chief occupier of her territory, is again predicted, ch 35. The restoration of Israel, rebuilding of her cities, multiplication of her seed, gift of a new heart and a new spirit, not through her own merits but for the glorification of Yahweh's name among the Gentiles, are foretold, ch 36. The vision of dry bones restored to life and the symbolical action of joining together two rods figure the revival of the nation by the return of the exiles and the reunion of the sceptres of Judah and Israel, ch 37. The destruction of Gog and his army represents Yahweh's final victory over the pagan world, chh 38-9. Finally the new temple, the new cult and the new holy land are depicted at length, chh 40-48.


Ezechiel and his Mission— Ezechiel (Yehezqe'l (phonetic transcription) 'God is strong' or 'God strengthens') son of Buzi, was a priest, undoubtedly, of the line of Sadoc. He must have been of a certain age and standing to be included among the influential citizens of Jerusalem deported with their king Joachin by Nabuchodonosor in 597. His residence in Babylonia was at Tel-Abib, apparently the chief settlement of the exiles, on the Naru Kabaru or Grand Canal (DV 'river Chobar') south of