Sin and Judgment in
the Prophecies of Ezekiel
Ezekiel's prophecies reveal with sharp clarity what is also the ironic
rhetorical strategy of all Israelite prophets: to bring a faithless and
unknowing people to covenant allegiance and consciousness of Cod's
A discernible organizational pattern found throughout the prophetic corpus ís the tripartite division of doom oracles against Israel, doom oracles against foreign nations, and consolation oracles on behalf of Israel. This division also characterizes the Book of Ezekiel which, after the opening commission scene (chaps. 1—3), comprises oracles of sin and judgment against Israel (chaps. 4—24), doom oracles against the nations (chaps. 25—32), and prophecies of hope and restoration (chaps. 33—37; 40—48). Admittedly, this scheme is not without its apparent exceptions. One may readily observe that the Gog and Magog prophecies in Ezekiel 38—39 are doom prophecies addressed to nonIsraelites, though found within an anthology of consolation oracles; and one may also observe that a number of judgment speeches conclude with statements of national restoration (cf. 16:60-62; 12:22-24; 20:33-44). But these exceptions only prove the rule: first, because they constitute a minor portion of the content within any subdivision; and second, because they can be readily integrated into their surrounding theological context. Thus, like the surrounding restoration oracles, the Gog and Magog prophecies focus attention on Israel's renewal to her homeland (38:16), while the consolation codas found in Ezekiel 4—24 reinforce the sense of a continuous divine providence so prevalent in these chapters and of Israel's covenantal destiny. These considerations anticipate, however, a review of the structure, content, and theology of Ezekiel 4—24, and it is to this that we now turn.
It is commonly accepted that the sin and judgment passages begin at chapter 4 and end with chapter 24: after the commission scenario and before