Imagini ale paginilor

up against this overwhelming force. They believed that God's providence now pointed to submission; that, as he used the Babylonian King to chastise sinful Israel, so he had his own plans for the restoration of his people to national dignity and righteous prosperity, and that those plans could be carried out only by yielding to the superior strength of Babylon, repenting of sin, turning to Yahwe and husbanding the national resources for the future.

The aspect of things naturally changed when Cyrus entered on his conquering career, and approached the Euphrates. The prophets looked on him as the agent of the glorious deliverance that God had in store for Israel. Babylon, on the other hand, was now regarded as the oppressive power that held the chosen people back from the enjoyment of its rights—this power must be crushed in order that Israel may be restored. In the second Isaiah and Jer. 1. and li. there is no friendly feeling for Babylon, nothing but bitter reproach for its pride, sarcasm for its religion, and exultation over its approaching downfall.

This prophetic point of view is not ethical or religious, but national. The Babylon of Ezekiel was not less proud, oppressive and idolatrous than that of the second Isaiah. There is no indication that the policy of Nabunahid, who surrendered to Cyrus, was different from that of Nebuchadrezzar who destroyed Jerusalem. The Babylonian treatment of the Jewish exiles appears to have been humane and liberal throughout. But in the days of Ezekiel Israel's hope was in keeping quiet and maintaining friendly relations with Babylon, and the prophet has no word to say against its moral and religious character; in the days of Cyrus the hope of Israel was in Babylon's overthrow, and the prophets of the time freely denounce it on ethical and religious grounds. They were single-minded in their

. devotion to their people—they held up for them the standard of holinesss of life as the condition of Yahwe's favor-nevertheless their judgment of foreign nations was determined by the political relation of these to Israel.

6. Ezekiel, then, is definitely on the side of Babylon. He sees no hope of present independence for Israel, and his utterances consist almost entirely of castigation of his people's sins, and elaboration of a plan of national life for the restoration. It does not appear that his sympathy with Babylon brought him into disfavor with the people. They were deaf, indeed, to his exhortations (xxxiii. 32), but the elders came to inquire of Yahwe through him (xx. 1), and he seems to have been uniformly treated with respect.



I. Ezekiel's position would naturally bring him into contact with Babylonian ideas, and his friendly attitude towards the country would predispose him to accept them in so far as this was not inconsistent with his loyalty to his own people and religion. How far the books of the public libraries at Babylon and elsewhere would be accessible to him we have no means of knowing; but a residence of thirty years must have taught him much. It is to be regretted that he says so little of Babylonian customs and ideas; the reports of such an observer would have been of the highest value for us. As it is, we have only one or two general hints besides the history of the Garden of Eden.

The belomancy described in xxi. 26 f. (Eng. Vers. 21 f.) was a common practice in Babylon and elsewhere. It is referred to nowhere else in the Old Testament, but is natural in the mouth of Ezekiel, who might have seen the ceremony performed, as we now have it figured on Assyrian and Babylonian monuments (see Lenormant, La Divination, ch. II.)

The first date of the beginning of Ezekiel's ministry (chap. i. 1) seems also to be reckoned from the era of Nabopalassar B. C. 625, from which to 594 would be about thirty years. The only other supposition that has any plausibility, namely, that the prophet gives the year of his own life, is rendered improbable by the phraseology, which is in the manner of reckoning from a chronological epoch; nowhere else is such a mode of giving a man's age found. This date (verse 1) seems to be from the prophet himself; the second date (verse 2). which gives the Jewish reckoning, is from the hand of an editor, who speaks of Ezekiel in the third person. It would appear, therefore, that Ezekiel had adopted the Babylonian mode of reckoning time, an indication that he had not held himself aloof from the life of the nation in whose midst his lot was cast.

3. Another apparent point of contact between Ezekiel and Babylon, I mean his use of Eden and the cherub, requires more careful consideration.

Let us first look at the occurrence of those words in the books of the Old Testament whose date can be fixed with some approach to exactness.

Outside of the Pentateuch Eden, as the name of the primeval paradise, is found only twice in other books than Ezekiel. mentions it simply as the “garden of Yahwe,” a type of fertility and gladness; I hold this passage to belong to about B. C. 540. With this may be compared Gen. xiii. 10, where the plain of the Jordan is

Isa. li. 3

[ocr errors]

similarly compared to the "Garden of Yahwe"; in Gen. ii., iii., the name is the "garden of Eden," or simply the "garden." In Joel ii. 3 this fuller phrase also occurs: the land is likened to the “garden of Eden." The prophecy of Joel seems to me to be post-exilian. It is not my purpose here to go into a discussion of the date of Isa. xl.-Ixvi. and Joel. In regard to the latter I will only say that the reference to the temple as existing (i. 14) and to the people as being partly in captivity (iv. 1, 2), the mention of Tyre and Sidon and Philistia as principal enemies of Israel (iv. 4-6) together with Edom and Egypt, the silence respecting a King of Judah, and the general religious phraseology appears to me to point to a time not long after the building of the second temple. If this view is correct, reference to Eden outside of the Pentateuch does not occur before Ezekiel. If Joel be put just before the exile or even in the beginning of the eighth century B. C., there is still nothing more than a bare mention of Eden except in Ezekiel and the Pentateuch.

A similar remark may be made of the cherub. Leaving out the general reference in the post-exilian psalm civ. 3, 4, we find outside of Ezekiel and the Pentateuch only Ps. xviii. 11, where the cherub is a personification of the thunder-cloud or a symbolical creature, its form not described, which somehow stands in connection with this phenomenon. There is the related conception of the seraph in Isa. vi. Both of these appear to belong to the popular idea of the Israelites, and may date from the beginning of their history.

When we turn to Ezekiel we find the pictures of Eden and the cherub drawn with remarkable fulness of detail. First his references to Eden: "Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering

the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes (or, jewel-settings) was prepared for thee in the day that thou wast created .. thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created till iniquity was found in thee" (xxviii. 13, 15) “The cedars in the Garden of God could not hide him; the cypresses were not like his boughs, and the plane-trees were not like his branches” (xxxi. 8). The resemblance of this picture to that in Genesis and its greater elaborateness in certain respects lie on the surface. And Ezekiel recurs to it again and again. The great prominence that he gives to it and the fulness of detail into which he enters indicate special interest in the story on his part and special sources of information. Where could he have got the information except from Babylonia? And, remembering the silence of all Old Testament writers before him on these points, does it not become probable that it is now for the first time that the Eden history takes shape among

I pass

the Israelites, and that it was incorporated into the prepatriarchal narrative after the exile?

Ezekiel has three different representations of the cherub: 1. xxviii. 14. which seems to be derived from the figure in Solomon's templethe epithet "covering" being suggested by the fact that the cherubim "covered" the mercy-seat with their wings (1 K. viii.7; Ex. xxv. 20), the "anointed" either referring solely to the king, or a general epithet of the cherub as a part of the sanctuary which was consecrated by anointing (Ex. xl. 9)-the "holy mountain of God” may be the temple-hill, or it may be specially a designation of the altar with its burning coals or "stones of fire" (cp. Isa. vi. 6); in xlii. 15 the altar is called “mountain of God” (5870) and "hearth of God” bos or $78) as being the center and essence of the sacrificial service; in the midst of this hearth the cherub is said to walk as the representative of God himself or of his ideally perfect creature and minister. It does not appear what the form of this cherub was except that it was winged, and the Babylonian monuments present nothing similar to it. it by, therefore, with the single remark that, as a Phenician was the designer of Solomon's temple, it is not likely that its cherub-figure came from Egypt, it was more probably Babylonian in its origin, though

e are unable to give proofs of such an origin, and that, as to the cherub of Exodus in the Tabernacle, our opinion of its form will depend on our view of the date and historical value of the descriptions of that book. 2. In Ezekiel's opening vision the cherub-face is identified in one place (x. 14) with that of the ox, though in the same connection the name cherub is given to the complex living creature with its four faces of ox, man, lion and eagle (ver. I, 3, &c. )—the feet were those of a calf, but the general appearance was human. 3. In the description of the temple (xli. 18, 19) the cherub carved on the walls had only two faces, lion and human, and this is all that is said of it. It may be assumed that these last two forms were of Babylonian origin; Lenormant gives satisfactory proof of this in his "Origines de l'histoire," ch. iii. It is not necessarily true that the cherub-forms were bodily copies of Babylonian figures--the prophet may have got from these only the suggestion of composite creatures, and fashioned his material to suit the symbolism he had in mind. But the whole conception of this symbolism seems to be Babylonian in form, though the lofty moral and religious ideas attached to it by the prophet are the product of Israelitish thought.

4. One other point may be suggested—whether Ezekiel got a hint or impulse towards a more completely organized religious cultus and ritual from the Babylonians. There is extant no codification of the

priestly ritual before the exile—we are left to gather its details from the rare and brief statements of the historical books and the psalms. While in the book of Deuteronomy we have the Tora as it was conceived by the prophets in the early part of Josiah's reign or perhaps a half-century before, and in Leviticus the fully developed priestly ritual of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and later, we find only in Ezekiel any formal statement of temple-ritual in the times preceding Ezra's visit to Jerusalem from Babylon. That there was such a ritual we may take it for granted, and we may be equally sure that Ezekiel's sketch was not inferior in fulness of elaboration to what existed before him. What led him to draw up this complete scheme of templeservice, found in chs. xliii. xlvi. of his book? Jeremiah, in whom,

however, the priest seems to have been sunk in the prophet, thought of nothing of this sort. Hilkiah, who was high-priest under Josiah when the book of the Tora was found in the temple, attempted no codification--this was left to the priest-prophet of the Babylonian exile.

Now there was undoubtedly a good deal in the circumstances of the time to force on Ezekiel's attention the necessity of some such rigid ritual scheme of national life as he gives in the last chapters of his book. The nation seemed to him going to pieces politically, and morally and religiously; the main reason of this was their faithlessness to their God, their neglect of his worship, and this worship would be secured by a strict temple-law. The restored nation must be guided by a more definite rule of service than had hitherto existed.

This is true. Yet it is worth while to ask whether the idea of presenting this better defined scheme was not fostered and brought to maturity by the ecclesiastical system of the people among whom he, was living We have already seen reason to believe that he was in somewhat close contact with them, that he had opportunity of knowing their customs, that he possibly admired and honored this nation whose dread king was so potent an instrument in the hands of the God of Israel for carrying out his designs. The Jews were never in these early times, as they have never since been, averse to getting suggestions from their neighbors. In Ezekiel's time the Babylonian cultus was not only elaborate, but was recorded in books. The numerous and splendid ceremonies, the offerings, the interpretation of omens, the celebration of feast-days of deities required the constant care of a host of priests, who were supported by the gifts of the worshipers and from the property attached to the temples.

It was a religious organization far in advance of that which existed in Israel, and it would not be strange if acquaintance with so well arranged a

« ÎnapoiContinuați »