Ezekiel, the third of the great Hebrew prophets, was the son of the priest Buzi. (Ezekiel i, 3). He was probably born about 620 or 630 years before Christ, and was consequently a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel, to the latter of whom he alludes in chapters xiv, 14-20 and xxviii, 3. When Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. (2 Kings xxiv, 8-16; Jeremiah xxix, 1-2; Ezekiel xvii, 12; xix, 9), Ezekiel was carried captive along with Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah, king of Judah, and thousands of other Jewish prisoners, to Babylonia, or as he himself calls it, “the land of the Chaldeans.” (Ezekiel i, 3). Here, along with his exiled fellow-countrymen, he lived on the banks of the river Chebar (Ezekiel i, 1-3), in a house of his own (viii, i). Here also he married, and here, too, his wife, “the desire of his eyes,” was taken from him “with a stroke” (Ezekiel xxiv, 15-18). His prophetic career extended over twenty-two years, from about 592 B.C. to about 570 B.C.
The book bearing his name is written in a mystical and symbolical style, and abounds with visions and difficult allegories which indicate on the part of the author the possession of a vivid and sublime imagination. Ezekiel’s authorship of it has been questioned. The Talmud attributes it to the Great Synagogue, of which Ezekiel was not a member. It is divisible into two portions. The first (chapters i-xxiv) was written before, and the second (chapters xxv-xlviii) after, the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C, the eleventh year of the prophet’s captivity (Ezekiel xxvi, 1-2; XI, i). The present text is very imperfect, being corrupted by the interpolation of glosses and other additions by later hands.
Dore’s picture represents the prophet uttering his oracles to his fellow-exiles (“them of the captivity”), or to the “elders of Judah,” or “elders of Israel,” on one of the occasions to which he himself alludes (viii, I; xi, 25; xiv, I; xx, I).