You know what’s crazy about Ezekiel? Two things:
- It took me so ridiculously long to get through all 48 chapters this book, and it was so mind-numbing, that by the time I finally went to type up this post, I nearly forgot to lead off with the Pulp Fiction connection.
- As disturbing as this scene is when put into the context of a Bible blog, it literally is no different and no less violent than Ezekiel itself. Put God in the Samuel L. Jackson (Jules) role and it’s 100% accurate. Just replace the gun with swords and arrows and stuff. Game of Thrones style.
The verse they quote as “Ezekiel 25:17” in Pulp Fiction is not actually a real bible verse. But the tail end of it, especially the most memorable line – “And you will know my name is the LORD, when I lay my vengeance upon thee!!” – really IS the way verse 25:17 ends. It’s also a phrase that is repeated over and over in various forms throughout Ezekiel. Funny thing is, Pulp Fiction‘s version of a fictional Ezekiel verse is actually a hell of a lot more pleasant than most of the stuff in Ezekiel itself.
And incidentally, I think Ezekiel takes the cake for the least motivated I’ve ever been to actually jump over here and write my review. I’m usually jumping for joy at this point, having finally completed the book. But not this time. Why? I’m pretty sure it all comes down to this: What the hell is different about this book (and this prophet) vs. Jeremiah or Isaiah!? I mean seriously, these books are just the same freaking thing over. and over. and over again. God’s pissed off at the Israelites, the Israelites are such ungrateful jerk-offs who ignore God and “cheat” on him by worshiping other gods, God’s gonna destroy Jerusalem, God’s gonna kill everyone, God’s gonna destroy a bunch of OTHER foreign cities/people, God’s gonna put the Israelites into exile, God’s eventually gonna be such an awesome guy by giving the Israelites their land BACK after HE was the one who destroyed everything.
So it’s no damn wonder I’m feeling so apathetic about this review – I’ve already written it!! Multiple times over. Uggh. I am OVER IT now.
Not only has this same blasted story been told from the point of view of 3 different prophets in a row, but it’s the exact same story we’ve been rehashing since 1st and 2nd Kings. The Kings books were fifteen effing books ago people. 15 books! At least we got to see Jerusalem rebuilt in Ezra and Nehemiah I guess, and we had a little story detour with Esther, which was, well, horribly disturbing. BUT at least it was entertaining! And then there was Job, which was … torturous. And Ecclesiastes, which was an odd and sometimes entertaining conundrum. But in terms of where we are in the story, in the timeline of the Old Testament story, we’ve been at the same exact general spot for 15 chapters now. And it has been played on repeat into oblivion. We have been beating a dead horse for books and books now. When are we going to move on, Bible?? Whhhheeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnn?
Should I really bother giving any other details about Ezekiel? Just take Jeremiah and Isaiah and copy/paste. Hmm uggh o.k. fine, let’s see. Timeframe – 593 to 571 BCE. That overlaps the tail end of the timeframe that Jeremiah was doing his prophet thang. In other words, Ezekiel prophesied while exiled in Babylon, starting in “the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.” OMG how novel and exciting!! Other than that, the only information I can think of that’s “new” in this book vs. the other ones is towards the end where it gives the actual details around how the land is gonna be divvied up between the different tribes of Israel once God gives it back to them again. Then again, did Ezra and/or Nehemiah already do this? I’m too lazy to go back and check.
OH and I just remembered this book has zombies!! Nice segue into the “Good Stuff” section.
Like many other bible books, there is nearly nothing in Ezekiel that is truly “good”. I have literally 2 small blurbs of my notes highlighted in green:
- “18:7 [The righteous man] does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. 18:8 He does not lend to them at interest or take a profit from them. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between two parties.”
- “45:9 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have gone far enough, princes of Israel! Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Stop dispossessing my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 45:10 You are to use accurate scales, an accurate ephahi and an accurate bath.”
That’s it. That’s all we’ve got in 48 chapters. Other than that, I’ll have to redefine “good” as simply “stuff that entertained me” instead. So on that note, let’s get to the zombies!! (Chapter 37):
O.k., well, it’s not real. It’s like a hallucination God gives Ezekiel or something, just to make a point. But still. It’s as much entertainment as you’re gonna get in this book.
OH snaps I just remembered one other thing though – Chapter 1 is where God first comes to “choose” Ezekiel as a prophet. When God first shows up it starts off like this: “1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.” And then nearly the entire rest of the chapter is spent describing this acid-trip-induced creature that seems to be bringing The Lord to Ezekiel to talk to him. This is the best illustration of the creature that I could find via Google image search, but the way it is described in the chapter is somehow even more bizarre than this:
Don’t do drugs, kids. Or, on second thought, maybe do them, if you want to see something as ridiculous-slash-amazing as this.
Uuuhhh, everything. Almost everything. 97% of this book is boring and/or bad … with far more emphasis on the BAD. With practically 48 chapters of bad stuff, I can’t cover it all (I sound like a broken record at this point in these reviews), but here’s a few highlights.
First, let’s just take ALL of chapter 9:
9:1 Then I heard [The Lord] call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand.” 9:2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar. 9:3 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 9:4 and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
9:5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 9:6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple. 9:7 Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city. 9:8 While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9:9 He answered me, “The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 9:10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.” 9:11 Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded.”
What sounds more violent and disturbing now: That Pulp Fiction scene, or Ezekiel itself?
For this “Bad Stuff” section just take this story and multiply it by ~48 chapters. There’s at least some of this stuff in nearly every chapter. And a lot of it ends with that “then you will know that I am The Lord” phrase they used in Pulp Fiction. e.g. “7:9 I will not look on you with pity; I will not spare you. I will repay you for your conduct and for the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes you.” Etc. etc. etc. etc. Open Ezekiel to nearly any chapter and you’ll see some variation of this phrase/verse right there.
In chapter 14, God even makes it clear to Ezekiel and the Israelites that his judgement (i.e. his murderous rampage) is inescapable for the people he deems to be guilty. So let’s say for example that Noah himself, or Job – two of the most righteous men in the Bible thus far – were in the land while God was murdering everyone. Chapter 14 says that they wouldn’t be able to save their own families from being slaughtered. They could save only themselves, but not their children or anyone else. Sorry dudes. Hide ya’ kids and hide ya’ wives all you want, but they’re totes fucked.
In chapter 18, God tells us not to worry because we won’t die from someone else’s sins – e.g. a family member. We’ll only die for our own sins. So … cool! Now I feel super warm and fuzzy.
In chapter 20, God has Ezekiel speak to some elders about the time when God saved the Israelites by leading them out of slavery in Egypt way back in Exodus. He says some weird things here though. Namely:
20:13 “ ‘Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—by which the person who obeys them will live—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the wilderness. 20:14 But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
In other words: You guys acted like SUCH dicks, but I didn’t totally waste you right then & there because it would be suuuper embarrassing to have to do that in front of everyone that I just put on a big show for when I saved you from Egypt. I may love killing you ingrates, but I’m not about to make a fool of myself while doing it.
20:23 Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the wilderness that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, 20:24 because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their parents’ idols. 20:25 So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; 20:26 I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.’
Wha?? So you purposely set them up for failure and had them perform sacrificial rituals on their own children, just to ultimately prove that you are the coolest god?? Uuhhh … that is some sick, twisted shit bro.
22:20 As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. 22:21 I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. 22:22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath on you.’ ”
And then they all lived happily ever after. Oh, speaking of happily ever after, I would be remiss not to mention that God ices Ezekiel’s cake by killing his wife in chapter 24 (verses 16-18), and telling him not to mourn her. Thanks, God!
Last but not least in my little highlight reel of horrors, we have Chapter 23, which has got to be one of the most misogynistic books of the Bible thus far, and that is saying a lot. It’s a long book/story (48 verses), so you might want to just check it out yourself. But the abbreviated version is, Samaria and Jerusalem are represented as two prostitute sisters in this story: Ohalah & Oholibah. Ohalah (i.e. Samaria) was a trollop, but Oholibah (i.e. Jerusalem) was a full-on slore and a half. Ohalah lusted after the Assyrians and “defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after.” “23:9 Therefore [God] delivered her into the hands of her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. 23:10 They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword.”
O.k. cool. But what about far-sluttier Oholibah then? She was into not only Assyrians, but Babylonian/Chaldean chariot officers too. Yummy. Well, Oholibah’s super-skankiness clearly calls for a super punishment by God. So for Miss Oholibah, ALL the hot dudes she banged – Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, the dudes from Pekod and Shoa and Koa – would now come back and (per God) “cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire. 23:26 They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry. 23:27 So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore.”
Obviously this is all a metaphor for the Israelites/people of Jerusalem, but still. It’s a particularly misogynistic metaphor, even by Bible standards (not to mention all the killing and chopping off of noses and ears).
Funny Stuff, Or More Specifically, Peens and Poop
I’ve pointed out a couple funny things already, but probably the funniest thing about Ezekiel (a largely not-at-all funny book) is its preoccupation with penises. We can start off by sticking with chapter 23 for a sec – the story of the Slutty Sisters. Verse 23:20 tells us that when Oholibah was a prostitute in Egypt, she banged dudes “whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.” Uhh, wow. Intense.
Then there’s chapter 16, which I’m realizing that I should have probably also called out in the “super misogynistic” section earlier, because it’s all about Jerusalem as an adulterous wife (which, to be fair, has already been done in Jeremiah, which is probably why it didn’t stick in my memory this time). In chapter 16, God accuses Jerusalem of building “lofty shrines” at every street corner, and degrading its beauty, “spreading [its] legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by.” He goes on to say, “16:26 You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your neighbors with large genitals, and aroused my anger with your increasing promiscuity.” Damn dude, these Egyptians, huh? Who knew?? Make note, ladies.
There’s a good amount of stuff I haven’t covered here and yet this still may take the cake as the longest review I’ve ever written, so let me just call out oooone last thing here before I end this – poop. In chapter 4, God makes Ezekiel build a clay model of Jerusalem just so he can show him how he’s gonna put it under siege and destroy it. He then forces Ezekiel to lie on his left side for the same number of days as the years of the Israelites’ sin – 390. THEN he has to lay on his right side for the number of days of the years of sin of the people of Judah – 40. The instructions from this point just keep getting weirder and weirder, ultimately culminating in detailed instructions on how Ezekiel must bake bread for himself to eat while he lies on his side. Doesn’t sound that weird, you say? Well get this: He’s supposed to bake the bread “using human excrement for the fuel.” For, “4:13 The Lord said, ‘In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.'” Sounds logical. Thankfully, Ezekiel protests this part and convinces God to let him use cow poop instead of human poop as the fuel for baking his bread. Whew!! Crisis averted.
So that’s Ezekiel. Or at least, the highlights. I pray to the Sweet Lord above that no more of my reviews have to be this long, because it seems like most of the Bible books after this are relatively short. Please God, please. I beg you.
Ezekiel’s Rating: 0.2/10
There was just nothing good here. Even 0.2 is generous. It only scored that high because of the donkey dongs and poop and zombies. The rest is nothing but bad news. At this point, though I’m still not even done with the Old Testament, my Kindle says I’m 71% of the way through the Bible. Does this mean the New Testament is super short? Please? Pretty please? For now, onto Daniel we go.