Form of Ezekiel 14:1-7
Ezekiel 14:1-7 is part of the larger section of 14:1-11; which consists of an introduction (vv 1-2), a private, explanatory oracle to the prophet (v 3), a commissioning to deliver the public oracle (v 4a) and a public oracle (vv 4b-11). Verses 6–11 constitute a call to repentance; they have the formal elements of an admonition (v 6), an accusation (v 7), a threat (vv 8–10), and a promise (v 11). The overall oracle is also a variant of a judgment oracle.
A dominant feature of the whole piece is a host of formulations taken from the realm of cultic law and used to characterize the offender and the fact and form of his punishment. This feature invests the prophetic piece with the solemn air of a priestly ruling uttered with divine authority. The complexity of the piece; as a law-saturated summons to repentance; in which declarations of a positive intent are wrapped round dire announcements of punishment; helps to explain its peculiarities. Thus, its dominant third-person orientation in referring to the human targets of punishment accords with its legal perspective. Vv 7–8 constitute a self-contained statement of judgment that is also a two-part proof saying; concluding with the recognition formula.
Structure of Ezekiel 14:1-7
Normally the proof saying is a genre that marks the whole oracle; here it has been subsumed within an individual instance of case law. In fact, here the recognition formula may be regarded as a translation into prophetic terms of the formula of self-designation, “I am Yahweh,” that often stands at the end of individual cultic laws in the Priestly legislation and especially in the Holiness Code (e.g., Lev 19:11–18, 30, 32, 37). Then in vv 9–10 “in typical case-law style a further subcase appears and requires additional legal elaboration.”
As for the oracle found in 14:1–11, a clue to the chronological setting emerges from the similarity between v 11 and 37:23. The deterrent purpose of verse 11 hardly matches the theme of radical and inexorable judgment that runs through his pre-587 oracles. Therefore, it is plausibly allocated it to the second, positive period of Ezekiel’s work. W. Zimmerli found in the oracle a post-fall situation: he noted the positive ring of the call to repentance in v 6. It is matched in the probably post-587 chap. 18 (vv 30–32). Both v 6 and v 11 have links with the new, saving task of Ezekiel in 33:1–9, 14–15 and their literary anticipation in 3:20–21.
Setting of Ezekiel 14:1-7
In this passage, the public recognition of Ezekiel as a prophet; to the exilic community who indicated by the visit of members of its governing body and their respectful squatting before him (cf. 2 Kgs 4:38; 6:32). Whereas in 8:1; 20:1 they represent the pre-587 group of hostages, here they head up the larger, post-587 Judean community in exile. Ezekiel had by now received accreditation through the fulfillment of his earlier oracles, and it was with not unreasonable expectation of a positive word for the future that the elders came.
However, does the thinking about idolatry here relate to a wistful hankering after preexilic practices in Judah, such as chap. 8 had illustrated? Similar language use in 20:32, in another post-587 oracle, and there it refers to an opening of the exiles’ minds to the reality and power of the Babylonian gods, now that the catastrophe of Judah’s downfall had exposed the weakness of Yahweh.
That way madness lay, in the forms of temptation to apostasy and total rejection of Yahweh’s claim on their lives. Such a double mindedness of the exilic community set the stage for Ezekiel’s condemnation and reluctance to deliver positive messages to the idolatreous elders who came to him.
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Textual notes of of Ezekiel 14:1-7
a BHS suggests to read following a number of unnamed manuscripts as Wab)Y`w~ “and they came” instead of MT’s aobY`w~ “and he came” which appears to have been acceptable for the subject of this verb is plural noun.
a The verb here seems to be pointed incorrectly. The correct spelling would perhaps be vr)d`h!h& which is Niphal infinitive absolute with h= interrogative strengthening an indignant question or vr}D`a!h& which is Niphal imperfect first person with h= interrogative particle.
a In the LXX* the word yn`d)a& “Lord” is lacking and BHS also believes it to be later addition.
b BHS suggests to take la# “to, towards” in the sense of lu^ “upon, against.”
c BHS suggests hb* here seems to be a Kethib of Hb*. It also suggests a possibility of reading it as yb!, following Targum and comparing it with verse 7.
a The word <L*K% “the whole, all” is lacking in the LXX.
a The word yn`d)a& “Lord” is lacking in the Cairo Genizah and two other manuscripts including the LXX* and BHS also believes it to be later addition.
a BHS suggests to read it as rZ*N]h^ “the one who separates oneself” which is Niphal participle instead of MT’s rz@N`y]w+ “he separates himself” which is Niphal imperfect.
b BHS suggests to take la# “to, towards” to mean lu^ “upon, against.”