Ezekiel 1:1

1 On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1 Meaning and Commentary

Ezekiel 1:1

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year
Either from the last jubilee, as R. Joseph Kimchi F18, Jarchi, and Abendana; or from the time that the book of the law was found by Hilkiah the priest F19; so the Targum, which paraphrases the words thus,

``and it was in the thirtieth year after Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law, in the house of the sanctuary, in the court under the porch, in the middle of the night, after the moon was down, in the days of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah;''
or, according to Jerom F20, from the time of the prophet's birth, who was now thirty years of age, and was just entered into his priestly office; or rather it was the thirtieth year of Nabopolassar, or the father of Nebuchadnezzar: this was the twelfth year of the captivity, reckoning from the third of Jehoiakim, which was the first captivity, and from whence the seventy years are to be reckoned, and also the twelfth of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; and if two years are taken, as Vitringa F21 observes, from the twenty one years, which are given to Nabopolassar in Ptolemy's canon, in which Nebuchadnezzar his son reigned with him, there will be found thirty years from the beginning of Nabopolassar's reign to the fifth of Jeconiah's captivity, when Ezekiel began his prophecy, and which, as Bishop Usher F23, Mr. Bedford {x}, Mr. Whiston F25, and the authors of the Universal History F26, place in the year 593, before the birth of Christ: in the fourth [month];
the month Tammuz, as the Targum expresses it; which answers to part of June, and part of July: in the fifth [day] of the month;
which some take to be on a sabbath day; because, seven days after, the word of the Lord came to him again ( Ezekiel 3:16 ) ; just as John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, ( Revelation 1:10 ) ; between one of whose visions and this there is a very great likeness, as will be seen hereafter: as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar;
which is another agreement in circumstance between Ezekiel and John, when they had their visions: John was an exile in Patrons, and Ezekiel among the captives by the river Chebar in Chaldea. Some think this is the same river which is called by Ptolemy F1 Chaboras; and is said by him to pass through Mesopotamia: others say it was a river that was drawn off from the river Euphrates, by the order of one Cobaris, or Gobaris, a governor, from whence it had its name; that the river Euphrates might not, by its rapid course, hurt the city of Babylon; and by the Assyrians it was called Armalchar, or Narmalcha F2, the king's river; though it seems to be no other than Euphrates itself; and Kimchi observes, that in some copies of the Targum on this place it is interpreted of the river Euphrates; and he says their Rabbins of blessed memory say, that Chebar is Euphrates; and so Abarbinel; see ( Psalms 137:1 ) . Monsieur Thevenot F3 speaks of a river called Chabur, which is less than Alchabour, another mentioned by him; and has its source below Mosul, and on the left hand to those that go down the Tigris, and at Bagdad loses itself in the Tigris which he takes to be the same as here: that the heavens were opened;
as at our Lord's baptism, and at the stoning of Stephen; and so when John had his vision which corresponds with the following, a door was opened in heaven ( Revelation 4:1 ) ; and I saw the visions of God;
which God showed unto him, and which were great and excellent; as excellent things are called things of God, as mountains of God, and cedars of God, ( Psalms 36:6 ) ( 80:10 ) ; and indeed he had a vision of a divine Person, in a human form; to which agrees the Targum,
``and I saw in the vision of prophecy, which abode on me, the vision of the glory of the majesty of the Lord.''
The Arabic and Syriac versions read, "the vision of God".

F18 Apud R. D. Kimchi in loc.
F19 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26.
F20 Preafat. in Ezek. tom. 3. fol. 9. D.
F21 Typus Doctrin. Prophetic. sect. 7. p. 41. Vid. Witsii Miscel. Sacr. tom. 1. l. 1. c. 19.
F23 Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3409. p. 127.
F24 Scripture Chronology, p. 681.
F25 Chronological Tables, cent. 10.
F26 Vol. 21. p. 61.
F1 Geograph. l. 5. c. 18.
F2 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 26.
F3 Travels, par. 2. B. 1. ch. 10. p. 46.

Ezekiel 1:1 In-Context

1 On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
2 This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity.
3 (The LORD gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the LORD take hold of him.)
4 As I looked, I saw a great storm coming from the north, driving before it a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber.
5 From the center of the cloud came four living beings that looked human,

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew On the fifth day of the fourth month, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. A number of dates in Ezekiel can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Babylonian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. This event occurred on July 31, 593
  • [b]. Or in the thirtieth year.
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