Who Was Joseph's Father?

JosephI was asked today about the seeming disparity between the genealogy of Matthew and Luke, both of whom provide a different father’s name for Joseph the (supposed) father of Jesus: Jacob (Matthew 1.16) and Heli (Luke 3.23).
There are two basic proposals:
1) That both genealogies refer to Joseph, with Matthew’s account intended for Jesus place as heir to the throne of David and Luke’s account intended for the actual biological lineage of Joseph.
2) Matthew is recording Joseph’s genealogy and Luke is recording Mary’s. This is supported by numerous early Fathers: Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Athanasius, and Justin Martyr.
It has been suggested (in support of the second proposal) that Mary’s genealogy is given under the name Joseph (by Luke) because (A) women were not official heads in the genealogical records of the ancient world, though they could be mentioned (such as in Matthew) it was always in connection to a husband/father, and (B) that perhaps Mary was an only child (speculation, I know) and would be the family inheritor whose husband is then adopted as the heir for her. Under the second explanation it is usually pointed out that this would make Jesus the heir of David (and Abraham) by both adoption (through Joseph) and by birth (through Mary).
What are your thoughts?

Teaching the NT in Two Weeks (for 7th Graders)

The New Covenant: The Life of Christ (Matthew-John)

The One Who Comes – The path of the LORD was prepared by the coming of John the Baptizer.  Jesus of Nazareth was born to fulfill the word of the LORD and as such was actually the Word himself.  When John baptized Jesus the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and the Father spoke His blessing from heaven.  (Luke 2:67-79; 3:21-22) DOVE   
The Message – Jesus message was that the kingdom of God was near: the sick were healed, people bothered by demons were set free and those who knew they were sinners could be forgiven.  He not only preached this message, but had lived in the power of the message by his victories over the temptations of the devil.  The message required that anyone who was going to be a part of God’s kingdom must obey God’s word and therefore trust in Jesus.  (Mark 1:12-15; John 5:24)  BROKEN-CHAIN
The Messengers – Jesus specifically chose twelve men to deliver his message to Israel (and later to the world).  One of them he knew would betray him and the others he knew would abandon him at his final hour, but he still chose all of them.  They were to pass on all that Jesus did and said, and to do this in the power of the Spirit.  Others would also share this message as they had received it.  (Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 24:47-49) TWELVE
The Final Week – Jesus was hated for his message because it meant that Jesus is Lord and must be trusted.  This led to him being beaten and crucified by the end of the week of the Jewish Passover.  In Jesus crucifixion, he became the sacrifice for sin for all who would trust in him.  (John 19:16-37; 20:30-31) CROSS
The Resurrection – Jesus truly was dead and remained so for three days in a new tomb.  However, on the third day, just as he had told his disciples, he rose from the dead and taught them over forty days.  He finally ascended to heaven in order to send the Spirit to them ten days later.  (Matthew 16:21; 28:1-10; Luke 24:46-53) EMPTY-TOMB
The New Covenant Community (Acts-Revelation)
Alive with the Spirit (Acts) – Those Jesus sent out received the Spirit for the power necessary to be witnesses about him just as he had promised.  Everywhere they went there were signs and wonders and many people who trusted in Jesus (though many others did not).  Others also joined in the special work of sharing the good news about Jesus in distant places (to the whole world) by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 37-47) FIRE  
Paul and the Churches (Romans-Hebrews) – A man named Saul who had first tried to destroy the Church became a follower of Jesus (changed his name to Paul) and gave his life even while suffering and being imprisoned, to establishing the Church throughout the world because Jesus told him to do so.  As he did this, he would write many letters to the churches, pastors and people he knew to encourage them and to remind them of the things they needed to know and do in following Jesus faithfully as Jesus’ community.  (Titus 1:1-3)  ENVELOPE
James, Peter and Jude – Others also wrote letters to different to remind them of the truth about Jesus and how they were to live because of this.  Two of these are considered brothers of Jesus (James and Jude) and one was among Jesus’ closest disciples.  The call was for right living, but also against false teaching and as a result – sinful living (something which Paul and John also mention regularly).  (James 2:14-24; 2 Peter 1:3-15) ENVELOPES
John (1-3 John, Revelation) – John, the last surviving apostle of Jesus, wrote numerous letters concerning the need for faithfulness to the new covenant in Jesus.  He also received a special revelation of Jesus concerning Jesus coming again in victory and the need to be faithful to the end no matter what comes.  (1 John 2:12-14; Revelation 1:1-8) ‘V’ – (FOR ‘VICTORY’)

—————————
The CAPITAL ITALICS are for picture representations of the respective section.  Each section also has a selective Scripture portion as representative. I taught this over two weeks to our youth following the four weeks through the OT for Seventh Graders HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Daniel 10 – Prepared for the Final Vision

10:1 – The Time and General Content of the Vision.  The third year of Cyrus king of Persia would place this vision in approximately 536-535BC.  This would also suggest that the recently begun work on rebuilding the Temple of the LORD by the returning exiles under the supervision of Ezra had been stopped temporarily by Samaritan opposition (Ezra 4:5, 24).  Why would Daniel suddenly at this point refer to himself as “Belteshazzar” and in the third person?  This would seem to tie in the contents of the first chapter with the contents of the last vision (chapters 10-12) by referring to King Cyrus (Dan.1:21; although this refers to his first year) and to Daniel’s Babylonian name (Dan.1:7).  Why should the “message” be affirmed as “true” (Heb. ĕmet)?  Is this not always the case of messages from the LORD?  This serves to mark the vision apart as truly a vision given concerning the future and accurately speaking to matters that will occur.  It also suggests that what will occur has already been written in the “Book of Truth” (Heb. kətāb ĕmet in Dan.10:21).  There is considered to be some ambiguity about a “great war” (Heb. sābā’ gādōl) that is referred to here as is noted by the NIV footnote that reads “true and burdensome”, but the former seems the most likely in light of the conflicts that ensue in the following in the vision of the future.  The vision concerns a message of peace, rest and blessedness it also concerns the great conflicts leading to the final conflict of the ages.

10:2-4 – Fasting by the Tigris.  Daniel was apparently so perturbed in his spirit before even receiving this vision likely because of the setbacks of the Temple project in Jerusalem that he gave himself to fasting and did so outside of Babylon itself.  That he gave up eating “choice food” and then speaks of “meat and wine” means that he had taken these up again some time after his initial training upon arriving at Babylon and proving his faithfulness to the LORD at that time.  In other words, he did not consider such things to be a rule or law for all time, but only something that called for the obedience of that appointed time to demonstrate faithfulness.  The date of his fasting is important to note because if he had been fasting for three weeks and does not end it until the twenty-fourth day of the first month that means that he fasted for right through the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) that was to occur every year from the 15th of Nissan, sometimes also called Abib (the first month of the year), to the 21st which was required to be observed.  Granted that he would not make the journey back to Jerusalem, still, why would Daniel intentionally not observe one of the three Feasts that were required by the LORD (Exo.12:2; 23:15; 34:18; Deut.16:1)?  Why should Daniel give himself to fasting at all since he was well into his eighties by this time?  It is a little strange that he calls the Tigris river the “great river” since that is the normal name of the Euphrates, but it is not completely out of the question that he should have done so.  This would place him anywhere within 20 miles to a couple hundred miles of Babylon depending on where exactly along the Tigris he was.  It would seem the most likely that he was somewhere fairly nearby Babylon.
10:5-9 – The Appearance of a Man.  The description that Daniel gives of the one he sees and describes as a “man dressed in linen” suggests one who is perhaps prepared for a priestly sort of ministry (cf. Exo.28:42; Lev.6:10; 16:4), but this is also the sort of clothing of the angelic-like “men” that Ezekiel describes (Eze.9:2-3, 11; 10:2, 6-7).  He wore a golden belt and his body and face glowed.  His eyes were “like flaming torches” and arms and legs “burnished bronze” with a mighty voice of a great crowd.  This description fits very closely with that of Ezekiel 1:26-28 and Revelation 1:12-16 and this individual is so imposing that he may in fact be a theophany (that is, the appearing of God Himself) with later messengers giving the explanations to the revelation (Dan.10:10-14) in much the manner that John in the Revelation would later receive.  Why was Daniel the only one who could see the vision of this “man”?  Obviously there was something tangible about the whole experience because those who were with him became terrified and ran to hide.  Even Daniel described himself as overwhelmed by the vision.
10:10-14 – Affirmation of Daniel.  It may be that the one who touched him and speaks in verses 10-14 is not the same as the one in verses 5-6 because if the first one was in fact a theophany then there would have been no need for the help of another (Michael) and he would not have come to only explain.  Further, the Hebrew does not designate that there was only one individual there and seems to suggest as in previous visionary visits that there may have been more than one present (cf. Dan.8:13).  Daniel is made to tremble on his hands and knees by the touch of this messenger who affirms him as “highly esteemed”.  This touch accompanied by the command to consider what he would be instructed and to stand was sufficient to bring him to his feet even though he was still in a trembling state.  Though Daniel was “highly esteemed” by the LORD this not only did not exclude him from suffering but seems to have necessitated it at some level, just as it did for Mary the mother of Jesus (cf. Luke 1:30; 2:35) and Jesus himself who was the beloved of the Father.  As it was for Daniel, so for us, it should never be taken for-granted that understanding comes natural without applying ourselves to intentionally seek to understand and humble ourselves before God. 
The messenger assures Daniel that he came in response to the prayers of Daniel, but was held back by the “prince of the Persian kingdom” for twenty one days apparently the whole time Daniel was praying.  However, he was assisted by “Michael” who is here called “one of the chief princes,” who enabled him to be released from the struggle and bring the message to Daniel.  Michael is mentioned here and Daniel 12:1, Jude 9 and Revelation 12:7.  In each account, he is one who engages in conflict and particularly in Daniel 12:1 defends the people of Israel.  He is called an “archangel” or “chief (first) angel” in Jude 9 and as such is the only one named in the Protestant canon of Scripture.  It is unclear just who the “prince of the Persians” and the “king (lit. ‘kings’) of Persia” are, but the likeliest explanation at least for the former is some sort of wicked spiritual power.  The latter may be a reference to the actual king (or kings) of Persia or to some other form of these spiritual powers. 
Certainly there is nothing clear here concerning a structure of authorities by which one can (or should) build a highly structured doctrine of spiritual powers and authorities beyond this very basic teaching that there are actual spiritual beings and realities at work throughout the kingdoms of this world.  We cannot (nor should not) simply assume that the kingdoms of this world are all that there is because this is all we may be used to through our own experience
s (cf. Eph.6:10-18).  There are other references to some sort of gods of the nations that may represent some reality behind them (even when a prophet like Isaiah will confess that they are really “nothing”; cf. Isa.46:2; Jer.46:25; 49:3; see also Deut.32:8 in the LXX and Qumran; Ps.96:4).  Since it is not revealed in Scripture how these conflicts among these “princes” actually took place…it would be mere conjecture to make suppositions about how this was and is carried out.  The message that was so necessary for him to bring to Daniel was a message about the future and not even about the present.  This was something which Daniel seemed more concerned about.  What might this say about our present struggles and reality?
10:15-11:1 – The Strengthening of Daniel.  Once again Daniel was overwhelmed and bowed over and once again was touched, but this time on the lips.  Why would he be touched on the lips?  To affirm the message he was being given and his ability to speak it and to allow him to confess his own sense of helplessness and humility.  Again he was touched and this time given strength and reaffirmed concerning the LORD’s estimation of him.  In what sense does the word of the LORD to Daniel to “Peace!  Be strong now!  Be strong.” become the strengthening of Daniel joined to the touch?  The message and the touch are not simply passive work, but active and empowering in the life of Daniel as in us.  Why would the messenger return to the fight against the “prince of Persia”?  The engagement will be taken up until the “prince of Greece” would come.  We can only surmise that this would entail a further conflict among the “princes”, but this refers to a time in our own history that would not happen until about 331BC with the rise of the Greeks under Alexander (or perhaps slightly sooner). 
Before he left he assured Daniel that what he would share with him was already written down in the “Book of Truth” which is apparently a way of referring to what has been determined to be by the LORD.  He notes that only Michael supports him against the princes of Persia and Greece.  The messenger had taken his stand with Michael two years before against the “prince of Persia” and it would appear that this was to protect “Darius” (though this is less than certain).  Why should these struggles among beings that are not human require long term conflict when the LORD could easily resolve them?  For the same reason that this world could quickly be redeemed and all wickedness be dealt with in a moment without the conflict of the righteous struggling against sin and principalities and powers until the last Day.  The reason is that it all works for the ultimate glory of God as demonstrated in the cross, resurrection and coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead.  It is that in the end, he might be demonstrated to be supreme over all (Col.1:15-20).

Daniel 8 – The Vision of the Ram and the Goat

Vision de Daniel à Suze
By: Stephanus Garsia (11th Century)

8:1-2 – Daniel has a vision three years after the dream of chapter seven (approximately 550BC) while Belshazzar was still in Babylon (and his father, Nabonidus, still king of all Babylon)Perhaps the reason he repeats the “vision” three times is because it was so disturbing to him (8:27).  Daniel was taken (much like Ezekiel) in this vision to the “citadel of Susa” (another name for the “city”) located 220 miles east of Babylon and 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf.  This city was later to become one of the royal cities of Medo-Persia acting as a winter palace (cf. Est.1:2; Neh.1:1; 2:1).  The location is important as it had not yet become a location of prominence again having been destroyed some years before and the Medo-Persians having not yet rebuilt it for full use yet at the time of Daniel’s vision.

8:3-4 – A Ram Appears.  The ram has two horns, one longer than the other, but the shorter growing longer than the former.  According to one fourth century AD writer (Ammianus Marcellinus 10:1 – see Goldingay 208) the Medo-Persians always carried a golden head of a ram into battle with them as their symbol.  More importantly this ram is later interpreted as Medo-Persia and it can be surmised that the initially longer horn was Media which was the initially predominant power of the two, until Persia became the more powerful.  The charging of the ram is to the west, north and south following essentially the path of Medo-Persia in her conquests of Babylon, Lydia, Asia Minor, and Egypt.  There appeared to be none that could stop this empire.  In what sense might the kingdoms of this world all be understood as “animals” in light of the implications of verse 4?  What does this suggest about all worldly kingdoms even though they be ordained of the LORD?
8:5-8 – A Goat Appears.  This goat is described with a “prominent horn between his eyes” suggesting a single ruler and kingdom (Alexander the Great of Macedon as the interpretation of Dan.8:21 declares).  The ram notably charges across the earth “without touching the ground” in a similar manner to the four-headed leapord-like creature of Dan.7:6 that suggested Greece as well.  The enraged goat destroyed the ram and the two horns.  However, the “large horn” before it could become even greater than it had already become was “broken off” and replaced by “four” (again the connection to Dan.7:6).  Alexander’s untimely death off in Babylon (323BC) left his empire shattered and ten years later it was divided among four of his generals.
8:9-12 – A Small Horn.  From among one of the four horns of the goat there appeared a small horn initially that grew in the south, east and toward the “Beautiful Land” (Heb. sebî : that is toward “Jerusalem”; cf. Dan.11: 16, 41; Jer.3:19; Eze.20:6, 15)  On this occurring see 1 Macc.1 and 2 Macc.5-6.  Who is this “small horn” that grew?  History now tells us it was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175BC-163BC) of Syria who assassinated the high priest Onias III in 170BC replacing him with another priest, ended the sacrifices and desecrated the temples setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing a swine on the altar in 167BC, that the temple was restored and dedicated December 14, 164BC (Hanukkah), while he died shortly thereafter in 163BC.  But who are the “host of heaven” that he threw down to the earth and trampled?  Certainly not angels.  More likely this refers to the faithful of Israel (cf. Dan.12:3; see also Gen.15:5; 22:17; Deut.17:3; Enoch 46:7; Mt.13:43; Phil.2:15; Rev.12:4).  Further, he set himself up against the “Prince” of the host…which suggests God Himself.  This is done by his taking away the “daily sacrifice” (Heb. tāmîd “continually”; cf. Exo.29:38-42; Num.28:3-8) and desecrating the temple.  Why would the LORD allow it to prosper in everything it did and truth to be “thrown to the ground”?  Does the LORD have a greater purpose than the immediate or temporary?
8:13-14 – The Conversation.  Daniel is meant to overhear a conversation among some of the “holy ones” (angels?).  It seems that even they are concerned with the question of humanity, “How long?” (cf. Ps.6:3; Isa.6:11; Zech.1:12)  The two speaking are concerned with how long it will take for all of the declared to happen to actually occur.  The answer is declared to Daniel (though the LXX and Syriac read that the answer was given to the other holy one) that it will take “2300 evenings and mornings”.  How should we understand this?  As 1500 days or as 2300 days?  The latter seems preferable given the manner in which Hebrew chooses to express the form for the numbers with mornings and evenings.  Thus this would be about seven years time from beginning to end.  In other words, there is a definite limit set to the wickedness of this king and his kingdom.  There is no reason to automatically assume that this “horn” is to be identified with the “horn” of chapter seven since that one belonged to the fourth beast (rather than the third which was Greece) and came from one of the four horns as opposed to that fourth beasts little horn that came up among the ten horns and displaced three.  While both chapters speak of little horns, they are distinguished considerably even while both being arrogant and prideful and opposing the LORD and the saints.
8:15-18 – Gabriel Arrives.  While Daniel was contemplating all that he had seen and heard he received a messenger like “a man” (Heb. gāber) who would explain the vision.  There are only two angels ever named in Scripture and this is the first occasion where one is named.  “Gabriel” appears again at the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth (Luke 1:19) and Jesus birth (Luke 1:26).  “Michael” is the other angel named in Scripture (Dan.10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev.12:7); though in the approximately second-third century BC apocryphal work of 1 Enoch there are several others named as well: Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Saraqqel and Remiel (1 Enoch 9:1; 20:1-8).  Gabriel task appears always to be that of messenger in the Scripture (thus “angel” is a fitting name though he is not called that here in Daniel).  Daniel kept falling in fear before Gabriel and actually may have passed out, but Gabriel lifted him up.  The message Gabriel had for Daniel was that these things pertained to “the time of the end”, but the “end” of what?  The end of that era or the end of all things?  The former seem
s more likely if one postulates the historical interpretation at all, but if one still holds to any future sense then there must be also something remaining of the actual “end” of this world and the reign of the LORD. 
There are actually four main views for interpreting Daniel 8: (1) Historical – All of Daniel 8 was historical and has been fulfilled; (2) Futuristic – All is still in the future; (3) Dual Fulfillment – The chapter referred both to what happened historically now and what will happen at the Second Coming; (4) Typological – The chapter refers to historical fulfillment but also things typical of that which points to the end of the age (see Walvoord 192-196).
8:19-27 – The Interpretation.  Gabriel interprets the vision for Daniel (who earlier in the book had been the interpreter for others) and explains that the ram was Medo-Persia and the goat was Greece and specifically the horn was the first king of Greece.  What Daniel has seen up to this point is over two hundred years in the future from his time.  He is told that the kingdom of Greece will be divided into four kingdoms none of which will come close to the power of Greece and from one of those will be raised up a particular king (this actually foretells what will occur 350 years in the future).  It is noteworthy that this king is raised up when wickedness is complete (cf. Gen.15:16; 1 Th.2:16).  The king is noted for his appearance, intelligence, and unknown source of power; and though everything he does even against the LORD and the saints seems to succeed it will only be temporary until the LORD Himself destroys him.  What does it mean for Daniel to “seal up” (Heb. sātam) the vision?  This term when “applied to a book is not strictly ‘seal’ but rather ‘guard from use’ and therefore from misuse (cf. 12:3)” (Baldwin 179).  Why should the LORD have told Daniel any of this and not saved such matters for another more near to the time of the incidents?  What was the purpose of revealing this in the third year of Belshazzar?  Also, does this not point ahead beyond Antiochus IV Epiphanes to one who like him will do much the same even as it would appear that almost similar sorts of calamity overtook Judea in the latter part of the first century (cf. Matt.24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5ff), but still point ahead to “the end”?

Daniel 7 – Visions in the Night

This chapter is considered by most to be the most significant chapter of Daniel and also a key chapter of the Old Testament.  There are some who have proposed that Daniel has borrowed from the ancient Near Eastern mythologies around him in this composition (such as the account of Adapa, Enuma Elish, or the Ugaritic Baal Cycle; see Goldingay 150-151), but Daniels dream and its explanation seem just far more likely to belong to the literature of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) and to Genesis and Psalms where there has been anything expounded upon, but he seems to simply have his own visions and explanations apart from these others as well as in addition to these others.

Chapter seven closes out the chiastic structure of chapters two through seven (see Goldingay 158) as well as concluding the Aramaic portion of Daniel:
            Ch. 2 – A vision of four kingdoms and their end (Nebuchadnezzar)
                        Ch. 3 – Faithfulness and miraculous rescue (three friends)
                                    Ch. 4 – Judgment presaged and experienced (Nebuchadnezzar)
                                    Ch. 5 – Judgment presaged and experienced (Belshazzar)
                        Ch. 6 – Faithfulness and miraculous rescue (Daniel)
            Ch. 7 – A vision of four kingdoms and their end (Daniel)
“Dan 2 offered world rulers a vision of their position as a God-given calling.  Dan 3-6 has portrayed them inclined to make themselves into God; they are thus also inclined to put mortal pressure on those who are committed to God (chaps. 3; 6), but are themselves on the way to catastrophe (chaps. 4; 5).  These motifs are taken up and taken further in chap. 7.  The tension between the human and the bestial that appeared in chaps. 4 and 6 becomes a key motif: bestiality is now turned on God himself (Barr), but he puts an end to the reign of the beast and gives authority to a humanlike figure (Lacocque).  As the real statue of chap. 3 follows on the dream statue of chap. 2, the dream animals of chap. 7 follow on the real animals of chap. 6.  As people of all races, nations, and languages were called to bow before the statue (3:4; cf. 5:19), so now they honor the human figure of Daniel’s vision (7:14).  Once Nebuchadnezzar testified to God’s lasting power (3:33; 4:31; cf. 6:27); now Daniel’s human figure has this power (7:14).  Once Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation was limited to seven periods of time (4:13); now the humiliation of the heavenly ones will be limited to 3 ½ such periods (7:25).  Once God demonstrated in history that as ruler in the earthly realm he could give royal authority to the most ordinary of human beings (4:14); now he gives it to a humanlike being at the end of the story of earthly kingdoms (7:13-14).  Once Darius took hold of power (6:1); now the heavenly ones do so (7:18).  Once Darius acknowledged that God’s rule would persist until the end (סופא עד) (6:27); now the king symbolized by the small horn has his authority destroyed permanently (סופא עד) (7:26).  Dan 2-6 have affirmed that God controlled times and epochs, his decree being victorious over the decrees of kings (2:9, 13, 15, 21; 6:6, 9, 13, 16); now a king who think to control times set by decree will lose all power (7:25-26).  Chaps. 3-6 indicate why the sequence of earthly regimes is destined to be brought to an end in the way chap. 2 describes.  Chap. 7 combines the thrust of the preceding chapters as a whole, and puts them in a new perspective” (Goldingay 158-159).
7:1 – Daniel had a dream.  The date indicated by Daniel places this dream between chapters four and five.  Daniel states that it was the first year of Belshazzar’s reign: 550-549BC (Goldingay 157), or 553BC (Miller 194; Walvoord 149) or 552-551BC (Baldwin 153).  Chapter eight then follows just two years later (8:1) and chapter nine is dated to between chapters five and six (9:1) with chapters ten to twelve concerning messages that were given sometime around or after the events of chapters six (10:1).  Whereas in chapter two it was king Nebuchadnezzar who dreamed of four kings/kingdoms, here it is Daniel and it was still during the days of the Babylonian empire.  Daniel proceeded to record what he saw and the interpretations he received.
7:2-3 – Four beasts from the great sea.  What might the “four winds” refer to?  Is this a sort of reference to the Spirit of God come from all directions?  Also, what and where is this “great sea”?  While some have proposed that it refers to the Mediterranean (which is the normal meaning of “great sea” in the Old Testament), it seems more likely to refer to the earth…that is to the nations and peoples of the earth according to the interpretation Daniel receives (Dan.7:17; cf. Isa.17:12-13; 57:20; Rev.13:1, 11; 17:1, 15).  Who or what are the “four beasts” of Daniel’s visions?  They are kings and kingdom—there is often overlap between the two where one may indicate the other (Dan.7:17; cf. Rev.13:1-7; 17:8).  They were to be distinguished from one another and to arise in succession.  Further, they would rule in ways not like lesser kingdoms, but as world powers who would act beastly in their rule though called by God to their places.
7:4 – The first beast was like a lion, but with wings like an eagle (or vulture?) until the wings were torn from it.  It was made to be human-like after the wings were torn from it.  What might this refer to?  (Jer.4:7; 49:19, 22; 50:17, 44; Lam.4:19; Eze.17:3; Hab.1:8) Many suggest it refers to the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling in Daniel 4.  There is little question, but that this kingdom is Babylon.  It is beastly: majestic and swift, powerful, but God determined to give it glory as a “man” and to raise it up in a manner that others would not be raised.
7:5 – The second beast was like a bear, but in some manner uneven.  It would be less majestic than the lion-like creature, but still powerful and terrible.  It is unclear what it means for a bear-like creature to be “raised up on one of its sides,” but it appears to refer to Medo-Persia and the unevenness of the dual empire with Persia as predominant.  Also, it remains unclear just wh
at the three “ribs” in its mouth refers to.  Some have proposed the three primary kingdoms Medo-Persia conquered: Babylon (539BC), Lydia (546BC) and Egypt (525BC), but this is really nothing more than conjecture.  It was further given instructions to eat more despite already eating.  The idea would be that it would not be satisfied and look for more to conquer with a voracious appetite.
7:6 – The third beast was like a leopard, but with four wings and four heads.  That it was like a leopard suggests speed and that it included four wings suggests that this speed was increased.  The four heads suggests four kings or kingdoms in some way composing this empire.  This is apparently the Greek empire as under Alexander the Great the empire grew in rapid succession beginning in 334BC until his early death (323BC) whereupon it was divided between his four generals: Antipater over Greece and Macedonia; Lysimachus over Thrace and much of Asia Minor; Seleucus I Nicanor over Syria, Babylon and much of Asia except Palestine that part of Asia Minor controlled by Lysimachus; and Ptolemy I Soter over Egypt and Palestine.
7:7-8 – The fourth beast was beyond description with iron teeth it destroyed everything and crushed underfoot all (for the proposal of what empire this is see below).  This creature was truly terrifying and had ten horns which bothered Daniel enough to make him wonder about them.  As Daniel watched he saw a “little horn” grow up and displace three of the ten previous horns and this little one had eyes like a man and a boastful mouth (cf. Dan.11:36-37; 2 Th.2:3-12; Rev.13:5-6).  The eyes suggest intelligence and the mouth pride.  The horns refer to kings specifically as will be explained later (Dan.7:24). 
7:9-10 – The blazing court in heaven.  While Daniel was bothered deeply by the turbulence of his visions and even the boastfulness and terribleness of this last beast, suddenly he sees the court of heaven convening in the midst of fire and thousands upon thousands standing before the throne.  What are the plural “thrones” referring to?  (cf. Luke 22:30; 1 Cor.6:2; Rev.3:21; 20:4)  How should we understand the name and description of the “Ancient of Days”?  Also, what does it mean for a throne to have “wheels” on it? (Eze.1:15; 10:6)  What are the “books” that were opened?  (Exo.32:32; Isa.65:6; Dan.12:1; Mal.3:16; cf. Luke 10:20; Rev.20:12)
7:11-12 – The judgment.  Daniel is immediately wondering what will happen to the boastful horn given the scene he has just witnessed in heaven.  Note that not only is the “horn” dealt with, but the fourth beast is “slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire” (cf. Rev.19:20).  Why should the whole of the fourth beast be destroyed and thrown into the fire when it was the “horn” itself that was so boastful?  In what sense can the kingdom and the king truly be separated from one another?  What does this say about those who profess Christ as their king?  What might Daniel mean by his comments about the other three beasts being stripped of their authority but being allowed “to live for a period of time”?
7:13-14 – The vision of the “son of man”.  John Goldingay seems correct when he writes that Daniel 7 “invites us to focus on the humanlike figure’s role rather than on its identity” (172).  However, this should not exclude our asking who is this one “like a son of man” (Aram. kĕbar ’enāš)?  Jesus certainly takes up the language of Daniel here and applies it to himself in the Gospels (Mark 14:64), but the term itself had not been unknown and had before really only referred to being truly “human” (cf. Ezekiel’s regular usage of the term in just this fashion), but did take on great significance in other places in the OT (Eze.1:26; 8:2; and even somewhat in the human significance of the “son” in Psalm 2 and 8:4 among other places in the Psalms).  In what sense is the one only “like” a son of man?  This one is described in divine terms by “coming with clouds of heaven” and receiving worship in the very presence of God.  This one could be none other than God himself…the Son of God as he revealed Himself in the New Testament.  Though Daniel was far from such an explanation in his visions.  Daniel notes that the kingdom and dominion of this one is forever and ever in comparison to those beasts and that whereas they came from below this one was from above.
7:15-28 – The interpretation of the dream.  Daniel was actually bothered by his visions and inquired of one of those (an angel?) who was nearby.  The explanation he received was that the four beasts were four kingdoms though he was not told just who the four kingdoms were.  He was also told that the “saints” would actually receive the “kingdom” forever despite the ferocity of the kingdoms (and particularly the fourth kingdom and the little horn) that would come and go and all they would try to do against the saints.  The only kingdom which Daniel receives explanation of is the fourth one.  This one also receives a further description as having bronze claws.  The “little horn” (one of the ten kings) would destroy and replace three others and make war against the saints of God until the very end of days when the final judgment would commence and the saints receive their reward.  This fourth kingdom was declared to be very different from the others before it and be truly global and utterly destructive.  Part of his agenda will be to “try to change the set times and the laws”.  What does that mean?  Some believe this refers to his abolition of the Jewish calendar and therefore the setting himself in the place of the LORD, but another likely explanation is that he will try to rule history and determine the course of events against the plan and purpose of God’s will (see Dan.2:9, 21).  Daniel is informed that the persecution of the saints will be successful for “a time, times and half a time” which is later connected with approximately 3 ½ years (the 1290 days of Dan.12:11 and the 1335 days of 12:12; the 42 months of the beasts authority in Rev.13:5; the trampling of Jerusalem by the Gentiles for 42 months in Rev.11:2 and1260 days in Rev.12:14; and the breaking of a covenant in the middle of the seventieth “seven” which points to the mid-point of a seven year period in Dan.9:27; see Miller 215).   In other words, there is a definite limit set to the time for this king and his kingdom and to the suffering of the saints and their endurance. 
One should compare this fourth beast with the beast of the Revelation (Dan.7:7, 11, 19, 23; Rev.13:1-2; 17:3).  They are both opposed to God and blasphemers (Dan.7:25; Rev.13:1, 5-6); both have ten horns (Dan.7:7, 20, 24; Rev.13:1; 17:3, 12, 16); both persecute the saints (Dan.7:25; Rev.13:5); both have power for three and a half years (Dan.7:25; Rev.13:5); and both are destroyed at the coming and kingdom of Christ (Dan.7:26-27; 2 Th.2:8; Rev.19:19-20).  So just what empire is this?  Some have proposed it was the Seleucids and the “little horn” was fully fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, but this would be excluded by the NT parallels to this beast and final ruler.  Some have proposed an Islamic Caliphate or a revived Rome (with the latter being the more popular view) – as the first Rome has since passed away and the end has not come.  Certainly Rome fulfilled some of what constituted this final world power
according to certain elements in the NT, yet John in the Revelation speaks of what is still future.  Is there a sense in which this kingdom will be Roman-esque in its severity, but not actually Rome?  That seems likely.  In fact, it seems likely that Rome was only a type pointing ahead to a final world power and ruler that would exalt himself beyond all others and would make all other kingdoms and powers before him seem rather mild in comparison which is why Daniel describes it as peculiarly “different” than all the others he saw (Dan.7:7).
Judgment is certain and the end of that kingdom will be forever.  But better than just the end of all earthly (and beastly kingdoms) is the rule and reign of the Most High and His saints forever and ever.  Why might Daniel be so bothered by his thoughts rather than comforted by the ultimate victory of the LORD?  “The chapter’s ending on this note of perplexity encourages us as we find ourselves in some perplexity over key aspects of it.  If we thought we had a clear and certain understanding of it that would be a sign that we had misunderstood it” (Goldingay 182).

Ezekiel 35-36 – Two "Mountainous" Prophecies

35:1-9 – A prophecy against Mount SeirWhere is Mount Seir and what does it represent?  It is the primary site for the kingdom of Edom (house “father” was Esau) which lies to the southeast of Israel and Judah.  However, “Edom in Ezekiel 35 is merely one representative of the nations at large who oppose Israel and her God” because “Edom was the arch-type of the non elect the very paragon of a nation raging against the Lord and against his anointed” (Duguid NIVAC 406, 409; cf. Stuart 331).  This is a motif that began with the prophetic word concerning the twins, Jacob and Esau, which Rachel gave birth to (cf. Gen. 25:23). From the beginning there was animosity and this actually continued even to the days of Jesus when Herod, an Idumean (of Edom) tried to kill Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16-18) and the later Herod who actually shared complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:6-12).  What did the LORD promise to do to the Mountain of Seir and what was the end goal?  Why was Edom to be judged (cf. Ps. 137:7; Obadiah) and is there any hope for Edom (cf. Deut. 23:7-8)?  In what sense was this fulfilled or meant to be fulfilled?
35:10-15 – Why it matters what we say?  What did Edom say that the LORD would hold them accountable for?  Who are the “two nations” that Edom looked to take over as their own?  Note that though the LORD removed his people from Israel and Judah that it was still His land and He would not give up His claim to it.  “Yahweh may indeed have left the temple and the city, allowing Nebuchadrezzar, his agent of judgment on his own people, to raze Jerusalem; but this did not mean he had abandoned all interest in the place, nor did it authorize any other nation to seize his land” (Block NICOT II:319).  Also, note that the “mountains of Israel” (as opposed to the traditional term “land of Israel”) were rejoiced over for being made desolate, but the LORD would in fact make Mount Seir (and all it represented; cf. a similar use of “Babylon” in Rev. 17-18) desolate.
36:1-15 – A prophecy to the mountains of Israel.  What did the LORD promise to the mountains and all the desolated regions of Israel?  Why would the LORD promise judgment against those who slandered the land and savagely took possession of it?  Note that it has to do with the LORD’s zeal and jealousy.  What does this tell us about the LORD’s motivation for judgment?  Was it primarily for Israel’s benefit or His (with Israel to benefit as He does)?  What theological significance might be attributed to knowing that “I am concerned for you” reads literally “I will turn to you” (cf. Lev. 26:9) in Eze. 36:9?  Whose people are Israel?  Is the LORD concerned for the land?  Note the promises of fruitfulness in both agriculture and the people of Israel.  Has this prophecy been fulfilled? (see particularly verses 12-15)  What was said about the land concerning its ability to sustain or “devour” a population (cf. Num. 13:32) and how would this be changed?
36:16-23 – What led to the defilement of Israel and why would they be redeemed?  In what way should we understand Israel’s defilement to be like a woman with her monthly period? (cf. Lev. 15:19-24)  It seems to signify that Israel was to be separated from all things sacred and clean and therefore excluded from both the land and the people that have been set apart.  This would explain the LORD’s exiling of His people.  How was the LORD’s name profaned among the nations by the exile?  What role does the LORD’s “name” play in how He acts towards people, both in judgment and redemption?  For whose sake will the LORD return His people to the land and bless them?  Note the emphasis upon what is “holy”.  What significance does this make?
36:24-32 – The gathering of Israel.  Who will gather Israel from the nations? (cf. Deut. 30:4) What will the LORD do as a part of this gathering?  What does it mean for the LORD to “sprinkle clean water” on His people and to? (cf. Lev. 15)  What will the LORD do to redeem His people?  Is it enough to have them outwardly acting the way that they should or is there a necessary inward change? (cf. Deut. 30:6-8) Dan Block sees Jeremiah’s influence in this passage, but notes that what Jeremiah attributes to Torah Ezekiel attributes to “the infusion of the divine rûaḥ” (NICOT 356-7).  Note that the LORD promises the Spirit to redeemed Israel just as the believer in Christ is promised the Spirit.  Will there be any room for personal boasting after the people of Israel are redeemed?  What should and will their response be? 
36:33-36 – The promise of a resettled land.  What is the prerequisite for the resettlement?  Will the land simply be restored to its former state or will the state after redemption be better than the former?  The comparison “like the garden of Eden” is something that other prophets also mention (cf. Isa. 51:3; Joel 2:3) Why does the LORD say that He will do all of this?
36:37-38 – The “flocks” that are heard.  What does it mean for the LORD to finally “yield to the plea of the house of Israel”?  Note that earlier Ezekiel had been denied pleading with the LORD on behalf of Israel, but now the LORD will answer such cries.  Why are the people likened to sheep and what picture does this present?  What is the reason for all of this?
Extra Bibliography
Douglas Stuart, Ezekiel (Dallas, TX: Word 1988).

Ezekiel 20:45-21:32 – The Sword of Judgment

20:45-21:5 – What does the LORD mean by opposing “the south”?  There was never a forest of the Negev (one of the three terms used for “south” here and so not to be taken as referring to the Negev region specifically).  The “trees” of the south appear to actually refer to the leaders of Jerusalem.  The explanation is given in verses 1-5 (English versification): the first “south” (Heb. teman) = Jerusalem, the second “south” (Heb. darom) = the sanctuary (Heb. miqdashim lit. “sanctuaries”), and the Negev (or third “south/land” in some translations) = the land of Israel.  The unquenchable fire to be set is answered by the flashing of the unsheathed sword (cf. Gen. 3:24; Matt. 10:34; Luke 12:49).  Whose fire is unquenched and sword unsheathed?  The “green” and “dry” that are consumed refer to the righteous and wicked (LXX “unrighteous and lawless”) that will be cut off.  This is best “seen as a deliberately offensive rhetorical device intended to shock, designed to awaken his audience out of their spiritual lethargy” (Block NICOT 670).  Note the peculiar references “from south to north”.  Why might this be phrased in this manner?  Also, note the emphatic use of “all/every”.  What is the significance of Ezekiel being called a teller of parables?
21:6-7 – How might we understand Ezekiel’s prophetic groaning? (comp. Rom. 8:22-27)  What will be the reaction of those who hear the news of judgment? (cf. Eze. 7:17; 9:4)
21:8-17 – The Sword Song. (cf. Lev. 26:25, 33, 36-37)  Why is the sword sharpened and polished? (see Eze. 21:10)  Why would Judah think the sword a good omen and self-referentially be called “the scepter”? (cf. Gen. 49:9-10; 1 Sam. 7:14; Eze. 19:10-14; perhaps their hopes were based upon Jeremiah 50:35-38)  What does it mean for the sword to “despise”?  Note whose people are to be judged?  Why might Ezekiel clap his hands? (see Eze. 6:11; 21:17)  What kind of slaughter will it be and who will ultimately carry it out?
21:18-27 – The LORD’s sword has become the sword of Babylon.  Why should Ezekiel make a signpost pointing the way to Jerusalem?  Likely this was at Damascus where one might choose either the road leading down to Rabba of Ammon or to Jerusalem.  Three omens would confirm the signpost (cf. Prov. 16:33).  “The irony is that this use of pagan means of discerning the will of the gods is here an accurate discernment of the true God” (Duguid NIVAC 276).  Verse 27 refers to the end of Zedekiah’s reign.  “A ruin” reads literally “a twisting or bending” (Dan Block translates it as “topsy-turvy” NICOT 691).  Who is the one to whom kingship/judgeship “rightfully belongs”? (cf. Gen. 49:10)  Ezekiel’s usage of the patriarchal prophecy that pointed to a messianic figure of deliverance here is turned on its head through referring this promised one into the king of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar (Block NICOT 692-3; Duguid NIVAC 279).
21:28-32 – A taunting sword song.  Possibly Dan Block (NICOT 695-7) is correct in seeing verse 28 as a taunting song in the mouth of the people of Ammon.  The “sword” (Babylon) would be finally sheathed in order to also be judged by the LORD.  Babylon though the sword of the LORD was not beyond the severe judgment of the LORD and would be judged so harshly as to not be remembered any longer.

Ezekiel 12-13 – Blind and Deaf Leaders

12:1-2 – The key to the following prophecies in Ezekiel is found in these two verses. “They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people” (see Isaiah 6:9; 43:8; Jeremiah 5:12; and the same thing stated concerning idols in Psalm 115:57). According to this passage, why can’t Israel see or hear?

12:3-7 – A living sermon “as they watch” – pack an exile bag in the daylight, dig a hole in the wall in the evening, and carry out the belongings with covered face at dawn. What does it all mean? Did they understand what Ezekiel was doing? What might an exile’s bag contain? How is Ezekiel a “sign to the house of Israel”? How does this relate to verse 2? Note that Ezekiel did exactly as he was commanded.

12:8-14 – In the morning Ezekiel is to explain the living sermon of the previous day. Who is the “prince in Jerusalem”? Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18-25:7; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 52:1-11) is the “prince” as a semi-derogatory title (rather than “king”). He was the last king of Judah and was rebellious against the LORD and Nebuchadnezzar. He fled Jerusalem when it fell to the Babylonians, but was captured and given a trial where he was punished by slaughtering his sons in front of him and then gouging out his eyes. There is a possible slight allusion to the blinding of Zedekiah by the references to not seeing the land again. The “prince” (as ruler of the people) is also indicative of the people of Judah left in Jerusalem. Who carried out the judgment of the “prince”?

12:15-16 – “They will know that I am the LORD” once the LORD scattered and dispersed Israel among the nations and preserved the remnant for Himself.

12:17-20 – Why did Ezekiel have to eat with trembling and drink with shuddering? What does this signify? Why would Israel eat and drink in fear? Note that violence against others leads to a final violent judgment of the perpetrators.

12:21-28 – Three issues concerning prophecy: 1) All prophecy should not be rejected, 2) it must not be falsely given, and 3) it must be done with the certainty that it is the word of the LORD. The way of removing false prophecy from Israel was to remove the false prophets themselves from Israel. “Flattering (or slippery) divinations” were manipulative and not simply an attempt to discern the will of the LORD (see Block NICOT 390 and 390fn31-32). Is the LORD slow in keeping his promises? (see 2 Peter 3:3-10)

13:1-9 – What does it mean for the LORD to say there were some who “prophecy out of their own imagination”? Does this still go on today? How is this contrasted with the word of the LORD? In what ways are false prophets “like jackals among ruins” (cf. Nehemiah 4:3; Lamentations 5:18)? They don’t repair the breaks in the walls or defend against the enemy, but instead they live only for themselves and prey on the weak and use the breaks for their own advantage. Is “divination” always wrong? What would be the difference between divining the will of God and lying divination? Is there a difference? Does using the LORD’s name give absolute assurance that what we say or pray will be done? What does it mean to not belong to the council of God’s people or not be “listed in the records of the house of Israel”? “The records of the house of Israel” seems to refer to the official records of those who would survive to return to Israel (Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64; see also the books which the LORD keeps in Exodus 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5; 20:12; 21:27). Ezekiel was sent to Israel so they would “know that a prophet had bee among them” (Eze.2:5). Where the LORD declares that His “hand will be against them” there is an allusion to inspiration in order to subtly express that “those who never felt the reality of the divine hand in inspiration will now feel it in judgment” (Duguid NIVAC 173fn11).

13:10-16 – What does it mean to be white-washed flimsy walls? The flimsy wall will be exposed and destroyed and the white-wash shown to have been worse than worthless since it was used to simply cover up what should have been repaired as if everything was alright. How is this related to those who were prophesying “peace”? (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:3)

13:17-23 – Who are “the daughters of your people”? They were false prophetesses who used magic to control and manipulate. Magic charms were worn on their wrists and (magic?) veils on their heads (or around their necks). These seem to refer to something like a phylactery that functioned as a talisman or charm. Why did they practice their magic? What does the LORD accuse them of doing? They “disheartened the righteous” and “encouraged the wicked”. The false prophet/esses had ensnared the LORD’s people, but the LORD would deliver “his people” and ensure and destroy the false prophet/esses.

Ezekiel 6-7 – Too Late to Repent

6:1 – Can Ezekiel speak apart from the word of the LORD coming to Him? (cf. 7:1; and see 3:27)

6:2 – “set your face against the mountains of Israel”? Perhaps this has reference to the “high places” (6:3, 13) though the “high places” could also be in the valleys. More likely it is a judgment against the land (as the king, people, and temple are also judged).

6:3 – “hear the word of the Sovereign LORD” as a prophetic introduction see Josh.3:9; 1 Sam.15:1; 2 Kings 7:1; 20:5; Amos 7:16; Isa.1:10; 28:14, 16.

6:4-7 – What is the reason the LORD gives for why He will do what He pronounces: You will know that I am Yahweh. He will show the idols and sacred places to be worthless and those who worship such to be as what they worship (cf. Ps.135:15-18). The word for “idols” (Heb. gillulim) is not the normal term, but one of derision for the worthlessness of the idols basically identifying them with excrement (Block NICOT 226). “Scatter the bones around your altars” implies that they will surround the altars they have already surrounded but instead of dancing and worship it will be as the dead and judged (Duguid NIVAC 108)

6:8-10 – Those who are scattered exiles will be those sanctified by the LORD and not those who remain in the land. God’s judgment means ultimate redemption. Dan Block (NICOT 231-233) notes three things the remnant exiles will do: 1) remember the LORD; 2) loathe themselves; and 3) “know that I am Yahweh” (6:13-14; 7:4, 9, 27). This last phrase is key to the whole of the prophecy (cf. Exo.14:4, 18).

6:11 – “Strike your hands together” (or “clap your hands”)? This is as a sign of God’s anger with Israel (see Num.24:10; Eze.21:14, 17; 22:13). He is also told “stomp your feet” which is a sign of condemnation and rejection. “Alas!” does not convey the more direct translational value of “Ah!” (the sound of a disgusted sigh).

6:12 – Is there any escaping from the LORD? (see Ps.139)

6:13-14 – The irony is that “rather than offering life to the devotees, the pagan sanctuaries have become symbols of death” (Block NICOT 237). “From the desert to Diblah” (should read “Riblah” – the ‘d’ and ‘r’ look almost identical in Hebrew) means from the south to the very far north the LORD will desolate everywhere.

7:2-6 – “The end…”? What does this mean? Also, is the LORD’s judgment just? In what manner will He judge? Is the end “coming” or has it “come” already? Why will God not have pity?

7:10, 12, 17, 19 – The “day” of the LORD is the “moment of his intervention in human history, with the outcomes of such interventions being determined by him alone” (Block NICOT 244).

7:10-13 – Note the agricultural and commercial irony. What relation does “blossoming”, “budding” and the “staff” have to Aaron’s staff in Num.17:8?

7:14 – What is this verse referring to? Nebuchadrezzar’s approach and Jerusalem’s fall. Why is everyone judged? Were all of Israel wicked? Why do the righteous suffer with the wicked?

7:15-18 – Where is escape? It is of interest that those who escape do so to the mountains (cf. Mt.24:16; Mk.13:15; Lk.21:21). Are those who survive going to rejoice? Why not? What are the expressions in vs.17 meant to express? Apparently an utter lack of composure (the LXX and most modern commentators understand this to suggest they will wet themselves).

7:19 – What good is gold and silver in the day of the LORD’s wrath?

7:20-22 – The “beautiful jewelry” may suggest (following Rabbis Rashi and Kimchi) the treasures of the temple (7:22-23) which would make the acts of Israel that much worse. How might the treasury be “defiled” and “desecrated”? “The wicked of the earth” are used as God’s hand of judgment. John Calvin in his commentary on Ezekiel wrote concerning this, “They are borne along by a depraved disposition, but God has a wonderful plan, incomprehensible to us, according to which he impels the wicked here and there—without becoming involved in their guilt (cited in Duguid NIVAC 122).

7:23-24 – Who is the LORD telling to “prepare chains”? What is the reason? (cf. Gen.6:11) Note that the LORD says, “I will…” concerning the judgment (see who “strikes the blow” in 7:9).

7:25-27 – “They will seek peace but…” there will be no help for anyone. “Then they will know…”? (cf. 2 Pet.3:3-4)

Ezekiel 4-5 – Playing God Against Jerusalem

4:1-3 – Why the illustrated sermon? Or is it far more than an illustrated sermon? Does this prophetic play act (“sign-acts” Block NICOT 164-167) effect what is dramatized? Why does Ezekiel make a model of Jerusalem and then lay siege to it?

4:3 – What is the reason for the sign (Heb. ‘ot)? (Eze.12:6, 11; 24:24; cf. Ex.7:5; 9:13-17; Deut.4:32-39) ‘That they may know that I am Yahweh’ (LORD).

4:3-4 – To whom does “House of Israel” refer? To the northern ten tribes or to the whole united kingdom of Israel? It seems most likely it refers (in this section’s context) to refer to the whole with Jerusalem as the only rightful center of the nation (see Eze.4:13; 5:4).

4:4-5 – What does the 390 (LXX “190”) days per year refer to? Likely to the time since Solomon built the Temple of the LORD, the Glory filled it, and shortly thereafter he led the nation into idolatry (1 Ki.11:1-8, 33; 14:21-24; Eze.20:27-29). This would place the beginning at about 976 BC. Did Ezekiel really lay on his side for 390 days or was it only portions of each day? Also, what does it mean that he was to “bear the sins” of Israel and Judah? (see Ex.28:38; Num.18:1) What then does the 40 days refer to? Likely it refers to an exilic generation.

4:6 – For each day being in the place of a year see Num.14:33-35.

4:7 – Why does Ezekiel “bare his arm” against Jerusalem? It was “a military gesture of a warrior preparing for battle” (Block NICOT 180; see a similar statement where the LORD bares His arm in Isa.52:10).

4:8 – Again, what does it mean that the LORD tells Ezekiel to do all these things and yet also tells he will bind him with ropes so he cannot get up? Is Ezekiel responsible or the LORD?

4:9 – What do we make of the strange mixture (grains and legumes) for the bread Ezekiel was supposed to eat for 390 days? “The strange mixture symbolizes a situation where the scarcity was such that no one kind of grain was plentiful enough on its own to make a whole loaf” (Duguid NIVAC 89).

4:10-11 – What is our measurement of how much Ezekiel was allowed to eat and drink each day and what did it signify?

4:12 – Why was the cake “like a barley cake”? It seems this was because the bread of the poor was barley.

4:13-15 – “Use human excrement for fuel”? For the meaning of this (see Eze.4:14; cf. Deut.23:11-13); for Ezekiel’s plea for purity in himself (see Lev.7:18; 19:7; Deut.26:13-15). How should we understand Ezekiel’s plea (intercession?) and the LORD’s relenting? Is he representative of the few among the remnant that would yet remain pure? Why did he not ask for a relenting of the other commands?

4:16-17 – Scarcity is the judgment of the LORD against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant (Lev.26).

5:1 – Using a sword as a barber’s razor? For priestly laws concerning shaving (see Num.6:5; 8:7); for examples of shaving in certain circumstances being wrong and a sign of judgment (see Lev.21:5; Deut.14:1; Isa.7:20; Eze.44:20). Why was Ezekiel to use a scale to weigh the hair? This would seem to be because the LORD was going to be very exacting and deliberate in His judgments of Israel.

5:2-4 – What happened to each portion of hair and what is the significance? (5:12) Who will pursue Israel in judgment? Why were “a few strands of hair” to be kept in the fold of Ezekiel’s garments? Note that 5:4 speaks of removing even some of these kept hairs and also burning them? (Lev.26:36-39)

5:5-7 – Is the LORD’s election of Israel unqualified? (Eze.5:6; cf Luke 12:48; Heb.6:4-12; 10:26-31). According to 5:7, what is the LORD’s charge against Israel?

5:8-10 – What a fearful thing to hear the LORD say, “I myself am against you” (contrast this with “I am with you” in Gen.28:15; 26:3, 24, ; 31:3). What does 5:9 teach us about the LORD’s judgment? In 5:10 we are horrified by a judgment of family cannibalism, but this is the zonsequence of covenantal disobedience (see Lev.26:29; Deut.28:53-57; 2 Ki.6:24-31; Isa.9:19-21; 49:26; Jer.19:9; Zech.11:9; Lam.4:10).

5:11-13 – Is the LORD’s judgment “fair”? How should we understand the LORD swearing by his own life and what does it mean when He says, “I will not look on you with pity”? (see Deut.7:16; 13:8; 19:13, 21; 25:12; but also see the hope of Lev.26:44-45)

5:14-15 – Note the response of the nations around Israel and the judgments comparison to the promised judgments of the Song of Moses (Deut.32:23-25).