The present study seeks to examine how Ezekiel interprets the past history of
the people of Israel as he presents it in chapters 16, 20, and 23, of the hook which
bears his name. "»hat is involved in the examination is primarily the question of
how Ezekiel uses the older traditions in those three chapters. To achieve this
purpose, the literary-critical method, which has dominated the studies of Szekiel
since the last decades of last century, and the form-critical method, arejl not
enough. This is so, since the problem posed above is concerned with the history of
traditions, especially of those which are used by Ezekiel in his interpretation of
his people's past history. Therefore, another critical method is urgently needed}
and this is the so called traditio-historical method. All of this means that the
acceptance of the traditio-historical method cannot be regarded as the rejection of
the literary-critical method. Instead, the traditio-historical method must be
regarded as an additional tool and should be used together with the other critical
ly using the traditio-historical method, it is now possible to examine Ezek.
16, 20, and 23, in a broader context. This context comprises not only the organic
relation between Ezekiel and the book which bears his name, but also their organic
relations with the prophetic movement, with other prophetic books, and with the
Israelite traditions in general.
The examination of Ezek. 16, 20, and 23 reveals that Ezekiel'3 interpretation
of Israel's past history is found chiefly in Ezek. 16:1-43} 20:1-31} and 23»1~20.
And the examination of these three big sections reveals that, on the one hand,
Ezekiel depends on the older traditions, and on the other, he uses those older
traditions in his own way and for his own purpose.
In Ezek. 16:1-45 Ezekiel stands chiefly in the David-Zion traditions, in Ezek,
20:1-31 chiefly in the exodus-wilderness-conquest traditions, and in Kzek. 23*1-20
in both the David-Zion traditions and the exodus-wilderness-conquest traditions.
Apart from the fact that these two streams of traditions, i.e., the David-Zion
traditions and the exodus-wilderness-conquest traditions, are very central in the
life of Israel as the people of Yahweh, they have become both the basic traditionmaterials
and the frame of reference fox* the course of Ezekiel's interpretation of
his people's past history.
In spite of all this, the examination of the three sections specified above
has shown that Ezekiel's interpretation of Israel's past history is unique. This
is so./Inter alia, (a) no other prophet or Israelite traditionist has ever used /since
the metaphor of husband-wife relationship in so an extensive way and for so a
radical purpose as Bzekiel (chapters 16 and 23)} (b) no other prophet or Israelite
traditionist has ever used those two streams of tradition in their reverse meaning
and purpose (chapters 16, 20, and 23)} (c) no other prophet or Israelite tradi¬
tionist has ever employed stereotyped formulas and structures in his speech in so
an extensive way as Ezekiel (chapter 20)} (d) the paratactical juxtapositions of
short sentences which make up lengthy descriptions in chapters 16, 20, and 23.
are very characteristic of Ezekiel.
Coupled with the fact that Ezekiel is a genuine insider in the Israelite
traditions in that he is both a prophet and a priest, all of these findings lead
to the conclusion that s (a) the uniqueness and the raiicality of Ezekiel's
interpretation of his people's past history lie in his own constant stress on
the darker side of that history and in his extravagant elaborations of the
tradition-elements which serve his purpose; (b) Ezekiel's interpretation of
Israel's past history has very much been influenced by his understanding of the
current situation of the people, and in many cases he reads this situation back
to the past history of the people; (o) historico-critically, this reading back
might be inaccurate, but traditio-historically it is not without basis. This is
so, since (1) Ezekiel's interpretation of Israel's past history is only one of
many interpretations given by the Israelite traditionists, and (2) the two
streams of tradition which Ezekiel uses in his interpretation are living streams
of tradition, which, on the one hand, are still in the process of all-Israelization,
and on the other, are subject to any review.
In the context of the ministry of Ezekiel, his interpretation of Israel's
past history has shown that, a genuine traditionist as he really is, Ezekiel
has been able to understand and to review critically both his people's past
history and his people's traditions, and to use them to be the vehicle of the
message he is commissioned to deliver.