Daniel and Late Ezekiel?

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Thu Jun 24 12:41:35 EDT 1999


Dear Ian,

I am sorry if my tone upset you, but I was making a very serious point 
by analogy.

ANALOGY which is widely accepted I think:

Biblical Hebrew texts were written at some time before Hebrew letters 
were used as numbers. After the numbering scheme was introduced, 
various people began to read the Hebrew text as if it was a set of 
numbers and came to some interesting speculative conclusions (this is 
gematria as I understand it). These speculations, however, are not 
related to the author's intention and have no bearing on the dating of 
the text.

ALTERNATIVE ANALOGY:

Biblical Hebrew texts were written at some time before computers were 
introduced. After computers were introduced, various people began to 
look for hidden "Bible code" messages in the Hebrew text and came to 
some interesting (to some) speculative conclusions. These 
speculations, however, are not related to the author's intention and 
have no bearing on the dating of the text.

APPLICATION TO THE PRESENT QUESTION: I suggest the following:

Biblical Hebrew texts (specifically, Ezekiel) were written at some 
time before the "Enoch" and DSS calendar was introduced. After the 
calendar was introduced, various people began to read the dates in 
Hebrew text in the light of this calendar and came to some interesting 
speculative conclusions. These speculations, however, are not related 
to the author's intention and have no bearing on the dating of the 
text.

By the way, who first read these dates out of or into Ezekiel? Was it 
someone at Qumran etc? Or was it some medieval or modern scholar who 
discovered this alleged match with the "Enoch" and DSS calendar?

As for the details of that calendar, what is the significance that 
none of the visions took place on a Monday? Or is that simply chance? 
In that case, could it not be chance also that none of them took place 
on the Sabbath? Since we don't know what exactly the zero year of 
Ezekiel's reckoning was, if we can find any one day of the week on 
which no visions took place (in fact apparently there were two such 
days) we can adjust the zero year so that that day is the sabbath. It 
would also help if you gave accurate data e.g. 30 not 13 for the year 
in 1:1, or has someone made a conjectural emendation to fit this date 
into your calendar scheme? I am sorry, but this does look like the 
type of argument used in gematria, except that in gematria usually the 
source text is not emended.

OK, I accept that you may be right, that we do not have any definite 
proof (certainly that you would accept) of the date of Ezekiel, 
whether early or late. Another page to be ripped out of your already 
very thin history book, along with the page which told me definitely 
of the prosperity of Tyre in the short period between the decline of 
Assyria and the rise of Babylon (a period in which there was no great 
power to disturb trading links between Judah and Tyre - and anyway 
such trade tends to carry on regardless of political maneuvering until 
this becomes extreme).

You write "The first dating to an Ezekiel prophecy is in the fifth 
year of the exile of Jehoiachin, ie ca. 592, so presumably the 
Egyptian stuff came after that date." Presumably you refer to 1:2 (a 
date omitted from your list), which identifies this date with the 30th 
year in 1:1. Well, now I see another reason why you want to emend this 
figure in 1:1. For according to your understanding of the dates 8:1 is 
dated 24 years earlier and so. ca. 616! More likely 8:1 is in fact the 
6th year of the exile of Jehoicahin, putting 8:1 one year after 1:2. 
What is more, the dates in 33:21 and 40:1 are explicitly from the 
exile and so presumably compare with 1:2 not 1:1. But that completely 
messes up your nice calendar scheme.

I'm sorry, but your calendar scheme fails to fit properly with the 
actual data of the book of Ezekiel, but rather fits nicely with the 
sort of special pleading used by the type of people who try to fit 
data into a scheme (like gematria) which was devised after the data.

Let me also repeat my point that those who had, early in their lives, 
sought to benefit from Egyptian help around 605-601 would very likely 
have continued to hope that Egypt would deliver them from exile until 
the ends of their lives, especially if they were ignorant of the true 
weakness of Egypt. So for the perhaps better informed Ezekiel to seek 
to correct their optimism in the 580's (dates in chapters 29-32) is to 
my mind rather probable.

Peter Kirk


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[3]: Daniel and Late Ezekiel?
Author:  mc2499 at mclink.it at internet
Date:    23/06/1999 17:17


Dear Peter,

This letter of yours was not in particularly good spirit.

>Sounds like you have found some interesting gematria-like patterns in 
>Ezekiel.

That was uncalled for and better not said. At best it is an attempt to hide 
important data by trivialising it.

>No doubt the DSS people found some neat ways of fitting 
>Ezekiel into their own calendar,

The logic of this is difficult to penetrate.

We have a solar calendar mentioned in Enoch's Astronomy Book (ca. 250 BCE), 
which gets clarification in the DSS. The Ezekiel dates were written 
whenever the text was and have ostensibly nothing to do directly with the 
DSS. You may choose to ignore the data provided in Ezekiel, but there is a 
penchant for prophecy on Sundays, but never on Saturdays (see table 
appended). This is by way of explanation. Please explain to me the sense 
and relevance of your statement above.

>and copied some of its thinking e.g. 
>about Zadokite priests.

This thesis has little going for it as Ezekiel is poorly represented at 
Qumran. Zadokite hegemony over the priesthood didn't seem to have existed 
in the time of Zechariah or the other prophets. The more likely hypothesis 
is that the DSS and Ezekiel were both in the same current.

>That is no more proof that Ezekiel is from
>their time than the absurdities of medieval gematria are proof that 
>other books were written after the introduction of the numbering 
>system, or the absurdities of Bible codes are proof that the texts 
>were written after the invention of computers!

I see no reason for you to be going on about gematria, absurdities or bible 
codes.

I did not say exactly when Ezekiel was written. In fact this is what I 
said: "I don't know when Ezekiel was written, but the indications seem to 
me definitely not the time the text ostensibly deals with." Beside the 
attempts at denigration, your statement above is irrelevant and misguided.

>Ezekiel's prophecies are presented as starting about 16 years after 
>Josiah's clash with Egypt (1:2),

Nebuchadnezzar before becoming king had cleared Syria and Palestine of the 
remains of Egyptian interference (Carchemish etc) shortly after the death 
of Josiah. On his ascension to power (605) he returned to Babylon and the 
Egyptians returned to meddle in Jerusalem. He returned to drive the 
Egyptians back into their own territory by 601. That was the last 
involvement of Egypt in Jerusalem affairs. The first dating to an Ezekiel 
prophecy is in the fifth year of the exile of Jehoiachin, ie ca. 592, so 
presumably the Egyptian stuff came after that date.

(Syene, Ezek30:6, is the place where a Jewish mercenary colony was located 
in the 400s.)

>and the prophecy against Egypt is
>perhaps dated to 21 years after that clash (29:1). Maybe Egypt's power 
>was already dwindling, but quite likely this would not yet have been 
>clear to a relatively ordinary man exiled to Babylonia. Anyway, 
>Ezekiel speaks to Egypt as one already failing and which would no 
>longer be a threat to others (29:7-9,15), probably an astute political 
>judgment in his time as well as a prophetic word.
>
>As for Tyre, do you have definite inscriptional and material evidence, 
>not arguments from silence, for what you assert about it? Apparently 
>according to Josephus Nebuchadnezzar beseiged Tyre for 13 years 
>c.587-574, which at least suggests that before 587 it was an important 
>place,

(I see no point in quoting Josephus in this context. He is after all 
writing six hundred years after the events.)

The archaeology of Assyrian control of Palestine can be found in books such 
as Ahlstrom. Tyre became vassal to the Assyrians, providing hostages. It 
rebelled under Ashurbanipal (668-626) who firmly crushed the rebellion Tyre 
under the rise of the Babylonians survived using its sea connections, so 
that while all Palestine was under the control of the Babylonians Tyre was 
struggling on for survival. No, your representation of the situation is not 
possible.

>which could have traded freely with Judah during the reign of 
>Josiah, in Ezekiel's youth, when Assyria was weak and before the 
>Babylonians arrived in the area.

This is an exceedingly optimisitic view of the flexibility of trading 
practices. Tyre had suffered a siege and later a brutal repression (ca. 
645) under the Assyrians. Babylon staked its claim in the area in 605. Yet 
the Ezekiel text wants us to believe that Tyre is at some height of 
splendour and that there was an extensive international network of trading 
relationships that extended into Syria and down into Arabia, not to mention 
up into the Judaean hills. Nonetheless, the passages against Tyre seem 
totally irrelevant to the hypothetical audience in Babylon, where the book 
of Ezekiel is mainly set.

>Clearly the author of Ezekiel had a
>knowledge and interest in Tyre's trading partners,

What on earth would make you think this?

>which explains his knowledge of Tarshish, Rhodes and Cyprus.

Obviously with Tyrian influence in Jerusalem, such as that under the 
Persians, products from the Greek world would also reach the Jewish people. 
(But then the Greeks were also direct players during the period.)


Yours,

Ian

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is a table containing all of the Ezekiel data for when visions came to 
the prophet:

      Verse    year-month-day

       1,1      13 -  4 -  5    Sun
      (3,6      7 days later    Sun)
       8,1       6 -  6 -  5    Thu
      20,1       7 -  5 - 10    Sun
      24,1       9 - 10 - 10    Fri
      26,1      11 -  ? -  1    W|F|Su   (Masoretic text omits month) 
      29,1      10 - 10 - 12    Sun
      29,17     27 -  1 -  1    Wed
      30,20     11 -  1 -  7    Tue
      31,1      11 -  3 -  1    Sun
      32,1      12 - 12 -  1    Sun
      32,17     12 -  ? - 15    W|F|Su   (Masoretic text omits month
                                          LXX indicates 1st month = Wed)
      33,21     12 - 10 -  5    Sun      (LXX indicates 12th month = Wed) 
      40,1      25 -  1 - 10    Fri
----------------------------------------------------------------------


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