Friday, July 29, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 4-6: Prophecy as performance art

Chapter 4

God must have got bored with viticulture, so now he's into model building. One wonders if that's maybe what he's been doing since his book was published. So this particular model is an intricate sculpture of Jerusalem besieged by the Babylonians. Then he tells Zeke to lie on his left side for 390 days to represent the punishment of the Israelites, then to roll over onto his right side for another 40 days for the punishment of Judah. He can't move, but he can have special bread, 20 shekels' worth of meat, and water every day. You know, I don't think anyone has eaten a piece of fruit since the apple way back in Genesis. So I have no idea how he's able to follow the baking instructions: thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight (v. 12). Yes, this strategy is definitely going to convince the Israelites to give up their sinning ways and turn back to god.

Zeke whines that he's a vegetarian, proving they were the most irritating people on earth even then, so god says he can't bake his bread with cow dung instead of human dung, and I don't understand how that solves the problems? But god has bigger things on his mind, namely how he's going to visit famine and drought on Jerusalem for no apparent reason.

Chapter 5

In another demonstration that isn't going to convince anyone, god tells Zeke to shave off all his hair, then burn a third of it in the town square, smite another third with a knife, and scatter the last third in the wind. He's supposed to keep a few hairs back and weave them into his skirt. Then he's supposed to burn the skirt. I'm starting to wonder if all these stories about the prophets are actually a primitive DSM.

Anyway, this bald, naked, cross-dressing weirdo who just set his clothes and hair on fire then starts shrieking in the town square about how all this represents Jerusalem and how god is going to punish them with famine, cannibalism, plague and war. There's no mention of the populace's reaction, but if they've already dealt with Isaiah and Jeremiah, maybe they're inured to street crazies by now.

Chapter 6

No word of whether Zeke got himself some new clothes. Now he's screaming at the mountains about how god is going to shatter the altars and scatter them with the bones of dead children. Then he starts dancing and chanting about people dying by famine, pestilence and war so people will know it was god what done it. In other words, Jerusalem hasn't changed a bit.

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