Ezekiel – Chapter 8

Insult to Injury

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Ezekiel was sitting in his house with the elders of the people, when G-d appeared to him in a vision. As with the vision of the “chariot” in chapter 1, this vision includes descriptions of Heavenly phenomena that we cannot go into any deeper than the descriptions given in the text.

Ezekiel saw a vision of a man, resembling fire from the waist down and “chashmal” from the waist up. (See chapter 1 for a discussion of “chashmal.”) He took Ezekiel by a lock of his hair and a wind carried him to Jerusalem, to the gate of Temple courtyard, where an idol had previously been. Ezekiel saw a vision of the glory of G-d, as he had before.

G-d told Ezekiel to look to the north; Ezekiel did and he saw the idol. G-d said, “Do you see what they do? You see the abominations that drive Me away? But look elsewhere and you’ll see even worse!” He brought Ezekiel to the door and showed him a hole in the wall. G-d had him dig out the wall and it revealed the door to a hidden room. Ezekiel entered the room and saw it was full of idols, being served by the elders of the people. “You see what the leaders do in secret,” G-d said. “They say that G-d doesn’t care and has forsaken the land. But turn again and see more abominations.”

He carried Ezekiel to the Temple courtyard, where he saw a group of women serving an idol called Tammuz, which had been rigged to appear that it could cry. Then He took Ezekiel to the door of the Temple, where 25 men had their backs to the Temple and bowed to the sun. (On verse 16, Rashi quotes the Talmud that they were evacuating their bowels in the manner of the service of the idol Peor; he explains the next verse to say that they were passing wind at G-d.) “You see how they throw their shame in My face,” G-d said. (The text euphemistically changes it to “in their faces.”) “Because of this,” G-d says, “I will react with anger and I will not have mercy. They will call out to Me, but I will not answer.”

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