Who was Ezekiel?
Ezekiel was a priest in Israel, but he was taken captive by the Babylonians. This is where we find him in the first verses of the book.
Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth [day] of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. (On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile, the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him.) (Ezekiel 1:1-3)
When was Ezekiel taken captive?
There were three times that the Babylonians came and conquered Israel and took captives.
The first is Jehoiakim’s exile. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and captured it, and he bound Jehoiakim in bronze chains and led him away to Babylon. (2Ch 36:5-6)
The second is Jehoiachin’s exile. “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. Jehoiachin did what was evil in the LORD’s sight. In the spring of the year, King Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon.” (2Chron 36:9-10)
The third exile was the final destruction of Jerusalem and the execution of the last king, Zedekiah (2Chron 36:17; Ezekiel 33:21)
Daniel and his three friends were taken in the first of these (Daniel 1:1) and Ezekiel in the second.
How do you know that Ezekiel was taken in the second of these exiles?
Because Ezekiel writes that God appeared to him on the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile (Ezekiel 1:2).
How do we know that Ezekiel was in Babylon when he wrote out the contents of this book?
Because he writes that he was by the Chebar river in the land of the Chaldeans when God called him to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:2).
How could Ezekiel be a prophet to the Jewish people if he were in Babylon?
- Ezekiel was more directly a prophet to the exiles who were in Babylon with him. It is to these that he usually speaks (Ezekiel 11:25).
- At several points in his ministry, Ezekiel is brought to Jerusalem in a vision and engages the people there. How this exactly happened is a mystery. The largest of these is in chapters 8-11. See Ezekiel 8:3 and 11:24.