As promised in the previous post, I’m going to perform an experiment, sharing one brief overview of a 30 mins long paper entitled The Perfect Beauty of Tyre in Ezekiel 27: Anti-Jerusalem Temple Rhetoric. I presented this paper on 03.05.2013 for the DoKo (Doktorandenkolloquium) at the faculty of my university~ This post is also a way to summarize and commemorate my second and last DoKo presentation over the past three years! 🙂
In the whole book of Ezekiel, the combination of the terms כלל “to perfect, be complete” and יֹפה “to be beautiful” appears only in one oracle concerning Jerusalem and the Tyre oracles (27:3, 4, 11; cf. 28:12). Elsewhere in the whole of the Hebrew Bible, it appears only in relation to Jerusalem (Psalm 50:2, Lamentations 2:15; Ezekiel 16:14). This then raises an intriguing question concerning the comparability between Tyre and Jerusalem within this particular prophetic book.
I thus set out on a journey to discover the link of the Tyrian ship in Ezekiel 27 to Jerusalem in chapter 16 as well as in other passages in the Hebrew Bible. What surprises me is that the first section of Ezekiel 27 (vv.5-9) contains words that are used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible mostly or only in reference to the sanctuary building contexts (E.g. the parallel of ברושׁים “cypress” and ארז “cedar” in v.5, the קרשׁ “plank” in v.6, the ארגמן “purple” and תכלת “blue” in v.7, the חכמים “wise men” in vv.8-9; שׁשׁ “fine linen” and רקמה “embroidered cloth” in vv.7, 16, 24). The same can be said in regard to chapter 16, which narrates the abominable history of lady Jerusalem, but uses language at vv.9-14 that is comparable to the tabernacle building in the wilderness (language found mainly in P sources e.g. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers). Such distinctive linguistic connections thus point me to the direction that the perfect beauty of Tyre in Ezekiel 27 is comparable at a synchronic level to the temple beauty of Jerusalem typified especially in Ezekiel 16.
Of special significance is the rhetorical impact of such linguistic connections might have in reading the glory and subsequent destruction of Tyre in the beautiful lament of Ezekiel 27. I therefore come up with 3 observations on how to evaluate such perfect beauty of Tyre in light of the shared language:
1. Following the lead of Greenberg who suggests the close connections of the perfect beauty among Ezekiel 27:3-4, 11; 16:14; Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15, I further propose that the contexts of judgment in all four passages are one significant commonality.
2. The extensive trade list in the middle of the lament (27:12-25) has the literary effect of exalting the perfect beauty of Tyre to an unprecedented scope. That Jerusalem and the land of Israel are subsumed under the trade list (v. 17) creates further an effect that the manifestations of the temple beauty of Jerusalem is relativized through the pompous glory of Tyre.
3. The ultimate horrid destruction of Tyre by the east wind (vv.25b-36) is not comparable lingustically with the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet, taking the linguistic connections to Jerusalem temple imagery mentioned in the foregoing, and contextualizing the temple imagery within the book of Ezekiel, the negative and indifferent attitude toward Jerusalem temple is evident throughout various redactional layers of the prophetic book (e.g. the presence of Yahweh with the exile in Ezekiel 1; 11:14-16; the departure of Yahweh’s glory from Jerusalem in Ezekiel 8-11; the absence of the designation of Jerusalem/Zion in Ezekiel 40-48, etc.)
Given that Ezekiel 27 is sandwiched between Ezekiel 26:1 (with a chronological formula that alerts to the simultaneous siege of Jerusalem and Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar) and the climactic fall of Jerusalem envisioned in Ezekiel 33:21ff., it is only natural that the destruction of the Tyrian ship in Ezekiel 27 highlights the suspense of the fall of Jerusalem temple. It ascertains the doom of the First Temple and contains the anti-Jerusalem temple rhetoric: If Tyre with all her manifested glory cannot withstand the destruction of Yahweh, how much more can a small sanctuary like the Jerusalem Temple do!?
To conclude, I see an alignment between Tyre and Jerusalem in Ezekiel 27 that cannot be brushed aside too easily. Of course, the alignment is not the whole story of the oracles concerning the foreign nations in Ezekiel 25-32. Anyway, this brief overview is a summary of only a part of the chapter 2 of my dissertation. But before you claim such harsh and deconstructive message concerning Jerusalem temple as blasphemous, I’d like to leave you with the following thought from this small oracle concerning Tyre: The alignment between us and the others (or self-internalization) is probably the best first step to point us to the real difference between us and the others. Looking at what is being destroyed through a comparison with Tyre, we can then have a better understanding of what exactly is preserved for the relationship between Yahweh and the house of Israel to continue in Ezekiel.
Afterthoughts from my DoKo presentation:
Here I can be less technical to talk about this DoKo experience! 🙂
1. Not all professors were at my DoKo presentation. But the one who saw me present at OTSEM 2011 in Copenhagen (when I was still too simple and too naive in the academic field) was at this DoKo as well! He was kind enough to say that I’ve grown to a certain extent that I could defend my paper convincingly and said that it was an excellent paper! (Let me sincerely hope that he really meant what he said)
2. Really grateful to have a really awesome, lovely, supportive, encouraging respondent at my DoKo presentation! Can’t thank her enough to make me feel really comfortable and confident during the presentation of my paper (actually I was lucky enough to have really good respondents at both times of my DoKo presentations who gave super constructive criticisms and feedback to my paper!)
3. Got really useful comments, criticisms, encouragements and one big HUG during and after the discussion time!! They were kind enough to offer some compliments but also good enough to point out that I will still need to think more about my methodology of comparison: How to incorporate a diachronic approach to texts in a synchronic study? I do have some thoughts upon reading the books from Tooman and Levitt Kohn. Mmm… do you have any thoughts on this issue? If yes, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post or just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to discuss this paper with you and look forward to your sharing of thoughts!
Phoenician ships transporting cedar logs depicted in a relief of one Assyrian palace