Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ezekiel 37 and a Chaism

This passage occurs in the Narrative Lectionary Year 4 Advent Cycle.
Chiastic structure of Ezekiel 37. 
This week I'd like to show how the language Ezekiel points toward a chiasm.  A chiasm is a structure, used very often in Hebrew, along the lines of this
Point A
  Point B
     MAIN Point C
  Counterpoint/echo B
Counterpoint/echo A

Repetition of words and themes points toward the middle, which reveals the author's main point.  This is a valuable tool for teaching, but I would also argue, for remembering stories as well.  It works very well in Hebrew, a language with a fairly small vocabulary.  English authors cover up these structures by translating the same word in various ways.  In Ezekiel 37, this happens most meaningfully with  (דוח) , which means Spirit, wind or breath. 

Once you start laying out the words, a strong argument for a chaism emerges, with the key verse in the middle: "You shall live and know that I am the Lord"

Point A:  The Spirit (דוח) leads Ezekiel to the valley of dry bones (עצם)
   Point B:  Even prophet (literally, son of Adam) is uncertain about fate of bones (עצם); only God knows (ידע)
     Point C:   Command to prophesy (נבא), to speak the Word of the LORD (דבד) with the promise of the Spirit  (דוח)
                       1)  Bones (עצם) will take on flesh
                       2)  Flesh will come alive (חיה) through Spirit (דוח)
        Point D:  MAIN POINT:  People will be alive (חיה) and know (ידע) that the LORD is God!
     Point C':  Ezekiel Prophesies (נבא)
                        1)  Bones (עצם) take on flesh
                        2)  Flesh comes alive  (חיה) as Spirit  (דוח) comes at Word of God. 
In fact, a whole mulitude has been resurrected
   Point B':  People said they did not know their fate, their bones (עצם) had dried up; command to prophesy (נבא) the promise of God's Spirit to the people
Point A:  Spirit (דוח) will be with everyone (not just Ezekiel); they will be in Israel, not in valley; people will be alive (חיה) and know (ידע) that the LORD is God!

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