C. A. Strine

Was the Book of Ezekiel Written in a Refugee Camp?

An Investigation

Volume 11 () / Issue 5, pp. 189-203 (15)
Published 11.08.2022

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Dalit Rom-Shiloni has described the book of Ezekiel as an advocate for extreme exclusivity – a preference for a well-defined group of Judahites who experience forced displacement to Babylonia. One can contrast this with Jeremiah, which allows for openness to outsiders. Yet the two texts share many theological ideas. How is that possible? Moreover, Ezekiel shows a hard-to-explain knowledge of Babylonian language and culture. Why is that? Perhaps the key to understanding both issues lies in employing the study of involuntary migration to interpret the social setting from which the book emerges, namely, a small conclave of Judahite involuntary migrants placed by the Babylonian state in a remote area known as the Chebar Canal. This article argues that the book of Ezekiel addresses an audience of involuntary migrants who are forcibly settled by their imperial captors in a rural, isolated location. This context resembles the modern refugee camp in many ways. Interpreted through that lens, one can see the ethnocentrism of Ezekiel as a result of that location and Ezekiel's knowledge of Babylonian culture as necessary to his role as a key interface between the imperial officials overseeing 'Camp Chebar' and the Judahites involuntarily living and working in it.

C. A. Strine No current data available.