11 August 2016

Jerusalem In The Year 3338: The Birur

7 Av 5776


The Book of Ezekiel

The sins of Israel had become irreparable. The Temple would be destroyed, as the somber narratives of the later chapters of Kings and Chronicles detail. The people looked up the hill at their Temple, confident that it would protect itself and them from King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his conquering army. No human king could destroy the habitat of God's Presence! But, as the Talmud describes it, the Divine Presence was receding from the Temple, stage by stage, in ten stages. Holiness had been there because of the people; when they lost their merit, it lost its holiness. The building on the hill was no longer a "Temple," it was merely a grand edifice, a shell, devoid of its sanctity. And then, it was reduced to a flaming ruin, with its people dead or driven off to exile and slavery.

Such was the world of the Prophet Ezekiel.

...The Book of Ezekiel is surely a book of tragedy, but not a book of despair, for Israel will rise again and return to its home. There, in Jerusalem, it will assume a new and eternal name Hashem Shamah - Hashem Is There. (48.35)  

Ezekiel's Vision of the (Then) Future Destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon

Commentary: Ezekiel heard as God summoned the forces that were to destroy the city. The man clothed in linen was the angel Gabriel, the angel of fire, who, in Ezekiel's vision, was to cast the fire upon Jerusalem. From his loins hung scribal implements (represented in the verse by the slate) with which to inscribe on the foreheads of the righteous the mark that would spare them from death (Radak). The prophecy goes on to say that the sinners were about to be wiped out. This sign on the forehead of the righteous was to protect them from the fate of the sinners."

(Source: The Stone Edition Tanach - Introduction to the Book of Ezekiel)

Ezekiel - Chapter 9

Then He called into my ears with a loud voice, saying, "Bring near those appointed over the city, and each one his weapon of destruction in his hand."

And behold six men* coming from the way of the upper gate, which is turned northward; each man has his sledgehammer in his hand, and one man among them clothed in linen with a scribe's tablet on his loins, and they came and stood beside the copper altar. [*RashiOur Rabbis explained them in Tractate Shabbath (55a) as Anger, Wrath, Fury, Destroyer, Breaker, Annihilator.]

And the glory of the God of Israel lifted itself from upon the cherub upon which it had been, to the threshold of the House, and He called to the man clothed in linen, upon whose loins was the scribe's tablet.

And the Lord said to him, "Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you shall mark a sign upon the foreheads of the men who are sighing and moaning over all the abominations that were done in its midst."

And to these, He said in my ears, "Pass through the city after him and smite; let your eye spare not and have no pity.

Old man, young man, and maiden, young children and women, you shall slay utterly, but to any man upon whom there is the mark you shall not draw near, and you shall commence from My sanctuary." So they commenced from the old men who were before the House.

And He said to them, "Defile the House and fill the courts with the slain [and] go out," and they went out and smote in the city.

And it came about when they smote, that I remained, and I fell on my face and cried out, and I said, "Alas, O Lord God, are You destroying the entire remnant of Israel when You pour out Your fury on Jerusalem?"

And He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land has become full of bloodshed, and the city has become full of perversion, for they said, 'The Lord has forsaken the earth, and the Lord does not see.'

I too - My eye will not spare, neither will I have pity; I have placed their way on their head."

And behold, the man clothed in linen, on whose loins was the tablet, replied with a word, saying, "I have done according to all that You have commanded me."

(Source: Online Tanakh)

As it was, so shall it be. Except the Shechinah will be returning, not leaving.