The Meaning of Ezekiel 1:1 Explained

Ezekiel 1:1

KJV: Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

YLT: And it cometh to pass, in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth of the month, and I am in the midst of the Removed by the river Chebar, the heavens have been opened, and I see visions of God.

Darby: Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

ASV: Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month , in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

What does Ezekiel 1:1 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The book begins with an introductory formula that is typical of narrative literature: "Now it came about" (Heb. wayhi; cf. Joshua 1:1; Judges 1:1; Ruth 1:1; 1 Samuel 1:1; Esther 1:1; Jonah 1:1). Ezekiel is essentially a narrative that contains other types of literature.
Ezekiel dated his vision of God that follows as coming to him on the fifth day of the fourth month (the equivalent of July31) and in the thirtieth year. The thirtieth year evidently refers to the prophet"s thirtieth year, when he was30 years old. [1] Other views are that this was the thirtieth year following the discovery of the Law and Josiah"s reforms, the thirtieth year since the Exile began in605 B.C, the thirtieth year of Nabopolassar"s reign, the thirtieth year of Jehoiachin (the date of compilation of the book), or the thirtieth year after the last observed year of jubilee. [2] Frequently when someone recorded personal reminiscences he gave the person"s age (cf. Genesis 8:13). Thirty was the age at which priests entered into their ministry in Israel ( Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:23; Numbers 4:30; Numbers 4:39; Numbers 4:43; 1 Chronicles 23:3), and Ezekiel was a priest ( Ezekiel 1:3).
These visions came to Ezekiel while he was among the Jewish exiles who settled by the Chebar River in Babylonia. The Chebar River was a large, navigable canal that tied into the Euphrates River north and south of Babylon. It made a semicircular loop around the city.
"It was part of a complex network of canals that came into being in the Mesopotamian heartland to provide artificial irrigation from the Euphrates and, to a lesser extent, the Tigris for the grain crops and date orchards, and also, in the case of larger watercourses, transportation of these and other goods." [3]
Ezekiel saw the heavens opened, and he beheld the heavenly throne room of God (cf. Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21; John 1:32; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; Acts 10:11; Revelation 4:1; Revelation 19:11). [4]

Context Summary

Ezekiel 1:1-21 - A Vision Of God's Majesty
A dark storm-cloud approaches the prophet, from which an incessant blaze of lightning scintillated. As it drew near, the forms of four living creatures became visible, combining, under various figures, intelligence, strength, patience, and soaring aspiration. The wheels were evidently symbolical of the cycles of divine providence, which cooperate with the ministers of the divine will. The slab of blue expanse supported a human semblance, suggestive of that great after-event-God manifest in the flesh. The whole conception impresses us with the reality, order, majesty, and humanness, of the Eternal God. Those holy beings surely represent the intelligent company of innumerable angels and servants, while the wheels represent the material creation. All these are sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. Angels and nature minister to us, if we are in union with God. All things serve the servants of the Most High. [source]

Chapter Summary: Ezekiel 1

1  The time of Ezekiel's prophecy at Chebar
4  His vision of four cherubim;
15  of the four wheels;
26  and of the glory of God

What do the individual words in Ezekiel 1:1 mean?

And it came to pass In the thirtieth year in the fourth [month] on [day] five of the month and as I [was] among the captives by the River Chebar [that] were opened the heavens and I saw visions of God
וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בִּשְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֗ה בָּֽרְבִיעִי֙ בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֣ה לַחֹ֔דֶשׁ וַאֲנִ֥י בְתֽוֹךְ־ הַגּוֹלָ֖ה עַל־ נְהַר־ כְּבָ֑ר נִפְתְּחוּ֙ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וָאֶרְאֶ֖ה מַרְא֥וֹת אֱלֹהִֽים

וַיְהִ֣י ׀  And  it  came  to  pass 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
בִּשְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים  In  the  thirtieth 
Parse: Preposition-b, Number, common plural
Root: שְׁלֹשִׁים  
Sense: thirty, thirtieth.
שָׁנָ֗ה  year 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: שָׁנָה  
Sense: year.
בָּֽרְבִיעִי֙  in  the  fourth  [month] 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Number, ordinal masculine singular
Root: רְבִיעִי 
Sense: fourth.
בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֣ה  on  [day]  five 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Number, masculine singular
Root: חָמֵשׁ  
Sense: five.
לַחֹ֔דֶשׁ  of  the  month 
Parse: Preposition-l, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: חֹדֶשׁ  
Sense: the new moon, month, monthly.
וַאֲנִ֥י  and  as  I  [was] 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Pronoun, first person common singular
Root: אֲנִי  
Sense: I (first pers.
הַגּוֹלָ֖ה  the  captives 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: גֹּולָה  
Sense: exiles, exile, captivity.
נְהַר־  the  River 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: נָהָר  
Sense: stream, river.
כְּבָ֑ר  Chebar 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: כְּבָר  
Sense: a Babylonian river near which many Israelite exiles settled; maybe the ‘Habor’ or the ‘Royal Canal’ of Nebuchadnezzar.
נִפְתְּחוּ֙  [that]  were  opened 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Perfect, third person common plural
Root: פָּתַח 
Sense: to open.
הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם  the  heavens 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: שָׁמַיִם  
Sense: heaven, heavens, sky.
וָאֶרְאֶ֖ה  and  I  saw 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, first person common singular
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
מַרְא֥וֹת  visions 
Parse: Noun, feminine plural construct
Root: מַרְאָה 
Sense: vision.
אֱלֹהִֽים  of  God 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: אֱלֹהִים  
Sense: (plural).