12 November 2008

Ezekiel the Observant

Based on Ezekiel 4. To be told just prior to serving Ezekiel Bars.

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Most of our problems result from not paying attention.

Adam ate from the tree. He was not paying attention.
Cain offered to God vegetables grown in the cursed earth. He was not paying attention.
My ancestors complained about Manna; Samson ate honey taken from a carcass; Jonah complained about the cucumber vine--they were not paying attention.

As a child, I learned that details matter.

"There is no forest without the trees," my mother would say, "and no people without the law."

I became so consumed with detail, that my friends gave me a nickname.

Ezekiel the Observant.

The Observant. Observers notice detail. And, of all the Observers--seers, prophets, dreamers, priests--of all the Observers, priests, it seemed, were the most respected.

So I became a priest.

I devoted myself to the teaching and keeping of the law; to maintaining the boundary between sacred and profane, between clean and unclean.

Then one day God spoke to me.

The instructions began reasonably enough
: build a little Jerusalem out of brick, set a little siege wall against it, and a little siege ramp, and a little siege camp, and little battering rams all around. These, while not exactly your run-of-the-mill instructions, aren't especially peculiar by God's standards. And the detail suited me.

So there I was, making little models in the mud, when God told me to lie on my left side. For 390 days. One day for each year of the punishment of Israel, God said.

And then I to turn over to the right side for 40 days, and lie with my face set against mini-Jerusalem. One day for each year of the punishment of Judah, God said.

And, to ensure that I didn't weaken and fail to honor the command, I was supposed to tie myself in place.


So I lay down, and realized that 430 is a lot of days, and, if God's math was right, a lot of punishment. More punishment, perhaps, than would be reasonable for a people that had already lived through so much. Besides which, I had not a thing to eat. And then God spoke a third time.

Gather wheat, barley, lentils, beans, millet, and spelt, mix it all together, and eat it as barley cakes, God said. Half a pound each day, God said.

And bake it with human dung.

Human dung! How absurd. How inappropriate. How ... unclean.

I have always paid attention to the details.

I know what a siege looks like, and I know what an army encampment looks like.

I know about the deceptiveness of spelt--how it grows everywhere but yields little, and how miserably difficult it is to hull.

I know what it is to harvest wheat, millet, beans, lentils, and barley.

I know how much work it will be to prepare half a pound of barley cake each day for the next 430 days. I know how dessicated my throat will be from eating it.

I know what it is to be a captive in a land not my own.

And I know what the law says about the presence of human fecal matter in the camp.

Quote: "You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which you shall go. With your utensils you shall have a trowel; when you relieve yourself outside, you shall dig a hole with your trowel and cover up your excrement. Because Adonai your God travels along with your camp, to save you and to hand over your enemies to you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that God may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."

"There is no people without the law."

So I reminded God of this--not only the fact that no human dung was to be in an army camp, let alone to be used as fuel for food; not only the fact that God's very law decreed this; not only the fact that I had been Observant my entire life, but also and especially the fact that the reason for disallowing human dung in the camp was that God was present to save us and hand over our enemies to us.

And here I am? Lying on my right side, setting my face against Jerusalem for 40 day-years after doing the same to Israel for 390 day-years?

Here I am? Tied to the ground, immobile, unclean, taking upon myself the complete and utter defeat of our people despite the promise of God's presence in our camp, despite having plenty of water and food to eat, and despite being Observant?

Here I am? Eating food cooked with human dung?

I pointed this out to God.

And God relented.

I used cow dung.


Creative Commons License
Ezekiel the Observant by Brent M Graber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.madgrab.net/2008/11/ezekiel-observant.html.

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