Have Made the Dry Tree to Flourish: Comfort Within Destruction

The prophet Ezekiel gives prophesies to the exiles of Babylon. Ezekiel addresses a public who is post-traumatic: the exiles have lost their home, their loved ones, their world was destroyed through war and exile.

The prophet Jeremiah describes the destruction of the land as a state of chaos and void:

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light (Jeremiah 4, 23).

The prophet’s words describe the state of suffering and confusion which the exiles experience: wrenched out of their homeland, trying to make sense of their loss, in a state of existential chaos and confusion.

Ezekiel speaks to the exiles in a metaphoric language that accepts contradictions, allowing the exiles to envision a future of comfort and resurrection within a reality of exile:

I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish (Ezekiel 17, 24)

According to Yemenite tradition, Ezekiel 17 is the Haftarah of Parashat Haazinu. In Parashat Haazinu the Children of Israel are in a state of transition: between the desert and the Promised Land; between a state of nomads and a life of a people in its homeland. Parashat Haazinu includes a beautiful description of creation out of chaos:

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, a howling wilderness; He compassed him about, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy, 32, 10).

Echoing Parashat Haazinu, Ezekiel promises the exiles the creation of life out of the void of the desert, the promise of a future of hope and belonging.

Photo by Circe Denyer

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