The Prophet Ezekiel

The Iconography

Most often Ezekiel is pictured along with other prophets, for example in Nativities and among the prophets lining cathedral façades. Sometimes one can distinguish him from the other prophets if he has a scroll with a quotation from his prophecies. A common choice is Non abscondam ultra faciem meam ab eis, "I will hide my face no more from them" (39:29). A quotation relevant to Nativities is Porta haec clausa erit, non aperietur, et vir non transibit in ea, "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it" (44:2). It was thought that this was a prophecy of the virgin birth.

Ezekiel's mantle is sometimes pulled up over his head. Like the other prophets he is almost always pictured with a fairly long gray beard.

In Ezekiel 1:1-28 the prophet sees a fiery chariot. In most images the Lord is guiding the chariot, but in the vision he is above in Heaven. The chariot will look different from one image to the next because the literary description gives little guidance, but if it is on fire the man kneeling before it is most likely Ezekiel.

Another subject seen from time to time is Ezekiel's preaching to the Valley of Dry Bones. This was pictured as early as the 3rd and 4th centuries and is the subject of a large fresco in the cathedral at Orvieto.1

Prepared in 2016 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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SHOWN ABOVE

Ezekiel stands in the right panel of this triptych. The scroll bears his prophecy of the virgin birth. The dark beard and bald head are not often seen in portraits of this prophet. See the description page for details.

OTHER IMAGES

An Orthodox icon of Ezekiel kneeling before God on the fiery chariot – See the description page

The chariot in a fresco at Pomposa Abbey – See the description page

13th century illumination – See the description page

NOTES

1 See Duchet-Suchaux, 145; Macaulay-Lewis; and my page on the Ezekiel Sarcophagus.