If the Daniel 7 reference to "Son of Man" is in any way Messianic, why would this distinction be given to the prophet Ezekiel, a descendant of Aaron, if the king was to be of Judah?

Does Ezekiel's life, in any way, connect him with the Psalm 110:4 reference which compares Messiah's reign to Melchizedek's, who was both king Salem and "a priest of the Most High God?"

This is especially curious considering this passage:

Ezekiel 37:24. "My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees,"...

Curious because texts such as Nehemiah 8 speak of the priests having responsibility to teach the people. During the deportation to Babylon, Ezekiel certainly performed this duty as God's mouthpiece, somewhat as Aaron and his sons were used at the time of the Exodus and the subsequent formation of the nation.

6 Answers 6


Actually the "son of man" in Daniel 7 is not written the same as "son of man" in Ezekiel. For example the first use in Ezekiel is at 2:1:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” (Ezekiel 2:1) [ESV]

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָי בֶּן־אָדָם עֲמֹד עַל־רַגְלֶיךָ וַאֲדַבֵּר אֹתָֽךְ׃

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. (Daniel 7:13)

חָזֵה הֲוֵית בְּחֶזְוֵי לֵֽילְיָא וַאֲרוּ עִם־עֲנָנֵי שְׁמַיָּא כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ אָתֵה הֲוָה וְעַד־עַתִּיק יֹֽומַיָּא מְטָה וּקְדָמֹוהִי הַקְרְבֽוּהִי׃

The phrase in Daniel is the Aramaic כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ. The phrase(s) in Ezekiel are the Hebrew בֶּן־אָדָם. In English they get translated as the same but in the original texts, they are different. The literal Hebrew of Ezekiel could be translated as "son of adam" which would be distinct from "son of man (אִישׁ)".

While the meanings appear to be the same, the prophetic picture in Daniel, given in Aramaic, is distinct from the person of Ezekiel. This is apparent from the contexts. In Ezekiel the phrase is used to refer to the person of Ezekiel; in Daniel 7 it most likely refers to a heavenly figure. As Lawrence M. Wills comments:

13-14: Human being, lit. "son of man: which in the Bible is idiomatic for human being (Dan. 8.17, Ezek. 2.1, Job 25.6). Here however, the celestial being is like a human being, i.e. has a human countenance. For the author it most likely represents a heavenly figure who will exercise judgment, perhaps Michael (see 10.13 n.). Christian tradition, especially in the Gospels, saw this as a prediction of Jesus as a heavenly "son of man." A messianic use of this title is also found in postbiblical Jewish literature (1 Enoch 46.1; 48.10; 4 Ezra[2 Edras] ch 13; b. Sanh. 98a). Some Rabbis rejected the future messianic interpretation by arguing either that the predictions had all been fulfilled in the past (b. Sanh. 97b), or that Daniel's predictions did not include the end of time (Gen. Rab. 98.2). Later in Jewish tradition the messianic interpretation faded and the one like a human being was seen as representing Israel (Ibn Ezra, Rashi).1

The Hebrew phrase in Ezekiel is also used in Daniel:

So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” (Daniel 8:17)

וַיָּבֹא אֵצֶל עָמְדִי וּבְבֹאֹו נִבְעַתִּי וָאֶפְּלָה עַל־פָּנָי וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי הָבֵן בֶּן־אָדָם כִּי לְעֶת־קֵץ הֶחָזֹֽון׃

Here the context is the same as in Ezekiel: it is used to address the person of Daniel. Thus the same phrase ("son of adam") was used to address these two Exilic contemporary prophets. Perhaps an additional connection is implied: Daniel like Ezekiel was of the priestly lineage. Josephus (cf. Ant., x. 10.1) said Daniel was of royal or noble descent which could be priestly or Davidic. Regardless, there is no reason to connect the "son of man/adam" in Ezekiel to the "son of man" in Daniel 7.

One possibility as to why these two prophets are addressed as "son of man/adam" is to symbolize the condition of the nation of Israel. They have been disposed of their land and exiled to Babylon, the general location of the Garden of Eden. In 70-years, they will "start over" by being allowed to journey from Babylon to Israel. Thus the two prophets are addressed as sons of adam, the first man.

  1. Lawrence M. Wills, The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 1656-1657
  • Interesting observation. So, was Jesus' reference to himself as "son of man" or "son of Adam?"
    – Sherry
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 1:51
  • 1
    @Sherry If Jesus spoke in Aramaic, it would be the son of man as in Daniel 7. If He spoke in Greek it would be son of ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos = man). The son of Adam would be Ἀδάμ as in Luke 3:38. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 4:25
  • Okay, but is there any difference in the meaning of the two? I ask that, because was not the creation later named Adam at first merely referred to as "man" anyway? And the female counterpart simply as "woman?" Similarly, at his trial when presented in the robe and crown of thorns meant to humiliate him, Pilate said, "See! The Man!" At that time "son" was in no way mentioned.
    – Sherry
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 9:09
  • 1
    @Sherry I have modified my answer to better address your question about Ezekiel. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 15:56

Why is the Priest Ezekiel Called “Son of Man”?

God frequently addresses his prophet not by his name but as"Son of Man" This emphasizes that the prophet is an earthling, flesh, as a human spokesman in contrast to the origin of the source, which is God. Daniel is also referred to as "Son of Man" Daniel 8:17.

Jesus’ application of this expression to himself (Mat.8:20, 10:23, Hebrews 2:6) shows beyond any doubt that God’s Son was now really a human, having "become flesh’"(John 1:14), born of a woman through his conception and birth to the Jewish virgin Mary. (Ga 4:4; Lu 1:34-36)

  • 1
    A good point that the term also applies to Daniel.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 21:07

The words בן אדם or son of man is not a messianic term. It simply means "son of Adam." It is purely a title that shows a power difference between G-d and the son of man who is mortal. It is important to note that the words בן אדם or son of man also is the same as the words for human. Just like בני ישראל means the children of Israel, בני אדם (the plural form) means the children of Adam or just people in general.

It may seem like a messianic term in Daniel 7, but the use of the term purely means that compared to the other kingdoms which are like beasts, the messianic kingdom will be like a human, as in it will have compassion. It is important to note that the adjective son of man in Daniel 7 is referring to the messianic kingdom, not the messiah, just like the descriptions of the other kingdoms.

  • Again, please add some references from recognized sources to support you answer.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 1:09
  • I think this answer is on track when it says son of man is not a messianic title here. The figure in Dan 7 is not called "son of man." He is called "one like a/the son of man." Given other uses of the term in the OT, it means that he looks like a regular human being but is really something more. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 23:57

Son of man (Adam) is the Biblical way of saying a human being. As Ozzie pointed out, Daniel is also called a son of man (Adam). Son of Adam is used in many other places to designate an individual human being (Ps 8:4; Job 16:21; 25:6; 35:8; etc). It just means a human being or descendant of Adam. It may be that Ezekiel and Daniel represented the human race in those passages.

The Messiah is called a son of man in Dan 7 in Aramaic. As Revelation Lad pointed out, Jesus spoke Aramaic, and would have said the same term, identifying Himself with the son of man in Dan 7:13.

The term "son of man" in Aramaic in Dan 7:13 is son of enosh, or son of a mortal man. This implies that He would die. But in Dan 7, He is in the heavens with God the Father and comes down to earth. This is the clearest reference to Christ's 2nd coming in the Old Testament.

Son of enosh is used in only 1 other place in the Bible, Ps 144:3, where it just means a human being.

  • The messiah is not called "son of man" in Dan. 7, he is called "one like the son of man." He had the appearance of a human being. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 23:55

We must watch out the upper-case Son/son and the lower case in Ezekial. Why is there a difference? It seems like the open scroll was given to Ezekial however, Jesus/Messiah was the one who had testified and fulfilled the prophecies of the OT.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 14:36
  • BTW, capitalization is a translator's decision. There are no capital letters in the original. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 23:51
  • @ S G Paulin Christina Grace - Thanks for your input. However, it seems you combine two different prophetical writings. The "son of man" in Ezekiel is different from the "Son of Man " in Daniel linguistically. The Daniel prophecy to which you refer is found in chapter 7. It was He who was to receive a Kingdom...which He did in the New Testament (See Matthew 28, and Acts 1:1-3) Jesus referred this phrase to Himself 83 times while He taught! But this topic does not address the question of Ezekiel's priesthood. Keep studying the Bible, it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jan 3 at 22:19

"Son of man" in Daniel 7 refers to one coming with the clouds of heaven. In Ezekiel, "son of man" refers to the prophet himself -- a term for a "representative of humanity" who is addressed by a divine being. In Daniel, on the other hand, it refers to a person who looks like a man but is also something more, arriving on the clouds and receiving dominion and splendor throughout the world.

Interestingly, the Book of Daniel also uses "son of man" in the same way that Ezekiel does:

Daniel 8:17

When he (Gabriel) came near where I was standing, I fell prostrate in terror. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision refers to the end time.”

Conclusion: Although the prophecy if Daniel 7 may be messianic, "son of man" is not used there as a messianic title. The figure is someone who looks like a son of man but is not given that title. Throughout Ezekiel "son of man" is a form of address from a heavenly being to a prophet who represents humanity. This is also the case in Daniel 8.

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