Ezekiel 1: A Glimpse of the Glory of Yahweh

(A recent three part series touching on Ezekiel from my YouTube channel. This series comes about 36 years after the original paper.)

by Henry Neufeld

Dr. Alden Thompson; Independent Study; January 9, 1979
Paper presented as a student at Walla Walla College, College Place, Washington.

I have retained the paper in original form, except that Hebrew and Greek text is now represented in transliteration, using a loose system which I hope will aid persons who do not know the Biblical languages in reading the paper.  Any other minor corrections and notes are included in brackets.

Copyright © 1979 Henry Neufeld.  All Rights Reserved


Introductory Comments

Ezekiel 1 and the Book of Ezekiel

In order to correctly understand any small portion of scripture it is essential to place it in relation to the entire book of scripture in which it is contained as well as the historical context of the period in which it was written.  It is appropriate, therefore, before looking directly at the first chapter of Ezekiel to develop an historical and contextual framework in which to place our study.

In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, the book of the law had been discovered in the temple.1  The warnings and judgments contained in it had struck fear to the hearts of the people who read it.  Immediately the word of Huldah the prophetess was called for.  Her message was:

Behold, I will bring evil upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which was read before the king of Judah.  Because they have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore will my wrath be poured out upon this place. .  .  “2

But, she said, Josiah himself would be spared–the evil would come after his death.3  Upon Josiah’s death, it seemed that this word was certain of fulfillment.  Of Jehoiakim (following his [brother] Jehoahaz, who had been deposed by Pharaoh Neco), it is said, “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.”4

At the same time the instrument of destruction was prepared.  In 625 BC Nabopolassar became king of a revived Babylonian empire.5 he eliminated the Assyrian empire, and was then prepared to set Babylon on the road to world conquest.  In 605 BC he was replaced by his son Nebuchadnezzar.6

Ezekiel was called in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.7 He was also a captive, probably living in Tel Abib with a group of others.  He was a part of “the beginning of the end.”

Due to her continued apostasy, in spite of warnings, God was now allowing Judah to come to her end.  Immediately after Josiah’s death in battle, Pharaoh Neco came and took Jehoahaz (Josiah’s son), captive and replaced him with Jehoiakim.8  In 605 BC the country was taken by Nebuchadnezzar who took some of the most important people captive.  Jehoiakim was continued on the throne as the new conqueror’s vassal.  He rebelled, however, and brought the king of Babylon to Judah again.  Killed during an invasion (598 BC) from neighboring nations and a nearby Babylonian garrison, Jehoiakim was thrown outside the city, and Jehoiachin, his son, replaced him.9  The new king was to last for only three months, and then he was taken captive to Babylon and replaced on the throne of Judah by his uncle, Zedekiah.

It was with this exile in 597 BC that Ezekiel was taken captive.10 The exiles continued to regard Jehoiachin as their legitimate king and dated events according to the years of his exile.11

Ezekiel and his Book

There are a number of theories concerning Ezekiel and his work. The traditional view, which is the view that the book takes of itself is that Ezekiel, a priest end the son of Buzi was called to the prophetship while an exile in Babylon, that he ministered there, and finally that he wrote the book that bears his name. This view has not remained unchallenged.  For example, G.  Hölscher suggested that Ezekiel was not an author of prose, but rather, that he was author only of certain poetic sections.  His critical work reduced the length of the book from the current 1273 verses to 144.12  C.  C.  Torrey maintained that the entire book was a pseudograph of the 2nd century BC, referring back to the time of Manasseh, while James Smith maintained that Ezekiel was a prophet who actually worked in the time of Manasseh.13 H.  Schulz and some others have set forth a “Deutero-Ezekiel theory, which postulates that several passages are not genuine Ezekiel, but rather come from another hand.14  Eberhard Baumann, in 1955, maintained that while the book generally was written by Ezekiel (not in final form, of course), Ezekiel’s ministry was not entirely in Babylonia.  Citing the evidence of Ezekiel’s unusual knowledge of events in the homeland, he maintains that the possession of this information would not be possible for one actually living among the exiles.  He visualizes a round-trip: the call occurring in Babylon, the prophet going to Jerusalem to carry out the first part of his mission, and afterwards returning to Babylon with the exile of 587 BC.15

The most of these theories will have to wait for an answer insofar as they effect the interpretation of Chapter 1 until the commentary section.  It will suffice here to mention a couple of more recent comments.  R.  Tournay analyzes a number of “Babylonisms” in the linguistic structure of the book and states, “Particulièrement nombreux dans son livre, ces babylonismes s’expliquent plus aisément si le prophète vit, parle et ecrit dans un milieu proprement babylonien.”16  W.  Zimmerli, in 1965, states that the work of these and other scholars working in a similar vein ” .  .  .  appears to me not to do proper justice to the text.”17 With regard to the Deutero-Ezekiel theory, Zimmerli states, “Die Angaben bleiben in dieser Hinsicht seltsam vage.”18

Thus the general basis for this study will be that the book of Ezekiel is basically a unity, composed by the prophet Ezekiel in Babylon.  The basic dating structure of the book will be taken seriously.

Basic Textual Assumptions

In suggesting that the book of Ezekiel is a unity, one must not insist that we now have the book in the exact form in which it was first set down by the prophet.  The text of the first chapter of Ezekiel prepared for this paper will assume the possibility of editorial work by a school of prophets centered around Ezekiel,19 while doubting the probability of the extensive editorial work and possible redactions of the above-mentioned authors.  However, the book does show signs of a turbulent textual history.  G.  A. Cooke states, “In the Hebrew Bible, perhaps no book, except 1 and 2 Samuel, has suffered more injury to its text than Ezekiel.”20 And one could note, probably no chapter in that book has suffered more than the first one.  Even so, most of these problems can be explained by two possibilities, and the remaining difficulties can be resolved by careful textual criticism.

Firstly, one has to consider the nature of the first vision and its probable effect on the prophet.  Perhaps Ezekiel wrote the material now contained in Chapter 1 shortly after the vision, and thus wrote in a state of excitement.  In any case, in reliving the experience sufficiently to write it, he would return to the intense nervous excitement of the situation.  The entire description shows a man writing various details as he sees or remembers them, thus providing a slightly disjointed description.  Those who correct out the unusual style in this type of writing by eliminating “errors of transmission” detract from the note of tension and excitement which is apparent in the original work.

Second, scribes employed in copying the type of manuscript which would be produced above, would find an unusually difficult piece of work on their hands.  The style would help to produce true errors of transmission, and the result of the process is the chapter as we have it today.

In weeding out these errors of transmission, close attention will be paid primarily to internal evidence.  The Septuagint will be compared, and where this external evidence agrees with the internal evidence one can consider oneself safe in accepting a different reading than that of the Masoretic Text.  Thirdly, suggest[ed] emendations will be considered.

Signs

Lower case letters following a word in the translation will indicate a textual note concerning that word.  If more than one word is involved a letter will be placed immediately before the group followed by the same letter at the end.  If the variation is large, the beginning letter will be followed by a hyphen (a-) and the final one preceded by the same sign (-a) to avoid confusion Abbreviations, where used, will be those of the Biblia Hebraica, except that Gothic symbols there will be replaced by the typewritten upper case letters corresponding.  Two commentaries are cited throughout: Walther Eichrodt’s Ezekiel21  and G.  A.  Cooke, The Book of Ezekiel.22  These were the only commentaries available which were sufficiently critical to warrant citation.  Of these two, Eichrodt is somewhat too critical to be of use in some cases, as he omits entire passages and so makes insufficient comment.

Translation

(1)And it happened,” in the athirtieth yeara in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, while I was among the exiles at the River Kebar, the heavens were opened to me, and I saw bvisions of God.b  (2) c-In the fifth of the month, that is the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, (3) the word of Yahweh came certainly tod Ezekiel (the son of Buzi) the priest in the land of the Chaldeans, at the River Kebar, and the hand of Yahweh was upon hime there.-c

(4) And I looked, and lo, a windstorm coming from the north, a great cloud bank, and fire flashing, fand it had a gleaming around (it)f  and in the midst of it (something) like the gleam of brass gin the midst of the fire.g (5) And in the midst of it (was) the form of four living creatures. And this (was) their appearance.  They had the form of a man.  (6) And they each had four faces, h  and each one of them had four wings.h  (7) And their legs were straight; and the sole of their feet was as the sole of a calf’s foot, and they were sparklingi  as the gleam of polished bronze. (8) And the handsj  of a man were under their wings at their four sides.  [ ]k  (9) l-Their wings were each joined to one another.  They did not turn as they went, each one went straight forward.-l  (10) m-And (this was) the form of their faces: The face of a man, and the face of a lion to the right for the four of them and the face of an ox to the left for the four of them, and the face of an eagle for the four of them.-m  (11) And their wings weren  spread out above.  Each had two joined to one anothero  and two covering their bodies.  (12) And they each went straight forward; wherever the wind-(storm) was about to go, they went.  They did not turn as they went.  (13) p-And the form of the living creatures was like the appearance of the lightning which was flashing between the living creatures.-p And the fire was gleaming.q  And from the fire came forth lightning.  (14) r-And the living creatures went forth and returned as the appearance of lightning.-r

(15) And I looked at the living creatures, and behold, one wheel was on the earth beside the living creatures sfor each of the four of them.s  (16) The appearance of the wheels and their works was as the gleam of chrysolite, and the four had onet  form.  And their appearance and their works were as it were a wheel within a wheel.  (17) They went at the four sidesu  as they went; they did not turn as they went. (18) And their rimsv  were high and fearful and their rim was full of eyes around for the four of them.  (19) And as the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and as the living creatures rose up from upon the earth the wheels rose up.  (20) Whereverw  the wind(storm) was about to go, they went [ ]x  and the wheels rose along with them, because a living spirit was in the wheels.  (21) y-As they (the living creatures) went, they (the wheels) went, and as they stood, they stood, and as they rose up from upon the earth, the wheels rose up, because a living spirit was in the wheels.-y

(22) And the form of a vault was over the heads of the living creaturesz  like the appearance of crystal, awesome,aa stretched out over their heads above.  (23) And under the vault their wings were straight, each one to the other [ ]bb but they each had two covering their bodies.cc  (24) And I heard the sound of their wings, as the sound of many waters, and the sound of the almighty as they went; a crowd, as the sound of an host.dd  As they stood they let their wings drop, (25) and there was a voice from above the vault which was above their heads.  [ ]ee  (26) And above the vault which was over their heads was a sapphire stone–the form of a throne–and upon the form of a throne, a form like the appearance of a man upon it above.  (27) And I saw (something) like the gleam of brass, like the appearance of fire between it around, from the appearance of his thighs and upwards.  And from the appearance of his thighs and downwards I saw (something) like the appearance of fire, and it was gleaming around.ff  (28) As the appearance of the bow which is in the clouds on a rainy day, thus was the appearance of the gleaming around (it), It was the appearance of the form of the glory of Yahweh.  And I saw it, and I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice (of one) speaking.

Textual Comments

a-a “thirtieth year” – Due to the apparent conflict between this statement and the “fifth year of the exile of king Jehoiachin” in verse two this has been the subject of considerable discussion and emendation Kittel suggests sheloshim shanay or sheloshim shanah lechayay to indicate the prophet’s age, but it is a little difficult to picture the textual process which would have changed either of these readings to the one in the Masoretic Text.  Volkmar Herntrich suggested wayyehiy belishi shanah as did also C.  F.  Whitley, although they provided differing exegeses of the passage as a result of their emendation.23  Paul Auvray, along with some others have suggested that is a correction for shelosh ;esreh.  Auvray states hopefully that “Entre sheloshim et shelosh ;esreh la difference n’est pas très grande.”24 Rothstein, making the same emendation noted that 593 BC was the 13th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.25  However, it is also difficult here to reconstruct the process of textual transmission which would have produced the reading.  Due to the availability of several alternative explanations, not requiring emendation of the text, and the unity of manuscript evidence, it has been determined to leave this as it is in the Masoretic Text.

b MT reads mar’oth but the New English Bible (NEB) reads mar’ath with the Peshitta and some Greek manuscripts.26 The MT reading is here maintained for reasons that will be apparent in the commentary.

c Paul Auvray considers this to be the introduction to a separate vision, the call of chapters 2 and 3, thus leaving this section out of chapter 1 entirely.27  Anthony D. York would agree, but would consider verse 1 to be the introduction to a vision which has now been lost, while verses 2 and 3 are the real introduction.28  The switch in person here, from the first in verse 1 to the third in verses 2 and 3 indicate the possibility of a later hand, providing an explanation for verse l which was not needed earlier.  Eichrodt, in the Old Testament Library.29  supports this, as does Cooke (International Critical Commentary)30  who goes even further, stating that verses 2 and 3 show the work of two different editorial hands.

d Kittel suggests that ‘el-yechezq’el might have been ‘elay, and then apparently would continue on with yechezq’el.  With the variation found in G (Septuagint) and S (Peshitta) for the end of the verse, this would place the entire introduction in the first person.  The transmission process needed to produce this does not seem entirely probable. (See following note.)

e If we read “me” in place of “him”, here (BH Apparatus), this continues the elimination of the third person references in the introduction.  However, it seems more likely that a scribe would wish to eliminate the change from first to third persons by changing the thirds to firsts than to remake two verses into the third person.  If we read “me”, the process of transmission would be: Verse 1 originally, including the last phrase of the present verse three.  The explanatory verses 2 and 3 would be added, and ;alay changed to ;alayw to correspond to the other references.  If we read “him”, verses 2 and 3 are simply editorial additions (probably contemporary with the prophet), with no secondary textual changes.

f Eichrodt states that this phrase is a gloss from v.  27b, Cooke concurs.  The reasons given are a bit vague, however, so it is retained.  It is possibly one of the results of the peculiar character of the vision.  g Eichrodt and Cooke both list this also as a gloss, necessitated by the previous gloss.  It is retained for the reasons above.  h Kittel (BH apparatus) suggests l’echath rather than l’echath lahem.  This appears to be a brazen conjecture.

i notsetsim is the wrong gender to refer to anything close by, but it is apparently intended to modify the legs.  BH suggests notsetsoth.

j Read wiydey rather than wiydew with some manuscripts and G.  G reads “hand” rather than “hands”.

k This phrase is not translateable in context.  Eichrodt leaves them out as well as all of verse 9, Cooke reorganizes them into verse 9 as “And their wings belonging to the four of them were joined one to another and their faces turned not when they went.” The majority of the mss evidence of G suggests “And the faces of them four turned not as they went.” However, G(A) reads “And their faces and the wings of them four were joined one to another.” Probably the copyists of G had the same problem reconciling this passage as did those of MT.  It has therefore been left out as a possible dittography, but certainly not translateable.

1 Eichrodt omits this verse entirely.

m Eichrodt states that the statement “in front”, taken from context should be supplied here to indicate the position of the “face of a man.” Cooke disagrees, suggesting that this was not the arrangement of the faces at all, rather, that the faces are apparently arranged two to the right and two to the left.  Eichrodt has the more probable view, but it is unnecessary to supply this detail in the translation.

n upeneyhem is left out in G and L. It also makes no sense here.

o “to one another.” BH suggests ‘ishshah ‘el ‘achothah which apparently gives the sense, although it does not seem textually probable.

p-p This verse presents some difficult problems.  Cooke would modify the text following G, but it is stated there that “the glosses, if they be such, were already in the text used by G.” BH suggests umitok but this seems unlikely except by deliberate change, and reasons for this are absent. Kenneth Freedy31  suggests this as a “cue gloss”, which was placed in the margin to connect a section of writing to a previous section, and later incorporated into the text.  The position taken here is that it is a gloss, but was added by a scribe, (originally probably in the margin), as an improvement over demuth which emphasizes the form, which the coals would not have too specifically, and later this was incorporated into the text.  (See Appendix.) The remainder of the verse translates adequately except for a problem of number with mithhaleketh which, whatever the case, obviously must refer to halapiydiym.

q Lit.  “and gleaming to the fire.”

r-r This verse is omitted by NEB32  Eichroclt, and Cooke, following the majority of the G mss, except for G(A), which (at least in this chapter) tends to agree with MT, and may have been corrected to it.  The verse is also difficult to translate. It has been included here, substitution yatso’ for the unknown ratso’ and translating bazaq as lightning as in Holladay.33

s-s Kittel suggests with G, L, S, and A le;arba;tan which makes more sense than the MT.

t Lit.  “One form for the four of them.  ‘echad is the wrong gender, but we should be used to that by now in this chapter.

u Kittel suggests ;evreyhen, but Holladay34 allows the same translation for riv;eyhen.

v Incorrect gender.

w ;al ‘asher should read ‘el with BH.

x shamah haruach laleketh is a dittography.  It is absent in G and S, as well as from some Hebrew manuscripts. Both Eichrodt and Cooke concur.

y-y Cooke views both verses 20 and 21 as a later gloss on 19, Eichrodt leaves out the entire section concerning the wheels. It appears however, that the repeated expressions here simply indicate the strong impression made on the prophet by the unified movement of the various components of the scene.  They have therefore been retained.

z Read chayoth with some Hebrew mss and the versional evidence.

aa Eichrodt suggests the omission of this word with G, stating that it does not fit our context.  However, it seems to fit in quite well.  It appears as an exclamation of the prophet in awe at the appearance of the vault.

bb le‘iysh shetayim mekasoth lahenah appears to be a meaningless dittography.  The living creatures would have two wings covering themselves and two covering their bodies.  What would they then have stretched straight out? Eichrodt considers this entire section (25b-25) a gloss for various reasons.  See commentary at the verses.

cc Lit.  “covering themselves, that is, their bodies.”

dd The reading here rearranges the punctuation in the MT. See commentary for explanation.

ee This is possibly a dittography, repeated from 25b as it is not found in G.

ff Lit.  “and gleaming to it around.”

Exegetical Commentary

And it happened in the thirtieth year – Employing these words, the book of Ezekiel opens with an exegetical problem.  There is no indication given as to when this period began, or, other than its position in the book, when it terminated.  How is one to reconcile this with the statement in verse two that it was “the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin”?

Anthony D.  York35  has provided a suitable summary of the varying views on the issue, to which his own must now be added. We have already discussed the various textual emendations previously. It remains here only to discuss those theories that maintain the current wording of the text.  These include two groups: those that maintain both the wording and the present location in the text, and those who maintain the wording, but state either that the verse has been misplaced in the text or that something which was formerly here, either before or following, has now been lost.

One of the suggestions which can maintain the wording is that the “thirtieth year” refers to the prophet’s age.  Origen was an early exponent of this position.  More recently Richard Kraetzschmar and Karl Budde have both supported this idea, but have amended the text to agree with it.  Their better emendations have been discussed.  Kraetzschmar’s wayehiy biheyothiy ben-sheloshiym shanah lacks probability, as it is difficult to conceive of how this would result in the present text.36  The Targum explained the passage as referring to the finding of the Book of the Law during the reform by Josiah. York notes that this, plus the support for the same view by Jerome witnesses to the antiquity of the text, and is “an added burden to those who seek a solution by emendation.”37 It might also be noted that this is a witness to the antiquity of the current position of the verse in the text–no one would have felt it necessary to explain the text were its meaning obvious.38 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Comments also supports this position. G.  A.  Cooke has mentioned the theory that the thirtieth year belonged to the Jubilee period, but Cooke himself takes a different view, supporting the work of Begrich, who found a 25 year difference between the chronologies of Kings and Chronicles.39 Edwin R.  Thiele opposes this view of the chronology, and in any case, it is difficult to understand why in one place two different chronologies should be used whereas throughout the rest of the book the usage is uniform.40  The works of James Smith and C.  C.  Torrey, believing that the “thirtieth year” referred to the reign of Manasseh, require too difficult a reworking of the entire book.  Some declare that the first verse was introduced to explain the difference between Ezekiel’s 40 years for the exile and Jeremiah’s 70, but it seems unlikely that they would have left the second verse intact in direct contradiction.  J.  Finegan dismisses the problem as unimportant, Fohrer thought that it was the remains of a statement limiting the study of the chapter to those over 30.  V.  K.  Lowther Clark felt that it could not be solved.41 Berry suggested that the “thirtieth year” referred to the same starting point as the other dates in the book, i.e, the exile of King Jehoiachin, and that it originally preceded a vision now lost.  Allbright thought that the thirtieth year referred to the publication of the entire book.  The Abingdon Bible Commentary suggests that the book was transmitted in two recensions and that this is the combination.42  This does not solve the problem of what the statement meant in the other recension.

York has done a fair job of laying most of these ideas to rest, but there remains his own proposition, as well as that of Paul Auvray which involve the relocation of the chapter or some portions of it, York proposes the following reconstruction of chapter 1.

i 1
(vision: referred to in xliii 3)
xliii 4ff.  (prophecy of restoration)
i 2, etc.

Following this original construction, the prophecy of restoration of chapter 45 was removed to the end of the book, with the vision remaining in chapter 1.  Briefly, the reason for its presence at the beginning at any time was the great joy of the people at receiving it, because of which they would wish to have it stand at the head of the collection of the prophet’s writings.  Later editors, wishing to place the prophet’s writings more closely in chronological order, removed the prophecy to a more logical position (as well as placing the book of Ezekiel more in accordance with the arrangement of the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  However, they left the vision which headed the prophecy behind.  This vision was similar to the one contained in 1:4ff, and so was later assimilated, leaving both headings.  The most that can be said about this is that it is highly improbable that so complex a procedure could have taken place, and that the reasons for the various changes are not adequately explained.44

Paul Auvray suggests that there are two headings here, one (1:1) for the vision in chapter 1, and the other (1:2,3) for the vision of the call in chapters 2 and 3.  Eberhard Baumann supports him on the idea that these two visions were originally separate, stating that “1:4-28a ist nicht wie 2:3-3:9 eine Rerufungsvision, sondern eine Informationsvision .  .  .  “45  However, one must note that the call visions of both Jeremiah (Jer.  1) and Isaiah (Is.  6) also include theophanies, and are presented in a general order similar to the call of Ezekiel.  This very similarity suggests to Auvray that the call of Ezekiel

Ezekiel 1


A Glimpse of the Glory of Yahweh

by Henry Neufeld

Dr. Alden Thompson; Independent Study; January 9, 1979
Paper presented as a student at Walla Walla College, College Place, Washington

I have retained the paper in original form, except that Hebrew and Greek text is now represented in transliteration, using a loose system which I hope will aid persons who do not know the Biblical languages in reading the paper.  Any other minor corrections and notes are included in brackets.

Copyright © 1979 Henry Neufeld.  All Rights Reserved


Introductory Comments

Ezekiel 1 and the Book of Ezekiel

In order to correctly understand any small portion of scripture it is essential to place it in relation to the entire book of scripture in which it is contained as well as the historical context of the period in which it was written.  It is appropriate, therefore, before looking directly at the first chapter of Ezekiel to develop an historical and contextual framework in which to place our study.

In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, the book of the law had been discovered in the temple.1  The warnings and judgments contained in it had struck fear to the hearts of the people who read it.  Immediately the word of Huldah the prophetess was called for.  Her message was:

Behold, I will bring evil upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which was read before the king of Judah.  Because they have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore will my wrath be poured out upon this place. .  .  “2

But, she said, Josiah himself would be spared–the evil would come after his death.3  Upon Josiah’s death, it seemed that this word was certain of fulfillment.  Of Jehoiakim (following his [brother] Jehoahaz, who had been deposed by Pharaoh Neco), it is said, “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.”4

At the same time the instrument of destruction was prepared.  In 625 BC Nabopolassar became king of a revived Babylonian empire.5 he eliminated the Assyrian empire, and was then prepared to set Babylon on the road to world conquest.  In 605 BC he was replaced by his son Nebuchadnezzar.6

Ezekiel was called in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.7 He was also a captive, probably living in Tel Abib with a group of others.  He was a part of “the beginning of the end.”

Due to her continued apostasy, in spite of warnings, God was now allowing Judah to come to her end.  Immediately after Josiah’s death in battle, Pharaoh Neco came and took Jehoahaz (Josiah’s son), captive and replaced him with Jehoiakim.8  In 605 BC the country was taken by Nebuchadnezzar who took some of the most important people captive.  Jehoiakim was continued on the throne as the new conqueror’s vassal.  He rebelled, however, and brought the king of Babylon to Judah again.  Killed during an invasion (598 BC) from neighboring nations and a nearby Babylonian garrison, Jehoiakim was thrown outside the city, and Jehoiachin, his son, replaced him.9  The new king was to last for only three months, and then he was taken captive to Babylon and replaced on the throne of Judah by his uncle, Zedekiah.

It was with this exile in 597 BC that Ezekiel was taken captive.10 The exiles continued to regard Jehoiachin as their legitimate king and dated events according to the years of his exile.11

Ezekiel and his Book

There are a number of theories concerning Ezekiel and his work. The traditional view, which is the view that the book takes of itself is that Ezekiel, a priest end the son of Buzi was called to the prophetship while an exile in Babylon, that he ministered there, and finally that he wrote the book that bears his name. This view has not remained unchallenged.  For example, G.  Hölscher suggested that Ezekiel was not an author of prose, but rather, that he was author only of certain poetic sections.  His critical work reduced the length of the book from the current 1273 verses to 144.12  C.  C.  Torrey maintained that the entire book was a pseudograph of the 2nd century BC, referring back to the time of Manasseh, while James Smith maintained that Ezekiel was a prophet who actually worked in the time of Manasseh.13 H.  Schulz and some others have set forth a “Deutero-Ezekiel theory, which postulates that several passages are not genuine Ezekiel, but rather come from another hand.14  Eberhard Baumann, in 1955, maintained that while the book generally was written by Ezekiel (not in final form, of course), Ezekiel’s ministry was not entirely in Babylonia.  Citing the evidence of Ezekiel’s unusual knowledge of events in the homeland, he maintains that the possession of this information would not be possible for one actually living among the exiles.  He visualizes a round-trip: the call occurring in Babylon, the prophet going to Jerusalem to carry out the first part of his mission, and afterwards returning to Babylon with the exile of 587 BC.15

The most of these theories will have to wait for an answer insofar as they effect the interpretation of Chapter 1 until the commentary section.  It will suffice here to mention a couple of more recent comments.  R.  Tournay analyzes a number of “Babylonisms” in the linguistic structure of the book and states, “Particulièrement nombreux dans son livre, ces babylonismes s’expliquent plus aisément si le prophète vit, parle et ecrit dans un milieu proprement babylonien.”16  W.  Zimmerli, in 1965, states that the work of these and other scholars working in a similar vein ” .  .  .  appears to me not to do proper justice to the text.”17 With regard to the Deutero-Ezekiel theory, Zimmerli states, “Die Angaben bleiben in dieser Hinsicht seltsam vage.”18

Thus the general basis for this study will be that the book of Ezekiel is basically a unity, composed by the prophet Ezekiel in Babylon.  The basic dating structure of the book will be taken seriously.

Basic Textual Assumptions

In suggesting that the book of Ezekiel is a unity, one must not insist that we now have the book in the exact form in which it was first set down by the prophet.  The text of the first chapter of Ezekiel prepared for this paper will assume the possibility of editorial work by a school of prophets centered around Ezekiel,19 while doubting the probability of the extensive editorial work and possible redactions of the above-mentioned authors.  However, the book does show signs of a turbulent textual history.  G.  A. Cooke states, “In the Hebrew Bible, perhaps no book, except 1 and 2 Samuel, has suffered more injury to its text than Ezekiel.”20 And one could note, probably no chapter in that book has suffered more than the first one.  Even so, most of these problems can be explained by two possibilities, and the remaining difficulties can be resolved by careful textual criticism.

Firstly, one has to consider the nature of the first vision and its probable effect on the prophet.  Perhaps Ezekiel wrote the material now contained in Chapter 1 shortly after the vision, and thus wrote in a state of excitement.  In any case, in reliving the experience sufficiently to write it, he would return to the intense nervous excitement of the situation.  The entire description shows a man writing various details as he sees or remembers them, thus providing a slightly disjointed description.  Those who correct out the unusual style in this type of writing by eliminating “errors of transmission” detract from the note of tension and excitement which is apparent in the original work.

Second, scribes employed in copying the type of manuscript which would be produced above, would find an unusually difficult piece of work on their hands.  The style would help to produce true errors of transmission, and the result of the process is the chapter as we have it today.

In weeding out these errors of transmission, close attention will be paid primarily to internal evidence.  The Septuagint will be compared, and where this external evidence agrees with the internal evidence one can consider oneself safe in accepting a different reading than that of the Masoretic Text.  Thirdly, suggest[ed] emendations will be considered.

Signs

Lower case letters following a word in the translation will indicate a textual note concerning that word.  If more than one word is involved a letter will be placed immediately before the group followed by the same letter at the end.  If the variation is large, the beginning letter will be followed by a hyphen (a-) and the final one preceded by the same sign (-a) to avoid confusion Abbreviations, where used, will be those of the Biblia Hebraica, except that Gothic symbols there will be replaced by the typewritten upper case letters corresponding.  Two commentaries are cited throughout: Walther Eichrodt’s Ezekiel21  and G.  A.  Cooke, The Book of Ezekiel.22  These were the only commentaries available which were sufficiently critical to warrant citation.  Of these two, Eichrodt is somewhat too critical to be of use in some cases, as he omits entire passages and so makes insufficient comment.

Translation

(1)And it happened,” in the athirtieth yeara in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, while I was among the exiles at the River Kebar, the heavens were opened to me, and I saw bvisions of God.b  (2) c-In the fifth of the month, that is the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, (3) the word of Yahweh came certainly tod Ezekiel (the son of Buzi) the priest in the land of the Chaldeans, at the River Kebar, and the hand of Yahweh was upon hime there.-c

(4) And I looked, and lo, a windstorm coming from the north, a great cloud bank, and fire flashing, fand it had a gleaming around (it)f  and in the midst of it (something) like the gleam of brass gin the midst of the fire.g (5) And in the midst of it (was) the form of four living creatures. And this (was) their appearance.  They had the form of a man.  (6) And they each had four faces, h  and each one of them had four wings.h  (7) And their legs were straight; and the sole of their feet was as the sole of a calf’s foot, and they were sparklingi  as the gleam of polished bronze. (8) And the handsj  of a man were under their wings at their four sides.  [ ]k  (9) l-Their wings were each joined to one another.  They did not turn as they went, each one went straight forward.-l  (10) m-And (this was) the form of their faces: The face of a man, and the face of a lion to the right for the four of them and the face of an ox to the left for the four of them, and the face of an eagle for the four of them.-m  (11) And their wings weren  spread out above.  Each had two joined to one anothero  and two covering their bodies.  (12) And they each went straight forward; wherever the wind-(storm) was about to go, they went.  They did not turn as they went.  (13) p-And the form of the living creatures was like the appearance of the lightning which was flashing between the living creatures.-p And the fire was gleaming.q  And from the fire came forth lightning.  (14) r-And the living creatures went forth and returned as the appearance of lightning.-r

(15) And I looked at the living creatures, and behold, one wheel was on the earth beside the living creatures sfor each of the four of them.s  (16) The appearance of the wheels and their works was as the gleam of chrysolite, and the four had onet  form.  And their appearance and their works were as it were a wheel within a wheel.  (17) They went at the four sidesu  as they went; they did not turn as they went. (18) And their rimsv  were high and fearful and their rim was full of eyes around for the four of them.  (19) And as the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and as the living creatures rose up from upon the earth the wheels rose up.  (20) Whereverw  the wind(storm) was about to go, they went [ ]x  and the wheels rose along with them, because a living spirit was in the wheels.  (21) y-As they (the living creatures) went, they (the wheels) went, and as they stood, they stood, and as they rose up from upon the earth, the wheels rose up, because a living spirit was in the wheels.-y

(22) And the form of a vault was over the heads of the living creaturesz  like the appearance of crystal, awesome,aa stretched out over their heads above.  (23) And under the vault their wings were straight, each one to the other [ ]bb but they each had two covering their bodies.cc  (24) And I heard the sound of their wings, as the sound of many waters, and the sound of the almighty as they went; a crowd, as the sound of an host.dd  As they stood they let their wings drop, (25) and there was a voice from above the vault which was above their heads.  [ ]ee  (26) And above the vault which was over their heads was a sapphire stone–the form of a throne–and upon the form of a throne, a form like the appearance of a man upon it above.  (27) And I saw (something) like the gleam of brass, like the appearance of fire between it around, from the appearance of his thighs and upwards.  And from the appearance of his thighs and downwards I saw (something) like the appearance of fire, and it was gleaming around.ff  (28) As the appearance of the bow which is in the clouds on a rainy day, thus was the appearance of the gleaming around (it), It was the appearance of the form of the glory of Yahweh.  And I saw it, and I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice (of one) speaking.

Textual Comments

a-a “thirtieth year” – Due to the apparent conflict between this statement and the “fifth year of the exile of king Jehoiachin” in verse two this has been the subject of considerable discussion and emendation Kittel suggests sheloshim shanay or sheloshim shanah lechayay to indicate the prophet’s age, but it is a little difficult to picture the textual process which would have changed either of these readings to the one in the Masoretic Text.  Volkmar Herntrich suggested wayyehiy belishi shanah as did also C.  F.  Whitley, although they provided differing exegeses of the passage as a result of their emendation.23  Paul Auvray, along with some others have suggested that is a correction for shelosh ;esreh.  Auvray states hopefully that “Entre sheloshim et shelosh ;esreh la difference n’est pas très grande.”24 Rothstein, making the same emendation noted that 593 BC was the 13th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.25  However, it is also difficult here to reconstruct the process of textual transmission which would have produced the reading.  Due to the availability of several alternative explanations, not requiring emendation of the text, and the unity of manuscript evidence, it has been determined to leave this as it is in the Masoretic Text.

b MT reads mar’oth but the New English Bible (NEB) reads mar’ath with the Peshitta and some Greek manuscripts.26 The MT reading is here maintained for reasons that will be apparent in the commentary.

c Paul Auvray considers this to be the introduction to a separate vision, the call of chapters 2 and 3, thus leaving this section out of chapter 1 entirely.27  Anthony D. York would agree, but would consider verse 1 to be the introduction to a vision which has now been lost, while verses 2 and 3 are the real introduction.28  The switch in person here, from the first in verse 1 to the third in verses 2 and 3 indicate the possibility of a later hand, providing an explanation for verse l which was not needed earlier.  Eichrodt, in the Old Testament Library.29  supports this, as does Cooke (International Critical Commentary)30  who goes even further, stating that verses 2 and 3 show the work of two different editorial hands.

d Kittel suggests that ‘el-yechezq’el might have been ‘elay, and then apparently would continue on with yechezq’el.  With the variation found in G (Septuagint) and S (Peshitta) for the end of the verse, this would place the entire introduction in the first person.  The transmission process needed to produce this does not seem entirely probable. (See following note.)

e If we read “me” in place of “him”, here (BH Apparatus), this continues the elimination of the third person references in the introduction.  However, it seems more likely that a scribe would wish to eliminate the change from first to third persons by changing the thirds to firsts than to remake two verses into the third person.  If we read “me”, the process of transmission would be: Verse 1 originally, including the last phrase of the present verse three.  The explanatory verses 2 and 3 would be added, and ;alay changed to ;alayw to correspond to the other references.  If we read “him”, verses 2 and 3 are simply editorial additions (probably contemporary with the prophet), with no secondary textual changes.

f Eichrodt states that this phrase is a gloss from v.  27b, Cooke concurs.  The reasons given are a bit vague, however, so it is retained.  It is possibly one of the results of the peculiar character of the vision.  g Eichrodt and Cooke both list this also as a gloss, necessitated by the previous gloss.  It is retained for the reasons above.  h Kittel (BH apparatus) suggests l’echath rather than l’echath lahem.  This appears to be a brazen conjecture.

i notsetsim is the wrong gender to refer to anything close by, but it is apparently intended to modify the legs.  BH suggests notsetsoth.

j Read wiydey rather than wiydew with some manuscripts and G.  G reads “hand” rather than “hands”.

k This phrase is not translateable in context.  Eichrodt leaves them out as well as all of verse 9, Cooke reorganizes them into verse 9 as “And their wings belonging to the four of them were joined one to another and their faces turned not when they went.” The majority of the mss evidence of G suggests “And the faces of them four turned not as they went.” However, G(A) reads “And their faces and the wings of them four were joined one to another.” Probably the copyists of G had the same problem reconciling this passage as did those of MT.  It has therefore been left out as a possible dittography, but certainly not translateable.

1 Eichrodt omits this verse entirely.

m Eichrodt states that the statement “in front”, taken from context should be supplied here to indicate the position of the “face of a man.” Cooke disagrees, suggesting that this was not the arrangement of the faces at all, rather, that the faces are apparently arranged two to the right and two to the left.  Eichrodt has the more probable view, but it is unnecessary to supply this detail in the translation.

n upeneyhem is left out in G and L. It also makes no sense here.

o “to one another.” BH suggests ‘ishshah ‘el ‘achothah which apparently gives the sense, although it does not seem textually probable.

p-p This verse presents some difficult problems.  Cooke would modify the text following G, but it is stated there that “the glosses, if they be such, were already in the text used by G.” BH suggests umitok but this seems unlikely except by deliberate change, and reasons for this are absent. Kenneth Freedy31  suggests this as a “cue gloss”, which was placed in the margin to connect a section of writing to a previous section, and later incorporated into the text.  The position taken here is that it is a gloss, but was added by a scribe, (originally probably in the margin), as an improvement over demuth which emphasizes the form, which the coals would not have too specifically, and later this was incorporated into the text.  (See Appendix.) The remainder of the verse translates adequately except for a problem of number with mithhaleketh which, whatever the case, obviously must refer to halapiydiym.

q Lit.  “and gleaming to the fire.”

r-r This verse is omitted by NEB32  Eichroclt, and Cooke, following the majority of the G mss, except for G(A), which (at least in this chapter) tends to agree with MT, and may have been corrected to it.  The verse is also difficult to translate. It has been included here, substitution yatso’ for the unknown ratso’ and translating bazaq as lightning as in Holladay.33

s-s Kittel suggests with G, L, S, and A le;arba;tan which makes more sense than the MT.

t Lit.  “One form for the four of them.  ‘echad is the wrong gender, but we should be used to that by now in this chapter.

u Kittel suggests ;evreyhen, but Holladay34 allows the same translation for riv;eyhen.

v Incorrect gender.

w ;al ‘asher should read ‘el with BH.

x shamah haruach laleketh is a dittography.  It is absent in G and S, as well as from some Hebrew manuscripts. Both Eichrodt and Cooke concur.

y-y Cooke views both verses 20 and 21 as a later gloss on 19, Eichrodt leaves out the entire section concerning the wheels. It appears however, that the repeated expressions here simply indicate the strong impression made on the prophet by the unified movement of the various components of the scene.  They have therefore been retained.

z Read chayoth with some Hebrew mss and the versional evidence.

aa Eichrodt suggests the omission of this word with G, stating that it does not fit our context.  However, it seems to fit in quite well.  It appears as an exclamation of the prophet in awe at the appearance of the vault.

bb le‘iysh shetayim mekasoth lahenah appears to be a meaningless dittography.  The living creatures would have two wings covering themselves and two covering their bodies.  What would they then have stretched straight out? Eichrodt considers this entire section (25b-25) a gloss for various reasons.  See commentary at the verses.

cc Lit.  “covering themselves, that is, their bodies.”

dd The reading here rearranges the punctuation in the MT. See commentary for explanation.

ee This is possibly a dittography, repeated from 25b as it is not found in G.

ff Lit.  “and gleaming to it around.”

Exegetical Commentary

And it happened in the thirtieth year – Employing these words, the book of Ezekiel opens with an exegetical problem.  There is no indication given as to when this period began, or, other than its position in the book, when it terminated.  How is one to reconcile this with the statement in verse two that it was “the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin”?

Anthony D.  York35  has provided a suitable summary of the varying views on the issue, to which his own must now be added. We have already discussed the various textual emendations previously. It remains here only to discuss those theories that maintain the current wording of the text.  These include two groups: those that maintain both the wording and the present location in the text, and those who maintain the wording, but state either that the verse has been misplaced in the text or that something which was formerly here, either before or following, has now been lost.

One of the suggestions which can maintain the wording is that the “thirtieth year” refers to the prophet’s age.  Origen was an early exponent of this position.  More recently Richard Kraetzschmar and Karl Budde have both supported this idea, but have amended the text to agree with it.  Their better emendations have been discussed.  Kraetzschmar’s wayehiy biheyothiy ben-sheloshiym shanah lacks probability, as it is difficult to conceive of how this would result in the present text.36  The Targum explained the passage as referring to the finding of the Book of the Law during the reform by Josiah. York notes that this, plus the support for the same view by Jerome witnesses to the antiquity of the text, and is “an added burden to those who seek a solution by emendation.”37 It might also be noted that this is a witness to the antiquity of the current position of the verse in the text–no one would have felt it necessary to explain the text were its meaning obvious.38 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Comments also supports this position. G.  A.  Cooke has mentioned the theory that the thirtieth year belonged to the Jubilee period, but Cooke himself takes a different view, supporting the work of Begrich, who found a 25 year difference between the chronologies of Kings and Chronicles.39 Edwin R.  Thiele opposes this view of the chronology, and in any case, it is difficult to understand why in one place two different chronologies should be used whereas throughout the rest of the book the usage is uniform.40  The works of James Smith and C.  C.  Torrey, believing that the “thirtieth year” referred to the reign of Manasseh, require too difficult a reworking of the entire book.  Some declare that the first verse was introduced to explain the difference between Ezekiel’s 40 years for the exile and Jeremiah’s 70, but it seems unlikely that they would have left the second verse intact in direct contradiction.  J.  Finegan dismisses the problem as unimportant, Fohrer thought that it was the remains of a statement limiting the study of the chapter to those over 30.  V.  K.  Lowther Clark felt that it could not be solved.41 Berry suggested that the “thirtieth year” referred to the same starting point as the other dates in the book, i.e, the exile of King Jehoiachin, and that it originally preceded a vision now lost.  Allbright thought that the thirtieth year referred to the publication of the entire book.  The Abingdon Bible Commentary suggests that the book was transmitted in two recensions and that this is the combination.42  This does not solve the problem of what the statement meant in the other recension.

York has done a fair job of laying most of these ideas to rest, but there remains his own proposition, as well as that of Paul Auvray which involve the relocation of the chapter or some portions of it, York proposes the following reconstruction of chapter 1.

i 1
(vision: referred to in xliii 3)
xliii 4ff.  (prophecy of restoration)
i 2, etc.

Following this original construction, the prophecy of restoration of chapter 45 was removed to the end of the book, with the vision remaining in chapter 1.  Briefly, the reason for its presence at the beginning at any time was the great joy of the people at receiving it, because of which they would wish to have it stand at the head of the collection of the prophet’s writings.  Later editors, wishing to place the prophet’s writings more closely in chronological order, removed the prophecy to a more logical position (as well as placing the book of Ezekiel more in accordance with the arrangement of the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  However, they left the vision which headed the prophecy behind.  This vision was similar to the one contained in 1:4ff, and so was later assimilated, leaving both headings.  The most that can be said about this is that it is highly improbable that so complex a procedure could have taken place, and that the reasons for the various changes are not adequately explained.44

Paul Auvray suggests that there are two headings here, one (1:1) for the vision in chapter 1, and the other (1:2,3) for the vision of the call in chapters 2 and 3.  Eberhard Baumann supports him on the idea that these two visions were originally separate, stating that “1:4-28a ist nicht wie 2:3-3:9 eine Rerufungsvision, sondern eine Informationsvision .  .  .  “45  However, one must note that the call visions of both Jeremiah (Jer.  1) and Isaiah (Is.  6) also include theophanies, and are presented in a general order similar to the call of Ezekiel.  This very similarity suggests to Auvray that the call of Ezekiel was later reworked to make it conform to the call visions of the other two eminent prophets.  He would place verse 1 as the heading of the vision in 1:4-28a once verses 2 and 3 as the heading of the vision in chapters 2 and 3.  The resulting “chapters” make very good reading.46

Auvray then looks for a place to put the reconstructed vision. Noting that in chapter 10 the glory of Yahweh leaves the temple, and that in chapter 43, it returns, without note of where it has been, he postulates the following movements for it:

1.  depart from Jerusalem (Chapter 10)
2.  Arrival in Babylonia (Chapter 1)
3.  Depart from Babylonia (not recorded)
4.  Return to Jerusalem (Chapter 43)

Thus the vision of chapter 1 must be located somewhere between chapters 10 and 43.  However, the date for the latest vision other than chapter 1 is the 27th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin. To cover this difficulty, Auvray suggests the emendation of the text, already noted, to read, “the thirteenth year”, It is apparent that this view, as well as that of Baumann, which relocates the chapter without explanation for the “thirtieth year” does not have a high level of probability, firstly because the emendation is not likely and secondly because the process is too complicated.47

Due to the difficulties of the passage, two views will here be presented as possible.  Firstly that the thirtieth year refers to the prophet’s age, or alternately that it refers to the publication of the book.

The first suggestion has some ancient and some scholarly support as has been noted.  Currently it has the partial support of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,48  and A New Commentary on the Holy Scripture,49  as well as Eichrodt in the Old Testament Library.  The following factors support it.  1) Due to the correspondence of the day in the two dates, it is probable that both the “fifth year”, and the “thirtieth year” refer to the same date.  2) Ezekiel would have to be 30 years of age in order to be considered totally responsible and at least 25 to be a priest (1:2).  3) John the Baptist, and Jesus both began their work at 30 years of age.  (This, provided by SDABC, provides only very tangential support.) If the emendations of the various scholars who have supported this position are not accepted, the major possibility is that this verse originally concluded a brief narrative of the prophet’s early life, which was left out when the book was collected in its present form.50  In support of this we note that the beginning of the work is such as one would expect as a, continuation of a previous idea.

Alternately, one could consider the view of W.  F.  Allbright, that this verse refers to the publication of the book.51 (However, his emendation will not be supported.) In support of this we note 1) that the date, if referring as do other dates in Ezekiel to the exile of King Jehoiachin, would be the final date in the book, thus conceivably referring to its publication, and 2) the word mar’oth in verse 1, indicates more than one vision, while it stands as the heading of a single vision.

Both of these views seem possible, and neither will do any injustice to the interpretation of the vision as a whole.  The author leans toward the former.

while I was among the exiles – There have been several theories of Ezekiel’s work, including 1) that he worked completely in Palestine, 2) that he was called in Babylon and then went to Palestine and back to Babylon, or 3) that he worked entirely in Babylon.52  If one takes the book seriously, the milieu of Ezekiel’s life work was in Chaldea.

at the River Kebar – This was previously thought to be the Nahr el-Khabur in northern Mesopotamia, which is, however, not in Chaldea.  Recent excavations have indicated that it is probably to be identified with the Naru Kabari, one of the great Babylonian canals.53  This is thought to be comparable with the modern Satt-en-nil.54

the heavens were opened to me – This signifies an opening of the prophet’s mind to heavenly things.  Later, John, the Revelator sees a door opened in heaven.  (Revelation 4:1) The author of the book of Enoch sees the heavens opened before viewing heavenly things.55

visions of God – The employment of the genitive here leaves open three possible interpretations.  Ezekiel either saw visions given by God, or visions which were a view of God (or God’s glory), or both.  Cooke, in ICC, suggests that the visions means that he saw the appearance of God’s glory.  The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary suggests that this means both,56  indicating that the following vision is a theophany (which it is, although this does not necessarily have to indicate it).  Paul Auvray supports the other view by his translation “visions divines”.57 The latter seems more probable, as in the rest of the vision, Ezekiel is very careful when referring to a sight of the glory of Yahweh.  Also, if either of the views suggested for the “thirtieth year” is accepted, “divine visions” would refer to the whole of the prophet’s prophetic work.

fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin – The exiles apparently dated all their events from the exile of their king, whom they hoped would be restored to the throne.  Ezekiel, at least, dates his visions from this event, which certainly would have had a profound effect on his life.

the word of Yahweh came certainly to Ezekiel – If one views verse one as referring to Ezekiel’s entire lifework, this would express the specific vision which is to be recounted here.

the priest – The Ezekiel is here stated to be a priest indicates this as one of the few times when the functions of prophet and priest were combined in one man.58

in the land of the Chaldeans – These words make one of the major points in the vision.  The Israelites had grown used to referring to Yahweh as a sort of local deity.59 The people in the homeland thought of themselves as better than those who had been exiled.60  Ezekiel’s receipt of this vision in Chaldea, as well as the content of the vision itself indicated that Yahweh was not a local deity, and that he had not forsaken the exiles.

and the hand of Yahweh was upon him there – Zimmerli notes that the form of introduction of the prophetic message in Ezekiel is markedly similar to that used in preclassical prophecy (Samuel, Kings).  The expression “the hand of Yahweh was upon me” is most frequently found in these books.  Ezekiel shows no compunction about stating that he has been taken control of by the Spirit or by Yahweh, an aversion which Zimmerli finds in the time of some of the later prophets such as Hosea.  (In Hosea 8:7 the people say, “The man of the Spirit is mad.” a windstorm – Andrew Blackwood, Jr.(62) discusses this as an actual windstorm coming from the north, and probably a dust-storm.  Rather than re-entering his household as would be normal under the circumstances, Ezekiel remained outside and there had his vision.  It is doubtful, however, than an actual storm is intended here.  Ezekiel has already stated that he had “divine visions”, and that the hand of the Lord was upon him.  The sight of the storm came after the “hand of Yahweh was upon him, and should therefore be considered part of the vision.

from the north – There are three viewers with regard to these words.  Cooke,(63) in ICC states that this is just the direction in which the prophet happened to look.  He mentions the second view, espoused by Gresaman in “Eschatologie” that the reference is here to the Babylonian “home of the gods” in the north.  The third view is taken in the Seventh- day Adventist Bible Commentary, namely that the Assyrian and Babylonian armies approached Palestine from the north.64  To the objection that Ezekiel was in Babylon it may be mentioned that an exile’s heart and mind turn most often to his homeland.  Either the first or the third view will fit in with the remaining exegesis of the passage, but the second does not appear likely.  The author tends to the third.

fire flashing – Flashing translates mithlaqachath which the KJV translated as “infolding itself”.  Holladay65 lists “flash here and there”, which agrees with the Greek translation which Arndt and Gingrich66  translate “flash or gleam like lightning.  Fire flashing like lightning seems to be a very appropriate thing to see in a windstorm accompanied by clouds.

it had a gleaming around (it) – Also to be expected if the preceding is true.  This presents an interesting, and significant picture of a storm accompanied by a beautiful light.

like the gleam of brass – Brass translates the Hebrew which was translated the Septuagint.  The English alternates, “amber”, and ‘electrum” are both translations of the Greek.  G.  R. Driver does not believe that either amber or electrum are probable. He suggests the translation “brass”, finding the imagery in a brass foundry.  The word is used only in Ezekiel 1:4,27; 8:2. It clearly indicates a brilliant substance.

four living creatures – It is to be noted that these are in the midst of a storm cloud.

form of a man – The first impression upon observing these creatures is that the form is upright, and generally like that of a human being.  It becomes obvious in the next few verses that this resemblance to a man is very general.

four faces.  ff – The creatures each have four faces, and four wings, but have two feet–at least there is one concession to human form.  Their hands were under their wings.  From here to verse 14, rather than dealing verse by verse, we will deal with four threads of thought separately.

Everything in these verses seems to center around one phrase in verse 9.  “They turned not as they went,” Viewed in relation to this, the other factors become much more clear.

The legs of the creatures are straight, and the soles of their feet are like those of a calf.  The purpose in this appears to be to facilitate the motion of the creatures in any direction without turning.  Human beings must turn in the direction to which their toes point (or vice versa!) in order to make any significant progress.  The feet of these creatures were straight, so that it would not be more difficult for them to move in any one direction than in another.

Their hands were located under their wings.  The more mystical interpretation of these hands, that they are the hands of Yahweh, is useful as a theological point, but is unlikely as an original exegesis of this passage.  Chapter 10:8 leans the other way in terms of interpretation, where the hand cannot be that of the living creatures.

Their wings were each joined to one another.  It is possible that they are joined at the base, but from verse 11 it seems that they were joined at the tip, and that the four living creatures formed a square below the vault.  This seems possibly inconsistent with verse 14, where the living creatures go and return.  Possibly when the living creatures were all under the vault their wings would be touching at the ends.  The other two wings would cover their bodies.

The four faces are basically intended to continue to illustrate the ability of these creatures to move and to see in any of four directions.  This would be complementary to their straight feet, They would not only have no difficulty with their legs and feet, but they could see in whatever direction they cared to move.

The form of the faces, however, presents some interesting problems of interpretation.  There have been a number of interpretations suggested.  Eichrodt69  states that they are merely intended to show the combinations of various abilities and powers in the creatures.  Cooke70  repeats the explanation of the Rabbis “‘man is exalted among creatures; the eagle is exalted among birds; the ox is exalted among domestic animals; the lion is exalted among wild beasts; and all of them have received dominion, and greatness has been given them, yet they are stationed below the chariot of the Holy One,'” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary71  provides three alternates, although not supporting any one of them.  1) “The human face is the highest symbol of the Eternal, the lion, a symbol of sovereignty; the ox, a kind of sovereignty, together with a symbol of strength made subservient to human uses; and the eagle, en emblem of kingly power.” Or 2) the faces are the symbols of the four evangelists .  .  .  or 3) According to later Jewish tradition, the four forms, taking Ezekiel’s order are the standards generally borne by the tribes of Reuben, Judah, Ephraim, and Dan when they encamped in the wilderness (Num.  2:2).” It is stated there that the second has merely an imaginative foundation, which is also witnessed to by the variations in the interpretation of which of the four evangelists each face represents, Irenaeus interpreted the faces to mean: Man – Matthew, lion – John, Ox – Luke, eagle – Mark. Jerome and some others interpreted them as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John being represented by the man, lion, ox, and eagle respectively while Augustine transposes Matthew and Mark, A vision representing the four evangelists would have little meaning for Ezekiel, so it seems unlikely that this would be the proper interpretation.

Dr.  Leslie Hardinge72  has recently taken up the third of these explanations, with some adaptation, but the lack of proof for the arrangement and identification of the standards still tends to detract from this explanation.  In the context of the vision, which we will shortly see as being to show the sovereignty of God, it seems that the most probable identification of these creatures is to show the sovereignty of God over the various branches of the creation.(73) In any case, the main necessity for the continued interpretation of the vision is that the creatures could move in any direction which they chose.

wherever the wind was about to go, they went – The choice of translation here is difficult, Should this be wind, or should it be Spirit.  There is nothing in the context to indicate which. Perhaps Ezekiel was simply commenting that the creatures remained within the cloud and windstorm.  However, it is important to note here that in whichever case, the creatures remain directly under the control of the being on the throne.  We begin here with the series of statements which show the incredible unity of movement of this entire group of beings and objects.  From the construction it is obvious that they are under the control of the one above the vault.

One peculiar and striking item in this section of the vision is the continuous use of the number four.  Blackwood(74) states that four represents the earth.  Baumann(75) states that these correspond to the four cardinal points.  It seems that the representation here is of a rule over the totality of the earth.

Verse 14.  – Many commentators believe that this entire verse is a gloss misinterpreting verse l3.  (See textual commentary.) However, it is possible to see this as simply a comment on the speed with which the living creatures performed their missions. The various textual difficulties in the text point more to our lack of knowledge of the language of the time than to the text’s status.

l5-21 The Wheels – It is simpler to deal with the wheels as a complete subject than to comment on them phrase by phrase. We find that beside each living creature there is a wheel, whose “works” appear to be a “wheel within a wheel”, probably intersecting each other, if we are to integrate them with the context, In this manner, we are presented.  with wheels which can move in the same manner as the living creatures–without turning as they move.  They are thus able to move in complete harmony with the living creatures.

Ezekiel spends all of verses 19-21 in stating and restating the unity of movement which is here presented.  He also states that the wheels have a “living spirit” or “spirit of life”.  They are thus seen to be not simply mechanisms but so to speak, more “living beings”.  They are also full of eyes, representing perception.  The constant harmony of motion must have been impressive.

was later reworked to make it conform to the call visions of the other two eminent prophets.  He would place verse 1 as the heading of the vision in 1:4-28a once verses 2 and 3 as the heading of the vision in chapters 2 and 3.  The resulting “chapters” make very good reading.46

Auvray then looks for a place to put the reconstructed vision. Noting that in chapter 10 the glory of Yahweh leaves the temple, and that in chapter 43, it returns, without note of where it has been, he postulates the following movements for it:

1.  depart from Jerusalem (Chapter 10)
2.  Arrival in Babylonia (Chapter 1)
3.  Depart from Babylonia (not recorded)
4.  Return to Jerusalem (Chapter 43)

Thus the vision of chapter 1 must be located somewhere between chapters 10 and 43.  However, the date for the latest vision other than chapter 1 is the 27th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin. To cover this difficulty, Auvray suggests the emendation of the text, already noted, to read, “the thirteenth year”, It is apparent that this view, as well as that of Baumann, which relocates the chapter without explanation for the “thirtieth year” does not have a high level of probability, firstly because the emendation is not likely and secondly because the process is too complicated.47

Due to the difficulties of the passage, two views will here be presented as possible.  Firstly that the thirtieth year refers to the prophet’s age, or alternately that it refers to the publication of the book.

The first suggestion has some ancient and some scholarly support as has been noted.  Currently it has the partial support of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,48  and A New Commentary on the Holy Scripture,49  as well as Eichrodt in the Old Testament Library.  The following factors support it.  1) Due to the correspondence of the day in the two dates, it is probable that both the “fifth year”, and the “thirtieth year” refer to the same date.  2) Ezekiel would have to be 30 years of age in order to be considered totally responsible and at least 25 to be a priest (1:2).  3) John the Baptist, and Jesus both began their work at 30 years of age.  (This, provided by SDABC, provides only very tangential support.) If the emendations of the various scholars who have supported this position are not accepted, the major possibility is that this verse originally concluded a brief narrative of the prophet’s early life, which was left out when the book was collected in its present form.50  In support of this we note that the beginning of the work is such as one would expect as a, continuation of a previous idea.

Alternately, one could consider the view of W.  F.  Allbright, that this verse refers to the publication of the book.51 (However, his emendation will not be supported.) In support of this we note 1) that the date, if referring as do other dates in Ezekiel to the exile of King Jehoiachin, would be the final date in the book, thus conceivably referring to its publication, and 2) the word mar’oth in verse 1, indicates more than one vision, while it stands as the heading of a single vision.

Both of these views seem possible, and neither will do any injustice to the interpretation of the vision as a whole.  The author leans toward the former.

while I was among the exiles – There have been several theories of Ezekiel’s work, including 1) that he worked completely in Palestine, 2) that he was called in Babylon and then went to Palestine and back to Babylon, or 3) that he worked entirely in Babylon.52  If one takes the book seriously, the milieu of Ezekiel’s life work was in Chaldea.

at the River Kebar – This was previously thought to be the Nahr el-Khabur in northern Mesopotamia, which is, however, not in Chaldea.  Recent excavations have indicated that it is probably to be identified with the Naru Kabari, one of the great Babylonian canals.53  This is thought to be comparable with the modern Satt-en-nil.54

the heavens were opened to me – This signifies an opening of the prophet’s mind to heavenly things.  Later, John, the Revelator sees a door opened in heaven.  (Revelation 4:1) The author of the book of Enoch sees the heavens opened before viewing heavenly things.55

visions of God – The employment of the genitive here leaves open three possible interpretations.  Ezekiel either saw visions given by God, or visions which were a view of God (or God’s glory), or both.  Cooke, in ICC, suggests that the visions means that he saw the appearance of God’s glory.  The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary suggests that this means both,56  indicating that the following vision is a theophany (which it is, although this does not necessarily have to indicate it).  Paul Auvray supports the other view by his translation “visions divines”.57 The latter seems more probable, as in the rest of the vision, Ezekiel is very careful when referring to a sight of the glory of Yahweh.  Also, if either of the views suggested for the “thirtieth year” is accepted, “divine visions” would refer to the whole of the prophet’s prophetic work.

fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin – The exiles apparently dated all their events from the exile of their king, whom they hoped would be restored to the throne.  Ezekiel, at least, dates his visions from this event, which certainly would have had a profound effect on his life.

the word of Yahweh came certainly to Ezekiel – If one views verse one as referring to Ezekiel’s entire lifework, this would express the specific vision which is to be recounted here.

the priest – The Ezekiel is here stated to be a priest indicates this as one of the few times when the functions of prophet and priest were combined in one man.58

in the land of the Chaldeans – These words make one of the major points in the vision.  The Israelites had grown used to referring to Yahweh as a sort of local deity.59 The people in the homeland thought of themselves as better than those who had been exiled.60  Ezekiel’s receipt of this vision in Chaldea, as well as the content of the vision itself indicated that Yahweh was not a local deity, and that he had not forsaken the exiles.

and the hand of Yahweh was upon him there – Zimmerli notes that the form of introduction of the prophetic message in Ezekiel is markedly similar to that used in preclassical prophecy (Samuel, Kings).  The expression “the hand of Yahweh was upon me” is most frequently found in these books.  Ezekiel shows no compunction about stating that he has been taken control of by the Spirit or by Yahweh, an aversion which Zimmerli finds in the time of some of the later prophets such as Hosea.  (In Hosea 8:7 the people say, “The man of the Spirit is mad.” a windstorm – Andrew Blackwood, Jr.(62) discusses this as an actual windstorm coming from the north, and probably a dust-storm.  Rather than re-entering his household as would be normal under the circumstances, Ezekiel remained outside and there had his vision.  It is doubtful, however, than an actual storm is intended here.  Ezekiel has already stated that he had “divine visions”, and that the hand of the Lord was upon him.  The sight of the storm came after the “hand of Yahweh was upon him, and should therefore be considered part of the vision.

from the north – There are three viewers with regard to these words.  Cooke,(63) in ICC states that this is just the direction in which the prophet happened to look.  He mentions the second view, espoused by Gresaman in “Eschatologie” that the reference is here to the Babylonian “home of the gods” in the north.  The third view is taken in the Seventh- day Adventist Bible Commentary, namely that the Assyrian and Babylonian armies approached Palestine from the north.64  To the objection that Ezekiel was in Babylon it may be mentioned that an exile’s heart and mind turn most often to his homeland.  Either the first or the third view will fit in with the remaining exegesis of the passage, but the second does not appear likely.  The author tends to the third.

fire flashing – Flashing translates mithlaqachath which the KJV translated as “infolding itself”.  Holladay65 lists “flash here and there”, which agrees with the Greek translation which Arndt and Gingrich66  translate “flash or gleam like lightning.  Fire flashing like lightning seems to be a very appropriate thing to see in a windstorm accompanied by clouds.

it had a gleaming around (it) – Also to be expected if the preceding is true.  This presents an interesting, and significant picture of a storm accompanied by a beautiful light.

like the gleam of brass – Brass translates the Hebrew which was translated the Septuagint.  The English alternates, “amber”, and ‘electrum” are both translations of the Greek.  G.  R. Driver does not believe that either amber or electrum are probable. He suggests the translation “brass”, finding the imagery in a brass foundry.  The word is used only in Ezekiel 1:4,27; 8:2. It clearly indicates a brilliant substance.

four living creatures – It is to be noted that these are in the midst of a storm cloud.

form of a man – The first impression upon observing these creatures is that the form is upright, and generally like that of a human being.  It becomes obvious in the next few verses that this resemblance to a man is very general.

four faces.  ff – The creatures each have four faces, and four wings, but have two feet–at least there is one concession to human form.  Their hands were under their wings.  From here to verse 14, rather than dealing verse by verse, we will deal with four threads of thought separately.

Everything in these verses seems to center around one phrase in verse 9.  “They turned not as they went,” Viewed in relation to this, the other factors become much more clear.

The legs of the creatures are straight, and the soles of their feet are like those of a calf.  The purpose in this appears to be to facilitate the motion of the creatures in any direction without turning.  Human beings must turn in the direction to which their toes point (or vice versa!) in order to make any significant progress.  The feet of these creatures were straight, so that it would not be more difficult for them to move in any one direction than in another.

Their hands were located under their wings.  The more mystical interpretation of these hands, that they are the hands of Yahweh, is useful as a theological point, but is unlikely as an original exegesis of this passage.  Chapter 10:8 leans the other way in terms of interpretation, where the hand cannot be that of the living creatures.

Their wings were each joined to one another.  It is possible that they are joined at the base, but from verse 11 it seems that they were joined at the tip, and that the four living creatures formed a square below the vault.  This seems possibly inconsistent with verse 14, where the living creatures go and return.  Possibly when the living creatures were all under the vault their wings would be touching at the ends.  The other two wings would cover their bodies.

The four faces are basically intended to continue to illustrate the ability of these creatures to move and to see in any of four directions.  This would be complementary to their straight feet, They would not only have no difficulty with their legs and feet, but they could see in whatever direction they cared to move.

The form of the faces, however, presents some interesting problems of interpretation.  There have been a number of interpretations suggested.  Eichrodt69  states that they are merely intended to show the combinations of various abilities and powers in the creatures.  Cooke70  repeats the explanation of the Rabbis “‘man is exalted among creatures; the eagle is exalted among birds; the ox is exalted among domestic animals; the lion is exalted among wild beasts; and all of them have received dominion, and greatness has been given them, yet they are stationed below the chariot of the Holy One,'” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary71  provides three alternates, although not supporting any one of them.  1) “The human face is the highest symbol of the Eternal, the lion, a symbol of sovereignty; the ox, a kind of sovereignty, together with a symbol of strength made subservient to human uses; and the eagle, en emblem of kingly power.” Or 2) the faces are the symbols of the four evangelists .  .  .  or 3) According to later Jewish tradition, the four forms, taking Ezekiel’s order are the standards generally borne by the tribes of Reuben, Judah, Ephraim, and Dan when they encamped in the wilderness (Num.  2:2).” It is stated there that the second has merely an imaginative foundation, which is also witnessed to by the variations in the interpretation of which of the four evangelists each face represents, Irenaeus interpreted the faces to mean: Man – Matthew, lion – John, Ox – Luke, eagle – Mark. Jerome and some others interpreted them as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John being represented by the man, lion, ox, and eagle respectively while Augustine transposes Matthew and Mark, A vision representing the four evangelists would have little meaning for Ezekiel, so it seems unlikely that this would be the proper interpretation.

Dr.  Leslie Hardinge72  has recently taken up the third of these explanations, with some adaptation, but the lack of proof for the arrangement and identification of the standards still tends to detract from this explanation.  In the context of the vision, which we will shortly see as being to show the sovereignty of God, it seems that the most probable identification of these creatures is to show the sovereignty of God over the various branches of the creation.(73) In any case, the main necessity for the continued interpretation of the vision is that the creatures could move in any direction which they chose.

wherever the wind was about to go, they went – The choice of translation here is difficult, Should this be wind, or should it be Spirit.  There is nothing in the context to indicate which. Perhaps Ezekiel was simply commenting that the creatures remained within the cloud and windstorm.  However, it is important to note here that in whichever case, the creatures remain directly under the control of the being on the throne.  We begin here with the series of statements which show the incredible unity of movement of this entire group of beings and objects.  From the construction it is obvious that they are under the control of the one above the vault.

One peculiar and striking item in this section of the vision is the continuous use of the number four.  Blackwood(74) states that four represents the earth.  Baumann(75) states that these correspond to the four cardinal points.  It seems that the representation here is of a rule over the totality of the earth.

Verse 14.  – Many commentators believe that this entire verse is a gloss misinterpreting verse l3.  (See textual commentary.) However, it is possible to see this as simply a comment on the speed with which the living creatures performed their missions. The various textual difficulties in the text point more to our lack of knowledge of the language of the time than to the text’s status.

l5-21 The Wheels – It is simpler to deal with the wheels as a complete subject than to comment on them phrase by phrase. We find that beside each living creature there is a wheel, whose “works” appear to be a “wheel within a wheel”, probably intersecting each other, if we are to integrate them with the context, In this manner, we are presented.  with wheels which can move in the same manner as the living creatures–without turning as they move.  They are thus able to move in complete harmony with the living creatures.

Ezekiel spends all of verses 19-21 in stating and restating the unity of movement which is here presented.  He also states that the wheels have a “living spirit” or “spirit of life”.  They are thus seen to be not simply mechanisms but so to speak, more “living beings”.  They are also full of eyes, representing perception.  The constant harmony of motion must have been impressive.

Exegetical Commentary – Part II

How are we to interpret these wheels.  If the being above the vault is a representation of God, and the living creatures are heavenly, the wheels must be something much more close home to Ezekiel, possibly the affairs of earth.  They have life; they have perception, and it is stated that because of these two factors they moved along with the living creatures.  E.  G.  White,76  supports this view, and it seems to fit into the vision rather snugly. One notices, however, a step away from arbitrariness in this control: the wheels moved along with the living creatures because there was a living spirit (spirit of life) in them.

gleam of Chrysolite – Identification of this stone is not presently possible, but most opinion would make it either a transparent or a translucent substance, adding to the beauty of the scene.77

the form of a vault – Vault translates raqiy;a the same Hebrew word which is used in Genesis 1:6 of the “vault of heaven.” The Septuagint translates it with stereoma which indicates the firmament, or a solid part.78  Perhaps we can view this as a sort of solid vault(78) placed over rather than on the heads of the living creatures.

the appearance of crystal – A vault of crystal, spreading itself over the fire and lightning of the area of the living creatures would produce a dazzling and awesome sight, so that the word “awesome” following, is very much in context, contrary to Eichrodt.79 And under the vault their wings were straight – Perhaps we can see an indication of how their wings were both joined together, and also that the creatures “went out and returned”. While under the vault, their wings were straight, which implies another condition, namely, not under the vault.

And I heard the sound of their wings – One would not hear the sound of the wings of living creatures which were stationary. This therefore provides weight to the idea that the creatures moved at times out from under the vault, Ezekiel has quite some difficult finding something adequate to compare to the sound of these creatures wings.  It seems that they sounded like a greater number of beings than were apparent to Ezekiel’s eye.  The possibility suggests itself that there were more than four, some off on missions, with four always under the vault, which would be the only ones that could be described.

As they stood ff – Eichrodt80  considers these verses to be later glosses, which he says contradict the rest of the chapter.  We have already seen how verses 23 and 24 fit in with the picture.  Verse 25 presents a different problem.  Verse 23 states that the creature’s wings are straight, but here they are stated to let them drop.  The picture is of the entire scene approaching.  At this point they have arrived near enough to Ezekiel to proceed with the call, and so they stop, and Ezekiel notes that they let their wings drop.

The sapphire stone – Ezekiel first perceives a sapphire stone, which then resolves itself into the form of a throne.  The sapphire is a deep blue, so that above the crystal firmament, already lighted, this would add an even more dazzling touch.

On the throne is the form of the appearance of a man.  Notice how carefully Ezekiel makes his description.  There is here no attempt to describe God anthropomorphically.  This entire section is marked by this care in his description of the “appearance of the glory of Yahweh.”

This “form of a man” appears to be burning below His thighs, and gleaming like brass above them.  The entire scene is one of dazzling majesty.  There is a “gleaming” around it, which Ezekiel describes as similar to the rainbow.  G.  R.  Driver sees the imagery of a brass furnace here81  but that image does not seem adequate to the scene.

Even after all his care in description, he does not state that this was the appearance of Yahweh.  He says, rather, that it was the form of the appearance of the glory of Yahweh.  And seeing all this glory, he did the natural thing and fell on his face.

Conclusion

What would this vision indicate to the prophet.  The first item to note is the arrival of the glory of Yahweh in a cloud.  Ezekiel and his people were under a cloud at the time.  They were discouraged, thinking that God had forsaken them.  And here, coming from the north was a cloud, but there was a gleam around the cloud, and in the very storm was the glory of Yahweh Himself.  Even in their trouble, the God of Israel was present.  However, the vision indicated more than this.  It showed that God was not tied down to one country. He could be with the exiles as well as with the people in the land of Israel.  He ruled all creation, And it was He who was directing the affairs of earth.


Appendix

The Uses of ;eyn, demuth and mar’eh in Ezekiel 1

In the textual comments (see note p on verse 13) I made an emendation of the text in which I stated that a scribe, reading the chapter and seeing demuth used in verse 13 would tend to wish to correct it to mar’eh as more appropriate to the context of the verse.  As the King James Version uniformly translates each of the three words above with English words which are essentially similar, it is necessary to demonstrate that this use is indeed correct.  The KJV has translated them as color, likeness, and appearance respectively.

;eyn appears four times in the chapter, Holladay suggests simply “look” or “appearance”, but Eichrodt (OTL) suggests “sparkle”.  Elsewhere, gleam is suggested. The latter seem most appropriate in the context here, In verses 4 and 27 the Chashmal gleams, In verse 7 the polished bronze. In verse 16 the wheels, probably of a translucent or transparent color gleam.  So gleaming or sparkling here appears to be the best translation.

demuth appears 9 times.  We have the demuth of the four living creatures who have the demuth of a man.  Their faces have the demuth of various creatures.  The demuth of a vault is above the creatures’ heads.  The sapphire stone resolves itself into the of a throne.  Upon the demuth of a throne is the demuth of the appearance of a man. Finally the glory of God is said to have demuth. The only one of these which is neutral is verse 28, “the form of the glory of Yahweh”, although even here reference is being made to the form which was on the throne.  Holladay suggests form as a translation for demuth.  It appears to be the best translation in this chapter.

Lastly we have mar’eh which appears 11 times.  It is used as a general reference to the four creatures, immediately followed by the statement that they had the form of a man, four faces, four wings, etc.  In verse l3 there is the mar’eh of lightning, which does not have “form” as such.  In verse l4 we have the mar’eh of lightning again.  The mar’eh of the wheels was as the sparkle of tarshish, etc.  The mar’eh of the wheels was as if a wheel were within a wheel.  Ezekiel sees the mar’eh of sapphire which resolves itself into the form of a throne.  There is the form of the mar’eh of a man, and the mar’eh of fire, the mar’eh of a rainbow, and the mar’eh of a gleaming.  In only one of these cases would “form” be an appropriate translation. That is verse 16, with regard to the wheels.

In verse 13, however, the situation is reversed.  The “coals of fire burning like lightning” could hardly be described as having “form”.  The scribe, seeing Ezekiel’s normal use of the words could easily have added mar’eh in the margin to indicate that this would be a better word to employ here.


Notes

1  2 Chronicles 34:8,14.

2  2 Chronicles 34:24,25.  Revised Standard Version.

3  2 Chronicles 34:26-28.

4  2 Kings 24:32.

5  “Nabopolassar,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

6  “Mesopotamia and Iraq, History of,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

7  Ezekiel 1:2.

8  2 Chronicles 34:1-4.

9  “Jehoiakim,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

10  “Jehoiachin,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.  Ezekiel 1:2.  For the authenticity of the dating, see commentary section of this paper.

11  Note that this is the dating system used by Ezekiel in his hook.  He would be likely to use a system familiar to the people.

12  Walther Zimmerli, “The Message of the Prophet Ezekiel,” Interpretation, April, 1969, p.  131.

l3  Anthony D.  York, “Ezekiel 1: Inaugural and Restoration Visions?” Vetus Testamentum, January, l977, p.  86.

14  Walther Zimmerli, “Deutero-Ezechiel?” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, No.  4, 1972, p.  502.

15  Eberhard Baumann, “Die Hauptvisionen Hesekiels,” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, No.  1-2, 1955, passim.

16  R.  Tournay, “A propos des babylonismes d’Ezechiel,” Revue Riblique, July, 1961, p.  393.  “Particularly numerous in his book, these “Babylonisms” may be explained most easily if the prophet lived, spoke, and wrote in a definitely Babylonian environment.”

17  Walther Zimmerli, “The Special Form- end Traditio-Historical Character of Ezekiel’s Prophecy,” Vetus Testamentum, October, 1969, p.  515.

18  Walther Zimmerli, “Deutero-Ezechiel?” p.  503.

19  Walther Zimmerli “The Message of the Prophet Ezekiel,” p.  133.

20  G.  A.  Cooke, The Book of Ezekiel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937), xl.

21  Walther Eichrodt, Ezekiel: A Commentary (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1970).

22  G.  A.  Cooke, op.  cit.

23  York, 83, 84.

24  Paul Auvray, “Ezechiel I-III: Essai d’Analyse Litteraire,” Revue Biblique, October, 1960, p.  498. “The difference between sheloshim and shelosh ;esreh is not very great.”

25  Cooke, p.  7.  York (p.  84) describes both of these men as “trying to maintain continuity with the radicals.”

26  Brockington, L.  H.  The Hebrew Text of the 0ld Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), p.  219.

27  Auvray, passim.

28  York, passim.  Why Auvray is “radical” (declared so by York) and York is not remains to be explained. Such terms often prove meaningless when examined.

29  Eichrodt, 50, 51.  All further notes from Eichrodt come from these pages of textual notes unless otherwise noted.

30  Cooke, 3.  All further notes from Cooke come from the appropriate verse in pp.  3-28 unless otherwise noted.

31  Kenneth S.  Freedy, “Glosses in Ezekiel I-XXIV,” Vetus Testamentum, April, 1970, p.  132.  The gloss is mar’eyhem.

32  Brockington, 219.

33  William L.  Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1971), Art.  bazaq.

34  Holladay, Art.  raba;

35  York, 83-91.

36  In this connection, York has suggested a good idea for those who solve textual problems by emendation: Put forward at least a hypothesis as to how the text became corrupted.

37  York, 85.

38  York’s own idea enters troubled waters on this point.

39  Cooke, 4.

40  Edwin R.  Thiele, A Chronology of the Hebrew King’s (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977) passim.

41  W.  K.  Lowther Clark, Concise Bible Commentary (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1953), p 568.

42  Frederick Carl Eiselen, Edwin Lewis, and.  David G.  Downey, eds.  The Abingdon Bible Commentary (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1929), p.  715.

43  All views noted in this paragraph are from York’s summary unless otherwise noted.

44  York, passim.

45  Baumann, 61.

46  Auvray, 494 “Vision du Livre”; pp.  495, 496 “Vision du Char”

47  Auvray, passim.

48  Francis D.  Nichol, ed.  The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Washington, DC: The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1955), p.  574.

49  Charles Gore, Henry Leighton Goudge, and Alfred Guillaume, A New Commentary on Holy Scripture (New York; The Macmillan Company, 1958), p.  524.

50  To be fair, it must be noted that of those cited, only Eichrodt supports the latter assertion.

51  York, 88,89.

52  See introduction.

53  SDABC, etc.  Opinion is practically uniform.

54  Eichrodt, 52.

55  R.  H.  Charles, The Revelation of St.  John (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920), p.  107.

56  SDABC, p.  574.

57  Auvray, 495.

58  T.  Housel Jemison, A Prophet Among You (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1955), pp.  124-129.

59  James Luther Mays, Amos: A Commentary (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), p.  8.  Many other references, Biblical as well as non-Biblical could be given here.

60  Jeremiah 24 records a vision given to Jeremiah in answer to this same problem.

61  Walter Zimmerli, “The Special Form- and Traditio-Historical Character of Ezekiel’s prophecy,” pp.  31-33.

62  Andrew Blackwood, Jr.  The Other Son of Man: Ezekiel/Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1966), pp.  29,30.

63  Cooke 10.

64  SDABC, 575.

65  Ibid.

66  W.  Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, eds, W.  R. Arndt and F.  W.  Gingrich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), Art.  exastrapto.

67  G.  R.  Driver, “Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision,” Vetus Testamentum January, 1951, passim.

68  The statement by Ellen G White, in Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1917}, pp.  535, 536, seems to me, contrary to the position taken in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary to refer to Ezekiel 10:8.  The imagery is different.  In 1:8 Ezekiel sees “hands of a man”.  In the other, “the form of a man’s hand”.  The latter is clearly the type of statement Ezekiel makes when he is referring to heavenly things, while the former clearly is not.

69  Eichrodt, 55.

70  Cooke, l4.

71  SDABC, 576, 577.

72  Leslie Hardinge, Twenty-four Studies in the Book of Revelation (Glendale, California: Sermons to Live By), No.  5.  To his credit, he is interpreting Revelation, but he is giving this interpretation to Ezekiel in order to pass it on to Revelation.

73  “Ezekiel,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.

74  Blackwood, 33.

75  Baumann, 59.

76  E.  G.  White, 535, 536.

77  See SDABC, 578.  “Chrysolite,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

78  W.  Bauer, Art.  stereoma.

79  Eichrodt, 51.

80  Eichrodt, 51.

81  G.  R, Driver, passim.


Bibliography

Some books have been included here, though not cited in the text, as they were read as part of preparation for writing, and undoubtedly influenced the author’s thought in some way.  Auvray, Paul.  “Ezekiel I-III: Essai d’Analyse Litteraire.” Revue Biblique, October, 1960, pp.  481-502.

Bauer, W.  A Greek English Lexicon to the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.  W.  R.  Arndt and F.  W.  Gingrich, eds.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Baumann, D.  Eberhard.  “Die Hauptvisionen Hesekiels.” Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, No. 1-2, 1955, pp.  56-67.

Blackwood, Andrew V.  Jr, The Other Son of Man: Ezekiel/Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1966.

Brockington, L.  H.  The Hebrew Text of the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

Buttrick, George Arthur, ed.  The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.  New York: Abingdon Press, 1962.

Calvin, John.  Commentaries on the First Twenty Chapters of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.  Trans.  Thomas Myers.  Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1849.

Charles, R.  H A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St.  John. 2 Vols.  S.  R.  Driver, A.  Plummer, and C.  A.  Briggs, eds.  Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1920.

Christian, Lewis Harrison.  Modern Religious Trends in the Light of the Messages of Ezekiel, the Forgotten Prophet.  Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941.

“Chrysolite,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

Clarke, W.  K.  Lowther.  Concise Bible Commentary.  New York: Abingdon- Cokesbury Press, 1929.

Cooke, G.  A.  The International Critical Commentary: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel. 2 Vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937.

Davidson, A.  B.  and A.  W.  Streane.  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.  Ed. A.  F.  Kirkpatrick.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1916.

Driver, G.  R.  “Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision,” Vetus Testamentum, January, 1951, pp.  60-62.

Eichrodt, Walther, Ezekiel: A Commentary.  Trans.  Cosslett Quinn.  Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1970.

Eiselen, Frederick Carl, Lewis, Edwin, and Downey, David G.  The Abingdon Bible Commentary.  New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1929.

“Ezekiel,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

“Ezekiel, Book of,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

Freedy, Kenneth S, “Glosses in Ezekiel I-XXIV,” Vetus Testamentum, April, 1970, pp.  129-152.

Gore, Charles, Groudge, Henry Layton, and Guillaume, Alfred, eds. A New Commentary on the Holy Scripture.  New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958.

Hardinge, Leslie.  Twenty-four Sermons in the Book of Revelation. Glendale California: Sermons to Live By.  (A series of taped sermons.)

Horn, Siegfried H.  The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary. Ed.  Don F.  Neufe1d.  Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1960.

Kittel, Rudolf.  Ed.  Biblia Hebraica.  Stuttgart: Priv.  Wurtt. Bibelanstalt, 1937.

Mays, James Luther.  Amos: A Commentary.  Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969.

“Mesopotamia and Iraq, History of,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.  “Nabopolassar,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1978.

Nichol, Francis D.  ed.  The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 1st ed.  7 vols.  Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1960.

The Septuagint Version in Greek and English, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.  Reprinted from the edition of Samuel Bagster and Sons, Ltd., London.)

Thiele, Edwin R.  A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Tournay, R.  “A propos des babylonismes d’Ezechiel,” Revue Biblique, July, 1961, pp.  388-393.

White, Ellen G.  Prophets and Kings.  Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1917.

York, Anthony D.  “Ezekiel I: Inaugural and Restoration Visions?” Vetus Testamentum, January, 1977, pp.  82-98.

Zimmerli, Walther.  “Deutero-Ezechiel?” Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, No.  4, 1972, pp.  501-516.

“Special Form- and Traditio-Historical Character of Ezekiel’s Prophecy.” Vetus Testamentum, October, 1965, pp.  515-527.

“The Message of the Prophet Ezekiel.” Interpretation, April, 1969, pp.  131-157.

Here are two videos from my Eschatology series which reflect on this same material some 35 years after I first studied and wrote it: