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The Vision of the Chariot


In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), 3the word of the L ord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the L ord was on him there.

4 As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. 5In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. 6Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 7Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. 8Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 9their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. 10As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; 11such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. 14The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.

15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. 17When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. 18Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. 19When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. 23Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. 24When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings. 25And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.

26 And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. 27Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. 28Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L ord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.

He now comes down to the faces or countenances of the living creatures themselves. The face is properly used with reference to the whole body, but the Prophet only means the countenance. He says therefore that there was on the right as it were the face of a man and of a lion, and on the left, the face of an ox and of an eagle We explained yesterday why four heads and as many faces are ascribed to the angels of God, because so great was the dullness of the people, that they did not acknowledge the providence of God over all parts of the world. For we know that they were so intoxicated with foolish confidence, that they wished to hold God shut up as it were within a prison: for their temple was as it were God’s prison. Hence the Prophet shows how the providence of God shines over other parts of the world. But since there is vigor in animals, so for brevity’s sake he puts four remarkable species of animals. Yet one question remains, and that a difficult one, for in Ezekiel 10:14, he puts a cherub for an ox. Some think, or at least reply, that it appeared at a distance the face of an ox, but nearer it was that of a cherub. All see that this is a sophistry, and because they cannot otherwise escape the difficulty, they have imagined that fiction, which has no firmness in it. Others think that cherub and ox are identical; but this may be refuted from many places, for cherubim have not the heads of oxen, as all very well know. I therefore have no doubt there was some difference in the second vision, when God appeared to his own Prophet in the Temple. It is called the same vision on account of the likeness, but it does not follow that all particulars were exactly the same. Nor ought this conjecture to be rejected, because when God made himself known to his servant in Chaldea, as I have said before, he wished to reprove the sloth of the people by this multiform image; but when he appeared a second time in the Temple, there it was something more divine. Hence therefore the variety, because each animal then bore the face of a cherub instead of that of an ox. Therefore, besides the stature of the whole body, there was a remarkable feature whence the Prophet could more easily and familiarly recognize these living-creatures to be cherubim or angels. This reason also seems to explain why God showed to his Prophet a form which approached more nearly to that of the sanctuary, and to the two cherubim who surrounded the ark. Besides, some think that the heads were so arranged, that the man’s head should look towards the east, and the opposite head towards the west. But it is scarcely to be doubted that the four faces had the same aspect, and turned their eyes in the same direction, there being on the right the two forms which we have mentioned of a man and a lion, and on the left, those of an ox and an eagle. Afterwards follows —

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