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NOW it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, when I was in the midst of the captives by the river Chobar, the heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God.

THE PROPHECY OF EZECHIEL.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Ezechiel, whose name signifies the strength of God, was of the priestly race, and of the number of the captives that were carried away to Babylon with king Joachin.  He was contemporary with Jeremias, and prophesied to the same effect in Babylon as Jeremias did in Jerusalem; and is said to have ended his days in like manner, by martyrdom.  Ch.

 

--- He strove to comfort the captives, who began to repine that they had listened too readily to Jeremias, exhorting them to submit to the king of Babylon.  Some think that part of his prophecies is lost, as Josephus mentions two books: but the nine last chapters, regarding the new city and temple, might form the second division.  The Jews hesitated whether to allow his works to be canonical, as they seemed to differ from Moses, and from the dimensions given of Solomon's temple.   But the same God might surely suggest some improvements, and the morality of the prophet is most excellent.  C.

 

--- His style may be compared to that of Homer (Grot.) and Alcæus.  Many have thought that (C.) Pythagoras was his disciple; (Eus. præp. xiii.) yet the latter seems to have lived after the prophet, who was led into captivity with Jechonias, A. 3410, and prophesied for twenty years.  He dates from this period, (C.) and from the renewal of the covenant under Josias, (C. i. 1.  H.) when the captivity was first announced.  W.

 

--- The Jews allowed none to read the first and the nine (H.) last chapters, nor the beginning of Gen. nor the Cant. before they were thirty years old; and they never attempted to explain the vision nor the building of the temple, supposing it to be above the power of man.  St. Jerom.


Ver. 1.  And is either superfluous, as at the beginning of most of the sacred books, (C.) or shews the connection of what is written with what the prophet saw or heard internally.  S. Aug. in Ps. iv.  S. Greg.  W.

 

--- Year: either of the age of Ezechiel, or (as others will have it) from the solemn covenant made in the eighteenth year of Josias; (4 K. xxiii.  Ch.  W.  C.) or he alludes to the era of Nabopolassur, used at Babylon, (M.) or to the last jubilee.  See Sanct.  The thirtieth year, from the prediction of Holda to Josias, (H.) concurs with the fifth of the prophet's captivity.  C. xvii. 12.  Usher, A. 3410.

 

--- Fourth of the sacred year, (C.) on Friday, 24th July, (Usher) or in Jan.  S. Jer.

 

--- Chobar, or Aboras, which runs westward into the Euphrates, above Thapsacus.  Strabo.

 

--- The captives were in those parts, though not present.  C.

 

--- Opened, in spirit, (H.) by faith.  S. Jerom

 

--- The prophet fell prostrate.  C. ii. 1.  H.



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Chobar

Chobar, or Aboras, which runs westward into the Euphrates, above Thapsacus. Strabo.

2 On the fifth day of the month, the same was the fifth year of the captivity of king Joachin,

Ver. 2.  Captivity.  Lit. "transmigration," (H.) which is more agreeable to the Heb. &c.  Jechonias delivered himself up.  Six years after this, Sedecias was taken.  S. Jerom.


3 The word of the Lord came to Ezechiel the priest the son of Bud in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chobar: and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.

Ver. 3.  Hand; power, energy of the Holy Spirit.  Theod.



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Ezechiel Prophesying

Ezechiel Prophesying

The word of the Lord came to Ezechiel the priest the son of Bud in the land of the Chaldeans, by the river Chobar: and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.


Chobar

Chobar, or Aboras, which runs westward into the Euphrates, above Thapsacus. Strabo.

4 And I saw, and behold a whirlwind came out of the north: and a great cloud, and a fire infolding it, and brightness was about it: and out of the midst thereof, that is, out of the midst of the fire, as it were the resemblance of amber:

Ver. 4.  North, denoting the invasion of Judea by the Chaldees.  Is. xiv. 31.  Sanct.

 

--- The Jews thought the following vision inexplicable, and deliberated about rejecting the book, when Ananias offered to answer every difficulty.  They assigned him three hundred barrels of oil to light his lamp, while he performed the task.  Rabbins.

 

--- This hyperbole shews their idea of its obscurity.  C.

 

--- Amber, (electri) a compound of four parts of gold and one of silver, (Pliny xxxiii. 4.) more precious than either.  S. Jer.

 

--- It may also mean orichalchum, or a mixture of gold and brass, (Bochart, anim. 2 b. vi. 16.) which was also preferred before gold alone, as it had the hardness of brass.  Lucret. Serv. in xii. Æneid.

                       

--- alboque orichalcho

Circumdat loricam humeris.

 

--- Two vessels are mentioned, probably of this composition.  1 Esd. viii. 27.  C.



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5 And in the midst thereof the likeness of four living creatures: and this was their appearance: there was the likeness of a man in them.

Ver. 5.  Living creatures.  Cherubims, (as appears from Eccles. xlix. 10.) represented to the prophet under these mysterious shapes, as supporting the throne of God, and as it were drawing his chariot.  All this chapter appeared so obscure and full of mysteries to the ancient Hebrews, that, as we learn from S. Jerom, (ep. ad Paulin.) they suffered none to read it before they were thirty years old.  Ch.

 

--- The pagans had many such compound figures as are here represented.  Parkhurst, p. 411.  H.

 

--- Sanchoniathon (ap. Eus. præp. 2.) seems to have borrowed his description from this place.

 

--- In them.  They stood upright and had some parts of the human figure.  C.

 

--- Indeed, it seems to have been predominant.  H.


6 Every one had four faces, and every one four wings.

Ver. 6.  Faces.  This sometimes means shapes; and Pererius supposes that the animal had the head of a man, and the breast covered with lions' hair, the feet or round cloven hoofs of an ox, and the wings of an eagle.  But it had rather four faces as well as wings, the faces of the man and lion being to the right, and the other two to the left; (C.  T.) or the eagle was behind (H.) or above the head of the man, and the lion and ox at his right and left.  Corn. a Lapide.  M.


7 Their feet were straight feet, and the sole of their foot was like the sole of a calf's foot, and they sparkled like the appearance of glowing brass.

Ver. 7.  Straight.  Heb. "a straight foot."  Prot. prefer "feet."  H.

 

--- Of a calf.  Aquila reads to the same import hagol, "round," instead of hegel, (H.) "a calf."  Sym. has "winged feet," like Mercury.  C.

 

--- Sept. omit this, says S. Jerom, though we have his version of Sym. as if it belonged to the Sept.; and it occurs in Grabe as genuine.

 

--- Brass.  Sept. add, "and their feathers were very light."  H.


8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides: and they bad faces, and wings on the four sides,

Ver. 8.  Wings.  Their arms were covered with feathers, and the hand appeared at the extremity; or they had four arms under the wings.  C. x. 8.  They all came from the shoulders, so as to correspond with the four faced animal, v. 6.  C.

 

--- Others believe that each face had four wings, so that the animal would have sixteen.  Maldonat.

 

--- In Is. ix. 2. the cherub has six wings.  The form was variable, as there was nothing in nature similar.  They were perhaps designed to represent the eternity and dominion of God over the whole creation.  v. 28.  H.


9 And the wings of one were joined to the wings of another. They turned not when they went: but every one went straight forward.

Ver. 9.  Another.  Two above were extended so as to support the throne, which seemed to rest on these eight wings connected together.  The others were joined so as perfectly to cover what was below the breast.  C.

 

--- Sept. "And the wings of those four were touching each other, and their faces (Calmet reads with Chal. and Heb. wings) turned not," &c.  H.

 

--- The wings did not imitate those of birds, going to and fro, but were constantly in the same direction; or the animals did not change their respective situations: as they had four faces, there was always one of them turned to the opposite quarters of the world.  C.

 

--- They turned not about, (v. 12.) but having faces on every side, were ready to go any way.  W.


10 And as for the likeness of their faces: there was the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.

Ver. 10.  Over.  This is not specified in Heb. Chal. Sept. or S. Jer.  C.

 

--- "The face of an eagle for all the four."  It mist have been above or behind the man, as the situation of the other two faces is here determined.  v. 6.  H.


11 And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies:

Ver. 11.  Faces.  Sept. "wings:" and indeed it does not appear how their faces were stretched upwards, (C.) unless they looked earnestly that way; though, out of respect, they covered their faces with two wings.


12 And every one of them went straight forward: whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went: and they turned not when they went.
13 And as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like that of burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps. This was the vision running to and fro in the midst of the living creatures, a bright fire, and lightning going forth from the fire. 14 And the living creatures ran and returned like flashes of lightning.

Ver. 14.  Flashes.  Heb. Bazak.  H.

 

--- Theodotion retains the original.  His version seems to have been inserted in the Sept. (C.) who omitted this verse, as seeming to contradict v. 9. and 12.  S. Jer.

 

--- Yet it only signifies that the motion was quick as lightning, though they did not alter their situation with respect to each other.


15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, there appeared upon the earth by the living creatures one wheel with four faces.

Ver. 15.  Faces.  One wheel crossed another at right angles, so that it was ready to move in any direction, (v. 17.  C.) like a globe.  H.


16 And the appearance of the wheels, and the work of them was like the appearance of the sea: and the four had all one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the midst of a wheel.

Ver. 16.  Sea: sky blue.  Heb. "Tharsis," which Sym. renders "the hyacinth;" a precious stone.  Ex. xxviii. 20.  C.

 

--- Midst.  The evangelists and New Testament agree perfectly with the Old.  S. Greg. hom. vi.  W.


17 When they went, they went by their four parts: and they turned not when they went.

Ver. 17.  Parts.  When they went, they went by their four parts.  That is, indifferently to any of their sides, either forward or backward, to the right or to the left.  Ch.

 

--- Their motion was connected with the chariot.  v. 20.  C.


18 The wheels had also a size, and a height, and a dreadful appearance: and the whole body was full of eyes round about all the four.

Ver. 18.  Eyes, like Argus, or the tail of a peacock.  C.

 

--- The eye is sometimes put for a colour.  Grot.



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19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels also went together by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels also were lifted up with them. 20 Whithersoever the spirit went, thither as the spirit went the wheels also were lifted up withal, and followed it: for the spirit of life was in the wheels.

Ver. 20.  Life.  They were moved like the rest by the whirlwind, or by living creatures.  They seemed to be animated, as Homer describes Vulcan's tripods.


21 When those went these went, and when those stood these stood, and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels also were lifted up together, and followed them: for the spirit of life was in the wheels. 22 And over the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of crystal terrible to behold, and stretched out over their heads above.

Ver. 22.  Crystal, or sapphire.  v. 26.  C. x. 1.  This shining sky was like the footstool of the Lord, and rested on eight wings. v. 9, 23.


23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other, every one with two wings covered his body, and the other was covered in like manner. 24 And I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, as it were the voice of the most high God: when they walked, it was like the voice of a multitude, like the noise of an army, and when they stood, their wings were let down.

Ver. 24.  Voice.  The motion of the wings made a noise like a torrent, or thunder.

 

--- God.  Heb. "self-sufficient," as Sept. &c. render it, ikanou.  C.

 

--- Prot. "like the voice of the Almighty."  H.

 

--- Down; or rather ceased to make such a noise.  v. 25.  C.


25 For when a voice came from above the firmament, that was over their heads, they stood, and let down their wings. 26 And above the firmament that was over their heads, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of the sapphire stone, and upon the likeness of the throne, was a likeness as of the appearance of a man above upon it.

Ver. 26.  Upon it.  This might be omitted, as the Vulg. has only desuper, above.  H.

 

--- God was pleased to assume the shape of a man, seated on the throne.


27 And I saw as it were the resemblance of amber as the appearance of fire within it round about: from his loins and upward, and from his loins downward, I saw as it were the resemblance of fire shining round about.

Ver. 27.  Amber, or orichalcum.  v. 4.


28 As the appearance of the rainbow when it is in a cloud on a rainy day: this was the appearance of the brightness round about.

Ver. 28.  Rainbow, encircling the sky blue throne and the flame.  Nothing could be more dazzling, nor better manifest the subjection of man.  C.

 

--- The prophet saw four visions at once; the whirlwind, (v. 4.) the living creatures, (v. 5.) the wheels, (v. 15.) and the man seated on a throne, in the sky, v. 26.  To explain all these mysteries, a large commentary would scarcely suffice.  W.

 

--- The tempest, cloud, and fire, shew the impending ruin of the Jews.  The ministers of God are over ready to execute his orders.  The wisdom of Providence is denoted by the name of the cherubim, the connection of causes by the four wheels, &c.  M.

 

--- God appears in his chariot going to war.  He denounces vengeance on the guilty.  C. ii. and xliii.  See Corn. a Lapide.  H.



The Glory Of God

The Glory Of God

As the appearance of the rainbow when it is in a cloud on a rainy day: this was the appearance of the brightness round about.

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