Ezekiel 1

Verse 22. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O

daughter of Zion] On the contrary: Rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thy

captivity will soon end; thy sufferings are nearly completed; thou

shalt soon return to thy own land: but he will visit thy iniquity,

O Edom; he will discover thy sins. When sin is pardoned, it is

said to be covered: here, God says he will not cover the sins of

Edom-he will not pardon them; they shall drink the cup of wrath.

The promise in this last verse may refer to Jerusalem under the

Gospel. When they receive Christ crucified, they shall be gathered

from all nations, become one with the Church among the Gentiles,

be one flock under one and the same Shepherd, and shall be carried

no more into captivity.




Chronological Notes relative to the commencement of

Ezekiel's prophesying

-Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3409.

-Year of the Jewish era of the world, 3166.

-Year from the Deluge, 1753.

-Second year of the forty-sixth Olympiad.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian or

generally received account, 159.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the

Fasti Consulares, 158.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius the

historian, 157.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor,


-Year of the Julian Period, 4119.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, 153.

-Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 409.

-Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 126.

-Second year after the third Sabbatic year after the

seventeenth Jewish jubilee, according to Helvicus.

-Year before the birth of Christ, 591.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 595.

-Cycle of the Sun, 3.

-Cycle of the Moon, 15.

-Twenty-second year of Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of

the Romans: this was the eighty-sixth year before the

consulship of Lucius Junius Brutus, and Publius Valerius


-Thirty-first year of Cyaxares, or Cyaraxes, the fourth king

of Media.

-Eleventh year of Agasicles, king of Lacedaemon, of the family

of the Proclidae.

-Thirteenth year of Leon, king of Lacedaemon, of the family of

the Eurysthenidae.

-Twenty-fifth year of Alyattes II., king of Lydia, and father

of the celebrated Croesus.

-Eighth year of AEropas, the seventh king of Macedon.

-Sixth and last year of Psammis, king of Egypt, according to

Helvicus, an accurate chronologer. This Egyptian king was the

immediate predecessor of the celebrated Apries, called Vaphres

by Eusebius, and Pharaoh-hophra by Jeremiah, Jer 44:30.

-First year of Baal, king of the Tyrians.

-Twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

-Fourth year of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.


This chapter contains that extraordinary vision of the Divine

glory with which the prophet was favoured when he received the

commission and instructions respecting the discharge of his

office, which are contained in the two following chapters. The

time of this Divine manifestation to the prophet, 1-3.

The vision of the four living creatures, and of the four

wheels, 4-25.

Description of the firmament that was spread over them, and of

the throne upon which one sat in appearance as a man, 26-28.

This vision, proceeding in a whirlwind from the NORTH, seems to

indicate the dreadful judgments that were coming upon the whole

land of Judah through the instrumentality of the cruel

Chaldeans, who lay to the north of it.

See Jer 1:14; 4:6; 6:1.


Verse 1. In the thirtieth year] We know not what this date

refers to. Some think it was the age of the prophet; others think

the date is taken from the time that Josiah renewed the covenant

with the people, 2Ki 22:3, from which

Usher, Prideaux, and Calmet compute the forty years of Judah's

transgression, mentioned Eze 4:6.

Abp. Newcome thinks there is an error in the text, and that

instead of bisheloshim, in the thirtieth, we should read

bachamishith, in the fifth, as in the second verse.

"Now it came to pass in the fifth year, in the fourth month, in

the fifth day of the month," &c. But this is supported by none of

the ancient Versions, nor by any MS. The Chaldee paraphrases the

verse, "And it came to pass thirty years after the high priest

Hilkiah had found the book of the law, in the house of the

sanctuary," &c. This was in the twelfth year of Josiah's reign.

The thirtieth year, computed as above, comes to A.M. 3409, the

fourth year from the captivity of Jeconiah, and the fifth of the

reign of Zedekiah. Ezekiel was then among the captives who had

been carried way with Jeconiah, and had his dwelling near the

river Chebar, Chaborus, or Aboras, a river of Mesopotamia, which

falls into the Euphrates a little above Thapsacus, after having

run through Mesopotamia from east to west.-Calmet.

Fourth month] Thammuz, answering nearly to our July.

I saw visions of God.] Emblems and symbols of the Divine

Majesty. He particularly refers to those in this chapter.

Verse 2. Jehoiachin's captivity] Called also Jeconiah and

Coniah; see 2Ki 24:12. He was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar; see

2Ki 24:14.

Verse 3. The hand of the Lord] I was filled with his power, and

with the influence of the prophetic spirit.

Verse 4. A whirlwind came out of the north] Nebuchadnezzar,

whose land, Babylonia, lay north of Judea. Chaldea is thus

frequently denominated by Jeremiah.

A great cloud, and a fire infolding itself] A mass of fire

concentrated in a vast cloud, that the flames might be more

distinctly observable, the fire never escaping from the cloud, but

issuing, and then returning in upon itself. It was in a state of

powerful agitation; but always involving itself, or returning back

to the centre whence it appeared to issue.

A brightness was about it] A fine tinge of light surrounded the

cloud, in order to make its limits the more discernible; beyond

which verge the turmoiling fire did not proceed.

The colour of amber] This was in the centre of the cloud; and

this amber-coloured substance was the centre of the labouring

flame. The word ηλεκτρον, which we translate amber, was used to

signify a compound metal, very bright, made of gold and brass.

Verse 5. Also out on the midst thereof came-four living

creatures.] As the amber-coloured body was the centre of the fire,

and this fire was in the centre of the cloud; so out of this

amber-coloured igneous centre came the living creatures just


Verse 6. Every one had four faces] There were four several

figures of these living creatures, and each of these figures had

four distinct faces: but as the face of the man was that which

was presented to the prophet's view, so that he saw it more

plainly than any of the others; hence it is said, Eze 1:5, that

each of these figures had the likeness of a man; and the whole of

this compound image bore a general resemblance to the human


Verse 7. Their feet were straight feet] There did not seem to be

any flexure at the knee, nor were the legs separated in that way

as to indicate progression by walking. I have before me several

ancient Egyptian images of Isis, Osiris. Anubis, &c., where the

legs are not separated, nor is there any bend at the knees; so

that if there was any motion at all, it must have been by gliding,

not progressive walking. It is a remark of AElian, that the gods

are never represented as walking, but always gliding; and he gives

this as a criterion to discern common angelic appearances from

those of the gods: all other spiritual beings walked

progressively, rising on one foot, while they stretched out the

other; but the deities always glided without gradual progressive

motions. And Heliodorus in his Romance of Theogines and Charicha,

gives the same reason for the united feet of the gods, &c., and

describes the same appearances.

Like the sole of a calf's foot] Before it is stated to be a

straight foot; one that did not lay down a flat horizontal sole,

like that of the human foot.

And they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.] I suppose

this refers rather to the hoof of the calf's foot, than to the

whole appearance of the leg. There is scarcely any thing that

gives a higher lustre than highly polished or burnished brass. Our

blessed Lord is represented with legs like burnished brass,

Re 1:15.

Verse 8. They had the hands of a man under their wings] I doubt

much whether the arms be not here represented as all covered with

feathers, so that they had the appearance of wings, only the hand

was bare; and I rather think that this is the meaning of their

having "the hands of a man under their wings."

Verse 9. Their wings were joined one to another] When their

wings were extended, they formed a sort of canopy level with their

own heads or shoulders; and on this canopy was the throne, and the

"likeness of the man" upon it, Eze 1:26.

They turned not when they went] The wings did not flap in

flying, or move in the manner of oars, or of the hands of a man in

swimming, in order to their passing through the air; as they

glided in reference to their feet, so they soared in reference

to their wings.

Verse 10. As for the likeness of their faces] There was but one

body to each of those compound animals: but each body had four

faces; the face of a man and of a lion on the right side; the face

of an ox and an eagle on the left side. Many of these compound

images appear in the Asiatic idols. Many are now before me: some

with the head and feet of a monkey, with the body, arms, and legs

of a man. Others with the head of the dog; body, arms, and legs

human. Some with the head of an ape; all the rest human. Some with

one head and eight arms; others with six heads or faces, with

twelve arms. The head of a lion and the head of a cock often

appear; and some with the head of a cock, the whole body human,

and the legs terminating in snakes. All these were symbolical, and

each had its own appropriate meaning. Those in the text had theirs

also, could we but find it out.

Verse 12. They went every one straight forward] Not by

progressive stepping, but by gliding.

Whither the spirit was to go] Whither that whirlwind blew, they

went, being borne on by the wind, see Eze 1:4.

Verse 13. Like burning coals of fire] The whole substance

appeared to be of flame; and among them frequent coruscations of

fire, like vibrating lamps, often emitting lightning, or rather

sparks of fire, as we have seen struck out of strongly ignited

iron in a forge. The flames might be something like what is called

warring wheels in pyrotechny. They seemed to conflict together.

Verse 14. The living creatures ran and returned] They had a

circular movement; they were in rapid motion, but did not increase

their distance from the spectator. So I think this should be


Verse 15. One wheel upon the earth] It seems at first view there

were four wheels, one for each of the living creatures; that is,

the creatures were compound, so were the wheels, for there was "a

wheel in the middle of a wheel." And it is generally supposed that

these wheels cut each other at right angles up and down: and this

is the manner in which they are generally represented; but most

probably the wheel within means merely the nave in which the

spokes are inserted, in reference to the ring, rim, or periphery,

where these spokes terminate from the centre or nave. I do think

this is what is meant by the wheel within a wheel; and I am the

more inclined to this opinion, by some fine Chinese drawings now

before me, where their deities are represented as walking upon

wheels, the wheels themselves encompassed with fire. The wheel is

simply by itself having a projecting axis; so of these it is said,

"their appearance and their work was, as it were, a wheel within a

wheel." There were either two peripheries or rims with their

spokes, or the nave answered for the wheel within. I have examined

models of what are called Ezekiel's wheels, which are designed to

move equally in all directions: but I plainly saw that this was

impossible; nor can any kind of complex wheel move in this way.

Verse 18. As for their rings] The strakes which form the rim

or periphery.

They were dreadful] They were exceedingly great in their

diameter, so that it was tremendous to look from the part that

touched the ground to that which was opposite above.

Were full of eyes] Does not this refer to the appearance of

nails keeping on the spokes, or strakes or bands upon the rim?

Verse 19. When the living creatures went, the wheels went] The

wheels were attached to the living creatures, so that, in

progress, they had the same motion.

Verse 20. The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.]

That is, the wheels were instinct with a vital spirit; the wheels

were alive, they also were animals, or endued with animal life,

as the creatures were that stood upon them. Here then is the

chariot of Jehovah. There are four wheels, on each of which one

of the compound animals stands; the four compound animals form the

body of the chariot, their wings spread horizontally above,

forming the canopy or covering of this chariot; on the top of

which, or upon the extended wings of the four living creatures,

was the throne, on which was the appearance of a man, Eze 1:26.

Verse 22. The colour of the terrible crystal] Like a crystal,

well cut and well polished, with various faces, by which rays of

light were refracted, assuming either a variety of prismatic

colours, or an insufferably brilliant splendour. This seems to be

the meaning of the terrible crystal. Newcome translates, fearful

ice. The common translation is preferable.

Verse 23. Every one had two, which covered on this side] While

they employed two of their wings to form a foundation for the

firmament to rest on, two other wings were let down to cover the

lower part of their bodies: but this they did only when they

stood, Eze 1:24.

Verse 24. The noise of their wings] When the whirlwind drove the

wheels, the wind rustling among the wings was like the noise of

many waters; like a waterfall, or waters dashing continually

against the rocks, or rushing down precipices.

As the voice of the Almighty] Like distant thunder; for this is

termed the voice of God, Ps 18:13; Ex 9:23, 28, 29; 20:18.

Verse 26. A sapphire] The pure oriental sapphire, a large well

cut specimen of which is now before me, is one of the most

beautiful and resplendent blues that can be conceived. I have

sometimes seen the heavens assume this illustrious hue. The human

form above this canopy is supposed to represent Him who, in the

fulness of time, was manifested in the flesh.

Verse 27. The colour of amber] There are specimens of amber

which are very pure and beautifully transparent. One which I now

hold up to the light gives a most beautiful bright yellow colour.

Such a splendid appearance had the august Being who sat upon this

throne from the reins upward; but from thence downward he had the

appearance of fire, burning with a clear and brilliant flame. For

farther particulars See Clarke on Eze 10:9.

Verse 28. As the appearance of the bow] Over the canopy on which

this glorious personage sat there was a fine rainbow, which, from

the description here, had all its colours vivid, distinct, and in

perfection-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

In all this description we must understand every metal, every

colour, and every natural appearance, to be in their utmost

perfection of shape, colour, and splendour. "And this," as above

described, "was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the

Lord." Splendid and glorious as it was, it was only the

"appearance of the likeness," a faint representation of the real


I have endeavoured to explain these appearances as correctly as

possible; to show their forms, positions, colours, &c. But who can

explain their meaning? We have conjectures in abundance; and can

it be of any use to mankind to increase the number of those

conjectures? I think not. I doubt whether the whole does not point

out the state of the Jews, who were about to be subdued by

Nebuchadnezzar, and carried into captivity. And I am inclined to

think that the "living creatures, wheels, fires, whirlwinds," &c.,

which are introduced here, point out, emblematically, the various

means, sword, fire, pestilence, famine, &c., which were employed

in tneir destruction; and that God appears in all this to show

that Nebuchadnezzar is only his instrument to inflict all these

calamities. What is in the following chapter appears to me to

confirm this supposition. But we have the rainbow, the token of

God's covenant, to show that though there should be a destruction

of the city, temple, &c., and sore tribulation among the people,

yet there should not be a total ruin; after a long captivity they

should be restored. The rainbow is an illustrious token of mercy

and love.

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