Ezekiel 10


The same august vision which appeared to the prophet at first,

is repeated here; and coals of fire are scattered over the city

to intimate that it was to be burned. The symbol of the Divine

presence is likewise represented as removing farther and

farther from the temple, to signify that God's protection was

about to be withdrawn from it, 1-22.

It may not be improper to remark, that whatever is particularly

intended by the cherubim, wheels, firmament, throne, &c.,

described in this and the first chapter, the prophet several

times informs us (Eze 1:28; 3:25; 8:4; 10:4, 18,)

that his vision was a manifestation or similitude of the GLORY

of Jehovah; or, in other words, consisted of a set of

hieroglyphics by which this glory was in some measure

represented. It is also worthy of observation, that the faces

of the living creatures, of which we have an account in the

fourth chapter of the Apocalypse, are precisely the same with

those of Ezekiel's cherubim; and we may readily collect, as

Mr. Mede remarks, the quarter of the heavens in which each

cherub was situated in reference to the other three, from the

consideration that as Ezekiel saw the vision proceeding from

the NORTH, (see Eze 1:4, 10,)

the human face of the cherubim was towards him, or the south;

on his right hand, or the east, was the face of a lion; on his

left hand, or the west, the face of an ox; and towards the

north, the face of an eagle.


Verse 1. As it were a sapphire stone]

See Clarke on Eze 1:22; "Eze 1:26". The

chariot, here mentioned by the prophet, was precisely the same

as that which he saw at the river Chebar, as himself tells us,

Eze 10:15, of which see the description in Eze 1:26.

Verse 2. Coals of fire] These were to signify the burning of the

city by the Chaldeans. It seems that the space between the four

wheels, which was all on fire, was that from which those coals

were taken.

Verse 3. On the right side of the house] The right hand always

marked the south among the Hebrews.

Verse 4. The glory of the Lord went up] This is repeated from

Eze 9:3.

The house was filled with the cloud] This is a fact similar to

what occurred frequently at the tabernacle in the wilderness, and

in the dedication of the temple by Solomon. What is mentioned here

was the Divine shechinah, the symbolical representation of the

majesty of God.

Verse 5. As the voice of the Almighty God] That is, as thunder;

for this was called the voice of God.

Verse 8. The form of a man's hand under their wings.] I am still

of opinion that the hands and wings were not distinct. The arms

were feathered like wings, and the hand terminated the arm; but as

the long front feathers of the wings would extend much beyond the

fingers, hence the hands would appear to be under the wings. See

on Eze 1:8. The

human hand might be intended to show that God helps and punishes

man by man; and that, in the general operations of his providence,

he makes use of human agency.

Verse 9. The colour of a beryl stone.] eben Tarshish,

"the stone of Tarshish." The Vulgate translates it chrysolith;

Symmachus, the jacinct; the Septuagint, the carbuncle. In the

parallel place, Eze 1:16, it is

keeyn Tarshish, "like the eye of Tarshish;" i.e., the colour of

tarshish, or the stone so called, which the Vulgate translates

visio maris, "like the sea," i.e., azure. The beryl is a gem of

a green colour, passing from one side into blue, on the other side

into yellow. The chrysolith is also green, what is called

pistachio green; but the chrysolith of the ancients was our

topaz, which is of a fine wine yellow. The beryl, or

chrysolith, is most likely what is here meant by tarshish. One

name among the ancients served for several kinds of gems that were

nearly of the same colour. The moderns go more by chemical

characters than by colour.

Verse 10. A wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.] It is

difficult to comprehend this description. It is generally supposed

to mean one wheel within another, cutting each other at right

angles. This, in my opinion, will not account for the motions

attributed to these wheels; nor can I see how, on this

supposition, they could have any motion; for if one was moved on

its axis, the other must be dragged contrary to its axis. I have

conjectured it rather to mean a wheel within a wheel, or a wheel

with two rims, working on the same axis. See on Eze 1:16-18. It

is however no matter of faith; and the reader may judge as he

thinks proper. For other matters relative to this chariot, wheels,

cherubim, wings, &c., I must refer to the notes on the first

chapter. And perhaps from the whole of this vision and its

difficulties, he will see the propriety of the council of rabbins

ordering Rabbi Ananias three hundred barrels of oil to light his

lamp during the time it would be necessary for him to employ in

explaining this one vision.

Verse 13. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them-O wheel.]

Never was there a more unfortunate and unmeaning translation. The

word haggalgal, may signify, simply, the roller, or a

chariot, or roll on, or the swift roller. And he clepide ilke

wheelis volible, or turninge about. Old MS. Bible. Any of these

will do: "and as to the wheels," laophannim, "they were

called in my hearing" haggalgal, "the chariot." The

gentleman who took for his text "O wheel!" and made God's decree

of eternal predestination out of it, must have borrowed some of

Rabbi Ananias's three hundred barrels of oil! But such working of

God's word cannot be too severely reprehended.

As these wheels are supposed to represent Divine Providence,

bringing about the designs of the Most thigh, how like is the

above haggalgal, taken as a verb, "roll on," to those words

of Virgil in his Pollio:-

Talia saela, suis dixerunt, currite, fusis,

Concordes stabili fatorum numine Parcae.

"The Fates, when they this happy web have spun,

Shall bless the sacred clue, and bid it swiftly run."

Verse 14. The first-was the face of a cherub] In Eze 1:10,

this is called the "face of an ox;" here, the "face of a cherub:"

hence, a cherub was in the likeness of an ox, at least, as to its

head. kerub never occurs as a verb; and its meaning cannot

be precisely ascertained. Parkhurst thinks the caph to be here

the note of similitude; and then translates ke, "like,"

rab or rob, "the mighty one;" and, in consequence, makes the

cherubim an emblem of the Holy Trinity. See his lengthy

Dissertation under in his Hebrew and English Lexicon.

Verse 20. And I knew that they were the cherubims.] This

formation of the plural is quite improper. In general, Hebrew

nouns of the masculine gender end in im, in the plural; the s,

therefore, should never be added to such. Cherub is singular;

cherubim is plural. The s should be uniformly expunged.

I have already referred to the end of this chapter for farther

information relative to this glorious chariot of Jehovah; but I

must say that I have met with nothing on the subject that entirely

satisfies myself. In the preceding notes I have endeavoured to

make the literal meaning as plain as possible; and have

occasionally given some intimations relative to the general design

of this sublime vision. My readers are already apprised that I do

not like conjectures on Divine things; many points, that had

originally no other origin, are now incorporated with creeds of

which it is deemed sinful to doubt. Because some learned and pious

men have written to prove that this symbolical compound figure is

a representation of the Holy Trinity; therefore, the sentiment now

passes current. Now this is not proved; and I suppose never can

be proved. The continuator of the Historical Discourses of Saurin

has made some sensible remarks on the subject of this vision; and

these I shall lay here before the intelligent reader. They deserve


THIS intelligent writer observes: "For the right interpretation

of this vision, the following rules should be laid down:-

"The first rule is this:-An explanation, which accounts for all

the parts contained in the vision, is much more probable than

those which explain only one part.

"The second is this:-An explanation which is conformable to the

present circumstances of the prophet, and of the people to whom he

is sent, as well as to the nature of the things which he is called

upon to say to them, is incomparably more probable than those

explanations which go in quest of past or future events, which

have no connexion with the immediate circumstances of the prophet,

nor with the end of his mission. These rules, which appear

incontestable, being laid down, we observe, that their opinion who

think that God here draws out a plan of the government of his

providence, applied to the present state of the Jews, accounts for

all that Ezekiel saw; and that in a manner which refers to the end

of the prophet's mission, and all that he had to say to this

rebellious people. Why wish God to represent to his prophet the

future state of the Christian Church, which was not to be founded

till after a series of time, rather than the state of the Jewish

Church, and the chastisements which hung over the heads of that

hardened people? The people having revolted from God, and

persevering obstinately in that revolt, notwithstanding the

menaces of the prophet, it was proper to show to Ezekiel, in order

that he might declare it to the rebellious, that Providence had

its eyes open to all that had been done, all that had hitherto

happened, and that it had seized upon the rod to smite. The people

imagined, but too much according to the errors of infidelity, that

God saw every thing with indifference and had given the world up

to chance. It was necessary, therefore, to divest them of these

fatal prejudices; and to teach them that the Supreme Being did not

behold with the same eye order and disorder, contempt of his laws

and submission to his will; and that all the revolutions of states

are directed by a superior intelligence, which cannot be imposed

upon. The Jewish people imagined but too much that the prophets

exaggerated when they threatened them with the severest

chastisements. They repeated with emphasis and complacency the

promises of God made to the patriarchs; that their posterity

should not only be more numerous than the stars of heaven, and the

sand which covers the sea-shore; but that it should subsist for

ever and ever. God had declared to Abraham, 'I will establish my

covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their

generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee

and thy seed after thee,' Ge 17:7. It was proper, therefore, to

show this stiff-necked people that the threatenings of God and his

promises were not contradictory. That the people, conformable to

the promises given by God to the patriarchs, should not be

destroyed; but that, notwithstanding, they should be severely

chastised, to correct them for their propensity to idolatry, and

their scandalous irregularities.

"These suppositions, which are reasonable, being granted, we

shall have no difficulty to perceive the sense of this celebrated

vision. We shall not follow the order observed by Ezekiel, in the

description of what he saw; he raises himself from the nearest to

the most distant objects, going back from effects to their general

cause. We will begin with the First Cause which gives motion to

all that happens, traces out the plan, and procures the execution,

according to the rules of his ineffable wisdom, and agreeably to

the nature of those creatures which are the object of his agency.

Next, we will proceed to consider the effects of this universal

Providence, and the intelligent secondary causes which he

frequently employs in the administration of the government of the


"'Ezekiel saw a firmament which was above the heads of the

animals; there was the resemblance of a throne like a sapphire

stone; and over the resemblance of the throne, there was, as it

were, the resemblance of a man.' This vast transparent firmament

represents to us the heaven, the peculiar residence of the Lord of

the earth; and where he hath established the throne of his empire.

This 'appearance of a man' was the emblem of Providence or God;

considered as taking care of all the creatures whom he hath made.

Man is the symbol of intelligence. The mind of man, with respect

to his knowledge and wisdom, is a weak sketch of that mind which

knows all things, and whose wisdom is unbounded. And yet, of all

sublunary beings, there is none that approaches so near to the

Divine nature as man. Under this emblem also it is that God,

considered as seeing all things, and directing all, would be

represented. This resemblance of man was seated upon a throne, to

show that God governs all things as Lord, and that without

agitation and without labour.

"The shining metal, and the fire which surrounded him who sat on

the throne, were the symbol of his glory and his judgments, which

are poured upon the wicked as a fire which nothing can withstand;

agreeably to Isaiah, Isa 33:14.

"The Jews acknowledged that there was a Providence which governs

the whole universe with infinite wisdom. The psalmist gives us a

description of it, equally just and pathetic, in Ps 104:27, &c.

Christians, no less than Jews, admit this important truth; and the

Gospel establishes it no less strongly than the law. See

Mt 6:26; 10:29, 30. To raise the mind of the prophet up to the

first Mover of those events which strike and admonish us in all

the revolutions which happen to individuals, families, and states,

God shows him four wheels above the firmament, over which the

emblem of Providence was placed on a throne. These wheels are a

symbol of those perpetual revolutions, which are observed in the

earth; and which, by turns, lift up and abase individuals and

nations. They are of a prodigious height, to show that man cannot

fathom or know all that is great, wonderful, and astonishing, in

the ways of Providence. See Job 11:7, 8; Ro 11:33, 34;

Isa 55:8, 9. These wheels move themselves every way, and are

full of eyes in the vast circle of their felloes. This shows, that

all which God does he effects without pain; and that the eye of

his wisdom ordereth all events. The wheels did not move of

themselves; but they followed the impulse of the four living

creatures; 'when the living creatures went, they went.' This shows

that, in the government of the world, all the living creatures are

subject to Providence; and that God subordinates the creatures one

to another. He directs what those holy intelligences ought to do,

who serve him as ministers, and are here represented by the four

animals. And these intelligences, enlightened and supported by the

Supreme Wisdom, contribute, as far as is suitable, to all that

happens to mankind. The angels whom Ezekiel saw were in number

four, in reference to the four cardinal points of the world; to

show that their ministry extends every where, and that there is no

part of the universe which the Providence of God does not govern

in an immediate manner, or by the means of his ministers. The

extraordinary shape of these angels, which appeared to the prophet

in vision, is symbolical; for it is not to be supposed that those

heavenly ministers are really thus formed. The 'four faces, wings,

and arms of a man,' denote the sublime qualities of these

immediate ministers of the Deity; qualities entirely essential to

fill up the extent of their duty. The face of a man denotes their

intelligence; of a lion, their intrepid courage; of an ox, their

patience and perseverance in labour; and of an eagle, their great

penetration, their sublime sight into heavenly things, and their

readiness to rise up into all that is great and Divine. The 'wings

being stretched out,' signifies that they are always ready to set

forward, and run with rapidity wherever the commands of their

great Master call them. The 'wings bent down,' are a symbol of

that profound respect in which these heavenly ministers stand

before the Lord of the universe. Under the wings there were men's

arms, to show that zeal produces application and labour. Labour,

without zeal, can never be supported; and zeal, without

application, is only a hypocritical ardour, which amounts to

nothing with that supreme Master who requires sincere homage from

those who serve him. If God chose to make known to Ezekiel that

his providence extends to all things, and that even in this life

it often takes up the rod to chastise nations and individuals, he

would also show beforehand that he wished not the destruction of

the Jewish people, whom he was about to visit in his anger, but

only its correction and amendment. This is signified by the

'precious metal,' which the prophet found unmelted in the midst of

the fiery cloud. This cloud of fire, urged on by a whirlwind, and

involving on all sides the metal, represented the judgments of God

which were about to fall upon this rebellious nation, not to

destroy, but to humble and purify it. Nothing is more proper than

afflictions to bring men back to their duty. As fire purifies

metals, so the paternal chastisements of God have a tendency to

purify the soul and heart, if the man be not entirely

incorrigible. The people upon whom God was about to pour the vials

of his anger, were not worthy of his lenity. But that great God,

who is firm in his promises, remembers the covenant of peace he

had made with the patriarchs. This covenant is made sensible to

the prophet under the image of a rainbow, which was round about

him who appeared upon the throne. Every one knows, that this

splendid phenomenon, which seems to join heaven and earth

together, was given to Noah and his posterity as a symbol of the

covenant which God then made with mankind, and by which he

declared to them that the earth should undergo a deluge no more.

Thus, the Pagans considered the Iris as the messenger of the gods.

See Virgil, AEn. lib. iv. ver. 694. But whereas the rainbow to the

Jews was a symbol of peace, the Iris of the Pagans was a messenger

of trouble. On the sight of this bow, the symbol of grace, Ezekiel

was to be encouraged; and persuaded that his people were not

threatened with an utter destruction. The event fully justified

all that the prophet had contemplated, with surprise, in this

enigmatical picture. The Chaldeans, the rod of the Lord's just

severity, ravaged Judea; the people were carried away captive;

they groaned for seventy years in a foreign land; but they were

protected in a miraculous manner against the bloody designs of the

cruel Haman; and at length, favoured with various decrees of the

kings of Persia, they had permission, not only to return to their

own country but also to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.' See Dr.

Dodd's notes on this place.

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