Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SCATTERED OVER THE
REPETITION OF THE
VISION OF THE
1. The throne of Jehovah appearing in the midst of the judgments
implies that whatever intermediate agencies be employed, He controls
them, and that the whole flows as a necessary consequence from His
(Eze 1:22, 26).
called "living creatures." The repetition of the vision implies that
the judgments are approaching nearer and nearer. These two visions of
Deity were granted in the beginning of Ezekiel's career, to qualify him
for witnessing to God's glory amidst his God-forgetting people and to
stamp truth on his announcements; also to signify the removal of God's
manifestation from the visible temple
for a long period
mentioned as to the cherubim that they were "full of eyes," though
omitted in the former vision, is not a difference, but a more specific
detail observed by Ezekiel now on closer inspection. Also, here, there
is no rainbow (the symbol of mercy after the flood of wrath) as
in the former; for here judgment is the prominent thought,
though the marking of the remnant in
Eze 9:4, 6
shows that there was mercy in the background. The cherubim, perhaps,
represent redeemed humanity combining in and with itself the highest
forms of subordinate creaturely life (compare
Therefore they are associated with the twenty-four elders and are
distinguished from the angels
They stand on the mercy seat of the ark, and on that ground
become the habitation of God from which His glory is to shine upon the
world. The different forms symbolize the different phases of the
Church. So the quadriform Gospel, in which the incarnate Saviour has
lodged the revelation of Himself in a fourfold aspect, and from which
His glory shines on the Christian world, answers to the emblematic
throne from which He shone on the Jewish Church.
2. he--Jehovah; He who sat on the "throne."
the man--the Messenger of mercy becoming the Messenger of judgment
Human agents of destruction shall fulfil the will of "the Man,"
who is Lord of men.
wheels--Hebrew, galgal, implying quick revolution; so
the impetuous onset of the foe (compare
Eze 23:24; 26:10);
whereas "ophan," in
Eze 1:15, 16
implies mere revolution.
coals of fire--the wrath of God about to burn the city, as His
sword had previously slain its guilty inhabitants. This "fire," how
different from the fire on the altar never going out
(Le 6:12, 13),
whereby, in type, peace was made with God! Compare
Isa 33:12, 14.
It is therefore not taken from the altar of reconciliation, but from
between the wheels of the cherubim, representing the providence of God,
whereby, and not by chance, judgment is to fall.
3. right . . . of . . . house--The scene of the locality whence
judgment emanates is the temple, to mark God's vindication of His
holiness injured there. The cherubim here are not those in the holy of
holies, for the latter had not "wheels." They stood on "the right of the
house," that is, the south, for the Chaldean power, guided by them, had
already advanced from the north (the direction of Babylon), and had
destroyed the men in the temple, and was now proceeding to destroy
the city, which lay south and west.
the cherubim . . . the man--There was perfect concert of action between
the cherubic representative of the angels and "the Man," to minister to
whom they "stood" there
cloud--emblem of God's displeasure; as the "glory" or "brightness"
typifies His majesty and clearness in judgment.
4. The court outside was full of the Lord's brightness, while it
was only the cloud that filled the house inside, the scene of
idolatries, and therefore of God's displeasure. God's throne was
on the threshold. The temple, once filled with brightness, is now
darkened with cloud.
5. sound of . . . wings--prognostic of great and awful changes.
voice of . . . God--the thunder
6. went in--not into the temple, but between the cherubim. Ezekiel
sets aside the Jews' boast of the presence of God with them. The
cherubim, once the ministers of grace, are now the ministers of
vengeance. When "commanded," He without delay obeys
7. See on
one cherub--one of the four cherubim.
went out--to burn the city.
8. The "wings" denote alacrity, the "hands" efficacy and aptness, in
executing the functions assigned to them.
9. wheels--(See on
Eze 1:15, 16).
The things which, from
to the end of the chapter,
are repeated from the
are expressed more decidedly, now that he gets a nearer view: the words
"as it were," and "as if," so often occurring in the first chapter, are
therefore mostly omitted. The "wheels" express the manifold changes and
revolutions in the world; also that in the chariot of His providence
God transports the Church from one place to another and everywhere can
preserve it; a truth calculated to alarm the people in Jerusalem and to
console the exiles [POLANUS].
10. four had one likeness--In the wonderful variety of God's works
there is the greatest harmony:--
|"In human works, though labored on with pain,
One thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God's one single doth its end produce,
Yet serves to second, too, some other use.
wheel . . . in . . . a wheel--cutting one another at fight angles,
so that the whole might move in any of the four directions or quarters
of the world. God's doings, however involved they seem to us, cohere, so
that lower causes subserve the higher.
11. (See on
turned not--without accomplishing their course
[GROTIUS]. Rather, "they moved straight on
without turning" (so
Having a face towards each of the four quarters, they needed not to
turn around when changing their direction.
whither . . . head looked--that is, "whither the head" of the animal
cherub-form, belonging to and directing each wheel, "looked," thither
the wheel "followed." The wheels were not guided by some external
adventitious impetus, but by some secret divine impulse of the cherubim
12. body--literally, "flesh," because a body consists of flesh.
wheels . . . full of eyes--The description
attributes eyes to the "wheels" alone; here there is added, on
closer observation, that the cherubim themselves had them. The
"eyes" imply that God, by His wisdom, beautifully reconciles seeming
13. O wheel--rather, "they were called, whirling," that is, they were
most rapid in their revolutions
[MAURER]; or, better, "It was cried
unto them, The whirling" [FAIRBAIRN].
Galgal here used for "wheel," is
different from ophan, the simple word for "wheel." Galgal is the
whole wheelwork machinery with its whirlwind-like rotation. Their
being so addressed is in order to call them immediately to put
themselves in rapid motion.
14. cherub--but in
it is an ox. The chief of the four cherubic forms was not the
ox, but man. Therefore "cherub" cannot be synonymous with
"ox." Probably Ezekiel, standing in front of one of the cherubim
(namely, that which handed the coals to the man in linen), saw of him,
not merely the ox-form, but the whole fourfold form, and
therefore calls him simply "cherub"; whereas of the other three, having
only a side view, he specifies the form of each which met his eye
[FAIRBAIRN]. As to the likelihood of the lower
animals sharing in "the restoration of all things," see
Isa 11:6; 65:25;
Ro 8:20, 21;
this accords with the animal forms combined with the human to typify
15. The repeated declaration of the identity of the vision with that
at the Chebar is to arouse attention to it
(Eze 10:22; 3:23).
the living creature--used collectively, as
Eze 10:17, 20; 1:20.
16. (See on
lifted up . . . wings--to depart, following "the glory
of the Lord" which was on the point of departing
(Eze 1:12, 20, 21).
stood--God never stands still
therefore neither do the angels; but to human perceptions He seems to
18. The departure of the symbol of God's presence from the temple
preparatory to the destruction of the city. Foretold in
Woe be to those from whom God departs
1Sa 28:15, 16; 4:21:
"I-chabod, Thy glory is departed." Successive steps are marked in His
departure; so slowly and reluctantly does the merciful God leave His
house. First He leaves the sanctuary
He elevates His throne above the threshold of the house
leaving the cherubim He sits on the throne
He and the cherubim, after standing for a time at the door of
the east gate (where was the exit to the lower court of the
people), leave the house altogether
(Eze 10:18, 19),
not to return till
20. I knew . . . cherubim--By the second sight of the cherubim, he
learned to identify them with the angelic forms situated above the ark
of the covenant in the temple, which as a priest, he "knew" about from
the high priest.
21. The repetition is in order that the people about to live without
the temple might have, instead, the knowledge of the temple mysteries,
thus preparing them for a future restoration of the covenant. So
perverse were they that they would say, "Ezekiel fancies he saw what has
no existence." He, therefore, repeats it over and over again.
22. straight forward--intent upon the object they aimed at, not
deviating from the way nor losing sight of the end