Ezekiel 1:28
As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud.—Comp. Revelation 4:3; Revelation 10:1. The addition, “in the day of rain,” is not merely a reference to the ordinary natural phenomenon, but distinctly connects this vision with the gracious promise in Genesis, and shows that God, who has in this vision presented His attributes of terrible majesty, will add to them also those of mercy and loving-kindness. It was in both alike that He was to be made known to His people through the prophet who is now receiving his commission. This was the merciful “appearance of the brightness round about.”

I fell upon my face.—The immediate manifestation of the Divine has always proved overpowering to man. (Comp. Ezekiel 3:23; lea. 6:5; Daniel 8:17; Acts 9:4; Revelation 1:17. Comp. also Luke 5:8; Luke 8:37.)

In considering the general significance of this vision, it is to be remembered that it was seen four times by Ezekiel in various connections in his life-work. First, at this time, when he is called to the exercise of the prophetic office; a second time when, shortly afterwards, he is sent to denounce judgments upon the sinful people, and to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezekiel 3:23, &c.); again, a year and a half later (Ezekiel 8:4; Ezekiel 10:15), he sees the same vision, while he is made to understand the evils and abominations wrought in the Temple (which is still standing), until the “glory of the Lord” forsakes His house and departs from the city (Ezekiel 11:23), in token that God had given them over to punishment; finally, in the prophecy of future restoration and blessing, he again sees the presence of the Lord, by means of the same vision, re-enter and fill the house (Ezekiel 43:3-5). Its meaning, therefore, clearly relates to the whole prophecies of Ezekiel, whether of judgment or mercy; and, without attempting an explanation of the symbolism in detail, we cannot be wrong in assuming that it represents the resistless Divine activity, controlling alike the agencies of judgment and of mercy, directed to every corner of the earth, and requiring of all profoundest homage and veneration. The perfect unity of purpose in all God’s doings is made especially prominent, and the consistency of His wrath with His love, of His judgments with His mercy; while over all seems to be written, as on the plate of the mitre which He had of old commanded the high priest to wear in His temple, “Holiness unto the Lord.”

Ezekiel 1:28. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud — The Hebrew future, יהיה, is here frequentative, and should be rendered, Is wont to be in the cloud, in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness — The meaning is, In the brightness, or light, that was about what I saw, was the appearance of the rainbow. The rainbow, as we learn from Genesis 9:12, &c., was appointed as a sign or symbol of God’s covenant of mercy with men: therefore an appearance of a rainbow in this vision signified that amidst his severe judgments God would remember mercy, and not forget his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; one part of which was, that their posterity should not become extinct, but should always remain; so that this appearance gave an assurance that the Jewish nation should not be wholly destroyed, though it should suffer very grievous judgments. And inasmuch as this vision was an evident representation of the WORD that was to be made flesh, whose incarnation was to be the foundation of God’s covenant of mercy with mankind, a rainbow, the symbol and token of mercy, was a very fit attendant on such a glorious vision. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord — This is a description of that glorious vision wherein Jehovah appeared to me, and whereby he made manifest his attributes and perfections. The prophet terms it, not the appearance of the glory, but of the likeness of the glory. &c., because the full discovery of the glory of God to any human creature is not consistent with the state of mortality. Exodus 33:20-23, but as reserved for the life to come, 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2. And when I saw it I fell upon my face — Through a reverential sense of God’s majesty, and his own frailty and meanness; or struck down with fear and astonishment before such glory. And I heard a voice of one that spake — They that are first humbled are most prepared to hear the voice of God, whether of instruction or consolation, Matthew 5:4; Matthew 11:28. 1:26-28 The eternal Son, the second Person in the Trinity, who afterwards took the human nature, is here denoted. The first thing observed was a throne. It is a throne of glory, a throne of grace, a throne of triumph, a throne of government, a throne of judgment. It is good news to men, that the throne above the firmament is filled with One who appears, even there, in the likeness of a man. The throne is surrounded with a rainbow, the well-known emblem of the covenant, representing God's mercy and covenanted love to his people. The fire of God's wrath was breaking out against Jerusalem, but bounds should be set to it; he would look upon the bow, and remember the covenant. All the prophet saw was only to prepare him for what he was to hear. When he fell on his face, he heard the voice of One that spake. God delights to teach the humble. Let sinners, then, humble themselves before him. And let believers think upon his glory, that they may be gradually changed into his image by the Spirit of the Lord.The rainbow is not simply a token of glory and splendor. The "cloud" and the "day of rain" point to its original message of forgiveness and mercy, and this is especially suited to Ezekiel's commission, which was first to denounce judgment, and then promise restoration. 28. the bow … in … rain—the symbol of the sure covenant of mercy to God's children remembered amidst judgments on the wicked; as in the flood in Noah's days (Re 4:3). "Like hanging out from the throne of the Eternal a fing of peace, assuring all that the purpose of Heaven was to preserve rather than to destroy. Even if the divine work should require a deluge of wrath, still the faithfulness of God would only shine forth the more brightly at last to the children of promise, in consequence of the tribulations needed to prepare for the ultimate good" [Fairbairn]. (Isa 54:8-10).

I fell upon … face—the right attitude, spiritually, before we enter on any active work for God (Eze 2:2; 3:23, 24; Re 1:17). In this first chapter God gathered into one vision the substance of all that was to occupy the prophetic agency of Ezekiel; as was done afterwards in the opening vision of the Revelation of Saint John.

Here more particularly is described the brightness before mentioned. A rainbow, the fire being resplendent and clear, cast its rays on the thick cloud below. And this is mentioned, no doubt, to assure the prophet, and those among the Jews that did tremble and wait for God, that God would not forget his covenant, though he came to execute severest judgments, Genesis 9:13. A like appearance of Christ in a surrounding brightness, as of the rainbow, you have Revelation 4:3. Mercy and truth, and both according to covenant and promise, are about the throne of Christ; this a brightness of mercy and grace that enlightens, that comforts.

This, the conclusion of the vision,

was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord; it was not the full glory of God, it was not the splendour of unveiled majesty, it was the likeness of his glory, such as the prophet might bear and tell to us: the fulness of his glory is inaccessible light, the prophet could not see it; and unspeakable majesty, and the prophet could not tell it to us.

When I saw it, I fell upon my face:

1. Astonished at such a sight, as Genesis 17:3 Daniel 7:15,28.

2. With deep humility and reverence he east himself down,

3. It is a posture of prayer, and possibly the prophet might sue to know the meaning of all this. And I heard a voice of one that spake; such was the voice and such the things spoken, that the prophet seems to confess he could not say whose voice it was; but it was Divine, powerful, astonishing, as being such as is described Ezekiel 1:25, such the voice he hears. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain,.... The rainbow, which is no other than the reflection of the rays of the sun in a thin watery cloud on a rainy day:

so was the appearance of the brightness round about it; so Christ is represented as clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow about his head, Revelation 10:1; which is a token of the covenant of grace, in which Christ is concerned; it is round about him; he is the head mediator, surety, and messenger of it; all the blessings and promises of it are in him; and he is that itself, which is only a reverberation him, the sun of righteousness; and it is also about the throne on which he sits, which is upheld by mercy and truth; and it is ever in his view and he is always mindful of it: this part of the vision agrees with Revelation 4:3;

this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God: of the divine Shechinah; the Word of God that was made flesh and dwelt among us; whose glory is as the only begotten of the Father; and who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person:

and when I saw it, I fell upon my face; through fear and reverence of the glorious Person that appeared to him; see Revelation 1:17;

and I heard a voice of one that spake: what is delivered in the following chapter; which contains Ezekiel's commission from Christ, who is the person that spake unto him.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell {o} upon my face, and I heard a voice of one speaking.

(o) Considering the majesty of God, and the weakness of flesh.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. The prophet speaks with great reverence. What he saw was the “appearance” of a throne and of one sitting on it and of a rainbow; he does not venture to say that he saw these things themselves. The rainbow is an element borrowed from the theophany in the storm cloud. It expresses the glory surrounding the throne of God. The traditional idea that the rainbow is the token of covenant grace has little to support it. The rainbow in the cloud was a memorial of God’s covenant with nature that he would not again destroy the world with a flood, it had no relation to any covenant of redemption.

the glory of the Lord] probably refers to the particular glory of the appearance sitting on the throne and the rainbow colours around him, not to the whole manifestation embracing the cherubim and wheels. The “glory of the Lord” is described as leaving the cherubim and standing elsewhere, e.g. ch. Ezekiel 9:3, Ezekiel 10:4. At the sight of this glory the prophet fell upon his face.

That which ch. 1 presents is a theophany, a manifestation of God to the prophet. It is not a vision of the cherubim nor of anything else, but of God. The cherubim, wheels, firmament and throne are all subordinate, they have no meaning in themselves, they merely help to suggest what God is who thus manifests himself.

The vision is a composite one, made up of a number of elements drawn from several sources. There is first the idea that God moves and descends to the earth upon the cherubim (Psalm 18:10; Psalm 104:3); he is borne upon them. It is possible that the storm-cloud on which Jehovah rode and in which his presence was enshrouded became personified into a being, which bore him on its wings. Cf. Isaiah 19:1. But if this was the origin of the idea of the cherub, the conception of the cherubim as “living creatures” had become established long before the time of this prophet, as appears from Genesis 3:24. The cherubim being thus the means of Jehovah’s manifesting himself, that on which he was borne and moved, wherever they were seen Jehovah was known to be present. They were the means and the tokens of his manifestation. Hence two great cherubims were placed by Solomon in the Debîr, or innermost shrine of the temple. On these Jehovah was enthroned: he dwelt or sat upon the cherubim (Psalm 99:1; Psalm 80:1).

Again in Isaiah’s vision of “the King, the Lord of hosts” (ch. 6) there is naturally a palace and a throne. The palace, though the heavenly one, is the counterpart of the earthly one or temple, and has a hearth or altar fire. Both the fire and the throne reappear in Ezekiel’s vision in an amplified form. The fire is no more a mere hearth from which a hot coal might be taken, it shoots forth flames and thunderbolts. This is a combination of the phenomena of the theophany in the thunderstorm with the representation of Isaiah. Similarly Isaiah’s idea of Jehovah’s throne being in the heavenly temple has been amplified by Ezekiel with various details. There was seen by him the appearance of a firmament like crystal, and above the firmament the appearance of a throne like a sapphire stone. Jehovah in his manifestation carries heaven, the place of his abode with him. Further his throne is surrounded by the glories of the rainbow, another element borrowed from the theophany in nature. In this way there is in the vision a combination of the theophany in nature with Jehovah’s self-manifestation to men among his people in redemption.

And finally according to his manner the prophet has descended to elaborate details in describing the various elements of the manifestation, the cherubim, the wheels and the like. In all the prophet’s symbols throughout his Book the idea is first and the symbol but the expression of it. In the present case, however, the whole phenomenon is a vision of God, and the ideas which the symbols express are ideas in regard to God. This is evident so far as the wheels, the firmament, the throne and the like are concerned. But the same is true of the cherubim. These are hardly yet independent beings, with a significance belonging to themselves. They are still half in the region of symbol, and what meaning they have has to be transferred to God, whose movements they mediate, just as much as that of the wheels or the flashing fire. At a later time the “wheels” were represented as beings and in the Book of Enoch are a class of angels.

It may be assumed that in the prophet’s mind each detail of the symbolism expressed some idea, though it may not be possible now to interpret the details with certainty. The firmament and throne represent Jehovah as God of heaven, God alone over all, the omnipotent. The fourfold character of the living creatures, their wings, and the wheels which moved in all directions, and presented the same face to every quarter, suggest the power of Jehovah to be everywhere present. The wheels, called whirl or whirling thing (ch. Ezekiel 10:13), may have been suggested by the sweeping whirlwind and tempest in which Jehovah moves. The conception of velocity which they express does not differ greatly from that of ubiquity expressed by their number. The eyes of which they and the living creature were full are symbols of life and intelligence. That the faces of each creature are four is but part of the larger general conception that the creatures are four in number. The four faces, that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle or vulture are the highest types of animal life. It is possible that to the prophet’s mind these types represented four different attributes. Probably the cherubim in the temple had the human face, though this is not expressly stated. The prophet represents those carved on the walls of the new temple as having two faces, those of a man and a young lion (ch. Ezekiel 41:18). Jehovah is frequently compared to a lion. He is also called by a name which may be an epithet of the ox. The symbol of the ox was a familiar one, 1 Kings 7:25; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:36; 1 Kings 10:19. Ezekiel may have been familiar with the mixed animal forms seen in the Assyrian temples, though it is scarcely necessary to suppose him influenced by these. The multiplication of details in his symbols is so characteristic of him that he may be credited with the creation of the four faces himself, just as of the four hands and four wings of the cherub. Cf. Isaiah 6:2. The derivation and meaning of the word cherub is uncertain. It has been supposed that the word has been found in Assyrian, but this also is not quite certain. See Schrader KAT on Genesis 3:24. Cf. the art. in Encyc. Brit. (Cheyne); Riehm in his Bible Dictionary, and Stud. u. Krit., 1871, also his paper, “De Natura &c. Cheruborum,” 1864. And, Die Lehre des A. Test. über die Cherubim, von J. Nikel, Bres. 1890.Verse 28. - As the appearance of the bow. The glorious epiphany was completed, as in Revelation 4:3 and Revelation 10:1, by the appearance of the rainbow. The symbol of God's faithfulness, and of the hope that rested on it (Genesis 9:13). was seen in the glory of the Divine perfection, even in the midst of the fire of the Divine wrath. Mercy and love are thought of as over arching all the phenomena of the world and its history, attempering the chastisements which are needed for those with whom that love is dealing. The whole complex appearances of Ezekiel's descriptions, including the arch of prismatic colours, finds its nearest natural analogue, as has been before suggested (note on ver. 4), in the phenomena of the Northern Lights. I fell upon my face. As in Ezekiel 3:23; Daniel 8:17; Revelation 1:17, the prostrate attitude of lowliest adoration, the dread and awe of one who has seen the King, the Lord of hosts, and vet survives, was a preparation for the more direct revelation to his consciousness of the Word and will of Jehovah (comp. Dante 'Inferno,' 3:136; 5:142).



The throne of Jehovah. - Ezekiel 1:22. And over the heads of the creature there appeared an expanse like the appearance of the terrible crystal, stretched out over their heads above. Ezekiel 1:23. And under the expanse were their wings, extended straight one towards another: each had two wings, covering to these, and each two (wings), covering to those, their bodies. Ezekiel 1:24. And I heard the sound of their wings, as the sound of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, as they went: a loud rushing like the clamour of a camp: when they stood, they let down their wings. Ezekiel 1:25. And there came a voice from above the expanse which was above their heads; when they stood, they let their wings sink down. Ezekiel 1:26. Over the expanse above their heads was to be seen, like a sapphire stone, the figure of a throne: and over the figure of the throne was a figure resembling a man above it. Ezekiel 1:27. And I saw like the appearance of glowing brass, like the appearance of fire within the same round about; from the appearance of his loins upwards, and from the appearance of his loins downwards, I saw as of the appearance of fire, and a shining light was round about it. Ezekiel 1:28. Like the appearance of the bow, which is in the clouds in the day of rain, was the appearance of the shining light round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah. And I saw it, and fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one that spake. - Above, over the heads of the figures of the cherubim, Ezekiel sees something like the firmament of heaven (Ezekiel 1:22.), and hears from above this canopy a voice, which re-echoes in the rushing of the wings of the cherubim, and determines the movement as well as the standing still of these creatures. The first sentence of Ezekiel 1:22 literally signifies: "And a likeness was over the heads of the creature - a canopy, as it were, stretched out." רקיע is not the genitive after דּמוּת, but an explanatory apposition to it, and before רקיע; neither has כּ fallen out (as Hitzig supposes), nor is it to be supplied. For דּמוּת denotes not any definite likeness, with which another could be compared, but, properly, similitudo, and is employed by Ezekiel in the sense of "something like." רקיע, without the article, does not mean the firmament of heaven, but any expanse, the appearance of which is first described as resembling the firmament by the words כּעין הקּרח. It is not the firmament of heaven which Ezekiel sees above the heads of the cherubim, but an expanse resembling it, which has the shining appearance of a fear-inspiring crystal. נורא, used of crystal, in so far as the appearance of this glittering mass dazzles the eyes, and assures terror, as in Judges 13:6, of the look of the angel; and in Job 37:22, of the divine majesty. The description is based upon Exodus 24:10, and the similitude of the crystal has passed over to the Apocalypse, Revelation 4:6. Under the canopy were the wings of the cherubim, ישׁרות, standing straight, i.e., spread out in a horizontal direction, so that they appeared to support the canopy. אשּׁה אל־אחותה is not, with Jerome and others, to be referred to the cherubim (החיּה), but to כּנפיהם, as in Ezekiel 1:9. The לאישׁ which follows does refer, on the contrary, to the cherub, and literally signifies, "To each were two wings, covering, namely, to these and those, their bodies." להנּה corresponds to לאישׁ, in a manner analogous to לאחת להם in Ezekiel 1:6. By the repetition of the להנּה, "to these and those," the four cherubim are divided into two pairs, standing opposite to one another. That this statement contradicts, as Hitzig asserts, the first half of the verse, is by no means evident. If the two creatures on each side covered their bodies with the two wings, then two other wings could very easily be so extended under the canopy that the tops of the one should touch those of the other. As the creatures moved, Ezekiel hears the sound, i.e., the rustling of their wings, like the roaring of mighty billows. This is strengthened by the second comparison, "like the voice of the Almighty," i.e., resembling thunder, cf. Ezekiel 10:5. The קול המלּה that follows still depends on אשׁמע. המלּה, which occurs only here and in Jeremiah 11:6, is probably synonymous with המון "roaring," "noise," "tumult." This rushing sound, however, was heard only when the creatures were in motion; for when they stood, they allowed their wings to fall down. This, of course, applies only to the upper wings, as the under ones, which covered the body, hung downwards, or were let down. From this it clearly appears that the upper wings neither supported nor bore up the canopy over their heads, but only were so extended, when the cherubim were in motion, that they touched the canopy. In Ezekiel 1:25 is also mentioned whence the loud sound came, which was heard, during the moving of the wings, from above the canopy, consequently from him who was placed above it, so that the creatures, always after this voice resounded, went on or stood still, i.e., put themselves in motion, or remained without moving, according to its command.

With the repetition of the last clause of Ezekiel 1:24 this subject is concluded in Ezekiel 1:25. Over or above upon the firmament was to be seen, like a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne, on which sat one in the form of a man - i.e., Jehovah appeared in human form, as in Daniel 7:9. Upon this was poured out a fiery, shining light, like glowing brass (עין חשׁמל, as in Ezekiel 1:4) and like fire, בּית־להּ סביב, "within it round about" (מבּית equals בּית, "within," and להּ, pointing back to דּמוּת כּסּא). This appears to be the simplest explanation of these obscure words. They are rendered differently by Hitzig, who translates them: "like fire which has a covering round about it, i.e., like fire which is enclosed, whose shining contrasts so much the more brightly on account of the dark surrounding." But, to say nothing of the change which would then be necessary of בּית into בּית, this meaning seems very far-fetched, and cannot be accepted for this reason alone, that מראה אשׁ, neither in the following hemistich (Ezekiel 1:27) nor in Ezekiel 8:2, has any such or similar strengthening addition. The appearance above shows, as the centre of the cloud (Ezekiel 1:4), a fiery gleam of light, only there is to be perceived upon the throne a figure resembling a man, fiery-looking from the loins upwards and downwards, and round about the figure, or rather round the throne, a shining light (נגהּ, cf. Ezekiel 1:4), like the rainbow in the clouds, cf. Revelation 4:3. This הוּא, Ezekiel 1:28, does not refer to הנּגהּ, but to the whole appearance of him who was enthroned - the covering of light included, but throne and cherubim (Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 10:19) excluded (Hitzig)] was the appearance of the likeness of Jehovah's glory. With these words closes the description of the vision. The following clause, "And I saw, etc.," forms the transition to the word of Jehovah, which follows on the second chapter, and which summoned Ezekiel to become a prophet to Israel. Before we pass, however, to an explanation of this word, we must endeavour to form to ourselves a clear conception of the significance of this theophany.

For its full understanding we have first of all to keep in view that it was imparted to Ezekiel not merely on his being called to the office of prophet, but was again repeated three times - namely, in Ezekiel 3:22., where he was commissioned to predict symbolically the impending siege of Jerusalem; Ezekiel 8:4., when he is transported in spirit to the temple-court at Jerusalem for the purpose of beholding the abominations of the idol-worship practised by the people, and to announce the judgment which, in consequence of these abominations, was to burst upon the city and the temple, in which it is shown to him how the glory of the Lord abandons, first the temple and thereafter the city also; and in Ezekiel 43:1., in which is shown to him the filling of the new temple with the glory of the Lord, to swell for ever among the children of Israel. In all three passages it is expressly testified that the divine appearance was like the first which he witnessed on the occasion of his call. From this Kliefoth has drawn the right conclusion, that the theophany in Ezekiel 1:4. bears a relation not to the call only, but to the whole prophetic work of Ezekiel: "We may not say that God so appears to Ezekiel at a later time, because He so appeared to him at his call; but we must say, conversely, that because God wills and must so appear to Ezekiel at a later time while engaged in his prophetic vocation, therefore He also appears to him in this form already at his call." The intention, however, with which God so appears to him is distinctly contained in the two last passages, Ezekiel 8-11 and Ezekiel 43:"God withdraws in a visible manner from the temple and Jerusalem, which are devoted to destruction on account of the sin of the people: in a visible manner God enters into the new temple of the future; and because the whole of what Ezekiel was inspired to foretell was comprehended in these two things - the destruction of the existing temple and city, and the raising up of a new and a better; - because the whole of his prophetic vocation had its fulfilment in these, therefore God appears to Ezekiel on his call to be a prophet in the same form as that in which He departs from the ancient temple and Jerusalem, in order to their destruction, and in which He enters into the new edifice in order to make it a temple. The form of the theophany, therefore, is what it is in Ezekiel 1:4., because its purpose was to show and announce to the prophet, on the one side the destruction of the temple, and on the other its restoration and glorification." These remarks are quite correct, only the significance of the theophany itself is not thereby made clear. If it is clear from the purpose indicated why God here has the cherubim with Him, while on the occasion of other appearances (e.g., Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 6:1) He is without cherubim; as the cherubim here have no other significance than what their figures have in the tabernacle, viz., that God has there His dwelling-place, the seat of His gracious presence; yet this does not satisfactorily explain either the special marks by which the cherubim of Ezekiel are distinguished from those in the tabernacle and in Solomon's temple, or the other attributes of the theophany. Kliefoth, moreover, does not misapprehend those diversities in the figures of the cherubim, and finds indicated therein the intention of causing it distinctly to appear that it is the one and same Jehovah, enthroned amid the cherubim, who destroys the temple, and who again uprears it. Because Ezekiel was called to predict both events, he therefore thinks there must be excluded, on the one hand, such attributes in the form of the manifestation as would be out of harmony with the different aims of the theophany; while, on the other, those which are important for the different aims must be combined and comprehended in one form, that this one form may be appropriate to all the manifestations of the theophany. It could not therefore have in it the ark of the covenant and the mercy-seat; because, although these would probably have been appropriate to the manifestation for the destruction of the old temple (Ezekiel 8:1.), they would not have been in keeping with that for entering into the new temple. Instead of this, it must show the living God Himself upon the throne among "the living creatures;" because it belongs to the new and glorious existence of the temple of the future, that it should have Jehovah Himself dwelling within it in a visible form.

From this, too, may be explained the great fulness of the attributes, which are divisible into three classes: 1. Those which relate to the manifestation of God for the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. Those which relate to the manifestation of God for entering into the new temple; and, 3. Those which serve both objects in common. To the last class belongs everything which is essential to the manifestation of God in itself, e.g., the visibility of God in general, the presence of the cherubim in itself, and so on: to the first class all the signs that indicate wrath and judgment, consequently, first, the coming from the north, especially the fire, the lightnings, in which God appears as He who is coming to judgment; but to the second, besides the rainbow and the appearance of God in human form, especially the wheels and the fourfold manifestation in the cherubim and wheels. For the new temple does not represent the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel, but the economy of salvation founded by Christ at His appearing, to which they belong as essential tokens; to be founded, on the one hand, by God's own coming and dwelling upon the earth; on the other, to be of an oecumenic character, in opposition to the particularities and local nature of the previous ancient dispensation of salvation. God appears bodily, in human form; lowers down to earth the canopy on which His throne is seated; the cherubim, which indicate God's gracious presence with His people, appear not merely in symbol, but in living reality, plant their feet upon the ground, while each cherub has at his side a wheel, which moves, not in the air, but only upon the earth. By this it is shown that God Himself is to descend to the earth, to walk and to dwell visibly among His people; while the oecumenic character of the new economy of salvation, for the establishment of which God is to visit the earth, is represented in the fourfold form of the cherubim and wheels. The number four - the sign of the oecumenicity which is to come, and the symbol of its being spread abroad into all the world - is assigned to the cherubim and wheels, to portray the spreading abroad of the new kingdom of God over the whole earth. But how much soever that is true and striking this attempt at explanation may contain in details, it does not touch the heart of the subject, and is not free from bold combinations. The correctness of the assumption, that in the theophany attributes of an opposite kind are united, namely, such as should refer only to the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, and such as relate only to the foundation and nature of the new economy of salvation, is beset with well-founded doubts. Why, on such a hypothesis, should the form of the theophany remain the same throughout in all three or four cases? This question, which lies on the surface, is not satisfactorily answered by the remark that Ezekiel had to predict not only the destruction of the old, but also the foundation of a new and much more glorious kingdom of God. For not only would this end, but also the object of showing that it is the same God who is to accomplish both, have been fully attained if the theophany had remained the same only in those attributes which emblemize in a general way God's gracious presence in His temple; while the special attributes, which typify only the one and the other purpose of the divine appearance, would only they have been added, or brought prominently out, where this or that element of the theophany had to be announced. Moreover, the necessity in general of a theophany for the purpose alleged is not evident, much less the necessity of a theophany so peculiar in form. Other prophets also, e.g., Micah, without having seen a theophany, have predicted in the clearest and distinctest manner both the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the raising up of a new and more glorious kingdom of God. The reason, then, why Ezekiel witnessed such a theophany, not only at his call, but had it repeated to him at every new turn in his prophetic ministry, must be deeper than that assigned; and the theophany must have another meaning than that of merely consecrating the prophet for the purpose of announcing both the judgment upon Jerusalem and the temple, and the raising up of a new and more glorious economy of salvation, and strengthening the word of the prophet by a symbolical representation of its contents.

To recognise this meaning, we must endeavour to form a distinct conception, not merely of the principal elements of our theophany, but to take into consideration at the same time their relation to other theophanies. In our theophany three elements are unmistakeably prominent - 1st, The peculiarly formed cherubim; 2nd, The wheels are seen beside the cherubim; and, 3rd, The firmament above, both with the throne and the form of God in human shape seated upon the throne. The order of these three elements in the description is perhaps hardly of any importance, but is simply explicable from this, that to the seer who is on earth it is the under part of the figure which, appearing visibly in the clouds, first presents itself, and that his look next turns to the upper part of the theophany. Especially significant above all, however, is the appearance of the cherubim under or at the throne of God; and by this it is indisputably pointed out that He who appears upon the throne is the same God that is enthroned in the temple between the cherubim of the mercy-seat upon their outspread wings. Whatever opinion may be formed regarding the nature and significance of the cherubim, this much is undoubtedly established, that they belong essentially to the symbolical representation of Jehovah's gracious presence in Israel, and that this portion of our vision has its real foundation in the plastic representation of this gracious relation in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle or temple. As, however, opinions are divided on the subject of the meaning of these symbols, and the cherubim of Ezekiel, moreover, present no inconsiderable differences in their four faces and four wings from the figures of the cherubim upon the mercy-seat and in the temple, which had only one face and two wings, we must, for the full understanding of our vision, look a little more closely to the nature and significance of the cherubim.

While, according to the older view, the cherubim are angelic beings of a higher order, the opinion at the present day is widely prevalent, that they are only symbolical figures, to which nothing real corresponds - merely ideal representations of creature life in its highest fulness.

(Note: Compare the investigation of the cherubim in my Handbuch der Biblischen Archaeologie, I. pp. 86ff. and 113ff.; also Kliefoth's Abhandlung ber die Zahlensymbolik der heiligen Schrift in der Theolog. Zeitschrift von Dieckhoff und Kliefoth, III. p. 381ff., where especially the older view - that the cherubim are angelic beings of a higher rank - is defended in a thorough manner, and the daring hypothesis of Hofmann signally refuted; lastly, Ed. C. Aug. Riehm, De natur et notione symbolic Cheruborum, Commentat. Basil. 1864, who, proceeding from the view - adopted by Bhr, Hengstenberg, and others - that the cherubim were only symbolical figures, has sought to determine more minutely the meaning of these symbols.)

This modern view, however, finds in the circumstance that the cherubim in the Israelitish sanctuary, as well as in Ezekiel and in the Apocalypse, are symbolical figures of varying shape, only an apparent but no real support. The cherubim occur for the firs time in the history of Paradise, where, in Genesis 3:22-24, it is related that God, after expelling the first human pair from Paradise, placed at the east side of the garden the cherubim and the flame of a sword, which turned hither and thither, to guard the way to the tree of life. If this narrative contains historical truth, and is not merely a myth or philosopheme; if Paradise and the Fall, with their consequences, extending over all humanity, are to remain real things and occurrences - then must the cherubim also be taken as real beings. "For God will not have placed symbols - pure creations of Hebrew fancy - at the gate of Paradise," Kliefoth. Upon the basis of this narrative, Ezekiel also held the cherubim to be spiritual beings of a higher rank. This appears from Ezekiel 28:14-16, where he compares the prince of Tyre, in reference to the high and glorious position which God had assigned him, to a cherub, and to Elohim. It does not at all conflict with the recognition of the cherubim as real beings, and, indeed, as spiritual or angelic beings, that they are employed in visions to represent super-sensible relations, or are represented in a plastic form in the sanctuary of Israel. "When angels," as Kliefoth correctly remarks in reference to this, "sing the song of praise in the holy night, this is an historical occurrence, and these angels are real angels, who testify by their appearance that there are such beings as angels; but when, in the Apocalypse, angels pour forth sounds of wrath, these angels are figures in vision, as elsewhere, also, men and objects are seen in vision." But even this employment of the angels as "figures" in vision, rests upon the belief that there are actually beings of this kind. Biblical symbolism furnishes not a single undoubted instance of abstract ideas, or ideal creations of the imagination, being represented by the prophets as living beings. Under the plastic representation of the cherubim upon the mercy-seat, and in the most holy and holy place of the tabernacle and the temple, lies the idea, that these are heavenly, spiritual beings; for in the tabernacle and temple (which was built after its pattern) essential relations of the kingdom of God are embodied, and all the symbols derived from things having a real existence. When, however, on the other hand, Hengstenberg objects, on Revelation 4:6, "that what Vitringa remarks is sufficient to refute those who, under the cherubim, would understand angels of rank - viz. that these four creatures are throughout the whole of this vision connected with the assembly of the elders, and are distinguished not only from the angels, but from all the angels, as is done in Ezekiel 7:11," - we must regard this refutation as altogether futile. From the division of the heavenly assembly before the throne into two choirs or classes (Revelation 5:1-14 and 7) - in which the ζῶα (cherubim) and the elders form the one (Revelation 5:8), the ἄγγελοι the other choir (Revelation 5:11) - an argument can be as little derived against the angelic nature of the cherubim, as it could be shown, from the distinction between the στρατιὰ οὐράνιος and ἀγγελος, in Luke 2:13, that the "multitude of the heavenly host" were no angels at all. And the passage in Revelation 7:11 would only then furnish the supposed proof against the relationship of the cherubim to the angels, if πάντες ἄγγελοι (in general - all angels, how numerous soever they may be - were spoken of. But the very tenor of the words, πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι "all the angels," points back to the choir of angels already mentioned in Ezekiel 5:11, which was formed by πολλοὶ ἄγγελοι, whose number was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.

(Note: See on this distinction Winer's Grammar of New Testament Greek (Moulton's translation), p. 137, where, among other remarks, it is observed that "πᾶσαι γενεαί are all generations, whatever their number; πᾶσαι αί γενεαί (Matthew 1:17), all the generations - those which, either from the context or in some other way, are familiar as a definite number.")

From the distinction between the ζῶα and the ἄγγελοι in the Apocalypse, no further inference can be deduced than that the cherubim are not common angels, "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister" (Hebrews 1:14), but constitute a special class of angels of higher rank.

More exact information regarding the relationship of the cherubim to the other angels, or their nature, cannot indeed be obtained, either from the name cherubim or from the circumstance that, with the exception of Genesis 3, they occur always only in connection with the throne of God. The etymology of the word כּרוּב is obscure: all the derivations that have been proposed from the Hebrew or any other Semitic dialect cannot make the slightest pretensions to probability. The word appears to have come down from antiquity along with the tradition of Paradise. See my Biblical Archaeology, p. 88ff. If we take into consideration, however, that Ezekiel calls them חיּות, and first in Ezekiel 10 employs the name כּרוּבים, known from the tabernacle, or rather from the history of Paradise; since, as may be inferred from Ezekiel 10:20, he first recognised, from the repetition of the theophany related in Ezekiel 10, that the living creatures seen in the vision were cherubim - we may, from the designation חיּות, form a supposition, if not as to their nature, at least as to the significance of their position towards the throne of God. They are termed חיּות, "living," not as being "ideal representatives of all living things upon the earth" (Hengstenberg), but as beings which, among all the creatures in heaven and earth, possess and manifest life in the fullest sense of the word, and on that very account, of all spiritual beings, stand nearest to the God of the spirits of all flesh (who lives from eternity to eternity), and encircle His throne. With this representation harmonises not only the fact, that after the expulsion of the first human beings from Paradise, God commanded them to guard the way to the tree of life, but also the form in which they were represented in the sanctuary and in the visions. The cherubim in the sanctuary had the form of a man, and were only marked out by their wings as super-terrestrial beings, not bound by the earthly limits of space. The cherubim in Ezekiel and the Apocalypse also preserve the appearance of a man. Angels also assume the human form when they appear visibly to men on earth, because of all earthly creatures man, created in the image of God, takes the first and highest place. For although the divine image principally consists in the spiritual nature of man, - in the soul breathed into him by the Spirit of God, - yet his bodily form, as the vessel of this soul, is the most perfect corporeity of which we have any knowledge, and as such forms the most appropriate garment for the rendering visible the heavenly spiritual being within. But the cherubim in our vision exhibit, besides the figure of the human body with the face of a man, also the face of the lion, of the ox, and of the eagle, and four wings, and appear as four-sided, square-formed beings, with a face on each of their four sides, so that they go in any direction without turning, and yet, while so doing, they can always proceed in the direction of one face; while in the vision in the Apocalypse, the four faces of the creatures named are divided among the four cherubim, so that each has only one of them. In the countenance of man is portrayed his soul and spirit, and in each one also of the higher order of animals, its nature. The union of the lion, ox, and eagle-faces with that of man in the cherubim, is intended, doubtless, to represent them as beings which possess the fulness and the power of life, which in the earthly creation is divided among the four creatures named. The Rabbinical dictum (Schemoth Rabba, Schttgen, Horae Hebraicae, p. 1168): Quatuor sunt qui principatum in hoc mundo tenent. Inter creaturas homo, inter aves aquila, inter pecora bos, inter bestias leo, contains a truth, even if there lies at the foundation of it the idea that these four creatures represent the entire earthly creation. For in the cher

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