Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.The vision, of the coals of fire, which are ordered to be taken from between the cherubims, and scattered over the city, Ezekiel 10:1-7. The vision of the cherubims and the glory of God removing from the temple, Ezekiel 10:8-22.
Then, or And, which connecting this with the ninth chapter, will connote the time wherein he thus saw.
I looked, in spirit or vision; and this vision is the same of Ezekiel 1., repeated, or very little differing from it, and with some particular design, which that of Ezekiel 1 did not express, viz. a design of leaving the temple and city desolate. In the firmament: see Ezekiel 1:22,26.
The cherubims; called living creatures Ezekiel 1:5, which see.
A sapphire stone: see Ezekiel 1:26,27, where these things are spoken to.
And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.He spake that sat on the throne, i.e. God, who rules the world and church.
Unto the man; to Christ, as before, Ezekiel 9:2.
Go in: it is said, Ezekiel 1:18, that the rings of the wheels were dreadful, but here is a Divine command which encourageth, and insureth, and lessens the dread and terror.
Between the wheels; whether between the four, or between the two foremost, or hindermost, or either, between the wheels that made up one wheel, is not material to inquire.
Fill thine hand: this expresseth the fainess of vengeance which would overtake them, and the certainty and speediness of judgments; for such a quantity of coals in the hand ready to be scattered abroad will very soon set all in a flame.
From between the cherubims; either to intimate to us that this fire was the vengeance of God upon them; for he sits between the cherubims, and is consuming fire to sin; or to intimate that the vengeance was for sins against the grace of God, who sat between the cherubims, and thence gave out his grace toward Israel, Exodus 25:20-22 Hebrews 9:5. But abused grace will kindle into fire.
Scatter them over the city, that it may take fire in all parts, and none may escape; so cast the fire, that the coals may fall on every part.
He went in in my sight; which assured the prophet of the certainty, and intimated too the speed of the effect, which will be within five years’ space.
Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.Stood, as servants, and ready, waiting for orders.
On the right side; the north side, i.e. say some, the side toward Babylon, from whence the desolation, that fire, came which consumed the city.
The man; Christ, the Lord of angels, who now attend his coming and commands.
The cloud; as the sign of God’s presence, so an emblem of the troubles and darkness of afflictions coming upon Jerusalem.
The inner court; the court of the priests, who were, as it appears, chief in the apostacy and idolatry, and shall now be chief in the misery and ruin which overwhelmed them about five years after.
Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory.The glory of the Lord; either the visible token of the presence of the God of glory; as Ezekiel 1:28 3:23 8:4; or Christ, who is the glory of the temple, and of his people, nay, is the brightness of his Father’s glory. Went up, in displeasure, and in token of his departure from the temple.
Stood over the threshold of the house; showing both his unwillingness to leave, and giving them time to bethink themselves, and return by repentance; and he stands where he might be seen both by priests and people, that both might be moved to repentance.
The house; the temple, the most venerable and privileged place.
Was filled; there had been a fulness of sin, there is now a fulness of sufferings.
With the cloud; a very great darkness followed upon Christ’s departure from the house.
The court was full of the brightness; not to reside there, but when Christ did turn his back upon the temple, and was coming through the court, a light of majesty shines before him, Psalm 18:12,13.
And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.There was a great and dreadful noise to awaken, or stop the mouths of sinners; whether this was an applause of Christ’s righteous procedure, or any sound of alarm, or both, let your own judgment determine. See Ezekiel 1:24.
Was heard; such as might well be heard; and as the vision represented such a great sound to the prophet, he reports it to the Jews; not that the elders now with Ezekiel did hear this, or that such an audible sound was heard in Jerusalem, but it is all represented to the prophet, and by him to them.
The outer court; this was the court of the women.
As the voice of the Almighty; as a mighty and terrible thunder, which is, Psalm 29:3-5, the voice of the Lord.
When he speaketh; as when he spake on Mount Sinai, which made them all fear, and the sight so terrible, that Moses himself trembled, Hebrews 12.
And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.See Ezekiel 10:2, which is the same in effect with this. What is said to be between the wheels is said also to be between the cherubims; which represent angels, the ministers of God’s providence; and so what now is observed to be among the wheels, in the effects or order of God’s providence, is among or between the angels, the ministerial causes thereof.
Then he went in, readily obeyed,
and stood beside the wheels; either as one that deferred execution, to try whether the city would repent, or as one that was to give some further order to angels, that were to be the ministers of his just displeasure; and whereas, Ezekiel 10:3, the cherubims stood as servants waiting, here Christ stands as a Lord commanding; they obey him, he obeys his Father.
And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.One cherub; one of the four.
Stretched forth his hand; which was under his wing, as Ezekiel 1:8, which see.
From between the cherubims; this that reached the fire to Christ stood among the cherubims, and putting forth his hand, or exerting his strength and power, serveth Christ, our Lord and his.
Unto the fire: see Ezekiel 10:2, and Ezekiel 1:13.
Took thereof; as a servant that reacheth what his master would have and use.
The hands; both hands, for it is in the plural number.
Who took it; received it of the angel, as one who might employ it when he would.
Went out, from amidst the angels, and out of the temple; or from the threshold, where all this vision appeared as on its stage; and he goes into the city to prepare all, that nothing be done too soon, or too late.
And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings.There appeared to the prophet.
The cherubims; the ministering spirits.
The form of a man’s hand; shaped to speedy, accurate working; it is therefore a man’s hand. One hand was put forth to reach the fire, and that one is mentioned, though the angels had hands under their wings.
Under their wings; the manner of angels’ working is hereby insinuated, for it is secret and speedy; secret, as hidden under wings; and speedy, as effected by the swiftest motion; the very speed hideth it.
And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone.Looked; attentively viewed.
The four wheels; mentioned Ezekiel 1:15,16, and there explained.
By the cherubims; one wheel by one cherub, so four cherubims and four wheels.
The appearance of the wheels; the revolutions and effects among worldly and sublunary affairs; as wheels unstable, yet governed by a sure wisdom.
As the colour of a beryl stone; of sea-green, to note the instability in a more pregnant simile.
And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.Though there might be various aspects and faces of things, yet in this great variety there was great harmony; all of one likeness; see Ezekiel 1:16; and move to one great end.
They four; wheels.
When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.When they went; whensoever they did go, what occasion soever they had to go.
They went; the wheels, moved by the cherubims, or that spirit of life which moved the living creatures. These wheels were so framed, that they could move on all four sides without the difficulty and delay of turning. See Ezekiel 1:17. The head of the living creatures; the Spirit, as Ezekiel 1:12,20: an admirable wisdom did guide and manage all.
They followed it; the wheels do certainly and orderly follow.
They turned not; divert not from the designed course and work till finished.
And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.Now he describes both cherubims and wheels as full of wisdom, and as governed by an excellent wisdom.
Their whole body: angels have not bodies of flesh, but
body here is figurative, as also
hands. The two latter are expressly ascribed to the cherubims, Ezekiel 10:8; the two former not mentioned before, (as I think,) but all full of eyes, i.e. wisdom, foresight, watchfulness, and diligence.
That they four had; the four cherubims had to move, govern, and direct.
As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel.As to their frame and motion, however it was, still there was one who guided as by vocal direction.
Unto them; to each of them, as appears by that,
O wheel, and the prophet is ear-witness of it.
And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.Every one, of the living creatures, Ezekiel 1:6, the cherubims in this chapter.
The first face, which each had.
The face of a cherub: in Babylon, at the river Chebar, he saw somewhat a different face; in the temple he seeth a cherub, one of the faces, which leads us to look on angels employed in those revolutions.
The second face, the second which each cherubim had, was a man’s face, &c.: see Ezekiel 1:6,10.
And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.Were lifted up; or lifted up themselves, ready to attend on the Lord of glory, who was now departing from his polluted and impenitent people.
The living creature: see Ezekiel 1:13-15,19-22.
And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.No text from Poole on this verse.
When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.These two verses are explained, Ezekiel 1:20, which see. A perfect harmony between second causes in their dependence on and subjection to the one infinite, wise, good, holy, and just God.
Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.The Jews dreamed that God could not depart from his temple; indeed, whilst it was his, and used as his, he did not, nor would he depart, but he will abandon it when profaned, and thereby made not his.
The house; the temple; he had withdrawn out of the sanctuary, and stood awhile at the door.
Over the cherubims; on the right side of the house, where the cherubims were in the inner court, Ezekiel 10:3.
And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.The glory of the Lord, Ezekiel 10:18, is said to have stood above the cherubims, and here the cherubims mount, get farther from the earth, and by nearer access declare their readiness to attend the Lord of glory.
In my sight; that he might assure the Jews of the danger of their losing God’s presence.
Every one stood; the glory, the cherubims, the wheels all stood, respiting execution, and giving opportunity of preventing the approaching misery.
The door of the east gate; the last court, the court of the people, or laity of Israel.
This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.The living creature; though four in number, but one in form, mind, and work.
The God of Israel; appearing as he did, Ezekiel 1:26-28, in form of a man, it leads us to conclude it meant of Christ.
I knew; either by special assurance as a prophet, or by comparing them with those which he had often, as priest about the temple, seen there.
Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.See Ezekiel 10:14, and Ezekiel 1:10. These two verses are a full repeated attestation of the prophet’s that God had appeared to him, foreshowed fiery judgments coming and it is so repeated to awaken a stupid and senseless people. They have been already explained.