Ezekiel 1:16
The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Their work was like unto the colour of a beryl.—“Work” is used in the sense of workmanship or construction; and “beryl” here, and in Ezekiel 10:9, is not the precious stone of a green colour which we know by that name, but the “chrysolite” of the ancients, the modern topaz, having the lustre of gold, and in harmony with the frequent mention throughout the vision of fire and brilliant light.

A wheel in the middle of a wheel.—We are to conceive of the wheels as double, and one part at right angles to the other, like the equator and a meridian circle upon the globe, so that they could go, without being turned, equally well in any direction. Of course, such a wheel would be impossible of mechanical construction; it is only seen in vision and as a symbol; it was never intended to be actually made.

1:15-25 Providence, represented by the wheels, produces changes. Sometimes one spoke of the wheel is uppermost, sometimes another; but the motion of the wheel on its own axletree is regular and steady. We need not despond in adversity; the wheels are turning round and will raise us in due time, while those who presume in prosperity know not how soon they may be cast down. The wheel is near the living creatures; the angels are employed as ministers of God's providence. The spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels; the same wisdom, power, and holiness of God, that guide and govern the angels, by them order all events in this lower world. The wheel had four faces, denoting that the providence of God exerts itself in all parts. Look every way upon the wheel of providence, it has a face toward you. Their appearance and work were as a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The disposals of Providence seem to us dark, perplexed, and unaccountable, yet are all wisely ordered for the best. The motion of these wheels was steady, regular, and constant. They went as the Spirit directed, therefore returned not. We should not have to undo that by repentance which we have done amiss, if we followed the guidance of the Spirit. The rings, or rims of the wheels were so vast, that when put in motion the prophet was afraid to look upon them. The consideration of the height and depth of God's counsel should awe us. They were full of eyes round about. The motions of Providence are all directed by infinite Wisdom. All events are determined by the eyes of the Lord, which are in every place beholding the evil and the good; for there is no such thing as chance or fortune. The firmament above was a crystal, glorious, but terribly so. That which we take to be a dark cloud, is to God clear as crystal, through which he looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth. When the angels had roused a careless world, they let down their wings, that God's voice might be plainly heard. The voice of Providence is to open men's ears to the voice of the word. Sounds on earth should awaken our attention to the voice from heaven; for how shall we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaks from thence.Translate it: "one wheel upon the earth by" each of "the liviing creatures" on his four sides (i. e. on the four sides of each of the living creatures). There was a wheel to "each" of the living creatures: it was set "by," i. e. immediately "beneath" the feet of the living creature, and was constructed for direct motion in any of the four lines in which the creatures themselves moved. Their "work" or make, i. e. their construction, was "a wheel in the middle of a wheel;" the wheel was composed of two circumferences set at right angles to each other, like the equator and meridian upon a globe. A wheel so placed and constructed did its part alike on each side of the living creature beneath which it stood. The "ten bases" of the temple 1 Kings 7:27-36 were constructed with lions, oxen, and cherubim, between the ledges and wheels at the four corners attached beneath so as to move like the wheels of a chariot. 16. appearance … work—their form and the material of their work.

beryl—rather, "the glancing appearance of the Tarshish stone"; the chrysolite or topaz, brought from Tarshish or Tartessus in Spain. It was one of the gems in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex 28:20; So 5:14; Da 10:6).

four had one likeness—The similarity of the wheels to one another implies that there is no inequality in all God's works, that all have a beautiful analogy and proportion.

The appearance; the form in which these wheels were seen.

Their work; all that was wrought, whether engraved or otherwise, was of one colour.

The colour of a beryl, Heb. tharshish, a sea-green; some say this colour here was of a carbuncle, or chrysolite, or hyacinth, but it is better rendered a sea-green colour, which if it note the instability and changeableness of sublunary affairs, and of the outward concerns of the church, it may note also the inherent rigour and beauty of the church, and the frame of earthly things, when they are in a calm course, not disturbed first with sin, and then with punishment of sin.

They four, by this it appears what was the number of the wheels,

had one likeness; were exactly of the same make for dimensions, colour, frame, and motion, so that who sees and knows one sees and knows all, hereby noting the harmony and likeness which is in God’s works, which are all framed, managed, and governed by the same wisdom, and consequently the same uncertainty in all things under the sun.

Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel: it is somewhat difficult to unfold this. It is probable the wheels were framed so as to be an exact sphere or globe, which is easily rolled to any side or quarter, since it toucheth the earth or basis on which it stands in a point, and is exactly orbicular. It is fitter we note,

1. The unsearchableness of Divine methods.

2. The curious frame of them.

3. The connexion of one part with other,

4. The seeming interfering and real harmony; what would seem to hinder shall further God’s work.

5. How easily God can change affairs, and move for or against a people.

The appearance of the wheels, and their work, was like unto the colour of a beryl,.... Which is a precious stone; see Exodus 28:20; the Syriac version renders it a chrysolite; the Arabic, a jasper; and so may denote the preciousness, glory, and excellency of the churches, and the true members of them, which are as jewels and pearls of great price in the esteem of Christ; and the colour of this stone being a sea green, from whence it has here the name of "tarshish", a word sometimes used for the sea, may signify the fluctuating and uncertain state of the churches in this world, and in their present circumstances:

and they four had one likeness: this shows that there were four wheels, and that they were all alike, as the true churches of Christ are; they are alike gathered out of the world, and consist of the same sort of persons, true believers in Christ; they profess the same faith; they have the same officers and ordinances; keep up the same discipline, and are under the same form of government, and have all the same power and authority:

and their appearance and work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel; not as if one wheel was comprehended and included in another; for then one must be lesser than another; whereas all the wheels were alike, as for form, so for size; but the work or make of them was in a transverse way, or cross way; just as two hoops may be put together cross ways, and so form four semicircles, and these a globe or sphere; hence this wheel is called "an orb" or "globe", in Ezekiel 10:13; and it was on those four semicircles that the four faces of the ox, the man, the lion, and eagle, were engraved; the reason of their being wrought in this form was, for the motion of them; as follows:

The appearance of the wheels and their work was like the colour of a {k} beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

(k) The Hebrew word is tarshish meaning that the colour was like the Cilician Sea, or a precious stone so called.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. the colour of a beryl] Heb. tarshish-stone, so named from Tartessus in Spain, in which country it was found. It is the chrysolite of the ancients, the topaz of the moderns, a stone of a golden colour. Colour is “glance.” The words “and their work” in first clause, and “and their appearance” in second clause are wanting in LXX.

wheel in the middle of a wheel] This was their work or construction; each of the four wheels (ch. Ezekiel 10:10) had this appearance. What seems meant is that the wheels had such a construction that they could run not only, say, east and west, as an ordinary wheel, but also (without turning) north and south. This could be in no other way than by each wheel being double, consisting of two wheels cutting one another in planes at right angles. Thus in whatever direction the chariot moved four wheels appeared to be running in that direction.

Verse 16. - Like unto the colour of a beryl. The Hebrew for "beryl" (tarshish) suggests that the stone was called, like the turquoise, from the region which produced it. Here and in Daniel 10:6 the LXX. leaves it untranslated. In Exodus 28:20 we find χρυσόλιθος; in Ezekiel 10:9 and Ezekiel 28:13 ἄνθραξ, i.e. carbuncle. It is obvious, from this variety of renderings, that the stone was not easily identified. Probably it was of a red or golden color, suggesting the thought of fire rather than the pale green of the aquamarine or beryl (see especially Daniel 10:6). They four had one likeness, etc. A closer gaze led the prophet to see that there was a plurality in the unity. For the one "wheel" we have four; perhaps, as some have thought, two wheels intersecting at right angles, perhaps, one, probably seen behind, perhaps also below, each of the living creatures. They are not said actually to rest upon it, and the word "chariot" is not used as it is in 1 Chronicles 28:18. They would seem rather to have hovered over the wheels, moving simultaneously and in full accord with them. The "wheels" obviously represent the forces and laws that sustain the manifold forms of life represented by the "living creatures" and the "Spirit." In each case the number four is, as elsewhere, the symbol of completeness. A wheel in the midst of (within, Revised Version) a wheel; i.e. with an inner and outer circumference, the space between the two forming the "ring" or felloe of ver. 18. Ezekiel 1:16The four wheels beside the cherubim. - Ezekiel 1:15. And I saw the creatures, and, lo, there was a wheel upon the earth beside the creatures, towards their four fronts. Ezekiel 1:16. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like the appearance of the chrysolite; and all four had one kind of figure: and their appearance and their work was as if one wheel were within the other. Ezekiel 1:17. Towards their four sides they went when they moved: they turned not as they went. Ezekiel 1:18. And their felloes, they were high and terrible; and their felloes were full of eyes round about in all the four. Ezekiel 1:19. And when the creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the creatures raised themselves up from the earth, the wheels also raised themselves. Ezekiel 1:20. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went in the direction in which the spirit was to go; and the wheels raised themselves beside them: for the spirit of the creatures was in the wheels. Ezekiel 1:21. When the former moved, the latter moved also; when the former stood, the latter stood; and when the former raised themselves from the ground, the wheels raised themselves beside them: for the spirit of the creatures was in the wheels. - The words, "and I saw the creatures," prepare the way for the transition to the new object which presented itself in these creatures to the eye of the seer. By the side of these creatures upon the ground he sees a wheel, and that at the four fronts, or front faces of the creatures. The singular suffix in לארבּעת פּניו can neither be referred, with Rosenmller, to the chariot, which is not mentioned at all, nor, with Hitzig, to the preposition אצל, nor, with Hvernick, Maurer, and Kliefoth, to אופן, and so be understood as if every wheel looked towards four sides, because a second wheel was inserted in it at right angles. This meaning is not to be found in the words. The suffix refers ad sensum to חיּות (Ewald), or, to express it more correctly, to the figure of the cherubim with its four faces turned to the front, conceived as a unity - as one creature (החיּה, Ezekiel 1:22). Accordingly, we have so to represent the matter, that by the side of the four cherubim, namely, beside his front face, a wheel was to be seen upon the earth. Ezekiel then saw four wheels, one on each front of a cherub, and therefore immediately speaks in Ezekiel 1:16 of wheels (in the plural). In this verse מראה is adspectus, and מעשׂה "work;" i.e., both statements employing the term "construction," although in the first hemistich only the appearance, in the second only the construction, of the wheels is described. תּרשׁישׁ is a chrysolite of the ancients, the topaz of the moderns, - a stone having the lustre of gold. The construction of the wheels was as if one wheel were within a wheel, i.e., as if in the wheel a second were inserted at right angles, so that without being turned it could go towards all the four sides. גּבּיהן, in Ezekiel 1:18, stands absolutely. "As regards their felloes," they possessed height and terribleness-the latter because they were full of eyes all round. Hitzig arbitrarily understands גּבהּ of the upper sides; and יראה, after the Arabic, of the under side, or that which lies towards the back. The movement of the wheels completely followed the movement of the creatures (Ezekiel 1:19-21), because the spirit of the creature was in the wheels. החיּה, in Ezekiel 1:20 and Ezekiel 1:21, is not the "principle of life" (Hvernick), but the cherubic creatures conceived as a unity, as in Ezekiel 1:22, where the meaning is undoubted. The sense is: the wheels were, in their motion and rest, completely bound by the movements and rest of the creatures, because the spirit which ruled in them was also in the wheels, and regulated their going, standing, and rising upwards. By the רוּח the wheels are bound in one with the cherub-figures, but not by means of a chariot, to or upon which the cherubim were attached.
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