Ezekiel 1:18
As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Their rings.—The same word is used twice in this verse, and means what we call the felloes. “They were both high and terrible,” i.e., they had both these characteristics, but not, as seems to be implied in our translation, that one was the cause of the other. The height might be inferred from the fact that the wheel was “upon the earth,” and yet was “by the living creatures” (Ezekiel 1:15) who were seen in the cloud (Ezekiel 1:5). The terribleness was in keeping with all other parts of the vision, and its reason is explained in the circumstances which follow.

Full of eyes.—In Ezekiel 10:12 it is said of the living creatures, “their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes round about.” It was the same vision in either case (Ezekiel 10:20-22), only in the effort to describe it, which the prophet evidently feels it impossible to do adequately, he mentions now one particular and now another. In the corresponding vision in the Apocalypse the four living creatures are represented as “full of eyes within” (Revelation 4:8). In both places alike the symbolism sets forth God’s perfect knowledge of all His works: here as showing the absolute wisdom of all His doings (comp. 2Chronicles 16:9), there as resulting in perfect and harmonious praise from all His works. The Hebrew seers ever looked through all secondary causes directly to the ultimate force which originates and controls all nature, and which they represent as intelligent and self-conscious. To do this the more effectively, they often use in their visions such concrete imagery as this before us.

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.Rings - The felloes (circumference) of the wheels: they were both high and terrible. The "eyes" may have been no more than dazzling spots adding to their brilliancy. But it seems more likely that they had a symbolic meaning expressing either the universal fulfillment of God's will through His creation (2 Chronicles 16:9; compare Ezekiel 10:12), or the constant and unceasing praise which His works are ever rendering to Him Revelation 4:8. The power of nature is no blind force. it is employed in the service of God's Providence, and the stamp of reason is impressed all over it. It is this very thing that makes the power of nature terrible to him who is at enmity with God. 18. rings—that is, felloes or circumferences of the wheels.

eyes—The multiplicity of eyes here in the wheels, and Eze 10:12, in the cherubim themselves, symbolizes the plenitude of intelligent life, the eye being the window through which "the spirit of the living creatures" in the wheels (Eze 1:20) looks forth (compare Zec 4:10). As the wheels signify the providence of God, so the eyes imply that He sees all the circumstances of each case, and does nothing by blind impulse.

Their rings; the circumference of the wheels, the whole compass of the wheels, or the fellows (as a carter calls the whole roundle of his wheels).

They were so high; the two strakes, the thickness of hob and felloes, give us the height of a wheel from the earth on which it stands;

that they were dreadful; their very height impressed a fear on the beholder, but if we may suppose one near these wheels which so readily changed course, so easily overbearing all that none could turn them aside, (which might possibly be the prophet’s case in this vision,) it would increase the terror.

Their rings, the whole circumference or circle of these wheels,

were full of eyes: this added to the dreadfulness of their appearance: so unusual and supernatural a sight could not but affect the prophet, who in so mighty a wheel might expect multitudes of nails, but instead thereof discovers as great a multitude of eyes. One eye seen, or imagined to be seen, suddenly, and in the dark, hath amazed many a one, how much more so many as would fill up the circumference of these wheels! for they were round about.

Round about them four; every one of the four wheels were thus filled with eyes. Now this is too narrowly confined by some interpreters, who would have the greatness and policy of the Chaldean set out hereby; whereas the wheels, their motion, their height and eyes, signify the height, unsearchableness, wisdom, and vigilance of the Divine providence, in governing the affairs of the world and the church.

As for their rings, they were so high, that they were dreadful,.... The circles and circumferences of them were "high": which may denote the visibility and extensiveness of the churches of Christ, especially in the latter day; when they shall be exalted above the mountains and hills, the kingdoms and states of this world; and there shall be such numerous additions to them, that the place will be too strait for the members of them to dwell in, Isaiah 2:2; and "they were dreadful"; terrible, as the churches of Christ will be to their enemies to look at, when they shall be in their exalted state, Revelation 11:12; or the words may be rendered, "and they had fear" (s); there was fear and reverence in them; the fear of God, and a reverential affection for him; they were waiting on him, and attending his worship with great reverence and godly fear:

and their rings were full of eyes round about them four; everyone of the four wheels, and each of their four semicircles, were full of eyes; expressive of the knowledge of the Gospel, and the truths of it, in church members; their continual looking to Christ for fresh supplies of grace and strength; and their constant watchfulness over each other.

(s) "et timor illis erat", Cocceius; "et timor ipis", Starckius; "and they were reverent", so Dr. Lightfoot, Prospect of the Temple, &c. c. 38. p. 2055.

As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. so high that they were dreadful] lit. as for their rings, there was height to them and there was fear to them; R.V. they were high and dreadful. The word “fear,” however, nowhere means terribleness but always terror. Psalm 90:11, “thy fear” is the fear due to thee, or, the fear inspired by thee. The statement also that the rings or felloes were high has little meaning, as in any case the living creatures were higher, and is strangely expressed. The text is possibly in some disorder. The main point of the verse is that the rings or felloes were full of eyes round about.

full of eyes] as R.V. they four had their rings full of eyes round about. The eye is the expression of life and intelligence (ch. Ezekiel 10:12).

Verse 18. - As for their rings, etc. The "rings" or "felloes" of the wheels impressed the prophet's mind with a sense of awe, partly from their size, partly from their being "full of eyes." These were obviously, as again in Ezekiel 10:12, and in the analogues of the "stone with seven eyes" in Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10, and the "four beasts [i.e. 'living creatures'] full of eyes," in Revelation 4:6, symbols of the omniscience of God working through the forces of nature and of history. These were not, as men have sometimes thought, blind forces, but were guided as by a supreme insight (comp. 2 Chronicles 16:9). Ezekiel 1:18The 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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