Ezekiel 1:24
And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
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(24) The noise of their wings.—The same word translated “noise” three times in this verse is also translated “voice” twice here, and once in the next verse. It is better to keep voice throughout. “I heard the voice of their wings, like the voice of many waters.” The same comparison is used to describe the voice of God in Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 1:15. Further attempts to convey an impression of the effect are :—“ As the voice of the Almighty,” by which thunder is often described in Scripture (Job 37:4-5; Psalm 29:3-4); “the voice of speech,” by which is not to be understood articulate language. The word occurs elsewhere only in Jeremiah 11:16, and is there translated a tumult. The idea conveyed by the word is probably that of the confused sound from a great multitude, and, finally, “as the voice of an host.” All these comparisons concur in representing a vast and terrible sound, but inarticulate.

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.The voice of the Almighty - Thunder.

The voice of speech - Rendered in Jeremiah 11:16 "a great tumult." Some take it to describe the rushing of a storm.

24. voice of … Almighty—the thunder (Ps 29:3, 4).

voice of speech—rather, "the voice" or "sound of tumult," as in Jer 11:16. From an Arabic root, meaning the "impetuous rush of heavy rain."

noise of … host—(Isa 13:4; Da 10:6).

And when they went; so soon and as often as they, i.e. the living creatures, moved, were on their work, executing God’s commands.

I heard, and attended to know what it was.

The noise of their wings: though some of God’s judgments are executed with silence, and are in the dark, yet here is an alarm, and they may be heard.

Like the noise of great waters: when the sea rageth and swells as though it would overwhelm the earth, so when the just and dreadful judgments of God are executed, they threaten the overflowing of all.

As the voice of the Almighty; thunder, called God’s voice, Psalm 29:3. The voice of speech; the prophet heard the voice in an articulate manner declaring the will of God, as if the wings had tongues to speak as well as power to fly.

As the noise of an host: this voice was not of friends saluting each other, or comforting, but it was the voice and noise of a host, a tumultuous voice of men, a confused noise of warlike weapons and instruments; some suppose it is meant of the army of the Chaldeans, which those winged living creatures had now fetched in to spoil the Jews, which they did with terrible outcries, as enraged, merciless adversaries use to do.

When they stood, they let down their wings; having done their office, they present themselves before God, and let down their wings, not out of weariness, but out of a sense that they must never act but by commission. And now with wings let down and covering their bodies, they do humbly watch as servants for the commands of their lord. And when they went,.... In their ministrations, preaching the Gospel, and administering ordinances:

I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters: so the voice of Christ, which is no other than his Gospel preached by his ministers, is said to be as the sound of many waters, Revelation 1:15; which is heard a great way off, as the Gospel ministry is, even to the ends of the earth; thither the sound of the apostles' words reached, Romans 10:18; and which, as they move with great force, yield a pleasant sound of and may denote both the energy of the word, and the delightfulness of it:

as the voice of the Almighty; the Gospel being the word of God, and not of man; which is quick and powerful, and full of majesty, and works effectually in them that believe:

the voice of speech; an articulate voice, a human one, pronounced by men, whom God employs to deliver out his mind and will:

as the noise of an host; the church being militant, to whom they minister; so that their voice, in their ministry, is sometimes reproving, convincing, confuting, contending, and disputing, as well as teaching and instructing. The Targum is,

"and the voice of their words, when they confess and bless the Lord, the living everlasting King, is as the voice of the host of angels on high:''

when they stood, they let down their wings; those two with which they flew, and with them covered their faces, or some part of their bodies, as ashamed of their own unworthiness and imperfections; or this may denote their having done their work, and finished their course.

And when they went, I heard the noise of their {l} wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they {m} let down their wings.

(l) Which declared the swiftness and the fearfulness of God's judgments.

(m) Which signified that they had no power of themselves, but only waited to execute God's commandment.

24. The sound of the wings of the living creatures when in flight was as the noise of many waters, as the thunder, or, as the roar of a host.

voice of the Almighty] that is, the thunder, Psalm 29:3; Job 37:4. The comparison to waters occurs again, ch. Ezekiel 43:2, and that to the voice of the Almighty, ch. Ezekiel 10:5 (God Almighty). The name Almighty (Heb. shaddai, of uncertain derivation) occurs alone chiefly in poetical pieces, e.g. about thirty times in Job, a few times in prophecy (Isaiah 13:6 = Joel 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24) and in the idyl of Ruth (Ezekiel 1:20-21); but in prose has the word “God” (El) prefixed to it (Genesis 17:1).

the voice of speech] Rather: noise of tumult, as Jeremiah 11:16, where the word appears to occur again. The rendering “speech,” though that of the ancient versions, assumes a different pronunciation. As to noise of a “host” cf. Isaiah 17:12, Joel 2:5. LXX. omits all the comparisons except the first, as in ch. Ezekiel 43:2, unless Jerome is to be followed, who vindicates here for LXX. what is usually ascribed to Theodotion.Verse 24. - The noise of their wings, etc. The wings representing the soaring, ascending elements in nature, their motion answers to its aspirations, their sounds to its inarticulate groanings (Romans 8:26) or its chorus of praise. The noise of great waters may be that of the sea, or river, or torrents. Ezekiel's use of the term in Ezekiel 31:7, in connection with the cedars of Lebanon, seems in favour of the last. On the other hand, in Ezekiel 27:26; Psalm 29:3; Psalm 107:23, the term is manifestly used for the seas. The thought appears again in Revelation 1:15; Revelation 19:6. In Psalm 29:3, et al., the "voice of the Lord" is identified with thunder. For the voice of speech, which wrongly suggests articulate utterance, read, with the Revised Version, a noise of tumult. The 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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