And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)our faces.—The cherubim, being merely symbolical figures, are variously represented. Those placed in the Tabernacle and in the Temple of Solomon appear to have had only a single face; those described in Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple (Ezekiel 41:18-19) had two; the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7 were each different from the other: one like a man, one like a lion, one like an ox, and one like an eagle, and these four are combined here in each one of the cherubim (Ezekiel 1:10). Man is the head of the whole animal creation, the lion of wild beasts, the ox of the domestic animals, and the eagle of the birds.
Four wings.—In Revelation 4:8, six wings are mentioned, as also with the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2. The cherubim in Solomon’s Temple had two (1Kings 6:27). In Ezekiel 10:21, as here, they have four. The number is plainly not important, though doubtless assigned to them with reference to the number of creatures, and of their faces, and of the wheels; but that they should have more than the normal number of two is here appropriate, partly to concur with the other indications of the fulness of their life and activity, and partly because (Ezekiel 1:11) two of them were used to express their reverence, as were four of those of the seraphim in Isaiah.Isaiah 6:2, here only four. And every one of those four living creatures which appeared to the prophet had four faces: this hieroglyphic, though it seems to present us with a monstrous sight, yet does not unbecome the Divine Wisdom, nor doth it want like representations, as Ezekiel 10:14 Revelation 4:6 5:6: and speaks either the full fitness of angels to do God’s commands in all things and occasions, or the perfection of their nature and obedience; or the universal dominion of God, and the universal subjection of the creatures.
Faces; some would have this not literally understood of that part of the body which is properly the face, though I see no cause for it; but as these living creatures had wings, so they had faces, and what those were the 10th verse does tell us.
And every one had four wings; if it were every face had four wings, each living creature would have sixteen wings, but it is every one of the living creatures had four wings. With two they did fly, noting the speed of their obedience; and with two they cover their body, denoting the reverence of their mind, and obedience. Ezekiel 1:10. The Targum multiplies the faces in a strange monstrous manner, paraphrasing the words thus,
"each had four faces, and there were four faces to everyone "of them", and every creature had sixteen faces; the number of the faces of the four creatures was sixty and four;''
and everyone had four wings; the seraphim in Isaiah 6:2; and the four beasts or living creatures in Revelation 4:8; had six wings; and so it seems that these had also, from Ezekiel 1:11; as will be seen there; nor is this any contradiction to the account here given, since it is not said they had only four wings. The Targum gives the same monstrous account of their wings as of their faces, saying,
"each had four wings, and there were four wings for everyone of them, sixteen wings to every face, and sixty four to every creature; and the number of the wings of the four living creatures were two hundred and fifty six.''
Jarchi is of the same opinion, and confirms it in his note on the text, which is this,
""four faces to one"; that is, to the face of a man only were four faces, and so, to the lion, to the eagle, and to the ox, lo, sixteen to a living creature, and so to every living creature; and four wings to everyone of the faces, lo, sixty and four wings to a living creatures and which, according to the Targum of Jonathan, amounts to two hundred and fifty six wings;''
what these wings signified; see Gill on Ezekiel 1:11;And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. had four faces] These were a man’s in front of each, an eagle’s opposite to this at the back of each; a lion’s on the right hand of each, and the face of an ox on the left of each. Thus four different faces were presented in each direction, so that in whatever direction the whole moved, while a man’s face was presented first, those of a lion, an ox and an eagle were also encountered. In this view the four living creatures made up one creature, and each of the four was in small that which the four were combined.Verse 6. - We note the points of contrast with other like visions.
(1) In Isaiah 6:2 each seraph has six wings, as each "living creature" has in Revelation 4:8.
(2) In Revelation 4:7 the four heads are distributed, one to each of the "living creatures," while here each has four faces, and forms, as it were, a Janus quadrifrons. The wings are described more minutely in ver. 11. Lamentations 5:22, to make the whole more suitable for public reading in the synagogue, that the poem may not end with the mention of the wrath of God, as is the case also at the close of Isaiah, Malachi, and Ecclesiastes: the intention is, to conclude with words of comfort. But v. 22, rightly understood, did not require this repetition: for, as Rhabanas has already remarked in Ghisleri commentar. on v. 22: non haec quasi desperando de salute populi sui locutus est, sed ut dolorem suum nimium de contritione et objectione diutina gentis suae manifestaret. This conclusion entirely agrees with the character of the Lamentations, in which complaint and supplication should continue to the end, - not, however, without an element of hope, although the latter may not rise to the heights of joyful victory, but, as Gerlach expresses himself, "merely glimmers from afar, like the morning star through the clouds, which does not indeed itself dispel the shadows of the night, though it announces that the rising of the sun is near, and that it shall obtain the victory."
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